Times are tough when you can’t find .40 S&W on the shelves, yet here we are. This snappy little cartridge has always been the answer for those who want to carry 9mm-sized handguns yet need a bit more punch. Although the resurgence of 10mm Auto has nearly put this round in the grave, there are still plenty of guns out there looking to be fed. Here’s a top practice round that feels like you’re shooting something that would make liberals scream.
X-treme bullets are at heart here again because they are affordable and accurate and just plain good-looking. Shiny bullets matter because they feed better and leave less of a skid mark down your barrel. I like their 180-grain round-nose flat-point pill because it pulls the most out of the “forty short & weak” and has the same profile as a hollow point.
I found this recipe to work well in just about any case, but for the sake of this article, let’s stick with the Federal nickel-plated jobbies. This plating gets you exponentially more reloads out of each, although some might find them a little more challenging to size. Forty-cal builds a fair amount of pressure, so a little more resilience is a good thing. This is the same reason why I use CCI primers, as they have just about the hardest cup on the market.
Forty is a finicky beast, as only a handful of powders will break the 1,000 FPS mark with heavy bullets. Among my favorites is good ol’ Winchester 231 because it’s inexpensive and relatively easy to find. Furthermore, it’s one of the most versatile pistol powders on the market, and as such, you likely already have it sitting on your loading bench. If we consider the listed maximum (5.6-grains in the Lyman 50th manual), we want to carefully approach a load of 5.3 grains at the loading bench and on the range.
We start by putting everything together with a set of Hornady Series II dies. These are my go-to because they feature the proper taper crimp that holds your bullet in place without affecting headspace, eliminating an extra step. This is one of the few “shortcuts” that produces safer ammo and, in many instances, more accurate rounds. I seat to an overall length of 1.115″ and use 1/8 of a turn of crimp to keep the projectile in place under the stress of feeding and recoil. After you have everything set up, build five rounds with 5.0 grains of powder, then 5.1, 5.2, and eventually 5.3. At the range, fire each group of five in order from lightest to heaviest powder charge while inspecting fired cases for signs of pressure. It’s the simplest load development you’ll ever do, and you might find that one charge groups better than the other.
This round is going to feel right on the wrists and produce respectable accuracy out to 25 yards, although I have been known to push much further with it. For fun, I like to bang IPSCs placed on the 100-yard rifle range just because I know it’s capable. Crank them out on a progressive or enjoy the slow ride on a single stage; either way, enjoy making the worst cartridge ever created! (Food fight in the comments below.)
Bullet: 180-gr. X-treme Copper-Plated Round-Nose
Propellant: Winchester 231
Charge Weight: 5.3-gr.
Primer: CCI Small Pistol #500
Case Trim-To Length: .845″
Cartridge Overall Length: 1.115″
Velocity @ 10’ (F.P.S): 1000 FPS
*Handloading can be dangerous without proper training. Always confirm all recipes with a reputable, published reloading manual and start with the minimal listed charge weight, working up in small increments. The components listed cannot be substituted for any reason. If unfamiliar with the process of making ammunition, it is recommended to take the NRA Basic Reloading course and/or work closely with a certified instructor.
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