Alternatives to "Standard" Pistol Powders


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35 Whelen
April 12, 2013, 01:09 AM
(Posted this elsewhere, but thought it might be of interest here as well)

As we’re all aware, the craziness that’s happened in the last several months has made reloading components somewhat scarce, especially powder. I’m a fan of Alliant powder probably because I’ve been using it for so long and am very familiar with it and its applications with regards to shotshell and handgun loading. I use LOTS of Unique, but haven’t been able to find it anywhere and my 4 lb. keg is almost ¾ empty and I have but one 1 lb. bottle. As such, I began thinking about alternative powders for handgun loading.
Alliant has quite a few specialty shotgun powders and I wondered if any of them would work for handgun. I did a little research and decided that e3 was probably similar to Bullseye or Red Dot and the 20/28 seemed very similar to Unique. I called a local guy who sells powder out of his house and he had some of both, so I bought a pound of each to try in my .44 Specials.

I started with some informal testing of e3 in my 4 ¾” Uberti .44 Special with the intent of comparing it to Bullseye and Red Dot. I only tried three loads but the results are as follows:

Powder........Charge............ Bullet..........Velocity

Red Dot_______4.0______ 170 gr. RNFP_____612 (12.8% vel. difference)
e3___________ 4.0______ 170 gr. RNFP_____702

Red Dot_______4.7______ 250 gr. SWC______689 (A little over 9% vel. difference)
e 3___________4.7______ 250 gr. SWC______764

Bullseye_______5.5_______250 gr. SWC______810 (6.625% vel. difference)
e 3___________5.5_______250 gr. SWC______864

Next was some testing with my 5 ¾” Blackhawk Flat Top .44 Special. In it I tested 20/28 alongside Unique. As I suspected, and much to my satisfaction, the 20/28 is very similar to Unique in its burning rate, but is slightly smaller flakes which seems to meter somewhat more easily.

Powder........Charge............Bullet..............Velocity......... Extreme Spread

20/28________ 6.5______260 gr. SWC (a)_____892__________Unknown (2.7% vel. difference)
Unique________6.5______260 gr. SWC (a)_____868__________Unknown

20/28_________7.5______260 gr. SWC (a)_____981____________24 (2.5% vel. difference)
Unique________7.5______260 gr. SWC (a)_____957____________20

20/28_________6.5______260 gr. SWC (b)_____863____________28 (3% vel. difference)
Unique________6.5______260 gr. SWC (b)_____837____________44

20/28_________7.5______260 gr. SWC (b)_____946____________30 (3% vel. difference)
Unique________7.5______260 gr. SWC (b)_____919____________57

20/28_________8.0______260 gr. SWC (b)_____994____________58 (2.7% vel. difference)
Unique________8.0______260 gr. SWC (b)_____967_____________25

Bullets: (a)- NOE 429421 .430” ACWW; (b) RCBS 44-250KT .430” ACWW Both lubed with Ceresin Scarlet
The last test was with one bullet and load in my Colt Gov’t Model, Series 70 45 ACP. The bullet was from a SAECO #130 mould, of ACWW. Weighed 200 grs., sized ,.452”, and lubed with a homemade soft lube.

Powder.........Charge............ Bullet.......... Velocity.......Extreme Spread

20/28_________6.5_______200 gr. SWC_____1020____________46 (VERY accurate load) (1.1% vel. difference)
Unique________6.5_______200 gr. SWC_____1009____________45

All loads were chronographed with a CED Millennium 2. Temp. 54° F

So as can be seen here, 20/28 is for all practical purposes, Unique, only a hair faster burning. BTW, none of the loads showed any signs of pressure. When time permits, I hope to more thoroughly compare e3 to Bullseye and Red Dot.


35W

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ljnowell
April 12, 2013, 01:43 AM
Interesting. These are both powders with no pistol data available right? It doesnt surprise me that they would work good, as most shotgun powders do work very well in pistols, for light(er) loads.

Thanks for the work of testing these. This is the kind of stuff that I like about handloading. Experimenting with unknowns to achieve something different.

Edit: Since you found that 20/28 seemed to perform so close to Unique, I would be interested to see it tested a little further. Not necessarily with hot loads, but to see how it performs when pushed a little harder. It would be interesting to find an Alliant powder that performs like unique but meters better in a measure. I always liked Alliant powders, but the bulk of my target level pistol loads are done with AA powders now because they meter so well.

turkey@2
April 12, 2013, 04:39 AM
I love unique except for the black hands and gun after firing a few.

35 Whelen
April 12, 2013, 04:43 AM
I will for sure experiment further with 20/28 in the Blackhawk. I've used up to 8.5 grs. of Unique in the Blackhawk, so I see no reason to not use the same load in 20/28, working up in 1/2 grain increments.
I'll likely also try it in my Uberti 45 Colt as time permits.

35W

35 Whelen
April 12, 2013, 04:46 AM
I love unique except for the black hands and gun after firing a few.
OH!!! That was another thing I forgot to mention. After the chronographing session, I loaded a few rounds to lob at 100 yds, and thought I check the barrel for leading first. I started with my usual prcedure of pushing a tight patch through the barrel not even thinking about how clean or dirty 20/28 might be. I couldn't believe how clean the patch was!

35W

FROGO207
April 12, 2013, 07:42 AM
^^Interesting data for sure.:D
I use Promo (same as Red Dot) a lot as well as trying 700-X, Blue Dot, and Lil Gun for handgun applications that are not in any of the data books. All seem good to go so far as well as economical.

I will caution new reloaders to stick to published recipes until you know what the results will be with unknown loadings by experience so no damage happens to your or your firearm. After 30+ years I still will not deviate far from published data as it is. Just Saying. :scrutiny:

jstein650
April 12, 2013, 04:18 PM
Good stuff, guys. And, of course, it's not like you're substituting something way out of the ballpark in burn rate. I like Herco and Green Dot for a lot of standard pressure pistol loads, although you don't see them much these days for handguns. Glad for the insight on e3 and the others.

sellersm
April 12, 2013, 04:24 PM
Curious if you've tried American Select powder? I know it has great usefulness in some pistol calibers.

Lj1941
April 12, 2013, 06:00 PM
Try Alliant Clay Dot as an exact replacment by WEIGHT for Hodgdon Clays and you should be good to go.Some of the major suppliers that are out of almost everything else have it available and it is cheaper than Clays. I have used it in thousands of rounds in 9,40,38S & 45ACP.:)

35 Whelen
April 12, 2013, 10:17 PM
Curious if you've tried American Select powder? I know it has great usefulness in some pistol calibers.
No, but I intend to get to it some day.

bluetopper
April 12, 2013, 10:30 PM
I've experimented a good bit with E3.....it's hot.

It takes less of it than any powder I'ver ever tried.......even Clays by a slim margin.

American Select is superb in any handgun caliber I've ever tried it in.

I'd like to know how Alliant 410 powder compares to 2400?

bluetopper
April 12, 2013, 10:49 PM
The best burn rate chart I've ever seen.

Click on attached file.

Crashbox
April 12, 2013, 11:09 PM
Thank you for sharing this information and starting this topic.

The current situation WRT reloading components was in fact one reason I recently purchased a chronograph, to keep an eye on things should I decide to use an alternative powder and/or a legacy load.

I suppose two examples I could give which I have used are using WSF and Herco in .357 Magnum with the MBC 140 TCFP cast bullets. I cannot recall any published WSF loads in .357 off the top of my head so I developed a load which is merely 'satisfactory' but nonetheless an alternative (clean but hot-burning and "barky"). However, Herco was used in ages past in .357 loads so I developed my 'pet' load using this legacy powder (dirty as anything but not hot-burning at all and is accurate).

I just wish they made QuickLoad for Linux... :)

zxcvbob
April 12, 2013, 11:31 PM
I just wish they made QuickLoad for Linux...


The Windows version will run just fine in Wine.

Crashbox
April 13, 2013, 12:49 AM
Thanks for the info, zxcvbob- definitely helpful. Reckon it's time for me to load Wine on my machine.

Lagarto
April 13, 2013, 01:10 AM
I have used Blue Dot on 44 Mag hunting loads and 10MM with very good results.

I have had no trouble getting a response from the Alliant technical staff about non puplished data. One load was for a 38spl+P+ for a 95gr jhp out of a 1.75'' bbl

Their director was also a great help on 357 Sig data when that round first appeared. He was reloading it also.

Fishslayer
April 13, 2013, 03:01 AM
I'm a fan of Alliant Green Dot in 9mm, .38 and .45ACP. It's a bit slower than Bullseye, about 50% or so bulkier, and load data is generally close to Bullseye. Plenty of load data available, too.

The secret is kinda out though as Green Dot is as hard to find as anything else now.

OrangePwrx9
April 7, 2014, 04:25 PM
I've experimented a good bit with E3.....it's hot.

It takes less of it than any powder I'ver ever tried.......even Clays by a slim margin.

American Select is superb in any handgun caliber I've ever tried it in.

I'd like to know how Alliant 410 powder compares to 2400?
I agree that e3 is hot. Have tried it in .357 (wadcutter loads) and .45acp with 200 gr. SWC. Used Red Dot starting loads to begin with. Don't think I'll be going any higher.

fecmech
April 8, 2014, 07:53 PM
Think of E3 as 700x

CoalTrain49
April 10, 2014, 01:07 AM
Curious if you've tried American Select powder? I know it has great usefulness in some pistol calibers.

I've tried it loading 45 ACP. I called Alliant and they gave me data. They were very conservative in their range which I understand. I now have a nice low power load that I'm very happy with. It seems to be very close to the performance of Titegroup and associated data. Bullseye is over-rated and you can't find it anyway.

kerreckt
April 10, 2014, 05:13 PM
I use American Select with 9mm, .40 S&W and .45acp. Very similar to Titegroup or N320.
I started using 20/28 in place of Unique about a year ago or so, when I read a posting from "35 Whelen" telling us the results of his trials. I have been very pleased with it and see no reason to quit. It also is available and Unique isn't. Even if Unique were available I would continue using 20/28. It meters better and burns cleaner. Many thanks to you "35 Whelen" you opened new territory.

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