Question about interchanging components for handloads

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IrvJr

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Messages
137
Hi All,

I have been using the speer reloading manual for load data for my handloads. The Speer manual lists data using CCI Primers and Speer bullets.

Would it make much of a difference if I developed handgun loads using a different brand of primer or a slightly different bullet from another manufacturer?

For instance, my local gun shop carries Hornady XTP bullets. Could I substitute the Hornady 240gr jacketed XTP hollow point bullets for a similar Speer 240 gr jacketd bullet safely?

Also, if the load data calls for a non-magnum large pistol primer, can I safely use a primer from a different manufacturer? For example, could I substitute a Winchester large pistol primer for a CCI/Speer large pistol primer and vice versa?

I know I should never interchange powders when handloading, but was wondering if primers and bullets are interchangeable. I don't intend on substituting a hardcast lead bullet when the recipe calls for a jacketed bullet or a soft cast bullet, but I would like to know if it's OK to switch one brand of jacketed hollow point or jacketed soft point with another brand, given that both bullets are of the same weight and diameter.

Thanks in advance.
 

wixedmords

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 5, 2006
Messages
903
Hello IJ,

Swapping bullet brands and primers with the same weight/type is general practice. But, it can get a little more hairy when the load in question is a max powder load. I would cut the powder charge back at least 5-10% and work the load back up checking for pressures if I swapped primers/bullets.

I interchange bullets of the same weights in loading manuals, like the example you spoke of. As an example the Speer manual is going to specify a Speer bullet, so I interchange Hornady, Winchester, Remington, whatever the bullet is as long as it is fairly similar.

Along with cutting back the powder charge for testing, you can expect your accuracy to be affected, so that great load you worked up with a certain bullet and primer may be a few grains off of its best accuracy when you swap out the components.

If you aren't worried about accuracy with your reloads, you may only be worrying about max load issues.
 

Yosemite Sam

Hunter
Joined
Mar 18, 2002
Messages
2,113
I think everyone has these questions when they first start. I know I did.

In general, the answer to both questions is "yes, it's OK", but within reason.

Don't start out with the max load with the "wrong" primer. You should never start with the max anyway, but as long as you've given yourself a margin of safety you should be OK substituting say a WLP primer for a CCI non-magnum large pistol. There are other threads on the board about using magnum primers when regular are called for (or not), and vice versus. I know that wasn't your question, but you should read up on it for the educational value.

The bullet question is a little more complicated. I've found that it's generally OK to use a different profile (yet same weight) bullet as the recipe calls for, as long as you can figure out an appropriate COL. If your manual has true sized pictures of the bullets in their recipes (ala Speer #13) you can see how yours compare to what they were using, and if they're the same length, you're good to go. If not, you can often contact the bullet maker for recommended recipes, or at least COL specs for their bullets. Some of the big makers even have load data on the web.

If none of that works out and you have to calculate your own COL, just be cautious. The most important piece of data is how deeply the bullet is seated. If you have a long bullet and try to seat to a too-short COL you will create an over pressure situation. What you need to do is figure out how deep you can seat it so the base of the bullet is no deeper than your reference load. Then you have to make sure the resulting COL isn't too long for your gun. Obviously, none of this should be done anywhere near the max load for the given bullet/powder.

-- Sam
 

Rick Courtright

Hawkeye
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
7,784
IrvJr":1gscqd97 said:
I know I should never interchange powders when handloading, but was wondering if primers and bullets are interchangeable.

Hi,

Within reason you can change primer brands within a given type, e.g. small pistol Win to small pistol Fed is ok. Small pistol Win to small pistol MAG Fed isn't.

Bullets, again within reason, are interchangeable within weight. So a 150 gr Speer JSP (jacketed soft point) and a Hornady JSP should interchange ok. You can generally go lighter w/ a given recipe, too. For example, if you have a recipe for a 168 gr bullet and another brand offers only a 165, you're usually ok. Or maybe all you can find are 150s that day? You normally don't want to go heavier, like from a 168 gr recipe to a 180 gr recipe. (Because of normal tolerance ranges, you could probably use the 168 gr bullets in 165 gr recipes, though. There's usually a little leeway for "reason" when making such changes.)

Follow the "start low, work up" drill for ANY change of component from your book recipe, and you should be ok. Use whatever "starting load" is recommended for your powder charge as your "start low" point. And try to change only one component at a time when doing so...

It's best to get as many books as possible to cross check before getting too far into changing components, too. Once in a while you'll find something that says "don't do this" and you'll want to heed such warnings.

Whatever you do, please be careful! Remember "Safety first" as they always say...

Rick C
 

IrvJr

Single-Sixer
Joined
Aug 29, 2002
Messages
137
Thanks for the very helpful replies, particularly the tip regarding the C.O.L. - I hadn't thought about the different lengths a bullet might have!
 

Rick Courtright

Hawkeye
Joined
Mar 10, 2002
Messages
7,784
IrvJr":2taty8o5 said:
Thanks for the very helpful replies, particularly the tip regarding the C.O.L. - I hadn't thought about the different lengths a bullet might have!

Hi,

A couple of random thoughts on COL:

There's an "absolute" limit of how long the cartridge can be before the bullet either jams up against the magazine and the round won't feed properly, or the bullet starts to be pushed into rifling when chambered. If you're not feeding from the magazine, your workable "max" might be longer. Many loaders concerned w/ target accuracy load to the point the bullet is just a few thousandths from engaging the rifling. That sometimes produces a COL in excess of published "MAX" figures which normally assume you want your ammo to work under all loading conditions.

But these figures are less important than those that reflect MIN (minimum) lengths. MIN lengths affect pressures in an adverse fashion more often than in a positive one. What you're concerned w/ is the amount of the bullet that's inside the loaded case.

If you're using all the proper components, you don't have to do any calculating, just measure and set your bullet seating depth accordingly. But sometimes you'll be substituting a shorter or longer bullet, and here's where the calculator comes out.

Here are some formulas I use that may be helpful.

Starting w/ a known set of components and a "book" COL, we calculate:
Amount of bullet inside the case = case length + bullet total length - COL

We'll call the result "amt" (and note when calculating I use the "blueprint" case length, not the "trim to" length, which is normally 0.010" shorter for the calibers I use.)

Then, starting w/ a mix of components, we can calculate our "unknown" COL:
COL = case length + bullet total length - "amt"

It's pretty simple, but the thing to remember is we're trying to match the amount of bullet inside the case for more important reasons than the absolute COL. The deeper the bullet's seated, the higher pressures generally are. Yet you need enough bullet seated inside the case to ensure good neck tension, and to a lesser degree, enough resistance to ensure enough pressure for consistent ignition.

There's a super simple answer, too: simply use cannelured bullets! They're generally set up w/ a proper position of the cannelure to ensure a proper amount of bullet's seated inside the case...

Rick C
 

Sugar River

Buckeye
Joined
Aug 25, 2008
Messages
1,052
Be careful assessing bullet construction too.
I would never interchange a Barnes X for a similar weight cup and core bullet. The Barnes, being a solid mono metal will not 'give' as much and will build up more pressure.
Conversely, using lead cast bullets instead of the same weight jacketed will decrease pressure, all else being equal.

Pete
 

Sonnytoo

Blackhawk
Joined
Aug 4, 2007
Messages
631
There is good advice above to reduce your powder load when starting out. BUT, do NOT reduce any H-110 or 296 load by 5 or 10%. That is the only powder that I actually know of, that will be trouble. I have read some speculation about Blue Dot, and do not know about that powder.
Stay away from H-110 or 296 for now. For heavy loads, which is where H-110 is so popular, you can use 2400 or H-4227.
With H-110, you must not reduce starting loads more than 3%, according to Hodgdon web page. Read it and follow instructions. It's better than a stuck bullet, which I've had.
You can interchange cast bullets, primers, cases, to a large extent as mentioned above. Just don't start out to do any great big loads, but rather pick the ones in the, i.e. Hodgdon pages that are lower in pressure.
Sonnytoo
 

Driftwood Johnson

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 25, 2007
Messages
699
Howdy

One more thing. Generally speaking, interchanging cast bullets of the same weight is OK, however keep in mind that different shapes of the same weight bullet will probably have different amounts of surface area bearing against the barrel. More bearing surface means more friction, which will raise pressure slightly. Again, as long as you stay away from Max loads, interchanging different shapes of the same weight is probably OK, I've been doing it for years.

Friction, by the way, is why jacketed bullets usually develop more pressure than a cast bullet of the same weight. The guilding metal of the jacketed bullet is harder than lead, and develops more friction.
 

flatgate

Hawkeye
Joined
Jun 18, 2001
Messages
6,784
I agree with Rick. One must be very careful with the amount of bullet "below" the crimp groove. The classic "case in point" I use is a 270/280 grain Keith SWC compared to a 280 grain LBT design. The Keith bullet puts a lot more bullet down in the case than does the LBT style. So, using loading data for a LBT design bullet with a Keith bullet can be trouble........

flatgate
 

WESHOOT2

Hunter
Joined
Mar 19, 2005
Messages
2,124
IrvJr":3xzvgs45 said:
.....

Would it make much of a difference if I developed handgun loads using a different brand of primer or a slightly different bullet from another manufacturer?

.....

......

Yes, it can make a HUGE difference when changing bullets.
Material. Construction. Diameter. Ogive/bearing surface.

As suggested above, when switching bullets return to starting loads; do NOT assume it is safe to use the same powder charge.

Primers aren't quite so 'touchy'.
 

GP100man

Buckeye
Joined
Sep 13, 2006
Messages
1,386
Good thread & info!!!

I`ve found that as long as ya stay with the "standard " 240 bullet for 44 & 158 for 357 & follow normal sane reloading practices your fine.

But as mentioned as bullet weights change the phisycal appearence & shape changes & that`s when you have to use all tools available to ya ,
mainly the 1 between ya ears ( i used mine the other day & had to wait for the dust to clear!! LOL)

All that is available today can get confusing!!! so askin is smart on all our behaves !!

I don`t want my last words to be "Ya`ll watch Dis"!!!
 

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