Is my 45 ACP handload safe?


December 30, 2011, 10:59 PM
I've been shooting my Dad's handloads and now my loads (same recipe) for about 1000 rounds now. Very accurate out of my Series 80 Gold Cup with an old school Centaur Systems barrel. Recently I started loading for a couple other calibers and bought a chrono and was a little surprised to see the velocity I was getting.

1150-1200 fps using 7.6grn of Win 231 pushing a 158grn semi-wadcutter.

When I look at the load data from Hodgdon, it shows 1112fps using 6.7grn of 231 with a 155grn.

Being so new to handloading, how can I be sure my load is safe? Like I said, it's very accurate, never jams for me (does occasionally jam when a "non-shooting" friend shoots it), primers don't seem to be flattened much.


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December 30, 2011, 11:10 PM
I'd drop the charge down some, you're a grain (nearly 15%) over a Hodgdon listed maximum load that they say is at 17,000 CUP.

December 30, 2011, 11:55 PM
Where did you get that load? One of the important rules especially for new reloaders is to stay within published load data. Some powder/caliber combination can spike pressures quite quickly if you overcharge. Safety is number 1 when it comes to reloading...

Metal Tiger
December 31, 2011, 12:03 AM
Sounds like a dyslexia issue 7.6 gr for 6.7 gr

December 31, 2011, 02:21 AM
I got the load from my dad. He's been reloading for quite some time. I've been shooting his handloads since I was both 9mm and 45 acp. Literally thousands of rounds in each caliber. Which is why I was so shocked when I started reloading and looked into the load data.

December 31, 2011, 05:06 AM
I've exceeded hodgdon data before. The hodgdon data (which I followed to a T) was low by a pretty large margin when I chronographed it. I've since been following speer data. It works better for me.

Check other sources besides what hodgdon has up online. If the other sources are in agreement that your higher charge is suitable, I wouldn't worry about it.

December 31, 2011, 09:41 AM
You talk about .45 ACP (Gold Cup), but then show data for a 158. In what? .38, .357?

How about the 155?

We need you to be more clear about what bullet in what caliber and what charge weight.

December 31, 2011, 10:39 AM
It's a .45 ACP using a cast lead 158grn semi-wadcutter that I buy from a guy at a gun show every couple of years. He casts them himself. They shoot great for bulk shooting at paper, steel, pins, etc.

Lost Sheep
December 31, 2011, 04:04 PM
Over time, as new editions of loading manuals are published and powder formulations get changed (though this happens very slowly and not often) load data changes. I have read on many threads people commenting on the reduction in velocities (mostly mentioning .357 Mag) in today's manuals vs the manuals from 20-30 years ago. Powder charge weights seem to be lower, too.

If I am using 20 year old powder, I use my 20 year old manual's recipes. If I am using new powder, I use the new manual's recipes.

I also observe what gun is being used for the manual publisher's testing. If it is substantially dissimilar to my gun I try to find data produced in a more similar firearm.

If I were to ever go outside published loading data, it would be very carefully with scrupulous attention paid to all possible pressure signs. Just as if I were publishing a load manual (which, in effect, I am), but without all the lab equipment, so I would be SUPER cautious. And wouldn't do it.

You may be using some of the safety margin of your pistol with these loads. Or you may just be reading a manual that is a bit conservative for your gun.

Being a bit cavalier about it, I would say that your gun has been tested for this load and is safe. You have looked for all the 20-odd pressure signals and found nothing alarming and the load is accurate.

In summary: I would keep using this recipe. Maybe get a recoil buffer to cushion your frame.

Lost Sheep

p.s. I have a Gold Cup that, with certain light loads, I can cause stovepipe jams and failures to eject at will simply by holding the pistol lightly (limp wristing) and cure by holding firmly. Use your friend as a test. Get him to hold loosely and then get him to hold in a really tight Weaver stance with lots of isometric tension and see if that affects his jam rate.

p.p.s. If you reduce the load you are using by a little, does the velocity drop off? If it doesn't, I would be alarmed enough to do more research.

December 31, 2011, 07:22 PM
I would drop the charge down a little. A minimum install a buffer like suggested.

Better yet rework up your loads since you have a crony, and see where it leave you. I prefer WST for 45acp loads. This powder burns cleaner than any powder I have tried. Almost looks like the range safe ammo that the empty cases look new. Yes it burns that clean on the mid to upper/max loads.

When mfg test loads they normally use a test barrel which is heavy and fully instrumented. With the advanced in high speed data acquisition they may be seeing spikes that were not detected with old equipment. Normally mfg will run duplicate runs with old and new equipment to see if any coloration between the 2. But with all of liabilities involved they will move to the lower charges. Now the spike may or may not be there but... Sometimes when you see a big swings, it's due to new formulation. Once it's out for a while they may bump the numbers up, probably not into days world. The reason you try to get more than one load book that matches what your doing. Which can be very hard these days with all of the bullets that are out to choose from.

Be safe....

January 1, 2012, 01:31 PM
Thanks for offering up the wise words guys. Much appreciated.

The problem is, I've only just begun hand loading and am unfamiliar with all of the pressure signs. The one thing I have recently noticed is that my Centaur Systems buffer is in need of replacement. Not sure if that's a result of the firing of 1200 of these loads? Or if it's because the gun came with an unknown amount of rounds fired through it.

Another thing that my father said I should do is to recover a bullet and see if the back has started to melt.

January 1, 2012, 02:40 PM
the gun came with an unknown amount of rounds fired through it.
I posted this caution in another thread and will do it here too.

Over the years, I have seen enough guns (not just Glocks, but 1911s, etc.) blow up by well intentioned reloaders and experienced shooters that made me a little OCD on the safety aspects of reloading.

For used guns with unknown history of what kinds of ammunition they were shot with, it would be advisable to closely inspect the pistol/barrel for signs of metal stress and fatigue prior to conducting powder charge work up towards max load data.

Be safe. ;)

my father said I should do is to recover a bullet and see if the back has started to melt.
Powder burn occurs too fast to do any melting of the bullet base. Instead, it may experience gas cutting/bullet base erosion from high pressure gas leakage. All you will see on the bullet base is blackened powder burn residue.

Hondo 60
January 1, 2012, 03:47 PM
Please stay within published loads.
The info from the powders makers is free on their sites.
And any number of companies publish reloading manuals.

Stay safe, my friends & Happy New Year!

January 1, 2012, 10:19 PM
Good words. I think I'll work up the load from a lower charge and see how reliability and accuracy are affected before shooting or pulling the 600 rounds I've got loaded. Now to find or make a new recoil buffer.

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