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Thread: Reloading for Accuracy (9mm)

  1. #1

    Reloading for Accuracy (9mm)

    My past reloading has been limited to reloading 308 match ammo. Iím looking into getting setup and started on pistol calibers. 9mm to start and later 45 & 50 calibers. Gonna order a new Dillon press today; dedicated to just the 9mm at the moment.

    Priorities will be reloading for accuracy and shot group shooting. Im planning on custom loads of what works best for each of my guns, not necessarily cost savings.

    I realize this is going to be a process of testing different loads and such to compare and see what works best for each gun individually. But component wise (bullet brands, powders, primers) can I get some suggestions on what quality brands to get started with?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhillySoldier View Post
    My past reloading has been limited to reloading 308 match ammo. Iím looking into getting setup and started on pistol calibers. 9mm to start and later 45 & 50 calibers. Gonna order a new Dillon press today; dedicated to just the 9mm at the moment.

    Priorities will be reloading for accuracy and shot group shooting. Im planning on custom loads of what works best for each of my guns, not necessarily cost savings.

    I realize this is going to be a process of testing different loads and such to compare and see what works best for each gun individually. But component wise (bullet brands, powders, primers) can I get some suggestions on what quality brands to get started with?
    Iím not at home so I donít have my load data but I have had excellent results with Hornady HAP projectiles and XTPs. Molon has reported superb results with the HAP projectiles as well in 9mm. You can look at Atlanta Arms match ammo as a model their stuff is excellent.

  3. #3
    Thanks Mike. The load data will be great when ya get it. Right now Im just trying to figure out what type bullets, primers and powder I should order to start with.

    I just finished ordering the new dillon set up. That was a kick in the butt and more than I expected but thats ok. Locks me in now

  4. #4
    Highly Motivated EricM's Avatar
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    A couple older posts I'd saved on this topic for when I can finally start reloading:

    Quote Originally Posted by TiroFijo View Post
    In most auto handgun calibers the guns are pretty forgiving.

    The most important thing is the bullet, if it is sized properly to your barrel, chances are that a normal OAL, with decent crimp (this is not negotiable), will shoot well with a powder dose that gives mid range velocity and pressure. Then play a little with the OAL and the powder dose.

    I live in south america, where we don't have lots of powder options, and I've never had any trouble getting very consistent, reliable and accurate loads for my handguns with just about any suitable powder.
    Quote Originally Posted by Les Pepperoni View Post
    ^^ That's some good advice, right there.

    My advice:

    1.) Select a bullet weight and powder combination that you know will work.
    124's? OK. Titegroup? OK. (personally, I've seen a bit too much smoke outta TG and SNS's old Gold coating... They had a bad batch a bit ago...)

    2.) Select a decent OAL and stick with it, 1.110"-1.120" sounds alright.

    3.) Start at .6 under the average powder charge and work up to just .2 over. 4.0Gr seems ok. 3.4, 3.6, 3.8, 4.0, 4.2.
    Load ~20 of each. Shoot the first 12, in groups of 3, off of bags at a 15-20 yard target with a consistent aim point. (E.g. you want to evaluate the "group", not your accuracy.) The charge that gives you the tightest group for that bullet weight and OAL is probably what you want to load with.
    Pull one pc every 5-6 loadings and check that the powder drop is giving you a consistent charge drop.

    4.) Shoot the next 8 from each charge grouping in groups of 4, offhand and evaluate the feel, recoil, etc. It might be that the most accurate load is too much. If so, just compromise and take the next lowest bracket.

    5.) If you're shooting IDPA or USPSA, get a chrono and check that you're pet load is making PF.

    My experience:
    I've found that some of the low-volume, quick burning powders have a sweet spot. Just bumping the charge up or down a notch for your bullet could make a big difference. Hence loading the "spread" of charges. It is nice too - you get in, get done, get data quickly.

    Some known good loads:
    HP38 and a 147.
    WST and a 124 moly.
    AA2 or AA5 and 124 or 147's
    Anything Vihtavouri.

    You'll find that some of the slower powders may produce better groups, but most of those are too "stout" where you begin to notice it.
    I mean, 6.5gr Power Pistol in a 115gr 9mm is amazingly accurate, blasty as hell and is just barely making power factor for USPSA.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gio View Post
    Ammunition makes a huge difference in any barrel/gun testing. I've experienced 2" groups vs 5" groups with the same brass, bullets, primers, and powder charge, but a +/- .02" difference in oal. I've seen the same kind of variation in accuracy by using different powders to make the exact same velocity/powerfactor with the same projectile.
    @Gio - I would be very interested if sometime you have a few minutes to describe your process for working up a load for a new barrel. Like what to use as a starting point and which factors to vary, in what order and by how much, to efficiently zero in on an optimal load.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
    I’m not at home so I don’t have my load data but I have had excellent results with Hornady HAP projectiles and XTPs. Molon has reported superb results with the HAP projectiles as well in 9mm. You can look at Atlanta Arms match ammo as a model their stuff is excellent.
    I concur. Some of the most consistently small groups I've ever shot were 115 gr XTPs over 5.4 grains of Unique @ 1.08". I haven't loaded any XTPs since, because of the price, but I bet if I had more on hand, I could produce even better loads with other powders. (VV N320 is my go-to these days, and given that I can usually achieve SD numbers in the high single digits or low teens with it, I bet the results with XTPs would be excellent.)

    As far as loading for maximum accuracy in 9mm goes, I recall reading an article a while back that indicated that in order to squeeze the best possible accuracy out of the cartridge, it can actually be beneficial to sort cases by headstamp and trim them all to the same length. Most people (including me) will tell you that's generally not necessary with pistol cartridges, but there are apparently measurable gains to be had in terms of consistency and group size if you're willing to be super anal/meticulous.

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    Quote Originally Posted by olstyn View Post
    I concur. Some of the most consistently small groups I've ever shot were 115 gr XTPs over 5.4 grains of Unique @ 1.08". I haven't loaded any XTPs since, because of the price, but I bet if I had more on hand, I could produce even better loads with other powders. (VV N320 is my go-to these days, and given that I can usually achieve SD numbers in the high single digits or low teens with it, I bet the results with XTPs would be excellent.)

    As far as loading for maximum accuracy in 9mm goes, I recall reading an article a while back that indicated that in order to squeeze the best possible accuracy out of the cartridge, it can actually be beneficial to sort cases by headstamp and trim them all to the same length. Most people (including me) will tell you that's generally not necessary with pistol cartridges, but there are apparently measurable gains to be had in terms of consistency and group size if you're willing to be super anal/meticulous.
    That is hilarious. I literally just sent the OP a PM with that exact recipe. I never chrono'd the load but it is definitely one of the most accurate I've ever loaded.

    ETA: @olstyn, did you ever try N330, if so do you prefer 320 over it?
    Last edited by Mike C; 03-28-2018 at 05:57 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike C View Post
    did you ever try N330, if so do you prefer 320 over it?
    I've always heard that N330 is supposed to be great for 9mm, but I've never had the opportunity to try it, and with multi-year supply of N320 sitting on my bench, I'm not likely to any time soon unless some shows up locally at an absurdly good price.

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    I'll add another vote for N320 producing remarkably low standard deviations and extreme spreads and meters well. My load was 124 gr. Montana Gold, 4.3 gr. of N320 (max charge), CCI SPP, in Speer cases. The only negative comment I have on N320 is that it is somewhat velocity challenged. The Vihtavouri published data for that charge are 1070 fps. I think my chronograph data was closer to 1050, putting me fairly close to the IDPA power factor threshold.

  9. #9
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    My go to load for Glock shooting is 3.8 WSF with a 147gr Bayou bullet. 3.3 of TG isnít bad either but a little too Smokey for indoor. Make sure you visit the Brian Enos forums for a wealth of reloading knowledge.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by EricP View Post
    The only negative comment I have on N320 is that it is somewhat velocity challenged.
    No argument there. Fast burning powders shine when the goal is IDPA/USPSA/IPSC minor power factor with low felt recoil, but if you want higher velocity, you need a slower burning powder.

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