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Thread: Using Trailboss Powder for the Martini Henry 577/450 Bored Rifles

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    smile Using Trailboss Powder for the Martini Henry 577/450 Bored Rifles

    I recently loaded Jamison Brass with Trailboss Powder, and 4 different weight lead bullets. I paper patched them to .470 Dia. and lubed them before seating the different bullets. The M-H Mark IVB Enfield was loaded with 27 Grains of Trailboss, as measured at 90% of the full load of 30 Grains as measured to the base of the seated bullet. The Gahendra Rifle was loaded with 22 Grains of trailboss to a bit over 70 % of full load. None of the brass showed any pressure problems, all extracted with no sticking or difficulty, and accuracy for certain bullets were better than others. There were no misfires, and all primers looked absolutely normal.

    The rifles were very easy to clean after shooting , and leading of the bore was not a problem.

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    I'm glad your pleased with Trail Boss in the 577/450, but you should be aware that it has been shown to produce irregular and significant pressure spikes in the 577/450 by those with access to proper tools for measuring. Looking for signs of high pressure in this cartridge is a bit misleading, since the MH is a 26,000 psi rifle and high pressure signs wouldn't occur until almost twice that level. While it is true that MH rifles were converted in mass to .303, it is also true that the much smaller base of the .303 cartridge produces much less bolt thrust despite its much higher pressure. Needless to say, the Gahendra is a far weaker action where any pressures above BP levels should be avoided. Unless you have access to the proper tools for measuring pressures, I would never advise anyone on using Trail Boss in such cavernous cases as the 577/450.
    Rich in West Virginia, savoring life one cartridge at a time.

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    Thanks for the feedback.

    The Martini Henry Mark 2 Cartridge does not appear to be as cavernous as the 500 N.E or the 375 H&H, 416's, etc., as far as Powder charge goes. I was warned once that the improper use of Filler materials with Smokeless Powder, can lead to pressure spiking and worse, with the Bottle-neck cartridge design. However, in taking apart a Kynoch M-H Paper Jacketed lead Cast Bullet, I found the case Full of Cordite, and they used a Berdan Primer that was corrosive. I definitely would not shoot that ammo in any of my rifles.

    Some of the reasons for irregular spiking may be, Compressing the Powder charge, Less than 70 % of case capacity that could lead to secondary detonation, the wrong sized bullets, and also the wrong type of bullet (Metal jacketed, rather than cast lead, and/or cast lead with paper jackets. Even at 90% Trailboss Loading in the Enfield Mark IVB Rifle, Recoil was moderate, and from what I understand is severe in the Full Black Powder loads, used in Combat. As far as the Gahendra Rifle, at 73% of max load, the recoil was very light, and cartridges did not expand enough to require neck sizing. The Gahendra Chamber is actually better sized for the Jamison Brass (Better fit than the Enfield M-H Mark IVB), and the Rifle performed flawlessly throughout testing. I did have to neck size the M-H Mark IVB cartrigges by about 0 .003". I am not sure where the spiking effect happened, but it might be a combination of bad practices. In my opinion, Trailboss uncompressed can be used in 375 H&H, 416 Remington, and any other cartridge where good recommended practices from IMR are followed. I will only used Cast Lead Bullets/Paper jacketed with both the M-H Enfield, and Gahendra Rifles. My next tests will be Chronographing velocities for the different loadings, and different weight/shape bullets. Paper patching (Jacketing) really works very well in both the Gahendra and Enfield M-H Rifles, and the book by Paul Matthews on "The paper Jacket" is excellent reading and great how-to information

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    Excellent information. I have been using smokeless in my Mk IV and Mk II since the late 70's, primarily IMR4759 and Bluedot. With Bell, and more recently Jamison cases(large rifle primers) both the 4759 and Bluedot have been consistant with velocities and ignition. With some older Gevelot (berdan primed) and reformed 24 ga shotgun brass (large pistol primers), ignition has been inconsistant e.g. hangfires and nonfires using 4759 but fine with Bluedot. I have been reluctant to try Trailboss because the burn rate is very fast, somewhere between Greendot and Unique, but perhaps now I will give it a try.

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    I'll second Richard's comments - trailboss absolutely won't leave any room for error, it being a very fast-burning powder. Some time ago, someone did some pressure tests with it, and concluded that you needed to go well above nominal 577-450 pressures to get pretty slow MV's, and it reportedly also had a tendency to give pressure spikes. I remember seeing those pressure curves and thinking "no way I'm going to shoot that powder in a 577-450".
    Nothing to to do with fillers, wads, compression etc - just a very fast-burning powder in a case that is too large to be safe. Don't forget - even above max. 577-450 pressures, you won't see any pressure signs - those will only show up when you are reaching about double that level...

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    Quote Originally Posted by lonestarhal View Post
    Thanks for the feedback.

    The Martini Henry Mark 2 Cartridge does not appear to be as cavernous as the 500 N.E or the 375 H&H, 416's, etc., as far as Powder charge goes. I was warned once that the improper use of Filler materials with Smokeless Powder, can lead to pressure spiking and worse, with the Bottle-neck cartridge design. However, in taking apart a Kynoch M-H Paper Jacketed lead Cast Bullet, I found the case Full of Cordite, and they used a Berdan Primer that was corrosive. I definitely would not shoot that ammo in any of my rifles.

    Some of the reasons for irregular spiking may be, Compressing the Powder charge, Less than 70 % of case capacity that could lead to secondary detonation, the wrong sized bullets, and also the wrong type of bullet (Metal jacketed, rather than cast lead, and/or cast lead with paper jackets. Even at 90% Trailboss Loading in the Enfield Mark IVB Rifle, Recoil was moderate, and from what I understand is severe in the Full Black Powder loads, used in Combat. As far as the Gahendra Rifle, at 73% of max load, the recoil was very light, and cartridges did not expand enough to require neck sizing. The Gahendra Chamber is actually better sized for the Jamison Brass (Better fit than the Enfield M-H Mark IVB), and the Rifle performed flawlessly throughout testing. I did have to neck size the M-H Mark IVB cartrigges by about 0 .003". I am not sure where the spiking effect happened, but it might be a combination of bad practices. In my opinion, Trailboss uncompressed can be used in 375 H&H, 416 Remington, and any other cartridge where good recommended practices from IMR are followed. I will only used Cast Lead Bullets/Paper jacketed with both the M-H Enfield, and Gahendra Rifles. My next tests will be Chronographing velocities for the different loadings, and different weight/shape bullets. Paper patching (Jacketing) really works very well in both the Gahendra and Enfield M-H Rifles, and the book by Paul Matthews on "The paper Jacket" is excellent reading and great how-to information
    Hal,

    You post shows a total lack of understanding of the whole issue. The guns that use .375 H&H and .416 Rem Mag are modern strong rifles intended for the higher pressures those cartridges develop. The designs are different, the steels are different, the construction is different. To compare them with guns intended for and built during the blackpowder era is and apples and oranges argument.

    Your analogy of fillers with smokeless powder in bottle neck cartridges and cordite makes no sense to me at all.

    Your use of the term irregular spiking just doesn't fit. I kind of get the impression you might be confusing it with the air space and ring bulging issue....but I am not sure. I believe you are totally unaware of the pressure test conducted by Bell with Trail Boss and the pressures spikes reported in his reports. You wouldn't be speculating bad practices if you had read the reports.

    Felt recoil has no correlation to excessive pressure. In fact reduce recoil is often noted in pressure failures. Nonetheless recoil is meaningless in pressure evaluations.

    The fact that the Jamison brass fit your Gahendra better than your Mk IV is only incidental...it might not be that way with your next Gahendra or MK IV.

    Unless and until, IMR provides some pressure gun data on Trail Boss in the 577/450 case, I would stay away from it. Trail Boss is just to quirky. It generates far

    I will also add that Greame Wright in his book Loading for the British Double rifle referred to the quirkiness of Trail Boss in big cartridges and alluded that ADI the actual maker of this powder, my be working a powder more suitable.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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    I have consulted with IMR experts that have been using Trailboss in Martini Henry Rifles (Mark I - Mark IV) and according to them, as long as you dont compress the powder, or go with an unacceptably low volume of powder (less than 70 %) Traiboss will NOT GIVE Pressure Spiking. The use of wrong type of bullet, wrong size of bullet, wrong type of bullet can cause spiking. Secondary Ignition is a phenomena that in a large marginally filled case will start igniting and then restart with very large pressure spikes. All I know is, that theory and practice, especially good practices result in success. It appears that whoever thinks they are true experts, also criticized my 577 NE Snap Cap, with the logic that you can use a once fired cartridge as a Snap cap. Once the primer is indented, you will not get rebound of the firing pin, and may actually do damage to it . I believe IMR personnel who have used Lead Bullets, Lead/Paper jacketed Bullets, and recommended loading practices. I must admit that I did Slug the bores for both M-H and Gahendra Rifles before I started loading both rifles. Paul Matthews book on paper Jackets explains the sizing procedures. Again, the wrong type, wrong size, and perhaps not accurately measuring the Bores before loading might account for the Pressure spiking phenomena. Like IMR recommends, Start with 70% weight of full Volume Charge, as measured to the bottom of the seated bullet, and then proceed in small increments. There is a recommendation in your Loading Data for M-H rifles showing 26 Grains of Trailboss with successful results.

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    I just got off the phone with IMR-Dave. They have never done any pressure gun work with Trail Boss in the Martini Case. They do not have a Martini Henry to test and they do not have anyone in their shop doing any work with the Martini 577/450. They do not even have a 577/450 pressure barrel. They are unaware of Sherm Bells report or Greame Wright's tests. They do not have any pressure data on the 577/450 with Trail Boss.

    IMR does offer a generic instruction for determining loads with Trail boss by filling a case to where the bottom of the bullet would be. Weigh that charge and use that as the maximum. Reduce that load to 70% and use that as the starting load. IMR-Dave stated they have never pressure tested that theory in the 577/450.

    The warnings about to much powder, to little powder, wrong bullets, etc is standard generic lawyer speak liability warnings and not laboratory proven warnings about the use of Trail Boss in the Martini case. They are good warnings none the less.

    Secondary ignition is an unproven theory advocated by one side explaining failures of certain firearms or powders. It is currently vogue with those who argue poor design of Glock firearms. It is also used in the argument explaining the failure of cartridges using Bullseye powder. It is theory that has never been proven or disproven, and never duplicated in the laboratory.

    Snap caps are intended for easing springs in guns that have concealed or hammerless ignition systems, such double rifles. They are not for dry firing. Guns like the Martini do not need them as the springs can be eased by holding the lever open pulling the trigger and easing the lever closed. The instruction for such easing is found the original armorers instructions for the Martini Henry rifle.
    Last edited by DoubleD; 10-08-2012 at 03:22 PM.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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    I have tryed a load of 27gr of Trail Boss that I saw recomended on a post.The cases stuck hard in the chamber and had to be extracted with a rod,to check it was not the rifle I repeated the experement in two other MH 577-450s with the same result,if that is not a sighn of high pressure I do not know what is.I belive if IMR do not look into this and keep recomending it as sutable 70% load in high capacity BP cartridges they are looking at a day in court.I tryed these high weaight TB loads well away from other people and there was only the posibility of herting my self,I realy belive these loads are verging on danger limits though I do not have the proof of this other than practical experince.I do however recomend any one playing around with these high loads to do well away from others,that way only the Darwin effect can come into play

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    Haven't ever been real fond of fast powders in big cases. Just too much risk of double-charging and, well, that leads to difficulties.

    One of these days I'm going to try some 5010 and see how it goes.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    I think the main reason someone hasn't yet (to the best of my knowledge) seriously hurt themselves using Trail Boss in the 577/450 is that the Martini is an incredibly tough action design. I hate to think what the pressures were to stick a case in a good clean chamber. However as we all know, metal stress is cumulative and failure is inevitable at some point given a steady diet of high pressure loads. We've seen cracked blocks in the past from regular use (much less high pressure use) and you can crack a receiver, as a MK IV in my rack can attest to. Unduly stressing 130+ year-old rifles is just courting a Darwin award. Doing so in a Gahendra just scares the .... out of me, since no aspect of the design, fit or material quality are up to Brit MH standards (and I do love the Gehendra, but respect its limitations).
    The constant quest for smokeless loads somewhat puzzles me, since proper BP loads can be made to shoot strings of 25 with zero loss of accuracy and cleaning a BP rifle like the MH really should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes. BP rifles were made to shoot BP. While many can be safely loaded with smokeless, the large bottlenecked case of the 577/450 is really most safely used with BP and its substitutes.
    Rich in West Virginia, savoring life one cartridge at a time.

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    Thanks for thre feedback, especially the input from IMR. I use the Snap-cap for dry firing to get the feeling of holding and trigger release. I don't necessarily use it to unload the firing mechanism in the M-H Rifle. It allows me to understand the type of trigger that I have, so I can use the rifle effectively at the Range. I would NOT use an empty, once fired cartridge for dry firing.

    My results with Trailboss were very consistant. The listing in your thread on Loads for the Martini Henry Rifle shows 26 Grains of Trailboss, and although I have not received feedback from Southerfi, I assume that you condone that loading. The 22 grains of Trailboss in my Gahendra rifle does not require resizing of the cartridge, the 27 Grains in my Mark IVB M-H, required neck sizing. None of the cartridges had difficulty in extraction. I suppose that the Paper jacket of a 0.459" dia. bullet may reduce any problem of using the wrong sized cast bullet in a bore of questinable dimensions.

    The Gahendra Rifle that I bought from Atlanta Cutlery was a hand picked one. The rifle came in relatively clean, and after dissassembly, and cleaning and inspection, all items went together very well. All serial numbers matched. The bore was very clean with no corrosion, pitting. It didn't look like the rifle was used very much. The breech-block covered the entire cartridge rim, and compared to the Mark IV M-H that needed a new spindle for the cocking indicator to allow the breech block to fully close properly. Also the replacement locking levere horns also aided in getting a fully engaged breech block, as shown in the British Armorer's manual. I appear to have twp rifle that with care and cleaning can do some remarkable things.

    I appreciate your concerns, and will probably use 24 Grains of Trailboss in the M-H to hopefully eliminate neck sizing.

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    That post by Southerfield was posted in 2006 right shortly after the powder was introduced. We have learned a great deal about Trail boss since. Would be passing cautions about Trail boss if i condoned it.

    You changed the parts so the breech block would cover the cartridge case? Was there a problem? There is nothing in the armors manual about replacing the cocking indicator, tumbler or lever so it covers the cartridge. Seeing the top of the cartridge is normal. Changing those parts amounts solving a problem that does not exist.

    There is instructions on the armorers manual for adjust the striking position by adjusting the horns of the lever if there is problems with the striker hitting low or high. But that should only be done when the gun is misfiring.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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    Thanks for the feedback about the Southern Fi loading data for the Martini Henry rifle. I just made up a batch of lubricant for the paper patch bullets that I am loading and per Paul Mathhew's formula, it worked really well. I made two small batches using 2 Oz. of Beeswax and 2 1/2 Oz. of Vasoline per batch in small baking loaf tins and heated them in a double boiler on my grill. The lubricants melted together very well and after cooling I had two nice batches (4 1/2 Oz. each) of home-baked Lube.

    What I have found with my Martini Henry Mark IVB was, the firing pin was hitting about .040" low as measured with some masking tape over my Snap Cap. I also noticed that the Cocking Indicator Spindle was wobbling in the receiver hole at least .015", and allowed the firing pin which is internal to the breach block to hit low. The cocking indicator spindle is also part of the lever mechanism, which in turn part of the horns of the lever that engages the breach block and assures proper lock-up of the action. I called the seller of the rifle (Joe Salter Jr.) concerning the poorly fit cocking indiicator spindle, and he sent me a new one that was a perfect fit. By eliminating the slop in the fit between the spindle and the receiver hole, I was able to raise the firing pin to to the proper height. I also noticed that the horns of the original lever were worn. I ordered replacement Mark IV lever and also a cocking indicator spindle in the event the spindle that Joe Salter Jr. sent me was not a good fit. The new Spindle was able to raise the firing pin to the dead-center position, and of course the breech block that is also part of the firing pin mecanism also came up. The results were that, the breech block closed as per design, and that is, the breach covers the rim of the cartridge. My Gahendra went together very well after cleaning and re-assembly. The firing pin hit dead center, and the breech block closed over the cartridge rim. I believe if you follow Skennerton's drawings and description of the M-H action, he shows the engaged breech covering the cartridge rim.

    "Snap Caps" made by the SNAP-CAP Company are designed for dry firing. I have spoken to the designer of Snap-Caps and he indicated that the ones that have the resilient resin centers will last for hundreds of firings. There are the training variety that are not resin centered and are used just to train for loading and unloading the action, and also for checking action function (Ejection, etc.) and not for dry firing. The 577 N.E. Snap Cap that I use for dry firing has the resin center designed for Dry Firing. There is another Brand of a type of snap cap that are not designed for dry firing, and some are limited number of shot type of design, as the 22 caliber snap caps I use for dry firing my various 22 caliber rifles. The 22 caliber snap caps come in a bag of 20, so they are limited life items.

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    OIF you insist on using Trailboss, I would strongly suggest that EACH charge be separately weighed on an accurate scale.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleD View Post

    I will also add that Greame Wright in his book Loading for the British Double rifle referred to the quirkiness of Trail Boss in big cartridges and alluded that ADI the actual maker of this powder, my be working a powder more suitable.


    That's what I would like to know more about. I'm looking to find something with less pressure than Fg BP for the Gahendra.

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    I think your are on pretty safe ground with Fg black powder in a Gahendra.
    Douglas

    "And don't forget. That isn't your Martini you have. It belonged to others before you and will belong to others after you are gone. Look after it, and pass it on with pride. It deserves it." Malcolm Cobb, The Martini Henry Note-book
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    To find things Martini go to: WWW.MartiniHenry.com

  18. #18
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    as many know i use trailboss in 2 martinis....a mk 1V and a mk 11
    MK 1V....15gns with a 480gn rcbs cast bullet is approx 950fps and i get 3 inch groups at 110 yards consistently
    MK 11 same load as above and same accuracy but unfortunately my chamber is not completely true and the brass doesnt seal properly and i get blow back.
    if i up the load to 20gn it seals but accuracy not as good.....i will not go above 20gns with this powder as i do not trust it to be honest above that load.
    its perfect at 15 - 19 gns but just isnt worth pushing it further.
    i also use 15gns with a 410 ? lee cast 45/70 bullet in a gahendra which is just as accurate.....again i stick to that limit which i feel is safe

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