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RELOAD SWISS (RS) Powder with Load Data for Handgun Ammunition

Using the new RELOAD SWISS propellants, we developed 26 custom loads in five handgun calibres

NITROCHEMIE WIMMIS AG in Switzerland launched its first propellants about half a year ago, under the brand name "RELOAD SWISS". We take a look at their handgun powders, with which we performed real pioneering work given the scant load data available. The result is 26 custom loads, some of them tested for gas pressure, in 5 handgun calibres

Tino Schmidt / Photo: Uli Grohs and Tino Schmidt // all4shooters.com

Things have been moving forward in the reloader scene since autumn of last year, when the Swiss firm NITROCHEMIE WIMMIS AG simultaneously presented no less than ten new propellants, seven of them powders for long gun cartridges and three for handgun cartridges. In Germany, the Wimmis name, which originates from the town of the same name in the canton of Bern, is still relatively unknown although the company has a history going back almost 100 years, and Swiss marksmen have been relying on these propellants for a long time. Among other things, it is the lack of the necessary CE approval that has prevented their propellants to reach end consumers outside Switzerland.

The situation is different in the industrial sphere, and an ammunition manufacturer in Germany has been using this Swiss-made powder for some time now. Of course, the Swiss army patriotically relies on this propellant from its own country, where RS 20 can be found in 9 mm Luger cartridges, and RS 40 in the 5.56x45 GP90 rifle cartridge. Similar to the Finnish company VIHTAVUORI, RELOAD SWISS also relies on a numerical classification system where a higher classification number indicates a lower burn rate. This covers the whole bandwidth of products beginning with the medium-fast pistol powder RS 20 all the way to the rifle powder RS 80 for high-volume cartridges such the .338 Lapua Magnum or .50 BMG.


Propellant Trio: RELOAD SWISS Powder RS 20, RS 24 and RS 30 

RELOAD SWISS: The medium-fast RS 20 was initially developed in Switzerland for the 9 mm Luger and is designed as a monobasic flake powder
RELOAD SWISS: The medium-fast RS 20 was initially developed in Switzerland for the 9 mm Luger and is designed as a monobasic flake powder
RELOAD SWISS: The powder density of the RS 20 is comparable to the VIHTAVUORI N340 at the same weight (here 7.4 grains)
RELOAD SWISS: The powder density of the RS 20 is comparable to the VIHTAVUORI N340 at the same weight (here 7.4 grains)

The three RELOAD SWISS high-calibre handgun powders start with the RS 20, a monobasic propellant whose flakes — according to the manufacturer — are up to 1.1 millimetres square with a thickness of 0.3 millimetres. 

The explosive energy released is given as 4,100 Joule/kg. Much more important for reloaders, however, is the relative burn rate, which determines the intended purpose. According to factory data, with the RS 20 this is more or less on a par with the VIHTAVUORI N340, HODGDON HS 6 or ALLIANT POWER PISTOL. 

This makes it universally suitable for handgun cartridges from the 9 mm Luger to the 44 Magnum, except in the case of soft target-shooting loads, or so-called “paper punchers”. 

The sluggish RS 24 is designed as a fine rod powder and its burn characteristics are on par with the Vihtavuori 3N38 or Vectan SP2 Practical
The sluggish RS 24 is designed as a fine rod powder and its burn characteristics are on par with the Vihtavuori 3N38 or Vectan SP2 Practical

At one burn level lower is the RS 24. This fine-grained, monobasic rod powder with a diameter of approximately 0.5 millimetres and a length of 0.6 millimetres releases an explosive energy of around 4,350 Joule/kg. In terms of burn rate it is comparable to powder types such as VIHTAVUORI 3N38, VECTAN SP2 or ALLIANT BLUE DOT.

It is primarily intended for high-performance handgun cartridges such as the 9 mm “Major”, 9x21, or 38 Super Auto, but is also supposed to be suitable for the .357/.44 Magnum high-volume revolver cartridges. 

The RS 30 is a classic Magnum powder for calibres such as .357 or .44 Magnum. It is the slowest powder in the handgun series and its burn behaviour is in the same league as VIHTAVUORI N110 or HODGDON H110
The RS 30 is a classic Magnum powder for calibres such as .357 or .44 Magnum. It is the slowest powder in the handgun series and its burn behaviour is in the same league as VIHTAVUORI N110 or HODGDON H110
The powder density of the slow Magnum powder RS 30 is also almost level with the VIHTAVUORI N110 at the same weight (here 12.5 grains)
The powder density of the slow Magnum powder RS 30 is also almost level with the VIHTAVUORI N110 at the same weight (here 12.5 grains)

The RS 30 rounds off the RELOAD SWISS powder range for handgun calibres. According to the manufacturer, this monobasic powder treated with camphor delivers a more balanced temperature with more moderate gas pressures. At 4,000 Joule/kg it delivers the lowest explosion energy, and a grain diameter of around 0.75 millimetres and a length of approximately 1.0 millimetres makes it fairly coarse.

In terms of burn rate, it is among the classic Magnum powders modelled on the VIHTAVUORI N110, HODGDON H110 or the tried-and-tested ALLIANT 2400. Moreover, it is apparently suitable not only for the high-volume revolver cartridges of the .357 Magnum and .44 Magnum type, but also for small rifle cartridges such as the .22 Hornet. 

Attentive readers will no doubt have noticed that RELOAD SWISS propellants for handguns still have a gap to fill; i.e. that of a fast powder type for classic target-shooting loads as offered for example by VIHTAVUORI with the N320/330 or HODGDON with the Titegroup/HP 38. Because of their low load volumes, these types of powder are particularly interesting for ambitious reloaders/marksmen from a financial viewpoint as well, while at the same time being distinguished by a low muzzle gas pressure. The Swiss have so far had nothing to offer here, but that is something the new RELOAD SWISS RS 12 will change in the near future.

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