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Old March 23, 2013, 12:16 PM   #1
cubsfan
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Importance of OAL?

This is a first post from one of those dreaded "newbies". Just started reloading for my only 2 guns, a Ruger P-95 and Beretta Nano, both 9mm. I've finally received some of the bullets I have on order, 124 Gr RN from Missouri Bullet. While waiting for hardware and bullets, I've been reading about reloading and buying manuals. I have the Lyman, Lee, Nosler, and Speer. Also the Alliant reload guide, since the only powder I have at this time is Bullseye and Power Pistol. My problem is I have found a bare minimum of load data for 124 Gr lead bullets for either of these powders. What I finally found, on this forum, was someone who posted info from an email they had sent to Alliant, listing suggested loads for BE and PP for 124/125 Gr lead bullets. Just what I was looking for! So yesterday I loaded 10 rounds at the start weight for each powder, 3.8 for BE and 5.0 for PP. I set OAL to 1.08, which is in tolerance for this round (so I thought). But, after I had loaded those and before I took them to the range I saw another post that claimed you could use load data for FMJ to load lead as long as the bullet was the same weight. So when I looked again at the Alliant manual, it shows Minimum OAL of 1.12, which my loads are below by about .040. Now for my problem (finally, you're all saying). Based on the huge volume of information on this forum that I have read, I am a little reluctant to fire these rounds, assuming they may be seated too deeply and increasing pressure beyond what is safe. So my questions are, 1) is my reluctance warranted, and 2) accepting the ability to substitute FMJ data for lead as fact, does the bullet type have any affect, for example HP FMJ vs lead RN?
Sorry for the long post, but I thought you would need some background before answering my questions. Thanks in advance.
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Old March 23, 2013, 05:51 PM   #2
pathdoc
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I'd be looking to OAL information from the bullet manufacturers. Speer and Hornady will tell you, in their manuals, what the cartridge should measure all-up for each specific bullet type. I would also go back and personally clarify the matter with Alliant, telling them what you've done so far and with what components (bullet, primer, powder, charge weight, case). Not that your friend isn't to be trusted, but if there's been a typo or a transcription error somewhere, the price you pay could be a busted gun and bits of metal flying back at you. When in doubt, double check, go back and clarify, never fire anything till you're completely happy you've done it right.
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Old March 23, 2013, 06:12 PM   #3
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Thanks for the reply, pathdoc. I have an email in to Alliant explaining just as you suggested, but no response yet. I imagine they get a few these days. I definitely will keep these aside until I'm confident they are safe. I have an extreme aversion to shrapnel flying in my face.
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Old March 23, 2013, 07:21 PM   #4
rlc323
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If you look at reloading data sheets the lead bullet takes less powder when compared to a FMJ of the same bullet weight MOST of the time. Bullet profiles also change the equation MOST of the time.

If you do some searching of the old Alliant manuals you can come up with 124/125 grain LRN loads for Bullseye. Most show minimum OAL of 1.15.

http://www.castpics.net/LoadData/Fre...M/Alliant.html
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Old March 23, 2013, 08:46 PM   #5
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Thanks for the link to castpics.net. I'll be looking through the manuals.
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Old March 23, 2013, 09:43 PM   #6
Misssissippi Dave
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The shape of the bullet and how hard the lead is affects the amount of powder you probably should start at.

The OAL varies from pistol to pistol even in the same caliber. You can make a dummy round (bullet and no primer or powder) for checking out the OAL you should be using for your pistols. First load the bullet with an OAL of 1.150. Place it in a magazine and load the rest of the magazine with factory ammo you know works in your pistol. Can you put as many rounds in it as you normally can? If so, you could use that OAL as far as you magazine is concerned. Now if you can't get the magazine to take a full load you probably have the bullet too long and it is binding when you try to load the magazine full. A shorter OAL is in order. Try seating the dummy round to 1.140" and test again. Eventually you will get the OAL that your pistol likes. If you have more than one pistol I suggest trying this with a magazine from each of them. They do vary from gun to gun. The longest OAL that works for all of them is what you are looking for. I like using about .005 less than the max OAL in the magazine that needs the shortest OAL. Once you have done that you need to place your dummy round in the barrel of each of the pistols. I do this with the barrel removed. The dummy load should drop in easily and when it bottoms out I try to press it a bit harder with my thumb to see if it full seated. Then tip the barrel up and the dummy load should fall out. Look at the bullet to see if there are any marks from the rifling. If the bullet touches the rifling you are still too long on the OAL. There should not be any rifling marks on the bullet. You are looking for an OAL that fits the magazines and doesn't touch the rifling when chambered. When you have done this you will know what OAL you should be using. I set up for the pistol I have that requires the shortest OAL. This way the ammo I load will work in all of them. When you have several pistols in the same caliber it becomes a real pain to load something that is taylored to just one pistol and may not work in several others.

There are some people that just load everything at 1.100" or 1.120 for JHP and 1.135 for FMJ. If it works in all your pistols fine. I take into consideration the OAL a source uses when trying to figure out the Min. and Max. amounts of powder. If I'm loading shorter than the data I referencing I reduce the powder amount also or just stay lower at the top end. Most of my loads tend to be less than the max levels. I look for accuracy and the ability to cycle the pistol first. I don't try to squeeze the last fps out of any load. I have loaded 9mm ammo up with JHP bullets as short as 1.080" and FMJ bullets as long as 1.140". I have one pistol that needs the FMJ OAL to be not more than 1.135" so I have a limit of 1.130" set for myself.

Lead bullets normally use less powder that FMJ bullets of the same weight. I only load lead in revolvers and prefer jacketed bullets for semi auto calibers. I really prefer jacketed bullets in all my loads. I will use lead but as I said I save that just for revolvers.

I'm no expert but just relaying what I have found that works for me.

I don't load very many rounds when working up a new load. I hate pulling bullets of stuff that won't work right. 5 to 10 of a given powder weight is more than enough to try them out. I make a few more but not more than 50 if I think I might have a winner to do further testing. When that seems to work well I try for 1 to 200 for a longer test session. Still good and I will start cranking out a lot of them. I messed up once and had to pull about 150 rounds. I won't be doing that again.
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Old March 23, 2013, 10:07 PM   #7
cubsfan
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Dave - Thanks for a "load" of information. I was aware of the "plunk test" and had done that for both guns (barrel removed). But since I was on the short end of OAL, I suppose they should have passed. And I read on another post about a guy who also checked to see if he could spin the round easily while in the chamber as a way to ensure it wasn't into the rifling. But your method sounds good. My concern was that I may have seated the bullet too deep and created a high pressure situation. I understand 9mm is pretty touchy that way. In any event, you've given me a lot to work with. Thanks again.

I would like to have started with jacketed bullets, but of all the bullets I ordered, the lead from Missouri Bullet is all I have so far.
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Old March 24, 2013, 07:27 PM   #8
Misssissippi Dave
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It depends on the bullet and powder used but, if you are at the lowest end of the safe load range you probably can load with a shorter OAL safely. You should stay away from the upper end of the loads with a short OAL because the pressures will peak earlier. When you do this you need to go slowly and check for pressure signs all along the way. When in doubt I just pull the bullets and dump the powder back into the hopper to reuse.

I know about how hard it is to get jacketed bullets now. Precision Delta takes 2 to 4 months now to deliver. Montana Gold won't even take orders yet. These are the places I prefer to get bullets from.
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Old March 24, 2013, 08:41 PM   #9
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Yeah, I've got 2 orders with Precision Delta for 124 Gr FMJ and I don't expect the first one to get here for another couple weeks at best. I've also got orders with Grafs & Sons and Sinclair.
I also just placed an order with Dardas, after seeing their offer of a 5% discount to Firing Line members.

I just got a lb. of Hogdon Universal and found a recipe on their site for 124G lead, calls for 3.8Gr as a starting load. I used your advice on the OAL and started out at 1.15. Passed the plunk test and no signs of touching the rifling. Did the magazine check and that was OK also, so I left it at that. I checked some factory ammo that I have and it was also at 1.15.

This is a little off topic, but the reason I wanted to use 124G bullets is because of the Beretta Nano, my concealed carry weapon. All the purchased ammo that I have is 115Gr and the Nano has some problems with FTEs with it. Beretta has finally acknowledged that you should use ammo that is 124Gr or higher. Apparently there is not enough energy being generated with the 115G stuff. Every time I've used it I get at least one FTE per box. From what I've seen reported on line this is pretty common with the Nano.
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Old March 25, 2013, 11:52 AM   #10
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cubsfan,

Welcome to the Forum.

"dreaded "newbies"" are not 'dreaded'. We all have a chance to learn from each other here.

Lead bullets to jacketed bullets.... Lead is softer than jacket material, so it is easier to engrave the rifling into. Lead is also a little slicker.
The required pressures to 'start' each bullet is less with lead.
Bullet length is also a factor. Longer bullet is/can be more surface area in the bore.
Jacketed bullets can be pushed faster than lead. But lead can be pushed quite fast (if sized/lubricated properly).
With the physical differences between lead bullets and jacketed bullets, going with both having the same of near the same weight, starting/beginning loads will be close but most likely not the same. The choice of powders used in small capacity pistol cartridges may be the same. For rifles, the variables move farther and farther apart.

Seating depths change the exterior dynamics of the round. For your 9MMs, they must fit into the magazine and feed reliably. I feel that these two needs trump all others. 'If it don't work, it ain't no good'. Seating depth also changes the case capacity of the round. This is where consistences becomes a must. The smaller the space, the smaller the charge that can be put in. With pistols, this is seldom a problem. But, that smaller combustion chamber will produce greater pressures.

Now to the questions.
1) Caution is always warranted. Better safe than sorry.
2) The arbitrary substitution of one bullet design/type for another is not meeting with your first question.

My view.
Load cases that physically fit.
Starting loads are the place to start.
Load for each weapon, to fit that weapons needs.
Max loads are not listed as a challenge.
When searching for a 'starting load', use a 'starting load' for a similar bullet that is marginally heavier (NOT lighter) if there is no data for the weight you have.

I haven't had a 9MM since.... 1982 or 3. I load all of my .45ACP round with the same charge of 5.6 Grains, the same charge for; 185, 200, 225 and 230 grain bullets, lead and jacketed. Granted 99.99% are 200 grain LSWC.
However, my loads for .40S&W are all for 155 grain bullets and I use different powders between lead and jacketed, they are loaded to near the same velocities.

And you apologized for having a long post.

Load safe and enjoy,

OSOK
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Old March 25, 2013, 07:18 PM   #11
cubsfan
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Thanks for the welcome and the good advice. I've learned a lot in just a few posts here, just as I expected I would.
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