SHORTY FORTY RELOADS

The .40 S&W cartridge has become the new standard for…

The .40 S&W cartridge has become the new standard for many police departments and it has become very popular with self-defense shooters. With the right equipment and supplies you can load economical practice ammo to maintain your skills on your carry piece.

I think the most beautiful autoloader ever made is Browning’s Hi-Power. Where a 1911 exudes working class, slab-sided utility, the Hi-Power is slender and elegant looking. The only knock on the Browning is its 9mm chambering. There are benefits to the 9mm of course. Its smaller size allows you to carry more rounds per pound than you can with .45 ACP, and, since it is essentially the world’s standard military handgun ammunition, it is widely available through both military and civilian channels. For that reason I keep a 9mm Hi-Power clone in my grab-and-go bag, and another one rides 24/7 in my truck, along with MREs, a first aid kit and other emergency supplies, in a small utility box strapped under the seat.

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To save money, the author ordered fired brass over the Internet. About a third of the cases had crimped primer pockets that had to be cut out before reloading. Either the RCBS chamfer tool (left) or the Hornady primer pocket cutter will do the job.

But, despite all that, I’ve never fallen in love with the 9mm round, which has limited the Browning Hi-Power’s appeal to me. I have regarded the Hi-Power in roughly the same light as I look at members of the European aristocracy. I can admire their style and elegance, but I ultimately am a bit suspect of their capabilities. That changed recently when I had the opportunity to buy a Hi-Power chambered for the more robust .40 S&W round. The .40 S&W cartridge is basically a cut down 10mm. It trades off some 10mm power for lower recoil and more control in a rapid-fire situation. This is a round that I can embrace for practical use. It falls roughly halfway between the marginal 9mm and the hefty .45 ACP. So, guns chambered for the shorty .40 combine adequate stopping power with high magazine capacity and manageable recoil.

The Hi-Power I picked up had been worked on by a custom pistolsmith. It was outfitted with Cylinder & Slide’s exceptional hammer and sear, and it has a trigger pull that is totally different from a stock Browning. The trigger breaks at 5.25 pounds, which sounds heavy, but it feels great. It is completely creep-free with zero overtravel. I shot it with a variety of factory ammunition, and it proved to be a very accurate pistol. So it was time to brew up a handload that would make good use of that accuracy at a lower cost than factory ammo.

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