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Discussion Starter #1
One thing that I'm still completely unsure of is how to select a powder burn rate. I'm now thinking of going with VV powder since powder is such a small part of the overall cost, may as well go with a top quality powder, or at least one that people seem to say is top quality. Anyway what's the 5 second crash course on powder? Thanks yet again.
 

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What is your objective? In what caliber?

Target loads are usually made up with a fast powder for a clean, consistent burn. N310 is usual for .45 ACP bullseye.

Maximum power loads are best done with the powder that the book shows as giving the highest velocity at maximum allowable pressures. N340 or N350 for .45; I would lean to the N340.

I would use N320 for hardball or IPSC Major .45 ACP.
 

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Since you are going to start off with 38 special and then go to 45ACP
I would reccomend you get a pound of WW231 and follow winchesters load recomendations.

But if you want to go with a different brand then go to that manufacturers web sight and choose a powder that is applicable to several of the calibers that you want to shoot. No powder will cover all calibers but some will cover quite a number.

I can shoot WW231 in 45ACP,38Super,and 10MM. When I shot revolver I also used it in 38 special and 357mag.

As far as primers. Just get standard small and large pistol primers untill you actually start to work up Magnum Loads. You could use them in standard loads but their is no need to.
 

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VV powders are excellent, but when I switched from N320 to Hodgdon Clays for my .45 loads, I went from 5.2 grains of a powder that cost (local, per pound cost) $24/lb., to 4.2 grains of a powder that cost $16/lb.; considerable savings.
In general, I like to choose a powder that will give me the velocity I want, without going to either extreme of the powder's "sweet spot". Powders are more consistent, and more predictable, if you are not at either end of the recommended charge range.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What is your objective? In what caliber?

Target loads are usually made up with a fast powder for a clean, consistent burn. N310 is usual for .45 ACP bullseye.

Maximum power loads are best done with the powder that the book shows as giving the highest velocity at maximum allowable pressures. N340 or N350 for .45; I would lean to the N340.

I would use N320 for hardball or IPSC Major .45 ACP.
Reloading .38 Speical for target shooting. I hope to one day be able to cook up some original FBI spec .357 magnum loads.
 

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I just don't get that fancy.
I have loaded many thousands of .38 Special midrange wadcutter, standard semiwadcutter, and +P semiwadcutter and roundnose Winchester 231.

I am now loading 9mm and .45 with HP38 which comes off the same production line. I will use 231 for .38 Special as long as my supply lasts then make the small adjustment for HP38. It is the same product but is about .2 grain "faster" in the lots that I have.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I just don't get that fancy.
I have loaded many thousands of .38 Special midrange wadcutter, standard semiwadcutter, and +P semiwadcutter and roundnose Winchester 231.

I am now loading 9mm and .45 with HP38 which comes off the same production line. I will use 231 for .38 Special as long as my supply lasts then make the small adjustment for HP38. It is the same product but is about .2 grain "faster" in the lots that I have.
So you're saying the speed of the powder really doesn't matter?
 

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Sig,
YES, powder speed matters. Rule of thumb:
1. Use SLOW burning rate powders for HIGH velocity loads.
2. Use MEDIUM burning rate powders for MEDIUM velocity loads.
3. Use FAST burning rate powders for LOW/TARGET velocity loads.

You can get into dangerous areas if you try to use:
NOT SAFE: Slow burning rate powders for low velocity loads,
NOT SAFE: Fast burning rate powders for high velocity loads.

Good luck and be safe.
LB
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So what is the logic behind slow powder = fast bullet and fast powder = slow bullet? Seems the opposite would be true.
 

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Sig,
It does seem backward to many reloaders. Maybe this will clear it up some.

Fast powder burns very fast and pressures peak very quickly. Charge weights are fairly small with fast powders. Trying to load max loads with fast powders can lead to "small" overcharges very quickly pushing pressures to dangerous limits and beyond.

Slow powders burn slower and pressure peak is spread out over a slightly longer period of time. Thus slow powders push longer on the bullet, resulting in higher velocities. Also powder charges are higher with slow powders and "small" overcharges do not increase the pressure as quickly to dangerous limits as with fast powders.

Summary:
"Fast" powder refers to "burning rate" and not to suggested load usage.
"Slow" powder refers to "burning rate" and not to suggested load usage.

Good shooting and be safe.
LB
 

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Powder speed matters if you are getting fancy.
Just the right powder can help accuracy (although I think bullets matter more.) Light target loads usually use a fast burning powder to launch the bullet at low to moderate velocity with a minimum of disturbance. There was a gunzine writer who said he was going to study the use of medium to medium-slow powders in target loads, but he has not yet gotten a feature article out of it so there may not be much to it.

The right powder is definitely important if you are seeking maximum power.

I am not. I am loading non-magnum calibers to standard ballistics. I have a lot more leeway and flexibility by not pushing the envelope or trying to make one powder cover too many uses.
 

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oft-tested 38 Special choices

In the 38 Special case, using lead bullets, two powders have withstood the test of time, consistently proving themselves at the range.

For 'target' loads recommend Bullseye and W231.
 

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I agree, but...

An old test by the NRA compared .38 wadcutters (very important), brass (not important if in good condition), and powders. They had been shooting with Bullseye and chose PB as the "most different" powder then on the market. There was no difference in accuracy between the two when loaded with care behind good bullets and shot from a machine rest.
 

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Jim I agree that most resonable powder selections won't have a tremendous effect on normal pistol accuracy. But I have an anecdote that sort of spells out how poor powder selection can effect accuracy negatively.

I have recently been reloading lighter loads of 10mm for Bulls Eye shooting.
I came up with several loads using
Berry's 155 plated bullet
Starline brass
Winchester Large pistol primers

I shot each load at the NRA 60ft slow fire target, 10 shots per target
at least 3 times
Load 1
8.8 grains of AA5 with an average score of 94

Load 2
9.3 grains of AA7 with an average score of 95

Load 3
9.8 grains of BLue Dot with an average score 68
This load was so bad that once the 50 yard target centers were run out to 50 yards it was very diffcult to keep bullets on the paper.

Blue dot is a very slow powder and is not normally recomended for light loads with this weight of bullet and this shows why.
Probably with a heavier load the bluedot would have shot better.
but the faster powders readily out shoot the slowest powder with light loads.
 

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I think that LHB1 has stated the issue most accurately and understandably. I used to think that powder selection didn't matter, either, as long as the velocity that I desired was attainable with any particular powder.

In my early days, I tried Blue Dot with some .38 Spl. handloads. Although the reloading manual listed a load using Blue Dot with the .38, I ended up with enough unburned powder on my hands and all over my gun to reload another 100 rounds. .380ACP and .45ACP showed similar results with slower burning powders.

Then, I began to research and learn more about powders and burn rates, and I began to pay attention to SAAMI pressure specs for each caliber. I found that faster burning powders like 231 and Bullseye worked best in low pressure, low velocity cartridges like those that I just mentioned, while medium burn rate powders like HS6 and AA5 worked well in 9mm and .40S&W. In .357 and .44 Mag, H110, 2400 and Blue Dot came into their own with the highest velocity loads, while powders like HS7 and AA7 worked well in loads that were scaled back a bit.

I also discovered that unless loading for very light target loads, it is best if a powder can be selected that will fill the case, so that the bullet lightly compresses the charge. This is easily done with the slow burning powders, and even with the medium burn rate powders in small cases like the 9mm, but it is essentially impossible with the fast burning ones. Load density and charge position can be a factor, and I personally would not choose to load a powder such as 231 in a high volume case like the .357 or .44 Mag, even for light or target loads.

Reloading is a science, but it's a fun one to learn if you are safe and don't rush it.
 

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I shoot 3.3 VV n320 with 125 lead (Bear Creek Moly) as a .38 load for cowboy-(will have 50 + fps difference depending on the position of powder--I found same results with Tight group which is suppposed to be position insensitive!) -Also have loaded 3.9 n320 with 158 gr lead -both with Fed Mag Primers. Both are great loads-(but won't make major!)-this about duplicates factory 158 .38 Spec. To load full .357 should go to a slower powder as suggested earlier!
bob
 
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