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357/38 reloading questions

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by bob4, Dec 14, 2019.

  1. bob4

    bob4 Member

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    Haven't been around on the handgun bench or forums for a while. Been loading for rifle mostly the last 5 yrs or so.
    Recently have been given S&W 357 Mag/w 6" barrel (686-2). I've only shot 38's out of it so far and I really liked shooting them. So I want to load some 38's for plinking. Attaining accuracy would be fun.
    Should / can I just go with 357 Brass in case I want to make the switch to 357? I'm sure curiosity will get the best of me. I'll be loading on a Dillon 550B. Have loaded for 40 Cal and 9mm.

    Here's what I have.
    • Blue Dot, Tite group,Power pistol,Hi skor 700X.
    • I have both Small pistol and small pistol MAGS primers.
    • Can Magnum primers be used in the 38 loads if I keep away from max loads? Thinking smaller inventory
    What I need. Suggestions on all are appreciated.
    • Dies. Are Carbide dies worth the extra $ ? I use Redding dies for rifle and have been happy.
    • Brass. Can I just use 357 brass?
    • Bullets.. Thinking middle upper end of the road in weight. Want to be able to control this thing. ;) Some may be shot at a indoor range. Steel isn't an option there.
     
  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    IMO carbide dies for handgun loading are for sure worth the money, especially on a progressive press.

    Using only .357 Magnum brass is perfectly fine.

    Magnum primers are fine especially since you are shooting a .357 Magnum. The .38 Special = 17,000 psi, .38 Special +P = 20,000 psi, .357 Magnum = 35,000 psi, I'm sure a magnum primer in a .38 Special load will be fine.

    I like W231/HP-38 for the .38 Special and it's hard to go wrong with 2400 for the .357 Magnum.
     
  3. gonoles_1980

    gonoles_1980 Member

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    I only shoot 357 brass out of my 357's, though in my carry pistol, I have 38+P jacketed, but I practice with 357 brass with HP-38. I use 7.8gr of Power Pistol in my 357 5.5", I think you'd get a better load with Titegroup though, I only use small pistol primers. The only load I use magnum primers are is for HS-6, tried 6.5gr and I liked the load, might up it a grain or two.
     
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    I download .357 Mag brass all the time, even to light .38 Spl levels. (Need the right powder(s) for that)

    IMHO:

    2400 for "Full Load" .357 Mag
    BE-86 for "Midrange" .357 Mag (Your Powder Pistol should work well here)
    WST or Competition for light "plinker load" .357 Mag. (Your 700X should work well here)
     
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  5. Fine Figure of a Man

    Fine Figure of a Man Member

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    Try some 148gr Wad cutters. Titegroup or 700X will work.
     
  6. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I literally cannot imagine what sane explanation there could be for not using carbide handgun dies, especially given that Lee dies are carbide a as cheap as dies get.

    Asking whether you should use carbide or non-carbide dies is like asking whether you should eat steak or jellied gasoline for dinner. It's not a matter of opinion, and reasonable people cannot reasonably disagree. There is one correct answer, period. Eat the steak, not the gasoline. Use carbide.
     
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  7. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I've done the same. I bump up the charge (I use AA #2) by a small amount versus what it would be in a 38 special case, but only a little bit. Works great, and saves scrubbing carbon rings out of the cylinder.
     
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  8. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I got my first Magnum revolver in '88 and have been using "Special" data in "Magnum" brass for many, many reloads, often right out of the book. I understand the velocity I get will be lower than that listed in the Special section, but when I load this way I'm normally looking for light, jes shootin' ammo. BTW; I have never had a bullet stuck in the barrel in my 357 or 44 Magnums when using as low as Special starting data...

    I've been using 3 die sets for my handguns since the early '70s and I don't remember any steel, "non-carbide" sizing dies offered in new die sets...
     
  9. alfsauve

    alfsauve Member

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    If you have loads with a very small powder charge, especially in a .357 case, a magnum primer would be one way to insure ignition.
     
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    I cannot agree with that as a blanket statement.
     
  11. bob4

    bob4 Member

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    Wow! That was fast. Thanks all.
    Looks like carbide dies win.
     
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  12. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Heck, these days you would have to search for steel .38 dies, carbide is the default.
    I bought steel dies... in 1971. And ordered a carbide sizer in very short order.

    700X is a good burn rate for target loads and a clean burner for its era.
    But it is a large flake and does not meter well in pistol loads.
    Be careful. Or use something else.
     
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  13. bob4

    bob4 Member

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    There's something else that I failed to think about. A powder that meters well.
     
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  14. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    700X meters so so, but shoots well, just make sure the highest charge weight for any given setting isn't over max. Since most of mine are not at max, it doesn't matter, but when I am at or near max I use "Max, not average" (Like Load # 105 in 9MM pictured below), to document the powder weight used. All other times I list the average charge weight for a given setting/powder.

    3N37 9MM Load # 105.jpg
     
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  15. Shak3s1977

    Shak3s1977 Member

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    I started with 38 specials with a 158gr LSWC. I have now moved away from 38 specials and load plinking 357 magnum loads in 357 brass with the same 158gr LSWC. I like 4.8gr of 700X. It gives me a "lighter" 357 magnum load that I enjoy shooting in my Vaquero and my wife enjoys in her snubby GP100.

    As far as variations in charges thrown? While I have noticed +.2 or -.2 with 700X thru my Dillon 550, it doesn't seem to affect the spreads and deviations that bad according to the chronograph. This will now be my main 357 target load.

    Actually made 300 last weekend and was going to go shooting today, but had to finish building my dad's Christmas gift while it was still nice outside (25 degrees) lol.
     

    Attached Files:

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  16. biquer

    biquer Member

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    I use only Dillon dies for handguns, nearly all with cast bullets. Dillon dies allow for cleaning the seating and crimp dies without removing the dies from the die plate. A valuable feature, IMO.
     
  17. joneb

    joneb Member

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    In my opinion 700x meters poorly compared to W-231. Unique does not meter well for me either, heck none of these large flake powders meter worth a crap in my powder throws. I use W-231, Accurate #5, BE-86, WSF,and VV n340 with good results for middle of the road 357 mag.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2019
  18. brewer12345

    brewer12345 Member

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    I will be the skunk at the garden party. For target shooting, I have no real need for the flash and recoil that a 357 throws. 38 special brass is considerably cheaper and provides very accurate target loads in my 357s. I keep some magnum brass around, but shoot 38 almost always.

    There really is no wrong answer, just thought it was worth saying. Btw, I mostly use hp38 and bullseye for 38 loads. 2400 is great for magnums.
     
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  19. 35 Whelen
    • Contributing Member

    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    I'm with @brewer12345 and for light loads I use .38 Special brass in my.357's. Doesn't hurt a thing and the internet claim of a "carbon ring build up" from using .38 brass is bunk. Clean even semi-regularly and you won't have a problem.

    35W
     
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  20. Maynard Shooter

    Maynard Shooter Member

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    Bob I've just purchased a Marlin 1895 CB to go with my Dan Wesson 357 revolver. I'm going to be reloading 357 Mag brass in this order nickel plated brass will be used for rifle and yellow brass will be for pistol.I bought 3 lbs of unique and have Speer 158 gr soft point. The manual has a definite distinction between pistol and rifle. Pistol max load is 7.7 gr unique 1040 ft/sec. Rifle max load is 8.2 gr unique 1452 ft/sec. so with that I've decided to make it easy to distinguish between my rifle reloads and my pistol reloads.
     
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  21. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Unless I missed it, others have not provided the obvious answer on carbide dies. Since you are accustomed to loading only for rifles, you may not be aware that hand gun cases (straight wall) are typically not lubed, and thus a carbide die will suffice and is required without lube.

    I don't use Titegroup in tall, narrow cases because I cannot easily view the powder charge before seating a bullet.

    700x is outstanding in my 44-40 revolver, but I wouldn't say you should restock it just for 357 Magnum. I recommend a transition to BE-86.

    I would advise skipping the "just shoot 38 Special" thing, because you won't be learning to control a magnum flinch and experiencing the real deal. You don't need to do that all the time though. For example, you could warm up fundamentals with light to medium loads and then move on to something seriously "magnum", maybe only a few cylinders and call it good.

    That 686 with 6" barrel is well capable of handling the full range of the cartridge spec, skipping the wildcat stuff. I use only 357 cases, and like Walkalong load to three different levels. That correlates to the size/weight categories of guns. While there are larger/heavier guns than the 686 6", I would treat it as top tier capable, while the Model 19 is tier II (midrange), and small guns pretending to be 357 Magnums, more typically shot as 38 Specials, as Tier I (lite loads more or less like shooting 38 Special or +p. All this is in .357 Magnum brass.

    I have an excellent medium load with Unique, but it is not a magnum powder and can produce sharp, snappy recoil in the heavy loads.

    Here is what I currently use in 357 cases:
    Cowboy rifle - Trailboss
    Tier I (lite, small gun, target) - BE-86, SR4756,, Bullseye with 125-140 gr bullets
    Tier II Model 19 - BE-86, AA#7, Unique with 158 grain bullets
    Tier III GP100 (wishing I had a bigger gun) - 300-MP, Enforcer, HS-6 with jacketed or gas checked bullets in at least 158 grain
     
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  22. Soupy44

    Soupy44 Member

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    3.4gr of Titegroup under a 158gr coated SWC is my 50y bullseye load. Soft like a pillow!
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2019
  23. possumbelly220

    possumbelly220 Member

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    Universal works well in both .38 and .357 for me with good accuracy. Meters well also.
     
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  24. lordpaxman

    lordpaxman Member

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    Awesome gun!!! I have a 686 6” as well. No -1, -2 or - anything. You can get some some really accurate and precise light loads with Titegroup, one of your listed powders. If you’re not concerned with meeting a power factor, then a lighter bullet at a lower velocity will be a real powder puff load. If you want really really soft, consider getting a jug of Clays. Titegroup meters better than clays in my LNL, just use good reloading practices and insure consistent metering no matter what the powder.
    Yes for carbide, and, use whatever cases you have. I personally use both .38 and .357 and don’t have any issues with either. Now you need to get a 617, that shoots really light!
     
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  25. Bill M.

    Bill M. Member

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    Carbide dies for sure. If you like good stuff the Redding competition seater die does a great job in .357. Particularly for deep seating of the wadcutters. I also upgraded to a Redding sizing die from a Lee die. Not a lot of difference there. I had to lube the Lee a little. I do not lube the Redding die. I see no point in using .38 special cases in a .357. Right now I am loading and shooting BB 148 grain HBWC with Titegroup at about 850 fps and like the results. You do have to have a good loading protocol against double charge. I like Bluedot and 158 grain Hornady for full loads. And I shoot 125 and 158 grain plated or TEK coated bullets over Trail Boss for additional plinking loads. And I shoot a few Lil Gun loads with the 158 Hornady. For some reason that is my most accurate shooting load. Maybe it is because it gets my attention. Maybe it is just more accurate.
     
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