A tale of a .357 Magnum novice reloader

Fooped

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Hey folks,

This little ditty is to ask a couple of questions but also to offer some experience that I've had when reloading .357 Magnum.

A few years ago, when I started reloading I bought all of my tools/press and components and set about reading everything I could find about reloading. Uncle Fester and I set out reloading .38 Special to start, given that it was a low pressure load, and we started light and took our time. Things went well, and I branched out into other calibers, and all was well.

Until I got to .357 Magnum. I had been, up to this point using plated bullets (also referred to as TMJ) and when I looked up load data for these bullets, the answer was always the same: load to the same specs as a lead bullet and/or reduce the charge weight by ten percent. So I did, and no matter what I tried from this point, at Magnum velocities the bullet plating would seperate from the lead and fly out of the forcing cone area like little razors, causing nasty little cuts in my arms, and those around me! [angry]

Needless to say, I immediately discontinued this load once we determined that the problem was the bullets. On another reloader's advice, I tried relaxing the roll crimp (he thought that the bullet was too tightly crimped and was literally tearing itself apart when the primer was struck.).

Same thing, little shrapnel flying out of the revolver back toward the shooter.

I don't shoot much .357 Magnum, but I've run out of the factory ammo I bought at the time, and I'd like to get back into this caliber (largely to feed the sweet new Colt Python I bought last month [wink]). So, I bought some Magtech 158 grain JHP bullets, and now I'm ready to go!

Here's what I've got:

1000 Magtech .38/.357 158 JHP bullets
1000 CCI small pistol magnum primers (#350 I think?)
All the brass I need
Either W296 or 2400 in quantity (I'm open to other powders)
A hungry Colt Python
All the tools and some spare time

(I also have some .38/.357 125 JHP screamers that I'd like to load as well. Don't remember the brand on these, I'll check tonight. Any insight on this bullet weight would also be much appreciated! [smile])

I'd also be down for using a recipe that is more economical where charge weight is concerned, without making the tolerances so tight that a .1 grain deviation causes an issue. For example, I'm using Unique right now for my 9mm load, and while it's a very forgiving powder, I'm using 5.6 grains per load. The Titegroup load is about 4.5-4.8 IIRC.

I want to make a load that's reasonably accurate (I'm more of a "hit a clay at 35 yards" kind of guy. I couldn't care less about shooting from a rest and putting all the rounds through the same ragged hole), and I want it to go BOOM. Not KA-BOOM mind you, just BOOM. [wink][smile]

I guess the moral of my story is: Avoid plated bullets for Magnum velocities and load in short runs until you're SURE the load is what you want (safe)!

I'm also all for being "shown the light" where the plated bullets are concerned, if there's someone here who's had good luck with those in a .357 Magnum recipe. If not, I'll probably just use them for .38 Special plinker loads.

Thanks very much for reading, and hope that this helps any new reloaders out there!
 

Jasper

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What kind of velocity were you seeing with the TMJ bullets? I know berrys doesn't recommend >1200fps with their plated stuff...and iirc .357mag can reach 1500fps+ with the right loads. (Subscribing for info, since I want to play with some cannon loads for my new 686PP that I could possibly hunt small game with.

Ill most likelý be using cast lead bullets with a gascheck for my plinking stuff though. (My buddy has gotten me addicted to casting, fun AND economical!)
 
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...
I guess the moral of my story is: Avoid plated bullets for Magnum velocities and load in short runs until you're SURE the load is what you want (safe)!...

That pretty much covers it.
There are good quality plated bullets out there and some real junk.
The best of them are good for velocities up to 1100 or so.
The worst of them are good for nothing.

I've found that lubed cast bullets will do everything that the plated ones do, but cheaper.

Jack
 
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My favorite load right now for my 340 M&P is a 158 grain JHP over 14 grains of 2400 with a magnum primer. The only problem is it's so damn fun I end up going through a box of 50 in about 20 minutes. Let me know if you want to meet up and try some.
 

Patriot

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That pretty much covers it.
There are good quality plated bullets out there and some real junk.
The best of them are good for velocities up to 1100 or so.
The worst of them are good for nothing.

I've found that lubed cast bullets will do everything that the plated ones do, but cheaper.

Jack

Hi Jack,

A number of questions.

1) What bullet are you casting for your gun?
2) What are you shooting (gun)?
3) What lube are you using?
4) What are you sizing to?

Thanks,

Patriot
 

Manomet

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Not to answer you question I think you just want to shout I GOT A PYTHON. Congrats on that. You told me at a shoot (Sippican) your distaste for plated. I have shot many hundreds out of my 500 with fun and no problems. Not every round needs to push the edge. I am also looking for good loads for 357 and will watch w/interest. Clays is my favorite new powder, very clean and accurate.
 
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I've had great luck with 158g FP Berry's plated bullets and 6.0g of Unique. I've loaded them in .38 cases and 357 cases and they have been accurate in my snub and my Marlin 1894 carbine. I've gone as high as 7.0g of Unique in 357 cases but, the accuracy goes away with the plated bullets in my snubby. I crimp them hard enough to leave a mark but, not cut through the plating. John Taffin listed 6.0g Unique with a 158g lswc in 38 cases as a .38 +p load. Alliant says 5.6g is max. I say with Berry's plated bullets, 6.0g Unique in a 38 case, it's my favorite. I wouldn't shoot them in a .38 though...
 
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Hi Jack,

A number of questions.

1) What bullet are you casting for your gun?
2) What are you shooting (gun)?
3) What lube are you using?
4) What are you sizing to?

Thanks,

Patriot

Patriot,

In handgun calibers, I cast for .357 Mag, .44 Spl & Mag., .45 ACP - AR - Colt.
I'm currently mostly shooting revolvers.
My bullets are cast from a mix of range scrap, WW, and monotype.
I try for 4-4-92 mix and then water drop them to get the hardness up.
They are generally too hard to scratch with a fingernail.

I have been using Lars 2500+ lube but am switching over to Lars Carnuba Red this year. No issues with 2500+ in the handguns but I want to try the Carnuba Red in rifle. The Lars lubes are something like $20 per dozen sticks, shipped..
I also cast a .44 cal Lee tumble lube bullet that is lubed with LLA and not sized.

The bullets that are sized are .001-.002 over bore size.

I also cast for a number of different rifle calibers, same techniques and lubes.
The Lyman 31141 bullet is a 175gr FP and has worked well in 30-30, 30-40 Krag, 7.5 Swiss, 30-06, and 7.62 Russian (Finn with 'B' barrel.)
I'm also set up to cast for 8x58RD,.32-40Win.,.35 Rem, .358 Win,38-55 Win., .375H&H, .405 Win.,10.4x42mm, and 45-70. There are probably a few more that I forgot.

Jack
 
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(I also have some .38/.357 125 JHP screamers that I'd like to load as well. Don't remember the brand on these, I'll check tonight. Any insight on this bullet weight would also be much appreciated! [smile])

Heavy .357 loads with 125 gr bullets are notorious for producing cuts in the top strap, particularly with H110/W296. It's not necessarily a deal breaker because the cutting apparently stops before it actually weakens the revolver, but it's something to be aware of.
 
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