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Between fooling around with database cleanup and server/router reboots this weekend I finally got a chance to run over the one of the local ranges and test a little pet project I got in my noggin about a month or two ago.

Goal; For years I've been trying to get my wife to shoot something other than .22lr in a handgun. The main reason so she has something with a little more punch if I'm out of town on business. My thought after looking over my reloading manuals was that I could probably turn a subcompact 9mm into a ".380 +p" pistol by loading a lighter 90 grain bullet down around the starting load for 9mm in my reloading manuals. As an added bonus, the extra 4-6oz found in a 9mm should make it an even nicer shooter than all of the 380 pocket pistols running around now.

This will be sort of a transitional practice round that could be pressed into service for home defense in a pinch, with the end goal being to get my wife comfortable with a little more recoil without having to spend a buck a round on the "lite" recoil defensive loads available. I'll then eventually get her to regular 9mm factory ammo. Baby steps. Heck if this works maybe I can even get her to take the CCW class (She has an interest, but only with her .22)

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The load; Is a 9mm cartridge using the 90 grain Hornady XTP. It is seated to 1.085" and underneath the bullet I used 4.5 grains of Alliant Bullseye powder. The starting load in my Hornady 10th edition manual is 4.4gr, in my Lyman 48th for a Sierra 90gr is 4.1gr, and Alliant's data is max charge of 5.0gr under a Speer 90gr Gold Dot, so I figured 4.5 should be a good medium load that should reliably cycle the action.

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The gun; My Glock 43, bone stock aside from Ameriglo Hackathorn sights. 3.4" barrel. I've put about 1k rounds through it now and the trigger has smoothed out pretty nicely.

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The results; Shooting was just two-hand, kind of off hand and unsupported in any other way. At an indoor range at 25ft, shooting about one second per round it grouped about 2.5-3". I ran five magazines through it. And bumped it out to about 15 yards for one magazine. I got about a 5" group there. I also fired some Hornady 115 FMJ ammo I loaded too as sort of a control to compare against.

It was interesting comparing the 90gr to the 115gr ball ammo. Definitely more felt recoil in the FMJ, and the 90 grain XTP's didn't seem like much more than hot 22's from her Bersa. What was curious is that this 90 grain load is what I can only describe as a little "flashy" with a much louder boom-crack to it but much lighter push and recoil of the pistol. Some of this might be less bearing surface therefore less neck tension and the bullet was leaving the barrel a little early? More likely though because it was just going super sonic and perhaps a little extra gas escaping out the end of the barrel.

Anyway, all rounds fired. No failures to eject nor to feed the next round. No signs of excessive pressure and the primers looked very nice. When working up a load like this I usually write on the outside of the case with a Sharpee. So most of the cases my chicken scratch "4.5 BE" was completely gone. I found seven though that were still legible. Seems like the brass is sealing well. A few had a little bit of scorching around the case mouth here and there, but that's Bullseye for you. The pistol cleaned up just fine last night. No unburned flakes found in the gun or brass.

I think I'm going to try and step it down to around 4.1-4.2 grains of Bullseye next range visit and see if I can get the flash-bang at the end of the barrel to disappear next. My end goal is to have a light recoiling load, that shoots clean and accurate out to a reasonable distance...say under 5" at 20 yards. Something right around 1000fps should also be enough to consistently get it to open up through denim and more than 12" of jello penetration...at least going off of ShootingtheBull's .380 XTP tests.

I'll try to remember and post an update when I've done some further testing. Any feedback welcome (including cheap shots and wisecracks).
 

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Although the gun may work for you with those light loads it is possible that it will not work for your wife. How do I know this?

I had every model of 9mm Glock (except the 43) for many years and in every case, my guns would NOT work properly with light loads. From FTF to jams, they just plain did NOT work for me! In fact, when Gramps was loading for me he always loaded a little on the hot side, and after he stopped loading 9mm, my best results were with S&B which is rather a hot load also.

Given that Glocks do not like limp wristing even a little bit either - it was not that I wasn't holding the gun tightly enough that caused the problem. I think it was not enough gun powder "oomph" to cycle the slide properly.

On the other hand, Gramps loads really light .38 special loads for me and my REVOLVER has no problems at all.

I do hope your experiment with the light loads works for you, but again - please have your wife test and verify - if that is going to be her gun even part time.
 
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Good luck on your experiment. I honestly had never thought about doing that for 9mm, even though I use to load .45 ACP and .38 Special very light for bullseye competition.
 

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That's interesting. If it works for her and functions well, it sounds like you've got a winner.

Generally speaking, the least felt recoil should come from the heavier projectile weights so maybe test out Bullseye with a 124 or 147 gr projectile. I used to load a ton of Bullseye for my 9mm for IDPA but eventually switched to Titegroup because it appears to be a much cleaner burn. It's just as fast so it makes for a very soft shooting load.
 

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It seems to me that your course of action will burn up a lot of personal energy. I carry 380 only because the arthritis in my 76 year old hand gets battered by 9mm which I caried for years. I ended up buying the Remington RM380 pistol which is locked breed and all metal with. 2.9” barrel. I was aware of the deficiencies or 380 JHP in a short barrel 380. I did a lot of research into the matter. I ended up carrying 90 grain Lehigh Extreme Defender ammo.

We have a forum member who writes the Shootingnthe Bull blog which is very informative. He also did the YouTube AmmoQuest Trials on best 380 ammo out of micro 380. His conclusion was that Precision One JHP ammo was best among dozens of rounds tested. However he reopened his testing to evaluate the Lehigh Defense Extreme Defender ammo. The results were startling And he is changing the ammo in his 380 Micro. The producer’s name is Bill, but I have no idea what his handle is on this site.

I suggest you watch the video below from beginning to end and ask yourself if you need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to 90gr 380 ammo.

 
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I have said elsewhere and I think @ShooterGranny will agree, the ready-made gun for that situation is the S&W .380 Shield EZ. I tried one at a range recently. It is accurate, safe, reliable a natural pointer, easy to rack and the recoil is very manageable. With that Precision One load that was recommended by Ammoquest, it is a winner in my book.
 

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I thought all 9mm was powder puff loads.

Only kidding!

Only kidding!

I toted a 9mm all weekend.

Fun topic Risasi!

Your post shows one hugely important illustration of the value of handloading. Would like to read more of your efforts.
 

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I have said elsewhere and I think @ShooterGranny will agree, the ready-made gun for that situation is the S&W .380 Shield EZ. I tried one at a range recently. It is accurate, safe, reliable a natural pointer, easy to rack and the recoil is very manageable. With that Precision One load that was recommended by Ammoquest, it is a winner in my book.
I do agree. However, the EZ is about the size of a Glock 19 except with a NICE GRIP that fits most hands. Might be larger than his wife would want for a carry gun IF she wants a carry gun. It comes either with or without a manual safety. With the grip safety I saw no reason at all for an additional side mounted manual safety - but some people want both so you can actually buy either model pretty easily.

Also, I think the OP said he doesn't want to go lower than 9mm. BUT regular factory loads of .380 can't be "too" different from super light loads of 9mm --- can they???? (That is a legitimate question.)
 

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" BUT regular factory loads of .380 can't be "too" different from super light loads of 9mm --- can they???? (That is a legitimate question.)"

You're perceptive ShooterGranny. Terminal ballistics would be much the same between 9mm lite (loaded light) and .380.
 

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" BUT regular factory loads of .380 can't be "too" different from super light loads of 9mm --- can they???? (That is a legitimate question.)"

You're perceptive ShooterGranny. Terminal ballistics would be much the same between 9mm lite (loaded light) and .380.
I figured since .380acp is 9mm short - putting less powder in the longer 9mm case could make them pretty much the same.
 

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I figured since .380acp is 9mm short - putting less powder in the longer 9mm case could make them pretty much the same.
I understand your rational for a light load 9mm, but I agree with ShooterGranny that what you want to do is not going to be any better than a good 380 round. It also will not solve the problem of 380 JHP not expanding because a light powder load is not going to achieve the velocity of a regular 9mm load.

As I mentioned in a post #6 above you really ought to check out the AmmoQuest 380 testing on YouTube. There is a wealth of info there. There results of extensive testing are reports in the video link. I it worth ten minutes of your time.
 

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I have said elsewhere and I think @ShooterGranny will agree, the ready-made gun for that situation is the S&W .380 Shield EZ. I tried one at a range recently. It is accurate, safe, reliable a natural pointer, easy to rack and the recoil is very manageable. With that Precision One load that was recommended by Ammoquest, it is a winner in my book.
I carry only 380 in the form of an RM380. When I purchased it the 380 EZ had not been announced. I picked it because it was not a blowback, was easy to rack, had low recoil, and was all metal with slide rails that are almost as long as the frame.

When the EZ 380 was released I checked it out. It was easy to rack and had low recoil. But I had become very comfortable with my initial choice and enamored of deep concealment. So I passed on the EZ, but if size is not an issue, the EZ380 is an excellent choice.

It
 
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Revolver with some light 148gr wadcutters. Same recoil as a 22lr, better ballistics on target.
The main problem with revolvers is the heavy trigger pull, which most men don't notice but for women with not much hand strength it is a major problem. And, as a woman with arthritis and hand strength issues, I have found that 148 gr wadcutters are a delight to shoot in my heavy S&W 686, but still way more recoil than any .22. My 686 had a full action job many years ago and the trigger is so light and smooth that I can still shoot it. I did carry it for a while when I was younger, but it is a LOT of gun and way too heavy for me to carry now. Light weight revolvers have way more perceived recoil.

It is a real challenge finding a gun for a person who is truly recoil and noise sensitive, and if that person is not highly motivated to "become a shooter" it is even more of a challenge. Way back when I first started shooting at the tender young age of 58, I was highly motivated. That makes an enormous difference - at any age.
 

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I've had some luck loading 90gr bullets for my 9mm PCC. Very soft and quick follow up shots. I have to load them as long as I can to get them to feed but 3 gr. of titegroup makes the PCC cycle fine. Cant get them to work in my M&P pistol though.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I understand your rational for a light load 9mm, but I agree with ShooterGranny that what you want to do is not going to be any better than a good 380 round. It also will not solve the problem of 380 JHP not expanding because a light powder load is not going to achieve the velocity of a regular 9mm load.

As I mentioned in a post #6 above you really ought to check out the AmmoQuest 380 testing on YouTube. There is a wealth of info there. There results of extensive testing are reports in the video link. I it worth ten minutes of your time.
I’m pretty familiar with ShootingtheBull’s videos...often times watching them repeatedly, as I’m sure those Google goons who spy on us can attest. In fact, it kind of was his jello test videos that gave me the inspiration to load these 90gr XTP’s in 9mm. Here are the reasons I decided to try it;
1. It’s cheap. Worst case I wasted some primers and $16 on a box of bullets.

2. Charles’ tests of most of those XTP’s in various brands are running around 850fps from a 3” barrel. Even at the minimum load for 90gr XTP's in 9mm according my Hornady #10 manual they were getting 1150fps from a 4” barrel. I’m shooting these from a 3.4” barrel. Once I verify they are reliable I’m guesstimating I’ll be around 1000-1050fps when I run them across the chrono.

3. My Glock 43 is 18oz, 20.5oz loaded with these bullets. That means on average I have another 4-5 oz of gun to soak up the recoil. This means tamer shooting for a recoil sensitive shooter like my wife.

Also, I have tried the 380EZ on her...she didn’t like it. If this doesn’t work I’ll likely have her try a Bersa 380 that matches her Bersa .22, or maybe have her test a Glock 42 also.

Thanks for the feedback though.
 

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I’m pretty familiar with ShootingtheBull’s videos...often times watching them repeatedly, as I’m sure those Google goons who spy on us can attest. In fact, it kind of was his jello test videos that gave me the inspiration to load these 90gr XTP’s in 9mm. Here are the reasons I decided to try it;
1. It’s cheap. Worst case I wasted some primers and $16 on a box of bullets.

2. Charles’ tests of most of those XTP’s in various brands are running around 850fps from a 3” barrel. Even at the minimum load for 90gr XTP's in 9mm according my Hornady #10 manual they were getting 1150fps from a 4” barrel. I’m shooting these from a 3.4” barrel. Once I verify they are reliable I’m guesstimating I’ll be around 1000-1050fps when I run them across the chrono.

3. My Glock 43 is 18oz, 20.5oz loaded with these bullets. That means on average I have another 4-5 oz of gun to soak up the recoil. This means tamer shooting for a recoil sensitive shooter like my wife.

Also, I have tried the 380EZ on her...she didn’t like it. If this doesn’t work I’ll likely have her try a Bersa 380 that matches her Bersa .22, or maybe have her test a Glock 42 also.

Thanks for the feedback though.
The Bersa 380 is blowback. Not nice on the hands and has a stronger recoil spring than a lock breech.i. Tried it and several others. I picked the RM 380 out of the lot. The 2.9 inch barrel let’s Precision one xterm expand, but the Lehigh ammo is still a better choice.
 

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That's interesting. If it works for her and functions well, it sounds like you've got a winner.

Generally speaking, the least felt recoil should come from the heavier projectile weights so maybe test out Bullseye with a 124 or 147 gr projectile. I used to load a ton of Bullseye for my 9mm for IDPA but eventually switched to Titegroup because it appears to be a much cleaner burn. It's just as fast so it makes for a very soft shooting load.
i have to agree, heavy bullet weight with fast burning powder usually produce a pretty soft shooter, I have some really nice powder puff loads of .45acp that about any beginner will enjoy shooting, shoots softer than most 9mm. I also use Bullseye or Titegroup depending on availability.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
The Bersa 380 is blowback. Not nice on the hands and has a stronger recoil spring than a lock breech.i. Tried it and several others. I picked the RM 380 out of the lot. The 2.9 inch barrel let’s Precision one xterm expand, but the Lehigh ammo is still a better choice.
Yeah, the only reason I'd get the Bersa is because she has the .22 and it "fits her hand" and she shoots it reasonably well. We looked at a LOT of .22 pistols before she decided on that one. She can put a few magazines worth into a 5" circle now at 5-6 yards without any flyers, so I want to see if I can move her up in caliber. Who knows though, I might still be wasting my time. She enjoys shooting her little .22 and I don't want to ruin that either.

Thanks for reminding me about the RM380. I'd heard about it, but haven't seen one yet. I need to see how that one fits her hand too.
 
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