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Anyone ever try Titegroup in 22 Hornet?

Posted: Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:55 pm
by Jason
As the title says, I'm looking for more data for using Titegroup or other faster-burning powder for 55-grain bullets in a 22 Hornet barrel on a Contender. I'll tell you why...

I haven't really thought much about load development for my Contender pistol since this thread many years ago, but I was noticing at our silhouette match on Saturday that the only two people shooting Contenders using H110/W296 were getting noticeable fireballs in front of their muzzles on every shot. I was one of those people, using 8.0gr of H110 pushing 55-grain bullets in my factory 10" new style round Contender 22 Hornet barrel. I was also feeling the muzzle blast and it made it harder to follow through correctly and see the target fall. That led me to believe that both of us who were shooting H110/W296 need a much faster burning powder so the powder gets burned in the barrel to produce velocity instead of just making fireworks after it leaves the barrel. I was also getting dirty cases, which implied that I needed a bit more initial pressure to seal the chamber correctly before the bullet leaves the case.

I had a bit of time today, so I decided to see if I could work up a load that gives me approximately the same muzzle velocity (average of 1720fps) using a 55-grain bullet using a faster burning powder. Of course, I had already checked all of my loading manuals, even my Contender-specific loading manual, looking for loads with heavier bullets and come up empty so I spent the first hour scouring the interwebs for data from others. The faster powders that I have on hand are Clays, Trail Boss, CFE Pistol, and Titegroup. I also have Lil'Gun but it's so close to the burn rate of H110 that I decided not to bother with it. The only data with those powders that I could find out there for Hornet load testing was for Trail Boss and Titegroup, so those two were my test subjects for the day. I was especially interested in Titegroup, as it was supposedly designed to be position insensitive, which will come in handy for silhouette with a much less than full case. I found more info for WST, 231, and Universal, so made a mental note to pick up at least one of those if my experiments today didn't show promising results.

I had my doubts about being able to get enough Trail Boss into the case to achieve usable velocity, so I started with it with the assumption that it might be a quick experiment. With the 55-grain Hornady SP bullets seated to just barely touch the lands in my barrel, the weight of the Trail Boss powder to fill the case to the bottom of the bullet is 3.5 grains. I know there's no way to reach, much less exceed, the usual operating pressure range of most modern cartridges using Trail Boss powder without a lot of compression (very bad to do with TB), so I loaded up a few with 3.5 grains to test velocity. Sure enough, even a full case didn't give enough velocity, with the range from 1016fps to 1149fps. That means that not only was it not enough velocity for rams that it wasn't even consistent enough for the other animals. I was a bit disappointed, as the Trail Boss loads were really pleasant to shoot, with no flash and almost no recoil. The pressure was also obviously low, as the cases were dirtier than the H110 load. Oh, well... Trail Boss loads for the Hornet are not to be.

That left me with Titegroup. The data was out there for Titegroup, but it was scattered and I couldn't find any that directly addressed what I was trying to accomplish. Some of it was for cast bullets of heavier weights, and some was for jacketed bullets, or with different desired velocities. The closest data from a reputable source that I could find was 3.7gr of Titegroup with a 50-grain lead bullet, but there was lots of other data there with heavier charges and heavier bullets. Since I had time and could load and test one round before loading the next, I started much more conservatively. I started at 3.5 grains and worked my way up 1/10 of a grain at a time, watching for pressure signs and velocity. Even at 3.5 grains (velocity ~1430fps) the outside of the case necks were slightly cleaner than with the H110 load, so I was extra cautious about looking for other pressure signs. I didn't see any at all, and the primers weren't noticeably flatter than the known very low pressure Trail Boss loads. Once I got up to 4.1 grains of Titegroup (velocity 1640fps), the case necks started to get cleaner like my rifle cartridges usually are and the primers looked like they had been fired but still had very round edges and no hint of cratering. I made it up to 4.5 grains of Titegroup and got velocities in the 1720 to 1740fps range, so I stopped testing at that point even though I still didn't see any pressure signs and the primers still had rounded edges, though not as flat as new primers of course.

Just to see if I had achieved my goal for today only to not have it make any difference in actual shooting during a match, I tried out a couple of my previous H110 loads and a couple of the new Titegroup loads. Even though the velocities were so close to the same that I wouldn't have been able to tell which load was which using chronograph data, there was noticeably more muzzle blast from the H110 loads. Up until that point, it had just been an interesting experiment. That made me think that I might have actually found something to improve my scores.

Note that my testing took place today in cooler temperatures than I sometimes shoot. It was only about 52 degrees and I occasionally shoot in temps up to about 90 degrees or so. I still have more testing to do, but that will need to wait several months. I also haven't tested the new load for accuracy due to limited shooting distance here at home. One of the reasons that I wanted to get approximately the same velocity as the previous load is that I know those loads shoot very well off the bench, so I'm hoping a new load at that velocity shoots well also. When I do get to test for accuracy at the range, I'm going to take an assortment of loads from 4.1gr to 4.5gr of Titegroup to see which shoots best. Even the 4.1gr load gave ~1640fps muzzle velocity with that 55-grain bullet, which should be fine for pistol cartridge rams.

Needless to say, the data that I'm sharing here applies only to me and my firearm and should not be used by anyone else without researching trusted sources and working up in each individual firearm. I am not responsible if you take this data and damage your firearm, yourself, or anything else. If you aren't familiar with the process and risks involved in working up your own loads, you should stick to published reloading data from manufacturers. All of that should be understood without my needing to type it out, but I'm doing so anyway... :D

If anyone else has relevant experience to share, I'd appreciate it.

Re: Anyone ever try Titegroup in 22 Hornet?

Posted: Thu Nov 30, 2017 12:16 pm
by DJA
Haven't tried Titegroup, but yes, a sprinkle of pistol powder (with a pistol primer) under a 52 to 55 grain bullet is the best I've found for Hunters Pistol. WSF, HP38/W231, and even Unique have worked well. Unless you are also hunting varmints, you can save your H110, 2400, Li'l Gun, etc. for other purposes. You really don't need that much velocity either. 55 grains doing 1600 fps has taken over every ram I've hit. Easy to shoot and no flash.

Re: Anyone ever try Titegroup in 22 Hornet?

Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 7:43 am
by snaketail2
Do they still make "PB" Powder? My Hornet shot sub-moa with that powder (I don't remember the load - but I haven't seen PB in 15 maybe years.)

Re: Anyone ever try Titegroup in 22 Hornet?

Posted: Wed Dec 13, 2017 3:44 pm
by hermit5
PB was one of those powders discontinued along with SR4759.