Yet another 9mm and OAL question


December 12, 2009, 01:03 AM
Hi guys. I am experiencing a problem with OAL and getting my dummy round to chamber in my Springfield xd9 with a 3" barrel. I'm using a lee single stage classic press with lee carbide dies for 9mm luger.

I ordered some 125gr. .356"dia bullets from Missouri Bullet Co. and I am starting to reload for the first time.

I resized my once fired brass using my resizing/decapping die. I made sure to match up the shellholder with the die, and then screw the die 1/2 a turn in a little more like the instructions said. I compared the length, width, and anything else I could measure of a resized once fired brass to a unfired new factory round, and a new unfired factory brass with the bullet and powder pulled out. All the same dimensions. I took the unfired factory brass and dropped it into my chamber. I then took the resized once fired brass and dropped it into the chamber. They both went into the chamber easily and were removed by tipping the barrel back and letting them fall out.

Next, I expanded the case mouth just enough to accept my 125gr. round nose cast bullet.

Then I placed my bullet into the brass and ran it in the bullet seater die. I slowly adjusted the die until I reached the OAL prescirbed by Hodgdon on their load data web site.

My load is 3.9gr of HP-38 at a C.O.L of 1.125" for a 125gr. LCN. I am working on a dummy round with no primer or powder to make sure I can do this correctly.

When I seat the dummy cartridge at an overall length of 1.125", it will not chamber into my XD. I drop the bullet in, using no force to push it into the chamber. A small portion of the brass just above the rim sticks out of the chamber. When I drop a factory load in it does not, and the chamber swallows the cartridge up to the rim of the brass.

I believe this is too much headspace (I'm just starting to understand that concept). This is bad. Also, when I assemble the gun and try to place my dummy round into the gun it will not chamber. The slide will not close on the dummy round.

For comparison, my factory Blazer Brass 115gr. is 1.150" OAL and it chambers and feeds just fine.

I decided to seat the bullet a little deeper into the dummy cartridge until it very easily entered and exited the chamber of the gun, and the rim of the brass was completely into the chamber, just like the factory round.

This overall length was 1.110". This is .015" smaller than the factory data says! If used Hodgdon's data's OAL, I would have a cartridge that is too long and will not work in my gun. My shorter OAL works in the gun just fine. My concern is that there will be too much pressure at this new shorter OAL, and I will blow up my gun or ruin it due to increased pressures. From reading the recent 9mm Lee Loader & OAL thread posted a short time ago, the advice was to never go below the prescribed OAL.

My question is, is it safe to load this cartridge at that length, shorter than the data says, if the data's OAL is too long for my gun? Or am I doing something wrong here and the data is correct?

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December 12, 2009, 04:17 AM
You mentioned seating the bullet to your desired overall length but did not say anything about crimping. Did you remove the bell from the case before checking it in the chamber?

Steve C
December 12, 2009, 04:18 AM
My question is, is it safe to load this cartridge at that length, shorter than the data says, if the data's OAL is too long for my gun? Or am I doing something wrong here and the data is correct?

Using a start load like you plan I would have no reservation about sizing the OAL to fit the chamber. The Hodgdon data is for a LCN bullet wich usually stands for Lead Conical bullet that looks like this: rather than the LRN (Lead Round Nose) bullet you got from Missouri that looks like this:

You must adjust OAL so the bullet chambers since if it will not the ammo is no good to begin with. The differences in bullet shape is why we use a start load and work up. Information from powder manufacturers is a guide and not an exact assembly instruction. Start loads will be safe with bullets of the weight specified with OAL's of reasonable variation from the one listed, maximum loads may or may not be good.

December 12, 2009, 07:47 AM
I agree with Sport45, did you crimp just enough to remove the flare? If not try that.

Steve Marshall
December 12, 2009, 08:31 AM
Steve C is probably correct. In your bullets, at your original length, the ogive of the bullet was probably contacting the rifling/leade. Usually, the lengths in reloading manuals are the longest permissible or that will work properly. In other words, you did exactly what you were supposed to do. You tried the suggested OAL. When that didn't work, you modified until it would. There is no way a manual could cover every bullet used in reloading. The only caveat, especially in a case like 9MM, is that pressures start to rise when you seat a bullet deeper. But the small bit you used will have a negligible effect. I think nothing about going .030" shorter, as long as the gun functions well.

December 12, 2009, 10:23 AM
QuickLOAD predicts your 1.125" COL load is producing a little over 22,000 psi and 899 fps from your 3" barrel. Reducing the COL to 1.110" only increases the pressure by 1,400 psi and ups the velocity to 912 fps. As a backup reference, Speer #14 says that 4.5gr of W231 (the same powder as HP-38) is maximum with their 124gr jacketed bullets (1.120" COL for the GDHP).

You're wise to be wary of reducing the COL of a published load, especially in a small case like the 9mm Luger, as it does increase pressure. In this situation however, I feel confident in telling you that you're still safe.

I've read that CZ pistols require shorter-than-normal COLs with some bullets. Obviously XDs are in the same category.

December 12, 2009, 10:30 AM
"My question is, is it safe to load this cartridge at that length, shorter than the data says, if the data's OAL is too long for my gun? Or am I doing something wrong here and the data is correct?"

Book OALs cause far too much agonising to new guys. The first thing any cartridge has to do is work, it it won't feed and chamber nothing else matters at all.

The OAL given in any book, with any bullet, is NOT a rule any more than the listed powder charges are, it's only what the book makers used to develop the loads in THEIR weapon. Your's is different. IF the same OAL works, fine. If not, change it until it does. A seating difference of only .015" is trivial, forget it.

Seating deeper in hand guns does increase pressure somewhat but any reasonable OAL difference is not going to cause you any problem unless you are on the ragged edge of blowing up to start with! But, it you are still aprehesive, drop the charge a couple of tenths and go!

December 12, 2009, 10:46 AM
This may help (

ranger335v gave excellent advise.

Similar thread (

December 12, 2009, 11:23 AM
I load that same bullet to an OAL of 1.095" over 4.0 grs of WW231 and use a taper crimp.
I hope that's of some help.

December 12, 2009, 12:20 PM
Thanks for the advice everyone.

Hmmm....crimping. I was not doing that. I guess I'll have to invest in a crimping die. I was not aware that crimping was necessary for the 9mm Luger. I thought it was just for revolver loads and magnum loads. But after looking at the case, there may be a little flare at the mouth that wouldn't hurt to smooth it out.

When I checked the brass if would fit into the chamber, I did so before I flared the case (and after resizing) to accept the bullet. Before I flared the case it worked just like the factory load. After flaring and bullet seating it did not at 1.125" OAL.

RidgwayCO thanks for the calculations. Hodgdon's web site states a starting pressure of around 25,000PSI and up to 30,000PSI for most loads in the 125gr range. If this combo of 3.9gr HP38, 125gr bullets, and 1.110" OAL is giving 23,500PSI then I'm still under Hodgdon's recommended start load pressure of around 25,000PSI.

SteveC Thanks for the pictures. I guess I had my bullets all mixed up. I'm thinking that may be adding to the problem of the bullet being too long at the prescribed OAL. The Round nose looks as though it will contact the sides of the chamber at a shorter depth than the conical nose bullets would given they were both loaded at the same OAL.

Everything I've read said "don't compress the powder!" ranger335v's sticky is exactly what is going on with my reloads. I'm in the 4th category on the right with a big red X through it on his diagram.

I'll drop the charge a little and work my way up looking for excessive pressure and keep my OAL that works for my XD. I'll also invest in a crimping die the next time I go to Cabelas' (I have an excuse to go now) to make sure my cartridges are nice and uniform.

Sound good to everyone?

December 12, 2009, 12:24 PM
Hmmm....crimping. I was not doing that. I guess I'll have to invest in a crimping die.Your seater will taper crimp. All you need on the 9MM is enough to remove the bell and a hair more.

Here is a pic of a light taper crimp on a .38 Super ( Same difference.

December 12, 2009, 01:19 PM
Hi Sparty
I concur on the crimping idea, though I think that topic has to be given more attention. I myself have a Lee carbide die set, which is supposed to have a "modified taper crimping" die. In short, it didn't work too well in practice.

I bought a Wather P1 that would not feed my 9mm handloads with my own cast bullets. What I finally determined is the the case mouth was too big to chamber. Cast bullets are routinely sized a thousandths larger than jacketed to begin with, and I suspect that minute quantities of bullet lube get dislodged that expand the case mouth even more. The result is ammo that won't feed into battery. Compare your handload's case-mouths to those of factory ammo.

I bought a Lyman taper crimping die that solved the whole problem.
Run one of your completed cartridges up till the ram reaches the top. Start screwing the taper die down onto the cartridge till you meet resistance. Lower the ram and start incrementally screwing the die down, while measuring the amount of taper crimp you are applying. You want the least amount of crimping that will let your loads fully chamber. For my gun thats 0.374". You don't want to crimp too much because you might size the base of the bullet. Once you determine the right amount of crimp you lock the ring and leave it there. I think that will solve all your problems.

December 12, 2009, 02:08 PM
I agree you should remove the bell you put in the case before you try or change anything else. Like said above, your seating die should be able to crimp if set correctly. After reading your original post it was the first thing that came to mind because you didn't mention crimping.

December 12, 2009, 04:24 PM
You don't want to crimp too much because you might size the base of the bullet.If you crimp enough to squeeze the base of the bullet, you are waaaaaay over crimping. Matter of fact, I don't think you could screw a taper crimp die down far enough to affect the base of the bullet.

December 12, 2009, 05:22 PM
I am new to this, and am probably wrong, but could this not be caused from a gun that has an unsupported chamber, like the glocks? The end of the case by the head swells a bit not allowing it to fully chamber in a supported chamber?

Have you tried slipping in other once fired brass to see if it does the same?

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