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Sunday, May 23, 2010

Montana Gold's .40 Caliber, 165 Grain JHP Bullet

There are a lot of handgun bullets available to reloaders these days. Being an old 1911/wheelgun man, ‘pistol bullet’ to me has always meant ‘cast’. But I’ve had a Glock 23 around for about a year now and it’s well established that Glock warns that your warranty is voided if you use reloads. My answer is that under this restriction, my future patronage of Glock is ‘voided’ as well. Ammunition prices & availability got stupid after Obongo was elected and reloading components haven’t fared any better. Note to Obongo-voting  'gun owners'- I hope your favorite ‘component’ falls off in the shower.

So like a lot of other Glock owners, I am going to shoot reloads. The good news is that they’ll handle them fine as long as you exercise due caution in selecting components and building your ammunition. An aftermarket barrel might not be a bad idea if you’ve got an early Glock with less chamber support, or if you intend to shoot lead. The stock barrel will shoot lead just fine, but its poly-wog rifling can be a bear to get that lead out of. Plated and coated bullets bring their own set of restrictions. For many, the answer is to simply use jacketed bullets.

I’m a frugal sort and my quest for economical jacketed bullets led me to Montana Gold Bullet Inc. of Kalispell, MT. On Tuesday, I ordered 1000 of their 165 grain .40/10mm JHP for $131.00 shipped. In four days they were sitting at my Post Office in central MO, waiting to be picked up. That is good service by any standard and the bullets themselves are of excellent quality. The photo on the company’s website is entirely representative of what I received. A side benefit is that the jacket material is bright yellow, making your reloads easy to identify among other ammo of the same caliber. Now the only thing left to do was cook up a load.

To keep costs down, I use.40 S&W range pick-up brass exclusively. I assume all of it has been fired through Glocks and I do not load it ‘hot’- period. Hodgdon’s Data Center indicated that appropriate charges of the Winchester 231 powder I’d be using, would fall between 4.8 and 5.3 grains for 1001 fps on the top end with 32, 500 CUP of pressure. I had no intention of crowding the high end of that bracket. My goal was to build a junk critter/garden pest load, and a 850 fps or so bulk load with the 165 grain Montana Gold JHP bullet. I’d done some similar work with Missouri Bullet Company’s 170 grain SWC, so I wasn’t exactly flying blind. An overall cartridge length of 1.125” soon established itself for feed reliability and was used throughout load development with this bullet.

For the pest small/game load, I started with 4.o grains of W231; this produced an average of 696 fps with standard deviation in the low 20’s. It also proved itself on paper and anything the size of a squirrel at 25 yards would be toast, if divided by the front sight. Recoil was nil and even at 50 yards, this powder-puff dropped bullets on the front sight. Fired casings gathered in a pile not far from my right foot.

For the bulk load, I toyed with from 4.5 to 5.0 grains of W231. The 4.5 grain load shot OK but at 751 fps, it didn’t offer much over the 4.0 grain load.

4.8 grains of W231 produced better results. The Chrony Beta Master says this is the most consistent load, averaging 827 fps with and extreme spread of 40 and a standard deviation of 15. Recoil is inconsequential and fired cases land about five feet away. 50 yard offhand groups were 6" in diameter, nice and round and right above the front sight. Shooting from an improvised rest closed the group to 3 3/4".

At 5.0 grains, chronograph sessions over two warm days show an average of 861 fps. Recoil was about equal to commercial 165 grain FMJ loads. Rested groups from the stock G23,were 2” at 25 yards or 4” at 50 yards- discounting called fliers.

Finally, I loaded a few of these bullets over 8.0 grains of HS6; what Hodgdons currently says is the top charge for a 165 grain bullet. From the G23 they averaged 1022 fps. I fired one into a 30" column of water contained by two kitty litter jugs and a washer fluid jug. An old Brownell's catalog served as the bullet catcher and it was backed by a piece of waferboard. This arrangement  (the 'Jethro Bodine Ballistics Lab') has worked for .45/230/FMJ and .40/180/FMJ, so I figured it'd work for this.

The jacket shattered into shards in the first 12" of water and it made the first jug buck a little. The core, weighing 145 grains, continued in a straight line penetrating the full 30" and knocking a 1/4" dent in the catalog. The core had expanded a bit and measured about 0.440 x 0.465 inches.

The pieces of jacket material were sharp and substantial. Personally, I would not want them spinning off into my tender vittles at 900+ fps, presumably in the first 6-8 inches of the wound channel. The following is a poor cell phone pic, but you get the idea.

For my uses, I settled on 4.8 grains of W231 as my bulk load with this bullet. That load gave the most consistent chronograph results, best accuracy and it provided useful velocity. It’s worth mentioning that throughout the load spectrum (just under 700 fps to 1022 fps) there were no malfunctions of any kind with the Montana Gold 165 grain JHP bullet. Feeding and ejection was positive and fired casings showed no signs of stress or inordinate expansion at the feed ramp. This is mute testimony to both the reliability of the Glock 23 and the excellent feed profile of Montana Gold's bullet.

While this bullet won't group with Missouri Bullet Company's 170 grain SWC, it is plenty accurate for most Action Shooting games and the load wouldn’t embarrass you at the 50 yard line in a PPC match. I can certainly recommend it for high-volume shooters looking for a jacketed .40 caliber bullet, at a good price.


Anonymous rjf415 said...

Just finished reloading 1,100 rounds of Montana Gold 165gr bullets too--used Bullseye powder, Winchester primers,and shells that I gathered up after LE quals. Great bullets...will buy more.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013 2:21:00 AM  

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