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Thread: Powder recommendations for 3" barrel .45

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    Powder recommendations for 3" barrel .45

    I've been getting my intro into reloading by working on loads for my Kimber Ultra (3" barrel, of course). I've tried a few different bullets and have settled into a nice groove with Montana Gold 200g JFP's. The only powder I've used so far is W231 and before I buy more I've been wondering if that's the best choice for a short-barrel application. I've read here about using Bullseye, but my book only shows loads up to 850 fps, which would obviously be slower yet in my 3" barrel.

    Any recommendations on other powders I can try?

    One more question while I'm at it. I don't have load data specifically for Montana Gold JFP, so I've been loading them to an OAL of 1.22-1.23". From reading here, some folks have suggested a little shorter, down as far as 1.18" Any thoughts on that?

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    3" .45acp

    I'm kinda partial to Titegroup in my 4" Kimber with 230 gr. FMJ for practice and Gold Dots for carry. All the powders you mentioned are great but if you need better than 800 fps you may have to consider a .40 S&W. The .45ACP is no speed demon but it's been "good enough and better than most" for quite a long time.
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    No real need for bunches of speed, I just don't want loads that are so slow out of my little 1911 that they're trying to play catch up with the butterflies at the range.

    Thanks for the tip, I'll do a little more reading on Titegroup.

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    I have the exact same gun. I load Titegroup 4.5g under a 230G Hornady XTP. I like the Winchester WLP primers, as they are a little hotter than the normal large pistol without actually being magnum. I use 5.1g HP-38 under a 230g round lead nose (cast here) for practice rounds. Love the gun and the rounds feed nice.
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    It's hard to beat a charge of 5.5gr W231/HP-38 under a 230gr bullet for the .45 Auto. I have used AA#5 and HS-6 in the past and gotten good results but i always seem to go back to W231.
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    I picked up a pound of Titegroup today to try out, and I'm down to only about 1/2 pound of W231. With the Montana Gold 200g JFP I've done some loads with 6.0 +-.2 (trying small variations) with OAL of about 1.23". I'm still digging a little for more info before I decide how much Titegroup I should use.

    FWIW, I don't load my carry ammo, at least not yet. For that task I chose Taurus Hex ammo, with 185g Barnes copper bullets.

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    Powder choice is independent of barrel length. Or, to phrase it alternatively, barrel length has nothing to do with powder choice. Some variant of this question gets asked about once a month. (Sorry, don't mean to sound like I'm screaming at you, Velobard.)

    Powder selection is based on desired velocity range and bullet weight.

    In .45 ACP, a 200 grain bullet is 'lighter' (standard being 230 grain). WW 231 is an excellent powder choice for standard velocity .45 ACP loads. Bullseye has been used for many years with great success and Unique used to be my favorite for heavy (faster velocity with standard weight) loads.

    Take a look at what the loading manuals show. Check several loading manuals, and get a feeling for the larger picture. What works in standard guns should work in the shorter guns, unless the manufacturer has designed it so. In that event, the manufacturer should have mentioned that little factoid in the owner's manual. From what I've read and heard from other loaders, Titegroup should work fine.
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    Thanks for the clarity on that Archie. I did try reading a bit here and on a few other forums before asking, so sorry if it was a repeat. Since my carry ammo is lighter, and I found a good deal locally on these 200g bullets, I decided to not go with a full 230g practice load. If I come across a good deal on 185g practice rounds I might switch. As I said, I'm a noob to reloading and I was thought that perhaps a slower burning powder might have issues in a shorter barrel, hence my question. I just got done loading a trial run with 4.9 of Titegroup, so I'll try those at the range tomorrow and see how it turns out. No chrono yet, but it's on my wish list.

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    This is a good read:

    http://www.reloadammo.com/45loads.htm

    Gives you plenty to think about

  10. #10
    Powder choice is independent of barrel length. Or, to phrase it alternatively, barrel length has nothing to do with powder choice. Some variant of this question gets asked about once a month. (Sorry, don't mean to sound like I'm screaming at you, Velobard.)
    I totally dissagree with this comment. Barrel length is just one factor that goes into the decision and one of the reasons hand loaders can tailor optimal ammo for their gun.

    A very slow burning powder that is not yet fully burned when the bullet exists the end of the barrel is wasted powder. On the other hand, a very fast burning powder can hit it's peak pressure when the bullet is only a fraction of the way down the barrel or in the worse case, just getting moving.



    A 2" barrel vs a 6" barrel can make a huge difference in which powder is optimal.
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    Yep, I agree with you RWW...

    Read the thought about 45 and the need to have fast burning powder, it is similar to many of the big bullet short barreled pistols, why they made the powder in the first place

    Take the short barrel Revolver, how much is going out the side, and end of the barrel Does it need "oxy" to burn?

    Regards

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    It's hard to beat a charge of 5.5gr W231/HP-38 under a 230gr bullet for the .45 Auto.
    Yep. W-231 is hard to beat in the .45 for all around performance with many bullet weights and types, either lead, plated, or jacketed.

    I have not run any tests strictly checking powders against each other in a 3" barrel, but have shot a lot of powders in .45 in 3, 4/1/4, & 5" barrels. Most of the powders lost about the same amount of velocity.

    If you want the absolute most velocity in a 3" barrel, the faster powders may very well give it to you, but again, I have never tested that specifically, since that was never my goal.

    Also, just because a powder is not completely burned when the bullet is leaving the barrel, does not mean it can't give more velocity than one that has.

    It would be an interesting test, but without pressure testing equipment, how could it be fair just picking loads out of books. Still an interesting idea though.

    I would just be happy with the W-231 if you like it, and not worry too much about it.
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    I have shot the 231 and still have numerous 185 infront of 6.1 of it, in my "git kit".

    I don't shoot that much of it any more, few rounds to feel it now and then for I do carry a mdl 21 at times...I like to keep practice with some that are in the 9mm and the 44 mag both good rounds...I enjoy all of the various pistols in Glock and have many...My DE is nice, I am going to go shoot the 50 AE today Of course that includes the 44 Mag also.

    Regards

  14. #14
    I'm going to agree that for a shorter barrel, you want a relatively fast powder, Titegroup and Clays being my preference for .45 ACP. If I had my druthers, I'd be using Unique for this caliber, as the loads I worked up in my gun using Unique gave me the best accuracy. But the slower burning powder left too much soot and unburned powder to clean up. Clays and TG are MUCH cleaner.

    Goog

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    Fast and slow are all relative. A 308 win needs a "fast" powder compared to a 7mm magnum. But that fast powder is way too slow for a handgun cartridge. And a fast powder in a 454 Casull would be more of a medium powder in a 45 ACP.

    From the tests I've seen, the fastest powder in a 5" barrel is also the fastest powder in a 2" barrel. Certainly, the 2" is slower than the 6", but the fastest is still fastest regardless of barrel length.

    The drawback to the slower powders (fastest velocity) in the short barrels is the huge fireball, crud, and unburned powder. More of this will burn up in a faster barrel than a short one. Blue dot powder in short barrels is quite fun, and makes some of the highest velocities you can get.

    For a wide range of loads in a 45 ACP (mild, normal, and +P), you can't go wrong with WW-231 or HP-38. They are pretty much the same powder but from different vendors.
    Mark
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    I like W231 and bullseye for your application.
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    Thanks for the clarity on that Archie. I did try reading a bit here and on a few other forums before asking, so sorry if it was a repeat.
    Like I said, sorry if I sounded grumpy. In point of fact, I am grumpy, so don't take it personally.

    Since my carry ammo is lighter, and I found a good deal locally on these 200g bullets, I decided to not go with a full 230g practice load. If I come across a good deal on 185g practice rounds I might switch.
    If you are loading for a lower velocity round, a faster powder is indicated. Certainly for lighter bullets, a faster powder can be used for positive function.

    As I said, I'm a noob to reloading and I was thought that perhaps a slower burning powder might have issues in a shorter barrel, hence my question.
    In some applications a slower powder can give higher velocities, but not function the action of a semi-automatic pistol as positively. The moment of inertia has to have a certain level of abruptness in order to function.

    I just got done loading a trial run with 4.9 of Titegroup, so I'll try those at the range tomorrow and see how it turns out. No chrono yet, but it's on my wish list.
    If that is from a loading book or someone who has tried it, you're on solid footing. Most all pistols and rifles are law unto themselves, but there is a great commonality as well. A bit of experimentation - within guidelines - is always productive.

    However, some things you can pretty much count on:

    A larger dose of slower powder will drive a given bullet faster. (In some cases one must crimp the bullet very, very tight.)

    Normally, a longer barrel will give higher velocities, but the fastest load is fastest independent of barrel length.

    Slower powders always leave more crud behind. That doesn't slow down the bullet any. Slower powders always give more muzzle flash, as well. (The most 'impressive' flashing load is a light bullet with a very slow powder and a light crimp. Especially at twilight or dark.)

    Powders burn most completely in a certain range of temperature - usually near the upper end of the pressure curve. Temperature, pressure and burn rate are all interdependent. The higher the pressure, the higher the temperature and the faster the powder burns. It all gets trickier at the top end.

    In some short barrel applications, one can use a faster or medium burning powder for less flash and less left over soot and crud; but one cannot achieve a faster moving projectile with a maximum charge of faster burning powder than a maximum charge of slower burning powder. Then again, who uses 2400 in a .45 ACP application?
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