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Old 06-25-2012, 03:39 PM   #1
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il.bill .22
9mm Luger 124 grain or 115 grain?

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I recently purchased a P38 manufactured in 1962, and it is my first P1/P38 without the 'fat slide' and with no frame 'hex pin'. As stated in the sticky P.1 questions: Fat slides and hex pins I want to avoid 'hot' ammunition in this fine old pistol.

My question is this: Which of the standard / readily available 9mm Luger FMJ ammunition would be considered hotter, and thus harder on the frame and slide - the 115 grain or the 124 grain bullets?
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Old 06-25-2012, 03:53 PM   #2
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I recall reading somewhere that 124g was the original specification Georg Luger had when he developed the cartridge. Look at the table here: 919mm Parabellum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. It shows the standard pressure 124g develops less energy than the 115g, 382 lbft vice 420.

I cannot speak to the ability of your gun to safely handle either round, but the 124 appears to be "safer" than the 115.
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Old 06-25-2012, 06:26 PM   #3
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I have a 1962, Walther P38 and have had better luck with 124 grain vs the 115. Most of my hang-ups were 115 grain, but that was using Win white box.
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Old 06-25-2012, 09:02 PM   #4
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If it were not for Wikipedia, we'd be living in complete ignorance.

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Old 06-25-2012, 11:59 PM   #5
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If it were not for Wikipedia, we'd be living in complete ignorance.

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It is the knower of all things...
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Old 06-26-2012, 12:39 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGMike View Post
If it were not for Wikipedia, we'd be living in complete ignorance.

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This is what the gun boards are about - and it is a better question than the continously repeated: GP100 or S&W 686 that you see on other boards.
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Old 06-28-2012, 04:20 PM   #7
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MGMike .38
In the form in which the question was asked, it cannot be answered --not by Wikipedia or by anybody else. The answer is: It depends.

There is no "standard" 9mm Para FMJ ammo (according to whose standard? NATO's, Cor-Bon's, or the Ecuadorian Army's?), and there are many loads in both 115 and 124 grain that are "readily available", varying widely in pressure and velocity. Even the same manufacturer --such as Remington or Winchester--typically offers many choices in a given bullet weight. The propellant is sometimes tailored for shorter or longer barrels, and this will make a difference.

It's even more complicated trying to compare pressures. Are we talking about p.s.i. measured by copper crushers or by piezo? When we speak of "maximum" pressures, are we referring to "Maximum Product Average", or Maximum Permissible Individual" or "Maximum Probable Lot Mean" or "Maximum Probable Sample Mean" --or something else?

In short, bullet weight alone does not determine which load produces greater wear and tear on a given pistol. To make any valid comparison, it must be between specific loadings of known performance, best determined by reference to the manufacturer's product number and published figures or, in the case of military or police ammo, by actual weighing and chronographing. Much of the information in the linked Wikipedia entry is fragmentary, incomplete or misleading; in any event it is unreliable and damned near useless.

Bottom line: If you want something that your P.38 can easily digest, pick the economy line from a reputable American brand such as Federal, Winchester or Remington FMJ in either 115 or 124 (it won't make much difference, since the pressure is held fairly constant by reducing the propellant to compensate for the heavier bullet). These all are loaded on the gentle side and will not abuse the gun. Stay away from the cheap foreign stuff as there are too many unknowns.

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Old 06-28-2012, 04:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MGMike View Post
...

Bottom line: If you want something that your P.38 can easily digest, pick the economy line from a reputable American brand such as Federal, Winchester or Remington FMJ in either 115 or 124 (it won't make much difference, since the pressure is held fairly constant by reducing the propellant to compensate for the heavier bullet). These all are loaded on the gentle side and will not abuse the gun. Stay away from the cheap foreign stuff as there are too many unknowns.

M
Thank you for the instructive answer. In typical 'newbie' fashion, I was guilty of thinking in simple black and white, similar to a young boy asking: "Dad, what is the best car to drive?" or even "Dad, what beer do you like the best?"

Simple answers are for children, and I appreciate that with your knowledge of the subject, dealing with the inherent complexity of the issue is unavoidable. I always appreciate your expertise - just seeing that MGMike has posted on a thread is enough to make me take a look at it, even if I was not initially interested in the subject.

Your 'bottom line' answer, both with regards to using the economy line from a reputable American brand and staying away from the cheap foreign stuff, is direct and invaluable to me.

Both I and my (9/62) P38 thank you.

Last edited by il.bill; 06-28-2012 at 05:01 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 06-28-2012, 08:46 PM   #9
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FWIW...most of the guys on the P-38 Forum use Winchester White Box 115 grain for their P-38s. Just stay away from the Winchester Ranger "NATO" load. It is 124 grain and is loaded somewhere between standard and +P power.

In my limited experience, 124 grain gives better accuracy that 115 grain. Your mileage may vary.

Last edited by Deputy; 06-29-2012 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 06-28-2012, 11:37 PM   #10
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Linked over here from another post at Mike's instigation. Entirely concur that there is huge variability in the 9mm loading.
Years ago I got a 'shooter' Luger and went with the conventional wisdom that Lugers demanded hot ammo. I was experiencing feeding issues, and having been all over the place with smoking hot reloads, I tried WWB, and it ran like a top. I've since given up trying to find a handload it likes and simply feed it WWB.
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