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Old September 23, 2023, 11:38 AM   #1
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357 Magnum Target Shooting.

I've been testing and shooting 16.5 grains of Hodgdon H110 in 357 Magnum and my results on Wednesday night exceeded my expectations. I am testing two different bullets. I cast them from the same batch (90/5/5) of homemade Lyman # 2 alloy. They both weigh 155 grains and I squeezed them all through my Lee 357 breach lock sizing die.

The first bullet is the MP molds clone of the Lyman 358429 hollow point. These bullets I powder coated them with ultra durable clear.

Second one is is the MP mold 359 Hammer hollow point. I powder coated these bullets blue. These bullets look like flying ashtrays. I love the way that they look loaded as ammunition.

All shooting was gone off hand. I load the gun and bring it up to my eye level. My left hand relaxes down my palm touches my left thigh. My right leg leans against and very slightly touches the shooting table edge. I extend my right hand all the way out -the sights align perfectly with my eyes and the paper plate target. Using my right thumb I draw the hammer back, and as best as I am able I maintain calm and apply pressure to the trigger without disturbing the sights alignment on target. The gun fires. Simultaneously there is an enormous muzzle flash and a tremendous roar. The barrel rocks up pivoting on the grips in my hand. Loose brass and any miscellaneous debris on the floor is pushed forward by the muzzle blast. When the muzzle is horizontal again I repeat the process.

I shoot for about ten minutes at 30 yards to warm up my hands and the guns then I put up fresh targets and sent them to 50 yd.

I fired each six shot group individually and this allows my gun to cool down between targets and not overheat.

I fired six shots at each plate then brought the target back and wrote which bullet I used with a sharpie.

I am definitely getting better at shooting the bigger gun and it feels good. I definitely still have much room to grow.

I hope you all are having a safe Saturday morning.

IMG_20230921_204143554.jpgIMG_20230921_204620153.jpgIMG_20230921_205005405.jpg

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Old September 23, 2023, 09:07 PM   #2
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what gun?
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Old September 23, 2023, 09:12 PM   #3
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Mainly I was testing a Ruger Blackhawk 6 and 1/2 in but I was also shooting a 4 and 5/8.

If you Click the blue hyperlinks at the end of the first post then you can see some pictures: a picture of the targets spread out, a picture of the two guns together and a picture of the hammer bullet ammunition standing up.

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Old September 23, 2023, 09:21 PM   #4
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I have also settled on 16.2 - 16.5 gr of H110 for 158 grain bullets. I have loaded them A LOT hotter, but that low to mid 16 range just seems to be the sweet spot in my 5" Smith 627.
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Old September 23, 2023, 10:29 PM   #5
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Must have missed it the first time all I got were pictures of the targets.

I have a 6.5" Blackhawk mine wears Pachmayr grips.

I run 2400 with jacketed bullets in .357. Been doing it since the early 70s, see no reason to change, now. I have run H110, but since, at one time there were three different burning rates of H110 on the market at the same time, when I used up the pound I had I didn't get any more.
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Old September 23, 2023, 10:40 PM   #6
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Offhand Magnums.
Shades of Phil Sharpe, Dick Seaton and Henry Bowman.
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Old September 24, 2023, 01:58 AM   #7
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One of my favorite recreational shooting activities is just that, "offhand magnums" as you call it. I just think of it as my take on bullseye shooting, without using a paper bullseye target.

Here's the game, standing on your "hind legs" take your pistol of choice in your dominant hand, stick your other hand in your hip pocket.

Extend the pistol to arms length, sight and shoot the 200 yard gong on the rifle range. (If you're still a smoker, lit marlboro dangling from the corner of your mouth optional Shoot SA or DA as you choose and your pistol allows.

No rests. no braces, no support hand. Iron sights preferred but optics allowed if you want them.

Object: every round hits until the gun is empty.

No score, no group size, no time limit, just hit or miss the approx 2ft wide steel disc.

Practical? not really, other than skill hitting at 200 does aid your skill at shorter ranges.

Fun? I think so. I've been doing it for decades, and with a bit of live fire practice can do it with nearly any handgun. I admit I'm not so good at one hand off hand with 14" Contenders but the usual 10" ones aren't much trouble. Can even do it with pocket guns, but those take more practice to learn their specific sighting needs. Small bores (like .22s) its best to have a good spotter to assist.

This is simply a personal challenge, its you against you with your pistol of choice.

For dry fire practice, see if you can balance a dime on the front sight of the EMPTY gun.

Once you can do that, practice raising and extending the gun to arms length at eye level and keeping the dime in place while you do it.

Once you have mastered that, the final step is (with the gun already cocked, we're not sadists here ) mount the dime, raise the cocked gun, aim and fire. If the dime stays in place until the hammer falls, you're there!

THEN, you start actually shooting at long range, spotting your misses and learning how much front sight to hold up for your gun and load at the desired range.

Are we better using two hands and a rest? Nearly always, but that's not the point. The point is to see if you can do it, and when you can, it its YOU that did it.

Also often impresses the other folks at the range, too.

Good luck with your Blackhawk shooting, you will improve with practice. Don't rush, don't worry about the "right" grip, just concentrate on a steady hold, your sights and trigger pull.

Have FUN!!
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Old September 24, 2023, 06:26 AM   #8
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Old September 24, 2023, 07:00 AM   #9
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Can't argue with success, but why go to the trouble of casting hollow points?
Unless they are enough more accurate to bother.
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Old September 24, 2023, 07:39 AM   #10
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Can't argue with success, but why go to the trouble of casting hollow points?
Unless they are enough more accurate to bother.
The hollow points are my favorite bullets to cast.

The biggest trouble is heat management. When the mold is properly warmed up 400°F and the alloy is 850-900°F perfect fill out of these enormous hollow points is quite easy with the RCBS pouring ladle.

When you pour molten lead you are also pouring heat.

The casting learning curve is steep and unforgiving of mistakes of attention, timing or setup. The best part is that I can remelt all my defects. It cost me propane and time.

A high-end brass mold set up to cast hollow points cost the same as a bag of Hornady bullets. Chew on that piece of bacon for a minute. Casting is by far the most challenging portion of metallic cartridge reloading I have ever tried it also happens to be very very rewarding to me.



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Old September 24, 2023, 07:54 AM   #11
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The only significant casting I have done was for my .38-55 BPCR.
Even midrange shooting demands good quality and I put in a lot of work on those bullets.
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Old October 1, 2023, 07:48 PM   #12
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Leaning on something is not offhand .
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Old October 2, 2023, 03:38 PM   #13
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Leaning on something is not offhand .
Certainly one way to look at it.

And, I believe that's the way target matches look at it.

Personally, I think something like leaning your butt against a table, where your entire upper torso and arms are not supported would be close enough to call "offhand" in casual conversation.

I tried to be very specific describing the "game" I like to play, off hand, standing on your "hind legs", one handed with the other hand in your hip pocket is the challenge. Totally unsupported, one handed "target style" shooting in the manner of eras past.
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Old October 2, 2023, 06:01 PM   #14
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excuse the thread drift. i got caught leaning on a table during a offhand 22 cowboy shoot. everybody was good natured about it though.
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Old October 4, 2023, 09:47 PM   #15
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What can I do to get better at shooting groups from these guns?



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Old October 5, 2023, 01:11 AM   #16
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What can I do to get better at shooting groups from these guns?
If you can forgive the old joke, you get there the same way you get to Carnagie Hall....PRACTICE!

Once you have ammo that will group well, and you know that your group size is you, and not it, then the answer is practice.

Careful, SLOW practice, with the emphasis on consistency. Being able to hold the gun steady, consistently, so that the sights are in the same place on the target every time the hammer falls, is what makes your groups as small as possible.

Also, I'd suggest an aiming point, not just a plain white paper plate.

A lot of what you need to learn can be done with dry fire practice.

You can also get one of the little laser pointers and tape it to the gun barrel. NOT to aim with but to show you how much wobble you have when you dry fire. use the sights, aim at a point you can see and aim consistently and see how much the laser dot jumps around. That will give you an idea of what you need to work on.

Old school is to practice with a coin balanced on the gun, as I described earlier. Point is to learn how to hold the gun steady, and keep it steady as you fire. And do it every time, aiming at exactly the same spot, There's no shortcuts, only the experience learned with PROPER practice gets you there, eventually.

Good Luck!

Also, I recommend not taking TOO seriously. Do it for fun, for entertainment, and for the challenge. Don't make it "work" or you'll wind up not wanting to do it, and perhaps rushing or forcing things, and that is hugely counterproductive.
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Old October 6, 2023, 08:16 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
Old school is to practice with a coin balanced on the gun, as I described earlier. Point is to learn how to hold the gun steady, and keep it steady as you fire. And do it every time, aiming at exactly the same spot, There's no shortcuts, only the experience learned with PROPER practice gets you there, eventually.
Any suggestions for steadiness exercises? I can't get a coin to balance on anything that I am holding, let alone the front sight of a pistol as I am dry firing...
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Old October 6, 2023, 10:08 PM   #18
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Any suggestions for steadiness exercises? I can't get a coin to balance on anything that I am holding, let alone the front sight of a pistol as I am dry firing...
I've been doing stretching and push-ups to raise my heart rate, blood and breathing energized, then I stand up straight pick up my pistols and start blasting.

I have seen a significant improvement in smaller groups sizes and the ability to shoot faster under all conditions now.

However now I'm at a plateau. I think I need a revolver with better sights, frame that's not so heavy, smaller grips , lighter trigger and fast twist barrel so I can stabilize 170 grain bullets well without 1400 ft per second velocity.



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Old October 7, 2023, 12:41 AM   #19
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I've been doing stretching and push-ups to raise my heart rate, blood and breathing energized, then I stand up straight pick up my pistols and start blasting
Glad that works for you. For me, it would have the opposite result. These days, I don't "warm up" I just "wear down".

Quote:
I think I need a revolver with better sights, frame that's not so heavy, smaller grips , lighter trigger and fast twist barrel
Better sights rarely hurt anything. Lighter frame, meaning lighter gun, = greater recoil. There's no free lunch.

Faster twist?? If we're talking .357 the common ones are Colt 1-14" Ruger Blackhawk 1-16" and S&W 1-18.75" There are a few others but those are the most common.

What are you shooting now, and are you sure its the twist keeping you from stabilizing 170gr slugs??
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Old October 7, 2023, 05:33 AM   #20
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Glad that works for you. For me, it would have the opposite result. These days, I don't "warm up" I just "wear down".







Better sights rarely hurt anything. Lighter frame, meaning lighter gun, = greater recoil. There's no free lunch.



Faster twist?? If we're talking .357 the common ones are Colt 1-14" Ruger Blackhawk 1-16" and S&W 1-18.75" There are a few others but those are the most common.



What are you shooting now, and are you sure its the twist keeping you from stabilizing 170gr slugs??
I was shooting steel plates at the cove campground in Gore Virginia outside of Winchester yesterday. There are steel targets set in sand at 60 and 80 yards. I focused on the 80 yards targets mainly as I enjoyed the different gong noise they made. I noticed loads in 357 brass grouped significantly tighter than those in 38 brass.

I was shooting a 6.5 inch Ruger Blackhawk and a 2.25 inch Smith and Wesson j frame model 60-9.

Any misses kicks up sand, and hits make a loud noise I can hear. No pushups yesterday due to sand.

Lighter bullets don't require as much twist to stabilize as compared to a heavier bullet.

I may soon begin testing light loads with 125 grain bullets and bulls eye powder soon and check performance at different distances.

I noticed with the Blackhawk the 359 hammers bullets hollow points 155 grains and the 358429 hollow points 155 grains the heavy loads with imr4227 and h110 grouped much tighter than light loads with tightgroup and auto comp with the same bullets.

My flat nose 358429 bullets scale at 165 grains and the best groups were compressed loads of 4227.

The light 38 special loads with the hammer and 358429 bullets from the Blackhawk group several inches at 30 yards so seeing a spread of 3-5 feet at 80 yards was eye opening for me. I had no idea that groups would open up like that at greater distance. (Twist/Stability failure?)

I did discover that the spicy blue hollow points shot about 6 feet high at 80 yards from the snub nose j frame so that was interesting. I fired 15 of them to check for crimp jump, there was no problem there. Recoil was excessive from the little gun.

The imr4227 and h110 loads fired from the black hawk consistently smacked the plates. I was banging the steel for two hours yesterday.

Maybe next time I'll bring a bucket of ice water to cool the guns off





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Old October 7, 2023, 10:29 PM   #21
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I don’t have a Ruger BH 357 anymore. I do all my Target 357 shooting with S&W
M27s and 148gr Lyman Button Nose Wad Cutters. Much easier to shoot than Ruger SAs. Then again I’m not shooting 200yds. I do have a 83/8” focused for 100 yds with 158 JHPs, was for deer but never use it. With irons I don’t shoot over 100yds at deer anyway.
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Old October 7, 2023, 11:27 PM   #22
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The light 38 special loads with the hammer and 358429 bullets from the Blackhawk group several inches at 30 yards so seeing a spread of 3-5 feet at 80 yards was eye opening for me. I had no idea that groups would open up like that at greater distance. (Twist/Stability failure?)
I'd say its probably a stability issue, but not the stability of the bullet caused by the twist, but the stability of the shooter.

Offhand shooting is the least well supported position. Regular handgun sights are fairly coarse and some are very coarse, compared to rifle sights

Very tiny differences in exactly where the sights line up on the target, small differences you may not even be able to see, make a difference. At close range the difference may be inches or even less. At long range, the difference in point of impact may be several feet.

Fixed sights are regulated at the factory, for the most common bullet weight used in the caliber and for an industry standard distance. Generally speaking, this means neither an ultra heavy nor ultra light bullet and the usual distance is 25yds.

As to twist rates, bullet weights and velocity ranges, while this is something important in some rifle rounds, it is generally much less so in pistols rounds.

The usual twist rates in handguns, have been in use a long time. In .38 caliber twists ranging from 1-10" (9mm Parabellum) up to 1-18.75" (.357) have been working for bullets from 90gr to over 200grs with satisfactory results.

Consider this, we've all heard of how the heavy (for caliber) .22 bullets of 70+gr need a faster twist (1-7 or 1-9") for accuracy than the standard 1-12, 1-14" twists used for the light varmint bullets of 40-55gr, in pistols, the faster twist of 1-10" is used in 9mms, where, for generations bullets were 115-124gr, and the slower 1-14 to 1-18" twist rate was used in .38 Special /.357Mag where the usual bullet was, for generations, a 158gr.

Like wise in US .30 caliber miltary arms a 1-10" twist was adopted for the long heavy 220gr Krag bullets, and was kept (because it worked well enough) when the military went to the lighter 173gr and then 150gr, and if I remember correctly when they went to the M14 in 7.62x51 (.308 Win) the twist went to 1-12".

Another point to consider is that the bullets you're casting and the loads you're shooting simply might not be what they guns you are using "like best".

Finding the one load an individual gun shoots best is either a matter or serendipity or extensive testing.

So, before you go thinking it has to be the twist rate or something else, consider they biggest factor is the shooter and try some other bullet /powder combinations to see what they do.

Also, decide what your priority is, getting your guns to shoot your bullets the best they can, or getting them to shoot something the best they can.

and, also consider if you're going to start running the 125s, Bullseye powder is for light target loads (low speeds) up to midrange loads. Slower powders are for heavier, faster loads.

My go to powder for full house .357 (any bullet) is 2400. Do be aware that even with slow powders, the .357 case can hold more powder than the gun is happy with.

Good luck.
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Old October 8, 2023, 02:17 PM   #23
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Target shooting with 357

I shoot 45 and 22 for bullseye, never thought of doing it
for 357. I will break out the 686 and see if it works for
BE. What you describe is well down the bullseye trail.
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Old October 8, 2023, 03:31 PM   #24
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I'd say its probably a stability issue, but not the stability of the bullet caused by the twist, but the stability of the shooter.



Offhand shooting is the least well supported position. Regular handgun sights are fairly coarse and some are very coarse, compared to rifle sights



Very tiny differences in exactly where the sights line up on the target, small differences you may not even be able to see, make a difference. At close range the difference may be inches or even less. At long range, the difference in point of impact may be several feet.



Fixed sights are regulated at the factory, for the most common bullet weight used in the caliber and for an industry standard distance. Generally speaking, this means neither an ultra heavy nor ultra light bullet and the usual distance is 25yds.



As to twist rates, bullet weights and velocity ranges, while this is something important in some rifle rounds, it is generally much less so in pistols rounds.



The usual twist rates in handguns, have been in use a long time. In .38 caliber twists ranging from 1-10" (9mm Parabellum) up to 1-18.75" (.357) have been working for bullets from 90gr to over 200grs with satisfactory results.



Consider this, we've all heard of how the heavy (for caliber) .22 bullets of 70+gr need a faster twist (1-7 or 1-9") for accuracy than the standard 1-12, 1-14" twists used for the light varmint bullets of 40-55gr, in pistols, the faster twist of 1-10" is used in 9mms, where, for generations bullets were 115-124gr, and the slower 1-14 to 1-18" twist rate was used in .38 Special /.357Mag where the usual bullet was, for generations, a 158gr.



Like wise in US .30 caliber miltary arms a 1-10" twist was adopted for the long heavy 220gr Krag bullets, and was kept (because it worked well enough) when the military went to the lighter 173gr and then 150gr, and if I remember correctly when they went to the M14 in 7.62x51 (.308 Win) the twist went to 1-12".



Another point to consider is that the bullets you're casting and the loads you're shooting simply might not be what they guns you are using "like best".



Finding the one load an individual gun shoots best is either a matter or serendipity or extensive testing.



So, before you go thinking it has to be the twist rate or something else, consider they biggest factor is the shooter and try some other bullet /powder combinations to see what they do.



Also, decide what your priority is, getting your guns to shoot your bullets the best they can, or getting them to shoot something the best they can.



and, also consider if you're going to start running the 125s, Bullseye powder is for light target loads (low speeds) up to midrange loads. Slower powders are for heavier, faster loads.



My go to powder for full house .357 (any bullet) is 2400. Do be aware that even with slow powders, the .357 case can hold more powder than the gun is happy with.



Good luck.
I agree with you 100%.

I think the biggest error in this case may be operator error. That being said..

The fact is that when I shoot 155 Grain bullets at warp speed I can strike the plate five or six times out of each cylinder consistently when I was shooting at 80 yards. I was greatly entertained by very short time of flight. The gunfires and then almost immediately afterwards you can hear the bullet ricochet off of the steel plate. In fact the two sounds are so very close together.

And I did notice when fired from both the Blackhawk and the Smith & Wesson j frame that the light loads grouped several feet. This is far more than operator error when fired from these two handguns with my right hand holding the grips.

There was one exception with the light loads. I was shooting some flat nose 358429 with three grains of Tite group and that one once I held over about two feet could strike the plate consistently. The time of flight was long enough that I thought I missed and then I hear the "PING".

Also Little black fly midges kept getting under my safety glasses while I was shooting and they kept buzzing next to the amplified pickup from my electronic hearing protection. Bzzz bzzz.

I hope you all are having a good Sunday afternoon. Be safe.
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Old October 9, 2023, 01:40 PM   #25
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And I did notice when fired from both the Blackhawk and the Smith & Wesson j frame that the light loads grouped several feet. This is far more than operator error when fired from these two handguns with my right hand holding the grips.

Possibly.

Possibly the load will not be as accurate as other loads in every gun.
Possibly your guns just don't shoot that load as well as they shoot other loads.

Possibly the lower velocity is allowing wind drift to be a more significant factor at longer ranges creating a greater dispersal of impact points (larger group).

The best method of finding out which variable is having the greatest impact on your results is to experiment, changing only ONE variable at a time.

Quote:
I was shooting some flat nose 358429 with three grains of Tite group and that one once I held over about two feet could strike the plate consistently.
When you say "held over" do you mean putting your aiming point two feet above the target??

IF so, you're handicapping yourself. I use a different method of aiming at long range. Happy to explain my method, if you're interested.
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