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  that gives a good array of loads for both cast lead and
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
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).
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|
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