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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2012 Digital Edition - Page 44
SHOOTINGIRON tHUMB BUstIN’ MUsINGs FroM tHe DUKe MIKe “DUKe” veNtUrINo Photos: Yvonne Venturino POWDERS FOR PISTOLS F Duke’s hungarian PA63 9mm Makarov using Western Powders Accurate #2. range was about 50'. or the first time in 45 years as an avid handloader I find myself loading more cartridges for pistols than for revolvers. At this moment I’m set up to reload these nine pistol calibers: 7.65x25mm Tokarov, .32 Auto (aka 7.65mm Auto), 7.65mm French Long, 8mm Japanese Nambu, .380 Auto (aka 9mm Kurz), 9mm Parabellum (aka 9mm Luger), 9mm Makarov, .40 S&W and .45 Auto. You might think it would be easy to settle on one propellant to use in all nine cartridges, but nope, it’s not. Granted all those autoloading cartridge cases are of small volume, so the slowburning powders associated with magnum revolver rounds can be discounted immediately. Still, we’re left with dozens from Duke uses these five powders for reloading his nine semi-auto pistol calibers. which to choose. Lyman’s Reloading Handbook 49th Edition has a fairly comprehensive list of today’s available propellants. pistol cartridge, the .45 Auto, the only handgun propellants Generally speaking those suitable for autoloading pistols range available to me where were Bullseye and Unique. Therefore, in burning rate (fast to slow) from Norma’s R-1 at number one I’ve burned scores of pounds of those two over the decades, to Alliant’s Blue Dot at number 43. with much of it fired in autoloading pistols. Conversely, Even someone as enthusiastic as me cannot claim to have the only time I’ve used Western Powder’s Accurate #2 in tried every one of those propellants. I can say I’ve used the autoloaders was a reloading project on pocket pistols a couple majority of them at one time or another and to one degree or years back. To my pleasant surprise Accurate #2 gave best the other. In 1968, when I started handloading for my first results in .32 Auto, .380 Auto and even 9mm Makarov. for reloading those two very oddball cartridges. In fact one of the powder companies contacted me to see what I was using for my 8mm Nambu. The sole propellant I’ve tried with them is Hodgdon’s Titegroup, and what I did was start out low and then work up a couple tenths of a grain at a time with my chosen bullet weights until perfect functioning was achieved. That happened with 3 grains under 81-grain .313" cast bullets in the French round, and 3.5 grains under 106-grain cast bullets in the Japanese round. A natural question would be, “Duke, why did you start out with Titegroup in the first place?” Simply because it was the closest suitable powder can to where I was sitting, and I was too lazy to get up and hunt for anything else! I’ve been perfectly happy with the results and doubt if I’ll ever bother to experiment further. Duke is currently handloading for these nine semiauto pistol cartridges. left to right: 7.62x25mm tokarov, .32 Auto (aka 7.65mm Auto), 7.65mm french long, 8mm Japanese nambu, .380 Auto (aka 9mm kurz), 9mm Parabellum (aka 9mm luger), 9mm Makarov, .40 S&W and .45 Auto. Lazy RESEaRch W LeAst FINIcKy o ith two of the listed calibers, I’ve only ever tried one propellant. Those were the 7.65mm French Long for a Model 1935A, and 8mm Japanese Nambu for a Type 14. Why have I not tried others? Mostly because of fear. You see, there’s just no data available pposed to that has been the work I’ve done with .40 S&W using my Kimber 1911. I’ve tried many powders with a wide variety of cast and jacketed bullets in that pistol, with considerable test shooting done from my machine rest. I’ve yet to find a powder in burn rate between Bullseye and Unique that didn’t give fine accuracy and perfect functioning. I think the .40 S&W has to be one of the least finicky autoloading cartridges I’ve ever experienced. The same can be said for .45 Auto. There must be at least 40 powders good for the old .45. I started back in ’68 with 5 grains of Bullseye and 225-grain cast bullets, and still like that load. However, upon dedicating a bench to a pair of Dillon Square Deal B presses in 9mm Luger and .45 Auto, I settled on W231 (aka HP38) for both. With 115-grain jacketed 9mm bullets and 120-grain cast ones, 4.4 grains is my always charge, and with lead 220- to 230-grain FMJ .45s, it’s 5.4 grains. One Powder? Never. y autoloading “handgun” for 7.62x25mm Tokarov is M a semi-auto only copy of the Soviet PPs43. It has a rather heavy bolt needing high-pressure loads to get it to cycle 100 percent. Perfect functioning only came when I coupled 6 grains of Unique with Hornady’s 86-grain jacketed soft point bullets. Those five powders cover my autoloading pistol needs. Still, a fellow asked me, “Duke, what would you do if limited to only one powder for all, as is the case in some highly restricted European nations?” My immediate answer was, “I would leave there.” * For more info: www.americanhandgunner.com/product-index and click on the company name. WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2012 44