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Old May 15, 2014, 08:10 AM   #1
FreedomUIC
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Question Regarding Clays Powder and 9mm

I just purchased a NIB RIA 9mm Tactical 1911A1. I had worked up
a load of 3.9 G of Clays for the 115 G FMJHP bullets I had. They function
flawlessly in all of my 9mm semi-autos.

Yesterday at the range I had one FTE and never did the bolt lock back
in position after firing the last round. I want to bump this up a bit
but I am already at the high-end.

Question - Will bumping up the load to 4.1 really hurt anything or will
the pistol start to function properly after it has worked out a bit?

Any opinion needed at this time as I am scratching my head.
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Old May 15, 2014, 11:26 AM   #2
SonOfGun
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Try a different (lighter) recoil spring
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Old May 15, 2014, 11:28 AM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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No one can know the answer to that question.

Are you below max? If so, step up the load in reasonable increments until it functions properly or you reach max.

If you are not below max, step up the load at your own peril and/or according to your own knowledge metallurgy and internal ballistics.
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Old May 15, 2014, 11:36 AM   #4
FreedomUIC
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I didn't think of the spring. I think I am going to run about 500 rounds through her and she what happens. If it is still not functioning like it should with the last shell I will replace the spring.

I am currently at the book maximum for Clays. I was hoping somebody
had more information then I do. Mine comes directly from the Hodgdon
site and I want to believe they always understate what the true maximum is.

Just hoping for some insight.
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Old May 15, 2014, 11:41 AM   #5
Jim Watson
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They do not "understate the true maximum." There is no secret safety margin in load data. Lyman makes that very clear in their manual.

Will a good quality gun stand an overload? Yes, but how do you know how much you have overloaded it?
Clays is a marginally fast powder for 9mm. Don't push it.
Get a lighter recoil spring if you need to.
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Old May 15, 2014, 11:43 AM   #6
Brian Pfleuger
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Quote:
I want to believe they always understate what the true maximum is.
That's a very dangerous thing to believe.

Fact is, they have no way of knowing what's max in your gun because they've never tested it. They don't have your brass, primers, powder lot or bullets, say nothing of all in combination.

If anybody knew what "true max" was as an all inclusive number, there would be no "starting loads". What would be the point? The point of starting loads is that max is not a single quantifiable amount.

I can tell you one thing, Hodgdon, of all companies, has a reputation for meaning max when they say max. Their loads are NOT watered down.
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Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; May 15, 2014 at 11:57 AM.
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Old May 15, 2014, 12:01 PM   #7
FreedomUIC
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Thanks for the responses.
Guess the max is what it is and I will let the gun workout for about 500
rounds and see what happens. If not I get a lighter spring.

Thanks Everyone.
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Old May 16, 2014, 02:47 PM   #8
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I'm using Hodgdon Clays in my 9mm as well now ( can't get Universal or TiteGroup )....and with the recipe min at 3.7 and max at 3.9 ....I'm running mine at the max as well at 3.9gr.....( 115gr FMJ Montana Gold bullet ) / and I was a little concerned at first because its such a soft shooting round.

I'm running that round in all of my 9mm's ( a few 1911's, some Sigs)....and I mostly shoot a full sized, 5", Wilson Combat 1911 as my primary range practice gun ...and I have a 13# recoil spring in that gun, and its running 100%.

But that reload has been running fine in my Sig 226's, Sig 239 ( with their stock springs - not sure what they are rated at ) - and a Kimber Tactical Pro
4" 1911 with its stock spring ( I don't know what it is )..../ and a Les Baer 5" Monolith 1911 with a 12# spring in it.

Last edited by BigJimP; May 16, 2014 at 02:52 PM.
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Old May 19, 2014, 09:58 AM   #9
FreedomUIC
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I just purchased a 16# and a 14# spring for the pistol, according to RIA it comes with an 18# spring as stock on the tactical models. I noticed
that the gun is starting to break in nicely but I have exceeded the 50
rounds that Armscor/RIA claim is the break in period.

The slide was not locking back on factory ammunition this weekend which
kinda of surprised me. I am giving it a thorough cleaning and polishing
the feed mechanism today. Hopefully this will cure some of the issues.

Still shot like a tack driver this weekend at 45 feet which really surprised
me. Shooting for just groupings, I got lucky and put three rounds each
touching that was covered with a dime.

I won a free dinner on that but the other four shooters have no idea that it
was mostly luck...
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Old May 20, 2014, 09:41 AM   #10
Jim Watson
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An 18 lb factory recoil spring on a 9mm 1911oid?
Wow.
Colt thinks 14 is enough - I have a 13 in mine - and SA uses about a 10 lb recoil spring in conjunction with their stiff ILS mainspring.
16 lb is GI for .45 ACP although some current makers use 18.

I think you will begin to see normal operation with the 14 lb spring.
If not, try a 12... or 10.
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Old May 20, 2014, 12:01 PM   #11
BigJimP
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I agree with JIm..... 12# or 13# is more common on most 5" 1911's in 9mm...
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Old May 20, 2014, 02:05 PM   #12
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I used to keep a selection of springs on hand and used what was needed for different loads/different purposes. It's no big deal to change the spring and get the gun to function properly (if that's what the problem is.....it probably is that).
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Old May 21, 2014, 11:49 PM   #13
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Clays in a 9 mm is very touchy. It doesn't take much over the max before KABOOM.
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Old May 23, 2014, 06:43 PM   #14
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One thing to check with your load is how the bullet seating depth you are using compares to the bullet seating depth used to create the load data you are using. If there is more power space for your load than the data load, then you are probably getting somewhat lower pressure. If that is the situation, then I suggest that the first step is to try to get the same seating depth and see if that fixes the problem. If it does, then it is possible to calculate an adjustment to the powder charge that will give about the same pressure at the seating depth that you prefer.

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Old May 24, 2014, 09:56 AM   #15
BigJimP
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Honestly, ....don't try and be an "amateur chemist".....just follow the recipe....in clays with a 115gr bullet its 3.7 gr ...and max is 3.9 grains...

Just stay with the published recipe..../ in my view, to do anything else is just not your smartest option.
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Old May 25, 2014, 09:05 PM   #16
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BigJimP,

Do you always use the exact same bullets seated to the exact same depth in your handloads as was used to create the data you are using? If not, then you are not taking your own advice to "stay with the published recipe."

These days especially, people are subsituting bullets of the same weight, often without consideration of the effect that can have on seating depth and pressure. And, even when using the same bullet, many people adjust overall length to get the most reliable feeding in their guns, which also messes with seating depth and pressure.

So, it is really a good idea to consider seating depth when having issues with ejection or pressure signs, especially in 9mm, which is more "touchy" than most cartridges in that respect. And, with a really fast powder like Clays that reaches peak pressure before the bullet has moved as far as with the more commonly used slower powders, it is doubly touchy regarding seating depth.

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Old May 26, 2014, 11:17 AM   #17
BigJimP
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My point was not about seating depth ....and I understand it is an issue ....but adjusting the powder charge is where I think you run into danger.

Stay with the published recipe on powder charges is good solid advice in my view.
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Old May 26, 2014, 01:31 PM   #18
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Some powders are more touchy about seating depth. When you are talking about coffin corner powders for the caliber, seating depth becomes critical.

Clays has blown up more than it's share of guns. Bullet setback is one of the reasons. It is a much better powder for .45 ACP than 9mm.
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Old May 26, 2014, 02:51 PM   #19
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The narrow load range is funny. It's as if they thought it would fail to run the gun properly if they took the usual 10% off max. OTOH, they have some wider load and pressure ranges with some other bullet weights and not with others. Odd. Most powder measures have trouble holding a 0.2 grain range consistently.

The reason the recoil is mild is this stuff burn so fast that a small amount of Clays makes peak pressure before the bullet has gone very far. That small amount makes only so much gas, so that by the time the bullet gets to the muzzle the pressure is lower than with slower powders that need heavier charge weights to make peak pressure. You therefore get lower velocity from the same peak pressure and have lower rocket effect when the bullet clears the muzzle and the gas accelerates out.

A lighter recoil spring seems likely to solve the matter for you. I would also lightly chamfer the locking lug corners on the barrel and ditto the lug recesses in the slide with a scraper if they haven't been done at the factory. Then apply some Flitz to the locking lugs and to the barrel link lugs and around the muzzle where it meets the bushing. Rack it back and let go by hand 50 times with the Flitz acting as lube. Remove the Flitz with carb cleaner spray, then put light oil on and do it again. Clean out the oil, and then apply your usual gun lube. See if that smooths up operation and reliability.
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Old May 26, 2014, 11:12 PM   #20
Jim Watson
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That is why Clays was popular for a while in USPSA Limited.
A 200 gr .40 and a little Clays had a very soft recoil, but the peak chamber pressure was high. Some guns got beat up pretty fast and I don't think the combination is much used now.
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Old May 29, 2014, 08:35 PM   #21
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Would locking the slide open for and extended period of time (within reason) quicken the break in period?
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Old May 31, 2014, 04:59 PM   #22
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Are you maybe suggesting getting the spring to take a set? At room temperature that can take years, if it's a good quality spring.
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Old May 31, 2014, 05:59 PM   #23
Jim Watson
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We are routinely advised to leave a new magazine loaded for a week to set the spring. Would this not apply to a recoil spring?
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Old June 2, 2014, 03:42 PM   #24
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Jim,

No simple answer, and for that reason I may have jumped the gun with my own answer. It varies a lot with material. To give you a sense of the range, at 200°F, music wire subjected to 99 kpsi stress will relax 5% in 72 hours. At 76,000 kpsi, it takes over a year to get to 5%. So the time required is an exponential function of stress and is a temperature-critical value. In a 17-7 stainless spring, 5% relaxation requires 160 kpsi at a temperature of 500°F for 10,000 hours. Silicone steel, which is what my 1911 recoil springs are made of (I buy them from Sprinco), in 200°F and at 99 kpsi, will relax just under 1% in 72 hours, IIRC.

I have an Excel file I can plug the recoil spring into if I know the material, and that will give us the stress. We could guess from that, but I don't have a handy chart for room temperature stress v. relaxation. The easiest thing is to is measure the relaxed length of a new mag spring and a new recoil spring. Stuff the magazine and set the slide back for a week, as you describe, and measure their relaxed lengths again afterward to see if they changed or not. If not, you didn't accomplish anything. If so, you did.
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Old June 2, 2014, 04:48 PM   #25
Jim Watson
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Well, I have never had to squash a spring to get the gun to shoot.

But permanently "set" springs are obvious after some amount of use.
I think it is because pistol recoil and magazine springs are worked over a lot greater range of deflection than the mainspring or the usual springmaker advertisement of a car valve spring.
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