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  #1  
Old 12-23-2010, 7:41 PM
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Default Winchester AutoComp powder?

Just wondering if anyone has tried Winchester Auto Comp powder for reloading. I bought a pound of it upon a local dealer's recommendation and have had rather inconsistent and poor results. So far I've only tried it in .38 special loads, so it may be that it is only good for semi-auto loads with cases that are filled more completely than the .38 cases are. The powder is a ball type powder that doesn't have much volume to it compared to other powders I've tried. I'm still a novice reloader but I've had better results with other powders I've tried so far.

I've noticed that the kick for each shot is very inconsistent. Some rounds feel rather hot and other rounds feel very light. I've loaded a total of 200 rounds with a Dillon 550 and shot them all. About every 15 rounds I checked the powder charge weight and they have all been consistent, however the recoil characteristics are still very inconsistent. I've also had 4 squib rounds that I've had to punch out of the barrel from this 200 round batch. I was very careful to check that each round had a powder charge after I got an initial squib in the first 50 rounds that I loaded to test fire. This alone is unacceptable to me.

I'm not going to load any more .38's with this powder and am going to try it for 9mm and possibly .45. To me it's no fun shooting inconsistent rounds and having to worry about the unexplained squib rounds jamming my barrel 4 times. I've had great results for .38 special with Hodgedon Clays and HP-38 powder. These are the powders I'm going to stick with for .38. I'm just wondering if anyone has any experience and advice concerning Auto Comp powder. Some rounds loaded with it are very nice, but the inconsistency of the others makes me not trust it for .38. Any advice appreciated.
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Old 12-23-2010, 8:05 PM
Chief-7700 Chief-7700 is offline
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Don't know if this will help:
http://www.wwpowder.com/pistol.html

HP-38 and Winchester 231 are the same powder.
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Old 12-23-2010, 11:37 PM
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It's hard to mess up powder drops with a ball powder. Do you use a baffle in your powder drop tube? If not try dropping 10-15 powder drops into a small can so the powder will settle abit and keep the powder tube filled within a certain level. Are you using mixed brass with a consistant crimp? Seems there is another variable missing here. Check, check and recheck. Winchester powders have been real good to me. They should be good to you.

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Old 12-24-2010, 6:33 AM
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Just for ducks try this as I have had semi same problems in the past with lite powder charges. An older fellow shooter showed me once you have pistol loaded, raise barrel up to about a 1:00 a clock position, than point, aim & shoot. This makes sure that powder is to back of shell so primer ignition will make good flash contact with powder.
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Old 12-24-2010, 7:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sideline Shooter View Post
It's hard to mess up powder drops with a ball powder. Do you use a baffle in your powder drop tube? If not try dropping 10-15 powder drops into a small can so the powder will settle abit and keep the powder tube filled within a certain level. Are you using mixed brass with a consistant crimp? Seems there is another variable missing here. Check, check and recheck. Winchester powders have been real good to me. They should be good to you.

sideline shooter
I'm not sure if I have a baffle in the powder drop tube, I'm not exactly sure what that is. My setup for each caliber I load is just the standard Dillon 550 quick change assembly. I usually keep the powder tube filled at least 1/3 of the way unless I'm using up the rest of the remaining powder I have. Like I said though, each time I weigh a dispensed charge it has been consistent.

I have been using mixed brass. The crimp has seemed to be consistent because they have all been crimped on the cannelure of the bullet but I might be missing something. I inspect the finished cartridges after loading them and they appear consistent. I adjusted the crimp as Dillon told me to and I have had good results up until this point.

The only variable that has changed from all my good batches to now, besides the powder, is that before I was using 158gr plated semi-wadcutters and now I have been trying 125gr Flat Point plated bullets, all from Extreme bullets. With these 125gr bullets and AutoComp powder I've noticed significantly dirtier cases and some flaky debris from the powder remains in the barrel. Also the entire cylinder on the revolver seems to be getting a lot dirtier than normal.

So any suggestions about what I should do? I've loaded at least 1000 rounds of these same cases with the 158gr bullets without any problem. The cases are in good condition and have probably only been loaded a few times each at most so they don't seem to be worn out. The problem started when I switched to Auto Comp powder using the 125gr Flat Point bullet. Maybe I'll try re-adjusting the crimp. I left the setting the same from the heavier bullets because the cartridge over all length remains the same. Thanks for any suggestions.

Last edited by jdg30; 12-24-2010 at 11:02 AM..
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Old 12-24-2010, 8:01 AM
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AutoComp needs more pressure to become more consistent. 38Spl doesn't generate enough pressure. AutoComp is designed for 9x19, 40SW, 38Super, etc.

For 38Spl try Reddot, it's bulky flake powder that takes up a lot of space in the case.
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Old 12-24-2010, 9:01 AM
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Powder baffle:

Sounds like you are loading too light, have you tried increasing your charges, or do all the problem loads have the same charge? Also I would recommend changing your crimp, a plated or jacketed bullet shouldn't generally have as much crimp as a lead bullet.
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Old 12-24-2010, 9:23 AM
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over to Bullseye for .38 target loads
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Old 12-24-2010, 11:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sequoia_nomad View Post
Powder baffle:

Sounds like you are loading too light, have you tried increasing your charges, or do all the problem loads have the same charge? Also I would recommend changing your crimp, a plated or jacketed bullet shouldn't generally have as much crimp as a lead bullet.
Ok, yes my powder tube has a baffle. With the AutoComp powder I started just above the starting charge for the bullet weight listed on the Winchester/Hodgedon website. I didn't try increasing the charge (all 200 rounds were the same charge) but for now I'm going to switch the powder to Win 231 and see if I have consistent results. I had good results with .38 special using HP-38 in several different charge weights so it should be the same with the 231.

I haven't loaded any lead bullets, only plated ones. The way I adjusted the crimp die was how the rep at Dillon told me to. I put the press down on an empty case and screwed the die down until it just made contact with the empty case. Then I raised the press and turned the die down about 3/4 of a turn more and locked it in place. He said to turn the die 3/4 of a turn more after slight contact with the case for revolver cartridges and only 1/2 of a turn after contact for semi-auto cartridges.

I've tried Unique powder with rather good results but not Bullseye. One thing I noticed is that it seemed like I went through a whole container of Unique a lot faster than the finer grained ball powder HP-38. My local dealer recommended Clays and HP-38 because he said they were cleaner than Bullseye and Unique so that's what I've tried so far. I'm open to hear anyone's suggestions for good powders that work well for .38/9mm/.45. This is what I load for right now. I like to load light target loads but it's also fun to load a little hotter rounds once in a while too. Thanks for any suggestions.
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  #10  
Old 12-24-2010, 4:37 PM
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I've had good results using Hodgdon Universal for .38 and 9mm, although the 9mm seem to like being pushed at near max loads for best accuracy. My .38 target load is a 158 gr LSWC over 4.0 gr Unique. Very accurate in my 686 as well as my Marlin 1894 with LRN.
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Old 12-24-2010, 5:31 PM
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Your dispenser is not the problem. I bet if you tipped your barrel up before every time you fired a round, every shot would be consistent. I have seen this problem before with sertent powders for revolver ammo. Some powders just don't like to ignite unless there sitting up against the flash hole. I had major problems like you described using Clays for my .45 Colt loads. If I went to a mag primer or used a Dacron filler, the problem was solved. I think this auto comp powder is designed for use in only smaller case auto pistol calibers. For my .38 Spl loads, I have excellent results with Titegroup, HP38 and Bullseye..
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Old 12-24-2010, 6:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Southpaw45 View Post
Your dispenser is not the problem. I bet if you tipped your barrel up before every time you fired a round, every shot would be consistent. I have seen this problem before with sertent powders for revolver ammo. Some powders just don't like to ignite unless there sitting up against the flash hole. I had major problems like you described using Clays for my .45 Colt loads. If I went to a mag primer or used a Dacron filler, the problem was solved. I think this auto comp powder is designed for use in only smaller case auto pistol calibers. For my .38 Spl loads, I have excellent results with Titegroup, HP38 and Bullseye..
I agree that the AutoComp powder is probably best suited for smaller case auto calibers. I loaded 50 rounds of .38 Spl today with Win 231 powder and they were all flawless. The recoil was consistent and the groups were very tight. I shot all the rounds through my 2-1/4" Ruger Sp101 and a 4" GP100. I don't want to load rounds that I have to tilt the gun to make them shoot reliably because the SP101 is a CCW gun that I practice with all the time and tilting the barrel isn't an option in a self-defense scenario.

I also had some light Clays loads that I shot in .38 and they definitely out-performed the AutoComp loads. I did notice that some had a little more kick and some had less, but all were reliable and they were rather accurate at closer ranges within 10 yards. The Win 231 loads were a little on the hot side but it seems that the hotter loads are more accurate than the lighter ones.

Tomorrow I will load some 9mm rounds with the AutoComp and test them out. I have a feeling they will work very well in that cartridge. For the .38, I think I like Win 231/HP-38 and Unique powders best so far. They seem consistent, accurate and reliable. I will probably try out Bullseye like others have recommended also. One thing I noticed today also was that the fired cases and revolvers I shot were drastically cleaner after about 150 rounds of Win 231/Clays cartridges than they were after 150 rounds of the .38 AutoComp loads I shot yesterday.
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