Maximum load for S&W 52

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Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by javaduke on Mon Oct 03, 2016 11:22 am

I've been loading classic 2.8gr BE behind the 148gr HBWC for my M52 model. However, one of my 1911 in 38 special doesn't like this load at all, it is simply too weak for it. I tried various recoil springs and tuning magazines, but it just doesn't cycle reliably. If I bump up the load to 3.2gr it cycles fine. Now my question is, can I use the same load for M52 or is it way too hot? I've also seen recipes using as much as 3.5gr, but it scares me a little bit.
Obviously, I'm just trying to avoid a hassle of having multiple different loads for different guns.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by Wobbley on Mon Oct 03, 2016 12:23 pm

Alliant lists 3.1 as maximum. So the short answer is no it is not safe, at least officially. Maybe 3.0 will work?

Failing that, perhaps a slower powder? Gil hebard had good luck in the 52 with 3.7 gr of DuPont P5066 which seemed to have a burning rate similar to Unique or GreenDot. I used to load 3.5 Unique in my Python with Speer 148 HBWC and I couldn't tell the difference between Federal factory and my loads at 25 yards.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by rich.tullo on Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:28 pm

Send it to a smith like Jon Eulette and have him check the head spacing and or the extractor. 2,8 should cycle.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by javaduke on Mon Oct 03, 2016 2:31 pm

rich.tullo wrote:Send it to a smith like Jon Eulette and have him check the head spacing and or the extractor. 2,8 should cycle.

I would, but I'm too embarrassed, it is something that I put together using an 80% frame. I doubt any professional gunsmith would ever want to touch it. Guess I need to figure it out myself.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by Wobbley on Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:01 pm

Sounds like it is set up too tight. Maybe shoot it with 140 gr jacketed seated backwards for a few hundred rounds. .???

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by AllAces on Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:05 pm

I once tried some loads of 3.0 and 3.1 of BE in my M52 using Zero HBWC's and got bullet separation, that is, the hollow base skirt separated from the front of the bullet resulting in two holes in the target.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by javaduke on Mon Oct 03, 2016 3:07 pm

AllAces wrote:I once tried some loads of 3.0 and 3.1 of BE in my M52 using Zero HBWC's and got bullet separation, that is, the hollow base skirt separated from the front of the bullet resulting in two holes in the target.

As long as both holes are in X ring, I'm ok with it  Laughing
I guess I'll keep trying to tune the 1911 to the standard load, thanks everyone!

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by jglenn21 on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:17 pm

post the specs of your 1911 and perhaps we can help out.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by javaduke on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:32 pm

jglenn21 wrote:post the specs of your 1911 and perhaps we can help out.

As I mentioned earlier, this is something I put together, not a factory gun. 80% frame, Clark ramped 38 special barrel, Caspian slide, slide mounted Vortex Venom dot on a Clark slide mount, 10lb recoil spring, 16lb mainspring. I also have a cut on the hammer similar to that one on a CammerHammer, and I aded a bit of a radius to the firing pin stop. It helped somewhat, but still not enough. The slide just doesn't travel rearward enough to eject the case and load the new round.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by jglenn21 on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:41 pm

suggest you drop down from your 10 lb spring to something in the 8 range..

I run a 8lbs spring in my 38 super with coils cut off.

also try a 19 mainspring as a standard.

the cammer hammer design  helps( I have one on my 38 super wad gun)

what magazine are you using..

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by javaduke on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:45 pm

jglenn21 wrote:suggest you drop down from your 10 lb spring to something in the 8 range..

I run a 8lbs spring in my 38 super with coils cut off.

also try a 19 mainspring as a standard.

the cammer hammer design  helps( I have one on my 38 super wad gun)

what magazine are you using..

Tried 8lbs spring, it does not have enough force to properly chamber the next round, it hangs up on the ramp. I tried all 38 magazines I have, no joy. I have some old Colt mags and new Triple K mags. 
If I hand cycle the gun, it works.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by SmokinNJokin on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:45 pm

Is the recoil spring a progressive?

Also, go through your mainspring housing with some fine sandpaper and polish. Sometimes the mainspring will drag and feel gritty, adding to cocking force. Polishing the mainspring, tunnel and plunger doesn't cost anything and eliminates that as a possible problem. I load the inside up with grease since no dirt really gets in there. Just my 2c.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by javaduke on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:47 pm

SmokinNJokin wrote:Is the recoil spring a progressive?

Also, go through your mainspring housing with some fine sandpaper and polish. Sometimes the mainspring will drag and feel gritty, adding to cocking force. Polishing the mainspring, tunnel and plunger doesn't cost anything and eliminates that as a possible problem. I load the inside up with grease since no dirt really gets in there. Just my 2c.
Hm, actually now that you asked, I think it is progressive. I bought a pack of reduced springs from Wolff a while ago, IIRC they are progressive.

Polishing the inside MSH is a good idea, thanks for the suggestion, I'll try it.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by jglenn21 on Mon Oct 03, 2016 5:57 pm

nuke the progressive springs..


both Wolfe and ISMI make standard springs down to 7 lbs

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by jglenn21 on Mon Oct 03, 2016 6:01 pm

stick with the colt mags.

also check your extractor.. you don't need near the pressure you normally see on a 45 extractor.. I use the weigand  extractor tensioning tools and run my super at 16 oz.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by noylj on Tue Oct 04, 2016 8:52 pm

If everyone else does just fine with 2.7gn Bullseye and you can't get 3.1gn to work, maybe it is YOUR gun? You need the right recoil spring and, sometimes, the right main spring.
Now, if we could measure PRESSURE, we could definitively answer the question, but we can't.
So, I have one manual that reports 3.1gn as MAX for a HBWC, and that is at 799 fps. In my own M52s, I found that almost every time I exceeded 800fps I ended up with twice the number of shots on target as I had fired, so I try to stay inside 750fps.
So, looking at several manuals, we have the following:
2.1gn Bullseye for 550fps (start)
2.4gn Bulleye for 700fps (start)
2.5gn Bullseye for 700 fps (start)
2.6gn Bullseye for 769fps (start)
2.7gn Bullseye for 663 fps (ref. as popular Bullseye load)
2.7gn Bullseye for 785 fps (start)
2.8gn Bullseye for 741 fps (start)
2.8gn Bullseye for 780 fps (Max)
2.8gn Bullseye for 815 fps (Max)
2.8gn Bullseye for 810 fps (Max)
3.0gn Bullseye for 750 fps (Max)
3.0gn Bullseye for 800 fps (ref. as Accurate--Max load was 3.7gn Bullseye for 950 fps for DEWC)
and, finally,
3.1gn Bullseye for 799 fps (Max for HBWC in manual)

Thus, you "might" want to rent a chrono and just see where exactly you are, as it is clear from the manuals that changes in components and guns can bring a safe load into the separation area. IF you load 2.7gn of Bullseye and get 670 fps, you can be pretty safe going up a bit in charge weight. If, on the other hand, you are getting 785 fps, you can assume that is as high as you can go and you need to look at the gun.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

Post by Sevens on Fri Oct 07, 2016 1:26 pm

I have no idea how to address the 1911 or making it work, but I would like to offer a bit of advice on the Model 52:

There are two things to genuinely concern yourself with when running loads that are "hotter" than what 50+ years of S&W 52 shooters run in their pistols. First thing is your extractor, which is well made and robust, and will take the brunt of the increased action your pistol will see. While I wouldn't call the extractor a specific "weak spot", I would suggest that in this case... it is the weakest link in the pistol. It's an extremely well made all-steel handgun and .38 Special that is built with wadcutters over 750fps simply isn't going to hurt this fantastic frame and slide... but it will push the extractor until it fails to extract. And fitting a replacement extractor is certainly possible but not a lot of fun.

However, extractor issues would be the easy failure. Your biggest concern when running HBWC loads faster than you should was mentioned above and nearly written off for the REAL nasty pitfall:

a swaged HBWC slug is prone to having the middle of the slug blown out, leaving a full caliber diameter ring of soft lead in the bore. Subsequent shots behind that obstruction can be catastrophic and if you are lucky, it might ONLY mean a bulged/ringed barrel.

A new barrel and bushing for a Model 52? I can't even suggest where you'll find that. And then fit it to your slide.

Bottom line is that the 52 is extremely sturdy and well-built, but you absolutely need to be careful with the ammo.

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Re: Maximum load for S&W 52

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