Anybody use Lil'Gun in 357 Max?


September 17, 2008, 07:37 PM
My grandfather has a 357 Maximum Contender rifle with a 16 in bull barrel that, back when he was playing with that sort of thing, he couldn't get to shoot well. I have it on loan and am looking to see what I can get it to do. It has been gone over by a gunsmith who installed an oversize pin and the thing is tight and checks out in all (obvious) regards.

I'm thinking CCI 400 (small rifle) primers and some amount of Lil'Gun under a 180 grain XTP. The cases are trimmed to length and ready to go. According to the Hodgdon website the max load in 357 mag with a 180 jacketed bullet is 15 grains. I'm guessing this is a safe place to start, but where to end is up in the air. I have a chrono and am looking for accuracy rather than velocity, so I'll be stopping at a reasonable velocity compared to similar cartridges. I think I'm pretty good at picking up pressure signs vs normal variants so that facet is covered.

I have found one website with data, and it lists 22 grns of Lil'Gun with a 180 grain spire point. I don't plan on using his data, but it's the only direction I've found so far for the Max.

Member Clark has overloaded the 357 mag with Lil'Gun and noted that above listed max he lost velocity and got a bigger boom and recoil. Velocity plateaus are something I'd definitely look for in working up a load.

Anybody have more ideas, suggestions, or data they've found to be safe?

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September 17, 2008, 08:59 PM
Just why would you want to use Lil-Gun powder in a cartridge like the 357 Max. That does not compute! :confused:

September 17, 2008, 09:27 PM
Well my favorite powder is IMR4227 in the max, but I know alot of guys who use LilGun and like it. Try here...

Just did a quick search and there's quite a few guys trying it out. Looks like they've loaded up to and some beyond 22gr, but as always your gun may be different.

September 17, 2008, 10:35 PM
Might try some fast rifle powder too. Make the most of the large case and long barrel.

September 17, 2008, 10:57 PM
Lil'gun should be perfect. I sent you an email with some QuickLoad data.

September 17, 2008, 11:37 PM
Ammoguide lists 1 load on their site. A MAX load of 21.6gr. of Lil'gun behind a 180 gr in a 10" barrel. Recommended start load is 16.7.
My load is 22 gr. of rel-7 with 180gr. singleshot Hornady out of my 10" Contender.


September 18, 2008, 12:06 AM
zxcvbob, that email is awesome. Thanks a lot for running the numbers for me. I'd be happy to use around 20 grains and get that kind of velocity and never feel the need to go higher.

I have some rounds loaded in increments from 18-20 grains already, so I'll go back and start at 16 or so to fill in the gaps.

I wonder if the guys loading at 22+ grains are unknowingly exceeding SAAMI specs, and if they're seeing an increase in velocity between 20 and 22 grains of powder.

As to why use Lil'Gun, as has been said it should work well, but also my grandfather has tried many of the standard loadings and they didn't do well in the gun. I'm giving new loads one last try before we either live with the limitations of the gun or send it to a gunsmith.

Thanks for the help everybody. When I get around to shooting them across the chrono I need to post the data to get all this in the THR archives.

September 18, 2008, 03:52 AM
Steve's Pages ( lists a Max of 22.0gr Lil'Gun in the .357 Max with a 180gr bullet.

I agree Lil'Gun will probably work very well in the .357 Max using a 180gr bullet. I have been using Lil'Gun for a while now for my 170gr and 180gr loads in a .357 Magnum with good success. According to everything I've read it generates lower pressures while producing higher velocities with the heavier bullets. I can't verify the pressures but I can verify the velocities.

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