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Good 9mm ammo for "bullseye" shooting (not competition)

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Post by mikemyers 1/17/2023, 9:12 am

A year ago a fellow at my range offered me a case of Magtech ammo:
9mm Luger 7,45g (115 gr) FMJ (9A) BT1019 L - 1647
(I read that as 9mm 115 gr FMJ ....   not sure what the rest of information means...)

It was supposed to be so I could enjoy shooting my Taurus PT92-AFS, which changed to my Springfield SA-35, and now will be used in my new to me Springfield Range Officer 9mm Target.  

I like 9mm because it is inexpensive, feels like it has lower recoil, and the Magtech is supposed to be good for general shooting.

The reality of course is that it will only be used (by me) for punching holes in paper targets.

Yesterday I was offered 1000 rounds for three hundred something dollars by a gun shop.  Having most of a case at home, and not expecting to shoot THAT much, I passed, but I'm tempted to get them anyway for the future.

A friend of mine suggested that 147 grain ammo is "easier to shoot well".  To be honest, maybe I'm not good enough to recognize the difference, but my impression was that both the 147 and the 115 were similar, but the 115 "felt" stronger.

So, my question here is what is the best 9mm ready made ammo for "bullseye" shooting.  Better accuracy would be good, more power would not be good, less felt recoil would be good, and I guess it will need to be FMJ unless someone sells lead rounds that are better for bullseye.  Cost counts too.  Availability would be important.  I now have the gear to load my own, thanks to one of our members, but I'm not ready to do that yet.

Any suggestions?
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Post by Orion 1/17/2023, 9:31 am

I started reloading 9mm/45 last winter and I don’t regret it. For competition and training I used any 9mm available for the short line and Atlanta Arms 115 on the long line. I suggest you use 115/127 for 1:32 twist barrels and 147 for 1:16 twist. If you cannot recognize the difference between 115 and 147 you should be focusing on the fundamentals / dry firing more.
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Post by shanneba 1/17/2023, 9:48 am

American Elite Armory in Greenwood Indiana has the Norma 115 gr FMJ for $14.85 /50 $297 /1000

My daughter shot that ammo very well in a Sig P320.

Norma Range & Training 9mm Luger 115gr FMJ 1180 FPS 50/box (aeammo.com)

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Post by mikemyers 1/17/2023, 4:21 pm

Orion wrote:......If you cannot recognize the difference between 115 and 147 you should be focusing on the fundamentals / dry firing more.
Already doing both of your suggestions, but according to one of the articles I read, both common loads of 115 and 147 have the same recoil - but the 147 feels softer because it stretches out the recoil over a longer time.  The 115 gives a sharper "whack", but the power of both the loads the fellow tested was the same.  The 115 of course causes higher velocity of the round.

One thing for sure, the 115 in a full size 1911 is much less than it was with either of my previous (lighter) guns.  In the 1911 there was much less "felt recoil".  I didn't get to try the 147 yet.
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Post by Texasref 1/18/2023, 7:52 am

Here is what I use in all of my 9mm pistols.
147gn flat point bullet, over 3.2gn of Alliant Sport pistol.
OAL is 1.131.

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Post by mustachio 2/4/2023, 12:31 pm

Mike, I still stand by the Freedom munitions 135 and 147 gr. Both have less recoil and are more accurate than I can shoot them.
I can easily tell the difference between 115 and 147.
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Post by mikemyers 2/4/2023, 1:15 pm

Hi, and good to see you again!!!!!!

I remember our discussions, and still have most of one box of the 147 grain Freedom Arms left that I bought at your suggestion.

I sold my Taurus, have been trying to buy a Springfield SA-35 for half a year now (but it keeps going back to the factory as they can't make one properly), and finally bought a like-new Springfield 9mm Range Officer target Stainless. I think I asked you about buying a gun you had like that, but if I remember correctly, you had sold it.

If I had your ability, I think I would recognize the difference between 115 and 147 grain ammo.  For me, it's hard to tell.  I bought a case of 115 grain 9mm ammo, and found I can buy another case, on sale, from Johnson Firearms for $330.  I didn't buy it (yet) as I was hoping I could buy target ammo for the same price or better.

>>>>>Orion.........If you cannot recognize the difference between 115 and 147 you should be focusing on the fundamentals / dry firing more. <<<<<<

I guess I'm not very good at this.  I dry-fire almost every day, and have gotten to where the gun stays put when I fire, and my groups have gotten better than ever before, for me, with 9mm.  The target below is two-handed, and between 15 and 18 yards - not sure, it was an indoor range, and the target stopped in different places each time.  Compared to the better guys here, I suck.  The gun has a 6 pound trigger pull, but it is now on its way to Dave Salyer, who will make it 3#, fix some other things, and mount my 1" Ultradot.  My two biggest weak-points are my eyes (I can't shoot open sight as well as with a dot) and my body (holding the gun up one handed leaves me hurting from the effort - been trying for years).

Back to ammo - is this what you recommend?
https://www.freedommunitions.com/9mm-luger-147-gr-rn-new.html

All choices:
https://www.freedommunitions.com/ammunition/pistol/9mm.html 




Good 9mm ammo for "bullseye" shooting (not competition) Img_6624
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Post by mustachio 2/4/2023, 3:12 pm

that is good shooting...I prefer open sight to red dot...after having my new lenses put in, I have 17 year old eyes. My Beretta loves the 135 and 147 gr. I got my trigger down to 3# so it helps with accuracy.
I am having shoulder replacement in May on my left shoulder so I will be down for 3 months. During that time I will shoot one handed exclusively.
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Post by mikemyers 2/4/2023, 3:35 pm

Texasref wrote:Here is what I use in all of my 9mm pistols.
147gn flat point bullet, over 3.2gn of Alliant Sport pistol.
OAL is 1.131.
I'm not ready to start reloading 9mm, but I have what I need to do so now, thanks to "Jim".

In the links I just posted, I found "round nose" and "flat point".
Is there a specific reason why you use flat point?  

It seems to me that 115 grain 9mm give a very "sharp" recoil, but the 147 grain   stretches it out over a longer time (slower) so it feels lower - or maybe that's just my imagionation, to use my favorite term.

Based on what Mustachio said, and that I enjoyed the 147 Freedom Arms ammo I bought a few years ago, I guess that would be a better choice for me.


I need to ask another question sometime soon.
Bullseye = 45, and Center Fire, and 22.  
Most people use 45 for both the first two classes (or is the Model 52 still a popular choice?).  
What classes does 9mm fit into for bullseye competition?

Just curious - my range just has "Bullseye" - you can use any gun you wish to, any caliber, auto or pistol, etc.
Because so many people did not want to shoot real bullseye, the club now uses 15 and 25 yards, and use however many hands you want.

There is also a small group that shoots off to the side at 25 and 50 yards, and all other bullseye rules.  I used to join that group most of the time.

My next match will likely be February 26.  Will decide when I get there which class to compete in, and which caliber to use.
If I am going to use the 147 grain ammo, I'd like to order it this coming Monday.
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Post by SingleActionAndrew 2/4/2023, 3:47 pm

9mm similar to the 38spl you mention in the 52 counts as Centerfire but not 22 or 45. The 9mm may also be used under current rules (in compliant guns) for CMP Excellence In Competition Service Pistol matches.
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Post by mikemyers 2/4/2023, 4:00 pm

SingleActionAndrew wrote:9mm similar to the 38spl you mention in the 52 counts as Centerfire but not 22 or 45. .......
Thanks - I guess my plan right now is to buy the ammo Monday, the gun should be back to me in around two weeks, and then decide whether to take the 9mm, the Nelson, or my Model 41.
I'm sure I'll enjoy myself whichever gun I take.

Thanks to all of you for help with my ammo question.  I'll call Freedom Munitions on Monday morning, and place an order - maybe for just a few hundred rounds, before I buy a full case.
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Post by Texasref 2/5/2023, 8:06 am

Mike,
The reason the 147 feels softer is because it takes less powder than a 115gn.
Heavier bullet less powder, lighter bullet more powder.
Also burn rate. I've always used powders in the "faster" burn rate end of the spectrum. That will reduce the powder charge too.

Good luck finding the right ammo.

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Post by mikemyers 2/5/2023, 8:43 am

Please explain.

Suppose the bullet weighed a pound (totally unrealistic, but just to exaggerate).
It seems to me that the bullet would probably not move very much.
Suppose the bullet weight went to only 10 grams - to me, it should require far less powder to get it to move.

In my mind, you've got it backwards, but I know so durn little about all of this.
I know you are right though:
   https://www.northwestfirearms.com/threads/why-do-heavier-bullets-require-less-powder.95442/

I'm trying to understand this in a way that makes sense to me.

Based on what you wrote, with a heavier bullet with the same powder charge, the pressures might get so high as to not be safe.
Lowering the powder load will prevent that (as you wrote).
....but the bullet will travel much more slowly << which makes all this start to make sense to me, I think.

I never experiment with powder charges and bullets - I use the values recommended, but had I gone by my gut feeling, I'd probably have caused an un-safe condition.  
I think I understand it now.   Thank you!!


Bottom line - I will buy 147 grain ammo on Monday.
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Post by Buck13 2/5/2023, 10:05 am

mikemyers wrote:Please explain.
I'm far from an expert, but at least part of the explanation will make sense if you think of your gun as a rocket.

Say you load a 105 grain and a 147 grain 9 mm bullet to the same power factor.  Power factor = momentum, so the recoil from the bullet should be the same (I think...).  But you'll need vastly more powder to get the 105 to the same power factor.  When the bullet uncorks the barrel, all the gas (and any unburned powder residue) comes blasting out, and most of it is going faster than the bullet as it exits (ultra-fast photography can show this effluent streaming past the bullet when it's just a little out of the muzzle, which you can probably find with the Google in about a minute), and that gas acts as rocket exhaust and adds to the recoil.  A gun shooting blanks would still have some recoil if you could make it develop the same pressure and powder (exhaust) weight without a bullet.

It's not the bigger part of recoil, but it's not insignificant.  It's why a compensator works to hold your muzzle down.  The comp is deflecting that rocket jet upward to push down on the muzzle.  This is why run-and-gun guys like the .38 Super.  Because the case is bigger, they use a little more powder to get the same power factor, and since the ratio of the barrel volume divided by the case volume is lower the pressure is a bit higher as the bullet exits, so there is more gas mass and gas pressure at the muzzle (which converts to more gas velocity in the comp) and a stronger rocket from the comp.

I'm sure someone will need to correct my many errors, but this is my understanding...

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Post by mikemyers 2/5/2023, 10:29 am

I thought I was comfortable with my previous (incorrect) understanding.

To me, recoil (as felt by my hand) comes from the explosion of the gunpowder, which pushes forward on the bullet, and rearward into my hand.

If I use half the powder, I should feel only half the recoil, and if I double the powder, I should feel double the recoil (but that would exceed the safe pressure limits within the gun, so it is not done.

I also "know" that a heavier bullet, everything else being equal, will not move as fast, and a lighter bullet will move faster.


Which brings me to simply how much force (recoil) is being exerted on my hand.

While I don't fully understand the "why", I have been told by many people that the recoil from the heavier/lighter bullets exerts the same force on my hand, but for heavier rounds, it is spread out over a longer time, so it "feels" like less recoil.


The theory is one thing.  The reality is that when I shoot my 115 grain Magtech ammo, it "feels" similar to when I shoot my "Freedom Munitions 9mm Luger 147 gr HP Remanufactured FM9H147R ammo".  More experienced shooters have told me that the felt recoil feels like less with the 147.  

I've got 3/4 of a case of the 115 left, and 25 rounds of the Freedom Munitions 147 left.  The theory I find fascinating, even though I'm still a bit confusabobbled, but the bottom line for me, now, is whether I continue to shoot the Magtech 115, or order more FreedomMunitions 147.

This discussion for me is nothing like comparing 45, 9mm, 38, and 22.  Even with the light loads, felt recoil for 45 is far more than any of my 9mm, the 38 bullseye ammo felt recoil is almost no recoil, and the 22 felt recoil is essentially none.   I would be happiest if my 9mm felt like my 38 reloads.

I'm going to stop posting here, and just read.  I won't get my gun back from Dave for another two or three weeks, so there's no hurry.  Thank you all for the advice/feedback.
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Post by Boris_La 2/10/2023, 7:16 pm

147gr bullets is also significantly longer then 115gr by the 9mm cartridge scale. It takes more room in the brass and smaller combustion chamber create the higher pressure. therefor the smaller powder charge is required to compensate. The same is for the same weight bullet, but different shape. FMJ vs JHP. FMJ allow for slightly more internal volume inside the brass and required a bit more powder to produce the same velocity and pressure. Slightly less powder and slower moving heavier bullet both contribute to the less perceived recoil, while producing similar pressure in the chamber.

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Post by mikemyers 2/11/2023, 8:13 am

Boris_La wrote:...........more room in the brass and smaller combustion chamber create the higher pressure. therefor the smaller powder charge is required to compensate. The same is for the same weight bullet, but different shape. FMJ vs JHP. FMJ allow for slightly more internal volume inside the brass and required a bit more powder to produce the same velocity and pressure. Slightly less powder and slower moving heavier bullet both contribute to the less perceived recoil, while producing similar pressure in the chamber.
Thank you for your post.  The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.

I never got involved in this before - I simply copied advice from others here in this forum (and elsewhere, but this forum for me has been number one to insure my reloading safety.

  • For 44 Special, I used the information from from the person who sold me a 44 Magnum S&W 29, and all my reloading gear.  I did exactly what he told me to do.  This was in the 1980's.
  • For 45 ACP, I used the reloading information from this forum, from Terry Labbe (Magnus Bullets, which I buy), and from Dave Salyer.
  • For 38 Special - the same - here, Terry, and Dave.


I think my problem isn't really a problem - to me, these rounds in 9mm seem to have similar recoil, and apparently they actually do have the same recoil.  Apparently I'm oblivious to "perceived" recoil.

Thanks to all of you.  Now things make sense.  ......but since I have a case of 115 grain MagTech FMJ, I might as well use that up first.  If I order the 147 grain (better) ammo this coming Monday, what to do with most of a case of 115 grain ammo?   :-(
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Post by mustachio 2/11/2023, 9:29 am

use it for practice.
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Post by mikemyers 2/11/2023, 12:44 pm

Good idea.

This is what I expect to order:
https://www.freedommunitions.com/9mm-luger-147-gr-rn-reman.html
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Post by mustachio 2/11/2023, 12:58 pm

good choice...I have used the 147gr hollow point and it is equally as good.
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