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Posted: 6/20/2008 10:33:47 AM EDT
Chronograph Data for 9mm Luger LE Loads

As we all know, the muzzle velocities that ammunition manufacturers advertise for their ammunition and the muzzle velocities that we actually obtain from our CCW or duty weapons are rarely the same. Most often the velocities from our carry weapons will be lower than that advertised by the manufacturers.

It’s not that the manufacturers are trying to deceive us. It’s just that they tend to use “test barrels” to obtain their velocity readings. These test barrels usually have minimum spec SAAMI chambers and tend to be slightly longer the barrels typically found in carry weapons. These factors combine to give higher velocities than those from a typical carry weapon.

For this test session I examined fifteen different 9mm Luger “LE” loads from three different manufacturers, in three different pressure ranges (standard, +P, +P+) in four different bullet weights. The SAAMI specification for the maximum average pressure for a standard 9mm Luger load is 35,000 PSI. The 9mm Luger +P (pronounced plus-P, indicating higher pressure) load is specified at 38,500 PSI. To my knowledge, there is no SAAMI spec for +P+ loads. Interestingly, the CIP (European standard) specification for the maximum average pressure of the 9mm Luger is 39,200 PSI.









Four of the different bullet designs that were examined in this session:

Federal HST
Federal Hydra-Shok
Winchester Ranger-T
Speer Gold Dot












All of the loads examined for this session come loaded in nickel-plated brass cases as exemplified by the Winchester Ranger-T round shown below. (Note the alien pod-like appearance of the round. One can’t help but wonder if the engineers at Winchester were subconsciously influenced by a certain science fiction movie.)








In the Speer Gold Dot design, you can clearly see the petals of the copper jacket that extend over the mouth of the hollow point and down into the cavity of the hollow point. The Gold Dot design also leaves some of the lead core exposed at the mouth of the hollow point. The Gold Dot also utilizes a bonded jacket/lead core construction.









The petals of the copper jacket in the Winchester Ranger-T bullet also extend down into the mouth of the hollow point, but have a tear-drop shape to them. As previously noted, the rim of the hollow-point on the Ranger-T is a series of semi-circular ridges.









The Federal HST bullet has the most unique design of the bullets examined in this session. Note how the lead core at the mouth of the hollow point has water-drop shaped cut-outs. Also note the very long skives in the copper jacket that extend almost to the case mouth and the very deeply notched shape of the skives.








The signature center “post” of Federal’s older design Hydra-Shok bullet can be seen below.








Chronographing was conducted using an Oehler 35-P chronograph with “proof screen” technology. All velocities listed are muzzle velocities as calculated from the instrumental velocities using Oehler’s Ballistic Explorer software program. All strings of fire consisted of 10 rounds each.














I chose a 9mm SIG Sauer P229 with its traditionally rifled barrel as the test vehicle as a representation of a pistol that might be carried on duty or as a CCW piece. The barrel on the 9mm P229 is 3.8” long. The factory barrel used for testing had 200 rounds through it prior to the beginning of this test session.









Atmospheric conditions were recorded on a Kestrel 4000 Pocket Weather Tracker.


Temperature: 72 degrees F
Humidity: 26.8%
Barometric pressure: 30.03 inHg
Elevation: 950 feet above sea level









The data.







You may have noticed the “SB” nomenclature for one of the Speer 124 grain loads. It stands for “short barrel.” Speer states they have:

“created an entire category of specialized ammunition designed specifically for back-up guns. . . . We redesigned select Gold Dot bullets to make the cavity larger for reliable expansion at the reduced velocities common to short barrel handguns. . . if a semi-auto is your gun of choice, our offerings are ideal for expansion in barrels as short as three inches.”

The barrel of a Kahr MK9 measures 3.0” in length, so I chronographed the “short barrel” Speer load through an MK9 for comparison to the SIG P229. (I also chronographed the three other Speer loads for further comparison.) The factory barrel in the MK9 had 820 rounds through it prior to this test session. It is interesting to note that the 147 grain load showed the lowest percentage of velocity loss through the MK9.








Comparison data.





Besides using the actual muzzle velocities in external ballistic calculations, one of the many other interesting things that the actual muzzle velocities can be used for is calculating the comparative recoil energies of particular handgun/ammunition combinations.








For those that might not already be aware of this, Winchester’s website hosts some useful information about their Ranger-T series of ammunition. The website has an online terminal ballistics comparison tool that is quite informative. For example, if you are interested in seeing the difference in terminal performance between the 9mm 147 grain Ranger-T load and the 9mm 124 grain +P Ranger-T load in bare gelatin and after passing through four layers of denim (basically the IWBA test protocol) simply select those loads from a couple of drop down menus and voila!








The Winchester website also hosts downloadable “spec sheets” (in MS Word format) for all of the Ranger-T loads. Of particular interest to me was the accuracy “spec” for the 124 grain +P Ranger-T load. Winchester states the accuracy spec for the 124 grain Ranger load is an average extreme spread of 1.25” for (five) 5-shot groups at a distance of 50 yards. While I’m certain Winchester uses some type of machine-rested test fixture to obtain those results, that level of accuracy from factory loaded handgun ammunition is still extremely impressive. After reading the above spec, I was curious to see just what level of accuracy the 124 grain Ranger-T load would deliver for me.

Normally, when I evaluate the accuracy of ammunition, I shoot 10-shot groups. However, since Winchester’s accuracy spec was stated in 5-shot groups, I decided to follow their protocol for comparison.

The vehicle used for this accuracy evaluation was a Colt 6450 9mm carbine with a free-floated stainless steel Noveske barrel. Shooting was done from a concrete bench at a distance of 50 yards. Caldwell front and rear bags were used to stabilize the firearm. Sighting was done through a Leupold Vari-X III set at 10X magnification and adjusted to be parallax free at 50 yards. A mirage shade was attached to the Leupold. Wind conditions were continuously monitored using a “Wind Probe.”



Colt 6450






The Wind Probe





In order to eliminate the variable of the “4+1” phenomenon that occurs sometimes with semi-automatic weapons, (the first hand-cycled round loaded from the magazine having a different point of impact than the remaining rounds of the magazine that are weapon cycled into the chamber) six rounds of ammunition were loaded into each magazine and the first round of each magazine was fired “into the dirt” and then the remaining five rounds were fired “for record.”

Prior to testing the Ranger-T load, I fired five, 5-shot groups of a control load consisting of hand-loaded 121 grain HAP bullets with the above set-up at 50 yards. Those five groups had extreme spreads of:

0.95”
0.97”
1.00”
1.07”
0.97”

for an average extreme spread of 0.99”.


In the same manner that the control loads were fired, I obtained five, 5-shot groups from 50 yards using the Winchester 124 grain +P Ranger-T load. The extreme spreads of those groups measured:

1.73”
1.88”
1.87”
1.89”
1.64”

for an average extreme spread of 1.80”. Not quite up to the level of Winchester’s “spec sheet,” but still very good for factory loaded handgun ammunition. While it is common convention to evaluate the accuracy of shot-groups using the extreme spread, a much more in-depth and reliable predictive indicator of the accuracy of shot-groups is the mean radius. Using the same shot-groups from above, I over-layed the five targets from each load on each other respectively using the RSI Shooting Lab software program. The mean radius was then calculated for the 25-shot composite groups formed using this method. The mean radius for the 121 grain HAP control load was 0.44” while the mean radius for the Winchester 124 grain +P Ranger-T load was 0.71”.









For additional comparison, I also evaluated the accuracy of the Federal 124 grain +P HST load and the Speer 124 grain +P Gold Dot load in the same manner as above. The results are shown below.








Link Posted: 6/20/2008 11:01:00 AM EDT
[#1]
Link Posted: 6/20/2008 11:44:37 AM EDT
[#2]
Great writeup and thanks for taking the time and effort to share with the class.
Link Posted: 6/21/2008 3:38:55 AM EDT
[#3]
Nice work! And I know it was a lot of work!!!

Don't see many posts here with a lot of substance to them… Again, thanks.
Link Posted: 6/21/2008 5:59:32 AM EDT
[#4]
Once again . . . a job well-done.  
Link Posted: 6/21/2008 9:20:44 AM EDT
[#5]
Excellent post yet again Molon!

All your tests should be consolidated into a tacked thread... too much good information spread throughout the forum that might be missed by some who don't go to all the different forums.

One quick question, where can I find the Fed HST 124 gr +p load? Ammunitiontogo doesn't seem to list that particular load...
Link Posted: 6/21/2008 9:21:45 AM EDT
[#6]
Link Posted: 6/26/2008 2:56:22 PM EDT
[#7]
Very nice Moly!  I was surprised to see the MK9 in there considering I have one on the way.
That 147gr. Ranger is so much slower than the rest.  Would you pack it in the MK9?
I saw a wet pack test on mouseguns.com or net done with a PM9 and the 147gr. Ranger beat the HST in both 124gr. and 147gr. in penetration and expansion.
Good work Molon
Take care everyone
Link Posted: 8/17/2008 2:18:56 PM EDT
[#8]

Quoted:
Very nice Moly!  I was surprised to see the MK9 in there considering I have one on the way.
That 147gr. Ranger is so much slower than the rest.  Would you pack it in the MK9?
I saw a wet pack test on mouseguns.com or net done with a PM9 and the 147gr. Ranger beat the HST in both 124gr. and 147gr. in penetration and expansion.
Good work Molon
Take care everyone


Notice which load has the smallest percentage of velocity loss when fired from the MK9.




Link Posted: 8/17/2008 7:25:01 PM EDT
[#9]
Very impressive write-up thank you.

(and I'm seriously jealous of that 70.2 degree weather, it's hotter than that at midnight here)
Link Posted: 10/12/2008 8:51:35 PM EDT
[#10]

Quoted:

Very impressive write-up thank you.


+1
Link Posted: 12/12/2008 6:34:19 AM EDT
[#11]
Quoted:
Very impressive write-up thank you.

(and I'm seriously jealous of that 70.2 degree weather, it's hotter than that at midnight here)



I'm bettin' you're not jealous of the weather here right now.  It got down to 17 degrees last night.
Link Posted: 12/12/2008 8:09:56 AM EDT
[#12]
hey this link is in another thread on this same forum have u seen it?
http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/index.html

Link Posted: 12/12/2008 8:10:28 AM EDT
[#13]
good report too thanks!
Link Posted: 12/13/2008 7:32:38 PM EDT
[#14]
Great information Molon! Anytime I see one of your threads I always make sure to read it.

Just out of curiosity; My USPc has a 3.58" barrel and I'm trying to apply your data to this gun.
I figure if I subtract about 15-20 fps from your SIG's velocities that's about what my USPc should be putting out. Do you think this is reasonable? (The gun has less that 750 rounds through it)
Link Posted: 12/14/2008 7:19:00 AM EDT
[#15]
Quoted:
Great information Molon! Anytime I see one of your threads I always make sure to read it.

Just out of curiosity; My USPc has a 3.58" barrel and I'm trying to apply your data to this gun.
I figure if I subtract about 15-20 fps from your SIG's velocities that's about what my USPc should be putting out. Do you think this is reasonable? (The gun has less that 750 rounds through it)



I have a USP Compact and a full size USP.  I'll have to chronograph a few loads through them for comparison to the SIG.
Link Posted: 12/14/2008 7:33:08 AM EDT
[#16]
Quoted:
Quoted:
Great information Molon! Anytime I see one of your threads I always make sure to read it.

Just out of curiosity; My USPc has a 3.58" barrel and I'm trying to apply your data to this gun.
I figure if I subtract about 15-20 fps from your SIG's velocities that's about what my USPc should be putting out. Do you think this is reasonable? (The gun has less that 750 rounds through it)



I have a USP Compact and a full size USP.  I'll have to chronograph a few loads through them for comparison to the SIG.



That would be interesting, especially the fullsize with its 4.25" polygonal barrel.
Link Posted: 12/14/2008 11:14:12 AM EDT
[#17]
Quoted:
Quoted:
Great information Molon! Anytime I see one of your threads I always make sure to read it.

Just out of curiosity; My USPc has a 3.58" barrel and I'm trying to apply your data to this gun.
I figure if I subtract about 15-20 fps from your SIG's velocities that's about what my USPc should be putting out. Do you think this is reasonable? (The gun has less that 750 rounds through it)



I have a USP Compact and a full size USP.  I'll have to chronograph a few loads through them for comparison to the SIG.


Well I'll keep my eyes open for that report, Thanks.
Link Posted: 12/14/2008 3:41:20 PM EDT
[#18]
Great information! Thanks.  I am getting ready to be issued a Sig 229 DAK in 9mm.  My duty ammo is the Rem. G.S 124+p.  I was/am a little worried about how much I will be giving up by going from a 4.7 inch barrel to 3.9 inch.  Hopefully I will be able to shoot it well.  I have only shot a Sig one time about 15 years ago.  I have never really liked how high the slide sits up when you are holding it.  I'll let you all know how I like it next month when I transition.  Any range time is better then a day on duty!'
Link Posted: 2/6/2009 9:25:00 PM EDT
[#19]
Sorry I couldn't let this thread die.
Link Posted: 2/9/2009 6:29:05 AM EDT
[#20]
Thanks for the bump.  I have not read this yet and find it very interesting.
Link Posted: 2/9/2009 7:13:37 AM EDT
[#21]
Link Posted: 2/9/2009 9:32:09 AM EDT
[#22]
Wow, I never saw this thread either.  Very interesting write up.  I use, or have used, many of those loads so it's interesting to see some actual chrono data on them.
Link Posted: 2/9/2009 5:52:19 PM EDT
[#23]
being new to the forum and still searching through all the wealth of info., I am glad you all bumped this thread. excellent write-up!
Link Posted: 2/11/2009 1:45:30 PM EDT
[#24]
Quoted:
Quoted:
Great information Molon! Anytime I see one of your threads I always make sure to read it.

Just out of curiosity; My USPc has a 3.58" barrel and I'm trying to apply your data to this gun.
I figure if I subtract about 15-20 fps from your SIG's velocities that's about what my USPc should be putting out. Do you think this is reasonable? (The gun has less that 750 rounds through it)



I have a USP Compact and a full size USP.  I'll have to chronograph a few loads through them for comparison to the SIG.


I would greatly appreciate some USP velocities.
Link Posted: 2/11/2009 10:18:12 PM EDT
[#25]
It is difficult to imagine anyone who would not be impressed by this post. Bravo!!!
Link Posted: 2/12/2009 10:29:43 AM EDT
[#26]
Anyone know where I could find those grips on the MK9?  They look like Hogue's.   Not the grip sleeve.
Link Posted: 2/12/2009 7:46:09 PM EDT
[#27]
Quoted:
Quoted:
Quoted:
Great information Molon! Anytime I see one of your threads I always make sure to read it.

Just out of curiosity; My USPc has a 3.58" barrel and I'm trying to apply your data to this gun.
I figure if I subtract about 15-20 fps from your SIG's velocities that's about what my USPc should be putting out. Do you think this is reasonable? (The gun has less that 750 rounds through it)



I have a USP Compact and a full size USP.  I'll have to chronograph a few loads through them for comparison to the SIG.


I would greatly appreciate some USP velocities.


Definitely on the "The List."

Link Posted: 2/12/2009 7:49:59 PM EDT
[#28]
Quoted:
Anyone know where I could find those grips on the MK9?  They look like Hogue's.   Not the grip sleeve.


It is just the Hogue Handall that I cut down to fit the MK9.  The stippling on the Hogue rather matches the stippling on the plasitc grips of the MK9.







Here's what she is currently wearing.

Link Posted: 2/13/2009 5:24:35 AM EDT
[#29]
Thanks Molon!  I do know thats a Hogue handall grip sleeve, but the grips on your MK9 look like rubber or Kahrs soft polymer which they use on the K9.  I have never seen any grips like that for the MK9, i've only seen/have the hard plastic which has a different looking texture.  Perhapse they're grips that came standard on older Karhs?
Link Posted: 3/14/2009 12:08:27 PM EDT
[#30]


the amount of quality info on this site always impresses me.

very helpful.

good job dude.



Link Posted: 3/14/2009 2:59:44 PM EDT
[#31]
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