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9mm 120gr Penn TCBB Bullets and W231/Bullseye

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by john16443, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. john16443

    john16443 Well-Known Member

    Received my order of 500 of these recently, time to start loading. The Penn bullet web site indicates these should be loaded to 1.04" COL to start. They seat pretty deep in the case at this COL, much deeper than other 115 or 124 grain bullets I've used.

    This leads me to back up and ask where may be a good place for starting loads using W231 and Bullseye as I realize pressures will be higher with the reduced case volumes. While I've got developed loads for other 120 to 125 grain lead or plated bullets, none of them are seated this deep. Goal is best accuracy on paper.

    Anyone use this bullet and powders that has found a medium recoiling load with good accuracy? A separate message has been sent to Penn Tech Support as well.


  2. john16443

    john16443 Well-Known Member

    Response from Penn

    Talked to Robert at Penn Bullets today, he suggested to use the starting point on the Hodgdon data for the 125 grain LCN data for W231 and start at 3.9 grains. Also suggested 3.8 grains for BE as a starting point.

    I ordered these sized to 0.357" as I've experienced bad Keyholing with MBC and Dardas brands (see post #9 and the rest at http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=600000&highlight=keyholing ). I will say that these WILL NOT come out of my sized and crimped cases with my inertial puller, even after 20 firm whacks on the concrete floor. No setback with these babies!

    Gonna start with W231 and report results back to Penn.
  3. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    I am a bit confused. I thought the cause of your keyholing problem from the other thread was the powder charge as you got no keyholing at 3.8-4.2 gr but got keyholing at 4.5 gr. You posted that your 4.14" long SR9 barrel's groove diameter was .355" and got keyholing at 7 yards with .356" MBC bullet. Was the Dardas bullet you got keyholing with also .356" in diameter?

    Hodgdon load data lists 3.9 gr as start charge and 4.4 gr as max at 1.125" OAL.
  4. john16443

    john16443 Well-Known Member

    bds - I continued to get infrequent keyholing with the MBC rounds with my "found good load" until I used them up. In the Dardas bullets, I purchased sample packages at .356" dia. and at .357" dia. Unfortunately, they also keyholed to some extent as well, in both sizes. I've decided (correct or not) that these specific bullet styles from these manufacturers just won't work consistently for me in the Ruger.

    Last night I had a chance to shoot 50 of the Penn bullets loaded with 4.0 grains W231 and a COL of 1.04". I am very pleased with the results and consistency achieved. Not a single keyhole to be found, just clean round holes. Felt recoil was less than with factory Federal or WWB rounds, but they were noticeably smokey. Going to bump up the load to 4.2 grains and see what happens tomorrow night. Will also try WST and AA#5 when I get some at the upcoming gun show in a couple weeks. From this initial experience, at least I know I should be able to shoot this lead bullet in the SR9.

    Now it will come down to do I want to, or should I just stick with plated Berry's, coated Precision, or FMJ Precision Delta rounds, all of which are within a few bucks of each other per thousand.

    Berry 124g HBRN or HBFP = $85/$88 at TJ Conevera's and $87/$96 at Berry's, shipping included.

    Precision 125g FP = $70 including shipping, same for Black Bullets Intl.

    Precision Delta 124G FMJ = $79 inlcuding shipping

    Penn Bullets 120G TCBB = $65 plus $12 shipping.

    As I won't be casting my own, I'm going to go with the lowest cost option with the least amount of gun cleaning and debris removal required for the SR9. The 45ACP is a different story, it really likes 200g SWC from anybody.
  5. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    john16443, I am even more confused and growing suspicious now. So you are saying you got keyholing with .356" MBC CN bullet and .356/.357" Dardas CN bullet but not with .357" Penn CN bullet?

    In all fairness, was Dardas Cast Bullets even contacted regarding your issue before you posting "Dardas bullet didn't work" only based on a small sampling?

    I am curious.

    BTW, if you are looking for low cost 9mm bullets, have you tried RN? I have shot a lot of MBC 125 gr RN in my shorter barreled G27/Lone Wolf and never seen keyholing issue from start to max load data. Powder Valley sells MBC 125 gr RN for $57.64/1000.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011
  6. john16443

    john16443 Well-Known Member

    Yes, the MBC 9 Cone @.356 (sample size of 500), and Dardas 122FP @ .356 AND .357 (sample size of 100 each) showed keyholing in my SR9.

    No, Dardas was not contacted. Most likely not the bullets, but my stock barrel. Not blaming the bullets. They are high quality, just weren't working for me with W231 charges ranging from 3.6g to 4.3g.

    I've used RN bullets from Berry's (115g and 124g, multiple varieties), Zero and Montana Gold without issue. Have not tried RN lead, but would certainly consider them from MBC, Dardas, or Penn. based on my experiences, I would still order these sized to .357 regardless of who I buy them from. Once I work through my current 9mm inventory, I'll experiment with the lead RN available in 115 or 120+ grain. Penn also has a 115gr SWC design that interests me. Interestingly enough, all the bullets I've used from Precision (124 FP, and Black Bullets Intl (130 TC) work very well in the SR9 and are priced at the same point as the LRN you reference from PVI when shipping is factored in.
  7. Sapper771

    Sapper771 Well-Known Member

    I cast my own out of a Lyman 356402 (120gr TC ) 4 cavity mould, sized to 0.358" and lubed with Carnuba Red. I did some development with these bullets and W231 over the weekend. What I discovered was that the loads didnt start feeling "right" til I got to 3.8gr of W231. I went from 3.2gr to 4.0gr and the best performer was 4.0gr which chrono'd in the mid 1,000 FPS range from my Glock 17. I have some loaded up at 4.2gr, but havent gotten to test them yet.

    Since I am using a slightly different bullet/alloy/lube , YMMV.
  8. dardascastbullets

    dardascastbullets Well-Known Member

    Hi John,

    I could have cured your problems if you had contacted me about your key holing problem. I have many questions for you to help you. Please do call me and I will get you on the right path.
  9. john16443

    john16443 Well-Known Member

    Matt - PM sent to info AT dardascastbullets DOT com. I've provided the historical information from the bullets I used, and appreciate any and all assistance you can provide.


  10. john16443

    john16443 Well-Known Member

    Dardas to the Rescue!!

    I wanted to provide an update to all THR members (especially bds & Matt of Dardas Cast Bullets) on what has been happening to resolve my issues with keyholing in various brands of 9mm FP and CN shaped bullets. Matt of Dardas Cast BUllets indicated in post #8 above that he could cure my problems if I had given him an opportunity to do so. Well, we've been doing just that over the past several weeks, and I fully expect to have this issue resolved before the end of next week.

    Matt has been extremely helpful and patient in resolving this issue, and I wanted to share what I've learned so far.

    As I understand it. a bullet seating stem should contact the ogive of the bullet to be seated straight in the case. The generic stem in my Lee seating die wasn't doing this for RN, FP or TC style bullets I have.

    The Lee powder through expanding die places a bell on the case, and this coupled with the seating stem, most likely results in the bullets being seated crooked and/or not centered in the case according to Matt.

    These issues are prime reasons for keyholing problems. To solve them, Matt recommended the Lyman M die for expanding, and getting proper seating stems for the styles of bullets I want to use. I've purchased a complete set of Lyman pistol dies as that's the only way I could get the M die and seating die with additional stems for different bullet styles at a reasonable cost. These will arrive Tuesday.

    I've also slugged the barrel of the SR9 by forcing a lead bullet all the way through (didn't have any softer lead balls). This slug has been provided to Matt for measurement and analysis so that he can advise what sized bullets I should be buying for that specific gun. Previous attempts to slug the barrel by just tapping in a bullet at the muzzle end were a waste of time.

    If there's anybody out there that has been hesitating to buy, or has decided not to buy Dardas bullets because of the issues I've been experiencing, I would like to appeal to those people to put their reservations behind them and ORDER UP! With the 10% discount Matt is offering for the month of October, there's no reason not to buy now. As a matter of fact, once a size recommendation has been made for my barrel, I'll be buying a large quantity of Dardas 9mm bullets in the 122gr and 124gr varieties:).
  11. Super.45

    Super.45 Well-Known Member

    Dardas and Penn have been two of the very best cast bullet suppliers that I have ever used. Both have provided me with excellent customer service and support. The 10% sale is just an extra bonus just like the Free Shipping specials(now over) I have gotten from Penn. So this turn it will be Dardas with their deal.
    Keep up the good work Matt.
  12. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    I am glad you got to work with Matt from Dardas Cast Bullets.

    With that said, I still have some unanswered questions as to your initial keyholing problem - http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=600000
    From that discussion thread, I thought your bullet tumbling may have been from over driving (4.5 gr is over the max load data for W231 per Hodgdon) an undersized Missouri 9mm .356" diameter 125 gr CN bullet for your SR9 barrel. But since you posted that you slugged the barrel and it was .355", I went with your posting (which led to my confusion).

    So, what was your groove diameter of the SR9 barrel? If it was larger, it would explain why .356" diameter tumbled out of the barrel. But you also posted that you got tumbling with larger diameter .357" Dardas bullet. Hence my confusion. So if you also got tumbling with .357" Dardas bullet, would you have gotten tumbling with .356" or .357" Penn bullet? Did you do further testing with .357" Penn bullet and higher charges of W231 to see if it tumbled?

    Now comes some really confusing post:
    There have been MANY reloaders who have been reloading RN, FP and TC style lead bullets with the Lee seating die without getting keyholing issues.

    This includes me as I use all Lee dies with standard bullet seating stems that come with the dies. I have loaded RN/FP/TC style bullets in 9mm, 40S&W and 45ACP and have not experienced any keyholing problem.
  13. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    No. AFAIK, keyholing problems are primarily caused by lead bullet not getting proper grip with the rifling, coupled with near/over max powder charge, that are driven too fast so the bullet fails to rotate with the rifling of the barrel which results in bullet that fails to stabilize in flight out the barrel to cause keyholing at the target - www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=610537

    As to your SR9 not getting keyholing with factory/jacketed/plated bullets:
  14. john16443

    john16443 Well-Known Member

    bds, I can provide more information, but understand that the analysis is still ongoing and I haven't received all the information from Matt yet. Hope to have it all taken care of by mid-week so I can place an order for Dardas bullets to the diameter Matt says is needed for my barrel.

    The slug for my SR9 barrel is on the way to Matt, should arrive Tuesday. I won't have a good measureemnt for the barrel diameter until I hear back from Matt. Matt may very well find that my barrel requires .358" sized bullets, he's indicated that he's seen it many times before in 9mm applications. Like you, I anxiously await the email response from Matt. My apologies in the very early posts about slugging the barrel, it was just a slug pushed flush into the muzzle end and then removed. Matt indicated it would be useless to send him that one, so I rammed a lead bullet through the entire barrel. It did show very distinct groove and land marks.

    It is not my intent or desire to overdrive these bullets with W231. With the limited number of bullets I tried, I had issues, even up to the .357 bullets from Dardas. The initial MBC's were standard size and the target results are shown in post #19 of the thread bds referenced above. I was trying to find a happy place with the MBC and Dardas.

    Yes, I realize that there are MANY reloaders that use Lee dies without problems. Matt has suggested that there is every probability that my Lee dies are sizing in step 1 to a diameter that is a little too small. When a lead bullet is seated, it could be sized smaller than the dimension that was provided by the bullet maker. There's been many posts about this on numerous forums. If my bullet diamter is getting decreased, it stands to reason that it will not engage the barrel rifling correctly, leading to any number of issues as you note. I agree, if you're not getting the proper grip on the bullet or it doesn't engage the rifling properly, you're going to have issues. The purpose of using different expanding dies for my application is to try and eliminate this from the equation. The M die does 2 steps, not just the application of a bell mouth like the Lee dies. For the record, I'm using Lee dies for 45ACP with lead, and am not experiencing any problems or issues with any bullets. I am NOT using a FCD either in any caliber. It's looking more and more like my specific gun may require a non standard sized bullet to work well as noted by Reloaderfred.

    I will certainly post findings later this week.
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2011
  15. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    Well good to hear.

    Ultimately, the primary focus of these threads is to resolve your keyholing issue and looks like oversized barrel/undersized bullet may be the root cause.

    Keep us posted and anticipate a happy ending! :D

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