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Starting Load/Max Load the same?

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by FieroCDSP, Nov 28, 2006.

  1. FieroCDSP

    FieroCDSP Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Wooster, Ohio
    After finding my wallet severely depleated by my shooting, I decided to start hand-loading for my S&W Sigma 40. After recognizing the dangers, I decided to try the lowest pressure listing in my books, which was 10.5 gr IMR 800X with CCI 500 primer, 135gr jacketed (I went TMJ), wrapped in a once fired CCI Blazer Brass case. Being even more paranoid, I only used 10gr and seated to 1.135 OAL, the max length, and a light crimp from a Lee Factory Crimper.

    I finally worked up the guts today to fire the ten test rounds I made, and I am pleasantly surprised that my hands are still with me. Not only that, but the cases show less sign of stress than the factory loads I first fired.

    Two Questions:
    1: Do they list some load's starting and never exceeds the same because you can't fit any more powder in the case, or is there another reason?
    2:The load I made is a 4.7% reduction (I think) Off the starting/Max load. Does this seem like too much to take off of it? Is it a danger?
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Nov 20, 2006
    You are probably OK with that powder, caliber,bullet, O.A.L. , but as a general rule you should not go UNDER as well as OVER the Min/Max loads listed in a reputable source.
    Some light charges in some instances have caused a "detonation" as it were. Supposedly can't be reproduced in the lab but it happens.
    You will be fine as long as you follow recomended powder wieghts and O.A.L. for a certain bullet wieght.
    10% off the max load is the usual recommended starting spot.:)
  3. JDGray

    JDGray Mentor

    Sep 16, 2005
    SW MI.
    Some powder, like you said, will fill the case, and still be safe. No need to reduce. Some faster powders, you must be carefull with, a few tenths between min and max, not any room for error. I like powder like HS6, usually gives you a wide range between min and max, low pressure with good velocity. Power pistol is a good .40 cal powder, feels hotter than it is in my 9mm, though. Reduced start loads feel like +P:D Load safe!
  4. Steve C

    Steve C Senior Member

    Jan 5, 2006
    Not all data will list a start load but instead give a maximum with a note that says to start with a 10% reduction. They figure you can do the math. Using a 10% reduction for a start load is a long time safe reloading basic. Here is the IMR Warning telling you to use a 10% reduction (bold type bottom of page). A note you overlooked, apparently you're not that paranoid.:eek: Consider yourself scolded and hopefully will learn to read all the information first.

    FWIW the IMR's maximum load for a 135gr jacketed bullet in the .40 S&W is 10.5gr of 800X as you quoted. A proper start load would have been 9.5grs. The good thing is you got by with it without problems. Typically even a load slightly above maximum would not "blow up" your pistol HOWEVER, I'd personally take it easy with the .40 cal as it has a reputation of case rupture and KB's. The .40 is a high pressure round with minimal case capacity and pressures can build quickly with small changes in charges and seating depths. If you use range pickups that may have been shot through a Glock or other .40 without a fully supported chamber, there is a higher chance of getting a KB from an overly expanded case rupturing.

    The published load data developed isn't just about maximum pressures but what loads will give consistant results and good accuracy. By skipping to a high powered load you may be missing an extreemly accurate and pleasant lower velocity load.
  5. Shoney

    Shoney Participating Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    Transplanted away from MT
    I’ve loaded the 40S&W for 8 years now, with over 10,000 hand loads down range.

    The above info is very good. I would only add that you should make sure you have a crimp that WILL NOT allow bullet setback. With ANY straight walled pistol cartridge, bullet set back will compress the powder charge, regardless of it being min or max load, and can spike pressure, sometimes to a dangerous level.

    A general way to check crimp is to take the completed cartridge and push very hard against a solid obstacle, I use my bench, to make sure the bullet will not move back. I also shoot a lot of lead, but wont discuss that here. If you follow the procedures in your loading manual religiously, you can shoot your loads with confidence. Best wishes
  6. Redneck with a 40

    Redneck with a 40 Senior Member

    Jul 26, 2006
    I've recently started loading 40 S&W ammo, I've found that 6 grains of Unique behind a 180 grain FMJ is a great target load. 6 grains is slightly over the minimum charge of 5.8, it shoots good.
  7. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Senior Elder

    Dec 24, 2002

    Were you reading the Lee manual? That is the only place I have ever seen starting and maximum loads the same.
    I think that is because they cite the powder company's maximum load (Lee doesn't run a test lab, they just compile the manufacturers' data.) and show for a starting load whatever their nearest disk or dipper measure delivers under or AT that maximum. It assumes you use their equipment which does not have the capability of adjusting to a 90% starting load.
  8. Bullet

    Bullet Participating Member

    Jan 20, 2003
    “I would only add that you should make sure you have a crimp that WILL NOT allow bullet setback. With ANY straight walled pistol cartridge, bullet set back will compress the powder charge, regardless of it being min or max load, and can spike pressure, sometimes to a dangerous level.”

    I’ll have to disagree. Taper crimping is only supposed to remove the flare left from belling the case. Nothing to due with bullet setback. Taper crimping too much is not recommended and can reduce the case tension on the bullet. Bullet setback is prevented by the case tension on the bullet. This is why I recently bought some of these –


    Also I believe that shorting OAL’s (bullet setback) will increase pressure (can be dangerous). Are you sure that the powder has to be compressed?
  9. FieroCDSP

    FieroCDSP Senior Member

    Nov 12, 2006
    Wooster, Ohio

    THanks for all the info. Yes, I am using Lee info. I'll admit I screwed up in not checking IMR's info, but I wasn't going for a max-load, and was doing a reduction anyway, albeit a little under 5%. THe 40 Sigma does not have full support on the chamber, which is why I was going for the lowest pressure listing and a reduction. I have an M&P 40 in layaway that I will use for my primary shooter after Christmas.

    The crimp I put on them seems just fine. Firing the 135 was a big difference from the 180's I usually shoot. Feels more like a 9mm than anything. Also, the 800X powder doesn't measure well, and seems a bit dirty as far as fowling goes. I'll be glad when I can switch up to a better one with the next gun.

    And I am ever warry of KB's. That's the entire reason I passed up the Glocks to begin with, not that the Sigma isn't a near copy of a Glock barrel-wise, in a cheaper package.
  10. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Senior Member

    Jan 6, 2003
    Welcome to the world of reloading.

    You did well with your first efforts at reloading your .40.

    I have found the 135gr bullets to be very accurate in the .40.

    Try Winchester Super Field powder.

    It will give very good velocities and fine accuracy at significantly lower charge weigths and being a spherical/ball powder measures very well.

    I've found a 15% reduction from maximum to work very well. Below this, you may have functioning problems.

    Understand that with the Semi Auto cartridges that the Minimum recommended load is usually where you still get reliable functioning of the firearms for which it is intended.

    Most of my .40s&w experience was/is with the Glock as I was issued one and carried it on the job for the last 10yrs of my career.

    6.5gr of WSF, under a Remington 155gr JHP was my favorite and 5.4gr WSF under a 180gr was #2.

    These gave fine accuracy and were just under factory load performance.

    I found the starting load of Universal under a 135gr Sierra JHP was a very good duplication of the Federal 135gr Personal Defense load and were 2 of the 3 most accurate loads I found.
    The above listed 155gr was the best, and one I used to win many matches I shot it in.

    For Top Velocities, try Hodgdon LONGSHOT powder. I found it to come close to the velocities claimed by Hodgdon- very fast indeed. over 1,100fps for the 180gr jhp. These are a bit warm for general shooting (recoil) but pressures were acceptable. Accuracy with minimum loads was good too.

    Good luck with your reloading efforts.

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