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Discussion Starter #81
OP Here. I’ve got a couple new questions.
First: I’d like to start reloading 38 special or 357 mag for a few of my revolvers, which are all chambered in 357 (except for my 10mm gp100), and I’d like to start with very low power rounds for plinking and target practice. Would it make more sense for me to load extremely weak 357, or mid-range 38 special? Are there convincing reasons to go one way or the other, especially in terms of performance and accuracy? There is the issue of carbon buildup in the 357 cylinder bores, but I’m basically fine with that since I’m a diligent cleaner anyway. On the other side, loading 38 special would grant more flexibility (my mom owns a 38 special revolver, so I could share with her). I’d be interested in hearing other considerations.
Second: Are there any recommendations for a powder that is especially good for revolvers? I’ve heard that some powders can help reduce flame cutting effects (I believe they’re called “sticky” powders?), and will also burn cleaner and make cleaning your revolver easier. Any recommendations would be welcome!
Lastly: here’s a couple pics of my portable handloading kit so far! All I’m missing is a micrometer, but I’ve got a friend who’s going to sell me one for a great price. I really like these MTM boxes.
 

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Devo, The 38 Special 148gr LHBWC load with 2.8~3 gr of Bullseye powder has been around for decades and is the prime choice of most revolver bullseye shooters. My S&W Mod 17 with a 6" barrel will chronograph the 2.8gr loads at 720 fps or 760 fps with 3.0 gr of Bullseye. From a Ransom rest, they shoot one tattered hole …. off hand shooting will depend on your marksmanship skills.

taters613, What makes a 357 Mag revolver so robust is the fact they can be loaded with very light target loads all the way up to serious magnum loads and virtually anything in between. Reloading manuals typically don't have much data for mid-range 357 loads but do have many true magnum loads. You can easily use 38 Special +P load data in 357 Mag cases and get similar mid-range velocity results. I've found I need to add a tenth or two of powder to emulate 38 Specials because the 357 cases have a larger capacity and develop lower pressure.

My recommendation for newbies is to start with 38 Specials. It's an easy cartridge to load and the results are very satisfying. 38 Specials like faster burning powder with my favorite being W-231 or HP-38. These powders meter about as perfect as possible and develop the necessary pressure for safe, accurate, and clean burning loads. Loading 357 Mag cases at lower velocities can be quite a challenge. They will shoot but because of the larger case capacity, velocity and accuracy is not as uniform as the same powder charge in a 38 case.

38 Specials were designed with 158 gr lead bullets so being a traditionalist, I like to use lead bullets. Hollow base wad cutter are the most accurate. Lead round nose are the next most accurate followed by lead semi wad cutters. The accuracy difference from one extreme to another is very minimal at 25 yards. You can buy plated or coated lead bullets pretty cheap and still get excellent performance. Jacketed bullets are also very accurate and don't foul bores like lead …. but they do cost considerably more. Again, the availability of a wide selection of lead, coated lead, plated lead, or jacketed bullets in many different weights is what helps make a 38 Special so versatile to load.
 

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Discussion Starter #83
Devo, The 38 Special 148gr LHBWC load with 2.8~3 gr of Bullseye powder has been around for decades and is the prime choice of most revolver bullseye shooters. My S&W Mod 17 with a 6" barrel will chronograph the 2.8gr loads at 720 fps or 760 fps with 3.0 gr of Bullseye. From a Ransom rest, they shoot one tattered hole …. off hand shooting will depend on your marksmanship skills.

taters613, What makes a 357 Mag revolver so robust is the fact they can be loaded with very light target loads all the way up to serious magnum loads and virtually anything in between. Reloading manuals typically don't have much data for mid-range 357 loads but do have many true magnum loads. You can easily use 38 Special +P load data in 357 Mag cases and get similar mid-range velocity results. I've found I need to add a tenth or two of powder to emulate 38 Specials because the 357 cases have a larger capacity and develop lower pressure.

My recommendation for newbies is to start with 38 Specials. It's an easy cartridge to load and the results are very satisfying. 38 Specials like faster burning powder with my favorite being W-231 or HP-38. These powders meter about as perfect as possible and develop the necessary pressure for safe, accurate, and clean burning loads. Loading 357 Mag cases at lower velocities can be quite a challenge. They will shoot but because of the larger case capacity, velocity and accuracy is not as uniform as the same powder charge in a 38 case.

38 Specials were designed with 158 gr lead bullets so being a traditionalist, I like to use lead bullets. Hollow base wad cutter are the most accurate. Lead round nose are the next most accurate followed by lead semi wad cutters. The accuracy difference from one extreme to another is very minimal at 25 yards. You can buy plated or coated lead bullets pretty cheap and still get excellent performance. Jacketed bullets are also very accurate and don't foul bores like lead …. but they do cost considerably more. Again, the availability of a wide selection of lead, coated lead, plated lead, or jacketed bullets in many different weights is what helps make a 38 Special so versatile to load.
Great advice, thanks Iowegan! I think I’ll start with some 38 special, then do some weak 10mm, and then maybe some entry level 357. I’ll stick with 158 grain for 38 and 357, and probably 185 or 200 grain for 10mm. Would the same fast burning-powders you recommended for 38 special also appropriate for weak 10mm?
Also: I read somewhere that fast burning, spherical/ball powders can accelerate forcing cone wear and top strap erosion. Is this really the case? Would slow burning, or “stick” powders better in this regard? To me, it seems like slow burning powders might actually be WORSE for flame cutting effects, since I could imagine individual grains of powder delaying their ignition until they make contact with the forcing cone or top strap. This is mainly a concern with regard to my Colt model 3-5-7, which is somewhat of a collectible and I’d like to keep it in tip-top shape.
 

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I have used a single stage Rock Chucker for over 35 yrs, always load in stages, EZ to ck & reck what you are doing, never in a hurry, buy the best equipment you can afford as it will last a long time, read up on reloading from manuals, forums & magazines, then reload some but keep on reading & learning, but above all.....Have Fun & shoot more!
 
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