Looking for your thoughts on my (very) subjective load test results.

Paleoman

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Hi,

I created six sets of 5 rounds of 45 ACP from 5.4gr to 6.4gr in .2 gr increments. I don't have a chronograph or a place to use one (yet), so the way I subjectively test, is I shoot the 5 rounds into a target from 15 feet and try to analyze the results. The caveat is that I haven't been shooting 45 for 2 months, my gun was out for service for a few weeks of that time period, I'm a relatively new shooter (less than a year), and still working on technique.

I usually warm up shooting factory rounds (I did that at 20 and 25 feet - probably should have done 5 shots at 15 feet). Then, I check each load level 5.4, up, by firing slowly with both hands.

Here are the shots, wondering what your thoughts were (maybe not enough data to decide):

reload-eval-45-162400.jpg 5.4gr
 

cockpitbob

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To me the main thing is pressure. With a chrono I just go for the speed I'm looking for, but even with a chronograph you also want to look at the primers for signs the primer is being flattened against the boltface, or worse, extruding into the firing pin hole(cratering). The 45 is pretty low pressure so cratering should never happen. Compare with the primers on the factory ammo you fired. Different manufacturers primers will deform differently, so if you can use the same brand factory ammo and primers your comparison will be better (Winch ammo and Winch primers for example). You might see a difference between your lightest and heaviest loads. That will teach you what increasing pressure looks like.
 
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Rockrivr1

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Maybe I'm missing it but what powder are you using to create your loads? If Win231, I think that load is a little high. Also, if you have 15 feet to shoot you have enough room to Chrono your loads.
 

gerrycaruso

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I don't understand what you're trying to accomplish. If it's accuracy, I don't think you'll see much difference at such close range. If it's velocity, you need a chronograph. If it's function, I'd go with the lightest load that's reliable.
 
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I'm lost. What is the purpose of this post and what is the real question—do you want us to look at the targets and tell which has the smaller group or why you are shooting low and left or what?
If the rounds fired fine and group is fine, then you are there. Have fun.
Next, it is normal to list bullet, weight, powder, charge weight, COL and other other information you think is pertinent to the question you have.
Finally, 15 feet is nothing. Move back to 25 yards and really see how you are grouping.
PS: for most of us not into action pistol shooting, the velocity is really not very important.
 
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To the OP: buy a chrono (Competition Electronics Pro Chrono for less than $100) and most of your questions will be answered. Action pistol shooters who don't think velocity is important will change their mind after their ammo fails to pass the chrono.
 
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I think the problem with trying testing loads like this is you warm up and then peak at some point mid test then your eyes, muscles get tired and you don't shoot well. Then your not sure if it's you or the load.
I'm not a big pistol shooter I shoot mostly cheap cast loads with the least expensive powder. I load for positive function and that's about it. My skills are about torso size groups at 20' unless I practice or use my SW41
 

Paleoman

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Maybe I'm missing it but what powder are you using to create your loads? If Win231, I think that load is a little high. Also, if you have 15 feet to shoot you have enough room to Chrono your loads.
Using CFE Pistol powder. In another thread I had been discussing what loads to use and it appears that 5.4-6.4 was a good range to use.

Using Berry 230gr bullets.

Currently I only have access to a public indoor range. Not sure about being able to use a chronograph there.


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Paleoman

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What are you trying to do? In other words, how will you know when you have the "right" load?
I want rounds to use for range practice. Goals are loads that function correctly in the gun (S&W 1911 government model E-series), and are the most accurate. I want to use 230gr bullets, so they are same as factory and defensive rounds.

The question you ask is what I'm wondering myself and muddling through trying to figure that out. Would like to hear suggestions on how to do that.

With each of these loads, they all functioned fine (for just 5 rounds).



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Paleoman

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I don't understand what you're trying to accomplish. If it's accuracy, I don't think you'll see much difference at such close range. If it's velocity, you need a chronograph. If it's function, I'd go with the lightest load that's reliable.
My shooting is targeted at defensive use, so I've been practicing at 15-25 feet.

Looking for being able to have reloads for practice, instead of factory. So function and accuracy.

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I want rounds to use for range practice. Goals are loads that function correctly in the gun (S&W 1911 government model E-series), and are the most accurate. I want to use 230gr bullets, so they are same as factory and defensive rounds.

The question you ask is what I'm wondering myself and muddling through trying to figure that out. Would like to hear suggestions on how to do that.

With each of these loads, they all functioned fine (for just 5 rounds).



sent from my phone.

This is why Jim's question was important.

If this is the case (and you are going to carry this gun ).. I would find the defensive load that functions 100% and shoots well for you. Then I would try to match that round in my practice round.

If you said you want to compete with the gun in different sports then you get different answers.
 

Paleoman

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I'm lost. What is the purpose of this post and what is the real question—do you want us to look at the targets and tell which has the smaller group or why you are shooting low and left or what?
If the rounds fired fine and group is fine, then you are there. Have fun.
Next, it is normal to list bullet, weight, powder, charge weight, COL and other other information you think is pertinent to the question you have.
Finally, 15 feet is nothing. Move back to 25 yards and really see how you are grouping.
PS: for most of us not into action pistol shooting, the velocity is really not very important.
I'm trying to understand how to tell what is the right load to use. Goal is defensive shooting, 15-25'. I was hoping to tell by shooting at a close range and try to see if there was variation based on load.

There was, but it wasn't linear. Subjectively, I think the 6.4 has the best group, but the 6.0gr was much worse than 5.8 or 6.2.


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Paleoman

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To the OP: buy a chrono (Competition Electronics Pro Chrono for less than $100) and most of your questions will be answered. Action pistol shooters who don't think velocity is important will change their mind after their ammo fails to pass the chrono.
Right now I only have access to a public range. In process of joining a club that has indoor and outdoor ranges.


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Paleoman

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I think the problem with trying testing loads like this is you warm up and then peak at some point mid test then your eyes, muscles get tired and you don't shoot well. Then your not sure if it's you or the load.
I'm not a big pistol shooter I shoot mostly cheap cast loads with the least expensive powder. I load for positive function and that's about it. My skills are about torso size groups at 20' unless I practice or use my SW41
Yeah, my concern with my ad hoc method was with fatigue and concentration. Given my desired use, maybe I'm over analyzing things.

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Paleoman

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Ok, so let me try to take a step back and rephrase the question(s)...

I have a S&W 1911 .45 cal 5" that I'm using part time as carry gun, and part time home defense. I have a Sig P938 (9mm) that I use most of the time for carry. I have a 4" Walther PPQ in 9mm that is mostly being used as a range toy right now.

For the 45 (and this would apply to the 9mm). I intend ONLY on carrying factory defensive rounds. However, I want to save $ by using reloads for practice. With that, I'd like to use similar weight bullet.

At some point (maybe this year), I'd like to give action shooting a try, maybe IDPA (not sure which gun I'd use and which would be allowed.

So, with the reloading, what methods can I use to determine what load I should use?
What equipment would be beneficial to use? Brands? Recommendations?

I want it to function well (though it is ok to have a malfunction to practice with :)), and would like to have a load that performs well.

I'd rather not use the method I have now, of trying to subjectively see which shoots best, as people have mentioned (and I'm seeing), I can't get real conclusive results due to the number of variables.

For this 45, I have 230 gr Berry bullets, CFE Pistol powder, and CCI primers. The reloading data indicated that the range 5.4-6.4 that I have been creating test bullets with are adequate.

I currently only have access to a public range, but should in a month have access to a private indoor and outdoor range to use.

appreciate the suggestions/comments so far (sorry, I was offline all day yesterday and part of Friday).
 

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Ok, so let me try to take a step back and rephrase the question(s)...

I have a S&W 1911 .45 cal 5" that I'm using part time as carry gun, and part time home defense. I have a Sig P938 (9mm) that I use most of the time for carry. I have a 4" Walther PPQ in 9mm that is mostly being used as a range toy right now.

For the 45 (and this would apply to the 9mm). I intend ONLY on carrying factory defensive rounds. However, I want to save $ by using reloads for practice. With that, I'd like to use similar weight bullet.

At some point (maybe this year), I'd like to give action shooting a try, maybe IDPA (not sure which gun I'd use and which would be allowed.

So, with the reloading, what methods can I use to determine what load I should use?
What equipment would be beneficial to use? Brands? Recommendations?

I want it to function well (though it is ok to have a malfunction to practice with :)), and would like to have a load that performs well.

I'd rather not use the method I have now, of trying to subjectively see which shoots best, as people have mentioned (and I'm seeing), I can't get real conclusive results due to the number of variables.

For this 45, I have 230 gr Berry bullets, CFE Pistol powder, and CCI primers. The reloading data indicated that the range 5.4-6.4 that I have been creating test bullets with are adequate.

I currently only have access to a public range, but should in a month have access to a private indoor and outdoor range to use.

appreciate the suggestions/comments so far (sorry, I was offline all day yesterday and part of Friday).

See post 15. I would still do that until you start getting "good" at IDPA then start screwing around with a competition load (by then you wont recognize your gun and you'll be carrying something else anyway. lol).

There is a lot more to matching loads than bullet weight.
 

Paleoman

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See post 15. I would still do that until you start getting "good" at IDPA then start screwing around with a competition load (by then you wont recognize your gun and you'll be carrying something else anyway. lol).

There is a lot more to matching loads than bullet weight.

What method should I use to match the defensive load?
 

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What method should I use to match the defensive load?

I bet you could find the exact recipe online. If not I would at least match bullet weight/velocity at the muzzle/and OAL. EC (or other experienced reloader) would likely be able to pull a round and tell you the recipe if was a triple secret.

I would think that matching the powder would be important where possible to deliver the same feel when shooting. Before you get to those questions I would try to find some very reliable defense loads. Then select which one groups well for you.
 
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Ok I think one of the biggest issues is trying to replicated a so called "Self defence" load with cast plated bullets?
I say load up some rounds with what you have for the 1911... and just practice fundamental shooting for now.
One thing to keep in mind is your "zero" for your gun.
Your "defense" loads might hit a different point of impact vs your reloads.
I don't know why but I shoot my 1911 most accurately with cast 230 RN with clays powder...I would not hesitate to use them in defense of my home either. Maybe not the most "practical" load but I have confidence with this load in this gun.
For 9mm so far I like good old FMJ and HS6 out of my SW 39-2. Again ideal I have no idea it's a powder I had on hand when I moved into reloading 9mm.
It seems to shoot as accurately as I can ? Several years ago I was shooting cmp service pistol targets and ranges and I was improving from somewhere in the scoring zone to keeping them in the black....all on the same load.
Stay safe have fun and practice more.
 
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Paleoman

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I'm still fuzzy on what selection criteria I should use, to pick the load for the bullets I'm creating. I going 5.4 to 6.4gr, all seem to fire through the gun fine (at least with the small sample size).

Since these are practice rounds, how do I pick a load to use? One in the middle? One that seems to have the nicest groupings (I think maybe that is 6.4 from my sample)?

Are there better ways I can test, at say, a public indoor range?

In the future, when I try IDPA or action shooting, would I use a chronograph to measure the velocity and try match some criteria?
 

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I'm still fuzzy on what selection criteria I should use, to pick the load for the bullets I'm creating.

That depends on what you plan on doing with them.

If you are shooting a bulls-eye competition, you look for the most accurate load.
Maybe you are instructing a new shooter who is recoil shy, and want to load up some mouse farts that barely cycle the gun.

For a competition that requires a power factor, you absolutely need to test over a chronograph, but velocity should not be your only concern there. Things like reliability, accuracy, and how clean / dirty / smokey the load is all need to be considered.

If you want to replicate a factory load, you will need to know its velocity, and match it
 
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I would make a load that functions the gun, low end powder charge and work it up if it doesn't cycle the firearm. Then I would practice my fundamentals of marksmanship and print consistant groups before worrying about match shooting. Get the fundamentals down instead of worrying about any thing else, plus its saves money and reloading is fun. That's just me and hope it helps
 

Paleoman

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I would make a load that functions the gun, low end powder charge and work it up if it doesn't cycle the firearm. Then I would practice my fundamentals of marksmanship and print consistant groups before worrying about match shooting. Get the fundamentals down instead of worrying about any thing else, plus its saves money and reloading is fun. That's just me and hope it helps
Makes sense. I do have to work much more on skills (new shooter overall, and even newer with .45 cal).

sent from my phone.
 
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Makes sense. I do have to work much more on skills (new shooter overall, and even newer with .45 cal).

sent from my phone.

I sort of jumped into reloading for the AR and doing a lot of "testing" when I should have been working on shooting better. I'm not a highly skilled shooter but as I mentioned I have loads that when I first started shooting AR where 5-7moa those same loads now are 1moa with a scope and on a good day for me -3moa with irons prone with a sling. I have not been practicing like I used to and if I can keep in the 430-460/500 scoring range I'm doing well knowing my ammo can do better when I can.
So pick the most consistent group out of your test. Load up 500 or so and do some shooting.
Curious to see what happens. You might find days the load shoots lights out then one day your lucky to put 3 shots on one side of the paper....
Have fun and be safe.
Oh my original AR load after all my testing is still my best.
24g of Varget and a 77gn match bullet.
Now years later I do try other powders but like 45. The loadings are nothing new and there are some "go to loads" that just seem to work in just about any 45.
Of course once your looking for more Xs and getting all rounds into a few inch bulls eye then load development may work.

Also the best thing to do is find a very good shooter and let them run your gun and load if they will. Often they will proof out if your loads/gun are ok.
 

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You may not be able to determine the load by pulling a loaded round apart. Even if you can figure out what the powder is, it may not help. You have to use canister powder and the manufacturers don't. They can use non canister powders. See where your preferred load hits and develop a practice load that hits in the same place. Keep in mind that lighter bullets and faster bullets hit lower.
 
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