tailoring pistol loads for accuracy?


June 8, 2003, 10:26 AM
Hi Guys,

Just started reloading, and I've got to say I'm having a blast! I've been reloading 9mm for my Ruger KP89 on a dillon 550 that I picked up. (I know you can buy 9's cheap, but I'm in it for the fun!)..

I loaded up a couple box's of 115gr TMJ using speer's minimum data.. 4.5gr 231, 1.135 OAL.

The shot OK, but weren't the most accurate loads I've ever fired in the gun. Recoil was very mild, and many of the ejected cases just sort of flopped out of the gun and landed on my feet..

My question is should I try changing the OAL length to improve accuracy, or the powder charge? I'm not really sure where to head with this. I know I'm going to up the charge slightly and try that, if nothing else for a bit cleaner ejection.

I'm not looking to make super hot loads, or anything like that, I just want a nice accurate plinking load..

Thoughts / Comments?


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June 8, 2003, 11:01 AM
Personally 243 .. I'd keep with a consistent OAL ...... and go by the book ... you have mag fit to consider and feed considerations.

Sounds like you have capably tested your first loads and found pretty much the ''usual'' ... just not quite strong enough. Once you have achieved 100% reliable cycling, feeding and ejection you will, almost by default ..... probably find too that your accuracy has come way better too.

I reload 9mm still ... lee 125 grn hardcast RN ..... sitting on 5.5 grns Vit N-340 ...... this has become my ideal round for practice .... does not overload my FEG (HP clone) and still cycles my P95 . which can digest +P's.

Keep building up your load within safe levels .. and hopefully just below what might be listed as a max ...... you'll find things go well all round.

June 8, 2003, 11:47 AM
Thanks for the info..

I've loaded some up with 4.6, 4.7, and 4.8 grs (max is listed as 5.0) Probably sneak off this afternoon and see if a touch more powder improves things.

I guess I'll wait some more before playing with OAL and try the slightly heavier powder charges as you suggest first.. Sounds like a pretty good plan to me.

These are my first baby steps into reloading, so I appreciate any and all advice!


June 8, 2003, 11:55 AM
I think you're on the right track 243 .. patience pays off. Like as not (just gut feeling) .. you'll find that your 4.8 loads will be best .... cycling should be much crisper and I'd wager accuracy pullin in better too. To be safe ... just inspect cases to make sure no over pressure signs.

OAL .. still reckon you should keep that ''by the book''.:)

Good shooting.

June 8, 2003, 12:10 PM
I think you are about right with your load. When I load 115 gr. Speer JHPs I use 4.7 gr. 231 with your OAL and find it to be an acceptable combo. Accuracy is good, and extraction is flawless with cases being ejected forcefully, landing approx. 6' to the rear.

The only other 115 gr. load I use is with the WW 115 gr. STHP. I have a stash of WW Action pistol which I don't believe is still being produced. I found 5.5 gr. WAP to produce a group size of 4" at 25 yds from a standing supported position. The load is closer to factory ammo than the other, but only IMO slightly more accurate. For plinking, I like the 4.7 gr. as it is easier on the pistol.

June 8, 2003, 12:39 PM
Thanks guys.

I'm pretty much stuck with the 115gr TMJ bullets, as the guy I bought all the stuff off had a very LARGE box of them (3,660 according to the label).. I'm hoping I can find an acceptable plinking load for them as there are enough there to last me for QUITE a while :D


June 8, 2003, 09:26 PM
I've never liked 231 in 9mm, just never got good accuracy with it, although others have. I much prefer unigue; 5.1 grains with a 124 gr fmj works pretty good for me.

June 9, 2003, 10:49 AM

Try seating the bullet to 1.110"(Speer TMJ only). Limit your crimp to just removing the flare from the neck. Only flare with expander sufficient to allow seating the bullet without damaging case. The closer you get to 5.0gr the better accuracy and function will be. Many manuals list 5.0 as max. and Hodgdon lists the HP-38 (same as win231 except for lot #'s) at 5.1gr.
For loads where accuracy really counts, switch to either the Nosler 115 JHP, Hornady 115 JHP, Speer Gold-dot 115 HP, or Sierra 115 JHC. These are premium bullets and will give good accuracy. The FMJ's are very fickle and vary a great deal from lot to lot. I've had very limited success with good accuracy from FMJ's. Best luck has been with Sierra 115gr.

I found that by paying attention to bullet run-out makes a great deal of difference in 9mm accuracy. I found that this is helped by seating the bullet deeper, but pay attention to pressure signs as with the 9mm, a little can make a huge difference. Take note that Federal seats their 147 and 124 bullets quite deeply, and are some of the most accurate of 9mm ammo.
The only brass I can recommend is either Starline, or Federal.
Always sort brass by headstamp and adjust dies accordingly.

I've shot a lot of Win231 and found 4.8 to be best. However, when you run out, replace with Win SuperField. Use 5.4 gr and same seating depth as you work out with Win231. I've found that WSF is much more tolerant of component variations as pressures are moderate, and SD can run to under 10fps. Accuracy is superb.

June 12, 2003, 06:52 PM
Well finally got a chance to try out my latest batch, same OAL but I worked up to 4.9 gr of 231..

As predicted by you all 4.8 functioned the gun perfectly and greatly improved accuracy. Offhand groups shrunk down to roughly 4-5 inches @ 20 yds (which is about what I shoot factory ammo so I think I'm pretty close.

I guess this will be a good practice load for a while.. I need it :D Then perhaps I'll try playing with the OAL a bit.

Thanks for all the tips!


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