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Old April 15, 2009, 09:30 AM   #1
webby4x4
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Pistol vs. Shotshell Powders for pistol loads

Hi folks - as I've seen here on the boards lately, I've recently learned that you can use shotshell gun powder for pistol loads.

I read through most of my manuals last night, and there were no mention of doing this, BUT, my local gun shops seem to have a fair amount of shotshell powder available, but rifle and pistol are very scarce.

As such, I'm wondering if anyone can point me to some source that shows what powders could be used in say 9mm, .38/.357, .40 and .45. Further, where would someone find the appropriate powder charge information for doing this?

I'm assuming that changing out these powders will have no ill effects on my pistols, right?

Thanks so much,
Rick
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:35 AM   #2
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Red Dot is a very good powder for loading cast slugs in 6" and shorter barrels up to and including 158 gr .357 and .230gr .45 or 255 gr Colt .45.
the .38 spcl shooters hold it in high regard for DEWC loads.
it also does well in .32acp cast slug loads. the best I've used actually.
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:39 AM   #3
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Do you know where I might find the appropriate powder charges for loads like this? I assume it's not a 1-for-1 ratio to Bullseye... Last thing I need is to reload and come back from the range with a slug stuck in the barrell, or with 3 fewer fingers.

Thanks,
Rick
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Old April 15, 2009, 10:10 AM   #4
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I don't know what manuals you are using, but my Lee manual has load data using shotgun powders listed.

If you go to the powder manufactuer's websites, you'll find data listed there using shotgun powders.

You just use them like you would any other powders. Always follow the data as the manufactuers has it listed.
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Old April 15, 2009, 10:35 AM   #5
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I've kept enough Bullseye, Unique, Blue Dot, Herco, SR 7625, plus 296 and 2400 for the past 20 years or so to do 99% of my shotgun/handgun reloading. All of the manuals I have (6) list most of these shotgun powders for pistol target loads as well. No worries, just follow the data.



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Old April 15, 2009, 11:08 AM   #6
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I tried green dot one time and it didnt meter well at all in my lee powder measure.Of course that doesnt mean it wouldnt have worked well.one of these days when i get the money im going to buy me a one of these digital powder scales then I wont have that problem.
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Old April 15, 2009, 11:24 AM   #7
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Alliant's website has data showing RD loads.
it's somewhat more 'bulky' than BE. seems cleaner too.
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Old April 15, 2009, 11:47 AM   #8
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I've had good luck using Winchester Super Field (WSF) in my 45 ACPs.

Very clean burning. Lyman #48 has data as well as the Winchester Smokeless Powder site.

Probably work well in all of the cartridges you list, but the only one with which I have personal experience is the 45 ACP. It is my powder of choice in that one.
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Old April 15, 2009, 12:06 PM   #9
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Quote:
Do you know where I might find the appropriate powder charges for loads like this? I assume it's not a 1-for-1 ratio to Bullseye... Last thing I need is to reload and come back from the range with a slug stuck in the barrell, or with 3 fewer fingers.
Do you even have a loading manual?

The powders will not be identified as 'shotgun powders' in the loading tables, just by their manufacturer and name.

Blue dot, Red Dot and a number of other powders can be used in pistol loads or shotgun loads.

You can also look at the powder manufacturers site and see what loading data is available.

Take a list with you of powders you have loading data for and buy what you can get.

Powders suitable for shotguns may not provide the best performance in handguns, but many are very usable.
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Old April 15, 2009, 12:44 PM   #10
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I use HS-6 as my pistol powder. HS-6 is the same as Winchester 540, which is an obsolete powder. W-540 is listed both as a pistol and shotgun powder. I would assume there are shot loads utilizing HS-6. I wouldn't go as far as saying every pistol/shotgun powder is a shotgun/pistol powder. Some powders exhibit burn rates and characteristics suitable for different applications. The only general conclusion I can make here is that HS-6 is a slower pistol powder best suited for hotter/magnum loads (but not necessarily) therefore in SOME shot loads, the general idea is to use a powder much faster than a rifle powder, leaning towards the slower end of pistol powders - but this is not saying some shot loads may utilize faster powders.
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Old April 15, 2009, 01:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Do you even have a loading manual?
Brickeye - yes, I do. I have several older loading manuals (Speer, hogdon, Lyman 42-46, and so on). What I've found is that in my older manuals, they don't list any shotshell powders under my pistol data, which is what threw me off - and of course gave me the reason to ask.

All of my reloading equipment (powder, primers, bullets, brass, manuals, scales, reloaders, etc.) were all just given to me a few months ago by my father. I've read and studied the manuals, he and I spent 2 weeks together where he showed me the basics, and have been learining as quickly as I can.

I have orderd some newer manuals, but they have not arrived yet. Accordingly, since none of my older manuals list shotshell type powders for any of my pistol loads, I came to the conclusion that shotshell powders are for shotshell, pistol powders are for pistols, and rifle powders are for rifles. Please know that I'm still learning and what is commonplace to you, is absolutely new to me (and probably some other new reloaders).
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Old April 15, 2009, 01:52 PM   #12
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Quote:
Alliant's website has data showing RD loads.
it's somewhat more 'bulky' than BE. seems cleaner too.
Sorry... I'm feeling particularly ignorant... What is "RD" and "BE"?
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Old April 15, 2009, 01:56 PM   #13
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red dot

bullseye
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Old April 15, 2009, 01:57 PM   #14
Jim Watson
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Red Dot and BullsEye powders.
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Old April 15, 2009, 02:59 PM   #15
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Your confusion comes from the manuals NOT identifying powders commonly used by both handgun AND shotguns, as shotgun powders. Stop trying to figure out which are shotgun powders, just go by their designation. By that I mean, look precisely at how they are listed. They will say Alliant red-dot, blu-dot, 2400, unique. All those are used in both, but won't be identified in the manuals as shotgun powders. Winchester powders used by both are; WW-540,(discontinued, replace with HS-6), WW-571,(also discontinued, replaced with HS-7), WW-296 and others. Gatta get off to work, to be continued----.
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Old April 15, 2009, 04:20 PM   #16
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RD / BE - got it. Thanks!

Snuffy - yeah, I hear you. I guess my manuals are so old that those powders either didn't exist, or they weren't being used between the two types of guns at that time. Also, some of the manufacturers (esp. Alliant) categorizes their powders into those 3 groups, which is what was confusing me anymore.

I apprecaite the clarification though. As soon as my Lyman 49 comes in, I think that will help a lot too. I've also just built a list of 5 of 6 powders from what all of you were saying so that I can start experimenting with stuff other than Power Pistol and Bullseye.

Thanks guys,
Rick
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Old April 15, 2009, 04:35 PM   #17
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powders

Webby: +1 to Snuffy wrote. It is not helpful to think of any powder as specifically a "shotgun" or a "pistol" propellant.
I have an older Sierra that lists many powders available nowadays that can be used for either type of loading. Unique is a good example (over 100 years in production). Bullseye also.
I'll go out on a limb and say that virtually all powders used to load shotshells can be used to load pistol cartridges - though there may not be data available for every powder.
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Old April 15, 2009, 05:28 PM   #18
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Well, I think I've learned more than one thing today!

Thanks again folks - as always, you're really helpful. A great resource for a new guy.

Rick
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Old April 15, 2009, 08:51 PM   #19
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I've happily used PB in modest handgun loads for years.
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:13 PM   #20
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Most pistol powders on the market are first and foremost shotgun powders.

Many, many to choose from.
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Old April 15, 2009, 09:38 PM   #21
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Thanks folks - I'm seeing that on the carts from the powder manufacturers that indeed, there is a tremendous amount of overlap between the two.

I do have another question (It's my thread, I guess that makes it ok to self-hijack).

Anyhow, the vast majority of my reloads use my own cast bullets. For example, I use 124 gn LRN for my 9mm and 200 gn LSWC for my .45 ACP. When I look at the charts from the powder manufacturers, the listings for lead/cast bullets are very sparse - sometimes non-existant. In the case below from a particular powder manufacturer, there are NO cast bullets here for 9mm.

From what I've read in my manuals and from on these boards, lead bullets act very differently and require different powder charges because they expand upon ugnition, and subsequently the pressure increases because of this.

My reloading manuals may have 1 or 2 of the powders listed below, but I'd like to start trying some of the others, based upon feedback from other reloaders.

Is this a case where you need to contact the powder manufacturer, or am I just being a dumb-noobie and missing something all together?


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