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Old January 31, 2020, 08:40 AM   #1
Carmady
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.45 ACP; is 200gr LSWC with 5.9gr of W231 a safe load?

I found a bunch of .45 ACP reloads in my garage with no notes. I took one apart and it's a 200gr LSWC with 5.9gr of what appears to be W231. Maybe HP-38, but it looks more like W231.

I know it isn't Power Pistol or Unique. I used to have some WAP, but I have no idea what that looks like.

I've searched some, and 5.9gr of W231 looks like it's on the stout end of the scale. Will that be safe to shoot?
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Old January 31, 2020, 11:15 AM   #2
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For me, if I don't know exactly what the loads are, they don't go in my gun. "Looks like" ain't good enough for me! Besides, my Lyman manual shows 6.0 of 231 max., so even if I was sure of the powder, I wouldn't shoot anyone else's reloads, especially that close to maximum...
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Old January 31, 2020, 11:46 AM   #3
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Carmady,

Break them down for the components. Don't shoot unknown handloads.

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Old January 31, 2020, 04:18 PM   #4
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Well W231 and HP38 are just different lots of the same powder so they should look exacty alike. That's the good news.

The bad news in my Winchester load booklet shows 4.4 gr. of 231 as a start for 830 FPS at 15,400 PSI. and 5.1 gr. as maximum for 910 FPS at 19,900 PSI.

Either that powder is something other than W231/HP38 or somebody screwed up when throwing powder charges.

My suggestion based on Winchester's data is is pull the bullets and salvage the components.

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Old January 31, 2020, 06:00 PM   #5
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I found a bunch of .45 ACP reloads in my garage with no notes.
Does that statement mean they are your loads or somebody else? If yours, don't you keep a notebook of your reloading activities. I'd think from those notes you could still drill back and find some data/indication of what you have there.

All that said, if you don't know, you aught to pull'em.
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Old January 31, 2020, 07:56 PM   #6
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Please pull them and throw the powder away. No way in Hell would they go in my gun or would I shoot next to someone that did. Just not worth it. The fact you are asking the question should be your answer
Stay safe
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Old January 31, 2020, 09:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
The bad news in my Winchester load booklet shows 4.4 gr. of 231 as a start for 830 FPS at 15,400 PSI. and 5.1 gr. as maximum for 910 FPS at 19,900 PSI.
My 1997 Winchester pamphlet shows:
4.8gr, 800 fps, 14,900 psi (vs 4.4gr, 830 fps, 15,400 psi)
5.5gr, 910 fps, 19.600 psi (vs 5.1gr, 910 fps, 19,900 psi)

The #12 Speer book shows the following data for 231 and 200gr LSWC:
4.6gr 739 fps
5.0gr 803 fps
and, "Note: These are loads to velocities of approximately 800 fps. They are not at maximum pressure."

A lot of reloading data disagrees with other data, even from the same company.

And another (very popular) load I found on the net:
HP38/5.5gr, 850 fps

Quote:
Does that statement mean they are your loads or somebody else? If yours, don't you keep a notebook of your reloading activities.
Yes, they're my reloads. I keep records on the pc, and the ammo containers are labeled with magic marker on blue painters' tape. I don't experiment with "hot" loads, so I doubt if they're dangerous. The powder looks like some 231 I have. I used to have some WAP, but have no idea what that looks like. Searched the web and didn't find any pics.

Thanks to everybody for all the replies.
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Old February 1, 2020, 01:17 AM   #8
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The Winchester/Hodgdon web site has load data for .45 ACP using a 200-grain LSWC and 231/HP-38 (they are the same powder). Starting load is 4.4 grains, and max load is 5.6 grains.

http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data/pistol

Using Berry's plated semi-wadcutters and Winchester 231, I load at 4.6 grains and I haven't found any reason to go higher. 5.9 grains is well above the maximum, so I second the advice to break the cartridges down, discard the powder, and start over.
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Old February 1, 2020, 02:14 PM   #9
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"...found a bunch of .45 ACP reloads...what appears to be W231..." Pull 'em. You cannot tell anything about any powder by just looking at it. Absolutely not what particular powder it may be.
"...5.9gr of W231..." Like Aguila Blanca, that's over the current Max.
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Old February 1, 2020, 02:39 PM   #10
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I loaded these things, and I know what powders were available. W231, Unique, WAP, and Power Pistol. It definitely isn't Unique or Power Pistol. It looks like W231, but there's a slight chance it could be WAP, but I don't know what WAP looks like.

I'll break down and get a real bullet puller and play it safe.

Thanks to all for the input.
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Old February 1, 2020, 05:20 PM   #11
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It would still be within +P loading, in all likelihood, but above the standard range. The thing to worry about more, IMHO, is that these rounds have been in your garage a long time. Garages can get hot. In heat and with enough time, powder uses up its stabilizer and then starts in on its deterrent coatings, raising the burn rate of the powder. So, yes, I would pull them, just to be sure, and then avoid storing anything with smokeless powder in it in a garage in the future.
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Old February 1, 2020, 05:20 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmady View Post
I loaded these things, and I know what powders were available. W231, Unique, WAP, and Power Pistol. It definitely isn't Unique or Power Pistol. It looks like W231, but there's a slight chance it could be WAP, but I don't know what WAP looks like.

I'll break down and get a real bullet puller and play it safe.

Thanks to all for the input.
If you loaded them, then in truth, they must be safe to shoot in your gun, unless you put them in the garage because there was a problem with them. If that was so, wouldn't you remember that? As others have said, W231 and HP38 are the exact same powder........nowadays.

I sometimes mix up random ammo with other random ammo when I need storage. Things is, they are all safe, even if they get put in a box that is not marked, or marked wrong. I might not know exactly what the powder is, or the charge, but if I made it and did not pull it or destroy it, it is safe to shoot in my guns, just like any factory ammo. While we don't know the powder or the charge, we know it is safe.
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Old February 1, 2020, 05:24 PM   #13
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Both W231 and HP38 are St. Marks OBP231 in canister grade. Differences between loads for them in the past have always been due to the tested pairs being different factory lot numbers with different burn rates. Also, canister grade powders didn't use to have their burn rates as well controlled as they are today.
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Old February 1, 2020, 06:15 PM   #14
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I took one apart and it's a 200gr LSWC with 5.9gr of what appears to be W231. Maybe HP-38, but it looks more like W231.
Appears to be, looks like and maybe just wouldn't work for me. Me? I would pull them since I wasn't sure what I actually had. That said, your ammunition and your gun as well as your body parts so do whatever you are comfortable with.

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Old February 1, 2020, 07:47 PM   #15
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My all-time pet load is 5.0gn of W231 (or HP-38) under the 200 LSWC. I have likely loaded more of these than any other recipe. I have a seat die dedicated for this load - that's all it does - so I can just spin it in and go.

5.0 grains moves the 200 LSWC along at 840 f/s through any of my three full-sized 1911's. This loading has been chronographed countless times over the decades - consistently runs 830-850-ish. It's a pretty spunky round. Not full-throttle by any means, but pretty darn spunky.

I can't imagine having any desire to shoot them at 5.9 grains. And that - if for no other reason - is why I'd pull 'em down.

And then there's the unknowns already mentioned by others.

Pull 'em.
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Old February 1, 2020, 09:35 PM   #16
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I have a 2007 Hornady manual that lists loads over 8gr of 231 under the 200gr lead slug. Shows velocity above 1000fps.

Don't think it blew up their test guns.

HOWEVER, there's no guarantee what you have is what they had, and so your results (while likely to be similar) they COULD be drastically different.

Pull the bullets, dump and dispose of the powder and use the components with a load you KNOW with certainty what it is.
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Old February 1, 2020, 10:25 PM   #17
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I was shooting IPSC in the era of minimum power factor for Major scoring of 175, best to load 180 for a safety margin on the match chronograph. That was normally a 200 gr SWC at 900 fps, very often with W231.
Depending on bullet, barrel, and ambient temperature (231 is quite temperature sensitive) loads varied from near maximum to Quant Suff. I was definitely +P one chilly March.

But shooting unlabeled ammo is not the same thing.
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Old February 2, 2020, 08:00 AM   #18
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If you loaded them, then in truth, they must be safe to shoot in your gun, unless you put them in the garage because there was a problem with them. If that was so, wouldn't you remember that? As others have said, W231 and HP38 are the exact same powder........nowadays.
I believe you're on to something. It's not like me to to leave ammo unmarked, especially reloads, and, I never keep ammo where I found these. I may put some boxes of bullets out there just to get them out of the way, but never loaded ammo. So I think I probably realized I screwed up after loading them, put them in an out of the way place (for the time being), and just forgot about them all together.

The 1 lb bottle of 231 has a $14.25 price tag on it, and I'm sure it was bought before the ammo/powder shortage which occurred a few years ago. There's a piece of blue painters' tape that goes from the cap to the bottle (like on a liquor bottle) that's marked "45 200gr LSWC 231/5.5 850 fps." I may have put that there after realizing 5.9gr was too much.

The powder in the mystery reloads looks very close to the 231, if not the same. The current HP38 I have looks a little different in color. The 231 has some lighter and darker flakes in it, but it could be the way the light was hitting it.
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Old February 2, 2020, 10:22 AM   #19
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Color change also can occur when powder starts to deteriorate, though it can also be different from one lot to another, depending on where they sourced the components for the different lots. They don't always come from the same place.

Looking at the current Hornady manual (10), they list HP-38 Max for a swaged 200-grain SWC as 6.5 grains for a velocity of 950 fps and a 231 Max load of 6.2 grains for a velocity of 900 fps. The reason the numbers differ for the two powder names in the Hornady manual is due to lot difference, whereas, in Hodgdon's data, they are identical because they are loaded from the same lot of reference powder that serves both brands and numbers. The reasons the charge weight numbers differ from the lower ones given by Hodgdon is Hodgdon used a SAAMI pressure and velocity test barrel for firing, while Hornady used a 5" m.1911, plus Hodgdon used a cast bullet which is a little harder and a little longer than the swaged lead bullet Hornady makes, so, even though the Hodgdon COL is slightly longer (1.225" vs 1.200" for Hornady), they may have less powder space under it. The SAAMI P&V test barrels have minimum chambers with minimum headspace. A m.1911 is usually a bit loose by comparison if it doesn't have a tightly hand fit and headspaced match barrel.
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Old February 2, 2020, 10:37 AM   #20
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Hornady used a 5" m.1911
How did they know when to quit?
We are told that you can't judge chamber pressure by examination in a tightly breeched rifle, how much less so in an autopistol with everything bouncing around at lower pressure.
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Old February 2, 2020, 01:18 PM   #21
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I load 200-gr bullets in .45 acp with 6.0 gr of Winchester 231 and I find them to be very, very light loads. 5.9 would be even lighter.

Take look at WAP load data. If 5.9 grains isn't too much for your bullet, then you'll be fine shooting these no matter which of the two powders is in them.
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Old February 2, 2020, 01:44 PM   #22
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Take a look at the data:
https://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data/pistol

I'd pull the bullets and dump the powder.
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Old February 2, 2020, 02:07 PM   #23
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How did they know when to quit?
Old school: You quit when you start having trouble with the gun or the ammo.

Today's school: You quit when your computer program sees the SAAMI limit a mile down the road.....
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Old February 2, 2020, 02:52 PM   #24
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Dump the powder in your garden. Reuse the components. DO NOT SHOOT those reloads.
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Old February 2, 2020, 03:37 PM   #25
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How did they know when to quit?
Many years ago I called Sierra, questioning a load in their manual listed as a "Max Load". The technician's answer, "That's just where we decided to quit". So unless they list pressure along with the load, that is at each company's discretion.

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