Thread: Lead in 9mm?
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Old December 17, 2012, 09:24 AM   #10
wpsdlrg
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Join Date: August 18, 2009
Posts: 460
I am just starting out with loading cast for my 9mm pistols. But, I have tested a number of loads and already found a good one. According to my testing so far, at least with both of the pistols I've tried them in, cast bullets in the 9mm aren't that difficult a prospect. Of course, I may have had some early luck. But, I'll pass on what I've learned....hopefully it will help you.

As to why should you try cast bullets....or should you at all..... that is simply a matter for you to decide. Unlike some other cartridges, 9mm is relatively cheap, so you will probably not save a huge amount by going to cast bullets exclusively. The possible exception is if you cast your own bullets. Then, you WILL save quite a bit, in the long run. As to technical advantages/ disadvantages of cast bullets....cast bullet loads tend to produce lower pressures than the same loads with jacketed, so they will reduce wear and tear on the gun. Disadvantages would include a tendency for dirtier guns, because cast loads are inherently a bit dirtier.

The FIRST principle, for shooting cast in ANY firearm.....is BULLET FIT. You should slug your barrel, or at least have a recovered bullet to measure, if possible. Many 9mm's are said to have sloppy, oversized barrels. The proper spec, for groove diameter, for 9mm Para barrels is 0.355". Many barrels, so it is said, have groove diameters of 0.356, 7, 8.....some even as large as 0.360". So it is said. My pistols, as it happens, both run right at 0.355"....so perhaps I am just lucky. But, the point is, bullet fit MUST be right, or you'll get lousy results....and probably barrel leading. You DON'T want barrel leading, by the way. It is a PITA to remove.....and will destroy accuracy, within a few shots.

Normally, cast bullets should be 0.001" or 0.002" larger than groove diameter, to work well. That means, if you have a 0.355" barrel, that 0.356" or 0.357" dia. bullets would probably work well. This is something you'll have to find out for yourself - each barrel is different.

As well, since cast bullets will be "oversized", technically speaking, you need to make sure that your pistol can accept them, before doing any live loads. The accepted way to do this is to make up "dummy" loads with no powder....and check for magazine fit/ functioning and chambering, etc. Usually, bullets 0.001" over groove dia. will be no problem....but if you have to go larger, it could be an issue.

Next, the loads you use must be appropriate for the bullet alloy. No need to get excessively technical about this.....suffice it to say that your cast loads (the chamber pressures produced) cannot exceed the yield strength of the bullet alloy.....or you'll get leading. So, most cast loads are a bit lighter than those with jacketed bullets. For example, my favorite jacketed load, for my 9mm pistols, is 4.8 grains of HP38, under a 115 grain FMJ bullet. VERY accurate in my pistols. (Obviously, this is a TARGET load, not self-defense). For cast, so far, I have gotten really good accuracy from 4.0 grains of HP38, under a 125 grain cast bullet. I have not found the maximum for the cast bullets I use yet, so I intend to go above 4.0 grains. I just haven't had time, yet.

There is a lot more to go into.....but I will stop here. You see, loading and shooting cast is a bit more of a technical challenge, especially for cartridges like the 9mm Para, but it isn't that difficult. You just have to get the fundamentals right. Whether it is worth the effort, only you can decide. I enjoy the challenge and the variety. I am not loading cast bullets to completely replace jacketed, but only to augment them. As it is, the cast bullets I will be using, after my successful testing, will be the same as ones I load for my .38 Special wheelgun. I also enjoy that aspect.

Anyway, I hope this helps you. If you have further questions, I'll try to answer them.

Last edited by wpsdlrg; December 17, 2012 at 09:43 AM.
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