August 03, 2018
Alliant's recently released Sport Pistol powder meets the needs of sport shooting- cleanliness and versatility- with a wide range of popular pistol calibers and bullet types.
Jared Hinton, communications coordinator for Alliant Powder, describes Sport Pistol as "a low nitroglycerine, double-base flake propellant. On the burn rate chart, Sport Pistol would functionally replace/overlap with American Select. Temp sensitivity can change from application to application, but Sport Pistol is extremely stable with a slight negative slope. In our most comprehensive testing, it changed less than 15 fps, between 0 and 125 degrees Fahrenheit."
Sport Pistol's formulation has a low flash, a low burning temperature, and a chemical composition that is less likely to dissolve polymer coatings on coated lead bullets. It's made in the USA.
Sport Pistol has a bulk density of 0.69 g/cc, or 10.6 grains/cc. This translates into a somewhat bulky powder that offers good case fill. It's recommended for loading 9mm Luger and +P, .40 S&W, .45 ACP and +P, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .44 Special, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt. I tried 9mm Luger, .38 Super, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP in a total of 70 different handloads. It metered very smoothly and consistently through my RCBS Uniflow powder measure, with charge weights varying less than +/- 0.1 grain. Note that I have included the five most accurate loads in each caliber in the accompanying chart except for the .38 Super. I tried only three loads in that caliber, so all three are listed.
In the 9mm Luger, Sport Pistol won't produce especially high velocities compared to other, usually slower, powders at the same pressure, but speeds are in the range of common factory ammunition.
My velocities with Sport Pistol were typical of the 9mm Luger with a fast-burning powder from a 5.0-inch barrel, with 115-grain bullets in the 1,150- to 1,250-fps range, 124/125-grain bullets in the 1,050- to 1,150-fps range, and 147-grain bullets in the 900 to 1,000 fps range. Heavier bullets were in the 800- to 900-fps range.
Accuracy varied depending on the bullet, which is normal. There were some small 15-shot groups hovering around 1.50 inches, and the smallest 15-shot group was with Rocky Mountain Reloading's 124-grain FMJ FP at 1.40 inches. There was a slight trend that the +P load produced a larger group, but this was not universal, and sometimes the difference in group size was close enough to be meaningless.
Using Alliant's 9mm Luger data as a guide, I loaded some .38 Super with Sport Pistol. I wasn't seeking a high-velocity load, just a mild one to see what type of accuracy it would produce. My test was limited to three bullets, and all three loads produced small groups, with none over 1.50 inches. I confess that I picked these three specific bullets because they normally produce small groups with the right powder. Sport Pistol appears to be one of those "right" powders.
A .38 Super load produced the best 15-shot group of all the calibers. The 125-grain HAP load, rather slow moving at just 1,012 fps, resulted in an impressive 0.8-inch group.
Velocity results with the .40 S&W were very similar to Alliant's published data despite my barrel being an inch longer than Alliant's test barrel. Regardless, 135-grain bullets pushed to nearly 1,300 fps, a little faster than Alliant's speed, and 180-grain bullets were around 1,000 fps.
Accuracy with the .40 S&W loads was typical for my pistol and about what I expected. My .40 S&W does not shoot as well as my 9mm and .45 pistols. Only two of the groups were under 2.0 inches. That said, the average group size was only a few tenths of an inch larger than the 9mm and .45 groups, suggesting that Sport Pistol has the same accuracy potential in these calibers.
I loaded only a couple +P loads for the .45 ACP, but I tried a few different primers to see if they had any effect on velocity or group size. My recorded velocities were close to Alliant's published data. I did not always load to the maximum charge weight, so my speeds are not directly comparable to Alliant's. Alliant's velocities with loads near the maximum charge weights are about what one would expect for this caliber. Light 185-grain bullets run around 1,000 fps or more, and 230-grain bullets run 850 to 900 fps. My speeds are in line with those numbers.
Like the results with the other calibers, accuracy was bullet related. In general, my .45 ACP barrel prefers jacketed bullets to lead or plated, though some lead bullets can shoot very well. There were several 15-shot groups around 2.00 inches or less, which is quite good for this pistol.
I tried different primers with the 5.0-grain load and Hornady 230-grain HAP bullets, and the results showed that the velocity produced by Sport Pistol was affected by the different primers. CCI produced the least velocity at 791 fps and Remington produced the highest velocity at 843 fps, a difference of 52 fps. The bottom line is the brand of primer can make a difference in speed with Sport Pistol in the .45 ACP.
Accuracy with Sport pistol might also improve with some primers. Results with the 230-grain HAP bullets showed the Remington primer produced the smallest group of 1.20 inches, and the Federal Match primer produced the largest group of 3.0 inches. These comparisons are far from definitive, and readers can consider trying more than one brand/type of primer to see if their loads show a preference.
One thing was pleasantly apparent during my shooting sessions. Sport Pistol produces very little smoke. If the low smoke is an indication of its cleanliness, then this powder is noticeably cleaner than the other powders I use.
Sport Pistol has some nice features. It meters very consistently, uses small charge weights for nominal velocities, is clean burning with low smoke, offers good case fill, is temperature stable, and produces very good accuracy when combined with the right bullet. It won't produce the highest velocities because it is a fast- to moderate-burning-speed powder, but it is economical and shoots straight. It's available in one-, four-, and eight-pound containers.
MSRP: $27.25 (1 pound), $99.75 (4 pounds), $184.75 (8 pounds)