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Old November 4, 2013, 08:59 AM   #1
mnoirot64
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Accurate #5 - Dirty??

Good morning!

Does anyone out there load Accurate #5 for 38 Special/.357 magnum? I shot 100 handloads of 38 Special yesterday and noticed that it was very smoky and rapidly dirtied the action on my Ruger SP-101 .357 magnum. It seems to work fine in my .45 ACP with 200 grain RN bullets with 8.3 grains of #5. Here is the recipe I used on the .38 Special cartridges:

125 grain RNFP bullets
CCI small standard primers
5.8 grains Accurate #5 powder

The powder charge is .1 grains over what the Nosler Reloading Guide 7 lists as a middle load. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks,

Mike Noirot
Clarksville, Tennessee
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Old November 4, 2013, 09:08 AM   #2
Sid
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I have used Accurate #5 in my 9mm EAA Witness Match and found it to be very dirty. Then I switched to AutoComp and that is even worse. I am going back to Winchester 231 as soon as I can find some.
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Old November 4, 2013, 09:48 AM   #3
mnoirot64
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Good luck finding W231. I have been watching Midsouth's inventory for weeks and have not seen any of it come in.
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Old November 4, 2013, 10:07 AM   #4
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Keep in mind that both Winchester 231 and Hodgdon HP38 are the same St. Marks OBP 231 in canister grade for handloading. If you can't find 231 but can find HP38, just get that instead. You'll find Hodgdon's load data identical for both in all chamberings for that reason.


Mnoirot64,

Between using the almost equal capacity case and lighter bullet and smaller charge, you are operating the powder at a lower pressure in the .38 load. All powders burn dirty if they aren't used at a high enough pressure. The slower burning the powder, the higher that cleaner burning pressure level is.

In the case of 8.3 grains in the .45, assuming a 200 grain LSWC seated to 1.2" COL, QuickLOAD thinks you are running about 16,000 psi. In the .38 Special load, with a COL of 1.47" (a guess, as I don't have the bullet) 5.8 grains would run at half the peak pressure, or just over 8,000 psi. Since the .38 Special is a lower pressure rated cartridge (17,000 psi) than the .45 Auto (21,000 psi), so you'd have to run the .38 Special at near its maximum pressure to equal the burn efficiency you are getting in the .45 Auto.
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Old November 4, 2013, 10:29 AM   #5
mnoirot64
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I am loading my .38 special to an OAL of 1.435". With Accurate #5, would you recommend that I load up to the Nosler recommended max of 6.2 grains?
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Old November 4, 2013, 11:21 AM   #6
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I use AA5 a lot. Although I have not loaded that particular combination (125g/AA5/38Spl). AA5 is very clean. But you're not using nearly enough of it. When I load for 125g for 38Spl, I use almost as much AA2 as the amount of AA5 you're using.

The starting AA5 load in Speer #14 is 7.5g - you're considerably underloaded. If you underload just about any powder, it will be dirty. I use a lot more AA5 than what you're using when I load a 158g bullet.

So if you're trying for a lighter load, AA5 is not the correct powder. Move to AA2 or W231/HP38 (as previously mentioned).

If you're trying to clean it up with AA5, increase the load.
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Old November 4, 2013, 01:58 PM   #7
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Nick,

Thank you for your reply. It's interesting that the Speer guide shows so much more. I checked out Accurate's load data and they show between 5.8 grains and 7.2 grains for a 125 gr bullet. What would you recommend I load to?
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Old November 4, 2013, 04:19 PM   #8
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Speer #14 has separate sections for 38 Special and 38 Special +P. The 7.5g I quoted above was from the +P section. In the regular 38 section, it has 7.1 as a max charge, and "DNR" as the minimum - meaning do not reduce. That said, I would not go below 7.1g's - which is exactly the manual is telling its readers.

I can't actually recommend what you should do. But if it were me loading (and it will be some day - I just haven't gotten around to that particular load combination just yet), I would start at 7.5g's and work up from there.

All that said, the Speer manual is for Speer bullets. The manual should only be used as a general guideline if bullets other than Speer's are used. But I'd still start with the 7.5g's
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Old November 4, 2013, 04:34 PM   #9
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Keep in mind that AA5 is a double-base, spherical, medium-speed powder. Point is, it's fairly forgiving. It has a predictable, linear progression when working up loads. It would be difficult to make a major mistake, especially if you're shooting them in a 357 Magnum gun - you'd have tons of pressure "headroom" to spare. If you're shooting them in a 38 gun, I can see approaching with a little more caution.

Also: It has been my observation that Accurate's load data tends to be very conservative. Hence, the discrepancy.

Sierra No. V shows 6.4g - 8.2g.
Hornady 9th shows 6.6g - 7.6g.

This is where loaders use good judgement to make their load decisions. The fact that your AA5 is burning dirty is you're clue that your current load is nowhere near its "sweet spot" and proper operating pressure.
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Old November 6, 2013, 02:23 PM   #10
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mnoirot64,

I just did some checking and several things seem to be confused here. First, the Nosler data you cited is for a 158 grain jacketed bullet in my copy of their manual (#6), and is not for a 125 grain lead bullet, as you seem to be shooting (a 125 grain RNFP is something I've only seen among lead Cowboy Action Shooting bullets). Understand that the heavier the bullet, the more inertial resistance it has to going down the bore, so if offers more resistance (Newton's equal and opposite reaction force) to being pushed down the tube. This makes it accelerate more slowly, giving the powder more time to build to higher pressure. For this reason, bullet weights are not interchangeable in reloading unless they are very close (say, 5 grains difference or less). Bottom line, no wonder your current load is too light.

Second, note that different manuals show different charge weights due to different loading components and philosophies. Components are not automatically interchangeable even when they are the same weight. The Speer manual load Nick cited is also for jacketed bullets like your Nosler data. Jacketed bullets are harder to start forward from the cartridge case and to push into the revolver forcing cone and bore than lead bullets are. Again, this means they have more resistance to give the powder an opportunity to build pressure against. It also gives them more chance of sticking in a barrel if the load squibs out, which likely accounts for the Speer DNR warning.

In general, take the smallest recommended starting load you find and work up in steps of about 2% of maximum or 0.2 grains (whichever is larger) while watching for pressure signs (especially tight or sticky fired case extraction in revolvers), leading, accuracy drop off, or other untoward issues. But the data should be for your bullet type.

In your particular instance, you are running at low pressure. Part of that is due to your low charge weight, part of it due likely due to using lead bullets that are too easy (for Accurate #5) to push through the bore. On top of that, you are making the bullet jump to the throat of a .357 Magnum chamber, which also gives the gas more opportunity to bleed a little pressure down and makes the bullet take longer to get to the forcing cone where there's some resistance for the powder to build pressure against. So, the powder is basically having trouble making gas fast enough to keep up with the bullet under these combined circumstances.

You are not alone in this, I think. I don't see any lead bullet loads for bullets weighing less than 148 grains in Accurate's own data nor does Lyman start showing it with lead until 155 grains. I infer a consensus that #5 is too slow to build pressure properly against lead bullets lighter than around 150 grains, though it can do it with jacketed bullets. Another factor is that lead bullets often are most accurate only when peak pressure is high enough to bump the bullet diameter up a little to hug the rifling. You need a faster powder with these light bullets to get you to that pressure threshold.

It would seem to be that the bottom line is that #5 is too slow for your application. Accurate #2 would be better, as would HP 38, 231, Bullseye, Clays, N310, Universal, 700X, Red Dot, and a few others. IMR Trail Boss would be excellent for the light loads you seem to be after. It will burn much cleaner, and there is data available for it and some of the others I mentioned at Hodgdon's site, behind a 125 gr. RNFP, specifically.
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Old November 8, 2013, 12:16 AM   #11
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The new Western Powders #5 load guide would be a great help to you. You can download it from the Accurate or Ramshot websites. They list both .38 Sp. and .38 Sp. +P data. You can also request their printed version which also gives basic instructions on raloading. The closest load they show to your bullet is actually data for Rainiers Plated Hollowpoint that can be used for a 125 gr. FP cast bullet and the data coincides pretty closely to what's been mentioned for the SPEER #14 Manual.

#5 might not be the best choice for .38 Sp. and like Nick_C_S mentioned it will clean up at higher pressures. AA#2, W231/HP38 are good choices as is Ramshot ZIP.
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