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

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    JonB_in_Glencoe's Avatar
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    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.
    https://www.hodgdon.com/hs-6/

  2. #2
    Boolit Master
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    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
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    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

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    Boolit Master knifemaker's Avatar
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    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.

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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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    Boolit Master c1skout's Avatar
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    You'll really enjoy shooting it, mine is probably the most accurate pistol I own! I use a 1200 fps load with the Lee 125rf and Acc#7 powder.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Gunslinger1911's Avatar
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    Those Rocks area great deal! I have a 22tcm and just got a "fancy" 5 inch 45 acp (Bomar'ish rear sight, etc). RI's answer to SA Range Officer. Son has a 45 Officers acp. Just great guns !
    12-1300 f/s 125g's are a great load in the super - I think I was using Blue Dot.
    Cogno, Ergo, Boom

    If you're gonna be stupid, don't pull up short. Saddle up and ride it all the way in.

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    from post #5
    Quote Originally Posted by JonB_in_Glencoe View Post
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    I have acquired new brass and dies and have cast some of the 135gr RD boolits, BUT I am embarrassed to say , I haven't done anything else with this project yet. Just too many other yard/garden projects needed to be done first. I hope to spend some time in the reloading room this weekend...maybe I'll get to the 38 super?

  10. #10
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    fecmech's Avatar
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    This is from a 1995 Winchester powder guide. In Lane Simpson's Book the Custom 1911 he has some load data for the super with 155 and 160 gr lead bullets maxing out at 7.0/540.
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    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
    - C. S. Lewis

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    38 Super load data in Lee's Modern Reloading for W540 and HS6.

  12. #12
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    bruce drake's Avatar
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    Sierra has both 38 Super and 9mm Largo level loads in their reloading manual and if you contact them they will send you pdfs of those specific pages out of the manual to print off and add to your Sierra reloading book if its missing. I usually contact them once a year for new load data if I see a new cartridge is missing from my reloading manuals.

    I mentioned 9mm Largo as its a lower pressure loading of 38 Super with a rimless case.
    I Cast my Boolits, Therefore I am Happy.
    Bona Fide member of the Jeff Brown Hunt Club

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I used to wonder how folks would have guns that they didn’t intend to keep as investments, but that they didn’t ever get around to shooting....then it happened to me.

    If I only bought new guns, and if they ran perfectly, and if I only shot factory ammo, then maybe I wouldn’t have this problem, but the rest of the hobby is too fun for that.

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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