Yet one more reloading question

Discussion in 'P-3AT' started by billjohnso20, May 16, 2009.

  1. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Hi All,

    I've gotta reloading question for you old timers. I know there is no real +P load for the .380. That being said, the max SAAMI pressure is 26,500 according to The Hogdon website lists load running at a max of @ 15,600 with 3.2 grains of Titegroup with a 95gr bullet. How do I figure the max load for Titegroup with a 95gr bullet? I've been told you should never go 10% above the max load listed. That would be a max loaf of 3.52gr. The problem is knowing what the chamber pressure would be with that load. Is there a layperson's guide somewhere I don't know about that will answer my questions. I don't want to load anything too hot for the P3AT.

    I know Buffalo Bore claims to load at +P levels but there is no such things. I also know that Magsafe loads are too hot for the P3AT. I want to load some hot HPs but I don't want to exceed the P3AT's abilities. I admit I've never shot Buffalo Bore but that's only due to cost not fear that my P3AT couldn't handle it.

    Any and all help would be appreciated.

  2. Moose

    Moose New Member

    Jun 22, 2005

  3. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Thanks, Moose. I'll check it out.
  4. rcmodel

    rcmodel New Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Eastern Kansas
    You have your cartridges mixed up.

    The SAAMI max pressure for the .38 Colt Automatic is 26,500 PSI.
    The SAAMI max pressure for the .380 ACP is 21,500 PSI.

    The .38 Colt Automatic is the grand-daddy of the .38 Super cartridge.

    The max load listed in your load manual IS THE MAX LOAD!

    You do not ever add 10% to published max load data.

    Where you may have come up with that is, you reduce a max load by 10% to get a starting load.

    The only indication of an over-pressure load in the .380 ACP is case bulging at the feed ramp cut.
    Unfortunately, by the time you see that happening, you are already past the safe pressure limit.
    One bad case letting go will ruin your day!

    BTW: The Hodgdon data is listing pressure as 15,600 C.U.P.. (Copper Units of Pressure)

    It is not the same pressure measurement system as the 21,500 PSI (Pounds per square inch) SAAMI uses.

    The two units of measure are not directly comparable.
    The Hodgdon data max load is the max load.

  5. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Thanks, rcmodel. You're right of course. I looked at the wrong caliber. I also missed the fact that Hogdon was listing C.U.P. not SAAMI levels. As far as the 10% goes, I may well have it wrong as to what I was told once.

    What I don't understand is why different manuals have different max loads. For example, my Speer #14 manual lists a minimum load of 2.8gr and a max load of 3.2gr of Titegroup with a 90gr bullet. My Hornady #7 manual lists the minimum at 2.2gr and 3.4gr of Titegroup with a 90gr bullet. Both manuals claim theirs is the max load and that it should be used with caution. Of Course Hogdon lists 2.7 as the minimum a 3.2 as the max Titegroup load with a 90gr bullet. I just don't understand the variant max loads. Which one is right?
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel New Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Eastern Kansas
    The difference in max loads is due to several things.
    It's like Apples & Oranges!

    For instance:
    Lyman tests in a 3 3/4" 1/16 twist SAAMI spec test barrel in a cannon breech receiver. With Fed 100 and Win WSP primers.
    Hodgdon uses a 3 3/4" barrel of unknown make. Probably also a 1/16 twist SAAMI barrel in a Modern Bond cannon breech test fixture.
    With CCI 500 primers.
    Hodgdon & Lyman measure Copper Units of Pressure due to the equipment they are using.

    Speer uses a Walther PP pistol with a 3.8" 1/10 twist barrel.
    With CCI 500 primers.
    Hornady uses a Beretta 84F pistol with a 3.9" 1/10 twist barrel.
    With Win WSP primers.
    They use a pizoelectric strain guage, and measure in PSI.

    Add to that the fact that every brand of bullet has a slightly different shape & bearing surface, or friction.

    And every manufacture is using a different lot of powder from a different batch.
    At different elevation, temp, and humidity.

    It is a wonder they all come as close to agreeing as they do.

    What I do is gather data from several different load manuals, then kind of come up with an average starting load and MAX load.

    Then work up from the starting load until I get the performance I want.

    And I never try to make a Magnum out of auto pistols, especially .380 auto pistols.

  7. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Thanks again, rcmodel. That solves some of the mystery for me. I'll do the average thing you were talking about. I'll also be careful how I proceed. I'm not looking to load anything on the magnum side. I'm just wanting to load a few hot rounds. I will definitely proceed with caution. The last thing I want is a kaboom in my P3AT. I like having all the fingers on my right hand intact. :D
  8. Robert357

    Robert357 Active Member

    May 11, 2009
    WA, the State
    Maybe I can help add some background to this discussion.

    What might be the max load in one handgun, may not be the max load in another. For example, the Max load for a Thompson Contender is often much higher than for say a revolver or a semi-auto of similar cartridge/caliber. In fact there are special reloading tables just for the Thompson Contender.

    Similarly, for revolvers, it is generally considered that Ruger Blackhawk Single action revolvers have a much higher "max" load than most other revolvers. I actually have reloading manuals that have special sections for the reloading of the Blackhawk and the TC. I have 45 (Long) Colt loads that are close to 44 Rem Magnum in power and would destroy many regular 45 Colt imported single action revolvers.

    That being said, it does make a difference as to what is the max loading in your particular handgun and the various reloading sources are suppose to list that. I would expect a CZ for FEG in 380 Auto to have a much higher pressures limit than a KelTec.

    KelTec P3 AT's can take some +P 380 loadings from what I have read.

    The SAMI value (and SAMI values found in most reloading manuals) generally do not list +P loadings (there are some exceptions). The real question that I think is being indirectly asked by the person asking the original question is ......"Is 10% above max SAMI powder level at or less than a +P loading?" That is a tough question, but I think the answer, from my experience is generally, yes.

    BUT, SAFE RELOADING TECHNIQUE REQUIRES ONE to work up a reload for a specific firearm from a "safe" level checking for signs of overpressure and then stopping at the first sign of overpressure.

    Typical overpressure signs include, distorted case headstamps, primer compression distorting the primer within the primer pocket, gas leaks around the primer, hard extraction, case bulging near the base of the brass and especially around any area not supported by the barrel (such as around the feed ramp in a semi-auto.)

    Working up a load above max load is something for the "not faint of heart" and for those that are very very careful in their reloading technique and and very skilled at reading overpressure signs. I have have witnessed signs of overpressure in my reloadings, but fortunately, have never had an accident. It is an area of reloading that I try to avoid.

    One special issue you may want to comtemplate on small case high pressure rounds is that a slight change in OAL can result in a big change in case pressure. That is another variable not always considered when examining reloading manuals.

    Be careful in developing a load, and work your way up from a known safe level looking for signs of overpressure. When you find your first sign of overpressure, back down the load and you "theoretically" have a safe load for your particular firearm. I have seen significant overpressure signs on a certain load (not .380) at well below powder manufacture's published max loads value, so you really do need to be careful.
  9. timewrench

    timewrench New Member

    May 9, 2009
    I've been reloading for years and load probably 20 different calibers both rifle and pistol. I have many reloading books and there is a ton of info on the web. I've got where I do some research on a new caliber, take the lowest recommended max load and start 10 % low from there. I shoot a 38 Super in a 1911A1. Those loads in a .380 would really get your attention! I also pay attention to what works for one may not work for me. I find reloading relaxing, sometimes frustrating and stretches my shooting dollar.

  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel New Member

    Feb 6, 2005
    Eastern Kansas
    It is important to note that typical pressure signs such as flat primers, measurable case head expansion, flattened head-stamps, blown primers, etc. simply do not apply to the low pressure auto pistol & revolver rounds like the .380 ACP, .45 ACP, .38 Spl., etc..

    By the time any of those signs occur, you would be at least twice the max pressure for those types of cartridges.

    As I already noted, the only pressure sign you will get with a .380 ACP is case bulging at the feed ramp cut. The weaker case web wall will let go before there are any other obvious pressure signs at all.

    It is also purely speculation whether a locked-breach Kel-Tec is weaker then a blow-back CZ or FE.
    They are certainly heavier all steel guns, but the slide isn't locked shut when they go off either.

  11. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    I didn't mean to cause a ruckus. I've only been loading for a short while and am certainly not an expert. I will be loading some HP .380 in the coming days and wanted to load them about as hot as factory SD loads. I'm not looking for the mysterious yet totally made up +P like what Buffalo Bore or what Magsafe loads. I'm just looking for a load I can CC if I want and know that it will perform if it's needed. I carry Hornady CD but want a handload that will suffice in a pinch.

    I fear overloading the .380. From what I've seen, the KT can handle some pretty hot loads given its locked breached design. That being said, I've seen the pics floating around of catastrophic failures in several guns and in the P3AT. I definitely do not want a kaboom with my little P3 in my hand. All I want to know is what is safe. FWIW, I've never loaded any cartridge hotter than the minimum load for any caliber in any of my manuals. Why? I know those are safe loads with little chance of problems.

    I do want to thank all of you my for your advice. The fact that KTOGers are so willing to help each other is what makes KTOG so awesome. I promise you guys I won't blow up my P3. My LCP . . . now that's another story. ;) Just kidding. :D
  12. kitsap_charly

    kitsap_charly Guest

    Sep 15, 2005
    I get the feeling that caution and restraint are what's needed here. If in doubt, DON'T. A slight difference in power won't make you any safer.
    I've read elsewhere(believe XD Forum) the idea that you should start 10 % below max load and if your guns action functions reliably and ejects and feeds just leave well enough alone. Stay below max. Sounds good to me. :)
  13. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    Somewhere along the way, I fear what I asked was misunderstood or something. I have no intentions of doing anything stupid in an effort to get a little better performance. I have never loaded a round higher than the minimum load in any of my manuals much less over loaded a cartridge. The only hot loads I've ever shot in any of my guns are hot factory loads. Caution and restraint are why I asked the question in  the first place.

    Thanks for all the advise.
  14. regrip

    regrip New Member

    Aug 10, 2007
    I just read my Lee information that came with my loader. It said that the auto disk loader that came with my Turret Kit could very as much as 16% and still be safe. I intend to use the dipper to measure my loads. This will give me better consistancy and hopefully better groupings.
  15. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008
    My RCBS powder measure only varies .1-.2 grains + or -. I even check it every 50 rounds and it stays dead on. I just don't know about trusting a powder measure that can fluctuate 16%. BTW, are you using the Lee dip measure along with a scale? Before I got my powder measure, I used a powder trickler over my electronic scale to hand charge each case. I loaded over 1000 40S&W rounds that way. It's very accurate that way. Plinking rounds don't really need that kind of consistency but hunting rounds do.

  16. YMMV but I would NEVER consider a reload for SD purposes. When a gun is used for self defense, that is just phase one of your fight. Phase two is the legal aftermath that may cost thousands of dollars. I would not want my attorney to have to explain to a jury why I had two whole mags of custom made assassin cop killer evil Kevlar penetrating ammo as I was stalking poor little John Boy.

    I carry of the shelf SD Ammo.
  17. billjohnso20

    billjohnso20 Well-Known Member

    Dec 7, 2008

    YMMV but I would NEVER consider a reload for SD purposes.  When a gun is used for self defense, that is just phase one of your fight.  Phase two  is the legal aftermath that may cost thousands of dollars.  I would not want my attorney to have to explain to a jury why I had two whole mags of custom made assassin cop killer evil Kevlar penetrating ammo as I was stalking poor little John Boy.

    I carry of the shelf SD Ammo.[/quote]
    You're absolutely right, NAS. I was more talking about a situation where I was forced to use a homemade load for home defense and not really to carry it. I'm thinking of a situation of the kind where our current economic situation led to riots or armed bands of marauding thugs. I know there isn't much chance of that where I live but I'm of the opinion that one must be prepare. The P3AT and any hot hand loads would of course be for a last ditch stand and would only be part of my overall strategy which includes every firearm I own. BTW, two of my deacons are MO certified instructors. My wife and I took our CCW class from them. They also said never carry hand loaded SD rounds and to only carry factory SD loads. That is what my wife and I do.

    I've got high performance factory loads but wanted to also load some high performance .380 loads. To that end, I've loaded 28 rounds that are on the hot side put are not loaded beyond the SAAMI standards. I'll test these carefully at the range next week looking closely for any pressure signs. The last thing I want to do is blow up my P3AT or my hand.
  18. Bert

    Bert Banned

    Mar 4, 2007
    Just to be different, I suppose, but I would carry and trust one of my own loads. After seeing chrono results from some factory ammo, I am convinced I can construct a more consistent and reliable load (and be willing to practice with many of them).

    If course I would spend a lot of time on testing & measurements, but I do have confidence in my ability to perform a procedure better than someone at the factory(after all, it is my life at stake, not a customer who I will never see, meet or know).