This may be a dumb question.. lowest possible velocity loads - how to make them?

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by WHSmithIV, Aug 19, 2012.

  1. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2012
    Moore, Idaho
    So, all you re-loading experts out here, I have a question and if any of you can tell me the best way to do it, well, for testing purposes on old weapons this is what I'd like to do:

    I want to make some specific testing cartridges for .32, 38 special and .45 ACP to start with. Basically, I'd like the cartridge to fire normally but have a bullet velocity that won't even penetrate 1/4 inch plywood at 10-15 yards.

    So, I want it to go 'bang' but with really low power.

    Any ideas how to load for this?

  2. 1LoneWolf75

    1LoneWolf75 Active Member

    Apr 29, 2012
    Farson WY
    That sounds like a bad idea IMHO. What if yer load didn't burn all the powder and didn't leave the barrel. I don't think there would be much difference in noise if they were loaded down that low. The lowest loads listed in NEW manuals should be safe in the guns IF they are safe to fire. Someone can correct me on this as I am not a gunsmith(yet) and have not loaded any round yet. I just wouldn't feel safe bout doin it

  3. WHSmithIV

    WHSmithIV Well-Known Member

    May 3, 2012
    Moore, Idaho
    I'm dealing with a noise issue here - I just want the lowest velocity possible for testing. This is for old pistols and I want to be able to examine metal stress to verify that standard loads will then work. So, before test firing with a standard load I can use a much reduced power load and examine the workings after doing so.
  4. hunter29180

    hunter29180 Well-Known Member

    best to take then to a qualified gunsmith for testing. you could make a life ending mistake doing it yourself. if they are that old they may be a Black powder cartarge. as to the 45 would not even start to cycle the action.

    and as to the 10-15 yds with 1/4 plywood? would basically be just using a primer with no guantarees the bullet could exit the barrel everytime...
  5. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    Ain't going to happen! If you have a noise problem, that might can be fixed, but loading down a .38, or .45APC to the point it will fire safely, and not penitrate 1/4" plywood just isn't going to happen! Look in the nearest reloading manual, it will give you the lowest safe round you can load in any given caliber.
  6. cpttango30

    cpttango30 Guest

    The lowest velocity is the lowest safe listed in your manual.

    With two little powder in the case you end up with too much air in the case and this can cause pressure spikes and also cause the burn rate to change. It could also cause a delayed reaction where the primer doesn't ignite the powder properly. Then the powder might be ignited from he front and burn to the back which is a really bad ting.

  7. steve4102

    steve4102 Former Guest

    Jan 27, 2006
    Yeah, as posted above, ain't gunna happen. The round has to produce enough energy to exit the barrel, that is more than enough to penetrate 1/4 inch plywood at 10-15 yards.
  8. RandyP

    RandyP Active Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    Just curious, if discharging firearms is legal where you plan on doing this testing, I get great noise reduction using plain old "Hearos' brand foam plugs (DB reduction over 30) at indoor ranges I double up with muffs.

    Or is the noise issue worries about neighbors or folks inside the same building?
  9. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2012
    One problem you would have trying to design a load that would not penetrate 1/4" plywood is you would have alot of them bounce back your direction. I rarely load lowest velocity loads out of the reloading manuals because of that. Too low of velocity is a good way to get a bullet back between the eyes or any where. Even worse, an innocent bystander.

    Also, if there is any question on the strength of a firearm that determination is to be done by a qualified gunsmith. Starting low and working up is not a good way to test the strength of a gun. There is nothing better then getting approved by your gunsmith that you can safely shoot a firearm without worry.

    Also, a bullet that would not penetrate a piece of 1/4" plywood just might get stuck in the barrel.
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  10. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    Primer only and a wax bullet..

    The wax slug will come out about 200 fps and splat on the plywood.
  11. Hawg

    Hawg Well-Known Member

    Mar 23, 2011
    If a gun is in good shape and made for black powder it will handle full strength bp loads. If it was made for smokeless loads it will handle full strength smokeless loads. If it was made for bp and you load it with smokeless you will reduce it to a few large pieces and a lot of tiny ones. Your testing with weak charges would be a non issue. If you just want to play with low noise, load wax bullets fired by a primer.
  12. 76Highboy

    76Highboy Well-Known Member

    Jan 1, 2012
    That's a kick in the pants.
  13. JLA

    JLA Well-Known Member

    Feb 26, 2007
    Heart Of Texas
    They are fun to shoot at the cat with.
  14. cycloneman

    cycloneman Well-Known Member

    Dec 16, 2008
  15. tcox4freedom

    tcox4freedom Well-Known Member


    I think you could open yourself up to all sorts of potential problems if you go off "manual". Pressure problems, squibs and cycling issues are just a few I can think of.

    You may be able to get by with more experimentation if you're going to be shooting revolvers. But, semi-autos are designed to operate in a very specific way. Mess around with your reloads to much & you will have problems.

    There's a lot of information out there if you look. You can find info on every bullet/powder manufacturers website that I'm aware of.

    The "Lyman Reloading Handbook 49th Edition" also has some good info. You can compare various bullets & powders and performance by looking through all the info provided by these sources.

    Doing this very thing, I found my preferred 40s&w load. (Hornady 155gr XTP using 5.4gr of Titegroup) This gives me a lighter bullet & 1058fps velocity; which I find gives me near perfect performance in my XDM & 24/7 Pro C.

    Using the same chart from Hogden Powder company, I can compare bullets, powder & velocities that range from 714fps from PB powder & 200gr Hornady XTP --- to --- a "smoking!" 1434fps using Longshot powder & a 135gr Nosler JHP.

    I would just try to get my hands on as much info as possible & follow what others have already done.

    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
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