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Load data for .357 Magnum 158 gr. LSWCHP

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by minutemen1776, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Well-Known Member

    Several years back, I was a fairly avid reloader, but other time commitments (i.e. kids, family, job, etc.) led me to abandon the hobby. I recently acquired a .357 Magnum revolver, and the ammo costs for it have caused me to think about getting back into loading my own. However, I've never loaded for the .357 before, and I'm wondering if I can accomplish what I want for a recreational and self-defense load. Basically, I want to load a cast 158-gr. LSWCHP into a .357 case and launch it at about 1100 fps, which ought to provide performance somewhere between a .38 Special +P and a full-bore .357 Magnum. Is this a doable goal? What powders, bullets, and load weights do you suggest I try to start? (And yes, I do understand about using a starting load and working upward to higher pressures and velocities.) Thanks!
  2. dagger dog

    dagger dog Well-Known Member


    I started out handloading with the .357 and 158gr,LSWC, but it wasn't a HP, then 2400 powder was from Herculese, and I shot a starter load of 11.5 grs over a CCI small pistol primer. I shot a lot of those loads from a 4" Ruger Secirity Six, never even thought of a chrono' but I bet they were hotter than any +p or +p+ 38 special you could buy that time.
  3. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Any number of powders will do what you want.
    Just to name a few.

    12.0 grains 2400. - - - - 14.0 is Max.
    7.0 grains Unique.- - - - 7.8 is Max
    7.0 grains HS-6. - - - - - MAX
    5.0 grains WW231. - - - - MAX

    Cast lead SWC-HP are a little hard to find, although they are available.
    SWC-HP's are harder to cast on auto casting machines, and so not many people make them. When you do find them they will probably cost more.

    For plinking & informal target shooting, I would suggest a similiar weight SWC solid like these.

    Or more likely for the lower then magnum pressure you will be loading too, these softer ones:

  4. greyling22

    greyling22 Well-Known Member

    most powder mfg like alliant and hodgdon have load tables online. heck, even lee dies come with load data. I'd print a copy, take it to the gun store and find what they have in stock that will give you what you want using the minimum amount of powder to stretch you dollar as far as it will go. The real trick right now is finding primers. and if you do find them, they cost an arm and a leg.
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Unique would probably be hard to beat for lead in the .357 at 1100 ish FPS. N330 is another excellent choice.

    I am in Montgomery. Anywhere close?
  6. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    The minimum amount of powder would be like Bullseye or something.

    But that would certainly not be the best powder to get 1,100+ FPS out of a .357 Mag with 158 grain bullets.

    The old Hitting a bowling ball with your fist as hard as you can thing!

  7. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    Ramshot's Silhouette is a good .357 powder for near-max, SD loads, I think. It has less flash than other powders (still a relative issue with 357 Magnum, but definitely less). I got it running over 1100 fps from a 2" barrel following their recipes with a 158gr LSWC.

    However, I have not loaded and tested any of the 'traditional' 357 powders, as listed by rcmodel.

    Jim H.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2009
  8. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Well-Known Member

    "76, my Accurate Reloaders Guide 2005 Edition lists the following loads for

    158 LSWC
    CCI 500 primerr
    C.O.L. 1.580
    AA#2 powder
    7.2gr 1229fps starting load
    8.0gr 1296fps max load

    AA#5 powder
    8.1gr 1073fps starting load
    9.0gr 1219fps max load

    AA#7 powder
    9.9gr 1119fps starting load
    11.0gr 1272fps max load

    AA#9 powder
    12.2gr 1187fps starting load
    13.5gr 1349fps max load

    Hope this helps.
  9. RidgwayCO

    RidgwayCO Well-Known Member

    I've done some preliminary "what-ifs" for a load that sounds like what you're looking for. In years past I bought a bunch of Speer 158gr LSWC-HP bullets to load in the .38 Special, and have decided to try them in the .357 Magnum (just because...). With their new "hi-tech, multi-layer lube system" I'm thinking they might be driven to 1100 fps (424 ft-lbs of energy) without leading.

    I usually look for a powder that will fill at least 50% of the case's available space, and be completely burned by the time the bullet exits the barrel. I also tried to stay at least 8,000 psi below the SAAMI maximum average pressure for the.357 Magnum. Assuming a 4" barrel and a COL of 1.590", QuickLOAD says that these powders will attain 1100 fps within my constraints:

    Powder .............. Amount (gr)
    Alliant Bullseye ........ 6.1
    Hodgdon Universal ...... 6.6
    Alliant Unique .......... 6.8
    VihtaVuori N340 .......... 7.1
    Alliant Herco ............ 7.3
    Ramshot Silhouette ..... 7.6
    VihtaVuori N350 ....... 7.9 (99% burned)
    VihtaVuori 3N37 .......... 8.1 (99% burned)
    Ramshot True Blue ... 8.2 (99% burned)
    Hodgdon HS-6 ............. 8.4 (98% burned)

    Remember... QuickLOAD is software written by fallible humans, not the divinely-inspired Gospel. Start low and work up (but you already knew that!).
  10. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    RidgewayCO, you've been holding out on us.


    But, AFAICT, your QuickLOAD work ups look to correlate closely what little 357 Magnum upper-range testing I've done with Silhouette and True Blue.

    Thank you for that post. It's already bookmarked and printed.

    Jim H.
  11. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    I load Speer or Hornady 158gr LSWCHP's in .38 spl to around 900 fps from a 4" barrel. The all lead HP may be too soft to expand and hold together at 1,100 fps. Further testing could be done with wetpack, water or ballistic gelatin to see how well they worked. Hornady list 6.5grs of Unique as maximum load with their 158gr LSWCHP at a velocity of 1,100 fps while Speer cuts their off at 6.0grs and 1,034 fps. Both these bullets are swaged and not as hard as a lot of cast bullets. I've read that hard cast HP bullets being mor brittle than soft lead have a tendency to fragment at higher velocity and fail to expand at lower .38 spl velocities.

    You would probably do better performance wise to run standard semi jacketed HP's out of the .357 mag with 1,100 fps for 158 grain and 1200 to 1250 fps for 125grain and use solid cast bullets for practice as paper doesn't care if its a HP or not. Right now the availability from on line sources for hollow point bullets is a bit sparse and you may be better off picking up some locally.
  12. Landric

    Landric Well-Known Member

    I just got myself a Lyman 358429 HP mold, so I'm going to be looking for a ~1100 fps magnum load myself. I'm looking forward to working it out.
  13. minutemen1776

    minutemen1776 Well-Known Member

    Thanks. Lots of good info and advice here, as usual. :) I'll have to consider the hardness of the bullets I select, as I'd not considered that aspect. I found a good bit of on-line load data for 158-gr. SWC bullets. Does anything change with a LSWHP of the same weight?

    Walkalong, I'm from Wetumpka, so I'm really close. Ever shoot at the range over on Lower Wetumpka Road? I also used to be a member at a club over in Macon County.
  14. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Well-Known Member

    '76, nothing should change except maybe C.O.L. I don't have any data for LSWCHP's so I can't be more specific.
  15. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Well-Known Member

    I've loaded Hornady's LSWCHP (which is cold swaged a little harder than the typical LSWCHP) in .357 cases over 6 grains of Unique. It went about 1050 fps (with gun-to-gun variation, of course). It did lead a little (though the leading was easily removed by following up with some standard-pressure and velocity soft lead loads).

    I'd hesitate to use a hard-cast HP because I'd expect that any velocity hot enough to cause good expansion might cause them to break apart. I could be talking out my hat though, having no real experience with them.
  16. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I am a member of Central Alabama Gun Club. I shoot there 99% of the time. I have not been to the one on LWR. Perhaps we could get together and shoot sometime. Either place. AC
  17. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    Reviewing what's written so far--

    1. There's no problem getting a 158 running at 1100 fps from a 4" barrel--it's a tried-and-true load.

    2. A 158 can even run at 1100 fps from a 2" barrel, at the max end.

    3. Any number of powders can work--but, those medium-speed powders seem to have the best results. FWIW, I now refer to the Ramshot burn rate list--which moves some powders around a bit compared to the Hodgdon one.

    4. cast LSWC-HPs may be problematic. Perhaps Landric will get some answers in the long run.

    5. In my (minimal) 158-gr / 357 / 2" barrel testing, I did run up against the issue of swaged-bullets and leading, but the testing did not really identify optimal powders for use with the Hornady or Speer swaged bullets.

    6. The long-term factory favorite, the 38 Spl 158-gr. LSWC-HP in plus-p, now runs just over or under 800 fps from a 2" barrel. In a 357 case, you can simply go on up to 1100 fps in reloading--but a practical limit for me, shooting it in a lightweight (M&P340), the upper limit for a dual "Quad five" drill is about 900 fps. I got heavy leading using SR-4756 with that one, less so with True Blue--but enough testing really hasn't been done yet.

    7. That nominal 800+ fps 38+P factory round does penetrate at least 10", IIRC--and more if the HP is plugged. Maybe we don't want to run it over 1000 fps from a 4" barrel--I dunno.

    Jim H.
  18. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

    Yes it does.
    A SWC-HP of the same weight as a SWC solid will have a slightly longer bearing surface and would in theory, have a slightly lower MAX load.
    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    But since you don't want a max load anyway, it will have no effect on your loads.
    And in practice, companies like Speer that I posted the pictures of, list the same Max loads for both bullets.

    Typically, when Lyman and others offered the exact same .357 bullet mold in both solid & HP form, the HP would be 10-15 grains lighter, and could be loaded to slightly higher velocity.

    Last edited: Oct 18, 2009
  19. fecmech

    fecmech Well-Known Member

    The 1100 fps should be no problem and as other posters have suggested I think the medium powders like Unique would be good. If you did encounter leading with the factory swedged HP's I think you could eliminate it somewhat by using the Lee liquid alox on the bullets.
  20. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Well-Known Member

    Using the on-line resources and confirming with Lee, I load 5.0 gr Titegroup under my LSWC (solid, not HP) and per the published data, it runs @1050fps. I use this under Missouri Bullet's .357 Action! bullet. I find this to be a very nice load in my 6" GP100; accurate, no leading, and flat-shooting.


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