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Newbie reloader question- which powders?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by chaim, Apr 27, 2003.

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  1. chaim

    chaim Member

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    OK guys, I'm just getting into reloading. I've been acquiring equipment and I'm almost there.

    Now I have a powder question. First, I HATE dirty loads, especially in a revolver, so I want powders that are relatively clean. Second, I am going to start with .357mag but I will start w/ .38spl almost immediately and I may move to .45acp relatively quickly and if I buy a .44spl,.44mag or .45LC revolver soon (very possible) I'd like to reload those immediately.

    Well, I don't have a lot of room so I don't want a ton of components around. I'd like to limit things to three or four maximum containers of powder. So what powders are clean and will give me maximum versatility (light, medium and heavier loads for .357, .38spl, .45acp and one of the big bore revolver calibers)? Ideally I'd love to only buy one or two types to start with, though I realize that may be unrealistic. I do certainly want to be at 3 or less and 4 is the absolute max I'd consider. So, preferably with one or 2 and with no more than 3 powders which can I buy for maximum versatility? Remember again that these need to be relatively clean.
     
  2. warrior23

    warrior23 Member

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    I've used Hodgdon with great success,Universal clays seems to burn very clean and works with an assortment of calibers.I also use Accurate #5 and #9 powders for 40sw,45apc and 44mag.They also seem to burn clean.
     
  3. Jeeper

    Jeeper Member

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    Ditto on universal clays

    In addition you might want to stay away from lead bullets if you dont like dirty loads. Lead is much dirtier than jacketed.
     
  4. Desert Dog

    Desert Dog Member

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    AA#5, AA#7, AA#9

    W231, W571, W296
     
  5. Bacchus

    Bacchus Member

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    You should give Unique a try. It's a good all around powder.
     
  6. HSMITH

    HSMITH Member

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    Clays is as clean as you are going to find for 38 and 45acp, probably 44 special and 45 colt too. Universal is a good medium/heavy 357 powder, +p 38, and heavier 44 and 45 loads.
     
  7. Scout.308

    Scout.308 Member

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    WW231, if I had to pick just one

    WW231 is clean, efficient, and can be used to create loads from very light to light-magnum levels. Look to Winchester booklets in gun shops or their website for truly wide-ranging load levels from one powder.

    If I want the hottest loads, I step up to WW296. Most everything else gets loaded with WW231.

    Other pistol powders I've used and enjoyed are Bullseye (similar, but doesn't allow loads nearly as hot as 231), Blue Dot, and Herco. Blue Dot's good for hot 9mm and warm .44M, but not as clean as 231.

    When my shooting buddies held a Flash Contest (handguns at night with the range lights dimmed :what: ) I won with a 2" Dan Wesson fueled with a heaping-helping of Blue Dot, light crimp, pushing 180gr JHPs.
     
  8. Poodleshooter

    Poodleshooter Member

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    I shoot all that you mentioned with the exception of .45Colt. I'd recommend Clays and Universal Clays, both by Hodgdon. Add Hodgdon H110 or Lil'gun for heavy magnum loads in the .357,.44 or .45Colt. AccurateArms#2, #5, and #9 would fill similar niches. Winchester 231 and 296 are another option. There are probably a dozen suitable combinations. I prefer the Hodgdon powders for various reasons.
    Chaim, you'll find that the use of jacketed bullets will be the biggest factor in creating a clean shooter. Lead bullet lube will create more smoke and soot than the powder choice will. Clays is nearly the cleanest powder on the market, but couple it with a lead lubed bullet and you'll see more soot than you would from a combination of a "dirty" powder like Alliant Unique coupled with a FMJ bullet. A solid crimp will also improve the burn, leaving less residue.
     
  9. winwun

    winwun Member

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    Despite Bacchus's endorsement of Unique, I have found it to resemble 4-F mixed with possum fat. You can't go very wrong with Bullseye, and another good powder is Red Dot. I have some friends who shoot 231, and they seem to like it. You have stated elsewhere that you intend to download, so stay away from Hogdon stuff -- it is "by the book or nothing". The most "economical" (loads per pound) would be Red Dot, I think. Economy generally isn't a big deal, but if you compare Bullseye, Red Dot, and H-110, you will quickly see that the Bullseye and Red Dot have a significant advantage over the Hogdon. The powders that take 10 or 12 grains is just like paying twice as much per pound for the powder compared to Bullseye and Red Dot.
     
  10. BigG

    BigG Member

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    Strangely, I found Unique the most accurate shooting powder in my Colt 45 autos. A hundred rounds fired with lead bullets cleans up with a little Breakfree and a couple patches.
     
  11. braindead0

    braindead0 Member

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    Unique was re-formulated (recently perhaps) to be cleaner burning. The container I've got even says "cleaner burning" or something like that on it.

    I think it's as clean as Bullseye.. I just stick to bullseye cause I use less to get the same velocity for practice loads.
     
  12. winwun

    winwun Member

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    Thanks for the update on the changed Unique. Honestly, guys, it left a dirty black greasy scum on my wheelguns. It was some old Unique, though. I'll try it again, because there are some good loads that recommend it.
     
  13. Penman

    Penman Member

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    Back when I was doing a lot of shooting, I used Unique for my .45 ACP loads, with very good results. Winwun, if you were shooting lead bullets in that revolver, you might take a critical look at the lube on the ubllets, unless you had good results with the same bullets and other powders.
     
  14. WESHOOT2

    WESHOOT2 Member

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    You have described Hodgdon Universal Clays; recommend.
     
  15. Jmurman

    Jmurman Member

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    Chaim,

    Which reloading system did you go with? I am getting my Dillon 550b soon and will start with w231. The local range where I shoot will supply it, however, in Maryland did you know that there is a 4lb per day limit? No joke....I laughed when they told me that...typically Maryland!

    I am also getting a good starting supply of brass...I just won a ebay auction for 500 pcs at a good price, much better than gunbroker.com.

    What bullet are you going to start with?
     
  16. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Two powders are perfect for your needs, and which are the two that I use for reloading .38 and .357.

    Winchester 231

    Winchester 296.

    I use 231 for .32 Long, 9mm, .38 Spl. light to medium .357 Mag., light to medium .41 Mag., 10mm, .44 Spl., and .45 ACP.

    I use 296 for medium to heavy .357 and .41 Mag. loads.

    In my opinion, these two powders are the most versatile combination available today.
     
  17. chaim

    chaim Member

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    Well, since right now space is at a premium I just got a Lee Hand Press. I figure it should do for handgun loads for a few months and might be ok for some rifle rounds in a pinch. Then after I move (actually I'll probably buy it soon, but I won't set it up until I move), probably in a few months, I'll probably set up a Lee Turret press, though I still may go with a RCBS or Lyman turret press.

    I didn't know that but it doesn't surprise me. Aren't some powders (most powders) sold in 1lb and 5lb tins? Gotta love MD.:rolleyes:

    Well, I decided to go w/ my own "once fired" brass so I ordered 4 boxes of ammo (I forget which brand) online for either $7 or $8 and change (one price was .45acp the other was .357mag and I ordered both so I don't remember which was which) and I still have one box of Win White Box .357 that was $11 or $12 at Bass Pro that I'll shoot up for my brass.

    Ranier 158gr "plated" bullets. I don't remember if I bought the 500 pack of hollow or flat points, they were only about $2 different so I think I went w/ the hollow points (why not for .4 cents, thats $0.004, more per bullet).

    BTW, anyone know how these "plated" or "electroplated" bullets compare to plain lead or to regular jacketed bullets?
     
  18. winwun

    winwun Member

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    Chaim, I have found those "Plated" bullets to be totally unacceptable, as are cast. They are cast and then plated. They have the common problem with cast, rather than swaged, bullets, and that is, they have bubbles, or voids in them occasionally, too often to be acceptable, IMHO. Out of a group of 6, there will invariably be a "flyer" or two due to the out of balance bullet because of a bubble in it. I use exclusively the 110 Win HPHBMJ and bought in bulk are about a nickle each, which isn't bad. You can sometimes get the Remington 110 for a little less, but it isn't as accurate as it is a FB rather than HB, thereby decreasing its length, thereby decreasing its stability in flight. The HB aspect is a biggie. The Lee turret press is nice. Changes are a "snap" and adjustments are nil.
     
  19. chaim

    chaim Member

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    winwun,

    OK, so once I use them up I guess I shouldn't buy more. Is that the only problem though? With the electroplating will they at least be about as clean as jacketed rounds or is the plating so thin that they won't even have that advantage and still end up being as dirty as lead? For inexpensive rounds what is the best way to go? I do want to limit my use of unjacketed lead bullets as much as possible (though I will use it occasionally). I hate when I shoot a few hundred rounds of cheap ammo out of my revolvers and my hand is black and oily from the powder and apparently lead bullet and lube.
     
  20. HSMITH

    HSMITH Member

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    I completely and totally disagree with Winwun on his appraisal of cast bullets and plated bullets. Quality cast bullets can and have been just as accurate as any jacketed bullets for me, as well as several state champion level bullseye shooters that I have known. If they will shoot sub 3" at FIFTY yards they are plenty accurate for me. I have done it myself, and seen it done HUNDREDS of times with CAST bullets.

    Piddle poor cast bullets maybe, but not with good quality cast bullets or quality plated bullets, you will not see one in 100 flyers. Unless a benchrest commando, are you really good enough to tell when one is 1" out of the group at 25 yards that was not your fault? Lets be realistic here, you are not that good, nor am I.

    More championships have been won than there are words in this post with lead bullets..........
     
  21. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Member

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    Plated bullets are just fine.

    I've shot quite a few thousand of them. No muss, no fuss, no troubles.
     
  22. winwun

    winwun Member

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    Chaim, to answer your question, the plating on the ones I have used is pretty thick, but shooting 2 to 4 hundred rounds a week has given me the experience to learn to stay away from cast or plated bullets. Clean ups are easy, and results are reproducable, and handling is cleaner. Others may have different opinions, or just don't shoot enough to have experienced the bad aspects of some products. Stick with "Brand" names and beware of bargains. It's just as easy, or easier, to load a quality cartridge as it is to load a "banger". Shoot enough cast, and soon, despite clean-ups, you will notice your rifling has only one edge. You don't have this problem with a jacketed or semi-jacketed bullet.
     
  23. Thirties

    Thirties Member

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    Chaim, if you open the Speer Loading Manual no. 13 to page 41, and read the powder section which ends on p.49, you may get much more info than you expected.
     
  24. Pendragon

    Pendragon Member

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    Are you saying that cast bullets will wear your rifling faster than FMJ?

    chaim, I shoot .38sp and .45ACP and I only shoot lead. I was really hesitant to get into shooting lead because I was afraid of getting poisoned. A lot of reading and talking to people really turned me around.

    My uncle has been shooting about 1000-2000 rounds per month for about 20+ years. He even casts his own with wheel weights. He has not been tested, but he is in good health and has a sharp mind - I see no reason to think he is poisoned.

    I think - especially for the 1911 platform, that good lead bullets are the only way to go.

    I can buy a box (500) of 200gr SWC hard cast and lubed bullets for $20 and thats in Northern CA (reloading stuff is more expensive here). Maybe they are cheaper in some places, but a box of FMJ around here is about $69 per 500.

    I have over 1000 rounds of hard cast lead through my Valtro without cleaning - its not even that bad (I use Alliant Power Pistol)

    Anyway - dont fear the lead - do some reading maybe at TFL, its not as scary as some would have you think. The only bummer is - the indoor range where I am moving for a few months will allow FMJ only :p
     
  25. blades67

    blades67 Member

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    I use Unique for all of my handgun loads. It is the single most versatile powder on the market.
     
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