Pet Loads for the .31 Pocket Revolver (or Don't Underestimate the Little Mousegun)
I always found that using a duplexed (Black powder only) charge of 7 grains of finely ground FFFFG powder, then 6 more grains of FFF on top of that, with the entire load well sealed and packed at both ends with heavy grease, gives the highest velocity with relatively good accuracy.
The gun in question is the Pietta steel framed .31 Remington. Velocities using a 50-grain .31 buckshot ball range about 800 to just under 1000 fps with the above load and a relatively energetic propellant like Swiss or my own homemade sulfurless "cocoa" powder .
H777 gives erratic readings,
Pyrodex is just plain weak in this case,
APP/Jim Shockey Gold? Fuggetaboutit! You'll be lucky if the assailant doesn't catch the ball in flight and throw it back at you.
But real, energetic black powder performs the best for .31 pocket pistols.
Before people start scoffing about how the little .31 is "too weak" or "too enemic", remember, there was a simple reason behind the fact that the .31 Colt and Remington pocket guns outsold their military counterparts and were still being produced into the dawn of the smokeless age. And then, their smokeless cousins such as the .25 and .32 ACPs continue to sell well only after the 1990s, when the availability of stronger alloys led to the creation of pocket pistols in much more powerful calibers like 9mm and .380 ACP.
A couiple of days ago I witnessed a large, burly bouncer proceeding to rough up a couple outside of a bar in a rather seedy part of town. The bouncer had brushed the smaller man aside to the curb and was really pounding on the woman, hard. What he did not see was the smaller man get up and lash him full in the face with a set of keys on a long, chain type keyholder. The bouncer retreated immediately, howling strings of profanities and grabbing at his eyes.
The point of this observation? Even if the attacker or home invader is a 350-lb ex linebacker, being whacked in the face, or neck by a 50-grain projectile traveling at 800 fps will seriously, permanently ruin his day. And at close ranges, the bullet is not the only object that whacks the target. Hot gases from the burning powder are propelled behind the slug at high velocity also entering with the bullet and it can be lethal just by itself.
When I am working in my shop, I usually have a .31 Remington laying around the tool area, nicely discreet and inconspicuously. But if I ever needed it, I am sure it would do the job it was designed for. I know that if I ever have to protect someone I love, the little .31 will make an assailant receive far more than what they bargained for.
In the spectacular Chinese TV series "The Line" (Sheng Shi Shen) one of the main characters is a former officer of the KMT 17th Route Army named Long Wenzhang whose entire regiment was destroyed during the Japanese onslaught on Shanghai. His colonel later committed suicide because he was haunted by his failure to protect the city and it's people from the enemy invasion but before he died, he gave Long Wenzhang his personal sidearm, a little Walther semiautomatic handgun chambered in .32 ACP, which is ballistically similar, if not the same as the .31 Colt and Remington pocket guns.
Later on, he and his guerrilla unit came upon a Japanese rear-echelon security force in the process of herding the inhabitants of an entire town into a barn and gassing them to death. Captain Long Wenzhang and his men attacked, killing the entire enemy force. During the engagement, Long Wenzhang personally killed several enemy officers with his .32 Walther. He would always get close, within 25 yards, and fired at the enemy's heads. He always aimed at the heads. He sneaked up to a Japanese machine gun nest and shot down one soldier who was loading fresh belts into the gun. As soon as the gunner whirled around, just in time to see his loader collapse to the ground after taking a .32 round to the head, Long Wenzhang drilled the gunner neatly through the face, less than 15 feet away. All within a space of a few seconds.
Goes on to illustrate the brutal effectiveness of a mousegun caliber in the hands of someone who is determined and sober.