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#47664 - 01/18/02 09:08 AM Bullets that destroy rifles
SWC Offline
New Member

Registered: 12/11/01
Posts: 4
Loc: Oregon
Hi Ken,
I was told you might have an answer to this type of question. The story starts about 2 years ago. I had a 35 Gibbs and wanted to try some of the new (at least to me) Hawk bullets. I prefer to use heavy bullets so I bought some 275 grain .358 bullets. I had already had a load for the 300 grain barnes .358 bullets so I started with that load for the 275 bullets. Well to make a long story short the first shot destroyed the rifle. It swelled the barrel and ruined the bolt. I was lucky to come out of it with only a bloody eyebrow and a few scrapes on my hand. Anyway...not really knowing what might have caused that I assumed it had to be that headspace was wrong on the Gibbs case...However I never had had trouble with the rifle before..something like 500+shots. Anyway after the gunsmith gave me the sad news of the destroyed Rem. 721 I threw away all the powder that I used...the cases I used and measured and weighed every single Hawk bullet. Alll were .358 in diameter and weighed exactly 275 grains. So I figured it was impossible for it to be the bullet. Anyway..move forward two years and I bought a Rem. 700 35 Whelen classic. After shooting some of the Noslers 250 and even some of my supply of 300 grain barnes I again tried those 275 Hawks. Well you can guess what happened. But not on the first shot. The first shot was perfectly normal, the bullet went out and there was no pressure signs whatever. I then was thinking to myself. It had to be the headspace the last time on that Gibbs case. Well, when the second shot went...same story. The gun again blew up. This time it destroyed the bolt and trigger parts. This just blows my mind. I have been an avid reloader for years and this bullet has been the only one to do this to me. Oh, by the way. I sent the classic back to Remington and they fixed it for free, that was some super service. The one thing I never will do is shoot Hawk bullets again. Any insight to this problem?????
Thanks for all the help

#47665 - 01/18/02 10:03 AM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
Ken Howell Offline
Campfire Oracle

Registered: 12/14/00
Posts: 29268
Don't blame it on the bullets.

Your loads were already dangerously close to the edge. When you changed one variable (those bullets), the slight difference -- which wouldn't be a great problem if your loads were safely moderate -- was enough to hoist pressures the small amount necessary to expedite the destruction of your rifle.

I'd need all the details of your load, to be more certain and specific, and I'd really love to run one of your loads through an instrumented test barrel -- but given what you've told me, I'm confident that your loads were already hot enough to have you skirting close to the brink of a blow-up.
"Good enough" isn't.

Always take your responsibilities seriously but never yourself.

#47666 - 01/18/02 11:47 AM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
Partsman Offline
Campfire Tracker

Registered: 07/03/01
Posts: 6455
Loc: PoCo, B.C. Canada
Just to add to what the good Doctor is telling you, early in my reloading learning curve, I did something similar, I was loading a Ruger 300 Win, mag and used a load that was about halfway in the books and substituted a different bullet of the same weight but different style and to make a long story short, I had to use a piece of wood to get the action open. Rifle survived, but the primer dropped out and the primer pocket was VERY enlarged and the brass case had flowed to the shape of the bolt face. Lesson learned the hard way. Work up each and every bullet from scratch when substituting components.
"The 375HH is the greatest level of power you can get for the investment in recoil." (JJHack)

#47667 - 01/18/02 12:22 PM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
SWC Offline
New Member

Registered: 12/11/01
Posts: 4
Loc: Oregon
Thanks for the response but I guess I should explain a little more about the 2nd rifle that blew up. This time in the standard 35 Whelen I took the starting load out of the Hodgen #2 reloading manual as my load...same result...blown up rifle. I can't remember the charge right now..I would have to look that up, but it was Rl 15 something around 51 or 52 grains. I thought it was odd that my first shot out of this Whelen was fine.
Thanks again

#47668 - 01/18/02 12:52 PM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles

Go to and search the archives. Many folks have stated they have had pressure spikes and eratic behaviour with Hawk bullets. The jackets are much softer than other bullets, and It is said the bullet bases are often several thousands larger in dia then the bullet dia.

#47669 - 01/21/02 06:17 PM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
curdog4570 Offline
Campfire Kahuna

Registered: 02/18/01
Posts: 15044
Loc: North texas usa
One day last week I used a GRAF BRO. catalog and called the tech reps at the bullet and powder companies at the 800 numbers in the catalog.I asked for load data using their product in the 416 Rigby. One of them,who makes a 350 gr. 416 bullet,said" Just use any of the data you find for any 350 or 400 gr.bullet". I THINK it was the Speer rep,but I can't swear to it.

Point is,I reckon they figure it aint no big deal.Maybe they are wrong.
Never holler whoa or look back in a tight place

#47670 - 01/22/02 08:39 AM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
SWC Offline
New Member

Registered: 12/11/01
Posts: 4
Loc: Oregon
So here is my question then,
"Am I at fault, or is the manufacturer of the bullet"
I picked a load that was a starting load
I fired the first shot...not problems
Then I fire the second and "BOOM"
I have a wasted rifle, since the folks at Remington were so nice I'm not worried about getting anything, I just wonder how can I avoid such problems in the future? Does anyone else want to try those 275 Hawk bullets, I'll mail some to anyone. check them out for yourself, there is no problem with them at least on the outside. I'm still very confused about what happened.

#47671 - 01/22/02 09:33 AM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
Don_Martin Offline
Campfire Regular

Registered: 01/21/02
Posts: 977
Loc: USA
Your plight has me concerned. I have 3 .358 rifles and I don't think I want to try those bullets either.

Here are some things to do. Call up Hawk and ask them what their bullets are made of. ie Is the jacket guilding metal or copper? is the lead pure or alloyed and if it is what is the alloy and it's %. Try to draw out any loading data. Look for their website. Don't say you have a problem buy try to get then to talk.

As Ken Howell said you must have been near the max anyway. The Swedish military loaded up lot of 6.5X55's with plated bullets and blew up a lot more guns than you did so this can happen.

You also might check that your other loading components are secure and that there is no contamintion of the powder and that your powder scale is correct.

Over the years the only pressure problems I have had has been from incorrect loading data (hodgdon and AA). At the range I have seen blow ups caused by squib loads (loads with no powder) sticking a bullet in the bbl and the next full charge blowing the gun up.

When I load a cartridge I go and get a can of powder and put it on the bench. Then I look at it again and check the data twice. When I am done with that loading I put that can away. Anybody can get mixed up. Then of course there is NO smoking or drinking.

The only bullets that I have seen that are different are the Barnes X bullets. They have a long bearing surface. But my loads with them were just hot. And the Barnes manual (#1) anyway reflects this. So I was prewarned and I just loaded the Barnes X to the max for that rifle with that bullet.

I would ask this question about Hawk bullets on more forums but don't give any facts like you did here. Just ask how others like them and for loading data. The 275 weight is not standard so it's a valid question.

#47672 - 01/22/02 10:29 AM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
RugerNo3 Offline

Registered: 03/22/01
Posts: 95
Loc: Ohio
I've read and posted on pressure problems with Hawk Bullets and Dual Based powders. You stated you were using Re15. This is the first I've heard of destruction with the combination. In three years of internet Shooting BBS I read of this enough to Know not to even use the bullet line. The bullet is a swaged lead slug in a soft copper jacket of varying thickness. Primitive design at premium prices. Not even bonded core.
On the one occasion Hawk finally admitted to pressure probems with the dual based powders and reccommended the single based propellents. Search shooters talk for some info. Some pressure tests would be interesting, to say the least. Caveat Emptor!
"Use a big enough gun!"

#47673 - 01/23/02 04:55 PM Re: Bullets that destroy rifles
Yukoner Offline
Campfire Guide

Registered: 02/06/01
Posts: 3630
Loc: Yukon Territory, Canada

If you want to mail me some I will let everyone know how they perform in a 358Norma.


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