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Old 08-14-2017, 01:19 PM
RDub RDub is offline
Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ  
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Default Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ

Well I finally managed to score some Winchester AUTOCOMP powder. So to complete this exercise I loaded up some test rounds with Winchester cases and WSP primers, 6.0 and 6.3grs of AUTOCOMP, and toped them off with some Magtech 180gr FMJ bullets.

The graph has been updated as well.

AUTOCOMP turns out to be quite a performer. Definitely worth further consideration.
Targets are posted at the end .

This was posted elsewhere last year but that site was getting difficult to work with, so I'll post this over here.

Well wound up getting into another project, this time working with 180gr FMJ's in a .40 S&W Sigma. I didn't start out thinking about posting anything, nor did I believe this would evolve into the project that it did.

After doing a few factory ammo pull-downs,

Three Common .40S&W 180gr FMJ loads - page 1 - Factory Ammo pull-downs -

I was especially impressed with the Federal American Eagle load at 998 fps, shooting well with as little as 5.3grs of powder. So naturally the question came up.. Could I duplicate the accuracy and velocity of the Federal load with the same, or about the same charge of powder?

So some testing began, looking for a fairly tight grouping load 990 fps or better staying within the boundaries of published data. This went on for a few months.

Brass was Winchester, Federal, and a few Blazer. Each five round string was loaded with the same brand, which ever it turned out to be. C.O.L. is noted on the targets. WSP and CCI 500 primers used.

Data was obtained with an Oehler Model 33 chronograph. Sky screens centered 10 feet from muzzle.

Targets 5½"

Speer 180gr TMJ .4000"
Hornady 180gr FMJ .4000"
Magtech 180gr FMJ .3998"
Federal 180gr FMJ pulled .3995"

Firearm; Sigma 40F 4½" barrel.

Started out with some Speer TMJ's I had left over from some 10mm testing, so I loaded a few of those with a couple fast burners, 231 and Titegroup. Plus three other powders that I've not worked with much.. True Blue, BE-86 and CFE Pistol.

In the past, I have found 231 to work well in just about anything, but no so much this time. Velocity was there but the group could be better. Maybe this gun just doesn't like the Speer TMJ bullets. I Actually believed, after shooting a group with 231 I would be done.. Nope.

I could only find two published loads for Titegroup, both at 4.7grs., so I didn't take Titegroup any farther. Titegroup was a little slow with 180gr bullets. There are only four holes because I experienced a primer failure.

Of the other three, CFE Pistol was Ok, but the other two, not so much. Need to take these charges down a little and see what happens.

After doing a little forum research, I found a lot of guys speaking highly of Winchester's WSF. Just so happened, my local Sportsman's Warehouse had a few lbs. so I picked one up.

The IMR website lists 5.8grs as max, Winchester #15 lists 6.2, and Sierra lists 6.6grs as max. Loaded 5.8grs thru 6.4grs and went back to the range. I Ran out of the Speer bullets, so loaded these with Hornady FMJ's.

Also loaded some more True Blue, BE-86 and CFE Pistol.

Well WSF turned out to be quite impressive with high velocity and acceptable accuracy. And, the velocity intervals are very even.
True Blue and BE-86 shot better groups as the charges got lighter. Not sure what's going on with CFE Pistol. Notice virtually no change in velocity from 6.5grs to 6.3grs.

Next time out I tried some Magtech FMJ's and some more Hornady's

Longshot is in a class all by itself in the .40 S&W. It takes the .40 into 10mm territory. Felt recoil was a little more than anything so far. The higher velocity would account for this.
IMR lists 8.0grs and Hornady lists 7.5grs as max. I loaded five with 7.7grs. 1140 fps is faster than most of the 10mm 'FBI' factory loads.

Another adjustment with True Blue got velocity where I want it.

And, adding to the lineup, HERCO, N350 and AA#7. N350 and True Blue did pretty well today.

6.5grs of HERCO was pretty snappy. Will try some lighter loads with HERCO.
For some reason I kept losing a round low..

Realizing that I was far from done, I ordered 500 Federal pulled 180gr FMJ's from American Reloading.
After inspecting I found some 155gr and 165gr bullets in there as well.. I started weighing each bullet before loading and found a few weighing in the 176-177gr range. In total, about forty bullets were found unacceptable. All the bullets used here weighed 180.0-8grs., and had a diameter of .3995"

Adding UNIQUE, SR7625, Silhouette, Power Pistol, 3N37, 800-X and Blue Dot to the mix, plus some more adjustments with BE-86, CFE Pistol and AA#7, went back to the range.

First off, target #10 is the tightest group ever shot with this gun. Silhouette did pretty well today.

CFE Pistol, again the lighter the charge the tighter the group.
UNIQUE, Power Pistol, 800-X, and 3N37 were a little shy of velocity goal.

SR 7625 is right there.

I thought Blue Dot would do better, but maybe it doesn't like this bullet.

The more I shoot, the more I want to keep going so moved up a notch with UNIQUE, Power Pistol, 800-X, and 3N37 which put velocity were I wanted and groups got a little better with all but UNIQUE.

Added N340 which gave good velocity, but didn't shoot very well today.

I wanted to see if 6.7grs of Silhouette would bring velocity into 990 fps, and reshot SR 7625.

HERCO came in low with 6.1grs.

Not wanting to give up on the fast burners, I added five to the mix;
Bullseye, 700-X, N320, Zip, and AA #2.
And some more slower powders; SR 4756 and AA #5
Went up another notch with Power Pistol, 3N37 and 800-X.



Well obviously 3N37 jumped off the train at 7.3grs. Power Pistol grouped a little better. 800-X, about the same.
SR4756 shot a nice group but was slow, as was AA#5.
As for the fast burners, N320 turned in a very nice group, but also a bit slow. The rest was most acceptable.

The next day I shot SR4756 and AA#5 at their max loads and dropped Bullseye down a bit.

The next time out was going to be a sort of final exam, and to fill in some gaps.
Temps were getting into the 100°F range midday so I thought I would get up on that Saturday the same time I get up to go to work, get up to the range, get setup and shoot while it's still fairly cool. Well the plan came together and I was shooting a little before 0800 hrs.

I've never been a morning person, and it would seem that was the case here. I was expecting some better groups. 7.0grs Silhouette was trying, but lost one low again.

I have some Winchester factory JHP's that don't shoot well and are very slow. So I dis-assembled a few of these and re-assembled them with 6.8grs of Power Pistol. I used the original powder charge for a cast bullet load.
The last group I shot was target #5 with these loads.. Go figure.

I don't have any more HS-6 on hand, but I did have some 540, which is the same powder, so I shot one group with 8.0grs and the Federal bullet.

So the last shoot was two groups of HERCO and one last attempt with 231 with the Federal bullet, plus a group with Red Dot and Green Dot per a request.

With the Fed bullet, 231 shot slower than the first group, even with a higher ambient temp.

I put together a graph to help see all of this a little better, plus a synopsis of current loading data.


So to answer the original question, could the Federal factory load be duplicated with 5.3grs of powder? Yes.. Bullseye will do it nicely with 700-X coming in very close.

Here is the AUTOCOMP targets and new graph;

But fast burners are not absolutely necessary.. This cartridge can shoot a variety of powders very efficiently. As you look through the target data, notice how close the velocity spreads are on many of the loads.

Some observations about the graph;
The least understood powder here has to be HERCO. I can't really put a trend on it. Ken Waters thought highly of it in his .40 S&W Pet Loads, but I didn't find it particularly useful here.

BE-86 and CFE Pistol velocities track each other very closely. As a side note.. This is not the case with revolvers. I have found that CFE Pistol lags behind BE -86 quite a bit in the wheel guns.

3N37 and 800-X track very closely, but at 7.3grs 800-X didn't follow.

WSF had very even and consistent velocity gains. I'm thinking WSF is one of the better powders for 180gr loads.

Well this Sigma isn't exactly a target gun, but it can shoot well, providing the shooter does their part, and I didn't experience any feeding malfunctions through this whole exercise. Nor did I experience any excessive pressure indications.

Bear in mind that just because a load didn't shoot so well in this gun, doesn't mean the same load won't shoot well in yours. And of course, the opposite is also true. You never know until you actually shoot your gun.

Another gun would certainly yield different results, probably better groups.. But I'm wondering, given a different gun and doing this all over again.. What would the points on the graph look like? How would they move? Would they remain roughly the same as they relate to each other, just moving left or right a little, or, would they be completely different? An experiment for retirement..

I believe the data would be more useful had temperatures been more even and one bullet been used all the way through. The weather here can be very fickle, never knowing what conditions the shooting will take place in, and the targets will indicate various ambient temps. So when interpolating the data, take ambient temperature into consideration, as 30° can also make a difference.

I'm hoping this will be of some help to those not very familiar with this cartridge. I would be very interested in how other guns shoot these loads.

Last edited by RDub; 09-09-2017 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 08-14-2017, 06:25 PM
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forestswin forestswin is offline
Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ  
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Thanks for sharing all your work

It's nice to see you posting your results again....I like target pictures

I don't shoot a 40 cal
But, your gun seems to like the Silhouette load
I'd like to agree with you BUT
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Old 08-14-2017, 07:10 PM
OKFC05 OKFC05 is offline
Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ  
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The powder you skipped over, Titegroup, is my standard powder for 180gr in .40 S&W. My goal is to load major power in .40 for USPSA, which means I just have to be sure MV is over 917. I use Precision Delta FMJ 180gr.

I had a SW40VE but sold it, and use a .40 HIPo. Based on my .40 experience, I suspect the pronounced vertical stringing in your groups is more associated with the Sigma trigger affecting the shooting than with the powder in the loads. In some load experimenting I did, varying the powder charge by up to half a grain still had the bullets shooting into the same group.

The most significant factor I found was a batch of soft plated bullets that turned coffee cup groups into serving platter patterns.
Science plus Art
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Old 08-14-2017, 10:05 PM
RDub RDub is offline
Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ  
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Hey OKFC05 keep me posted on how Titegroup works out for you..

Yes the trigger in this gun is horrible.. I try to keep the gun as still as possible, but sometimes...
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Old 09-09-2017, 10:02 PM
RDub RDub is offline
Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ Sigma 40F Loading 180gr FMJ  
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I scored some AUTOCOMP powder recently and shot some groups with it. Pics of the target at the end of the post. A new graph is there as well.
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