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Old December 11, 2018, 07:03 AM   #1
horseman308
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Recommended reloading dies for .357mag Black Powder

I'm gonna experiment with loading Black Powder in my Vaqueros and Uberti 73 for Cowboy Action (rather than just go buy a bunch of new guns first). I know some people poo-poo the idea of BP in a
.357 case, so if your response is "don't bother" or "get a different gun" then please keep it to yourself.

I'm not new to Black Powder at all. Been shooting muzzleloaders, cap and ball, and single-shot BPCR for several years. However, I AM new to reloading for lever guns in particular. I've read the Lyman 49th edition and cast bullet manuals. I know carbide dies are preferred to avoid having to lube cases.

My big question concerns crimping cases for the lever gun. I'm not worried about bullet setback on a black powder load. There won't be any empty space inside the case for the bullet to push into. Nor am I super worried about fouling. Been managing fouling for a long time, and cleaning BP isn't hard. But I certainly want the rounds to cycle and feed smoothly. I am aware that there is a debate between roll crimping and taper crimping for lever guns. What type of crimp and how tight would y'all suggest?

Next question is how much case sizing needs to be done. I don't size or crimp at all for my Sharps, but that's a single shot. For lever guns and revolvers, should I be full length sizing or just neck sizing?

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Old December 11, 2018, 08:23 AM   #2
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Size however you want. I use a taper crimp and it hasn't been a problem with my lever actions.
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Old December 11, 2018, 10:17 AM   #3
horseman308
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Originally Posted by Hawg View Post
Size however you want. I use a taper crimp and it hasn't been a problem with my lever actions.
Awesome. Thanks. Got a preferred set of dies?

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Old December 11, 2018, 06:23 PM   #4
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I occasionally load .38 Special with APP for Frontier Cartridge. I have the standard Hornady dies which work fine. I use a roll crimp on rimmed cartridges.

I shot some Goex charged .357 Magnum ammo in my revolvers this year. Not much difference in recoil compared to my usual APP .38s with the same bullet weight.

A friend of mine who loads and shoots tons of BP cartridges uses Lee dies in his Dillon press with no issues.
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Old December 11, 2018, 06:37 PM   #5
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If you're going to fully-fill w/BP, you really don't need any crimp at all.
Just straighten the mouth out after belling.
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Old December 11, 2018, 08:45 PM   #6
horseman308
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Originally Posted by mehavey View Post
If you're going to fully-fill w/BP, you really don't need any crimp at all.
Just straighten the mouth out after belling.
That's what I wondered. Thanks.

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Old December 11, 2018, 09:29 PM   #7
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You might want to look closely at the Big Lube (biglube.com) Snakebite bullet for 38/357. It carries a lot more lube than most 38 cal bullets. Otherwise your rifle is likely to foul up in the last 4-8 inches of barrel. If you don't mind doing a wet "pull through" swabbing between CAS shooting stages or about every 10 rounds then you can use whatever bullet you want.

I have used the standard Lyman 358311 158 gr RNFB bullet for years with BP but found it did not carry enough lube. If I wanted decent accuracy I had to pull a wet swab through between every CAS match stage but got tired of getting my sleeve blackened with fouling.

The Snakebite bullet (comes in a 6 cavity gang mold) just didn't reliably feed through all 3 of my model 92s or I would have used it. It should serve you well for both the rifle and pistol if you don't mind doing a bit of casting once or twice a year. I've never met Dick Dastardly but his Big Lube "greasewagon" Snakebite bullet (designed by "Snakebite") is a good one for BP in CAS matches.
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Old December 11, 2018, 10:50 PM   #8
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Vaqueros and Uberti`73
I modify my advice on no-crimp-needed . . . for the revolver.
Taper and/or moderate roll crimp to prevent bullets creeping forward on recoil.
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Old December 12, 2018, 06:09 AM   #9
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Hellgate, thanks for the tip. I have seen the big lube bullets and wondered whether they would be better for the rifle. Glad to know there's a mold I can get.

Mehavy, thanks also. I hadn't thought about forward creep.

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Old December 12, 2018, 06:38 AM   #10
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I second the Snakebite Grease Wagon bullet for 357. Carbide sizer die and a roll crimp. Besides carrying more lube the bullet design cycles well in lever actions, especially in 38 Special cases.
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Old December 12, 2018, 08:54 AM   #11
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Just (yesterday) ran a 1/2 box of my new Big Lube bullets down the 24" barrel on my original '73 .44 WCF. Was having bad fouling of the last 6" of her barrel even with a little lube cookie, but not yesterday. I believe that the extra lube in a grove lubes better than a "glob" behind the bullet.
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Old December 12, 2018, 12:59 PM   #12
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IIRC the Snakebite bullet was designed to have .357 OAL cartridge in a 38 SPL case. Some 38/357 rifles prefer .357 ammo hence the longer OAL for the 38.
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Old December 12, 2018, 01:32 PM   #13
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Lever actions require FL resizing. Same as a pump or semi-auto. Has to do with the relative strength of the bolt's camming.
BP in a .357 case is about the volume. BP is loaded in grains by volume, not mass like smokeless. I don't remember if there are .357 BP loads in the Lyman BP Handbook and Reloading Guide or not, but that's the place to look. Vs their 49th Edition.
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Old December 12, 2018, 08:25 PM   #14
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Any good set of dies will work. Nothing special really needed for 38/357 BP. Just make sure yu have enough BP in the case so you get a slightly compressed load. I load my by volume - a 38 Colt Long casing used as a measure gives me the right amount for 38 spell.

i load on a Lee 4 hle turret - I have a separate turret plat with dies for my 38357 BP for one reason - using BP lube can sometimes get messy in the seating die. IIRC - I have a Lee carbide fl sizer die with the depriming pin removed (I deprime all my brass with a universal deriming die jn a single stage press for all my brass - pistol, bottle neck rifle, etc.). I expand with an old Lyman AA expander die and seat with an old Lyman AA seating die. I like to roll crimp and I think I have an old RCBS die for that - but - if you're happy with a taper crimp and it works for you that's fine. I can't speak to your rifle or usage - in a tubular magazine I just prefer to use a roll crimp.

if I'm going to load a bunch, I may pull the seating stem and clean the die with a q tip and solvent to get excess lube out - then reset the seating stem to correct depth with a dummy round that's the OAL.

Good luck and enjoy. I had a Ruger NV that I used for BP - have it consigned now as I love my Uberti Bisley 357 so the NV was just collecting dust.
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Old December 12, 2018, 10:08 PM   #15
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I use more Lee dies than anything else.
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Old December 13, 2018, 02:39 PM   #16
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I'm wondering what kind of velocity y'all are getting with BP loads in your 357 magnums?
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Old December 13, 2018, 04:43 PM   #17
horseman308
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Originally Posted by Pathfinder45 View Post
I'm wondering what kind of velocity y'all are getting with BP loads in your 357 magnums?
I've only read, so no personal experience, but around 750-800fps seems to be the ball park for pistols, depending on powder charge, compression, and bullet weight. Faster out of the rifles.

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Old December 13, 2018, 05:26 PM   #18
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Data (20"):



Which (gasp) is exactly the ballistics of Black Hills Cowboy 357 (surprise, surprise...)



.

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Old December 14, 2018, 02:21 PM   #19
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Thanks Mehavey. I see that is shot from an Uberti 1873.....Should I assume that it indicates a copy of an 1873 Colt revolver, or an 1873 Winchester? Barrel length?
This is all quite interesting as it shows that real Black Powder remains a viable option with respectable performance even in this century.
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Old December 14, 2018, 05:19 PM   #20
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Data (20"):
Commanchero
A 'bit' less expensive back in the day . . .
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Old December 14, 2018, 09:40 PM   #21
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Howdy

I have must have loaded a bazillion cartridges with Black Powder for Cowboy Action over the years, 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 44-40, and 38-40.

You don't have to look up a recipe for loading Black Powder in cartridges. All you have to do is pour in enough powder so that when the bullet is seated it will compress the powder by about 1/16" - 1/8". That's all there is to it.

Although I must confess I have never loaded 357 Mag or 38 Special with BP, the idea is the same.

The Snakebite Greasewagon Big Lube bullet was developed specifically so that when crimped in the crimp groove of a 38 Special round the OAL will be close to the OAL of a 357 Magnum.

Here is a photo of a Snakebite (yes, I have a whole bunch for when I ever decide to load up some 38s with BP) with the crimp groove lined up with a 38 Special case on the left and a 357 Mag case on the right.







When crimped in the crimp groove, the Snakebite bullet will result in an overall length of about 1.550 in a 38 Special case. Just about Max OAL for a 38 Special.

When crimped in the crimp groove, the Snakebite bullet will result in an overall length of about 1.670 in a 357 Mag case. My Lyman Cast Bullets handbook shows a Max OAL for 357 Mag as 1.590. This is probably too long for the cylinder of many revolvers and is probably too long for the carrier of an Uberti 1873 replica lever gun. Yup, just checked the carrier on my 44-40 Uberti '73. The carrier is about 1.620 long. All the Uberti rifles use the same length carrier, no matter what the caliber is. So the first time you try to lever the action with your '73 it will jam for sure with a 357 Mag round loaded with the Snakebite bullet.

The Big Lube family of bullets was designed specifically to hold enough soft BP compatible lube to keep the bore of a rifle lubed with soft bullet lube for its entire length, so hard fouling will not build up in the bore. You can often get away with less bullet lube for a revolver, but frankly all my revolvers keep rolling better with Big Lube bullets than they ever did with standard hard cast bullets pan lubed with a BP compatible bullet lube.

Here is the scoop on the Snakebite Greasewagon Big Lube bullet:

http://www.biglube.com/BulletMolds.a...0-6d4ee38b0030




If you want to load BP in a 357 Mag case, you might want to try this bullet instead. Just an educated guess, I have never loaded any myself.

http://www.biglube.com/BulletMolds.a...a-ca09fa487426



I do know a few guys who load 38 Specials with Black Powder, in the interest of full disclosure I am not exactly what bullet they use. But I think you will run into less OAL problems if you stay with 38 Specials rather than 357 Mags. Don't worry, you will still get plenty of Smoke and Boom.

Regarding dies, you can use any brand you want to load Black Powder. No different than loading Smokeless in that aspect.

I always load all my BP rounds with a standard roll crimp that is standard on most dies designed for cast bullets. Yes, you do want to full length resize, and yes you do want a nice strong crimp. With a repeater, either a revolver or a lever gun, the last thing you want is bullets jumping forward when the gun recoils. Single shots are a different story. You only load one at a time, so it does not matter if the bullet is not crimped.

P.S. If you want to try some bullets before investing in molds, you can buy Big Lube bullets from Springfield Slim. I used to cast my own, but now I buy them from Slim. He sizes them and lubes them with a BP compatible bullet lube.



http://www.whyteleatherworks.com/index.html

Press the Big Lube button.

Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; December 14, 2018 at 09:49 PM.
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Old December 15, 2018, 07:56 AM   #22
horseman308
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Hey Driftwood, thanks for the very thorough response. I saw that note about the length of the bullet and OAL in the Snakebite description and wondered if it would work in a .357mag case. My whole reason for this journey is that I LOVE shooting BP and really don't care to shoot "mouse fart" loads. I want the whole enchildada (you know, smoke, fire, rotten egg smells - knowing for sure I just touched off something real! ).

However, I have a very nice set of guns in .357/.38 Special that once belonged to a departed family friend. So, I'm trying to see if I can get most of the BP experience out of this caliber before I really look into buying a whole new rig in .44-40.

So, I'll start with some .38 cases and order some Snakebites to try out. I've got some other 158g cast boolits I'll lube with Emmerts and see how they do, just for comparison.

Now, I'll start with GOEX 3fg, as I've got plenty. Out of curiosity, have you ever tried any 4fg? I know it's considered a no-no as a main charge in most situations, and u wouldn't consider it in any big-bore situation. But in the 20-25 grain arena of the .38, is there any additional velocity that would be worth it?

Thanks!

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Old December 15, 2018, 10:32 PM   #23
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No, I have never tried FFFFg in cartridges.

Have never felt the need to try.

I think you will find that a 38 Special case stuffed full of FFFg or FFg will give all the smoke, fire, rotten egg smells you need.

A bunch of years ago I used to keep FFg on hand for 12 gauge shotgun and FFFg for all my other cartridges. 45 Colt, 45 Schofield, 44-40, and 38-40. Eventually I got tired of stocking two separate granulations of powder, so now I load every thing with FFg.

All other things being equal you can expect to see between 60fps and 100 fps more velocity using FFFg instead of FFg. All other things being equal. Same case, same bullet, and same volume of powder loaded.

Don't forget, 38 Special was originally designed as a Black Powder cartridge. That is why the case is so long. Normal Smokeless loads in 38 Special don't take up much space inside, and if the cartridge has been designed as a Smokeless round it probably would not have been so long.

For me, FFg in my cartridges gives all the smoke and boom I need.






One other thing. Before I shoot any Black Powder cartridges in any of my revolvers or rifles, I prepare them for BP. I take them apart and strip out any and all lubricants using rubbing alcohol. I clean out the oils in the frame, and dip the lockwork parts in alcohol to get all the parts down to bare metal.

Then I relube everything with Ballistol, which is compatible with Black Powder fouling.

When I clean, I use a 1/1/1 mixture of Murphy's Oil Soap/Rubbing Alcohol/and drugstore Hydrogen Peroxide. This stuff is often called Murphy's Mix. Yes, you can clean with hot water, it works fine. But M Mix works a little bit better. Plus, you don't have to get it all out again like you do with water. If you leave water down inside the mechanism of a firearm, you will get rust. That's why so many use hot water or other techniques to get the water out again. With M Mix you don't have to get it all out. You just leave it down inside. The water present in the solution does the actual dissolving of the BP fouling, the Oil Soap leaves a coating behind that will prevent rust, the alcohol helps with evaporation, and the Per Oxide gives it a little bit of fizz to help lift off stubborn fouling. Plus, you don't have to heat it, you can use it cold at the range if you want. You don't have to clean your guns the moment you get home, within a few days is fine.

Do be sure to drop your spent brass into a jug of water with a few drops of dish soap added. Do this as soon as you get home. If you wait 24 hours you will get verdigris on your brass. Rinse the brass off thoroughly until the rinse water runs clear. The set the brass aside to air dry for a couple of days until it is bone dry. Then you can reload it again.

Last edited by Driftwood Johnson; December 16, 2018 at 12:03 AM.
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Old December 16, 2018, 11:19 AM   #24
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Quote:
If you're going to fully-fill w/BP, you really don't need any crimp at all.
Just straighten the mouth out after belling.
I use a Lee portable rig to load .45 LC and .45 Schofield cases in the field and usually I use black powder or BP substitute or Trail Boss. Unless you are planning to shoot the reloads you have made within a few hours, I would always run the cases through the crimp die just to give it a bit more tension at the lips. Even with a slightly oversized bullet, they have a tendency of migrating out of the case when they are carried/moved around.

One time I had the bullets from the unfired rounds in a revolver cylinder move from the recoil of the first 2 shots and protrude just a bit from the chamber faces. I caught it just before I was about to fire the rest of the rounds, so I had to take them out and reseat them.
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Old December 17, 2018, 10:26 AM   #25
horseman308
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Thanks again Driftwood. I hadn't thought about needing something like Ballistol for the lock works instead of standard gun oil, but it makes sense. I've always used Murphy's Oil Soap mix for cleaning my flinter and Sharps, but those have so many fewer moving parts. Cheers!

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