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Old January 23, 2012, 02:15 PM   #1
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Reload accuracy question

I've been loading metallic for about 3 months and have always just done it like loading shotgun which I have a bit more experience with where I just stay at the bottom of pressure zones. Now I'm loading .40s&w with 165grn cast swc Aquila primers and 5.4 grns of unique. When people refer to working up a load they mean start at minimum advised shoot how many? Then move up and bit how many? Up a bit in powder so on and so forth right until you get an accurate load (for your gun?) now how much of a dofference on the paper does this working up a load actually make? The reason I'm asking is I seem to be a lot more accurate with the .22kit on my frame than with the standard slide. Also at what distance would yall advise I do this testing? And how far out could someone reasonably shoot a cast bullet consistently?

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Old January 23, 2012, 03:46 PM   #2
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Working up a load is just what it sounds like. Every firearm has a sweet spot, and working up a load is location of that spot. Where handguns are concerned I work in .2 grains on the ladder till I find what I like. Rifle is at .5 grains on the ladder. On a rifle I shoot two 5-shot groups per step and check differences. For handguns I shoot 2 full magazines and then work from there (AFTER DETERMINING EVERYTHING OPERATES CORRECTLY). Distance varies, but handgun is usually 10yds. for my testing, and rifle with jacketed is 100yds for jacketed and 50yds for cast, then I stretch out from that point.

As for how far a cast bullet can be shot, I load my .40 with a variety of cast, but they run parallel with jacketed in all respects. My cast HP loads perform better than jacketed factory loads.
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Old January 23, 2012, 04:23 PM   #3
Brian Pfleuger
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I've never found much difference in accuracy with handgun loads. Of course, most of my loading is for a Glock and a subcompact at that and I'm not a super-star pistol shooter.

"Working up" handgun loads for my purposes is only for confirming that I'm not over-pressure. I usually load 3-5 at each level.

Rifle loads, well....

Maybe I'm just lucky.

I see all these reports of load work ups where one load is shooting 2 inches and another is shooting 1 1/4 and they finally find one that shoots maybe 3/4 or 1 inch....

My own loads, I struggle to see the difference from one to the next. Different powders, different bullets.... they're all about the same. If I my gun seems to shoot around 1/2 inch, it just seems to shoot about there. Maybe 3/4 sometimes but I never see 1 1/2" groups. Factory ammo, reloads, heck, even Trail Boss "mouse fart" loads. There's hardly any difference.

For charge increments, I use Dan Newberry's suggestion of .7-1% of expected max charge. I've always intended to use his load development technique, but I haven't had the need so far.

Load work ups have always been pretty uneventful for me. I've never seen surprising good or bad accuracy at any point (or particularly different even) and I've always reached published max loads with no problems.

Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; January 23, 2012 at 07:37 PM.
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Old January 23, 2012, 05:13 PM   #4
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My experience has been kinda the same as peetza's.

If I'm making competition loads I want to see how low I can load the rounds and still have the firearm be reliable.

If I'm making practice rounds I might load them a little hotter (to simulate the recoil of a full power self defense load).

If I was hunting I would load them to the upper limits of pressure and velocity. I don't hunt.

Either way I start at the lowest possible charge and work up from there. I usually load 10 per load at .2 grain increments (.5 grain for rifle), then if that load works I load 50-100. If I get no failures in that batch then I start cranking them out.
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Old January 23, 2012, 05:17 PM   #5
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.40 is a Very hi-pressure round…..
I'm sure you have noticed by now, That there is not a lot of
latitude with the .40 SW caliber. I would stop once I had the pistol
Reliably functioning properly. I dare say with that caliber I would move in .1 incriminates.

Please be careful.

In my opinion, it is not a round for novice reloaders. JMO.
A Chronograph would be great too.

Please don't take it the wrong way, I am not trying to step on toes..
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Old January 23, 2012, 05:32 PM   #6
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I am a bit lazy when I reload for accuracy in .223 Remington for my Savage 12. Lazy as far as varying powder charges. My charge is the mid-point for either Varget (25.9) or H4895 (25.0) for 52 gr HPBT Matchking according to Sierra Edition V. Both powders deliver the same performance on a paper target with other variables equal.

Controlling correct case length, seating, headspace, neck sizing with the Lee collet die, flashhole uniformity, and brass annealing are the factors that have had a positive effect on improving accuracy. More so than varying the amount of powder.
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Old January 23, 2012, 08:18 PM   #7
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The 40 S&W is a round you don't want any setback on. Make sure you have adequate neck tension to prevent it. If you don't know how to check, please ask.
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Old January 23, 2012, 09:15 PM   #8
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I use a 2 X 4 and a bathroom scale. Center the wood over the round that is sitting on the scale and give it 30 pounds and recheck the length again. If it's shorter add more crimp or otherwise address the issue.
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Old January 23, 2012, 09:44 PM   #9
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.40 is a Very hi-pressure round…..
I'm sure you have noticed by now, That there is not a lot of
latitude with the .40 SW caliber. I would stop once I had the pistol
Wow,I sure hope no one tells any of my .40's that they're touchy, problem dangerous cartridges to load. That's the one I play with MOST.

Here's a little secret: some powders have a starting and max load that are very close together. Other powders have several full grains between. Until you have all the bugs worked out, start on the low end of a powder that has some room before max, and pay attention to the listed pressures according to load and OAL. It's really an easy cartridge that gives you plenty of latitude so long as you PAY ATTENTION.
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