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Old September 15, 2010, 02:47 PM   #1
Join Date: October 24, 2008
Location: Up North, Montana
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9mm leading problem

Im just getting into reloading and am starting with my 9mms.

Ive been using the .356 dia 115gr LRNs from kempfs gun shop which have a Brinell hardness of 18. Im loading them over 3.9gr of WIN 231 with a OAL of 1.070. And shooting them out of a 3" barreled XD as well as a 4" Ruger.

It seems Im getting fairly bad leading. Over less than 100 rds I am seeing noticeable amounts of lead in the full length of the barrel.

I understand 3.9gr is a pretty light load- which is what I was going for; a cheap light plinking load.

I was recently told the light load might be causing the excess leading im seeing. This I had never heard of before. Pushing lead too fast; yea, but to slow?

Next time I go out I think Ill try a heavier load just see what happens, but what do you guys think?
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Old September 15, 2010, 03:33 PM   #2
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Yes, that's true.
Light loads require a softer lead for the bullet to be able to seal the chamber well.
Gases that aren't sealed well can escape around the base of the bullet and melt lead onto the barrel.
A higher velocity reload will, indeed, improve the leading problem.
The Hodgdon web site loading data page for 9mm says the minimum amount of powder for the 115 LRN is 4.3 grains and the max is 4.8.
So, your load is way, way light.
(Or use jacketed bullets, or gas checks on the base of the lead bullets, if you want to stay with really light loads).

Last edited by g.willikers; September 15, 2010 at 03:42 PM.
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Old September 15, 2010, 04:38 PM   #3
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Before you buy any lead bullets, slug your barrel so you know what the groove-to-groove diameter is.

Cast bullet leading
A clue to what is causing the leading is where the leading first begins to appear.
If it appears near the chamber, chances are that bullet diameter or hardness are the cause. A diameter too small or an alloy too hard will allow high-pressure gas to leak past the bullet, which erodes the bullet and leaves leading near the chamber.
If the leading first appears on the leading edge of the rifling (if you imagine the bullet being pushed through the barrel, you will note that one edge of the rifling does most of the work of imparting a spin to the bullet. This is the edge you see when you look through the barrel from the breech end) the bullet might be too soft or the velocity too high.
If the leading appears in the second half of the barrel, the bullet is running out of lube. You should see a star shaped pattern of lube accumulate on the muzzle. This is an indication that there is a excess lube.
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Old September 15, 2010, 06:09 PM   #4
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Give these great people a call. He has helped me with a lot of 9mm bullets. I have pushed some of his 125's over 1200 in a Beretta carbine with little leading.
He can also help you with diameter for the gun since he has a lot of experience with that problem.

[email protected] or give me a call (412 767-4670 Monday - Friday 10 AM - 5 PM EST)
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Old September 15, 2010, 07:30 PM   #5
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You can always switch to Berry's plated bullets, that's what I use for 9mm with no issues at all. Clean, easy to load, and kinda pretty when you get them all lined up in rows.
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Old September 16, 2010, 06:45 PM   #6
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Believe it or not. Your load might be TOO LIGHT. I shoot 125gr lead bullets sized .356, in a 9mm 1911 with no significant leading. We shoot about 300 rounds before a major barrel cleaning. The only visible leading after 300 rounds is very light lead streaks on the rifling lands for about 1 inch in front of the chamber. The load is:

125gr Lead RN
Win primers
4.3grs HP38 (Same as Win 231).
random range pick-up brass

These loads shoot right at 1080-1100fps. Boost your load and see if your leading goes down. The higher pressure allows the bullet to seal the barrel better. Be advised though that there are some barrels that just won't shoot lead worth a hoot. It's worth a try.
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Last edited by Waldog; September 16, 2010 at 06:51 PM.
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Old September 18, 2010, 03:48 AM   #7
Join Date: August 16, 2010
Location: North Central Texas
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You must slug the barrel to know what bullet you need.
The bullet must seal the bore. 9MMs are mass produced by just about everyone that makes guns and the bores range from .352 all the way up to
In a perfect world , all 9mm barrels would be .355 but , this is a reality that they vary in extremes.
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