9 mm lead bullets and keyholing


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glenns
August 23, 2011, 01:52 PM
I started to reload lead bullets (Friendswood Bullet Co.) for my wife's SA 9mm and seem to get an occasional keyhole - about 1 in 10 shots (125 gr bullet with 4.4 grains of Bullseye). I've double checked the OAL (1.15") and my factory crimp die (don't believe I'm overcrimping). I do not get any keyholing with factory ammo so I've eliminated any problem with the gun.

I've read a few threads on 9 mm lead bullets and keyholing which seems to be an occasional problem.

Question - is it 'normal' to get an occasional keyhole shooting this 9 mm load?

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rcmodel
August 23, 2011, 02:09 PM
No, it is not normal.

Couple of possibilities to check out.

1. 4.4 grains Bullseye is 0.2 over MAX with two different 120-125 grain cast bullet designs according to Lyman #49.
Older Alliant data suggests it isn't, but I'm pretty sure they were using very hard Linotype bullets, not softer commercial bullets sold now.

2. Make sure your paper targets are mounted against a hard backer-board.
A free hanging paper target will try to "dodge the bullet" so to speak, and end up with what appears to be an elongated bullet hole occasionally. Those can be mistaken for key-holes.

I would suggest if you are getting good consistent groups with your loads, the bullets are not really key-holing, but it has more to do with the target backer allowing the target to move before the bullet can tear through it cleanly.

rc

Uniquedot
August 23, 2011, 02:16 PM
Someone will be along shortly telling you that it's the factory crimp die and it is no good with lead bullets, but my LFCD does not reduce the diameter of my bullets in 9mm. They do readily reduce the dia. in my revolvers, but if i load a .357 dia. bullet in 9mm and crimp with the LFCD i can pull that bullet and it's still .357. My die in 9mm may be oversize however, but it's a stock die.

glenns
August 23, 2011, 04:50 PM
I went our during lunch and bought the Lyman 49th edition. On page 42 the 120 gr bullet has a max load of 4.2 grains of Bullseye and a OAL of 1.065."

I'll reload my 125 lead bullets with 3.6 grains of Bullseye and the suggested OAL.

Is #2 alloy (referenced in the Lyman book) commonly used for lead bullets?

rcmodel
August 23, 2011, 05:02 PM
Yes, Lyman #2 is an old standard alloy mix used for many many years for cast bullets.

But not by the commercial bullet casters today.

Commercial casters use an alloy with less tin, as it is very expensive stuff anymore.

Still, I doubt your problem has anything to do with the alloy they used.

rc

ReloaderFred
August 23, 2011, 05:03 PM
Bullets keyholing can also be caused by undersized bullets that strip the rifling, just like too much velocity will. If the velocity is too fast for the alloy, the bullet will skid across the rifling. An undersized bullet will also skid, but in both circumstances heavy leading is normally also present.

Measure the bullets and reduce the powder charge for starters. If that doesn't solve the problem, then it could be an oversize barrel. I've seen 9x19 barrels that slugged at .358".

Hope this helps.

Fred

armoredman
August 23, 2011, 05:35 PM
Ditto on miking the bullets. I size all of my home cast to .356 with great success, but as Fred stated, there are barrels that are oversized by a few thousandths.

glenns
August 23, 2011, 06:28 PM
"Measure the bullets and reduce the powder charge for starters. If that doesn't solve the problem, then it could be an oversize barrel."

If I had an oversized barrel then wouldn't the factory loads also cause keyholing? When I shot factory loads it did not keyhole.

ReloaderFred
August 23, 2011, 07:11 PM
It depends on the ammunition. Some jacketed bullets will hold rifling that a softer lead bullet will strip through. If you were shooting factory lead bullets, then your answer would be "yes", but since you're shooting factory jacketed, and having problems with lead bullets, then you have to start all over again and measure the diameter of your lead bullets for starters. Reducing the charge may help, since the lower pressure wouldn't be pushing the bullet as hard, and fast, as your present load.

Browning High Power Pistols are notorious for having barrels that can run as large as .358", but still shoot jacketed bullets with acceptable handgun accuracy. There are also some 9x19 barrels that can run as small as .354", so there's a lot of variance in the barrels.

Hope this helps.

Fred

glenns
August 23, 2011, 07:25 PM
ReloaderFred - great points.

I'll report how the new loads work.

Glenn

FROGO207
August 23, 2011, 07:41 PM
I am also thinking that the problem will turn out to be excess velocity. I will run up the loads till they are ejecting fine and then go for min load that is accurate. Most often I find them near the middle of the load data with most propellents except the really slow ones for that combo. I am looking for accuracy and economy with my loads. For the SD loads I use jacketed and do not run them at such a low vel. I was once upon a time trying to load lead to mimic ball ammo in feel and POI with 9MM and 45 ACP but now realize that this is not a great plan.:o

noylj
August 23, 2011, 09:39 PM
Lead bullet = slug the barrel
9x19 = slug the barrel
In all cases when using lead bullets, you really should slug your barrel so you know what minimum bullet diameter you will need.
For the 9x19, barrels range from 0.3545" to 0.3620" from barrels I have slugged. You need to know what the groove diameter is of your barrel.
If all you get are elongated holes and the group is still under 4" at 25 yds and/or the barrel is NOT heavily leaded after just a few shots, you probably ARE NOT keyholing.
If you see a side profile of your bullet punched into the paper, then you are getting keyholing.
When you make up a load, you should start at the STARTING load and work up. Then, when you suddenly start to get real keyholing, you know that you have exceeded the capability of that bullet in your barrel.
Never just start at some load, unless it is a starting load.
With the 9x19, you should load for the longest COL that feeds and chambers, then work up a load.

LightningMan
August 23, 2011, 10:59 PM
I found on page 392# of Modern Reloading by Richard Lee, that for a 125 grain lead bullet the start grains is 4.4 and the max is 4.9 using Bullseye. So according to that you are in the ball park for powder charge. LM

glenns
August 24, 2011, 01:39 AM
LightningMan - what is the OAL that Modern Reloading recommends?

918v
August 24, 2011, 01:58 AM
Someone will be along shortly telling you that it's the factory crimp die and it is no good with lead bullets, but my LFCD does not reduce the diameter of my bullets in 9mm. They do readily reduce the dia. in my revolvers, but if i load a .357 dia. bullet in 9mm and crimp with the LFCD i can pull that bullet and it's still .357. My die in 9mm may be oversize however, but it's a stock die.


That's because the 9 has a tapered case and the 9mm FCD only sizes the bottom.

LightningMan
August 24, 2011, 08:46 AM
Glenns, the book shows 1.150 OAL.

glenns
August 24, 2011, 03:03 PM
Interesting that for 9 mm lead bullet loads are:
1. Modern Reloading: 125 gr bullet - 4.4 to 4.9 grains Bullseye; OAL 1.150"
2. Lyman 49th Edition: 120 gr bullet - 3.4 to 4.2 grains Bullseye; OAL 1.065"

Given the sources I would think each would give good results?

oneounceload
August 24, 2011, 03:16 PM
Personally, I would go by the POWDER maker's data as they have the pressure-testing equipment and theirs is based on their current blending of the powder - but that is just me.

glenns
August 24, 2011, 04:59 PM
I went to the Alliant site. For 9 mm they only have one recipe for a 124 gr Speer GDHP. Does Alliant have more recipes somewhere?

LightningMan
August 24, 2011, 07:44 PM
Just got back from the range test firing some lead bullets I picked up at a gun show last weekend. The bullets came from an estate sale so I presume they were made from someone whom cast their own bullets because there were several bullet molds for sale too. Anyway these bullets were in a full size coffee can nearly full and I got them for $20, IMO a great deal. These bullets were TC in style and supposed to be 120 grains in weight, and I did weigh them. Although they weighed a tad more like 122/123 grains, I fugure thats the added weight of the lube on them. Back to my range test, I used 4.6 grains of Bullseye and an OAL of 1.155 for my test. I only made up 25 rounds but all feed fine in my Sig 226 and accuracy was just OK but there was no keyholing although they did seem a bit warm on the recoil side. I believe I will back off to the minium of 4.4 grains next time out. LM

bds
August 25, 2011, 12:32 AM
Google "2004 Alliant load data" and you will find the 2004 load data pdf that contains more loads, especially lead load data.

bluetopper
August 25, 2011, 09:22 PM
Use a little bit slower burning powder.......your keyholing will go away. Simple as that.

chris in va
August 25, 2011, 09:34 PM
I had really bad keyholing issues with 356 boolits in my CZ 75bd. Didn't matter what shape or weight, or powder charge...they all went in sideways. A nice gentleman clued me in to 358 boolit molds and the problem disappeared.

I use the Lee 358-125-RF 'cowboy' mold. It drops at 361 so I have to resize it back to 358. Shoots like a laser with a lighter charge of Universal.

Generally you want a lead boolit to be about .002" over bore diameter for a good fit.

Uniquedot
August 26, 2011, 02:21 PM
That's because the 9 has a tapered case and the 9mm FCD only sizes the bottom.

So the carbide ring in the LFCD for the 9mm is not a tapered ring as is the ring in the FLS die? i figured it might not be.

Quoheleth
August 26, 2011, 04:09 PM
Above, someone mentioned a little slower powder. I agree. A friend has suggested HS-6 is a good 9mm powder. I've also read good things about Power Pistol. Personally, I like AA#5 and Universal. I've recently bought MB's 9mm Cone bullet and plan to use those two powders first as I have them on hand.

Q

glenns
September 1, 2011, 10:52 AM
Picked up a lb of Power Pistol couple days ago and went to the range yesterday. Looks like the my keyholing problem is gone.

Thanks for all the input.

Why would a slower burning powder (Bullseye v. Power Pistol) take care of the keyholing?

Glenn

sixgunner455
September 1, 2011, 03:06 PM
Personally, I found the 124gr lead/Bullseye loads in the Lee manual to be too hot, at least for the bullets I bought. Lots of leading, and unhappy feeding after the first mag. Backed it off to 3.5gr, according to several other references I looked up, and all is well.

I haven't experienced keyholing either way.

Powder burn rates determine pressure curves. The pressure curves affect the way the bullets exit the barrel. Other than that, I have no idea why it would change the keyholing problem.

sugarmaker
September 1, 2011, 03:28 PM
May be soft lead or shallow rifling grooves (which work fine for jacketed but not lead).

Slower powder will lessen the torque the rifling applies to the bullet as the bullet accelerates more gently.

Maybe a different brand of bullet? Swaged bullets are usually pretty soft. Cast bullets are better BUT: Tin is $$ and in the rush to the bottom for price, isn't mixed in as much as it should be.

Most lead bullet loading manuals are made for Lyman #2 alloy, which 10% tin / 2%?? antimony. it's a whole lot harder than some of the stuff out there.

If you've got a serious leading problem due to soft bullets or high velocity, you'll need to clean the bore thoroughly before anything will work - can be kind of difficult as it can really stick on.

popper
September 1, 2011, 04:12 PM
Heavy bullet, fast powder = shaved bullets and no spin.

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