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Working Up a Nice Load


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#1 ShootsLikeaDog

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:26 AM

Let's talk about the process of load development, particularly competition loads. 

 

This seems pretty straightforward if there are published data for a bullet roughly akin to what you plan to use (i.e. same weight and type, including lead data to use for coated) and if your gat accepts rounds loaded to max SAAMI OAL: You just load a couple different charges between min-max at a length at least the published OAL, chrono, test accuracy and felt recoil, and adjust based on those data until you find something that flips up your skirt when shot from your gun.  Simple enough.

 

Unfortunately, many of the Most Glorious Competition Powders as loved by Doodie do not have published load data that meets the criteria above.  Two examples:

  • N320, a frequent darling, publishes no data for lead (the only lead bullet data they publish are for N330+.)  N320 also has no data for bullet weights over 130 gr.
  • WST, another that's oft-mentioned, publishes no data whatsoever for 9mm.  Apparently Hornady 4e has a single set of numbers, but they pulled all of the data from subsequent editions because it's "not safe" in 9mm.

If you can figure out a starting point that doesn't explode in your face, this is fine and easy.  Look for pressure signs, chrono it, work from there.  Again, simple enough.  But getting to that starting point with a given bullet weight is the issue.

 

Now, it is intuitively obvious that starting charge weights too high is an issue.  But it is neither intuitively nor scientifically obvious that starting charge weights too low should be an issue, beyond the risk of not running the slide or having a squib.  If you pay attention while you're testing, these are pretty easy to mitigate.  And yet the Internet seems to think that OMG YOU CAN SPLODE YR FACE WITH LIGHT LOADS CUZ DETONATION despite the fact that this has never been reproduced in a lab.

 

In general, most people are idiots, and so if the choice is between "this phenomenon totally exists but has never been reproduced under controlled conditions" and "some derpface double-charged and blamed it on a dodgy physics explanation to save face", I would typically lean towards the latter.  But at the same time, I also like to save my face.

 

So I guess my two main discussion questions are as follows.

 

One, is detonation with light charges actually a thing, or the Loch Ness Monster of reloading?

 

Two, what process do you typically use to adjust charges to get from a published bullet weight/type to the bullet weight/type you want to be at (say, data published for a jacketed 115 and you want to get to a coated 124)?  Educated guesses?  Regression analysis of the data that are available?  Some rule of thumb?  Starting well below minimum and working up slowly?  Randomly loading and firing shit you read on Enos?  Paying someone else to fire the test loads you made using the previous option out of their gun?

 

Bonus less-theoretical specific n00b questions:

  • Why did they pull the data for WST in 9mm, given that so many people are successfully using it?  Similarly, why isn't there a published 147 gr load for N320?
  • Internet seems to suggest that you can pretty much always safely use the lower end of jacketed data for coated/lead bullets; is this a real fact?
  • Obviously barrel length affects FPS; can it typically affect it enough to make a load that's safe out of a 4" barrel unsafe out of a 5.5" one?

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#2 shmella

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:36 AM

My process was much simpler than the essay of scenarios above. It went something like this:

 

Figure out the OAL the unmolested Tanfo will accept.   Got to Enos Forum, Search titegroup;Blue bullet 124. Find a charge weight that someone said made 130 PF, add a .01-.02 grains to that load and press go on the Mark7. Test and chorno it, see it makes 135+ PF, smile, and let the Mark7 take over from there.

 

Load developement, CHECK!


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#3 shmella

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:45 AM

 

  Randomly loading and firing shit you read on Enos?


 

Pretty much. Once I find three or more people posting about the same load, I make an educated guess from there. If one lonely dumbass posts they load 7grains of titegroup with a 147 to make 140PF and the rest of the posters are at 3.2.-3.0 you probably can pick out the elephant in the room.

 

But were talking minor PF in 9mm with WST and N320 correct? Dont double charge it and you'll be fine. Theres like 4000 posts about those combinations on enos. 


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#4 Vagetarian

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:53 AM

I would post the powder burn rate chart but this shenanigans doth not warrant the effort.  If one powder on the chart has a similar burn rate to say another pistol powder on the chart, and there's published load data for the powder you're NOT using, as long as you back it off a bit you will probably end up in the ballpark.  Don't be a pussy, and your face might just be improved by an explosion.


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#5 ShootsLikeaDog

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:53 AM

Pretty much. Once I find three or more people posting about the same load, I make an educated guess from there. If one lonely dumbass posts they load 7grains of titegroup with a 147 to make 140PF and the rest of the posters are at 3.2.-3.0 you probably can pick out the elephant in the room.

 

But were talking minor PF in 9mm with WST and N320 correct? Dont double charge it and you'll be fine. Theres like 4000 posts about those combinations on enos. 

 

Sure, those combinations are well-loved and the sheer number of experiences out there make it likely that "google-a-load" will work, and because I run the plastic fantastic I don't even have to worry about OAL.  But I'm still curious as to how people work up new loads that aren't as Googlable because fapping about reloading distracts me from the dry-fire-induced sores on my hands, and also because I'm just a little bit OCD.



#6 shmella

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 07:03 AM

Sure, those combinations are well-loved and the sheer number of experiences out there make it likely that "google-a-load" will work, and because I run the plastic fantastic I don't even have to worry about OAL.  But I'm still curious as to how people work up new loads that aren't as Googlable because fapping about reloading distracts me from the dry-fire-induced sores on my hands, and also because I'm just a little bit OCD.

If its not as Googlable, dont bother with it. Load development is over rated in the sense of finding the magic pill. 

 

But if thats what tickles your pickle, have at it.



#7 ShootsLikeaDog

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 07:08 AM

I would post the powder burn rate chart but this shenanigans doth not warrant the effort.  If one powder on the chart has a similar burn rate to say another pistol powder on the chart, and there's published load data for the powder you're NOT using, as long as you back it off a bit you will probably end up in the ballpark.  Don't be a pussy, and your face might just be improved by an explosion.

 

See, this is exactly the kind of glorious and arcane incantation I wanted, but of which I had never heard.

 

Charts like this and this, I presume?  What is "similar" for the purposes of this, since it's a relative ranking?

 

And you're probably right about my face, but having remodeled everything below the elbows with shooting-related activities, not enthused about continuing that trend above the elbows.



#8 Vagetarian

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 09:02 AM

This > http://www.wwpowder....- 2015-2016.pdf  If you look at N320 which has a burn rate of 25 on the chart, you can use load data from Win 231 (29) and it should be close as long as the powder is of similar physical composition (ball vs flake).  The 231 is a ball powder and Unique is a flake, and have different burn and metering characteristics.  But if you look up Unique on the Alliant site, there's 9mm load data.  

 

Win 231 with 130gr. http://www.hodgdonre...com/data/pistol


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#9 Peally

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 09:27 AM

That thread title could have gone two ways. I see it went the boring reloader way.



#10 Beef

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 09:32 AM

Scour the web, look at burnrate charts, use jacketed starting data minus a tenth or two, and/or guess from experience, I load mostly "fast" powders they all end up within .3gr to make PF I want with a given bullet. 

 

With lighter bullets lead data is often neutered not because of pressure but velocity, coated will usually not smear itself all over your bore even pushed pretty fast, shit alloy lubed lead might.

 

I don't know if detonation exists, but in 9mm I think the charge would be so light it would maybe sound funny and not hurt anything. 

 

Barrel length affects velocity, you'd have to wonder a long ways from normal combinations for it affect peak pressure.


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#11 Peally

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 09:52 AM

My secret to reloading competition loads is I buy a bunch of bullets and buy a bunch of cheap ass powder and load rounds that make power factor with all the random brass I've collected.

 

There, just saved you a 10 page thread.


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#12 TrackCage

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 10:06 AM

Pick obscure powder you think will be the new hotness (example: prima V). This should almost always be a shotgun powder, because there aren't nearly enough good, dedicated pistol powders.

Look at burn rate, find something with name recognition in the neoghborhood of new hotness powder.

Assume it's close enough and what could go wrong. Back up this assumption by finding at least one other mouth breather who posted a first hand attempt.

Load up a ladder, bring your chronograph. Fire the first batch with your weak hand. Be sure to look away. Bring tp to take a nervous dump or relief dump, depending how testing goes.

#13 GuanoLoco

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 10:36 AM

You are way overthinking/researching this. I am the same way, I get it.

Once I have obsessed long enough and have become internet informed enough to be confident I start testing to learn which parts actually matter. Knowledge is good. Analysis Paralysis is not.

With your preferred inexpensive coated bullet and chamber(s), find an OAL < SAAMI that plunks and runs reliably.
Choose a powder that is cost effective. I prefer faster powders. Stay away from VV N310 fast powders.
PrimaV is the new cheap hotness - there is a thread on competition powders around here somewhere...like... here: http://www.doodiepro...tition-powders/. VV N320 is stupid expensive; the juice isn’t even close to being worth the squeeze.
Pick a starting load based on research, run a ladder check in your gun. Pick a power factor with some margin, 129-135PF.
Don’t even start on the 147gr soft shooting bullshit - learn to shoot and it doesn’t matter. 124gr is fine, 135 OK, 147 - IMHO overkill, can add its own issues and needlessly drives up cost.

Barrel length increases/decreases will affect your load a tenth or 3 at most, probably less.
OAL might affect your load a tenth or 2
Changes in bullet weight will affect your load a few tenths +/-
Primer choice might affect your load a tenth

If you load test with soft Federal primers, a little primer flattening is normal for what we do. A lot is not good.

If you live in a place where this legal, set up a bullet trap (rubbermaid container full of rubber mulch) and a chrono in your garage near your press. Use LED vs. fluorescent lighting and invest in a light kit for the chrono. Working up a new load becomes a modest evening enterprise.

Now use all the spare time to dry fire practice, and free up $ for more ammo for live fire testing of your dry fire practice.

Also, you blow yourself up with double charges and maybe squibs. Develop good practices and don’t do that.
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#14 ShootsLikeaDog

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 01:11 PM

That thread title could have gone two ways. I see it went the boring reloader way.

 

The IDPA fag has to suck people in somehow!  Boom tish.

 

Fire the first batch with your weak hand.

 

This piece of advice is so viscerally specific that it's just the best.

 

Isn't this kind of thing why God made illegal child labor, anyway?

 

With your preferred inexpensive coated bullet and chamber(s), find an OAL < SAAMI that plunks and runs reliably.

Choose a powder that is cost effective. I prefer faster powders. Stay away from VV N310 fast powders.
PrimaV is the new cheap hotness - there is a thread on competition powders around here somewhere...like... here: http://www.doodiepro...tition-powders/. VV N320 is stupid expensive; the juice isn’t even close to being worth the squeeze.

 

Where do you think I got all these ideas above my humble station in the first place?  THAT THREAD.

 

I know N320 is crazy expensive, which is one of the reasons I was excited about 9mm WST.  At the same time, even using N320 and Federal primers, loading my own will be about half the cost of the shitty Freedom factory stuff I'm using right now and even my feeble experiments to date have yielded much higher quality.

 

 

Pick a starting load based on research, run a ladder check in your gun. Pick a power factor with some margin, 129-135PF.
Don’t even start on the 147gr soft shooting bullshit - learn to shoot and it doesn’t matter. 124gr is fine, 135 OK, 147 - IMHO overkill, can add its own issues and needlessly drives up cost.

 

You've read my range diary; clearly, learning to shoot is not in my future.

 

(I was finding for a while that the stronger push impulse of the 147s flared up my tendonitis worse, anyway, but I did flirt with them again the other day.  But I'm too cheap to actually go that direction for practice ammo.)

 

 

Barrel length increases/decreases will affect your load a tenth or 3 at most, probably less.
OAL might affect your load a tenth or 2
Changes in bullet weight will affect your load a few tenths +/-
Primer choice might affect your load a tenth

If you load test with soft Federal primers, a little primer flattening is normal for what we do. A lot is not good.

 

All of this is money, thank you.

 

 

If you live in a place where this legal, set up a bullet trap (rubbermaid container full of rubber mulch) and a chrono in your garage near your press. Use LED vs. fluorescent lighting and livest in a light kit for the chrono. Working up a new load becomes a modest evening enterprise.

Now use all the spare time to dry fire practice, and free up $ for more ammo for live fire testing of your dry fire practice.

Also, you blow yourself up with double changes and maybe squibs. Develop good practices and don’t do that.

 

brb moving somewhere where i can shoot things in my basement.



#15 JoeyBagODonuts

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 01:27 PM

That thread title could have gone two ways. I see it went the boring reloader way.


I read it that way too, and that other thread about a Tranny Cleaning Brass.
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#16 Sweet T

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 02:50 PM

"Load development" is a resource-sucking black hole for us OCD peeps.

 

Don't pass the event horizon.

 

Meaning:  the first load you find with a very common pistol powder and coated lead bullets that will hold A-zone at 25 yards, buy 24# of that powder and 10K of those bullets, lock your dies in place, and never think about it again.  


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#17 ToddKS

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 05:23 PM

At an average charge weight of 4 grains you will need 42,000 bullets to consume your 24# of powder. 10,000 is not enough.

Not that I am being OCD or anything....

#18 Sweet T

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:21 PM

At an average charge weight of 4 grains you will need 42,000 bullets to consume your 24# of powder. 10,000 is not enough.

Not that I am being OCD or anything....

You can buy as much as and in any proportional amounts your wallet and neuroses will allow.

#19 GuanoLoco

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 06:55 PM

https://www.grafs.co...productId/28085

PrimaV 1.1 lb jugs on sale $13.99 + $7.95 flat shipping + $20 Hazmat (used to have a deal where this was free for 10 lbs+).

For 10 jugs (11 lbs) you are at $15/lb delivered - eevn less if you and some buddies buy in larger quantities.

Screw WST

Buy as many lbs of powder as you can without incurring more shipping and hazmat charges.
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#20 TrackCage

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Posted 15 December 2017 - 07:17 PM

https://www.grafs.co...productId/28772

PrimaV 1.1 lb jugs on sale $13.99 + $7.95 flat shipping + $20 Hazmat (used to have a deal where this was free for 10 lbs+).

For 10 jugs (11 lbs) you are at $15/lb delivered - eevn less if you and some buddies buy in larger quantities.

Screw WST

Buy as many lbs of powder as you can without incurring more shipping and hazmat charges.

Homie...

That's prima SV. Prima V has been sold out for a while. Some guys like SV for 40 major, but have yet to see actual load data and evidence of loading SV in minor. Thanks for contributing to the "blow OP's hand off fund." I'll revert to my previous comment: fire this load with your weak hand. What could go wrong?

PS, grafs still has no hazmat promo on vectan powder (10 bottle min.).




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