Sugested Powders for Handgun Cartridges

By Chuck Hawks


All handguns are different, but normally bullets have a bigger impact on accuracy and performance than powders. I usually test bullets first in any new pistol to find a projectile that it prefers using a powder generally recognized as suitable for that cartridge and bullet weight. Then I experiment with different powders (if necessary) to refine the load.

Here are some powders that I can recommend for handgun cartridges that normally give good results with the bullet weights specified. With the single exception of the .38 Special Wadcutter loads, all of these powder recommendations are for use with jacketed, not lead, bullets. (They may work with lead bullets, but that's not how I use them.) Besides my own 40 years or so as a reloader, I used as source material the major reloading manuals from both bullet and powder manufacturers. My reasoning being that if my experience and their recommendations agree, while the powders so chosen may not be optimum in a given situation or pistol, at least they are unlikely to be disastrous.

Because most retail stores that sell reloading supplied do not carry every brand of powder, I will try to list at least one powder from each of several major powder companies for each cartridge. For specific powder charges, consult an appropriate reloading manual. Other powders may work as well or better in your pistol, but these should be suitable to at least get started. (Caliber, bullet weight - powder.)

  • 5.7x28mm FN, 35-45 grains - Accurate No. 5, Accurate No. 7, Ramshot True Blue
  • .22 Jet, 40-45 grains - Alliant 2400, H110, IMR 4227, W296
  • .221 Fireball, 35-50 grains - IMR 4198, IMR 4227, RL-7
  • .25 ACP, 45-55 grains - Accurate No. 2, Bullseye, HP38, 700x, W231
  • .256 Win. Mag, 60-75 grains - Alliant 2400, Unique, H 4227
  • .30 M1 Carbine (pistol), 100-110 grains - Alliant 2400, H110, Viht N-110, W296
  • .32 ACP, 71-85 grains - Accurate No. 5, HP38, W231
  • .32 S&W Long, 85-100 grains - HP38, 700x, W231
  • .32 H&R Magnum, 85-100 grains - Accurate No. 7, HS6, W231
  • .32-20 (revolver), 85-110 grains - Alliant 2400, HS6, W231
  • .32-20 (T/C), 85-110 grains - H110, IMR 4227, W296
  • .380 ACP, 90--95 grains - Accurate No. 2, HP38, Ramshot Zip, W231
  • 9x18mm Makarov, 90--95 grains - Accurate No. 2, Bullseye, 700x, W231
  • 9x19 Luger, 115-147 grains - Accurate No. 7, HS7, Ramshot True Blue, Win. Act. Pist.
  • .357 SiG, 115-147 grains - Accurate No. 9, HS6, Ramshot True Blue, W571
  • .357 Magnum, Midrange loads, 125-160 grains - HS6, W231
  • .357 Magnum, Maximum loads, 125-160 grains - Accurate No. 9, Alliant 2400, H110, Ramshot True Blue, W296
  • .38 Special, Lead wadcutter loads, 148 grains - Accurate N100, Bulleseye, W231
  • .38 Special, Standard loads, 125-158 grains - Accurate No. 2, HS6, Ramshot True Blue, W231
  • .38 Special +P, 125-158 grains - Accurate No. 5, HS6, Ramshot True Blue
  • .38 Super Auto, 115-147 grains - Accurate No. 7, HS7, SR 4756, Ramshot True Blue, Win. Act. Pist.
  • .40 S&W, 155-200 grains - Accurate No. 7, HS6, SR 4756, Ramshot True Blue, Win. Act. Pist.
  • 10mm Auto, 155-200 grains - Accurate No. 9, HS6, HS6, 800x, Ramshot Silhouette, Win. Act. Pist.
  • .41 Magnum, Midrange loads, 170-220 grains - Accurate No. 7, HS6, Ramshot True Blue
  • .41 Magnum, Maximum loads, 170-220 grains - Accurate No. 9, Alliant 2400, H110, Ramshot Enforcer, Viht N110, W296
  • .44-40 Winchester, 200 grains - Accurate No. 9, Unique, SR 4756, WSF
  • .44 Special, 200-250 grains - Accurate No. 5, HS6, SR 4756, Ramshot True Blue, Viht N-350, W231
  • .44 Magnum, Midrange loads, 180-200 grains - Accurate No. 7, Unique, HS6, Ramshot True Blue
  • .44 Magnum, Maximum loads, 200-300 grains - Accurate No. 9, Alliant 2400, H110, Ramshot Enforcer, Vith N-110, W296
  • .45 ACP, 185-230 grains - Accurate No. 5, HS6, SR 4756, Ramshot True Blue, WSF
  • .45 Long Colt, 200-300 grains - Accurate No. 5, Herco, HS6, Viht N-340, W231
  • .454 Casull, 240-300 grains - Accurate No. 9, Alliant 2400, H110, Ramshot Enforcer, Viht N-110, W296
  • .460 S&W Mag, 240-300 grains - Accurate 1660, H4227, IMR 4227, Ramshot Enforcer, Viht N-110, W296
  • .475 Linebaugh, 325-400 grains - Accurate No. 9, H110, Ramshot Enforcer, Viht N-110, W296
  • .480 Ruger, 325-400 grains - Accurate No. 9, Alliant 2400, H110, Ramshot Enforcer, Viht N-110, W296
  • .50 AE, 300 grains - Accurate No. 9, Alliant 2400, H110, IMR 4227, Ramshot Enforcer, Viht N-110, W296
  • .500 S&W Mag, 350-500 grains - Accurate 1660, H110, IMR 4227, Ramshot Enforcer, Viht N-120, W296



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Copyright 2007, 2012 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.


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