Handgun Defense Loads with Hodgdon Powders

December 16, 2020
Kevin Newberry

In these uncertain times, with good defense ammo being sold as fast as it hits the shelf or gone as fast as it’s listed on an on-line retailer’s website, we may be faced with a tough decision concerning making our own handgun defense loads. I will tell you straightaway that I live in Texas, and that certainly has a bearing on my personal decision. Our gun laws are pretty sensible regarding self-defense shootings with the main emphasis being on whether or not such a shooting is deemed justifiable. Once it is, the citizen is protected from civil litigation. I simply cannot tell you what’s best for you, in another state you may live in. I can, however, help with some good handloads using powders from Hodgdon Powder Company

This article has changed in scope since the discussion began between Kevin Jarnagin and myself about doing a review. Hodgdon is a sponsor of Gun Talk and I was asked if I’d like to do an article on some of their powders. Some of you may have read my past articles for the Western Powders blog and are aware that most of what I write concerns defense handgun loads. Whether the potential threat be on four legs or two. KJ and I decided to review four of Hodgdon powders and those I requested were Winchester 572 and 244, Hodgdon CFE Pistol and Longshot. Since that original discussion, a couple of significant events have transpired: the election, of course, and still unresolved as I write this with the other being Hodgdon’s acquisition of the Accurate, Ramshot and Blackhorn 209 powder lines. With the experience I have with Accurate and Ramshot powders I decided to include a couple of them into this article: Ramshot Silhouette and Accurate 11FS which is fairly new in terms of how most of us handloaders view things.

KJ also got Hornady on board to sponsor this article with 115 and 147 gr. 9mm XTPs, the .38/.357” 140 gr. XTP and the .451” 200 gr. XTP. Four great bullets for the four great powders I had selected to review. And I’ll tell you that I have already discarded two separate attempts at this article. I discarded both due to the amount of political editorializing dominating those articles. Political commentary is not what I do, Handloading development and experimentation with different gun powders and bullets is what I do, so we’ll stick with that. 

Like most of you I’m sure, I greatly admire the sage advice and wisdom of Massad Ayoob. Many of you are aware that he has advised against the use of defensive handloads in the past. We also know that in the cases of justifiable defense shootings the number of persons prosecuted because they used a handload are as rare as hen’s teeth but attempts to prosecute on the basis that a handload was used has been attempted. Then there’s the reality of the old axiom that says, “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried out by 6.” So, let me mention something very important that Massad Ayoob has also instructed us on, should you ever find yourself in the aftermath of a justifiable defense shooting: Do not give any information other than your name, address and telephone number until your attorney is present to counsel you and you’ve likely handed over your driver’s license or ID at that point. Regardless of how straightforward any questions may appear, keep in mind how quickly things can go sideways regarding statements of record. And the unfortunate reality is that your attorney may have little or no experience in the use of firearms. Use this time - while you’re waiting for your attorney to arrive - to think about the specific topics that need to be covered. There is one point in particular that I would want to stress to my attorney in such an event, that of precedent. So long as we stick with the guidelines, handloads conform to the same standards as factory loaded ammunition under the auspices of the Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers Institute, commonly referred to as SAAMI.

This leads us to another sticky wicket, the case of 9mm +P. To the best of my knowledge only one major powder supplier or component maker has supplied 9mm +P handload data, and if you’ve been handloading as long as the 34 years I have, you may be well aware that the same company has supplied standard pressure (35,000 PSI) load data in the past that exceeds their recent 9mm +P data. This makes an email I received from Hodgdon in the past couple of weeks very timely. That email was about using a blade micrometer - that measures in units of ten thousandths of an inch - to monitor pressure increases of your rifle handloads by taking measurements on the case-head before and after firing. Another example of how important it is to read everything you can in the handload manuals you have or plan to buy. In the first handload manual I bought personally, Lyman’s 46th Edition, it states that from 15,000 PSI - 40,000 PSI, case-head expansion is proportional to pressure increases. That can also be applied to handgun loads to an extent, but consider that the chambers in rifle barrels are tighter or more strictly toleranced than your pistol barrel may be, and why you’ll find rifle load data closer to the maximum pressure rating of the cartridge. I’ve written a good many things on this subject, too much to include into this article, so I’ll provide a couple of links to what I hope you will find to be useful should you decide to experiment with 9mm +P handloads. And if you do, a chronograph is mandatory! You will likely need to copy and paste these links.

CLICK HERE to read Kevin’s Piece on Autoloading Cartridge Success. 

CLICK HERE to read Kevin’s Piece on 9mm+P Defense Load Success.

I will tell you that when I started handloading 34 years ago that 9mm +P did not yet exist. And personally, I wish it had never occurred. The standard for Maximum Average Pressure, or MAP for 9 x 19mm at that time was 35,700 Copper Units of Pressure, or CUP. When such a load is tested by the piezoelectric transducer system used by SAAMI, that precipitated the lowering of the 9 x 19mm’s MAP, the former MAP of 35,700 CUP very closely resembles the MAP of 9mm +P at 38,500 PSI. A good many folks are confused on this matter, and I am totally opposed to anything in our endeavor that causes confusion. More than a few believe that 9mm +P was achieved by raising its standard pressure MAP by 10%. The new MAP for standard pressure 9 x 19mm ammunition became 35,000 PSI, and it took a few years before we saw the equivalent pressure, using the older testing system, at 33,000 CUP. And then we have cartridge pressure measured in yet another system that was used to establish the MAP ratings of the common NATO cartridges, namely the 9mm NATO, 5.56mm NATO and the 7.62mm NATO. It is for these reasons that I’d like to see a separate safety and standards organization for handloaders and handload data.

If I had my way, all factory ammunition and handload data would be tested with the same system used for the NATO cartridges. It is the European system as governed by Commission International Permanente, or CIP. The reason for my preference is due to the fact that the piezoelectric transducer is inserted into the cartridges combustion chamber rather than being pressed against the cartridge case. Some years ago before Western Powder Company purchased Accurate Powder Company, I had the privilege of speaking with Accurate’s ballistician who went on to fill the same role at Western Powder Co. His name was Johan Loubser. He believed and predicted that eventually the CIP system would become standard for the US. In fact, there are some entities that do test in the CIP system today, we’re just not typically made aware that they do. And you may also see another pressure value rating for European supplied powders in BARs. The numerical values are significantly lower and based on units of atmospheric pressure. In this case the MAP for standard pressure 9 x 19mm is 2350 BARs where not so long ago it was 2600 BARs. I can only suspect the reasoning for that, but my suspicion is that it comes closer to the SAAMI MAP of 35,000 PSI.

Because of all of this obscurity I will not provide the specific charges that I used for 9mm +P handloads. But I have confirmed that my selection of W572 and CFE Pistol was fortuitous in regard to the change in the scope of this article. After working up my handloads at intervals of .2 gr. increases of the powder charge, I chronographed my final loads yesterday (11/25/20) and those are the loads we will now delve into. I will also include a few other target type loads I’ve made for plinking, or as a place to start for your USPSA or IDPA Minor Power Factor loads. For these I have used the Rocky Mountain Reloading, or RMR’s .355” 147 gr. TC-FMJ as well as their .358” 125 gr. Plated Hollow-point for .38 Sp. +P loads using Hodgdon’s data for the 125 gr. XTP. As we should all be aware, different bullets of the same weight are not simply “plug and play.” Variations in jacket material and different bullet-shank lengths result in different pressure levels at the same powder charge. There is data for many plated bullets that comes very close or is identical to the data for same weight JHPs, but again, not all JHPs are created equal. So now I will tell you that I tested the .38 Sp. +P handloads with a 4.2” Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum and my final loads exceed the Hodgdon data by .1 or .2 grs. Hodgdon does not list lower powder charges other than the one that is listed as “Max” for the .38 +P. My goal was to be able to provide you with the assurance that those loads are indeed safe and usable in your .38 Special revolver if it is rated for .38 +P ammunition using the 125 gr. XTP. I’ll also add a link where you can find the MAPs for each caliber: 

This project was very rewarding for me in several ways. For many years I have mostly used 124 gr. JHPs in my 9 x 19mm defense handloads. Around twenty years ago I began experimenting with supersonic 147 gr. XTP loads. We won’t be going into fighter jets if you’re wondering about the term supersonic. I am using it as opposed to the term subsonic, and I will tell you that I am indeed opposed to subsonic. I do not make or use any subsonic defense ammunition unless it is in .45 ACP. Depending on who you ask, give or take a few feet-per-second, or FPS, the speed of sound at sea level is 1118 FPS as close as I can determine, and that decreases as we get higher in altitude. The only subsonic 9 x 19mm loads I make are gaming loads. But at the time I was experimenting with the 147 gr. XTP, using Vihta Vuori 3N37 and the handload data that supported it, I had been using both the Remington and Winchester 115 gr. JHPs loaded up to +P type velocity for several years. More history, so I’ll just say that these older standard JHPs that were sold in bulk quantity at very good prices back then, were used in what were known as the “Secret Service” and “ISP” loads respectively. ISP meaning the Illinois State Police and both loads carried a +P+ label. While rated 1350 FPS, they rarely chronographed above 1300 FPS from 4” barrels which was enough for them to gain admirable performance records. Today we have ammunition companies that have sprung up in recent years that are offering 9mm +P+ ammunition; mostly rated around 1400 FPS from a 4” barrel. And in testing conducted by fellow experimenter, tnoutdoors9 on YouTube, one such load he verified that velocity when fired from a 4” Glock 19 was just above 1400 FPS. When available, you do have that option if you so choose. A 115 gr. XTP at 1400 FPS has 500 Ft/lbs of muzzle energy that puts it near .357 Magnum energy levels. Some of these companies offer more than one bullet type at that weight, while the one that’s geared toward penetration typically uses the 115 gr. XTP, and I have been wanting to test it in very high velocity handloads. 

Yet another article would be focused on the confused perceptions of muzzle energy. Some “experts” will tell you that it is not a factor at typical handgun defense load velocities, but rarely do they test the faster loads available. You can skew the variables in any way you want to get your desired result. So, I’m gonna tell you that in 40 years of handgunning, and more with hunting rifles and .22s, I’ve read everything I have ever come across on the subject of terminal ballistics. Only in recent years have I found one science that I believe to be empirical rather than mere opinion. That comes from the science and book by Charles Schwartz, Quantitative Ammunition Selection. My faith in it is due to the fact that beginning with the 20th Century, every study involving wound ballistics in law enforcement or on the battlefield has been considered and covered in this work, including the physics. Regardless of one’s opinion, pro or con, if scientific research was conducted it has been covered in the book. And I can tell you that Massad Ayoob is also looking into this excellent tool Charles has created, Mr. Ayoob even mentioning it in his latest magazine annual.

I’ll go a step further by saying that I’ve gotten to know Charles and I provide him with my handload data and test statistics when I run across something, I believe he might be interested in, as is the case for my 9mm 147 gr. XTP load. Twenty years ago, it was +P using 3N37. Today I would need someone to prove it is +P due to the change in powder I’ve made. We’ll get to that later. Charles has provided me with his spreadsheet program that calculates any relevant value that I’m interested in. First and foremost, in this entire process are his experiments in finding which other medium comes closest to reproducing the results obtained by using the FBI’s 10% calibrated and temperature controlled ballistic ordnance gel. With over 900 tests, and at an accuracy rate of over 95%, he has proven it can be done with . . . water!

Hey, I became a regular listener to Gun Talk Radio after I heard Tom Gresham talking about shooting 1-gallon water filled jugs as a testing medium. I’d been doing that and posting about it for years at various gun forums. Then he gives the same evaluation I use in terms of how much penetration might be too much penetration with 4 jugs being the max for either of us. I established my minimum for penetration with the Winchester White Box 230 gr. JHP in .45 ACP that penetrated through two jugs and about midway into the third. I doubt that there are many who could argue against that as a minimum. But I will tell you that Charles Schwartz uses water-filled baggies and is gracious enough to overlook my use, and Tom’s use of those villainous, former 1-gallon milk jugs. And yes, there is a destination I’m heading for.

For the sake of not writing a very long article, in which I’m failing, miserably, I was not going to get into ballistic testing. In the second discarded article, I changed my mind and said that whichever load most impressed me I would run through the spreadsheet program developed by Charles Schwartz he calls the Q-Model, while he’s updated me with each generational upgrade up until he tailored one specifically for my use to include formulations for power in kiloWatts and ballistic pressure waves among many other things. The fundamentals of course being the predicted penetration in FBI gel and the amount of energy expended into the 1st - 15th centimeter of penetration, a value designated ΔE15, as well as the probability predictions for incapacitation with each increase of rounds placed where they need to go; the thoracic chest cavity. And of course, I apply values for muzzle energy and momentum, along with the bullet’s sectional density, all determining the bullets ability to penetrate. Personally, I don’t see the logic in dismissing empirical factors.

Before we go any further, be advised that neither Gun Talk Media nor I will accept any responsibility or liability for your use of this experimental handload data!

In my 9mm 124 gr. JHP defense loads I have used one powder more than any other: Ramshot Silhouette that was once Winchester Action Pistol, and it suppresses flash very effectively. So, with the 115 gr. XTPs I decided to push the envelope towards those +P+ factory loads. I also expected that the load I would be giving the most glowing review for would be the 140 gr. XTP .357 Magnum load (no worries there). As it turns out, what impressed me most was the load I’m working on using the 115 gr. XTP and CFE Pistol that is slightly faster burning than Silhouette, while I suspect they both started out from the same base chemistry; where I’ve been led to believe the first iteration was W540, also known as HS6 that’s still available, and I have used HS6 in 35,700 CUP loads from the SPEER 11 manual using the Remington and Winchester 115 gr. JHPs. I did not go up to 1400 FPS for this article, but when I reached 1374 FPS at an OACL of 1.122”/28.5mm with a CCI500 primer, I felt it was time to water test. What maybe I dreamed could happen, did indeed happen: it penetrated just into the 4th jug and had a retained weight of 91.4 grs. with an average diameter of .552”. If you use a JHP that “petals” you’ll need to measure between them for the smallest diameters and outside across the petals for the greatest diameters, take those 6 measurements and average. As is the case with the XTP in every caliber test I’ve done, there’s something to be said for symmetrical expansion, or a mushroom as opposed to the term petal I used, as in the petals of a flower when it comes to average diameter. I’ll give some of the Q-Model statistics for this load at the end of the article to give you an idea about its performance if you think you’re interested in using the +P+ loads available from Double-Tap, Underwood’s or Buffalo Bore. My handload showed excellent accuracy potential for the 10 rounds fired over the chrono, especially when you consider the very high velocity. Extreme Spread and Standard Deviation were also quite good; but things that vary from one pistol to another.

Since I mentioned the .357 Magnum load, let’s take a look. I worked up to Hodgdon’s Max Charge load for the 140 gr. XTP with W296/H110, except that I used 19.0 grs. Of Accurate 11FS since there is no data for 11FS using bullets below 158 grs. Building 158 gr. loads with 11FS, velocity was lower than in Western data to the point that I suspect that it may burn just barely slower than its parent powder, W296. I don’t typically load .357 Magnum defense rounds with slower burning magnum powders like 296/H110 for my 4.2” GP100 and would prefer the barrel to be 6” or longer when I do. I don’t yet have the “Distributor Exclusive” 5” GP100 I lust for, and where I probably would use 296/H110/11FS. Basically, as barrel length decreases, I go to powders slightly faster in burn rate, so long as they’re capable of duplicating factory load velocity from a 4” test barrel, because they will not lose as much velocity in shorter barrels. As an example, with a vintage 2 ¾” Ruger Speed Six I have an outstanding load using Ramshot True Blue that loses very little velocity as compared to firing it from a 4” barrel. But during an opportunity to shoot in low light I found that 11FS lives up to the marketing with lower flash than loads with True Blue, Accurate No 7 or No 9, firing them all on that same occasion. I’ll be honest and say that I haven’t tinkered a lot with the use of standard vs magnum primers with No 7 & 9, but I have done some. I have been using a magnum primer with True Blue, but there is only a slight improvement by about 2 FPS in standard deviation, but I did get higher velocity by around 30 FPS from the same charge. Extreme spread and standard deviation could be better for the 11FS load, but accuracy seemed very good while velocity was 1314 FPS. I’ve only used a magnum primer with 11FS, and it is the very low flash that is most impressive. I already knew I would like this load while working up and I did test it for penetration with the Max Charge load. It did not leave the 4th jug and I set up 5 just in case. The Q-Model predicts 17.21” of penetration for this load that provides 537 Ft/lbs of energy with .817 lb-seconds of momentum. Recovered weight was excellent at 131.7 grs. with an average diameter of .535” and exactly what Hornady claims with 1.5X expansion for the XTP. This is easily a carry load for in or out of town, and we have our share of porkers around here while there’s plenty of evidence that they are a potential danger. 

The load I found most challenging to make is another without its own data. I wanted to use CFE Pistol because it is flash suppressed, but Hodgdon used the 200 gr. Gold Dot in their .45 ACP data and Hornady didn’t use CFE Pistol in their latest data for the 200 gr. XTP. Already knowing that CFE Pistol burns faster than Sihouette certainly helped because I’ve used Silhouette for .45 ACP defense loads up to and including +P loads. Hodgdon does show a Max Charge of 8.2 grs. for a 200 gr. cast bullet at 1142 FPS, so I just worked up to my desired velocity coming with 8.0 grs. with a CCI300 primer using an OACL of 1.220” for a ten-round average (for all the loads in this article) of 1011 FPS. It was comfortable to shoot and certainly accurate enough for defense use from a 4.25” Colt’s stainless XSE Commander. 

On the topic of accuracy, I have two very different methods of group testing. I have no problem shooting groups with a scoped rifle when chronographing, but that’s not the case when I shoot rested groups with an open sighted handgun for whatever peculiar reason, or personal quirk. I did try to gage accuracy as I chronographed with the target 10 yards from the muzzle for all loads.

As with CFE Pistol, I concluded that W572 is capable of being used 9mm +P loads. Hodgdon’s Max Charge is listed at 5.7 grs. for the 115 gr. Gold Dot that yielded a MAP of 33,000 PSI. Not quite sure why they didn’t go on up to 5.8 grs. since it doesn’t seem it would exceed 35,000 PSI, but that was just a ballpark figure for me in using the 115 gr. XTP. As of where I was yesterday in working up my +P load, I used the same OACL of 1.122”/28.5mm and a CCI500 primer and it was 1267 FPS. Since I do not believe that would constitute +P pressure above 35,000 PSI, and that I used the XTP rather than the Gold Dot, that charge was 6.2 grs. of W572. Just remember to work up cautiously, and for any bullet you use for an auto-loading pistol and cartridge, you must confirm that your OACL works for the pistol it will be fired from. You’ll find instructions for that with the first link I provided.

The next load also used W572 and was not geared toward defense or 9mm +P. It was with the RMR 147 gr. TC-FMJ at an OACL of 1.142”. And if you need a shorter load, decrease the powder charge by .1 gr. For every .010”/.25mm you decrease in length: that being the case for all of my 9 x 19mm defense loads because of the slower-for-caliber powders I use. Velocity with 4.5 grs. of W572 was 943 FPS from the 4.47” Canik TP9sa that I used to chrono all 9mm loads. The load showed very good accuracy potential, but knowing how things are with competitive shooters, you might want a slightly faster burning powder like W244 for 130 PF/884 FPS. From the data I’ve reviewed, including my own, to make a supersonic load with the 147 gr. XTP with W572, CFE Pistol or Silhouette it will require +P pressure.

Another gaming/plinking load I pursue further used the SNS Casting 125 gr. Poly-Coated RN that I refer to as a RN-SWC, having a smaller diameter above its shoulder which allows it to be loaded longer. For many years the only bullet I used other than a JHP in 9mm was the hard cast version of this bullet. In bulk quantities FMJs were nearly the same price as the JHPs I preferred, even before many competition shooters discovered better accuracy could often be had with a JHP vs an FMJ. But for something very soft shooting with accuracy the goal, the 125 gr. poly-coated or hard cast RN-SWC is excellent for that. And along with the W244 I used for this one, I probably have ½ a dozen minor power factor loads with this bullet for the purpose of furnishing data. The Max Charge Listed by Hodgdon is 4.1 grs. for what they term a 125 gr. LCN, which I take to mean Lead Conical Nose, at an OACL of 1.125”. That very likely explains the lower velocity of 1002 FPS I got with the 125 gr. RN-SWC at 3.9 grs. of W244 using a CCI500 and an OACL of 1.142”/29mm. I will definitely increase my charge to 4.1 grs. that I believe would put me right at the 1040 FPS required for 130 PF. That’s the required 125 PF with a 5 PF safety margin added. With most of my 9 x 19mm loads being of the higher velocity type, trying to lower recoil from a 4.1 gr. powder charge by switching to another that would get 1040 FPS with a 3.1 gr. charge just doesn’t interest me. Accuracy is goal 1, and at 130 PF, recoil is a convenient excuse for not achieving it.

I have loaded 147 grain XTPs supersonic at different times over the years and one of them chronographed 1130 FPS from a 4.14” Ruger SR9. On the first trip to the range with the Canik TP9sa back in November 2015, that same load from the 4.47” barrel chronographed 1170 FPS. The Canik is +P rated and handled it with ease, recoil wasn’t an issue, but nonetheless, I decided to slow it down closer to 1150 FPS: actually 1154 FPS loading it to an OACL of 1.142”/29mm. I used Lyman’s load data for the 147 gr. SPEER TMJ that they show achieving a pressure of 29,000 CUP. And as I mentioned previously, the MAP for 9 x 19mm is 33,000 CUP. I worked up .2 grs. higher with the 147 gr. XTP, and I would have to be in the lab observing before I would believe that this load is actually +P in pressure. It is, however, Major Power Factor. For this type of load, I recommend going to a heavier recoil spring. If your particular 9mm pistol is also made in a .40 S&W version, get a spring of the .40 version’s rating, or typically about 2 or 3# heavier provided that your 9mm pistol is rated for the use of 9mm +P ammunition, and your OACL must be determined by your pistol’s chamber, remembering that for every .010”/.25mm you need to decrease the length of your load, the powder charge will need to be decreased by .1 gr.

There is one published load that I’m aware of from Vihta Vouri for the 147 gr. XTP that is standard pressure using an OACL of 1.142”/29mm with 6.9 grs. Of 3N38 rated at 1206 FPS from a 4” test barrel. That load has been published since 3N38 was first introduced around fifteen years ago. I mentioned this load on a reloading forum and began corresponding with a fellow handloader who was able to find it on the shelf before I could. He reported that at that OACL the powder was seemingly compressed to the point that it deformed the nose of the bullet. He was testing with a Glock 34. By the time I suggested increasing its OACL he had already worked up a similar load with Accurate No 7 and found the load more accurate. In case you’re not aware, a 147 gr. 9mm XTP has a sectional density of .167 which is higher than the .451” 230 gr. XTP’s at .162. For those who believe that penetration is the only thing that matters, they should be pleased. But everyone should know that 147 gr. JHPs in 9mm were the first remedy after the “Miami Shootout” in 1986 and those subsonic loads created yet another problem: over-penetration with little or no expansion. The reason? They were subsonic, and really a better term would be sub 1000 FPS. So, depending on if you want +P velocity loads from those 3 ammo-makers mentioned previously at 1125 FPS, or +P+ at 1175 FPS, there is a substantial gain in energy. More importantly to me and my load at 1154 FPS, Momentum is .753 lb-seconds. Again, another article, but consider what’s being sold with 124 gr. JHPs rated +P, and over 1200 FPS from a 4” barrel in some cases, yet rarely chronographing above 1180 FPS from my 4.47” barrel, momentum drops to .650 lb-seconds. That would be the minimum defense load floor for me while a good many 115 gr. JHP loads will be even less. So, this is not all about chasing velocity and energy except that velocity and mass are also factors in momentum. Combined with a bullet of higher sectional density this equates into better penetration, better performance. The SPEER #11 manual’s definition for sectional density is: “A bullets weight in pounds, divided by the square of its diameter in inches.” In other words, or how I simplify it, the ratio of mass to diameter and length because adding bullet weight in a particular caliber will result in a longer bullet.

Last but not least, I made two .38 Special +P loads using Hodgdon’s data, but I used the RMR 125 gr. Plated Hollow-Point. Based on the pressure’s listed for those loads and the cartridge’s MAP, I worked up just a tad higher, and again, the test gun was a 4.2” Ruger GP100 in .357 Magnum. I felt that the very slightly higher pressure would not exceed the .38 +P’s MAP of 20,000 PSI/20,000 CUP; with this being one of the few times that the different pressure rating systems agree numerically. They can go either way in other cartridges.

First up was the RMR 125 gr. PHP where I roll crimped into the middle of the bullet’s cannelure and used a CCI500 Primer in both loads. 6.5 grs. of CFE Pistol gave a 10-round average of 949 FPS. I wanted to use CFE Pistol for this cartridge also to reduce flash as much as possible which is important for my defense loads. And we’re very fortunate today to have several powders available to us that have flash deterrents in their chemistry. Three from Hodgdon now with CFE Pistol, Ramshot Silhouette and Accurate 11FS.

The same load except that it was charged with 7.2 grs. of Longshot was next, but unfortunately my chronograph failed during testing. I was seeing velocity above 1000 FPS and accuracy with either of these .38 +P was certainly good for defense use.

9mm 115 gr. XTP on left, .357 Mag 140 gr. XTP on right

9mm 115 gr. XTP on left, .357 Mag 140 gr. XTP on right

I certainly don’t mean to suggest that I was disappointed with the 140 gr. XTP .357 Magnum load in any way. I hoped to reach 1300 FPS and got to 1314 FPS as mentioned. And the pics above speak for themselves. What I didn’t expect was that the 115 gr. XTP 9mm +P load would penetrate into the 4th water jug. And for that reason, I list some of the statistics from the version of his Q-Model that Charles Schwartz designed for me.

Kind of has me rethinking my previous opinion on 9mm +P 115 gr. defense loads!

My Stats

Velocity: 1374 FPS

Muzzle Energy: 482 Ft/lbs

Momentum: .702 Lb-seconds

Average Recovered Dia: .552” 

Recovered Weight:  91.4 grs.

Q-Model Predictions

Penetration: 11.44”

Wound Mass: 38.41 grams

Wound Volume: 2.24 cubic inches

Energy Displacement 1st - 15th centimeter, or ΔE15: 285 Ft/lbs

*Power: 167 kiloWATTS

*Ballistic Pressure Wave: 1159 PSI

*Average Incapacitation Time: 6.449 seconds

* indicates statistical computations added to my personal version of the Q-Model and are not a part of the QAS analysis.

Incapacitation Probability by successive rounds fired

1. 73.69%

2. 93.08%

3. 98.18%

God Bless, be safe and good shooting to you all! ~ Kevin

Kevin Newberry

Kevin was as a professional designer for several fields, all of them involving pressure in one form or another. He earned his "hat" as a designer coincidental, to starting what became a passion for me: handloading and a study of anything involving ballistics.

Kevin relied heavily on his peers which were well-known writers for Shooting Times beginning with Skeeter Skelton, Dick Metcalf, Rick Jamison and Layne Simpson. He also dove into his Lyman 46th edition and the SPEER No 11 handload manuals, which he read in both cases and still refer to today along with the others. Being "self taught" gave Kevin the motivation to help others. Particularly once he was aware of the gun forums springing up on the internet.


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