Powders For Pistols

For 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 slow-burning powders associated with magnum revolver rounds can be discounted immediately. Still, we’re left with dozens from which to choose. Lyman’s Reloading Handbook 49th Edition has a fairly comprehensive list of today’s available propellants. Generally speaking those suitable for autoloading pistols range in burning rate (fast to slow) from Norma’s R-1 at number one to Alliant’s Blue Dot at number 43.

Even someone as enthusiastic as me cannot claim to have tried every one of those propellants. I can say I’ve used the majority of them at one time or another and to one degree or the other. In 1968, when I started handloading for my first pistol cartridge, the .45 Auto, the only handgun propellants available to me where were Bullseye and Unique. Therefore, I’ve burned scores of pounds of those two over the decades, with much of it fired in autoloading pistols. Conversely, the only time I’ve used Western Powder’s Accurate #2 in autoloaders was a reloading project on pocket pistols a couple years back. To my pleasant surprise Accurate #2 gave best results in .32 Auto, .380 Auto and even 9mm Makarov.
By Mike “Duke” Venturino

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3 thoughts on “Powders For Pistols

  1. Fred J. Brightman

    Hi Duke,

    Just finished your article, “Powders for Pistols”. Interesting as usual.

    Got me wondering about a couple of things. Maybe you can help me out.

    I’ve been loading for multiple calibers since 1976.

    Now all of a sudden the Hoppe’s fumes wore off and I would like to know:

    Is there a relationship between bullets and powders given the same barrel and bullet weight for each caliber? That question asks about bore leading, accuracy, velocity, jacketed and lead bullets without gas checks?

    Thanks for your help.

    Also in this months issue of “GUNS Magazine” is a photo of you and your lovely wife. At least I think it was you. Handsome, slim and hair. Kinda hard to tell. I imagine the dear lady is wonderful in every way save one. The girl has no taste.
    But then I have a like photo of me and my Dot and she demonstrates the same problem.

    Thank you for your time and assistance.

  2. John Spencer

    Check out the WIN231 data at Hogdon’s. I believe you can load every caliber you have listed with it. It may not give a load for the 8MM nambu, but I know a guy that loads them with 4.5-5 gr. and has good luck.

    1. John Spencer

      Let me correct myself DO NOT exceed 4Gr. of 231 in a 8mm Nambu cartridge.The pressure will be excessive and bullet speed will be in greater than 420FPS which I’m told is the Maximum Velocity by Japanese data fron 1924.

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