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Incomplete powder burn target loads

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by bds, Sep 30, 2011.

  1. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    I have a question.

    Some posted that their 45ACP target loads burn incomplete and feel unburnt powder/particles on their faces and see them on the firearms. Yet they feel that this is good enough and will continue to use these loads.

    If you are getting incomplete combustion inside the case, it is probably affecting consistency of chamber pressure, which in turn will affect accuracy and consistency of shot groups.

    So, even for target loads, shouldn't you develop loads that burn completely for more consistent chamber pressures?
  2. USSR

    USSR Well-Known Member

    To each their own. Personally, I use fast burning powders such as Solo 1000 and Bullseye for target loads.

  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    And unburned powder isn't always unburned.

    Some flake type powders often blow out burned powder "skeletons" or ash.
    That may be what is hitting people in the face.

    The answer is, Don't tug on Superman's cape, and Don't spit into the wind!

  4. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    Hmmm ... So, let the shot grops/accuracy be the judge?

    Holes on target speak volumes. :D
  5. JDGray

    JDGray Well-Known Member

    I agree with target loads, and faster powders. Clays comes to mind:)
  6. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I do not like loads that throw powder residue all over, so I try to come up with loads that do not do so by changing powders, changing speeds, changing charge weights, etc, until you get the accuracy and velocity you want without scorching cases and blowing powder residue everywhere.
  7. Nick93

    Nick93 Well-Known Member

    The target is the only judge... anyway I like clean loads whatever the shooting i do ... powder residue is related to chamber pressure and the powder itself... and YES the better the powder burns the more consistent the results are (at least in speed) ... I dont know you but i allways found medium-top charge loads the most accurate ... i really like w231 for 9mm target loads if not the cleaner A22B :O
  8. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Well-Known Member

    Try a little less belling and maybe a little tighter taper crimp, can you push the bullets into the case with thumb pressure? It may be they are too loosely crimped for adequate pressure and a complete burn.

    What powder was it anyway??
  9. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    LOL, Don't get me wrong - it's not me having this problem.

    I posted that some reloaders are posting that despite they are getting this problem, just accept it and keep reloading.

    My favorite 45ACP target load is 200 gr SWC with 5.0 gr of W231 and plinking load is 4.0 gr of Promo/Red Dot. Both are very accurate and clean burning with no powder residue.
  10. rsrocket1

    rsrocket1 Well-Known Member

    I know that Unique is much dirtier as you lower the pressure. My first loads were based on the Lee dipper included with the die set which was the 0.5cc. It claimed it threw 5.1 grains of Unique. In fact in threw a very consistent 4.1 grains. Being safe, I started with 3.5 grains on a 230g LRN bullet. Low recoil, nice blow back in my face and lots of flakes all over the place and cases covered with soot. Later calculations showed that only 73% was being burned in the barrel.

    When I worked the load all the way up to 6.0 grains, the blow back stopped, the residual flakes disappeared and the cases came out clean. That load estimated 95% of the powder burned in the gun.

    I have kept Unique for the full house loads, but moved over to Red Dot for lighter loads. 4.5g under a 200g LSWC makes for a much nicer "push" rather than a "kick" and still keeps everything clean because the pressure is the same as 6g Unique under a 230g LRN bullet and 100% of the Red Dot is burned well before the bullet leaves the barrel. If I wanted to go lighter, I would try Clays and I may do so one of these days.
  11. 1SOW

    1SOW Well-Known Member

    Just to respond to your post/my 1 cent worth:

    "The target tells the story" is somewhat true, but I haven't found it necessary to have unburnt powder residue, excess soot or muzzle flash to shoot tight groups with light loads . The right powder will give good results in all the these areas.

    I believe, and can appreciate, the reason some shooters are satisfied with dirty loads is not wanting to buy and have to set up for several different powders.
    You often see the thread: "What one powder will do it all, 380 to 44mag?" In my opinion, none. Target/light loads need a faster burning higher pressure powder--single base powders burn the cleanest and coolest--no nitro-- and can be very accurate for it's purpose. This same powder won't work well or at all for fast or SD loads. Lead, jacketed, heavy or light bullets may all need a different powder to give top performance.

    There isn't any reason that 'dirty' is not okay. I just prefer my pistols to be able to shoot a LOT of rds before "dirty" can become a reliability issue.
  12. J_McLeod

    J_McLeod Well-Known Member

    I'm getting loads that leave a lot of residue on the case, and have considered it good enough because I still have about 1k left of that bullet. Currently I have two bullets on hand, MBC 147gr and Rainier .354 124gr. The MBC shoots great and clean with 4.8gr of HS-6, but I've had issues with the Rainiers. I worked my way up to 4.7gr of 231 with a 1.135-1.145 OAL and still get dirty cases, outside and in. From reading here, I'm guessing that's because there's not enough pressure, but I'm afraid to go any higher because I'm already near max for the jacketed data and Rainiers are supposed to shoot with lead. I'm guessing the small size might be contributing as well. I slugged the barrel, and measured it at .355. Once this box is gone, I'll just buy more MBC and some other plated/jacketed.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    If it truly is unburnt powder the usual reasons are too light a charge, not enough crimp or both. I'm surprised your friend is having a problem with 45 Auto ammo. That round is one of the easiest to load for. I load a charge of 5.5gr W231 under any 230gr bullet and call it good...
  14. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    1SOW, good points. I too was on that band wagon two years ago as I tried to minimize my powders on hand while my salary got reduced. I tried for one slower burning WSF for full power loads and one faster burning W231/HP-38 for target loads in 9mm, 40S&W and 45ACP, but it didn't work (I could almost hear Walkalong saying, "I told you so!"). :D For me, accuracy is everything. So, I abandoned my quest for powder reduction and decided to reexamine other popular powders in the hopes of perhaps ending up with a few more.

    For years, since I shot USPSA and not Bullseye, utmost accuracy was not necessary and I never did do any powder comparison accuracy tests when I started match shooting 16 years ago (my double taps all landed in "A" zone with W231, so why change?). Initially I tried Bullseye, Clays, W231, Universal, WSF, HS-6 (Titegroup had too narrow of load range for this newbie reloader so initially I avoided it). Although I got accurate target loads with Bullseye, since I also got accurate loads with W231 (softer recoil than Bullseye) and was fairly clean burning (no unburnt powder flakes), I stuck with it. As many match shooters transitioned to Titegroup, I considered doing the same, but after talking to several shooters as to the pros/cons and doing some range test, I stayed with W231.

    Since last year, I have done powder comparison range tests with Bullseye, Promo, Clays, N320, Titegroup, WST, Green Dot, W231/HP-38, Unique, Universal, Power Pistol and WSF. As I did my work up with each powder, I had occasions when I started to get accurate shot groups but powder burn was incomplete or got my face sprayed with powder particles/residue. For me, this is not acceptable. Try explaining this to my wife - "Honey, it's OK that your face is being pelted with powder flakes because you got your eye protection on and still hitting your target ..." Not! :D

    I found several things from various powder comparison tests and just because the powders are in similar burn rate ranking on the burn rate chart, they do not have the same burn characteristics. Even for faster than W231/HP-38 burn rate powders, some powders did not produce accurate target loads until they reached high range load data. Even the powders that sprayed flakes/particles on my face at start/mid range load data, higher charges reduced or eliminated the problem.

    So for those that feel they can tolerate the incomplete burn/powder residue flakes/particles on their face because their target accuracy is good enough, I would say keep working up your loads or try another powder.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  15. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Yep, and can change depending on caliber.

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