357 and Red Dot


December 21, 2008, 01:23 AM
Does anyone have a Load for a 357 using a 158 gr lead bullet at around 1000 fps. I have a few loads for that range but none are using Red Dot. I could just use 38+p but I would like a little more fps but would like a proven load.

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December 21, 2008, 01:53 AM
What barrel length ?

December 21, 2008, 06:29 AM
I would go with a bit slower powder to get 1000 FPS from a 158 Gr lead bullet in .357, especially if your barrel is less than 6 inches. Unique will do it if you want to stay with Alliant powder. I believe you will be on the ragged edge of pressure with Red Dot, if not over, and snappy.

December 21, 2008, 08:39 AM
Maybe a little tonning down of this Alliant published data could work for you:


December 21, 2008, 10:27 AM
It looks like you can do it with Red Dot, but in my experience with it, I still believe it will be quite snappy at that level, and a slower powder would be more comfortable to shoot. It will be interesting to hear your results.

Ben Shepherd
December 21, 2008, 10:56 AM
I wonder too, given the light charge and relatively large case, is that powder position sensitive?

December 21, 2008, 11:13 AM
It's not too bad in .357 cases, as well as .38 cases at levels lighter than that, so it should do pretty well at that level.

I have been doing a good bit of "powder back / powder forward" testing in light loaded .38 Spl & .357 loads lately. Clays has been the least position sensitive of the fast powders I have tried. (Red Dot in .45 Colt at low levels is good stuff)

I had one load that would give around 925 FPS or so with a 125 Gr plated bullet in .357 cases, but would stick a bullet with the powder forward! That was not one of the fast burners though.

It is not unusual to drop 100 to 200 FPS or even more with a 158 Gr plated bullet when shooting them at around 725 FPS with fast powders when the powder is forward. Around 900 FPS with 125 Gr plated bullets.

It gets cleaner and the numbers get better with every .1 Gr increase of fast powder, regardless of which one.

December 21, 2008, 11:29 AM
Just remember - Red Dot is a very fast burning powder relative to, say, Unique and many others. This means that all of your powder charge is burnt up very early - like in the first inch of barrel. Unique takes much longer. This means you get to max pressure allowed with Red Dot long before you would with Unique.

This means a couple of things:
Red Dot might be a better choice for snubguns, because it's done burning before you need four or six inches to finish combustion.

Unique would give you more oomph in a six inch barrel, because it's still generating hot gas long after Red Dot has done all it is going to do for
you at max pressure.

So: looking at it simplisticly - faster powders get to their top pressure faster, which is fine for target loads or shorter barrels; slower powders keep generating hot gas for a longer period, so they're still working to increase velocity.

December 21, 2008, 12:24 PM
I wonder too, given the light charge and relatively large case, is that powder position sensitive?

I have loaded 5 grains of Red Dot/240 grain LSWC's in .44 spec cases, and accuracy is very good in my 6.5" S&W 29. Also going to try some RD in these same cases with 208 grain full W/C's. I like RD a lot better than Unique in any revolvers I shoot with 3"-6.5" barrels, for low velocity target ammo. Step up the velocity, then I go with Unique.

I have also used Red Dot in 30/30 and 30/06 with very small charges, no filler, and accuracy seems good there as well. I do like Clays in . 38 Special W/C loads, but is it any better for position sensitivity... Not that I can tell of yet.

December 21, 2008, 12:32 PM
when i was younger i shot a lot of anything that would melt with 5.0 grs. of Reddot under it in 357 mag cases & 4.5 grs in 38spl cases in same revolver!!!
a little dirty but it was given to me by an older shotgunner.
the newwer stuff says " new cleaner burning" so i may just give it another try myself!!!!


December 21, 2008, 12:35 PM
Thanks for the info looks like 5 grains would do it. I know it is a fast powder but I like it and I have 5lbs of it. I use it in all my 38's and just wanting some lighter 357's loads for my lever action. It likes 357s better than 38 for feeding. And to all you guys saying it is fast for a rifle. I run my 3 grain 158 38 loads through it no problem. Thanks for all your input.

December 21, 2008, 01:41 PM
I checked on QuickLoad, a ballistic software package for PCs, and it says for 158 grain lead in .357, you're in the 'yellow zone' (kinda hot) and 4 inches of barrel should get you about 960fps with five grains, and in 38 special, 3 grains gets you about 700 fps, inside the pressure limit for 38 special, not +p.

So.... the software says you're pushing the .357 just a tad, and it's a decision that YOU are responsible for. A charge of 4.7 grains of Red Dot is as far as you go and still keep the pressure within SAAMI standards. That charge would get you about 926 fps.

I find it interesting that the software doesn't always match the load data from powder or bullet companies. This is just one other view.

I know, lots of us regard Rugers as nearly indestructable - but I wanted to give you a bit of info so you can make informed decisions :scrutiny:about loading.

Good luck, stay safe.

December 22, 2008, 07:14 AM
Thanks, a 4 incher is the shortest I shoot. I also have a 4 5/8 Blackhawk and a 10 in Contender as well as my lever action. I might back off a little. 900 fps is still in the 1000 fps range I was looking for. I just wanted something more than 700. I wanted something that had a little less delay between me shooting and the steel plate dinging.

December 22, 2008, 04:00 PM
Red dot isn't a fast powder for rifles. It's a fast powder for loading bottleneck rifle cartridges to capacity. (in other words, it's not a dangerous powder, provided you aren't filling up a whole caseful with a bottleneck cartridge).

It's a lot faster than "rifle powders", but that isn't the same thing.

December 22, 2008, 04:18 PM
Red Dot IS a fast powder when used in pistol calibers.

It falls right in between Bullseye and 700x, which are near the very fastest powders sold for reloading.

Which is quite a ways from the medium burn and slow burn pistol powders.

A case full of Red Dot in most any handgun case is DeBomb!


December 22, 2008, 05:07 PM
It seems almost all burning rate charts list RD after Bullseye, yet max charges of RD are lower than BE with extremely similar (statistically identical) or even greater pressures from what I have seen, all other components identical... Like the data sheet I attached in this thread.

For example; if the 38 Special load generates 15,000 PSI it gets this pressure with 3 grains of RD, and 3.4 grains of Bullseye. Also will see say 3 grains of Red Dot will give 900 fps, 3 grains of Bullseye 850 fps... Tells me RD should be nearer the top (faster) on the chart and not explained by lot variance, and why I like the Hodgdon chart the best, as it compares well to my experience. Perhaps there are dynamics that are not factored in, or maybe way back it was said RD is slower, and it stuck for whatever reason. I always treat RD as "faster" for my reloading, and treat it with great respect and never "push" it unless you want to experience a non-linear, "peaky" spike with just a tad more. Check some old manuals that list pressures/and pressures/velocities to see what I am talking about... Very interesting.

December 22, 2008, 06:14 PM
Red dot is a fast powder but no one had data for a 357 but they had data for bullseye which is suppose to be a faster powder. I might load some up this week with Red Dot. Thanks for the input guys.

December 22, 2008, 07:45 PM
RD should be nearer the top (faster) on the chart
What about Clays ?

December 22, 2008, 07:51 PM
RD should be nearer the top (faster) on the chart

What about Clays ?

Very, very close in my experience, and in agreement with my favorite chart:


December 22, 2008, 08:04 PM
They use a "closed bomb" test to get "burn rate" of canister powders, but they may act very differently in real life in different calibers/bullet weights/pressures etc.

700X is listed in most charts as one of the fastest, but in some it is listed a good deal slower. I have shot a lot of it and it is nowhere near as "peaky" as Red Dot and a couple of other fast powders. It is very versatile. Same with AA #2. They can do a lot other powders of almost the "same" burn rate by most charts can do. They are more versatile and less finicky when the pressure gets up there. In my experience.

December 23, 2008, 12:24 PM
Powder burn rate charts are a huge PITA!
At best, they should be looked at with a great deal of skepticism. And only used as a very general referance.

I can easily find five or six different ones in my collection of loading manuals.

The thing is, any powder behaves somewhat differently depending on the case & pressure level it is loaded in & too.

What Lyman uses is anyones guess, as opposed to what Hodgdon or someone else uses.

In the case of Red-Dot, it is & always has been primarily a shotgun target load powder.

When used in very highly tested and specific shotgun loads, everyone can agree on it's place in the grand scheme of things.

But then stick it in a .357 magnum, or a .25 ACP, with a wide range of bullet weights and pressure levels, and you have a different set of rules.

And a different place in the Burn Rate charts!


December 23, 2008, 01:44 PM
Yep, and why I referenced published data from the maker of Red Dot showing actual pressures using identical components aside from the propellant where less Red Dot is used than BE to achieve those same pressures. I do this so that there is no conjecture about using "shotgun" powders in pistol ammo, and speculating on the dynamics of it...

Pressure is the pressure they got for the variables they set, and they report the results. "Faster" or whatever term we use, seems to bear out that Red Dot achieves the same pressure with less of it than BE, no matter what we think, believe, or speculate. I see this same result across other manuals concerning Red Dot, and even with lot-to-lot variance, overall RD bears out what I describe above.

Being that a canister grade propellant can be in spec by say +/- 3% of target means there could also be a case that one propellant used in the "closed bomb test" was a fast sample, pitted against a fast nearest competitor, vice versa, opposite... I don't use any burning rate chart as gospel since it is not ammunition derived with all the twists that can take, only that the Hodgdon one is in many instances closer in line to what I have actually experienced in actual use, and what you see in other manuals.

December 23, 2008, 02:06 PM
I use Red Dot in about six pistol calibers and four or five rife calibers. Its the only pistol powder I use and I've never had a problem with it in everything from .32 acp to .44 mag. 15g of Red Dot in just about any full sized bolt action caliber with a 150g bullet makes a great accurate target load.

December 23, 2008, 06:52 PM
i was given a 1/2 # 700x & it was so much cleaner i abanoned RD .
my main plinkin powder is clays though.

as far as a burn rate chart goes i only use it to help me judge the density of a powder i have`nt tried.


Redneck with a 40
December 23, 2008, 08:30 PM
Unique is a far better choice for target loads in 357 mag, and it can get the 158 gr jacketed bullets up to about 1100 fps, if you want too.

Steve C
December 24, 2008, 12:15 AM
Red Dot is a fast but rather bulky powder. I've used it with .45 200gr SWC loads, 9mm 115gr jacketed, .38 spl with WC's, in the .357 mag as an economical powder with both 158gr LSWC's and JSP/JHP's as well as cast bullet loads in the 30-30, 8mm and .308.

For the .357 mag 6.0 grs behind a 158 gr JSP is a full power load. Never chrono'd it as in the days I was loading it Chrono's where beyond the means of most reloaders. Red Dot loads can be found in any of the previous Alliant and Hercules "free" data pamphlets as well as earlier Speer and Lymann Manuals.

Redneck with a 40
December 24, 2008, 12:23 AM
Actually, 7.8 grains of Unique behind a 158 gr JHP is a max load, I've chrono'd these at just over 1100 fps.

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