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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Please forgive me if this question has been beat to death here. I'm getting, in my opinion, a huge amount of left over flakes of powder in my DW Vigil after shooting my reloads. I'm brand new in reloading. Using Xtreme 200gr. plated bullets, with HP-38 powder. I loaded various different amounts of powder from 5.0 to 5.4 grains. Although I do like the accuracy, for me anyway, I am getting an unacceptable amount of left over flakes of powder with each load. COL I tried to keep as close to 1.255-1.260. I'm thinking that this COL could be on the too long side? Any suggestions from the people here that are way more experienced than I would be greatly appreciated.
 

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First, might you mean HP-38? I'm not familiar with HG-38.

The left over powder flakes are (obviously) unburned powder. Incomplete combustion is usually caused by insufficient internal pressure, caused by the bullet beginning to move prematurely. Case neck sizing and crimp are to factors to consider. Case "tension" and, to a lesser degree, but still important, crimp are the factors that retain the bullet until design case internal pressure is reached. Did you have these flakes at all charge weights, or just the lower end?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Oops my bad yes I meant to say HP-38. I'm getting unburned powder at all load amounts. Fixed my original post to say HP-38;)
 

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Unacceptable, really?
Maybe you could increase the bullet pull and get better ignition. Maybe you will have to put in more powder. You might well get up to the maximum load before you got a clean burn, if then; so you are going to have to decide what is really important.

There are a lot of "clean powder" threads on the www, you can get a lot of different brands recommended. I have not noticed a lot of unburnt HP38 and the Bullseye I am now using in .45 is just sooty.
 

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Even though HP-38 is a relatively fast burner , ball powders in general are hard to light. Winchester Large Pistol primers are touted to be hotter than most standard large pistol primers , they don't even make a large pistol magnum primer. I use nothing but WLP's with everything from HP-38 aka W-231 in .45 ACP , to 2400 and H-110 aka W-296 in big magnums , and have excellent results.

OR , you could try another brands LP magnum primers.
 

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Are unburned crumblies of powder necessarily a bad thing? Yeah, most of the time. It frequently indicates incomplete combustion and that is frequently accompanied by higher extreme spreads and standard deviation and less than stellar accuracy. In truth it must be said that I am not always up to snuff or in a handgun shooting humor to completely benefit from nice consistent handloads and their increased accuracy capabilities.

Early in my reloading career I found that powder crumblies vexed me as a nuisance.

Unique was always said to be "dirty" and in mild to moderate charges it was. So loaded it didn't perform so well over the chronongraph either in my experience, in both the .38 Special and the .45 ACP among other cartridges. But, increase the powder charge above moderate, reaching toward maximum and Unique cleans up its act adequately enough to suit my purposes and so is a special favorite. Many propellant powders perform similarly.

On the other hand ...

I'll suffer some crumblies of unburned/half burned powder residues in some loads if their performance otherwise impresses me. I have a .44 Magnum revolver load using IMR 4227 stuffed to the case mouth which still leaves left over powder in the barrel, cylinder face, and scattered in the inside front of the revolver's frame, but gives such pleasing accuracy that I'll continue to use it.

2400 is another one that produces an award winning performance amidst the crumblies it leaves.

I'm going to clean the gun after use anyway so I don't get too worked up if the load otherwise performs.

For high volume shooting, it could be argued that too much residue could negatively impact automatic pistol reliability and render revolvers sluggish in operation. I don't choose to shoot such dirty loads when anticipating high volume shooting.

Realistically, it's so easy to produce clean burning loads that, other than some handloads developed for hunting, I don't often shoot handguns with handloads leaving such copious residues.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Unacceptable, really?
Maybe you could increase the bullet pull and get better ignition. Maybe you will have to put in more powder. You might well get up to the maximum load before you got a clean burn, if then; so you are going to have to decide what is really important.

There are a lot of "clean powder" threads on the www, you can get a lot of different brands recommended. I have not noticed a lot of unburnt HP38 and the Bullseye I am now using in .45 is just sooty.
Like I said I'm brand new to reloading so maybe my standard of unacceptable is wrong. However, when I can feel some of the unburned powder hitting me in the face, and seeing what looks like someone sprinkled some tan to goldish sawdust inside the slide and frame after shooting just one round.....hmmmm doesn't sound to me as if this could be acceptable. I was using CCI, Winchester and Federal LPP. I know I'm doing something wrong. At this moment I'm thinking that I should be seating the bullet deeper?
 

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I have not had HP38 hitting me in the face, I don't know what is happening to you.

I have found 700X flakes on my arm but that is not the reason I seldom load pistol ammo with it any more.
 

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Like I said I'm brand new to reloading so maybe my standard of unacceptable is wrong. However, when I can feel some of the unburned powder hitting me in the face, and seeing what looks like someone sprinkled some tan to goldish sawdust inside the slide and frame after shooting just one round.....hmmmm doesn't sound to me as if this could be acceptable. I was using CCI, Winchester and Federal LPP. I know I'm doing something wrong. At this moment I'm thinking that I should be seating the bullet deeper?

W231/HP38 tends to be pretty dirty. The "goldish sawdust" is in fact residue from burned powder!

For really clean burning powder look at WST!

I shoot a similar cast bullet with soft lube and charge of W231 with good results and just put up with the soot and "smutz"!

Welcome to the challenges and mysteries of reloading!

Smiles,
 
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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you all, for your responses, I was under the impression that HP-38 was the same as W231. That's what I have been told and what I have read.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I will try shortening the COL a bit. I don't yet have a Chrono, does anyone have a suggestion on how much shorter I can SAFELY go?
 

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Like I said I'm brand new to reloading so maybe my standard of unacceptable is wrong. However, when I can feel some of the unburned powder hitting me in the face, and seeing what looks like someone sprinkled some tan to goldish sawdust inside the slide and frame after shooting just one round.....hmmmm doesn't sound to me as if this could be acceptable. I was using CCI, Winchester and Federal LPP. I know I'm doing something wrong. At this moment I'm thinking that I should be seating the bullet deeper?
First, many of the powders used in pistol loads are older technology (Bullseye, for example, was first sold around 1895 give or take) and tend to be 'dirtier' than more modern powders. Most such powders tend to burn cleaner at the high end of the pressure range, but still have significant residue. Second, two major factors affect the burn rate in any pistol load: bullet pull and bullet weight. The more bullet pull (neck tension) you have the better off you are in terms of burn rate. And, assuming good neck tension, a heavier bullet will always raise pressure which also promotes better burning. Third, bullet crimp is vital. To the extent possible with autoloaders, the more crimp you have the better off you are. Any additional delay in the bullet starting to move, increases pressure and improves burn rate. Finally, fourth, is primer choice. If you've done everything possible to improve ignition and burning, and still have problems, use a magnum rated primer to increase initial internal case pressure at the start of the powder burn. One of the problems with small charges of fast powder is simply the amount of air space in the case versus that occupied by the powder. The bigger the case, the more likely you are to have ignition trouble with such powders. The .45 Colt is infamous in that regard. So, as a final bit of advice, change to a different powder that fills the case at least 80%, 100% is even better. That is the best solution for the .45 Colt for instance, regardless of the speed level you are looking for. A full case (powder space under the bullet) means there is immediate ignition of the charge since there is no air space to lower the brisance level when the primer fires. That promotes consistent pressure from shot to shot, which in turn means higher overall pressure to start with for a better burn, and much tighter ES/ED numbers.
 

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I will try shortening the COL a bit. I don't yet have a Chrono, does anyone have a suggestion on how much shorter I can SAFELY go?
OAL has to do with best feeding. There is seldom any problem with pressure within the range of length that will work in terms of feeding. In order to create a dangerous situation pressure wise, you have to jam the bullet as far into the case as it will physically go, and in such cases, you generally will get a feed jam before you can fire. If you are already on the ragged edge of max pressure before the bullet gets jammed in too far, you can have serious issues. The problem there is that you don't have enough neck tension. Best recommendation is provide good neck tension, and set bullet depth at the point that gives you best reliability in terms of feeding.
 

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I will try shortening the COL a bit. I don't yet have a Chrono, does anyone have a suggestion on how much shorter I can SAFELY go?
You say your bullets are 200gr but you don't say the "style"....Round Nose, Semi-Wadcutter, Hollow Point.....
Different profiles can tolerate different OAL's to some degree. Probably your bullet is a RN or SWC. With 200gr bullets in either of those profiles, I have gone down to 1.245" with no issues.

But, I really don't think OAL is your problem. I'm sticking with case sizing, flareing, or crimp. Have you measured your crimp?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Ok please bare with me for a moment. I'm at work right now so I'm going by memory (or lack there of). I'm probably wrong but I think the crimp was measured at .465ish? I'm using a RN plated 200gr bullet. My bottle of HP-38 list 200grn lead cast SWC for charge size with the max charge at 5.6 gr. But I seem to recall that COL dimension at 1.225? I don't have the actual dimensions of that particular bullet but I was thinking that the RN bullet could be a touch longer which is why I set the seating of the bullet at 1.255-1.260.
 

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The "goldish sawdust" is in fact residue from burned powder!
It is not all that hard to collect some of the residue and see what it does when a flame is applied.
A butane cigarette light works well for testing.

If it does not flash off when heated it is residue of burned powder.
 

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I load 200gr Xtreme bullets @ 1.200...I think you're way too long there but I can't say the impact on your powder burn other than shortening the COL it will reduce the internal volume and may get better combustion.
 

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Different reloading manuals will show different HP-38 powder charges and different C.O.L. 's. The charge you are using seems low according to the Hornady #10 Manual. I am new here and hesitate to publish reloading powder charges, but their starting charge is higher than what you are using and goes up from there. They recommend the Winchester Large Pistol Primer. THE C.O.L. they recommend for 200 grain bullets lists from 1.230 to 1.245 depending upon the bullet. The latest Hodgdon Manual shows some different HP-38 load data as well and they use the Federal Large Pistol Primer.

It sounds like you need more information from different reloading manuals to get where you need to be, sometimes it just takes some experimentation. Good luck in your search, you will find your answer.
 

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I am also brand new to reloading and I use w231. I also noticed flakes of unburned powder in the slide and whatnot. Factory loads don't do this. Is it normal for re-loads in 231 or hp38?
 
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