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Thread: 38 Super (1911) powder choice W-540?

  1. #1

    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Land of 10,000 Lakes

    38 Super (1911) powder choice W-540?

    I'd like to use W-540, and welcome any comments pertaining...

    I debated where to post this, and chose this forum, since my question is 1911(clone) specific.

    Yesterday, I put money down, on a new RIA (Rock Island) 1911 in 38 super. I hope to have it in my hands within 2 weeks. My end goal, is to work up to full power loads (+p) with a 128 TC/SWC boolit (My NOE 128gr SWC is shaped much more like a TC than a SWC, so I tend to call it a TC.

    I've been reading some old threads and I was glad to see this, from (10-17-2012).
    Quote Originally Posted by dragonrider View Post
    I use to use W540 about 17 years ago, it has been discontinued I think.
    I have a couple lbs of W-540, one in plastic jug and one in old steel can, I'd like to use up this old discontinued powder.
    I read from many sources that Hodgdon basically "rebranded" W-540 and calls it "HS-6"
    This is good, as I can't find 38 super data for 540, but I can find HS-6 data from many sources.

    Also a old post from ReloaderFred on this topic:
    It [540] was made by the St. Marks Powder Company, in St. Marks, FL. The plant used to be owned by Olin, but has since sold. Data for HS-6 and Winchester 540 are generally interchangeable, according to Hodgdon.
    From Hodgdon website:
    HS-6™ HS-6 is a fine spherical propellant that has wide application in pistol and shotshell. In pistol, 9mm, 38 Super, 40 S&W and 10mm Auto are some of the cartridges where HS-6 provides top performance. In shotshell HS-6 yields excellent heavy field loadings in 10 ga., 12 ga., 20 ga., and even the efficient and effective 28 ga. HS-6 is truly an outstanding spherical propellant. HS-6 is identical to Winchester's discontinued 540. Available in 1 lb. & 8 lb. containers.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Omaha, NE
    I used to use W540 in several cartridges until it was discontinued. Like you, I heard that HS6 was a duplicate. I got some, backed down a few grains, and worked back up again. They do seem to be duplicates.

    I am using more and more HS6 in recent years. I have tried it in almost everything I used Unique in. Unique is a really great powder, but it does not meter worth a darn in any of my meters. HS6 meters like a dream and is about as accurate as Unique in the things I have tried it in. Don't think that it is a duplicate of Unique, however. HS6 takes from 1/3 to 40% more powder than Unique does to get the same velocities. Once there, it does well, though.

  3. #3
    Boolit Man 380AUTO's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    I've been everywhere man
    I have a Colt 38 super. It is one of my most accurate handguns. I use a max charge of HP-38 under a 130 grain cast rn, with this load I can put a whole magazine in one ragged hole at 15 yards
    Proud to serve, U.S. Army Infantry

  4. #4
    Boolit Master knifemaker's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Mountain area of Northern CA.
    If Hodgdon says the two powders are interchangeable, I would go by their statement. Hodgdon has several powders that have different labels, but are the same. Example being W-231 and HP-38 and 296 & H110 and you can use Hodgdon's loading data for both labels. Start at the low end for the HS6 powder data and work up to your safe top end load and you get to use the powder you have on hand.

  5. #5

    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Land of 10,000 Lakes
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    The pistol arrived yesterday. I was really impressed with the fit and finish of the $500 Rock Island 1911, while it's "plain", it's surely a well done "plain". I've handled many economy 1911 guns at the LGS and usually I'm not impressed, even the Ruger.
    Dummy rounds cycle smoothly, but the spring is quite strong, which I guess is to be expected with 38 Super? The throat looks promising for a economy 1911. The sights that Rock Island uses leave a lot to be desired, but we'll see how they work at the range.

    I'm still waiting on Dies and Brass. I've owned many Ranch Dog molds, and sold most of them when I was thinning the herd, I forgot I had kept 135gr. 9mm (GC style)...that's was kind of lucky it should be a good one for this gun/caliber.

  6. #6
    Do an internet search for the 38 Super load list by Jeff Maass - he has compiled a large load list from IPSC shooters and there are a ton of WW540 loads listed. I have it as a PDF and will try to attach it here but don't know if that will work...
    Attached Files Attached Files

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check