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Discussion Starter #1
I notice a lot of shooters are using SWC bullets for target practice or competition. What is the advantage of SWC over ball ammo? Is it cost? Accuracy?

I know I will probably start reloading in a few months. I want to shoot IDPA and am curious about the wisdom behind bullet choice.

I am disabled (severe arthritis -- in my hands no less...) and am able to shoot around 50 rounds of .230 ACP ammo before I start to develop enough pain to know its about time to quit.

I know that most IDPA shoots are 90 rounds.
I will need to build ammo that is light enough to permit me to finish all the 'strings', but powerful enough to be accurate and qualify to be shot in the first place.

I also know that this is a difficult line to walk -- balancing accuracy and qualification against recoil reduction so I can compete.

If I have to choose, I will choose the heaviest load I can shoot safely, naturally.

Any advice?

Also, what does LSWC mean?

thanks,

gary
 

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Gary,
That's Lead Semi-WadCutter.
The most common version is based on the Hensley and Gibbs #68; a 200 grain SWC that has a long enough nose for good feeding and a long enough bearing surface for good accuracy.

They are generally more accurate and also less expensive than jacketed bullets as used for ball ammo. Most of the SWC bullets you can buy are cast in Magma production equipment by small local or regional companies. There are also SWCs cold swaged from lead wire, but they are best limited to lower velocity than needed for IDPA.

They do have a couple of drawbacks. Some guns will require throating - a straightforward job for a gunsmith who knows the 1911 - for reliable feeding. You can get roundnose or hollowpoint bullets that will more likely feed without modifications.

Cast bullet loads smoke due to burning bullet lubricant. This can be a detriment to fast shooting in reduced light or in some angles of sunlight. Some shooters pay the extra for jacketed or plated bullets to reduce the smoke to the little bit the powder alone actually produces.

By the way, nearly any JHP - Jacketed HollowPoint - will also be more accurate than ball. I have used the 185 gr Remington with good results, they are less expensive in thousand lots than Sierra, etc.

IDPA CDP (for .45ACP 1911 or other single action autos) requires a Power Factor of 165. Power Factor is calculated as Bullet Weight in grains X Muzzle Velocity in fps. Divide by 1000 to get a three digit result.
So .45 ball, 230gr at 810 fps has PF = 186.
Recoil is directly proportional to PF in guns of equal weight, so a minimum IDPA CDP load with a 200 gr SWC at just over 825 fps will give almost 13% less recoil than ball.

The IDPA Classifier is 90 rounds. You have to get through that at least once to compete at the State or National level. A lot of clubs don't require it for local events. Most monthly club matches in my region are shorter, yesterday's was about half that - for those who didn't miss much. Plus, you will be waiting between stages and can get a rest. If that does not spare your hands enough, all I can think of is to trade for a .38 Super or 9mm. Either would compete in IDPA ESP with a PF requirement of only 125; a further recoil reduction of 32% in a 1911.
I have a 9mm 1991A1 for that Division. Recoil is very mild, and I don't think a .38 Super or 9mm +P+ hollowpoint is ineffective for defense. You could also get a .22 conversion for practice with almost no recoil.

Reloading requires some strength and dexterity in the hands. It would be bad to wear your hands out loading the ammo and be too sore to shoot it. Scheduling loading sessions would help. If you could get together with someone experienced and equipped and actually operate a loading press, it would be very instructive.

Oh, yes, instruction. Put a loading manual - the Lyman 47th edition is good - and a Midway catalog on your Christmas list. Read up. Dillon and RCBS have videos on the use of their gear.

Glad to have you on board.

Jim Watson
IDPA # 00177
 

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Gary:
The sharp edge of the SWC will cut a nice round hole in paper, makes it easier to score if you are counting.
Smoke-depends on the lubricant, some are worse than others. If you are buying, try several brands to see if the lubricants make a difference. If you pour your own, there are dozens of lubricants to pick from to minimize the smoke issue.
And with the lead bullets, you can load down (may have to change springs too) to do more shooting before fatigue/pain set in. In the same weight the lead bullet travels faster than the jacketed due to lower friction with barrel at any given powder level.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Jim,

thanks for the info. I haven't shot wad cutter's in a long time because I remember how hard it was to get the barrel clean on my Ruger 9mm. After spending several fruitless hours I vowed not to shoot lead bullets again. I'm sure some of that had something to do with my inexperience at the time.

Is it difficult to clean a 1911 that has been shooting a preponderence of LSWC's?

If the JHP's are accurate and reasonably priced alternatives, I'd probably consider trying that route.

I don't want to have to modify a brand new gun so it will reliably fire any one type of ammo. I think I would prefer to find the right ammo, work with it, and then try to duplicate it and/or improve on it during reloading.

I may feel differently about having it 'throated', as you mentioned, later on after I have had some time with it.

If I can reduce recoil by 13-15% I believe I will be able to compete adequately. The rest I will trust to God and Motrin, in that order.

thanks again,

gary

I just sold my Ruger and picked up a Kimber which I love. After the break-in I will give some thought to reloading and IDPA.

Originally posted by Jim Watson:
Gary,
That's Lead Semi-WadCutter.
The most common version is based on the Hensley and Gibbs #68; a 200 grain SWC that has a long enough nose for good feeding and a long enough bearing surface for good accuracy.

They are generally more accurate and also less expensive than jacketed bullets as used for ball ammo. Most of the SWC bullets you can buy are cast in Magma production equipment by small local or regional companies. There are also SWCs cold swaged from lead wire, but they are best limited to lower velocity than needed for IDPA.

They do have a couple of drawbacks. Some guns will require throating - a straightforward job for a gunsmith who knows the 1911 - for reliable feeding. You can get roundnose or hollowpoint bullets that will more likely feed without modifications.

Cast bullet loads smoke due to burning bullet lubricant. This can be a detriment to fast shooting in reduced light or in some angles of sunlight. Some shooters pay the extra for jacketed or plated bullets to reduce the smoke to the little bit the powder alone actually produces.

By the way, nearly any JHP - Jacketed HollowPoint - will also be more accurate than ball. I have used the 185 gr Remington with good results, they are less expensive in thousand lots than Sierra, etc.

IDPA CDP (for .45ACP 1911 or other single action autos) requires a Power Factor of 165. Power Factor is calculated as Bullet Weight in grains X Muzzle Velocity in fps. Divide by 1000 to get a three digit result.
So .45 ball, 230gr at 810 fps has PF = 186.
Recoil is directly proportional to PF in guns of equal weight, so a minimum IDPA CDP load with a 200 gr SWC at just over 825 fps will give almost 13% less recoil than ball.

The IDPA Classifier is 90 rounds. You have to get through that at least once to compete at the State or National level. A lot of clubs don't require it for local events. Most monthly club matches in my region are shorter, yesterday's was about half that - for those who didn't miss much. Plus, you will be waiting between stages and can get a rest. If that does not spare your hands enough, all I can think of is to trade for a .38 Super or 9mm. Either would compete in IDPA ESP with a PF requirement of only 125; a further recoil reduction of 32% in a 1911.
I have a 9mm 1991A1 for that Division. Recoil is very mild, and I don't think a .38 Super or 9mm +P+ hollowpoint is ineffective for defense. You could also get a .22 conversion for practice with almost no recoil.

Reloading requires some strength and dexterity in the hands. It would be bad to wear your hands out loading the ammo and be too sore to shoot it. Scheduling loading sessions would help. If you could get together with someone experienced and equipped and actually operate a loading press, it would be very instructive.

Oh, yes, instruction. Put a loading manual - the Lyman 47th edition is good - and a Midway catalog on your Christmas list. Read up. Dillon and RCBS have videos on the use of their gear.

Glad to have you on board.

Jim Watson
IDPA # 00177
 

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Gary,

Barrel leading varies from gun to gun depending on the smoothness of the bore surface. All I can say is that my Wilson, Briley, and Kart barrels do not lead foul beyond my willingness to apply solvent and elbow grease to clean. I know shooters who have polished barrels with JB Bore Cleaner until they almost entirely quit holding lead. Your Kimber may or may not offend, I have no experience with them... or Ruger autos.

At current prices, going by Midway because they are nationally advertised, not because they are cheapest, 200 gr LSWCs are $38.99 a thousand, Ranier plated 200 gr SWC are $60.99, while their 200 gr roundnose are $62.99. The 200 gr RN is a new style for them, guess they are still paying for the molds. Remington 185 gr JHP are $80.99 a thousand. Sierra 200 gr Match FPJ (Full Profile Jacket - a little lead exposed at the nose, but not intended to be an expanding softpoint) are $14.79 a hundred, no discount for quantity so $147.90 a thousand.

Kimbers have frame and barrel ramps that pretty much approximate a gunsmith's throating of an older gun. Recent Colts and Springfields do too. I would expect many to feed SWCs as is and the rest would only need the sharp edge at the bottom of the chamber radiussed a bit. Hardly enough modification to use the word. But I might have a different outlook, I live 11 miles from a 1911 specialist gunsmith. I would use different bullets if I had to in order to save shipping guns to mailorder gunsmiths.

The nice thing about handloading is that you can try different bullets to see what works best in your gun. A hundred each of half a dozen different bullets is not going to break the bank. Most will do well enough for practice anyway. Then stock up on the best. On the other hand, there are several suitable powders and trying a selection will leave you with a lot of 14 oz cans and nothing resolved. Changing every pound will just demand a lot of load development to get back where you were or maybe a smidgen better. I think it only pays off for precision shooting, like bullseye, a 3.39" ten ring at 50 yards instead of an 8" IDPA "down zero" center at one to 20 yards.
 

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Good advice above. The only things to add are that many 1911 specialists, including Bill Wilson, say that most guns feed the H&G 200 LSWC better than ball ammo, and that the light leading usually experienced when shooting lead bullets is cleaned right out by a magazine of jacketed ammo.

At the end of a session at the range with lead bullets, I shoot my carry magazine of Hydr-Shoks. This 1) confirms my confindence in the reliability of my carry magazine and ammo even in a dirty pistol, 2) keeps fresh ammo in my carry magazine, and 3) leaves the barrel free of lead and easy to clean.
 

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Try my IDPA load its a 200gr SWC moly bullet
which makes PF, uses 4.7 grs. of "CLAYS" gives 860fps
very accurate, low flash for night events, very little smoke, And the part you'll like; very soft recoil
 

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Gary-I shoot LSWC in my Kimber ProCarry in IDPA. I load: 4.6gns of Bullseye, or 4.7gns of IMR 700X, or something like 4.9 gns of Winchester 231 to meet the PF. I have had absolutely no problems with feeding just about any bullets, especially the LSWC. As for leading, I have not had a problem with leading that a couple extra scrubs with the bore brush could not handle. Shooting jacketed bullets afterwards does help, but it is not required.

I had an issue once with really bad UMC ball ammo...

Originally posted by gary gruber:
Jim,

thanks for the info. I haven't shot wad cutter's in a long time because I remember how hard it was to get the barrel clean on my Ruger 9mm. After spending several fruitless hours I vowed not to shoot lead bullets again. I'm sure some of that had something to do with my inexperience at the time.

Is it difficult to clean a 1911 that has been shooting a preponderence of LSWC's?

If the JHP's are accurate and reasonably priced alternatives, I'd probably consider trying that route.

I don't want to have to modify a brand new gun so it will reliably fire any one type of ammo. I think I would prefer to find the right ammo, work with it, and then try to duplicate it and/or improve on it during reloading.

I may feel differently about having it 'throated', as you mentioned, later on after I have had some time with it.

If I can reduce recoil by 13-15% I believe I will be able to compete adequately. The rest I will trust to God and Motrin, in that order.

thanks again,

gary

I just sold my Ruger and picked up a Kimber which I love. After the break-in I will give some thought to reloading and IDPA.


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"Americans have the right and advantage of being armed - unlike the citizens
of other countries whose governments are afraid to trust the people with
arms." (James Madison, The Federalist Papers #46 at 243-244)
 

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I haven't done a lot of reloading with SWC's, but decided to load some Speer jacketed 200 gr. I was trying to "prove" a new gun, and loaded fifty rounds at three different OA lengths. I had four failures to feed, and while all four might have been of the same length, it leads me to believe that particular bullet is somewhat more finicky than the truncated cone and JHP bullets I usually use (no malfunctions with cast TC, Hydra-Shok, or Gold Dot).
 
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