Green Dot vs W231/HP38


May 23, 2010, 02:39 AM
When new reloaders/match shooters ask for a powder recommendation, I always mention Winchester 231/Hodgdon HP38 (same powder) as a general purpose, multi-caliber (38 special to 45 ACP) medium recoil powder with a lot of available load data. It is a small flattened ball powder that meters very well and is clean burning powder at moderate to near max load data charges. It has been my designated match powder for the past 15+ years.

Lately, W231 and now HP38 have been hard to find and I have been thinking about a comparable substitute to recommend when W231/HP38 cannot be found. At the recommendations of many on various threads, I considered Alliant Green Dot. It is slower than Bullseye/Promo but a bit faster than W231/HP38 on the burn rate chart.

I recently bought a pound bottle marked "CLEANER BURNING" and has been anxious to range test for 9mm and 40S&W.

Range tests were done with G22/G27 using Lone Wolf barrels (believe it or not, shot groups from G27 are comparable to G22). About 300 rounds were shot. FMJ bullets were shot first, followed by plated bullets and lead bullets last. Since this is my first range test with Green Dot, test loads weren't shot at all distances (7/10/15 yards).

9mm test loads:
115 gr FMJ (Winchester) at 4.4 gr with 1.125" OAL
125 gr Plated (Rainier Ballistics) at 3.8/4.1/4.4 gr with 1.125" OAL
125 gr Lead (Missouri Bullets) at 3.8/4.1 gr with 1.10" OAL

40 S&W test loads:
180 gr Lead (Missouri Bullets) at 3.5/3.8/4.1/4.4 gr with 1.125" OAL

Shooting impressions (All shots were fired off hand using front sight flash rapid fire):
All loads cycled the stock Glock recoil spring slides well and spent cases were ejected behind me and to the right.

9mm average shot groups:
115 FMJ/4.4 gr - 7 yard 1.5" - 10 yard 2.5" - Light recoil

125 Plated/3.8 gr - 7 yard 1" - 10 yard 1" - 15 yard 2" - Light recoil
125 Plated/4.1 gr - 7 yard 2" - 10 yard 3" - Light recoil
125 Plated/4.4 gr - 7 yard 1.5" - 10 yard 3" - Moderate recoil

125 Lead/3.8 gr - 7 yard 1" - 10 yard 2" - 15 yard 1.5" - Moderate recoil
125 Lead/4.1 gr - 7 yard 1.5" - 10 yard 2" - 15 yard 3" - Moderate recoil

40S&W average shot groups:
180 Lead/3.5 gr - 7 yard 1" - 10 yard 3" - 15 yard 4" - Mild recoil
180 Lead/3.8 gr - 7 yard 1" - 10 yard 2" - 15 yard 2.5" - Mild recoil
180 Lead/4.1 gr - 7 yard 1.5" - 10 yard 2.5" - 15 yard 3" - Moderate recoil
180 Lead/4.4 gr - 7 yard 1" - 10 yard 1" - 15 yard 3" - Moderate recoil

9mm 125 Plated/3.8 gr load was very accurate with light recoil (less than many 380 Auto loads). This would make an excellent load for new/female shooter being introduced to 9mm. 9mm 125 Lead/3.8 gr load had moderate recoil than plated light recoil, but was just as accurate if not more accurate at 15 yards.

40S&W 180 Lead loads were consistent and higher charges shot comparable to my W231/HP38 reference match loads.

This initial range test shows a lot of promise. For the next range test, I will be loading 9mm 115 gr with higher charges. I am very happy with 125 gr accuracy and will load more at the same powder charges. 40S&W lead loads were close to my anticipation and will load FMJ/plated loads next.

Even with this preliminary test, I would gladly recommend Green Dot if one could not find W231/HP38. At $98 for 8 lb container (Powder Valley), it is even cheaper than HP38. :D

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May 23, 2010, 09:47 AM
I bought a pound of Green Dot marked "cleaner burning" not long ago based on someones post here that is was not position sensitive. I tried it in a light load in .357 Mag cases. Well, it's about average in the "position sensitive" department. It did seem to burn clean though.

I will have to try it in 9MM, .40, and .45. Maybe .38 Super as well. I am sure it is good for something. Your data will give me a great idea where to start with it.

May 23, 2010, 01:45 PM
I ran across a good deal on a quantity of Green Dot a while back, and after finding .45acp and .45LC recipes, I jumped on it. Been using it ever since.

May 23, 2010, 01:52 PM
Looking forward to doing 45 ACP comparison tests with W231/HP38.

I forgot to note that Green Dot is a smaller flake type powder slightly larger than Bullseye but much smaller than Promo. It metered very well with charge-to-charge variance of less than 0.1 grain in my Pro Auto Disk.

Recoil "felt" similar to comparable W231/HP38 loads.

Walkalong, my initial impression is that Green Dot has similar shooting/recoil characteristics and perhaps slightly less accurate than W231/HP38 (but accurate enough for me for plinking/range/practice shooting :D). This was my initial test with Green Dot and charges were kept in the low/mid end of the load data (Accuracy should improve as we move up to higher end of the load data). If you look at the powder charges I started out with, they are very close to W231/HP38 load data.

I couldn't check whether it was cleaner burning since I tested both Promo and Green Dot in the same pistols. On the next range test, I will shoot two G27s side by side with Green Dot and W231/HP38 to see how dirty/clean it burns in reference to W231/HP38.

May 23, 2010, 04:42 PM
I can't wait to hear your findings on comparing the 2 side by side with your next test. I was looking at that myself a few weeks ago but passed on it as I am getting low on my 231 also.

May 23, 2010, 06:08 PM
I rechecked my calendar and my week off starts this coming Friday (May 28), so I will start loading my test rounds today with Promo, Green Dot, W231 and HP38 (I have both).

May 23, 2010, 07:30 PM
Not to thread jack but I'm about to get into reloading. Plan to start with 9mil and 40 and probably move up to other cals. later.

When I went to buy powder, the guy suggested I use Red Dot. In hindsight, he didn't really seem to be all that confident in what he was saying.

ANYWAY, after reading a bit, the Red Dot doesn't seem to be my best choice. My question is, would one of the above, 231, HP38 or Green Dot be a better option. Thx.

May 23, 2010, 08:31 PM
jason70, Bullseye/Red Dot/Promo are fastest of burn rate powders for pistol. If you look at the load data for these powders, they often carry very narrow powder charge options. They are good for most semi-auto pistol calibers and especially good for short-barreled subcompacts as powder burn is more complete before the bullet exits the barrel (Promo/Red Dot burns very well in my Glock 27).

The slower burning Green Dot/W231/HP38 not only reduces the snappiness of recoil, but also is more flexible when it comes to load charge options. You will find plenty of load data for 38 Special to 45 ACP with broader powder charge range.

If I were to choose between Red Dot and Green Dot, based on my range test Saturday, I would wholeheartedly recommend Green Dot as it performed very close to W231/HP38 reference loads. Also, Green Dot metered very consistently and accurately for me.

The application where faster burning Bullseye/Red Dot/Promo has advantage over W231/HP38 is if you are wanting to duplicate some factory JHP loads. I found from my Promo range tests that some of higher end charges of Promo duplicated felt recoil of many factory loads (which is good "real world" tactical practice instead of fast/light recoil match shooting world).

You can start with Green Dot and try out other powders later (fast = Bullseye/Red Dot/Promo, slow = WSF/Unique/HS6).

May 23, 2010, 09:24 PM

Thanks for confirming what I already suspected. I had already came to my own conclusion that the RD wasn't necessarily right for me. Not at this time, at least. I apologize the interruption but thx for your advice.

May 23, 2010, 10:17 PM
jason70, you are very welcome. Welcome to THR and the world of reloading!

No problem with your questions to clarify - Isn't that why THR Handloading and Reloading category exist?

Heck, I learn something new every week on this forum. :D

May 23, 2010, 11:22 PM
If you're looking for a powder that closely mimics W231/HP-38 Ramshot Zip is the powder IMO. (not that it's any easier to find than W231) Zip produces a similar felt recoil and similar velocities when compared to W231 too.

May 23, 2010, 11:43 PM
What about Titegroup? I know it burns a bit faster, and is spherical, not flattened. But, from what I've read, it seems it should work great for 9mm and .45acp competition/target loads.

Am I wrong?

May 24, 2010, 01:54 AM
wilkersk, Titegroup is listed just below faster Bullseye in the burn rate chart and many posted that it needs to be pushed near max load data.

When I was looking for an alternative to W231/HP38, which is a very flexible powder for all pistol calibers, I was looking for a powder that was readily available, low in cost, and with load data for almost all pistol calibers. I was initially looking at Alliant 20/28 as it is listed near W231/HP38 burn rate, but couldn't find enough pistol load data and decided with Green Dot as a compromise between faster Bullseye and W231/HP38.

Yes, Ramshot Zip, AA #2, AA Solo, IMR PB, IMR SR 7625, and VihtaVuori N320 are listed near W231/HP38 burn rate, but they were either much higher in price, not readily available or load data for pistol calibers weren't readily available.

I am not saying that Green Dot is the best substitute for W231/HP38. I think Ramshot Zip may hold that title. What I am saying is that when you can't find the popular W231/HP38, Green Dot may be a good alternative that is widely available at a lower price.

May 24, 2010, 02:49 AM
I've been using Green Dot for full power 230 gr. JHP loads in .45 acp for several years. It provides excellent accuracy in my 1911's, Witnesses and XD-45, and pushes them right along where I want them in velocity.

Hope this helps.


Jesse Heywood
May 24, 2010, 08:59 AM
What about Titegroup?

I bought some TG last fall, mainly because it was on the store shelf. I load 32-20, .38 spl., and 45 Colt. It does very well and the results are similar to W231.

Both powders meter well in a Uniflow. One potential problem is the ability to put multiple charges in the case.

The advertisements say TG is not position sensitive. However, Walkalong disputes that. I don't have a chronograph, so I will believe Walkalong. As long as you handle the gun consistently it shouldn't be a problem.

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