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#7076145 - 02/12/18 06:54 PM 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets
Kawabuggy Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 1765
Loc: Houston, TX
Like the title says-I recently bought a 204 Ruger from the Trading Post here. I was very naive in that I thought I could just run down and buy ammo for it at the local Academy.. WRONG! I tried 3 different places and nobody stocked ammo for it.

I bought reloading components from Midway and figured I was set. I got some 40 grain Nosler B/T's, H335 powder, primers, brass, dies, and then waited. Everything came in within 3 days. I got some rounds loaded for dialing in my scope, and also to see how it shot. Welp, at 25 yards, the bullets were passing through my target sideways. I then got out a little further, and same thing but now it's hard to even hit paper.

Couple things I noted when loading for the rifle. The magazine is SHORT. I can't even get close to the lands with the bullets as I run out of real estate in the mag. well. Yes, I jammed a couple rounds in the magazine before I realized what the issue was.

I guess my question is-should I just load lighter bullets such as the 34 grain'ers? I've never had a rifle that does this. I've only heard of people talking about it. Now I know it can happen.

I also have some 39 grain bullets from Sierra. They are flat base and kept trying to seat into the case sideways. After destroying 3 cases I realized they were just not going to seat. Those bullets do have a much shorter bearing surface and would probably stabilize in this rifle-but I was not able to successfully load any of them. Figures right?

What say you fine folk? Ideas? If you have had good luck with a specific bullet, and powder, combination-post 'em up and let me know! Also if I need to stick to boat tail bullets, please say so.
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#7076198 - 02/12/18 07:20 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
MoTex Offline
Bird Dog

Registered: 09/11/12
Posts: 473
Loc: Allen Texas
Check the crown and also check the barrel for obstruction. How does the rifling look? I have always found 204 at Academy, mainly the 32 gr hornady.


Edited by MoTex (02/12/18 07:24 PM)

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#7076226 - 02/12/18 07:33 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
Smokey Bear Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 782
Loc: Texas
Did you chamfer the cases? You should be able to seat proper caliber Sierra flat base Bullets. Sierra makes pretty good projectiles. Also how much H-335 did you load under the bullets that key holed? The 204 is meant to be revved a bit.


Edited by Smokey Bear (02/12/18 07:38 PM)
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#7076275 - 02/12/18 08:02 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
Kawabuggy Offline
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Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 1765
Loc: Houston, TX
I was using the middle load which was 26 grains. Starting was 25 grains, and max was 27. I was actually closer to 25.5 than 26. I was using a powder dropper and set it just a little under 26 grains for safety. 8 out of 10 bullets key-holed.

Cases are all brand new, and no I did not chamfer them. I will try that next to see if it helps me seat the Sierra 39'ers. If it matters, the Noslers seated perfectly with no shaving of the case, or bullet. Since they went in so smoothly, I could not figure out why so many problems with the Sierras.

If I could find some factory loaded ammo I could rule out the gun as the issue. At least shooting factory ammo would point me in a direction to look. I may try some more of the Noslers just at a lower charge weight. I've just been googling 204 tumbling bullets, and it seems to be a fairly well known problem. One guy states that Sierra told him directly to reduce his charge weight, slow the bullet down, and the problem would go away. He did, and it did. May try that next. I would also like to try some Hornady V-max'es as EVERYONE says they shoot well. Just not sure on what bullet weight to try.
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#7076288 - 02/12/18 08:10 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
Judd Online   content


Registered: 01/22/09
Posts: 12137
Loc: Wylie, TX
Only time I've seen bullets keyhole is because the twist wasn't fast enough for the bullet.

As far as the flat base crushing, chamfer might help but if not then your neck tension is too tight. Get a 204 expander and run it in your neck and load. It probably won't be as much neck tension as you're used to running but it'll be about perfect.
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#7076292 - 02/12/18 08:13 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
RiverRider Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 11/11/07
Posts: 8223
Loc: Wise Co.
Overall length of the bullet is what you look at when considering twist rate, not the length of the bearing surface.

I have experienced tumbling bullets in a rifle where I way over-charged and velocity was off the charts.
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#7076310 - 02/12/18 08:27 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
Smokey Bear Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 782
Loc: Texas
A bit of a bevel on the inside of the case should shoe horn the Sierras right in. There is a reason the loading manuals recommend you chamfer and debur. Out of curiosity did you size the new brass? If not I probably would. One other thought- it is usually advantageous to load a range of charges to find out if there is a combination within a given set of components that a particular rifle will shoot. Trying one load is akin to betting a number at a roulette table. You might hit, but the odds are against it.
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#7076338 - 02/12/18 08:49 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
Smokey Bear Online   content
Tracker

Registered: 05/11/17
Posts: 782
Loc: Texas
One other question. What was your over all length? Your middle of the road charge may not be middle of the road as loaded in your rifle. I think given the circumstances, I would start at the advertised start load and work up. I would probably also not worry about getting close to the lands at this point either, but just go with recommended OAL and see what happens. If they still don't stabilize it will be time to look elsewhere.
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#7076372 - 02/12/18 09:33 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
603Country Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 07/03/12
Posts: 6568
Loc: Central Texas
It seems odd to me that the handloads wonít stabilize. Seems to me that an off the shelf factory rifle in a rather new caliber should work fine with published data from the bullet makers, even at the minimum loads. That said, I donít have a 204, so Iím not speaking from experience.

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#7080892 - 02/16/18 07:34 AM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
DLALLDER Online   content
Veteran Tracker

Registered: 11/23/05
Posts: 3327
Loc: Pittsburg, Texas
If you have not already done so, I would give the barrel an extreme cleaning. Never even seen a 204 but I have seen keyholing. My Marlin 336 started it with hornady ammo, took 2 days of cleaning to get the copper out of the barrel. I don't shoot Leverrevolution anymore!
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#7081755 - 02/16/18 05:46 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
Kawabuggy Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 1765
Loc: Houston, TX
All good suggestions. I'm going to re-size the brass, chamfer & debur. Then seat some of the Sierra 39 grains at the starting charge weight. I have an electrolysis set up to remove copper from barrels so I'll run it on a cycle and see what comes out of it. I'm hoping I can get it to shoot as I was going to use it solely as a varmint rifle. We shall see.
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A hog is nothing more than a bullet receptacle.

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#7082835 - 02/17/18 05:00 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
Kawabuggy Offline
Pro Tracker

Registered: 01/14/08
Posts: 1765
Loc: Houston, TX
Welp I ran the electrolytic cleaner in the barrel and other than a little powder fouling, there was no copper to speak of that came out. I've ordered some more bullets in a lighter weight to see if they will shoot any better.
_________________________
A hog is nothing more than a bullet receptacle.

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#7082916 - 02/17/18 06:21 PM Re: 204 Ruger Tumbling Bullets [Re: Kawabuggy]
603Country Offline
THF Trophy Hunter

Registered: 07/03/12
Posts: 6568
Loc: Central Texas
I would beg borrow or steal a few factory rounds and see if they keyhole. If they do, you need a new barrel. If they donít keyhole, youíll know that you can find a handload thatíll work.

As I see it, the 204 was built to shoot a certain range of bullets, but it isnít like a 223 where you have a lot of options in twist rates to load and shoot bullets from 34 gr to 90 grains. With a 204, the factory twist should work for all bullet weights you can buy (or load) for the rifle. The fact that it wonít do so is concerning. That, and you canít reach the lands with a loaded round thatíll fit in the magazine.

Anyway, please keep us informed on what you eventually find to be the problem and solution.

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