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Discussion Starter #1
I tried some more combinations with the Berry's 180 Gr. Plated bullets.

(15 Rounds Each)
WW brass
WSP Primers
5.8 Gr AA#5 (Good Accuracy)
6.0 Gr AA#5 (Very Good Accuracy)
6.2 Gr AA#5 (Accuracy not very good - one bullet keyholed)
5.4 Gr Unique (Accuracy not very good)
7.0 Gr HS-6 (Shows some promise)
7.3 Gr Blue Dot (Shows some promise)
7.7 Gr AA#7 (Accuracy not very good)
Functioning was 100% on all loads. No visible signs of excessive pressure.
 

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rman, I learned some tricks when loading plated bullets. First off, they are very hard lead with a thin plating. They are so hard they don't like to bump-up to bore diameter (obturate) without getting distorted. This makes a "fine line" between good and bad. If your chamber pressure is too low, the bullets don't obturate enough. This leaves gaps between the bullet and bore and allows pressure to vent around the bullet. Naturally, that causes flame cutting on the bullet's circumference thus poor accuracy and velocity loss. The other extreme is too much pressure. This will cause basically the same effect as low pressure only the bullet bumps-up first then gets gas blow-by from excessive pressure.

If you can find the "sweet spot" where chamber pressure is best matched to the bullet's obturation point, accuracy will be best and fouling will be minimal. The powder's burn rate is just as important as the charge weight. I've found burn rates for AA#5 and Unique to be the best. HS-6, AA#7, and Blue Dot have too slow of a burn rate to get optimum obturation. I think your Unique load will work much better if you run it up closer to 6 grains.

With normal lead bullets, obturation is not nearly as critical. In other words, a wider range of burn rates and powder charges will be accurate. Jacketed bullets are way harder and don't obturate much at all but they also don't melt when gasses blow by. This takes obturation out of the formula where most any powder with a safe charge weight will be reasonably accurate.

Unfortunately, the "sweet spot" for Berry's or other plated bullets is a fairly narrow window for charge weight. I would try both AA#5 and Unique loaded in .1 grain increments. AA#5 can safely go up to 7 grains and Unique can go up to 6.5 grains. Somewhere in that range will be a good accurate load. Looks like your 6.0 gr of AA#5 is very close.

I don't shoot at indoor ranges any more so those fussy plated bullets don't get loaded now. In fact, I shoot nothing but jacketed bullets in my 40 S&W (Beretta 96D).
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks for the info Iowegan. I'm getting ready to load up some more trial loads and this will be helpful. Most manuals don't list load data for plated bullets and it's been a struggle to try to find something that works. Berry's says to use low end to middle range jacketed bullet loads and Ranier says to use lead bullet loads. My original attempt used W231 and they were really lousy. The AA#5 loads are good, especially 6.0 grs. I'm shooting them in a KP944D so I don't expect match accuracy, but do expect them to be consistent.
 

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rman, Yes, the plated bullets are the "red headed stepchild" when it comes to reloading. I've used West Coast, Ranier, and Berry's; all with the same finicky results. When you get a load developed, they shoot pretty good however, next time you buy a batch of bullets, they may or may not be the same hardness. Back to the range and more testing. I gave up on them because of the narrow window of chamber pressure required for decent accuracy.

Ranier and Berry are both saying the same thing with different words. You can't drive plated bullets to the same velocities as jacketed bullets, thus the verbage "mid-range jacketed data". If you look at a reloading manual that has both jacketed and lead bullets, the same weight lead bullet requires less powder than a jacketed bullet for the same velocity. This is because of the pressure loss from the leakage between the jacketed bullet and the bore. Upper level loading data for lead bullets is about the same as mid-range loading data for jacketed bullets. Same end result in powder charge, confusing data from the manufacturers.

I'm not trying to discourage you but plated bullets really aren't worth messing with unless you shoot at an indoor range where normal lead bullets are prohibited. Yes, jacketed bullets cost more but their performance is way more predictable and loading latitude is way less fussy.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Finally decided on a pretty good range load for my .40 S&W. Absolutely every load I've tried fed thru the KP944D like candy, but some have been really lousy on accuracy. I've tried W231, Unique, AA#5, HS-6, AA#7 and Blue Dot. Probably the most unlikely one to be accurate is Blue Dot, but it ain't bad. The best load in my gun though is:

WW cases, WSP primers, Berry's 180 Gr PHP, AA#5 6.3 gr.

These function great, shoot clean and are fairly mild, but still stout enough that you know you are shooting a .40 S&W. They shoot pretty much one hole groups off the bench at 10 yards. I know that's not much for distance, but it's the best I can do with these old eyes. These bullets wouldn't be my choice for self defense, but they work nice for range loads at our indoor range.
 
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