Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

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Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by DeweyHales on Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:37 pm

I have a new to me Les Baer hardball 1911 that I've been struggling to get to shoot well. So, I bought a box of Fed American Eagle.

To start, I disassembled a round. To me, it looks like a Fed case, CCI primer, Speer 230, and 4.9 of Bullseye. The OAL is 1.265".  The crimp is 0.472".  

The specs for American Eagle are a bit hotter than the specs of Fed Gold Medal Match. 

I loaded 4.7 of Bullseye, a Hornady 230, Starline case, and a Win large primer to 1.265" and 0.472". 

I started by trying the FAE. It grouped very well. Next up, I fired my prior load of WST. The results were terrible in this gun. Finally, I tested my FGMM clone. The results were worth the effort. 




All firing was done from a rested, two hand shooting position on the 50 yard bench. It was early morning, and the light was coming from just over the targets. I imagine a Ransom Rest would tighten things a bit. 

My goal is to save all my Bullseye powder for hardball loads. So, I needed to find a readily available powder for my wad gun ammo. Alliant has made a powder called Clay Dot which is a virtual copy of Hodgdon's Clays. The price is fantastic. 

Alliant has not worked up pistol loads, but they state that for 12 gauge it is so similar to Clays that MEC bushings need not be changed when switching between the two powders. The rumor is that Alliant plans to do pistol load testing, but there has not been time. Other reloaders have been using this powder for pistol loads normally made with Clays. I went to the Pet Loads thread and found 3.8 of Clays with a 185 LSWCHP. I used this load with Clay Dot. The results were very good and held the 10 ring. 

Finally, I've got a buddy that is working with the M9, but none of the traditional powders are available. After some reading, I decided to try Alliant Red Dot. I used 4.3gr with a 115 fmj from Precision Delta, Starline cases, Win small primers at 1.140" and crimped to 0.377".
 


For now, this will work for my buddy. I was unable to get more Red Dot. I will try using Alliant's Promo powder. It is essentially Red Dot without the red dots. The burn is said to be the same per weight, but it is more dense. When I get time to test it, I'll report back.

DeweyHales

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by aloreman on Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:44 pm

Promo is factory 2nd red dot and american select. It is inconsistent from jug to jug and dirty

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by DeweyHales on Sun Jan 19, 2014 8:49 pm

Well, I've got 8lbs. Jug to jug won't matter for a long time if I can get it to work. If not, it'll get burned on a trap field.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by aloreman on Sun Jan 19, 2014 9:03 pm

Thats how we used it up. Has a cool rotten egg smell and a wierd color smoke.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by DavidR on Mon Jan 20, 2014 12:13 pm

First, the federal was not loaded with bullseye powder, after hours of research and talking to techs at the factory the answer is the powder they use is blended recipe that they do not divulge just like the KFC recipe, its a secret so other company's cant copy them. The best you can do to copy any factory round is chrono it and try and find a accurate bullet and load to the same velocity. Many powders do good with the 230, but a little bit slower than bullseye seems to do better with less recoil. WST will do good if you get the right load, V320, green dot and others do well too.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by DeweyHales on Mon Jan 20, 2014 1:25 pm

I appreciate that the powder is said not to be Bullseye.  However, the same weight of Bullseye delivers extremely similar performance in my gun.  Suppose for a moment that duplicating FGMM was as easy as following a recipe like the one listed above.  At $39.99 a box, Federal and retailers have a vested interest in not divulging that information.  It is not a lie for a tech to say that it is a non-cannister powder not obtainable by the general public. 

Black Hills is rumored to use a non-cannister version of TAC for many of it's .223 rifle offerings.  After my testing, I'm convinced their ammo can easily be duplicated by a competent reloader.  Rifle shooters do this type of work all the time with surplus powders as well.   

When visually inspected, burned, etc. the powders appear incredibly similar.  I'm just throwing the information out there.  Each reloader should use their best judgement and work up their own loads.   

Alliant's website lists the following statement about Promo:

"America's number one economy-priced 12 gauge target powder. Promo has the same burn speed as Red Dot, but is more dense, thus requiring a smaller bushing to obtain the same charge weight."

Alliant also lists handgun loads as a secondary use for the powder. 

As long as powders continue to run scarce, I'll keep experimenting with available powders.  There are many suitable powders still available that safely shoot good groups with minimal experimentation.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by james r chapman on Mon Jan 20, 2014 9:03 pm

9mm 3.8gr clay dot 115 hornady hap HP.


45acp 3.4 GR clay dot 200 GR lswc

.38 sp 2.2-2.5 GR clay dot 148 GR Remington hbwc

All have worked accurately for me.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by DavidR on Tue Jan 21, 2014 11:28 am

I posted a burn rate comparison chart in a sticky at the top of this ammunition section that gives many powder substitutes that can be used for bullseye.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by DeweyHales on Mon Feb 03, 2014 6:09 pm

In cooler temps, you may have to add a few tenths of Clay Dot.  I have a very tight Les Baer with a dot on the slide that would not feed the other night with 4.0 of Clay Dot and a Zero 185 LSWCHP.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

Post by LongSlide on Wed Feb 19, 2014 6:59 pm

DeweyHales wrote:I appreciate that the powder is said not to be Bullseye.  However, the same weight of Bullseye delivers extremely similar performance in my gun.  Suppose for a moment that duplicating FGMM was as easy as following a recipe like the one listed above.  At $39.99 a box, Federal and retailers have a vested interest in not divulging that information.  It is not a lie for a tech to say that it is a non-cannister powder not obtainable by the general public.
About two years ago, I disassembled six FGMM 230gn rounds in an attempt to unlock their secrets.  I came to the same conclusion as you, the powder is Bullseye in all but name. 

I cataloged everything I could measure about those cartridges: OAL, crimp, pull force of the bullet as I could measure it, powder appearance and weight, etc.  I even went so far as to do a burn test against known canister BE in open air. 

My findings.

  • Powder appeared to be Bullseye, in all visible respects (kernel shape, size, color, and volume for a charge of 5.0gn).
  • Round to round, the charge was 5.00gn measured on my GemPro 250  with no variance for those 6 rounds.
  • Measurements (charge weight, OAL, crimp, bullet diameter, case length, wall thickness) were extremely consistent.
  • And the bullets were seated with great neck tension, noticeably higher than other commercial rounds.
  • The case mouths were sealed with asphalt sealer.


I loaded 50 rounds with PD FMJ using new starline brass, 5.0 gn hand-trickled BE, OAL 1.265", crimp 0.471, Federal LPP, and I sealed the case mouths using an asphalt sealer sold as a pruning sealer.  For all practical purposes, they shot the same as FGMM in my gun in my hand -- same excellent accuracy, same felt recoil, same case ejection.  And you could really tell the difference from Blazer fodder just like FGMM.

But they were a lot of work!  Too much work!  Especially the case mouth sealer; it was a two day operation to apply it with queue tips, after the cases were resized, before it dried enough to continue reloading.  It was even worse  when trying to reload the cases, the asphalt had to be cleaned out just like the real FGMM cases.

To make it more sustainable, I distilled it down to what I found mattered the most from FGMM (in this order):

  • Most important: a consistent, good bullet and stay with it. I experimented some with this and found several good bullets (sierra, zero, pd, and even a plated bullet Shocked )
  • Second, a consistent charge from the measure (found my sweet spot was 4.85gn as I could get a std dev of 0.03 to 0.04 over 100 consecutive drops) without me having to trickle the powder.  I don't think the powder brand is all that important, just that you get a  consistent charge drop-to-drop and the powder burns the same shot-to-shot.  Although, BE works so well for me, I'm not going to switch.
  • Third,  be as consistent as possible with OAL and crimp, to ensure consistent neck tension. I switched to Redding competition dies just to have the repeatability of those settings from reloading session to reloading session.
  • Fourth, everything else... none of which I do, just for the time savings.  The lone exception being the use of new starline brass when it really matters.


My practice load for hardball is a Berry's 230gn DS plated, 4.85gn BE, OAL 1.250", 0.471" crimp, CCI LPP, mixed brass.  It's very accurate out of my RO.  I'll have to get a picture of rested group to put up here.

I have since read that Federal doesn't have a "recipe" for their FGMM and the powder they use can vary from lot to lot.  What they are said to do is load to replicate the pressure curve and depending on how that lot of powder performs, they adjust the load.

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Re: Making the Most of What You Have (50 Yard Ammo Testing)

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