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Old October 24, 2011, 11:17 AM   #1
Sevens
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.357 Magnum for the Coonan semi-auto

In another thread, Deja Vu mentioned loading for his Coonan Classic. These days, I'm also feeding a Coonan. Not mine, this one belongs to my buddy, purchased on my recommendation. I really want mine, but the time isn't right at the moment. I hope that the time WILL be right in the next year. Until then, I have been shooting his.

On the Coonan website, there is a blurb for a page "under construction" that hopes to list some handloading data for the Coonan pistol. It even has a little quip that says,
Quote:
Ammunition and Reloading Guide...coming soon…seriously, like soon, Dan and the rest of the ballistics team is working on it even as you read this!
Grrrr... this annoys me because it's been up for like a year and hasn't been updated. I even sent an e-mail to them and the guy who wrote back told me that yeah, they are busy as heck building handguns and haven't worked on that at all... but he also said that the pistol doesn't seem to finicky and runs well. The website notes:
Quote:
Due to the wide variety of ammunition available in the .357 Magnum caliber, we recommend using Federal or Magtech 125 or 158 grain JACKETED ammunition. Other ammunition can be used, but some setup of the firearm might be required.
I'm happy to report that it mirrors my findings, too. Even so, I'd like to share some trials that have worked in the new Coonan pistol. And I hope that others will add their tests & results... be it a box-fresh new one or an old Model B or Cadet or what have you.

I started with 158gr Zero JSP's and ran them with 13.5 to 14.0 grains of Alliant 2400 with a non-mag CCI primer. I don't use mixed brass so each box of 50 is all the same headstamp, but I'll use any brass that works. All of these run with no hassle whatsoever. No "occasional" feed hiccups or ejection failures... these run 100% of the time.

I decided to give a test using a mid-range .357 load... the same 158gr Zero JSP's over 6.3 grains of Hodgdon Universal and these do not run in the Coonan. They just don't have the oomph to rack the slide. Some eject, most don't get that far and no new ones get a chance to get chambered. These loads are fun for fast shooting from a revolver, but won't run a Coonan.

I then decided to switch to a 125 grain load with the idea that I could save a few pennies with a lighter bullet weight, and yet still have all the fun of shooting .357 Mag from a semi-auto. This turned out to be a fine idea and I got great performance from 125gr Zero JSP's powered by anywhere from 15.0 to 17.0 grains of Alliant 2400... again, non-mag CCI primers.

I did put a box of 50 .38 Special handloads through the pistol with the included (and MUCH lighter .38 spring installed) and the gun ate these, also. They were 158gr Berry's plated flat point bullets loaded over 5.2 grains of Alliant Power Pistol. These fired, ejected and fed with no problem, but the whole operation just seems so S-L-O-W that it's like watching a firing sequence on video in super slo-mo. The slide reciprocates at such a speed, you feel like you are watching a long event. The feel is just really odd. Though I don't have a Coonan of my own yet, I'm not sure how much .38 I'll be shooting through mine because it's just not the same experience. But the pistol did run the ammo well, albeit just the 50 round small sample that I tried.

Currently, my buddy is running 158gr PMC JSP factory ammo through it and it's running all of those at 100%, too. Those loads give just the slightest bit more bump in felt recoil than my 125gr loads, but they don't have near the audible bark that my 125's offer.

Just the other day, I concocted my first trials with some Speer 125gr TMJ bullets. They have a different profile than the Zero 125's, but I started them at 15.0 grains of 2400 also. Haven't yet had a chance to try them.

All in all, the pistol is quite accurate and the function of it has been ridiculously good for a non-standard platform and magazines that are made nowhere else in the world by nobody else, ever.

As for shooting cast lead through a Coonan... well, it's not a gas-op pistol, so there's no concern with lead bullets mucking up any piston or port. I haven't tried it simply because I tend to stick to jacketed when working with bullets at this speed. I know many folks know how to deal with hard cast lead at speeds well over 1,000 FPS, but I have very little experience in that area.

So... maybe you find this interesting, or maybe you find a COONAN interesting! But either way, I'm hoping we can get at least a couple of Coonan owners & shooters to add their experiences to this discussion. Bottom line so far with the Coonan I get to play with... about a thousand rounds down range, maybe a half of it handloads or a bit more, and this pistol doesn't fight you much when you feed it. It loves to shoot, it isn't cranky, it's very accurate and it's incredibly fun to play with.
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Old October 24, 2011, 02:29 PM   #2
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My Coonan is a Coonan Classic (or Model C if you prefer). It is there new guns they just started making about a year ago now.

I Find I can feed it any thing that is in the reloading manuals. (some times with the softer loads I have to use the 38 special spring)

*here I am running from memorie so please forgive me if I am slightly off, I don't have my stuff in front of me, I know they are close but may be off 1/10 of a grain or so. Please use your manuals when reloading do not use my post here.

My favorite loads all use h110. I like to load 110 grain Hornady JHP load with 22.5 grains of H110 because the crowds love it.

as far as accuracy I like 180 gr Nos over 13.0 H110.

All of these loads are in Winchester brass and with Winchester magnum small pistol primers. Both loads are lower end loads from the Hodgondon reloading manual.

My other load I like because its comfortable to shoot (on your hearing) is a Hornady 180 grain HP-XTP over 11.3 grains of H110. This is a nice subsonic round doing about 1000-1050 FPS from the Coonan (the Hornady reloading manual lists it as 900 FPS) . Again same primers and casings as listed above. Even though it is a subsonic load you still need hearing protection. It is quieter but the Coonan is a loud gun.

p.s. I dont know if the subsonic load would work until you have broken in your spring. The manual recommends 200 rounds to break in the gun. Of course that is just guessing I did not start shooting this load until after about 1500 rounds.

the only bullets that ever failed in my Coonan is the CCI shot shells because the slide breaks open the blue plastic and the BBs fall out of the end of the barrel.
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Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 25 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple

Last edited by Deja vu; October 24, 2011 at 02:43 PM.
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Old November 4, 2011, 10:26 PM   #3
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I am thinking of buying a Coonan. I mostly cast and load my own with WC, SWC, and Round nose. Anyone have any experience with cast bullets and target loads in this gun?
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Old November 4, 2011, 10:53 PM   #4
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I have not tried any lead with it yet. If I do, it would simply be an exercise... and not something I really have much ambition to do. It's so much fun to shoot it with full-bore .357 and it's quite accurate.

The bit of .38 that I shot it with (50 rounds) was anti-climactic. Those were plated flat points.

I can't imagine the pistol would reliably feed a full wadcutter, but I suppose it's possible.

As for running "target loads" and ammo lighter than full-power .357, I would imagine that you'll have to get familiar with trying different springs to make it work. My mid-range .357 load didn't run at all with the heavy duty spring in it. And the lighter spring seems really light when you draw the slide back, so I'd be wary of running the gun too hard with the light spring installed.

It's definitely at home -- and designed around full-spec and rockin' .357 Magnum.
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Old November 4, 2011, 11:34 PM   #5
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Thanks for the reply. I do a fare amount of target shooting for NRA ratings and normally use light target loads in a six inch S&W. I am moving into a phase that would require shooting my revolver double action one handed. I was thinking the Coonan might work better for this without having to completely reset my reloading equipment. Beside that I just want one.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

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Old November 4, 2011, 11:48 PM   #6
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Boy, I know that feeling!
But I'm well past "I just want one" and I'm head-long in to "I will have one."

I think with some playing with loads and springs, you'll make it work if you want to take the time to get it "just right." The full wadcutters, I think, would be asking a heckuva lot from an autoloader. Honestly, I'm aware of the S&W Model 52 but I've never seen one in action and I have no idea how it worked as well as it did.

I'm not even a blind old man (yet) and I can struggle putting 6 rounds of full wadcutter in to a revolver cylinder with a speed loader. Asking a semi-auto to feed them is asking a lot.
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Old November 5, 2011, 02:57 AM   #7
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First, like any other 1911, first find the load that is accurate and feels good. Then, get a set of Wolff springs and determine the spring that cycles the slide fully.
Changing from 125gn to 158gn can easily be a spring change right there. Also, after firing about 400 rounds, parts are burnished and things start working better.
I found a 150gn FMJ with 16.0-17.0gn of 296/H110 and a magnum primer was quite accurate.
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Old November 6, 2011, 08:34 PM   #8
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You know, about a year and a half ago when they announced that new Coonans would be available, it caught my attention. I've been reading every post I could find since then.

I went and looked at an "old" (near NIB) Coonan about six months ago and probably should have bought it...but was torn between buyng a new one and an old one.

Over the last few months I have been second-guessing myself. Do I really need another oddball gun? I have revolvers in .357 Mag and .41 Mag and 1911s in .45acp and 10mm. Where does a .357 Mag "1911" fall into this?

I had almost talked myself out of wanting a Coonan, because it seems as if I have all of the performance parameters bracketed.

And well I may...but I still want one.

Keep those posts coming.
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Old November 6, 2011, 08:57 PM   #9
Chaz88
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I tried to trade for one yesterday. Did not work out, the seller was not going to budge off of the marked price plus tax, tag, and title. I did not have any more guns or cash to throw at the trade so I took my trading guns to another table and did a couple of straight out trades including tax, tag, and title and took my cash home with me.

This is still on my list but I will probably just order one when I have all cash for it.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

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Old November 6, 2011, 10:16 PM   #10
Sevens
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Tell ya what I think about the old Coonan vs the New Coonan--

I've never wrapped my hands around an old Coonan. Most reviews are quite good. For an oddball gun (there really is nothing else out there like it), it has a reputation for running as it was designed and not being junk even though the first iteration of the company didn't survive.

If you go to the Coonan site, there is a FAQ and one of the questions is, "Will a new production magazine fit my old Model B Coonan?" and the answer is "maybe." Due to some changes made to the Model B over time, a new mag might not be a perfect fit and some modifications may need to be made.

But the new mags certainly fit the new gun perfectly well. And the magazines are one helluva build quality, they are small machines all on their own. (well, small compared to the handgun... but larger than almost any other handgun magazine!)

Biggest problem I see for the old Coonans on the market is that for a while, they were a collector's item. Now, they are much less so. Given their similarity to a brand new one, and given the quality of the brand new ones, I just can't see the old ones going for big bucks. I think a lot of the "collector" value on them dropped when the new ones came out.

The Cadet model still has it -- if Coonan does the obvious and makes a new Cadet model, I'll bet the same thing will happen.

I'm getting one, no doubt. For me to buy an old Model B, well, it would have to be a helluva savings over a new one, and nobody that has one would even consider selling it for such a price.

I'm getting a new one. I just hope something doesn't go to heck on the business/money side of the operation and they cease production again.

Collectibles are great if that is what you are in to. Me, I just want another fun gun. I can tell you first hand that it's a damn riot to shoot this handgun and it's accurate. If it's all about "need" and "filling roles" then sure, whatever. I've got my EDC, I've got a utility pump 12ga and I've got a few rimfires, so I guess all my "needs" in guns is taken care of for the rest of time.

I don't shop for needs anymore, it's all about the WANT. I want a Coonan. I wanna own my next favorite shooter!
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Old November 9, 2011, 12:55 PM   #11
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I've two of the new Classics, and love them! The quality, fit and finish on both is quite good. Both started off throwing rounds in a pattern of around 10" at 25 yards out of the box, but after a couple hundred rounds, really wore in and now are quite accurate. Mine love the 158 grain commercial loads, but the idea of hte lighter bullet weight with more "kick" sounds good also. With my job being what it is, I get to handle and see quite a few of the older models, and in MY mind, I would buy the new Classic before searching out an older A or B model - unless the price was just so low you couldn't pass it up.
According to Coonan, a Compact (Cadet in yesteryear) model is in the works, but they need to make sure they're caught up with current full size orders, and that all quality checks are passed before sending it to production.
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Old November 9, 2011, 03:47 PM   #12
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I don't really have to change out my springs that often. I have run every thing from 110 grain to 180 grain reloads through it and many different kinds of factory ammo.

They only time I have used the lighter spring is when shooting 38 specials or some sub sonic ammo that I loaded up my self.

I have tried a few different powders for my Coonan but I still like H110 even though there is not much room to play. (starting loads to max loads are typically only about 1-2 grains different).

I do not cast my own bullets (yet) so I don't have any advise on that. I typically feed my Coonan Hornady bullets and occasionally Speer.

The most fun load for me to shoot is 22.2 -22.5 grains of H110 under a 110 grain Hornady bullet (using Winchester brass and small magnum primers). They are very loud and make huge fire balls and shock waves... this would not be a good load for self defense but it is good as a crowed pleaser or if the guy next to you at the range makes you mad.

the Coonan all so shoot bullets faster than they shoot from a similar length revolver. I think the cylinder gap plays a big role. I know I get about 125 (give or take) more FPS from my Coonan than I do from my S&W 627 and they both have a 5 inch barrel.

Coonan is talking about making a drop in 6 inch barrel for the classic and ill be getting that for hunting.



I know that may people may not understand the need for a 1911 in 357 magnum (balistically similar to a 10MM which is fairly common) but to a guy like me that grew up with revolvers and tries to keep his bullet selection down (currently to 4 different rounds for 16 guns) it is the perfect thing.

I would like to get a Ruger 77/357 bolt action to be a friend for my Coonan. The non-traditional 357 magnum pair would be very nice pair.
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Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 25 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple
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Old November 9, 2011, 07:22 PM   #13
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Coonan was also considering the possibility of a long-slide version of the new pistol with a 7" barrel and capable of handling a steady diet of Buffalo Bore 180gr ammo.
If and when that happens, I'll buy one; but I ain't holding my breath.
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Old November 15, 2011, 02:57 PM   #14
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Got one....love it.

I really struggled with my loads on this one. My manuals all seem tailored to revolver loads (for 357 I really understand this) so I started with 158gr over No. 5. Simply would not cycle fully. In fact this load wouldn't even eject the spent brass.

So, I've stepped up to 7.8 - 7.9 grains of Unique. Bingo, cycles well and very accurate. I've not done the chronograph on this yet but will probably get busy on that in the spring.

The gun is an absolute "must have". Its high quality, well engineered and certainly draws attention at the range.

Good luck,
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Old November 15, 2011, 03:54 PM   #15
Deja vu
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Most of my reloads are with H110, may be that makes the difference.
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Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 25 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple
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Old November 16, 2011, 03:42 AM   #16
Sevens
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Willy, neither AA#5 nor Unique will make true magnum-level loads. They will both make serviceable midrange .357 Mag loads, but for magnum loads, you'll need something slower. AA#9, 2400, H110, etc.

Like I wrote in my initial post... my Universal loads are fun out of a revolver, they hit harder than a .38 Special but they aren't real serious .357 loads and they don't run the Coonan. I don't imagine loads built with Power Pistol would do really well either.

Good that you got your Unique loads to do it, but switch to something like 2400 and you'll get the full effect of the .357!
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Attention Brass rats and other reloaders: I really need .327 Federal Magnum brass, no lot size too small. Tell me what caliber you need and I'll see what I have to swap. PM me and we'll discuss.
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Old June 10, 2012, 10:11 PM   #17
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The following are some loads I've been playing around with in my Coonan. I chrono'd these loads over two different range sessions. Both days were quite sunny, between 70 & 80 degrees and a few feet above sea level, caught with a Chrony Beta Master about 8 feet from the muzzle.

All of these loads run my Coonan Classic with no failures of any manner and no signs of extreme or excess pressure. Each of these loads falls within published maximums as provided by Alliant (2400 powder) and Hodgdon (Longshot and Lil'Gun powders) -- but do note that the load pushing the Berry's Plated slug to speeds in excess of 1,200 FPS is just outside the typical guidelines offered by Berry's for use with their plated bullets.

Sample for average velocities were taken with 10 shots, 5 shots from each of two magazines with no high's or low's thrown out.


125gr Speer TMJ 16.2gr 2400 1,465 FPS avg 596 ft/lbs

125gr Zero JSP 9.7gr Longshot MAX LOAD 1,323 FPS avg 486 ft/lbs

158gr Speer TMJ 14.0gr 2400 1,208 FPS avg 512 ft/lbs

158gr Berry's Pl-FP 14.0gr 2400 1,237 FPS avg 537 ft/lbs

158gr Hornady XTP 13.5gr 2400 1,262 FPS avg 559 ft/lbs

158gr Zero JSP 8.3gr Longshot near MAX LOAD 1,196 FPS avg 502 ft/lbs

158gr Zero JSP 16.0gr Lil'Gun 1,400 FPS avg 688 ft/lbs

158gr Zero JSP 17.0gr Lil'Gun 1,407 FPS avg 694 ft/lbs

158gr Zero JSP 18.0gr Lil'Gun MAX LOAD 1,436 FPS avg 723 ft/lbs


Special note! If you are using a revolver and not a Coonan, Desert Eagle or some other single shot (non-revolver), please do a bit of researching before using the loads with Hodgdon Lil'Gun powder. It seems this powder is gaining somewhat of a bad reputation in the big bore wheel guns (.460, .500 Mag) for excessive wear and tear to the forcing cone on the big boomers.

Is it bad for revolvers on the whole, or only the big bores? Is it even truly bad for the big bores? Is it going to destroy even a single shot or a Coonan?!

I have no idea. But do some searching for the use of Lil'Gun in magnum handgun calibers before you run out and send a pound of this stuff down range.

ALSO!
It should go without saying, but these are loads that I worked toward -- not ones I simply threw together. Reduce them and please work to them (or beyond) using proper, safe handloading methods.

And if you do -- please return to this thread and share your results.
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Old October 2, 2012, 09:01 PM   #18
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Moved to more appropriate thread.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

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Old October 2, 2012, 10:02 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chaz88
I am thinking of buying a Coonan. I mostly cast and load my own with WC, SWC, and Round nose. Anyone have any experience with cast bullets and target loads in this gun?
Cast bullets run fine in mine. However, target loads don't. Powering soft lead (target bullets) past their intended velocities is not a good idea, but cast bullets intended for hunting (thus made of hard cast lead and probably chilled) and capable of full-power and full-velocity performance do very well. A custom caster might be in your future.

I have a guy in Anchorage who does very well in performance and price (Arnie's) for my friend who shoots them in his 500 Smith. And then, there is Ranger Rick who has a quite good reputation for high-power adept bullets, including is famous "Tyrannosaurus Thumper" bullets.

My revolver target .357 Loads run into the light 38 special power ranges and turn my Coonans into manually cycled repeaters. The spent cartridges don't even leave the chamber.

Now, this is nice, as I am not clearing stovepipe jams. But cycling that slide against that full-strength recoil spring is a challenge, as is loading the magazines. Dan Coonan certainly believes in strong springs!

Good luck

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Old October 2, 2012, 11:15 PM   #20
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I have reloaded some cast bullets going pretty slow and they worked fine with the 38 special spring.
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Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 25 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple
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Old November 5, 2013, 10:36 PM   #21
Chaz88
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Quote:
Sevens, 158gr Berry's Pl-FP 14.0gr 2400 1,237 FPS avg 537 ft/lbs
I am working up a load with Berry's for my Coonan. The only bullets I have found locally to work with are Berry's. I came to about the same conclusion as you did for this load. I was wandering if you have any thing to add or any other advice on this one before I start. Thank you.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

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Old November 6, 2013, 04:12 AM   #22
Sevens
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Hmmm, I suppose the only couple of things that jump out at me is that Berry's "recommends" 1,200 FPS max velocity for these particular bullets, but I didn't see any trouble going a bit past that. The other notable item is that these slugs do not have a cannelure on them, and you simply must take care when roll-crimping with this bullet as the plating is very thin and you do not want to cut through that plating with a too-heavy crimp. (the plating is easy to accidentally slice through when applying too much roll crimp, and when you've done this, the bullet & it's plating tend to come apart.)

2400 is quite flashy and .357 Magnum loads built with 2400 usually throw a rather impressive fireball -- also a trait the Coonan is quite well known for!
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Old November 6, 2013, 10:21 AM   #23
Chaz88
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Quote:
Berry's "recommends" 1,200 FPS max velocity for these particular bullets
The ones I just bought have upped that to 1250. That is one of the reasons I was thinking your 1237 looked pretty good. I will watch closely however, I never totally buy into manufactures upper limits. In my experience they tend to ether be on the low side for safety or exaggerated to make things sound better than they are.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

No spelun and grammar is not my specialty. So please don't hurt my sensitive little feelings by teasing me about it.
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Old November 7, 2013, 08:30 PM   #24
Chaz88
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Quote:
158gr Berry's Pl-FP 14.0gr 2400 1,237 FPS avg 537 ft/lbs
Loaded some up and shot them yesterday. Worked good with acceptably accuracy. My daughter thought the mussel flash was great. Only complaint is I would prefer to have more of the powder burn in the barrel, it would probably make it a cleaner load.
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Seams like once we the people give what, at the time, seams like a reasonable inch and "they" take the unreasonable mile we can only get that mile back one inch at a time.

No spelun and grammar is not my specialty. So please don't hurt my sensitive little feelings by teasing me about it.
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Old November 8, 2013, 01:59 PM   #25
Sevens
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Join Date: July 28, 2007
Location: Central Ohio
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Most any load I've run using Alliant 2400 (in different calibers as well) tends to leave some unburnt powder behind. I would say that it's a trait of the powder itself. If it were my goal to reduce that unburnt powder (and still use 2400) then I would probably ramp the load -UP- and push it further and see if that worked. Of course, you run in to the velocity limits suggested by Berry's at that point...

An alternate powder suggestion I would make would be Hodgdon Longshot. Though I have not had a chance to try this propellant with the Berry's plated 158gr slug, I have run quite a number of 158 grain Zero JSP's with it, running 8.3 grains of Longshot which returned a an 1,196 FPS average from my Coonan.

Sorry, I don't recall how "clean" it ran, or what kind of a vicious fireball it offered, but it was a decent load that pushed a 158 right around the 1,200 FPS mark. I was attracted to Longshot in the first place because it seems to be a fine powder in 10mm and I find it to be easy to work with and I can use it in a handful of applications. Longshot isn't my all-time favorite powder, but it's up near the top of powders I consider my "go-to" and oft-used powders.

One powder I do use a whole heckuva lot of is Alliant Power Pistol. I use many pounds of the stuff, but I simply don't use it at all in .357 Magnum. (currently...) But that's a powder I would probably try if my goal was sending a plated 158gr slug to around 1,200 FPS in .357 Magnum. I did dabble with it quite some time ago, just playing around really, and I got sidetracked before I made any headway. (I probably got a great buy in jacketed slugs and that's why I never finished the development...) But my records indicate that 7.2gr of Power Pistol behind the Berry's 158gr Pl-FP returned an average of 950 FPS from a 6-inch revolver. The ES & SD weren't impressive -- both improvements I would expect if I advanced the load. I would guess that this load wouldn't run a Coonan with authority as the pistol simply demands to run full-bore. I would advance this load to about 8.0 grains of Power Pistol and see what I get.

Power Pistol and Hodgdon Longshot are both somewhat faster burning than the more "magnum" oriented slower burning powders. As such, my idea would be to use them at or near their published maximum... to give a full pressure load all the while keeping velocity a bit lower to hit the target goal of around 1,200 FPS. Loads running at or near max are efficient loads that tend to run far cleaner than a slower burning powder used a good bit under it's published max.

Usual disclaimers apply: don't do stupid things at the load bench, and niether TFL Forums or I offer anything with these suggested loads -- use at your own risk.
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