Quiet 357 handload question


May 7, 2013, 12:18 AM
Hi. This is my first post on THR.

I am just about to get into hand loading for my 38spl and 357 revolvers, a Dan Wesson 15-2, Ruger SP101 and a S&W M360 airweight.

I live the diversity of the 357 but do not like the blast and shock of hot loads. I also have a lot of H110 and W296 that needs using up.

In an attempt to find a modest load that exceeds 38+p without the thunderous punishment of 357 I have come up with the following idea based on my dubious internet research.

Since these powders cannot be downloaded due to lower pressures affecting performance I was wondering if using a heavy bullet, 180gr or more, seated deeper into the case would create the higher pressures need for the H110/ W296 but would do so using less powder because the smaller space in the case and the heavier bullet would still keep the pressures high enough for long enough for reliable combustion.

I do not intend trying this out myself. I am way too new to be experimenting with such things, but am curious as the the theoretical possibility of such a round and possible development at a later stage.

I know that it is strongly advised that I follow the loading manual and will do just that, but it doesn't hurt to speculate.

My aim is to find a load that may burn all or most of the powder before the bullet leaves the barrel while still maintaining a good 357 pressure for good penetration without the harsh report. I want a woods carry round for the SP101 that will not blow out the eardrums of my wife and I if I needed to use it in a hurry. There will be no time to put on hearing protection in a self defence situation yet from what I hear a woods carry pistols should be 357 or more.

Maybe another powder would work better.

I guess the quick question is does anyone have any knowledge of the magnum powders being used in smaller charges in smaller spaces to keep the pressure high?

Thanks guys, I appreciate any input you may have.

As a quick addition; I know many people say that given the adrenalin of the situation I will not likely hear the muzzle blast but I have read enough accounts of people suffering permanent hearing damage and lifelong tinnitus from just one full house 357 round being shot without hearing protection. I do not want to take that risk. If I am being responsible enough to take charge of the safety of myself and my wife and I give one or both of us permanent hearing damage then as far as I am concerned I partially failed in my attempt. Next time I may not hear any attack coming until at all over the constant ringing.

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May 7, 2013, 12:35 AM
You may not be perfectly happy with one load for all. Slower burning powders will feel less snappy and punishing, but may not give you the performance in a short barrel and may not burn completely before the bullet exits (with unburnt powder flakes). Something approaching the middle range of burn rate might give you a balance, something like Autocomp or A#5, and work well in both the long and short barrels. Or you can load up faster powers for the shorties, and a slower burn powder like A#9 or Blue Dot for the Dan Wesson. I don't know anywhere enough to give any advice on tinkering with the seating depth to increase pressure on purpose. Sounds too much like asking for trouble without a lot of expensive testing equipment. Why risk your gun or your fingers on a KB?

May 7, 2013, 12:42 AM
I guess the quick question is does anyone have any knowledge of the magnum powders being used in smaller charges in smaller spaces to keep the pressure high?Yes!

Most reloading manuals do.

There is no way to burn large charges of slow burning Magnum power, no matter the bullet weight or seating depth used.

Your suggested starting load pressure with H-110 / W-296 & heavy bullets is going to be 36,000 PSI regardless of what you do otherwise.

And 36,000 PSI is what makes the blast and ruins your ears.

It is what it is!
And there is nothing you can do about it with slow burning magnum class powder.


May 7, 2013, 02:04 AM
Your idea about a larger bullet is excellent and one I've worked with myself. The 180 and 200 grain cast bullets can be loaded over a bulky powder like trailboss for a very low-recoiling and less noisy shoot. Accuracy is variable depending on the revolver, but can sometimes be excellent. IMR SR 4756 is another option for bulky powders.

Another option given the extreme smokeless powder shortage is 3F Goex black powder, compressed a bit. No reason it won't work and you might get up to 20-25 grains which is perfectly respectable for a BP revolver shooting .38 caliber rounds. Lube will be wrong but that's not a deal breaker and you can swab with bore butter. Clean as with BP. You might also try cartridge Goex as that seems to pack better. No pressure concerns with real black. You'd get some real funny looks at the range. Your SP-101 is a good candidate as it is presumably stainless and very easy to strip and clean.

May 7, 2013, 02:48 AM
I've found that a medium-slow powder is necessary to run jacketed bullets at a respectable speed in the .357 without excessive muzzle blast.

I use 7 grains of SR 4756 under a plated or jacketed 158 grain bullet. Should be over 1,000 fps and there's no flash and the muzzle blast is very tolerable for me and my tinnitus afflicted ears.

HS-6 is another choice, but it does not burn as cleanly as 4756 at reduced loads.

Texan Scott
May 7, 2013, 06:01 AM
Have you considered loading full wadcutters? They seat a lot deeper, but you can still load pretty hot.

A friend of mine and I (he was teaching me what he knew of reloading) used HP38 to make a batch of pretty stiff (but still subsonic) .357 dewc once.

May 7, 2013, 06:13 AM
You have a magnum powder. That means magnum loads. If you want reduced loads buy another powder. You can't have it both ways w/ the powder you have. Even a small charge of W231 is going to hurt your hearing if used indoors w/out protection. And along the lines of W231 and other fast burning powders. The recoil is entirely different then w/ magnum powders. You get a snap instead of a slow push. Makes followup shots different to handle.

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May 7, 2013, 06:20 AM
At full power a 180gr bullet will generate much more felt recoil than a lighter bullet so I would not go in that direction with W296/H110. You can use up your W296/H110 with a 125gr bullet of a 158gr bullet at starting charge weights in your Dan Wesson revolver without too much felt recoil. I highly suggest a different powder for use in the SP101 and especially in the M360. Like said above a medium burn powder will be much more suited, something like HS-6 or other powders in that burn rate range. I use HS-6 for medium power .357 Magnum loads and for building .38 Special +P ammo.

May 7, 2013, 07:17 AM
H-110/W-296 is unsuitable for what you are suggesting. You will need a medium speed or fast speed powder and downloaded target type loads to reduce the baslt/noise in .357 Mag.

The WC suggestion is a good one. You could buy some cast lead DEWC (Not lead HBWC) or some plated WCs and download them for a more pleasant load with significantly less blast.

I also like the X-Treme 158 Gr SWC in .357 brass for light .357 loads. Lots of fun.

Welcome to THR

Jesse Heywood
May 7, 2013, 10:54 AM
I want a woods carry round for the SP101 that will not blow out the eardrums of my wife and I if I needed to use it in a hurry. There will be no time to put on hearing protection in a self defence situation ye

Train your wife and yourself that when a handgun is drawn the hands of the partner immediately cover the ears. As least it limits the blast effect to only one person.

May 7, 2013, 02:33 PM

You are looking for the best of both end of the stick and I fear will only get jabbed with that stick.

If you are stuck on only using 296/H110, you are looking at high intensity, potent, loud, loadings. That's just the way that/those powders are. (Is it plural if the subject is the same thing only with two different names?)

296/H110 have a relatively small window of volume/weight to acceptable energy/pressures (in pistol loadings).

For short barrels and .38 Specials, my view is 296/H110 is far from ideal. Short barrels are not forgiving in the noise department with any powder.

Changing to other options, a faster powder along the lines of 231/HP38 or unique or many others can and will provide suitable velocities from shorter barrels. Moving to heavier bullets would accomplish little. They may be/are better for some applications but muzzle blast is not one of them.

For .38 Specials, I always favored 125 grain JHPs and for .357s 140 grain half jacketed. I know that those are 'old hat' and out of date, but that's what I liked and used for years.

All in all, the entry above about using black powder or substitute back powder could reduce the 'bark' to a more tolerable level. I wouldn't use it but I don't play with little bullets anymore.

Hope you find an answer that meets your needs. I just don't have it.

May 7, 2013, 05:17 PM
Excellent information. Thank you gentlemen.

I jumped on the H110 because It was $50 for a mostly full 8lb jug on Craigslist a couple of weeks ago. The guy said his step father died and he had no use for it since he didn't reload. Sounded too good to be true but it passed the smell and flash tests. This is at a time when none of my local stores (Jacksonville, FL) have any pistol powder at all and at my first gun show last month only one vendor had powder and was asking $220+ for 8lb and 100 WWB 9mm fmj were $80 a box. Not to mention that all the seals were very carefully broken on all his "new" powder cannisters.

I don't shoot the full house mag loads much so I guess it will last me a long time. It's not the recoil that bothers me, it's the sound wave that seems to penetrate my skull despite protection. A push type recoil rather than a snap would be fine. I find this with Corbon 125gr JHP +P in the snubby. A potent boom rather than a sharp snap like the other ammo I was trying out that day. I could shoot that all day.

So is it the amount of powder that is crucial and not just the pressures then? I guess it must be or you could load effective .38 special rnds with it.

My logic told me that it should be possible to re-create the same behaviour using the same pressures with less powder in a smaller space but for less time and so reduced blast but I can see how you would need more powder to help create an even burn with H110, just like you can't build an effective fire with a handful of matchsticks even though the proportions are equal to a barrow load of 12" x1" sticks which would burn great.

I also have some Red Dot, Unique, Tite Group and a little Clays to play with too.
I got some leftovers from a friend who was giving up reloading for 38/357 so can afford to experiment a bit.

The biggest issue I have is the absolute absence of mag primers needed for the H110. All that powder and nothing to ignite it. I scored 500 today at Ace while I am visiting Clayton GA, it was all they had. I may go back tomorrow and pick up some SR4756. Who knows when I will see any more in my neck of the woods?

May 7, 2013, 08:13 PM
I have been experimenting with making guns quiet for a long time.

The noise that comes out of a gun has some variables:
1) muzzle pressure
2) bore diameter
3) horn loading around the muzzle
4) reflection coefficient of environment

All supersonic gas escapement [ ~ 1 atmosphere above ambient] has the same magnitude: + 2A - 0A.
The difference is the size of supersonic gas ball at the time it becomes sub sonic and proprieties a wave of that source amplitude.
The frequencies represented in that impulse fall off below 1/2 wave length = the diameter of the ball.
That is why a 22 short from a pistol sounds high and a cannon sounds low.
The highs are the same, as loud as they can get, the threshold of cavitation.
The lows amplitude vary with gas ball size.

Optimizing for max power and minimum noise we choose:
1) Long barrel
2) large bore diameter [ 50 cal legal limit for some, 10 ga for others]
2) Low powder charge.
3) compressed powder charge.
4) High peak pressure [ unlike other reloading]
5) short jump to the lands for better accuracy
6) Seal against the lands so no gas leaks around the bullet and makes noise

In order to make a gun that sounds like a BB gun with no suppressor and yet can kill large game, the barrel gets long.
Long chambers must be filled with metal.

May 7, 2013, 08:25 PM
I have been recently working on this as ap reject and have come up with the following - 158 jhp over 4.0 grains of w231. Recoil is very manageable and the noise well not exactly BB gun quiet is definitely reduced and accuracy at this point has not been adversely affected.fwiw my test piece is a gp100 4" revolver, test range 13 yards, 3.5 " groups consistently.YMMV of course.:)

May 7, 2013, 09:19 PM
Post deleted.

May 8, 2013, 11:13 PM
Re-read the OP twice and I guess I am a little puzzled. A .357 was designed to be a high powered medium sized caliber. An upgrade from a 38 Sp. if you will. So if the OP doesn't like the recoil and muzzle blast from the .357. Just run some 38sp in it! . I have S&W and Dan Weson .357s and they get a mix of 38 Spl through them when Plinking and some full house .357 loads when I am shooting a combat range.
In other word if you don't like the .357 use 38Sp.
I run some Hot 38SP and they are up there in the higher pressure ranges but have been proved over 30 years and lots of Chrono work.
A hint, my favorite powder for these is Red Dot!

May 8, 2013, 11:41 PM
The main issue was that I have a whole load of H110 and not a lot of anything else due to bad shirtages in my area and was wondering if there was a way to use it without running nothing but full power 357 loads. I don't dislike 357 but wouldn't want to shoot it all the time. I will use other powders for 38.

I admit that I was thinking aloud as I was typing with subsequent posts when I should have kept my questions short and to the point.

As has been pointed out here H110 is what it is and I have to accept that.

However, looking at the loading data on Hodgdon's website the powder charge for H110 varies from 13gr for 180gr bullets to 22 gr for 110 gr bullets. That seems like a huge difference to me. I know that a heavier bullet will increase recoil (not a problem) but surely using roughly 40% less powder for the heavier buller is going to reduce the blast and flash significantly.

I am still totally new to reloading and am just trying to understand how it all works rather than blindly following the rules without insight into the process.

May 9, 2013, 09:34 PM

H-110 must occupy 80% of avaiable space under the base regardless of weight ,lead or jacketed .

If confused give Hodgdons Tech support a call Monday .

Have the case brand ,primer brand & bullet info .

H-110 does`nt like to be down loaded ,but there is a way to trick it into behaving (as far as burning completely goes)like a full mag load with out the blast (kinda) .

Use the 80% rule , I`ve tried weighing & measuring , both ways will be close to the other.
Now , trim ya cases & use as much roll crimp as possible .

I would`nt shoot em from the airweight .

Or get ya self some "Universal" it`s alot more flexable than the H-11O.

May 9, 2013, 11:49 PM
I have had good results with Accurate #7 with 170gr Keith type LSWC and 185gr LWNFP in a Ruger security six w/a 2.75" barrel. These loads are sub-sonic with minimal flash.
The ear damaging 357 loads, are the 125gr bullets loaded hot, and if fired in a confined area it's much worse.

May 10, 2013, 04:39 PM
The main issue was that I have a whole load of H110 and not a lot of anything else due to bad shirtages in my area

That stuff is GOLD DUST right now, you know. So what about trading a portion of your H110 for some of what you need like trail boss? Ordinarily people only buy sealed containers of powder, but these are not ordinary times. Most places have a local internet board where deals can be reached.

May 11, 2013, 09:28 AM
Good answers all round. I like this place.

I came across a post somewhere, can't remember where now, someone was asking about the different max/ min loads from different loading manuals from different years. It seems that the old minimum was higher than the new max, or the other way around. Not that I'd load up with this kind of data but interesting to see how the "RULES" change with time. What is set in stone today was written in the sand a few years ago.

So I came across this on another forum:

"When consulting my Hornady 7th edition. the loads they list are against the powder manufacturer's strict warnings about cutting the max load more than 3%
Not sure what to make off this.
HDY 158gr XTP bullet.
H 110 Start: 12.7gr WSPM primer
H 110 Max: 15.6gr WSPM primer

All my other manuals state start around 16 and max around 17

"You must be comparing loads using the older SAAMI max chamber pressure specs (46,000 CUP). The new SAAMI max chamber pressure spec is 35,000 psi, which works out to 16 gr of H-110 with a 158 gr bullet. For a safety margin, the max powder charge should be about 15.5 gr and should achieve 1200 fps from a 6" barrel. The minimum charge weight should be 12.5 gr @ 1000 fps, both well within the upper and lower limits. The old "do not reduce more than 3% below" was found to be way too conservative ... in fact, new data max loads are lower than the old starting loads."

May 11, 2013, 05:29 PM
[H110] is GOLD DUST right now, you know. So what about trading a portion of your H110 for some of what you need like trail boss?

Try the "Pay it Forward" thread here, maybe...

May 11, 2013, 06:43 PM
as for you ears, something is better than nothing, keep some cotton ball with you or even some TP paper ,you will still hear whats going on around you and one or two shots should not leave your ears ringing, they alsol make ear muffs that let in all sounds but cut out when you fire your gun, but I hate wereing ear muffs on hot days ,so I go with the cotton balls,

May 11, 2013, 07:47 PM
The reloading industry went through an epiphany, beginning in the late 90’s (and continuing to the present day), with the adoption of modern strain-gage technology to measure chamber pressure. Loads, some which had been accepted for decades as safe, and touted by the industry's best known names, were shown to be excessive. A lot of reloading manuals were rewritten. Though the state-of-the-art advanced, all those old manuals, magazine articles, and pet loads are still “out there” and you still see those old pre strain-gage loads being quoted and used.

May 11, 2013, 08:11 PM
You say you've got some Unique. You can make some fairly light loads with that.

But, as others said it's still a .357.

Furthermore, it's really difficult to make a quiet revolver. The nature of the beast has gas coming out of the cylinder gap as well as the muzzle. Even a .22 revolver is really loud, whereas the same round out of an auto is tolerable.

May 11, 2013, 11:57 PM
I tried out some red dot with the 200 grain cast performance this afternoon. Recoil and noise were very mild, and accuracy was dead on the bull at 15 yards.

May 12, 2013, 05:44 AM
I would also try some of your red dot. Just make darn sure that each casing gets only ONE charge before seating a bullet. A double charge or more could be a big problem with a low density high energy propellant.:)

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