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Old 09-01-2020, 09:15 PM
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Default New To Reloading powder question

I've shot, off and on, for years, but I've never reloaded. I'm diving in soon, though and will start small with a small progressive or a single station. I'll be reloading for my own consumption target and defense loads.

I am starting with 380 ACP, 9mm and 40 S&W. Maybe 357 Sig later. I haven't studied much load data yet, so I have a long way to go. My first question is, what is a recommendation for powder, at least initially?

I'll have plenty more questions later.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:26 PM
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Buy a good reloading manual before you start acquiring components.

Unique and Bullseye are used in lots of handgun reloads.

Last edited by Rpg; 09-01-2020 at 09:28 PM.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:29 PM
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My recommendation as your 1st Purchase is at least 1 Reloading Manual I have quite a few My newest in The Lee Manual & it would be a good Starting Loading Manual & is not expensive, Study the Manual for Cartridges you intend to Load & see if you can come up with a couple of choices of Powder, Availability @ this time is not the best I load My 9mm using Bullseye or Unique there're other good choices,You will likely tire of loading pistol ammo on a single stage fairly quickly,Take a look @ Lee's Classic Turret Press It has A Cast Iron Base & Steel Linkage it has Auto Index that will speed things up a bit & can even be had in a fairly complete kit to get you started.
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:29 PM
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At present time, you will have to use what you can find. First thing would be to get at least 2 reloading manuals read them, especially the reloading introductions. The Lyman 50th and Hornady would be good places to start. Try to narrow down the bullets/weight you would like to use for each caliber; then see if there are any powders you could use for all, or most.

You are wanting to start reloading at a time when components are hard to come by. Without primers, you won't be loading anything! All here will answer your questions best we can. Good luck in your new hobby :-)
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Old 09-01-2020, 09:56 PM
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Often times people get off on the wrong foot by buying components and then deciding what to do with them.

First decide what your intended purpose is first. I would start with plinking loads first. There may be a delay in shipping but Extreme has had 124 grain 9mm plated round nose. 9mm brass is plentiful if you have difficulty finding some locally PM and I'll remedy that. Primers can be had but you will like pay a premium because of limited quantities and hazmat/shipping charges. The same for powder. But first of all before you do anything get one of the reloading manuals mentioned above.

Smiles,
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Old 09-01-2020, 10:25 PM
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Yes, it's going to be challenging right now, but I've located some Berry's preferred plated 165 grain Fp in .40 S&W. My local gun shop has brass, powder and some 9mm bullets. They also have a Lee Value 4 hole turret press a balance scale and extras. A little more expensive than online, but I'd rather support them. Starter press kits are almost impossible to find at a reasonable price. I'll start with a set of .40 dies and work into 9 as supplies are available. Long story short- I can locate everything but primers

I'm going shopping for 1 or 2 load manuals starting this evening. The more I spend, the more likely that my wife will use some of the reloads on me ...
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Old 09-01-2020, 10:59 PM
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You can't go wrong with the new 50th edition Lyman's reloading manual. The loads are safe / conservative, there is a great section on getting started in reloading, pistol and rifle data in one book that has jacketed and lead bullet loads. When you decide on what powder you will use, get that company's reloading manual. If you decide on a particular brand of jacketed bullets, their manual will be helpful.

I would not buy a Lee reloading manual. It has load data from about 1990 that is not safe with the powders manufactured today, specifically the data for Accurate Arms powder. This from my PERSONAL experience.
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Old 09-01-2020, 11:19 PM
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Lyman Pistol and Revolver Handbook, 3rd edition - inexpensive and has everything you need to start.

I second the notion that you should pick a lighter plinking or range load and get some experience with that first. 9mm in particular has a small case volume and is not the place to start playing with heavy loads.

Since you're doing auto cartridges, you will definitely want a set of calipers for measuring cartridge overall length (COAL) and mouth diameter.

Bullseye and Unique are widely used powders and a good starting point.
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Old 09-01-2020, 11:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mikerjf View Post
Lyman Pistol and Revolver Handbook, 3rd edition - inexpensive and has everything you need to start.

I second the notion that you should pick a lighter plinking or range load and get some experience with that first. 9mm in particular has a small case volume and is not the place to start playing with heavy loads.

Since you're doing auto cartridges, you will definitely want a set of calipers for measuring cartridge overall length (COAL) and mouth diameter.

Bullseye and Unique are widely used powders and a good starting point.
I'll be starting small, especially with the .40. No KBs. I already have good Mitutoyo calipers and micrometers. This first. Rounds will be very well prepped and measured. I have a 38 special, but that round just doesn't interest me at all. It would probably be a more forgiving starter, though.
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Old 09-01-2020, 11:43 PM
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If possible, get a sturdy bench with some room and have good lighting
to see what you are doing and a comfortable chair.
As mentioned, manuals to get an idea of loads, then finding powder and primers.

Good luck on your new venture.
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:27 AM
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CFE Pistol for those. It's great in .380 especially.
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:36 AM
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Default W231 and HP 38...

.... are the same powder and popular and versatile for pistols.

You can look on powder manufacturers websites to see what they recommend. They have a reload section.

With Bullseye or other fast burning powders it's hard to see the little bit of powder in the bottom of the case and if you double charge it it's a hand grenade. I've used it forever but you gotta be really careful with it. Give the cases flashlight or depth(dowel) test before you seat the bullets.

i'd recommend plunking your cartridges in the barrel or a gauge after reloading. Each type of case has it's own quirks that can show up in reloading. Reloading .38 was a snap, but 9mm look me a long time to get the bugs out, especially if you're like me and load range brass and experiment with different bullet types and weights.
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:13 AM
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If I may suggest start with manuals, read and follow the instructions with each die set.

I've been loading for more than 35 years, way before the interwebs had the "How To" videos. Some of the videos are done well, but many have people demonstrating their ignorance of the subject matter.

People here are very helpful, don't worry about asking too many or dumb questions. ASK AWAY!

A local mentor is always great. I had one that's been gone for quite sometime. His first move was handing me a pile of manuals.

Also as posted by RWSMITH, those faster burning powders are less forgiving and difficult to see. You may want to invest in two different burn rate and smooth metering powders for a bit more safety and latitude in your calibers. My favorite all around is Universal. It yields good easy to see load densities and great plinking to moderate velocities in many applications.

The second would be something with a bit slower run rate. Accurate Arms #7 and Hodgdon Longshot yield good load densities and will allow you to load heavier .40 and 9 to higher velocities when desired.

CFE Pistol has some good numbers, but I've yet to use it.
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Old 09-02-2020, 06:19 AM
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In regards to Manuals, IMO the Speer, Lee, and Lyman manuals are all excellent. However the Lee Manual has some excellent articles that go in depth on the various aspects of reloading that are great for those getting started in reloading.

Powders. Unique is a shotgun powder with rather poor metering characteristics and I do NOT recommend it for loading handgun ammo. Yeah, it will function but your thrown charges with have a 3 Sigma variation of +/- 0.50 grains. Starting out the one single powder that I would recommend for every caliber you will be loading is Hodgdon CFE Pistol. It meters very well and provides for velocities perfect for practice ammo. Note, I have run a Statistical Capability Study on every powder I load with so my stated variation for Unique is based on Science instead of "feel". I'll also point out that "Runs" are predictable with Statistics so claims of 5 o 10 in a row with a 1/10 grain variation means nothing because there will be Lurkers with a big variation.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:47 AM
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Another fan of CFE Pistol. I stumbled on it while looking for a lower flash powder for 38 super. I’d been using 540/HS6 for years but it has a lot of flash with heavy loads. CFE pistol has very low flash, good velocities and accuracy and meters very well. I find it works well in 45LC, 357 mag, 380 and 38 super. I’ve not explored it in 45 acp or 9mm yet.

There are a lot of excellent powders. I’d suggest getting the manuals and selecting one powder and get to know it for a while before experimenting with other powders. Each powder has its own characteristics both good and bad. Also what’s good in one caliber might not be so good in another.

Enjoy and be safe.
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Old 09-02-2020, 09:15 AM
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The question right now is not what powder should I use but what powder can you get ....
I was at Cabela's Sunday ...NO handgun powders in stock ... No primers either .
They did have loading tools and manuals .

To get started a nice Kit put together by one of the manufacturer's is a good deal ... let your pocket book be your guide as to which kit to go with .
No matter if you go with a progressive loader you will always have a need for a good single stage press ... always the odd job that a progressive can't do without a lot of adjusting ...
I was looking at the Lee Challenger O-Frame press while at Cabela's and was impressed with the quality / cost ...might be one to consider ... It comes in 3 different kit forms .
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Old 09-02-2020, 12:36 PM
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I'll be the odd man out here . First press get a single stage to learn on . Avoid the temptation to go cheap on a press . Best 2 on the market are RCBS Rockchucker ( heavy duty cast iron , steel ram & handle mine has seen constant use since 1973 . ) Turret press the Redding T-7 has the same attributes & will last . Added plus they'll hold resale value that a cheap press will not . You'll need a scale for weighing powder charges again get a balance mechanical . Do Not go cheap on this either . Many good ones & many not so good . Powder measure get at least a Uni-flo , Lyman 55 or a Redding , good one will last & not leak . I could go on & on . IMHO Lee makes some decent stuff for the price point . Some of it's junk & best avoided . It's better to save up & buy best quality you can afford . Good tools produce better results , last a lifetime if you take care of them & will hold value way better than cheap .
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Old 09-02-2020, 01:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post

Unique is a shotgun powder
How do it know?

Unique is an excellent starting powder.

Bullseye is about the best light target load powder, but Unique has far broader application, up to full power loads.

Poor metering for Unique is an age old myth. It meters fine. It LOOKS LIKE it shouldn't, being round flakes. But it is fine.
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Old 09-02-2020, 01:43 PM
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Readily available right now is a powder called Power Pistol that I believe you will find recipes for with all the pistol calibers you mentioned. I have used it for years. It can have a lot of flash though.
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Old 09-02-2020, 02:43 PM
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I had been using this powder for 380 , that powder for 9mm and something else for 40S&W . I recently decided I needed a better plan . I went with Shooters World " Semi Auto Pistol Powder " to reload all 3 calibers . I really like it and in fact have bought some more . It is easily found at many on line suppliers . Shooters World load data is available on line . Good Luck , Regards Paul

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Old 09-02-2020, 03:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gamecock View Post
Poor metering for Unique is an age old myth. It meters fine. It LOOKS LIKE it shouldn't, being round flakes. But it is fine.
I guess I'm that old then..I started with it in the 80's..

My Unique loads can vary by as much a .3-.4gr..

Powder like HP38, Bullseye, H6 meter much better.
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Old 09-02-2020, 03:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rpg View Post
Buy a good reloading manual before you start acquiring components.

Unique and Bullseye are used in lots of handgun reloads.
This is GREAT advice. I recommend the Lee book, followed by Hornady and Speer. But I would get the latest version of the Lee book before anything.
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Old 09-02-2020, 03:18 PM
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Bad time to start reloading, components are hard to come by, especially primers, and powders. Get a reloading manual, and see what powders you will need first, then start your searches for your components. Every manual will give you multiple recipes for your loads.
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Old 09-02-2020, 05:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigggbbruce View Post
I guess I'm that old then..I started with it in the 80's..

My Unique loads can vary by as much a .3-.4gr..

Powder like HP38, Bullseye, H6 meter much better.
My RCBS Competition Powder Measure throws exact amount of Unique every time, time after time. Just like any other powder.
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Old 09-02-2020, 08:28 PM
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For your first loads try light target loads with the fast to medium fast powders that have a lot of data out there and have light pressures, for your first loads.

Bullseye up to CFE Pistol are all in this range and should be available, some where, for you buy for your fist loads.

Unique is a med. slow powder best later on for full power loads, after you start to understand what is going on and get a little more comfortable with loading ammo.

Just take your time and double check you powder amounts before seating the bullet and that you used the correct powder and bullet weight, for your loads.

Have fun.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:00 PM
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For calibers you list, w231/hp38 is a good starter. Not too fast, decent loft, not too slow. It doesnt do anything well but useful for light to midrange loads on many calibers.
Yes, at least two manuals. I like Speer & Lyman, forget Lee, out dated & a compilation of stuff with some vary vague ref to bullet types. Read the manuals, look at the data points for diff piwders & you'll find something that looks right.
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Old 09-02-2020, 10:45 PM
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Default I made a real die blunder....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cdog View Post
If I may suggest start with manuals, read and follow the instructions with each die set.

I've been loading for more than 35 years, way before the interwebs had the "How To" videos. Some of the videos are done well, but many have people demonstrating their ignorance of the subject matter.

People here are very helpful, don't worry about asking too many or dumb questions. ASK AWAY!

A local mentor is always great. I had one that's been gone for quite sometime. His first move was handing me a pile of manuals.

Also as posted by RWSMITH, those faster burning powders are less forgiving and difficult to see. You may want to invest in two different burn rate and smooth metering powders for a bit more safety and latitude in your calibers. My favorite all around is Universal. It yields good easy to see load densities and great plinking to moderate velocities in many applications.

The second would be something with a bit slower run rate. Accurate Arms #7 and Hodgdon Longshot yield good load densities and will allow you to load heavier .40 and 9 to higher velocities when desired.

CFE Pistol has some good numbers, but I've yet to use it.
I assumed all dies worked pretty much the same. I got a set of Lee dies and found out a lot different after much frustration. You right. Read the instructions. Learn from my mistakes.
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Old 09-03-2020, 11:03 AM
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If you have a good 38 Special or 357 Magnum revolver, I'd suggest starting with 38 Special. It headspaces on the rim, not the case mouth, and is nowhere as sensitive as 9mm or 40 cal. to case length. For light to moderate loads, I use Bullseye, and for a touch hotter loads I use Unique. Along with a powder measure and scales or a digital scale, I'd highly recommend a powder trickler. I think mine is a Hornady, and I use it every time I reload. Especially in pistol loads with fast burning powder. Otherwise, and especially with Unique, you'll spend most of your time dumping it back into the powder measure. The trickler is a wee bit tippy, so years ago I filled the bottom with a mix of lead shot and epoxy to make it more stable.
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Old 09-03-2020, 11:44 AM
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I started with a $9 Lee Loader and 2.7 grains of bullseye in a .38 special target load. Fifty years and 26 calibers later I still use Bullseye in about half of my handgun calibers.

The other half use Unique. That's right, handguns from .380 to .44 mag with only 2 different powders. Of course, each caliber has been optimized to provide the best results.

During the last shortage I had trouble finding Unique, so I worked up loads for every gun with Bullseye, which I had an ample supply of. It worked "OK", but once the supply came back I eventually switched back for all the magnum loads.

Now, I realize that over the years other powders have come on the market that may provide better performance. Nevertheless, I have never experimented with any of them for the simple reason that I'm quite satisfied with what I do now.

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Old 09-03-2020, 03:44 PM
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There's not much across the handgun caliber spectrum that you can't load with Bullseye (or equivalents such as Clays, 700-X, AA#2), just not the best choice for full .357 and .44 Magnum loads. Back when I first started handloading, when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I came up with some fairly potent .44 Mag loads using Bullseye because it was the only powder I used. I think it was around 10 grains with a 240 grain lead bullet. But I was using them in a Ruger Blackhawk (not a Super Blackhawk) which is strong enough to handle anything.
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Old 09-03-2020, 05:40 PM
AlHunt AlHunt is online now
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I've recently (the last year or two) started with the Accurate powders, AA2 through AA9. They meter very well for me through the RCBS UniFlow and Little Dandy.

You've been well advised above on manuals and gear so I'll spare you my echo chamber.
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Old 09-03-2020, 11:11 PM
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I've recently (the last year or two) started with the Accurate powders, AA2 through AA9. They meter very well for me through the RCBS UniFlow and Little Dandy.

You've been well advised above on manuals and gear so I'll spare you my echo chamber.
I really like what I am seeing on CFE Pistol, but I haven't found any locally and buying online adds almost 50% in Hazmat fees.

I looked at Accurate AA5 for 380, 9 and 40. It seems to fit the bill. I will make a list of the suggestions in this thread, research and go shopping with my preferred. IMR Blue looks interesting, Universal, HP-38/231, and Winchester 244 are on my research list also.

NO PRIMERS! I can't find a single package. So, this might be a squib before I even get a chance to load a squib
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Old 09-04-2020, 12:15 PM
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I really like what I am seeing on CFE Pistol, but I haven't found any locally and buying online adds almost 50% in Hazmat fees.

I looked at Accurate AA5 for 380, 9 and 40. It seems to fit the bill. I will make a list of the suggestions in this thread, research and go shopping with my preferred. IMR Blue looks interesting, Universal, HP-38/231, and Winchester 244 are on my research list also.

NO PRIMERS! I can't find a single package. So, this might be a squib before I even get a chance to load a squib
This is yet another reminder to reloaders, you have to have primers. I can scrounge cases, make bullets, I can get any of the 50 various pistol & shotgun powders to work but I have to have primers. So when things settke down about this time next year, buy primers, lots of primers. I keep 10k per size as my reserve. That is a good minimum imo.
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:32 PM
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Smile A GoPrimeMe page

I'm going to set up a GoPrimeMe page. Maybe I can raise 1 or 200 primers
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:52 PM
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This is yet another reminder to reloaders, you have to have primers. I can scrounge cases, make bullets, I can get any of the 50 various pistol & shotgun powders to work but I have to have primers. So when things settke down about this time next year, buy primers, lots of primers. I keep 10k per size as my reserve. That is a good minimum imo.
I agree. I'm going to stock up whenever this breaks and something is in stock. I now have everything for 9 and 40, except the primers.

I went shopping for powder today with CFE Pistol, Winchester 572 and Longshot on my list as 1st, 2nd and 3rd choice. I ended up with a pound of Longshot. There was HP-38/231 available also.
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Old 09-04-2020, 08:58 PM
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Here is some advice that has served me well. If your gun has a favorite factory load, try crafting some hand loads with the same bullet if it is available from the ammo manufacturer. Make sure you measure the overall length of the factory ammo. You will have a baseline for comparison with your own loads. You will eventually need a chrono to really analyze your results. Accuracy trumps velocity in my book. If you come up with a load that shoots better groups than factory, you will get a smile on your face!
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Old 09-05-2020, 06:03 AM
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Accuracy trumps velocity in my book. If you come up with a load that shoots better groups than factory, you will get a smile on your face!
Same here. I don't reload to save money. I reload to get exactly what I want.
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Old 09-05-2020, 11:57 AM
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Asking handloaders for a best powder is like walking into a comic book store and asking which is the best superhero. It's a great way to start a fight.

I'm no different. So I'm continuing that trend.

We all have our favorites. Many of us started 50 years ago and haven't changed much. We still like old school.

For a new handloader however, I'm usually more concerned with safety and that means double charging. Trail Boss, donut powder, has excellent bulk and will spill over the top when overloaded. It's excellent for plinker loads of many calibers. Trail Boss isn't even near my favorite powder, but it's the best place to start.

I'm a powder freak. I have dozens and love handloading and testing. I've landed on the most expensive out there, Vihtavouri. Their N340 is the most Accurate, Clean, Stable, and Versatile I have found.

9mm is easy to acquire brass for, but I wouldn't suggest starting there. Also 9mm is probably the least expensive ($.19) and widely available of any caliber out there. Crimping is probably the easiest step to screw up and getting headspace right can be problematic. Pick a revolver round and get some experience.

I started with the 357 Maximum because I loved it for Silhouette, but it cost a staggering $2 dollars plus per round. I build it for under a dime each.

In the end, it wasn't about cost savings so much as being able to build custom ammo for a specific gun that was more accurate than factory.

Handloading can easily become a more interesting hobby than shooting. Being in quarantine made it easy to hit the garage and spend hours trying new recipes and combos. Sacrilege I know, but C19 changed a lot of behavior on a lot of us.

Have fun, BE SAFE.

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Old 09-05-2020, 09:37 PM
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Oddshooter, 3N37 is quite good, too.
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