Educational Zone #149 – Reloading Inexpensive Frangible Bullets

A recent thread on AR15.com discussed some fairly cheap frangible bullets being sold by Midway. It sounded like a good deal on some bullets, so I placed an order for 2,000. The bullets I got were listed as:

“Remington CTF Frangible Bullets, 357 Sig/ 9mm (.355 Diameter) 100 grain Flat Nose Box of 500 (Bulk Packaged).”

I ordered 4 boxes, and with shipping, paid $97.61. That worked out to 4.8 cents per round, a great price.

I had not reloaded any yet, but my good friend Journeyman1 told me he had tried to load some bulk bullets recently and they were undersized and just “fell” into a resized 9mm case. I got to thinking about that and wondered if my bullets were the right size. One way to find out… Get out the micrometer.

I measured several and they were right at .355 inches.

But to be sure, I decided to load up a batch and make sure that they worked in my pistols.

I load bulk bullets with my Dillon 550 Reloader.

If I am just loading 50 rounds of some caliber, I use my RCBS Rockchucker.

But when I am going to load a thousand or two, I set up the Dillon.

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Here it is set up for .38 Special, with my stepson Abel hamming it up.

Here it is set up for .38 Special, with my stepson Abel hamming it up.

The press has an easily changed plate for each caliber.

Here it is set up for .38 Special.

Here it is set up for .38 Special.

Changing it to 9mm is quick and easy and the dies are not moved and stay set up for the next use.

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I have built a base of 2 X 12 lumber that allows me to sit on a bench and pull the handle and really crank them out once it is set up.

I have learned (the hard way ) not to load up a thousand rounds without first making sure that they feed and function well and shoot accurately.

I just switched out the dies from .38 Special to 9mm and set up the powder dispenser to drop the correct weight of powder and I was ready to load.

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I had some 9mm cases cleaned and polished.

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And I have bullets, and I have powder and primers.

I’m ready to go.

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I double checked the weight of a few of these bullets and they are right at 100 grains.

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The Speer #12 Manual lists a maximum load with WW-231 powder as 5.2 grains for a 100 grain bullet, and that is the load I will use.

In my experience, 9mms tend to “like” near maximum loads for good functioning and ejection of spent cases.

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A few notes about frangible bullets:

  1. They are not standard lead bullets, so they are longer than usual for a standard weight. These are 100 grain bullets and you can see them next to a 115 grain plated lead bullet in the first picture posted above. This means that the longer bullets will be seated deeper in the case.
  2. You should set your press to “bell” the cases the minimum needed to get the bullet started after powder is loaded into the case. Over-belling can result in loose bullets in the cases.
  3. Frangible bullets can be crushed if you “over-crimp” and they will break. I only crimped enough to completely remove any “bell” left from that operation.

I cranked out about 50 rounds. I noticed something that worried me a little.

The cases on the loaded rounds had a very slight “bulge” at the base of the bullets.

I hope that will not keep them from chambering as they should.

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Maximum Overall Length (OAL) is listed in the Speer Manual #14 as 1.169”.

Mine measure 1.069, so they are well within the length limits and should feed with no problem.

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Once the system is set up, it is only a matter of keeping the powder dispenser full, keeping the primer tube full of primers, and then insert an empty case, place a bullet on the third station, pull the handle and turn the indexer.

They fall out just like clockwork.

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I will test these through my Glock 17 and my CZ Shadow and compare them to my standard 115 grain Jacketed Round Nose rounds.

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Conclusions:

I was very happy to find that all of these loads cycled the pistols just fine. The accuracy was excellent and the spent brass showed no signs of excessive pressure. The cases were ejected briskly, but not excessively. And, they “compared” well to my normal load and seemed to shoot just fine.

I am now ready to pull that handle a couple of thousand times and replenish my stock of 9mm target loads.

If these bullets are ever available again, I will buy more. They are a bargain at today’s prices.