Getting bank into IHMSA - Need bullet advice


August 4, 2006, 05:42 PM
Hi Guys:

Back in the late 70s and early 80s I was pretty heavy into shooting in International Handgun Metallic Silhouette Association shooting. Always shot a S&W Mod. 57 .41 mag in 8-3/8", which qualified as production revolver and I normally shot standing, rather than freestyle.

Anyway, I got away from it primarily because of a very heavy involvement as a Scoutmaster of a BSA troop and family matters. Just did not have enough time for everything that I wanted to do.

Anyway, I now have the time again and I'm jumping back in, again with a .41 Mag. Unfortunately, my original Mod 57 was stolen and now I have a Mod. 657 in 7-1/2 inches. I don't like it nearly as much as my old M57, but it will do unless and until I get a TC Contender in 7mm TCU or similar.

QUESTION: There are a variety of jacketed bullets in 170, 200, 210, and 220 grain that are available for reloading. The typical cast lead bullet that you find is either 210 or 215 grain, w/o a gas check. The 215 grain cast bullets I've been using have a bevel base (for ease of loading, I assume), but I've been getting a lot of leading that I did not use to experience. I suspect that it is actually melted or blasted off the bullets by gases trying to get past the bevel base of the projectiles.

I've recently found a couple of sources for much heavier bullets - 240, 250 and even 265 grain gas checked bullets. I'm betting that the gas checks will stop the leading and that appeals to me. Also, I'm guessing that a nice heavy 250 grainer would have a much better chance of knocking over those 60 lb. rams out at 200 meters than my regular 215 bullets. While I've bought some of the 250 gr GC bullets, I've not yet loaded any and don't know what kind of trajectory I'd be looking at out at 200 meters.

Comments please?

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August 4, 2006, 08:28 PM
when I started shooting IHMSA(# 5994) , I also used a 41 mag in a super 14 TC and I used the 210 gr Remington soft points. I bought them through Midway I think in bulk boxes. I then switched to the 7 TCU also. as you have found plain based lead bullets are going to lead a lot unless you used gaschecked bullets. for IHMSA I think the 7 TCU is a better deal as there is a better selection of bullets , it shoots flatter (less sight adjustments required) and less recoil.

41 Redhawk
August 7, 2006, 03:24 PM
For the 41 I would look a LeadHead's 230gr Keith. It does not have a bevel base and the same bullet from a different caster (no longer casting) shoots well in my Redhawk.

August 10, 2006, 06:26 PM
Thanks for the replies guys - most appreciated.

BTW, .41 Redhawk - the heavy bullets that I spoke of were from Leadhead. I'm really looking forward to shooting the 250s, but I bet the recoil will be interesting. :-)

Sharps Shooter
August 10, 2006, 10:47 PM
I've just recently become a fan of the .41 Magnum as a bum around in the hills/backpacking gun. I think if you're looking for a ,41 caliber cast bullet for silhouettes it would be hard to go wrong with the 250-grain WFNGC from Cast Performance. That's what I'm using over a stout charge of Lil"Gun for a heavy load. Cast Performance also builds a 255-grain WFNGC that you can load even hotter because it has a longer nose, allowing more room for powder in the case. Unfortunately, the 255-grain job won't work in either of my ,41 Magnum revolvers because the OAL of the finished cartridge is too long for the cylinders. But it might work fine for you in your Redhawk. I have a Taurus and a Freedom Arms.
I'm pretty sure the reason many factory cast handgun bullets have bevel bases is ease of manufacturing for mass production. I don't like them. There is no way they'll obturate properly and have to be cast harder than the back of my head to stop them from leading. And I've never found bevel based handgun bullets to be any easier to load because you have to flair (bell) the case mouths anyway.
My wife and I were both heavily into IHMSA back in the early 80s. We shot Ruger .44 Magnums in the Production Revolver Class and we used 220-grain "Sierra Silhouette" bullets over 2400. I don't remember ever losing a ram. It seems like a factory 220-grain jacketed bullet from a .41 Magnum would perform just as well on the rams, maybe even a little better. Then again, if you want to shoot cast bullets for IHMSA, maybe you'd be better off if they're a little heavier. I'm just guessing though.

August 11, 2006, 11:06 AM
Once again - REALLY appreciate the responses.

I've still not had the chance to load those Leadhead 250 grainers. I'm guessing that if I use H110 (my normal favorite for .41 Mag) and keep it to a moderate level that there'll be plenty of room in the cartridge case for a normal crimp and still fit into the cylinders of my S&W M657. If I recall correctly, my old IHMSA load with 215 - 220 grain LSWC was 18 or 19 grains of H110. Never seemed to be overly hot in my M57.

Looks like 16 or 17 grains of H110 might be a good starting point with these 250 grainers. I note that Hogden's 2006 annual manual shows a starting load for a 250 Gr. WFNGC over 17.4 gr. of H110 for 1391 fps at 29,400 CUP. The max. load is 18.5 gr. of H110 at 1479 fps at 38,700 CUP. I've never been a fan of maximum loads and certainly not as a steady diet for a quality revolver like the M657. Maybe a TC Contender, but not a revolver. In any event, a "starting load" sending a 250 grain bullet down range at almost 1400 feet per second is pretty damned amazing from my point of view.

I've killed large Russian Boar with my M57 twice using hard cast 220 gr. LSWC over 21 gr. of H110. I estimate that it was making well better than 1500 fps out of my 8-3/8" barrelled M57. The last time I hunted, the bullet went thru both lungs on a broadside shot at 50 yards or so and exited the opposite side. The pig did not move more than 20 yards, if that.

August 11, 2006, 11:18 AM
I have used the Leadhead 250 GC's and like them in my Bisley Blackhawk. I get very similar accuracy to the Cast Performance 250's. No leading whatsoever--including in a 20" Marlin, where I push them over 1800 fps. Were I loading JUST for a wheelgun (i.e., without needing to worry about the feeding issues of a levergun), I'd go with the 255's.

My best results have been with Lil' Gun, with a max in the general neighborhood of 20 grains.

41 Redhawk
August 11, 2006, 02:54 PM
I have shot the 230gr Keiths at close to 1500fps from my Redhawk. Recoil wasn't bad at all. Now I shot the same bullets at 1200fps out of a 28oz Taurus Tracker TI.....that was more interesting!

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