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Day By Day© by Chris Muir.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

reloading the 45 acp

i've been tinkering with 200 grain lead semi-wadcutters made by Western Nevada bullet company i've had laying around the shop for a while. well, i've got about 1000 of these critters, so i figured that i probably should get off my duff and work up some decent loads using them. i've loaded 230 grain ball for the most part. rainier, winchester, remington were the last 3 i tried. i hadn't had much luck with the 200 grain bullets when loading for the 745 LDA para-ordinance, so i kind of gave up on them and tinkered with 45 colt loads using them. not much luck there either.
then i picked up the springfield TRP, so i tried again.
i did some loads using bullseye powder, and figured around 3.8 to 4.2 grains would be good, and i should revisit those loads.
i did, and i was not impressed with the results out of the para. the springfield liked that load ok, but i'm determined to find one that both 1911's will shoot. kind of simplifies life at the range if i only have one load to worry about.
i loaded 28 rounds of each load, enough for 2 magazines in each pistol. i loaded several sets of bullseye, in 0.2 grain increments, and seven loads of unique, in 0.2 grain increments from the bottom of the load chart to nearly the top.
next, i took the pistols and all that newly minted ammo, and went to the local 25 yard indoor range, where i shot 14 rounds per pistol, per load. all targets were shot standing, shooting offhand. i know that's not the "real way" to work up loads, but i've found there isn't much chance that if i need to use these pistols for anything other than punching holes in paper targets, that there will be a bench and a pile of sandbags around to shoot off of. i work the loads the way i shoot them. that's how i can get great groupings once i figure out what the gun likes.
so here's the results of some of the loads. i've included some but not all of the targets. these are simply representative of the process. you will see the way the groups develop. you'll also see why i'm not a competitive target shooter. that evidence is starkly apparent when you look at the number of "fliers" i have!
click on picture for larger image.
for reference, these are 50 yard rifle targets. the black area is 3 7/8 inches across.

so here's the first target, 3.8 grains of bullseye.
the springfield is ok with this load, but the para sucks wind. all of the bullseye loads were like this, so i'll probably abandon bullseye as a powder choice for these bullets.
on the next picture, you can see that the 5.4 grain load of unique has possibilities. the para is happy, and the springfield looks like it's actually my problem aiming, and not the load's problem.

then i fired the 5.6 grains of unique loads. these rounds have a better grouping for both pistols than the previous

at 5.8 grains of unique, it actually looks like i might know what it is i'm doing

and at 6.0, it was obvious that the groups were opening up again.

so, examining the targets tells me that i CAN reload one charge for both guns. can you guess which load?
actually, i'll probably load up another 56 rounds each of 5.6 and 5.8 grains of unique. that way i can shoot fresh, without having to deal with the "range fatigue" factor. then i'll know which load to pick.

isn't reloading fun? i have a couple other powders i can try, but if the results are consistent, why mess with success?

technical info for the 45 acp loads developed:
  • overall length: 1.258 inches
  • crimp: 0.47 inches
  • bullet: 200 grain lead semi wadcutter, Western Nevada Bullet Company
  • powders: bullseye; 3.5 to 4.2 grains. unique; 4.6 to 6.0 grains

oh, and i received a box of jewels from my favorite online reloading supplier MidwayUSA. they had a promo, that if you bought off of their "special list", they'd pay shipping. so, i bought 65 pounds of lead
in the form of 3000 Speer 148 grain 38 special hollowback wadcutters.

i've loaded the bevel back wadcutters from Oregon Trails and from Western Nevada Bullet, but i've never messed with the hollowback rounds. it looks like they should be a hell of a lot more accurate, since the hollowback will obdurate like crazy. anyone have a pet load for these critters? since i've only loaded hard cast lead, and not swadged lead, i'm not sure what kind of leading to expect. the speer bullets are supposedly lubed with a hard lube. is it going to be enough, or do i need to get cracking with something like Alox when prepping for loading?

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Blogger WillyShake said...

Smart move: they pay the shipping, so, order the heaviest thing possible!

Happy shooting!

2/23/06, 5:10 AM  
Blogger Firehand said...

Can't use semi-wadcutters in my .45; it will NOT reliably feed them.

I saw some posts at The High Road about using a 200gr. round-nose most people use with .45 Colt in the acp with good results. I may have to get a mold and try it.

2/25/06, 3:59 PM  
Blogger Jerry The Geek said...

I admit, I've not used Bullseye in the .45acp, although I've used it in several thousand rounds of 9mm and it works just fine.

I used Unique in my .45acp Kimber, and while I liked it in many ways, I found it was incompatible for IPSC shooting because it didn't charge consistently in my Dillon XL650 ... or in the Lee Autoloader, either.

Why? Because the granulated grains are so big, they tend to put a significant amount more or less Unique in the case from one cartridge to the next.

I went to the USPSA Area 1 match in 1999 (Reno, Nevada), and couldn't make what I had expected to be a Major Load in the first five rounds fired over the chronograph. Fortunately, the sixth round was a significantly HEAVIER powder charge that it brought the average up to the necessary 170 Power Factor.

Before the next major match (the 1999 USPSA Nationas Match, in Las Vegas), I cranked the powder measure up a couple of tenths of a grain and found myself shooting up to a 195PF.

After that I went to ball-powders, and had good luck with Vihta Vourhi N-320, which is a fast powder similar to Bullseye. Later, I shifted to VV N-330, and found that this worked very will with the .45acp in both the 200gr SWC and the 230gr LRN.

What you should use is the powder that works for you ... factoring in availability and cost, but most of all accuracy and consistency, considering muzzle-flip, felt recoil and power factor.

When everything else seem problematic, you might consider trying the Vihta Vourhi powders. I use them now in .45acp, 10mm and .38 Super without problem.

And it was a lot CLEANER powder than the Unique or Bullseye!

2/26/06, 9:18 PM  
Anonymous rusty said...

I have a new Kimber Custom Target ll. Ive been using 4.1 or 4.6 gr of wst with a 200 gr LSWC. So far I've had no problems with jamming
and my groups are excellent.
the 4.1 load is used for bulleye and I want to run the 4.6 thru a chronometer to see if it can be used for IDPA.

3/17/06, 4:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see thsat you scored with the 148 grn hollowbase wadcutters. To get 1 inch at 50 yards and to match the Wincherter match load, 3.1 grains of W231 and federal gold medal match primers.


4/1/07, 10:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use hollow base 148gr wadcutters in my Colt Officers Model .38 Spl. revolver and get great results with 3.0 gr. of Bullseye in winchester or R-P cases with winchester small pistol primers.

3/16/08, 7:19 PM  
Anonymous todd said...

Hi,just starting out reloading 45 acp having hard time cycling my reloaded shell thru my kimber and my thompson auto ordnance 45 185g hornady xtp is what im using with 7.4g power pistol oal 1.175 seems like when i cycle the shell the bullet gets pushed back in to the case and changes the oal i am using the lyman third handbook as a guide has anybody had this problem before and do you have to use a tamper crimp die

12/28/08, 5:36 PM  
Blogger bothenook said...

todd, yes the .45 ACP is a taper crimp, and i highly, highly recommend a factory crimp die like Lee's, which can be found at MidwayUSA.com.
the problem you describe is most likely too loose a crimp, in my experience.
also remember that most, but not all 45's need just a little shoulder above the casing rim to chamber properly. i've never loaded anything that light in the 45, so i don't have a feel for what your overall length means in respect to actual bullet configuration. i know that when i'm loading 200 gr semiwadcutters for the springfield or Para Ord. th have much better feed success with at least a little of the shoulder above the rim. helps chamber them up the feed ramp from the magazine.
hope this helps. and i'm serious about the factory crimp die. set the crimp to conform with SAMI specs, and you will no longer have the bullets push back into the cases during feeding or recoil.
happy reloading. and i hope this helps.

12/28/08, 9:30 PM  
Anonymous kevin said...

Shoot a 230 grn. Lrn over 5.4 gains of bullseye. excellent results having a problem where slide doest go completely back into battery on some rounds happens with differnt load & 45s (I have several) have tried differnt sizing dies but is. Still happening any ideas

11/8/11, 2:44 PM  
Blogger bothenook said...

kevin...i think you should invest in a couple of reloading manuals, because that 5.4 grains of bullseye is definitely above the max of 5.0 or 5.1 grains based on lyman, oregon trails, and a quick check on line. i can't tell you for sure why your guns aren't returning to battery, but the fact that you are driving them so hard might, just might, be causing the slide to bounce back a bit, withdrawing the bullet a small amount. just guessing here. if you are actually sizing the loaded bullets with something like a Lee factory crimp die, then the problem is most likely recoil induced bounce, since you say it happens in several guns.
typically the only time i have a problem with the slide not returning completely to battery is because my bullet/case diameter is too big for the chamber. that is always cured with a run through the factory crimp die.
hope this helps. you need to back off on the powder dude. if you need that kind of oomph, i suggest investing in extra strength recoil springs so you don't beat your guns up too badly.
i found for a good 45 acp load, 5.6 grains of unique, or about 4 -4.5 grains of bullseye works well. my SA likes the bullseye loading, but the Para-Ordnance hates it.
good luck, and let me know if there is anything else i can help with. i'm no expert, and certainly don't lay any claim to it, but i've reloaded about 40,000 45 rounds so far using various powders and bullet combinations, and have that going for me. i use what i can find locally for powder, and scout around for bullets on the web. i hate paying that hazmat fee, so i don't order powder on line. maybe one of these days, but not today.
happy shooting, and stay safe. the hand you blow off might be your own.

11/8/11, 3:14 PM  
Anonymous kevin said...

5.4 was a typo really 4.5 which is on the low end of the scale aim usingg factory crimp die problem just started recentlly. Have loaded over 10000 round inthe last 2 years( avid. Idpa shooter) thought it might be time for new dies replaced every thing still happening

11/8/11, 4:08 PM  

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