9mm "Light" Loads for Steel Challange

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September 26, 2020, 10:32 AM
9mm "Light" Loads for Steel Challange
Just started shooting Steel Challange and need you favorite load data for 9mm. Powders I have are Titegroup, VV320, (prefered) and Universal Clays. Will be using Blue Bullets 9mm 135tc bullets.
Looking for the lightest recoiling load that will still give 100% reliability from my P226 and P320 M17 handguns. Several other places I have checked are all over the map for these loads. Example , Above bullet with VV320 (Light loads) Go from 3.0 to 4.5 !
Please advise and thank you.
September 27, 2020, 04:56 AM
For that application I’d lean Titegroup. Most of my plinkers have 4.2 grains with a 115 gr plated bullet. With your heavier bullet the charge would have to be adjusted of course.

The Hodgdon site is helpful with charge weights. Sierra also has the free reloading app that covers a lot of bases, once figured out.
September 27, 2020, 08:08 AM
Jim Watson
I can give advice but not a "recipe."
Your guns and your grip are individuals. If you want a minimum load, you will have to find it. Pick a number and try. Work down until you find the least load that will function in YOUR guns.
September 30, 2020, 11:13 AM
I understand what you folks are saying but I want to know what are YOUR OWN personal loads for 9mm Steel Challange. Been loading for many years and I fully comprehend the basics and how to work up loads. Thank you! Smile
September 30, 2020, 02:23 PM
Jim Watson
I am not a SCSA specialist, therefore my steel loads are the same as my IDPA and USPSA loads; a 124 at 1050 or a 147 at 880. That is when I am not shooting RFPI.

I don't know why the one number sticks in my head without a "recipe" but I worked down to 88% of maximum as the least that would function a SIG Sauer 9mm. I don't have records from that long ago.
September 30, 2020, 04:43 PM
Don’t forget to experiment with recoil springs as well, in search of a good Steel Challenge loading.
September 30, 2020, 05:48 PM
If you want to stay within the association rules the load must meet the power factor. While many local matches don't chrono, shooting events with powder puff loads and then being forced to use ammo that meets the PF can be disconcerting. All of the ammo I use in SC, IDPA or USPSA meets the pf.

Titegroup is the go to powder for many. I use a 1247 grain bullet using that powder. You can find many recipes in the manufacturers website.

Richard Scalzo
Epping, NH
September 30, 2020, 06:26 PM
There are NO minimum power factor requirements in SCSA but there is a maximum velocity of 1600 FPS for PCC.....

I just confirmed this fact with Mr. Zack Jones who is a Senior Executive with SCSA.....
October 07, 2020, 02:47 PM
In my P320 X5, I run an 11 lb spring, and shoot 124 gr coated over 3.3 grains VV320, at 1.115.

Soft and accurate

"Think about how stupid the average person is, and then realize half of them are stupider than that'
George Carlin
October 07, 2020, 08:07 PM
SigWally, pick the firearm you want to use and the load that proves to like said blaster. TiteGroup, Accurate #2, True Blue and good ole Unique play well with softer loads. As some point out, what works in my Carry Optic 9mm with a recoil spring to match my bullet/load may not in what you are loading for. I also use 145-147 coated bullets at around 880+, just enough to make minor in USPSA. 3.1 gr of AA #2 has been the load used by myself and a local GM, this with 145 LRN or coated.
October 11, 2020, 03:31 PM
FN in MT
I always shot a NORMAL 9mm load. I have a strong disdain for gamers. Mouse fart loads should be outlawed in all the pistol sports.
October 11, 2020, 07:44 PM
Originally posted by FN in MT:
I always shot a NORMAL 9mm load. I have a strong disdain for gamers. Mouse fart loads should be outlawed in all the pistol sports.


Some shooting sports are fun "Games" where you can use lighter loads if you wish. Other shooting sports like USPSA and ( I Believe ) IDPA you must use full power loads to knock over steel plates. It is your choice, but please don't look down on other shooters for what they choose to do. I am currently coaching two new shooters and Steel Challenge, where lighter loads are allowed, is a good sport to start them in.
Also, some shooters for a host of different possible reasons, simply can't handle or can't enjoy much more than light loads. Age and disability will take it's toll on all of us one day. You too my friend. One day in the future "Mousefart" loads may be all you can handle...
October 11, 2020, 09:50 PM
There are NO minimum power factor requirements in SCSA but there is a maximum velocity of 1600 FPS for PCC.

You are correct. I was thinking of USPSA and IDPA. I use the same ammo for all three. I see using different ammo a distraction and hindrance. Especially if it's being handloaded I like one for everything.

Richard Scalzo
Epping, NH
October 14, 2020, 11:33 AM
USPSA and IDPA don't require "full power" loads; they require a minimum power factor of 125 for minor, and 165 for major.

For blue bullets, I use 3.2 or 3.3 grains of Titegroup under a 147 gn flat point bullet, set to 1.155" for the sigs, and 1.125" for Glocks. I remove the bell with a Less factory crimp, but no more, and gauge all rounds in a 100-round shockbottle gauge (replacing all that don't pass, and holding those back for range work).

Titegroup is temperature sensitive. I don't like to load to minimum power factor because there's always the chance of erring below minimum; typically 135 power factor seems a good margin to be safe. Best groups have been at 3.0 and 3.1 grains titegroup under the Blue Bullets 147 gn flatpoints (newer version, without the grease groove).

I use the special order .356 blue bullets, which seem to mic out at .357. The standard order from blue bullets is .355 (mics out at .356). Weight variance on the blue bullets is typically 1 grain, so 147 grain bullets could be 145 or 148. Not enough difference for me to care. 3.0 grains gave me 883 average velocity with 6 fps standard deviation, and 129 power factor in my P320F. Good grouping. I like a bit more margin.

In polyagonal barrels (eg, glock, etc), I found that the standard blue bullets .355 bullet works fine, and indeed, I seemed to get better groups, albeit slightly lower velocity (and thus power factor). My glock barrels preferred the 1.125 length, over the 1.155 overall cartridge length (COL).

For 135 grain truncated, I found that 3.5 or 3.6 grains titegroup worked best for grouping, still making power factor with enough margin that temperature variations wouldn't put the cartridge at risk of going under, same effects with cartridge length. At 3.5 grains, I averaged 1000 fps with a standard deviation of 8.6, averaging 135 power factor.

For your Sig, get a Grayguns fat guide rod and use a reduced spring; some locally go as low as 10 lbs. I tried various springs and was most satisfied with 14 lbs.