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40 caliber (light) load questions

2387 Views 6 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  olfarhors
hi all, i am trying to get educated on how different powder loads and grain size affect muzzle rise and recoil. my wife is commited to using a pt140 but the range instructor feels she is over gunned, she is improving w/ practice, but if i can help her out w/ some better bullets that don't bite back so bad i would like too. if i understand bullet terminology properly, grain is the bullet weight and then there are numbers for powder loads. i think lighter grain bullets are better in this case, and the same for powder, but i know eventually the round is no longer an affective self defense round if you get it to light, which defeats the purpose. advise on custom loads or (preferably) factory rounds is welcome. thanx
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I have shot a 146gr LRN over 5 gr Bullseye for a pretty light load with minimal muzzle jump. Why not try some of the Rainer HP bullets in a light load... 5 gr is still going to be moving as somewhere around 1,000 FPS which is a respectable punch. I've shot these down to 4.2 gr Bullseye, but they are really passive target loads. PS... remember that placement may be more significance than penetration... if she can hit what she aims at, it may be more effective than a high power round off center.
I shoot 40's and like them. It took me a while to find a load that my sons girlfriend could shoot. She did not like the snap of the 40. I tried various powders and finally settled on 6.6 gr of #5 for the powder with a 155gr LSWC for her to use. It is good for her and she now enjoys the 40. The funny thing is she enjoys the 45's with kick to it, try to figure that one out.
If you get too light a load in an autoloader, it will eventually not have enough power to cycle the slide. You can fix that with a weaker recoil spring.

Yeah, the lightest bullet weights will have the least recoil, but in high power loads, may have more muzzle blast. If you use one of the suggested handloads (bullseye and AA#5 are fast burning powders) you won't have a problem with the muzzle blast. I'd stay away from slower powders like Blue Dot or AA#9 and such and stick with the fast burn powders for that reason. If it doesn't eject with authority, you might think about installing a lighter spring from Wolf Springs.

I have no preferred loads since I don't have a .40, but the above 146-155 grain light loads are going to be about all you can get for light recoil from a .40 I believe. My preference for self defense would not be a round nose, but tend toward SWC or a truncated cone with a flat point. At low velocities, a hollow point probably isn't going to reliably expand and a SWC will cut a better wound channel than a round nose.

As to .45 vs .40, I think the .40s I've fired had more of a snap to 'em, .45s are more of a shove. Might be the difference. The .40 is working at a higher pressure (against standard .45ACP) and producing more energy and recoil force, anyway. The .45 is a pussycat until you start getting into the +P stuff. Even then, I don't find 'em objectionable, but a hefty .45ACP load closes the gap on the .40 both in power and recoil. Those 200 grain Speer +Ps in .45ACP are pushing 550 ft lbs, .357 magnum territory and right there with the .40. As every action has a reaction, they're closer to the .40 in recoil, too.
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Like you stated go for a lighter bullet and as light as recommended powder charge for that bullet. You don't really want to go below minimum. The manufacturer has the data for a reason.
Just to cover the basics, a grain is a unit of measure. There are 7,000 grains to a pound.

While they list the bullet weight, nobody lists the powder weight or type for factory ammo. They have a good reason for doing this. One is they don't use the same canister powders reloaders do. They don't want some fool reloader trying to extrapolate a factory load and getting himself into trouble.

The only way to find what you are looking for in factory ammo is to try them out, or ask around as you have here. You could get there reloading, but another problem with handguns is light loads tend to shoot higher than heavier loads given the same bullet weight. Now when I first heard that I thought to myself..."Wait, wouldn't a slower bullet drop faster and shoot lower?"

The reason is the recoil. A lighter load spends more time in the barrel, and the gun rises more due to recoil, causing the lighter load to shoot high.
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WOW, this must be the Christmas Ghost from the past that brought this 10 year old post back to life!
anybody got some 60-70 Beach Music we can play while we read these?
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