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racer-x

Got it, slower powders for 9 major!

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Lots of cracked slides these days caused by less than perfect metallurgy, hardness, fitting, etc.. compounded by high pressure 9major loads.
My goal in developing a great load is to maximize performance while NOT destroying me or my gun.
 
The common sense recommendation is to use a slower powder to reduce case pressure.
OK, slower powders measured & ranked how?
Powder manufacturers charts are considered 'guidelines' as to 'relative' burn rates, and should maybe be considered most accurate with their own product?
Add to this, the different burn rate charts available have conflicting ranks among the most popular powders used for 9major.
 
And now for the rule of thumb :)
Slower powders usually require more charge weight than fast powders to achieve the same velocity (assuming same bullet, barrel, primer & cart.).
More conflict.
 
So all of this has got me thinking... (probably over-thinking)
The following is compiled from my own 9major load data over the years.
This is a high level comparison - not a true apples to apples, since this is with 4 different barrel configurations, different temps, etc..
The last column is the charge weight of a 100% full 9mm case. Nice for relative density comparisons.
 

powder compare.jpg

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I've been reconsidering N350 as an alternative based on its placement in the charts. Vihtavuori ranks their own N350 burn rate in between 3N37 and 3n38, yet N350 takes less charge to deliver 170PF. This seems conflicting?

 

Ramshot TrueBlue was my favorite for years, but I became concerned it may be too fast for 9major (based on some burn rate charts and I had 2 slides crack)? However, one burn rate chart places True Blue in between Longshot and N350 - much slower region of chart. My relative charge weights above seem to place it in that slower range as well. Who knows.

 

WAC vs HS-6
The latest Hodgdon chart places HS-6 on the fast side of WAC. The relative charge weights put it much slower. In fact, WAC has the lowest charge weight for 170PF of any powder I've tested. Is it the fastest powder of this crew?

 

Looking for the least objectionable, from the slow side of this list up...
AA#7 performs good but is very dirty
3N38 performs good, pain to load, very compressed, OAL's will increase sometimes
3N37 performs OK, pain to load, very compressed, OAL's will increase sometimes, very hot in gun
True Blue - performs good, very clean
HS-6 - performs good, dirty

 

 

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31 minutes ago, racer-x said:

 
AA#7 performs good but is very dirty
3N38 performs good, pain to load, very compressed, OAL's will increase sometimes
3N37 performs OK, pain to load, very compressed, OAL's will increase sometimes, very hot in gun
True Blue - performs good, very clean
HS-6 - performs good, dirty

 

Guess I'm just lazy, but this is why I switched from HS6 to WAC about 8 years ago - it's clean

and doesn't fill the case (I don't have to worry about spilling the powder during the reloading

phase).

 

Some people now asking serious questions re: WAC, and I'm listening - trying to figure out

if there's something to it - might switch back to HS6 ...:huh:

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Cool chart.  Thanks.

 

Interestingly, it takes me 7.3gr of WAC with a 115gr to make 170PF also.  Your data seems to be a good baseline if I wanted to try other powders.  Although, I don't think I'm switching anytime soon.  

 

ETA-I recently started shooting Open and initially got 24lbs of WAC.  I'm about halfway through it and will be ordering more soon.  Is WAC consistent from lot to lot?

Edited by d_striker

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I don't shoot competition.  I do use Blue Dot in my 9MM (115 grain hollow points) and .40 S&W (135 grain hollow points) loads and get excellent accuracy from my CZ's.  Both are compressed loads.  A characteristic of slow burning powders in small cases.  Can't comment on velocity either.  No chronograph.  I can tell you the P07 with the 135 grain Noslers and the Blue Dot is similar in recoil/muzzle blast to a .357 magnum.  You can really tell the difference between the Blue Dot loads and the factory FMJ loads.

 

I got the .40 S&W load data from the Nosler website.  They listed their most accurate load with the 135 grain HP was with Blue Dot powder.

 

Can't comment of how dirty it may/may not be compared to the powders you listed.

 

I've also used some 800X, but vowed to never buy another lb. after fighting with it to get consistent charge weights and never really getting there.  Ugly stuff through a powder measure.

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37 minutes ago, d_striker said:

Is WAC consistent from lot to lot?

I load 7.0 wac w/121mg to get 170pf. My new 8# takes 6.8gr to get 170pf. Same out of 2 guns w/3 holes. 

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I shoot 38 super but looking at that list I'd probably go with 3N38 with 124s (or 121's) as presumably there is a bit less compressed load (less chance of OAL growth) vs the 115gn 3N38 load. 3N38 is just such a good powder. clean, consistent, meters well, great gas, and it even smells good. :)

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I tested & chrono'd some True Blue & HS-6 loads tonight.

All loads at 1.135 OAL.

 

Glad I tested the True Blue... ruling it out.

My first 7.8 gr load (MG124JHP) was much higher velocity than predicted. The flattened primers at only 175PF seem to confirm True Blue is a faster burn rate than the others on my list. Way flatter primers compared to same PF using WAC, 3n38 or HS-6.

Even with the heavier charge to get there (compared to a MG124 on top of 6.9 gr WAC at 1.135 for example for 175PF in same gun).

The primers weren't this flat with my True Blue loads when I was loading longer (1.185) for my old gun. At 175PF tonight, the gun was harsh with lots of flip. Worst feeling load I've shot in this gun by a large margin.

 

The HS-6 with 115's shot nice, really nice. Even though my heaviest loads only made 169PF. Dialed in my 115 & 124 loads with a little more powder and can't wait to work more with both at 172PF. Gotta say, at this point HS-6 with 115's is right there as the best feeling load I've tested. Primers looked nearly identical to same PF WAC loads. 

 

 

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On 4/5/2017 at 6:21 PM, echotango said:

I load 7.0 wac w/121mg to get 170pf. My new 8# takes 6.8gr to get 170pf. Same out of 2 guns w/3 holes. 

 

I guess I wouldn't mind if it took me less powder than my current load to make the same PF.  I'd be a little worried if I had to add more.

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6 hours ago, d_striker said:

 

I wouldn't mind if it took me less powder than my current load to make the same PF.  I'd be a little worried if I had to add more.

 

Lot to Lot deviation means you might have to "add more" next time - can't tell ....

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As a rule you want to use the slowest burning powder that will make major with the case capacity you are working with. This usually will feel softer and makes the most gas to work the comp. This applies to all the open calibers but IMO more in a 9 major. The COAL is going to play a big part in how much pressure is made, seating a bullet even a slight amount deeper with the same powder charge can increase pressure a lot. There are other ways to lower the pressure spike in a particular load like the twist rate of the barrel or more free bore.

Over many years I have seen many open guns experience things breaking and cracking from pushing the limits of what the design and material were meant to handle. The cause from these were usually able to be figured out and smiths were able to build better more reliable guns. Then came the 9 major with the rule change and the amount of guns breaking has gone way up and this is no coincidence. I think there are things that can be done to help lower the chances of breaking something in the loading of the 9 major pistols.

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I don't know where 357SIG gets his information, but I have come 100% to the exact same conclusions.  We can hash it out all we want but I have personally determined 4 best practices to running 9 major successfully.  These items are not new (people have already figured this out) and the intent is to get the best possible performance with minimal abuse to the gun and brass.  Minimizing abuse and sensitivity in your setup makes stuff last longer and lessens (not eliminates) the possibility of a gun stoppage.

 

1) Slowest powder you can make work.

2) OAL.  Longest you can make work.

3) Buy a throater.  Use it.

4) Look at your brass before you load it.

 

Again, this is not new information.  Though what has happened over time is people have tried other things and they work 100% for some people in some cases.  I think this is due to many things including cost, ease of reloading, ease of gun setup, etc.  But that doesn't mean they are the very best practices.  It just means they work for some shooters.  And that's ok if that's what you choose.

 

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One more thought on this topic.  The less than ideal practices, unfortunately, is why I think SVI has stopped offering 9x19 IMM guns.  Totally speculating here, but it's a shame that people cause themselves and SVI so many issues with 9 major because they can't follow best practices.  We really should forget about it being a hot 9x19 and treat it as a stand alone wildcat that is capable of using most traditional 9mm Luger brass.

 

Attached is very old knowledge, but straight from Schuemann.  While we have newer powders and some of these powders are now defunct the premise is still the point and best practices are still best practices.  

 

 

PowderChoicesMajor.JPG

Edited by theWacoKid

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    It is unfortunate that what most of us take for granted reloading any cartridge is often overlooked by some. I believe a lot is due to them being new to reloading as well as being naive as to just how bad things can go wrong. Every burn rate chart I've ever seen says that you can't use this as a basis for load development. 

     I agree with WacoKid, in that when these practices are overlooked it causes most of the problems for shooters and gunbuilders alike. What may work for one gun with a certain barrel twist, throat dimension, chamber dimension, or COAL plays a huge part with that load being somewhat safe. As far as the 9 major cartridge goes, it is a ticking timebomb and extra care has to be taken to reload this. I wouldn't classify it as a wildcat because most wildcat cartridges at least stay within the pressure boundaries of the parent case design.

    9 major runs at pressures that far exceed what is considered safe for the cartridge and you have to go large percentages over the charts to make the PF. I have never seen a cartridge in any organized shooting that has had so many close calls and still be allowed. 

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12 hours ago, theWacoKid said:

1) Slowest powder you can make work.

2) OAL.  Longest you can make work.

3) Buy a throater.  Use it.

4) Look at your brass before you load it.

Agreed, good advice.

 

#1 in your list is the original point of my post. What actually are the slowest powders in this working range? With conflicting burn rate charts, guidelines that are frequently inaccurate and no (reasonable) way to precisely measure pressure in a semi-auto handgun, this is answer is not simple. 

 

#2  As I found out with my latest True Blue test loads at 1.135 OAL, some powders are more sensitive to reduced OAL's than others. 3N38, WAC, HS-6, AA#7 have not flattened primers at this OAL for me in the PF's I've tested.

 

#3 Agreed. My CK gun with the short throat and PVD barrel is a challenge here. I ordered a carbide throater, but that's 6-8 weeks custom build and $$.

 

#4 absolutely.

 

 

So following your prod ( :) ) on AA#7, I got a pound today and worked up a load. I've always heard AA#7 was dirty & gritty... yes it is. Shoots nice. Think I still like HS-6 best though. PF's of my HS-6 & AA#7 loads weren't both at 172 tonight, so my comparison isn't done yet.

 

AA#7 is THE slowest powder on our list, with THE largest charge volume / PF and also recommended by Schuemann.

My primers at 175PF with 124's looked just like the primers for my 175PF WAC and HS-6 loads. Slight flattening, but not bad at all.

Maybe there is a more pronounced difference at longer OAL's? 

 

Also, out of curiosity I calculated that reducing the OAL from 1.175 to 1.125 results in an 11.9% reduction in a 9MM's case volume (using MG124JHP's).

Not a huge number, but pressure curves can be very non-linear. Certainly best to load as long as possible.

 

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3N38 and #7 are the slowest powders on that list. Vihtavuori has load data for 3N38 suggesting that it can make Major and still be within acceptable SAAMI/CIP pressures for the 9mm/9X21, and their data makes Major in my pistol. 

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The only currently available powders I consider for 9 major are:

 

3n38, SP2, AA7, and n105 (yes, you can make major with it.)  I haven't tried the new Nobel Sports powders but would consider trying the slowest handgun powders.

 

3n38 and n105 are slow to load since they are compressed but you can use that to load them very long (almost to 38 Super length with a longer bullet) without worrying about setback.  

 

One other thing you can consider is to use the shortest bullet if you have to load on the shorter side.  IE, MG 124JHP is longer than a Zero 125 JHP.  Loaded to the same OAL, the zero is going to have a lower initial pressure spike.  

 

 

 

 

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9 hours ago, 357SIG said:

 As far as the 9 major cartridge goes, it is a ticking timebomb and extra care has to be taken to reload this.

    9 major runs at pressures that far exceed what is considered safe for the cartridge and you have to go large percentages over the charts to make the PF. I have never seen a cartridge in any organized shooting that has had so many close calls and still be allowed. 

 

A time bomb?!?

 

Is it possible you're being a little dramatic?  You also reference "so many close calls", can you give an example?

 

Granted I've only been shooting 9 major a little under five years, but I have experienced nothing more dramatic than a stepped case coming apart, nor have spoken to anyone who has experience a 9 major mishap which caused permanent damage to personal or property.  Have you experienced something like that?

 

Vihtavuori lists a 9x21 major load which can be loaded in a 9x19 case: 9.4gr of 3n38 under a 115gr JHP at 1.161" for 171pf (which happens to be my favorite load).  I'm willing to assume Vihtavuori would not publish a load which didn't fall within SAAMI specifications for pressure, would you call that a same assumption?

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I would be willing to bet more people blow up their guns with 40s and fast powder than blow up 9 major guns. Case separations (specifically of the stepped variety), sure that happens. But real kabooms? I don't know anybody..

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

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The big difference is the GUN (barrel, chamber).

 

You can't load PF 175 into a Luger, or for very long in a Browning Hi-Power (they spent

a decade trying that).   But, it's not catastrophic, even in the BHP.   The gun just wears

out very quickly.

 

And, a lot of the European 9mm ammo during WWII was pretty hot - I'm guessing it

approached PF165.

 

I've been shooting 9mm Major for 10 years, and except for three cases that ruptured,

no problems at all (and the gun contained the effects of the cases rupturing).

 

These STI's are very tough guns ....  :) 

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I agree, 9 major is not a ticking time bomb. The case separation/failure and gun life are the main issues we're looking to avoid. Good 9mm brass is pretty tough and today's barrels are very good.  I've seen no true close calls.  We've graduated well past the days of super face, thank goodness. 

 

On the other hand, I've known and seen way more catastrophic kabooms in .40 major guns and 9mm production guns because loads of small charges of fast powders are so sensitive to reloading errors. 

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12 hours ago, racer-x said:

Agreed, good advice.

 

#1 in your list is the original point of my post. What actually are the slowest powders in this working range?

 

#2  As I found out with my latest True Blue test loads at 1.135 OAL, some powders are more sensitive to reduced OAL's than others. 3N38, WAC, HS-6, AA#7 have not flattened primers at this OAL for me in the PF's I've tested.

 

#3 Agreed. My CK gun with the short throat and PVD barrel is a challenge here. I ordered a carbide throater, but that's 6-8 weeks custom build and $$.

 

#4 absolutely.

 

#1 - You don't need precise, you just need slower. Stuff like 3N38, N105, No. 7, SP2, HS-6. HS-6 falls weird in charts but it is a pistol/shotgun powder which gives it unique characteristics.

 

One of the problems with burn rate charts is how the tests are conducted. If tests are even conducted. One of the biggest variables to powder burn is pressure. Depending on test method, powders can be measured under sets of conditions that may or may not be representative of using that powder to actually propel a bullet. 

 

#2 - All powders will react to OAL differently, but every one will generate a lower peak pressure and slightly flatter curve for a given charge with a longer OAL.  Flat pressure curve gooder, steep spiking pressure curve not gooder. 

 

#3 - $40 or so from Manson and on the shelf ready to ship. 

Edited by theWacoKid

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54 minutes ago, theWacoKid said:

One of the problems with burn rate charts is how the tests are conducted. If tests are even conducted. One of the biggest variables to powder burn is pressure. Depending on test method, powders can be measured under sets of conditions that may or may not be representative of using that powder to actually propel a bullet. 

 

Think you hit it on the head here.

 

The load data we have from manufacturers is from widely different test environments in most cases. The most accurate results for me are what I gather with my equipment and loads. Good point on the HS-6 too. It performs like much slower powders in my gun (lots of gas and minimal primer flattening).

 

1 hour ago, theWacoKid said:

#3 - $40 or so from Manson and on the shelf ready to ship. 

 

That's the S7 tool steel model for $40. My PVD barrel laughs at that. When I first got this gun, I tried throating with a Clymer and then a Manson throater - both S7. Did nothing to the barrels throat. PT&G makes a carbide throater (not stocked) that is hard enough to cut PVD (hopefully). 

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1 hour ago, racer-x said:

That's the S7 tool steel model for $40. My PVD barrel laughs at that. When I first got this gun, I tried throating with a Clymer and then a Manson throater - both S7. Did nothing to the barrels throat. PT&G makes a carbide throater (not stocked) that is hard enough to cut PVD (hopefully). 

 

I see. I had success with the Manson reamer on both a TiN barrel and a KKM barrel. The KKM is either pvd or black nitride, still not 100% sure which. 

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