Handloads: Simple, Reliable, Subsonic 9 mm Luger

posted on September 27, 2022
Subsonic 9 mm Luger

Subsonic 9 mm Luger ammunition often fetches a premium across the gun counter, despite how simple it is to make. The key is to couple heavy bullets with a powder that burns with enough intensity to cycle the action, yet not so hot that it launches the projectile into the supersonic range. My go-to combo has always been Hodgdon Titegroup under a 147-grain X-Treme copper-plated bullet. These rounds cycle just about anything that I run them through, with or without a sound suppressor installed, and are exceptionally soft on the wrists.

Subsonic 9 mm LugerUsing a copper-plated bullet in place of a copper-jacketed bullet, I am able to cut down the cost per round significantly and keep my reloading equipment (and gun) cleaner than if using hard-cast lead projectiles. Another bonus is that, by omitting the copper jacket, I greatly reduce the chance of a ricochet on steel targets. A charge of 3.1 grains of powder is all that it takes to get things flying at an average of 882 f.p.s. out of a full-size pistol and leaves you plenty of room for the marginal velocity increase that a sound suppressor might add. Ignition of Titegroup in any weather is never a concern, and I have always found Federal No. 100 small pistol primers to create consistent results, earning this load an impressive standard deviation of only 11.

This recipe lends itself nicely to mass production on a progressive press, as Titegroup meters within one-tenth of its target weight from a standard powder measure. Hornady’s custom dies are my preference for making these (or any) 9 mm Luger loads; the titanium nitride sizing die gets the job done without the need for lube, while the seating die contains a built-in taper crimp, which is better suited for cartridges that headspace on the case mouth. With these dies and a properly tuned press, you should have no problem churning out a couple hundred of these in an hour.


30 06 Springfield History And Performance 1994 American Rifleman
30 06 Springfield History And Performance 1994 American Rifleman

.30-’06 Springfield: History & Performance

The .30-’06 Springfield has reached beyond the century mark, but its popularity shows no sign of decline. It fundamentally changed how shooters and hunters look at and use rifles, and it remains one of America’s most popular big-game cartridges.

Preview: WCG Tactical Nylon AR-10/.308/M1A 20-Round Magazine Pouch

Built from highly durable 1000 denier synthetic polymer, the Tactical Nylon AR-10/.308/M1A 20-Round Magazine Pouch from Wilde Custom Gear is compatible with many of the 20-round detachable box magazines used across the broad spectrum of .308 Win.-chambered battle rifles.

Guns Of The 1936 Arab Revolt

The area of the former British Mandate of Palestine has been a scene of conflict for more than a century. One of the largest conflicts began in 1936 while under British imperial administration.

New For 2024: Ruger Diamond Anniversary SR1911

Sturm, Ruger & Co. is celebrating its 75th anniversary in 2024 by releasing several limited-edition firearms. One such model is the company's Diamond Anniversary SR1911.

Preview: Viktos Range Trainer Jersey

A great choice for a long day spent on an outdoor range, the Range Trainer Jersey from Viktos is constructed of a breathable blend of cotton and Coolmax polyester fabric.

NRA Responds To New York Trial Verdict

A jury verdict in a high-profile New York trial confirms what the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) contended all along – that it was victimized by certain former vendors and “insiders” who abused the trust placed in them by the Association.


Get the best of American Rifleman delivered to your inbox.