9MM Major Powders
These are most powders you can use for 9MM Major.  When we say you can "use" that doesn't mean all are created equal.  We left out Power Pistol, Herco, N340, 3N38 for example.  Those can make Major, too.  They can make 9MM Major for sure, but since BE86 came out, there is really no point in using them perhaps (Subjective).  Notice the theme of the picture is that these are the "slowest/slower burning" Powders that can be used for 9MM efficiently.  We also did not include 3N38 because we believe there is no point in using it for 9MM at all.  It "is" used in 9MM Major, but for other 9MM applications its simply too slow and fills the case too much.  It is really not a 9MM Powder.
Lets talk about pressure..."High pressure" 
9MM Standard Pressure, as layed out by SAAMI Specifications is 35,000 PSI.  +P Is maximum 38,500 PSI.
This does not mean your gun will "blow up" if you exceed these specifications by 1 PSI.  All this means it is a recognized "standard" for loading ammunition for 9 MM.  If we were to test pressure rounds in every different gun, we would see each gun failing due to high pressure at different points.  Nobody knows what these points are, but we have some ideas based on history of people trying different things, to "understand" guidelines of what is somewhat dangerous, dangerous or very dangerous.  It should be noted that many people are scientific in the way they approach these questions.  So some people, test very high pressure loads just to see what will happen.  What will failure first in a mechanical apparatus, is the weakest part because energy will travel in path of least resistance.  In other words, if we have a mechanical system with 1/8 inch thick hardened steel, then we have a piece of brass that is much softer metal, much less tensile strength and its only several thousands of an inch thick?  What do you think is going to have the propensity to fail first? The brass is generally "a" weak point in this system, or more notably in this order:  Primer failure (flattened, hole, blow out), Case failure (bulging, cracking, case head seperation), the slide stop or slide in a gun will crack from very high pressure or having wrong recoil spring, etc.  People on the net talk about "blowing up" or "don't blow your face off" or etc.  But has this "ever" happened? Or is this just a rumor because they read "NEVER EXCEED MAXIMUM CHARGES!!! EXTREMELY DANGEROUS" on everyone's site and are conditioned to think that its super dangerous?  We are not talking about having something "impede" the barrel, then firing a shot.  Obviously that will blow the barrel to pieces.  You cannot stick a potatoe, or have another round inside the barrel then fire a shot, you will split the barrel and destroy the gun.  So the question is? If SAAMI spec is 35,000 PSI, and I load up some ammo that is 45,000 PSI, will I hurt myself?  Our opinion, and that is all it is, from our experience, is that it causes primer blow outs, split cases, case buldge (we are talking about supported chambers only, not Glocks with standard barrels, etc).  If you watch 9 MM Major people, like we do, you will see they shoot "hundreds of thousands of rounds" (many of them, combined) in ranging pressures that are estimated to be 40,000-48,000 or so PSI. We think normal is around 44k psi.  What problems do they have?  Ask them.  Any guns ever "exploded"?  Anyone ever hurt?  They have frames cracked at the stop area from the slide hitting the stop so hard.  They have blown primers, holes in primers, cracked cases, buldged cases.  Barrels cracked?  Blow ups, as in the gun explodes and shrapnel imbeds in your face or takes out a piece of your head? Not that we are aware of.  That doesn't mean it can't or hasn't happened.   We think this, and its simple.  YOU are responsible for whatever you do.  If you "choose" to load up something more than any manufacturer recommends, then the burden is on you, and you only.  Please, don't put other people at risk around you, if you want to act stupid, please don't do it around other people.  This kind of thing can get people hurt.  Please be safe and work up for all loads.
Since we don't have a lab, and we don't want to pay a ton of money to send rounds to a lab, what is a method for evaluating high pressure?  This perhaps, is "a few" ways to do it. 
  • Use the same primer brand, and stick with it.  Uniformity is key.
  • Deprime the primer from case, and measure its diameter.  Does the primer now appear with higher diameter because the top of the primer face has expanded (flattened)?  It is by this measurement you can get an "idea" of what is higher pressure.  The larger the diameter, the more the pressure.  This is similar to the CUP pressure test.  CUP is basically a copper disk, that is crushed against chamber to see how much it compressed.   The more it was compressed, the more pressure.  This is the same logic here except for one thing.  It assumes the primer metalic composition is as consistent as pure copper like the CUP test blanks/slugs.  Its probably not, but its enough to make comparitive judgements perhaps, expecially if you evaluate say 10 at a time, and see extreme spread of measurements between various loads. 
  • Measure the expansion of the brass case at the base versus before it was fired.  The more expansion, the more pressure generally.  This also makes the assumption that even the same brand brass that weighs the same, as the same strength in the base area and is consistent piece to piece.  It is consistent "enough" to make judgements, we think.
So lets take a look at some primers before and after, and some brass before and after and get an idea of what is going on with pressure.  We can then correlate these 2 things together and make a judgement on whether this load was higher pressure than another.  This works for us, but is not done under strict controls in a lab, so if you choose to use this method, that is your choice. We choose Federal Gold Medal Primers because this is the softest primer we could find.  They flatten much more easily than CCI or Fiocchi.  I do nto know if it is design by Federal, or what, but these start to flatten and exceed .1745 diameter or unfired, when they get near the ~35k PSI area.  This is a really good design, if it was intentional.  We find that a normal primer expands/flattens to about .178 for 9MM Major loads we tried, on average.  Some are .177 and some are greater than .180.  
Federal Gold Medal Match Primer
See how the strike face (top) of the primer is flattened beyond the original diameter of the primer?  The more the diameter, the more the pressure (we think)
Fired Primer high PSI
This primer is severely flattened.  The diameter of this primer is .1805. That is much more than unfired.
Fired Primer - Pressure sign
Notice the top of the primer is "barely" flattened and round?  This primer measured .176 inches.
Fired Primer ~30k PSI
Just an estimate of the PSI of this shot.  Notice the top of the primer is not flattened?  This measures .1745 inches
Federal Gold Medal Primer
New, unfired.  This measures .1745 inches.
Federal Gold Medal Primer
New, unfired.  This measures .1745 inches.
Federal Gold Medal Primer
Fired primer from a Major load above.  Major loads expanded the primer like this (flattened) from .177 to .180 range.
Federal Gold Medal Primer
Fired primer from a NON Major load above.  As you can see, it didn't flatten the primer beyond the original edge and its same diameter as unfired primer.  This is a sign your pressure is under control perhaps. 
Normal Case diameter
New, unfired.  This case measures .386 inches.
Shot case diameter
A normal 9MM case after firing is around .389 to .3895 and that is about 1330-1350 FPS range (for powders tested here)
Shot case diameter
The case expands at the base more, the higher pressure you go.  This is starting to get too much pressure as its .002 more than most of the cases making Major.  This is a sign of higher pressure.  This case is using Lovex D036-07..which is the fastest powder used in this test we think, and not well suited for Major because to make it, the pressures are too high...
Brass & Primer Measurement
GROUP SIZE @ 10 YARDS shown on right....".4" on Blue dot means .4" @10 yards with the group.
On the left, you see a designation like ".1765".  This is the measurement of the width of the of the primer after firing.  Standard width is .1745". We call this "N" for "normal".
Then you haev a ".3895" next to that, which is the width of the brass.  Standard width of sized brass is .386".

So we can get an overall picture through these measurement of which load was higher pressure, we think.
Lovex D036.07 supports this theory because obviously, this powder "Ultimate Pistol" is WAY too fast of a powder to be used  in 9MM Major.  And the measurements, support this.
Whereas, you look at Blue Dot and IMR Blue, and AA#7, 3 of the slowest powders on this list, and it makes perfect sense they would be lowest pressure in the group we think.  ALSO notice the Blue Dot is 167 Power Factor and it is theoretically less pressure than WAC at 166 Powder Factor? 
D037.1 is a very slow pistol powder, slower perhaps than AA#7.  Why is it lower on list?  Perhaps because that load is 171 Power Factor compared to AA#7 at 165 Power Factor? Thats a BIG difference.  Thats a near ~1400 FPS load there in D037.1.
So you get the idea here. 
9MM Major Loads
9MM Major means the round has a power factor of 165 or greater.  The rounds favored for this kind of competing are mostly, or I should say, vastly 124/125 grain bullets.  A few use 115 grain bullets.  One can make Major powder factor (PF) using a variety of powders.  Shooters select different powder/bullet combinations for many different reasons.  Read below to learn some basic, "summary" information about this HOT load.  These are +P+ loads, that are high pressure.  Maybe the Blue Dot is only +P, we don't know.  This means these loads are not suitable for the wrong firearms and unsafe.  A gun must be setup properly to accept this kind of high pressure round.  A lot of testing is required, working "UP" to a desired load, to evaluate for pressure signs and reliability in different temperatures.  The 9MM Community is full of VERY serious shooters who are skilled reloaders.
Springfield XD(M) ~5" barrel, Venom 3 MOA red dot, from very secure rest.  All brass weighed almost exactly the same, was measured for case capacity, and all bullets weighed within .1 grain of each other.  All powder loads were accurate to about .04 grains. 

It should be noted that when fired back to back, you cannot fire a group using 1 powder, then switch to another powder and expect the first shot to group, it won't work most of the time (not accurate).  So for each load we cleaned barrel, then we fired a test load as noted by "First shot" reference on target.  The group is a 4 round group, and 1 test shot.  
Test condition:
Distance:  10 YARDS
Pistol:  Springfield XD(M) OSP, threaded barrel ~5".
Position:  Supported Benchrest, using Venom 3 MOA red dot, gun leveled. 
VV 3N37
7.5 grains.  Needs more.  7.7 or 7.8 would make it probably 165+ PF
Accurate #7
8.8 grains.  Barely made major. 8.9-9.0 would be more secure.
Alliant BE86
6.86 grains.  Easily made major. 6.7 grains might be barely over major.
Alliant Blue Dot
8.3 grains.  Easily made major.  This might even be only a +P Load too.
Hodgdon CFE Pistol
6.7 grains.  Barely made major. 6.8-6.9 would be more secure.
Shooters World "Ultimate Pistol" Lovex D036-07
6.6 grains.  Easily made major.  This powder not well suited for major, high pressure for sure, see study below.
Shooters World "Major Pistol" Lovex D037.1
9.7 grains.  Easily made major.  9.5 grains might be barely over major.
Hodgdon HS-6
8.0 grains.  Easily made major. 7.8 might be barely over major. So accurate!!
IMR Blue
8.9 grains.  Needs more.  9.1 grains might be barely over major. 
VV N350
6.9 grains.  Easily makes major. Accurate! 
Ramshot Silhouette
7.1 grains.  Right on cut off line for major with this load.  7.2-7.3 would be more secure. 1 hole accurate at 10 yards?  That is absurd!
Ramshot True Blue
7.6 grains.  Easily makes major.  7.5 might be ideal load for major.
Winchester 572
6.5 grains.  Barely made major with this load.  Needs 6.6-6.7 to be secure.
HI-SKOR 800X
6.9 grains.  Made major easily with this load but 7.0 grains would be better choice.
Winchester Auto Comp
6.7 grains.  Barely made major with this load.  Needs 6.8-6.9 to be secure.
9MM Major Powders
We tested 3 different bullets to see which what FPS they yielded using all specs the same except bullet.  We found that the Winchester FMJ yielded the highest velocity.  The are all pretty high power factor loads for 9MM Major.  1400 FPS is unessesary.  1350-1375 is more common.
Lets take a look at some of the brass...
All of these loads used the following:  Hornady new Brass that had case capacity near ~13.8 grains.  They all used Federal Gold Medal match primers.  All were shot out of a ~5" barrel from a Springfield XD (M) using a 3 MOA Venom red dot.  There were "zero" blown primers or abnormally bulged cases in all the below tests.  What worked for us, might not work for you, so don't do what we do.
NOTE: The bullets used were Berry's 124 grain Round Nose Hollow Base, loaded to ~1.160 overall length.  This is actually not a very long OAL for 9MM Major, we would say more do slightly more, but you run into magazine length issues and/or the barrel has to have its throat bored deep enough to accept such a long OAL without hitting the bore (drop test to see if you can do this, it should pull out after you drop it in bore, easily, zero resistance, if it resists, then you haev too much OAL..
3N37 7.46 grains
Blue rim case is low pressure ~20k psi for comparison only. Same primer.
AA#7 8.8 grains

BE86 6.86 grains

Blue Dot 8.3 grains

Hodgdon CFE Pistol 6.7 gr

Shooters World Ultimate Pistol Lovex D036-07 6.56 grains
The flattest primers of the bunch
Shooters World Major Pistol Lovex D037.1 9.7 grains

Hodgdon HS-6 8.0 Grains

IMR Blue 8.86 Grains
This load didn't make major, but this powder can make it...needs more..
VV N350 6.9 grains

Ramshot Silhouette 7.1 grains

Ramshot True Blue 7.5 grains

Winchester 572 6.5 grains

Hi-SKOR 800X 6.9 Grains

Tested case for 9 MM Major with pressure too high. Case cracked... This is fairly normal in 9MM Major if you are reusing the same case a lot of times, eventually, this is what could happen..

Winchester AutoComp 6.7 grains

9MM Major loads we tried..
On the matrix, the "7.5" under 163 Power Factor for 3N37 means we used 7.5 grains, etc.  U can see 7.5 yielded 167 PF on another load, but that one was using brass with much less capacity, thus higher pressure.  You can see this all over the matrix.  Look at Win 572 for example.  That one is using a variety of different bullets, each yielding different velocities. 

What is the point?  The point is..what yielded 163 PF for us using X combination, may yield somewhat higher or lower for you, depending on several factors, like barrel. 

Here are some of the loads we tried...we rounded to nearest 25...some overlap...but its nearly the same FPS in some cases...Some were different bullets.  Different 124 grain bullets loaded to same OAL can yield +/- 25 FPS easily.
This grid is the results in our XD(M) using a ~5" barrel.  You should not do these loads.  If you want to compete in "OPEN" class, in 9 MM Major, you should consult a professional, or experienced 9MM Major shooter, then work up with a load for safety purposes.
Of note, we KNOW that an XD(M) is not going to be competitive in Open class.  We just used it for testing because it has red dot so we can very accurately aim, and it has a ~5" barrel that is match grade.  So its accurate.  Other than that, if you want to compete in Major your going to need a higher end gun like CZ or STI,  specially made for Major. 
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