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357 Mag max load observations

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Peter M. Eick, Apr 14, 2013.

  1. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    I have started my investigation into max loads in the 357 magnum. I was out experimenting with the following 2400 max loads yesterday. All were loaded up with 158 grn MBC Lead SWC's and cci550 primers. These were all old work ups so I just tried them out with two Ruger Redhawks.

    Since these are all book max loads, I will rely on your ability to look up the details and won't post the standard disclaimer.

    I was shooting max loads (low to high) for:
    Hornady 9
    Speer 14
    Lasercast 1
    Speer 8
    Speer 3

    It was interesting to shoot. Hornady 9 was weak with a fair amount of unburned powder. Up to Lasercast 1, I could turn the guns over and not even hit the ejector and have the brass fall out. It was not until Speer 8 that I had to routinely even touch the ejector and the max load of Speer 3, it required a light touch for the brass to drop out.

    What is always interesting to me is how wimpy modern load data is compared to the gusto of older data. While I am sure Hornady and modern Speer are to current accepted standard. It sure makes the 357 Magnum less of a magnum then Speer 8 and 3 or original ammo made it.

    While I would not fire these in my Python or my Pre-27's, the Ruger Redhawk liked them with no issues. I will say my observation is that accuracy seemed to increase up to about Speer 8 levels, I started leading the barrel and I could not tell after that. I did not clean them often enough but I was reasonably pleased right up to the last shot.

    So my path forward is to recreate all my book max loads regardless of vintage and chrono each one of them. My design goal now is at least 1450 out of the 7.5" Redhawk which would be roughly equal to 1515 which I got from vintage 357 Magnum out of my 8 3/8" pre-27. This will take me a while to do, but I see another long chrono session in the future.
  2. R.W.Dale

    R.W.Dale Well-Known Member

    This is all well and good but you're missing the information that would make this a truly useful endeavor. That information being the PRESSURE of the various loads tested.

    Otherwise you're just pointing out the well established fact that 357 mag loads were hotter at an earlier time. You might as well just load 2400 in increasing increments till you reach your target velocity and skip the vintage data.
  3. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    I don't disagree. Some day I will buy a piezo pressure setup or similar so I can truly measure the pressures. Right now all I have though is a bunch of old books and a beefy gun that can take the abuse.

    So, for the fun of it, I was going to recreate a bunch of older data and chrono it so we can see how far off from the old manuals the results are.

    My plan when I reshoot everything is to measure the pressure ring and use that as a proxy for which powder lets me get to my velocity target with the least expansion.

    My assumption is that the older manuals are probably close on the velocity with modern powder and that withe newer powders I can get to the same velocities with less casing head expansion.

    Only time will tell if I am right though.
  4. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Recreate some H110 and 296 data. You might not think those magnums are as wimpy throughout the process as with 2400.

    BTW, it is not necessary to use a 550 primer with 2400, but I'm assuming you already know that.

  5. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    While it is true modern SAAMI specs for the .357 are pale when compared to loads of old, the reasoning is legitimate as you have stated yourself.

    There are a multitude of similar firearms out there that aren't up to the task of handling the repeated usage of older load pressures in .357. Since SAAMI loads specs are only recommendations for safe use in all firearms, the watering down of factory and average handloaded loads that may find their way into those firearms makes good sense. That and the fact that there have been multiple introductions of more powerful chamberings since the .357 first came out, means one really doesn't HAVE to push the envelope with the .357. One merely needs to buy a bigger caliber. But SAAMI specs are only recommendations. They are not law. One is free to go above modern published loads in their own firearms if they have the experience and knowledge to know their limit. For me, 1250fps with a 158 jacketed is all I need from a .357. If I need more, I move up in caliber. I'm lucky, that is not an option folks had just a few years back.
  6. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Well-Known Member

    I have a friend that did in the early 80s. He would use the Speer manual for data, it listed the hottest loads. Put about 100 rounds a week through the Python. Roughly once a year the gun went back to Colt to get the timing fixed. Not recommended in my judgment.
  7. joneb

    joneb Well-Known Member

    I have had good results with Fed. 200 and 2400 for 357 magnum, but not so good with CCI 550 :confused:
  8. murf

    murf Well-Known Member

    back in 1993, sammi published their new pressure data for rifles and pistols. most of the rifle pressure limits stayed the same. most of the pistol pressure limits were reduced.

    the 357 magnum was one of the lucky calibers: it only reduced to 45,000 c.u.p. from 46,000 c.u.p. the 44 magnum, on the other hand, got castrated. went from 43,500 c.u.p. to 40,000 c.u.p. curiously, the 45acp also got cut badly. went from 19,900 c.u.p. to 18,000 c.u.p. (ten percent reduction).

    good luck on the experiment. i have a feeling that gas checks are going to be needed for the speeds you are seeking. h110 is also a good powder to try for top speeds at reasonable pressures.

  9. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    I know I don't have to use 550's but I have about 10,000 more to get rid of so I am just burning them up.

    I don't run them in my Pre-27's just because I hate to beat too much on collectible guns and I don't run them in my Python now because I have these Redhawks to shoot them in. I used to feed my Python very hot loads because I view Smiths are for collecting and Colt's are for shooting. Now with the Redhawks, I can retire the Python to mild loads.

    I have a bunch of H110 for my 30 carbine but I have been reluctant to use it in the magnum much. I will have to change that. What my though is to go get pretty much all of the reasonable powders, work them up to a velocity and see which ones have the lowest Pressure Ring Measurement expansion. This should be a reasonable proxy for overall pressure so I can get some insight on where I am at.

    Regardless it will be fun to try.
  10. Haxby

    Haxby Well-Known Member

    I plan to follow this thread, and look forward to chronograph results.
  11. Clippers

    Clippers Well-Known Member

    I think the chronograph will tell the story.
  12. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

    Just a tid bit of correction. SAAMI does not determine or test load specifications, they only deal with chamber and cartridge dimensional specifications.
  13. fecmech

    fecmech Well-Known Member

    I have used both 2400 and 296/H110 in the .357 with the Lyman "Keith" 358429 170 gr SWC. Both max loadings are accurate with the edge going to 296 but not by much. In a number of .357's I've had over the years 13.5/2400/170 gr swc runs 1250-1300 fps in 6" guns and about 1650-1700 fps out of lever guns. Using 15.5/296 or H110 with the same bullet gives essentially the same velocities with a hair better accuracy. Both are excellent max effort .357 powders!
  14. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Well-Known Member

    I will start a new thread with results when i get my act together and make more 357 mag ammo. Right now the press is setup for 357 sig and I need to finish that run first.
  15. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    Really? Not according to their website. In their website they claim to sponsor the ANSI Velocity and Pressure standards for the manufacture of ammunition. They also publish the documents dealing with their SAAMI VOLUNTARY PERFORMANCE STANDARDS for Centerfire Handgun, Centerfire Rifle, Rimfire and Shotshell ammo. Ammo makers voluntarily stay within these recommended pressures and velocities to keep ammo safe for use in all modern firearms and publish their reloading manuals dealing with their components accordingly. All this on top of their published standards of chamber and cartridge dimensions.

    Check it out.......SAAMI SPECS for AMMO
  16. MikeS.

    MikeS. Well-Known Member

    Re wimpy loads. Last weekend I was doing some shooting with my oldest daughter and her family. When Scott touched off some of my .44mag loads you should have seen his face.

    I was using data from Speer #9 and about 0.4 grains below max. They didn't realize what true magnum loads are really like.

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