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How much powder is enough?

First of all, thanks to PerryShooter's advice on selecting my COAL for reloading my 45's.

I've been reloading starting with the minimum recommended (about 4.5g of Titegroup) and gone all the way to 4.9g. My groups haven't really changed much (10 shot groups of 1.5-2 inches at 12 yards). Two things I've observed are that more grains result in more recoil, but not really bad. The second is that at the higher grains I get less unburnt powder. So it seems to burn cleaner.

My question is, how can I SAFELY and without expensive equipment tell when I should stop increasing the amount of powder? Obviously, if I feel huge recoil or bigger group size, that would be a logical end point. But if that doesn't happen, how can I tell when to stop?

Comments

  • perry shooterperry shooter Member Posts: 17,390
    edited November -1
    OK match the pistol to your load. all semi auto Need the slide to fully cycle to function 100 % if you own a pistol that locks the slide back after the last shot try this. load one round in the chamber
    fire the round . "does the slide lock back [?]" try at least 10 times if yes on all 10 you have enough powder in your load. if not pass test every time you need more powder . Now try the test with 1/2 grain lower still pass same test reduce powder another 1/2 grain ETC ETC what will make for the longest life in your pistol is a load that will just FULLY cycle the slide every time. you can change the point of passing this test by changing the recoil spring as well as Hammer spring many other but not easy ways. as to dirty powder a straight walled big bore pistol does tend to have unburnt powder. a Fast powder can make this less dirty . BULLS-EYE powder Winchester 231
    and Clays. The cleanest of all is V.V310 but be careful easy to over load go 2 tenths of a grain increase at a time.

    EDIT Max load lets seeincrease load one grain at a time until primer falls out or case head blows then back off 1/2 grain

    NO that is the bubba way Best way is to look at a number of different reloading manuals. I my opinion nothing is gained by trying to HOT ROD LOADS The gun will not last as long "think of running a car at redline all the time.#2 the groups most likely will be bigger because you will pass your tolerance to recoil. a 45acp 230 grain bullet will not put a bigger hole in a piece of paper or kill someone quicker at 1000 FPS that a good factory load at 830 FPS
  • AzAfshinAzAfshin Member Posts: 3,117
    edited November -1
    Thanks Perry. You actually answered a different question I've had, how to determine the lowest amount of powder to reduce recoil (for IDPA competitions and such that need rapid shooting).

    But, for finding the maximum amount of powder, how can I tell when I've reached the maximum? I'm wondering if this will reduce my group sizes when shooting at slower rates.
  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 30,906 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by AzAfshin
    First of all, thanks to PerryShooter's advice on selecting my COAL for reloading my 45's.

    I've been reloading starting with the minimum recommended (about 4.5g of Titegroup) and gone all the way to 4.9g. My groups haven't really changed much (10 shot groups of 1.5-2 inches at 12 yards). Two things I've observed are that more grains result in more recoil, but not really bad. The second is that at the higher grains I get less unburnt powder. So it seems to burn cleaner.

    My question is, how can I SAFELY and without expensive equipment tell when I should stop increasing the amount of powder? Obviously, if I feel huge recoil or bigger group size, that would be a logical end point. But if that doesn't happen, how can I tell when to stop?


    The book is important, as a general rule check several sources and avoid exceeding max charges. The higher pressures in larger charges will burn the powder more effectively, leaving less unburned. If you like the way it shoots at 4.9 leave it there, if you want a bit less recoil back it down a tenth or so. The load should be tailored to the job but keeping in mind max charges and reliability are a factor.

    Good luck!! have fun, be safe. [:D]
  • 62fuelie62fuelie Member Posts: 1,036 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    +1 on following the guidance of the manuals. The small amount of increased velocity gained by over stretching the load is more than canceled by the potential dangers. Until you spend an afternoon in the E.R. having the remains of your grip picked out of the palm of your hand (or worse) you haven't seen the downside of pushing the limit up close and personally. For lower power loads you can get reduced power recoil springs and main springs from Wolff, don't go too light on the main spring as you need fully reliable ignition.

    For loads to be used for "Serious Social Encounters" I prefer to rely on the commercially produced high performance defense loads made by several reputable companies.

    The tell-tales we use for rifles that work at pressures from 45 to 60K psi simply aren't reliable for the .45 ACP at 15 to 18K psi.
  • AzAfshinAzAfshin Member Posts: 3,117
    edited November -1
    Thanks Gents for the responses and insights.

    As a last follow-up, is there no way of knowing that I'm reaching an upper limit? For rifle shells I look for signs of over pressure on the primers and such. Can this also be used for pistol shells?

    The reason I keep pushing this is that I can never find the maximum in a manual given my exact situation (barrel length, primer used, shell manufacturer, powder used, ...). The listed maximum is 5.2g which is not far from where I am. I don't want to chase best accuracy and exceed MY actual maximum if there are signs I can look for.

    I should mention that I'm pushing out to 25 yards and with a slow round like the 45, I expect velocity to play a non-negligible factor.
  • dcs shootersdcs shooters Member Posts: 10,969
    edited November -1
    You got very good advice [^]
    Use the starting loads in the manuals, that's what they put them in for [:0]
    As for 25 yds. we have shot 1911,s at 100 many times, not that much holdover on a pepperpoper [;)]
  • bpostbpost Member Posts: 30,906 ✭✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by AzAfshin
    Thanks Gents for the responses and insights.

    As a last follow-up, is there no way of knowing that I'm reaching an upper limit? For rifle shells I look for signs of over pressure on the primers and such. Can this also be used for pistol shells?

    The reason I keep pushing this is that I can never find the maximum in a manual given my exact situation (barrel length, primer used, shell manufacturer, powder used, ...). The listed maximum is 5.2g which is not far from where I am. I don't want to chase best accuracy and exceed MY actual maximum if there are signs I can look for.

    I should mention that I'm pushing out to 25 yards and with a slow round like the 45, I expect velocity to play a non-negligible factor.


    NRA Bullseye outdoors is shot at 50 yards slow fire; the ten ring is about 3" the X ring is about 1/2 of that. My wad cutter gun, obtained from PERRY SHOOTER, will hold 10 rounds in 1-1/2" at 50 yards using 4.4 grains of Bullseye or N310 powder pushing a 200 SWC, this is a medium load, one MY GUN likes. Bullseye is DIRTY the Vihtavuori N310 burns very clean.

    You usually won't find RELIABLE pressure signs from a low pressure pistol round but the max loads are set to be safe in all pistols in good operating condition of that caliber regardless of barrel length.

    There have been tests showing that some rifles can generate up to 75,000 PSI before the primer shows danger signs.

    Don't over think the process, the book is a bible FROM THAT PUBLISHER. Another book may vary by quite a margin. That is part of the deal. Reloading is a simple mechanical process backed by a art learned over a lifetime.
  • AzAfshinAzAfshin Member Posts: 3,117
    edited November -1
    Thanks guys for all the great advice. I know it takes years of experience to learn all of these, that's why I'm tapping you guys' heads [:D]

    I am very likely overthinking this. Part of my scientist background.
  • sandwarriorsandwarrior Member Posts: 5,599
    edited November -1
    AzAFshin,

    To answer the question on your observation that you get cleaner brass with higher loads.
    When pressure increases it simply burns more efficiently/completely.

    Now, for any given powder, you still need to follow the book. Loading hot to get clean brass is not a safe method of evaluating your loads.
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,296 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    You cannot tell a .45 overload by looking at the brass, primer, or sheep entrails. Nothing to do but go by the book.

    Titegroup is a fast and touchy powder. I would not push the load over or even up to the tested maximum.
    This is something I wonder about, Titegroup and a number of other "modern" powders seem to have narrow ranges of application.
    Good old Bullseye, although fast, has a wide operating range, everything from powderpuff to hardball.
    I went with Bullseye when I determined that .45 midrange or even gallery loads were all the fun I wanted. It was more consistent in underloads than anything else I could find.
  • 11b6r11b6r Member Posts: 16,725
    edited November -1
    Another +1000 on follow the book. The term is pressure CURVE. That is because an increase of powder does NOT produce a straight line increase in pressure. It is a function of case capacity, and changes in burn rate. And you can be doing fine right up to the point that gangrene sets in.

    People put a lot of very hard work into developing those load tables. Do not try to reinvent the wheel.
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