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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just test fired a new Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt today. First round fired ruptured the cylinder and split the the next case. Bullet was 250 gr. cast, lubed, and gaschecked. Powder was 7.1 gr. of Winchester 231. According to my load books that is a light load. Any ideas about what would have caused this? Fortunately, no one was hurt.
 

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Sorry to hear about your loss. Lucky you didn't get hurt.

That is a light load you described. It's at the bottom or near the starting loads recommended in the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook (3rd edition).

The only thing I can suggest is that somehow you got a double charge into the case. WW231 and Bullseye powders are the fastest pistol powders available. A double charge of either is GUARANTEED to exceed the yield limit of any revolver. The large .45 Colt case makes inadvertent double charging very easy.

John
 

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Ball powders like W231 are NOT to be reduced below the makers recommended levels. To do so INCREASES pressure or can do so drastically. That might be what happened but I'd be more inclined to believe you messed up and double charged the case which is very easy to do with powders using such small charges.

Chalk it up to experience and learn a valuable if expensive lesson about reloading. Pull the bullets from all the rest you loaded at the same time. Ship the gun to Ruger and let them decide if it's safe to repair or if it needs to be retired. If you see any evidence of the rupture on the top strap don't bother just retire it.

Welcome to the small group of us who've blown up a gun and survived to tell about it. It made me a VERY CAUTIOUS reloader. I hope it does the same for you.
 

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There are some people out there who might be proud to have push a ruger past it's limits... good thing nobody was hurt.

I'm guessing that with the above it would be a double charge. GB is right about the pressure spikes with low powder charges.. but it doesn't seem to me like that would be enough to bust a ruger open... but you never really know...
 

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This sure sounds like an accidental double charge. You're lucky you still have all your body parts.
You're lucking you had a Ruger or you probably would have been hurt.
 

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Im not so inclined to believe that 14 grains of 231 and a 250 would blow up an old style ruger blackhawk. Especially with a cast bullet. I would no doubt grenade one of the new vaqueros but i have t guess theres a problem other then the load. Now to take back some of what i said. Its possible i guess that if the throats very grossly undersized and you shot that load that pressure might spike high enough to blow the cyl. and some old blackhawks surely suffer that ailment. Personally if i had to guess id say it was a combination of two hot of a load to tight of throats and a week spot in the cylinder casting. If you want some advice and want your gun fixed DO NOT ADMIT to ruger you were shooting handloads.
 

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I second the tight throat suggestion. If possible mic the throats of the othes chambers and look at the throat of the blown chamber. Ruger has experts that'll give you a detailed description of what happened; at least they did for my brother's P85 that locked back the slide from a partial barrel obstruction (lead from brittle cast bullets was a suggested culprit as hard lead was found in bore). Fixed and returned at no charge by Ruger( ya gotta love customer service like that!!!)
 

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well i reread your post, and i believe my other thought is out the window,but is it possible your base pin
worked loose enough to allow the damage you just mentioned? i know a guy who blew a bisley hunter because
of a faulty base pin,and or faulty base pin housing? he sent it back and ruger will replace it.

i know on my blackhawk 41 mag ,i have to keep an eye on the pin even though it is a belt mountain,however this
pin holds better than the stock pinand i'm probably going to send it back after the deer season.

i say send it back. see how the hand plays. dan
 

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I had a cylinder failure in a Ruger SP 101 in 357 magnum several years ago. The load was a Federal 125 grain 357 magnum factory load. We were on the line qualifing when it happened, there were shooters to either side of me, fortunately no one was injuried. The biggest piece of the cylinder that we found was about the size of your thumbnail. I picked up all the pieces I could find and sent them back to Ruger. Ruger replaced the revolver at no charge, although they wouldn't tell me what had caused the problem. A buddy of my who is a machinist says that his best guess would be a small void in the cylinder casting caused by an air bubble but this was just a guess. I have always had excellent customer service from Ruger so I hope you do also. I am sure though that the handload may be an issue becuse that was the first question they asked me was what load I was shooting, I am sure that the fact it was issue ammunition didn't hurt my case any. Needless to say I promptly traded the replacement pistol, although it probably would never happen again, I didn't want to take the chance.
 

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Could it be that these are caused by a void (air pocket) in the investment cast cylinder? Rare but, possible.
 

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My guess is that it was a double charge of powder. 14.2 grains of 231 would be one heck of a hot load. For reference a maximum load for 44 magnum would be about 11 grains with a 240 grain bullet.

FYI: 231 can be loaded for mild target loads. It's not like 296, for which reduced loads are not recommended and said to be dangerous.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I have been handloading for 40 years and have never had such a problem. I measured and set up the loads on my Redding Powder Measure, then visually checked each case before seating the bullet. The report when fired sounded like a normal load. The top strap was sprung upward and two slots in the cylinder were ruptured. Haven't talked with Ruger yet.
 

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charles like said i doubt seriously if 14 gains of 231 is going to blow up a good ruger. If i told you some of the loads ive put in them in my younger dumber days your hair would stand up. Ive shot them loose but never blew one up. Im betting a dime to a dollar there was a problem with the metal in that gun. Wether you will ever get ruger to admit it is another thing. My guess is that if you send it in and dont admit to using handloads there just going to quitely send you a new gun and if you tell them you used handloads there going to wash there hands of you and blame it on that. In this day and age of everyone sueing everyone Ruger does not like blown up guns and especially doesnt like taking blame for one. So to be honest with you the quieter you deal with this the better the results will probably be for you. Seems like everytime a gun blows up people jump right in and claim double charge. Alot more guns are blown up by squib loads lodging bullets in the bore then are by double charges. You need to keep in mind that handguns are proffed at twice the standard industry pressure levels and especially in the case of a large framed ruger it takes alot to blow one up. Usually a restricted bore. My best advise to you would be to box up that gun with a short note on what happened and sent it to ruger without even a call ahead of time. Send it requireing a signature upon recipe and id about bet a dime to a dollar that you will have a new gun in a couple weeks.
 

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charlesr, If you decide to send it to Ruger, please keep us informed of what happens?
 

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There is a misconception about proof loads here. Good design practice calls for the design to be able to withstand twice the normal stress. But a proof firing is meant as a non-destructive test. Proof load pressures normally run about 30% above max average working pressure.

The point of proof firing is not to test the design, we already know the design will take X amount of pressure. The proof firing is meant to reveal hidden flaws.

In the case of a Ruger Blackhawk 45 Colt cylinder, it's a case of overkill. A sound cylinder will blow at around 60,000 psi. SAAMI max average working pressure for the 45 Colt is around 18000 cup, few factory loads exceed 14000 cup. Note that for a given cartridge the psi reading is always higher than the cup reading. The proof load will run around 23,400 cup. Hot handloads for Blackhawks only will run to around 30,000 or 32,000 psi. This is in excess of the proof load and is in some ways a questionable practice.
 

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never had a gun blow up but have seen a glock come apart ( 10 mm ), a colt 45lc and a S&W 44 spl., all three it was determined were either double loads ( the Colt and S&W with bullseye ) and the Glock over load . all determined by checking other cases and finding other rounds out of spec. , not all but some .
GB has good way to check , factory ! and after dealing with Ruger don't be surprised if they don't offer some help !
they are good people !
 

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Unless Ruger has changed their production process, I believe that ALL Ruger cylinders and barrels are made from certified bar stock steel. Only the actions and major parts (excluding barrels and cylinders) are investment cast.
 

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you are absolutly correct John and my reference to a cast cylinder isnt correct. It still doesnt mean the metal couldnt have been flawed though. Barrels and cylinders can not be made of cast steel.
 
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