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Topic author: wrangler5
Subject: Favorite Mak Reloads
Posted on: 05/24/2006 6:22:55 PM

As a basic cheapskate, I reload for all of my guns as soon as I decide to keep 'em. This went for the Mak as well, and it is now my first or second most loaded cartridge (depending on whether or not I need to replenish the 9mm Luger supply for IDPA matches.) I use Lee dies and a Lee Loadmaster progressive press, and like to use the Lee factory crimp dies for all of my handgun loads. The only disadvantive I've encountered is that Lee doesn't make a standard factory crimp die for the Mak - so instead of getting one cheap from Midway you have to buy a "custom" crimp die from Lee if you want one. Adds about $20 to the overall cost of getting set up.

I reload Hornady XTP bullets to match the performance of the Hornady factory ammunition that I carry, and use those reloads for occasional practice and function confirmation. About 6.5g of Accurate #7 does it in my gun.

For the bulk of my Mak reloads, though, I use Meister 93g cast lead bullets, and load 'em down. (I'd rather shoot FMJ, but they run 10-12 cents each, while the lead bullets are under 3 cents. Sooooo . . .) I've run tests with both Accurate #2 and #5 powders, using a Mak with a 21# recoil spring. With both powders I got reliable functioning down to about 630fps, which required 2.3g of #2 or 3.8g of #5. At this power level the empty cases barely roll out the ejection port and fall a couple of feet from your shoes. Very convenient for brass recovery. Going below this velocity I would get an occasional failure to pick up the next cartridge from the magazine, and then failure to lock open after the last shot.

I actually load the plinkers to an average velocity of about 700fps, just so that the variations in my progressive press powder measure don't put out a round below the threshhold of reliability. This takes 2.4 - 2.5g of #2 or about 4.0g of #5. I don't do any formal accuracy testing with these rounds, but they do seem to group as tightly as the Wolf ammo on the closeup targets that I shoot (one large ragged hole at 5 yards,) and will hit 12 inch square steel plates every time at 50 yards if I do my part. The hits are not as authoritative as the 1000+fps Wolf or other Russian ammo using heavier bullets, but with a Pearce grip a long shooting session is a lot easier on my wrist as well as on my pocketbook.

There is a little lead residue left in the barrel, but it only takes a couple of swipes with a patch-wrapped bronze brush to put things back to mirror bright.

One incidental item - these loads are not powerful enough to fully seal the cartridge case against the chamber wall, so there is some leakage around the case. This means blackened case mouths - the cases clean up in a tumbler, but take a bit longer than cases from full power loads. A hundred rounds will leave a very fine residue everywhere inside the gun, which is easy to clean off with patches and Q-Tips, but also takes some extra time. I also end up with a thin black stripe along the top of my trigger finger where some of the gasses apparently leak out between the slide and frame. I don't feel it on my hand while shooting and it just washes off with soap, but it's one more thing to clean up.

In spite of the extra mess, I really enjoy shooting these light loads. The cases don't take much effort to run through my progressive press, so it's no strain to turn out several hundred at a session. Lots of comfortable shooting at a cost under half the cheapest commercial ammo (that I can find at the moment, at least) is satisfying, and not having to chase brass into the next county is an attraction as well.


Reply author: kempin
Replied on: 05/24/2006 11:18:06 PM

Hey Wrangler,

Glad to finally hear someone putting together target loads for the 9x18.

I originally went down that road because the factory loads were just too hot for the smaller p-64 that I have, but I'm glad I did for several reasons:

First of all, the pistols shoot well with a lighter load. I use a 95 grain plated bullet over 3.3 gr Hodgdon Universal. In my Mak with a heavy recoil spring it barely cycles the action. As you say, it is very comfortable to shoot. Besides, I have discovered that the p-64 it really a respectable pistol when you shoot it with the right load. The first time I tried this load in the p-64, I shot about a 1 inch group (5 shots) at seven yards, standing!

I don't have a progressive, though. Just a Lee classic cast press. Works out all right, though, since I don't get out shooting as often as I would like. I, too, would love to have a factory crimp die in 9x18, but on the other hand, I have yet to have a failure to feed without one in this caliber.

At any rate, 3.3. grains of Universal is about the most accurate load I've found yet for the lead bullet, and it seems to burn pretty clean. I am curious to know what powder charge you find to be the most accurate with the XTP bullet. I really haven't done any work to find the best load for that yet.

All in all, I agree with you that this caliber is a perfect argument for hand loading. Brass is plentiful and cheap, if you are willing to put in the work to trim luger brass, and it is an absolute hoot to shoot.

Thanks for posting.

God bless and straight shooting,


p.s. If you have a p-64, or know someone who does, try out one of your target loads. I would be curious to see what you think.

Reply author: wrangler5
Replied on: 05/25/2006 12:48:53 AM

quote:Originally posted by kempin
<snip> I am curious to know what powder charge you find to be the most accurate with the XTP bullet. I really haven't done any work to find the best load for that yet.


p.s. If you have a p-64, or know someone who does, try out one of your target loads. I would be curious to see what you think.

I haven't tried to work up any "accuracy" loads for the Mak. The XTPs I load are intended to duplicate the velocity of my factory ammo carry loads, so that my practice ammo should duplicate factory performance. Frankly, as far as accuracy is concerned, most of the loads I've shot through the Mak (commercial or handload) will put all shots in one large ragged hole at 5 yards and will hit the foot square steel plates at our range's 50 yard line, and that's enough accuracy for me.

I've only had one experience with a P64, and that a couple of weekends ago. I had heard about their abominable double action trigger pull and somewhat sharp recoil. Playing with the gun before shooting it I found that I was completely incapable of firing the gun double action with my index finger, although I could drop the hammer with my middle finger. I have NEVER experienced a trigger like that. Single action was just fine, as per the gun's reputation, but the double action was something else. I understand a different mainspring can fix that, but as an initial experience it was not at all pleasant. Recoil was also unpleasant - all they had to shoot was the Wolf 100 grainers. All in all, I decided I'd figure out a way to hide one of my Maks before I'd carry a P64.

Reply author: ulflyer
Replied on: 05/25/2006 06:10:21 AM

Wrangler5: where do you get the Meister lead bullets?

Reply author: wrangler5
Replied on: 05/25/2006 07:39:14 AM

quote:Originally posted by ulflyer

Wrangler5: where do you get the Meister lead bullets?

All of mine have come from Midway.

Reply author: North Bender
Replied on: 05/25/2006 1:06:10 PM

Great stuff.
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