Three New Loads Tested

I’m going to be doing less reloading in the future; the price of components has gotten so high that it’s genuinely more expensive to reload some cartridges. 9mm has been right on the edge for years, but then prices skyrocketed with COVID. Still, there are some cartridges that are worth it. .45 Colt, .38 ACP, .32-20, .38 S&W… the list goes on. So naturally two of these new loads are 9mm and .45 ACP. It is what it is. Part of the reason is that I am experimenting with Alliant Sport Pistol powder to see what it can do.

Loads were tested with three rounds each, so this is not definitive but should be in the ballpark.

.38 ACP

No, thosae aren’t stock grips. I made thes Model 1905-style grips because I like them better.

Now known as .38 Super and significantly hotter than the original load, this cartridge is only really applicable to people like me that will actually shoot an expensive antique. Normally ballistics are at the low end on 9mm performance, firing a 130gr. bullet at around 1050 fps. .38 ACP and .38 Super use exactly the same brass, but power-wise they are like .38 Special and .357 Magnum if you could stick .357 in a .38 revolver. You can use .38 ACP loads in a .38 Super, but using .38 Super in a gun made for .38 ACP (mainly Colt Model 1900, 1902 and 1903 Pocket Hammer guns) will have unhappy results; the gun’s design cannot handle the hotter .38 Super loads well or for long.

I test-fired this load through my Colt Model 1902 Military with a 6″ barrel.

115gr. FMC, 4.5gr. of Sport Pistol, Federal #100 Primer

 913 fps. 213 ft/lbs. ES: 18 fps

In terms of power this load is closer to .380 ACP than 9mm, and that’s deliberate; this is an old gun. I was looking for enough power to cycle the gun and get the bullet on paper, which it does admirably. Accuracy is fine, it cycles 100% and the extreme spread in velocity is relatively tight.

9 x 19mm

My custom 3-1/2″ 1911a! 9mm

My 9mm/3-1/2″ 1911a1 does not like wimpy target ammo like my match loads, so I set out to create something a bit stouter. This is within SAAMI Standard Pressure spec, but it’s at the hot end of that.

115gr FMC, 5.5gr. W-231, Federal #100 primer

3.5? Barrel 1186 fps. 359 ft/lbs ES: 31

This is a good, consistent load that cycles the gun reliably. Accuracy is good, and the load is nicely consistent. Probably best in a gun with a supported chamber; my one issue was a blowout (though the gun still cycled, much to my surprise.)

There was no damage to me or the gun. I attribute this failure to the fact that this is a hot-ish load, the chamber is unsupported and I tend to re-use brass until it fails, though it usually does so by splitting the case.

.45 ACP

My 1911 with a ported 5″ barrel. No, 45 ACP is NOT too low pressure to benefit from porting or a compensator.

This load is as much to test the Sport Pistol powder as anything else, and it is intended as a target load. I used an Xtreme Bullets 200gr. TMJ Hollow-point. These are a heavily-plated bullet and are not intended to expand; they are target bullets, not self-defense rounds. Firing from my 5″ ported barrel yielded these results-

200gr. JHP, 6.2gr. Sport Pistol

5? ported barrel 896 fps. 356 ft/lbs. ES: 14 fps.

This is perfectly acceptable for it’s intended purpose, which is putting holes in the same general area of the target very quickly. No issues with function, accuracy was good and the extreme spread was pleasingly low. This is my new range/match load.


Alliant Sport Pistol powder seems to do what it is made to; high consistency in target loads. Other experiments with other calibers have revealed that it does not excel in very light loads or heavy loads. Fit to purpose though, exactly as it should be.

Blowing out the case-head on the 9mm was exciting, but since I will for the most part be buying my 9mm ammo in the future my long-in-the-tooth brass should not be much of an issue in the future.

Stay safe and take care,

Michael Tinker Pearce, 23 September 2022

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