Loading for .357mag carbine - opinions wanted


April 13, 2009, 06:21 PM
So I just got a new Marlin 1894c .357/38 carbine.

I've run some 158 jsp's over 15gr of 2400 thru it already. Initial group sizes were not bad imo, but I'd like input from those with experience here.

My 2400 stock is running low and I will be buying more, or trying something different. In the past I've only been loading this caliber (357) for revolvers. Pretty much had settled on Bullseye and 2400.

Did some searching and found a few carbine related references to Hodgdons Lil 'Gun. I plan on shooting everything from lead, to hard cast, to jacketed with this rifle, and will stick mostly to the 158gr weight.

So please, your opinions on good carbine loads in .357magnum, 18 inch barrel. I'd like to hear it all.

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April 14, 2009, 01:46 AM
I like 2400 and W296/H110 for bullet weights up to 158gr in the .357 Magnum. When I load 170gr or 180gr bullets I use only Lil'Gun. With the heavier bullets it produces higher velocities but with lower pressures than with W296. The accuracy is good with Lil'Gun too. In the future when I run out of W296/H110 I may go to Lil'Gun when loading a 158g bullet but for now I'm using all the above powders.

Steve C
April 14, 2009, 06:54 AM
2400 is fine for a rifle. I don't load 158gr Jacketed as hot as you do as I find 14.0 grs with standard primer runs right close to factory ballistics at 1,248 fps from a 4" revolver. You're probably getting somewhere around 1,600 fps and maybe a bit more. Completely adequate for a deer gun in brush or dense woods hunting.

What are you looking for, optimal velocity, accuracy or ??.

April 14, 2009, 08:06 AM
Well, the 15gr of 2400 were loaded for my revolver, and is what I had alot of on hand. I did notice (after the fact) that for rifle specific, the hottest loading was 14.8gr. But I checked my brass for pressure signs and everything looked good to go.

I would have to say at this point I am interested mostly in accuracy. This is my first pistol caliber rifle.

April 14, 2009, 09:05 AM
I get excellent accuracy with up to 14.5gr of #2400 under a 158gr jacketed bullet from my Win M94. Velocity peaks at about 1,750fps. I start getting cratered primers above this, and accuracy starts falling off.

However, with Hod. Lil at 17.8 (what my measure throws), I get 2,050 with a standard primer, and accuracy is every bit as good as the #2400.

I don't particularily care for the Hod. Lil'Gun with cast bullets however, as leading and muzzle blast become objectionable from my Ruger Sec.6 with a 4" bbl.

I shoot the Ruger far more than the rifle, and carry it much more often, hence I shoot load the 12.5gr of #2400 and a 160gr RFN cast bullet mostly, which is what the Ruger likes. Still gets over 1,200fps. Rifle runs over 1,600fps with this load, and shoots it quite well too.

I've got, and shot H110,296 but prefer to limit it to the 125gr bullets as Lil'gun dosen't work as well with the lighter bullets..

Ben Shepherd
April 14, 2009, 10:36 AM
One other thing to consider-

You can have too much of a good thing(velocity) with a pistol caliber rifle. All the slugs are designed to preform at handgun velocities, if you drive them too fast, the just become a ballistically inefficient varmit bullet.

A couple slugs that hold up well at high velocity are the speer gold dots and the hornady XTP's. Especially in the 1800-2000fps range. I've found most other types start grenading above 1800.

April 14, 2009, 11:01 AM
2400 seems to be the best for 158's and lower. I really like the Lil'Gun for the heavy weights. A 180XTP with 15 Lil'Gun out of a carbine will totally kill a milk jug full of water.

N110 seems to be the Lyman #49 choice for carbine 357's but I have not tried it yet for accuracy as a milk jug is pretty good sized.

April 14, 2009, 11:15 AM
As mentioned at 158gr the advantages of "lil Gun are not clearly seen - but at 180gr - unbelievable.

April 14, 2009, 11:15 AM
I have fired Goose's 14.5 2400 load using a Lee SWC gas check bullet weighing out at 165 grains as cast and tumble lubed for years, killed a deer with it, but on his suggestion I got some Lil' Gun and I'm quite impressed, significant velocity increase, over 100 fps higher with the same bullet and just 16.8 grains Lil' Gun. I was getting a little over 1800 fps with the 2400. I suspect the pressure is lower with that Lil' Gun load. From what I've done on researching it, with that bullet which weighs 165 grains, I think about 17.5 grains is a max. As my next biggest bushing for my powder charger throws 18.0 grains, I think I'll stick with the 16.8 grain load and live happy knowing the charge is plenty safe. I did notice I dropped down into the mid 1800 fps range with Lil' Gun on a cold day of shooting/testing with 16.8 grains, but that's normal for any load to lose some velocity with cold weather. I do like the fact that this load is a bit lower pressure and still out performs 2400, though. That's a good thing.

I like that cast bullet, sorta need hunting with my own cast bullet, and it works well. I've shot a couple of deer with it from a Blackhawk, too. It shoots 4" at 100 yards when I do my part.

This data was fired from a Rossi 20" barrel 92 carbine.

Ben Shepherd
April 14, 2009, 11:26 AM

Try that N110, you should find it VERY clean and EXTREMELY accurate. (That's why I buy it even though it's expensive as h***.)

April 14, 2009, 08:15 PM
For a hunting load under a 158 JSP, my .357 lever likes 15 grains of H110. For plinking, I use 7.5 grains of Unique under a 158JHP.

April 14, 2009, 08:54 PM
I have a light load I load in .38 brass which mimics a .22 LR. It requires no filler and is very accurate. It's a 105 grain Lee cast SWC over 2.3 grains of Bullseye. It is accurate enough to squirrel hunt to 50 yards with, shoots about 1.5" at 50. It's very mild and .22 like. 900 fps out of the 20" barrel.

April 15, 2009, 03:50 AM
If you already have a favorite .357 Magnum load you use in your handgun, the same load will work perfectly fine in your Carbine.

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