Favorite loading recipes? (handgun calibers)

Grenadier

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Before I begin, I strongly advocate following the recipes that the powder manufacturers give you. They've spent millions of dollars in research and development, and tested their loads numerous times. For that reason, I do not exceed the max loads, and if anything try to stay at least 0.1 grain below the max.

The recipes I have listed below are all below the max recommended charge, in accordance to the recipes given by the powder manufacturers.




Just wondering what everyone who handloads uses, and for what reason? I'm always looking to experiment with loads that people swear is the magic formula.


I'll start with some of my favorite loads (list will be updated later):

9 mm:

Fun light plinking load:

115 grain Ranier plated round nose bullet
3.9 g Vihtavuori N320 powder (4.4 max)
Winchester standard small pistol primer
COAL = 1.142"

This is a very light recoiling load, and has just enough power to cycle the slide of my Glock 17, although some people have reported better results going to 4.0 or 4.1 grains. Very clean burning, no muzzle flash. When teaching people to fire their first centerfire handgun, I use this in combination with the above Glock. Not very loud, relatively speaking, (but you must always use ear protection), and the load is also a sliver below subsonic velocities.

I find this a great load to use for training relatively new people who have acquired a good proficiency with my .22 LR Ruger 22/45 pistol, and want to move on to more powerful calibers. This is a good bit lighter recoiling than even Winchester white box ammo.




Hot plinking load, safely duplicates the feel of higher pressure defensive ammo:

124 grain FMJ round nose bullet
6.4 grains Alliant Power Pistol (6.6 grains max, according to Alliant)
Winchester standard small pistol primer
COAL = 1.150"

This is a very fast load, averaging over 1200 fps from my Glock 17, yet still well under the 35000 psi maximum for standard pressure loads. With a full 6.6 grains, I can hit about 1250 fps. The only disadvantage to this load is that Power Pistol does produce a bit of flash, but at least it's clean burning in this cartridge. If I want a no-flash load, then I'll substitue 6.3 grains of Vihtavuori 3N37 for Power Pistol (very similar burning qualities, but please consult manual for recipes).



9 mm Major:

147 grain Hornady XTP jacketed hollowpoint bullet
6.7 grains Vihtavuori 3N38 powder (6.9 grains max)
Winchester small pistol primer
COAL = 1.142"

This load can make "Major" if I were to use it for such purposes, where that 147 grain bullet screams out at 1195 fps. No, this isn't an error, and I've tested this with 25 rounds through the chrony.

I also use this as a bowling pin shooting load, and can surprise many people who think that the 9 mm is no good for such games (I still prefer my 10 mm for that, though). Well into 357 Sig territory here with this bullet weight.

This load is also a tad below the SAAMI max pressure of 35000 psi. 3N38 is a relatively new powder to the scene, but it's already rapidly becoming my choice of (safe) hotrodding powder, now that Hodgdon is discontinuing Longshot. The only BIG problem with this, though, is that Vihtavuori 3N38 is VERY hard to find, especially from the local dealers. I don't really want to order from online, unless I can make a relatively large order, since the hazmat charges apply.
 

arnisandyz

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9mm
147g LRN with 3.4 W231 - light recoiling, knocks down steels easily, dirty
124g Rainer with 4.6 W231 - simulate my carry ammo

45 ACP
185gr LSWC 5 grains W231 - nice light plinking load
200gr SLSWC 4.2 grains Clays - my current favorite IDPA load

W231 is good all around powder, but its a little dirty. I can use it to load 9mm, 38 special, 40SW and 45ACP. While not ideal in every instance it simplifies things for my plinking ammo. Clays is really soft shooting in the 45. Tightgroup works well for 40SW. I don't own a 40 but my friend loads for one.
 

9mm+p+

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This is a bit off topic but since you have loading info I've not seen you may know. Pretty much every round is consistent among weights and velocities among factory loads from different manufacturers or close anyway. In 357 mag pretty much everyone's 125 gr is around 1450 fps, the 158 at 1250 or so. 45's are pretty standard in the mid 800's for 230 gr ball, 1000ish for 185 gr and 1150 for 185 gr +P. In 9mm though there seems to be no real pattern. Corbon advertises 1350 fps for their 115 gr +P while I see Remington claiming about 100 fps less for their +P+. When you step up to 124 gr the difference in +P loads and standard is minimal if there at all. The Winchester 127 gr Ranger load is somewhat stouter. I guess my question is how much is the 9MM capable of doing safely with 124 gr JHPs. I've read for years about how stout European 124 gr loads are loaded but never see anything that seems very impressive. To me getting over 1100 fps with a 147 gr load in a 9 is impressive. The math just seems to dictate that 124 gr loads are capable of much more and eliminate some of the shortcomings of the lighter 115 gr rounds at basically the exact same velocities. Thanks, if this makes no sense I've not been to bed yet and it's almost noon.
 

arnisandyz

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Its kind of like adding Nitros, a Supercharger AND a Turbocharger to a 4cyl Honda engine, eventually somethings going to give!

Not to say it can't be done, but its difficult to get the 147 grainers above subsonic velocity within the limits of the 9mm case safely. I would guess the chamber pressures would be way beyond SAAMI specs. +P = 10% above, when you see +P+ it means NO LIMIT...You'ld kind of be on your own in uncharted waters, if the risk of a kaboom is worth it, build your way up slowly. As I mentioned, it CAN probably be done but I wouldn't want to be the one to do it. I would also suggest shooting somthing this hot out of a steel gun and not a polymer framed gun. Competion shooters in Open class have worked the 9mm to its extreme to get Major Power Factor scoring out of something designed for minor. I don't think many of them use the 147 (I could be wrong) but instead go for the increased velocity a lighter bullet will give them. (Power factor is bullet weight x velocity /1000).

I like the 9mm for what it is, if I wanted a little more I would go with a 38 Super or move up to 40SW, 45GAP or 45ACP.
 
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Grenadier

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There are only three powders that I will ever use to hotrod a 147 grainer (beyond 1050 fps), in this order of prefernce:

1) Vihtavuori 3N38
2) Alliant Power Pistol
3) Vihtavouri 3N37

The only powder I'll use to go beyond 1100 fps is Vihtavuori 3N38. I did a good bit of scouting for such recipes, and this is the only powder that can hit over 1200 fps without entering +P territory. Even then, I really can't play around much with it, since 3N38 is expensive, and very hard to find.

Some folks have suggested trying Accurate Arms #9, but the big problem with that is the bulk of the powder; it's a very slow burning pistol powder, and you can't cram enough powder in there, even with a compressed charge (and that's also something I strongly dislike).

I just don't like the idea of exceeding SAAMI standard pressure in my own handloads, even though the brass and guns are more than capable of handling the 38,500 psi limit of a +P cartridge. No need for turbocharging here, although it's somewhat like putting premium racing fuel into a passenger car (and works).


Arnisandyz, from what I've seen, most folks who do try to hotrod their 9 mm cartridges to hit major, use 147 grainers. To hit that magical number of 165,000 on the power factor, makes it extremely difficult for the 124 grainers, since you would need a velocity of 1331 fps to attain this feat. Not entirely impossible, but very difficult, even with VV 3N38. To do this requires a powder charge that I will not share, simply for the sake of safety. While it worked safely in my guns, with my components, etc., I would cringe at the idea of someone trying to fire one of these babies through an old Helwan, or Radom.

A 115 grainer would require 1435 fps or more, and that's even more difficult.

With a 147 grainer, you only need 1123 fps, and that can certainly be done with the above three powders, although using Power Pistol or 3N37 would be creeping into +P territory, while 3N38 keeps you in comfortably in standard pressure territory.
 
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Grenadier

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9mm+p+ said:
In 9mm though there seems to be no real pattern. Corbon advertises 1350 fps for their 115 gr +P while I see Remington claiming about 100 fps less for their +P+. When you step up to 124 gr the difference in +P loads and standard is minimal if there at all. The Winchester 127 gr Ranger load is somewhat stouter. I guess my question is how much is the 9MM capable of doing safely with 124 gr JHPs. I've read for years about how stout European 124 gr loads are loaded but never see anything that seems very impressive. To me getting over 1100 fps with a 147 gr load in a 9 is impressive. The math just seems to dictate that 124 gr loads are capable of much more and eliminate some of the shortcomings of the lighter 115 gr rounds at basically the exact same velocities. Thanks, if this makes no sense I've not been to bed yet and it's almost noon.

Actually, you do make some good sense here.

I just hotrod (and not even that, given my preference for sticking within limits) for fun, and the only practical application I get with my 9 mm major load is during the bowling pin shoots, or to prove someone wrong about not being able to make major.

Today's bullet designs are the results of millions of dollars in research and development spent by the companies, and they've come out with some very impressive designs. No longer are bullets heavily dependent on high velocities for reliable expansion, and to be honest, even though my defensive load is the Winchester 127 grain +P+ JHP, I would feel equally comfortable using a standard pressure, subsonic Remington Golden Saber 147 grain BJHP.

There's always going to be a debate between the Fackler crowd versus the Marshall / Sanow crowd, and all I can say is that both sides do present very good arguments.
 

arnisandyz

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Good info Grenadier,

I'll leave hotrodding the 9mm to the experts. There are so many good factory defensive loads out there, there really is no need (other than competition) to get a 9mm over pressured. I'd rather not use my reloads as defensive ammo anyways, but thats another thread!
 
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