Crimping 40 S&W


January 9, 2006, 07:17 PM
Iím new to reloading and to this forum. For now I only load 40 S&W. I mostly load Berry plated flat nose projectiles in Starline brass with 7.3 grains of 3N37. Due to the soft lead in the Berryís if I crimp them any more than .422 they become deformed. However, if I donít load them with at least a crimp of .420 then set back occurs. The obvious solution would be to change to a jacketed projectile, but Iím trying to save $$. I also know that there are many of you that successfully load plated projectiles. What is your suggestion? Do I go with the lighter crimp and stop obsessing about set back since these will be used for practice at the range and not be for carry, or do I use a crimp that holds them securely and puts a crease in the projectile?

The following lists the crimp followed by the OAL then successive OALís after chambering a round (no primer, no powder).

Crimp: .423
1st Chamber: 1.117
2nd Chamber: 1.107

Crimp: .422
1st Chamber: 1.122
2nd Chamber: 1.117

Crimp: .421
1st Chamber: 1.121
2nd Chamber: 1.118

Crimp: .420
1st Chamber: 1.126
2nd Chamber: 1.126

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January 9, 2006, 07:44 PM
Reload and shoot several semi-autos, including 40 S&W, and I have found that if you pay attention to the COL and use a good taper crimp die, then your ok. Set the crimp at about 1/8th to 3/16th inch. The plated bullets by Ranier work just fine for me.

January 9, 2006, 08:04 PM
I load all my Raniers in .40 to .422 crimp.

I wouldn't worry unless you are pushing max for your powder. If you want a bit of extra insurance just load the rounds long (mag length) and/or use a powder not particularly sensitive to setback (like Titegroup).

January 9, 2006, 08:05 PM
P.S. A lee Factory Crimp Die may hold crimp tighter and may be a viable option.

January 10, 2006, 01:01 AM
Accuracy will suffer with a hard crimp, especially on a plated bullet, not to mention it does little or nothing for prevention of setback and especially so with a jacketed bullet. Your numbers are showing that the case is digging into the bullet, something that won't happen with a jacketed bullet. Keep that in mind when you load jacketed bullets.

Pull one of the bullets you loaded with a .420 crimp, it will be obvious that it isn't the right path.

If you want to ELIMINATE setback get an EGW undersize die, it sizes the case a little smaller and increases case tension by a lot.

With a .422" crimp and an EGW die there will be NO setback on 4 chamberings and accuracy will be as good as it can be with the load you have selected. Velocities are also more consistant.

A rare occasion, but I respectfully disagree with the potential benefit of the FCD mentioned by Lycanthrope. The FCD will either do nothing for prevention of setback and it might actually lower resistance to setback.

Proper prevention of setback is done in the sizing die and the sizing die alone.

January 10, 2006, 01:13 AM
The FCD will either do nothing for prevention of setback and it might actually lower resistance to setback.

Really? Can you explain further. I also use the EGU undersize die, but I'm curious about losing pressure with the LFC die.

January 10, 2006, 09:56 AM
Lycanthrope, if the FCD irons out a bulge in the side of the case or a bullet that is seated crooked the bullet can be sized down, it can be just part of the bullet or even the whole bullet. This is a lot more evident in lead bullets that are a thousandth or two over groove diameter, but it does happen with plated and jacketed bullets too.

If the bullet is sized the lead core and copper jacket have much less elasticity than brass. They will compress under the brass when the ring passes over them and stay there, while the jacket springs back a little. The tension between the bullet and the brass is lessened.

The FCD will make junk reloads fit in the chamber and cycle with no apparent problems, it does not correct the problem in the loading that generated the need for it.

Loading with the U-die isn't exactly a walk in the park with bullets that have a sharp heel as I am sure you know, they want to seat crooked. The FCD will force them into shape and pass case gauging, but the best way to attack this problem is with a good seating die. The Redding Competition Seater die is the very best available for handgun calibers. It seats the bullets straight without damage to them, any ordinary taper crimp die works great, and the ammunition is much more accurate.

Loading major power factor 40 with the fast powders we all like doesn't leave much room at all for mistakes. The U-die is the first step and biggest step in preventing setback, the second is not disturbing the work the U-die did.

January 10, 2006, 10:58 AM
Thanks for the explanation. Makes a lot sense to me. I have noticed this with lead bullets in .45 ACP, but not the .40 (perhaps they are less evident to the eye) I've never had any problems seating with the RCBS die (I use a low setting so it doesn't crimp), but I think I'll spin and mic a few and take a closer look.

Accuracy has always been decent with the plated bullets and good enough for practical shooting, but not as good as a quality jacketed load. I wouldn't mind squeezing a bit more from them.

January 10, 2006, 03:21 PM
Glad I could help and that it made sense.

I am shooting very accurate loads for practical matches, my 40 loads shoot to about 2" at 25 yards freestyle. With me on the handle that is extremely good, the gun must go way under an inch for me to be able to hold 2 inches...

The gang around here will really tempt you sometimes, give you one spot where you can hit all or most of the targets BUT it is all partials and headshots. Having an extremely accurate gun and load makes all the difference to me. With my last gun I wouldn't even attempt a 20 yard headshot unless I had to, with this gun it is a breeze even at speed.

When it warms up enough to spend some time shooting outside I plan on shooting some 50 yard groups and working the load a little more to see if I can get the last little bit out of it. It wouldn't surprise me at all to get 2" or less at 50 yards with major loads out of this gun.

January 10, 2006, 03:50 PM
Offhand I can pull about 4" at 25 with plated, but mine will also do better than the operator. I run the narrow .090 Dawson front sight and a Tungsten Sleeved Clark barrel that, despite a relatively tight chamber feeds most everything.....

Except A Merc brass which comes through the U die looking like a belted magnum.

January 10, 2006, 04:18 PM
Gents, thanks for the excellent replies. I'm going to look for a U-dye, as I'm sure that will cure the problem. I've found re-loading to be much more detail oriented and complex than I originally expected. The challenge of finding the right combination of components and solving issues such as these has made reloading more fun than I ever expected.

January 10, 2006, 04:23 PM
HSMITH, what loads are you using to get a 2" group at 25 yards?

January 10, 2006, 04:53 PM
Get the U die from Evolution Gun Works. It starts out as a Lee die, but never mind that.

January 10, 2006, 06:05 PM
Just ordered it from EWG. I'll let you know how it goes, but then you already know what the answer will be.

January 10, 2006, 06:44 PM
JSM, I am using Tite-Group powder under a Zero 180JHP bullet. Great prices on Zero bullets at

Primer is a Winchester small pistol.

If you get the Redding CSD don't worry about .010" or so of variation in OAL with the JHP bullets. Much like match bullets for rifles the distance from the ogive of the bullet to the rifling is much more important and that is what will be consistant using this die.

January 10, 2006, 06:47 PM
LOL@amerc, that stuff is worse than garbage. I know EXACTLY what you mean about the belted magnum look, pretty funny really.

I am using a Dawson fiber too, but cut to .070" wide and a standard Bo-Mar rear. Barrel is a Nowlin bull, hard fit really tight, but it too runs great. The really good smiths make super tight guns run so well it isn't funny.

January 10, 2006, 10:11 PM
EGW will cut a fiber optic to .070, but I didn't know anyone else did. No wonder you can shoot tight if you can track a .070.

+1 for Titegroup and Zero's. I only shoot Raniers because I can get them locally for $60/1000.

January 10, 2006, 11:24 PM
EGW will cut a fiber optic to .070, but I didn't know anyone else did. No wonder you can shoot tight if you can track a .070.

+1 for Titegroup and Zero's. I only shoot Raniers because I can get them locally for $60/1000.

My sight was cut by Benny Hill when he built the gun. With the standard Bo-Mar rear it gives an honest 1/3-1/3-1/3 sight picture. Still enough notch to be easy to find the front as you move through stages and reloads etc, the fiber for flat out hosing, and real precision when you need it. Best sight picture I have ever had for sure. Came with a green fiber, too bright and can't wait for the red to get here but on a positive side if that is all I have to piddle and moan about all is well:D

I paid $71/1000 for the Zero bullets delivered to my door. Angus at has great prices and ships in the USPS flat rate boxes. His mailman must positively HATE him, but I like it!

January 10, 2006, 11:41 PM
Brother, if you think the green is bright then the red is BLAZING. I went to green simpley because red was so hot I just saw the dot and pulled. I wear yellow on the IDPA gun for bright days. You might like it.

Never pay $10/foot again:

January 11, 2006, 08:57 PM
Hmmm, shows how little experience I have with fiber..... I thought the red would tone it down some. $20 a foot with shipping:cuss:

Seeing the dot and pulling is EXACTLY what I have done on a couple stages, dropped points don't fit my game and it is costly.

Thanks for the link, I'll get a selection ordered up and try them all.

January 12, 2006, 07:05 AM
Excellent post. You got off on a tangient, but it was information I needeed.


January 18, 2006, 08:29 AM

The undersized die by Evolution Gun Works ($22) arrived yesterday. It installed easily and works like advertised. After seating and crimping (to .422)a 165 grn. Berry plated bullet and racking it five times in my hk uspc .40 the OAL went from 1.126 to 1.127. I can live with that. It definately eliminated the set back issues. I pulled the bullet and it looked as good as new. No more deformations due to a heavy crimp.

Thanks for the advice.


January 18, 2006, 09:48 AM
Scott, glad to hear that it is all sorted out. Take care, Howard.

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