Light Load VV 3N37 - Lovin’ it! - Kimber Forum


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Old 09-02-2018, 11:42 PM   #1
Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Washington Township, Ohio
Posts: 35
Light Load VV 3N37 - Lovin’ it!


I finally got around to shooting some trial loads, looking for a lighter recoil in 9mm. My wife wasn’t a fan of my new Kimber Micro 9 Crimson Carry. She felt it too snappy for her. I wanted to make some softer loads that might make for easier shooting, as I really like this pistol, and wanted her to like it too!

My powder choice was Vihtavuori 3N37. My thought process involved using a powder I have, that has a large standard load on 9mm.

I elected to start with 5.0gr, under a Berry’s 124gr CPRN, seating a bit lower than Vihtavuori recommendations, but well within SAAMI spec (1.120” vs 1.142”).
Winchester WSP primers, WIN 1x reloaded brass, and final processing with Lee FCD.

Other trial loads using all the same components:
[email protected]
[email protected]” (VV published starting load for 124gr Rainier RN)
[email protected]

My first shot felt good. Nice soft recoil, but did it do what I wanted? I was concerned trying an underbook load I shot one round, checked for a puka in the paper, and checked for a loaded round in the chamber.

Everything looked good, the pistol looked unburnt powder...the hole was right where I wanted it. Let me try another...also very nice. Good feel, good placement...I fired 5 more. The slide locked open on last round. far so good. I tried another full magazine, and another till all 25 rounds were fired.

Let’s try 5.2gr at 1.130”. Pretty sure they’ll fire fine based on the previous test. They did. Tried them in Kahr CM9, sweet. How about a Ruger LC9s? Oh yeah baby.

The last loads are standard from VVs load manual, 5.4gr and 5.6gr. Standard VV C.O.L. for 9mm. They were nice too, but the recoil was a bit more than I wanted for my wife to try...but my son and I didn’t find any load objectionable.

I’m ready to try a larger quantity of 5.0gr, and will trial a few C.O.L. variants to ensure that this is indeed a load I can use with my wife. I hope to one day have a chrono to use, but that’ll have to wait until I can use an outdoor range (and buy a chronograph).
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Old 01-01-2019, 09:12 AM   #2
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: SE Minnesota
Posts: 33
Never tried 3N37, heard good things.
Big fan of VV powders here. N310 is an excellent powder for light 45 auto, but my favorite powder of all time is N340. I use it for 9mm, 357 and 45 Auto.

My first handloads for my new Target II were some Berry's 147 plated RN and Hornady 125 HAP over N340, but I'm loading mine long. 1.090" for the HAP instead of the normal 1.060". I figure that will help fill up the long magazine and reach the feed ramp a little sooner. Plus my gun has a long throat, so why not.
The 147's are loaded right out to max 9mm specs.
Starting loads were not quite enough to get the new gun to cycle, but the sweet spot was just a few tenths above that for each bullet.
Super accurate, clean shooting and soft recoil for this old wimp.
Might give 3N37 a try when my N340 runs out. VV powders are strictly special order where I live. Luckily my LGS does a darn good job of locating powders for me.
Support your LGS.
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Last edited by Calliope; 01-01-2019 at 09:16 AM.
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Old 01-01-2019, 12:48 PM   #3
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Advantage over W231 or Hp38? Just wondering because those two powders can be found anywhere for a lot cheaper. For general plinking rounds its my go to for everything from 380, 9mm, 38, 357 and 45.
Loading data available for just about every bullet type known to man. Vv is lacking in data and more expensive and hard to find without paying hazmat shipping costs.

Call it Curiosity. Just wondering.
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:32 PM   #4
Join Date: Dec 2018
Location: SE Minnesota
Posts: 33
No complaints with HP-38. That would be my back up powder. I've used it in many calibers with good results.

I just prefer the VV's for the added bulk and cleaner/cooler burn, especially with lead. I never pay haz-mat, my dealer orders it for me and I just pay retail. Just have to wait a week or 2 to get it.

Compared to range fees, gas, bullets.... the cost of gunpowder is the least expensive part of the whole process. And a couple pounds lasts a long time, so I buy what I like best.
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Old 01-02-2019, 01:59 PM   #5
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Join Date: Jul 2018
Location: Gatesville, Texas
Posts: 281
As long as it cycles and is reliable, you are GOOD TO GO!
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Old 01-03-2019, 03:53 PM   #6
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Join Date: Dec 2018
Posts: 77
I don’t use VV powder and don’t know the characteristics of what you’re loading but have been a loader for more than forty years.

I do know from seeing a 45LC cartridge detonate explosively that under certain conditions with some powders that you can get a secondary or explosive detonation. The end result of a lightly loaded 45LC cartridge was splitting the cylinder into two pieces. Under loading can be just as dangerous as overloading.

Here’s a link to an article by Starline that covers a number of errors.

Usually secondary detonations occur in larger cases but I’m not sure I’d take the chance as you’re in uncharted territory.

I’ve seen too many catastrophic events from overloading 3x the charge with bullseye in a 38 Smith snubnose to an explosive detonation in a Colt 45 SA. It’s not worth the risk.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:21 AM   #7
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Join Date: May 2018
Location: Rim Country
Posts: 9
I've used 3N37 in 9mm, 38 Super, 38 Super Comp and 10mm. Burn rate charts show 3N37 to be slightly slower than the Herco, that I have used a bunch of. In my use, Herco and 3N37 seem very close, and are both very efficient in higher velocity 9mm loads. But 3N37 is a bit fast for top loads in the other calibers mentioned. I have not loaded a lot of light loads with fast powders. A couple of the reasons why are, while I've never seen or experienced it, I have read of the light load/fast powder detonations 38SuperMan mentions. And to avoid loading a double charge, I use slower powders that would overflow if I double charged a case.

In any case, I recommend use of a chronograph, rather than using perceived recoil, muzzle blast and flash, etc. to estimate what your loads are doing....ymmv
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:54 PM   #8
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Join Date: Dec 2018
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I did a little experimentation with 45acp handloads last week. I typically use HP38/231 in 45 but will load with unique on occasion.

I decided to see if I could create a really soft shooting, reliable and accurate load.

I was using Berry’s 200gr plated flat point hollow base conical bullets. Berry’s states any lead or jacketed load up to 1200 FPS as long as the load is for the same weight bullet. The short story is I researched in my loading manuals the minimum loads for a 200gr lead bullet with HP38, HS6 and Unique. I took my chronic to the range and fired 5 rounds of each through it and then shot at targets at 50ft.

I’m not going to give load specifics but found HS6 to not even cycle the slide in my Kimber Ultra. I had to eject each round by hand. My velocities ran An average of 471fps and some bullets tumbled leaving elongated holes in the target when I hit it. On average the bullets dropped about 12” by the time they reached the target. There wasn’t much more recoil than a 22LR cartridge.

HP38 gave a little better velocity and accuracy with no tumbling. This time the velocity averaged 541fps. I had No failures to eject. Again recoil was next to nothing.

The Unique was the best of all with slightly higher velocities and Averaged 579fps. Accuracy was better but not great but less drop at 50ft. Recoil was very soft. The velocity spread was greater than the other two powders ranging from 515 to 645fps.

I measured each load to exact amounts on a Dillon electronic scale and loaded on my Square Deal B press.

I still have some HS6 and HP38 loads and plan to shoot them through my S&W 625-2 tomorrow. Since this is a revolver cycling the slide is of no concern, just getting the bullet to the target with some degree of accuracy.
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