Ok so there is only a couple things that it can be. So what is your hypothesis? Maybe why it works in your .45 was because your crimp was sufficient to overcome the variables to cause it to happen. There's only one other possibility that I can think of and that would be bad powder, which is even more unlikely than the other in my thought considering the others went off. In my nearly 40 years of loading I've seen a lot of different problems and again this only has a couple of possible causes that I can see.
To the OP, as has been said here, don't let this experience turn you off to relaoding. It can be a very rewarding hobby in itself, and at the very least you can save money, or shoot more for the same money. Try the tighter crimp and see how that goes, and go from there.
Few things come to mind and I'm going to give it to you straight with no sugar. Not being a jerk, just like to say what's on my mind.
When diagnosing some of these issues, it helps the more experienced handloaders by stating where you obtained your data from. That gives us a place to look and double check the figures. If all seems well there, we can move on down the list.
Pulling a few loading manuals and looking up a .40 S&W lead bullet weighing 180gr using Bullseye powder shows your charge of 4.1gr is pretty darn low. Like ~655fps. In one of my manuals, the Lyman, it's 0.1gr above their start charge. The pressure they list is only half of the maximum pressure of the cartridge standard. That is also pretty darn low. I do want to commend you at this point for starting at a low start charge, wishing to work up from there. A lot of new handloaders just pick a charge close to max that gets close to a normal factory load and just load away. Yikes! You did good in this regard.
Your crimp looks loose. In pistol cartridges, the purpose for crimping is to remove the bell you made when you expanded the case mouth prior to seating the bullet. You basically flatten the case against the bullet shank. It does not provide bullet tension; that is done with the plug in the sizing die when made to the proper diameter. Sizing die is where the bullet tension is set. Read that again because it will come up later in my post. The ideal crimp diameter is case mouth diameter x 2 plus the actual bullet diameter. For lead it's usually .401. Jacketed it's .400. The case mouth on the .40 S&W case averages .01, so double that and add bullet diameter. .02 plus .401 equals .421. You can give or take .001 and still be fine in most cases. That being said, your crimp will not affect powder combustion and pressure regulation to the point where it would cause issues such as you experienced. Stick a .401 bullet in a properly sized .40 S&W case and that's all the resistance the powder needs to burn properly.
The black soot on the casing means your case hasn't obturated (sealed the bore) to keep gases and pressure forward of the casing propelling the bullet down the barrel and out the muzzle. This is an indication your chamber pressure is too low, ie add more powder to increase pressure and seal the bore. When the primer is struck and ignites the powder, it burns and builds pressure until it overcomes the bullet tension of the case wall and propels the bullet forward (path of least resistance). The heat of the burn and the malleability of the casing allow the mouth to expand to seal the chamber, thus focusing the remaining energy and pressure to propel the bullet down the barrel. There are two parts of a "clean burn" of powder, though it's misstated often. The first part is that the casing is free from soot, meaning the case properly expanded to obturate (seal the bore). The second part is that the powder completely burns in the barrel and no flakes are expelled out the muzzle. When it's said that a powder burns clean, that means it accomplishes both objectives from start charge to max charge. Some "clean up" when you get heavier charges.
I also noticed your ammunition has quite a bit of bullet shank exposed. What OAL (overall length) are you seating? In that style of bullet, the TC, I seat so the bullet shank isn't visible. This gives me the best function, feeding, and also has the benefit of reducing the case capacity and increases the pressure by controlling combustion chamber size rather than adding powder. More powder is more money.
Here's an example of my .45 ACP ammunition. I load the same style bullet in .40 and 10mm the same manner of OAL (no exposed bullet shank) and they feed in everything.
Now the powder issue. If you stay with Bullseye, you'll need to increase your powder charge, plain and simple. Bullseye is a fast burning powder that can spike in pressure, so don't jump too much, maybe .2gr at a time. If it were me, I'd ditch the Bullseye and go with a better powder more suited to the task at hand. A beginner handloader has no place using fast powders. Neither does a 15yo taking driving lessons in a Lambo. Get some experience under your belt before you start messing with fast powders and heavy bullets. My recommendations are something along the lines of WST, WSF, Unique, W231 or HP38. Very forgiving powders that meter through a powder measure well enough to hold .1gr accuracy and are economical. I love WSF in the .40 S&W. Your Bullseye load is in the 17,000 psi range of pressure. You want to be about 25,000 psi for plinking loads.
I'm not a fan of the Lee crimp die, especially with lead bullets. Other issues aside, the smaller sizing ring on the die can swage lead bullets smaller than the original diameter and this will cause leading in your barrel which can be a pain to remove. Instead, I would recommend crimping with the seating die, since it's integral to the die. To set the seat and crimp in the seating die do this:
- Screw the bullet seating stem all the way down and back the die body out of the threads so it doesn't touch the bullet when the ram is raised.
- Now lower the ram slightly and turn the die body down, then raise the ram. It will start seating the bullet deeper into the case.
- Repeat this until the bullet is seated to the proper OAL. Little goes a long way. Just walk it in.
- Lower the ram and back the seating stem all the way out.
- Raise the ram and turn the die body until it stops, lower the ram, turn the die a half turn, then raise the ram to apply crimp.
- Measure crimp and adjust to spec. Once that is set, tighten the lock ring.
- Keep the ram raised and screw the seating stem down until it stops against the bullet. Now you're done.
What you are doing there is setting your OAL first, then backing out that adjustment, setting your crimp, locking that in, then resetting your OAL. What this does is seats the bullet to depth, then when it's at the very top of the die, the crimper on the inside sets the crimp. It seems like a lot of steps, but it takes longer to read it than it does to do it.
Il start by thanking everyone for all the advice given to me. And I want to assure everyone that has mentioned it that this will NOT turn me off to reloading. I feel nobody is perfect when just learning something so there's no reason for me to get discouraged. I've taken everyone's advice on the crimp issue and tried again. I screwed the top of my crimp die in more and also followed tubbys instructions which has my bullets seating further as well. Here is a picture of a round after adjustments were made. To my beginner eyes I can't look at it and see how well crimped a bullet is like glockman and everyone else but here it is tell me if this one at least looks better than the last one:
If you only had time to hear all the mistakes I have made over the years while reloading. The gun is still intact as well as all your digits so all is good. Heck years ago I actually blew up a rifle with a reload. Luckily the gun held together and didn't kill me, sent it back to Remington to be fixed and till this day it will shoot nearly 1/2 moa groups all day long. Learned from the experience and moved on. So don't get discouraged, but do go and buy yourself a set of calipers, because that round in the picture above just by eyeballing it still looks a little long. BTW I went back and looked at your original post and had to laugh a little, I think that LSWC round is long enough it was close to being a 10mm again. Keep smiling it gets better :wink:
What type of lube are you using?
The classic NRA beeswax/alox formula is a powder killer! If you leave any on the bottom of the bullet it will cause you these type of problems. Some of the harder lubes have some grease as well and you should ensure the bullet base is clear.
2.7 grs of bullseye lights off with ease in a 38 special, I would look to powder contamination or a squib load.
Good luck and do not give up!