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Old August 28, 2004, 09:21 AM   #1
trapshooter
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Challenge: Looking for a "Light" .357 Mag load

Howdy, all.

I'm looking for a light .37 Mag load for my new (to me) S&W 19-5 two-inch (which is in great condition, btw).

The idea is, I want something I can practice with, without resorting to a .38SPL case.

My research has revealed that many knowledgable folks feel that heavier bullets with a smaller charge of medium-burn-rate powder (with respect to common .357 Mag powders) will reduce the wear on the K-frame as opposed to light bullets at max power and velocity. My concerns are flame-cutting the frame, throat erosion, and basically accelerated wear on the frame/lockup items. The usual, IOW.

I know some people don't worry about this stuff, while others won't shoot .357's in a 19 at all. If/when I use this for carry, I'll cut to the chase and use a good SD load off the shelf and not worry about possible damage to the gun, as that situation makes other concerns a priority. Having identified the extremes and disregarded (the hopefully rare) SD use, I'll just say I'm looking for the middle ground that lets me come as close as possible to the carry load for 'practice'. Any comments are welcome regarding my concerns, as it's always good to have lots of opinions to consider.

Dorking around my usual haunts, I picked up some Hornady 140 grain XTP's and a box of Winch 145 grain Silvertips.

I have some brass coming from Starline, but it's a few days out, so I have some time to think about this.

I have several powders on hand to choose from, AA#5, AA#7, WW231, WW296, Bluedot, N340, N110, and H110 (without checking the powder locker). I have a wide selection of primers, which are cheap and easy to get anyway.

Lots of data out there on the 140 grain XTP's, so they aren't a real problem when I start my load workup. The Silvertips are less common, though, and I'm not finding a ton of data. Winchester only shows a 296 load, but that is a large wt charge that I don't think is going to do what I want.

I can work this all out myself, eventually, using the proper techniques, but I thought this might be a fun discussion, and why not pick everyone's brains and avoid re-inventing the wheel.

Any thoughts?
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Old August 28, 2004, 10:01 AM   #2
Chris W
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With fast burning powders, you can use .38 data straight across in a .357 case, and I often have. E.g., I just finished shooting a batch of 500 140 gr. Rem JHPs (should be very comparable to the XTPs) that I loaded over 5 grains of 231 for practice rounds. Hornady's manual lists the 140 xtp at 800 fps over 4.8 grs of 231 in a .38 case. I don't have a chrono, but that 'felt' about right, and it shot accurately. Something in that range oughta work wonders as a practice load and not cause any undue stress to your K-frame (mine is a 66) or yourself. I don't have any idea why Winchester doesn't list a 231 load for the Silvertip, though I have wondered. I would have no hesitation about jumping in and experimenting with it a bit at 38 or 38+p levels in 357 cases, though, having done so with many other bullet types. (threw out all my 38 cases shortly after I started reloading)

The mag powders you listed are a lot less amenable to downloading (110, 296, etc.). I have less experience with the blue dot or AA powders, though I will listen in for the advice of others who do!
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Old August 28, 2004, 11:24 AM   #3
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Thanks, Chris. I think you are exactly right regarding small charges in a .357 Mag case, as the only reason the case was extended was to prevent chambering in .38 Spl guns. (Newer compressed .357 loads notwithstanding). But I'm really looking for real 'light' .357 performance, around 1200 FPS for the 140/145 grain bullets. So, as I said, the 140 XTP is easy. Lots of data.

Like you, it puzzles me that WW shows no other powder outside of 296 for the 145 grain. It's a good powder for heavier mag loads, and I've used it for that in the past. (I like it in the .44 mag especially). Since the Winchester data is from the Winch manual, it's not surprising and entirely understandable that only Winchester powders are covered. Presumably, they think that 296 is the only really suitable powder they offer for that particular setup.

I think the other problem is that the Silvertips are not reloaded as much, as they aren't cheap, and aren't commonly available. The price tends to make them not popular for 'practice', and most folks don't like to load thier own SD rounds, which is the ST's target market. (No pun intended, but I like it anyway). So, that leads to a lack of good load data, apparently.

We'll see if anyone else feels like jumping in here.
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Old August 28, 2004, 11:36 AM   #4
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I HEAR that bluedot creates some nice consistent midrange loads of the sort it sounds like you're after; but again I dunno myself.

BTW, if you want to shoot a lot of Silvertips (and of course I don't know what you're paying for them now), you can get them for something like 115 or 117/thousand from midwayusa.com (plus straight ups ground shipping). As you say, not cheap, but also not insane.

Myself, I'm liking the new Speer Golddot in 147 grs for my 'in-between real 38 and super 357' loads. Speer will be loading it for 38+p at 850fps+; I'm loading it for both my 66 and my 340PD over 6 grains of Unique. Figure I'm getting mid-900s from the 4" 66 and still hitting recommended operational speed from the snub.

Jabber, jabber, jabber. Sorry to go on--relaoding is too much fun
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Old August 28, 2004, 12:38 PM   #5
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I have a M-19 that went back to the factory for a cylinder. I was shooting the 170 Keith and 15 grs. of H-110. Too much load for steady use.

The load I use now makes a 1050 fps from the 4 inch barrel and is easy shootin. It's the same bullet, the L-358429 and 5.5 grs. of 231. This powder charge works well with a 158 cast also. BTW I use standard Winchester primers. This is one of the more accurate .357 loads I've fired.
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Old August 28, 2004, 01:33 PM   #6
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AA 5 and WW 231 would both be good choices.

I load a lot of lighter .357 Mag. using 231 and 125-gr. bullets.

I can't remember the powder charge I use off the top of my head, so I'm not going to mention it.
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Old August 28, 2004, 04:19 PM   #7
Jim Watson
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I loaded 8.1 grains of Blue Dot and a 158 grain LRN or SWC in .357 brass for 1100-1200 fps depending on barrel length and primer. My usual combination of a 4" and Federal primer was about 1130 fps.

Otherwise, try 231 at a load intermediate between .38 Special +P and .357 starting load level.
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Old August 28, 2004, 05:26 PM   #8
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Hi Guys,

I really appreciate the input. I still have some work to do, but it's the fun part. Starting with the info you all provided and working up some decent loads. I have a lot of data for all of the powders I mentioned in .38 +p and .357 Mag in the 125/140/158 bullet weights, and you have all given me some great ideas and reinforced some of what I was already thinking. I hadn't really been thinking about 231 as much, but I'll throw some starters together with it. I have lots of Bluedot, AA#5, AA#7 too.

I got out a while ago and found some new Winchester brass to tide me over until I get the Starline in, so it's off to the loading bench for a while. With some cooperation from the weatherman, I'll get out and burn some powder tomorrow. Unfortunately, I don't have a chrono, so any range reports aren't going to seriously help anyone else. My perception of the recoil, etc., is going to be too subjective to be of much use, but I'll let you all know what I think, FWIW. If I see strange looking primers or something, I'll get some pictures up. I don't think I'll be going down so far on the charges that I'll get any odd squibs though.

Thanks again! I'm off to the bench.
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Old August 31, 2004, 04:10 PM   #9
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Just a quick update:

Got the brass, then discovered I didn't have ANY small pistol primers, mag or not.

Solved that yesterday. Got the rest of the brass I ordered today. I loaded up some of the 140gr XTP's with mag primers and 11.8 grains of Bluedot, just for grins. It occurred to me that I can do my testing with these charges in my Mod 28, compare the flash/recoil/visual indications to different 'hot' 110/125 factory loadings, and come up with a fair-to-middling acceptable load for practice. Staying below published maximums, I have no worrys with the 28, and I can shoot that one all day with the charges I'm looking at.

I may not get to the range now until this weekend, but I'll let you know what happens.
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Old September 1, 2004, 10:44 AM   #10
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I have used 3.0gr of 700X under a 148gr wadcutter(cast) in a .357mag case for an accurate load. Quantrill
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Old September 5, 2004, 09:19 PM   #11
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Hahahahaha. Okay. 11.3-11.8 grains of Bluedot is still pretty snappy. Doesn't matter what bullet weight. Not bad for a duty load, but I think I need to drop the charge some more.

Used the M28 to make some comparisons before I used the 19. 11.3 grains of BlueDot under the 145gr Silvertip was 'slightly' better than the 140 XTP over 11.8 grains. But not what I'm after, definitely. No signs of excess pressure in either gun, but the recoil wasn't much different than the 110GR JHP commercial stuff. And I wouldn't want to shoot more of this powder in the 19 unless I was going to get hurt worse by not shooting. Mike's probably right (along with several of you), a 'bit' smaller charge of a faster powder is probably going to be the ticket. Back to the press.
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Old September 6, 2004, 06:16 AM   #12
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6gr VV N340 behind a 158gr bullet (lead of jacketed), gives around 1000 fps. Using std primers for it. More of a 38 +p then a 357 load, but works good for paper.
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Old September 6, 2004, 08:30 AM   #13
Chris W
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Quote:
More of a 38 +p then a 357 load, but works good for paper.
This is true of most everything I load for my 357's (handguns; a lever action carbine is the gun for real 357's!). There's a whole lot of productive territory between 38 and 357 that doesn't get exploited, I think, because 'magnum' has come to mean not just 'big' (as in, 'this case is the 'big' one compared to the .38) but 'mighty'. So folks think they're not shooting 'real magnums' unless it's a mega load.

Truth is, though, that the 'magnum' cartridges were developed when bullet tech was so far behind what it is today--with, e.g., your Silvertips--that they HAD to load it hot, hot, hot in order to ensure bullet function (or compensate for the lack of it). Nowadays, I honestly doubt there's all that much advantage to going to 'full-speed' 357 loads (against bipeds, anyway), given proper bullet selection.

Instead of working down from what we think a 357 is 'supposed to be', try working up from 38 loads, and you'll find a wonderful range of manageable, pleasant, and still confidence-inspiring loads to choose from. Easy on the gun and you. Do continue to keep up posted!
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Old September 6, 2004, 08:59 AM   #14
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Chris,

I think you are on the right track. I've found a theoretical upper limit, now I need to start back at the lower end and work my way up a bit. One thing I will note is that the 140 grain XTP load with 11.8 grains of BD was pretty accurate. One ragged hole at 12 yards. Not bad for a fairly speedy round from a snub gun. (Obviously taking my time between shots).

I'm going to meld all your comments and try a different powder like AA5 or AA7 in a lighter charge weight. I may have some VVN 340 out there too. One of those should work well. I'll get back to you all with some results after I can get back to the range.
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Old September 6, 2004, 09:26 AM   #15
Jim Watson
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Trapshooter,

Did I misununderstand or were you not listening?
I thought you wanted a low end .357 load.
11.8 grains of Blue Dot is 0.1 grain under the Lyman MAXIMUM for 140 grain bullets. Go back and try 8.5 - 9.0.

Ball-type powders like AA5 and AA7 are not, in my opinion, well suited to reduced loads. I don't know about N340 but it sounds like Mikke does.

I'm done and will not comment further.
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Old September 6, 2004, 06:51 PM   #16
trapshooter
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Hi Jim,

My latest Sierra manual (50th Ann) shows 13.6 grains of Blue Dot as max with a 140 grain bullet. Based on what it felt like, I'd be inclined to go with your Lyman data.
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Old September 6, 2004, 07:08 PM   #17
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Holy freaquing cow.
I said I would not comment because I didn't want to get into a big contentious quarrel but this is a case of major differences in published data.
My Sierra 4th shows the same. That is two grains of powder, over 15% heavier load than Lyman 47th. I think Lyman used a Hornady bullet, but it still goes to show you just can't have too many references. The trick is who to believe.

I'd try about nine grains BD and see how loud they pop. Uniformity will be pretty sad and there is probably a better powder for the category but it would take a lot of work to find.

I just recently bought my own chronograph so I would not have to dig the elderly club machine out of the back of storage. Actual velocities of MY loads in MY guns are just invaluable to the way I load. I want power factor loads for IDPA, factory duplicates for defense load practice, and actual velocity for figuring rifle zeroes beyond the club's 100 yards.

You can get an overhauled Chrony for $50, but I splurged on a CED.
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Old September 6, 2004, 09:03 PM   #18
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Trapshooter,

In my 3" Model 13, 6.3-6.5 grains of Green Dot and a 125 grain JHP gives about 1150-1180 fps and feels like a .38 load. It is 'way under max. Green Dot is faster than Unique, slower than Bullseye - not usually consdered for magnum loads since it is so fast. A pleasure in a short-barrel .357, and matches velocity with the Rem. 125 Golden Saber fact. load from a 3" barrel.

For a longer barrel - 5-1/2" Vaquero, 6" 586 - about 17-18 grains of VV N110 (hot but not max in the Speer book) gives almost 1500 fps; in Marlin 20" carbine, honest 2,000+ fps - all with 125 g JHP. Same load in the little Smitty gave only 1180 fps - with lots of shock and noise! So - that's where the "fast powder for short barrel" came from.

All this is in .357 cases - .38 cases would work but I load .38 cases for .38 revolvers and don't want to chance brain-fade/mixup. A real light .38 load is 3.5 grains Unique and a 125g cast lead conical nose - real light and accurate.

Purrrs,
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Old September 8, 2004, 08:07 PM   #19
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Hi guys.

No quarrels here, Jim. My Speer manual had loads similar to your Lyman. I had a 50-50 and blew it. I'm thinking 9-10 grains of blue Dot. Somewhere just above the +P loads and the low end of .357 Mag in the Speer should be much closer. I'm glad I went with "mid-range" from the Sierra and not more. The Blue Dot may be somewhat 'inconsistent' at those weights, but I use a pretty good crimp, and with those charges I might try a mag primer if there are problems with ignition.

BobCat, I would prefer to stick with the .357 case too. Just because. Green Dot, huh? I'll have to look into where that falls in the burn rate chart. While it isn't used in any of the published stuff I have, that doesn't mean it won't work, certainly.

I probably won't get much done until this weekend. This is b-day week, and my Bride has purchased "something". Not sure what. Unless it's a safe, she wouldn't buy anything related to guns, as she knows I'm picky. But I would be verrrrry happy with an upgraded box.
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Old September 8, 2004, 11:32 PM   #20
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trapshooter

Not sure if this is what your looking for but I've been shooting 357 Mag cases - 158gr. Speer Gold Dots out of a 6 inch GP100. This is what I found

Blue Dot - 10.2gr - Federal 100 primers - 1.575 OAL - 1212 fps

2400 - 14.8gr - Federal 100 primers - 1.575 OAL - 1221 fps

H110 - 15.5gr - Federal 200 primers - 1.575 OAL - 1213fps

This is about what Speer lists in their loading manuel.
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Old September 9, 2004, 09:25 AM   #21
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Trapshooter,

Load data at http://recipes.alliantpowder.com/rg....evolver&step=1
Amusing that they have a load for most all of their powders, no matter how inappropriate...

Green Dot is faster than Blue Dot; it is a shotshell powder too. Maybe no point in buying Green Dot specifically - it is just the principle that a fast-burning powder, generally not appropriate for magnum loads, can be good in a short-barrel magnum revolver.

I think you will have fun working up a load for this revolver. I was really startled by how tame the Green Dot load felt and sounded, for the same velocity as the heavier (N110) load - that shot well in a longer barrel. I ought to chrono the light Green Dot load out of the 6" revolver - just to see.

Purrrs,
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Old September 9, 2004, 08:41 PM   #22
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Disclaimer: My load data works in my gun but maybe not yours. Proceed with caution!

I have loaded 12.0g blue dot with a 140gr XTP. If using 140gr jacketed bullets you may want to reduce to 10-11 grains for a milder load. 12 grains of blue dot should be toward the higher end for the 140gr bullet.

I also like the 125gr XTP with 13.0 gr blue dot and the 158gr XTP with 10-11.5gr blue dot and a magnum primer (CCI 550).

Use H-110, W296, or good ole' 2400 if true magnum velocity is desired!
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Old September 10, 2004, 10:08 AM   #23
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Green Dot is just a dandy powder for straight wall pissola cartridges, especially for practice and plinking rounds, even in the bigger ones such as 44 mag. Look at listings for cowboy loads and cast bullets and you'll see. Burn rate is in between Red Dot and Unique and it is rather bulky. sundog
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Old October 28, 2004, 07:50 PM   #24
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A mild load I like for 125 grain bullets in .357 mag using BLUE DOT is:
10.7 grains of Blue Dot
CCI 500 primer (NOT MAGNUM PRIMER- not necessary nor needed with Blue Dot)
Any 125 grain jacketed bullet
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Old October 28, 2004, 11:16 PM   #25
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Mid range .357 load

Used this from the 25yd line at an PPC course in Idaho. Is easy on the gun and is accurate. 15 grains of 2400, 125 grain soft point. Out of a 6in barrel it will run about 1200fps. Double action you should be able to keep all of them in a 6in circle at 25yards. Have fun.
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