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32ACP - The quest for the best bullet

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shootindoc80
Schaumannk
Murph
fc60
Buck13
Gustavo1957
Jon Eulette
James Hensler
Wes Lorenz
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Post by Guest 4/4/2020, 2:34 pm

First topic message reminder :

I have commented on various recent threads that I am struggling with the 32ACP, both the gun and the ammo. It is very frustrating.

FC60 made the valid observation "show me the groups!" - before attesting that any particular bullet/recipe is good or bad. Fair comment.

I'm lucky that my local range continues to be open and, even better, very few others use it, so I can take my time to get set up and test ammo as well as practise. The only problem is that the range is only 15yds. OK, not truly representative for Bullseye testing, but I figure that if the ammo does not group well at 15 then it surely will not be better at 25/50 yards. Eventually, once I've homed in on a gun/ammo combo that seems to perform well, and the CV restrictions are lifted, I'll go and do more testing at 25/50.

I've never tried to bench rest a handgun before, so please excuse me if my technique is not optimal. I bought a Caldwell Pistolero Rest like this. 
32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Caldwe11
And set up on the range bench using a garden chair. I put the Caldwell G2 Chrono on a tripod at about 15ft in line with the target frame at 45ft. I have found that results are more consistent if I position the chrono so that the bullets are passing through towards the bottom and middle of the "window". That means I have to go and re-position the chrono after every couple of strings. I collect the data on my phone via bluetooth. After quite a bit of testing I now know that as soon as I see an "ERROR" signal on the chrono it is best to just go and cycle it off/on then re-establish the bluetooth connection and resume testing (PITA). Setup looks like this (it is still quite cold here most days, hence my Mr. Buddy heater on the bench!).
32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Range_10
I've got a 2-7x scope sight with a 1" body which drops straight into place on the Warne rings on my Pardini HP32.

I ran some CCI SV through my SP22 (using the red dot) first just to confirm that the set-up is OK. I saw ~920fps and decent groups between 0.5 to 0.75 inch with a flyer caused by me.

Then I ran some factory PMC 32ACP 60gr JHP through the HP32. Results were not as good as I would have hoped. Velocity fairly consistent at between 950 to 970fps, but the groups were not great at 1.5 to 2 inch. This is the best of those groups:-
32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Pmc_gr10
I took a lot of care loading test batches of Hornady XTP bullets. The best group was with 1.8grn of VV N310, but, Murphy's Law, the darn chrono did not record the velocity. Grrr...
32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Xtp_6010
I tried 1.4, 1.6 and 1.8 grains of VV N310 with the XTP60 bullets. I tried COAL 0.840 and 0.900. Crimp all at 0.330. Starline or PMC once or twice fired brass, selected. 
1.4 ~ 800fps
1.6 ~ 900fps
1.8 ~ 950fps
Group sizes were all in the range of 1.25 to 1.75 inch (after discounting the odd flyer caused by me).
So I cannot settle on a preferred powder load till I can test again at 25/50 yards, but I believe I my XTP ammo can produces better groups than factory PMC. Good.

I tried both XTP 85 and XTP100. Loaded with Accurate #2 or VV N310.
The best of the XTP85 groups was this:-
32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Xtp_8510
XTP85 velocities like this:-
AA#2 - 1.6 ~690fps
N310 - 1.7 ~890fps
N310 - 1.8 ~925fps
Rested group sizes were in line with the XTP60 results.
I did shoot a few SF cards offhand and got decent groups with the N310 1.7 load, but again this needs to be confirmed at 25/50 yards.

XTP100 velocities like this:-
AA#2 - 1.4 ~610fps
I was cautious with these bullets as someone had warned that they might cause damage, so I only shot a couple of strings and did not have the opportunity to measure rested groups.

OK, so it is no surprise that the rather expensive XTP bullets can produce decent (but not great) results, but what about cheaper bullets?

First up I tried some Berry's 71grn copper plated LRN's. They look nice and load easily. I tried them with Accurate #2 powder. 
AA#2 - 1.6 ~840fps
AA#2 - 1.8 ~900fps
AA#2 - 2.0 ~950fps
Maybe others can find a better way, but for me these bullets are hopeless. Here is an example of a 20 shot rested "group" next to a 10 shot group of PMC factory.
32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Berrys10
Well, I think that I managed to keep all 20 on the paper! And this was from the rest! Would not even rate as a decent shotgun pattern!

I bought a box of T&B 60grn LSWC uncoated blue lubed LSWC's from a Forum member - thanks! 
I don't think they make these any longer. I did a weight selection process which is described in a separate thread. They produce similar "patterns" as the Berry's. Hopeless.

I also tried some T&B 64grn Hi-Tec coated LSWC's, these seem to be somewhat better and other Forum members have reported decent results for short line loads.
I only had a small quantity left when I prepared ammo for group tests, but I carefully loaded up some with COAL 0.840, Crimp 0.330 and actually got quite decent results. Here are the best two groups:-
32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Tb_64_10 
I must say that in my previous testing and off-hand shooting I did not feel confident with these bullets, but I'm going to order some more as these groups suggest that I may have been mis-handling them and I need to try again.
Velocities for the T&B 64 LSWC as follows:-
N310 - 1.6 ~930fps
N310 - 1.8 ~1,100fps
I did not try them with AA#2 or lighter loads of N310. I'm thinking that 1.5 of N310 might be a sweet spot. I will test again in the future.

So. Sorry that this is a rather long post, but the bottom line for me is that (the now discontinued) XTP60's produce the best results, the XTP85's are good (and maybe can be better with more recipe tuning and testing). The T&B 64 Hi-Tec LSWC's have surprised me and require more work.

The rest are no good! IMHO.

But, even with reasonable ammo, I still don't get good 900 CF results with my HP32. I'm disappointed that it does not seem to be possible to buy really good target quality factory 32ACP ammo (I've tried Fiocchi, PMC and Winchester, but it is all intended for the home defence market and is too hot for Bullseye), but, as my recent testing has proved, I can produce decent quality reloads, so I really cannot blame the ammo. Grrr......

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Post by Wes Lorenz 8/10/2020, 10:14 pm

Hi James,
Please don't take this the wrong way, you lucked out and have a very good barrel. There has been a lot of experimentation (starting with Larry Carter) by others to get you there (reamers, barrel bores, twist rates, etc.). Please continue helping others.
Hope you don't take this the wrong way,
Wes

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Post by James Hensler 8/11/2020, 6:07 am

I agree but I don’t think Larry messed with ACP much if at all. Pardini’s at that time was S&W Long. As far as Pardini twist rates they have not changed since their original. All that’s been done was a few years ago they added a choke.
As far as lucking out and getting a good barrel goes I worked and continue to work my ass off trying different things to see how it effects group size. I shoot 3-4 days a week and thousands of rounds a month to get my 3 calibers to shoot as good as they do. I do think at least in 32 ACP that the 6 inch Pardini is unbeatable unless you spend a lot of money on another barrel and then I don’t think the improvement justifies the expense. 

The title of this post was “ best Bullet” 
I have done my best to show that at this day in time the 85 grain XTP is that bullet. 
If anyone wants my help PM me because I think I am just about done here. It seems to me if I say that air is the best thing ever made someone would chime in and say with his last breath I’m wrong.
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Post by bpettet 8/11/2020, 6:05 pm

I think it's a great topic.  My 6" .32acp Pardini conversion arrived today.  James, after we wrote last time, I found and ordered all of the 85 XTP's a shop had...1700 of them.  Thanks for your recommendation on that.

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Post by Dr.Don 8/11/2020, 9:46 pm

James I agree with you on the 85XTPs. I’m getting good results with your load. I don’t really mind that the 60XTPs are gone.
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Post by Guest 8/11/2020, 9:56 pm

This vendor appears to have stock of XTP85's at $16.99/100 + shipping.

https://north40.com/hornady-xtp-bullets-32-caliber-312-diameter-85-grain

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Post by Schaumannk 9/7/2020, 7:19 am

I don’t want to start a war here, but has anyone done any testing with larger amounts of slower powders such as VVN340 or Accurate #5?

My concern is three fold.  base on experience reloading other calibers. ( I haven’t stayed at a Holiday Inn in literally years,   But I did go thru two gunnery courses at the Field Artillery school at Fort Sill Oklahoma) 

Number 1.  Anything under two grains is not a repeatable charge, without hand weighing every charge.   My Dillon extra small powder bar dials down to 1.8 of VVN310, and without applying JB weld to reduce the volume that is as far as it goes.  I realize there is an expensive fix for that, but not sure that would assuage my other worries.  

Number 2. with charges this low, there is literally no room for error.  An error of a 10th of a grain can significantly change pressures and velocities leading to fliers using a fast powder like VVN310.  

3. A powder that fills less than a third of the case is just asking for a double charge.  


And for a last point validated testing by the AMU, and professional reloaders confirmed several years ago that reloading 9MM for accuracy you got better more consistent results with a larger volume of slower powders.  


So has anyone done any testing of say, VVN340 at maybe a starting load of 2.0 and working up from there for the 85g Hornady JHP bullet? Or for the T&B 64g powder coated bullet?

I actually have some VVN350 which is even slower.  I might give that a go as well.  

I do like the VV powders because they are so clean.  

Would love to hear any thoughts on this.  

I’m about ready to try it, for the above listed reasons.


Last edited by Schaumannk on 9/7/2020, 7:43 am; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Sp)

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Post by lablover 9/7/2020, 7:39 am

I’m pretty sure Dave did some testing with AA#2 and #5 with the 85 gr Hornady and had good luck.  I know a person local that uses AA#2 with the lead 62 gr bullets as has great luck.

I’m surprised your extra small Dillon bar won’t go lower.  I’ve gone as low as 1.4 of N310 and it very consistent.  I have however polished the metal castings inside the powder hopper and in my experience that helps greatly.
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Post by Guest 9/7/2020, 8:48 am

My Dillon PM's also seem to be reasonably reliable down to 1.4 grains of VV N310. But I do take your point. Consistency is certainly an issue. 

I have definitely struggled in the past to make good 32ACP ammo with my XL650. But I now believe that was mostly due to misalignment issues rather than PM accuracy.

I've been experimenting with a Hornady PM, which are said to throw small charges more consistently, but not as easy to adapt as I thought.

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Post by bpettet 9/7/2020, 9:01 am

I’ve been having consistency with small powder throws as well on my Dillon 550. I have a UniqueTek small bar coming.

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Post by Schaumannk 9/7/2020, 9:02 am

A friend who is a an experienced shooter and reloader pointed out another problem with VVN310.  

For future reference I think those using these tiny charges of such a fast powder should take this into account.  

“VV N 310 has no nitroglycerin so it varies greatly with ambient temperature and somewhat with barrel temperature. Especially with small charges.
* I would try a slow powder that has fine grains to meter accurately.
* I would try for a velocity of about 850 since recoil isn’t a big issue.”

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Post by lablover 9/7/2020, 9:12 am

Schaumannk wrote:A friend who is a an experienced shooter and reloader pointed out another problem with VVN310.  

For future reference I think those using these tiny charges of such a fast powder should take this into account.  

“VV N 310 has no nitroglycerin so it varies greatly with ambient temperature and somewhat with barrel temperature. Especially with small charges.
* I would try a slow powder that has fine grains to meter accurately.
* I would try for a velocity of about 850 since recoil isn’t a big issue.”
Well I for one look forward to any testing you do with lead and different powders.  Jacketed seems to be top notch with the mentioned loads and shoots well in my pistols so I ain’t changing a thing.

I had several loads worked up and loaded but got shit down due to a ruptured Achilles Tendon and surgery....I’m going nowhere any time soon....aghhhhhhhhh
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Post by James Hensler 9/7/2020, 9:16 am

Has anyone looked at how much of the case is empty when the bullet is seated? Someone is going to blow their shit up with a compressed load!
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Post by Guest 9/7/2020, 9:17 am

Interesting points.

In my limited experience, yes VV N310 is ambient temperature sensitive. In my previous 45 short line loads I found that I needed to increase from 4.3 to 4.4 grains in the early Spring cooler/damper weather to get the same velocity.

I'm now using a Labradar to record most of my 45 practice strings and just yesterday noticed what appeared to be an increase in velocity after two strings in a cold gun.

When I resume CF practise I will try to investigate the cold gun effect.

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Post by Schaumannk 9/7/2020, 9:18 am

“Well I for one look forward to any testing you do with lead and different powders.  Jacketed seems to be top notch with the mentioned loads and shoots well in my pistols so I ain’t changing a thing.”




Well I haven’t found any testing at all for the 85g JHP.    Seems to be some suggestion that you might need to go as low as 1.5, and everyone who knows about reloading is telling me that VVN310 is not an appropriate powder for those micro amounts of powder.  

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Post by lablover 9/7/2020, 9:50 am

James brings up a valid point. Start going to a slower powder is going to take up all that little space in the case and start to increase pressure

You have to scour this site for loads that have been tested.  Do a search for like pardini loads should give you what you need.
I’m pretty sure accurate arms has a load listed for the 85 gr and #5 powder. But then again Dave has already posted results on this site with said load
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Post by Schaumannk 9/7/2020, 10:06 am

lablover wrote:James brings up a valid point. Start going to a slower powder is going to take up all that little space in the case and start to increase pressure

You have to scour this site for loads that have been tested.  Do a search for like pardini loads should give you what you need.
I’m pretty sure accurate arms has a load listed for the 85 gr and #5 powder. But then again Dave has already posted results on this site with said load
By volume, and this is just an estimate the 32ACP case holds approximately 5.4 grains of VVN310.   A load of a fine grained slower powder at anything under 3 grains would not be “packing it down” so to speak. And it would resolve the metering issues, and the horrible variation of the tiny charges of temperature sensitive VVN310.  (I will go down and measure it exactly soon) but that is my memory.  

I always pull ten charges two or three at a time to check for consistent weight when calibrating the Dillon 1050.  

I have scored the site.   Still not finding anything that would meet my criteria for adequate testing of the 85g JHP bullets at a fixed OAL.  If you have seen some. Please link it, so I can take a look.

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Post by James Hensler 9/7/2020, 10:12 am

If any load can beat 1.6 of N310 seated at .895 I’d have to see it in person to believe it
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Post by James Hensler 9/7/2020, 10:20 am

Schaumannk wrote:
lablover wrote:James brings up a valid point. Start going to a slower powder is going to take up all that little space in the case and start to increase pressure

You have to scour this site for loads that have been tested.  Do a search for like pardini loads should give you what you need.
I’m pretty sure accurate arms has a load listed for the 85 gr and #5 powder. But then again Dave has already posted results on this site with said load
By volume, and this is just an estimate the 32ACP case holds approximately 5.4 grains of VVN310.   A load of a fine grained slower powder at anything under 3 grains would not be “packing it down” so to speak. And it would resolve the metering issues, and the horrible variation of the tiny charges of temperature sensitive VVN310.  (I will go down and measure it exactly soon) but that is my memory.  

I always pull ten charges two or three at a time to check for consistent weight when calibrating the Dillon 1050.  

I have scored the site.   Still not finding anything that would meet my criteria for adequate testing of the 85g JHP bullets at a fixed OAL.  If you have seen some. Please link it, so I can take a look.
 You do realize that the bullet goes inside the case right?
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Post by James Hensler 9/7/2020, 10:22 am

Once again I should have listened to myself and just quit posting
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Post by Schaumannk 9/7/2020, 10:35 am

James Hensler wrote:If any load can beat 1.6 of N310 seated at .895 I’d have to see it in person to believe it
Doesn’t have to “beat” it.   Just has to hold the ten ring at 50 yards, and not make me paranoid about blowing up an expensive gun.

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Post by Guest 9/7/2020, 10:36 am

Now, now Jim, calm down lol!

You are, of course, absolutely right An empty 32ACP case, when filled right to the brim, can hold ~5.4 grains of N310.

An XTP85 bullet, when seated to around COAL 0.895 takes up about 50% of that volume, so, roughly, the maximum amount of powder with a similar density to VV N310 that you could load without compressing the charge would be ~2.70 grains. (no doubt someone could do a more accurate measurement - but good enough to be a guideline for now).

Dave Wilson published some results using Accurate #2 and at the start of this thread there are some (albeit not very extensive) tests that I did with AA#2. I did not see any advantage over VV N310. But I don't have any of the slower powders mentioned by Kate, so I leave it to others to experiment.

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Post by Guest 9/7/2020, 10:45 am

"not make me paranoid about blowing up an expensive gun."

I've tried several different factory 32ACP - most of those with JHP or similar bullets are aimed at the personal defense market and are decidedly "hot" - I would guess something like about 2 grains of N310 under a 60 or so grain bullet. Noticeably sharper recoil. But the Pardini seems to handle that without any problem.

So, I'm not suggesting that you go and pack a 32ACP case full of powder, but, within reason, a somewhat over-charged reload is unlikely to "blow up" your expensive gun. IMHO.

Keep a close eye on the powder drop as you are reloading (I load standing up so that I can look down into the case as it passes station 3 on my XL650) and a double drop will be very noticeable in a 32ACP case.

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Post by lablover 9/7/2020, 10:48 am

I’m more interested in shooting than loading right now.  I figured the testing don by Dave, Jim, Dr.Don and Roy proves a point and shoots well in my pistol.  I applaud you for asking questions about it and wanting to experiment.  I know most here would welcome any info you find out.

I’m more focused on using lead for cost issues and short line and indoor Ammo.  I have a very good supply of the 60gr XTP and plan on using those until I run out in a few years.  I also have 85 xtp and will use those when my 60s run dry.
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Post by James Hensler 9/7/2020, 10:48 am

32ACP - The quest for the best bullet - Page 2 Ac8c0e10
Schaumannk wrote:
James Hensler wrote:If any load can beat 1.6 of N310 seated at .895 I’d have to see it in person to believe it
Doesn’t have to “beat” it.   Just has to hold the ten ring at 50 yards, and not make me paranoid about blowing up an expensive gun.

Something to ponder and study
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Post by Dr.Don 9/7/2020, 10:57 am

I'm with Hensler on this.  85XTP with 1.6gr N310 is best load I've seen and I have no problems with consistency loading on a Dillon 550.

I'm an engineer and physicist, not a ballistician.  But before experimenting with really slow powders I'd give some thought to the fact that these 32acp pistols are all simple blowback designs.  You want the pressure peak gone long before it can open up.
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