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  #1  
Old 04-13-2010, 08:50 PM
WhoIsJohnGalt WhoIsJohnGalt is offline
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Reloading 9mm for accuracy




Gents,

I've been working on developing an accurate 9mm load for my S&W 1911 Pro. So far I am not succeeding and I'm getting a bit frustrated since I bought this gun for competition use and with the current group sizes I'm getting it is less than ideal for that purpose. I also suspect (or at least want to suspect) that something may not be up to snuff with the barrel itself. I'll post more on that later. But for now, here is what I have done so far, roughly in order:

1. Bought new gun (ok, that should be obvious )

2. Tried previous 9mm load (I had been using this in my M&P with Storm Lake barrel): .356" 125gr LRN, 5.2gr VV 3N37, 1.145" OAL, .378" taper crimp, Winchester brass, CCI primers - Accuracy at 10 yards seemed OK, but bench testing at 15 yards was no bueno. Group sizes were ~4-6 inches. I'm not THAT bad of a shot either...

3. Thoroughly cleaned barrel, did ladder test with Power Pistol at 5.2gr., 5.3gr., 5.4gr. and 5.5gr. All other parameters unchanged. Accuracy at 15 yards was unchanged.

4. Slugged bore - measured .356". Ordered same bullets sized to .357"

5. Thoroughly cleaned barrel, repeated ladder test with Power Pistol at 4.8gr., 4.9gr., 5.0gr. and 5.1gr. All other parameters unchanged. Tested accuracy at 25 yards this time. Picture below shows the results, clockwise from upper left: 4.85gr., 4.9gr., 5.0gr.:



Yuck.

What I did not photograph were the results using factory 124gr Federal HST. They were no better. All of these groups were shot from a sandbag rest on a calm day.

Any thoughts or recommendations on what I should try next? I'm not willing to blame the barrel juuuuust yet, I am still somewhat new to loading for 9mm so it's a definitely possibility that I just have not found the right load combination yet. What is the secret to making 9mm shoot as accurately as my .45 loads do (with much less development effort too)?

Any help is appreciated, thanks in advance.

-Mike
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Last edited by WhoIsJohnGalt; 04-14-2010 at 06:04 PM.
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  #2  
Old 04-13-2010, 09:17 PM
Steve4102 Steve4102 is online now
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Your gun may not like the 124-125gr bullets. Switch to some 115 and 147gr and see what happens.

Quote:
What I did not photograph were the results using factory 124gr Federal HST. They were no better
To me, this means there is something wrong with the pistol or your choice of bullet weight.
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  #3  
Old 04-13-2010, 09:31 PM
harbourdeep harbourdeep is offline
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i would suggest a faster powder, vv n320, titegroup or similar
also try a good JHP.
crono them and see what your spread is, find a powder that gives you the smallest spread and you'll get the best groups. n320 is the best i've found. run it around 1040-1050fps for 125gn.

as steve said, try 115's also.
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  #4  
Old 04-13-2010, 09:33 PM
GOA Guy GOA Guy is offline
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I haven't done a whole lot of accuracy searching for the 9m/m. I have done more than enough for the 45acp. In general I think the 45 is much easier to deal with. I do think that Power Pistol is a great choice of propellant for the 9m/m. Since you have that powder I will give you a couple of 9m/m loads that have been quite accurate in half a dozen 9m/m pistols of mine.

Winchester 115 JHP - 6.0 Power Pistol - Winchester case - WSP primer - 1.120 OAL

Hornady 124 XTP - 5.5 Power Pistol - Winchester case - WSP primer - 1.120 OAL

Make sure to double check me with some of your manuals. The results with the HSTs does make one wonder about the pistol.
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  #5  
Old 04-13-2010, 09:53 PM
Mr. O Mr. O is offline
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I just went through a testing process a week ago on a new 1911-9mm. I tried 5 different loads and two different recoil springs to fine tune things. Using once fired brass and 124 grain FMJ bullets, the most accurate load at 15 yards grouped at one inch from a bench (near freezing temps and windy), and probably was capable of half that.

The load was 6.2 gns of Power Pistol (see the Alliant loading guide on-line), OAL was 1.150. Taper crimped and checked in a chamber gauge. No signs of pressure on brass or primer. Recoil was mild and operated a 14 lb. recoil spring.

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  #6  
Old 04-13-2010, 09:57 PM
robctwo robctwo is offline
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My Baer PII 9mm likes a lead round nose 125 gr with 3.9 Universal. Anything up to 4.5 works good. I've tried various lengths as well. Very gun specific. The 4.5 with longer OAl seemed better for accuracy, the 3.9 better for speed steel.

I ran out of Universal, found 8 pounds of Red Dot. 4.1 gr, 125 gr lead rn.
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  #7  
Old 04-14-2010, 05:50 AM
MSgt Dotson MSgt Dotson is offline
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How is the bushing fit, both bushing to slide/ barrel to bushing?

Can hood of bbl be pushed down when pistol is in battery?

Might want to try some 147 gr bullets (increased bearing surface), XTPs have a nice reputation for accuracy...
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  #8  
Old 04-14-2010, 08:34 AM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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Mike,

I feel your pain.

I've been on a quest for a highly accurate 9mm load for several years. To eliminate the gun from the equation, I sent my Springfield to EGW for installation of a match grade barrel. George said the pistol should be capable of 1.5-2" groups @ 25 yds.

So far, about 2.5" is the best I've been able to get. And, that is using Zero bullets, both 115gr JHP's and 125gr JFP's. With lead bullets (122gr, 124gr, 125gr) both RN and SWC, the best groups have been 3".

My experience with this accuracy quest has indicated that with 9mm, faster seems to be more accurate than slower, which is about opposite from what I found with 45acp. With the Zero 115 JHP's, my best accuracy was around 1230-1250fps, using Power Pistol powder. However, for my everyday use, including competition, I've settled on a PP charge that gives about 1150 fps. In my 1911's, I've not found any accuracy preference between the Zero 115gr JHP's and the Zero 125gr JFP's, but in my XD there is a definite preference for the heavier bullet.

The load I'm using is 5.6gr PP with both bullets.

Good luck with your quest. IMO, finding a 9mm load as accurate as a typical 45acp load can be very elusive.
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  #9  
Old 04-14-2010, 08:57 AM
WhoIsJohnGalt WhoIsJohnGalt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSgt Dotson View Post
How is the bushing fit, both bushing to slide/ barrel to bushing?

Can hood of bbl be pushed down when pistol is in battery?

Might want to try some 147 gr bullets (increased bearing surface), XTPs have a nice reputation for accuracy...
The barrel appears to lock up tight, the hood cannot be pushed down when the gun is in battery. Bushing fit is OK, it can be turned by hand fairly easily, but it's also not rattling around. But I do have concerns about the barrel that have cropped up as I've crossed the 2k round mark. It may just be me looking for a fault, but it does look as though the upper barrel lugs are being radiused at the corners and there is a strange peening occurring on the radiused portion of the lower lugs. I can't swear that the latter was not there when the gun was new, I only recently noticed it. I'll go take a picture.

Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredRod View Post
Mike,

I feel your pain.

I've been on a quest for a highly accurate 9mm load for several years. To eliminate the gun from the equation, I sent my Springfield to EGW for installation of a match grade barrel. George said the pistol should be capable of 1.5-2" groups @ 25 yds.

So far, about 2.5" is the best I've been able to get. And, that is using Zero bullets, both 115gr JHP's and 125gr JFP's. With lead bullets (122gr, 124gr, 125gr) both RN and SWC, the best groups have been 3".

My experience with this accuracy quest has indicated that with 9mm, faster seems to be more accurate than slower, which is about opposite from what I found with 45acp. With the Zero 115 JHP's, my best accuracy was around 1230-1250fps, using Power Pistol powder. However, for my everyday use, including competition, I've settled on a PP charge that gives about 1150 fps. In my 1911's, I've not found any accuracy preference between the Zero 115gr JHP's and the Zero 125gr JFP's, but in my XD there is a definite preference for the heavier bullet.

The load I'm using is 5.6gr PP with both bullets.

Good luck with your quest. IMO, finding a 9mm load as accurate as a typical 45acp load can be very elusive.
I have seen a similar trend that faster velocity produced better results, that appears in the picture I posted above. But better, in this case, is still not very good!

Truthfully, if I could get consistent 2.5" at 25 yards, I'd be thrilled at this point. It *should* be able to shoot better than that, but at least with 2.5" groups I wouldn't have to ask myself "what's the probability of me hitting this 10" plate at 25 yards." Right now with the group sizes I'm getting it feels like a guessing game!

I have chrono'd these loads also. Like you, I prefer to keep the velocity between 1100 - 1150 as that also seems to do a reasonable job of knocking steel over. Here are those previous results:

Baseline:
Federal HST 124gr +p - S&W 9mm 1911 Pro Ave: 1211 ES: 56 SD: 19.5 H: 1247 L: 1191

My reloads:
.356 Dardas 125gr LRN - 1.145 OAL - .378 Crimp - Winchester CCI 500 - Winchester Brass

Power Pistol 4.90gr Ave: 1086 ES: 40 SD: 10.6 H: 1108 L: 1068
Power Pistol 5.00gr Ave: 1121 ES: 67 SD: 13.2 H: 1139 L: 1072
Power Pistol 5.10gr Ave: 1140 ES: 48 SD: 12.9 H: 1164 L: 1116
Power Pistol 5.20gr Ave: 1151 ES: 44 SD: 11.1 H: 1177 L: 1133
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Old 04-14-2010, 09:00 AM
Stumpy-1 Stumpy-1 is offline
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Mike,

I too have been working on a 1911 9mm load. So far I have had my best results with remington bulk 125 gr jacketed hollow points. BUT -I can't find any these days...

I am having pretty good luck with 122 lead truncated cone bullets and 3.8-4.2 gr of HP-38/231 or 3.6-4.2 gr of WSF.

Just this week I got a batch of 135 gr semi wadcutter lead bullets (sized .357)from Bulletworks.com (GREAT people), and with a random load of 3.8 gr of WSF and a random OAL, I got about 1.5" at 25 yards (benched with a docter sight) -no Ransom.

A couple of things that I am learning;
Matched brass makes a difference -all one headstamp and preferably the same# of loadings and length.
Watch your crimp -just remove the bell
I am finding that loading as long as I can helps as well -my particular barrel has a LOT of freebore...

Good Luck and keep us posted.

Stumpy-1
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  #11  
Old 04-14-2010, 09:18 AM
WhoIsJohnGalt WhoIsJohnGalt is offline
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Thanks Stumpy. I noticed the same thing with common vs. mixed headstamps, so all of the loading I have done lately has been with Winchester headstamps. I have tried HP-38 as well and the results were similar. I am *thinking* about giving some Longshot a try, it's even slower still and some have said they were able to get good results with lead using it. We'll see...


MSgt, here are the pics of the barrel.





You can see in those two pics the peened portion of the lower lugs. It's on the radiused portion almost directly above the link pin. I've never seen that on my other 1911 barrels. However, the slide stop looks fine....









It may be hard to see in these pictures, but the upper lugs look polished and rounded on top. That was not the case when the barrel was new. I don't know if this would indicate poor fitting or poor timing, but this gun has never hiccuped in over 2,500 rounds FWIW.
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:31 AM
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You will find the 125 grain trunkcated cone i cast may be what ya need. I have had the best luck with the use of them.
So much that I quit buying them and cast my own. does make for a goofy strange looking bullet but flys where ya want it to.
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  #13  
Old 04-14-2010, 10:36 AM
WhoIsJohnGalt WhoIsJohnGalt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 340six View Post
You will find the 125 grain trunkcated cone i cast may be what ya need. I have had the best luck with the use of them.
So much that I quit buying them and cast my own. does make for a goofy strange looking bullet but flys where ya want it to.
Have any sources for them? I don't think I've seen that bullet before. I'll give them a try though. I'm also going to try loading some 147gr, some FMJ and a few other bullet types this week I think.
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:58 AM
RainDodger RainDodger is offline
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For 20+ years, I've used W231 powder for 9mm (and .45ACP) with good luck. 4.7 grains of it under a jacketed 115 gr. bullet (nearly any kind) has given me very good accuracy out of any 9mm I've had, and that's a few, including my long-term Browning Hi-Power and an H&K Compact. I routinely end up with one ragged hole in the target with that load.

Like said above, I would try another bullet weight first and then continue with the pistol investigation. Regarding the handloads, I'd try well-known loads from guys here, or middle-of-the-road loads from your manual(s), with common components that have been around for a while.

I have never found a real accuracy difference with 9mm by sorting brass.

Good luck.
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Old 04-14-2010, 11:55 AM
Stumpy-1 Stumpy-1 is offline
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Hi Mike,

Wow, that barrel looks kinda beat. I see the peening on the locking lugs, but it looks to me like the bottom lugs are in worse shape, and may be the cause of most of your accuracy problems. I don't think they can ride the slide stop pin for very long before hitting those "divots". That can't be good for accuracy, I would think. Maybe post those pics in the gunsmithing section for Logman or others to look at?

Stumpy-1
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  #16  
Old 04-14-2010, 01:06 PM
perrysho perrysho is offline
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Foul Grouping

Just ny OPINIONS, I like to keep things simple.

Send S & W the photos you posted here. Most pistols they will fix and test fire. Talk to someone in service or the custom shop. Usually no charge except shipping. Also better if you have a S & W dealer send it back for you.

S & W doesn't like bad publicity.

CLEARIFY, Now if your a charter member of the "Elite Tinker Butt Club" than have fun. LOL

I prefer to shoot and/or reload than work on a pistol that gets my blood pressure up.

Perry
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Old 04-14-2010, 03:16 PM
340six 340six is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RainDodger View Post
For 20+ years, I've used W231 powder for 9mm (and .45ACP) with good luck. 4.7 grains of it under a jacketed 115 gr. bullet (nearly any kind) has given me very good accuracy out of any 9mm I've had, and that's a few, including my long-term Browning Hi-Power and an H&K Compact. I routinely end up with one ragged hole in the target with that load.

Like said above, I would try another bullet weight first and then continue with the pistol investigation. Regarding the handloads, I'd try well-known loads from guys here, or middle-of-the-road loads from your manual(s), with common components that have been around for a while.

I have never found a real accuracy difference with 9mm by sorting brass.

Good luck.
I lost the link I had of a place that sold them just like the ones I cast.
Mine come to a smaller point that these are on gun broker. The ones I see there are realy flat points more than a TC
http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/Vie...Item=164342260
http://i234.photobucket.com/albums/e...ts/Cast001.jpg
http://i234.photobucket.com/albums/e...ts/Cast004.jpg
I agree take pics and Talk with S&W email them the pictures to who you talk with if they will let you. The barrel does look bad.
Try differant ammo before sending it back even if you do.
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Old 04-14-2010, 06:11 PM
RH45 RH45 is offline
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If you talk to S&W, they SHOULD send you a call tag, so, you don't even have to pay for shipping.

The most accurate loads I've found for MY 9mms is a toss up between a Zero 125 grain jhp .356, with 4 grains of Titegroup behind it, and the same load with Hornady XTP. I think they were doing a little over an inch at 50 yards, off sandbags. A good shooter could most likely get better groups.
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Old 04-14-2010, 06:19 PM
WhoIsJohnGalt WhoIsJohnGalt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RetiredRod View Post

My experience with this accuracy quest has indicated that with 9mm, faster seems to be more accurate than slower, which is about opposite from what I found with 45acp. With the Zero 115 JHP's, my best accuracy was around 1230-1250fps, using Power Pistol powder. However, for my everyday use, including competition, I've settled on a PP charge that gives about 1150 fps. In my 1911's, I've not found any accuracy preference between the Zero 115gr JHP's and the Zero 125gr JFP's, but in my XD there is a definite preference for the heavier bullet.
Hi Rod,

By any chance, have you slugged the bore of your 1911 and XD barrels and know what the twist rate of each is? IIRC, the S&W rep told me the twist rate on the stock S&W barrel was 1:18. Seems like that would be a reasonable rate for the 125gr bullets from what I read on Schuemann's website...

Thanks,

-Mike
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Old 04-14-2010, 06:22 PM
WhoIsJohnGalt WhoIsJohnGalt is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RH45 View Post
If you talk to S&W, they SHOULD send you a call tag, so, you don't even have to pay for shipping.

The most accurate loads I've found for MY 9mms is a toss up between a Zero 125 grain jhp .356, with 4 grains of Titegroup behind it, and the same load with Hornady XTP. I think they were doing a little over an inch at 50 yards, off sandbags. A good shooter could most likely get better groups.
If I don't find a better load or see better results with other factory ammo, I'm going to send it back to S&W and see what they think. At a minimum it seem's the lower lugs on my barrel are in poor shape. Whether or not that is contributing to the lack of accuracy, I don't know, but at least I know S&W will work with me to make it right if needed.
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Old 04-14-2010, 08:08 PM
Dangerous Dangerous is offline
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The feet seem to be peened fairly badly. The top lugs don't look peened bu t more polished as if dragging across the slide lugs after unlocking. Maybe the feet are bumping it back up where the peen crosses the slide stop pin. Just a guess.
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  #22  
Old 04-15-2010, 07:23 AM
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RetiredRod RetiredRod is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WhoIsJohnGalt View Post
Hi Rod,

By any chance, have you slugged the bore of your 1911 and XD barrels and know what the twist rate of each is? IIRC, the S&W rep told me the twist rate on the stock S&W barrel was 1:18. Seems like that would be a reasonable rate for the 125gr bullets from what I read on Schuemann's website...

Thanks,

-Mike
Mike,

My 1911 barrel is a Kart. It slugged at 0.355". I have not slugged the XD barrel. Don't know the twist rate on either barrel. Is it likely the Kart twist might be 1:32?
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:19 PM
Casp1911 Casp1911 is offline
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Try this load if you would like

It is accurate in the XDm

125 gr rn cast bullets, 3.8 of BE, oal 1.150

good luck
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Old 04-15-2010, 05:40 PM
GOA Guy GOA Guy is offline
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That doesn't look like peening on the bottom lugs to me. There is no displaced metal that I can see. It looks like something that occured during barrel fitting? Quite odd....
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Old 04-15-2010, 08:45 PM
WhoIsJohnGalt WhoIsJohnGalt is offline
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I picked up boxes of two other brands of factory loaded 115gr FMJ and 100 each of 115FMJ and 124FMJ bullets to reload today. If I don't see reasonable results from any of them, I'll be pretty well convinced something is up with the barrel.
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