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Loading 9mm - Montana 115gr fmj

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by johnandersonoutdoors, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. johnandersonoutdoors

    johnandersonoutdoors Well-Known Member

    Hey everyone,

    I am new to reloading. So far I have cleaned my once fired 9mm brass and taken some measurements with my calipers. The brass has not been resized yet but they all are right around .744 or .745 which is the trim to length as shown in my speer manual. This weekend the girl is going out of town so I should have lots of spare time to really focus and reload my first ammo.

    Recently I wrote this post asking the community if bullet length varies from one manufacturer to another among common bullet weights.

    As I suspected the community said they do indeed differ (i.e. one company's 124 round nose will be different length than another company's). The responders suggested loading some long dummy rounds and dropping them in the barrel for the "thunk" test. That is what I plan on doing, although instead of loading 124 grain lead rounds that I mentioned in my original thread I will be loading up some 115grain fmj from Montana Bullet.

    The biggest question now is the powder and seating depth. The Lee manual, as anyone who has one knows, does not list load data for a specific bullet. They simply list 10 or so powders and the charge range for 115 grain jacketed bullet. Of course they also list a minimum oal. Now the speer manual that I have shows a specific bullet, the speer gold dot and they show the various powders and appropriate range of powder grains to meter.

    My plan is to load these 115 grain montana gold fmj with unique. Just for added information I was wondering if anyone could post a suggested recipe for this combo. I will be using CCI 500 primers and I have a lot of brass to choose from. I can use only federal, only winchester, or I could just leave the brass mixed. Any thoughts would be appreciated.
  2. 45lcshooter

    45lcshooter Well-Known Member

    If your manual has a listing for other 115gr bullets, use that data for that grain of bullet. Sierra 5th says COAL(Cartridge Over All Length) is 1.100" and that is for the 115gr JHP and FMJ Unique starts out at 4.9grs and ends up at 6.6grs i keep my 9mm flying about 1100-1150 fps so that would be 5.6-5.9grs of Unique
  3. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    I think one of the important things here is to not seat deeper than is necessary for magazine and chamber fit, while working up from the minimum published data for FMJ bullet. If you do it like this you should be just fine not having data specific to the MG FMJ. Also of importance is to be cautious not to start too low, you don't want to have a bullet that doesn't exit the barrel. That would be every bit as bad as too hot a charge, or worse.

    A suggestion I have when loading with jacketed bullets is to pick a powder that is among the slower burn rates for this cartridge. This helps eliminate accidental double charges, and spikey situations are less likely to occure as well. My go to powders for jacketed 9mm loads are HS6 and Longshot. It would be difficult to squeeze enough Longshot in a 9mm case to KB your weapon, if it can be done at all? Maybe Clark will have more detail on this comment?

  4. jwrowland77

    jwrowland77 Well-Known Member

    The big thing is finding a bullet in the manual that is comparative to the one you have selected.

    As far as brass, I personally separate all mine into like headstamps. Doing it that way, you will have the same likeness in wall thickness for loading. I'm a little OCD too though. :D.

    A load I use is:
    Win 115gr FMJ
    Win case trim length .744
    CCI 500
    OAL 1.15
    Unique 5.2

    Posting the load though that I like, this is what works for ME, in MY gun. Important thing is to find what works for YOU in YOUR gun, since every gun is different and every shooter is different in their respects as to what they want or like.
  5. bds

    bds Well-Known Member

    Perhaps 115 gr FMJ load from 2004 Alliant load data may help. BTW, very good bullets.


    Using the OAL listed on load data won't ensure the finished rounds will work with your pistol/barrel/magazine. Use the barrel drop test to determine the Max OAL and then determine the working OAL that will reliably feed/chamber from the magazine. Once you determined the working OAL, then you can conduct a powder workup from start to max charge. Since Alliant lists only max charge, perhaps you can use 10% reduction and start your workup from 5.0 gr.

    Now, another question is how are you measuring your powder charge? Are you weighing the powder charges or using a powder measure?
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2012
  6. jwrowland77

    jwrowland77 Well-Known Member

    I was wondering about the Montana bullets myself. Haven't used them yet but was contemplating it due to such a good price.
  7. rfwobbly

    rfwobbly Well-Known Member

    Some tips...

    • The maximum OAL is set by how your bullet interfaces with your barrel. Only you can determine that. The minimum OAL is set by the published load. Your OAL is somewhere between those 2 limits. Since you haven't told us your gun model no one here can be more specific than that.

    • If you do not have a load for Unique and 115gr, then go to the Alliant Powder Co web site and get one. Don't trust anyone on the internet to give you correct load data. Research it for yourself, then write it down in your hand loading notebook for next time.

    • No two brands of bullets are exactly the same length, and bullet length changes chamber pressure. To overcome this you will always begin loading at the "starting load" (10% below max) and work up. So if the load is 3.2 to 4.5gr, then load 5 rounds at 3.2gr, 5 rounds at 3.4gr, 5 rounds at 3.6gr, etc., all at the exact same OAL. In this way you make up for a host of differences between your gun and the test gun used to make up the load recipe. There are literally dozens of variables, so you must "work up the load" in this way. If you'll shoot these from a supported position, then the best load for your gun will be the lowest load that delivers the tightest shot group.

    Suppress the urge to load 50 rounds at some number you pick, or you may be sitting down with a kinetic hammer and taking 48 rounds back apart. If you think shooting 5 round groups at a target 30 feet away is a 'drag', then you "just haven't lived" until you've taken 50 hastily made rounds back apart.

    The first loads take a lot of time, so go slowly and work carefully. It will really pay off in added accuracy if you do it right.

    Hope this helps! ;)
  8. johnandersonoutdoors

    johnandersonoutdoors Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the great replies everyone. Bds I am planning on using Lee dipper and then checking on a beam scale for powder measuring.

    Made a little bit more progress everyone. I took out my calipers and measured a factory Federal 115 grain fmj round which was 1.16 and a Winchester 115 grain fmj round which was 1.15 inches. I took my barrel off my M&P 9 to perform the plunk test, obviously the factory rounds are good to go on the plunk test.

    I opened up my speer manual to 9mm section and found recipe for 115 grain tmj round. They indicated to load to 1.135 inches. So I got my dies all setup and loaded up 6 dummy rounds. They measured between 1.135 and 1.138 inches long. Crimped to .380 like the manual shows. When I loaded the dummy rounds into my magazine and then ran them through the gun (did this 3 times), I found that the bullets had experienced some setback. Now, the six dummy rounds that I loaded measure between 1.129 and 1.133. It seems that all six dummy rounds are setback. I am not sure what to do. I feel like it is unsafe based on reading, but then again I did run them through the gun 3 or 4 times letting the slide fall forward with full force on each one each time.

    Should I be worried about this amount of setback?
    What should I do?
  9. jwrowland77

    jwrowland77 Well-Known Member

    You can do what you want but I normally crimp my 9mm to .377.

    I had the same issue as you except I was over-crimping. Someone told me on a form as long as you keep it between .376-.378 you are good to go. It's enough crimp to hold the bullet in place without it being too much.

    So I crimp to .377.
  10. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    You will find most factory loaded 9mm crimped to .376".

    .380" in the drawing is not the suggested crimp.
    That is the SAAMI MAX case mouth diameter.

    But taper crimp doesn't hold the bullet in the case anyway.

    Proper case neck tension is what does that.

    Your expander rod my be too big.

    It should measure no more then .353" for use with .355" -.356" bullets.

  11. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Well-Known Member

    I have used the Winchester factory 115 gr round for my OAL for years when loading Precision Delta, Montana Gold, Remington, or Winchester 115 gr bullets with great results.
  12. medalguy

    medalguy Well-Known Member

    Agreed, always work up your own loads. Believe about 10% of what you see on the 'net.

    Now, having said that, I load 9mm to OAL of 1.130 inches and shoot this in any of 8 pistols and a SMG without problems. Work up your own safe load of powder for your firearm.
  13. johnandersonoutdoors

    johnandersonoutdoors Well-Known Member


    Thanks. I am using a dillon powder die and flaring very little, .382 or less. The brass is my own once fired federal. This is my very first reloading so still getting a feel for things to some extent. I have read about neck tension and basically understood that all you needed to do was "undo" the flaring. So I was surprised when I was getting setback. Even more surprised because I read on the forums that it is safe to push finished round against your workbench with thumb pressure to check for setback. I did that and didn't get any. It was only when I cycled the dummy rounds through the gun that I experienced the bullet setback.

    Anyway, so next time I get to the bench I will crimp to .377 and see what happens.


    Thanks. So my plan is to use the speer manual for 115 grain and going to use Unique, starting at the bottom of the range and working up by .2 grains to the middle of the range.


    Thanks. I figured that would be a good oal based on what I have read and experienced with factory rounds. Ever loaded lead in 9mm? I am wondering if the problems that I am having with the fmj rounds will get worse. Because as I understand it too much crimp on lead rounds is more of a problem than with jacketed rounds, is that right?
  14. hentown

    hentown Well-Known Member

    You don't need to separate your 9mm brass by manufacturer, and you don't need to worry about case length. I prefer AA#5 for 9mm reloading. I use small rifle primers for 9mm and .223 reloading. You need to crimp just enough to remove the bell. I'd set the o.a.l. @ 1.0866589453"
  15. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    In my opinion, if using a jacketed bullet just chamfer the inside of the case mouth so it has a slight bevel, this prevents shaving during seating. Then set the bullet on top so it is straight, and then seat. By not belling the mouth at all you will eliminate the need to use any taper crimp, and, you will attain the absolute maximum degree of neck tension obtainable. I've been doing it this way for many years and have not had a single set back issue since.

    As for OAL, I use the barrel and magazine to determine proper seating depth. One of the absolute worst things that one can do when loading high pressure, pressure sensitive cartridges such as the 9mm, is to seat deeper than is necessary. I never even look at the published OAL, ever. If it feeds, fits the magazine, and is consistently clearing the lands (plunk test) you are at the correct OAL. One of those little things I've discovered that works great for me.

    I don't bell any handgun cartridge mouths, but I do crimp those that require it for bullet hold, revolver type cartridges, 38 spcl, .357 mag. and so on.
  16. tyeo098

    tyeo098 Well-Known Member

    I load all my FMJ-RN to 1.159"
    CZ75B, Suomi M31, SW 5906, HP995TS, all of them never complained yet.

    My loads @ 3.5gr Bullseye w 124gr lead might be light because a coworker said he had constant stovepipes in his XD9.

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