Optimal powder for a M&P40 FS

This is a discussion on Optimal powder for a M&P40 FS within the MP Reloading forums, part of the Smith & Wesson MP Forum category; I'm trying to develop load data for a couple new batches of ammo with a friend. He has all the equipment and a couple loading ...


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Old May 30th, 2012, 06:40 PM   #1
 
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I'm trying to develop load data for a couple new batches of ammo with a friend. He has all the equipment and a couple loading manuals, but wanted me to see what I could learn on my own as well.



Background data:


  • I'm going to be loading two different bullet weights: 125 gr Sinterfire for target and competition shooting, and 165 gr Gold Dots for self defense.
  • I'll be firing these from my M&P40 full sized, which has a 4.25" barrel and fully supported chamber.
  • I'll be using CCI small pistol primers.
  • I'll likely be loading the bullets a little long.
  • I want to maximize velocity while trying to keep recoil and muzzle flash down if possible. Preference goes to keeping velocity high to push for maximum expansion and terminal performance.



I've looked over Hodgdon's website and found the following:


  • Hodgdon Universal powder will push 125 gr bullets 1058-1172 fps, and 165 gr bullets 976-1061 fps.
  • Hodgdon Titegroup powder will push 125 gr bullets 1041-1145 fps, and 165 gr bullets 961-1047 fps.
  • Hodgon Longshot powder will push 165 gr bullets 1139-1185 fps, but no data is shown on the Hodgdon website for 125 gr bullets.
  • IMR SR 4756 powder will push 165 gr bullets 1075-1168 fps, but no dada is shown on the Hodgdon website for 125 gr bullets.



Burn rates, from fastest to slowest, with their ranking on Hodgdgon's burn chart are:
  • Titegroup (14)
  • Universal (32)
  • 4756 (39)
  • Longshot (52)



Things I've learned:
  • Faster burn rates are good for shorter barrels to build up velocity quickly.
  • Slower burn rates will produce higher overall velocity provided the barrel is long enough.
  • If the barrel is too short for the slower powder, then there will be more muzzle flash and a drop in velocity.
  • 125 gr bullets will not have the same amount of recoil as 165 gr bullets, regardless of the powder charge.



Questions:
  • What experience has anyone had with any of the powders listed above?
  • Which of those powders burned fully through a 4.25" barrel?
  • Which of those powders burned cleanest?
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Old June 1st, 2012, 10:59 AM   #2
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Since you haven't gotten any replies I'll throw in my two cents, I don't have any experience with any of the powders you mentioned, I load 165 gr Berry's plated bullets in 40 S&W loads. I've done some testing using Blue Dot and Unique powder, and have some chronograph data for those loads. Generally speaking you want to stay away from the very fastest burning powders, using very fast burning powders means you use a very small amount of powder, when using very small amounts of powder the risk of a double charge increases substantially, you can observe the powder level and not really notice the difference between a single and a double charge, and a double charge will usually destroy the weapon.



Loading a 165 gr Berry's plated bullet, using 5.6 gr of Unique, I averaged 943.9 fps out of my M&P 40. I have found this to be a good shooting load, it works very well for me.



Loading a 165 gr Berry's plated bullet, using 8.0 gr of Blue Dot, I averaged 946.2 fps out of my M&P 40. It also shoots good but has a problem which shows up with slower powders, its throwing a tremendous amount of unburned powder out the end of the barrel, you will generally find this to be true with any of the slower burning pistol powders unless you have a very long barrel.



I had noticed unburned flakes of Blue Dot on my shirt when shooting that load, one time I went to a range that had a white painted bench in front of the shooter, that's when I realize just how much unburned powder I was getting, after shooting about 25 or 30 rounds there was so much unburned powder on that white bench I could write my name in it!



As far as how dirty they shoot, none of them are particularly dirty or smoky, most of the time you see a lot of smoke and a pistol with a lot of gunk in it, its been shooting lead bullets, the smoke and crap comes from the lead bullet and bullet lube from the lead bullets.
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Old June 2nd, 2012, 04:43 AM   #3
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I had very good results with Vihtavuori powders for 40 loads. N340 and N350 provide adequate fill that a double charge would be obvious if not overflowing. Both burn very clean and produce minimal flash.



3N37 or 3N38 appear on paper to be even better choices for maximum velocity although I have not tried them and no longer have a 40.
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Old June 4th, 2012, 05:41 PM   #4
 
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Thanks for the replies and suggestions, gents. Had to change plans with bullets and am planning on using Mastercast bullets instead of Sinterfire. I'll take a look at the other powders.
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Old June 30th, 2012, 05:27 PM   #5
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I use 165 precision delta FMJ WITH 5.6gr unique in my m&p40 full size with great results.
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Old July 17th, 2012, 08:42 AM   #6
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Longshot consistently gives the highest velocities/energies in the .40. The 135gr Longshot load listed in the Hodgen manual yields 10mm energy(616ft-lbs), if you can stand the recoil. The 165gr Max load is 1185 fps (514ft-lbs).
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Old July 17th, 2012, 10:32 AM   #7
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We experimented with Longshot in our early M&P period and achieved extremely high velocities without flattening the primers. Accuracy suffered as we could only get 4.5" groups, about triple our best with slower loads, so you can expect your 25 yard groups to be about 3" larger.

Last edited by KRWeiss; July 17th, 2012 at 10:38 AM.
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Old August 28th, 2012, 06:36 PM   #8
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Longshot gives the highest velocities at the lowest pressures. But, highest velocities at lowest pressures aren't particularly important or useful for competition loads, AFAIK. Also, it has the biggest flash and loudest report of any powder I've used, and is utterly useless for a self defense propellant IMO. Finally, in order to get the big performance you'd be looking for in an SD round, you have to use a big charge--a REALLY big charge--compared to other choices. I've taken it off my list of powders to use for anything.

Universal is a great propellant IMO, especially in the upper half of the range it's loaded in. It seems to be more consistent in the velocities it produces as you load it up to higher pressures, and not so great way down at the low end. I did not find it to be anything special for IDPA or USPSA loads, although I've never loaded 125 gr bullets and in fact didn't know they existed for 40. I reserve Universal mostly for fairly hot loads that are fairly inexpensive just for fun.

Now, 4756 doesn't produce the hottest loads around, but it does very well in both 40 and 45. It can be loaded up to very respectable velocities, seems to produce rather light recoil (reality or perception, I don't know), and above all, has about the least flash of anything I've used. It is my No.1 propellant for self defense rounds in both 40SW and 45ACP. I would recommend it to anyone for this purpose as choice No 1 in those two calibers.

For action shooting in 40SW, I have to think Vihtavuori N320, Solo 1000, and Clays would account for about 50-70% of everything being loaded out there. My choices would be Nitro 100, Clays then Solo 1000. In my experience these 3 are excellent and darn near interchangeable in both 40 and 45ACP. You won't find any load data for Nitro 100, however.

You probably want to hang around the Brian Enos forum for what's going on with handloads for USPSA and IDPA, although I doubt very much if many are shooting 125 gr bullets.

Just looked up some load data and I show loading 135 gr Rainier plated TC bullets with 6.5 and 6.6 gr of Universal, making just over 1,200 fps and printing 1.7" groups freestyle at 7 yds, which for me is very good with 40SW. I drew in two smiley faces next to these loads, which means they put a big smile on my face when I shot them. Not particularly useful for anything, but apparently very enjoyable.

Now, as a data point or two, I just came off the range running 165 gr Remington Golden Sabres at right under 1,200 fps burning 7.9 of SR4756, so that's good agreement with the published data, about 520 ft*lbs comin' atcha and nearly identical performance compared to Speer LE Gold Dot 155s. What I find noteworthy with these loads is that I found them very comfortable to shoot even in the little Kahr K40 where I carry them when I'm feeling that 40SW is 'enough'. In 45ACP, we're pushing 185 gr XTPs to well over 900 fps (and I believe 980-1,000 fps is possible without getting to +P pressures), and the recoil is nothing like Speer Gold Dot or even some Fiocchi stuff I've shot. Finally, because I can hardly contain my enthusiasm for this powder, these charges do a nice job of filling the case perfectly.

My understanding is that the propellant will be completely burned before the bullet leaves the cartridge case (or close to it) for most any shotgun/handgun powders.

Last edited by Bongo Boy; August 28th, 2012 at 08:14 PM.
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Old September 30th, 2012, 08:55 AM   #9
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Why are you considering using 125 gr bullets for competition. It seems to me recoil will be excessive compared to felt recoil from 175 and even 200 gr bullets in the .40 at the same power factor (Vel x Weight of bullet). The .40cal can be very snappy and you ought to be considerinf muzzle rise as somthing you want to reduce. A heavier bullet can be loaded with less powder to make identical power factor. Felt recoil will be less, a bonus for competition shooting.

Of the powders you list I use 4.6 gr of Titegroup under my 175 gr lead cast bullets to make 170+ PF for IPSC. For IDPA ESP Div I use 2.8 gr of Clays to make 130+PF using the same bullet.

Take Care

Bob
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Old October 6th, 2012, 06:21 PM   #10
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I think the OP made the assumption starting out that lighter bullets would give lower perceived recoil, whereas perceived recoil is going to be better predicted by bullet acceleration (ma) or its proxy, ME. That's my understanding, anyway.

In the chart below I've got a variety of bullet weights all being pushed to the same power factor (a proxy for momentum), yet you have a substantial reduction in muzzle energy as you move to the heavier projectiles. My experience is that the perceived recoil reduction is dramatic--maybe even astonishing--as you go to the fat-and-slow bullets.



In my limited experience, there's a point at which you'll likely see other factors overshadow low recoil and low muzzle climb. While it would seem ideal to make them both zero, as you approach this ideal you also get what feels like a sluggish gun, and potentially less reliable operation--even with those low power recoil springs. A gun that 'feels' slow shooting bullets that are slow can be a psychological problem--shooting steel at distance for example--even for the mediocre shooter.

Last edited by Bongo Boy; October 6th, 2012 at 06:25 PM.
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Old October 6th, 2012, 07:04 PM   #11
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Bongo Boy recoil, felt, perceived and real is less when using heavier bullets when the PF is fixed. The result should be less muzzle rise. A lighter recoil spring can be used to offset the lessor recoil.


Take Care

Bob
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Old October 7th, 2012, 02:47 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canuck44 View Post
Bongo Boy recoil, felt, perceived and real is less when using heavier bullets when the PF is fixed. The result should be less muzzle rise. A lighter recoil spring can be used to offset the lessor recoil.
Yes, we're in agreement.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 09:45 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ShaulWolf View Post
[*]I'm going to be loading two different bullet weights: 125 gr Sinterfire for target and competition shooting, and 165 gr Gold Dots for self defense.
It's generally not a good idea to handload rounds for self defense/carry. Do the research and you will find how prosecuters use this to their advantage when in court while you are trying to defend a justifyable shooting. "...you needed to make your own special bullets because commercial bullets just weren't deadly enough!" You'll want to stay with a factory load unless loading for the zombie hoard.
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Old October 8th, 2012, 03:47 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OperatorX View Post
It's generally not a good idea to handload rounds for self defense/carry. Do the research and you will find how prosecuters use this to their advantage when in court while you are trying to defend a justifyable shooting. "...you needed to make your own special bullets because commercial bullets just weren't deadly enough!" You'll want to stay with a factory load unless loading for the zombie hoard.
Working in the offices of the Superior Court of San Diego, Ca. I spent some time researching such cases. When it comes to whether the defendant is found innocent or guilty, your concern is often secondary compared to forensic evidence left at the scene and wound ballistics.

Investigators may look for ejecta (powder residue) on clothing, objects, walls, and floors and when handloads don't match any of their known loadings they may come to incorrect conclusions. You may claim that you were less than 21 feet from your assailant but the evidence left at the scene won't necessarily support that conclusion unless you're using a cartridge from their catalog of hundreds of commercial loadings. Also, if you increase bullet velocity it will expanded more rapidly than they are designed to at that range making it look like you were closer than you really were. An extreme example that most folks will get: Imagine a 102 gr. .355 JHP bullet (i.e. Golden Saber) designed for a 380 ACP being crimped onto a 357Sig case and fired at 1650 fps., it will take almost 200 yards for that bullet to get down to 380 ACP velocities.

Most boutique ammo need not apply either. From what I remember, very few of them had been cataloged.

Another thing to consider: If bullet velocity is beyond its design parameters you may not get the performance you're expecting, the bullet could fragment and tumble instead of penetrating. This is more likely to be a problem with rifle bullets.

As always, these are merely my observations. Every individual is responsible for thier own.

Last edited by KRWeiss; October 8th, 2012 at 03:56 PM.
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Old October 18th, 2012, 06:25 PM   #15
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I don't believe anyone mentioned this, but I think it is unlikely you'll be happy using the same propellant for both a competition load and an SD load.

What I see in competitive loads are very fast burning powders under relatively heavy bullets, and for the faster shooters, low smoke loads are extremely important. Action shooting now, I'm talking.

For SD loads, at least in 45, just try 4756. It's my SD powder for both calibers and I really think you'd be hard-pressed to do better.

In 40SW and 165 gr Golden Sabers (NOT Gold Dots), I show 7.9 gr 4756 making just under 1,200 fps. I believe that's a whip-ass 40SW load in a little Kahr K40, but far more accurate than expected.

Closer to your 125 gr mouse terds, I ran a bunch of 135 gr plated bullets Nitro 100 and my notes say "very uniform velocities averaging 1,180 fps and good accuracy". Load was 5.3 gr. You could certainly do that same exact load under the 125s and possibly have something.

Again for 40SW, I just found my data sheet in a recently-emptied ammo box--labeled "3.5 gr Solo 1000, 180 gr TC case bullet, CCI 500 primer, 1.12" OAL. At the range I hand wrote "THIS IS A+!!!". That means that, for shooting as fast as I can at multiple targets indoors using an MP40 Pro I thought it was superfantastic all around.

Hope this helps and isn't a boring repeat.
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