TrailBoss + 500 Linebaugh

Cartridge: 500 Linebaugh

Firearm: Converted Ruger Blackhawk, 7.5″ Mag-na-ported Barrel

Brass: Starline

Primer: Winchester Large Pistol (WLP). It is gold colored, which helps identify light loads.

Most of these weights are based around Lee Dipper sizes, because it’s faster to use a dipper than to setup a fancier measure. The high bulk of Trail Boss makes me feel comfortable with the less precise dippers, because variations in volume don’t matter as much.

Good Everyday Load

Bullet: 420gr Hunter’s Supply

Powder: Trail Boss 2.2cc Lee dipper ≈ 9.4grains ± 0.2

Primer: Winchester WLP

LabRadar series: 81

Shooting Record: 5 shots, 4/11/2017 @ Sunnyvale Rod & Gun, between 8 and 9 PM

Velocity: 768 fps

Spread: 778.6 – 757.4 = 21 fps

StdDev: 8.12fps (5x)

Drag Coefficient: -0.56 fps/yard over first 60 yards

Notes: Recoil was very controllable, no pain at all, I could make 100 yard hits repeatably. Winchester WLP primer helps identify light loads.

Although very slow, 420 grains × 768 feet per second = 240 grains × 1,344 feet per second, which approximates 44 magnum factory ammunition. And there was much less muzzle blast than with a 44 magnum. I was fortunate enough to be able to setup my chronograph at the 100 yard steel, and the LabRadar indicates that velocity-loss was very good for a pistol – order of 1 fps lost for 6 feet of travel.


I only got data to 60 yards. But extrapolating to 100 yards, the slug would still be moving at about 710fps — still a “Power Factor” of ~300. With such low drag, it should hit harder than the hypothetical 44 magnum at distance!

Cheap Plinker

I had good luck by taking Missuri Bullet Co .54 Roundball (actually .528″ diameter, advertised Brinell hardness 5, actual weight 220 grains) running them through a .5115″ sizer, charging cases with a a 1.9cc dipper of Trail Boss (about 9.8±0.2 grains), putting in a fiber wad, seating the sized-ball lightly and heavily crimping to hold it in place. I used Win WLP primers as with all my light Linebaugh loads.

LabRadar series: 154 (Steel target at 25 yards)

Velocity: 822 fps (789, 854, 773, 790, 889, 811, 857, 814)

Spread: 116 = 889-773 fps

StdDev: 40.38fps (8x)

Drag Coefficient: -2.3 fps/yard at 811fps

Notes: Very smelly. Smokey and dirty. Not match-grade accuracy, but they made a well-defined group on steel at 25 yards (I’d estimate 6-10″ couldn’t measure or get a good picture before closing time). Certainly good enough accuracy to show a flinch, and only $0.14 each!

Update: On paper these actually made one-hole groups at indoor-range distances, and matched the point-of-aim for fast ~400 grain slugs.

The round ball shape has a lot of drag.

Ultimate Bullseye Load

I highly recommend Fury Custom Bullets. It’s a one man shop that lives up to it’s credo: “I MAKE THE BULLETS YOU WANT BUT CANT BUY“. I was able to get 300 grain swaged wadcutters, knurled (to hold tumble-lube and bump the size up to .512”) and gas checked. And at a very good price!

With The LEE plastic dippers, seating totally flush with the case mouth, and taper crimping lightly (500 S&W taper crimp die). I got:

TrailBoss (Lee Dipper) Velocity ES Std Dev LabRadar
1.9cc 741 fps (772, 760, 733, 752, 724, 708) 64 = 772 – 708 24.05 fps (6x) S155
2.2cc 823 fps (833, 812, 851, 844, 797, 801) 54 = 851-797 22.73 fps (6x) S160

Drag Coefficient: -2.7 fps/yard at 700fps

LabRadar series: 155. Steel target at 25 yards, last shot missed (100 yard backstop but data implies hitting the ground at ~51 yards)

LabRadar series: 160. Indoors, paper target at 25 yards; 1st shot close.

Notes: Leaves large clean-cut holes in paper. They can be a real advantage in some rules. Recoil is very heavy for a bullseye load, but no pain without gloves. I have not yet figured out a consistent charge. I’ve had better groups with the “plinker” round-ball loads — I do not know if this is a problem with the gas-checks, my loading technique, or how I handle the recoil. I’ll keep experimenting, but I blame the shooter (me). People are usually the weakest link, and are always the most variable. I’m starting to suspect the extra 0.06″ in diameter over a 45 Colt/ACP wadcutter isn’t worth the extra jitter from recoil.


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