New Handgun Powders
February 27, 2018
The new TCM and No. 11FS powders from Accurate are designed primarily for handloading popular magnum handgun cartridges, but both also are recommended for loading the speedy .22 TCM, which obviously is not a magnum. In addition, No. 11FS is also well suited to stoke really big-bore handgun rounds like .454 Casull, .460 S&W, .500 S&W, .480 Ruger, and .475 Linebaugh.
I tried them in the .22 TCM, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, .480 Ruger, and .300 Blackout. Both propellants provided near optimal load densities in my handloads. In other words, my test loads nearly filled the cases without compressing the powder charges. More about their performance in a few minutes.
Accurate TCM is a double-base, spherical powder that flowed like water through my powder measure and readily launched 35- to 40-grain bullets to 2,000+ fps in a full-size .22 TCM Rock Island Armory 1911 with a 5.0-inch barrel. TCM's burn rate is slower than Accurate No. 9, and it is similar to W296/H110.
Bullet selection for loading the .22 TCM cartridge is limited. The cartridge overall length (COL) is only 1.25 inches because the round must fit into a .45 ACP-size magazine/mag well. I used Armscor 40-grain JHP bullets for my handloads.
TCM also is an excellent choice to load .357 Mag., .44 Mag., and .45 Colt high-pressure (30,000 psi) handloads topped with heavy, hard-cast bullets. These non-standard .45 Colt handloads, of course, are not to be fired in Colt Single Action Army revolvers or any of its many clones.
No. 11FS also is a double-base, spherical propellant. It uses special chemistry to provide approximately 90 percent flash suppression. Developed for personal-defense applications, it substantially reduces muzzle flash in low-light conditions. It's good for handloading all the same cartridges that TCM is suited for; however, No. 11FS also will provide all the power you may desire from the super-magnum handgun cartridges I noted earlier, and it's also a good choice for loading the .300 Blackout.
No. 11Fs also has a burn rate slower than Accurate No. 9. In fact, it's a bit slower than TCM and is comparable to Alliant 300MP and Ramshot Enforcer.
I tested a max charge of both new propellants in the .22 TCM before reducing the No. 11FS powder charge from 10.7 grains (max) to 10.0 grains. Velocities of the initial loads exceeded expected values, and groups were more like shotgun patterns. The reduced load duplicated expected velocities and provided much improved accuracy. You can see the results in the accompanying chart.
The recommended max TCM and No. 11FS test loads for the .357 Mag. did not deliver the expected velocities in my 6.0-inch-barreled Ruger GP100. However, the Speer 158-grain Gold Dot handload delivered the best groups I've fired recently in an iron-sighted handgun.
The two .44 Mag. revolvers I chose to use in this report were fitted with relatively short barrels, so the velocity results were understandably lower. The .44 Mag., .45 Colt, and .480 Ruger heavy-cast-bullet groups averaged about 2 inches at 25 yards with very consistent velocities. Considering my impaired vision and the cumulative effect of firing nearly 50 rounds of magnum ammo at one range session, I was quite satisfied with those results.
I tested only one .300 Blackout load, and it was composed of Sierra's 125-grain Tipped MatchKing bullet, reformed LC 85 cases, and Winchester Small Rifle primers. The load slightly exceeded my expected velocity levels, and the accuracy results were outstanding.
I haven't tried No. 11FS in any of the bigger handgun cartridges; however, I own Bowen custom Ruger Bisley conversions in .454 Casull and .475 Linebaugh, and you're welcome to drop by any time to try a few. I'll even load them for you, drive you to the range, set up the targets and sandbags, and then watch while you shoot 'em.