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And Now for Something Completely Different! (Updated)
By: Kevin Newberry
For me, that is. And I apologize for plagiarizing the introductory line for Monty Python’s Flying Circus!
One of the great pleasures I’ve had in writing these articles is getting to know some great folks in the industry. Initially, I talked to Rob Behr a couple of times by email on technical matters. I was somewhat surprised that Rob remembered me when I actually took the time to get on Westerns email list. That led to being asked to write for the e-mag, and giving Rob the option of subject matter, he asked about a serial novella, which we did in four parts over as many months. Before that concluded, I turned in my first tech article on True Blue that you’ll find by going back to the last page of articles.
Then there was the chance meeting with Charles Schwartz from some forum posts I had written. I remember when Charles signed on to one particular forum under his own name, when I then asked if he was, in fact, the Charles Schwartz whom had authored Quantitative Ammunition Selection. We’ve been corresponding ever since, and even did a book swap. He sent me a PDF copy of QAS and I sent him a copy of my novel Kilroy: Kilroy Was Here edited by guess who? That’s right; our fearless leader and editor of this emag who now has his own book in print.
In my last article, I wrote about the tests I did with the 147 gr. HSTs. They were sent to me for testing from another buddy, Barry B. in Florida. He had purchased them as “Pulled Bullets” from Rocky Mountain Reloading. RMR as most of us refer to them. I have since tested the 124 gr. HST, and excepting for slightly less penetration at 1181 FPS from a S&W M&P Mod 2 Compact with a 4” barrel, the expansion results were very similar to the 147 at 1111 FPS.
I felt that this might be of interest to the folks at RMR, so I emailed them to let them know about the article. That email was responded to by Jake Wilcox. He was interested in some things I had stated about their In-House manufactured 124 gr. JHP. It got me to thinking about how I had loaded the bullets my shooting partner and I had bought for testing.
Now this may border on the complicated, but the fact is, I loaded them much shorter than I’m used to so that the loads could be tested in all of our various 9mm pistols. That length was largely the reason we didn’t continue on with further testing. The complicated part may be due to some things I only learned about recently, myself.
Testing for Max OACL for just the Canik TP9sa that I’ll use for handload testing, I can load them much longer as you’ll see in an upcoming pic. 1.159” is what I read on my dial calipers for the Max Possible OACL I continually mention. I am, of course, aware that different 9mm pistols have different chamber/throat dimensions which only exacerbates the problem. I’m sure I remember checking SAAMI spec for 9mm chamber dimensions back when there was an acceptable range from minimum to maximum. Then, last week I downloaded a newer booklet that was printed in 2015. I was quite surprised. Not only was the acceptable range gone, it has been replaced by what I feel may be responsible for so many different pistols having shorter chambers these days. Also, I was investigating a custom threaded barrel for the Canik TP9sa. I had a bit of a hard time in discussing some of these issues with the folks selling the barrels. I then contacted the company who had manufactured the barrels for them, and the only solid information I have received so far is that the chambers are cut to SAAMI spec dimensions. Unfortunately, the Caniks are not, thank goodness, they’re longer for NATO spec ammo.
Taking all of this into account, I mentioned to Jake that I would make my loads at what I would consider an intermediate OACL of 1.122”/28.5mm. Because I am aware that many of you may have pistols/barrels with chambers that are too short for even that length, I’m going to get back into something that I’ve mentioned in several articles. I’ll had some pics that I hope will help, along with Rob’s great work in editing and additions to the photos along with the text that guides him to always seeming to know what my thoughts are.
I’d also like to mention that any of you that have done business with RMR, you already know what a first-rate group of people your dealing with. This begins with Jake Wilcox, and we’ve always had great results in ordering bullets from them, or even getting questions answered. In my own estimation of such things, I believe that much of this is due to the fact that Jake is one of us. A handloader who turned his passion into a successful business. I’d also like to greatly thank him for furnishing the test bullets in large enough quantity that I don’t have to sweat over condensing the article because of a limited number of bullets.
I realize that everyone likes to save a buck or two, and I’ve been on enough gun forums to know that as handloaders, we can sometimes obsess with saving money. That’s not to say that RMR can’t compete with just about any retailer you’ll deal with, it’s also about the care that goes into processing orders, selling great products, some of their bullets made now by RMR themselves in house. It’s also great to know that if you have a question that needs to be answered, you’ll find them ready and waiting to assist you. Again, something I believe that is borne out of Jake’s own experience as a handloader.
Okay, let’s get to it! First, the bullet that is the topic of this article, the 124 gr. In-House JHP.
The reason for the chosen title of this article is because this will be different from others I’ve written in the past. We won’t be diving right into defensive use and testing. What I am investigating is a statement made by RMR for this bullet being “Multi-Purpose.” Once you’ve clicked to the bullet itself at their site, you’ll notice that one product tester did a YouTube video comparing this bullet directly to the 124 gr. JHP from NOSLER. RMR vs Nosler You definitely want to watch this one!
Some years ago we tested the 124 gr. JHP from NOSLER in hopes that it might be the one bullet that would meet all of our 124 gr. Requirements, and 124 gr. JHPs are what we load and shoot mostly. There is no doubt that the NOSLER 124 gr. JHP is and was a very accurate bullet for us. Just one problem. Even above 1200 FPS they didn’t expand. If you read the reviews at the various retail sites you’ll notice a common theme. It needs .357 SIG velocity to make it expand.
You guys are likely accustomed to seeing my loads in +P velocity ranges. Don’t misunderstand that statement because in the SAAMI booklet from 2015, they listed 9mm +P pressure as “NE.” Not Evaluated . . . WHAT? It was 38,500 PSI for some years before then!
If you are one of the few that started handloading 9mm way back when you could buy cheap rounds at $5.00/box of 50, one reason many handloaders didn’t make their own, you’ve likely seen the changes like I have since around 1986 (the year I started) when the SAAMI Maximum Average Pressure rating, or MAP, was 35,700 CUP. For whatever the reason, cheaply manufactured or unfamiliar branded pistols mostly blamed, SAAMI, in their infinite wisdom decided to fix what wasn’t broken. Taking a page from their .38 Special book, they introduced the +P label to the 9 x 19mm cartridge. Needless to say, the greater result of this was simply confusion while they also changed the method of pressure testing from CUP to PSI, where standard pressure loads were reduced to 35,000 PSI. It wasn’t until several years later that I found out that when a 35,000 PSI cartridge is tested by the CUP method, Copper Units of Pressure, the result is 33,000 CUP. Some believe that they simply allowed an increase of 10% in pressure to create +P which also took a few years to learn as 38,500 PSI. The exact reverse is what I’ve always suspected, taking rounds near or at the original 35,700 CUP that tested near 38,500 PSI.
OMG, that little cartridge is just too hot! Never mind that among auto-pistol cartridges, only the variants of the 9 x 19mm, i.e. 9 x 23mm Winchester or Super-Comp have a stronger, or as strong, case-head. With the introduction of the .40 S&W and our indoctrination of how NOT to load to its same SAAMI MAP of 35,000 PSI, some folks just didn’t get the memo and were making some poor powder choices with very fast burning propellants to reach Max Loads, or factory level defense loads. Another problem with using very fast burning powders is that many of them will only occupy a limited amount of space in the cartridge. Then when you add a heavy bullet over a limited space combustion area, faster pressure peaks occur. Whichever the case may be, we all got familiar with the term Ka-Boom!
Then we got the Super-Charged 9mm known as the .357 SIG. The bottle-necked 40 S&W case was moderately strengthened in the web/case-head area and SAAMI allowed a 40,000 PSI MAP for that cartridge. I’d like to have a $ for every time I’ve heard that there is no SAAMI MAP rating for 9mm +P+. Then we found out that the good-ole-boys had made the “suggestion” that it not exceed 40,000 PSI. And the ballistic differences between the two? . . . use your imagination. All I can say is that if I’m going to shoot a 40,000 PSI round from an auto-pistol, I’ll take the one with the stronger case-head every time. I also believe that this led back to the stereotype of the guy that keeps cramming powder into a case until the velocity reaches their over-inflated goal. Then if their knowledge of powders, and their pressures, is suspect . . . let’s see, I think we did that as well with the first introduction of 9mm Major back when the IPSC power factor requirement was 175. 147 gr. Bullets seemed to do the trick, but unfortunately, guys were using some extremely fast burning powders to accomplish it. For those who weren’t around then, I’ll just say that more than a few pistols Ka-Boomed. Many loads were found to be Double-Charged or worse. So maybe my point about doing business with a technically adept handloader might be worth a buck or two if it is about $.
Another difference here is the types of loads I am making. Western, of course, helped with the powders I’ll be using. One powder in particular that I wanted to evaluate was Accurate No 2. I am going to make and provide data for a 130 Power Factor load, and I can tell you that I’m already off to a good start. Truth is, most competitors are using 147 gr. 9mm bullets for their minor power factor loads because of a perceived difference in recoil where many consider the 147s to have an advantage in lighter recoil than using 124 gr. Bullets. Gamesmanship, unfortunately, is a very big part of competitive shooting. And I’ll be honest, I’ve never considered the 9mm to have much recoil. My own priority is accuracy first, after knowing that the loads cycle without failure. But, I did start out in handgun shooting with Magnum revolvers, so maybe my views are a bit jaundiced. But even with 147 gr. Bullets, I believe that A #2 is a very overlooked powder and ideal for the heavier bullets as well.
In my first chrono session where my shooting partner was not available to be there with me, I fired some 147 gr. Gold Dot loads at 1112 FPS because I am trying to tweak them for my own defensive use. The results were much as expected. Immediately after firing those ten rounds I went to my first loads with the RMR 124 gr. JHP In-House in once fired cases using the OACL that I’ll continually use throughout this article: 1.122”/28.5mm. I could easily load them at 1.142”/29mm, so after the loads for this article, I will probably tailor OACL for my most oft used 9 x 19mm pistol. But, at 1.122”/28.5mm, some of you will find this length too long, so as I mentioned, we’re gonna cover making the proper adjustments. The first loads were charged with 3.9 grs. Of Accurate No. 2. Velocity was 1011 FPS with a standard deviation of 5 FPS. That put me at 125 Power Factor with the first loads. While I was shooting the ten rounds over the chrono, I started seeing rounds land in the X-Ring at 48′ and just below where the HSTs had landed. And as I’ve mentioned before, I’m really not shooting for groups when I chrono velocity. First and foremost, I’m trying to ensure that no round gets near the chrono body or the rods for the skyscreens. I did get an unexpected bonus, the rounds all cycled completely from the Canik TP9sa. If you’re familiar with these pistols you may be aware that very light loads may not cycle the slide completely. The reason being, these pistols, and definitely the TP9sa, are made for 9mm NATO spec. Mine being a little over three years old now likely helped. If I can get these loads up to 1048 FPS/130 Power Factor and keep SD down to 5 FPS, I’ll be a happy camper. At 1011 they were very soft shooting and obviously accurate. I would certainly use them for USPSA or IDPA if we could do that at our range. The owner of the range for the past few years has assured me that he is interested in getting some type of competition started and there is dirt work in progress as I speak.
That would be my only need for 9mm loads this light, and the accuracy would trump whatever difference there is in recoil, because, to my way of thinking, 130 PF is 130 PF. And Power Factor can be a useful tool in predicting recoil in general. There is another component here; that being that one of the more commonly used powders for the 147s has been Hodgdon Clays, imported from ADI in Australia. That has changed. Today, Clays is coming from Canada and according to the guys that use it, it hasn’t been up to the same standard. I’ve thought about this lately. One powder that Western will be glad to know that is seeing more use now is Ramshot Competition. Also very fast burning. It’s what I wanted to use for this article initially until I remembered that my brain was locked into the 147 gr. Loads which Competition can do. Not so much with 124s. At or below the standard pressure of 35,000 PSI, it will get you the 884 FPS/130 PF for competition, but not 1048 FPS/130 PF with a 124. Most guys seem to take the same approach that I do in terms of power factor. 125 is the minimum req’d, but as you will have your loads chrono’d on an unfamiliar chronograph, it’s good to have a little cushion where I simply add the standard deviation of the load to the power factor minimum.
Pardon the drift here because I have no preference when it comes to USPSA or IDPA except one. When I first read about IDPA, I was intrigued. That is, until I understood the rules. The 9mm would use the 125 power factor minimum while the .40 S&W was also restricted to Minor Power Factor. I started reading between the lines and ultimately decided that the rules were a bit hokey. I know that my .40 S&W loads, being defense oriented, would make Major Power Factor easily using the correct propellants. As far as a tool for defensive training goes? Everyone seems to be looking for a competitive edge (gamesmanship) while I can’t think of anyone wanting to have their pistols filled with minor power factor loads during a defensive confrontation. I very much believe in the axiom: “We fight as we train.” I have always wanted to see a competitive shooting sport popularized, if it truly is defensive in nature, requiring the requisite defensive ammo. I wouldn’t complain about .38 Special having a 125 Power Factor, at 130 PF, using the heavier bullet concept, a 158 gr. Bullet would need a velocity of 823 FPS. That’s common enough for factory ammo and a good many handloads. It is what it is! Good 9mm defense loads for me begin with 124 gr. Bullets. So with the 124 gr. HST handloads I recently made, I knew that the factory rating from Federal for the 124 gr. +P version, velocity is 1200 FPS from their 4” test barrel. When we chrono’d the 124 gr. HST from my shooting partner’s S&W M&P Mod 2 Compact with 4” barrel, velocity was 1181 FPS, so I left the decision to him: water test now, or bump the charge up a tad. Since they were actually more accurate than the loads he had been carrying in that pistol, he liked velocity right where it was, and it chrono’s 1213 FPS from the Canik TP9sa, which suited me just fine. Results were excellent, or even outstanding, but even at 1181 FPS we’re talking about a power factor of 146! Even a minimum power factor requirement of 140 would seem much more logical for a sport intended to make us better defensive pistol users.
Enough about my biases. Let’s get on with making proper loads with a particular bullet for a particular pistol. Let’s take another look at the 124 gr. RMR In-House JHP.
You can see that the ogive is mostly toward the nose of the bullet while the shank is fairly long. Not the longest out there but it does allow for use with the .357 SIG. The next thing we want to do is to put this bullet just barely into a fired case.
I’m showing a fired WIN case because that’s what I use personally. This is not brand specific. You can use any case you like so long as it has been fired and not resized. The spent primer remaining in the case reminds us that this is a “dummy” cartridge. So just barely starting the bullet in the case, the “dummy” should be over-length.
Let me just point out here that this method is for .355” jacketed bullets. Plated bullets are usually slightly over-sized. I don’t load them often, but I do load poly-coated and hard cast lead, before poly-coated arrived on the scene. Because of their larger diameter, I use my press to determine OACL with lead bullets. This is what the over-length “dummy” will look like before being placed in the barrel’s chamber.
As you can see, the case-rim extends well beyond the barrel’s hood. Using very light to moderate thumb pressure on the rim, push the “dummy” into the chamber until it stops. At that point, the case-mouth has seated on the chamber’s forward ledge while the leade/throat/rifling seats the bullet to its Max Possible OACL. Don’t push so hard on the rim as to get the bullet lodged in the throat. At the Max Possible OACL, the bullet will be just barely touching the lands of the rifling. This is what it will look like after you’ve gently pushed the “dummy” until the forward ledge of the chamber stops further movement.
You can see that at Max Possible OACL, the case-rim is just about 1mm below the barrel’s hood above. Flush with the barrel hood is okay, but any longer than flush, your cases may be too long and need to be trimmed. Something most of us rarely do with 9 x 19mm cases. Remove the “dummy” from the barrel. Hopefully, there will be enough tension on the bullet to hold it in place. If you can use enough finesse, maybe place the “dummy” between your thumb and index finger to help keep it in place. You will learn that different branded fired cases will have more or less tension on the bullet, but it won’t be by much since the case was formed to the chamber when you fired it.
My dial caliper reads 1.159” which is quite long and 1.142”/29mm is typically as long as I load 124 gr. JHPs. I do try to limit the distance the bullet “jumps” from the case into the rifling, just as most of us do for our rifle loads. I am loading these cartridges at 1.122”/28.5mm as an intermediate OACL. Many of you guys will need to shorten the OACL for your pistol, while a few that have custom pistols, or service pistols with generous throats like the TP9sa, may want to load them longer. If you have to load shorter. Make sure that there’s at least .005” of distance for the bullet to jump from case to rifling. This is what’s known as Freebore. I like to repeat this procedure for a total of 5 tests to ensure that I’m getting a consistent Max Possible OACL. Then, just make your handloads .010” or drop to the next lower quarter millimeter which is very close to the same. It just happens that the various OACLs I use for 9 x 19mm vary by .25mm increments, hopefully with 28.5mm (1.122”) being the shortest length required. But again, I do not own any short-throated 9mm pistols.
So far, with the loads I’ve made, the tolerance range of +/- .002” and mostly on the longer side has been very good. But on the .002” plus side, you’re only allowing .003” of freebore. Shortening your handloads by .010” from the Max Possible OACL will work great. Holding freebore to .010” is what helps with the accuracy and lower standard deviations I want from my loads. I chronograph with 10 shot strings, and so long as standard deviation is 10 FPS or lower, no load in the magazine will be much different than any other. I state millimeters for both our European readers as well as the fact that .25mm is very close to .010”, and the distance I shorten or lengthen OACL. Some people may state this differently, but with a slower powder like Silhouette, I find that this is enough change in OACL to affect velocity and therefore pressure. If someone says it will make no difference in velocity or pressure, they are most likely working with a faster burning powder with a faster pressure peak.
Most often for my 124 gr. Defense loads, like the HSTs, I use Ramshot Silhouette. If I’m setting out to make a pure accuracy load, they will be charged with Ramshot True Blue, which in my not-so-humble opinion is the finest handgun powder in existence today; from pocket pistol cartridges like the .32 and .380 ACP, up to the large magnums. It may not produce the velocity of Magnum powders like Enforcer/A #4100 or A 11FS, but if you’re loading for something like a 3” .357 Magnum, you won’t lose as much velocity going from longer barrels to shorter ones, and there will definitely be an improvement in holding down muzzle-blast/Flash. Actually, I learned, or proved this with a 2 3/4” Ruger Speed-Six while I say that my personal minimum for .357 Magnum barrel length is 3”. I’m sure you guys can forgive a 1/4” variation of the rule because if you have the same revolver, or something very much like it, 10.1 grs. Of True Blue (please work up, but not a Max Charge) has been very accurate for me and it will have plenty of velocity with 125 gr. JHPs, but not so much as to impede penetration. Water test your own loads to be sure. If we can find them, our preference is actually for 140 gr. JHPs for .357 Magnum loads. It is the one powder I never want to be without. I might also mention that in all of the articles I’ve written for this emag, only one has never seen the light of day. An agreement between Rob and I because I wrote it for the worse case scenario of Hillary Clinton being elected president! In short, I stated that if I could have only one powder, period, I would want it to be True Blue. And, of course, only handgun data exists!
Finally, Friday the 4th gave us a beautiful day after a small winter event in the heart of Texas. It was sunny and 60 degrees with light wind. Other than being after 3:30 PM, the conditions were great. Personally, when chrono testing, I like to have the sun at 45 degrees above the horizon, morning and afternoon. It helps keep the intense sunlight, like we had yesterday, from interfering with the chrono sensors. I do feel pretty comfortable with the ten shot strings we fired although I expected slightly higher velocity from the A #2 load. I had increased the charge by .2 grs. And the velocity increase was just 19 FPS above the previous load that chrono’d 1011 FPS with an excellent SD of 5 FPS. At 1030 FPS, SD went up slightly to 7 FPS, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Accuracy seemed to be very good, while I’m not really trying to achieve the best groups when I chrono. This load gives a Power Factor of 128. For my own use, I’d likely add another .1 gr. For 4.2 grs. Since we’re very close to the 130 PF goal, I leave the rest up to you folks and your own chrono testing. One observation here was that this load was very soft shooting.
Because the RMR 124 gr. JHP is so comparable to the NOSLER 124 gr. JHP, I made a replication load where they had best accuracy with 5.3 grs. Of True Blue and an OACL of 1.120”. True Blue was the most accurate powder tested in their 124 gr. data. Consequently, Lyman got best accuracy in their data using the SIERRA 130 gr. FMJ Tournament Master with 6.0 grs. of True Blue achieving 1083 FPS when only 1000 FPS would be required for 130 PF. No worries, the Start Charge is 5.3 grs. For 970 FPS, and I would estimate that 5.5 grs. Would be very close to 1000 FPS .
My True Blue load chrono’d 988 FPS from the 4.47” Canik TP9sa barrel that is typically what I consider a fast bore. NOSLER tested from a 4” 1 in 16” twist rate test barrel for 1004 FPS. Their higher velocity with a shorter barrel might possibly be because of the 1 in 16” twist vs the TP9sa’s 1 in 10” twist. I was expecting faster from the Canik rather than slower. This was all about replicating NOSLER’s best accuracy load rather than being intended for competition. Statistically, I wasn’t as impressed with the loads uniformity compared to what I’m used to seeing with True Blue, but true to it’s name, it shot very well. 5 rounds at a measured 48′ or 16 yards grouped at 1 3/4”. And there are some things I should mention here because I feel both loads are capable of even better accuracy. My shooting partner works in a manufacturing plant and didn’t get so much as a lunch break in a very busy day for him. Because the way the range is set up, we were shooting on a slight diagonal. Lastly, I asked him to shoot the groups while I recorded the data, except when chronographing, and because at just short of 62 years now without so far needing corrective lenses, I know my eyesight just isn’t what it once was. I will be headed for an eye exam in the near future. Even with the plastic MTM Case-Guard rest I bought for around $12 many years ago, with a good load I could get groups down close to 1/2” at 50′. Not so today. As far as handheld shooting, which we did at 7 yards, I believe that my SP is consistently more accurate than I am, although I squeak in some good ones on occasion. So, Randall, got the shooting chores in this case even while he was probably not at his best.
I brought home a good many targets, but in the interest of avoiding an even longer article, I will give an overview because there wasn’t much difference with any of the targets. As mentioned, the 48′ group with True Blue was 1 3/4” while the group with A #2 was 2 1/4” from an improvised rest I made many years ago by taking a cloth bank bag and stuffing it with old socks. I prefer the plastic rest while Randall prefers the bank bag. 4 Targets were shot with each load before we got to the handheld firing, where again, the range determines the distances with the target stands fixed in place. At 7 yards, things were impressive, but it was one of those 4 + 1 kind of days. If he had managed to fire all 5 rounds more uniformly, I would, in fact, be reporting some excellent groups. Regarding the 4.1 gr. A #2 load at 48′, Randall put 3 rounds into a .4” cluster. Unfortunately, after the 3rd round I spoke a little too loud and said, “damn, Randall.” Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t cause the next 2 rounds to go a little errant, but the 4th round made the group 1.20” with the 5th farther away still for the 2 1/4” overall. I believe that this load has great potential for competition. Since I would choose my competition load by accuracy first; this load is about as soft shooting as I could imagine. Using a 147 at lower velocity for some perceived level of softer recoil is something for the newer crowd where someone reports or demonstrates good accuracy, and with lighter recoil. For me, 130 PF is 130 PF. It is what it is, and as mentioned, I use Power Factor as a tool for comparing recoil. Getting down to bullet and powder charge weight is a bit overstated at 130 PF in my opinion. But, I started out shooting magnum revolvers back in the day, so I’ve never really thought much about 9mm recoil.
In the handheld shooting at 7 yards, the 4 +1 effect was consistent which you will read in this overview. The 4.1 gr. Charge of A #2 gave an overall group of 1.87” where 4 rounds clustered .57”. The 5.3 gr. Charge of True Blue shot an overall group of 1.46” with 4 rounds in a .66” cluster. At his best, and probably using one of his own pistols, I don’t believe sub 1” groups would have been a stretch. Point of aim was, however, very consistent in the center of the target.
At this point I have little doubt that the RMR 124 gr. JHP is capable of excellent accuracy. And accuracy is but one facet of the bullets design in the term, “Multi-Purpose.” This is something I will investigate further with longer loads better suited to the Canik’s throat length. Since the Max Possible OACL was 1.159”, I’ll be making more loads in the future at 1.142”/29mm. I expect even better accuracy, so I’ll try to update on these loads down the road. For Randall’s pistols, shorter throats would require loads shorter than the 1.122”/28.5mms that I used for all of these loads fired from the Canik. Cutting down on the amount of bullet-jump, freebore, the loads will be better suited to the TP9sa. But in the interest of viewers here, and pistols of varying throat lengths, I decided to stick with one median and somewhat moderate OACL. And in particular to True Blue, the Max Charge listed by NOSLER for their 124 gr. JHP at 1.120” is 5.9 grs. Lyman used the 125 gr. SIERRA JHP at a very short OACL of 1.075” where 6.2 grs. Is the Max Charge listed. Since the loads I will make in the future will be more about accuracy and defense, they’ll be charged with an appropriate-to-length charge of True Blue, while I found out yesterday that I had hit the nail on the head with the Silhouette load of 6.1 grs.
So, as is usually the case for me, I did test a potential defense load at the mentioned 6.1 grs. Of Silhouette @ 1.122”/28.5mm. This is a duplicate of SIERRA’s Max Charge except that they loaded to the same OACL as Lyman at 1.075”. Their bullet and the 124 gr. NOSLER JHP have very similar shank lengths. Nonetheless, I decided not to increase the powder charge for my load with the RMR 124 gr. JHP. The SIERRA load data is readily available to all handloaders as are the NOSLER and Lyman loads. This was not about me fine tuning loads for a specific pistol, but as I said, I plan to do that with True Blue and an OACL specific to the TP9sa. And speaking of data, you will notice that in Western’s newest data, the RMR 124 gr. JHP was used.
If you recall, I mentioned earlier that the 6.1 gr. charge of Silhouette chrono’d 1181 FPS. A bit unusual maybe, but SIERRA used a 4” Hi-Point for chronographing for their data. I don’t hold any views on Hi-Point pistols and realize that some folks have to buy what they can afford. And as we all know, the pistol you have is always better than the pistol you don’t. What I’m getting at here is that I don’t have any trepidation concerning the SIERRA 9mm data. They reported velocity at 1150 FPS with the Max Charge of Silhouette, at the very short OACL of 1.075”.
Getting to the RMR 124 gr. JHP’s defense potential, I’ll state right from the start that among the 124 gr. JHPs I’ve used from the smaller manufacturers and online retailers, this is the best performance I’ve seen from what is essentially a cup-and-core copper jacketed bullet. At 1181 FPS I feel it is at its maximum capability. Faster than the others I’ve tested while it maintained core and jacket integrity. And remember, 1180 FPS for several popular factory defense gets them labeled +P, while it’s pretty clear that my loads are NOT +P. You’ll see why I rate 1181 FPS its Max Potential velocity in the next pic.
Penetration was good as well, essentially duplicating the standard I set with the WWB 230 gr. JHP in .45 ACP: through 2 jugs and well into the 3rd. So, what will the Q-Model predict with recovered weight at 113.4 grs. With the average recovered diameter of .617”? Let’s find out.
Prediction for penetration depth is 10.17”
Predicted Wound Mass is 1.5oz.
Predicted Wound Volume is 2.49 cubic inches
ΔE15, or energy departed within 1 – 15 centimeters is 265.48 Ft/lbs
Cumulative stop percentage:
For a copper jacketed cup and core JHP, I really like these numbers. For me, I will consider this as I mentioned; Max capability for this bullet. As you can see in the first pick of the recovered bullet, 1 petal is trying to break away. But this kind of performance compares to more expensive JHPs made specifically for defense loads. While some bullet weight was lost and the depth of penetration was 10.17”, just remember that both values will be greater when velocity is reduced. Around 1150 FPS seems like a very good velocity goal and maybe achievable from 4” barrels. Or, a slight powder charge reduction of Silhouette for longer barrels. I should also point out that Charles Schwartz rates handgun JHP performance very good with the first shot at 70%.
Something else to consider, the Q-Model data matches 10% Calibrated Ordnance Gel. The Clear Ballistics product does not. Penetration with this load would have been deeper had it not been for that errant petal that’s trying to break away. Jake reports that this occurs occasionally, but often times it does not. So, had that petal broken away and caused a minor wound channel of its own. The major portion of the bullet would yield penetration deeper than 12”.
RMR calls the 124 gr. In-House JHP a Multi-Purpose bullet, yet we see it excel as both an accurate bullet with excellent defense potential while it can be used in .357 SIG loads. That is the way I’ll be loading them in the future and I will work up to Lyman’s 6.2 grs. of True Blue that gave them a velocity of 1112 FPS. I’ll get higher velocity than their 4” test barrel, while I’ve compared the 988 FPS I got with the NOSLER replication load at 5.3 grs. Lyman’s Start Charge is 5.5 grs. That gave them 996 FPS with the SIERRA 125 gr. JHP loaded very short at 1.075”. Adjusting for OACL vs my 1.122” loads with 5.3 grs. of True Blue, I will say that the Lyman data is very close to their test velocity while I was .2 grs. Lower in charge weight. Just doing a linear interpolation, dropping .2 grs. Shows 33 FPS less velocity; where I would gain some back by virtue of the longer barrel.
And while Lyman loaded that bullet short, at the 1.142”/29mm length I’ll be using specific to the 4.47” TP9sa, pressure will run lower than Lyman shows at 32,400 CUP for the 6.2 gr. Max Charge. That should put pressure at a very comfortable level for True Blue. We will see!
Wait! I decided to some Monday morning quarter-backing! And if you love football the way I do, the first weekend of NFL Playoff football was very enjoyable. Go Cowboys!
I won’t leave you guys hangin’. The load I gave predictions for with the Max Charge of True Blue per Lyman at 6.2 grs.(1.075” OACL), but with the RMR 124 gr. In-House JHP and a longer OACL of 1.142”/29mm: well, I had a window of opportunity to load some and get to the range this afternoon on a beautiful 70 degree day. While I knew my longer barrel velocity would be higher, and with me stating that 1150 FPS would be the velocity mark I’d like to see with this bullet; 10 rounds averaged 1144 FPS. Extreme Spread was 24 giving a standard deviation of 6 FPS.
Maybe it is better to be lucky than good. But Rob Behr has seen this enough that I believe he’d back me up on when I’ve predicted velocity for an untried load within 10 FPS using True Blue or Silhouette, and I use them both with near equal gusto. I charge my defense loads in 9 x 19mm with Silhouette and 124 gr. JHPs. I use A #7 for my “thumper” 147 gr. JHP loads at around 1125 FPS. But the powder I trust most, across the board, to bring home the goods in terms of accuracy, I’ll use True Blue. So being off my prediction for velocity by 6 FPS while getting a great SD of 6 FPS, I feel like those things balance out very nicely.
In terms of recoil, as far as a 130 Power Factor competition load, A #2 has been revealing. It might just be the powder to bridge the WST – W231 gap, with but one single powder. And since I shot solo, I wish I could report that Randall had been with me for accuracy testing. I did the 4 + 1 thing at 7 yards offhand while the 48′ groups were all similar; not great, but in one attempt I got close starting with the first 3 rounds going into a 5/8” cluster. And, yeah, it’s time to get some corrective lenses. My last eye exam was mid-summer 2007 when the eye doc told me I was borderline and bifocals probably wouldn’t do much for me. And in all honesty, I have no one to blame but myself. It’s not like I really didn’t see this coming, but I was basing things more about how I see when I’m driving vs how I see when I’m shooting! Some vanity isn’t always bad.
To conclude, let’s check out today’s load with Charles Schwartz’s Q-Model. And I already know that penetration was greater with the slightly lower velocity. Recovered weight was 110.3 grs. Recovered diameter was .587” with penetration into the 4th jug.
Prediction for penetration depth is 10.83”
Predicted Wound Mass is 1.443oz.
Predicted Wound Volume is 2.401 cubic inches
ΔE15, or energy departed within 1 – 15 centimeters is 237.76 Ft/lbs
Cumulative stop percentage:
This is a really good bullet that can do several things better than good, and at an excellent price. A natural for .357 SIG as well. I was also very pleased with A #2. But more than anything else; overall, this may be the best time I’ve had in writing an article so far. When we get to an age we’re we don’t continue to learn, I’d say that’s too old, which I hope never to become. It was my pleasure to work with my own little peer group again, +1, a handloader who turned his passion into profit. What could be more American.
God Bless, Be Safe and Good Shooting to you all,
UPDATE: Wednesday 1/16/19
I loaded 50 rounds with the RMR 124 gr. In-House JHP in anticipation of some great weather for Thursday and Friday. Thursday turned out to be most convenient and a beautiful 69 degree day. These loads were specifically for the 4.47” TP9sa with an OACL of 1.142”. I increased the charge to 4.2 grs. And since I had 56 Winchester Small Pistol primers remaining, I decided to use them. With the longer OACL and powder charge increase, I expected to get closer to 1048 FPS/130 PF. Maybe would have if I’d used the CCI500 primers but I wanted to see how the load would compare using the WSPs.
As it turned out, they were a near duplicate of the first loads I chronographed at 1009 FPS for the 10 round average and an SD of 8 FPS. I’ll be going back to the CCI500s with this charge, and it appears that the CCI primer gets a bit more velocity out of Accurate No. 2. SD was also a tad lower at 5 FPS when the first loads chrono’d were 1011 FPS. There was definitely a constant, accuracy was about the same so I’ll post a target because at 7 yards I really believe your accuracy will be consistent with this target shot by Randall, as all the rounds were, except the first 10 I put over the chrono. Look closely and you’ll see evidence of the 4 + 1 effect with the top round straying a bit from the group. I feel like this is a reasonable expectation of what this bullet is capable of at 7 yards. OACL will need to be adjusted for YOUR pistol, and we’ve covered that.
Considering the very good results in the water test @ 1181 FPS, I’m not sure that you can reasonably expect better from a bullet in this price range.