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Old August 20, 2011, 09:29 PM   #1
UncleLoodis
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.357 Load Question

Greetings.

I am relatively new to reloading, so please excuse me if this sounds unusual/silly/downright dumb.

I am going to be loading some .357 mag, using CCI 550 primers, Unique powder, and Hornady 158 GR XTP (JHP). I used this combo before, only using Bluedot powder. I used Lyman's recommendation of 9.6 grains (starting grains). Everything worked fine. This is before I bought my chrono, so I don't the FPS. This time I am wanting to make a load with a little more zip. I read somewhere that people were getting around 1600-1700 FPS with these bullets (shot in a S&W 686, like mine), but no specifics were given. Lyman's data shows that abuot the max FPS one can get is 1357, with AA#9, "Max Load Grains". Anyone know how people are getting 1600 FPS with the Hornady bullets? I want to make a zippy load, but of course, want to be safe.

A separate question: How does one know when one is approaching too hot a load (other than a kb)...lead fouling? Lyman's has a starting powder load and then a max load...is the starting load just enough to avoid a squib and the max load is just under what makes a nice kb?

Thanks in advance for advice.

U.L.
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Old August 20, 2011, 10:07 PM   #2
T. O'Heir
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"...1600-1700 FPS..." Hi. Those are .357 rifle loads. Anybody who says they're shooting those out of a revolver is nuts.
Max loads on Hodgdon's site don't go over 1591 fps with that particular bullet using H110 or Win 296 out of a revolver. Just happens to have been the 158 grain jacketed they tested.
7.7 grains of Unique max revolver loads for a 158 grain jacketed bullet gives 1040 fps. Max Blue Dot loads are about 110 fps faster.
"...is the starting load just enough to avoid a squib and the max load is just under what makes a nice kb?..." Nope. Both are tested loads that are safe and within SAAMI(Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturers' Institute) pressure specs. Max loads are far under anything that would cause a catastrophic failure.
The manuals(read your's) only give the starting load and the max load. Mind you, some sites only give max loads so you have to reduce 'em by 10% and work up.
You work up the load from the starting load and go up by half a grain, loading 5 or 6 of each(for a revolver.) until you get to the max load. Keep 'em separated. A factory box is good for that. Do not go over max loads.
You will find that shooting jacketed bullets regularly gets expensive.
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Old August 21, 2011, 12:10 AM   #3
UncleLoodis
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Thanks for the info. That makes more sense now; I didn't see how anyone could be getting those speeds.

I have been making .38 Spcl loads using Berry's 125 grain FP too. They're my (economical) plinker loads. I did what you were saying...started with 4.5 grains and worked my way up to 6.0 with quite a few stops along the way. It was fun and recorded all my chrono data for future use. These Hornady bullets are for going to be for defense, and potato-exploding also They're a lot more expensive than Berry's, but they're really nice bullets. I have some .357 mag ammo that use 125 grain JHP...I suppose I could use some Berry's for .357 as long as I keep the speed down.

You probably know this, but Berry's makes some really nice plastic ammo boxes.

Again, thanks for the input/info. I am finding a TON of good info on TFL, and the people are so willing to help!

U.L.
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Old August 21, 2011, 12:15 AM   #4
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I use the Forth Edition Hornady reloading manual. Page 567 is my favorite load.... 125 gr XTP at 1750 fps. This is done with 18.6 gr. of AA#9 (my all time favorite powder for 44 and .357). This speed is recorded through a 8" S&W Model 27. I get about 1700 fps in a 6" gp100
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Old August 21, 2011, 09:21 AM   #5
UncleLoodis
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So, is the reason you can get 1600 FPS because of the 125 grain bullet VS. the 158 grain bullet? Or is it the powder? I'm think I'm getting conflicting info here, as the previous post says you can only get those speeds from a rifle, not a handgun.

By the way, why is AA#9 your favorite powder? I have been using Unique and Blue Dot.
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Old August 21, 2011, 09:47 AM   #6
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Revolvers

Quote:
How does one know when one is approaching too hot a load
The fired brass will stick in the chamber, hard extraction.
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Old August 21, 2011, 10:30 AM   #7
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Hey, thanks for the link...some good (and some scary) pix there!
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Old August 21, 2011, 10:48 AM   #8
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Buddy of mine got me into 2400 powder for 357 Mag, works extreemly well with 158 grain bullets. You should be able to get 1,200 FPS with Alliant's load data.

http://www.alliantpowder.com/reloaders/default.aspx

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Old August 21, 2011, 12:03 PM   #9
UncleLoodis
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1.575 10 CCI 500 2400 14.8 1,265 (copy + paste from the site)

That's interesting. They list CCI 500 (standard small pistol primers), not 550 (mag primers). The more I read, the more confused I get.
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Old August 21, 2011, 12:33 PM   #10
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differences

First, please consider all load data as a 'guide'; they are not 'recipes'.

Why? Because ALL guns are DIFFERENT, so we "Start low and work up slow".
In our own guns.....

Suggest one start with a goal for one's ammo; What work do we want the bullet to do?
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Old August 21, 2011, 01:54 PM   #11
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The CUP pressure changes with bullet weight/powder/firearm. Some loads reach higher speeds without exceeding this pressure, usually higher speeds with lighter bullets. My reason for AA#9 is due to my love of Hornady. I can achieve the highest speeds with AA#9 and Hornady without exceeding the recommended CUP pressure. Everybody has their favorites, but I have not found a faster, hard hitting, more accurate, combination for my gun than my big three: Hornady bullets, AA#9, and Hornady reloading manuals. I've shot deer with AA#9/XTP's and knocked them flat their Heinekens.

This is not the best combo for all. Find whats best for you and your gun by practice and sample. Keep experimenting with recommended safe loads and you will find your favorite . My Redhawk is more accurate with higher speeds and heavy bullets, but when it comes to plinking I use: 700X, Red Dot, Green Dot, and hard cast bullets (more bang for your buck with faster burning powders ).
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Old August 21, 2011, 03:22 PM   #12
UncleLoodis
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WOW

158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon Lil'Gun .357" 1.580" 16.0 1504 24,100 CUP 18.0 1577 25,800 CUP

Now here is an interesting bit of info...it appears that while the CUP is much lower than others, the FPS is much higher.

http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp


Thoughts?
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Old August 21, 2011, 04:35 PM   #13
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That is interesting. You got back into the science of this after 16 years. I haven't read the front of the my reloading books for a long time.

Does anyone know why some are listed with PSI and others CUP?
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Old August 21, 2011, 04:54 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleLoodis
...it appears that while the CUP is much lower than others, the FPS is much higher.
With older pressure measuring equipment, all they could measure was peak pressure. With newer equipment we can now look at the entire pressure curve and the companies are formulating powders that don't peak so high, but maintain that pressure longer, resulting in increased velocity. Velocity is determined by the area under the curve and the newer pressure curves are longer, with decreased peak pressure.

The .357 magnum looks like two different cartridges when fired from a revolver, vs a rifle. I routinely chrony my favorite loads through both to get an idea of how they'll perform from each platform.

Using a 158 hard cast bullet and 14.0 grains of Alliant 2400, I get 1207 fps from my SW 28 and 1710 fps from my Marlin 1894.

Using a hard cast 180 bullet and 15.0 Hodgdon Lil Gun, I get 1190 fps from my Model 28 and 1596 fps from my Marlin 1894.

Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleLoodis
So, is the reason you can get 1600 FPS because of the 125 grain bullet VS. the 158 grain bullet?
You can't compare 125 grain bullets and 158 grain bullets. It's like comparing apples and oranges.

Quote:
They list CCI 500 (standard small pistol primers), not 550 (mag primers). The more I read, the more confused I get.
Pistol powders aren't that hard to light-up. I can't imagine needing a magnum primer to ignite pistol powders. I've shot a lot of heavy loads in several handgun calibers and I can't conceive of one where I'd need to use a magnum primer. Even in my heavy .44 magnum loads, I use a standard primer.
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Old August 21, 2011, 04:59 PM   #15
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lack of experience?

Pistol powders can be notoriously difficult to fully and properly ignite.
Perhaps that's why some many data manuals (all?) recommend Magnum primers for certain loads.

I mean, launch many at -10F? Or on the African plains?
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Old August 21, 2011, 05:50 PM   #16
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Quote:
So, is the reason you can get 1600 FPS because of the 125 grain bullet VS. the 158 grain bullet? Or is it the powder? I'm think I'm getting conflicting info here, as the previous post says you can only get those speeds from a rifle, not a handgun.
It is a bit of both. Consider first that every caliber has a SAAMI maximum design pressure. Now, apply that same pressure to push a 125gr projectile v a 158gr projectile. The lighter projectile will travel faster when pushed by the same equal pressure. You should also note when looking at reloading data that the powder charges are reduced as you increase bullet weight.

Lets complicate this a bit more. A faster burning powder (as notated on the powder burn charts) develops pressure faster than a slower burning powder. If you are seeking the highest velocity for a heavy bullet, you would tend to want a slower burning powder (it takes a bit longer to get that bullet moving, so you want your pressure to rise more slowly to give more push to that bullet as it develops momentum going thru the barrel).

Now, add in the variable of short v longer barrels. A 2" pistol barrel cannot provide anywhere near the velocity of a 6" barrel with the same charge. Why?, because the bullet leaves the barrel before the pressure has enough time to peak and provide maximum push. This is why there are some special loads developed for 2" barrels that cannot be used in longer barrels.

Take the same load you developed for your 6" barrel and shoot it in your 24" rifle barrel. The rifle barrel develops much greater velocity. The pressure developed has a much longer time to push the bullet, thus increasing velocity, before the bullet exits and relieves the pressure.

One last point. Pressure curves are NOT linear across the range of powder charge that is recommended for a specific bullet. In other words, each additional 0.1gr of powder will not always provide the same incremental increase in FPS. This is one of the signs reloaders using chronographs look for when developing loads. If you are regularly seeing a 30fps velocity increase for each 0.1gr increase in powder charge, then start seeing only 10-15fps, you have reached the maximum useful charge for that combination and are riding on the edge. In other words, the additional pressure being developed is not being relieved as quickly as the lower charges. At that point, a wise man would back off a few tenths of a grain.
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Old August 21, 2011, 07:37 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PCJim
Take the same load you developed for your 6" barrel and shoot it in your 24" rifle barrel. The rifle barrel develops much greater velocity. The pressure developed has a much longer time to push the bullet, thus increasing velocity, before the bullet exits and relieves the pressure.
That's true, generally, but I was recently playing around with my 6" Model 28 and decided to chrony some .38 special wadcutter loads. I've used 2.7 grains of Bullseye under a 145 grain HBWC for years, an excellent target load. I get about 650 from my revolver and decided to try it in my Marlin 1894C. Two shots gave me a velocity of 606 fps, a decrease from the revolver. I the experiment at that point. All I could figure was that the small charge of fast powder was running out of pressure in the 18.5" rifle barrel and the bullet was slowing from friction.
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Old August 22, 2011, 01:22 PM   #18
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PawPaw-- That sounds like a possibility with a fast burning powder.
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Old August 22, 2011, 02:26 PM   #19
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I can't speak to the .357, but Hodgdon's Lil Gun powder has developed a reputation for getting maximum velocities with considerably lower pressures in the .22 Hornet cartridge.

If you are wanting max velocities from your .357, you will USUALLY get there using the slower burning powders, starting with 4227, 2400.. The three that I usually consider ALMOST the same are WW296, H110, and AA#9.
They are all very close in performance for amount used. Lil Gun is in that same ballpark, but usually creates lower pressures.
Most of the slower burning ball powders respond best to magnum primers and heavy roll crimps.
They also give GREAT fireballs especially in low light conditions.

If you want "standard" type loads, more moderate in velocity and blast, go with the faster powders like Unique, the "Dot" powders and such. Unique is probably best for good velocity and economy (cost per shot).
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Old August 22, 2011, 06:38 PM   #20
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Quote:
WOW
158 GR. HDY XTP Hodgdon Lil'Gun .357" 1.580" 16.0 1504 24,100 CUP 18.0 1577 25,800 CUP

Now here is an interesting bit of info...it appears that while the CUP is much lower than others, the FPS is much higher.

http://data.hodgdon.com/cartridge_load.asp


Thoughts?
I never got the accuracy outta Lil' Gun that I got from H110/W296 and IMR4227 in .357mag, .44mag or .460mag. Never got velocities from it in any handgun cartridge that beat H110/W296 without hard extraction. What I did get was hot barrels and hot guns. Once the talk of Lil' Gun and premature forcing cone erosion started, I gave up on it altogether in my revolvers. Just my thoughts.
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Old August 22, 2011, 10:01 PM   #21
UncleLoodis
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Well, crud. I bought a pound of Lil' Gun today on lunch break, and AFTER buying it I have seen quite a few forum comments about it causing forcing cone damage. I am torn--if I should try some or return it. I would just about weep if it damaged my 686. I luv that gun.

Lil' Gun: Used it? Love it? Hate it? Did it ruin your favorite FA?


Thanks.

U.L.


PS Hornetguy--yeah, I tried Bluedot on my first batch of .357 reloads...really nice for a good fire show!
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Old August 24, 2011, 04:05 PM   #22
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Lil'Gun is a crap-shoot. Some people get good results, some exceptional and others get flatten primers and erratic velocities even with moderate loads. Freedom Arms warns against using it in their revolvers. Some lots were subject to recall. Even Hodgdon's doesn't have the answers as to why its so unpredictable.
I tried it in a .357 Maximum with load data taken straight from the www.handloads.com website. The guy on the website sang it's praises, but the same load in my revolver had a velocity deviation of over 125 fps and a third of the brass had to be driven out of the chambers with a wooden dowel. All loads had flattened primers. Thinking I had made a mistake, I took the ammo to a friend's and pulled the bullets only to find they were exactly what was on the website with identical powder charges.
In all fairness, the Maximum can be very finicky to load for and some powders simply do not work.
125gr loads are faster due to the lighter bullets and larger powder charges, but at the opposite end, they don't carry as much momentum and slow down faster than the 158gr bullets so there is less energy on target. That's why silhouette shooters, and some hunters, favor much heavier bullets.

Last edited by DWFan; August 24, 2011 at 04:12 PM.
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Old August 24, 2011, 08:41 PM   #23
UncleLoodis
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Well, I think I'm going to make around 10-20 rounds with Lil' Gun and see what happens. If it doesn't work nicely, I'll return it or dispose of it or whatever. I will post the results...it could be a while though, as I'm a very busy guy.

Thanks to all that replied; it is nice to have such a variety of feedback.

U.L.
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