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Old September 21, 2011, 07:45 PM   #1
AmmoNerd
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New and need help

Hi everyone. I am just getting started in handloading and I have a few questions. But first I would just like to say that I have been reading this forum for quite some time now and wanted to thank everyone for all the wonderfull info I have found here.

On to the questions

1. I'm loading for .40S&W run through a stoeger cougar 8040f and i'm running into some confusion regarding my load data. I'm going to be using 155gr xtp and unique. In the Lyman 49th edition
it shows 6.5gr max powder charge with an OAL of 1.125 but the Alliant powder catalog shows 8.0gr max with an OAL of 1.120. I am aware that neither of these books show data specifically for hornady xtp, lyman used win. silvertips and Alliant used gold dots all 155gr. Is it normal to have this large of a variance between manuals or is there a significant difference between these bullets to account for the difference in max charges?

2. Given this wide variance in data where should I start my load development? should i start with the lowest starting load i have listed and work up till i see pressure signs?

This is really confusing me, any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You


P.S. I have already done a chamber check on several dummy rounds (no powder, no primer) so I know I can seat well out to max OAL and still chamber properly.
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Old September 21, 2011, 08:02 PM   #2
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Welcome AmmoNerd

Welcome to the forum. I have been reloading rifle ammo for a bit over a year now. This forum is a great source of info.

What I am about to say has been garnered from this forum and talking to a lot of long time reloaders.

1. You will find variation between most of the manuals and the info the powder companies publish online. IF you are using a different bullet mfg. but the same weight, start with the lowest published rate among the several sources, test fire in your weapon and then work you way up gradually until you get a load you like without violating the highest MAX of the several manuals.

2. OAL is much this same except you have already done the important step of making a dummy round and checking to verify that it fits your magazine and will chamber in your weapon. For my rifle, I purchased the Hornady tool and have used it to measure where each of my bullets will "touch the lands" and then backing off about .020 inches.

I hope this helps clarify the confusion and if I have said anything wrong, someone with more experience will correct my errors.

Good shooting and enjoy the reloading..
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Old September 21, 2011, 08:19 PM   #3
Habaz72
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You said you checked that it fit in the chamber.. when I do this I disassemble the gun and drop the dummy bullet into the barrel and observe how it looks and take note of the sound the bullet makes as it drops in. Compare that to a factory round that has the same properties (bullet profile and weight). Look at how much of the end of the bullet is sticking out and watch how easily they both slide in.

Next I put the weapon back together and remove all live ammo from the area... I feed my dummy round(s) into the magazine and cycle the slide, slingshot that bad boy (pull back all the way and release). Observe that the slide went fully into battery. This will tell you if the round is too short or long for the magazine and the chamber. Then cycle the slide again to see if it extracts and ejects properly. Observe your dummy round around the bullet and case mouth area for any dings that weren't there before and also use the calipers to check the OAL again. You may find that the bullet engaged the rifling or got dinged on the way up the feed ramp. If the OAL is shorter after a full force cycle you have too loose of a case around the bullet.

From what I understand the OAL shouldn't go lower than published amounts because that means the bullet is seated too deeply giving less room inside the case which will increase pressures very quickly. But the only danger of going higher would be feeding problems in your weapon (not as dangerous as a kaboom).
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Old September 21, 2011, 08:51 PM   #4
mehavey
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Hornady's 6th lists 1.125" as the tested OAL, so believe that.

But as Hornady does not list Unique among its powder options (which are universally hotter than Lyman's), I went to QL. That program says Unique/6.5gr is a low/mid load pressure-wise as compared to what QL tells me about Hornady listing for Power Pistol, Clays Univ, TiteGrp, etc. It's also almost a half-grain lower than what Speer says is the starting load.

Start at Unique/6.5gr to check for slide function, and increase if/as necessary to get that reliable function. (Make sure you crimp to ~0.423 mouth diameter to ensure feeding/headspacing)



ps: Sierra says you can start at Unique/5.6gr and run up tp the low 7's)

Last edited by mehavey; September 21, 2011 at 08:57 PM.
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Old September 21, 2011, 08:57 PM   #5
AmmoNerd
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Thank you for your help

I reasoned that it would be safest to start with the lowesrt starting load i have listed (which is 5.8gr of unique) and work up from there.



mehavey. what is QL and where can i get it if possible, sound handy

Last edited by AmmoNerd; September 21, 2011 at 09:09 PM.
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Old September 21, 2011, 09:00 PM   #6
mehavey
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Now you know why:

1) I have a large "collection" of reloading manuals, software... and
2) I don't own a 40. (Its data is all over the place)
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Old September 21, 2011, 10:59 PM   #7
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I believe Hornady list the powders that meter well through their powder dispenser. I know first hand that unique does not meter well through the Hornady dispenser.
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Old September 22, 2011, 01:00 AM   #8
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I have some sorted suggestions. None of these should be taken as supreme directives, but all of them seem to be worth sharing.

You are brand new to this game and you are starting with .40 S&W and Unique. I don't like EITHER of those for a brand new handloader.

.40 S&W is the least forgiving of any modern handgun cartridge in existence, for a number of reasons.

Unique is one of the most popular powders of the last 100 years and most folks who are older than 40 will cling to the stuff to their GRAVE but here in the modern world, there are better choices. Unique does great things, but it SUCKS to use in any powder measure. It's the physical shape of the flakes... it has major problems metering a consistent charge in any known tool.

If it were my decision to make, I'd start you with .38 Special and, well, almost any other powder on Earth.

As for published data and the variances... this is something you will see often. It is mostly related to the differences in components, test units and the goals of the tester when collecting the data.

Especially if you are new at the hobby...
Especially if you are working with the FOTY cal...
Especially if you are trying to meter Unique from a volumetric measure...

...your best bet is going to be to take the lowest of all the max loads you can find specific to that bullet weight and reduce it by 10%.

Make 10 rounds at 5.8 grains.
Make 10 more at 6.1 grains.
10 more at 6.4 grains.
10 more at 6.7 grains.
Make some even warmer if you wish.

When you take your new rounds to the range, start with the 5.8 loads and shoot them. Make sure each shot puts a hole in the target. Notice if the pistol seems to feed them. See how the brass is ejected, if the pistol can eject and feed them. Closely examine the brass and look for signs of stress around the case head and the face of the primer.

Then, and only then, should you shoot the 6.1 grain loads -- and repeat the process of close examination. Notice how far the brass is chucked and maybe how the blast and felt recoil compare to the first loads.

If all of these pass muster, try the 6.7 grain loads. Same, same same.

At some point, if all the ammo you brought appears to be safe, see if you can find a trend in any of the targets. Did any of them seem to offer a tighter group? Is there a certain "feel" or velocity you are attempting to attain? Ask yourself what your goals are and if you can reach them without getting to ANYONE'S max load. Not that you shouldn't approach a max load, just have a reason to do it and have a process to get there.

And do a LOT of checking of your powder drops if you are going to be metering Unique. Hodgdon Universal Clays does a pretty darn good job of being a more modern equivalent of Unique, and it meters much better. It also has the Hodgdon online reloading data center behind it, which is LIGHT YEARS better than what Alliant offers in the form of "load data" from their online "resource."

(I love Alliant powder... I hate their web resource)

In .40 cal? I use Power Pistol.
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Old September 22, 2011, 05:52 AM   #9
mehavey
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[Concern]
Quote:
Especially if you are trying to meter Unique from a volumetric measure...
Agree. Flake Unique would not throw "reliably" from such measures. (Although I'm not sure that would cause Hornady not to list it. Anybody actually know?) If you do use/weigh it, Unique/6.0 - 6.5 grains seems to be a well-established mid load.

Quote:
Hodgdon Universal Clays does a pretty darn good job of being a more modern equivalent of Unique, and it meters much better.
Agree again. Just make sure you get that exact powder: Universal Clays. [ Not "Clays," nor "International Clays" ]

See here to get a visual: http://hodgdon.com/shotpist.html
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Old September 22, 2011, 09:37 AM   #10
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`Speaking totally off the top of my head here, so someone who actually knows something chime in here.
Quote:
.40 S&W is the least forgiving of any modern handgun cartridge in existence, for a number of reasons.
That statement struck me--not because it might not be true--but because it has become an accepted catechism: Beware reloading for the 40S&W as you would petting a Siamese cat. Bad things happen.

Then I thought about it a bit more. Why?

The 40S&W is not much more than a 9mm scaled near proportionally up to 10mm. Both use short/efficient cases, both operate at 35,000lb pressure standards, both do require the same attention to bullet seating depth/residual powder space, and both are shot out of the same family of similar autoloading pistol designs.

Yet the 9mm is "ho-hum" whereas the 40 is "Yikes !"

The only thing I can can think of is that reloading data is all over the place, and the GAP/new reloaders tend to think of the 40 as a whomper-stomper and try to push the limits.

But the 40S&W loaded w/ similar attitude toward sensibility ought to be no different than the 9mm.

Thoughts?

Last edited by mehavey; September 22, 2011 at 01:24 PM.
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Old September 22, 2011, 11:37 AM   #11
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^^^Everyone knows that 40S&W is the mini atomic bomb which is likely to blow every time the striker touches the primer. Has nothing to do with unsupported chambers, bullet setback, stuck bullet in barrel or any of that other stuff - it's the off breed 10mm FBI wimp 40S&W caliber that's at fault.

Unique will work but check the weights often. I do like Power Pistol or VV-N340 better.

Glad to see I'm not the only person confused by the scattered info found in the manuals.
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Old September 22, 2011, 11:44 AM   #12
AmmoNerd
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thank ypu all for your help. just to be sure iv got this wpuld a good rule pf thumb be to start with the most conservative data i have and then work up while seating to the longest OAL that feeds chambers and ejects properly in my weapon.
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Old September 22, 2011, 12:18 PM   #13
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You're good to go with start low and work up. I've often found the tight groups will be somewhere in the low to mid range in my pistols, but not always.
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Old September 22, 2011, 12:43 PM   #14
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It can be argued that the .40 S&W was ill-conceived from the very start. The following are my own opinions, not to be taken as fact, and they are part of why I view the .40 S&W not as a beginning handloader's best friend.

The .40 S&W was purpose-built by Winchester at the behest of Smith & Wesson for the single purpose of squeezing a middle-sized bore in to a handgun specifically designed around the 9mm.

When the FBI found that they didn't care for the 10mm in all it's glory (for sorted reasons that shall not be the subject of this thread) they began to ask ammo companies to reduce the load and give them a 180 grain bullet at 950 FPS. S&W looked at this request and basically said, "Sheeesh, if you are going to do THAT, we can create a new round that doesn't need this tank of a weapon we built here to handle the 10mm Auto."

That tank of a weapon was a .400" bore in a .45 Auto sized barrel blank... a smaller hole in a large-sized bar of forged steel. That barrel rides in a massive .45-sized slide, mated to a large frame handgun built around the .45 Auto round.

The .40 S&W on the other hand... is a larger .400" bore driven through the smaller .355" bore of a 9mm barrel. And that larger hole through the smaller barrel is fitted to a 9mm-sized slide, with a 9mm-sized breech face and mated to a 9mm sized frame. Everything about the .40 S&W platform is designed around the concept of shoe-horning a .40 caliber hole in a 9mm sized unit. 10mm does exactly the opposite.

On top of that, (and I almost hate to accuse Glock of some treachery here...) but on top of it, Glock managed to get a hold of the dimensions and ideas of the not-yet-to-market .40 S&W round and they managed to bore out their Glock 17 and rush that sucker to market as the G22 before Smith & Wesson even managed to get their own 4006 pistol in to the hands of shooters. Now being that the lion's share of the world's handgun KABOOMS are usually thought to be early generation Glock .40 cals, you've got to ask yourself... "Hmmm, is there a problem with the Glock .40 cal design? Hmmm, could there be something to the idea that the .40 cal cartridge isn't as forgiving as, well, EVERY other commercial handgun cartridge ever built & marketed in modern times?"

It doesn't help that there exists NO extra space, no margin of safety and no wiggle room whatsoever in COAL in the round. How many past handloader-experience .40 cal KB's had so much more to do with unintended and unnoticed accidental bullet setback than possible over charges? How many have been due to out-of-battery discharge and not due to powder overcharges? How many have simply been due to poor support in the feed-ramp area of the "always feeds all the time" early Glock pistols, especially the .40 cal ones?

The problem with assessing the event AFTER it's happened is that you don't get to know for sure what the hell happened. It's my position that many of the KBs folks have experienced have come from unintended and unnoticed bullet setback in the .40 S&W where there simply is no room for it to happen without catastrophic results. That's a design "feature" in the .40 S&W round that many (most?) other handgun rounds don't share. When you mate that "feature" up with the fact that .40 cal pistols are purposely designed to be 9mm pistols in the first place, you have EVEN less metal around all the most critical areas of the event.

There are numerous pictures on the 'net showing how .40 cal Glock OEM barrels have evolved over time... Glock themselves have tried to clean up the mess they had a hand in, but you'll NEVER get them to admit it.

The .40 S&W is the only round that I've ever seen specific warnings about in powder manufacturer/distributor printed loads guides. Specific warnings about COAL and unintended setback specific warnings about case head support.


Now as I said... these are merely my opinions.
Personally, if the new-to-the-bench handloader in this thread were rolling .38 Special ammo for the first time to be launched from a .357 Magnum revolver, we wouldn't even bring up the subject of some of the real UGLY nasties that can happen with chamberings that have a reputation for some ugliness.

Take from this whatever you wish. You may even have fun calling me a conspiracy theorist. Either way, it occurs to me that the .40 S&W round is somewhat ill-conceived and not a great place for a brand new handloader to start.

Me? I've never cared for the round for any purpose. I do shoot it some. I do handload it. I have never had a problem with one of my handloads. (that may be because I know going in what I'm dealing with...) In my world, .40 S&W could cease to exist and I don't think I'd lose a wink of sleep.

Ummm... until I noticed that there are NO components .40 caliber bullets in the world, and I can't feed my 10mm pistols anymore! Then I'd jump off a cliff.
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Old September 22, 2011, 01:19 PM   #15
David Bachelder
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I reload the 40 S&W too.

Here is what I use and it came out of the Winchester Load data program.

Bullet - 180 Grain Hornady XTP or 180 grain Berry's Manuf. Flat Nose (plated)
Primer - WSP, Wincester Small Pistol or equal.
Powder - Universal at 5.4 grains
COAL = 1.125"

Powder weight is listed as High=5.9 and Low = 5.3

I simply took the averge of the two and settled on 5.4 grains. I have clocked this load at 1034fps out of my Glock 23. I have not had a problem, other than removing the legendary "Glock Bulge" afterward. The LEE factory crimp die (gutted) does a nice job of that.
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Old September 22, 2011, 05:00 PM   #16
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Sevens. While I appreciate your opinions, but I must respectfully disagree with you. I do not want this thread to turn into a caliber war. I just want to express my reasons for starting with this fickle cartridge. I am fully aware of the dangers associated with the .40. I chose this cartridge for SD/HD due to it offering the best balance of terminal ballistics, frame size, magazine capacity and cost.

My desire to start reloading was primarily motivated by the cost issue so I can get more practice per dollar spent on ammo.

I am a skilled craftsman by occupation and am reasonably confident in my dedication to the fine details (which by your statements is crucial to producing safe ammunition in this caliber)

I plan to take the approach of measure, measure, measure and when your absolutly sure its right measure again. This means weighing every charge
and checking every OAL and crimp diameter to be absolutly positive that each round is viable. I am not worried about speed I just want safe, reliable and accurate ammo to practice with that wont break the bank every time I go to the range.
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Old September 22, 2011, 07:56 PM   #17
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I have loaded 155 grain XTP bullets with 6.5 grains of Unique and CCI small pistol primers at 1.126"OAL. Shot well in my Ruger P94. I ended up using 6.0 grains of Unique to tone down the recoil.
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Old September 22, 2011, 09:01 PM   #18
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Unique Meters Just Fine For Me

I do not load 40sw with unique, my powder of preference for that caliber at this time is Power Pistol.

However I do load Unique for 357 magnum and it measures just fine through my $20.00 all plastic Lee powder measure.

As with all things reloading try for yourself, use your common sense and make up your own mind.

Best regards,
James
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Old September 22, 2011, 09:38 PM   #19
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Welcome, AmmoNerd!
I think 40 S&W is an excellent cartridge in spite of the fact that when it came out I was almost certain it would soon be a mere footnote in firearms history. I've owned a couple, reloaded for them, even shot them a fair bit. Someday I'll have another.
At the same time I have to add that Sevens is spot-on, as usual. But since you've been lurking here for some time, you should already know that, AmmoNerd. Your attention to detail will serve you well loading for the 40 S&W as it has little margin for error and the results of even the slightest carelessness can be quite dramatic.
As noted above Unique has a loyal following but other powders are simply better suited for the task at hand, Universal Clays will do anything Unique will do, cleaner and better.
I don't think anyone here wants to tell you how to do things, just trying to let you benefit from their often considerable experience. Ultimately the choice is all yours, please be careful, my friend.
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Old September 23, 2011, 02:33 AM   #20
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I think you would like the Universal powder and I have also had good luck with Accurate #5. Both of these burn clean, the Accurate along with a Berry's 180 grain HP works well in my XDM 3.8 40. I am currently working up a load using the Hodgdon HP-38 and will test it out this weekend. If I read Richard Lee's book right, his $20 powder throw will throw anything from gravel to sand and give you a perfect measure every time . I'm looking and if I can pick one up cheap i'd like to give the Lee a try, but I can tell you that the Unique does not meter well through the Hornady powder throw.
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