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Clean-burning powder for handgun loads

Discussion in 'Off Topic Threads' started by AveragEd, Oct 12, 2012.

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  1. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    This might be a weird question for a shotgun site but I'm looking for a clean-burning powder for my .357 Magnum 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter target loads. I'm not concerned with residue left in the barrel; I care more about not having the sticky black coating that powders like Bullseye and others leave on your gun and hands.

    Right now, my powder of choice is Clays. Yes, I know it's a shotgun powder but it works great in my .38 Special and .45ACP target loads. As it is in 12-gauge trap/skeet/sporting loads, it is very clean-burning in a handgun but it doesn't give me the accuracy in the .357 that it does in the other two cartridges. TiteGroup delivers better accuracy in the .357 but is almost as dirty as Bullseye and Unique. I tried Universal Clays but found that you have to load it heavy to get it to burn - I had unburned powder all over the bench, my hands and my gun when I tried it with 148-grain wadcutters in my .38s and with that kind of an inconsistent burn, the accuracy left a lot to be desired. I'm considering trying W231 but don't know how clean it is.

    What I would like to know is what powder(s) those of you who are familiar with Clays in a handgun can recommend that might be as clean or close to it.

    Ed
     
  2. BDodd

    BDodd TS Member

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    Ed, I, too, used powders typically for shotguns with .38s, 357s, and .45ACP; never had a reason to add more powders to the garage collection. Oh, and Clays was the choice.......breakemall
     
  3. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    The black sticky gunk is usually from the wax lube used on the lead bullets but as far clean burning pistol powders for moderate velocity target loads, CLAYS is great as you know and so is HP38 aka W231.

    I tend to use CLAYS in the larger capacity cases like .45 colt, .44 special and HP38 in the smaller cases like 9mm, 38 special ..

    If you are really after clean try some copper plated bullets. (not jacketed) These bullets get around the lube problem and won't lead the barrel like cast bullets will. Cost is very close to commercial cast bullets and accuacy is very good at moderate velocities.
     
  4. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    Bullseye powder is not the problem. HMB
     
  5. Jerry944t

    Jerry944t Well-Known Member

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    I shoot thousands of rounds of handgun per year since my back now precludes 100 bird events when trapshooting.

    I am a Bullseye shooter and you won't find a better powder for target loads than Bullseye or Clays in .38 or 45ACP which is where my experience lies.

    You won't find a clean burning handgun powder unless you are shooting full power loads. For instance H110 in large quantities for .357 magnum and a jacketed bullet of course.

    I clean my guns after a range session so cleanliness isn't a problem. You may find that Clays has a slight advantage over Bullseye but nothing to brag about.
     
  6. mark54

    mark54 Member

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    I use 700X in my .38 wadcutter loads.

    Mark54 in Lititz
     
  7. Leo

    Leo Well-Known Member

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    In the .357 titegroup is dirty when loaded light, it gets cleaner as you load closer to the top pressures. WW 296 is pretty clean at full pressure, but is unstable at low loads. For highest velocity at reasonable pressures in magnums I like Accurate Arms #9. It is not super clean, but not too bad.

    If you are willing to spend the extra, the Viht Vouroui powder line uses cotton fiber base cellulose instead of wood fiber. It is cleaner. it has been years since I used it. VV #3N37 rings a bell, but check their web site.

    I never plain cast bullets in the magnums, or 9mm or .40 S&W. I use jacketed bullets or Rainier plated bullets with good results.

    Good Luck
     
  8. wayneo

    wayneo Active Member

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    It's the lube on the wad cutters. Bullseye, Unique, 700X, Clays, etc. are all clean burning powders with the right pressure. JMO

    Switch wad cutters, or go to a jacketed or plated bullet.

    Wayne
     
  9. chipking

    chipking TS Member

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    Ed I am going to have to agree 100% with Jerry944t. Like you I switched to Clays for my 38 Spec and 45 ACP loads. But I have yet to find a clean burning powder for 357 magnum case and target load velocities. Bullseye is about as clean as it gets with the 158 LSWC in the 357 case and even that will leave carbon and grains until you get up a little in pressure and velocity. 231 makes accurate loads but leaves a good bit behind until you get a little higher. I had a friend who really liked 5 grains of SR 7625 behind the 158 SWC but I have never tried it. If you do find the powder you are looking for please share with us. I finally gave up and just use 3.0 - 3.1 of Clays in the 38 Special case for everything.

    --- Chip King ---
     
  10. skeeljc

    skeeljc Supporting Vendor Supporting Vendor

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    I like Rainier swaged and plated lead bullets. They will shoot clean without the sticky gunk residue. The Rainier bullets have a concave base which I believe improves accuracy. Just my experience with the 9mm and .40 S&W.

    Jim Skeel<BR>P/W Dealer/Distributor
     
  11. quartering

    quartering Active Member

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    revolvers are just gonna be a little dirty by design. and titegroup's gonna be about the cleanest powder out there for a 357. but i doubt the powder is the biggest part of your problem: you're shooting a lead bullet and that's what's on your hands - lead and lube residue. look at berry's bullets. they're copper washed, not copper plated, and therefore cost only a little more than a lead bullet and are real clean shootin'! try 'em out. good luck with it
     
  12. RobertT

    RobertT Well-Known Member

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    Haven't personally tried it but I have a friend who shoots competitively. He claims to have tried all the aforementioned powders and has settled on International Clays as the cleanest burning for his Smith 686.
     
  13. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    I just returned from working at Williams Grove Speedway and was surprised by the number of responses. Thank you!

    I remain unconvinced that the bullets are creating the black, sticky mess on the outside of my cylinders and on my hands. I've heard that theory before but my experience disproves it. My .38 Special LHBWC handloads with just 2.3 grains of Clays leave just a gray film on the gun and my .45ACP load of 4.0 grains of Clays under a 185-grain LSWC leaves my 1911s very clean. And understand, I'm not opposed to cleaning a gun - I even clean the faces of my revolvers' cylinders to as-new condition. Here's a no-dash 617 that I bought new 32 years ago that has been shot a lot (and you know how filthy rimfire ammo can be).


    [​IMG]


    Leading is not an issue for me. First of all, I don't drive the bullets fast enough to get into that velocity range. And secondly, with the exception of the 38-caliber 148-grain LHBWCs, I use Missouri Bullets exclusively. You can specify the hardness of the bullets you order and their website has a very informative link to what hardness does - both the good and bad. When I'm done shooting - like today, when I fired 150 rounds out of an S&W 686 - the forcing cone and bore were lead-free, even when viewed with an LED penlight. The exterior of the gun looked and felt like it was coated with tar.

    I guess I'll pick up some HP38 or W231 and give it a try. Or just play around with the Clays charge weight to see if I can find a more accurate loading for the .357.

    Ed
     
  14. psfive

    psfive Member

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    Clays. Paul in GINebraska.
     
  15. cnsane

    cnsane Member

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    I used Blue Dot in my .357 competition loads out of an 8" Python. The Rabble are correct-it's not a powder issue. To verify the point, load and shoot a box of Hornady 158 gr. JHP's and realize the difference using a bullet with a copper sleeve instead of copper plating or no copper at all. It doesn't matter how your other guns shoot similar loads, or how that gun shoots .38 reloads, they aren't the component recipe that's melting the lube and lead into sticky fumes in that particular gun.
     
  16. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    Check the gap between the cylinder face and forcing cone. See if it within specs. Too big a gap and you can get a lot of debris. HMB
     
  17. chipking

    chipking TS Member

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    Ed It may sound like heresy but you may want to try Speer or Remington swaged 158 swc's. In both my 13 3" and my 442 when shot over 3 grains of Clays I get no black gunk period. If pushed too fast they will lead but I have not seen any with this load. I know it sounds strange especially considering how much black crap the bullets leave on your hands during loading but I was quite surprised by how clean the gun was after shooting. Just a slight golden brown carbon gas haze that wiped right off. I have not tried them in the 45 yet. My 625 really likes the Berrys 185 HBRN plated bullets. And since I have a bunch it will be a while till I break out the Speer Swaged 200s

    --- Chip King ---
     
  18. AveragEd

    AveragEd Well-Known Member

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    Chip, I tried to buy Remington LHBWCs for most of 2011 with no luck. Even large dealers like MidwayUSA could not hold fast to their backorder release dates and my small local gun shop told me he was having trouble buying anything "Remington." But for as messy as they also leave your hands while loading them, I've found Hornady LHBWCs shoot very clean with good accuracy. While Remington bullets leave your hands black and sticky from their "wet" lubricant after handling a few hundred, Hornady bullets leave them whitish-gray and sticky from their "dry" lubricant.

    I could easily use bevel-base wadcutters from Missouri Bullets or Precision Cast Bullets, a fairly local company, but back in the 70s, I had much better accuracy with hollow-base wadcutters and from speaking with several good bullseye shooters of today, they still are the hot ticket. But they must be swaged and most bullet companies only cast.

    Like Jerry, I have physical problems that have relegated me to a casual, "for fun when the mood strikes" trapshooter and those same eye problems prevent me from returning to competitive handgun shooting but I just want to make shooting them a little less messy.

    Speaking of vision, when I started shooting my handguns again, I found I could no longer bring my gun sights into focus but when fooling around one day at the range, found that I could see them much better with my glasses on upside-down so I was looking through the stronger bifocal portion. I went to a drug store and bought a pair of reading glasses - 3.5x made my pen look clearest when held in my outstretched hand. Of course, the target was a blurry mess and I wrote about this in a column.

    An eye doctor from New York emailed to tell me he thought he could make glasses for me that would allow me to see both my sights AND my target clearly. I was skeptical but he's been sending me frames and lenses to try and I was using his latest Rx yesterday. Believe it or not, both the sights and the target were about 90% clear and in focus! Now he wants to try making lenses for my Decots that might overcome that eye problem.

    Ed
     
  19. Jerry944t

    Jerry944t Well-Known Member

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    Ed Zero bullet company still makes 148 grain hollow base wadcutters. Using those and 2.7 grains of Bullseye makes an extremely accurate load out of my S&W model 52.

    Can't speak to how they would perform out of a wheel gun.

    I did the same thing with some reading glasses. It helped. I really don't want to see both the target and the sights clearly, just the sights. If you try and make the perfect shot, squeezing the trigger while the sights are perfectly aligned on the target you never will.

    I also have changed to Ultradots on my competition guns. Makes a huge difference but I'm shooting semi-autos.

    Regards,

    Jerry W.
     
  20. hmb

    hmb Well-Known Member

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    If you would like the target and the sights to be in focus at the same time there is a trick to accomplish this. Use your distance lens and place an adjustable aperture attached to a suction cup on the lens. When you look through the hole and adjust the size of the hole you can bring the sights into focus. HMB
     
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any body using 700x in 38 special with148 grain hollow base wad cutters