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Thread: 45 ACP lube and bullet test

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    45 ACP lube and bullet test

    I finally got around to the first part of a lube comparison. I make no claims that results will be the same in any other gun, but it was interesting in mine. The test gun was my Sig P220 4 1/2" barrel 45 ACP. No modifications at all. I replaced the rear sight, otherwise it is exactly as it left the factory. The ammo was a load I had worked up a while ago, actually worked down to. This load is under most published starting loads, but on recommendation of a Bullseye shooter, I found it worked much better. It's interesting to note I worked out this load with the Lee bullet and lee Alox lube in the middle of summer.

    The load is 4.5 grains American Select with a Federal 150 large pistol primer and sorted Federal brass. The brass is unimportant, I just sorted to remove variables. All brass was sized, and expanded with the Lee powder through expander die. I've tried NOE plugs in both .450" and .451", neither works well in 45 ACP. All powder was measured on a scale.

    The bullets were two h&g 68 clones. One the Lee 452-200-swc, the other the Arsenal molds h&g 68. All were cast on the same day, of the same alloy, and hand sorted for perfection. They were sized .452" and aged about a month. Both were loaded to a cartridge OAL of 1.250". Alloy was old clip on wheel weights+2.5% tin. They run about 13 BHN.

    The lubes were WLL Deluxe Xlox, and RandyRat's TAC-1. The Xlox was first applied, then bullet sized, and then a second coat. I got good, thin, even coverage. TAC-1 was applied with the lubrisizer. Both were sized in the same die.

    I fired off of a bench, with a pistol rest. I wish I had a Ransom Rest, but it works if I take my time. I fired from 50 yards, 5 shots at a time. Before each test I removed the barrel, and gave a few passes with a patch soaked in Hoppe's #9. I then fired 5 fouling shots. The actual group test were five individual 5 shot groups for a 25 shot average.

    The results (not fired in this order):

    Lee bullet-Xlox
    Avg. group 6.65"
    Min. 6 1/4"
    Max. 7 3/8"

    Lee bullet-TAC-1
    Avg. group 4.8"
    Min. 3 3/4"
    Max. 6 3/4"

    Arsenal bullet-Xlox
    Avg. group 3.8"
    Min. 3"
    Max. 4 1/2"

    Arsenal bullet-TAC-1
    Avg. group 3.41"
    Min 2 3/8"
    Max. 4 7/8"


    Honestly I did not expect to see TAC-1 do better than Xlox in such a low pressure round. I plan to do this test again with the 327 federal, where I expect more of a difference. I also did not expect the Lee bullet to do so bad. Oh well, I have both molds, and 3.41" average at 50 yards is pretty dang good for to me. The other factor could be the weather. Today was a relatively warm January day at 18 degrees, but that's still colder than most of the year. It could be that Xlox does much better in warm weather. TAC-1 is designed specifically for our weather, RandyRat lives straight east of me, not too far away.

    So there it is. I plan to do this test with the 327 federal to compare in a high pressure handgun. I will also do this test in 308 winchester, although I need to pick a standard load for that first.
    Last edited by megasupermagnum; 01-12-2020 at 08:50 PM.

  2. #2
    Boolit Man
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    So, you didn't test the load with Alox?


    just asking.

    jd

  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    Yes, Lee Alox and White Label Lubes Xlox are the same exact product. I was using the Deluxe version, but that only effects how it is used. Once dried, they are all the same.

  4. #4
    Boolit Grand Master tazman's Avatar
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    Interesting results.
    I have used Tac1 before but didn't notice that kind of difference in accuracy. However, that could simply be because I am not a good enough shot to tell.
    I am now using WLL NRA 50/50 in my lubesizer. It might be interesting to test that against XLOX.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    Yes, Lee Alox and White Label Lubes Xlox are the same exact product. I was using the Deluxe version, but that only effects how it is used. Once dried, they are all the same.
    Just a note for clarification, Lee's Liquid Alox and White Label Liquid Xlox are the same product.
    The Deluxe is 45-45-10, which is Liquid Xlox/Alox mixed with Johnson's Paste Wax and mineral spirits is added to get a smooth even thin coat that should dry fairly quickly.

  6. #6
    Boolit Master
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    Someone had asked about some differences between the bullets so I took a picture, and some measurements. Obviously the biggest difference is the Arsenal is a flat base, and the Lee is a bevel base.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I'll post the measurements, Lee on the left, Arsenal on the right.

    Lee Arsenal
    OAL: .642" .627"
    Base to Shoulder: .330" .320"
    Diameter of nose at bottom: .390" .385"
    Meplat (not exact): .180" .190"


    As I had loaded both to a cartridge OAL of 1.250", If I am doing the math right, the Arsenal bullet would have the shoulder .005" farther out than the Lee. That seems inconsequential to me. Instead I think the differences are going to be the bullet's balance, bearing surface, or maybe it's just my gun doesn't like them. What I do like about the test is that both lubes the Arsenal shot significantly better, and in both bullets TAC-1 shot better, although the differences were not so great on the Arsenal bullet. You will have to draw your own conclusions.

  7. #7
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Given the variation in group size stated with the Arsenal bullet I would have been of the opinion that both lubes essentially shot the same. The contrast with the Lee bullet was confusing such that I would have tried more shooting to confirm it. The difference with the Arsenal bullet is small enough that it would take more group shooting to resolve it, and after statistics are applied to assess the variation more shooting might still show they shoot the same.

    When I get confusing results I just shoot more to figure it out. Usually I do.
    Last edited by 35remington; 01-19-2020 at 11:52 AM.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    You are free to draw your own conclusion, but the results don't appear confusing to me. The Arsenal bullet is more accurate in my particular gun. The lube makes a small, nearly insignificant difference.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master 243winxb's Avatar
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    the Arsenal bullet would have the shoulder .005" farther out than the Lee
    If the bullet is just into the rifling , accuracy will be better. End play is less. This only works on some chambers. Great for slow fire at 50 yards.

    This head to shoulder measurement of .947" just touches my rifling.

    use the same head to shoulder measurement on both. Test again.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by 243winxb; 01-19-2020 at 09:44 PM.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    Maybe I'll shoot 5 rounds of the Lee bullet seated at 1.255" just for giggles. I am willing to bet a lot that the extra .005" will not cut groups in half.

    I did a good job on these loads, and trust the data.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master 243winxb's Avatar
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    Measuring head to shoulder is more accurate. Different alloys make the bullets different lengths The shoulder will not be in the same location, if measureing off the bullets nose.

    Test with the shoulder just into the rifling, if your chamber allows it. I learned this years ago from an old NRA reprint. It removes the end play.

    A great reason to do more shooting.

    megasupermagnum- Base to Shoulder: .330" .320"
    Last edited by 243winxb; 01-20-2020 at 10:13 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 243winxb View Post
    Measuring head to shoulder is more accurate. Different alloys make the bullets different lengths The shoulder will not be in the same location, if measureing off the bullets nose.

    Test with the shoulder just into the rifling, if your chamber allows it. I learned this years ago from an old NRA reprint. It removes the end play.

    A great reason to do more shooting.
    All of that info is in post #6. The bullets were cast of the same exact alloy, on the same day, at the same temperature. The Lee bullet at an OAL of 1.255" would have the same head to should distance as the Arsenal bullet at 1.250" OAL.

    I'm already moving on to the 327 federal bullet and lube test. I'll tell you what. I have some Lee bullets coated in Lee Alox, which an earlier post asked if I had tested. I'll shoot those bullets at 1.255" OAL, which will match the Arsenal bullet's shoulder.

  13. #13
    Boolit Grand Master
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    No doubt the numbers say the Arsenal bullet was more accurate. I was speaking of the effect of the lube.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by 35remington View Post
    No doubt the numbers say the Arsenal bullet was more accurate. I was speaking of the effect of the lube.
    For all I know, the lubes could swap places in the summer. Being such a low pressure and non-fussy cartridge, I didn't expect a big difference. I think we will see more of a difference with 327 federal, and 308 winchester.

  15. #15
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    A while ago I ran a similar test, although my bullets where all sized at .451...I believe the TAC 1 gained me dang near 2" at 75' with about 2 different shake on lubes.
    Now TAC 1 is my go to for bullseye shooting, 45 acp 4 gr bullseye h&g68 clone, of course, I am a bit bias.

    This accuracy can be done with very little smoke from the TAC 1. With indoor shooting that makes a big difference
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  16. #16
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    I can vouch for Randy’s lubes as well. I’ve used his Tac1 and TacX effectively for years. I bought a MFRB of Carnauba Red off someone here for cheap and have been using it lately.

    MSM- Thank you for the effort you put into this.

  17. #17
    Boolit Man
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    I shoot 2700 ( Bullseye ) . Most of us prefer the FB over the BB . Let your barrel determine your OAL / crimp . As stated above it's easier to measure base to shoulder for repeatable results . I've also been using WLL Carnuba Red . Might have to give Tac-1 a road test .

  18. #18
    Boolit Master


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    Always good to see testing like this with real numbers. Thanks for posting.

    The flat base Arsenal bullet is more accurate for whatever reason.

    BTW, not many will appreciate how much effort it is to shoot that many groups off a rest accurately with iron sights. When I was into Bullseye, my mentor had a Ransom Rest and it went smoothly and quickly. We shot 50 round groups as are result.

    For evaluating a load for competition, how the lube and bore perform over many shots is a factor to consider. It is not practical to clean the barrel after each stage and of course, fouling shots are not possible.

    Using this method to "narrow down" the load options make sense. No point testing a load that gives 6" groups under ideal conditions! Then shoot 30 shot groups to verify consistency. Getting a "good" lead takes a lot of effort. Bui once established, confidence goes up and life is good.
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