I’ve been messing around a bit lately with .40 S&W loads that take the edge off of the recoil in my Para 16-40 Limited. While not unpleasant, a full house 180 grain round from the .40 generates a decent amount of “snap” in the gun, driving the front sight off of target and slowing down the speed of follow-up shots. Unfortunately, not having a reloading press has somewhat hampered my ability to “roll my own”, so I’ve been shopping around and buying all kinds of different .40 S&W ammo.
Just recently, I hit paydirt with a “minor” .40. While shopping around on Frangible bullets, I got a wild hair on my fanny and decided to order a bunch of their 125 grain .40 S&W ammo, made by Wagner Accu-Swage. Normally, frangible .40 S&W ammo would run quite a bit a box, but because Wagner makes this load on once fired brass, it’s actually cheaper than buying .40 S&W ammo at retail cost from Gander Mountain and two of my local gun stores.
The rounds themselves are (as mentioned) a 125 grain .40 bullet at around 1100 fps. That means that they’re perfect for my purposes, as they meet the power factor necessary for ESP and SSP divisions in IDPA. They’re obviously not hot enough for Major in USPSA, but for IDPA and Steel they’re looking real good.
Of course, all of this means nothing if they don’t shoot, so I took them out to the range, along with a couple of boxes of factory .40 S&W from Augila to see what I could see. The first thing I did was fire a 10 round magazine of the Augila, to establish a base line for recoil impulse (sharp) and accuracy (average). Then I fired a 10 round magazine of the Accuswage rounds as a comparison. I immediately noticed a much lighter recoil impulse on the 125 grain frangible rounds – the closest comparison would be to shooting an average 9mm load. All the 125 grain rounds cycled cleanly through the gun, and were extremely fast on the follow up shots. To see just how fast, I hauled out my CED 7000 timer and recorded my splits for 5 two-shot strings with the factory 180 grain rounds, and then 5 more with the 125 grain stuff. I was shooting controlled pairs, which means two shots with two sight pictures. My average split with the 180 grain stuff was about 0.27 seconds, compared to the 125 grain rounds which had an average split time of .20 seconds. Seven hundredths of a second may not seem like a lot, but over the course of a say, 200 round match, those seven hundredths of a second translate into 7 seconds, which can be the difference between first place and 8th place.
As far as accuracy goes – the rounds were definitely accurate. I did need to adjust my sights one click to the right after that, though.
I can enthusiastically recommend the Accuswage rounds for someone who’s looking to shoot a .40 in IDPA for ESP or SSP, or in USPSA for Production. They move the .40 S&W’s recoil impulse down around 9mm in terms of fast follow up shots, and with a 10 round magazine cap you can keep pace with those 9mm guys and their bullet hoses. It would also make a good load for steel, as again the light recoil makes it faster. Plus with a frangible round, you have the added benefit of “splash” – the bullet breaks up on the target and leaves an almost paintball like black mark on the target, easily identifying your hits.
This entry crossposted at the Gun Nuts Radio Blog under “.40 Smith & Wesson Minor loads“
When I was shooting IDPA and using my Colt Mk IV in .40S&W, I handloaded most of my match ammo using 125gr LTC (Lead Truncated Cone) over 5.4 grs. of Win 321. It was legal for Enhanced Service Pistol, barely, and greatly helped when shooting double-taps. This ammo worked well in my Colt and later in my BHP that I added to my collection.
It worked very well, I still have some laid back whenever some friends come over and want to shoot my BHP.
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