Clays and the .357 Mag


November 28, 2008, 05:59 PM
I shot this target today with 3.3 Grs Clays in .357 brass with a WSP primer. I was aiming at the top of the black, so it was about 3 bullets high at 7 yards. I also shot a Berrys 158 Gr HP that shot almost as well. These two bullets have shot very well with several powders and the X-Treme 158 SWC usually outshoots it by a bit. I also shot both loads in my M-28. It shoots well but has a slow barrel. It shoots like a 4" gun.

I had tried 700X, SR-4756, Trail Boss, Bullseye, Red Dot, American Select, W-231, WSF, AA #2, 5744, N310, N320, N330, Zip, and some shot quite well, and some were very clean while doing it, but all of them were position sensitive, some to the point that a charge that would give 700 to 800 FPS with the powder back, would give 400 to 500 FPS velocities to even sticking a bullet in the barrel. The slowest velocity I remember recording that exited the barrel was in the very high 300's.

5744 with 158 Gr bullets filled the case, but had to go to a slightly compressed load to get a full burn and that got me up over light target velocities. Very clean and very accurate in the right combination though. I tried small rifle primers with it, but small pistol gave a little better accuracy with both loads tried. (For those that said 5744? ;))

I had bought Clays because it was supposed to be the cats meow in .45. I loaded some up, went to the range, expecting to be wowed, and wasn't. Good results, but not WOW results. Anyway, it was put to the side for awhile.

Then I tried it for downloaded .357 target loads. WOW. The load that I shot the target with gave an Avg velocity of 735 from my 6" Trooper.

Hi-762...Lo-711...Avg-735...ES-51...SD-17 - Trooper

Hi-710...Lo-666...Avg-688...ES-44...SD-14 - M-28

One shot with the powder forward in the Trooper gave 667 FPS. Much better than anything else tried in that regard.

The one shot out of the group is obviously my fault. (anticipated recoil I guess :banghead: )

I have shot 700X for years in .38 Spl., and while its numbers were not that great it shot very well and was very clean. It did well in downloaded .357, but Clays is my new favorite for this application. It is very accurate, pleasant to shoot, & extremely clean. The cases looked as close to unfired as it gets, there was no residue in the cases, chambers, or bore.

3.1 to 3.1 Grs Clays and a 158 Gr plated bullet depending on what velocities you want. I would hesitate to go much higher, and would do it 1/10th of a grain at a time if I did. There is a good bit of difference between 3.1 and 3.3 Grs. There were no pressure signs at all, but there is no load data any where to corroborate this. The old Hodgdon cowboy powder data links seem to be gone. They may show something if someone has them printed off, but all I have is the .45 Colt one.

3.0 to 3.1 Grs and a plated 148 Gr DEWC seated flush is also very good.

These loads were safe in my guns using my load technique. Reduce 10% to start and work up SLOW.

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November 28, 2008, 07:43 PM
I was helping a guy develop an ultralight target load for 357mag using Clays. As this guy had an injury to his wrist, it began to get painful for him after shooting 100-200rnds. And he was thinking of switching to a .32 revolver.

But first he wanted to see how low he could go with target loads and still retain good groups at 25yds.

So we worked down powder charges with Clays and 158gr LSWC's.
We noticed that grouping was improving as velocities were also reduced. Until we starting running into problems with inconsistant ignition, mostly depending on how the charge was sitting in the case.
If it was tilted/forced back to the primer end it was OK, but if the gun was tilted down before firing = poor ignition.

To ensure the powder charge stayed at the primer, we used a thin carboard wad cut with a hollow hole punch, and pushed it right down onto the powder during reloading the ammo.

This makes quite a bit work when loading hundreds of rounds, but it done the trick for this guy, who's happy to go to the extra effort to get the loads he wants.

2.0grs was the lowest we found, that would ensure the bullet leaving the barrel. They recoiled barely more than a .22lr. And the groups at 25yds supprised me, though they were several inches low from the normal point of aim.

If your into developing loads, try loads of around 2.2-2.5gr also with the overpowder card wads. Suitable for 25yds and less, 50yds is a little beyond their reach though and tend to hit the ground before reaching the target.

November 28, 2008, 08:23 PM
For paper punching, Clays performance continues to surprise me.

I sometimes use 6.2gr of it for light loads in my 44 Magnum pushing a 240gr cast lead bullet.

And it as ALL I use in 38 & 45acp.

November 28, 2008, 09:38 PM
To ensure the powder charge stayed at the primer, we used a thin carboard wad cut with a hollow hole punch, and pushed it right down onto the powder during reloading the ammo.I tried 3 different fillers with the other powders, but it did not help. The cardboard wad trick sounds like it works well. The old Bullseye guys shooting .38's always pointed the barrel up first to orient the tiny powder charge before shooting.

3.3 Grs Clays was a good deal more consistent than 3.1, although they both shot very well. I will be shooting 3.2 vs 3.3 some more to see which is better, since the first time out they both shot well. 3.1 was like a popcorn fart from my Trooper. 3.2 was very pleasant, and 3.3 was just starting to get snappy. 3.2 would be better for extended sessions for an old fart like me.

The slower powders are better for getting a push vs a snap, but are harder to get the consistency with at low velocities.

November 29, 2008, 09:57 PM
i run 4grs. behind homecast 158gr rnfps & my GPs like it & i could shoot em all day!!!
6" full lug is a real recoil tamer!
very clean burnin too!!


December 1, 2008, 03:59 AM
I've been loading 2.5gr Clays under a 148gr DEWC bullet and 3.0gr Clays under a 158gr LSWC bullet in a .38 Special case with very good success. If it metered better at those lower charges I would probably change over from W231 but it meters so poorly I gave up.

I also agree with you on the .45 ACP. Even though Clays was OK it didn't "wow" me. I'll stick with W231 for my .45 Auto rounds...

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