Practical Pistol Loads


September 30, 2011, 05:16 PM
Looking for some load recommendations for shooting practical pistol competition. Just getting started and looking for .45 ACP and .40 S&W. Bullet and powder.

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September 30, 2011, 07:04 PM
For .40 I use Missouri Bullet Company's 170gn SWC over 4.3gn of Bullseye at an OAL of 1.125 for superb accuracy. This is in a SIG P226 (4.4" barrel).

Chris Rhines
September 30, 2011, 07:11 PM
Need to know the game you'll be playing, to give you good advice. The load I use for USPSA is quite different from the load I use for steel...


September 30, 2011, 07:25 PM
Welcome to THR and reloading! :D

Most action pistol/practical shooting competition like USPSA/IDPA will require that you shoot a load that will meet certain power factor ( depending on the division or class you are competing.

I have used Montana Gold ( jacketed bullets as my primary match bullets over the years (USPSA) and they have been very consistent in quality, weight variation and performance. I have used Rainier, Berry's, PowerBond and X-Treme plated bullets for practice and RMR Reloading ( (longdayjake on THR) sells Montana Gold and other plated bullets on his website with free shipping and he allows quantity orders down to 250 so you can try a variety of bullets to see which shoots well in your pistol. For lead bullets, I have found Missouri Bullet in 40 caliber (18 BHN) ( and 45 caliber (12 and 18 BHN) ( to be accurate and consistent. Power Valley ( sells both Berry's plated and Missouri lead bullets at just about the lowest price along with other consumable like powder/primers.

As to specific loads that meet power factor will depend on the pistol and barrel type/length used in your pistol, you'll need a chrono to measure the actual velocity out of your barrel.

For an extensive discussion on match loads, check out Brian Enos threads:
40 caliber loads -
45 caliber loads -

September 30, 2011, 07:49 PM
Just getting started and looking for .45 ACP and .40 S&W. Bullet and powder.
BTW, you'll find that action pistol/practical shooters don't always look for the "ultimate" accuracy in loads that Bullseye shooters look for as AP/practical shooters just need an "acceptable level of accuracy" loads that will produce double taps that will fit inside the "A" zone for scoring at 7-20 yards.

Depending on the bullet and powder charge combination, most commercial powders will produce this level of accuracy. Contrary to most reloaders who prefer to use Unique or slower burning powders for 40S&W, you will often find most match shooters using faster than Unique burn rate powders. Why? Faster burning powders will often produce recoil that "snaps" and return the front sight back on the target faster than slower burning powders.

I am partial to W231/HP-38 and have happily used it for match shooting in 9mm, 40S&W and 45ACP, but Titegroup is very popular with many match shooters. One thing I can point out between the two powders is that Titegroup has very narrow load range where as W231/HP-38 has much broader load range. Unless you are trying meet major power factor, most 40/45 caliber weight bullets will easily meet the required power factor even without using near max load data and even mid-to-high range W231/HP-38 load data will work well. So, I would suggest starting out with W231/HP-38 and then comparing other powders as to which you and your pistol may like better.

October 3, 2011, 09:06 PM
Thanks for all the replies. I am going to start with defensive pistol and move from there. Just trying to get started and don't know a lot about it so any help or advice is appreciated!! Anyone have any info on shooting lead in an Springfield XdM 40?

October 3, 2011, 10:21 PM
For 40S&W, 180 gr TCFP bullet has been very flexible for me in producing accurate loads at start to high range load data. In comparison, my lighter 155-165 loads are most accurate at high-near max range load data.

Someone else can comment on reloading for XDM but for my M&P40 and Glock22, 180 gr TCFP loaded to 1.125" OAL has fed and chambered well. You'll need to conduct your own max/ideal OAL test using your pistol's barrel to determine which OAL will feed/chamber reliably from the magazine.

You could try MBC 180 gr TCFP (IDP #5 ( with start-to-mid range load data of W231/HP-38 and see how you like the load. For me, at start-mid charges, the recoil is mild on par with factory 9mm loads and very accurate. Once you are comfortable with the load, you can work up to high-near max load data.

October 4, 2011, 12:33 AM
For .45ACP: Berry's 185 or 200 grain plated bullets, AA#5 powder, just about any large pistol primer, most all decent brass. Shot tons of the above through a bunch of .45's, including 1911's, Glock's, a couple of carbines, and revolvers.
A Dillon Square Deal for putting it all together makes it really easy. Polish the brass first. Crank up the stereo in the loading shop, and get to it.

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