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Load Data


Reloading metallic cartridges may be extremely hazardous if not done properly. Nothing can replace experience and a good reloading guide from a reputable manufacturer of reloading components. Always reduce all minimum powder charges by 10% and "work up" a load if no signs of over-pressure are evident (bulged cases, flattened primers, etc.). Loads listed are test loads in the author's firearms, and may not be safe in any other firearms.

Sources of Load Data

Several articles have appeared in the popular literature about reloading the 9x18 Makarov cartridge. The December 1993 American Rifleman magazine carried a "Reloading the Makarov" article [1] that gives a good array of loads for both cast lead and jacketed bullets.

The latest Speer Reloading Manaul (12th edition, see References) has load data available for the 9x18 Makarov for 90 and 95 grain jacketed bullets.

Load data for the .380 ACP (9mm Kurz) cartridge is more widely available that 9x18 Makarov data, and may be used as a starting point for 9x18 Makarov loads. When in doubt, start with a reduced load and increase the powder charge only in the absence of excessive pressure signs.

9mm Parabellum data should be avoided. Firearms chambered for this cartridge are typically locked-breech, and thus are capable of withstanding higher pressures.

Reloading supply venders are often happy to send load data free of charge, since it promotes their business. Reloading press manufacturers might be another source of load data.

Under no circumstances should you use anecdotal experiences and data from unknown sources without verifying the data with reputable sources, such as a reloading manual. This includes chats in your favorite gun store, Internet messages and posts, and others boasting about their "hot" loads.

Load Data and Test Firing


Over the last few years, I have developed several loads for the 9x18 Makarov that worked rather well in an East German Makarov (as seen on the cover) and a FEG SMC- 918 pistol. I used these loads as a starting point for testing different bullet types, powder types, and powder charges.

The addition of a chronograph to my reloading and shooting equipment allowed me to gauge the already developed pet loads and improve on them. The chronograph is a Shooting Chrony Beta, which is available directly from the company or from resellers like Midway (see Vendor Contact Information).

Load Development

The first 9x18 Makarov load that I developed was a Hornady XTP bullet over 3.0 grains of Winchester 231 powder, seated to 24.0 mm cartridge overall length (COAL). This load is a bit weak, but that is how beginning loads should be. Since my East German Makarov did not cycle reliably, I increased the powder charge to a moderate 3.4 grains. I was quite afraid of an over-pressure situation, so I started with a COAL of 25.0 mm, but the cartridges did not fit into the magazine properly.

Lead and copper-washed bullets have become widely available for the 9x18 Makarov. This provides the reloader excellent economy, and presents an additional reloading challenge over jacketed bullets. Lead bullets typically require a lower powder charge because they deform to fit the barrel and thus suffer less from hot gas "blow-by." Consequently, from a safety standpoint, powder charges should always be reduced when switching to lead or copper-washed bullets.

Once the safety issue is under control, the reloader can begin to optimize a load for accuracy. Higher velocities do not always correlate to higher accuracy. Increase the powder charges from your beginning load in 0.2 or even 0.1 grain increments. You may discover a "sweet spot" for your particular firearm. This, of course, is one of the real beauties of reloading your own ammunition.

Be sure to keep a reloading journal. Resist temptation to simply scribble a few notes on scraps of paper or stickers on boxes of reloads. Buy an inexpensive steno pad or other handy bound notebook. Keep notes as you reload about component brands, load data, reloading press settings, etc. Then take the journal with you to the shooting range to record such things as accuracy, perceived recoil, misfeeds, ejection failures, dented cases, over-pressure signs, smoky discharges, and chronograph data. These notes will be extremely valuable when you reload your next batch of ammunition.

Load Data Tables

These tables are still under construction. The data represented here represents only one or two test firings of each load. In most cases, I am simply trying various powder charges and have not settled on what I consider to be a sweet spot.

I assume that the Hornady 95 gr XTP, the Sierra 95 gr JHP, and the Speer 95 gr Gold Dot HP are pretty much interchangeable in terms of powder required. However, since they are all different lengths, the seating depth may have to be adjusted. Be very careful with this since seating depth makes a big difference with respect to pressures during firing because of decrease airspace, etc. in such a short case. That is, if you must seat deeper, reduce the powder charge.

If you have a favorite powder or bullet that's avaible in .364" diameter that you think would be worth testing, e-mail me (see below).

9x18 Makarov Load Data by Powder Type-Bullet Type
WW231-LRN WW231-XTP WW231-Speer Gold Dot
WW231-Sierra FPJ WW231-Sierra JHP WW231-???
HS6-LRN HS6-XTP HS6-Speer Gold Dot
HS6-Sierra FPJ HS6-Sierra JHP HS6-LRN, 9.2x19
Unique-Speer Gold Dot Unique-XTP Unique LRN
Bullseye-plated LRN Bullseye-Sierra JHP Bullseye-Sierra FPJ

9x18 Makarov Factory Loads
CorBon CCI Blazer Norinco steel jacketed lead core

WW231 - Winchester Western 231 ball powder
HS6 - Hodgdon HS6 ball powder
Unique - Unique pistol powder
Bullseye - Bullseye pistol powder
LRN - lead round nose bullet; actually, I used National Bullet copperwashed
JHP - jacketed hollow point bullet
FPJ - flat point jacketed bullet
GD - Speer Gold Dot hollow point bullet
XTP - Hornady XTP hollow point bullet

Tony Herbst (e-mail) was kind enough to send me a neat spreadsheet with some of his favorite 9x18 M loads. Click here to pull it up. Thanks to Ed Spizzirri for converting it to HTML for me.

Dan Meadows also assembled some load data. Click here to see the data.

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