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Old July 6, 2012, 09:53 PM   #1
FlySubCompact
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Best beginner powder for 9mm Luger

You long time reloaders.....

I still have not bought a press (leaning towards the Lyman T-mag II kit)

Being a beginner that has read a good bit on these forums I know that reloaders are a particular lot when it comes to the powders (and everything else) they use for specific applications. Don't want to start a powder war, but I would like to gather an idea of what would be a good start.

My first reloading will be 9mm Luger. My second caliber will be .40sw. What would be the simplest, best powder to use? Something commonly available and tried and true. Thanks.
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Old July 6, 2012, 09:55 PM   #2
solvability
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w231/hp38
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Old July 6, 2012, 09:58 PM   #3
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Alliant's "Power Pistol" is excellent for both of those calibers as well.
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Old July 6, 2012, 10:35 PM   #4
Brian Pfleuger
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Power Pistol would be excellent. Near top performance for both rounds, I was told by Alliant that it was designed for 9mm and charge volume that will be painfully obvious and/or overflow in the event of a double charge.
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Old July 6, 2012, 10:47 PM   #5
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Quote:
painfully obvious and/or overflow in the event of a double charge
"Painfully obvious in the event of a double charge" sounds like a winner......for a beginner.

Quote:
w231/hp38
Are these two powders or one? Is it (or are they) easy to double charge?
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:00 PM   #6
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Winchester 231 and Hodgdon HP-38 are essentially identical, and you can use them interchangeably.

W231/HP38 is 0.0926 cubic centimeters per grain, and Power Pistol is 0.0889 cubic centimeters per grain. So W231/HP38 is actually a little less dense than PP.

However, you usually use a significantly heavier charge of Power Pistol compared to W231, so a double-charge will still be more obvious with Power Pistol. A double charge of W231 might not overflow the case, but it will still be very obvious that there's more powder in the case than there should be.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:09 PM   #7
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ScottRiqui,

Had a "Duh" moment....checked my Lyman reload manual.

It lists a "231" powder in one of the 9mm data pages. I assume this is the same as "w231"?
That same data page does not mention "HP38" though. Power Pistol is mentioned.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:10 PM   #8
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Bullseye (only because it measures easier than Unique.)
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:16 PM   #9
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Unique will work in both 9MM and 40SW. I like Unique in 9MM as it fills the case also and a double charge is impossible. It gives good velocity and accuracy in my 9MM pistols and carbine. I recently tested 5 powders for my first 40 pistol and of the 5 Winchester Super Field gave the best results. So I'd go with 2 powders, Unique and WSF. You can find data for both of these for 9 and 40 loads. May not be the best for metering through a powder dispenser but they are excellent for these two calibers. Check your reloading data with the bullets you intend to load to check for available data in deciding which powders to use. Also if you intend to buy locally these two powders are usually available. There are a bunch of powders that will work for you in 9MM and 40SW.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:18 PM   #10
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Yes, "231" is referring to Winchester 231. For 115 grain jacketed 9 mm bullets, my Lee manual lists Power Pistol, HP-38 and Winchester 231.

As in the case of the 115gr 9mm table in the Lee manual, you may find that when both HP-38 and W231 are listed in the same table, the "starting" and "maximum" charges may not always match up between the two. This doesn't mean that the powders aren't the same; it probably just means that the information came from two different sources. None of the publishers test every load themselves - they're usually gathered together over the course of several decades from their own experimentation, as well as recommendations from powder manufacturers and bullet manufacturers, so there's rarely perfect agreement. Even with a particular powder, you may find differences in the starting and maximum loads depending on which reloading manual you read (or even which edition of a particular manual). Sometimes, you'll find that the starting load listed in one publication is above the maximum load from another publication - THAT'S frustrating!

As you reload more, you'll find that there's truth to the saying that "A man with two wristwatches never really knows what time it is." Sometime it'll seem like the more reloading data you have, the less sure you are about what the "correct" load range is for a particular powder/bullet combo.

Last edited by ScottRiqui; July 6, 2012 at 11:25 PM.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:25 PM   #11
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zxcvbob,

"Bullseye....measures easier".....can you explain this?

I have some experience with measuring powder, but this is with muzzleloading and black powder only. BP is always measured by volume...not by weight like all this smokeless stuff. The learning curve is much steeper with all this modern stuff. Not like spilling a thimble full, tapping the excess, then charging the bore. 2/10ths of a grain distinctions aint something I'm used to.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:33 PM   #12
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Many of the smokeless powder dispensers measure by volume as well. For example, the Lee "Autodisk" measure has interchangeable discs that have holes of various volumes formed into them. You figure out what charge weight you want, look up your powder's volumetric density to calculate what volume you need, then pick the appropriate disk and hole. Then you weigh the charges you get and usually have to go up (sometimes down) one hole size or two to "tweak" the charge.

When you hear about how a particular powder "measures", they're talking about how well it meters through a dispenser. Most of the "ball" powders meter pretty well, but some of the "stick" powders can make it difficult to get consistent charges. It all depends on what the mechanical method is that your dispense uses to meter the powder.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:35 PM   #13
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Actually, it's perfectly safe to load by volume with smokeless too. You just won't find much data listed that way. You'll have to figure out the grains per cc and use "dippers". They're quite common, included with many die sets.

Ease of metering is often over rated. Some powders don't dispense well at all, others like water, but many times the issues are either with the users technique or their expectations.

Anyway, even the question of which powder is better to begin is very much subjective. To a very large degree, any powder is fine if you're careful and no powder is if you're not.

I mention Power Pistol because it's performance is excellent and it's got good volume so you can see mistakes. Otherwise, there are dozens that will work and just as many opinions on each.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
As you reload more, you'll find that there's truth to the saying that "A man with two wristwatches never really knows what time it is." Sometime it'll seem like the more reloading data you have, the less sure you are about what the "correct" load range is for a particular powder/bullet combo.
I got that covered....I'll just keep my one Lyman book.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:44 PM   #15
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That's fine, as long as you can find load data for the powder/bullet combo you want to use.

I started off with one book, but now I have four, along with a bunch of printouts and pamphlets from various powder and bullet manufacturers, as well as loads I've found here and on other forums.

If you're using jacketed bullets from the major manufacturers, you can usually find recommended loads on their websites. Where you run into a lack of data is when you're using cast bullets in uncommon weights - most of the cast bullet manufacturers don't provide load data.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:47 PM   #16
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When you guys mention "ball" powder I assume that means the shape of the granules, right? They are shaped like a ball? Also, are Unique, 231 and Power Pistol all ball powders?
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:51 PM   #17
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Brian brings up a very good point - as long as you're using published load data rather than playing "junior chemist", the choice of one powder or another isn't critical in the sense that you're going to hurt yourself or damage your gun. Just as an example, Unique is a very versatile powder, but I find that it dirties up my guns (and hands) pretty quickly. Nothing that doesn't clean up easily, though. Likewise, I use a lot of Power Pistol, even though I think it gives me a larger/brighter muzzle flash compared to a lot of other powders. That's mostly in my short-barreled semi-automatics, though - someone using it with a different gun might not think the flash is excessive at all.

Sometimes, my "powder of choice" is a matter of what I have on hand. A friend gave me four pounds of Winchester WST, so I worked up a load with it that does well in my .45 ACP 1911. I had been using W231 for that cartridge, but now I can save my 231 for my .38 Special and .380 ACP loads.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:55 PM   #18
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Quote:
When you guys mention "ball" powder I assume that means the shape of the granules, right? They are shaped like a ball? Also, are Unique, 231 and Power Pistol all ball powders?
Frankly, I think "ball" is a bit of a misnomer, because they're really more like round flat discs. I think the granules may start off ball-shaped before being flattened in the manufacturing process, which is probably where the name comes from. Unique, 231 and PP are all ball powders - I was wrong here; see BDS-THR's post below. 231 and Unique granules are about the same size and shape, while PP has much smaller granules.

Last edited by ScottRiqui; July 7, 2012 at 12:10 AM.
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Old July 6, 2012, 11:58 PM   #19
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Your lyman manual has a detailed explanations of powder types and their different compositions.

Chapter 4 iirc.

Sent from HenseMod6.
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Old July 7, 2012, 12:03 AM   #20
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W231/HP-38 is flattened ball powder - http://www.wwpowder.com/pistol.html

Unique is flake powder - http://www.alliantpowder.com/product...er/unique.aspx
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Old July 7, 2012, 12:08 AM   #21
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Thanks for the correction - I found the same in my Lyman manual after I posted. Looking at them, the construction of the Unique and W231 granules still look very similar. The 231 granules *are* a little flatter, rounder and more uniform, though.
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Old July 7, 2012, 12:09 AM   #22
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As a newer reloader myself I have already figured out I'm going to learn more every time i work up a batch. Initially I chose IMR 4064 for my rifle(.223). Performance is fine but is a pain through my powder measure so i'll try another(non stick type) when I run through my current stock. For my 9mm I chose Titegroup and couldn't be happier. Performance is good for both my 124 gr. fmj's and my 147gr. jhp's. Also it's flake type and works well with my measure.
Whichever type you choose buy smaller amounts until your satisfied with all aspects of the powder. Would be ashame to get stuck with several pounds of a powder you don't like. Same would go for bullets and primers, it's cheaper in bulk but until you've tried it your gambling on if it works for you. Good luck!
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Old July 7, 2012, 12:24 AM   #23
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Scott,

That is interesting when you mention a load producing more muzzle flash. Will have to take that into consideration. The reason being....I bought these Glocks mainly for self defense. Muzzle flash would seem more of a concern at night, in a defensive use. Would seem dangerous to be blinded by a first shot.

Like mentioned earlier we hav factory made defensive ammo. This is what stays in the pistols when not plinking. We shoot the cheap WWB because it is cheap. My eventual goal is to find the best defensive rounds for our pistols, then later try to reproduce handloads that mimic these for plink practice. We thoroughly found we enjoy shooting, but I want "fun" to reinforce "protection" shooting.

One example: My wife stole my Glock 23 after I installed a LW 9mm conversion barrel. It has reliably shot every kind of ammo we've ran though it in 9mm. When she decided to carry this pistol I wanted a good defensive round for her. The LGS guy (experienced fellow who appears to have his head screwed on right) recommended a box of Hornaday "Custom" 124gr JHP. I let her run two boxes throught the G23 to make sure they, the pistol worked well. She practices with the cheap WWB 115 gr. FMJ's. I have no option to practice with these Hornadays at night, legally, to check for muzzle flash. Will have to investigate that. Whatever final decision I make on factory defense ammo, I would eventually like to mimic those with handloads. Right now I'm just trying to mimic the cheap WWB for starters.
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Old July 7, 2012, 12:27 AM   #24
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Just got a Windows pop up....laptop battery almost dead.. Will check this thread again tommorow. Good night, you bunch of night owls.
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Old July 7, 2012, 03:51 AM   #25
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+ 1 for HP-38, AA#5 is another good one.

AA#5 is a fine ball powder and meters like water.
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