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Adjustments for Soft Loads ?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by ALBin517, Dec 20, 2011.

  1. ALBin517


    Mar 13, 2009
    In my winter pistol league, it is standard to shoot soft hand loads because there is no minimum power factor. I don't want to shoot marshmallows but if I soften my loads a bit to be competitive, what do I need to change?

    I figure I'd need a weaker recoil spring. Maybe 13 pounds or so?

    Anything else?

    I'm shooting a G34 with 125-grain bullets, mixed brass, HP38 and Federal primers.
  2. gforester

    gforester Motorhead

    Feb 1, 2009
    Cocoa, FL
    You can drop your charge down to about 3.8 grains of HP38 without any problem. If your slide fails to lock back on an empty mag you could replace the recoil spring to solve that issue. One of the guys on my team did just that with his G34 to use 124gr. MG's over 3.7 grains of HP38.

  3. unclebob


    Oct 14, 2000
    Mary Esther FL
    For GSSF with no power factor, I load 135gr. X-treme bullets, 3.5 TiteGroup, at 1.120. Federal primer, mix brass, Stock springs. 920fps Don't remember what gun was used for the speed. Probably G17.
    Read this about springs.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  4. ron59

    ron59 Bustin Caps

    Jan 3, 2009
    Smyrna, GA
    I played the "soft load" game for awhile when I first started loading 147grainers for my G17.

    My gun would cycle, but that was a VERY inaccurate load. When I boosted it up to ~133PF.... much better. That's still very manageable recoil-wise. I wouldn't try to cut it too low.
  5. D. Manley

    D. Manley

    May 30, 2005
    Southern US

    I run 15 Lb. ISMI recoil springs in all my range glocks including, 9MM, .40 and .45. I've tested them down to 11 Lbs. and for my purposes, 15 Lbs. is just right and will still cycle very soft loads. You can down-load the 125 grainers quite a bit using quicker powders but I find 147 grain bullets over 3.4 grains of Solo 1000 to be about the nicest load I've seen. For the HP38/W231 powder you have, Hogdon shows 3.9 as a starting load so you might want to load up a few at 3.7, 3.8 and 3.9 grains to test. You may be able to go even lower if you've got good, quick, positive cycling at 3.7 and the accuracy is there. IMHO, for light loads, it's best to stick to quicker powders as medium to slower burning leads to a lot of gunk buildup on the gun. HP38 should do OK as will TG, WST, VV N320, S-1000, etc.
  6. cysoto

    cysoto Gone Shooting!

    Jan 21, 2004
    Denver, CO
    I agree with Ron. I always hear people trying to shoot the softest possible load but, many times, they are achieving a low PF by sacrificing accuracy and allowing malfunctions.

    Over the years I have come to the realization that most 9mm pistols offer optimal accuracy and operation when shooting loads in the 130 to 150 PF vicinity.

    Don't be afraid of recoil; embrace it and learn to time your pistol. You will have better results by using correct technique than by trying to achieve "the perfect bunny-fart" load.
  7. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    I shoot at a club, lots of guys running sub minor loads in their 9mm & most have some issue w/ reliability. I NEVER change springs to get a gun to run. I'll adjust the load to the gun & that is that. There is little recoil diff in a 120PF load & a 130PF load, regardless of caliber. I can get my XDTAC to run a 140PF load for IDPA/ESP if I want to shoot that route.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2011
  8. D. Manley

    D. Manley

    May 30, 2005
    Southern US
    That's a preference you make Fred and if that's what you like, no problem. There are other reasons to spring tune a gun though other than accomodating a particular load. All combat-style guns are factory sprung for +P loads on the high side and standard pressure on the low side...a good OEM thing but, totally unnecessary for general range work. Some folks, me among them, just prefer the softer recoil impulse and flatter track of a bit lighter spring for normal pressure to lower pressure loads. I've got nearly 3000 rounds of factory loads that's been sitting in their cases for years just cause I don't bother with 'em. Having reloaded now for over 4 decades, I've no desire to burn high volumes of full power loads in a range session. As to the springs, I'm as familiar with the feel of my Glocks as you are your 1911's and I pretty well know where they tend to run to my preferences. I re-spring my range-only guns after first function check and sometimes, before their ever fired the first time. To me, tuning the springs is akin to tuning the trigger or anything else and after all, a spring swap is a 30 second job. Duty or defensive weapons are different...there, I slick up the trigger and run stock weight springs. Each to his own.
  9. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO
    Revolvers shoot anything... ask any real man. :whistling:

  10. Ceapea


    Apr 12, 2010
    I shoot PPC and some "defensive pistol" venues at my club. I have found that ANY of the lowest loads listed in the manuals, for a particular powder/bullet combo, will cycle all of my SA pistols reliably (yes, even my G34) without any mods to the gun. I have yet to have one not cycle the slide of a stock gun while meeting at least the data listed on the low end. Sorry for the redundancy, but that looked confusing even to me.
    And of course, the recoil is much lighter down on that end of the load data.

    For PPC, I drop way below the lowest listed charge for the wad-cutter applications.