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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I finally got to complete some loads for the 40 S&W after my Redding Sizing Die problem was resolved.


Beretta PX4 Storm
6 - 10 rnd loads using once fired Federal brass, Remington 1 1/2 SPP, and Berry’s 155gr Plated Flat Point bullets, all at 1.125” C.O.L.


Silhouette 6.5gr, 6.7gr, and 6.9gr
Could have stopped at 6.5gr...it was mild, accurate, a pleasure to shoot. 6.7gr was a bit more recoil, not snappy at all, just heavier, still accurate, and also a pleasure to shoot. Let’s just say that 6.9gr was closest to factory WWB 165gr ammo. It was fine...harder recoil, say, a man’s recoil, but not at all necessary given the decent shooting from the first two loads. I’m definitely loading more 6.5gr Silhouette, and may even give 6.6gr a try. For plinking, I don’t need more than that.


VV 3N37 7.6gr, 7.7gr, and 7.8gr
Right off the bat, the Vihtavuori loads were much harder loads than any of the Silhouette loads. 7.6gr shot well, nice groups, and not unpleasant to shoot, but I’d need a compelling reason to load this over Silhouette. The other 2 loads were just a bit much. Even the 7.8gr was shootable, but definitely attention getting. I’d prefer to shoot the factory ammo than shoot VV 3N37 higher than 7.6gr. In fact, I’m considering dropping the load a bit, perhaps even to 7.3gr, and work back to 7.6gr to see what shoots well, and does not hurt.


I have several other powders to try...but liking Silhouette as much as I did, I’m not sure when or why I’d do so.


I wasn’t a fan of Silhouette in .380ACP, 9mm, or even .45ACP. I’m just wondering if it wasn’t developed with .40 S&W in mind.


Probably most amazing to me...no FTF, no cycling issues, no light primer strikes or high primers, just a really nice shooting experience. Nearly every spent case recovered.


Thoughts!
 

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Mark, nice report.

Enjoying your thoughts on Silhouette. Right now it is one of three powders I will keep on the shelf. I have found loads that work exceptionally well in my 380 Auto, 9mm and 45acp. In the 9mm for me it's a even toss as to Silhouette or HP-38 but lean towards the HP-38 because it requires a bit less powder. For the 380Auto it's a toss between Silhouette or AA#2. The Silhouette is a bit more accurate and consistent.
 
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I am a big fan of Silhouette, but back when I was making a lot of .40 loads I used plenty of 3N37 and others in the same general burn rate. I have loaded both in 9 x 19mm as well. You're gonna want, and need a chronograph. The Competition Electronics "Pro Chrono" is a very good value at +/- $100. I mention this because I've found that the difference between Silhouette and 3N37 is only around .1 or .2 grs. Your .40 loads with 3N37 are definitely warmer than your Silhouette loads. No knock against either, it's just that Silhouette is just barely faster burning. + SIL has a flash suppressor added in its chemistry.

I bought a G22 about as soon as they became available. I went through a good many different brands and models. At one point I sold a Ruger P-91 to help pay for an HK USP when they came out in 1994. Kinda wish I'd kept the P-91, but I probably still would have tried the others, Hi-Power, Tanfoglio etc., in search of accuracy comparable to 9 x 19mm and .45 ACP. Considering all of the advantages and disadvantages, I finally decided I could do everything I wanted with a 9mm or .45 ACP. But, and there's always that but thing, my last .40 was the most accurate and through it I fired the most accurate .40 loads I'd ever made. Also a Ramshot powder, and I'm not the only one whose found that the .40 S&W really likes True Blue. I've since learned that that's not exclusive to the .40 S&W. The most accurate .40 I ever owned was the CZ 75B and the loads were charged with True Blue.

One thing I haven't done yet is own a pistol with rotating barrel lock-up like the Storm, and more recently, the Grand Power pistols that by all accounts are exceedingly accurate.

I've had the pleasure of positive feedback from those who have used my suggestion to use True Blue. It is a very dense and fine grained spherical (about as close to true ball as it gets) that has very low flash. I use it for .45 ACP defense loads or whenever I want to chase really good accuracy in 9mm and it's my favorite for short barrel .357 Magnum loads. To give you an idea of how dense it is, Silhouette is 800 grams/liter while True Blue is 975 grams/liter. IIRC, 3N37 is around the same as 3N37, maybe not quite as high.

As far as Silhouette in other loads, in 9mm our standby is 5.6 grs. under the Everglades 124 gr. JHP Version 2 with a CCI500. For .45 ACP its best application is for the warmer defense loads.

Eventually you'll want to get into lighter target loads. True Blue has good flexibility there, but as far as USPSA or IDPA you'll find that most guys use faster burning powders. Some, too fast, IMO. W231 is a good choice. I have not used WST in .40, but light loads are what it does best. Clays from ADI in Australia was very popular but faster burning than I'd like, personally, but for whatever reason, Hodgdon no longer gets Clays from ADI. A good number of shooters have found Ramshot Competition a good replacement and it also burns very fast. There are some newer flake powders from Hodgdon under the IMR label like "Target" and "Unequal" but I tend to stay with denser sphericals. One reason, a powder as dense as True Blue can be twice as dense as some flake powders. I might be considered a bit anal, but for accuracy loads I try to get all of the uniformity I can. Low variations in OACL as well as powder charge. Powders like True Blue, AA #5 & #7 are all very dense and meter like hourglass sand. I am looking forward to trying the 21st century version of W231. The new W244!

These are things you can determine yourself with a good chronograph. If you're into tech gadgets, Caldwell has what seems a good chrono, and their latest eliminates problems associated with ambient sunlight by having the skyscreens below the chrono body. The catch being that you need to use it with I phone or whatever each brand is called. At 12' from the muzzle I can read the display on the pro chrono but it doesn't have all the bells and whistles. One thing I definitely recommend for any chronograph is that it provides Standard Deviation for you. Some believe that Extreme Spread is enough and that Standard Deviation is around 1/3 or 1/4 of extreme spread which kinda demonstrates a lack of understanding for what SD really tells you and that's how close shots are in velocity to the "norm" as determined by the chrono. All extreme spread does is tell you the difference between the high and low shot in the string. Back to Silhouette for a moment, I use the 5.6 gr. charge with the Everglades V2 because it gives the maximum velocity just before the jacket separates from the core. so if need be, that load could be pressed into service for defense. But I can tell you that with the same bullet and a CCI500, I have had SD values as low as 0 for 10 rounds with 5.8 grs. of SIL and the CCI500. I'll be perfectly honest and have a good many years in the shooting and handloading game yet I never expected to see any handgun load as low as 0 SD! Under 10 makes me happy and SD's down around 5 FPS make me feel pretty comfortable as far as defense loads. So, how to sum that up for everyone's understanding? When your chrono determines the "norm" and that's not necessarily average, in a 10-shot string your velocity variation from the norm is only 5 FPS Max for any load fired in that 10-shot string. And you can fire more loads in a string if you like. Some shoot 20 rounds, some use as few as 5. I would recommend 10 as minimum. And if you want a hi-cap magazine full of your best defense load to fire each round as similarly as any other round in the mag, that's where SD can be very beneficial. I make and test a lot of defense loads along with magnum revolver and rifle loads and because of that it has allowed me to make some great friendships with some industry professionals and how I came to start writing articles for Western Powder Co's blog. But, I am in no way a paid employee of Western Powder co. For those who can use it, here's the link: Western Powders ;)
 

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You can calculate SD yourself...
And there are a number of calculators on the web you can use. I like getting mine immediately after a string is fired and why I don't carry a scientific calculator to the range with me.;)
 

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You can calculate SD yourself...
But cheers to anyone who can run the calculation. I wish I could remember which old load guide it was, but for the sake of ballistics, someone published a very easy to use SD calculator that worked. Maybe one of these days I'll find it and post the instructions. You need not have to have gone further than high school to learn it.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
57K, I’d appreciate your recommendation for 3N37 loads for 155gr Berry’s FP. The load I used came right out of VV’s load tables. They specify 155gr Rainier FP starting load 7.6gr, max 7.9gr. I will rarely do 4 loads in a ladder...and then, only because what I shot was far too snappy for my wife, so I load below starting level, stepping down .1 to .4 gr, perhaps a hair lower. I haven’t tried loading down until I have cycling issues as some have recommended.
Anyway, I noticed the case fill was very much greater than the Silhouette loads, which came out of Western Powders load manual 6.0. I don’t have the exact Berry’s bullet...the hollow base round nose. But for the plated bullet weight I thought it would work....and it did, quite well in fact. They published a much broader range, 6.4gr to 7.6gr. But as I’m shooting indoors at 7yds I didn’t see a need to go past 6.9gr Silhouette. I could probably load a bit lighter since the 6.5gr was so pleasant, and accurate.
My chrono issue isn’t one of cost. I’m willing to pay for a decent chronometer...I just don’t have anywhere to use one. My indoor range is subdued lighting, and no opening beyond the firing line. Sad, I know. I’d have to find a new place to shoot outdoors, none of which are nearby.
 
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57K, I’d appreciate your recommendation for 3N37 loads for 155gr Berry’s FP. The load I used came right out of VV’s load tables. They specify 155gr Rainier FP starting load 7.6gr, max 7.9gr. I will rarely do 4 loads in a ladder...and then, only because what I shot was far too snappy for my wife, so I load below starting level, stepping down .1 to .4 gr, perhaps a hair lower. I haven’t tried loading down until I have cycling issues as some have recommended.
Anyway, I noticed the case fill was very much greater than the Silhouette loads, which came out of Western Powders load manual 6.0. I don’t have the exact Berry’s bullet...the hollow base round nose. But for the plated bullet weight I thought it would work....and it did, quite well in fact. They published a much broader range, 6.4gr to 7.6gr. But as I’m shooting indoors at 7yds I didn’t see a need to go past 6.9gr Silhouette. I could probably load a bit lighter since the 6.5gr was so pleasant, and accurate.
My chrono issue isn’t one of cost. I’m willing to pay for a decent chronometer...I just don’t have anywhere to use one. My indoor range is subdued lighting, and no opening beyond the firing line. Sad, I know. I’d have to find a new place to shoot outdoors, none of which are nearby.

Mark, lets consider what you need to do with your loads. Being plated FPs, obviously they're best suited to practice/plinking or maybe competition loads at just above the 165 Power Factor level. Editing because I just remembered that there is now .40 Minor where loads only need to be above 125 PF. Nothing I'd be interested in personally.

I was using 3N37 before Ramshot/Western existed, their #2 load guide to be specific. Those loads were warmer than V-Vs current data and no plated bullet was used. Lyman does something different with .40 S&W and 10mm loads because of pistols out there with questionable case-head support. Their .40 data does not go above 24,000 CUP. And yes, the .40 S&W is rated in the different PSI system where the Max Pressure is 35,000 PSI as it is for standard pressure 9 x 19mm. Lyman's reason for testing in the CUP system is because they are mostly interested in Peak pressure. The CUP system still works, but this often causes confusion because Peak Pressure is the limitation with CUP testing. In the SAAMI PSI system, a quartz crystal is attached to a piezoelectric transducer and has the ability to look at the entire Time vs. Pressure spectrum and viewable on an oscilloscope or computer screen. Any difference in peak pressure measured in PSI or CUP is debatable. Obviously, Lyman and Hodgdon still find accuracy precise enough to use the CUP system when looking for peak pressure.

Unfortunately, the cast bullets that Lyman uses is their 150 gr. TC and 2 different styles at 175 grs. Not to worry, there is a contingency plan. Common practice started out with recommendations to use cast lead data for plated bullets, but more recently, some brands are constructed heavy enough that you'll see recommendations to use mid-charge level jacketed data for plated. The closest bullet in the lower pressure Lyman data is the 155 gr. Silvertip @ 1.125". The load range is lower than V-Vs starting at 6.7 - 7.5 grs of 3N37, so you can see that Lyman's highest charge is still .1 gr. lower than V-Vs Start Charge.

The closest bullet using Silhouette is the #401654 150 gr. Cast lead bullet. That's 5 grs. lighter, but the highest charge with Silhouette is 7.2 grs. that has a pressure rating of 22,100 CUP and lower than the 24,000 CUP threshold they held these loads to. Normally, I prefer to use the data from a heavier bullet because the highest charge will be lower than for a slightly lighter bullet. But seeing as how these loads are held to 24,000 CUP with the 150 gr. TC being even lower, I would use that data where the load range is 6.8 - 7.2 grs. of Silhouette. Another factor in favor of that data is that Lyman used a short OACL of 1.090". Your bullet is definitely different, but since you're using Western's data for the Berry's 155 gr. HBRN, there's likely a greater difference in the velocities you would chrono compared to using data for bullets that both have bases. The hollow-base will change pressure and velocity. If you were loading the Lyman 150, however, with increases in OACL, pressure will be reduced. This most often occurs with moderate burn rate powders starting around W231. The really fast powders that some use for comp. loads have a pressure peak that occurs so rapidly that the differences in pressure/velocity won't be effected as much. The slower the powder burns, the greater the effect in pressure with OACL changes.

One thing we should all keep in mind is that different bullets have different pressure characteristics. When jacket construction is the same or very close to it, pressure will most likely be effected by the distance of the bullet's bearing surface, or shank. So with one single charge, a bullet with a shorter bearing surface will generate lower pressure than the same weight/construction bullet with a longer shank. Since you have found the Western data for the 155 gr. HBRN to your liking, you may decide to stay with it. But using Silhouette and 3N37 I hope I've explained this well enough to show that the slightly lower data can be used, particularly if you want to reduce recoil a tad to make the loads more comfortable for your wife.;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
The closest bullet in the lower pressure Lyman data is the 155 gr. Silvertip @ 1.125". The load range is lower than V-Vs starting at 6.7 - 7.5 grs of 3N37, so you can see that Lyman's highest charge is still .1 gr. lower than V-Vs Start Charge.

Appreciate the feedback. I’ll certainly give VV 3N37 another try at significantly lower charge. I’ll start with 6.7gr and ladder up. While I’m interested in softer loads for my wife, I’m not planning to have her shooting 40S&W, certainly not with the PX4 Storm. All I ever do is shoot pukas in paper, so no reason to load more than makes sense for about 20 yards, about max at our range. Generally, I’m shooting at 15yds. Beyond that I can’t see the target well enough to hit it. I should probably just invest in larger targets.
Thanks for the education. I’m continually learning from your posts.
 
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Appreciate the feedback. I’ll certainly give VV 3N37 another try at significantly lower charge. I’ll start with 6.7gr and ladder up. While I’m interested in softer loads for my wife, I’m not planning to have her shooting 40S&W, certainly not with the PX4 Storm. All I ever do is shoot pukas in paper, so no reason to load more than makes sense for about 20 yards, about max at our range. Generally, I’m shooting at 15yds. Beyond that I can’t see the target well enough to hit it. I should probably just invest in larger targets.
Thanks for the education. I’m continually learning from your posts. [/COLOR]

Glad to help, Mark! If you had a way to chrono it would be interesting to see how SIL and 3N37 compare with the lower data. My bet would be on SIL, but there might not be much difference in terms of Standard Deviation. There is a slight advantage economically for SIL as well.

I don't know what other calibers you load, but 3N37 is pretty good for medium magnum loads, and particularly defense loads from shorter barreled revolvers to reduce muzzleblast/flash. Back when I was making .357 Short Magnums I used quite a lot of 3N37 and it works very well for that.

Considering the higher price of 3N37, I'm not sure I wouldn't keep it around for specialty type loads/other calibers. The big difference it has in 9 x 19mm from SIL is that it is more capable with 147 gr. JHPs. My first foray into high velocity, or supersonic 147 gr. JHP loads in 9mm was with 3N37 for my SIG P226. You won't find that kind of data at the Lapua/V-V site today, except the impressive standard pressure load with the 147 gr. XTP using 3N38.

V-V also loaded .38 Special to 21,000 PSI/CIP in the #2 guide where 3N37 produces some pretty impressive velocity for the pressure generated as far as defense loads.

If I listed all of the .40 S&W pistols I've owned, the list would be pretty long. Same with handload combinations. Things kind of worked out as they should have with the last .40 I had and 2 loads for it. The pistol was a CZ 75B and the 2 loads were both charged with True Blue: the Nosler 150 gr. JHP and 170 gr. cast lead semi-wadcutters.;)
 

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JUST FYI--Powder Valley had thei Vit powders on sale last week, not sure IF they still do or not?
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
JUST FYI--Powder Valley had thei Vit powders on sale last week, not sure IF they still do or not?
No, the sale is over now. At the same time VV had a $5/lb rebate going, so it was a pretty sweet deal. Sadly, my powder budget is done for the year, but I was sorely tempted. Just too many other, competing priorities at the end of the year.
 

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The European conglomerate that owns Lapua/V-V, also owns Nobel Sport/Vectan. Oddly enough, when the V-V plant was on strike, 3 of their powders were duplicated by Vectan: BA 9 1/2 = N320, BA 7 1.2 = N350 and BA 6 1/2 = N110. Check the data at both sites and you'll see that Vectan just reproduced existing V-V data.

The 2 powders that seem to vary the most are BA 9 1/2 and N320. Guys in USPSA believe that Vectan Prima V is actually closer in burn rate to N320 with BA 9 1/2 being a few tenths of a grain slower. But as I mentioned, Vectan was using N320 data for BA 9 1/2 last time I checked.

3N37 is not among the duplicates and neither is 3N38. 3N37 started life as a powder for Lapua .22 LR Match loads and V-V found other good applications for it. 3N38 was designed for the .38 Super Lapua as a competition powder and it works well in other high pressure cartridges with greater case capacity than .38 Super, .40 S&W being one of them, but not the best choice for lighter loads.

The 3NXX powders are considered as competition powders and manufactured differently than the V-V N300 series powders like N350. N350 covers a lot of the same loads as 3N37. I never got around to using it as an alternative for 3N37 and went to Silhouette shortly after Western introduced it with their ballistician telling me it was the same exact powder as the discontinued WAP. I think the folks at Winchester/Hodgdon would like a do-over on that one; Silhouette is now one of the more popular handgun powders on the market and near the top powder for the guys who shoot 9mm Major.

As far as economy, BA 7 1/2 should be worth a look. N350 is one of V-Vs most popular powders and really does cover about the same loads as 3N37. And if BA 9 1/2 is slightly slower than N320, that certainly doesn't mean it's not useful. On most burn rate charts, N320 is rated faster than W231 which is moderately fast burning and a good all-around powder if you don't need full-power in high pressure loads. Meaning that BA 9 1/2 might be very useful in .40 S&W for medium and lighter loads with cast or poly-coated bullets. But we do have 2 new powders that were developed with poly-coated bullets in mind: Alliant Sport Pistol (flake) and W244 (spherical).;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I looked at Vectan powders very closely when the Grafs.com powder and primer sales flyer came out 2 months ago. I see that the prices for all Vectan powders are still on sale at 15% off. Considering that this buys 1.1 lbs (500 grams) of powder or even ignoring that point, they hit a good price point. Imagine buying VV N320 for under $20/lb. Pretty sweet. It shouldn’t surprise me that neither Vectan nor VihtaVuori provide load data for .380ACP, which is what put me off in the first place. That said, there are loads in all the other calibers I own die sets for in 7 1/2, 9, and 9 1/2...I could probably work up a load for .380ACP, but I don’t like to pioneer that. I was able to find old VV data for 380, which is what I used for the VV N320 loads I made up. Pretty nice results too...speaking from a non-chrono perspective. Nonetheless, I don’t think I can eke out the justification to add more powders to my room at the moment. Better stick with what I have for now.

Since my Silhouette sample loads tested pretty good, I decided to load up 25 rounds at 6.7gr and 6.9gr for my Berry’s 155gr CPFP. I also decreased the load for VV 3N37 and loaded up 25 rounds at 6.6gr and 6.7gr. I’m hoping to get out this week to test them out. Once I settle in on a favorite load for these I’ll return to my 9mm and 380ACP and start fresh with load development. With cold weather setting in I aught to have more time in front of the bench.
 
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I certainly understand not adding more powders. I have at least 18 on the shelf now and at least a dozen are handgun powders. If I had to consolidate to one single powder, without a doubt it would be True Blue.

But simply as an FYI, Lyman, in the 49th edition, as well as the P & R III, are pretty clear about recommending W231 for .380 ACP. For the 90 gr. JHP and 95 gr. FMJ they used N320 and the charge comparison flip-flops with N320 getting a higher charge with the 90 gr. JHP that produces slightly higher velocity with lower pressure than the W231 load. I would think .380 would be a good cartridge to try BA 9 1/2.

I used one of the Vectan powders back when I used 3N37. SP2, I thought was a very good powder, but so far as I know, Graf & Sons do not sell it while it appears to still be sold in Europe. It was very popular with the IPSC crowd and really gained popularity after importation of Vectan powders stopped.

The powder I'm most excited about right now is W244. I have WST and W231 and would like to see if the different loads I use them in could be satisfied with a single powder. I might as well mention Ramshot ZIP while I'm at it in case someone runs across a sale. I believe P.B. Clermont in Belgium was trying to create a very similar powder to W231. One thing I've found with both is that I actually like them for 9mm Target loads more than I do as .45 ACP powders.;)
 

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I have likely 10-12-14 powders IN STOCK, most are just a pound or two other than my main powders.
I keep a good bit of HS-6 and Accurate #5 (8-10 lbs), Unique (3-4 pounds) and a 2-3 pounds of HP-38.
mostly cause there isn't a lot in pistols that you can't load with Hp-38 (Win231) and unique if the world comes to an end.
most of my singles are for rifles a I play around with different weight projectiles with the 556.
I generally load the 380 with unique, some self defense loads I also use HP-38.
MY new Lee Powder measure drops even Unique so well that its likely to remain in inventory now.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I have Silhouette (2 1/2 lbs), WST, CFE-P, HP-38 (8 1/2 lbs), VV N320, and VV 3N37 (open 4 lb jug). I could use more variety, but I’m over budget, and I really need to clean my loading room to make more space. Well, winter is coming, so I won’t have any excuse.
I have plenty of primers and empty cases, as well as plenty of 115gr 9mm bullets. I’ll have to break down and get some different 40 S&W bullets. At least I’m good while developing my 40 S&W loading skills. It’s an amazingly simple cartridge to load. Still not sure I like shooting it, but I do like loading it. Go figure!
 
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