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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I shoot in a PPC league and need to get the bullets into a playing card size area at 25 yards.

Shot montana gold dot 125 and some competitors shoot 115s. Price and availability had me move to lead last year, 125 CN over 231 and now bullseye (again, availability issues).

OK...I didn't improve but 3 points over last year with my XDm9 5.25. I thin I may have reached the limit of what a lead 125 can do in that gun. (I also shoot snubby, a 2.5" 686 w/ 148DEWC and my avg wtih it is within 3 points of what my XDm can do!)

So I sure as hell should be able to shoot a 9mm competition slicked up XDm better than a stock double action snubnose revolver, right?

So before i go trade the XDm on a 6" 686 I want to seek some advice on what is the better choice on bullets - 115 or 147?

Googling gets me a lot of folks saying 147 - less recoil. But those I know that shoot for accuracy lean toward a lighter bullet and the cowboy folks say a heavier bullet means MORE recoil... 147 is slower so it's in the barrel longer so recoil management is a bigger factor (in an air rifle you can measure the effect of faster/slower easily). But the 147 grabs more of the rifling so perhaps is more stable for the longer distance of 25 yards.

Anyone got some experience shooting diff lead bullets in their XDm (or other gun even) that can say if one is better than the other?
 

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I've been shooting a lot of SNS coated 147grn bullets in my XDm5.25 9mm with good results. I can, at 15yrds, regularly hit a spent shotgun wad placed upright with the fingers of the wad holding it on the "shoulder" of one of my USPSA cardboard "guys". The exposed portion of the wad measures perhaps 3/4 wide and 1" high over the cardboard. I don't think 10 more yards would let the bullet wander out of a playing card's surface. I used to do this with plain lubed lead bullets too. With any lead, coated lead, or even plated bullet, accuracy is relative to several factors more so than with most jacketed bullets. You want to watch the taper crimp. Too much and the bullet goes nuts, too little and the gun won't run. The oft mentioned formula of bullet diameter plus twice the average case wall thickness minus about .001 to.002" should be adhered to when first experimenting with those bullets, and also works well with most jacketed bullets. You don't want to crush the bullet, but you do want the case mouth firmly in contact with it. Depending on the consistency of the bullet diameters and case wall thickness at the mouth, you may have to vary this to even a smaller size, but not by much. Another factor is the distance from the lands of the loaded round. A lot of reloaders advise getting as close as possible to the lands without actually touching them. However, I have found that in some guns I get better accuracy by backing off a few more thousandths... maybe as much as .010" from when they will "plunk" to get better accuracy. This is something you might have to experiment with. The amount of taper on the lands as it meets the bullet varies from one gun manufacturer to another and is a factor on how the bullet reacts to its introduction to the lands. Related to this is powder speed. When the round is fired the primer may push the bullet forward just as the powder lights up and being off the lands a little more than you might think necessary gives the bullet a chance to not be engraved by the primer strike, but by the powder after that in a continuous buildup of pressure so it hits the lands once while it is moving instead of hitting them with the primer strike, and then being forced by increasing pressure to move again. I know this sounds weird, but the option of one continuous motion seems to produce better accuracy. With really fast powders it would seem not to make a difference, but it still does in my opinion. So experiment with some different OAL measurements and powder types if you have them to try to get the most fluid, continuous motion of the bullet down the barrel.

As to recoil... It's a 9mm with perhaps 132-142 power factor... it's not that brisk. That said, for the same power factors, the 147 does seem to produce less felt recoil to me. Why? I think it's because there is a lot less powder of the same type used for 147grn bullets than for lighter ones at the same power factor. Less powder means less chemical energy being released. Sure, the lighter bullet is a bit less resistant but it does take more energy to get it to the same power factor. Your "feel" of the situation may vary, but that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks, lots to consider and try. And I'd expect one change to influence others...so a crimp change may reduce accuracy but a crimp and OAL may bring it back or better...

Gonna have to make up 100 variations and test them all...I guess the end result may make it worthwhile but it's a 'waste' of ammo and time to some extent.

Any suggestions on where to start?
I can check my crimp and see where that is. I know OAL is short but I can go shorter...may work on that some more than crimp or load. Thoughts?
 

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Googling gets me a lot of folks saying 147 - less recoil. But those I know that shoot for accuracy lean toward a lighter bullet and the cowboy folks say a heavier bullet means MORE recoil... 147 is slower so it's in the barrel longer so recoil management is a bigger factor (in an air rifle you can measure the effect of faster/slower easily). But the 147 grabs more of the rifling so perhaps is more stable for the longer distance of 25 yards.

Anyone got some experience shooting diff lead bullets in their XDm (or other gun even) that can say if one is better than the other?
CAS shooters shoot light bullets not for accuracy but for minimal recoil. Generally in pistols, mid to heavy for caliber tend to give the best accuracy IME. So sure, give the various 147gr lead bullets a try.
 

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I wouldn't judge 124/125 gr. cast, or better yet, poly-coated on the 124/125 gr. Montana Gold jacketed. With cast or poly-coated, I'd pass on 115s and look at 125 and 147s and try to get the best accuracy with the lowest standard deviation possible so that you don't have to go much over 130 PF. That would be 1040 FPS with a 125 and 885 with a 147. See what your XDm likes best. ;)
 

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Thanks, lots to consider and try. And I'd expect one change to influence others...so a crimp change may reduce accuracy but a crimp and OAL may bring it back or better...

Gonna have to make up 100 variations and test them all...I guess the end result may make it worthwhile but it's a 'waste' of ammo and time to some extent.

Any suggestions on where to start?
I can check my crimp and see where that is. I know OAL is short but I can go shorter...may work on that some more than crimp or load. Thoughts?
LOL... Don't go nuts! You won't need to try too many variations to zero in on a good OAL. The crimp as given by the case and bullet diameter minus something in the "standard" range of say .002 is probably going to work fine. For OAL just vary it .003-.005 (Longer or shorter... but don't crowd the rifling in the barrel) for a couple of 10 round batches and try those. If you can get some hidden accuracy out of your gun you will find it quickly. Just stay off the lands! I do think you will have better luck with 124-125grn or 147grn bullets than 115's though as the longer bullets will generally shoot better. I gave a more detailed than usual reply to you above because I wanted you to understand what the parameters where since you are interested in getting better than "average" accuracy out of your gun, and you seemed determined to achieve it for your sport.

As Fred alluded in his last post, CAS guys shoot very light loads with light bullets for minimum recoil and have no power factor to deal with, but the targets they shoot at are very close and pretty large... they are not concerned with gilt edged accuracy.

As an aside, the absolute best accuracy I have seen in 9mm guns resides more at the upper end of the velocity spectrum for most bullet and powder combinations. Sometimes you can get really good accuracy out of light loads (minimum power factor loads) but you have to work at it. In that range, the 147grn bullets seem to work best for most shooters. If you go to the SNS coated 147's, you might try an OAL of 1.1 or so as that works pretty well in my XDm5.25 and mine are loaded with 4.3grns of Silhouette which give 142PF in that gun, but I'm sure you can get good accuracy at something like 132PF or so with several powders. True Blue, Unique, or maybe AA5 would seem to have about the right burn rate for those power factors you are looking for.
 

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For good 9mm min PF loads, faster powders will work fine; red dot, bullseye, wst, etc, even fricking tight group.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
If the upper range is better for accuracy (and I tend to agree with that idea based on past tests) what is the upper limit (speed) for hard(er) lead? 1150?1200?
I'd have to check my book, but if I recall I'm doing something in the 3.9 to 4.1 range of bullseye at 1040-1080 range with no leading issues. I've been unable to get speeds below 1000fps at min loads. Haven't tested near-max loads in lead.
 

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Max vel has several factors but fit is #1, then alloy hardness, as related to pressure, then bullet lube. I have run 45-70 to 1600fps cast from range scrap, 10BHN, & no gas check. The 45-70 is a low pressure round though. That same alloy maxes out at about 1300fps in my 44mag. 1000fps in moast handgns can be done with nearly pure swaged lead, good fit & a good lube. Look at the avg 22lr, over 1000fps, pure lead, little to no leading , but it's a low pressure round.
 

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I have shot lead in 9mm up to 1200fps or so with no leading problems, but they were commercial cast bullets (SNS Flat Nose @ .356 diameter). Like Fred said, it's the FIT that matters most when it comes to leading. If the bullet is a bit oversized for the bore it is much less prone to leading than one that is even slightly undersized. Really hot burning powders also seem more prone to leading and one reason I like Silhouette and 57K likes True Blue is that they are much cooler burning than a lot of powders. I have not used Red Dot in 9mm loadings, but I'll bet you a nickel that it burns cooler than TiteGroup. I did try some e3 a while back for modest loadings with lead and it did pretty well too, though it is hotter than Silhouette. 3.6grns of e3 with an SNS LRN 124grn bullet @ 1.118 OAL gave around 1100fps out of an XDm4.5 which has a fast barrel and gives nearly the same velocity in my 5.25. It was 1083fps out of my Longslide Witness. It is a preferred load for practice in a short barreled gun like an XDs where it gives 1050fps. There is some smoke with plain lead, but not bad. Coated would be even better.
 

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yep, fit is numero uno with cast bullets. I've been very lucky in reloading because of so very few leading problems with cast. There are definite advantages for poly-coated and one is that they do not have to be oversized to prevent leading. They cost just a liitle more than plain cast but less than plated. I've never heard of any problems up to 1500 FPS and even for a hunting load, the core is still soft enough to deform. A lot of guys go the LaserCast route for handgun hunting loads where their alloy is rated as high as 26 BHN. Consequently, their bullets have been known to break apart upon impact. I prefer a good JSP over cast for a hunting load, but when I do use cast, I really don't want them harder than 18 BHN.

Another benefit in using poly-coated and one I have to be somewhat concerned about after having a melanoma removed from my back in 97 is that your fingers are handling polymer instead of lead, likewise, airborne lead is reduced. Maybe between all of us we could investigate a possible advantage in accuracy. I'm not saying there is one but I am curious. That load I made with the Blue Bullet's 125 gr. RN-SWC with True Blue that showed exceptional uniformity with an SD of 3 was also very accurate for me and my shooting partner's pistols. I don't have anywhere close by to shoot IDPA or I would and I'd definitely be using poly-coated bullets. Then again, it's always been my philosophy that I don't need to load FMJ or Plated when a cast bullet will do anything as well. IMO, poly-coated offer advantages over plain cast while being less expensive than plated. ;)
 

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The most accurate bullet I have found is the Zero 121gn 38 Super JHP. After that, the MG 124gn JHP, but the Zero is better.
Other accurate bullets have been 115 and 125gn L-SWCs (Penn Bullets 115gn SWCBB and my own cast or Missouri Bullets 9mm
SWC) , 115 and 124gn Precision Bullet swaged and coated bullets, and (believe it or not) the Hornady .38 140gn Cowboy bullet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
The most accurate bullet I have found is the Zero 121gn 38 Super JHP. After that, the MG 124gn JHP, but the Zero is better.
Other accurate bullets have been 115 and 125gn L-SWCs (Penn Bullets 115gn SWCBB and my own cast or Missouri Bullets 9mm
SWC) , 115 and 124gn Precision Bullet swaged and coated bullets, and (believe it or not) the Hornady .38 140gn Cowboy bullet.
So what are you using for load data? I've not seen info on coated bullets..and what about the 140 cowboy?

How well does a SWC feed in an Xdm or 9mm?
 

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I have about the same opinion as Noylj does, though I never used the "cowboy" bullet. Zero Bullets have always been good performers for me, but you can hardly ever get them and you will run out before you can get them again. Montana Gold also has been a pretty good bullet for me in several calibers and in most of my guns just as accurate, though any differences are slight at best. In 40cal, in particular 180grn, they are tough to beat. They are certainly "good enough" for the purpose intended. They are generally easier to get and I buy them by case lots as do most guys who want a season's worth of bullets, so Montana Gold is probably the bullet you will see (or at least be able to identify) the most in meets where the points really count. This may change as coated become more popular though. At the distances most often shot in USPSA/IPSC/Steel Challenge, lead bullets were as good as any other if properly sized and loaded, and are certainly well represented even in major meets.

As to coated... You use the same load densities you would for equal weight plain old lead bullets. The coated are just a mite slower... like 15fps or so than the lubed lead ones are in the same guns. No big deal as you usually have plenty of room to make a power factor when shooting gamer or range ammo and you are going to want to be about 5 power factor over the minimum anyway at the very least to avoid any embarrassment at the chronograph. So generally the same loads you would use with lubed lead are still going to make power factor with coated and you always have room to up the charge if you need to.
 

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I use lead SWCs in all my 9x19s, including 1930 era "Lugers" and WWII era P-38s. It feeds in all of them. Any "long nose" H&G #68 clone designed for 9mm or .38 will feed in most any 9x19 gun given the proper range of COL. For lead SWCs, I like a COL that puts the bullet shoulder almost in contact with the lede/rifling. Buy a few and try them.
The military and some Bullseye shooters seem to have gone to 115gn for accuracy.
For action pistol, the standard is a very heavy bullet being loaded with a very fast powder at velocities that just barely make minor.
The 9x19 is NOT at its best at slow velocities. In Bullseye, to get real accuracy at 50 yards, the loads have to be stout with recoil probably worse than the .45 (same as action pistol: a 200gn bullet at 750 fps is a push and a 115gn bullet at 1100 fps is a snap).
Thus, accuracy is an issue only for the game you play. I could NEVER get a sub-4" group at 25 yards from any 147gn bullet, but you don't need that level of accuracy.
Unlike many, I find a quick "snap" and the sights back on target feels better to me than a slow push, but I am probably about one in a million.
Regarding Zero: When they are available, buy as many as you can afford. They have started to appear more recently, and if I had the money and needed any, I could have gotten what I wanted in the last 6 months. Check Roze Distribution and PowderValley.
 

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Just a sort of addendum to Noylj's comment. 4" at 25yrds is pretty good accuracy from ANY handgun with any bullet. It used to be the standard by which pistols were judged. There are few persons who, on their own hind legs and holding the gun in their hands unrested, will be able to shoot that well. I do have several guns that off a rest will shoot better with my reloads, but I would have to be having a really good day to do 4" at 25yrds while standing and shooting, let alone shooting fast. Years ago... sure, nowadays, not so much! In 9mm, like noylj said, the most accurate loads are generally moving pretty fast... like 124grn at around 1100fps or better. 115's I personally have not found to be any better than 124grn and generally not as good, but hey... I'm just some guy on the internet and that's just me. Some guns could shoot 115grn better and I accept that. 147's again have to be moving pretty well to wring the most accuracy out of them... like around 950fps or maybe a bit more, and they won't be powder puff loads at that point, but they are still a lot softer than 180grn 40cal loads that would make major which is what I have shot most of, at least in the last 10 years, though nowadays I shoot a lot more 9mm because it's cheaper and I can get good accuracy from those too.
 
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