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Load ’em right: Q&A with Rob Behr of Western Powders–Part 1 by Robert F. Kay

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This article comes from author Robert F. Kay, editor at On Target Hawaii, and author of the book, “How to Buy an AK-47.” Robert recently had the opportunity to have a Q&A session with Rob Behr of Western Powders. Please enjoy Part 1 below. You can also purchase Robert F. Kay’s book HERE.

Check out the Smokeless Powder Inventory at Midsouth Shooters by clicking here!

Editor’s Note:  I had the opportunity to meet Rob Behr of Western Powders recently at the SHOT Show—a mammoth firearms industry trade confab held annually in Las Vegas. Western was there promoting its lines of handgun, shotgun and rifle powders. Western is not a big company compared to its competitors but think of them as the little engine that could. They have excellent products and a truly informative website with an online loading guide, a great blog and information on loads for popular firearms as well as some of the more esoteric ones.

I don’t have a lot of personal experience with their rifle powders but their products come highly recommended by some very knowledgeable folks here in Hawaii. However I have used at least one of their handgun powders, Accurate #5, in my S&W model 27 (.357 magnum) and loved it. (So let me brag a little bit. By using #5 I was able to work up a load accurate enough to knock down 12” plates at distances of over 100 yards).

Rob, who handles marketing (among other duties) for Western, is a very knowledgeable hand loader. In addition to managing the website, he writes the “Dear Labby” advice column for the company’s online magazine. Despite Rob’s self-deprecating manner, you’d be hard pressed to find a better authority on hand loading. I had a chance to interview him recently about the company and got some valuable tips on reloading to boot.  This is the first of a two-part  series.

Continue reading Load ’em right: Q&A with Rob Behr of Western Powders–Part 1 by Robert F. Kay

Exploring Hodgdon’s Pistol-Cartridge-Load Website

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Midsouth Shooters Supply customers buy a lot of Hodgdon powders because the company makes great products and because Hodgdon’s staffers support the efforts of reloaders in a number of ways.

We previously noted here that some of the company’s available materials appear in the Hodgdon Reloading Education section. Click here to see the landing page on which Hodgdon begins the education process. Click here to see Safety precautions. Then click the Reloading for Beginners tab to get an overview of the basics of handloading. Click here to  prob

The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. Here’s a closer look at the detailed data for the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.
The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. Here’s a closer look at the detailed data for the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.

e more deeply into the data available for reloading rifle cartridges.

This time we’re going to explore the Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page. Like the Rifle page, the Pistol page gets you started by asking you to select a cartridge from a pulldown menu. The lineup of available cartridges begins at the 17 Bumble Bee and continues through the 500 S&W Magnum. There are dozens choices of currently available commercial favorites, such as the 380 Auto, 9mm Luger, and 45 ACP, plus a bunch of popular high-performance loads that can be chambered in handguns as well as rifles.

Once you’ve selected a cartridge, which for our purposes here is the 45 ACP, you’re then able to select a range of bullet weights. In the case of the 45 ACP, that ranges from weights from 155 to 230 grains and a variety of bullet profiles.

When the user selects a bullet weight (or weights), the site returns a range of data for that load. We’ve been looking at building a lower-recoil training load with a 155-grain bullet, so we clicked “155” from the bullet-weight menu, and then perused the two load-data selections the site presented: a 155-grain cast bullet and an SFire projectile. The cast load was what we’re looking for, so we then expanded that window and saw additional information about that choice, including Case: Winchester, barrel twist (1:16 inches), primer (Federal 150 Large Pistol), barrel length (5 inches), and trim length for the case (0.893 inches).

Then, in more detail, the window for the 155-grain cast LSWC (lead semi-wadcutter) load lists the recommended powders, starting loads, and maximum loads, along with estimated pressures. For our training load, a promising starting load for the 45 ACP 155-grain round is 4.9 grains of Winchester WST, which will produce a velocity of 919 fps and develop 13,100 copper units of pressure (CUP).

If we wanted to work up hotter and hotter loads, there are plenty of powder choices — 15 others, to be exact. Just among the starting loads we could run up to 1,019 fps with 7.8 grains of IMR 800-X, which is estimated to produce 13,600 CUP. Then, if we wanted to really push that 155-grain round, we could work up to maximum loads producing as much as 1,132 fps and 17,000 CUP with 6.2 grains of Hodgdon’s Titegroup.

Also, you can narrow your selections by manufacturer or specific powder if you have already have pet loads you like to work with.

The Hodgdon pistol-cartridge reloading table lets you select proven, safe, and varied mixtures of bullet weights and powder choices to build nearly any recipe of handgun performance you need.

The Hodgdon Pistol Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Bumble Bee through 500 S&W Magnum. See the image above for a detailed look at the 155-grain lead semi-wadcutter bullet.

HODGDON’S RIFLE-CARTRIDGE LOADING HELP

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As we’ve previously noted, Midsouth Shooters Supply customers enjoy using Hodgdon powders, in part because the company makes great products, but also because the company’s experts supply plenty of help for shooters who want to get started in reloading.

We previously noted here that some of the company’s available materials appear in the Hodgdon Reloading Education section. Click here to see the landing page on which Hodgdon begins the education process. Click here to see Safety precautions. Then click the Reloading for Beginners tab to get an overview of the basics of handloading. This time, we want to probe more deeply into the data available for reloading rifle cartridges.

The Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Data page gets you started by asking you to select a cartridge from a pulldown menu. The lineup of available cartridges begins at the 17 Ackley Hornet and continues through the 50 Browning Machine Gun, or 50 BMG. What’s nice is there are dozens choices of currently available commercial favorites, such as the 30-06 Springfield, as well as popular wildcats (219 Wasp), new entries, such as the 28 Nosler, and proprietary rounds, such as the 240 Weatherby Magnum and others.

The Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Ackley Hornet through 50 BMG. Magnum and others. Step 2 is selecting a bullet weight, then a powder manufacturer, then a specific powder.
The Hodgdon Rifle Reloading Data page displays a pulldown menu with a lineup of available cartridges from 17 Ackley Hornet through 50 BMG. Magnum and others. Step 2 is selecting a bullet weight, then a powder manufacturer, then a specific powder.

Once you’ve selected a cartridge, which for our purposes here is the 25-06 Remington, you’re then able to select a range of bullet weights. In the case of the 25-06, that ranges from weights from 75 to 120 grains and a variety of bullet profiles.

When you select a bullet weight (or weights), the site returns a range of data for that load. Our search was to “select all,” which provided load data beginning with the 75-grain Hornady V-Max bullet. We then expanded that window and saw additional information about that choice, including Case: Remington, barrel twist (1:10”), primer (Remington 9 1/2, Large Rifle), barrel length (24 inches), and trim length for the case (2.484 inches).

Then, in more detail, the window for the 75-grain Hornady V-Max load lists the recommended powders, starting loads, and maximum loads, along with estimated pressure outcomes. The lowest-pressure starting load for the 25-06 75-grain Hornady V-Max round was with 58.0 grains of Hodgdon H1000, which will produce a velocity of 3,135 fps and develop 35,300 copper units of pressure (CUP).

The highest-pressure choice for the 25-06 75-grain Hornady V-Max round came with IMR 4451 (58.5 grains), which will produce 3,781 fps and 60,300 PSI (not CUP in this case).

Of course, you can deselect various elements to narrow your search. One particular bolt gun we have chambered in 25-06 Rem. has proven it can shoot commercial 115-grain Winchester Ballistic Tip ammunition (SBST2506) into three-quarters-inch groups if the shooter does his part, and its downrange performance with a 200-yard zero gives a bullet drop of -6.0 inches at 300 yards, so we can hold top of deer — but still on the target — and expect a center hit at 300 yards.

Unfortunately, that specific bullet isn’t available in the Hodgdon tables, but the data are still useful in building a test load to create something like it. We could select a similar bullet weight, such as the 117-grain Hornady SPBT, then look at which powders we wanted to work with to get the commercial round’s stated 3,060 fps muzzle velocity. (There are other considerations besides velocity of course, such as the bullets’ different ballistic coefficients, but first things first.) Or we could buy another 115-grain bullet, such as the Nosler Ballistic Tip, then use the 117-grain powder recommendations to begin working up profiles to build our own home-brew commercial load.

We’d choose one whose maximum load had a little velocity headroom in it — such as the Hodgdon Hybrid 100V that produces 3,111 fps with a maximum load of 50.5 grains and not the highest pressure. In this case, that’s 50,400 CUP. But there are plenty of other choices if that recipe doesn’t produce the results we wanted.

Also, you can narrow your selections by manufacturer or specific powder if you have already have pet loads you like to work with.

And that’s really the value of the Hodgdon rifle-cartridge reloading table: You’re able to select proven, safe, and varied mixtures of bullet weights and powder to begin making your own tack-driver loads.