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Old 08-15-2012, 09:48   #1
Yankee2718
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.40 S&W Potential

It seems that many ammo companies load pistol cartridges much slower than the cartridge is capable of. A good example is 180 grain .40 loads. Many companies load this round to 1000 fps, it the cartridge is easily capable of making 1150 fps safely in modern weapons. IIRC, I read somewhere that some company loaded a 180 to 1200 fps from a 5 inch 1911. I don't understand why. AFAIK, those velocities are attainable within the spec pressure window for the .40.

The cartridges that are affected the most seem to be 10mm and .40 S&W. 9mm could probably be loaded a bit hotter too.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:17   #2
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My best bet is it has to do with Federals early .40 S&W cartridges produced when the round was new in 1990.
They had rather thin base area just above the extractor groove,leading to some of what has become to be known as Glock,40 S&W Ka Booms.
So rater that push for maximums they tend to water it down some what,not being all it can be.
That and the litigious society we are and I'm sure Federal ended up replacing or paying for a high number of guns. Of course that's just a theory,maybe so may not. SJ 40
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:26   #3
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My best bet is it has to do with Federals early .40 S&W cartridges produced when the round was new in 1990.
They had rather thin base area just above the extractor groove,leading to some of what has become to be known as Glock,40 S&W Ka Booms.
So rater that push for maximums they tend to water it down some what,not being all it can be.
That and the litigious society we are and I'm sure Federal ended up replacing or paying for a high number of guns. Of course that's just a theory,maybe so may not. SJ 40
It's probably part of the reason. With the advancement in bullet technology, a 180 at 1130 from a glock 23 would be rather sweet. A 165 at 1225 might be even nicer.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:36   #4
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Yes the .40 and 10mm both are downgraded from the big three. I'm sure there are reasons for it. People complain about .40 recoil as it is, can you imagine adding 150-200 fps? The .40 has the potential, but I can hear the complaints about real snappy recoil already...there's plenty of that as is.

Another thing I thought of, even though kinda silly, is that knowing you have to use slower burning powder to attain such speeds it's my opinion that doing so would add a significant amount to $$ to produce. I have a feeling most propellant used in pistol loads from the big three is pretty fast burning, they want to get to typical velocity with as little powder used, more money for them. If they went with a slower propellant that could use an additional 50% powder, that's more cost for them, less profit and certainly they would pass that cost onto us consumers.

I'm sure there are other reasons too.
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Old 08-15-2012, 10:56   #5
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I think the recoil is probably the biggest reason. Firearms training for police officers is maybe 2 weeks long. Most recruits have never fired a weapon before they get to training. I also think that a lot of money has gone into jello ballistics. So many people are obsessed with what a bullet will do in jello, how deep it will penetrate, how much it will expand. Everyone wants a pretty bullet.

Ramping up the velocity means less jello penetration. People want 12-14 inches. From everything I've read/seen, bullets penetrate deeper in actual tissue than jello. 12 inches in jello is probably more like 18 inches in real tissue. I figure that one can add 5 inches to any jello penetration figure for human penetration.

That being said, underwood's 115 gdhp at 1400 fps should do rather well in living tissue even though it only made 9 inches in tn outdoors9's test.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:04   #6
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Jello tests are all the rage, but it's not the same as shooting flesh and bone that's for sure. In my G19 I often carry the 115gr +P+ Federal 9BPLE. If one went off gel tests it should suck because it doesn't penetrate as deeply as heavier offerings. But in the real world it has a pretty good track record of making bad guys wish they had made a better decision, and much the same with the 135gr .40.

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It's probably part of the reason. With the advancement in bullet technology, a 180 at 1130 from a glock 23 would be rather sweet. A 165 at 1225 might be even nicer.
Very possible. Using a book load charge of VV 3n38, I've averaged around 1325fps with a stock G23...with a 165gr JHP. 1400 using 155gr JHP. Over 1550 with 135gr...and so on.

Many assume a jump in velocity means a jump in pressure. While that's true within the same powder/bullet combo setup, it's an incorrect assumption with comparing completely different powders.
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Old 08-15-2012, 11:36   #7
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There are people who handload their own .40 and are achieving 10mm velocities. Case failure that can cause "kabooms" is a liability for the manufacturer. Recoil and flash are also a concern. So, the ammo is watered down.
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Old 08-15-2012, 12:39   #8
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FWIW, 180gr HSTs get 1095fps out of my G35. Not 1200fps, but better than 1000fps too.
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Old 08-15-2012, 13:10   #9
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The cartridges that are affected the most seem to be 10mm and .40 S&W. 9mm could probably be loaded a bit hotter too.
9mm IS loaded a lot hotter. There any many +P and +P+ choices out there.
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Old 08-15-2012, 14:53   #10
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There are people who handload their own .40 and are achieving 10mm velocities. Case failure that can cause "kabooms" is a liability for the manufacturer. Recoil and flash are also a concern. So, the ammo is watered down.
The only way you even get close is loading 40 in longer bbls with slower powders. There is no way you can safely match full power 10mm ammo in a 40 of the same bbl length. You can't ignore physics. The 10mm has more powder cap & will always produce higher vel safely. Like trying to make an 06 a 300winmag. You might get there, but it isn't going to be safe.
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Old 08-15-2012, 15:37   #11
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I expect the difficulty in making a perfect self-defense round for every caliber is due to the inexact science that revolves around a typical LEO shooting and the vast number of scenarios they entail.

They want to produce a round that will penetrate a minimum of 12" while successfully expanding after encountering any number of human and/or material barriers. The hollow point bullet design needs to achieve this consistency in as many scenarios as possible and given the number of LEO encounters across the country on any given day there are no guarantees. A bullet can be driven too fast as well as too slow; there is no one single factor that can be immediately identified as crucial except for quality control of the components that ensure reliable and consistent firing characteristics.

This is why when some people ask, "What's the best ammo for my __ caliber handgun", there is no definitive answer except from those who don't know any better. I know what I like now and in the past, but I don't know that I will always favor them.

Just make your best guess based upon what you read and hear and from your own testing with your own guns. You can't do any more than that.
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Last edited by unit1069; 08-15-2012 at 17:38..
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Old 08-15-2012, 16:16   #12
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Originally Posted by fredj338 View Post
The only way you even get close is loading 40 in longer bbls with slower powders. There is no way you can safely match full power 10mm ammo in a 40 of the same bbl length. You can't ignore physics. The 10mm has more powder cap & will always produce higher vel safely. Like trying to make an 06 a 300winmag. You might get there, but it isn't going to be safe.
I agree and what I meant by what I said was that you can get your .40 to specs of some factory loaded 10mm levels. Which as we know is really watered down. However getting your .40 to hot loaded 10mm levels might not end well.
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Old 08-15-2012, 20:40   #13
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It is a throwback from the 10mm light. The FBI wanted a 180gr at around 1,000fps which resulted in the 10mm light and ultimately the 40 S&W.
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Old 08-17-2012, 04:00   #14
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If you want a higher powered .40, get a 10mm. If you want a round in .40 with more energy, shoot the 165 grain loads that produce a muzzle velocity of 1,150 fps from a 4" barrel.

I don't know that I'd want to trust the potential pressure levels in a .40 with a 180 grain bullet loaded as hot as the one the op is talking about.

A little bit of bullet set back with that load and we will be hearing about all kinds of KB's.
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Old 08-17-2012, 22:54   #15
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If you want a higher powered .40, get a 10mm. If you want a round in .40 with more energy, shoot the 165 grain loads that produce a muzzle velocity of 1,150 fps from a 4" barrel.

I don't know that I'd want to trust the potential pressure levels in a .40 with a 180 grain bullet loaded as hot as the one the op is talking about.

A little bit of bullet set back with that load and we will be hearing about all kinds of KB's.
Bullet set back is an issue no matter how hot or light the round is loaded. The only rounds I've seen a set back issue with is 165 and 180 Ranger T.
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Old 08-18-2012, 02:35   #16
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With the advancement in bullet technology, a 180 at 1130 from a glock 23 would be rather sweet. A 165 at 1225 might be even nicer.
Underwood quotes 1100 for a 180 and 1200 for a 165. Probably a 4" barrel but not sure. I'd love to see tnoutdoors9 test those.
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Old 08-18-2012, 07:09   #17
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Underwood quotes 1100 for a 180 and 1200 for a 165. Probably a 4" barrel but not sure. I'd love to see tnoutdoors9 test those.
Yes, I agree. I would love to see those too. I wish some better bullets were available for reloading too. The only major self defense bullets available are the gold dot and golden saber.

That being said, I'd really like to see more testing of Nosler and Sierra bullets.

Last edited by Yankee2718; 08-18-2012 at 07:11..
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Old 08-18-2012, 08:35   #18
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Has anyone chronoed their 155 gr. loadings ? do they hold true to the 1300 fps as advertised ? that would really throw me off my chair.
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Old 08-18-2012, 08:47   #19
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Originally Posted by Yankee2718 View Post
It seems that many ammo companies load pistol cartridges much slower than the cartridge is capable of. A good example is 180 grain .40 loads. Many companies load this round to 1000 fps, it the cartridge is easily capable of making 1150 fps safely in modern weapons. IIRC, I read somewhere that some company loaded a 180 to 1200 fps from a 5 inch 1911. I don't understand why. AFAIK, those velocities are attainable within the spec pressure window for the .40.

The cartridges that are affected the most seem to be 10mm and .40 S&W. 9mm could probably be loaded a bit hotter too.
If you want to use the hottest possible loading, do the research and buy it. Problem solved.

Manufacturers will produce what sells. If most folks buy what they prefer to buy, demand will settle things out. Manufacturers are not going to insist on producing loads that no one wants to buy.
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Old 08-18-2012, 16:11   #20
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If you want to use the hottest possible loading, do the research and buy it. Problem solved.

Manufacturers will produce what sells. If most folks buy what they prefer to buy, demand will settle things out. Manufacturers are not going to insist on producing loads that no one wants to buy.
None of the major manufacturers have produced the types of loads I am talking about, only boutique manufacturers.
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