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Old August 30, 2012, 10:59 PM   #1
TheDutchman19
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Looking for direction

Hello

I am new to reloading and I'm hoping some of you can offer some of your experience & knowledge.

I am loading 40 S&W for target shooting. Before reloading I was shooting a cheap off the shelf Federal 180 FMJ. I have been using that as a base. My goal is to build a cheaper round with less recoil.

I am using Xtreme 155 grain plated bullets with Hodgdon Longshot. I was convinced to use a slower burning powder than originaly thought. I believe the suggestion was out of safety.

The results were lots of fowling, more muzzle flash. A little bit lighter on the recoil and maybe a little better accuracy.

In order to make improvements towards less recoil, where do I head next? I am thinking a faster burning powder? I dont love the load, but I had to start some where. Any suggestions?

Thanks
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Old August 30, 2012, 11:32 PM   #2
Adamantium
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A faster burning powder would be a good place to start. Some people like using slow burning powders for one reason or another but you are going to use more of it and it might be dirty if you are shooting light loads.

You could go slightly faster with something like Universal or AA#5 or you could go a whole lot faster with something like HP38/W231, AA#2 or Bullseye. None of them are unsafe. Screwing up by using too much powder is unsafe, but following published load data is safe if done correctly.
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Old August 31, 2012, 12:18 AM   #3
MarkDozier
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slower burning powders build higher pressures. This results in higher velocities causing the fouling.
I have had good success with HS-6, with 40 caliber and 165 grain bullet.
I also like HP-38 which is the same as W-231. I did some light loads for 38 Special and really like it.
The X-treme bullets I treat as a full jacketed bullet.

Using the data below I would suggest you do about about 10 rounds with 5.2 grains of powder, 10 rounds of 5.3 of powder and see which you like.
Just make sure your gun runs right. Once your happy with the load make a big batch.
Be sure to have the load recorded. 3.5 card, spreadsheet, just be sure to follow it expictly once you have a load you like.

load data from hodgdon
155 GR. bullet
Winchester 231 or HP-38
bullet 400"
COL 1.125"
Min load
5.0 937 22,900 PSI
Max load
6.0 1103 33,000 PSI
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Old August 31, 2012, 12:47 AM   #4
Lost Sheep
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Adamantium is right on.

Do you have a chronograph? At this point, I think you would be well advised to get one and try to estimate felt recoil with various ammunition (both factory and handloaded) at different bullet weights and velocities with different powders. You will find a WORLD of understanding and enlightenment coming your way.

Interior ballistics (what happens between primer ignition and the bullet exiting the muzzle) is a complex science which no one (not even the experts) truly completely understand (and least of all, me). So take what I am saying with a grain of salt. But this is what I understand, and anyone who can explain where I am mistaken will be sincerely welcomed to correct me.

Smokeless powders do not explode. They burn. How fast depends on the pressure they are under.

Take 10 to 15 grains of smokeless powder in a small pile on a piece of aluminum foil in a campfire pit or something non-flammable and put a match to it. You will get a flame for a second or two that will be about 12-18 inches tall. If that same powder is in a confined space, it will burn MUCH faster. Smokeless powder REQUIRES that pressure (within a narrow band of values) in order to burn at a consistent rate. In a confined space, at the wrong pressures, things can get "spikey" and destroy chambers and ruin your day.

Rate of burn is VITAL to even pressures and even pressures DEPEND on a stable rate of burn. (This is in its own paragraph because it is SO important.)

Pressure spikes can be CATASTROPHIC. Just a little scared? Good. Caution is the watchword. Being just a little scared keeps you double-checking for safety.

You go to slower powders to get more velocity with less recoil than that velocity would normally warrant with a faster powder. Burn time during the entire barrel time at optimal pressure yields the best efficiency whether measured as velocity against pressure or velocity against recoil.

To get lower absolute recoil requires less velocity. Trying to get very much less velocity with a slow powder is dangerous. The performance envelope of slow powders is very narrow. The way to go to safely get less velocity is with a faster powder. Faster powders get up to the proper pressure for consistent burning rate and then quit (presumably when the desired velocity has been reached).

Picking the powder that runs out of burn when the desired velocity is achieved is a trial-and-error business for most of us, but we have a lot of guidance from the load manuals and the burning rate charts. You can get fine tuning by charge weights, but the gross choice of velocities is by powder selection. Use your loading manuals. Extensively.

Having said that, please note that the .40 S&W is a smallish case. That means it is very high efficiency. High efficiency means you get a lot of effect from a small change in cause. That is, a small boost in charge weight produces a big effect in pressure and velocity. Put another way, the .40 is not very forgiving.

This unforgiving nature is not inherently dangerous. It just means that you have to be VERY PRECISE in what you do and to make SMALL CHANGES.

Reloading is not rocket science. But it does involve smoke and fire and things that go very fast, so caution is warranted, lest brain surgery come into play.

Don't be too put off my my scary stories. I just want you to be safe. Do stay within the load recipes and you are safe. They have been extensively tested in ballistics labs. If you do choose to go outside those guidelines, do so after heavily researching and in small increments, paying attention to overpressure signs.

Loading is a delightful avocation. Go for it. Tuning your loads for the performance you want is one of the major advantages of "rolling your own".

Well worth the effort it takes to be safe and intelligent in your quest.

Welcome to the forum and thanks for asking our advice.

Lost Sheep

Last edited by Lost Sheep; August 31, 2012 at 01:20 AM.
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Old August 31, 2012, 01:09 AM   #5
Lost Sheep
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Sure about that?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkDozier
slower burning powders build higher pressures.
Are you sure about that?

In one loading manual (Modern Reloading by Richard Lee), with the same 150 grain jacketed bullet, two powders both produce 34,000 psi, but the faster powder, Red Dot, produces 10% lower velocity (1155 fps) than the slower powder, Blue Dot (1285 fps).

I have always been of the opinion that powders of all speeds produce very close to the same pressures (commensurate with the strength of the firearms chambered for any given cartridge). Slower powders produce their pressure for a longer period of time than faster powders, which is how they yield higher velocities.

If anyone can tell me where I am wrong, I am eager to learn.

Thanks,

Lost Sheep
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Old August 31, 2012, 06:48 AM   #6
Shootest
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Quote:
I have always been of the opinion that powders of all speeds produce very close to the same pressures (commensurate with the strength of the firearms chambered for any given cartridge). Slower powders produce their pressure for a longer period of time than faster powders, which is how they yield higher velocities.

If anyone can tell me where I am wrong, I am eager to learn.

No one can tell you where are wrong, because you are simply not wrong.
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Old August 31, 2012, 07:29 AM   #7
SL1
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It is a misconception that fast powders are producing lower PEAK pressures because they produce lower velocities.

In the 40 S&W, there are some pretty heavy bullets available (mainly intended for the longer 10mm cartridge), which leave very small amounts of space for the powder when the S&W is loaded to its normal length. There have been reports of pressures getting spikey when powders that are too fast are loaded under bullets that are too heavy in this cartridge.

So, the OP seems to be headed in the right direction for recoil reduction when he chose a lighter bullet as well as faster powder. I shoot Clays (not Universal Clays) over 155 grain plated bullets for my light recoil load. It is clean and miserly at 3.9 grains per pop. However, the range from start to max load is only 0.4 grains, which requires special attention to loading processes to avoid accidental overcharges. So, I would not recommend a powder that is THAT fast to a new reloader.

The HP-38/W-231 recommendations are probably about right for a new reloader who is looking for a reduced load in this cartridge. It works fine for bullets in the 135 to 165 grain weights.

One thing the OP will need to deal with is that the same recoil does not FEEL the same to everybody. For the same momentum / "power factor" (i.e., bullet weight x muzzle velocity), some like a lighter bullet moving faster, while some like a heavier bullet moving slower. Proponents of each opinion have a tendency to try to explain their preferrences with discussions about pressures, bullet acceleration in the barrel, etc. etc. etc., with some bad advice sometimes creeping in with repsect to load data.

SL1
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Old August 31, 2012, 08:04 AM   #8
TheDutchman19
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I appreciate the advice. I have a better game plan for my next step. In hind sight, W231 / HP-38 seems to be a constant theme from load manual to load manual. My original intention was to build as good or better ammo than I was getting, for less. It would appear I also have a new hobby.

One more question. I have also noticed that the different case brands produce slightly different results. It's seems that one has a slightly thicker wall than the other, which produces a tighter crimp with my current setup. Being that I am loading on the "lighter" side, I assume it's not a big deal, but if I were loading heavy loads what then? Should readjust my crimp or am I over think it?

Thanks again for the input.
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Old August 31, 2012, 08:50 AM   #9
1stmar
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Recoil is kind of a personal thing in a handgun, some prefer a faster slide cycle with perhaps less muzzle flip, personally I prefer a slower cycle with more of a push then a snap. Lower weight, faster bullets will increase cycle time, slower, heavier bullets will increase it. This is true for powders as well. Depending on what you feel works best for you, I would experiment, there will be a noticeable difference in how the gun recoils.
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Old August 31, 2012, 08:10 PM   #10
SL1
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The difference in wall thickness of some cases can be a safety issue. In particular, Remington has been making some thin case walls, lately. There may be other brands as well.

If the case walls are too thin, some sizer dies will not make the inside of the case mouth tight enough to grip the bullet properly. (The expander plug on the next die ends-up doing nothing but flaring the case mouth.)

The potential problem is bullet set-back during feeding in an auto-loader. If the bullet gets pushed into the case when it hits the feed ramp, the decrease in powder space can jump pressures a LOT when it is fired.

So, it is important to make sure that the bullets do not push into your cases when you push their noses against the bench after you load the cartridges. I check that on each cartridge at the same time that I check that it fits my barrel or gauge.

SL1
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Old August 31, 2012, 10:16 PM   #11
Gdawgs
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I make my wimpy, low recoil reloads similar to SL1, using Clays. It's a quick, clean burning powder. It has a pretty tight charge window, so you have to pay close attention to the charge weight, but you should be doing that with every load anyway.

Lost sheep is right on the money with the pressure vs. velocity. It all goes back to calculus and the whole area under the curve thing they tell you all the time. Essentially the velocity you get equals(kind of) the area under the pressure curve. Lets say you make two loads using the same bullet but one with a fast powder, one with a slow. And lets say they both have the same peak pressure of 30,000 psi. The fast powder will quickly jump up to the peak pressure then quickly come back down. So there isn't a lot of area under the curve, therefore not much velocity. The slower powder will take a bit longer to reach peak pressure, but then it will stay up at a high pressure for quite a while before dropping down(or may not come down much at all until the bullet leaves the barrel). So you get much more area under the curve, therefore more velocity.

So why would you want to use a fast powder?? 1) you may not always want high velocity. 2) Fast powders tend to be more efficient. Yes, the slower burning powder will give you more velocity, but generally takes a lot more of a slow powder to gain that velocity increase. For example, when I reload my 460 S&W, I make my wimpy loads with 15 grains of Trail Boss. For my hot loads, I use 48 grains of Lil Gun. So over 3X the powder, but almost 1,000 fps in velocity gain(not the same bullet, but close in weight).
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Old August 31, 2012, 11:13 PM   #12
TheDutchman19
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So today, armed with more info, I made a few different sample batches. I used W231 and varied the charge weight. I compared them to my WalMart bought ammo I been using. WOW! Big difference. Night and day on the recoil. Very little fowling. A lot more muzzle flash. I will test the accuracy tomorrow once I make a bigger batch, but it seemed like I had more control.

Is muzzle flash a bad thing? Is it something I should try minimize? How do you reduce it?

I am very happy with the other results. I really appreciate everybody's time and input. It has been a big help.
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Old September 1, 2012, 05:13 AM   #13
1stmar
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Muzzle flashs really only an issue in a defensive low light situation where in theory the flash could create night blindness, making siights acquisition troublesome.

Btw I too use clays, and like it a lot
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Old September 1, 2012, 06:35 AM   #14
Shane Tuttle
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For plinking, muzzle flash isn't an issue. I get it when using Power Pistol powder. You're not going to hurt anything.

My favorite powders are HP38/Win231. It meters like a dream, fills the case fairly well, and lowers felt recoil.

I see you're using plated bullets. BE SURE to use charge data for cast bullets. If not available, 10% less charge weight from the published number of jacketed bullets you're wanting to use is a good rule of thumb.
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