Range Report: 9mm cast lead bullets with revolvers and semiautos


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RidgwayCO
September 4, 2009, 12:35 PM
I finally got to the indoor range yesterday (9/3/09) to complete my testing of the 125gr Dardas cast bullet. I checked twenty at random, and they averaged .356" in diameter, .605" in length, and 125.2gr in weight. Dardas claims their alloy runs 18-20 in hardness, and the bullets appear to be very well-made with a blue crayon-type lube. Since they carry two styles in this weight, I should add that I used the bullet with the driving band at the base. No appreciable leading was observed in any of the firearms after testing.

All rounds tested used a 1.140" COL, once-fired Fiocchi brass measuring .750", CCI 500 primers, and a light taper crimp (just enough to eliminate the case flare). Powder weights were selected with an eye towards the desired 1020 fps, and what the Lee Pro Auto Disk's fixed cavities would throw. The target was at 25 yards, the CED Millennium chronograph with IR screens was at 10 feet, and the guns were rested on sandbags. Age has affected my vision to the point that it no longer allows me to honestly test for extreme accuracy, so please understand the lack of group size. The numbers in the table are reported as fps/es/sd. Ten rounds of each load were fired in each gun.

The test firearms were two S&W 547s with 3" and 4" barrels, a Beretta 8000F Cougar with a 3.6" barrel, and a Beretta 92FS with a 4.9" barrel. I was particularly interested in seeing how the different action types and barrel lengths performed with identical loads.

............................8000F (3.6").......547 (3")...........547 (4")........92FS (4.9")
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AA #2.......4.0gr.......994/15/5.......1016/21/6........1045/25/7........1058/17/5

VV N320...4.0gr........973/24/8.......1007/30/10......1028/31/10.......1046/38/10

VV N330...4.6gr......1020/18/5.......1059/35/10......1084/30/9.........1098/29/9

VV N340...4.7gr......1017/25/8.......1045/41/11......1054/48/13.......1085/37/10

Unique.....4.3gr.......925/65/23

Unique.....4.7gr.......985/23/13

Observations:

1) I was surprised that all of the loads were faster out of the 3" revolver than the 3.6" semi-auto. Counting the length of the chamber in the Cougar, it's effective barrel length was only slightly shorter than the 3" 547, but I was expecting more velocity loss from the 547's cylinder gap (the 3" has a .007" gap, and the 4" has a .005" gap).

2) Even though I wasn't checking specifically for accuracy, I did notice early in the testing that N330 was significantly more accurate than any of the other powders. I measured its ten shot group at 2.0" out of the 92FS.

3) Since the 547s are pretty rare and I don't want to overstress them, they'll see mostly cast lead bullets in the future. But they're a hoot to shoot, with nice double actions a plus.

4) Any of these powders work well with this cast bullet. No evidence of tumbling showed on the targets.

A lot of reloaders have been asking about using lead bullets in the 9mm Luger. Hopefully this information will be helpful.

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NVMM
September 4, 2009, 12:48 PM
RidgwayCo, Thanks for the report.

Galil5.56
September 4, 2009, 01:12 PM
I was surprised that all of the loads were faster out of the 3" revolver than the 3.6" semi-auto. Counting the length of the chamber in the Cougar

Can't say I am, considering what Beretta deems an appropriate groove diameter for 9mm. Would not be surprised a bit if your barrel has a .3575" or even larger GD, and taking in the bullets diameter, and hardness relative to pressures generated what you got seems entirely in line.

Did not see a velocity given for the 92 and Unique, and my Beretta M9 gets 1093 fps from a 125 grain Lee RN (drops bout 128) sized .358" and 4.7 grains of Unique when tested with a ProChrono Digital.

Marlin 45 carbine
September 4, 2009, 01:34 PM
good write-up ridgway. I don't have either of those pistols and haven't loaded the Dardas slugs but do shoot cast (mastercastbullets) w/good results out of my 9mm S&W. I use Red Dot, just a moderate loading.

GRIZ22
September 4, 2009, 03:44 PM
I was surprised that all of the loads were faster out of the 3" revolver than the 3.6" semi-auto.

.6" of barrel doesn't mean a lot comparing one gun to another. I've seen loads chrono faster out of 4" barrels than 5" barrels. You might find a 2" that chronos faster than your 3".

Walkalong
September 4, 2009, 03:52 PM
And autos include the chamber in barrel length, unlike revolvers.

I have a "slow" 6" Model 28 that gives around the same velocities as some 4" guns. I have a "fast" 5" 1911 barrel that gives around 50 to 60 FPS more with loads than my other 5" 1911's.

Excellent range report. Thanks.

NoleMan
September 4, 2009, 04:04 PM
Some helpful load data there. I'm using 125 grain Lead cast and Unique. Thanks for the writeup.

NoleMan
September 4, 2009, 04:06 PM
Do you think 4.3 grains of unique, with a 125 grain 9mm lead cast bullet, out of a 5 inch barrel would come at around 1000, fps? Seems about right to me.

RidgwayCO
September 4, 2009, 06:31 PM
NoleMan, I'm guessing you'd be right around 1000 fps with that load out of a 5" barrel.

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