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Old November 3, 2011, 10:04 PM   #1
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Need help with 40S&W Lead Bullet reloading

I need some help. I just started reloading and purchased some lead bullets in 40 S&W 180gr. TCFP that are .402 diameter from a auction on I reloaded about 25 rounds with Hodgdon HP38 at 4 and 4.2 grains. My concerns are that there is a noticable bulge in the casing with the bullet seated. The company I bought the lead bullets from said they were pre-sized. Is this bulge common with a lead bullet, or do I need to resize them down to .401 or .400? Also, there is very little load data that I can find and do you think my load will be to hot or too little?
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Old November 3, 2011, 10:42 PM   #2
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Cast lead .40 s&w

No problems with the slightly bulged case. If they chamber easily, then don't sweat it. I know nothing about the powder you are using, as i have much more experience using unique, bulls-eye, or aa #2.


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Old November 3, 2011, 10:44 PM   #3
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I would look at your seating die as that might be the reason for the bullet bulge. Have the main part screwed in too much can cause excessive bulge. If you back it out though make sure you adjust the top screw because your OAL will change. Too short OAL might be the cause also, what are you seating them to?

Really your best option for lead load data is going to be the Lyman reloading manual. I don't have one myself because but my local library has one so I make photo copies as needed. Don't have the 40 S&W pages though.

If they chamber easily, then don't sweat it.
Very true.
New gun, same ol' shot.
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Old November 3, 2011, 10:57 PM   #4
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If they chamber easily shoot them, don’t worry about a slight bulge. The data I have says 4.2 is minimum, you might have some light loads. I would not load more than 10 rounds or so till I got acceptable feeding during testing.
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Old November 3, 2011, 11:05 PM   #5
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From Lyman #49 (Keep in mind that test barrel groove diameter shows .401" and bullet diameter shows .401" also):
175 gr lead TCFP at 1.125" OAL (with lube applied, will be 180 gr):
W231 Start 4.3 gr (863 fps) 15,400 CUP - Max 5.8 gr (977 fps) 22,500 CUP.

From Hodgdon website (this is jacketed load data):
180 gr Hornady XTP W231/HP-38 (same load data) Diameter .400" OAL 1.125" Start 4.1 gr (797 fps) 23,800 PSI - Max 5.0 gr (947 fps) 32,900 PSI
I use a lot of W231/HP-38 (same powder) and shot a lot of 40S&W loads with jacketed/plated/lead bullets (Many prefer slower burning powder for 40S&W for full power loads, but W231 is my favorite target load powder for 40S&W).

If your lead bullets are sized at .402", they are slightly larger than typical .401" for lead bullet and .400" for jacketed bullet, and hence the bulge on the case neck. As others posted, I don't worry about the bulge as resized cases are reduced smaller than the diameter of the bullet and the bulge indicates you have good neck tension.

Even with slightly larger sized bullets, if they fall freely into the chamber with the barrel out of the pistol and feed/chamber reliably from the magazine when the slide is released, you are good to go. I normally load 180 gr TCFP bullets to 1.125" OAL and they feed well in multiple pistols, even into tight chambered Lone Wolf barrels in Glocks.

For me, 180 gr lead bullet and 3.8-4.1 gr produced mild recoil and accurate loads and would recommend you start your powder charge work up from there. I look for reliable case extraction/slide cycling and accurate shot groups. I did my work up to 4.4 gr and recoil was moderate and accurate.

Last edited by BDS-THR; November 3, 2011 at 11:14 PM.
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Old November 3, 2011, 11:16 PM   #6
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I would imagine dies are machined on the small side to deal with thin brass, so thick brass and a slightly over sized bullet would make a good visual bulge. They do in my revolver rounds anywho.

But like said, if they chamber you are good to go.
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Old November 4, 2011, 09:06 AM   #7
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From my experience, I load lighter weight bullets than your 180s.
HP38/231 with your listed loadings will be on the light side.
If they feed well (that takes care of the swell), don't worry about the bulge, it happens a lot.
If they cycle the action, your good.
As stated above, I agree.
Loading data in printed and accepted reference books is very limited for lead in a 40.

I run 155 gr lead with 5.6 gr of 231 (HP38) as practice stuff. I load 155 gr XTPs with TighGroup to close to the same velocities for serious work. Thus my stiff lead practice loads.

Note: Just because my loads with my components and weapons are what I consider safe with my listed data, does NOT mean that they are safe for your components and weapon. ALWAYS ERROR ON THE SIDE OF SAFETY!

Be safe and enjoy,

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Old November 4, 2011, 11:51 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the help with this. I'll give them a try and let you know how it works out.
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Old November 5, 2011, 08:07 AM   #9
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Had/have the same bulge problem loading 45acp with home cast Lee microgroove lead bullets of 92/4/4 alloy. Would have one i every 10-20 wouldn't chamber correctly. Very annoying! Bought the Lee FCD and run each round through it as a final step (it has a carbide resizing ring which removes the bulge by compressing the brass/lead and it can crimp your bullet nicely).
Since I started this, I can't remember when the last time I had a jam was. It's an 'extra' step, but for the kind of reliability I'm getting now, well worth it!
Circa 1964: Rocky to Bullwinkle:
"But that trick never works!"
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Old November 5, 2011, 08:21 AM   #10
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40 cal infor

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