Getting Ready to Load 40 S&W

Well, it’s getting close to time to actually start loading 40 S&W! I’ve been working on getting ready for a while now (See 40 S&W brass considerations post and Redding GRX Die setup/operation post). Following the cleaning of my 40 S&W brass, it was time to run all of the brass through the Redding GRX die. I started with about 500 pieces of mixed brass and nickel casings:

Mixed 40 S&W brass ready to “de-bulge” – Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

Initially, I had used Imperial Case Sizing Wax to run brass through the Redding GRX die, but for the bulk “de-bulging” operation I opted for the less messy and easier to apply Hornady One-Shot lube. This lube actually worked well, without excessive friction/force when running the brass through the GRX die. With the handy case holder cup and some practice, this process went pretty fast. I only had one hiccup, which was a case that I put in upside-down. It was pretty easy to get the case back out, and I was off and running again. The bottle/hopper accessory is a must-have in my opinion. It holds quite a few cases and works great, allowing you to load it to “full” capacity:

GRX case hopper crammed to capacity – Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

The entire de-bulging process was pretty quick, and mindless once you get into the rhythm. Once that task was complete, it was time to start thinking about what components to use. I always like to sort that out carefully before setting up the press. I started by reading up on reloading data. First steps were to open the Hornady load data manual, and the Speer reloading manual to check what would be suggested for 40 S&W at various bullet weights. I confirmed that I’d be using regular small pistol primers, and decided to use Winchester Small Pistol since they seem to work great with a variety of loads. I had a couple of different bullets on hand, including Hornady 155 grain XTPs, and Speer 180 grain TMJs. I decided to go with the 180’s this time. That left powder to decide on. I noticed that Alliant Blue Dot seemed to be a popular powder with this load, and I had a jug on hand that I wasn’t planning to use for anything else, so I opted to use Blue Dot for these loads.

An assortment of supplies and materials that I perused through in preparation for loading 40 S&W – Image copyright 2012 Ultimate Reloader

With brass de-bulged and cleaned/sorted, and components selected, there was only one additional thing to decide: charge weight. After reading through both load manuals, and perusing some load data for 40 S&W on, I decided on the charge weight. Here’s what I’ve decided to load for this batch:

Use load data at your own risk. Ultimate Reloader can not be held liable for errors in load data. Always cross-check load data with manufacturer’s published load data before loading.

  1. Brass: mixed 40S&W, de-bulged/sized
  2. Primer: Winchester Small Pistol (WSP)
  3. Powder: Alliant Blue Dot, 7.8 grains
  4. Bullet: Speer 180 grain TMJ

Next in this series: Setting up the progressive reloading press for this load. It’s going to be fun!


11 thoughts on “Getting Ready to Load 40 S&W”

  1. Gavin, if you are looking for another powder to try, Power Pistol gave me good velocity, good groups, and considerable less felt recoil. I shoot a full size M&P, and did not notice excessive muzzle flash that many report, although I have not tried it at night.

    I use a Wilson case gauge at first to check all my finished rounds. After sometime I determined that I do not have to do the full length resize for this fun even on rounds shot out of glocks. My Hornady sizing die does a fine job.

    However my gun is very particular on the crimp, and I had to spend quite bit of time fine tuning that.

  2. Nice write up Gavin. I just setup my 550B with a quick change setup from Dillon and a Redding comp seater and Lee FCD. I opted for the Lee Bulge Buster kit. Still have to buy bullets. Looks like I’m going to use Power Pistol for my powder.


  3. Gavin: Always enjoy following your site and videos. My Son and I have been loading extensively for 40 S&W developing loads for GSSF (minor PF) and major. One thing we recently tried and will continue to use from now on are the Federal Match SP Primers! Were using CCI and experiencing several cocked primers in the Dillon XL650 plus they take a bit of force when seating. They are a bit more expensive, but come highly recommended! Have had zero issues with them.

    Good luck with your 40 S&W reloads!


  4. I also use Alliant Power Pistol for .40S&W (and .357Sig.) If muzzle flash is a concern, Blue Dot is much worse in that regard IMO.

    My pet load is 180g LRNFP (from DARDAS CAST BULLETS), CCI primers, and 6.5 g of Power Pistol.

  5. I just happened to also be doing the .40 cal for the first time so I am anxious to hear your progress. The first thing I ran into with my once fired brass was the bulge! So I used the Lee Bulge Buster and a case gauge. I am waiting for your next step. While sizing and de-priming (with a new set of RCBS dies) I had primers sticking to the de-priming pin and being drawn back into the case! I had never seen this before. This leaves the outer ring of the primer stuck in the case. Not all cases would do this, maybe one in 20. Very frustrating. Searching the internet showed that I am not the only one who has had this issue with the .40 cal.

  6. Lately I’ve been using Berry’s 155g RS with 4.9 grains of Alliant Bullseye and shooting quite well from my Glock 23. I use the Lyman reload book, but don’t have access to it now. Though powders are different I’m wondering why I’m using so much less powder. Of course, the bonded bullets are loaded as lead so that might explain this. I’ll be checking that book tonight.

  7. I have ordered XL650 to do 9mm, 40 s&w and 223. What are best dies would be best to use on Dillon press? Thanks and happy reloading.

  8. Thanks for this post, it’s exactly what I was looking for. The alliant book I have list 8.9g (max) blue dot for a 180g bullet, but I see you used 7.8g. I’m completely new to all this, so I’m trying to be very careful reloading 40sw. When their book says 8.9, how far below that can I go before I face pressure problems?

  9. Tom, I use the Dillon carbide dies on both of my Rl550 Dillons, they are the only way to go with the pistol calibers for sure!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For Commerical Inquiries:
Ulitmate Reloader Commercial Services

Reloading Safety