9mm first loads.....fail


December 30, 2011, 03:11 PM
Using win 231 powder and 115 gr fmj bullets, I loaded my first loads last night. My three loads were identical except for powder weight, where first i did 3.5, then 3.8, then 4.1 while max is 4.5. So i took it out today. 3.5's didn't even open the slide. Neither did 3.8, and 4.1 did usually but the shell got hung in the slide every time. So my question is, why? I'm afraid to use the max load. I'm shooting a 9mm s&w sigma. My oal is 1.13. So i'm thinking, do I need to increase my powder charge? Or should i shorten my OAL to increase pressures since w231 is a rather low volume powder? Thanks guys.

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December 30, 2011, 03:23 PM
According to Hodgdon, the loading for 115 gr bullets with 231 is 4.7 to 5.1 - this is for Speer GD JHP, but the weight and style is close enough. Where did you get your data?

December 30, 2011, 03:27 PM
Midway's 9mm guide. They stated that a sierra 115 fmj would be 3.3 min and 4.5 max. Could they have changed the formula that much from 2008?

December 30, 2011, 03:31 PM
For most newer semi-autos with stiffer recoil springs, especially captured dual recoil spring sets in sub-compacts, it's been my experience that 4.5 gr of W231/HP-38 is right on the edge of reliably cycling the slide. I generally use 4.8 gr if I want my reloads to cycle any 9mm slide, regardless of recoil spring rate. For this reason, I prefer the heavier 124/125 gr bullet for 9mm as I can use mid range load data for lighter target load and the slide will still reliably cycle.

My reference load for 9mm Winchester 115 gr FMJ bullet is with 4.8 gr of W231/HP-38 at 1.125"-1.135" OAL. Cycles the slides of my Glocks well and works in most pistols but use your barrel/magazine to determine the OAL (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?p=7717654#post7717654) that will feed/chamber reliably.

Hodgdon's load data (http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp):
115 gr Speer GDHP W231/HP-38 OAL 1.125" Start 4.7 gr (1075 fps) 25,300 CUP - Max 5.1 gr (1167 fps) 28,100 CUP
Here's Lyman #49 load data:
115 gr Hornady HP/XTP W231 OAL 1.090" Start 3.5 gr (959 fps) 20,700 CUP - Max 4.9 gr (1253 fps) 32,100 CUP

4.1 did [open the slide] usually but the shell got hung in the slide every time.
That's from slide not fully cycling back and causing stove pipe of spent casing. Try increasing the powder charge to 4.3 - 4.5 gr and your slide should start to cycle more reliably. If you want more accuracy, you might want to work up towards 4.8 gr.

December 30, 2011, 03:35 PM
does it matter whether it is a hp or a fmj? does that change anything?

December 30, 2011, 03:43 PM
Your oal length is fine.

Up your charge and enjoy, you are FAR from over pressure with that load.

I load my 115g 9mm with 231 sometimes and use 5.1g, which is under max according to my manual. Just don't start at that, work up from what you have.

December 30, 2011, 03:43 PM
HP or FMJ - yes, they are different. If you have two bullets, both 115 gr and one if FMJ and the other is a HP, the HP will be longer (the lead has to go somewhere). If you load two cartridges to the same length with the same charge, the HP will develop higher pressure since it'll have less volume left in the case.

How much different? Check the load books and work each one up independently.

December 30, 2011, 04:10 PM
Try switching to a different powder. Slower burning powders will cycle atiifer actions reliably because the pressure curve is sustained a bit longer. I load 9mm and .40 with HS6 and Longshot and have never had a single failure. In addition to those 2 powders, there are a number of other powders that will be easier to do load developement with, allowing you to focus more on velocity, rather than finding a reliable operating pressure range.

Another advantage is accidental double charges are nearly impossible to slip by with slower burning powder.

December 30, 2011, 04:18 PM
First let me applaud you on your effort for being careful and staying safe. Your data is lacking. I admit the Midway bullet guide is tempting, but they do copy data. Not test the data. I would suggest getting a real reloading manual. Having a couple of different sources of information is not a bad thing. I will second what the others have said about your load being too light. Checking a Speer 13, your max load is Speer’s starting load for 231 in the 115 bullet weight. Max is listed at 5.0 grs. Each bullet from every manufacturer is different and any change must be worked back up. I would not say your reloads were a failure, you didn’t wreck your Smagma. You followed directions. If you had better data your rounds would have functioned the pistol. Checking to see if your loads function the pistol is a test of it’s own.

I'm not going to agree to using a slower powder at this point of time. 231 is a good fast powder which gives a good and strong impulse to the slide to function the pistol. Just be careful and check your powdered cases in a loading block under a strong light to make sure the powder levels are the same in the cases. Having said that, I do enjoy Blue Dot in 9mm. Worked well in my Smagma before it went away.

December 30, 2011, 04:21 PM
I've run 231 in 115gr 9mm loads for three different Glocks, a Walther P-99 and a Kel-Tec PF-9. The only one of the three that would function reliably with a starting load was the little Kel-Tec. The Euro pistols needed to be right at max to run 100% for everybody.

(I found this out when some other shooters experienced malfunctions with my less-than-max "normal" loads. Their grips weren't as rigid and there just wasn't enough extra power to cycle the Glock.)

Since you have 231, work up to the max load (probably 4.9-5.1gr, depending on the manual) and see how they work. When you're done with the 231 (1200 rounds later), try out a slower powder. I've had good luck with Hodgdon Universal, Alliant Unique and Power Pistol and Winchester Super Field in 9mm loads. WSF, Unique and Power Pistol all generate enough power to cycle reliably at mid-range charge weights in my experience. Universal would cycle at the lower end with 115gr bullets, but it was right on the edge.

December 30, 2011, 04:27 PM
so for clarification, you can use HP data for fmj loads, but not reverse correct? Starting from minimum, of course

Striker Fired
December 30, 2011, 04:32 PM
Power pistol is one of the better powders that seem to have been made just for the 9.Almost any load I have tried with it has turned out to be a good one.W231/Hp-38 isn't bad,its just a little faster type powder,AA#5 or 7 are good choices as well.

December 30, 2011, 05:02 PM
Your loads were within the range listed in the Lyman #49, however Lyman used a 1.091 OAL which probably made it work. The lowest charge that would reliably cycle my XD was 4.5gr.

HS-6 is my favorite powder, but Win 231 will work fine. It's great with the 115gr. I'm loading mine with 4.8gr at 1.135 and still getting signs that it's under pressure.

As far the powder charges go, what really matters is the material of the bullet, whether it's jacketed, lead or one of the other types like frangible or plated. HP and FMJ are both jacketed so you can use the same data with either. The OAL will vary a bit, and it's best to stay on the long side.

December 30, 2011, 07:54 PM
My plinking load for 124 gr. bullets is 4.5 gr. W231. You are running way too light. That load is a starting load for the 115 gr. pills. Your gun should run fine around 4.8 gr. and still give you some margin if you seat a little on the deep side.

December 30, 2011, 09:16 PM
I would look at FREE online load guide from Hodgdon. It will list 231 powder as well as others. They also print a load guide you may find at a local gun store for FREE. It is limited but accurate information worth having.


December 30, 2011, 09:25 PM
Speer # 13 goes from 4.5 to 5.0 Grs W-231 with their 115 Gr jacketed bullets, for 1026 to 133 FPS, with the FMJ loaded at 1.135.

Hodgdon online data goes from 4.7 Grs to 5.1 Grs W-231 with a 115 Gr Gold Dot loaded at 1.125 for 1075 to 1167 FPS.

No way your loads were going to function most guns. Try 4.5 to start this time. Load your 115 gr FMJ (RN, right?) between 1.130 & 1.135 OAL. (Which you did)

December 30, 2011, 09:48 PM
I have found the 9mm Auto one of the most finnicky loads there is! I was using 115 FMJ RN and they were fine, I switched to a 124 Grain LSWC and started at what was listed as a medium load of 5.6 gr of Unique.
I took 10 to the range and got a shock when the Chrono read an average of 1200 fps. I checked the primers and sure enough there was a very distinct flattening of the primers. WOW I backed off to 5.4 grains and the Ruger handled them nicely but cases still showed signs of high pressure. Backed down to 4.3 grains and got a respectable 1035 fps average with max spread of 25 FPS.
In most of my loading books, this 4.3 is a low power load, it sure isnt in my Ruger with those 124G LSWC.
I fine tune all my different loadings with a chrono and test varioius charge weights.
I like to stay on the conservative side when loading all calibers, but the small case of the 9mm makes loading it a very concise process. Seating depth, Crimp, primer types. All make for some drastice changes in pressure and velocity.
Advice! USe a Chrono and verify all loads and check your scales and powder measures often

Jim Watson
December 30, 2011, 10:03 PM
The last 115 gr 9mms I loaded were with 4.8 gr HP38 (Hodgdon says identical to Win 231, since they now distribute them both.) and gave 1148 fps with either Remington or Zero brand JHPs. This is only .1 grain under the Lyman maximum, so if you get reliable operation with less, stop there.

December 31, 2011, 12:12 AM
I recently changed to WSF in my 9mm loads and out of 2 G 19's, 3 Browning HP's, and 3 S&W's I haven't had a single ejection problem. Little slower powder than even Unique and it works a lot better and accuracy improved too.

December 31, 2011, 12:23 AM
The last 115 gr 9mms I loaded were with 4.8 gr HP38 (Hodgdon says identical to Win 231, since they now distribute them both.) and gave 1148 fps with either Remington or Zero brand JHPs. This is only .1 grain under the Lyman maximum, so if you get reliable operation with less, stop there.
I don't load 115gr bullets for the 9mm all that often but when I do I use the same charge weight with good success.

Most of the times when a load won't cycle the slide it's extremely light. Your next set of ammo should be 4.6gr, 4.8gr and 5.0gr W231 under those bullets. The 9mm is a fairly high pressure round and should be loaded that way. I have a feeling you will really like the 4.8gr load...

December 31, 2011, 12:56 AM
wow, what a wealth of info. Thanks guys!

December 31, 2011, 02:08 AM
I'll bet they burned a little "sooty" too. Those loads were too light as all have said. There is value to learning how too light of a load performs. You won't forget. That's much safer than learning what too much pressure does or can do.

Win 231/HP38 will run fine. It'll burn sooty/dirty until the pressures come up to make efficient combustion.

January 1, 2012, 07:27 AM
Midway's load MAP is not copied. It is their own pressure tested data. The problem is they test it in a test barrel and not a pistol. I suggest you use Sierra's OAL and data for your Sierra bullet as it was tested in a pistol and will run reliably.

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