Need some help developing a deer load for my 6" 686


April 8, 2007, 03:01 AM
Here are my state's regulations:

Handgun Regulations
Modern and muzzleloading handguns may be used to hunt upland game (except dove and woodcock) and forest game (handgun hunting for turkey only during the fall season), woodchuck, fox, coyote, opossum, nutria, fisher, skunk and raccoon. However, modern handguns may be used to hunt deer only in those counties where the use of a breech-loading rifle for deer hunting is permitted with the exception that modern handguns may be used to hunt deer throughout Frederick County. Any modern handgun used for deer hunting must have a barrel length of 6 inches or more and use ammunition which produces a muzzle energy of 700 foot-pounds or more. Muzzleloading handguns (both single shot and revolvers) may be used to hunt deer in all counties. Muzzleloading handguns used for deer hunting must be at least .40 caliber in size with a barrel length of at least 6 inches and use not less than 40 grains of black powder (or a black powder equivalent) and propel one all-lead, lead alloy or copper soft-nosed or expanding bullet or ball at a single discharge. Contact the Maryland State Police for information about handgun purchase, possession, transport and use in non-hunting activities.

According to ,

I need a 180gr bullet @1325fps or 158gr bullet @1425fps

I've got some 158gr Speer GDs, some 180gr Hornady XTPs, some W296 and some CCI magnums primers. I would really like to be able to do this with the 180gr, but I'm worried I wont be able to get it going fast enough.


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April 8, 2007, 03:21 AM
go to a hard-cast bullet - you'll up your velocity.

and, a forewarning... when i made it my mission to maximize the 357's performance out of my 686 - to legitimize the 357 mag as a hunting round, i was shocked at the ferocity of the recoil and tremendous performance on tap w/ the cartridge.

April 8, 2007, 09:30 AM
158 XTP with H110/W296. If you run the 180 try Lil Gun. You can get the numbers you are looking for without too much trouble. I have been there plus some with 158's in a 4" gun, so unless you have a big cylinder gap or big throats it shouldn't be a problem. Cast bullets are a good bit faster, and kill deer well just not RIGHT NOW like a good HP will with a broadside shot.

You need a chronograph, that is a given. With H110 I was a good bit above listed max before I saw any pressure signs at all, I stopped when ejecting ALL 6 cases had a little drag. Be VERY aware that working up shooting one or two rounds at a time can be decieving, they might slide right out where the combined drag of all 6 makes ejecting them a lot harder. If you aren't comfortable reading cases for an approximation of pressure then just work up to book max and call it good, adjust for accuracy.

April 9, 2007, 03:37 AM
IDriveB5: there has been a good deal written on this topic in regard to adequate bullet weight in the .357 Magnum. A 158 gr. .357 has a sectional density equal to a 225 gr. .429" bullet, give or take a thousandth.

To determine KE: V squared X BW in grains /450240 will give you the result. I have really been impressed with AA#9 in .357 Magnum loads like this. The actual velocity is as high as you're likely to get with a 158 gr bullet and in their data, Accurate used the XTP and if memory serves, I believe there is a flatpoint version of the XTP at this weight. I like JSPs for handgun hunting as well as some Silhouette bullets. I believe concerns of JHPs being too fragile are a bit exagerated, especially a 158 gr. JHP at the velocity you need. With a JSP, I wouldn't give it a second thought. The Accurate data was chronographed in a 6" S&W 686 last I heard, rather than in a 10" test barrel, although they only specify 6" barrel. At one time they did list the 686 as the test gun. here's the link:
at 1470 FPS this load will develop 758 ft/lbs of KE.;)

April 10, 2007, 07:18 PM
A cast 158gr LSWC and a stout load of 2400 makes the grade for me.

April 10, 2007, 07:32 PM
jfruser- any details of your load/firearm being used?

CZ- this is the first I have heard of the fragility of 158 JHPs. Anymore info?

April 10, 2007, 09:03 PM
Well, it goes back a ways. The first JHPs in common use were fairly rapid expanders, so many found it preferable to use a hard cast lead bullet. I don't want to say an urban legend resulted, but many still believe you need a hardcast lead bullet for handgun hunting. I really don't think you'd find that to be the case today with excellent bullets like the 158 gr. XTP. In the case of JSPs, I don't believe it was ever an issue. Nothing wrong with using hardcast bullets for handgun hunting, especially where deep penetration is the prime concern, but, Whitetail deer are not tough enough skinned to make this a prime concern. In fact there are some guys that have taken this a step further with 140, and even 125 gr. bullets. I have not, but I would use a JSP over a JHP, if I did. I like the 158 because it covers all of the bases when driven to the velocity it is capable of achieving with good powder selection. Realistically basing your range appropriate to the size of game you're shooting and the energy of the round are key factors. 50-75 yards is about what you'll see recommended for your load, depending on whose opinion it is and the presentation of the animal you're shooting.

For my own use, I prefer the .41 Magnum loaded with JSPs or Silhouette bullets like the Sierra 220 gr. TM, although now discontinued. They are not designed to expand like a JHP, but with enough velocity, they will upset more in a Whitetail, than a hardcast lead bullet will. This is a favorite method with a good many guides around here that hunt with a handgun. Your deer may be bigger there, but where I live, the deer density is as heavy as anywhere in the US.;)

April 11, 2007, 01:20 PM

.357mag brass
Rucker 158gr cast LSWC
15.2gr 2400
Standard primers

It gets around 1400fps in my 4" 686. A 6" bbl would likely get you what you need. (BTW, 15.3gr got 1438fps, but not as accurate)

I have several posts in this forum on that load. I would suggest a search on "jfruser 158 2400" for more detail.

I am not hte first to find this combo to be effective.

April 11, 2007, 01:39 PM
Thanks, will keep this load in mind. I'm going to see how fast I can get my 180's going with 296, might see if I can find some Lil gun locally. Im thinking I'll end up using my 158 Speer GDs with 296.

Somewhere between school, work, girlfriend, trout season and turkey season, I'll try to get some results to post.

April 13, 2007, 11:53 PM
yrs ago i shot a 143# doe with a sierra 140 gr hp &pushed as fast as i dared,she puffed up &fell over.

Steve C
April 14, 2007, 02:14 AM
Government agencies set "standards" that are often arbitrary and without any real method of enforcement. Its highly unlikely there will be a bunch of game wardens out there with chronographs to test ammunition.

The fact that there is .357 magnum ammo that meets the standard pretty much means that any such ammo used, regardless if it meets the arbitrary FPE in your particular pistol, would be legal. The government can't expect every handgun hunter to chrono ammo from their particualar pistol to verify the FPE. Any game cop will have to give you the benifit of the doubt regarding type of ammo. Will a deer be any less dead if shot by a well placed 158gr slug only going 1,300 fsp, unlikely? The only time such obscure rules are strictly enforced is when they arrest a person involved in criminal activity as only then it makes sense to spend the money for ballistic tests, hearings, etc.

Load up a combination of a good bullet that will give sufficient penetration with or without expansion at sufficient velocity and accuracy to reliably kill the game and don't worry about a few lbs of FPE one way or the other.

April 14, 2007, 02:50 AM
Well, in this case, I don't think I'd be assuming the standard was arbitrary. Most likely, when it was established, the pressure rating of the .357 Magnum was still 46,000 CUP. Now it is 35,000 PSI/33,000 CUP for factory loads, and has been for a number of years. I don't know how it is where you guys live, but down here, the Game Wardens have radios in their vehicles and the people in the offices have computers, just like you do. It might be that the GW might be inclined to believe you know what you're doing if you handloaded your own loads, but if it were factory ammo, they probably already know that you're going to be hard pressed to find a current load that will meet the 700 Ft/Lb minimum in a 6" barrel.

Down here, deer hunting is a pretty large industry with a number of interested parties involved. Not a good place to press your luck. You get the wrong Buckaroo and all he has to do to satisfy his curiosity is confiscate a single round. Unless you fired more than once, he's probably gonna collect five. Then, someone is going to shoot for velocity. Our required centerfire KE is lower than MDs and I haven't met many GWs that didn't know the regs pretty thoroughly. Better safe than sorry. Whatever load you choose, chronograph it and make sure that minimum is met.;)

April 14, 2007, 01:59 PM
That is the plan. Walking down the road of picking and choosing which regs I wish to follow is not a road I am willing to take, no matter how hard it may be to prove either way.
I have the ability and equipment to create and test a round that meets these requirements and this is what I will do.
That said, I am going to work with my 296, Speer 158gr GDs and CCI 550s. That and a firm crimp ought to get me where I need to go.

April 14, 2007, 05:02 PM
Sounds great. Good luck with it, IDriveB5!;)

July 5, 2007, 12:18 AM
Was finally able to do some loading and chronographing, and here are my results:

2400 has worked out the best for me so far, and will continue my testing.

July 6, 2007, 11:48 AM
Nice work IdriveB5.

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