Need advice on 38/357 loads


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Katitmail
December 3, 2013, 07:03 PM
Ok, this is different kind of question. I'm on a mission to get my first revolver. Narrowed down to Ruger GP100 and S&W 686 with GP100 slightly winning.

Why? Just want to plink with it. Maybe keep at home with factory SD magnums loaded (I keep semi-auto with loaded magazine separately). Not really going to carry it. Not going to try and load hot loads for it.

My main goal is to load it cheaply with soft-shooting stuff so my wife likes it possibly :) At our local club we have cowboy range and can shoot lead ONLY. This is very fun place but lead only and it's on a grass/dirt. I only load lead for 1911 but don't like idea of loosing brass in a grass.

So.. I'm going to load 38spl with lead bullets. I heard that GP100 in particular don't like lead bullets because of no "throat" ? Is that true?

Is there any particular lead bullet shape/weight I should try for soft-recoiling accurate load? In my mind I'm kind of confused on to how this revolver thing works and can be accurate :) I know I shouldn't put my hand around wheel, gases escape, lead can fly, etc. Bullet literally jumps out of cylinder into the barrel. Plated bullet can be damaged easily I guess?

Do you have any comments on one revolver vs other as far as reloading?

What about 357 magnum? In reloading manual I see it's different size of brass and hotter load. Nothing special really. I guess this is more for self-defence or hunting, I probably won't need to load those. Am I correct that people just load 38spl and if they have 357 brass it can be treated with pretty much same bullet/powder?

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Rule3
December 3, 2013, 07:08 PM
The guns mentioned are 357 MAGS. My only suggestion is to shoot light loads using 357 MAG brass. The both will shoot lead just fine.

Shooting 38 specials in a 357 will eventually leave a carbon ring to clean out of each cylinder if you want to chamber 357 mag loads in it. No big deal but just another thing to clean out.

Katitmail
December 3, 2013, 07:11 PM
Hah. Good to know. Because it will be plinking gun - I will load whatever brass I get. Most likely 38spl(won't mix it of course), this is what I find on our range.

If I have to clean it once in a while in order to use 357 - no biggie.

Katitmail
December 3, 2013, 10:42 PM
Found some info about cylinder throats and forcing cone need to be modified to optimize for lead bullets.

http://rugerforum.net/gunsmithing/6784-optimizing-gp-sp-lead-bullets-part-2-cylinder-throats.html

There is also suggestions to use softer bullets...

788Ham
December 3, 2013, 11:04 PM
I'm a little confused here Kat. First off, you say you're on a mission to get a revolver, narrowing it down to a GP100 or a 686, just for plinking, may keep it at home with SD magnums, not really going to carry it. That sounds like quite a bit of monies spent not to want to shoot it much. I'd want to be pretty proficient with it, if I was the one wanting to keep it at home for SD, especially if you're not really sure which of these you'll want. You might ask someone who knows the critical differences, show you what might make one better than the other, before you spend this money, then wishing you hadn't at a later date.

Katitmail
December 3, 2013, 11:09 PM
I said it won't be carried. I will shoot it, but mostly plinking with low power loads. Magnums won't be used on regular basis though.

7mmb
December 4, 2013, 02:06 AM
I stopped shooting 38 Special when I started reloading. I see no point in firing the shorter cases in a 357 when I can load 357 cases to 38 Special levels or full magnum as the mood suits me. No more carbon rings for me ever again. I use plated bullets for light loads in my GP100 and Blackhawk. Much easier to handle than lead and not really any more money. For lead bullets on your cowboy lead-ONLY range a full wadcutter will make nice, soft shooting loads. They can be loaded in 357 cases no problem, but don't use 38 Special data when loading 357 cases. Speer, Lyman and RCBS all have data for wadcutters in 357 cases.

cfullgraf
December 4, 2013, 03:21 AM
What about 357 magnum? In reloading manual I see it's different size of brass and hotter load. Nothing special really. I guess this is more for self-defence or hunting, I probably won't need to load those. Am I correct that people just load 38spl and if they have 357 brass it can be treated with pretty much same bullet/powder?

You can load 38 Special level loads in 357 Magnum cases. To get the same performance, generally, a little more powder will be needed in the 357 Magnum case due to the extra room inside the case.

Be careful, a starting level 38 Special load might be too slow in a 357 Magnum case causing a bullet to get stuck in your 357 Magnum revolver.

The carbon build up in a 357 Magnum cylinder from shooting 38 Special cases is not a rapid or detrimental thing. After a session of shooting with 38 Special case ammunition, clean out the cylinder before reloading your self defense ammunition.

Hope this helps.

MrBorland
December 4, 2013, 10:42 AM
I heard that GP100 in particular don't like lead bullets because of no "throat" ? Is that true?
.
.
Bullet literally jumps out of cylinder into the barrel. Plated bullet can be damaged easily I guess?

I've never heard before that GP100s categorically don't like lead bullets. Throats can leave any factory with under- or over-sized, and undersized throats can be reamed to spec, but I'm not aware of any issue with GP100s generally having undersized throats.

For best accuracy, throats ought to be sized a hair larger than barrel groove diameter, but they also need to stabilize the bullet and guide it to the forcing cone properly (revolvers that are in spec (e.g. timing, throat dimensions, etc) ought not damage plated bullets as they enter the forcing cone). Preemptively reaming throats to cast bullet dimensions, then, may decrease accuracy with plated or jacketed bullets if they're no longer being stabilized by the reamed throat, so proceed with caution here. I'd whip up some target HBWC loads and see how they shoot before I even thought about reaming throats.

USSR
December 4, 2013, 11:00 AM
I see no point in firing the shorter cases in a 357 when I can load 357 cases to 38 Special levels or full magnum as the mood suits me. No more carbon rings for me ever again.

Personally, I can't think of a better way to identify the power level of loads other than by whether the case used is .38 Spl or .357 Mag. Cleaning a cylinder has never been a problem for me. Just MHO.

Don

anothernewb
December 4, 2013, 12:16 PM
I've shot alot of 38 spl in my GP100 and smith 19. I have to say, it took a really long time for the carbon ring to build up to the point where I even noticed it.

That being said, I use .357 cases now that I reload too. With the exception of my 158 LSWC unque load. I have a very accurate light shooting one that burns super clean with a 38 case.

John C
December 4, 2013, 07:53 PM
I've examined three or four GP100s with my pin gauges, and all of them had throats on the small side. Further, there was a pronounced constriction where the barrel is screwed in the cylinder. Too small is better than too large: I have a Ruger Redhawk in .44 mag that has .432 throats. There's no way to shrink those down. You can get the throats reamed up for about $45.

I don't have a Ruger .357, only Wessons (Dan and Smith). However, if I were to buy a new .357 right now, I'd absolutely get a GP100 over any other option. For the money, the GP100 is the best value.

forestswin
December 4, 2013, 07:55 PM
either gun is great - I chose the S&W 686 a couple of years ago - its my favorite gun

you're going to be reloading - so don't kid yourself:D - you can try a large range of loads and you will

and you and your wife will have a lot of fun

some good fast loads for the 357 have no more kick than your 1911

Stormin.40
December 6, 2013, 03:21 PM
I had the same decision to make almost a year ago and ended up with a 4" 586-8, blued 686. I like you was leaning toward a GP100, found a new one with a good trigger, but then stumbled upon a like new but used 586-8, the trigger was amazing compared to the ruger so I went with it. Yes the -8 has the dreaded lock but it doesn't bother me as I just wanted a shooter like you. I have fallen in love with the 586.

I already loaded .38 special and had many different loads worked up mainly 158gr LSWC as that is what my fixed sight snubnose was set at.

I now load 357s in 357 cases and 38s in 38 cases, no reason to confuse the two, carbon rings are easy to clean up. Lead is cheaper to shoot if you have a local source or buy in larger quantities online, I like the 158 LSWC because I can load hot or light but as mentioned many others like the 148gr WC for target work. For my wife I have 125gr LRN loaded with trailboss, out of a full size 357 it is like shooting a 22lr and in her case she like it more than the 22lr.

Katitmail
December 6, 2013, 07:53 PM
I buy lead from Missouri Bullet. Brad suggested to try .38 Match bullet for what I want, 158 SWC

Already found some brass. Now just need to get a gun and load some to try. I wonder if I will have to take gun to gunsmith or it will be good out of the box as far as chambers size goes.

gonoles_1980
December 7, 2013, 09:48 AM
Using 357 brass I bought, I use a 158gr LSWCHP bullets from Speer, CCI 500 primer, and 4.5gr of W231. Nice fun round to shoot.

gamestalker
December 7, 2013, 12:44 PM
I have put tons of 38 spcl. through my .357's and carbon rings were barely noticeable. So I would suggest shooting what ever you like, it's not going to be a problem unless you fail to clean your gun after each session.

As for loading light loads. Just use published data that pertains to the cartridge your using, 38 spcl data for 38 spcl brass, and .357 data for .357 brass. Just match up the power level you desire, and you'll be good to go. Just don't go loading 38 spcl data in .357 brass, or .357 data for 38 spcl brass.

GS

Stormin.40
December 7, 2013, 12:50 PM
I wouldn't bother with having a gun smith ream your cylinders yet. Either slug the bore and cylinder yourself or just go to the range and try our your loads. I purchase harder cast 158gr SWC locally and have to load at 4.3-4.4gr of 231 to eliminate leading @ 4.0 I get a little lead build up at the forcing cone. Instead of having the gun changed I just changed my load.

BYJO4
December 7, 2013, 04:56 PM
I shoot nothing but target 357 loads in my 686. Accuracy is outstanding with a 158 gr LSWC and Bullseye.

Vol46
December 7, 2013, 05:59 PM
I have a 4" GP 100. Great gun. I cannot help with lead .38 special loads, as I shoot jacketed .38 loads ( Win. 231 / HP 38 works well with jacketed) but my GP 100 is extremely accurate with a .357 load of 158 grain Speer GDHPs over a max charge of H110. You might try loading up a few to try for your nightstand/ magnums. Recoil is very reasonable and it is significantly more accurate than any factory rounds that I have tried.
As others have recommended, I use .38 Special data in .38 brass & .357 Magnum data in .357 brass. 38 Specials with a powder charge in the middle of the range have very mild recoil in the relatively heavy Ruger, & are a great target/ plinking choice. Carbon rings in the cylinders have never been a problem, but if I shoot both .38 & .357, I shoot the .357s first, and I am pretty anal about cleaning thoroughly after a shooting session.

PO2Hammer
December 8, 2013, 02:14 AM
Very happy with my 1 year old GP100 and lead handloads. Cast .358" 148 gr DEWCs from Penn shoot great out to 50 yards. All the swaged lead bullets I've tried from Hornady, Speer and Magnus shoot well too.
I like to stay with magnum brass to keep the die settings consistent.

BTW plated bullets are no problem in my GP100 either.

Katitmail
December 14, 2013, 12:37 PM
I was able to find 1000 of 38spl brass and this is what I'm going to start with.

Question is.. How hot can I load them? If I decide I want to hunt deer with this gun, will I be able to load 38spl to needed power level?

I don't want to get 357 in a mix unless it gives distinct advantages.

gamestalker
December 14, 2013, 02:54 PM
You can tailor loads using .357 brass to produce light target plinking loads, that's not an issue. Just be sure to use data that is specific and intended for .357 brass. In other words, don't load .357 brass with published 38 spcl. loads, and don't load 38 spcl brass with data specific to .357 brass. Always use data that is intended for the cartridge you'll be loading.

Based on how you posed your question, I couldn't help but think you are some how nervous about loading, and or shooting full house .357 mag. through which ever firearm you decide on. If so, relax, either of those firearms will not get damaged by shooting the full house stuff. I shoot nothing but full house magnum loads from my "K" frames, and have been doing so for many years without any negative results. The key here is to make sure that you don't allow lead to build up in the forcing cones, keep them clean.

GS

Katitmail
December 14, 2013, 03:06 PM
I guess I wasn't clear. I don't want to load 357 (no brass), but I do want to get hot loads in 38spl brass and shoot out of 357 gun (GP100)

I was wondering if it's safe to load 38spl brass to 357 velocities

4895
December 14, 2013, 03:52 PM
You could get very close to mag velocity with special brass but I wouldn't do it. If you mix your brass up and it ends up in a .38 special you might have some problems. For what its worth, you could try experimenting with Berrys 158 grain plated bullets in your gp100 using the common powders. They are a lead bullet and provide me with great accuracy without the mess of lead. But seriously, it is a real bad idea to overload a case like you are thinking about.

P.S. The brass will hold the pressure. The frame and cylinder is what takes the brunt of force. So yes, you could load special brass hot enough to get 1100+ fps. If you have access to a chrony, I might start with HS6, but I've never tried it.

USSR
December 14, 2013, 04:46 PM
Katitmail,

A good 158gr SWC load in .38 Special brass is 5.5gr of Unique. While it's not a .357 Magnum level load, it is a high-end .38 Special load that won't get anyone in trouble if your ammo should inadvertently end up in a .38 Special revolver.

Don

gamestalker
December 15, 2013, 02:31 AM
I have been able to get some very good velocities with special brass using HS6, Longshot was a bit better. Pressures seemed to be much easier to manage with Longshot.

GS

4895
December 15, 2013, 06:10 AM
Pressures seemed to be much easier to manage with Longshot.

I haven't tried it myself but looking on the hodgdon website, I can see where Longshot is getting up there with a 125 grain bullet. I have some Remington SJHP projectiles that might get setup for that test sometime during the winter months. Shouldn't take too much tweaking to get what you want. Thanks for the tip.

The hard part is finding Longshot. It is aptly named. :-)

Katitmail
December 22, 2013, 10:33 AM
Was looking around for some load info (Currently I have little 231 and N320 powders) and found they talk about powder position in cartridge.

Since cartridge is tall - it makes a difference if you lower a gun and shoot or raise a gun and shoot.

Question.. Is there good 38spl powder where positioning won't affect velocity?

Vol46
December 22, 2013, 11:12 AM
I guess I wasn't clear. I don't want to load 357 (no brass), but I do want to get hot loads in 38spl brass and shoot out of 357 gun (GP100)

I was wondering if it's safe to load 38spl brass to 357 velocities
You keep asking about making .38 Special loads into . 357s , deer hunting with. .38, etc.

The answer, IMHO, is no. You cannot turn a .38 special round into a .357, & you shouldn't deer hunt with .38s. The .357 case has a substantially higher volume and can be loaded to higher velocities without creating excessive pressures.
If you want to shoot primarily .38, do so for targets, plinking, etc. That is fine, it is a great round for that purpose, or for SD if you worry about the bang, flash, or penetration of .357. If you want something to take big game hunting or otherwise need the power & velocity of a .357, break down & get some .357 brass - you will have to practice with your factory HD loads, & that should generate some once fired .357 to get you started - your . 38 special dies will work, so you won't even have to invest in a second set of dies.

buck460XVR
December 22, 2013, 11:20 AM
Can you load .38 special hot enough to hunt deer? Yes.

Can you load .38 brass hot enough to equal true .357 magnum loads? No.

If you want legitimate .357 loads outta your GP100, buy some .357 brass. A very simple and inexpensive solution. If .357 mag performance coulda been safely achieved with .38 brass, there'd be no reason for .357. Thought everyone knew that.

CountryUgly
December 22, 2013, 12:15 PM
Buy the GP100. It's a TANK! Can't break the thing, I've tried. Falcon Bullet Company's 158gr LSWC w/ TrailBoss in .38spl brass is a powder puff accurate load. If you want a "full House" load out of .38spl it's possible with 110gr Hornady XTP bullet a healthy dose of Power Pistol powder and NEW Starline .38spl brass (my carry load in my 442, it's like a +P+ load)

PO2Hammer
December 23, 2013, 01:17 PM
Question.. Is there good 38spl powder where positioning won't affect velocity?
Position sensitivity is really only an issue with light charges of fast powder and light bullets. If you're maxing out the .38 with heavy bullets and slow powders, position sensitivity won't be an issue.
If it were me I would be looking at a 158 grain LSWC-HP and as much HS-6 or SR-4756 that will safely fit in the brass.

Katitmail
December 23, 2013, 01:20 PM
Right now I have 158swc lead bullets and N320 or W231 powder. I will be starting with W231.

I do need LIGHT load for plinking. How bad is position variance?

PO2Hammer
December 24, 2013, 05:38 AM
Because the 158 SWC seats deep into the shorter .38 spl case, position sensitivity should be quite low. 231 should work well for your light load.

sexybeast
December 24, 2013, 12:03 PM
686 vs GP100?? I would give the nod to the 686. My suggestion would be to check out the 686+ first! 7rounds and the cylinder is cut for speed clips. The gun may cost you $200 more but its worth it. Get the 5" barrel and if you want to compete someday you will have a sweet piece.

I do need LIGHT load for plinking. How bad is position variance?

231 is what I use. My load is 4.4gr of 231 behind a 125gr LRN. For 158gr it would be less. Look at hodgdon load datas website for info. I always start there and then start testing.
Position varience is nothing to worry about with light loads. Especially in .38/357 cases with "tons" of case capacity.

gonoles_1980
December 24, 2013, 12:31 PM
I only like to shoot a handful of full house .357's, that's why I bought 500 357 pieces of brass. That way I can shoot 50 rounds of my light 357 load, don't have to worry about mixing it up with my 38. And I finish off the day with 20-25 full house .357's. Midway has brass, I bought 500 pieces of starline .357 brass for around $75, around 15 cents a piece. And considering I'll reuse them quite a few times, it's cheap. I'd never load 4.5gr of W231 in 38 brass, but it's a nice light load in .357 brass.

Katitmail
December 24, 2013, 03:16 PM
686 vs GP100?? I would give the nod to the 686. My suggestion would be to check out the 686+ first! 7rounds and the cylinder is cut for speed clips. The gun may cost you $200 more but its worth it. Get the 5" barrel and if you want to compete someday you will have a sweet piece.
Too late. Bought GP100 and spent extra $300 for bullets and conversion kit :)
For competition I just got SHADOW CUSTOM, so I'm set there

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