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Old November 22, 2015, 05:06 PM   #1
Join Date: December 27, 2002
Location: northern california
Posts: 16,783
Venturing into Loading .40 S&W

With the new year around the corner, I thought it might be interesting to drag out my Beretta 96 out to the local IDPA matches.

I have 180gr RMR bullets that I'll want to push at about 700fps, maybe a little more, out of a 5" barrel.

I have some BE-86 and some VN320 on hand, along with Federal primers

Looking for recommendations of loads that have worked well for other members. The Beretta is a very forgiving platform for reliable functioning with reloads.

I'm loading on a Hornady LNL AP press and will be starting out with a buddy's RCBS die set.

Does anyone have a recommendation of specific dies that have worked unusually well for them in this caliber?
I've been hearing very good things about the Redding Dual Ring Resizing die

Thanks for sharing your experiences
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Old November 22, 2015, 06:05 PM   #2
Join Date: January 2, 2009
Location: Wisconsin
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I use Hornady dies and haven't had any problems with them loading .40. I use them on the same progressive press as you do.

I've used Lee, Hornady, and RCBS dies. All produced decent ammo, but the Lee dies are so short that I had a couple that didn't work well in the LnL bushings. Couldn't get the sizer low enough to kiss the shellplate.

I buy Hornady dies because they allow for the bushings to be stored in the box, and I get 100 bullets each time I buy a set (not the American Select).

I can't help you w/ the powders you have, I don't use them. Have a pound of BE-86 but haven't done anything with it yet.
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Old November 22, 2015, 06:25 PM   #3
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For pistol, I use Lee dies.

They do a great job for me. I do not like using the seater as a crimper, I prefer this as 2 separate operations.

I've had pretty darn good luck so far with TiteGroup powder.

I only have loaded 180 FMJ's, and have no plans to load anything else at this time.
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Old November 22, 2015, 07:25 PM   #4
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Hard to beat RCBS pistol dies. Those Redding dual ring sizers sure are expensive. Redding does make good stuff though.

I haven't tried running any 180 Gr bullets in .40 that slow, so I can't help there. I don't have any experience with BE-86, so I don't know if it downloads well, but I imagine the N320 will do what you want.
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Old November 22, 2015, 07:57 PM   #5
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Nothing special about loading for the .40. Pick a bullet weight, use reliable load data, and enjoy. I have Lee and Dillon dies for .40. I prefer the Lee 4 die set. There are plenty of good bullets and powders available. I haven't used the powders you list, so can't help you there. I have had great success with a variety of powders and bullet weights. I'm currently running 140 TC and 155 LSWC bullets over Clays or Promo powder. I'm loading for Production and SSP divisions of IDPA and USPSA at a 137-142 PF. Great running and accurate loads in my Glocks and Tanfoglio.
edit: I'm loading .40 on a Dillon 650.

Last edited by shooter1; November 22, 2015 at 08:10 PM.
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Old November 22, 2015, 09:26 PM   #6
Join Date: July 26, 2015
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Loading for 700 fps, you'd be better off with a fast powder, like 231 or bullseye. BE-86 is around the Unique burn speed and downloaded that much....it will be dirty.

Universal would be another good choice, it has low charge weights to begin with.
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Old November 22, 2015, 09:41 PM   #7
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I use Lee carbide dies for my .40/10mm loading (and all other pistol calibers). I love carbide dies, lubing and un-lubing is complete drudgery, and with carbide dies I got to leave all of that behind for pistol calibers. I actually wish carbide rifle dies were a possibility, I'd buy a set for all of my calibers. As for powders, I started loading .40 with 231, and never had a reason to move on. I have some CFE Pistol waiting in the wings, but with 2 more lbs of 231 added to the stack, it will be a while before I use anything else. I load to about 900 fps, but you could probably load the heavy 180's down a bit with a fast powder like 231 and still get good function.
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Old November 23, 2015, 12:54 AM   #8
Join Date: January 3, 2014
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3.8 grs of n320 under a 180 RMR Hard Core match FP puts me in the low to mid 700 FPS range out of my CZ P09, with decent accuracy.

As far as dies go I use lee, but then I'm loading on a lee press also.
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Old November 23, 2015, 01:06 AM   #9
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I have reloaded for a .40 Glock Model 23 since 1995 with standard RCBS .40 S&W dies.

Nothing special about it.

Glock Bulge in the stock barrel is an internet myth, unless you try to make a 10mm out of it by over-loading it.

And I hear the .40 chambers are more fully supported then they were on my 2nd. Gen gun.

In short?

Any dies will do ya just fine.

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Or all your primers in a glass jar!
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Old November 23, 2015, 07:52 AM   #10
Join Date: November 8, 2009
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I started loading 40S&W coincident with the purchase of a Glock 23 ... one of those with an eee-normus unsupported chamber area. I never realized there was any problem with loading 40 S&W until I got educated by the internet. Until I learned the error of my ways I just loaded them like I would any other. Come to think of it, I still do and I've never had the first problem. In fact, the 40 is one of my favorites to load because of its simplicity. And since I load 10mm too, I can easily resist the temptation to push the cartridge's limits. But then, I'm a mid-range kind of guy.

I'm with rc. I not only have never seen the infamous "Glock bulge" on any of my stuff, I've never seen it definitively linked to any sensibly loaded rounds. The one time I did see bulges they were accompanied by quintessential over pressure indications. I moved to the other end of the firing line away from that guy.

My initial die set was Hornady. I later added a separate Lee taper crimp die. My 10mm dies set is Lyman and it could be used for 40 S&W. No problems with any of them.

Currently my powder of choice is Ramshot True Blue. I like it so much I've standardized on it for 9, 40, 45 and certain 10mm.
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Old November 23, 2015, 11:13 AM   #11
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I also load for a Glock 23 and I use RCBS carbide dies with no problems. I've set the sizing die down to about a sheet of paper width above the shell holder on my co-ax and have had zero issues with the rounds failing the "plunk test".

I also have a Redding GRx die I use for range pick up brass and it sizes the cases back to factory easily.

I have no experience with BE-86, and I haven't used VN320 for .40 so I can't help much there. But the RCBS dies will serve you well.
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Old November 23, 2015, 02:47 PM   #12
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Some interesting observations, thank you.

My only experience is with factory loaded cases I've picked up after Security/LE agencies have finished at the range and haven't retrieved all their brass. Factory once fired .40 cases are so plentiful locally, that there hasn't been a need to pickup brass of unknown origin...granted I only have a couple of thousand cases.

I've often found bulged brass, usually when I sort them after cleaning, and they'll have the characteristic rectangular Glock striker indention. I'll have to pay more attention in the future to see if it is limited to certain headstamps
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Old Yesterday, 12:22 PM   #13
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Don't do it. You'll just upset the people trying to pick up their .45 acp brass :-)
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Old Yesterday, 01:43 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by 9mmepiphany
Originally Posted by ku4hx
never seen the infamous "Glock bulge"
I've often found bulged brass, usually when I sort them after cleaning, and they'll have the characteristic rectangular Glock striker indention. I'll have to pay more attention in the future to see if it is limited to certain headstamps
"Glock bulge" or "guppy belly" expansion of 40S&W cases do happen and not limited to Glock barrels and can occur in barrels with generous chamber dimensions (By Gen3, Glock barrels have tightened up their chamber dimensions to reduce this).

Pictures below demonstrate "Glock bulge/guppy belly" expansion of case wall and these were once fired CCI Blazer Brass cases.

Close up picture with calipers to accentuate the bulge

As indicated by the primer indent, this case was not fired in a Glock chamber (lacking the Glock rectangle primer imprint)

Cases showing Glock rectangle primer imprint

Comparison pictures below show Gen3 Glock barrel with Lone Wolf 40S&W barrel. By Gen3, Glock tightened up the chamber dimensions to reduce bulging of case but the Lone Wolf barrel shows fully supported case base with tighter chamber dimensions to prevent bulging of case wall

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Last edited by bds; Yesterday at 02:00 PM.
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Old Yesterday, 02:15 PM   #15
Join Date: October 6, 2014
Posts: 1,175
I load a lot of .40 S&W. The only problems I have are with cast lead which mic .401. It take a heavy crimp to make them chamber. I guess the chamber is a bit tight. If they go in the max length case gauge they will chamber. HP bullets will mic @ .40 are no problem.
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Old Yesterday, 02:22 PM   #16
Join Date: January 10, 2010
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Originally Posted by 9mmepiphany
40 S&W ... Beretta 96 ... IDPA ... 180 gr RMR bullet about 700 fps, maybe a little more, out of a 5" barrel.

BE-86 and some VN320 on hand ... Hornady LNL AP ... RCBS die set ...

recommendation of specific dies that have worked unusually well for them in this caliber?
40S&W was my USPSA match caliber for many years as meeting major PF was relatively easy and my loads downloaded well for minor PF loads.

Montana Gold 165 gr JHP around 5.0 gr of W231/HP-38 was my reference match load but I have found 6.1 gr of Herco to be accurate and very clean burning (no black fouling inside the case wall) - http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=743416

But since you have BE-86, I would suggest you use BE-86 for your match loads as it produced even more accurate loads -

As indicated on the Herco thread, if your barrel has longer leade, key to more accurate load is to load the bullet longer than SAAMI max of 1.135". For my Gen3 Glock and Lone Wolf barrels, 1.155" is the working OAL that would reliably feed/chamber from the magazine.

While RCBS dies would work, my Lee carbide sizer will resize case base further down to smaller OD. Even for overly expanded cases, I do not need to push through resize with U-Die/FCD as resized cases all freely fall into the tighter Lone Wolf chamber.
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Old Yesterday, 05:46 PM   #17
Join Date: April 6, 2011
Location: northwest
Posts: 698
I load for my g23 now used to load for my 23 , 22 , 35 glocks and an fns40 and a sig 229
Even though I just have the g23 now I never had an issue with any of them
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Old Yesterday, 07:11 PM   #18
david bachelder
Join Date: May 24, 2012
Location: Trinity Texas
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I have used RCBS dies in my LNL for a lot of 40S&W reloads. They are a bit short though, especially the de-capping resizing die, but it is workable.

I have had equal luck with RCBS and Hornady products. They are both great companies and actually warrant their products well. I'm not knocking LEE or any other manufacturer. I just haven't used their products as much.
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Old Yesterday, 07:30 PM   #19
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Location: Kentucky
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I would highly recommend the Redding GR-X push through die. I've bought once fired brass from a couple vendors and some cases must be fired in large chambers. The Redding GR-X die sizes them back to factory the entire length of the case. The GR-X carbide die requires no lube. My cases fired in my pistol and carbine rifle size fine with a standard sizing die. I would think that the Redding GR-X die would insure that you wouldn't have a rare case that might not chamber during competition which could ruin your scores. Inspect all purchased or picked up 40 brass closely and scrap any with badly bulged case walls. You will sometimes find some "guppy belly" brass that shouldn't be reloaded.
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Old Yesterday, 10:10 PM   #20
Join Date: May 20, 2010
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700 fps with a 180g bullet is really slow. My data shows 3.0g Clays will drive my Lee 401-175-TC (drops at 180g) 766 fps and 2.7g Clays 734 fps. 2.8g Red Dot did 712 fps. Much lower than that would still cycle the slide but not lock it back on the last round half the time. The brass will also flip up maybe 6 inches and may land on your head or hit you in the forehead so wear a cap and eye protection (of course). You will want the fastest powder possible or else you'll wind up with sooty cases, blow by and lots of unburned powder.
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