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Old August 22, 2015, 06:14 AM   #1
stubbicatt
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45 ACP odd WW231 performance

So I have a 1911 clone and a S&W revolver in 45 ACP. Usually I load right at 5 grains under a 200 grain H&G #68 SWC.

For grins I used a starting load of 4.4 grains under the same bullet. Lower recoil for more pleasant shooting, and for introducing others to the hobby.

What is odd is that in the revolver there were quite a few unburned kernels of powder left behind in the empties, which I did not notice in the 1911. I reckon I'll up the charge to 4.6 grains to see if I can alleviate this issue. But that's not what has me pickled.

What has me pickled is why, in the revolver there would be unburnt powder, but in the auto pistol there isn't? I supposed at first that perhaps it all gets blown out the barrel of the auto, or perhaps tossed out of the gyrating cases upon ejection. But then I got to thinking perhaps it is a pressure question. Perhaps the working pressures in the revolver are less as the bullets leave the cases, traverse the relatively long, smooth, chambers, before hitting the constriction of the forcing cone, whereas in the auto pistol the bullet immediately engages the constriction of the rifled bore? The net effect being that the revolver's design affects the round's ability to build pressures sufficient to successfully burn all the propellant, at these comparatively low, starting pressure, charge weights.

What say ye?

Last edited by stubbicatt; August 22, 2015 at 06:27 AM.
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Old August 22, 2015, 08:06 AM   #2
g.willikers
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Checking the velocities of both guns over a chronograph might be the first thing to check, to find the differences between them.
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Old August 22, 2015, 10:17 AM   #3
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One of my pet loads is a light charge of 231 in a .357 case with a Hornady 148 lead HBWC. It's filthy, brownish ash or something but it's very accurate. I don't think ball powders burn clean below a certain pressure.
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Old August 22, 2015, 11:23 AM   #4
mikejonestkd
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I have found unburnt powder grit loading very light loads with 231 for 38 special and shooting them out of a snub nose.

I don't see it when loading closer the top of the chart though, it must be a function of the low pressures.
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Old August 22, 2015, 01:25 PM   #5
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
why, in the revolver there would be unburnt powder, but in the auto pistol there isn't?
The barrel/cylinder gap.

With the revolver, pressure drops after the bullet crosses the gap; the condition leaves unburnt propellant residue.

In the semi-auto, pressure is maintained throughout the length of the barrel (over-simplifying a bit, but applicable in this context); giving the propellant time to more completely burn.
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Old August 22, 2015, 07:54 PM   #6
stubbicatt
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I detect a consensus forming here that perhaps a skosh more powder, and a little higher pressures, might be a good thing?
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Old August 22, 2015, 08:08 PM   #7
mikejonestkd
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Quote:
perhaps a skosh more powder
A skosh might be too much, better go with a smidgen....

I found 4.0 grains of win 231 under a 125 GR lead bullet makes a nice shooting and clean load for 38 special
The few times I tried powder puff loads ( around 3.0 - 3.2 grains ) I had gritty residue for 38 special.

For 45 ACP I like 4.6 grains of 231 under a 185 GR SWC, its clean and accurate, and just barely functions with a 16 pound spring.
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Old August 22, 2015, 09:29 PM   #8
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
a skosh more powder, and a little higher pressures, might be a good thing?
Or at least, as previously mentioned, a smidgen

More seriously, yes. 5.0gn W231 under a 200gn LSWC is my longest running pet load in my 31 years of loading. It's a total winner in my full-size 1911 (Colt 'Series 80' from 1984).

But. . .

If I were to load it for a revolver, I'd probably pump up the charge a bit - there's plenty of safety "head room" to move it up by both a skosh plus a smidgen.
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Old August 23, 2015, 07:19 AM   #9
stubbicatt
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I like a 5 grain load too, but thought I would experiment with a lighter load. I think next will be 4.6 grains.

You guys have great senses of humor.
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Old August 23, 2015, 01:58 PM   #10
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4.4 grains of 231 is well under minimum for a 200 jacketed, but is minimum for a cast bullet. You could try a magnum primer but another scoop of powder(same as a skosh or smidgen) would be easier.
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Old August 23, 2015, 03:18 PM   #11
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
but thought I would experiment with a lighter load.
W231 only runs so clean when you download it. If you continue using W231 and make really light loads with it, you may have to just accept some unburnt powder.

The other option is to move to an even faster powder (although W231 is clearly a "fast" powder, it does have some "slowness" to it, compared to some its contemporaries).

I've made super light loads for my 1911 and found that Bullseye - not surprisingly - downloads better than W231. I did this in a side-by-side comparison. But even with Bullseye, I still ran into unburnt propellant, as I continued to download. (200gn LSWC, 3.4gns leaves some; 3.2gns leaves lots.)

I also have the "super fast" propellants of Nitro 100, and VV N310. Either of these would likely download even better. I just haven't gotten to running that experiment yet.

Point is, moving to a faster propellant may be your answer, if you wanna clean burn.
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Old August 23, 2015, 08:35 PM   #12
stubbicatt
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Good advice Nick C_S.

It was a fun experiment, and I didn't expect the results I received. Goes to show you you can always learn something.

Next is AA5744 in 32-40... Dirty powder in 45-70. Lots of unburned crusties.
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