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Old May 11, 2005, 08:38 AM   #1
thebawana
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Reloading .40 S&W

Hello everyone,
I just registered as a member of this group so I could have a place to get some reloading questions answered. I've been reloading almost a year and I'm still coming up with questions. I'm reloading .40 S&W right now and have questions regarding case length. Since this round headspaces off of the case mouth, all my books say to never trim cases under the trim-to length. What if once fired cases are under this spec already? My books say a max case length of .850", with a trim-to length of .845". I'm coming across several once fired cases in the .841 to .843 range. Can I use these cases and see how much they stretch the next time they are fired? Or will there be reliability (or other) problems surface by using these "short" cases?

Thanks in advance for any answeres that can be provided, and I look forward to becoming an active participant in these forums.

Dave Eubank
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Old May 11, 2005, 12:06 PM   #2
Sturm
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This is fairly common with autopistol brass and not a problem. Trimming will not be a big issue because of stretching with cases that came from the factory already a bit on the short side. The only real affect will be the slightly varying amount of taper crimp due to the inconsistency of brass length. Not enough to worry about, so long as all of your bullets are held in tension from the taper crimp. Usually, what I do is wait until the cases are around .846" and trim them to .845 for consistency, sometimes I will trim to the shorter average length if the urge comes to make up match like loads. Stretching is not going to be an issue as far as your ammo being in spec for your pistols chamber and may even get discarded before trimming is required. It's a very good idea to measure your cases at each loading and you can also get a Max Cartridge Gauge from Midway that will give you a quick check of brass length and after you've seated bullets, overall cartridge length. Sometimes new brass from makers like Starline will be a little longer, but they should be in spec.
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Old May 11, 2005, 02:00 PM   #3
Johnny Guest
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Length of new brass

This has nothing to do with .40 S&W cases, but - -

The only figures I have recorded relative to the length of new, never-loaded brass pertain to .357 magnum.

The drawings and specification lists in both a Speer manual and a Hornady manual show the same data:
Max length 1.290"
Trim-to length 1.280"
My measurements of new, unplated Starline cases,
average length of 20 cases: 1.2747"
This is, what? .0053" under the trim length? Not bad.

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Old May 11, 2005, 02:13 PM   #4
G56
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Case length on pistol calibers isn't something you normally need to worry about, I've been reloading for almost 40 years and have yet to find a pistol case that needed trimming. Some people might find a need to trim to make sure the cases are all the same length, but that's about all.

I shot PPC for a number of years, shot in the Master class, during match season I was reloading and shooting 1,000+ 38 specials a month for practice and matches, I never found a need to trim cases even in that high volume situation.

Rifle cases are a completely different situation!
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Old May 11, 2005, 03:33 PM   #5
Johnny Guest
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Agreed - -

G56 - -
I was an active IPSC shooter for about three years. There was a time I was shooting around 700 .45 ACP loads per month, about 95% of 'em handloads. (On a single-stage press, at that. ) I never, not even once, trimmed a pistol case.

I won't say I never had an ammo-related malfunction, but never anything that could be even vaguely related to case length.

On the other hand, I probably trim rifle cases FAR more often than is really necessary.

Best,
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Old May 13, 2005, 08:03 AM   #6
ulflyer
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Shrinking Cases?

Awhile back I was having problems with a new 45 acp gun not firing some primers in my reloads with brass that I had been using for a long time. So, for the first time, I got out the caliper and started measuring OAL and found that most were way shorter than the max.

Never did figure what the problem was exactly, but when I changed to new brass, and softer Federal primers, the problem went away.
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Old May 13, 2005, 08:12 AM   #7
DAVID NANCARROW
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Well, I guess I get to be the oddball here-I actually found some 45 ACP cases which were above max length! Figure 1 in a thousand over a 20 year period, but I do like to have my brass the same length for crimping purposes if I am loading for max accuracy. The plinking stuff I never worry about.
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Old May 13, 2005, 04:41 PM   #8
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I've been reloading for over 40 years and never trimmed a pistol case.

I trim rifle cases as needed, but not pistol.
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Old May 14, 2005, 02:46 PM   #9
J.D.B.
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Cases lengthen not from firing, but from sizing. Check for trim after sizing.
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Old May 15, 2005, 12:45 AM   #10
Big Yac
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I was just wondering. I was going to load up some .40's but I read a warning in the reloading data about making sure the gun that would fire these particular reloads was of the type that supported the whole cartridge. Has anyone else come across this warning? I believe it was in the Alliant book, also how do I find out if this particular gun is the type that fully supports the cartridge? Its a S&W Sigma series by the way.
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Old May 15, 2005, 09:50 AM   #11
cheygriz
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Big Yak,

That warning was put in because of the overly large, sloppy chamber of trhe Glock .40 cals.

If you're reloading for a Glock .40, 10MM or .45, a good aftermarket barrel is a good idea.

For some reason, Glock cuts 9MM chambers to SAAMI spec, but the straight wall cases like .40, 10MM and .45 are cut large and sloppy.

Glock says that this increases reliability, but the BarSto and Federal barrels that I have in my Glockls are just as reliable as the Glock barrels
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Old May 17, 2005, 09:13 AM   #12
thebawana
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I want to say thank you to all those that replied to my post. I've gathered all the necessary supplies and equipment and will start reloading these next week while recuperating from some knee surgery. I've been through most of my .40 cases (I bought 1500 advertised as once fired off of e-bay, 90% are Federal) and found a few longer than the "trim to" length, but the majority are under that spec. I've decided to go ahead and trim the "longer" ones down to the "trim to" length and leave the shorter ones alone for now, and see how they do after another firing and resizing.

I'm reloading these for my new Ruger P-94, and planning on using the Lee "factory crimp die" to finish these off. The book says to use a light taper crimp, and I've talked to people who use none at all. I'd feel better with a crimp myself. What's the general consensus about crimping?

Thanks again for all your replies!!!
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Old May 17, 2005, 10:54 AM   #13
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Crimp on .40 S&W

A MAJOR consideration in handloading this cartridge: It was conceived from the start as a high pressure round. I've been told there is actually no "Plus P" version of the cartridge. One should NEVER try to "improve" on factory velocities. They are loaded as hot as they need to be, with only a bare minimum safety margin. Handloads should be limited to something under permissible max loads for practice.

Now, given that top loads are REALLY TOP LOADS, if all is normal, we can see that ANYTHING that increases pressure may endanger the shooter, bystanders, and certainly the pistol. Such an increase frequently comes with the bullet being seated too deeply or being pushed too far into the case. Cartridge overall length ("COL") should be strictly observed. Please note that bullets of different brands and of differing weights vary in length. Loading data generated by reputable companies should be scruplously observed and all precautions taken to prevent reduction of the COL. This means - -
1) Do not overexpand the resized case before bullet seating.
2) Use sufficient crimp to prevent ANY displacement of the bullet.

I suggest you make up a couple of dummy rounds, without powder or primer, carefully seating the bullets exactly to load manual length specifications. Then run these dummies through the action a few times and check for ANY bullet displacement. (If you don't have a good dial caliper for precise meaurements, you need one! ) If any movement takes place, use a stronger taper crimp. If you can't attain this, you might consider replacing your expander stem or reducing the diamerter slightly, in order to increase tension on the bullet.

I'm not trying to scare anyone away from reloading .40 S&W. I'd just like to point out that this particular cartridge demands a bit of extra attention, to keep everything safe.

Best regards
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Old May 18, 2005, 04:52 AM   #14
WESHOOT2
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proven performance

Sized case (when resizing fired cases recommend LEE 'U' undersized sizer due to considerations raised above), CCI500, Rainier 180g TCJ-FP, 6.0g Alliant Power Pistol, OAL 1.130"+/-.005".
Finish crimp using LEE Carbide Factory Crimp die, just enough to remove all trace of mouth flare.

Careful process will give you ammo capable of 2" @ 20 yds through most guns: proven.
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Old May 27, 2005, 08:37 PM   #15
gschwertley
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Reloading Questions

Bawanna:

Don't worry; even after you have been loading for over 20 years, you will still be having questions. The nice thing now is we have the internet. When I started reloading over 20 years ago, it wasn't as easy to share information.
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Old May 30, 2005, 11:17 PM   #16
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Good point, gschwertly and this is probably a time spent vs. rewards kinda' thing and I already know I spend too much time doing it. But, what can I say? I haven't been arrested for it yet! Being the nitpicker that I am, I will say my own concerns are weighted heavier toward pistol cartridges vs. Revolver, except when I have that real need to feel I did everything I could for the most accurate load possible for a Magnum Load I might want to air-mail to an animal on a hunt!
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