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.38 Spl/357 Magnum thoughts

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by IWAC, Oct 30, 2013.

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  1. IWAC

    IWAC Member

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    I've been shooting and reloading the 357 Magnum for the last 30+ years, and have reached a few conclusions:

    Carbide dies are a goodness!:D
    I don't like casting bullets.;)

    You don't need the heavy hitters for home defense, or much else. Sure, the numbers are impressive...125gr. at 1450 fps...a guaranteed one-shot stop 90+% of the time! WOW! No doubt good, IF YOU CAN HIT with it!
    I wager few can or will practice enough to become inured to the flash and blast! Women and kids particularly...they just won't put up with the roar and recoil. It's not fun! We might learn something from them, if we really try! More power to 'em!:)

    Drop a few FPS to factory mid-range 357 loads at~ 1200 fps, and the recoil lessens markedly, and they are easier to hit with. Go even further, to a good bulllet in a .38 Special +P load, and the effectiveness percentage is less, but not dramatically so. AND they are easier to place the bullets in the X-Ring with, particularly in many of the small, light framed guns so popular today.

    I prefer to play (and it is recreation!) in the no-man's land between .38 Special +P loads and minimum loads for 357 in my manuals, using 357 brass. That's what my brother-in-law and I called "hot .38-mild magnum" loads. We came up with that one before we knew anything about the .38/44, and they work just fine.

    I sold most of my.38 Special brass a long time ago. Most? Yeah, I kept a few "just in case". In case of what? you may ask...I don't know...just because, I suppose.

    Somehow, the arguments that "you are not getting your money's worth" from the 357 if you shoot anything but maximum loads in it, or "Manly" men don't shoot anything but FULL MAGNUM loads fall on deaf ears... emotional, but lacking a bit in logic, imo. :cool:

    Powder: They are likely all good, but life isn't long enough to try every powder/charge/bullet available. I know some guys are going to try, even with the shortages, but it has seemed best to me to find a powder or three that will do what you need, and stick with them. Most of the "new and improved" seems very similar the the "old technology" in most cases!

    Most of all, ENJOY!:)
     
  2. TrueTexan

    TrueTexan Member

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    I agree with your ideas. I've only been loading for about three years but I have come to the same conclusions. I only use the 357 and 44 mag brass makes it easier to clean the guns.
     
  3. gacajun

    gacajun Member

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    I shoot .38sp in 2 .357 Vaquero pistols and a 1873 rifle for Cowboy Action shooting....shoot about 11,000 rounds a year in competition. I load down a bit to keep the recoil low and stick with the same powder so as to have repeatibility in match shooting.

    I've loaded some experimental rounds in .357 mag in the high end of the range and I really didn't care for the recoil. I shot them in my heavy Vaqueros so I wasn't worried about the ability of the gun to shoot them....just didn't care for the recoil.

    I do load some .38sp +P for my wife....her SD gun is a S&W 642 Airweight and the ammo she keeps in it is Hornady Critical Duty which is really +P ammo. So she shoots my cowboy reloads when she practice shoots but always ends up a training session with a few of the +P rounds so it keeps in her memory what the SD loads would be like if she has to actually use them.
     
  4. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    I load almost every load that goes down the barrels of my 357s in 38 brass. All of those are within 38 special specs too. I MIGHT load 100 357 mags per year. I just dont shoot them. The majority of my time is spent practicing bullseye with 38 wadcutter or semi wadcutter loads.

    I cant see wearing out the more expensive 357 mag brass when I get 38 brass for free or close to it.
     
  5. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    IWAC, nice thoughts.

    In my older age, I am closing in on being medicare eligible, i do not care to shoot full power loads any more. I load 357 Magnum and 44 Magnum a bit hotter than their Special counter parts.

    But, i have also gotten into shooting 38 Special and 44 Special in revolvers chamber for just those rounds. I enjoy shooting 38 Special wadcutters.

    I'm sure glad i held on to all those 38 Special cases that I have collected over the years.
     
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    No one I know thinks anyone is less than a man if they don't fire full power magnums all the time. Part of reloading is the ability to make the ammo exactly the way you want it and I agree.

    As for powders, I use mostly 3 powders for loading all handgun cartridges.
    My "Powder Trinity" is: W231(HP-38), W540(HS-6) and W296(H110) and there's nothing I can't load using one of those powders. I do have probably a dozen handgun powders on hand because I like to play with new loads but I always seem to come back to those three powders.
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    I agree.

    My goto load for .357 for about 40 years has been 14.5 grains 2400, and a 140 grain XTP or Sierra JHP.

    Easy on guns, easy on ears, and hard on what you shoot with it.

    .38 Spl is a LSWC over 3.5 Red Dot, or 4.5 Unique, with about the same results on target.

    rc
     
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Like many folks, I shoot light and medium loads in .357 brass all the time, with a few full power rounds thrown in. That is one of the allures of .357 for the reloader, very versatile. Not to mention there are so very many different cool .357 revolvers to choose from.

    Of course there are also the die hards out there who love shooting full power .357 all the time.
     
  9. gonoles_1980

    gonoles_1980 Member

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    Thanks for the post...

    I've been using 158 gr bullets, reading the spec's, they're around 1200 fps. It's fun to shoot, I'm using the Ruger LCR 357, I'm not sure I'd want to shoot the 1600fps rounds out of it. I do plan on doing my own loads in the 1000-1200fps range. What I'm sure of is whether to use regular small pistol primers or get the magnum small pistol primers.
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The answer to that last question is in your loading manual.
     
  11. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    As Mr Watson said, use the primer recommended by the loading data in your manual(s).
     
  12. Jesse Heywood

    Jesse Heywood Member

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    I have a Diamondback, 4" for the 38 loads of all charges. I also have a 686 and a Trooper Mk III, both 6", for the heavier charges. I really enjoy all loads in all 3 revolvers. However, for carry around the house, I go to a SAA clone, 45 Colt, 255 SWC Keith style. Sorry!
     
  13. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    My favorite "real" 357 load has always been 14.5gr of 2400 under a 158gr LSWC. A nice firm roll crimp and a standard primer. Accurate with plenty of boom to keep a fella happy. My favorite "light" load is a 38 special case with the same bullet and 3.5-3.6gr of AA#2.

    If you are looking for magnum loads in that range with a 158gr bullet 2400 may be a good match for you. It can be downloaded to that range and still burn clean, no problem, unlike 296/110. Also, Unique would fit the bill, if you like it. I dont so to me its not even a consideration. I also buy 2400 in 8lb jugs for my 45 colt and the 357s that I do load(and some 44 mags).
     
  14. 788Ham

    788Ham Member

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    I've got 3 .357 revolvers, I also have some .357 mag ammo, but my preference for all round shooting, is 158 SWC in a .38 Spl case, with 4.0 gr of Win 231, plenty powerful enough for punching holes in paper, very accurate too. My SP 101 3" is a .357, but has plenty of flame and horrendous BOOM when the hammer drops, good for a few laughs, but still likes the .38 load better. More enjoyable for the wife to shoot.
     
  15. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I shoot a lot of 158gr LSWC bullets @1080 to 1100 fps. That is a real magnum load without beating myself up too much. I do have heavier loads and some loads with 180gr bullets but lately the 100 fps loads are the ones I shoot most. With lead bullets a good stiff charge on HS-6 does very well and the ammo is accurate for me.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
  16. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    Even after years of shooting the full tilt stuff, I can't seem to enjoy, or feel the confidence of carrying anything less than. So my long time .357 load has been an all out charge of H110 / 296 with 125 gr, 140 gr, and 158 gr, JHP's.

    And even for the 38 spcl. load, I have to go all out and load those with Longshot and 125 gr. JHP's. Though they are far more comfortable to shoot than the hell on wheels magnums, they are definitely pushing some impressive velocities and would certainly be sufficient for self defense, but I still find myself preferring to carry my magnum offerings.

    And even my wife and daughter in law prefers to shoot the magnums over the 38+p loads.

    And regarding accuracy, whether it relates to perceived recoil and flash bang effect. For me, I think since all I've ever practiced with has been full tilt loads, they have very little, if any effect on my ability to put them where I intended. Obviously, massive recoil does impact how quickly accurate follow up shots can be accomplished though, that's just the nature of the beast.

    GS
     
  17. stavman11

    stavman11 Member

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    I have had my S&W 357 model 19 for about 20yrs... Started Loading for it 2yrs ago

    Always had MAGNUM rounds running in it till i found out 38s work... then the fun began
    Just Picked up a Henry Rifle in .357 and MAN has it been a BLAST

    Now when i Load... all are .357 brass, i do have a lot of 38s just not loading it yet..

    I have some Sweet W231 loads for Non Mag which are lots of fun and nice pop... then I have the H110/W296 at either 14.2gr or 15gr for some MAG Power

    I have as much fun with either load... but have been doing More MAG loads since the Henry Joined the Family:D

    Love my .357 when i need some BIG BANGS I know what Gun ta Pull out:cool:
     
  18. jim8115

    jim8115 Member

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    I use 8.0 grains of Power pistol with any 158 grain bullet. Gives me 1200 FPS out of a 6" barrel. Easy to shoot and accurate

    JIM
     
  19. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    If that's with a 158gr jacketed bullet I would be very careful. The 15.0gr charge is the bare minimum according to Hodgdon and anything below that is dangerous, again according to Hodgdon. If you're using a lighter bullet you are flirting with disaster. W296/H110 should not be downloaded and that's directly from Hodgdon. This is why I use HS-6 for middle to middle hot magnum loads in the .357 Magnum. With jacketed bullets Longshot isn't a bad choice either.
     
  20. stavman11

    stavman11 Member

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    oh i hear ya.... too low of Load with h110/W296 is a NO NO:)

    had a few friends shooting at the 14gr area... and tested a few and they shoot Great..
    Ive seen posted manuf data from 13gr-18.3gr for 158gr Bullets... 13gr seems too low... the 14.2 is getting me over 1100fps... and the 15gr are at around 1250fps...

    for 125gr lead... I have a Problem loading em with 21gr of Powder :what:... just seems like a lot.. so those stay in the W231 Powder Category...:D

    .357 is the one loads I am always very very patient with... guess becouse of the BIG BOOM.......... 9mm and .223 just seem more Tame in Comparison

    I do Like the 15gr H110 loads but they are pretty SNAPPY for sure.....
     
  21. moxie

    moxie Member

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    I take advantage of the flexibility. Go low and high, not either/or.
    I shoot a scad of poof 148 WC loads in .38 brass with Bullseye. Never tire of them. I make up mild mag loads using Unique. And I like to occasionally go out and go full throttle with 125/140 grainers and 2400, using near max loads from Speer #11. Yahoo! Sort of like smoking Camels once in a while in the old days when Marlboros got stale.
    I do load for SD anymore with 125 gr. .38 +Ps, regardless of barrel length, but keep speed loaders/strips loaded with 125 gr. mags.
     
  22. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I guess your eyes would pop with the loads I use. With a 158gr jacketed bullet I load between 16.4gr and 16.7gr W296/H110... There was a time I was loading 17.0gr H110! (with a CCI-550 magnum primer)
     
  23. stavman11

    stavman11 Member

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    LOL

    I did some with 16gr.... and BAM .... that was Cool..... but a BIT too much just for plinking...LOL

    Now those may be Fun in my new Henry Rifle in .357... think i have a few hanging around still:p

    17gr would be WILD..... Like ta see that:D
     
  24. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I stopped using 17.0gr because I felt a lot of the additional powder was going to the fireball instead of velocity in a 4" handgun... lol
     
  25. TenDriver

    TenDriver Member

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    I'm under 40 and don't enjoy shooting full power loads anymore. Used to.... I bought two 44s and found my hand and shoulder don't appreciate the abuse after shooting the for the last 5 years.
     
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