Why can't I get a good .357 reload?


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Okiecruffler
September 16, 2003, 04:50 PM
Okay, I've been trying now for about 4 months to get a good reload for my .357 Contender. I've tried 4 different powders and 3 different weights in different combos, but the best I can do is 2 inch groups at 50yrds. The gun shoots 1.5 inch groups at 100yrds with S&B ammo. I've never had this much trouble before. It's driving me bonkers.

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Black Snowman
September 16, 2003, 05:00 PM
Well, the most accurate .357 loads I've cooked up (mind you it wasn't in a contender) have been full power H110 loads pushing 158 Grain JHP.

Specificly Star bulk 158 Gr JHP and CCI magnum primers. I can't remember the powder weight but it was 1 or 2 tenths of a grain below max in the Speer manual. The key is the right amount of crimp and consistant crimp. With H110 it needs to be a STRONG crimp. A loose crimp with H110 can bring a lot of inconsisntancy, especially in such a small case (for H110).

Out of my Taurus 669 I can get the best groups with this ammo.
What combos have you tried so far and what's the barrel lenght of your Contender?

Big_R
September 16, 2003, 05:10 PM
Okie:

Do you have a chronograph? If you do, what are the velocities and ranges? If you're having ignition problems, etc., accuracy will suffer. If you're using slow burning powder, you need a very firm crimp and possibly a magnum primer. Last, check the overall length of the S&B loads and compare to your loads. You may need to move the OAL a bit.

My money's on the crimp or primer.

Ryan

Jeeper
September 16, 2003, 05:37 PM
My money is also on the crimp. I always liked 180gr bullets out of my contender.

Grump
September 16, 2003, 05:48 PM
:uhoh: Best I've been getting from revolvers is 2 inches at 25 yards, with all variations at full and less than full power, using Unique, 231, 296, and even experiments with Power Pistol and WAP. I admire your accomplishments with that Contender. You're getting good, but not GREAT groups.

FL sizing *could* be minutely affecting your bullet/bore alignment. Look of all those single-shot rifle tricks for straight-wall rifle cases and see if their neck size only and other techniques help. How does the middle of a new S&B round mic out compared to the sized diameter of your reloads?

Hutch
September 16, 2003, 06:03 PM
What application do you have in mind? Is 3 moa good enough for that? It's possible to spend the rest of your days trying to create something for which reasonable alternatives already exist.

That said, I used to shoot 158gr hardcast LSWC over Unique for Hunter Pistol silhouette. It would go maybe 2, 2.5" at 50yds. My hold ain't that good, so that's as far as I would chase perfection with a cast bullet. Speer 180gr TFMJ over a bunch of H110 would give me about an inch at 50, but I couldn't score any better with them than I did with bullets that cost a quarter as much (if that).

Good enough is good enough.

Matt Dillon
September 16, 2003, 06:56 PM
I too am looking for recipes for good loads for .357 Magnum. I have two purposes; a general all round plinking round using 158 grain Lead Semi Wad Cutters, and a hunting load using Hornady's XTP bullet.

I have recently made up a few plinking rounds using 6.5 grains of Unique (I have ~9 pounds and I'd like to use it for these rounds), which were a little anemic, and I have made some hunting rounds using 16.2 grains of H110 behind the Hornady 158 grain XTP bullets.

What do you all think of these loads? These will be shot in a S&W Model 19 with a 6" barrel. I don't want to make the loads too hot, as this isn't good for a K frame.

I usually shoot .38 caliber bullets (148 grain wad cutters over 2.7 grains of Bullseye) that gives me excellent accuracy, but I'd like something a little more stout to practice with.

Any advice and help is GREATLY appreciated, TIA!

HSMITH
September 16, 2003, 09:18 PM
Matt Dillon, try some Power Pistol loads for warm practice loads. PP is a darn good mid to low upper 357 powder, meters as good as anything out there and is generally pretty accurate. Universal Clays is another superb mid range 357 powder. Universal may be the best single powder to have on hand for pistol loading.........

Okie, don't full length size, just bell and load a bullet. Try some with no crimp too while you are at it, just roll the bell back straight. It won't work for full cases of 110 or 296 or 2400 but for Unique and Universal and the like it will be OK. You can apply as much crimp or as little as you want with a Contender. Also try seating the bullets LONG, slit a case with a dremel and seat a bullet WAY long. Close the action once you force the bullet in far enough to get it closed. That will let you extract it and measure it and find out where the end of the throat is, they are typically long on the Contenders.

Basically forget everything you know about loading revolver and pistol cartridges since it does not apply to Contenders. Load for it as you would a single shot rifle....

Vic303
September 16, 2003, 09:42 PM
Try 8gr of Bullseye under a 125JHP.

Okiecruffler
September 16, 2003, 11:48 PM
I like the idea of lengthing the OAL. Might try that. So far the best I've come up with is 170gr Sierra over 8.7gr of Blue Dot, that load may close up witha longer OAL. I use a pretty tight crimp on everything, so I may try backing that off a little. I just finished a load of 158's over 13.5 to 14.7 gr of 2400. The Contender wasn't fond of them, but it's the most accurate load I've ever had for my Taurus snubby, just a little hot. Probably try H110 next week since alot of the silly wet guys are useing it. Great ideas all around, thanks.

SASS#23149
September 17, 2003, 01:47 AM
I just chrono'd some loads I made up with Unique,and they were pretty sad re: fps variances. over 90 fps variances.
the BEST i've ever loaded was using Titegroup powder.It works super in .357 cases.You might try some if you get a chance.
Good luck in your quest.

Chugach
September 17, 2003, 03:13 AM
Okie, your Blue Dot load caught my eye because I just reloaded 400 rounds of .357 SIG. I used 10.2 gr of Blue Dot under a 125 gr GDHP, and that's pretty much a low end load. Even accounting for a) a different cartridge and b) a different bullet, could it be that your Blue Dot load is a little light? Here's why I suggest the possibility...

Speer #13 has .357 Magnum silhouette loads oriented specifically to single shot pistols like the Contender. I noticed a couple of things: they have two bullet weights, 180 (Speer #4229) and 200 gr (#4231), that are specifically designed for longer-than-normal cartridge over all length found in .357 revolvers. Using these two, they suggest a possible Contender COAL of 1.680" as opposed to 1.590" as normally found in revolvers.

Secondly, they're driving these two at max loadings to a SAAMI crusher limit of 45,000 CUP, which warrants extra attention and care!

MAXIMUM LOAD
180 gr TMJ-Sil, Blue Dot 11.2 gr, 1371 fps muzzle velocity

The low end load listed:
180 gr TMJ-Sil, Blue Dot 10.1 gr, 1245 fps mv

Data came from a 10" T/C Contender using Speer cases and CCI 500 primers.

As I work my way through the detail again, they show no Blue Dot load for the 200 gr bullet. They do have H110, 296, and 2400 loads if you're interested though.

As a point of comparison, Sierra edition V shows no Blue Dot load smaller than 9.6 gr for a 170 gr bullet for .357 Mag.

Anyway, HTH.

tex_n_cal
September 24, 2003, 04:06 AM
repeat after me...

"A tight crimp is no substitute for tight bullet fit"

Take your expander die plug and turn in down to .352" or below for a tighter bullet fit. Then apply a strong crimp as the final step to a loaded round. It's been proven this combo will given better accuracy and less variation.

I'd try the Redding Comp handgun seating die(expensive, but usually worth it) for better bullet alignment.

I'd also try Hodgdon Lil'Gun powder, for full tilt loads.

Good Luck!

Pumpkinheaver
September 24, 2003, 10:20 AM
All brass from the sme lot, trimmed to the same length and a strong crimp should help the consistancy of your loads.

Okiecruffler
September 24, 2003, 10:41 AM
been too busy to roll any new ones, but I think I have my plan. I have a max OAL figured out for my Contender, It looks strange to me, but I like the idea. I'm going back to weighing every powder charge instead of just throwing it from the measure. I've gotten lazy in my old age. Haven't decided for sure yet, but I might go to a magnum primer. I've been given a few "for contender and blackhawk only" recipes that I might give a go. Then we'll go from there.

Thirties
January 19, 2004, 08:06 PM
All brass from the sme lot, trimmed to the same length and a strong crimp should help the consistancy of your loads.

Pumpkin' is there any instance when something less than a strong crimp is appropriate or prefered in a .357mag round (pistol and carbine)?

PaulS
January 19, 2004, 08:50 PM
Okiecruffler,

Here is the most accurate load for the Contender that I have ever found. You will not likely find it in any reloading manual but if it was listed it would be in the Speer manual - and probably #10

A Speer or Hornady 180 grain RIFLE bullet
15.6 to 16.0 grains of Hodgdon H110
A CCI 550 primer
a heavy crimp in the cannelure.


This load is way too long for any revolver but in the contender will produce accuracy that is near the limits of your weapon. Neck size the brass - sizing only the first 3/8 inch or so and use volume charges - set the powder measure with the scale and then throw the charges - if you weigh each charge the accuracy will not be there. (my experience)


PaulS

another okie
January 19, 2004, 11:02 PM
I don't have a contender. I can see that OAL is definitely something you should experiment with. I have had good luck with 231 in light loads, but it is not a good choice for accuracy in hotter loads. I like the 158 lead hollow points.

caz223
January 20, 2004, 02:59 AM
Another vote for neck-sizing, a tight crimp (With a lee factory crimp die or better.) blue dot, a near max load with blue dot, 2400, or H110 with magnum primers.
Another thing to try is to mic your expander plug (for single stage) or powder funnel (for dillons), and see if it's tight enough.
On single stage stuff in .357 I use the expander plug from a 9mm die for jacketed bullets, and use the expanding plug from the .357 for lead bullets for my 9mm, and then post-size with lee FC die (Backwards, I know, but it seems to work...).

Okiecruffler
January 20, 2004, 07:29 AM
Well, just for giggles, I'll tell you about the load I found. My barrel didn't care for neck sizing only, and really didn't like max OAL. It did like 13.8gr of H110 with a real strong crimp around a 158gr Hornady XTP. This load gives me consistant MOA groups. I use standard Winchester primers, the magnum primers open the group up abit. This is actually a pretty mild load, but, as always, if your playing with H110 watch your pressures when increasing or decreasing your charge. Stuff can be cranky.

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