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Old September 19, 2013, 11:50 PM   #1
Coach Z
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Total beginner question

So I'm getting ready to venture down the reloading path. I've read the stickies here as well as the ABC's of reloading and working through the hornady manual as well. Couple questions though. Many people have suggested that for a beginner that you choose a "fluffy" powder or one that has so much volume that a double charge is impossible it will overflow the case. How do I know which powders have this characteristic?


Not sure now is the best time to get into reloading as components and powder seem to be in very limited supply. I think my primary focus for reloading is going to be 9mm subsonic ammo. Any pointers on that particular topic are very welcomed.
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Old September 20, 2013, 01:21 AM   #2
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Smarter, more experienced people than I will chime in on the "fluffy" powder part. I think this is the perfect time to start reloading. Some components might be difficult to find, but now supplies are loosening up and primer prices are coming back to reasonable. If you purchase the press now, you should not have trouble finding them and you can spread out the purchases over weeks instead of buying everything at once and suffering "checkbook shock" If you get a single stage press in a kit, you usually get nearly everything you need to start. Then, the next time you have extra $$, you could pick up dies and shell holders. You get the idea.

Good Luck. Reloading will save you money----if you don't shoot more than before because you won't be going to the LGS as often. It won't save you money if you decide, like most of us, to shoot more than you did before because "OMG the store wants $28.00 for a box of 9mm and I have several boxes I reloaded for $7 a box. I am going shooting with all of them!"
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Old September 20, 2013, 03:28 AM   #3
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I use Power Pistol for my 9mm and a double charge comes to just below the mouth and is easy to see. That's with 4.0 gr and a 147 gr bullet, so that is likely to be the lowest weight you'd use. OTOH, with TiteGroup it's possible to triple charge.

Somewhere there is a powder burn rate chart that also lists powder density; both cc/gr and gr/cc. You can use this to calculate how much of the case it will fill. To find the case volume weigh how much water the case will hold. 15.4 gr of water equals one cc.

The "somewhere" is www.tacticoolproducts.com/powder.pdf
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Old September 20, 2013, 04:54 AM   #4
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Unique is a good "fluffy" powder. There's no way in the world you could get a double charge of Unique in a 9mm case.
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Old September 20, 2013, 06:28 AM   #5
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As above post--Unique is a good one. Little dirty,but very good. When you are all done powdering your cases,take a flashlight and shine down inside them. I always inspect my cases before seating bullet.. I use a single stage press. All cases are in loading block. Before first round is seated the flashlight comes out and all cases are check for proper level. This will tell you if you are even 1 gn off.
Some powders ( like one posted titgroup) is very easy to overdo and not know.
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Old September 20, 2013, 08:09 AM   #6
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As a beginner, I think better advice would be to start with a single stage press, charge your whole batch with powder and sit the filled cartridges in the holding block. Then before you begin seating bullets in them, a visual inspection of the batch will easily show a cartridge filled higher than the rest, especially with a 9mm case. You would be able to easily spot the oddball with just about any powder you might use.

The good news is thata lot of powders for 9mm will all but fill the case, making a double charge impossible. Unique was mentioned, and I's add Blue Dot to that list.
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Old September 20, 2013, 09:30 AM   #7
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As mentioned, 9mm is a small case so just about every powder will be obvious if double charged; now 38 special OTOH, is something different.
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Old September 20, 2013, 10:21 AM   #8
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I would suggest using a powder that preforms well in your application, and learn proper safety practices from the beginning, so they become habit. In this case, visually check every powder charge.
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Old September 20, 2013, 10:51 AM   #9
Coach Z
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Thanks for all the responses

I'm trying to be smart and safe by doing all the reading first rather then getting a press and getting on it.

Plan as of now is to get a rockchucker kit and fill in the couple odds and ends that it doesn't come with. I will also likely start with new brass for the first round just to eliminate a variable.

Anybody reloading subsonic 9mm?
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Old September 20, 2013, 11:07 AM   #10
Jim Watson
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I load nearly all subsonic 9mm.
There is nothing magic about it, you just pick a bullet on the heavy side and load it to not more than 1138 fps.
Actually you will do better to stay at or below 1050 fps.

I am at present loading a 125 gr bullet to 1040 fps. That's subsonic.
The accepted subsonic load is a 147 at 900 fps or thereabouts.
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Old September 20, 2013, 11:15 AM   #11
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Coach Z,

As you might expect, given the wide variety of case capacities in the world, which powders will fill the case powder capacity well will vary with what cartridges you are reloading. I see from your second post that 9 mm is one. If you post any others you might intend to reload, you'll get some other powder recommendations.
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Old September 20, 2013, 11:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Many people have suggested that for a beginner that you choose a "fluffy" powder or one that has so much volume that a double charge is impossible it will overflow the case. How do I know which powders have this characteristic?
Some suggestions can be a bit dramatic or even condescending when you indicate beginner status. All you really have to do is make it a fixed part of your routine to look into a case for powder before you place a bullet for insertion. You may need supplemental lighting for that. Many use an LED flexlight and then might go on to specialty lighting such as offered by Inline Fabrications.

In other words, choice of powders is not based primarily on a fear of squib loads or double charges.

Last edited by Real Gun; September 20, 2013 at 06:10 PM.
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Old September 20, 2013, 11:56 AM   #13
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I would suggest using a powder that preforms well in your application, and learn proper safety practices from the beginning, so they become habit. In this case, visually check every powder charge.
This.
You need to see every charge before you seat a bullet. Even with Titegroup it's very easy to tell if a charge is off or not. Do not rely on a case 'overflowing' for your safety. It's rare to find a powder that will overflow with a double charge, and to rely on that for your safety is foolish IMO.

Sometimes the bulkiest flake powder are more likely to bridge (jam in the measure) causing a squib. Powders like Titegroup, HS-6, W231 flow like water through a measure and are more reliable in that respect.

I like the flake powders because they burn better in larger cases at less than max loads, but I don't choose them for safety.
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Old September 20, 2013, 12:01 PM   #14
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For subsonic 9mm try IMR SR-4756 or SR-7625. They are bulky flake powders that work well with heavy bullets in 9mm. They also meter reliably and are easy to see in the 9mm case.
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Old September 20, 2013, 12:17 PM   #15
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Thanks hammerhead.

Dare I ask if anybody has a good one stop shop for powder primers and bullets. It seems like every site I check has one or maybe two but nowhere I can go and just order the full kit.

Again thanks for all the responses guys.
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Old September 20, 2013, 12:30 PM   #16
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I started loading about 5 years ago. I bought a used Lee progressive loader and thought "I can really crank out the ammo with this." I could too, but had quite a few problems. Most were caught before ammo seating, but I did have a couple of squibs. Nothing halts a range trip like a squib. I decided to slow down and inspect closer. Now I reload with a single stage press and visually inspect each primer seating. I charge in batches and visually inspect the charge level in the batch tray under good light. I visually inspect each cartridge after the bullet is seated. The only squib I have seen in years was a factory load that got stuck in a friends 3" 38Special. It is much slower than loading progressively, but much safer and much better quality ammo. I use a cheap Lee single stage press that I paid about $30 for and have no complaints about my loads. If I upgrade my press it will be for a turret type press that I can use in single stage because of the ease of swapping out calibers. I have been rambling here. I have never had but one overcharged case and it was obvious upon at a glance. I had got distracted by a horde of people walking through my garage / reload area. Visual inspection and attention to detail are the primary keys to safe reloading, IMO. My $.02
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Old September 20, 2013, 12:56 PM   #17
jwrowland77
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Originally Posted by Coach Z View Post
Thanks hammerhead.

Dare I ask if anybody has a good one stop shop for powder primers and bullets. It seems like every site I check has one or maybe two but nowhere I can go and just order the full kit.

Again thanks for all the responses guys.
Your best bet is probably going to be Powder Valley. I know Cabelas has SPP and bullets, but I don't think they have any powder. Not sure on how much powder PV has, but I'd start there.
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Old September 20, 2013, 02:42 PM   #18
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Coach Z - Dare I ask if anybody has a good one stop shop for powder primers and bullets.
I would have to say not in these times of shortages. One is lucky to find one preferred component, let alone coordination of them all. From my experience, the times of getting the most out of a HAZMAT fee and shipping are history. When I buy something, I may look around and see if there is anything else I could use or may settle for, but I am essentially resigned to just ordering significant quantities of a single item, which I had to buy when available, whether I was ready or not.

Last edited by Real Gun; September 20, 2013 at 04:05 PM.
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Old September 20, 2013, 03:27 PM   #19
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I think I get your question and there have been some answers how to get that answer measurement-wise.

I'm not a 9mm expert, but I will tell you that powders like Universal Clays, WSF, AA #5, Unique, SR-4756, Longshot, etc. If I had to choose one, it would be AA#5 because it meters so well through my press.

Also, while I did some time on my dad's single stage, I started on my own progressive. IMO, most people would be best served with a turret. Fast enough for many pistol/ar15 shooters, but slow enough to learn at your own pace.

See link

Last edited by Nathan; September 20, 2013 at 03:54 PM.
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Old September 20, 2013, 04:14 PM   #20
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I'm trying to be smart and safe by doing all the reading first rather then getting a press and getting on it.
Anything you can do to enhance the safety of your reloading efforts is a good move. We should all know to inspect every case for a correct powder charge, even when using a progressive. Using a powder that fills at least 50% of the case is always a good move for newer reloaders. Then there are sphericals/flatened ball and ball type powders that are dense enough to prevent bullet seating if they were double-charge. It's not as well known as powders like W231 and Unique that are most typically recommended for your type of application, but True Blue is a better powder, IMO, if you can find it. It's very dense and fine grained so it meters like few others will. It has application in ALL handgun loads and does it better than Unique while burning cleaner as well. It is exceptional for use in the 9mm, considered one of the most accurate for the .40 S&W and I use it for short barrel .357 Magnum loads as well as in the .45 ACP. Specific to the 9mm, if it were double-charged, you would NOT be able to seat the bullet because it is too dense to compress. Flake powders on the other hand, compress much more easily.

With a 147 gr. 9mm bullet, cast, plated or jacketed, most loads are going to be subsonic, as well as being under 1000 FPS except in the case of just a very few powders. Last I heard, the speed of sound is 1080 FPS at sea-level. For light loads up to factory duplication 9mm loads, I don't think you'll do better than True Blue.

The Rockchucker kit is a good one, but don't overlook the REDDING Boss, or Big Boss. REDDING uses a feature called Top-Dead-Center that will contribute to better uniformity of OACL for your handloads. Actually, the LEE Classic Cast single stage and the Classic Turret use a different method to accomplish a similar result. Both LEE cast iron presses are good and are among a very few LEE products that I can recommend personally.
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Old September 20, 2013, 04:29 PM   #21
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I'm trying to be smart and safe by doing all the reading first rather than getting a press and getting on it.
I did the same. One thing that I found confusing at first was that when reading a book, article, or forum posts you get good advice, but you don't know if that's for pistol and rifle and if you're reloading pistol, rifle practices can send you down a long windy road.

OK, a little hyperbole, but pistol reloading is simpler than rifle and doesn't require things like trimming, chamfering, deburring, pocket swaging/uniforming, pocket cleaning, or measurements down to the .0001 tolerance that some would have you believe are necessary. Now, having said that, there are pistol reloaders that do some or even all of the above, but they either do it because they are bullseye shooters, just enjoy the extra process for itself, or have a touch of OCD Truthfully, a little OCD is not a bad thing. Reloading itself isn't dangerous, but pulling the trigger can be. Shooting my first reload, I held the pistol one handed, far away from me, and turned my head away. It went bang like it should.

A book I found useful is Reloading for Handgunners, which can be found on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Reloading-Hand...handgunners%27)

Some people will suggest getting a single stage press first. I didn't and only had one issue (squibs). Still, I ended up buying one later because it is useful. If you enjoy creating a process, perfecting that process, and are careful by nature, then using a progressive first can work. If you are easily distracted, not detail oriented, really absent minded (more than me), or careless, then using a single stage first might be a better idea. If you are shooting 9mm you will eventually want a progressive unless you shoot very little, in which case you don’t need to reload.

I liken reloading to driving a car. A single stage is more like driving an automatic and a progressive is like driving a manual. You must get the process into muscle memory so that you can do the mechanical things automatically while keeping your eye on things like “does the case have powder in it,” “Is the bullet placed, ”still enough primers,” etc. My problem was that I would stop my process to fix a problem, advance the shell plate without knowing it, and then produce an empty case. Only once did I produce a double charge and found that later while pulling bullets from 100 rounds looking for a squib because getting several squibs within a few weeks scared me, as it should. No squib, but worse. I now look into every case for powder level. All other problems can be caught after the round is finished. The only other dangerous mistake is seating a bullet so deep that it increases the pressure to dangerous levels. I suppose you could crimp so tightly that it causes overpressure, but you can't crimp too tightly by accident.

Another thing to consider is whether you have local people you can go to for advice. I had a lot of people at my gun club to ask about reloading.

Oh, about wanting subsonic loads for 9mm. You won’t get that with 115 gr bullet and probably not 124 gr. The problem is cycling your slide. My load is the minimum to cycle the slide on an XDm 9mm 5.25 and my MV is 850 fps. That’s a 125 power factor (bullet weight * MV / 1000). It’s a measure of momentum and you can’t get the same momentum with a lighter bullet without going above 1000 fps depending on your gun, of course.
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Old September 20, 2013, 04:46 PM   #22
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. . . choose a "fluffy" powder or one that has so much volume that a double charge is impossible it will overflow the case.
Having been around a few years, and having a learned a few things about human nature over those years, I'd say the beginner loader is less likely to throw a double-charge. This is because complacency hasn't set in.

Complacency is one of the most difficult things for us humans to overcome. It takes constant vigilance.

For me, when I'm done throwing all my charges, I stand up, pick up the loading block, get it under the strong light, then proceed to look at the level of each and every case. Then set it down by the press for seating. I do this each and every time. And if I forget (and I have, lots of times), I get up and do this process as soon as I realize I've missed this critical control point.

I responded to your post without having read any in between, so forgive me if this is redundant. For me, the possibility of throwing a double charge is not a good enough reason to choose a fluffy powder. Choose the correct powder for the application (assuming that powder is available). And develop good techniques/habits that minimize the possibility of double charging.
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Old September 20, 2013, 05:07 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by GJSchulze View Post
Another thing to consider is whether you have local people you can go to for advice. I had a lot of people at my gun club to ask about reloading.
This right here +1 million. When I first started reloading a year and a half ago, I was able to find someone local to mentor me. To this day, I still email him with questions, or to bounce ideas off of him.

Finding a local mentor can be/is intangible IMHO.
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Old September 20, 2013, 05:11 PM   #24
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the possibility of throwing a double charge is not a good enough reason to choose a fluffy powder
You're right, but for a beginner it's a pretty good reason. Or perhaps, avoiding a dense powder like TiteGroup when you're beginning, is a good reason. There are enough powders out there that "fluffy" doesn't have to preclude "correct" or "near enough." I know I'm new to this as well, but I find it hard to believe that only one or two powders are correct for a particular purpose for ordinary shooters.

If a beginner feels safer choosing a low density powder to avoid the problem, then I find no problem with that as long as he still learns and practices proper care in loading the powder. Training wheels aren't a bad idea.
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Old September 20, 2013, 05:18 PM   #25
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When I first started reloading a year and a half ago
One of the things I believe in, when a person needs instruction, is that having someone who is just ahead of him on the learning curve isn't a bad idea. The reason for this is that they just went through the same problems and remember what they are and what their mind set was. IOW, what caused them to make the mistake. Someone who has years of experience knows the right way to do things, but may not remember what caused them to make the mistake in the first place and that's crucial when telling someone how to avoid a problem.

Again, IOW, "Here's what I struggled with and why, so take heed."

I've heard people with decades of experience say "I've never had a squib" to which I say "Really? Sorry, but I don't quite believe that."
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