Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

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Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/19/2018, 10:13 am

Hi all,


My story: I’m new to bullseye, and I’m working up my first load. It’s not going as expected, and I have little doubt it’s because I don’t know what I’m doing. I’m having to load what I believe to be rather hot loads in order to get the gun to function properly. I thought wadguns were supposed to work well with lighter loads. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, and any advice would be much appreciated!


The wadgun: I have a new-to-me wadgun with an Ithaca slide fitted to a Springfield Range Officer frame that I bought here on Commercial Row. It was accurized and used by a big-name bullseye shooter. It came with a Clark scope mount on the slide, and I’ve added an Ultradot Matchdot II. I have no idea what strength recoil spring it came with.


The test loads: For my test loads, I went with the materials I had on hand: Berry’s plated 200 gr SWC, CCI #300 large pistol primer, HP-38, and mixed brass. The Hodgdon website has reloading data for 200 gr LSWC. I’m using plated bullets, but Berry’s says I can use the data for lead. Hodgdon lists 4.4 gr HP-38 as the starting load (at 771 ft/s) and 5.6 gr HP-38 as the max load (at 914 ft/s). I loaded up 50 rounds each at 4.4, 4.6, 4.8, and 5.0 gr HP-38. All loads were 1.225 COL and 0.468 crimp. I used the two magazines that came with the gun for testing.


The test: I tried each load with the spring of unknown strength that came with the gun and with a new Wolff 8-pound recoil spring that I bought for testing. My goal was to find the lightest load that will cycle the gun properly while maintaining reasonable accuracy so that I can start training regularly.


I’m a 1911 newb: Before running the tests, I watched a few videos on YouTube on how to clean a 1911. I followed along and did what I think was a good job of getting things clean. It was nice and easy to pull the slide back when I was done, and everything seemed smooth. I had never disassembled a 1911 before yesterday—so please keep in mind that I’m a total newb! I have been reloading 45 auto for over a year now, so I’m comfortable with my skills in that department.


What I expected: Based on what I’ve read online, I was hoping to find a load at around 780 ft/s that would work reliably. I don’t have a chronograph (just ordered one). But based on the Hodgdon load data, a charge of around 4.5 gr HP-38 should have given me that velocity. I was hoping that either the 4.4 gr or 4.6 gr HP-38 test loads would do the trick and I’d be good to go.


What actually happened: With both the mystery spring and the 8-pound spring, it was failure city shooting both the 4.4 gr and 4.6 gr HP-38 test loads. The gun would fire, but the cases would fail to eject. It would either stovepipe (with the cases getting stuck vertically or horizontally) or go back into battery with the spent case still inside. The 4.8 gr HP-38 loads fed more reliably, more so with the 8-pound recoil spring than the mystery spring. But the spent cases would fall just a few inches from the gun. It was only with the 5.0 gr HP-38 loads that the gun worked perfectly with either recoil spring and the cases would generally make it into my brass trap about 6-8 inches away. I think I might even need to go to 5.2 gr HP-38 to get reliable case ejection into the brass trap.


Why I’m confused: I thought that a wadgun with a reduced power recoil spring (8 pounds) would allow me to load at (or even below) a published starting load that is around 780 ft/s. I have a Glock 41 with a reduced recoil spring assembly and red dot that will easily shoot the 4.4 gr HP-38 load—I’ve even gone lower. But it’s looking like I’ll need to load closer to the midrange of the published data (at around 850 ft/s) just to get the new wadgun to cycle properly.


Any clues as to what I’m doing wrong? Thanks for reading!

dev6682

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by Wobbley on 8/19/2018, 10:22 am

Springfield uses a lockout feature on the mainspring housing.  Does your pistol still have this?  These lockout Mainspring housings use a much stiffer mainspring (hammer spring).
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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by Chris Miceli on 8/19/2018, 10:25 am

I’m in your area send me a PM and we can meet up. I should have some tools to weigh springs. I have some reloads you could also try. I always buy new Springs with a used gun. 18 and 19 hammer, 10-13 recoil.  Hp38 you’re probably gonna need to start at 5grn and go up
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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/19/2018, 10:37 am

Wobbley wrote:Springfield uses a lockout feature on the mainspring housing.  Does your pistol still have this?  These lockout Mainspring housings use a much stiffer mainspring (hammer spring).
Unfortunately, I don't know anything about the mainspring housing or mainspring.

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by Gary Wells on 8/19/2018, 10:42 am

That's an outstanding offer, Chris, and I wish that we were closer. God Bless those that help others.

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/19/2018, 10:51 am

Chris Miceli wrote:I’m in your area send me a PM and we can meet up. I should have some tools to weigh springs. I have some reloads you could also try. I always buy new Springs with a used gun. 18 and 19 hammer, 10-13 recoil.  Hp38 you’re probably gonna need to start at 5grn and go up
Thanks, Chris! That's very generous. I'll send you a PM. I shoot at the NRA HQ Range in Fairfax and out at the Izaak Walton in Centreville.

Your reply gives me hope that I'm not too far off from where I should be. I have a 10-pound recoil spring that I can try as well. It and the other recoil spring from Wolff came with an "extra power firing pin spring" that I didn't try. But it sounds like I should also change the hammer spring, not the firing pin spring. I have two other powders on hand that I could try as well: Shooters World Clean Shot (basically the same, if not exactly the same, as Accurate No. 2) and Trail Boss. I think I have a little Bullseye as well. Maybe HP-38 is the problem? It's a lot for a newb to figure out!

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by fc60 on 8/19/2018, 1:50 pm

Greetings,

Watch out for Chris Miceli.

He also carries a hammer and torch kit in his tool bag...

Cheers,

Dave
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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/19/2018, 1:53 pm

fc60 wrote:Greetings,

Watch out for Chris Miceli.

He also carries a hammer and torch kit in his tool bag...

Cheers,

Dave
Ha! He's been very helpful so far. I've got a mainspring housing and assorted mainsprings/recoil springs on the way thanks to his guidance. Hopefully that will get me going!

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by troystaten on 8/19/2018, 2:50 pm

Two other suggestions, make some dummy rounds and see how they function when you cycle the rounds manually.  Also try a little more crimp I run about .464-.465 in my wad gun with a lead swc.  Sounds like the extractor is acting up.  There are some u tube videos about 45 extractors and other posts on this forum that might help.  Good luck.

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/19/2018, 3:34 pm

troystaten wrote:Two other suggestions, make some dummy rounds and see how they function when you cycle the rounds manually.  Also try a little more crimp I run about .464-.465 in my wad gun with a lead swc.  Sounds like the extractor is acting up.  There are some u tube videos about 45 extractors and other posts on this forum that might help.  Good luck.
Thanks for the tips!

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by SMBeyer on 8/19/2018, 4:11 pm

check your grip also.  If your holding the gun loosely it will not function.  Retest with gripping the gun very tight.  If it functions you need to work on grip strength.
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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/19/2018, 4:23 pm

SMBeyer wrote:check your grip also.  If your holding the gun loosely it will not function.  Retest with gripping the gun very tight.  If it functions you need to work on grip strength.
That's very interesting. I've been practicing bullseye for about 6 months now shooting only 22 LR (Ruger Mk II at first, and now a S&W Model 41). I found that a lighter grip yielded better results with rimfire. With this 1911, I've been purposefully gripping it as lightly as I could while keeping the dot on target as I squeeze the trigger. My experience with the 22 LR led me to believe that the best way to avoid trying to compensate for the recoil was to be as limp as possible. That way, when the gun goes off, it's a surprise, and I'm not unconsciously yanking the gun down to compensate for the muzzle rise. But it sounds like maybe I've been doing it all wrong! And that error could be worse now that I'm doing it with centerfire.

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by SMBeyer on 8/19/2018, 5:18 pm

dev6682 wrote:
SMBeyer wrote:check your grip also.  If your holding the gun loosely it will not function.  Retest with gripping the gun very tight.  If it functions you need to work on grip strength.
That's very interesting. I've been practicing bullseye for about 6 months now shooting only 22 LR (Ruger Mk II at first, and now a S&W Model 41). I found that a lighter grip yielded better results with rimfire. With this 1911, I've been purposefully gripping it as lightly as I could while keeping the dot on target as I squeeze the trigger. My experience with the 22 LR led me to believe that the best way to avoid trying to compensate for the recoil was to be as limp as possible. That way, when the gun goes off, it's a surprise, and I'm not unconsciously yanking the gun down to compensate for the muzzle rise. But it sounds like maybe I've been doing it all wrong! And that error could be worse now that I'm doing it with centerfire.
When my daughter started shooting bullseye she was 12.  I bought her a 22/45 Lite.  I would not function for her with CCI standard but every time I shot it it ran 100%.  I then went on a mission to see what she was doing that I wasn't to make it not function.  I found if I held the gun just enough to keep it from falling out of my hand it would malfunction.  Increase grip back to 100%.  Guns don't like to function being held loose.  Personally I think you will progress much better if you grip the gun more.  Don't grip it so tight you start getting the shakes but tight.  As you shoot more and build up the Popeye forearm muscles you will be gripping it harder still as you progress.  Recoil recovery will be much better with a tight grip especially with the 45.  You just have to learn how not to anticipate recoil.  Don't mask it by gripping the gun loose.  I would think gripping the gun loose especially the 45 your gonna be searching for the dot to get back on for the next shot.  With a tight grip the gun falls back in place with the dot right there in the center of the scope.

Scott
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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by Larry2520 on 8/23/2018, 6:16 pm

I use a 10 lb. recoil spring with a 21 lb. mainspring. I use a slide mounted Ultra Dot and my loads are 4.0 of either Bullseye or Clays behind 200 grain lead semi wad. I use the same load behind 185 but once in a while I'll reduce it to 3.8 for the short line. I also recommend a buffer behind the recoil spring. You might try an extended ejector if there isn't one installed.

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/23/2018, 6:58 pm

Larry2520 wrote:I use a 10 lb. recoil spring with a 21 lb. mainspring. I use a slide mounted Ultra Dot and my loads are 4.0 of either Bullseye or Clays behind 200 grain lead semi wad. I use the same load behind 185 but once in a while I'll reduce it to 3.8 for the short line. I also recommend a buffer behind the recoil spring. You might try an extended ejector if there isn't one installed.
Thanks for the info, Larry! I ordered a few different recoil springs and mainsprings from Midway that will arrive tomorrow. I almost pulled the trigger on some Bullseye the other day when Brownells had a sale, but I decided I should use the stuff I already have on hand before buying anything else. I don't think powder is the crux of my problem. Apparently Bullseye is the powder of choice, though, which surprises me given its age. I would have thought the newer stuff is better. Regardless, at this point I'll just be happy to have a pet load with any powder that works. I'll look into the extended ejector, thanks!

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/23/2018, 7:07 pm

SMBeyer wrote:When my daughter started shooting bullseye she was 12.  I bought her a 22/45 Lite.  I would not function for her with CCI standard but every time I shot it it ran 100%.  I then went on a mission to see what she was doing that I wasn't to make it not function.  I found if I held the gun just enough to keep it from falling out of my hand it would malfunction.  Increase grip back to 100%.  Guns don't like to function being held loose.  Personally I think you will progress much better if you grip the gun more.  Don't grip it so tight you start getting the shakes but tight.  As you shoot more and build up the Popeye forearm muscles you will be gripping it harder still as you progress.  Recoil recovery will be much better with a tight grip especially with the 45.  You just have to learn how not to anticipate recoil.  Don't mask it by gripping the gun loose.  I would think gripping the gun loose especially the 45 your gonna be searching for the dot to get back on for the next shot.  With a tight grip the gun falls back in place with the dot right there in the center of the scope.

Scott
Thanks, Scott! And sorry I didn't respond to this sooner. Just seeing it now. I'll be loading up some new loads to try with the new spring combos this weekend, and I'll be gripping the 1911 much more firmly when I try them out (but hopefully not too firmly). The move from 22 LR to 45 Auto has a been rude awakening in recoil anticipation, to say the least. The mechanical problems have not helped with the transition.

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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by SMBeyer on 8/23/2018, 8:21 pm

dev6682 wrote:
SMBeyer wrote:When my daughter started shooting bullseye she was 12.  I bought her a 22/45 Lite.  I would not function for her with CCI standard but every time I shot it it ran 100%.  I then went on a mission to see what she was doing that I wasn't to make it not function.  I found if I held the gun just enough to keep it from falling out of my hand it would malfunction.  Increase grip back to 100%.  Guns don't like to function being held loose.  Personally I think you will progress much better if you grip the gun more.  Don't grip it so tight you start getting the shakes but tight.  As you shoot more and build up the Popeye forearm muscles you will be gripping it harder still as you progress.  Recoil recovery will be much better with a tight grip especially with the 45.  You just have to learn how not to anticipate recoil.  Don't mask it by gripping the gun loose.  I would think gripping the gun loose especially the 45 your gonna be searching for the dot to get back on for the next shot.  With a tight grip the gun falls back in place with the dot right there in the center of the scope.

Scott
Thanks, Scott! And sorry I didn't respond to this sooner. Just seeing it now. I'll be loading up some new loads to try with the new spring combos this weekend, and I'll be gripping the 1911 much more firmly when I try them out (but hopefully not too firmly). The move from 22 LR to 45 Auto has a been rude awakening in recoil anticipation, to say the least. The mechanical problems have not helped with the transition.
Let us know how it works out for you!

Scott
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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by DeweyHales on 8/25/2018, 7:21 pm

I’ve known people to struggle to get plated bullets to shoot accurately at 50. 

If you’re going to create a load, you may want to try another bullet. The quickest path to an accurate load is probably going to be copying one that numerous people have used successfully. 

Good luck.
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Re: Need help with my first bullseye load for a wadgun!

Post by dev6682 on 8/26/2018, 9:33 am

DeweyHales wrote:I’ve known people to struggle to get plated bullets to shoot accurately at 50. 

If you’re going to create a load, you may want to try another bullet. The quickest path to an accurate load is probably going to be copying one that numerous people have used successfully. 

Good luck.
Thanks, Dewey! I'm down to my last few hundred plated 200 gr SWC. I plan to restock with lead and then use that going forward.

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