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.500 Linebaugh Primer Test

Note: This article is for information purposes only.  Anyone who uses any reloading data contained herein does so at their own risk.  The Author & Leverguns.Com will not be held liable for any problems such a person may encounter.  The Author states that these loads were safe in his gun and his gun only.

This small article will not cover the origin of the John Linebaugh’s .500, as that has been covered very well by others. If interested in the background, I recommend Taffin Tests: The .500 Linebaugh by John Taffin.

One of the first things a shooter will discover about the .500L is a dearth of clean-burning light-to-medium loads that bulk well. In 454s, WC680 (a military surplus powder similar to AA1680) is utilized volume-to-volume with WC820 (a military surplus powder similar to 296/110) for a reduced load (usually about 2-300fps less). This allows a high load density for the powder, preventing the possibility of a double charge. Personally, I just wasn’t comfortable using a faster powder at something like 30% load density – particularly since all my ammo is loaded on a Dillon 550.

However, the next discovery was that the cavernous .500L case did not lend itself to the same volume-to-volume relationship between WC820/WC680 that worked so well in the 454s. Thirty grains of WC680 behind the excellent 440gr Cast Performance bullet did not burn well at all – worse yet, variation in the recoil impulse shot-to-shot was noticed, which indicated LARGE extreme spreads. Back to the drawing board.

Quickload was queried, and it calculated the above-mentioned load of 30grs WC680 beneath the 440gr CP bullet crimped in the groove from my 4&5/8” barrel should yield 68% case fill and 877fps. The crimp bears mentioning, as a good heavy crimp is necessary for any heavy bullet load, especially with slower powders. The Dillon is set up with a modified powder funnel (.005” reduction in diameter) so as to not over expand the case. Dies are Hornady with seating/crimping done in separate steps.

Since the .500L originated from .348 Winchester rifle brass, investigating the primer pockets of the Buffalo Bore Ammunition .500L brass seemed logical – YES, they will accept rifle primers without problems. Now to find out if the custom Ruger 5-shot could overcome the harder rifle primer cups. Inventorying the reloading area for primers yielded six different manufacturers represented in large pistol flavor and eight in large rifle. Utilizing new, never fired BBA brass, 30grs of WC680 entombed beneath a 440gr bullet, changing nothing except primers, I proceeded with the test. Five shot string data below, with the following definitions: Avg. = average velocity, Std. Dev. = standard deviation, E.S. = extreme spread, and Avg. Exp. = average case expansion. Case expansion, measured just above the rim, is Ken Water’s method of comparing pressures of various loads in the same gun. Barrel and chambers were swabbed with several patches between each string.


  CCI 300
Large Pistol Standard

500cci300.jpg (23521 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  804.2  .5464
 2  775.0  .5461
 3  795.4  .5465
 4  803.8  .5465
 5  808.1  .5466
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  797.3
 Std. Dev.  13.3
 E.S.  33.1
 Avg. Exp.  .5464
  This one was the surprise of the pistol primer group with the lowest E.S. of the pistol primers. Still dirty, though.
  CCI 350
Large Pistol Magnum

500cci350.jpg (24071 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  862.0  .5468
 2  892.8  .5469
 3  920.1  .5472
 4  901.7  .5472
 5  898.3  .5470
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  895.0
 Std. Dev.  21.1
 E.S.  58.1
 Avg. Exp.  .5470
  The most commonly used primer in the .500L. Turned in the highest velocity and second best E.S. Cleanest load in this group. First choice of pistol primers.
  Federal 150
Large Pistol Standard

500fed150.jpg (26121 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  641.3  .5432
 2  744.9  .5447
 3  715.5  .5446
 4  759.6  .5461
 5  642.5  .5435
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  700.8
 Std. Dev.  56.0
 E.S.  118.3
 Avg. Exp.  .5444
  DO NOT TRY THIS ONE. Worst performer of the lot. Unable to ignite the powder consistantly. Terrible extreme spread, velocity variation apparent in recoil. Cases wedged in chambers by unburnt powder, necessitating brass rod for ejection.
  Federal 155
Large Pistol Magnum

500fed155.jpg (23585 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  846.2  .5464
 2  789.3  .5462
 3  774.0  .5459
 4  823.0  .5464
 5  785.4  .5460
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  803.6
 Std. Dev.  30.0
 E.S.  72.2
 Avg. Exp.  .5462
  Ok, but the CCI 350 and Remington 2 ˝ outclass it in both E.S. and cleanliness.
  Remington 2 & 1/2
Large Pistol Standard

500rem2half.jpg (23547 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  848.8  .5462
 2  875.5  .5467
 3  850.6  .5464
 4  829.4  .5460
 5  840.6  .5462
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  849.0
 Std. Dev.  17.0
 E.S.  46.1
 Avg. Exp.  .5463
  Quite respectable – my second choice of the pistol primers. Relatively clean burning, very comparable to the CCI 350.
  Winchester Large Pistol

500winlp.jpg (24367 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  787.2  .5465
 2  736.3  .5449
 3  835.9  .5467
 4  703.9  .5443
 5  724.5  .5448
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  757.6
 Std. Dev.  53.5
 E.S.  132.0
 Avg. Exp.  .5454
  Poor showing, but it did eject ok. Velocity variation was noticeable in recoil variation.


  CCI #34
Large Rifle Milspec

500cci34.jpg (23288 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  895.8  .5464
 2  897.5  .5464
 3  883.6  .5462
 4  998.5  .5466
 5  954.4  .5466
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  926.0
 Std. Dev.  49.0
 E.S.  114.9
 Avg. Exp.  .5464
  CCI is not kidding when they say these primers are tough! Two required a second strike to ignite, the only primer in this series to defeat the Bisley's stock mainspring. Large E.S. probably attributable to marginal firing pin hits. Unusable, obviously - unless you want to check your flinch.
  CCI 200
Large Rifle Standard

500cci200.jpg (25814 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  904.0  .5470
 2  889.4  .5469
 3  876.7  .5468
 4  842.1  .5463
 5  848.6  .5464
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  872.2
 Std. Dev.  26.4
 E.S.  61.9
 Avg. Exp.  .5467
  Decent performance, but notice the primer strikes. Not a good enough performer to risk a FTF. CCI primers are hard. No wonder they work so well in the 454C.
  CCI 250
Large Rifle Magnum

500cci250.jpg (22688 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  890.3  .5463
 2  895.0  .5468
 3  881.1  .5462
 4  893.7  .5466
 5  892.0  .5464
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  890.4
 Std. Dev.  5.5
 E.S.  13.9
 Avg. Exp.  .5465
  Whee-doggie! Now that IS what we are looking for! Cases aren't sooty, reasonably clean burning. This one will be studied further. Notice the light primer strikes. Again, CCI primers are hard. More testing is in order to insure reliable ignition.
  Federal 210
Large Rifle Standard

500fed210.jpg (23433 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  925.2  .5465
 2  893.7  .5463
 3  872.6  .5459
 4  875.7  .5461
 5  935.6  .5466
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  900.6
 Std. Dev.  28.6
 E.S.  63.0
 Avg. Exp.  .5463
  This one did worse than expected in the E.S. department. Still, second highest velocity after discounting the milspec as unusable
  Federal 215
Large Rifle Magnum

500fed215.jpg (22080 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  976.7  .5471
 2  964.6  .5467
 3  980.8  .5472
 4  971.5  .5468
 5  993.0  .5473
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  977.3
 Std. Dev.  10.7
 E.S.  28.4
 Avg. Exp.  .5470
  Interesting. Second lowest E.S. while running away with the velocity crown for all primers tested. Generally accepted as the hottest primer available and used in BP cartridge rifles to ignite the large BP charges. Cleanest burn of all primers tested.
  Remington 9 & 1/2
Large Rifle Standard

500rem9half.jpg (22938 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  863.1  .5464
 2  861.0  .5461
 3  902.0  .5466
 4  851.8  .5461
 5  871.3  .5464
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  869.8
 Std. Dev.  19.3
 E.S.  50.2
 Avg. Exp.  .5463
  Another interesting primer that will see more testing.
Large Rifle Standard

500winLRstd.jpg (23249 bytes)
Chronograph Data
 Shot  Fps  Exp.
 1  872.6  .5463
 2  871.3  .5462
 3  858.5  .5460
 4  896.8  .5465
 5  876.7  .5464
Calculated Data
 Avg. Fps  875.2
 Std. Dev.  13.9
 E.S.  38.3
 Avg. Exp.  .5463
  Respectable performance while delivering an average velocity closest to Quickload's prediction. Neither here nor there, of course. Another interesting primer that will see more testing.

Notice the wide swing in velocity; WC680 is rather slow for the .500L, but will turn in respectable results if close attention is paid to primer selection. This is true of both pistol and rifle primers. It must be mentioned that the poor showing of some of the pistol primers in this test does not mean they will not work as their manufacturer intended; i.e., in normal pistol cases with faster powders.

The following day, one hundred rounds of the above load were fired. Fifty rounds were primed with CCI 250 primers and fifty rounds with the Federal 215 primer. Disappointingly, there were three failure-to-fires (FTF) with the CCI 250 primers. No doubt the mainspring is not up to the task of igniting the hard CCI rifle primer. No problems at all with the Federal 215 loads. Both loads put down the six-inch falling plates from the fifty-yard line with alacrity. No surprise there as the IPSC Power Factor for the Federal 215 load (440gr @ 977fps) is 430…

No attempt was made to shoot these variations for groups during this test, preferring to cull a few of the underachievers via the chronograph. Also, a plain-base 480gr Whitworth mold has been obtained from Mountain Molds it was expressly designed to displace more internal volume than the Cast Performance 440gr bullet, so it should prove even better suited to the reduced load task.

In conclusion, and at this point, WC680 or it's commercial twin Accurate Arms 1680 appears to be a viable powder when rifle primers are utilized for the .500L pending accuracy testing. It certainly fits the requirement of preventing a possible double charge while providing a light-to-medium practice load.

John Killebrew

Email: John K.






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