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Discussion Starter #1
I’m looking for some target loads for my 4 inch 357. I like to shoot cast bullets mainly because of the cost. I would like to use 357 brass since I’d rather not deal with the cylinder cleanup shooting 38’s. I’m looking for 38/ 38 +P level performance.

Looking at the published load data (mainly from Hodgdon) it seems that from the readily locally available powders Titegroup, HS-6 and 231 produce light loads with relatively low pressures. I would like to use 158 grain bullets. Most that I find available for purchase are RNFP or SWC. Has anyone had experience using the powders in light loads with bullets of this weight? Also I noted that Hodgdon recommends magnum primers. These powders seem to be too fast and the charges too light to need magnum primers. Besides I have several thousand standard primers on hand. I’ve used standard primers with Titegroup in other calibers with no problem.

Recommendations/Thoughts on these powders or others for this application would be appreciated

Also are the Polymer coated bullets worth thee extra cost?

Thanks!!!
 

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Titegroup is good for mild plinking loads with cast bullets. I've shot hundreds and used small pistol primers. Very nice shooting. Just be careful not to double charge.
 

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I cast and load 158 grain SWCGC's and use a variety of powders, including Trail Boss, HP38, 231 and Clays.........
 

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I shoot IDPA and Steel Challenge with the kind of load you are wanting. While not Hodgdon I use Alliant Unique powder. If you really want Hodgdon powder then Universal Clays, by all accounts, is about the same burn rate as Unique. 357 brass, Standard Small Pistol Primer, 5.0 gr Unique, 158 gr TC cast bullet gives me about 910 fps from my 4" GP100 with competition accuracy out to 30 yards or so. I prefer TC or RN bullets as they load faster with a speed loader.

I looked at the Hodgdon web site and found a 357 load using Universal that rather duplicates what I use with Unique. Just look under "357 Magnum" and "158 gr Cast LSWC".

This load works well in my gun so start low and work up and you will probably find it will work for you.

Dan
 

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I have reloaded and shot a lot of .38 Special loads in .357 Magnum brass. All the .38 Special powders work for this and the only difference is the velocity in the Magnum brass will be lower than specified for the Special brass. And .38 Special +P? There ain't much difference between this and starting loads of .357 Magnum loads, so I usually find an accurate "Special" load in Magnum brass, and forger upper level Special velocities...
 

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With hard cast bullets, LSWC 158 grain, I have had to bump the load up to prevent leading in the barrel of my 6" GP100 and 4" SP101. There are many fine powders available if you can find them. Most of us who reload have favorites. The only powder that I have found that does not leave lead in the barrel is Accurate #9. I have loaded 11.2 to 12.2 grains under a Missouri Bullet LSWC with good accuracy and no lead. :) Personally, I could not prevent leading with Unique from light to the heaviest loads and the same with Blue Dot. :( Blue Dot was once my favorite powder.

As to Hi-Tec bullets, that is all I will buy in the future. I have tried different ones and have settled on those from ACME Bullet. I have shot about 1,000 of them. They are "lipstick red" and that is OK and they are very clean when handling. They are accurate and leave no lead. :D I have loaded them with Unique, AA#9, CFE Pistol, Blue Dot, HP-38 (same as W231). Shot some yesterday with the new BE-86 by Alliant and got great accuracy. I have loaded them with HP-38 at 4.6 grains in 38 special brass and they are reasonable accurate. As a special note, the carbon in the cylinder is not as hard to get out as lead in the barrel. :p

ACME 357 SWC are currently $43.75 with $6 shipping for 500. Try coated bullets. I do not think you will be disappointed. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So much good information. Anytime I shot cast bullets leading is a concern. Coated bullets would seem to have some advantages.

I do most shooting at 25 yards. I’m an old bullseye shooter just getting back to shooting after a long hiatus and looking forward to a new challenge shooting revolvers.double action. Still 25 yards seems close. Of course when I was shooting bullseye I didn't wear bifocals and my hand didn’t shake. 25 yards might be far enough!

When loading for bullseye for 45 ACP we all used just about the same loads and bullets. The world was simple then. There was no internet and loads you used were what people used to win matches. As a club we ordered our supplies as a group to cut costs. The loads were all very light. Recoil was your enemy. I can’t count how many 45 ACP target rounds I loaded. And yes you had to be very careful with double charges with so little powder in a large case.

Looking at the load data that is out there for the 357, the data is all over the place. and even contradictory. For example Hodgdon lists a max load for HS-6 of 7 grains for a 158 gain cast bullet. The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook shows 9.2 grains as the starting load and a max of 10.2!!

I know the bullets have different shapes and hardness, different cases, primers and guns and countless other variables, But that is a pretty wide margin! And these are from published and supposedly reliable sources! A new reloader (and an old one) can be left scratching their head.

I contacted Hodgdon and asked them if using magnum primers were required for the powders I listed in my original post. The answer was they recommended them in such a large case for reliable ignition but they did not test standard primers with these powders. i guess it keeps the load development simpler.

It looks like loads people are using for IDPA and Steel Challenge is a good start. These loads would seem to be the best compromise between power, recoil and accuracy. I know even with these recommendations load development. still has to occur but it seems like a reasonable place to start. Still it is alway good when these loads fall with the recommendations of the powder manufactures.
 

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For strictly punching holes in paper targets, I get the best groups with 148gr hollow base wad cutters loaded to between 750 to 800fps. I've never gotten as good of groups between 25 and 50 yds with 158gr bullets of any style. This is out of my 4" GP100.
For magnum loads with powders like W296 or H110, magnum primers are really only needed in winter temps. I never had any ignition issues with standard primers in summer temperatures.
 

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I’m looking for some target loads for my 4 inch 357. I like to shoot cast bullets mainly because of the cost. I would like to use 357 brass since I’d rather not deal with the cylinder cleanup shooting 38’s. I’m looking for 38/ 38 +P level performance.
I use a simple calculation to get mild .357 loads.

I look for the bullet and powder used for both rounds and the same bullet, and average the two. I wind up below .357 levels and above .38 levels. Usually loads at that level are mild and accurate, and tame even in ultralight .357′s. They are also likely above +P pressures a bit.

There is a "too low" point, especially with jacketed bullets, and some of the slower powders. You may see "DNR", (Do Not Reduce) with some combinations. It′s not actually good for loads that use HBWC′s, as the hollow base is designed to expand the bullet to the bore at very low pressures. Subjected to excessive pressure, the HB becomes a problem.

To shoot paper, Penn makes a really nice DEWC that is very cost efficient, can be loaded either end up, and with something like AA No.2, you can get lots of practice from a lb of powder.
 

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Looking at the load data that is out there for the 357, the data is all over the place. and even contradictory. For example Hodgdon lists a max load for HS-6 of 7 grains for a 158 gain cast bullet. The Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook shows 9.2 grains as the starting load and a max of 10.2!!

I know the bullets have different shapes and hardness, different cases, primers and guns and countless other variables, But that is a pretty wide margin! And these are from published and supposedly reliable sources! A new reloader (and an old one) can be left scratching their head.
Hodgdon lists the pressure of that load as 15,500 CUP. Less than 1/2 of the maximum average pressure the cartridge can take.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
OK I thank you all for your input.

I was able to get hold of some coated cast SWC 158 grain bullets, As I noted in my original post I would like some 357 loads that are about 38 +P speeds, I have 357 brass. I would like to try an IDAP match at some point but my main goal is target shooting from any where from 7 to 25 yards which is the max for my indoor range.

I have Titegroup on hand but have access to Universal, HS-6 and 231. Which of these would be the best for my goals and any recommended load ranges? Also the whole idea of magnum vs standard primers drives me up a wall. In loading for my 45 ACP and 327 I have always used standard primers. But Hodgdon and Lyman when they did their load development they used magnum primers. I can see them for large volumes of slow powders but what I'm looking for is light to medium loads with faster powders and not max loads with slow powders. Magnum primers don't seem to be needed but that's just me talking. I contacted Hodgdon they were pretty noncommittal. They do there testing for all loads with single primer regardless of load. They just didn't test with standard primers with cast 158 bullets.

I have loaded thousands of rounds of 45 ACP, quite of few 327 and some rifle but I have never loaded for the 357 before. There is some much information out there almost too much. I need some help shorting my learning curve with the 357.

Again thank you for sharing your experience and knowledge.
 

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For target loads, I like 5.4 gr of Winchester Auto-Comp under 158Gr LSWC, using magnum primers as indicated in the load data.

Also have CFE pistol, but have not started with it yet.

For magnum loads, I've been working up the charts with Missouri Bullet 180gr WFN "pugnose" (coated), with AA#9.
Accurate's data can be found here: Load Data « Accurate Powders

Missouri "pugnose" can be found here:Missouri Bullet Company
 

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My idea of a "target" load may be different from yours, but I use HS-6 and Alliant Bluedot for reduced velocity loads for .357 Magnum. I've found that HS-6 burns dirty when used at pressures below about 20K psi, and I use magnum primers. No so with Bluedot, I use standard primers. Both meter very well through my powder measures.
 

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The longer .357 brass and not dealing with cylinder cleanup is a trade off. While the cylinder cleanup is better the reduced powder charges are more efficient in the shorter .38spl cases. I think this is the reason why they specified the hotter primers because of the small amount of powder and the random positions it may be lying at within that long .357 case. The .38 spl case is shorter and by nature keeps the powder closer to the primer flash. Personally, I'll take the extra 5 minutes of labor to clean the cylinder in favor of the better accuracy I get using .38spl for paper punching. When I go to the range I usually have both. I just shoot the .357's first so they slide in easily. Then shoot up the .38's
 

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.......Also the whole idea of magnum vs standard primers drives me up a wall. In loading for my 45 ACP and 327 I have always used standard primers. But Hodgdon and Lyman when they did their load development they used magnum primers. I can see them for large volumes of slow powders but what I'm looking for is light to medium loads with faster powders and not max loads with slow powders. Magnum primers don't seem to be needed but that's just me talking. I contacted Hodgdon they were pretty noncommittal. They do there testing for all loads with single primer regardless of load. They just didn't test with standard primers with cast 158 bullets......
Hodgdon Customer Service was noncommittal because they have never tested the scenario you are requesting. If they do not have verifiable data for a load then they cannot recommend it. That whole lawyer thing...

While not Universal powder, in my load with Unique powder I first started using magnum primers. The load worked with these except that I got leading at the forcing cone of my gun with cast bullets. After a few variances I settled on using standard primers to control this leading. I can't tell any difference in the load performance with magnum or standard primers. I have not tried this load with a plated or coated bullet. Plated bullets should be unaffected by magnum primers. Also, I believe my cast bullets were of a BHN of about 12 so a harder cast bullet would help with the leading I was experiencing but that is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.

Dan
 

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Also the whole idea of magnum vs standard primers drives me up a wall. In loading for my 45 ACP and 327 I have always used standard primers. But Hodgdon and Lyman when they did their load development they used magnum primers. I can see them for large volumes of slow powders but what I'm looking for is light to medium loads with faster powders and not max loads with slow powders. Magnum primers don't seem to be needed but that's just me talking.
Have you ever sat and wondered what makes the difference between full ignition and a squib?
Have you ever delved into primer differences and composition?
How about powder burn rates and flash points?

There is literature available that informs us as a group some powders will fail to fully ignite if there is a break between granules during combustion.

Literature is also readily available informing us that if a long case is filled with minimal grains of powder, a potential for failure has been increased.

Many loads call for a magnum primer when loading in long cases to prevent such disasters. Some of the same loads in other "shorter" cases might not require extra flash and ignition.

But my friend, I ask of you; have you ever placed a low dose of propellant in a clear cylinder, such as a old syringe, about the same diameter of your cartridge case, and pulled the plunger back to about "that" distance, then laid it down and slowly rolled it around? Try it, it will give you the visual of what a little powder does in a long case.

I'm just saying, if a small primer pops at the case base, and 1/3 of your propellant is way up at the case mouth, how can you expect chemistry to work correctly??? I would hope my surgeon has sharp tools and good lighting...
 

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I shoot a lot of cast 158gr and of the powders you mention, both 231 and tightgroup are going to give similar results so I don't think either one would be a bad pick for what you're looking for.
 
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