Confusing results with 9mm and CFE Pistol

Howland937

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Decided to load some 147gr 9mm stuff to mess around with. Bullets are XTP's and since it was an all new venture, thought I'd try to use up some of the CFE Pistol thats been basically relegated to .380 loads. Didn't bother to chrono since I'm not chasing velocity, but I loaded them all at 1.10 OAL and started with 10 rounds slightly above Hornady recommended minimum (3.3) at 3.5gr.

Shot them out of a stock DW Guardian 4.25".
Gun wouldn't fully clear and eject empty, dirty cases. Felt pretty anemic.

Tried the 10 I loaded with 3.8gr---cases clean, gun cycles and feeds...slide doesn't lock open on empty. Shot some 147gr factory loads for comparison. Function was perfect, slide locked open on empty and recoil was noticeably sharper.

Went in and loaded 10 more at 1.10" with 4.1gr, which is only .2gr under max and the gun ran perfectly..but the slide still isn't locking open and it still felt kinda weak. It locks open on empty with absolutely every other ammo I've ever tried that would feed, fire and eject. Even crap white box and whatever $11.99 fmj stuff I bought a while back. Also locks open when manually cycling with these reloads after last round.

Whatever. Maybe it's the gun. Grabbed the Sig Match Elite full size 9mm. I have a 12lb recoil spring and load pretty light for it usually for the wife and kid. It worked flawlessly including locking the slide open...and I used the same mags I used in the Dan Wesson.

Got out the check weights, verified calibration on the 5-0-5 scale. Threw 4 or 5 charges and weighed each one. No problems there.
Checked data again and cross referenced. 4.1gr of CFE Pistol with 147's is near max in Hornady manual, at max in Nosler data. Checked neck tension and got zero setback after chambering 3 or 4 times and pushing them down on the table. I remember not being a fan of CFE in 38 Super, but that was more about not getting near advertised velocities.

What am I missing? Would have thought this powder would be acceptable for heavier bullets. At least I don't have a bunch loaded and I'll probably stick with WSF and AA7 for 9mm regardless of bullet weight.
 
Hmm, I have not used it with heavier than 124m, but 5 gr of CFE Pistol with a 124gr XTP certainly gave good results to me, HOWEVER, I do have to say the lower listed loadings seemed very weak.
 
147gr 9mm ... XTP ... CFE Pistol ... 1.10 OAL ... DW Guardian 4.25" ... 3.5 gr - Gun wouldn't fully clear and eject empty, dirty cases. Felt pretty anemic ... 3.8 gr - cases clean, gun cycles and feeds...slide doesn't lock open on empty ... 4.1 gr - gun ran perfectly but slide still isn't locking open and it still felt kinda weak.

What am I missing?
My guess would be higher powder charge. :)

I found CFE Pistol relatively slower burning (Like AutoComp) and mid-to-high range load data was needed to produce accuracy (Meaning high enough chamber pressures for more efficient powder burn to reliably cycle the slide and produce consistent enough chamber pressures for accuracy).

Also, compact/subcompact pistols with stiffer recoil springs may require higher powder charges to reliably cycle the slide and extract/eject spent cases (Compared to fullsize).

Here's Speer load data for comparative reference - https://reloadingdata.speer.com/downloads/speer/reloading-pdfs/handgun/9mm_Luger__147_rev1.pdf
  • 9mm 147 gr GDHP CFE Pistol COL 1.130" Start 4.1 gr (897 fps) - Max 4.6 gr (980 fps)
And Hodgdon load data - https://hodgdonreloading.com/rldc/
  • 9mm 147 gr Hornady XTP CFE Pistol COL 1.100" Start 3.7 gr (864 fps) - Max 4.2 gr (963 fps)

Since increasing powder charge from 3.8 gr to 4.1 gr improved slide cycling but slide did not lock back, I would incrementally increase powder charge until slide locks back and accuracy trends.

So try 4.2 and 4.3 gr and increased slide cycling speed should bump the case rim on ejector harder to toss spent cases further out and reliably lock the slide back.
 
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My guess would be higher powder charge
That's what first came to mind, but I can't remember ever having to load at max to get proper function in anything...even with Hornady's typically conservative data. (Starting load 3.3gr) If I chase this combination in the future, I'll bump it on up to 4.3 and see what happens. Was just hoping to find a use for this powder in something other than .380, since I'll probably never shoot it enough to use up what I have.
 
Didn't bother to chrono since I'm not chasing velocity, but I loaded them all at 1.10 OAL and started with 10 rounds slightly above Hornady recommended minimum (3.3) at 3.5gr.
I find chrono data to be extremely useful especially when trying new powders and/or bullet combinations. It may help determine how close to that upper end you really are. We all know it’s not a pressure measurement but about the only data us mere mortals can obtain easily.
My experience with CFE-P is about the same as yours. I load a bit longer COL, and had to venture a bit over book max to get what I was looking for, which isn’t max velocity, just a comfortable PF.
I also haven’t found any factory 9mm to be weak. I suspect they want fully functioning ammo. The weakest I’ve ever seen is ELEY has a calibration ammo that registers about 115PF, but it still cycles reliably in a semi-auto.
 
That's what first came to mind, but I can't remember ever having to load at max to get proper function in anything...even with Hornady's typically conservative data. (Starting load 3.3gr) If I chase this combination in the future, I'll bump it on up to 4.3 and see what happens. Was just hoping to find a use for this powder in something other than .380, since I'll probably never shoot it enough to use up what I have.
FWIW, I encountered a similar situation with Ramshot Zip and 115 gr plated bullets when attempting to use mild loads. Even midrange loads, while they would function, would not lock the slide back on an empty magazine. Only listed maximum powder charges were 100% reliable in that regard. (based on Glock 48, CZ P-09, CZ SP-01, so not related to a single example)
 
FWIW, I encountered a similar situation with Ramshot Zip and 115 gr plated bullets when attempting to use mild loads. Even midrange loads, while they would function, would not lock the slide back on an empty magazine. Only listed maximum powder charges were 100% reliable in that regard. (based on Glock 48, CZ P-09, CZ SP-01, so not related to a single example)
So my mystery isn't exactly unheard of, which makes me feel not quite as dumb. Just not anything I'd ever encountered before.
 
I want to watch this thread. 4.1 gr CFE Pistol is my standard load for a 147 gr XTP. I don’t remember any function issues. Accuracy nearly matches my target load with 147 gr RMR Match Winners. I have to stretch to 25 yards to tell a difference. My Canik is a full size pistol however. It had a couple of issues with the slide not locking back but that was with different loads.
 
I like True Blue for 9mm handgun loads. AA#7 works well in carbines. Haven't tried cfe pistol. Laying off trying some AA#5 but have a big jug of TB and use the #5 for 45C so will likely stay the coarse.
 
to watch this thread. 4.1 gr CFE Pistol is my standard load for a 147 gr XTP.
Thinking the stock recoil spring is 14#, so if I drop to 12 or maybe even 13# I bet it would work with this load. I don't typically load 147's but I have a few hundred to use up.
I find chrono data to be extremely useful
Agreed. Laziness on my part. I had no goal in mind beyond finding a use for components that have been collecting dust, so breaking out the chrono never even entered my mind.
like True Blue for 9mm handgun loads.
I load mostly WSF for 9mm. I never have high expectations for it besides good enough to function and hit 8" steel at 25 yards. Probably have 10-12 powders on hand that should do those things.
 
I want to watch this thread. 4.1 gr CFE Pistol is my standard load for a 147 gr XTP. I don’t remember any function issues.
As there are many reloading variables to affect chamber pressures and group size, there are also shooting variables that can affect pistol slide cycling, case extraction and ejection. ;)

I have seen one load that will reliably cycle the slides of several pistols (With well worn recoil springs) that will choke on different pistol or one with new recoil spring.
 
As there are many reloading variables to affect chamber pressures and group size, there are also shooting variables that can affect pistol slide cycling, case extraction and ejection. ;)

I have seen one load that will reliably cycle the slides of several pistols (With well worn recoil springs) that will choke on different pistol or one with new recoil spring.
That’s a fact. With many designs we have to consider the hammer spring into the function equation along with the recoil spring.
 
Although I don't recommend going under the reloading manual recommendations I have loaded 9mm and 45acp so lightly that the slide barely opened enough to eject the case. The spent cases kind of dribbled out on the ground. Things like failures to feed and smokestacks start happening when going under the recommended.
 
Not to try to convince you but I’ve found it quite effective in 9mm and 357 Magnum target loads. It would probably work for 38 Special but I haven’t tried it there. At least in my Blackhawk it is equal to W231 pushing Hornady HBWC.
 
I doubt I'll buy more of it simply because I haven't found anything it's really better at. I mean, if they start selling it for $15-$20/lb I could live with it, but it's been mostly just OK.
I'm not saying you are wrong, but it takes some experimenting to find what will work.

For me in 357sig, CFE Pistol and the 147gr RMR Match Winner bullet is my go-to load for accuracy.

In 9mm, CFE Pistol is not my most accurate load, but it does very well with a 115gr MPR bullet. I think CFE Pistol likes a bit of pressure to be accurate.
9mm, P365X, 3.1"
Case: WIN
COL: 1.075"
RMR, 115gr, MPRJHP, CFEpistol, 5.7gr, FED100
Average: 1154
ES: 42
SD: 17.1
Force: 340
PF: 132
Velocities: 1167, 1158, 1170, 1147, 1128
Grouping @ 15yd: 0.73"
Test Date: 07/04/2022
Load-1501-05_15yd.png
 
I doubt I'll buy more of it simply because I haven't found anything it's really better at.
I would recommend WSF/BE-86 over CFE Pistol for various 9mm applications where mid-to-high range load data is desired for accurate milder target loads or higher velocities for defensive load applications (Where BE-86 produces higher velocities and slightly better accuracy over WSF).
 
I use CFEP with 125 gr coated in my 9mm pistols. I always start new loads light and usually have to go up to close to max to get my guns to eject more than a dribble. I now load 4.6 gr. and that works fine.
 
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I abandoned CFE Pistol in 9MM and use Longshot or BE-86.

Heck BE-86 is taking over on quite a few semiautomatic pistol loads as of late, and it’s readily available.

Still have 3 lbs of WSF on the shelf collecting dust.
BE-86 sounded like a pretty good all around powder for most handgun loads, so anticipating Alliant’s threatened price increase, I ordered an 8 lb keg. (I am prone to going all in for a perceived bargain). Since I had not actually tried it yet, $228 seemed reasonable. It worked as expected, son I grabbed another 8 lb that I found for a similar price, a few weeks later. Seeing current prices crowding $50 per pound, glad I took the chance.
 
BE-86 sounded like a pretty good all around powder for most handgun loads, so anticipating Alliant’s threatened price increase, I ordered an 8 lb keg. (I am prone to going all in for a perceived bargain). Since I had not actually tried it yet, $228 seemed reasonable. It worked as expected, son I grabbed another 8 lb that I found for a similar price, a few weeks later. Seeing current prices crowding $50 per pound, glad I took the chance.
It’s a great powder for sure. Good price as well. I picked up 4 each 1 lb canisters for $32 each a while ago.
 
I abandoned CFE Pistol in 9MM and use Longshot or BE-86.

Heck BE-86 is taking over on quite a few semiautomatic pistol loads as of late, and it’s readily available.

Still have 3 lbs of WSF on the shelf collecting dust.
► I used to do a lot of powder testing, and I'd buy a pound of any new-to-me powder when I saw it. I bought a can of CFE Pistol, tested it and put it in the cabinet. I don't think it's been out of the cabinet since. Lots of people like this powder; it seems nice, but unremarkable.

► Here's my data...
Caliber: 9x19 Luger
Bullets: Precision Delta 124gr JHP
Brass: Winchester
Powder: CFE Pistol
Max Velocity: 1120fps
Primer: Winchester WSP
OAL: 1.110"
Pistol: CZ SP-01 Tac
Qty: 10 rounds each, slow fired
Weather: 50F, clear and windy
Chrono: ProChrono

Load..........Avg Vel............SD
4.5gr..............970..................20
4.7...................995.................23
4.9.................1024.................23
5.0.................1047.................13
5.1.................1083.................13
5.3.................1122.................15......Max Load

NOTES

• Metered very well due to small grain size
• Burned remarkably clean, even at 4.5gr
• Attribute the mid-range SD numbers to the powder and not my reloading technique
• Loaded on Dillon 550 using Dillon dies
• Good case fill

► Looking at this report (load data and testing from March 2018) you look to be seriously underloaded.
 
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CFE-P has found a home here in 9mm and 40 S&W. I tried it in 45 Auto and 380, not much to write home about. I find that CFE-P likes higher pressure max loads. It's repeatedly in the single to low teen digits of SD at max. It's not the highest in velocities, but it gets up there.
CFE-P at lower pressures give me sooty cases and a dirtier gun. For lighter loads I go with HP-38.
I haven't tried BE-86, but from what I read, it looks interesting. But I have enough CFE-P to last for some time.
 
► Looking at this report (load data and testing from March 2018) you look to be seriously underloaded.

If you meant me, I was loading 147's.
I agree with the part where you said "unremarkable" as I did run them up to max with 124gr in 38 Super with results similar to HS6. Found Power Pistol and WSF to be better with AA7 and N105 leaving them all behind.
 
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