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Chapter Two: Why "Plink" Loads?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by 345 DeSoto, Aug 9, 2014.

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  1. 345 DeSoto

    345 DeSoto Member

    Jan 5, 2008
    Skaneateles,NY Summer/Port St.Lucie,FL Winter
    When I asked the question, "Why "Plink" Loads?", I got some VERY informative but also some very interesting answers. I'd like some more info on the increase in accuracy of loading light...especially the .45 ACP loadings. It never occured to me that "light" loads for the .45 could be just as accurate, if not more so, than full power loadings....:eek: Tell me more....:confused:
  2. FROGO207

    FROGO207 Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Mount Desert Island Maine
    You will need something that will run the action in a semiauto. With a wheelgun you can load lower still. What I find attractive is the difference in "felt" recoil. You can load snappy loads or slower loads that give more of a "push" when fired. I like 700-X for a couple reasons )1 I have a ton of it and )2 When loaded hot enough it burns really clean. I use a custom made scoop to load it with because it is made like corn flakes and some powder measures have a hard time dropping accurate amounts. I use 4.0 grains with a 230 grain RN bullet for both lead and plated (berries/X-Treme) as well as when using Gold Dots. Also I use 4.3 for regular jacketed 230 grain bullets. If you go with a lighter charge then you could change your recoil spring and tune your loads to POA for this but my reloads are on the money at least as well as I can shoot with fast sight reacquisition. I like them for rapid fire in several pistols and they run fine in my Mac 10. YMMV
  3. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Member

    Oct 14, 2005
    Northwest Arkansas
    With revolvers I find that in 357 mag HS6 is just as accurate as 296. But uses HALF the powder.

    Sure the velocity is less but my paper target doesn't notice.
  4. silverbullet86

    silverbullet86 Member

    Jun 13, 2014
    I posted this 45 load data in another thread previously – but recently updated – see below…

    I loaded some "reduced recoil" loads for my Dad to practice with in his Springfield XDS, after he had Carpal Tunnel surgery.

    Berry's 185 gr HBRN w/ Bullseye up to 5.5gr & WIN LPP 1.255" OAL and R-P or WIN brass.

    I started as low as 4.7gr and was surprised that they cycled the gun with no issues!

    Back in the Spring (cooler temps) these Chrono'd at:
    690 fps with 4.7gr
    700 fps with 5.0gr
    750 fps with 5.5 gr (XDS with 3.3" bbl)

    I recently loaded 50 more, with the following recipe:

    Berry's 185 gr HBRN Bullseye 5.2gr. CCI #300 LPP 1.255” OAL Federal Brass

    All 50 fired mid July 2014 @ 75-80 deg temps

    Chrono’d 5 shots: 806 812 831 812 805

    AVG 813 fps (from Springfield XDS with 3.3" bbl) ES=26 / SD=10

    Very accurate with relatively light recoil, 100% function

    I guess the slightly warmer temps, change to the CCI primers, & Federal brass accounts for the velocity increase over the previous loads.

    I also tested 10 rounds of the same recipe, but with the Blazer extruded brass that takes Small Pistol Primers. Nearly identical - AVG 792 fps
  5. Reloadron
    • Contributing Member

    Reloadron Member

    Jul 6, 2012
    Cleveland, Ohio USA
    One of the beauties of many .45 ACP pistols is the ability to easily change recoil springs. This allows the shooter to develop lighter loads and still have the pistol function reliably.

    There are no shortage of reads on the subject and this read is one of the many. Reading in part:

  6. bds
    • Contributing Member

    bds Member

    Jan 10, 2010
    Northwest Coast
    I started reloading because I shot USPSA matches and wanted to save money on ammo over factory rounds and many match shooters claimed reloaded match rounds were more accurate than factory ammo. Many match shooters held the notion that in theory, accuracy "should" improve as you work up your loads from start charge towards max charge due to increase in chamber pressures for more efficient powder burn.

    Well, my reloading and shooting mentor was a bullseye match shooter and he threw that notion out the window. Unlike the rapid fire "action pistol" match shooting of USPSA where double taps and faster stage times trump over surgical precision of each shot, slow fire bullseye match shooting requires utmost accurate loads and trigger control. He told me optimal accuracy will result from "consistency" of reloading variables. Of course, he taught me the virtues of scraping the bottom of FMJ lead base so all the bullets weighed the same, hand sorting brass by headstamp and hand weighing the powder charges but these reloading variables are for another thread discussion.

    We developed various match loads that met USPSA power factors (major and minor) using slower Universal, HS-6 and WSF along with faster burning W231/HP-38, Titegroup, WST, Clays and Bullseye. Range testing was done using modified Norinco 1911/Sig 226 (my match pistols before switching to Glocks) off sand bags at 7, 15, 25 and 50 yards. We found many accurate loads not necessarily at high-to-near max load data as I anticipated, but at mid range load data using faster burn rate powders. Since surgical precision loads were not needed for my USPSA "action pistol" match shooting, I went with W231/HP-38 loads that produced less snappy felt recoil for more comfortable double taps.

    Over the years, what I found is that slower burn rate than Unique/Universal powders tended to produce optimal accuracy at high-to-near max load data while faster burn rate than W231/HP-38 powders often produced accurate enough loads at mid range load data and sometimes at lower powder charges. So when I conduct load development, I often dip below the published start charges to see if the powder I am using can produce lighter yet accurate loads. Powders like Bullseye downloads well to produce accurate loads and probably explains why many bullseye match shooters use it. Clays is another powder many use for lighter and cleaner loads. Some match shooters like WST/Titegroup for lighter loads but when I switched to 40S&W, many match shooters commented on spikey pressure build up with WST/Titegroup so I stayed with W231/HP-38 even though it is more temperature sensitive.

    While 165 gr FMJ/JHP Montana Gold with 5.0 gr W231/HP-38 was my favored match load, going from Limited to Production allowed for lighter recoil minor loads with 125 power factor. With 180 gr bullet, you only need 700 fps to make 126 power factor and that is easily done with below start charge. For Glock 22 and even for G23/G27, 3.8+ gr of W231/HP-38 with 180 gr Berry's/PowerBond/Rainier/X-Treme plated bullets will start to reliably cycle the slide and 4.0-4.2 gr will produce 9mm like mild recoil for fun and comfortable plinking/training drills with max charge being at 5.0 gr.

    With 45ACP, you are only limited by the recoil spring rate as to how low you can go with your powder charge and many bullseye match shooters use lower spring rates like 10/12 lbs. With typical factory 16 lb recoil spring, fast burn rate powders will still cycle the slide at start or below start charges. 4.0 gr of Red Dot/Promo is below start charge (Lyman #49 lists 4.4-5.5 gr) yet with 200 gr SWC bullet, still reliably cycle the slide and produce accurate enough groups. It is likely from fast burn rate powder that can build enough initial chamber pressures for consistent enough muzzle velocities that results in accuracy. With 10/12 lb springs, many use even a lower charge of 3.5 gr Bullseye (Lyman #49 lists 4.9-6.0 gr) with 185/200 gr SWC bullet and obtain accuracy and reliable slide cycling.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  7. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

    May 25, 2011
    Piney Woods of East Texas
    When I started looking for high accurate loads I ended up finding several forums related to BE shooting. This sight has loads that a lot of masters and grand master use. http://www.bullseyeforum.net/

    I was surprised to find that most of the loads of 45acp where below the min starting load published. I use mainly WST for 45acp due to its clean burn properties. It also meters extremely accurate, ±0.02gr deviation through my dispenser. The min listed is 4.4 for 185 and 200gr LSWC. The BE loads with the powder is any where from 3.8 to 4.2gr. With most all using 4.1-4.2gr. Most say any will work on the short range, 4.1 gr is the most common. But most all bump the charge up to 4.2 for the long range 50yrds. I'm using 4.1 gr of WST behind MBC 185gr (BE #2) LSWC and 4.2gr behind the 200gr (BE#1). WST powder burns so clean at these low loads it will surprise you. I can shoot these with the std 16# RS, small radius FP Stop with a 23# hammer spring. The brass falls about 4-5' from me. A lot of shooter shoot with a reduced power RS and some use a variable rate spring.

    As for the bullet, it need to be sized properly for your gun, 0.452" is the most commonly used. And the Bullets are soft so they will seal off, 12BHN of softer. Now a lot of shooters like the flat bottom base, because they produce a tighter group. And some like the Zero brand HP, saying it's more accurate at 50 yrds. But in any case with reduce loads the lead needs to be soft or you will get leading.

    Good luck and have fun.

    Be safe.
  8. Tom1417

    Tom1417 Member

    Jun 22, 2014
    I second what others have said in regards to light handgun loads being very accurate. Almost every round of 45 acp I load is a plated 200 grain wadcutter with a charge of 4 grains of 700x. What makes this load so accurate is not the charge. In fact I have loaded some rounds at 3.8 with no change in accuracy. What makes this load accurate is the projectile used performs very well out of my 1911's. That combined with extremely consistent loading techniques makes for a very accurate load. What you need to bear in mind is that loading for handgun accuracy has little in common with high powered rifle loading. The phenomenon of barrel whip and accuracy nodes really don't apply to handguns because there operating principles are completely different. What can be learned from precision rifle loading is just that, precision. The more consistent one cartridge is to the next the more accurate you will be. Basically my experience has taught me the the most important thing in handguns is to find the best projectile for a given pistol and then go from there. That to me is where the most accuracy gains can be had.
  9. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

    Jan 8, 2011
    I load MBC 200 gr. LSWC in .45 ACP using 5.0 gr of Unique. My Springfield Loaded will shoot one ragged hole groups from a bench at 25 yards.
  10. Tilos

    Tilos Member

    Jan 13, 2010
    Why plinking loads
    'cause you can't find/buy 22 ammo anywhere :what:
    ahhh 22's shoot for the cost of a primer...and leave the brass where it falls:cool:
    Sorry, I know this is a reloading forum:uhoh:
  11. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

    Oct 19, 2010
    East TN
    I think there is a disconnect on what the definition of "plink" loads are.

    From my point of view, they are ammunition for going out for a casual shooting session at tin cans, dirt clods and other targets of opportunity. They tend to be more economical than my other ammunition that is made for some serious purpose.

    So, all light loads are not necessarily "plinking" loads.

    Bullseye shooters shoot light loads and as BDS said, they spend lots of time creating highly accurate ammunition. With alot of sweat equity in the ammunition, i would not consider this ammunition to be for plinking.

    Not all "plinking" loads are light.

    My 223 Remington blasting ammunition for plinking with my M4forgery duplicates the velocity of 55 grain FMJ factory ammunition. I do not put alot of sweat equity in preparing the brass, cases are mixed head stamps and the 55 grain FMJs are less expensive than other bullets. I do measure the powder charges and stuff the bullet into the case with the same care as any other ammunition that I load.

    Maybe I am reading your definition of "plink" loads wrong.
  12. Schwing

    Schwing Member

    Jun 3, 2013
    Layton Utah
    I have to preface my comments by saying that this is not an exact science. There are also many casters and reloaders who do not use this method and still have good results. It works for me so I am a believer.

    When dealing with lead bullets, I have found BHN to be a good indicator on how much pressure can be applied to a bullet before exceeding its elasticity. At that point, accuracy suffers and leading also occurs.

    You can calculate the max pressure that can be applied to a bullet by multiplying its BHN by about 1400. There is some argument about this formula. I have seen numbers ranging from BHN x 1279 up to BHN x 1422. I settled on 1400 a while back and have good results.

    for example, if I have a bullet that is 12 BHN, I aim for a pressure that is 12 X 1400 or 16,800psi. For lower pressure rounds like .45 or .38, this is not much of an issue but when you go to higher pressure calibers like .40 or 9mm, it becomes a problem. 9MM especially has inherent problems because even a 20 BHN bullet, in theory, can only be driven to about 28,000 psi. If you look in your reloading manual, you will find very few even starting loads for 9mm that do not already exceed this pressure. I believe this is why powders like w231 are so popular with lead bullets since it seems to generate higher velocities with lower pressure than other powders.

    This is where "plinking" rounds have come into play for me. I have several 9mm loads that are quite a bit lower than 9mm published minimums simply because even the minimum loads exceed the pressure needed for my alloy. They are highly accurate and reliable. I am not advocating anyone just start out below minimum without being aware of the problems and dangers involved.

    An interesting side note is that these same bullets become accurate again at near max loads which completely defies the science of the above. Unfortunately, they very nearly always cause leading for me until I started powder coating, which is another conversation entirely.
  13. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    My .32 ACP WC load shot from a Benelli is soft, clean, super accurate, and a hoot to shoot. If I do my part, which I rarely do, it will shoot one hole groups up close. I also like to just plink steel with it at 25, 50, 75, & sometimes 100 yards.

    It is not full power. (As if anything in .32 Long could be called "power".)

    Then there is my .32 Mag load with WCs. Same thing, light, clean, super accurate, and fun.

    It is the same for my light .357 load.

    The .41 Mag load I shoot most is a mid-range load and very pleasant to shoot, and yes, very accurate.

    My .44 Mag load is not full power, close, but not full power, yet it is very accurate and fun to shoot when I feel like more recoil.

    Loads do not need to be "world class" accurate to be fun.
  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    I agree completely.
  15. Potatohead
    • Contributing Member

    Potatohead Member

    Mar 9, 2013
    FWIW I haven't had the urge to make a full power load since about the 2nd week of my short reloading career.
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