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Old 05-02-2007, 09:33 AM   #1
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Reloading with extremely light bullets

I’ve been experimenting with some modified revolver bullets some lately, and thought I’d share what I’ve tried and learned.

My idea was to see if I could replicate an old load from the 1970’s that I read about but never found anywhere. IIRC, it was called the “SWAT” brand back then and was really a simple concept. The round used a normal bullet jacket, but was filled with epoxy rather than lead. This made it much lighter, but still structurally stable. The claimed result was much-increased velocity (obviously), and increased energy even allowing for a much lighter bullet; but what really got me curious recently and experimenting with it was the potential for reduced penetration in a defensive gun, especially a home-defense gun. I’m sticking with revolver loads (for now at least), because I want to gather info on the ammunition condept itself, and also it lets me test loads in guns that are much stronger than ‘should’ be needed; can’t do that with autoloaders typically. I’ve been experimenting with .38spl loads from an L-frame S&W, and .45LC loads from a .454 Ruger SRH.

Rather than try to find a source for bullet jackets themselves, I'm just using the same bullets I already load and replace the lead with epoxy. Simple conversion really; just held facing down, the lead melts right out of the jacket in just a few seconds with a normal propane torch applied to it. I was concerned about the heat changing the temper of the jacket, but no visible evidence of that. (Yet, anyway; I’m still in the early stages of experimenting.)



Informal tests, starting with .38 special loads, working gradually up to some .45LC loads. Guns were a Smith 4" 681 for the .38 loads, and a Ruger SRH .454 Casull for the .45LC loads.

Chronograph is a new Chrony-F1. Had chrono problems with a couple rounds of .45LC; no way the velocity was as low as the unit said. After two reads that I didn’t trust, I shut it off & put it in the shade for a while; and then brought it back out & it seemed fine again. I confess it’s a new chrono and different from my old one. I may have just failed to do a necessary reset after ten shots (all it can record in a single string); I can’t say, as I was focused more on the loads than the chronograph.

Regardless, I’m happy with the results so far. I need to re-do the low-end .452 loads, that got bad reads on the chronograph, to gather more info on the gradual increases that I lost due to the bad reads before I go too much farther up the power scale.

Even the final load (the 82-grain .452 with 10.0 grains of Titegroup) didn’t have any visible signs of excess pressure, but visual inspection by itself is not (repeat NOT) a valid indicator [especially in non-magnum calibers such as I was using], so don’t try these in your cowboy action .45LC gun. I was shooting a heavy, .454 revolver that I knew could absorb a substantial degree of error or stupidity on my part.

Very non-scientific test. Penetration expectations were very low, so target was one layer of ¾” plywood, followed by three layers of 7/16” Oriented Strand Board (“OSB” or “blandex”, commonly used in roof and wall decking in place of ½” plywood), backed by a 3” thick pine timber. All layers of wood were tight together; no spacing between boards. Only round with a different setup was the one .38 load (.357-diameter bullet @ 37.6 grains) made from a 125-gr XTP bullet. It was the first round I tried, and underestimated its velocity & penetration both. I only had made up one of that particular bullet, so when I lost that one, I couldn’t re-do the round to see what it’s really capable of.



Given below, are:
- what the bullet originally started out as (in bold),
- what the final weight was (after melting out the lead and replacing with epoxy)
- charge of Titegroup (in grains – all loads were individually weighed before loading)
- velocity @ 10 feet from muzzle
- and comments on the round in general



.357 160-gr Speer JSP
25 - 5.3 - 1114 - Penetrated to back edge of 3/4" plywood. No deformation
25 - 6.5 - 1577 - Thru 3/4" plywood, stuck into/onto 1st OSB - sub-normal pressure indications
24.5 - 7.5 - 1957 - Thru 3/4" plywood, sticking out backside of 1st OSB - sub-normal pressure indications
24.5 - 8.5 - 2231 - Same penetration as 4 above, but larger 1.25" diameter damage in OSB

All above loaded to 1.30" OAL, with slightly heavier than normal crimp. A lighter crimp would likely be beneficial; more testing to do.


.357 125-gr XTP
37.6 - 5.3 - 1217 - Passed thru 2 layers 7/16" OSB and lost - underestimated penetration - my mistake.


All .38's fired from 4" S&W 681, chrono'ed 10' from muzzle.
All .38's loaded w/WSP primer in virgin Winchester .38 SPL brass




.451 185-GR XTP (typically used as a .45acp bullet)
51 - 7.0 - 903 - Thru 3/4" plywood & halfway into 1st OSB. Sub-normal pressure (primer backed out)
51.5 - 9.0 - 2114 - Thru 3/4" plywood & halfway into 1st OSB. No signs of excess pressure.
51 - 9.0 - 2177 - Thru 3/4" plywood & halfway into 1st OSB. (re-do because I didn't believe the velocity of load above.)





.452 240-XTP-Mag (.454 Casull bullet)
81 - 8.0 - 368 - Obvious bad chrono read - penetrated 3/4" plywood & all 3 layers of OSB, and dented backstop timber.
81 - 9.0 - 300 - obvious bad chrono read - same penetration as "B" above. Reset chrono; these two reads have to be wrong.
82 - 10.0 - 2459 - Thru plywood, 3 OSB, and more than 1-inch into backstop timber. No visible excess pressure signs.

All .451 and .452 bullets loaded with WLP primers in once-fired, mixed, .45LC brass
All .451 & .452 fired from 7 1/2" Ruger SRH - chrono'ed at 10 feet from muzzle.

All loads in both calibers are with indicated charge of Titegroup powder.


(Sorry about the formatting; it's ugly, but the info is there. It's from an excel spreadsheet and doesn't copy-&-paste well.)



Yes, you’re reading that right. The last .452 load, (82-grain bullet over 10 grains of Titegroup) hit 2,459 feet per second according to the chronograph. Could be a bad read; I can’t say. Obviously, more testing and measuring is needed, both to get data on the progression of loads, and just to satisfy my obsessive-compulsive distrust.

Conclusion? So far, so good. I really need to re-do the low-end .452 XTP-Mag bullet loads, to get info on how they gradually progress. I also will definitely be experimenting with the .357 XTP and .451 XTP bullets more. But it’ll take me a while to work my way up to .454-level loads. I also plan to stick more with the XTP-Mag versions instead of the normal XTP bullet jackets. The –Mag version has a much thicker jacket wall, and gives a slightly heavier finished weight that I think I’ll prefer in the long run.


Also, I learned two things about the epoxy. (Normal dual-syringe stuff available at hardware stores.) First, it takes a long time to dry completely inside the case, I assume due to lack of air exposure. Some rounds took days to be fully hard. Secondly, it gets slightly lighter as it hardens; possibly due to evaporation, I can’t say. I weighed the bullets when freshly-filled, and the .452 XTP-Mags all weighed in at 91-93 grains. When completely set (days later), they all were between 80 and 82 grains. No exceptions, they were all slightly lighter when the epoxy had completely set. Odd, yet a good thing to know.


What I’m thinking is that this could develop into some very decent defensive loads with the following traits:
- very good energy,
- reduced recoil due to lighter projectile weight,
- reduced risk of over-penetration, yet plenty adequate defensive penetration if the heavier, thicker XTP-Mag jackets are used.

Only time & experimentation will tell if this is really worth pursuing, but it gives me something to do, and I may learn something in the process.


Again – do NOT take this as me recommending everyone run out & try this. It’s potentially VERY dangerous. It’s potentially VERY dangerous. I’m just experimenting for my own purposes, and sharing what I find; I am NOT trying to get others to follow my example. If you do, and you blow up your gun (or your hand or your face), it’s on you, not me.

If this is violating any site policy or practice, or is just a cause of concern for any reason, any moderator is obviously free to delete any or all of this post; and I'll understand completely if that happens. Not trying to push the envelope of what's acceptable here at all, I just figured I'd share what I've learned so far. Don't mean to cause heartburn or worries for anyone.


And fwiw, it’s good to be back here after being gone so long.
 
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Old 05-02-2007, 11:03 AM   #2
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Interesting stuff. Does the epoxy burn off the back of the projectile any when fired?

How about accuracy (relatively speaking). Would air bubbles in the epoxy destabilize the projectile?
 
Old 05-02-2007, 12:01 PM   #3
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First, welcome back John.

Second, your experiments seem very interesting. To add some interest, what would happen if you filled those bullet jackets with solder or JB Weld? They should be heavier than if filled with epoxy but lighter than filled with lead. Might give them more flight stability if accuracy becomes a problem.

RIKA



 
 
Old 05-02-2007, 12:06 PM   #4
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John- Very interesting "home" experiment. Glad things seem to be looking good at it.

I agree on the safety issue. I had wanted to do simlar testing in the past but never had a strong enough test platform at the time.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 02:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rich Z
Interesting stuff. Does the epoxy burn off the back of the projectile any when fired?
I'm using JHP jackets, so there's no epoxy exposed at the back end; everything that makes contact with the gun barrel or is exposed to the powder charge is the same as with the unmodified bullets.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 02:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RIKA
Second, your experiments seem very interesting. To add some interest, what would happen if you filled those bullet jackets with solder or JB Weld? They should be heavier than if filled with epoxy but lighter than filled with lead. Might give them more flight stability if accuracy becomes a problem.

RIKA
I've wondered about different "fillers" myself. So far, I like the heavy XTP-Mag jacket & epoxy combination because the thicker jackets offer increased weight over the non-“Mag” jackets, as well as increased structural strength over standard jackets.

Especially when I start working my way up into the heavier loads, I like the idea of the thicker jackets for another reason as well. The epoxy [or tin or whatever], isn’t going to have the same compression (compressibility...?) characteristics as lead, and the thicker jackets should help to mitigate the differences better than thin jackets would, when going thru the forcing cone.

That’s another reason I’m working up the scale very gradually. There are a lot of variables in play here, and it’s not my field of expertise, so I’m making a point of being cautious and methodical about it, and documenting things as I go so I can hopefully see trends and relationships eventually.

I’m intrigued by the possibilities. While they may never be overly practical or efficient due to the labor involved, it might actually lead me to some very good 'housegun' or 'pest-control' loads if I can achieve what I think they’re capable of, and if I can do it without a horrific muzzle blast accompanying it. I used Titegroup in this first test, but I suspect that with bullets this light, an even faster powder such as Bullseye may be even a better choice to reduce muzzle blast.

We get a lot of feral critters around here, and a load that can dispatch a medium-sized animal without over-penetration would be a good thing. Naturally, the same thing would be a good thing in a bedroom gun as well.

Only time (and experimenting) will tell if anything useful can come of it.
 
Old 05-02-2007, 06:34 PM   #7
 
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glad yer' back postin' 'fun-stuff' JOHN A-R

pretty impressive speed with the .45 240 grainer jacket,,, how about a half a pinch of very-fine sand-blasting agent[sand] with a weaker bonding agent!
[3-4 drops of super-glue?]

did the epoxy maintain 'jacket integrity' or did I miss that in your post.



 
Old 05-03-2007, 06:45 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by brass hammer
glad yer' back postin' 'fun-stuff' JOHN A-R

pretty impressive speed with the .45 240 grainer jacket,,, how about a half a pinch of very-fine sand-blasting agent[sand] with a weaker bonding agent!
[3-4 drops of super-glue?]

did the epoxy maintain 'jacket integrity' or did I miss that in your post.



First - I can tell I'm genuinely talking to Brass again, because I had to read that post more than once...

Do you mean fine sand and super glue in the jacket rather than epoxy? If so, it'd be difficult to get real consistent weights. Right now, I just use a syringe to suck the epoxy from a small paper cup (like a ketchup cup from a fast-food place), and then fill the jacket from the syringe. It's relatively quick & clean way to do it and the results are pretty uniform when it's all said & done.

As far as maintaining integrity, all but one rounds stayed together fine. One of the former Speer 160-grainers, the core separated from the jacket, but remained in one piece; it just came out of the jacket. On this particular Speer bullet, the jacket is a straight-walled cup – really a pure cylinder shape, proportionately shaped about like a coffee mug. On the other jacket types, they’re the more common tapered shape, larger at the base than at the front opening, so if the epoxy is hard, it would take a whole lot of jacket deformation to dislodge it.

On the one that did separate, the epoxy was still soft when I recovered it, which makes me suspect that was part of the reason. The epoxy obviously wasn’t fully cured, and wasn’t fully adhered to the inside of the jacket. And once I recovered it after it had come out of the jacket, within less than an hour it was completely cured and hard; that’s what makes me think it’s probably lack of exposure to oxygen that makes cure time so long.
 
Old 05-03-2007, 12:28 PM   #9
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Heck, I remember once I got this hare-brained idea to do the same thing but use pure metallic sodium as the filler. The stuff is just too unstable to work with that way. I found out the hard way while trying to melt sodium that it CAN catch on fire. And you DON'T want to try to put out the fire with water!
 
Old 05-07-2007, 10:20 PM   #10
 
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well,,,?,,,JOHN A-R.[ ]

the SPEED you posted was rather impressive!!!,,,er,,,,although, the 'limb-blowing-off'/ 'castrating crouch-shot' IMPACT of certain 'home-brews' ,,,,
,,,are WHATS[ER,,,?,,AH,,,?] wanted.


and in conclusion, I commend THEE on a most FRUITFUL ENDEAVOR!,,,of

,,,"PISTOL-CRAFT",,,SIR!



 
Old 09-28-2007, 11:38 PM   #11
 
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If you don't mind the wadcutter design, you could order half jackets. Or, for .45's just use 1/4" pipe caps. Some sizing required, there, though. I use them for shot cups in my "Chickenhouse" .45 Colt shotshells. Shot kills snakes, the cap or jacket will finish a possum, skunk, or coon at chickenhouse range.
 
Old 11-18-2020, 06:43 AM   #12
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Just bumping this to the top, since it's evidently too difficult for some folks to find.
 
Old 11-18-2020, 12:40 PM   #13
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Fwiw, some pictures of the bullets as modified & tested. Two of them are ones actually fired & recovered; you can see the rifling marks on the bottom-left and bottom-center bullets:


The others were ones that I made up but didn't use in the actual testing. They're tarnished from years of just idly sitting around (much like a certain senior-citizen's fantasies...?), but I just kept them in case I ever wanted to further pursue this testing. After 13+ years, I still haven't felt a burning need or desire to do so.

You can see that even after being fired into wood, there's very little deformation except for a little bit on the one that's a pure cylindrical wadcutter shape. That was one of the 24.5 or 25 grainers made from the jacket of a 160-grain Speer JSP bullet.
 
Old 11-18-2020, 01:05 PM   #14
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Here you go John. Do you truly want to know how to VERY easily get a handgun bullet to not only generate more than 1,100 ft/lbs of energy with a completely safe load, but to have it actually do something that you've claimed (with no proof) for years?

I'm talking about a simple, easy way to make it actually create two separate wound tracks; each one with a piece longer than the overall cartridge is wide. If done properly, it could likely turn into three parts, not just two, but since I don't know for sure how consistent that would be, I'm honest enough to admit that it's just untested speculation.

Ready...? Here we go.

Take one of those simple epoxy-based bullets as in the above pic, and with a fine blade (metal-cutting blade in a coping saw perhaps?) simply cut down its axis as so:


The epoxy-fill conversion takes literally less than half a minute per bullet, and that one simple cut shouldn't take much - if any - any longer than that.

With a little bit of testing, a person could find the ideal depth of cut leaving the ideal amount of still-integral material at the base, to give a consistently separating projectile at whatever velocity they loaded it to. If done meticulously, it could also be cut in such a way that the two front parts both separated from the base, creating three separate projectiles instead of just two.



But again, I make no claim of having the specific details of the 'right' depth and angle of cut(s) to accomplish that.

We also have to remember that hand-cutting into bullets will inevitably make them less uniform and so less stable, and will have a substantial negative effect on accuracy. At bedroom distances it might not be a problem, but any use beyond very short range would be pretty much a no-go due to lost accuracy and stability.

So it's not that we don't understand how to do these things. I understand how to stick my pecker in a $3 whore, but I'm still not going to do it.
 
Old 11-18-2020, 02:23 PM   #15
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Use of any of these bullets, when you could be prosecuted by law enforcement if it was NOT a true SHTF/WROL scenario, would be any prosecutors wet dream, a definite slam dunk.
 
Old 11-18-2020, 02:33 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Garand View Post
Use of any of these bullets, when you could be prosecuted by law enforcement if it was NOT a true SHTF/WROL scenario, would be any prosecutors wet dream, a definite slam dunk.


I'd say that use of any of these bullets, when there are factory-made options that work completely fine, is blindingly stupid unless you have some way to absolutely KNOW that you'll only ever need to shoot at extreme close range. And even if you did somehow know that you'd only be shooting at extreme close range, there are still more consistent & uniformly performing options available. There are factory-made options that break into multiple pieces - some of them as much as a half-dozen separate pieces - so why settle for two...

Again, I go back to the three-dollar whore concept. Non-participation isn't necessarily a sign of ignorance. It might just be a sign of rational thought.
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Old 11-18-2020, 03:17 PM   #17
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garand's completey fos, as usual. Mag safe sold such bullets for over a decade, as their SWAT load, but it was available to civiians. He put it up in fmj bullets. You can do much better with bulleye powder. In fact, you wont get any other powder to even cycle any locked breech autoloaders with such bullets. I got 60 grs .45's, using steel-bearing epoxy over 2000 fps, back in 2003. from Pat's OFFICER's ACP using bullseye. I dont recall how much, but it was a lot and never did show any pressure signs as I worked up loads, 1/2 gr at a time, I do recall that 8.0 grs would not even cycle the slide. with a .460 case and a hollow base bullet, probably or 60 grs by puttig some lead birdshot in the mix, ou can get 2200 fps out of a govt. model. The hand-sawn bullets never had any problem grouping 10" at 10m and some variants grouped 10" at 50 ft. I didnt bother testing them at longer ranges, cause crap like that is completely irrelevant to handgun use in the real world. But i'd bet my life that if you did the slitting precisely, on a milling machine, you'd get 10" at 25 yds, which is all anyone ever got with Glasers. That's also as good as anyone has ever proven that they could shoot a handgun when they were personally being shot-at. since nobody is going to carry a full sized revolver, much less a 44 or 454, this post is irrelevant
 
Old 11-18-2020, 05:11 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boati View Post
You can do much better with bulleye powder
So use bullseye, no problem. Ive been talking about the much simpler, easier, and faster bullet modification, not debating which powder to use.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boati View Post
I got 60 grs .45's, using steel-bearing epoxy over 2000 fps, back in 2003.
Which is a whopping 533 ft/lbs; less than some over-the-counter loads. And still less than half of what I got with the less-than-ideal Titegroup powder, isnt it

Quote:
Originally Posted by boati View Post
60 grs by puttig some lead birdshot in the mix, ou can get 2200 fps out of a govt. model.
Thats 645 ft/lbs, which is very good but only about 20% more than some over-the-counter stuff.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boati View Post
60 grs by puttig some lead birdshot in the mix, ou can get 2200 fps out of a govt. model. The hand-sawn bullets never had any problem grouping 10" at 10m
Holy carp. Let me say this out loud so I can try to wrap my head around it. When shooting groups for accuracy testing, with no external stress, in a full size 1911, you see 100MOA accuracy as acceptable and no problem Wow. Even a mediocre 1911 should (and will) do sub-20MOA groups with a lot of loads.

No wonder you always claim that you wont hit things past a few yards. With that horrific performance, youre absolutely right you wont be able to hit anything past a few yards.

Quote:
Originally Posted by boati View Post
since nobody is going to carry a full sized revolver, much less a 44 or 454, this post is irrelevant
Told you before John. Ive absolutely CCWed that gun, both before and after I had the barrel cut from 7.5 to 5. We're very rural and the first time I did so in public was when we had two separate sightings of a mountain lion within a quarter mile of our church in the previous few days. At the time, it was the only handgun I had that was more powerful than a .357 revolver, and when the threat is a mountain lion I wanted more gun than .357; and the 454 was the only gun that fit that definition. And yes, it absolutely was concealed. It was a special event that night and I was singing in front of probably 250 people. When you're a big oaf you can absolutely (and fairly easily) conceal a large revolver under a suitcoat. Been there, done that.

But heres the kicker if youd understood the actual info in the opening post, you would have understood that it doesnt have to be a massive gun. As I said (multiple times) previously, this charge of Titegroup is listed as okay for a bullet nearly 3 times this heavy.

When I did the testing I didnt have QuickLoad load-workup software, but now do. It shows this load (an 82-grain .452 diameter bullet, seated to 0.253 depth, with a standard LP primer and 10.0 grains of TiteGroup) as generating only 14,695 psi max pressure. Thats a whopping 4.9% above max even for antique guns, only 63% of the 23,500 psi of even the lowest-end ruger-only 45Colt loads. (Ruger-only loads have limits of either 23,500 or 30,000 psi depending on which specific gun were talking about.) So any modern gun and even any antique gun that can withstand a 5% overcharge can use this load fine. So it could be used even in my little 450C snubnose. I was using a big heavy gun out of caution, but its absolutely not necessary.

And even if nobody carried a revolver, it can be duplicated from an auto. Even changing to your preferred Bullseye powder, in .45acp +P a charge of 9.6 grains is acceptable (22,918 psi), and even from a 4.25 commander-length barrel gets within 130 fps of the same velocity, for over 980 ft/lbs. All with consistent, dimensionally-correct bullets that take almost no time to cobble up. And staying within loading-book pressure limits.

So its easy, its quick, it demonstrably works. Unless you maintain that a load putting out 984 ft/lbs of energy wont cycle the action on a commander-length 1911.


Again, the main thing Im discussing here is bullet construction. Simply (and easily) modifying something that is already correctly sized, instead of hand-filing a round rod to within 0.001 tolerance and after that have to start cutting and drilling on the little thing. Its easy. If you want extra light, extra fast bullets, there you go; done much more efficiently. You constantly maintain that nobody else knows how to do it. Im simply pointing out that everybody and their dog know how to do it; we just choose not to.
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Old 11-19-2020, 03:39 PM   #19
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already gave you two. Nobod'y's lugging around a monster revolver, in your home you can have your canned AR, so why bother.? when you develope some that work thru an autopistol, you'll see that I'm correct and I told you so 15 years ago,
 
Old 11-19-2020, 04:12 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boati View Post
already gave you two. Nobod'y's lugging around a monster revolver, in your home you can have your canned AR, so why bother.? when you develope some that work thru an autopistol, you'll see that I'm correct and I told you so 15 years ago,
Gave me two what?

And again, for at least the third time, the fact that I was using a revolver to test the velocity of this style and weight of bullet doesn't mean you HAVE to use a revolver to fire this style and weight of bullet. It's a 51-82 grain bullet in .45 caliber, and you've said you've used bullets in that weight range in autopistols; so it's clearly doable.

The question is regarding bullet construction/modification, not on launching platform or powder selection. Since we can get the weight of bullet you you say you like, in a segmented design as you say you like, and get it much easier, simpler, quicker, and more consistent this way, why not?
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