What is considered a hot load for .357 Magnum?


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Zeede
October 6, 2008, 08:10 PM
I've been researching my first revolver as of late, as being a reloader I can really tap into the versatility a revolver has, as it doesn't have a narrow operating window to worry about like an autoloader does.

That said, it seems that there is a consensus that a N-frame Smith & Wesson is not as sturdy as a Ruger GP-100. There's a lot of talk about "hot loads" shooting the guns loose after awhile. That said, I know what load I will eventually build up to, and since I believe in practicing with what you carry, I want to know if I will be hurting the gun in the long run. Here's my target load. I'll start with real mousefart loads and work my way up.

125 grain bullets at 1400-1450 fps

In the modern realm of things, is this considered "hot"?

Cameron

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novaDAK
October 6, 2008, 08:12 PM
125gr at 1450 is the 'standard' .357mag. load. I'd say hot is anything 125gr. at 1500 and above. Buffalo Bore claims over 1600 for that weight bullet.

pps
October 6, 2008, 08:19 PM
I chronographed double taps 158gr at 1500fps from a 5" barrel. My 185gr hardcast hand loads chrono at 1200fps. Both of those loads I would consider "hot"

hoptob
October 6, 2008, 09:07 PM
Zeede,

I don't think there is a GP vs. N-frame consensus. There are Ruger and S&W camps each claiming that their favorite gun is more robust :evil: I have not seen either GP or N-frame caving in to hot loads, so not sure if there is a merit to this argument.

125 grainer pushed to 1450 fps out of 4" barrel is a "full house" 357 mag load and it can be easily reproduced with powders like 2400 or H110. It will not damage GP, SP, N- or L-frame guns. Even steel J-frames like M640 can swallow thousands with no visible ill effects other than perhaps eventually developing some end shake.

Mike

Rexster
October 6, 2008, 09:25 PM
It is the relatively smaller K-frame S&W that is considered not quite robust enough for all .357 loads. Part of the breech is not full-diameter, to allow the cylinder assembly to swing open and closed. The wear is cumulative, not something that will suddenly blow up.

As for "hot" loads, well, some loads that are still within pressure specs burn "hotter" than others. The 125-grain full-pressure loads are known for this. Firearms do not last forever; wear does occur. All else being equal, wear occurs quicker with a K-frame than with a weapon with a full-diameter barrel at the breech.

Majic
October 6, 2008, 10:18 PM
I take it you haven't been reloading very long as you don't know how to tell a hot load. Stay well below max loads for a while.

Ben Shepherd
October 6, 2008, 10:26 PM
That slug at that speed is not "hot" but it is a full magnum type load.

As far as the wear on the gun(especially the forcing cone), the powder you use to get there will make a BIG difference, as they have different pressure curves. I reccomend 2400, 296, AA#7, AA#9, or maybe vit N110 as powders you may want to try out.

To save wear on the gun, stay away from the fast powders.

loneviking
October 6, 2008, 10:38 PM
What's 'hot' is not the issue so much as how your gun is built. I have a Colt Peacekeeper/Mark 5 Trooper that can handle hot loads much better than my S&W 65-6 can due to the shape of the forcing cone.

The powders used are also a factor. For the S&W, I use 148 to 158 grain rounds and prefer using Hogdons 'Little Gun' as this powder generates high velocity but at much lower pressure.

For the Colt, my standard target load is a Sierra 125 JHP with 8.0 gr. of Unique pushing along at about 1400 fps.

So, match the powder and rounds to whatever gun you have. The Rugers do seem to be built heavier than the S&W's, if you are into handloading and hot loads.

Elmer
October 6, 2008, 10:43 PM
The newer Smiths are fine with a moderate amount of full power .357's, go back 20 years or more and it's a different story. The Ruger's would hold up far longer.

Back in the 80's the CHP, who were very predisposed to Smiths, did a 10,000 round torture test with .357 factory ammunition. The S&W L frames and the Colt Troopers failed with numerous malfunctions that required armorer attention, and even parts breakage.

The Ruger GP100's had zero malfunctions, no parts breakage, and no measurable wear. The agency went to auto's not long after so it was a moot point, though they still stayed with Smiths....

MachIVshooter
October 6, 2008, 10:48 PM
That said, it seems that there is a consensus that a N-frame Smith & Wesson is not as sturdy as a Ruger GP-100

Where is that consensus? Especially considering than N-frame is the model 29 (.44 magnum) platform, and perfectly capable of handling any .357 load.

The GP-100 compares more favorably with L-frame guns, and an L-frame Smith is just as robust as a GP-100, if not more. I pound my 686 and it just smiles. Remember, Smiths are forged, and so do not need to be as chunky as the investment cast Ruger for the same amount of strength.

As far as hot load, anything .357 approaching the 700 ft/lb mark is pretty darn warm. That's 10mm territory.

The newer Smiths are fine with a moderate amount of full power .357's, go back 20 years or more and it's a different story. The Ruger's would hold up far longer.

I have a Ruger with a cracked forcing cone that says otherwise. Locked that gun up tight, too. Took a mallet to knock the cylinder out. On that note, Ruger actions suck. I own 3, have owned others, and so get to bash them all I want. If S&W made a 3" .32 mag and a .454 Casull, I'd only have the one broken Ruger that I refuse to spend the money to fix since I have a perfectly functioning model 19, model 65, model 586 and model 686.

Back in the 80's the CHP, who were very predisposed to Smiths, did a 10,000 round torture test with .357 factory ammunition. The S&W L frames and the Colt Troopers failed with numerous malfunctions that required armorer attention, and even parts breakage.

The Ruger GP100's had zero malfunctions, no parts breakage, and no measurable wear. The agency went to auto's not long after so it was a moot point, though they still stayed with Smiths....

Source?

Jim March
October 6, 2008, 10:50 PM
The S&W 6-shot N-frame 357s like the 27 and 28 were very tough in terms of resistance to blowup for any given "hot load". They match and possibly even exceed the GP100 in that department.

What kills the N-frames is their relatively fragile action parts. They can even be beaten to death firing high round counts of LIGHT loads at high speeds. You can dump six 38Spl target wadcutters out of a model 27 or 28 pretty damned quickly, but you're also beating the gun up. A K-frame 38 or 357 will do better because the cylinder isn't as heavy and can therefore be stopped and started faster without tearing the gun up. The GP100 will also do very well at this type of speed shooting.

Mind you, as long as you're not yanking the trigger as fast as possible six times in a row, an N-frame S&W will last forever with 38Spls.

The new 8-shot 357Mag S&W N-frames are better at rapid fire, as the cylinder is lighter, the action parts are tougher and you're only moving the cylinder 1/8th of a spin on each shot versus 1/6th.

Don357
October 7, 2008, 01:18 AM
I was just doing some research on .357mag ammo for deer hunting with my 6 1/2" Ruger Blackhawk, and ran across an ad for Fiocchi 180gr JHP rated at 1800fps from a 20" barrel. Hornady also has their new "Leverevolution" ammo with a 140gr Flex-Tip bullet, rated at 1850fps from a 18" barrel and 1440fps from a 8" barrel. BTW, from the 18" barrel the bullet still has a velocity of 1272fps at 150yds and 1049fps at 150yds from the 8". That sounds pretty hot to me!:what:

Zeede
October 7, 2008, 06:02 PM
Majic: While I am new to reloading still, what gives you the impression that I don't know what a hot load is? I have plenty of data on starting and max powder charges for various powders and various bullets, but none of it helps me determine whether a Model 619 or Model 627 will withstand 125 grain bullets moving at 1400 fps. What might be "too hot" for a J-frame might not be for an L or N-frame, and then there's the different bullet weights to consider too.

Ben Shepherd: I was considering the 2400 as my first powder to try.

Cameron

Ben Shepherd
October 7, 2008, 06:37 PM
Zeede-

What gun are you going to use? A K-frame isn't going to like a steady diet of those.

And why a 125 grain slug? Not saying you're wrong, I'm curious, is all.

I prefer 158 HCSWC for practice loads and carry a 158 JHP for defense. Part of the reason is the 158s are easier on the forcing cone than the 125s by quite a bit. Especcially the lead ones.

Ringtail
October 7, 2008, 10:43 PM
I would have to disagree with the statement that the Smith 27 lockwork is too fragile to stand up to high speed firing drills. I used a mod. 27 for combat competition on the 1980s. I bought it new and kept a log of every round fired. Roughly 10K and still counting. Lots of those rounds were dumped in the target as fast as I could shoot. The only change I could detect was the action smoothed up real nice at about 3000 rounds. I also practiced dry firing to try to increase my speed. The gun is still tight and remains the most accurate handgun I've ever owned.

To adress the orginal question. In my revolvers the signs I look for to tell if a load is hot are flatened primers and stickey case extraction. If you notice either of these indicators your rounds are too hot and you should back off of the powder charge. You should keep in mind however, that the pressure of your reloads could be excessive before you notice stickey extraction or flatened primers. Don,t use these indicators for load development. Stick to the recomendations in ypour reloading manual. Also don't try to reach some pre determined velocity goal. Velocity is a function of the guns tolerences as well as the load.

pps
October 7, 2008, 11:51 PM
"And why a 125 grain slug?"

My 627 is only 2 years old and has seen nothing but 158gr and heavier. However, I've got 1000 rounds of free hornady 125gr xtp to cook up. I'll be working up carefully some max loads with sr4756 when the mood strikes me.

The answer with the OP may simply be "just because."

Ringtail, what you are saying about not being able to use flattened primers and sticky extraction as a guide is VERY true. I found this out a few weeks back trying to work up a load of 2400 with a 358156 bullet and saw velocity peak, then with the next 0.1 grain increase the velocity dropped and extreme spread went from 3fps (5 shots) to 50fps (2 shots and stopped immediately). There were NO PRESSURE SINGS as far as looking at extraction and primers.

Majic
October 8, 2008, 12:09 AM
125 grain bullets at 1400-1450 fps

In the modern realm of things, is this considered "hot"?
You asked the question. You say you have all the resources but did you check the test vehicles? Do you have a chronograph? Do you have a strain gauge? Velocity and pressure is what you need to know when working out on the edge. Though most don't have a strain gauge a chrono is an invaluable instrument to have. It don't take much to get into trouble when dealing with max loads. Even the books can get you into trouble unless you follow everything they do. Do you use the same make case or primer? Case volume can vary from maker to maker. Powders are made in batches and they vary even though they have the same name. It's not rocket science but there is quite a bit to learn. Don't be in a hurry to make some max loads just because you have a few books. Spend some time with mid-range loads and learn consistancy. Take notes on what works as well as what fails.

Elmer
October 8, 2008, 01:28 AM
MachIVshooter asked:

Source?

I was there, participated in the testing, and still have the test documents somewhere.

Zeede
October 8, 2008, 01:47 AM
My question does not pertain to what a maximum load is, nor to the pressure signs. I have not seen a pressure sign in person, but I have lots of pictures of them in the manuals, and I have no intention of starting out at the maximum powder drops listed. They list a "starting charge" for a reason, me thinks :)

My question is about the durability of the different frames sizes, and how "hot" of a load you have to get to before you start to worry about long-term effects upon the frame. For example, I know that on some of the older Smith & Wesson K-frames, a fast 125 grain bullet would crack the forcing cone after awhile. Other ones had the frame lengthen from all the beating it took.

It's that kind of damage I want to avoid, if all possible, when I pick up either a L-frame Model 619 or a N-frame Model 627.

I guess I was unclear or folks seized upon me using the letter H, O and T in a particular order and thought this was about reloading and not about frame durability.

Cameron

pps
October 8, 2008, 01:57 AM
Your 627 will digest even the nastiest rounds with gusto.

Zeede
October 8, 2008, 03:29 AM
Thanks, that's all I wanted to know :)

Cameron

the foot
October 9, 2008, 08:30 PM
If you're talking frame strength, I believe HOT in a Smith would be MILD in a Ruger. That load you suggested, with any revolver is a good standard 357 load.

Beagle-zebub
October 9, 2008, 08:50 PM
The six-shot 27s and 28s, while not quite as tank-like as New Model Blackhawks in .357, are not far behind. The N-frame that they were built on does very well with .41 magnum, and even a not-too-excessive amount of .44 magnum.

MachIVshooter
October 9, 2008, 09:27 PM
If you're talking frame strength, I believe HOT in a Smith would be MILD in a Ruger. That load you suggested, with any revolver is a good standard 357 load.

With each manufacturer offering the chambering in multiple frames, that's a very generic and wholly incorrect statement.

Pound for pound, S&W's are stronger, as they are made of forged steel. This was compensated for, the result of which is the Rugers tend to be heavier and bulkier.

Look at it this way

Ruger SP-101=S&W J-frame (capable of handling full-power stuff, but unpleasant to fire and abusive to the gun over time)

Ruger Speed/security/police-six= K-frame S&W (lightweight, slender, thin cylinder walls; heavy use of full power ammo will take it's toll)

Ruger GP-100=S&W L-frame (heavily built guns, full underlugs, designed and intended for a steady diet of full power ammo)

Ruger Redhawk=S&W N-frame (capable of handling far more powerful rounds, hence over-built for the .357)

S&W's have a more complex and delicate lockwork, which is why the actions are so much smoother. On that note, I don't personally know anyone that has ever worn out or damaged the lockwork in a Smith or a Ruger from normal use.

oneounceload
October 9, 2008, 09:37 PM
Hot Load?? one that has a muzzle flash that singes your eyebrows, flattens the primers and leaves your ears ringing even with plugs and muffs on...:what:

sadp40
October 9, 2008, 10:22 PM
for a blackhawk with 180gr's at an unprintable velocity. but it was for long range silhouette shooting. it was a hoot.:evil:

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