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Old October 10, 2012, 08:50 PM   #1
xLPlushy
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Questions on loading 9mm

I've been posting here in another thread that I started a month or so ago. But I feel it time for a new one addressing caliber specific questions, in particular 9mm.

I understand its a finicky high pressure cartridge so I may be putting too much into it, but better safe than sorry.

First off, taper crimp, following the instructions that came with my die set(RCBS carbide 3-die set), I set the seater plug, then backed off the seater plug and adjusted the die body for crimp, turned the body down until I felt it hit the case mouth, then turned it down until I got "firm resistance", which for me was turning the body down until I couldn't turn it anymore using my fingers. I set the set screw on the locking ring, lowered the ram and ran the cartridge into the die to crimp it. Then I set the seater plug against the bullet and set the lock ring on the plug.
Now my question is how do I know if I'm "using too much crimp"? I understand that a taper crimp just removes the flare on the case mouth from the expanding die, I also know that too much mouth tension on the bullet can cause unsafe pressures. I'm only making smokers here, no live rounds, primerless, powderless cases with seated bullets. Using Hornady 115gr fmj-#35557. The 2 I made were in S&B brass found at the range, and fully prepped, sized, expanded.


Here are the 2 I made next to a factory cartridge(Federal American Eagle 115gr fmj). The factory round it on the right. The center one is the first I made. I set the die body as tight as I could hand tighten it, then I thought about the tension factor, so I made a second which is the one on the left. The one on the left is seated the same, but I backed the die off about 1/3 of a turn and reset the seater plug. Neither bullet moves in the case when I push them against the side of the bench. Should I back it off a bit more?

A few specs-no primer, no powder, S&B brass, sized, cleaned, fully prepped, expanded, Hornady 115gr fmj #35557, bullet seated for a COL of 1.150". My load books call for 1.090" and 1.100" with this bullet. I used the 1.150" COL because that's what my various factory 115gr loads are at. I can seat them deeper if needed. The factory round measures .377" at the mouth, both of my smokers measure .379" at the mouth. COL for the factory round is 1.154" mine are both 1.150".

Next, I haven't selected a powder/primer combo. I did buy 200 Remington small pistol primers as that's all I could find. I'm up in the air on powder. Any suggestions? Won't be actually loading for another month or so, because I don't have a scale, or powder measure/trickler. I will primarily be using 115gr fmj bullets.

I think I got everything...sorry for rambling, this isn't a cartridge that my uncle has experience with, so he isn't able to help too much. Thanks in advance for the guidance!!

ETA-I remember reading a thread the other day regarding taper crimp, but can't seem to find it from my iPhone and tapatalk to see if my question may be addressed.

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Last edited by xLPlushy; October 11, 2012 at 12:07 PM.
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Old October 10, 2012, 10:17 PM   #2
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I've actually found 9mm to be an extremely easy catridge to reload. No possibility of double charge, works great with faster burning powders, good brass life, lots of good load data, etc.

I find it easier to crimp in a seperate step using a crimp die, so my experience is based on that, but should still help some with your problem. The seater die does not need to be set to crimp in order to remove the bell in the case. Overall length is often more unifrom when seperating the two actions.

I crimp FMJ bullets just enough to make a very slight mark on the jacket. The die touches the case and I give it about a 1/2 turn for a light crimp (barely marks the bullet), that's usually enough. A full turn is maximum crimp.

Others will measure the crimp at the case mouth and compare that to a case that is not crimped. Say .001-.002 for a light crimp and maybe .003 for a heavy crimp. I don't typically need to measure mine so precisely.

I've used a medium crimp to prevent setback when using plated bullets being careful not to cut the plating.

If you're deforming the bullet into a coke bottle, that's definitely too much crimp. Pull yours and visibly inspect.

My recommendation for the 9mm is Alliant Power Pistol. It meters well, is useful in many other cartridges, produces excellent velocity in 9mm and is accurate. It does create some flash, but my reloads are just practice rounds, so it's not a negative for me.

Last edited by testuser; October 10, 2012 at 10:32 PM.
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Old October 10, 2012, 10:47 PM   #3
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Read your manuals.
Your rounds look fine.
9x19 can be challenging for a newbie.
Unless you are wedded to 115gn for some reason, you will get slightly better accuracy (most of the time) and a bit more bullet bearing surface for maximizing bullet pull using 121-125gn bullets.
I prefer JHP for all my 9x19, 9x21, and .38 Super shooting, but that is me.
Since you are using inert "dummy" rounds to set-up dies (excellent idea, since I always do so and highly recommend it), seating stem, and crimp (though I have, after my first month of reloading back in 1972, always separated those two functions as the bullet is still moving down while the case mouth is closing on the bullet), then use them first to verify the COL that will allow the two or more dummy rounds to fit in the magazine and feed and chamber in the gun. The COL in the manuals is the minimum COL the data applies to and your longer COLs will almost certainly be better.
Also, don't think that the factory loads have an ideal COL. They have to work in all guns. However, they are a good place to start, as you are doing, as long as you branch out from there.
By trying various COLs, from long to short, in your gun using the inert rounds, you will learn the COL range that works with that bullet in that gun. COL is effected by the specific bullet's ogive and meplat, where in the loading cycle the magazine lips release the round, the geometry of the feed ramp, and the geometry of the barrel's chamber. As you can see, the gun makes the COL as much or more than the specific bullet.
Pull a bullet. If you look at the bullet and there is a line all the way around from the case mouth, you have a bit more taper crimp than required.
However, you must learn that your gun will know what it wants and there are no absolutes and your gun is not my gun so what my gun prefers yours may not handle well at all. Your gun may prefer the "tighter" crimp that marks the bullet, though is "damage" could lead to gross inaccuracy in other bullets--particularly thin-plated bullets.
Also, don't load more than 5-10 rounds before going to the range and verifying that they function. Many have gotten so excited they "ripped" off 100 rounds or more and then found that they wouldn't function in the gun and had to go home and pull all the bullets.
You will find with testing that your gun will likely be most accurate at some COL --shooting targets will also indicate if your gun has a preference for taper crimp.
This is also why I recommend buying large batches of bullets if you want to actually develop accurate loads and not just simply plinking loads. You will be amazed at the range in group sizes if you very carefully shoot off a sandbag or machine rest.
In 40 years of reloading, I have found that "best" taper crimp is when I can not see any case mouth flare when looking at the round in front of a well lit white background and when I can not feel any flare when I run my finger down the bullet ogive to the case. This will almost always leave an unmarked bullet.
If you are one who believes in measuring the taper crimp, then aim for 0.380".
There is no such thing as "too much mouth tension" from taper crimping and I have no idea where you read that. Now, if you applied a roll crimp and the case mouth got lodged into the rifling, you could see some high pressure, but there is no way to get excess pressure from a taper crimp. In fact, applying too much taper crimp will cause the case just below the mouth to bulge out and you will lose bullet tension and possibly have a round that won't chamber.
Powder: what do you want your loads to do?
Factory equivalent? Silhouette, WSF, AA7, Power Pistol, and others. Silhouette is my first choice.
Light target loads? 231/HP38, AA2, AA5, N320.
General all-around powder good for almost all pistol rounds except magnums? 231/HP38, but all the fast target powders will be about 100-150fps off top velocity even at max pressure and perform best well under max pressure.
If I was a newbie, the first powder I would buy is 231/HP38. Second would be Silhouette. Third would be either AA2 or AA5 (depending if I wanted to concentrate on accuracy only or accuracy with velocity).
Primers: any of the small pistol primers are more than adequate and I really haven't noticed much velocity or accuracy variation switching around standard SPP. Remingtons are good. I prefer Winchester and Remington myself, but not based on performance.
9x19 is not what I would call an "inherently" accurate round and the guns made for it (except for the S&W M952, possibly) aren't designed for accuracy either.
Do not even think about trimming cases. I have never had a sized 9x19 case that was at max length, much less exceeding max length. These cases that head space on the case mouth need to be as close to max length as possible for minimum head space and maximum accuracy. I actually have gone through and measured a lot of sized cases and set those that are 0.750-0.753" in length aside for when I want to be accurate as possible.
With the .45 Auto, all I shoot are lead bullets and I use the bullet shoulder just touching the lede to minimize head space.
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Old October 10, 2012, 11:09 PM   #4
the led farmer
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look at your factory round. it's crimped. i recommend you try to get your crimps to look like that. it doesn't take much...think subtle

as above if you pull those bullets if you see a ring around the bullet it's over done
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Old October 11, 2012, 06:48 PM   #5
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It may be the optics, but the middle round appears crimped a tad much. Both my Speer and Lyman manuals indicate a measurement of 0.0380" at crimp which is about 0.001 less than directly behind the crimp. SAAMI 9mm cartridge drawings indicate the case mouth diameter to be 0.001" less than the case diameter directly behind the case mouth - which equates to very little crimp. After you have done several thousand rounds, you will likely be able "feel" when the mouth expansion has been removed; however, that comes later.

Even though it adds time with my single stage press, I set bullets and crimp in separate steps - even bought an additional RCBS die to use just for crimping (I call it call it my “set and forget” treat).

I also prefer the 124 grain bullets over the 115 grain. With 115 grain Berrys plated round nose, my best groups were achieved with Power Pistol, second best with Unique and for some strange reason my pistol didn’t seem to like W231 as well as the first two. I've also gotten excellent results with V-N320 and V-N340, but the powder is harder to find (think mail order and Hazmat fees).

With two different 124 grain Berrys, HBFP and HBRNTP, all three powders worked well for groups, but the groups were above the point of aim (common with a heavier pistol bullet). My Power Pistol loads have higher velocity and recoil. Loads with W231 and V-N320 are low velocity, low recoil target loads. My Unique and V-N340 are in between the heavy duty Power Pistol and light weight target loads. Just worked out that way with my pistols.

Primers I use are CCI, Wolf and Tula. I really haven’t seen much difference between the Wolf and Tula; I think they are both made in the same plant in Russia. There does appear to be a difference between these two and the CCI. With my pistol, the best groups with the CCI primers had about 0.2 grains less W231 powder than the Wolf and Tula primers with similar group sizes.
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Old October 11, 2012, 08:57 PM   #6
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All good suggestions above. I would re-emphasize though, that the taper crimp only removes the flare. All of the bullet tension comes from the expanded case.
HP38 is a very good all around powder for about any handgun cartridge.
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Old October 11, 2012, 10:06 PM   #7
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Quote:
I have found that "best" taper crimp is when I can not see any case mouth flare when looking at the round in front of a well lit white background and when I can not feel any flare when I run my finger down the bullet ogive to the case. This will almost always leave an unmarked bullet.
I agree 100% and feel this needs to be empathized. It's not technically a "crimp" at all, but really just the straightening out of your case mouth after you flared it to accept the bullet. That's it, that's all. Many bullet seating dies will do this operation for you even if the die set comes with a separate crimp die.

And the goal isn't trying to make your reloaded rounds "look" the same as factory cartridges. OAL should be measured by using your gun barrel as a case gauge. Just short enough to fit into the chamber and drop out easily is good, plus a little bit more for a margin of safety.

Most pressure problems in 9mm occur when the tension is too light holding the bullet, and bullet setback occurs during chambering. Tension can get too light if you over crimp. Copper is more elastic than lead when reshaped. Just keep that in mind. That characteristic can either be your friend or foe.
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Old October 12, 2012, 12:11 AM   #8
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Quote:
And the goal isn't trying to make your reloaded rounds "look" the same as factory cartridges
yes how they "look" should be your guide. if they "look" obviously deformed then your doing something wrong. if you "look" and see the crimp ring circling your bullet where it shouldn't then your doing something wrong, if you "look" and see the crimp biting into the bullet your doing something wrong.

you can tell alot by simpling things down and taking a "look" first, but i guess not everyone gets that and it should be spelled out.

your first step should be to "look" first for obvious abnormalities (compared to say a factory round)
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Old October 12, 2012, 10:56 AM   #9
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Thanks all!

I will definitely pull them to see if they are marked. I don't yet have a bullet puller, but as soon as the next billing cycle on my credit card comes I will order the rest of the stuff I need.

Thanks for the powder suggestions. Power pistol and W231 were 2 of my main choices so far. Primers aren't too big of an issue, I'll use what brand I can get, there seems to be a shortage on small pistol primers locally.

There are a few different bullets I'd like to try and a few factory loads I want to replicate, but that will come in time. I'll stick to 115gr for now as that is what I know.

Noylj- only reason I'm stuck to 115gr is that is what seems to be the cheapest, and since I shoot on my grandparents farm, there's less lead and copper going into the berm. I do prefer the 124gr, in particular Winchester's 9mm NATO loading-it's dead nuts accurate in my pistol, a load I want to duplicate. Much of what you said about COL I already know, thanks to my mentor, and it's a good thing to hear it from another experienced hand loader-they say repetition is key. I will only load 10 to start and make sure everything is kosher. I'll branch out on the COL once I gain more experience, but for now that 1.150" is my starting point.

Gerry- Thanks, I know that factory rounds are meant to work in all guns. With reloading come a higher level of precision tuning of firearm and ammunition, which is one reason to do it. All 5 of my loads for my 7mm Rem Mag were chamber seated, then seated a few thousandths of an inch deeper, and they all have a different COL. I'm not used to working with a semi-auto, however, That's why I'm using a "factory" COL to start. I want to get comfortable with this cartridge before I start tweaking things such as COL, or brand/type of bullet, different powders, etc. I will tweak the powder weight to find a charge weight that my pistol likes.

Once again I think I covered everything I wanted to.


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Old October 12, 2012, 01:56 PM   #10
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I like the advice given so far. I'll try not to post more of the same. (I'll fail a bit!)

GET the bullet puller, tear down your test rounds and look to see if you've marked up those bullets. If you have a tiny, tiny trace of a ring that you can visibly see with the eye, that's plenty. I don't think it's too much if it's just a light, visible trace. If you are ALTERING the shape of the bullet and giving it a new waistline, that's FAR too much.

Agree 100% that your biggest worry is too much mouth flare, crappy brass and bullet setback. Guard against bullet setback in ever any, ALL semi-auto handguns and your world will be better for it.

Test for setback simply by pushing a loaded round (or a dummy) bullet-first in to the edge of your bench. Give it a firm push-- more than a harshly jacking pistol slide would do in live fire. That bullet can't move, not even a bit. If you have that, you are in good shape. It's important to me to sort my brass so all my brass GIVES me the same feel for exactly this reason.

Two suggestions: S&B brass seems to be quality brass but those crazy folks make super-slim primer pockets making them a royal PITA to re-prime. In 9mm, where brass is plentiful, easy to find and cheap, I would simply not waste my time with S&B brass, but your mileage may vary.

Powder: I've tried more than a half-dozen in 9mm and I have settled on Hodgdon Universal. (they call it "Universal Clays" on the package)

For me, it's accurate, meters very well, is economical, easy to find, available in 8 lb jugs, can be used in many different places and published load data is widely available. Universal works so well for me in 9mm that I have quit trying other powders in 9mm. And I have like 15 different handgun powders on hand, so it should be obvious that I love to experiment.

W231, Power Pistol and a slew of others are all fine powders for 9mm, but my vote is Universal.
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Old October 12, 2012, 02:38 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens View Post
I like the advice given so far. I'll try not to post more of the same. (I'll fail a bit!)

Two suggestions: S&B brass seems to be quality brass but those crazy folks make super-slim primer pockets making them a royal PITA to re-prime. In 9mm, where brass is plentiful, easy to find and cheap, I would simply not waste my time with S&B brass, but your mileage may vary.
I think I only have about 10-20 S&B cases. I have mostly Federal since that's what factory ammo I shoot. I mean ya can't go wrong for $10/box locally. The S&B was range pick up. I wasn't too sure on the quality, so that's why I used that stuff for my dummy rounds to set dies and use to ask questions, before I move to live rounds.
Thanks for the heads up on the S&B. I also sort my brass by headstamp.


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Old October 12, 2012, 04:46 PM   #12
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Also, what's the best way to clean the red dust out of tumbled cases? I was using the red nutshell media from Lyman...


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Old October 12, 2012, 10:44 PM   #13
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I take it that the red dust is from walnut media? I put a dryer sheet in with my cases and it "picks" up all the dust. I also use 1/2 and 1/2 of walnut and corn cob media. Works well.

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Old October 12, 2012, 11:45 PM   #14
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Yes Mac, walnut media. I took a ride to cabelas again and got some treated corn cob media tonight. I'll try a mix or just corn cob. Also picked up a puller. Got some work to do now. Thanks for all the helpful advice guys! I'll post up as soon as I pull the bullets from my dummy rounds with the results and pics.


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Old October 12, 2012, 11:49 PM   #15
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I gave up on nutshell, particularly walnut.
I was moving and decided to mass clean all my brass before the move and didn't really look at the brass. Found that all most all the cases had a very thick layer of very fine walnut powder that had to be individually scrapper out.
I would only use nutshell for cleaning really dirty or corroded cases -- and, at my age, I am a lot more willing to just not pick them up or throw them away.
I use 20/40 corn with deprimed cases. Works best for me.
You can try washing the cases (soak in hot water and Dawn, put in nylon mesh bag and toss in clothes washer, or put in basket and wash in dish washer) or, if it is no more than a film, simply ignore it. It does get other things, like your hands, all brown/red.
From now on, put some paper toweling or used dryer sheets in the tumbler to pick up a lot of the dust.
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Old October 13, 2012, 02:00 PM   #16
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Because its a lot less fiddling getting it setup to run those 1000 rounds.

To the OP:

You can buy a gauge to test your rounds. (Wilson and note, its very tight so you have to judge a it bit). Most of mine stick up a bit (depends on brass) so I do the following, take down your gun and use the barrel chamber as a check.

I have the Wilson but as noted I know how much mine stick up when still ok.

I crimp in a separate step and I do just enough to get a snug but not hard feel. Light crimp

Some books say no crimp and some say a lot, hmmm.

Issue is the head space, so if it slide into the chamber ok its ok.
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Old October 13, 2012, 05:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siska View Post
loaders are a huge waste of your time and money. After Xmas, Ebay always has lots of NIB or slightly used Lee master progressive loaders, for about $200, and they load 800 rds a minute. Add the bullet feeding accessory and they'll average 1000 rds per minute. They have a built in powder measure, and many have at least one set of dies, and Lee dies are inexpensive, anyway. That beats the hell out of having $200+ in a single station press, dies, and powder measure, which load only 150 rds per hour. Your spare time can be making you $20 an hour, or more, so why waste it on a single station press?
No. Not for a beginner. My mentor has a single stage press. That is what I'm learning on. He and I load rifle cartridges together, and I'm very particular with those, especially charge weights. In time I will go progressive. And one other thing, your post answered NONE of my questions.

RC20- they chamber in my barrel just like factory.

Everybody- here are pics of the pulled bullets: the first one I made is on the right, and the second one on the left. The second one has less "crimp" to it. So I have to back the die off some yet as both bullets got a new waistline. And are marked up pretty good.


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Old October 14, 2012, 07:09 PM   #18
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Reset my dies today. Much better looking bullets and they do not move in the case.
Made 3 dummy rounds today. 2 of them used the old cases from the first pair of dummy rounds. The third is a WCC NATO case. I pulled the 2 in S&B cases and the bullets are marked, but not deformed.


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Old November 23, 2012, 09:56 AM   #19
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Thanks to all for the help! Finally got started on loading and doing load testing. It was a great success. Started at 4.8gr of power pistol and worked up to 5.2gr of power pistol in .1gr increments. Found a sweet spot at 5.1gr.

I'll continue to experiment with the higher charge weights later on, but I seem to have found my economy load. Now I'm going to switch to a cheaper bullet, perhaps Berry's plated 115gr RN and work a permanent economy load with that bullet.

Happy to say that I've been getting good consistent throws of 5.1gr of power pistol out of my Lee PPM. So far I've been checking each drop and they have all been dead on only a few needing a tenth of a grain or so. So far I've loaded 200 of my own, and fired 45 of those in load testing.

Thanks again to everybody fr the help!


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Old November 23, 2012, 12:26 PM   #20
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I would suggest that you abandon the one-tenth trials and instead move to three-tenths or 0.3 grains. It's been my experience that if you don't try to create a genuine, noticeable change, all the testing gets lost in a blur.

Your Lee PPM sounds like it's working well for you -- good deal, and Power Pistol helps in that regard as it's a darn good metering powder. But again, keep in mind that even some of the BEST powder measures on their best days will simply give you charge weights that can vary ever so slightly -- such as 0.1 grain. This is another reason to move to something like 0.3 or 0.4 for your stages.

Keep up the good work.
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Old November 24, 2012, 12:11 PM   #21
xLPlushy
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Thanks for that tidbit. I was going by tenth grain increments since its such a small charge weight and a rather small window from min to max charge. When my uncle and I work rifle loads we move by half grain increments. Will definitely take your advice for my next batch of testing.


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Old November 24, 2012, 02:21 PM   #22
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Just wanted to thank the OP and all participants. As I will be doing my first hand loads for a 9mm soon this is very informative. Especially the pictures.
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Old November 24, 2012, 02:41 PM   #23
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I would suggest the term "crimp" be avoided when discussing loading semi-auto ammo; causes a lot of confusion to new reloaders. I have never "crimped" a 9mm or 45 ACP cartridge, but I have "deflared" a few thousand with taper crimp dies. I use the barrel of the gun I'm reloading for as a gauge to determine if the bullet is seated properly and the flare has been removed from the case mouth. Yep, the old "Plunk test"...

IMO; if you can see indications of a "crimp" on pulled bullets, it's too much.
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Old November 24, 2012, 02:41 PM   #24
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I do .1 grain increments for my loads. Most of my 9 mm loads do have a range of about .3 where it seems to work better than any place else. As an example 5.1, 5.2 and 5.3 grains of a given power give the best groups. Anything above or below these amounts of powder and the groups started to open up. I will then load to 5.2 grains of that power making 50 to 100 rounds to see how well it burns when shooting more than just a test sample. There is a benefit in loading 9 mm test loads in .1 grain increments. You do have to look more for a pattern. Having a crono will also help.
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Old November 24, 2012, 04:16 PM   #25
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Regarding case cleaning . I find it so much easier to clean a large amount in a 3 to 5 gallon bucket. About a 3 or 4 inch layer of 9mm cases at the bottom of the bucket. I add warm water, dish washing liquid, a dash vinegar and a sprinkle of salt . Shake it up well with the cover on for a few minutes (3 or 4 min) . I rinse very well , multiple times, until there is no sign of suds. Someone on the forum suggested usiing baking soda to neutralize the acidic vinegar. It sounds good and made sense though I had no ill affects just rinsing well . I'll probably give it a go on the next batch. The reults are great , they come out clean, and I can get alot cleaned in one shot. The whole process take about 15 minutes. I drain them well and lay them out on a towel to dry the rest of the way. They will be dry in a day give or take. It depends on where you lay them , in the sun, in the warm house , etc. I have not used a shaker to clean brass but I can say that this works great for me. I use the same Cabelas as you. Now I know why I can't find any small pistol primers. LOL ! ! They always seem to be out of them. I have found a lgs that had some. I left the loading information to the experts here. I load 9mm , 115 grain lead round nose , using win 231 at 4.5 grains , at an oal if 1.105. I'm still experimenting with my oal. Ruger Sr9c pistol. Good luck and enjoy .
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