Finding practice ammo is tougher than finding one of Epstein’s clients these days, yet we must press on (on both fronts). Furthermore, practice fodder scantly represents the heavy self-defense ammunition we might need to depend on in an emergency. Over the next few months, we will be offering up recipes for stout handgun loads that better represent the real deal and are pretty easy on the wallet too. However, before we go any further, it is essential that everybody reading this understands that the recipe below is a goal, not a starting point. Always start with the published minimum and work towards the recipe, monitoring for signs of overpressure. Otherwise, you risk blowing a gun apart while it is in your hands … at eye level. Let’s begin!
This load starts with once-fired Federal cases simply because it is soft and easy on the dies. This makes them easier to blast out on a progressive press without hiccups and the associated spilled powder. After about 45 minutes in a vibratory tumbler, I size and flare each case, discarding any that need to be trimmed. Sure, you can cut long cases back down to spec, but I feel the value in scrap eclipses my time, so I don’t bother. Once ready, I prime them with the company’s No. 100 small pistol primers for consistency and because they can be found for a few bucks less than most other brands.
To end the argument between 124-grain and 147-grain projectiles, I use X-treme’s 135-grain round-nose, flat-point bullets, as they strike a balance and are similar in profile to most hollow points. The best powder for the job that I have found is Hodgdon HS-6. This fast-burning propellant can push these pills to 1040 feet per second from even a 4-inch barrel using just 5.5 grains. That will get you nearly 1,300 rounds from a single pound of powder, also providing good value.
When putting it all together, I don’t believe in excessive crimp, but for heavy-recoiling semi-autos, there does need to be some amount. Hornady’s Series II Taper Crimp Die Sets take care of this during the seating operation, saving a step as well as a station on a progressive machine. When setting it, you should figure out the precise setting where the belling is removed right before crimping begins. From here, dial in just 1/16 of a turn of crimp to keep things from moving without deforming the bullet. If you don’t use the Load-n-Load bushing system, you should consider it, as you can lock this setting in and return to it with the flick of a wrist.
Take your time loading, and above all, pay attention. Also, be sure to cross-reference this information with a manual; we recommend Lyman’s 50th edition. It lists 4.8 grains of HS-6 for the heavier 147-grain loads, so it’s best to start there and work up in one-tenth-grain increments. During the process, you’ll also find an accuracy load that is perfect for precision paper punching. So if keeping all of your fingers isn’t incentive enough, you have another reason to take your time and savor the process of load development.
Bullet: 135-gr. X-treme Copper-Plated Round-Nose Flat Point
Propellant: Hodgdon HS-6
Charge Weight: 5.5-gr.
Primer: Federal No. 100 Small pistol
Case Trim-To Length: .751″
Cartridge Overall Length: 1.090″
Velocity @ 10’ (F.P.S):1040
*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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