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Old April 29, 2013, 09:55 AM   #1
Barneveld
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Recipees and tips for loading .40 S&W

Due to a lively gun auction recently, I am the owner of a hi-point .40 S&W. Factory ammo is expensive, and currently very hard to find. I decided to start loading my own.

I have some experience loading rifle cartridges, but never handgun. Any tips on powder types, preferred loads, bullet weights, etc.

I pan to use this mainly as a carry gun, but would like to take it handgun hunting this fall. Please no comments about what gun would be better, yardage, or anything else. I have already been put through the wringer on another part of the site.

My biggest concern is accuracy. Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old April 29, 2013, 11:23 AM   #2
rajbcpa
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It is a high pressure load. If you buy bulk once-fired cases you will likely find some cases that are "bulged". Bulged cases are cause by unsupported barrels and, the bulge is not removed with a standard sizing die. Bulged cases will not chamber.

Lee and Redding both sell push-through dies that remove the bulge.
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Old April 29, 2013, 11:58 AM   #3
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Well, it would be helpful to know what you would like to hunt, at least.

Available bullets range from 135 to over 200 grains, although anything over 180 grains is not going to leave you enough powder space to get any performance.

"This" month (the June 2013 issue), there is a good article in Handloader Magazine that includes loads with measured velocities and group sizes, if you can find a copy.

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Old April 29, 2013, 12:22 PM   #4
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I use titegroup powder and 180 gr hornady bullets. Love the powder.
It burns very clean .
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Old April 29, 2013, 12:48 PM   #5
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Re: Recipees and tips for loading .40 S&W

I use 231 or clays. Both work well
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Old April 29, 2013, 01:06 PM   #6
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I always had good luck with plated 165's and 180's and Universal.
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Old April 29, 2013, 01:26 PM   #7
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If you want performance, then you want some pistol powders that have middle-of-the-road burning rates and bullets in the 155 to 180 grain range. Power Pistol is a good choice, among several. The recomendations for faster powders like Bullseye or 231 are good for lowered recoil target loads, but not so good for SD or hunting. Clays (not Universal Clays) is much too fast for high performance, although I use it for very clean burning loads that only make IPA "minor" power factor.

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Old April 29, 2013, 01:31 PM   #8
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Use a slight taper crimp to get rid of the bell from expansion for bullet set
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Old April 29, 2013, 01:45 PM   #9
Barneveld
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Sorry for my omission earlier. I was hoping to hunt deer. Why does a slow burning powder give better performance? Also, for hunting, would I want to focus more on velocity or bullet weight?
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Old April 29, 2013, 02:11 PM   #10
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Currently using Universal Clays and 180gr LFN. I use 4.3grs for punching paper and shooting steel and 4.7grs for shooting USPSA major. I've gone as high as 5.1grs which gives me 1009FPS average. Very accurate, but the recoil in a plastic fantastic M&P is really snappy.

If I can get my hands on some load data for WST with lead bullets I'm giving that a try. Very clean with minimal smoke.

Be careful using fast powders in the .40S&W. Pressure can get away from you very easily.
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Old April 29, 2013, 02:18 PM   #11
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Great discussion so far. I plan to go over a few reloading manuals later tonight or tomorrow.
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Old April 29, 2013, 05:29 PM   #12
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I also use Titegroup and Hornady 180 gr. XTPs. I acquire fired brass from different sources and some of it is always glocked. A Lee bulge buster and FCD is a must and it works great. If you're using single stage, just be sure and look over your loading block after your done charging cases. You can tell if you have a dbl charge. Only flare enough to get the bullets started and a light crimp to close up the flare. Be safe.
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Old April 29, 2013, 05:53 PM   #13
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I like 180 gr. projectiles for .40S&W.

Depening on which brand dies you use, watch the flare/expansion/belling on these cases. I have Dillon dies for 10mm, and have never had problems with a 0.020" flare. Using Hornady dies for .40S&W, I have to use a 0.010" flare, otherwise the seating dies will leave a whole bunch of little brass shavings on the shellplate.

I like the medium rate powders like Power Pistol, Unique, AA #5, and even some slower-burning Blue Dot and Longshot for this caliber.

Be sure to size the case correctly, otherwise you may run into some issues. I use a Redding G-Rx carbide full-length sizing die on my 10mm, .40S&W, and .357SIG brass before it hits the press. The empty cases will drop cleanly and completely into a case gauge, and all of them pass the plunk test when completed.

Have fun, and post your results.
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Old April 29, 2013, 07:56 PM   #14
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I usually break it down into two classes of powder, the more economical powder used for plinking and target shooting and then the more serious powders.

For economy I like TiteGroup, WST, HP38/W231, WSF and Unique. WSF and Unique are borderline as they will deliver higher velocities yet don't take a lot of powder. Power level for these are usually 180gr at 950 fps or less from 4" tube, although Unique can go higher if needed.

For power Unique can work well, but I prefer Power Pistol and Longshot. 800x is good but meters poorly and 3N38 is awesome but it's as rare as hen's teeth. Unique and Power Pistol can get a 180gr at 1050+ from a 4" barrel, 1125-1150+ with Longshot, 800x and 3N38.


A good all around powder that meters well, is very consistent and is generally readily available in most places is Power Pistol. 135gr at 1400 fps (10gr) , 155gr at 1250 fps (9gr), 165gr at 1150 fps (8gr), 180gr at 1065 fps (7.2gr) and 200gr at 950+ fps (6.5gr), all from a 4" barrel, real world loads I've loaded and chronographed.

For deer, any weight will work as they're not hard to kill. The heavier bullets will aid in penetration, so it'd go with either a 165gr or 180gr.
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Old April 29, 2013, 08:05 PM   #15
Brian Pfleuger
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I don't think you'll beat Power Pistol for high-end loads.

Alliant's load data with 155gr Speer Gold Dot shows 1,213fps from a 4" barrel. That's 510 ft/lbs. I'd probably use the Hornady XTP instead but the GD would be fine.

Hodgdon shows 1283fps with a 4" barrel using Longshot under the 155gr XTP. Pretty impressive.
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Old April 29, 2013, 08:05 PM   #16
Dodge DeBoulet
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SauerGrapes
Currently using Universal Clays and 180gr LFN. I use 4.3grs for punching paper and shooting steel and 4.7grs for shooting USPSA major. I've gone as high as 5.1grs which gives me 1009FPS average. Very accurate, but the recoil in a plastic fantastic M&P is really snappy.

If I can get my hands on some load data for WST with lead bullets I'm giving that a try. Very clean with minimal smoke.

Be careful using fast powders in the .40S&W. Pressure can get away from you very easily.
I like 5gr of WST under a MBC 140gr IDP#7; COAL right at 1.125". Controllable and accurate in my M&P .40 FS. Also clean with minimal leading.
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Old April 30, 2013, 05:28 AM   #17
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Re: Recipees and tips for loading .40 S&W

I have been using 4.5 grains of tightgroup under a 165 grain bullet.

My Glocks do not have the "bulge issue"

Not sure what the truth is on that
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Old April 30, 2013, 07:16 AM   #18
Barneveld
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I saw one person speak about size discrepencies with using dies from different manufacturers. Will one brand of loader/dies give me more accurate and consistent results over another?
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Old April 30, 2013, 08:07 AM   #19
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Check your state laws before Deer hunting with your 40. Here in WI a handgun used for deer must shoot an expanding type bullet larger than .22, and have a barrel longer than 5.5" measured from muzzle to firing pin. The barrel length law eliminates a lot of semi-auto pistols.
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Old April 30, 2013, 08:30 AM   #20
Barneveld
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Good point about the laws. I live in Duluth, and alot of the fishing laws are odd...dealing with border waters, etc. No doubt it would be that way with hunting as well.
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Old April 30, 2013, 11:31 AM   #21
SL1
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Some states also have muzzle energy requirements for hunting deer with a handgun. Maryland requires 700 foot-pounds (and a 6" barrrel, measured only God knows how).

The .40 S&W will not make that muzzle energy level with normal barrel lengths in a pistol. The 135 grain bullets can be loaded to a little over 600 ft-lbs, but the 180s max-out down near 500 ft-lbs because they take-up so much more space inside the case that there is not so much room for powder (and thus, chemical energy to convert to muzzle energy).

If you have to go to 135 grain bullets to make your state's muzzle energy requirement with the .40S&W, then you migh have trouble cleanly killing a deer at typical hunting range. They lose energy fast with distance as well when penetrating live targets, so penetration might be lacking except at close-in, broad-side shots through the lungs.

The .40 S&W is not a cartridge that you should try to load above published max. The combination of relatively thin case walls near the head (to allow for more powder in such a short case) and the feed ramp cutouts in the pistols tends to increase the probability of case failure a lot when this cartridge is pushed too hard.

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Old April 30, 2013, 11:41 AM   #22
Barneveld
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As I am not a very..... courageous man. I will not be exceeding any published data for reloading.
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Old May 1, 2013, 10:23 AM   #23
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+1 on not going past book data on the 40 S&W round I've witnessed VERY scary things at the range with a guy that hand loaded. The EMT's were called
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Old May 2, 2013, 10:02 AM   #24
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Unsafe reloading is what it is. The .40 isn't especially susceptible to problems any more or less than any other cartridge, as a matter of fact the .40 S&W is very strong in design. The initial case design when the .40 was first introduced was weaker than it is now, but several years later the .40 S&W case was beefed up, it's plenty strong.

Guns in all calibers and models have blown up due to mishaps. Additionally published "max" is what the powder manufacturer is willing to be liable for, that doesn't mean that any more powder at all will result in problems. Quite frankly most published data is a bit conservative for that very reason. So while I firmly believe that one can go over max with certain powders (of the slower burning variety), it still needs to be done slowly.
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Old May 2, 2013, 01:12 PM   #25
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I use mainly Power Pistol and Zip with .40 S&W. 165 grain bullets seem to do best in my Sig 226, Witness match and SA XD. I've loaded XTPs, Montana gold JHP and plated bullets from Berry's, X-treme and Rainier. I'm trying out some cast lead SWCs in the Witness but need to do more before sharing results.
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