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Old April 4, 2005, 09:01 PM   #1
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To load..or not to load, that is the question

Ok, I recently aquired a Bulgarian Makarov, I have fallen in live with this little pistol, or as some would call it "Pot metal commie gun".

Anyway, 9x18 milsurp, or russian ammo is fairly cheap for these things, but I feel for certain that I can get a more "comfortable" load by rolling my own.

The Question is: Should I buy the dies, molds, sizers to load these rounds, or just stick with the cheap, slightly hotter than the gates of he11 ammo?

I mean, if I buy the dies, there's no reason for me to buy bullets to load with, my thinking is, I might as well go ahead and cast bullets for the thing too.

Of course it gets more complicated (it always does), THEN I'll have to buy some new brass, because I only have a hundred pieces to start loading with.

Ah, decisions, decisions.
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Old April 4, 2005, 09:12 PM   #2
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Just give in and start loading up for your Mak. I'm using National Bullet CLRN and Hornady XTPs. Great accuracy using X-700 and Starline brass. I'll probably try some Meister CLRNs in the future, they are great in my 9mm.......
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Old April 5, 2005, 06:40 AM   #3
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A few reasons:

1.) "Cheap" surplus ammo is a fixed item. As unlikly as it may seem, one day it will no longer be there. Witness the .30/06 Springfield. 30 years ago any and everyone would have scoffed at the idea that the mountains of seemingly endless supplies of surplus would be gone.
The .38 spl is another example. 20 years ago, it seemed like cheap .38 spl ammo would be around forever.
Nowadays, the .308 and the 9mm have all but replaced the 'ought 6 and the .38.
I'm feeling pretty happy about having invested in a set of .38/.357Mag carbide dies these days. .38's aren't outrageous,, but thay ain't Waldo World bulk 9mm or bulk .22lr either.

2.) The "Ammo Store" is never closed as long as you have a decent stock of basic components. Want 100 rounds of ammo @ 4:00AM on a Sunday morning for a last second put together shoot ~ 2 hours drive away that starts @ 8:00AM? No problem. Speaking from somewhat bitter experience, I've been through that. It galled me to have to use store bought reloads for an inflated price simply because of a last miniut get-together. Next gun show after that I picked up a set of 9mm dies. And that's a common caliber...
9X18 Mak isn't an everyday shelf item at most places that are open odd hours.

3.) Reduced loads. You betcha! I load a 230 gr cast lead sized @ .452 over a mini dose of Unique for my Kimber target model. The stuff is probably only clocking about 700 fps,,,, but it shoots like a dream out of the Kimber. It has just enough oomph to work the action. One thing non-handloaders (and some handloaders for that matter) don't understand is that full boogie loads are seldom the most accurate. Lots and lots of the *wimpy stuff* can allow you to explore the real potential of you and your gun.

4.) 9x18 is cheap - - yep so is 9x19. Other calibers aren't. Once you get setup for your initial caliber though, a new caliber is only a set of dies away. You might fall into a real honey of a deal on something chambered in .454 Casuall. Now you might be thinking "No way I want a .454Casuall" - my bet is that would change if someone plopped a Freedom Arms down in front of you and said it was yours for $500. Probably won't happen though. Thing is, if I had a $5 bill for every post here that said something like, "I'd get a ___, but the cost of ammunition keeps me from getting one", I could buy a FA. or 2 or 3 or 4.
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Old April 5, 2005, 09:14 AM   #4
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Of all calibers I load for I consider the 9x18 most important, why because
most of the surplus 9x18 I've used has been poor quality and I dont see
that changing in the near future nor do I see more commerical ammo
coming on line for the 9x18. Loading is a win in any caliber.
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Old April 5, 2005, 05:23 PM   #5
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Ok, you guys talked me into it.

To be honest, I can't remember the last time I bought factory 45acp or 38spl.
I was quite shocked when I saw recent prices of the stuff.

On another note, the 9x18 imported ammo isn't exactly cheap IMHO. At around 8 to 9 bucks a box, I don't consider that a bargain.

So, I might as well just start loading for it, I already have a few pounds of powder that will work, so I'll just pick up some dies, brass, and probaby a bullet mold.

For what it's worth, I new you guys wouldn't try to talk me out of it, so I had already half-hearted planned on buying the stuff I need for 9x18 mak.
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Old April 17, 2005, 10:26 PM   #6
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Well, I did it, I went out and got everything I needed.
I got my stuff at because, well, I like George and Karl, and they happen to have all the stuff you need to reload for a Mak, not to mention it's only a 15 minute drive from the house.

Are you Mak fans jealous yet?

Here's what I ended up with.

1) Lee Carbide 3 Die set
2) Lee Bullet sizer die (.365)
3) Lee 95gr 2 cavity bullet mould
4) 300 Federal Small Pistol Primers
(Lee seems to have Mak reloader in mind, more so than other makers)

OK, now onto my loading session.
First, I had about 170 pieces of Fiocchi Brass that I had collected from my previous shootings.
I already had them cleaned up, so I sized and de-primed them, and expanded the case mouths.
I did all this while I waited for the casting furnace to heat up BTW.

My lead was ready to be made into new shiny projectiles, I cleaned up the mould and smoked it real good. I started casting and had forgotten how much of a pain a new mould is to "break in".
Anyway, I like Lee moulds....they're cheap, and do a great job, but they get to hot to compared to steel moulds, but that is an another story.

I ended up with a couple hundred bullets before I had to move onto other things that where already planned for me to do. :barf:

When it was all said and done, I ended up with 150 rounds of "test ammo" so I can find the right load.
I worked up a lot of loads with Red Dot and WW231. In total, I have 15 different loads to try the next time I go to the range. (10 rounds of each, 5 loads per box)

Here is my problem, I'm a little short on Brass for the Mak, does anyone know of a good source for new or once fired brass?

I asked George at, but they where clear out of brass all together.
I could buy some from Midway, but it's like $52 per 500 for starline and the Hornady brass is kinda pricey (just like their ammo).

Who's got the best deal out there?

Any links or info would be greatly apprieciated.
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