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Having purchased all new reloading equipment and components so I can begin reloading 9mm and 45 ACP ammo, I have a question regarding the number of rounds I should reload for the initial test firing. I understand the logic of beginning with the recommended starting point for the charge size and working up until the sweet spot is achieved, but how many rounds does it normally take to make a fair assessment of a particular bullet/powder/primer combination?
 

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Assuming you don't have things like a cronograph and can only test by how well they group, then probably no more than 10 or so depending on how consistent a shot you are.
 

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I just do about five of each, but I am a pretty good shot. So I notice the difference right away...

I would start with .45 where small variations in powder or seating depth will have a smaller effect than 9mm. Then switch to 9mm once you get in the rhythm...
 

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It all depends on what you're trying to achieve. If you've never reloaded I would only do a handfull and shoot 'em off of a rest to see how they group. Check for pressure signs and target placement. I wouldn't load a bunch of differnet levels or you won't know which round hits where. Take your time and have fun. K-I-S-S keep it simple ******
Don't complicate it.
My .40 I have one load I like it's the only load I've made for it. No reason to change. The .45AP, there has been several since I have 2 different handguns that run it. The .357 has so many combos that after 3k down the pipe I'm still trying different stuff. ANd the .223/5.56.............well your imagination is the limit. But I started off slow and low on all of them. Just make it fun and be safe, use the reloading manuals/powder maker guides.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
No, I don't have a chronograph, and all my shooting is offhand target practice. I intend to use a rest for my initial reloads so I can eliminate some of the "operator error" when comparing groupings.

I see your point regarding the .45's over the 9's- I had never given it a thought.
 

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Having purchased all new reloading equipment and components so I can begin reloading 9mm and 45 ACP ammo, I have a question regarding the number of rounds I should reload for the initial test firing. I understand the logic of beginning with the recommended starting point for the charge size and working up until the sweet spot is achieved, but how many rounds does it normally take to make a fair assessment of a particular bullet/powder/primer combination?
I would start with the .45 ACP. First, you need to settle on the bullet weight. I would start with the original 230 grain ball. Also, it really depends on the powder you use. For example, I use Hogdon HP38 with 230 grain ball because a lot of folks have had success with this combination.

Hogdon recommends minimum of 4.2 grains and a maximum of 5.3 grains of HP38 behind a 230 grain bullet for the .45 ACP. Given this, I would use a .2 grain ladder from 4.2 grains to 5.2 grains at 5 rounds per step.

This should give you about 50 rounds to test at the range. You should get a pretty good feel, via group size, as to what works best within that range.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks guys for all the great info! I generally go to the range once a week and shoot 150-200 rds of factory ammo, so for me reloading is purely for economic reasons- the more I shoot, the more I save! Plus, you can never get enough practice- as an aging Baby Boomer, I'm too old to fight and too old to run, so I practice my shooting!

I still haven't purchased any powder, but I'm leaning toward the HP38/W231 based on it's availability and it's popularity as a reliable, all around powder. For the .45, I've already bought some Nosler 185 gr jhp because the sale price was unbeatable ($150/1k). but, based on your recomendations, I'm thinking I should start with some 230 gr rn until I become more comfortable with reloading. Plus, I've only used factory 230's in my SR1911 and it shoots like a dream, so it will give me an accurate comparison if I stick with the same bullet configuration.

Thanks again for all the recommendations!
 

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One thing I've done over the years in addition to making up about 10 test rounds for each "step" in evaluation loads is to take a Mic to the range with me and check OAL as I shoot to make sure I'm not getting set back with a semi and not getting longer col with a revolver...I try and check my crimping as well as the charge and pressures in this manner...just my 2 cents
 

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I will load up 2 magazines full for my semi-autos (unless they're 13 round magazines!), and two cylinders full for my revolvers (1911, 14, 9mm, 14, Ruger SBH 12, 2" 38, 10). For rifle testing I usually do 10. Prolly don't need that many, but I like reloading so I may do more. For me, that's a minimum, but If I'm rollin' I may do 20...

Plus, I make sure all ammo will fit/chamber the firearm it's intended for before I go to the range.
 

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How many depends on a lot of things ranging from how much you know about reloading and your chosen powder/bullet/primer/brass through how and what you plan to test.

For a first-time firearm and a first-time powder and with no chrono, I'd make up five rounds at each powder level and I span the entire range of possible loads. From the lowest load, I fire the first shot as a single and - if the brass et al look OK - the remaining four shots are then loaded and fired. If those four brass look OK, I move to the next higher level, rinse and repeat. Depending on what happens, I may choose to stop, not fire, and later disassemble the "hottest" load(s).

For accuracy, in a second session I'd then make up 10 of several of the loads that I have proven are OK to use. If the specific accuracy test pattern I'm running requires more, I load more. If using 5-shot groups as the measure, 10 rounds gives two test runs (if needed) at each powder level I'm testing. Anything left over after testing can be plinked since it is already proven "safe".

Chrono data, if available, helps to judge several things, from consistency to the safety of a given load . . . and the next higher one. In my case, the only chrono I have is for rifle only and since it attaches to the barrel, accuracy is distorted. So for the above "accuracy test" I might make up 15 rounds and use a random 5 to establish velocity.
 

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Since I can walk out on the porch & let fly (shoot) I load 1 if it does OK I load 10 more & run em for the numbers.
 

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With all said, and good sound advice from experienced reloaders out there. Most important thing you can do is keep a log book and record your progressions, take good notes…
 

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Mama Bear, Papa Bear

Howdy to another aging boomer! I've been back to reloading for a year now. Primarily 45, some 357. Just like years ago when I reloaded 44 mag and specials, over time I settle in on a Papa Bear (hot) and Mama Bear (light) load for each caliber and bullet. FWIW, I'll say my hot load for 45, 230 gr XTP uses AA #5, and lighter, pleasant load uses Win231. Both run great thru my SR1911, XDm 45, and Kimber Ultra.

Like others, I like at least 10 of anything before making any judgements.
 

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Walk before you run.
First, only load up as many as you are willing to return home with to break down and re-do when your gun won't feed or chamber them.
If you haven't, always start off with at least two case and load two inert (no primer or powder) rounds. These are used to set each die and adjust COL to get two rounds that will fit the magazine and feed and chamber in your gun (without using live rounds).
Even then, it is not rare for a newbie to go to the range and find that the rounds don't work.
So, I usually only about 20 rounds (all at the starting load) to verify that my press setting work.
Then, I load 10 rounds at each charge weight/powder combination. I shoot over a machine rest or sandbag at a target at a known distance. I first shoot 10 rounds of factory ammunition (mark the brass so you can collent YOUR cases). Then I shoot my reloads. After each 10 rounds, I collect my marked cases. I inspect them for primer signs of pressure, measure the case expansion (generally about 1/4" above the extraction groove) and note the distance the cases are thrown. I compare case expansion and case extraction distance to the factory ammo.
There is no way, without pressure transducers on the barrel, to KNOW what pressures your loads are generating, so the best I can do is compare to factory rounds.
 

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Most important thing you can do is keep a log book and record your progressions, take good notes…
That right there is good advise.
But don't forget to record results almost immediately.
Otherwise you'll forget what was what.

Then you'll have to go back to the range again :eek: ;)
 

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When starting with a new load (and certainly new caliber) I load up one mag or cylinders worth for the intended gun.

With revolver loads, I usually start at the very bottom of the scale and work out. For semi autos I usually start mid range as both the semis I reload for have fairly heavy recoil springs that don't do well with light loads.

When starting a new caliber, I will usually shoot a mag/cylinder of factory loads so I have something to compare my new loads with recoil wise. That part may be unnecessary, but it works for me.
 
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