Help me work up my .40 load

This is a discussion on Help me work up my .40 load within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; I did about 200 rounds of 155gr Hornady XTPs last week. It was all that was in stock for bullets, and I did 7.6gr of ...

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Thread: Help me work up my .40 load

  1. #1
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Help me work up my .40 load

    I did about 200 rounds of 155gr Hornady XTPs last week. It was all that was in stock for bullets, and I did 7.6gr of HS-6. They shot fine.

    I bought a few thousand 180gr Hornady FMJ's from midway, and I need to work up a load for them. I understand how to work up a hunting load for a rifle, but not quite so much a load for a pistol.

    Obviously you need enough energy to cycle the action. For light practice loads, do people mostly stay with a charge light enough to reliably do that and no more?

    For defensive practice rounds, I think I would work it up to the same muzzle velocity as my Speer Gold Dots as long as I don't exceed max charge, to produce a similar shooting round. I assume that's right.

    What about for shooting IDPA?

    I guess I think there's probably a different round you could build for each purpose. I have no idea how to work up a pistol round.
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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  3. #2
    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Also, my Hornady manual says C.O.L. of 1.125. I measured one of my factory winchester rounds and it came out to about 1.118. With autoloading pistols is it a bad idea to get the bullet just barely touching the rifling like you would with a rifle cartridge as long as they still feed in the magazine?
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    My understanding for pistols is that as long as the round fits the mag, feeds, and chambers, the COL isn't a concern as long as it doesn't go below minimum COL. Longer is okay. If I'm wrong, I'm sure someone will point that out.

    I don't shoot the .40 (.45 ACP and 9mm Mak), but for range time I use milder loads, usually mid range or less on the powder load range. It saves powder, as well as wear and tear on the gun. As long as the rounds feed well and have enough kick to operate the slide, I'm happy.

    If you want to load some rounds for for SD practice, try to find load data that duplicates the "claimed" ballistics of the manufacturer.

    Working up a load for handgun rounds is much the same as rifle. Keep an eye out for primer flattening or leakage. I usually don't go to the upper ends of the powder charges as the results don't necessarily justify the extra powder and noise. With the .40 S&W's reputation for kabooms, I'd keep a close eye on the cases for bulging.

    I'm curious as to what handgun you are loading these for.
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
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    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    I am loading for a Sig P229R, so fully supported chamber.

    I ended up making 10 with 6.7 grains, 10 with 6.9, 10 with 7.1, 10 with 7.3, 5 with 7.5, and 5 with 7.6 (max load per manual).

    I started in the mid range of the chart and went up .2 until I got to max, so I'll just shoot from low to high, find the lowest that will cycle reliably and shoot well, use that as my plinking/idpa load, and then keep shooting up and reading my primers/casings until I reach the max load for my setup, and then I'll be able to use that as my "hot" load. Probably will hardly ever use the hot load, but still good info to know. I keep everything written down in a logbook right now.

    On another note, my first few boxes I made I used the auto disk and only measured twice. Measuring out all 50 loads individually on a crappy Lee safety scale is a PITA! The beam keeps getting stuck to the magnets and freezing the beam. I either need to pull out the magnets or get a new scale, cause it's crap.
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    I'm also confused now. Hornady listed the max load with a 180 gr Hornady bullet as 7.6 grains of HS-6, where Hodgdon listed the max load with a 180gr Hornady bullet as 6.9gr of HS-6. Do I trust the bullet maker or the powder maker?
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    Different data from different sources for the same caliber and/or bullet weight is not uncommon. Different companies use different barrel lengths or test barrels to form their data. Hornady uses their bullets to establish data; Hodgdon uses other brands, etc. Best bet is to use the lowest maximum and see how it works in your gun. If no evidence of over pressure shows up, you can edge up slightly, keeping the higher data maximum in mind. I tend to rely on the powder maker's data first.

    I don't care for the autodisk method. I like a drop measure that allows me to fine tune a load to <.1 grain. I use H-38 and find that once I set it to drop 3.9 grains, it drops that throughout. I check every 20 drops and never have to reset the dropper. It's ultra consistant. HS-6 would probably meter just as well.

    My scale is a RCBS 505 and it's never had a problem except for once when I bent the metal covering the pointer and it was rubbing. A slight nudge and it was back in the game. Very consistant and no "hunting" to settle down. Some prefer the electronic scales, but I have too much trouble with battery-powered tools. I don't trust them. Gravity and beam scales have worked for thousands of years.

    If you pull the magnets out, it will take forever for the pointer to settle. Not worth it. Invest in a good scale and don't look back.
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Distinguished Member Array C9H13NO3's Avatar
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    Can you hook a powder drop up to a die on the press, or do you have to do charge the casings in the loading block? They all look bench mounted to me...slow? I suppose the precision is worth it though. I was a little frustrated that I can't get the exact charge I want with the autodisk.
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    VIP Member Array hogdaddy's Avatar
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    I agrre with OldVet ; )
    I'd stay on the mid range load, As the .40 S&W is on the high end CUP's JMO Stay Safe Have Fun ; )
    H/D
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    My powder drop can be screwed into the press just like a die, etc. Seeing as I use a single-stage press, I don't and use a bench-mounted setup (a clamp works fine to hold it in place). It would be more practical on a turret press, simply rotate it over the case, raise case, drop powder and move on to bullet seating.

    I'm sure other makes can be press mounted. Mine is an old Herters brand (oldie but goodie), no longer made. I prefer bench mounted so that the constant action of the press and rotating the head doesn't affect the settling of the powder in the dropper (loose packed versus tight packed). I wouldn't say it was slower; I can fill cases as fast as I can shove them under the dropper and rotate the arm.

    The secret (?) of consistant drops is consistant rotations of the dropper arm. Might take a bit of practice, depending on the make, but easily done. The autodisk has its limitations as to setting an exact measure that you desire. It gets pretty close, but when you push the upper limits of powder, I don't want close--I want exact. Finer powders are more consistant (H-39, 296, etc.) whereas the longer spherical powders are not. I drop a couple of grains short on rifle loads and bring it up to specs with a trickler. I go much slower with rifle loads, sometimes adding 1-2 granules at a time to get it perfect. Accuracy is more important when shooting 200 yds versus 7 (or 10, 15 25). A head shot on a ground squirrel with a handloaded .223 at 300 yards makes it worth the extra effort.
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    I think I got it worked up...here's my results.

    The 6.7 grains had no problem shooting/feeding, etc. Recoil was nice and light...but they did have one problem...they didn't reliably lock back the slide, so that's a no go in my book.

    The 6.9 grains reliably fed, cycled, locked the slide back, etc. Recoil was decent.

    As I went up from there to max load (7.1, 7.3, 7.5, and the max load of 7.6) I noticed no signs of excess pressure. The cases looked good and the primers weren't flattened at all, so I'm assuming no signs of high pressure. All I noticed was more recoil the higher I went.

    There is one sign of high pressure I saw on ALL loads, including the ones that weren't strong enough to lock back the slide every time, and that was a ding from the ejector. I read somewhere that ejector marks are a sign of high pressure, but these were low/mid loads. Can I assume they are safe and that my ejector just dings up the case a bit? Maybe I need to shoot some factory ammo and see, but I think I remember seeing that on factory ammo too. Why did I not see any signs of high pressure at all on the "max load"? I don't plan on it, but if I wanted to, would it be safe to exceed that max load? Just questions I'd like to find the answer to.

    I will be sticking with the 6.9 grain load I think. It's the lowest recoil I could get while maintaining completely reliable cycling. That means cheaper to produce, and less wear on me and my Sig.
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    Most semis tend to make some sort of mark on cases, be it dented mouths, ejector marks, etc. It's a fingerprint that matches a case to a gun. Unless the case is severly damaged, no foul done. Most dents, etc. come out on resizing or firing. If it only making a mark on the base, I wouldn't be concerned.

    If the 6.9 grains works well, that sounds like one to stick with. Since you're not concerned with "killing" anything, there's no real reason to up the load. It only cause more wear and tear on gun and cases. Targets don't care how hard they're hit, they only go plink or get holed. But hey, we all like to "blast a few" every now and then!
    Retired USAF E-8. Remember: You're being watched!
    Paranoia strikes deep, into your heart it will creep. It starts when you're always afraid... "For What It's Worth" Buffalo Springfield

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    Cool. Haven't really seen any dents or dings in the cases themselves, just a little tiny divot on the headstamps, which should be just fine. Saw the same thing on some factory rounds I had fired, so I think I found my groove. Reloaded another 200 tonight. Thank you for the help and advice gents!
    -Ryan

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    I load 40s&w for indoor and outdoor range and competition shooting (steel plates) I have one manual that says OAL is 1.125 and another manual says 1.135 so what I do is load between the two and go for around 1.130.

    For powder what I found to be very consistent is IMR 700X and I run that at about 5.3 to 5.8. For primers I use CCI #500
    I also use Rainier RNFP 155 or 165gn jacketed bullets

    This has worked out great for me, this weekend I plan on taking the Chrony to the range and see just what these are producing. But as I said, they work great so far for everything I do with them.

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