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Medium .357 Magnum Loads (1st Post)

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by Jobber, Jun 10, 2019.

  1. Jobber

    Jobber Member

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    I have researched extensively on numerous forums and/or powder manufacturer sites regarding the umpteen various powders and loads. There have been stellar and mediocre personal reviews for each. I have settled on VihtaVuori powder(s), with Vectan as an alternate. The VihtaVuori information (seems to me) is generalized, or limited “hands on” comprehensive firing results. Vectan Ba9 ½ load data is almost nonexistent, even on the manufacturer site.

    The High Road Forum has had the most posts over all regarding VihtaVuori powder(s), and that’s why I am here. I have questions.

    My pistol is a S&W Model 19, 6” barrel, with the infamous K frame. In my younger days the hottest loads on the street were my goal(s). Age, knowledge and the wife & daughter wanting to shoot have tempered my thinking. Medium load .357 Magnum ammunition is not commercially mainstream; and I own reloading equipment. My K frame shows no signs of wear and/or damage, and should be able to handle .38 Special +P, or reduced .357 Magnum loads without issues. I believe the old FBI/Chicago or .38/44 loads would suit my needs for both the K frame and small stature shooters.

    My choices are a Rim Rock Bullets’ 158gr Keith-style LSWC-HP/GC (BHN-5, soft) and VihtaVuori N340 powder. Looking for loads which generate 1000-1100fps. Cast bullets even with gas checks max out about 1150fps. LSWCHP expand at a minimum 800-850fps impact velocity.

    Based on the data attachment (I hope it works), my questions are:
    • Using N340 what would be the percentage of volume fill is required to exclude the concern of powder position?
    • Has anyone test fired the stated cartridge with 6-7 gr of N340?
    • Does anyone have primer and/or case deformation/damage information with this load?
    • Does pressure information exist for medium load .357 Magnum loads?
     

    Attached Files:

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  2. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Sorry I can't help, I have never loaded VV powders but welcome to the forum.
     
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  3. Mostly Lead

    Mostly Lead Member

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  4. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    Why not go with something more readily available. My seven year old grandson started shooting centerfire handguns last fall. I have loaded down 38spl/357mag, 44spl/44mag, 32 long/32H&R mag & 327 Federal Mag useing bullseye, bl-c2, trailboss and a couple of others.
    Here locally these are readily available.
     
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  5. cfullgraf

    cfullgraf Member

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    I do not load much, if any maximum 357 Magnum loads any more. I just do not care to shoot them and I have a 460 S&W Magnum if I want wrist snapping recoil.

    So, I load my 357 Magnum with 158 SWC cast bullet to about 950-1000 fps with Unique these days. It is quite comfortable to shoot even in a 3" S&W J frame Model 60 and would not cause excessive wear and tear on a Model 19. I shoot them in my Model 19 without fear of damage. About any powder load that produces similar velocities would feel about the same. Accuracy may vary between different powders though.

    A steady diet of maximum 357 Magnum loads in a Model 19, except the current re-engineered version, will eventually crack the forcing cone on the barrel. I cracked the forcing cone on my Model 19 with a steady diet of hot 158 JHP loads. Fortunately, back then, S&W replaced the barrel on their dime. You will not be so lucky these days.

    I cannot comment on using N340. I've just never tried it but as said, pay attention to reliable published data.
     
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  6. Dudedog
    • Contributing Member

    Dudedog Contributing Member

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    Welcome to THR,
    lots of great people here.

    I know you said VV powders.
    However BE86 (alliant) works well for midrange to hot (but not full power mag loads in .357)and might be easier to find than VV powders.
    (Note: Alliant lists MAX load on their site reduce 10% to start)
    bl-c2 listed above is a rifle powder, way to slow for .357 IMO (no listed loads I know of using it in .357)

    If you are only after 1000fps or so Sport Pistol (Alliant) or HP38( Hodgdon)(W231 is the exact same powder different label)might be easier to find than VV and will get you 1000fps with a 158.
    Around at that vel you may be happier with a powder that is a little faster burning than N340.
     
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  7. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I have only used N340 with 125 Gr bullets in .357 Mag. It shoots like a laser, recoil is a bit sharp, and it is somewhat position sensitive so start with the muzzle up each shot.

    9.1 Grs and a CCI 500 or WSP primer will give 1275 to 1300ish FPS from a 6" barrel, depending on the bullet, the crimp, and the barrel.

    Yep.
    I have played with a ton of powders for midrange .357 Mag loads and most were position sensitive, some a little less than others. BE-86 has been by far the least position sensitive as far as losing velocity powder forward, and is very accurate. 7.2 Grs BE-86, a WSP primer, and the X-Treme 158 Gr SWC @ 1.560 OAL with a light taper crimp gave me an average 1057 FPS powder back with 1001 FPS powder forward at 41 Degrees & 38% RH. I went to 7.5, but backed off to 7.2. I stole that load from @tightgroup tiger (Although his was 7.3)

    You will go over max before the powder first, it is simply position sensitive in the big case, as are the other V pistol powders. Not a big deal though if you always start with the muzzle up or are not shooting long distance. I love the Vihtavuori pistol powders, but they aren't the best is powder position and not losing velocity powder forward are important.

    You may want to consider buying some BE-86 for medium .357 Mag loads with your Rim Rock 158 bullets. N340 is great stuff though, and lead is not nearly as bad about losing velocity powder forward as plated or jacketed, and my position sensitive remarks were with plated/jacketed, lead will do better.

    Welcome to THR.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2019
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  8. Eddietruett

    Eddietruett Member

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    I shoot a lot of either upper end +P .38 Special or mid/lower end .357 Mag but I have found Universal works the best for me. I use it with coated lead bullets shooting steel plates at 75-100 yards pushing a 158gr bullet around 1000 fps. I have had a lot of experience with the Rim Rock LSWCHP. At the velocity you are trying to get, you would get over expansion and deformation and would not make a good defense round. The Rim Rock is so soft it will give great expansion at 700 fps. Push it too hard and it will just expand on contact with no penetration to the vitals if you need to use it on a human. We did a lot of very unscientific testing last summer trying to duplicate the old FBI load and played around with a lot of other bullets and powders. We used the luckygunner.com testing on the .38 and .357 as a known guide line to go by. Out testing mainly used gallon water jugs and while not ballistic gel, we used the water for comparison of different loads since it was cheap and readily available. As a for instance, I use Remington golden Saber +P .38 Special as my carry load. It performed as one of the best in the luckygunner test and we sort of used it as a base line. If I remember correctly we would find the Golden Saber in the 4th jug using 2, 2.5 and 3" Revolvers. Expansion and penetration was about the same. We loaded some bullets that with the same water would penetrate 5-6 jugs with no expansion. Most of the known "accepted defense loads" both factory and handloads performed close to the Golden Saber. I state all this because we spent a lot of time with the soft Rim Rock Bullet. Pushed at around 1000+ fps, it would rarely penetrate one jug but would expand almost flat and sometimes break up. Slow it down to around 700-800 fps and the bullet did much better. Almost same expansion but more penetration. I'm certainly not telling you how to load your ammo, just that for a defense load with the soft bullet, my results show it would work better slowing it down. Before we started playing around with different loads, I was of the thinking that push the heck out of a soft bullet and with the huge expansion, it will make some kind of good defense round, but I forgot to think of penetration. I would not surprise me that a person with some thick heavy clothing would not be stopped with a hot/soft bullet. I think it would expand and lose all of the energy trying to penetrate the clothing and in some cases, might not make it through the skin. Just my .02 worth and again certainly not trying to argue with your loads, just another opinion to consider.
     
  9. IlikeSA

    IlikeSA Member

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    I've never used VV powders before, but hear that they are clean burning. I have also calculated that they are more expensive than other powders for the same ballistics, and harder to find. If you haven't, buy a loading manual and use those loads first. In addition, VV has load data for a 38 special load on their website maxing out at 6 grains of N340 for 1093 fps from a 6.5 inch test barrel. Their 357 mag load data tops out with N340 at 5.9 grains and they call it a cowboy load. Do verify these numbers on their site though.

    You may be able to get the answers you want from them if you send them an email.

    Personally, I would use Bullseye or Titegroup to get the velocities I wanted in order to save money, and because there is a lot more data and users of those powders.
     
  10. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    It sounds like you’re a hand loader, which gives you a great opportunity to build yourself loads that can go up or down. I’m not a VV powder user, so I can’t help you with personal experience with their products.

    As the owner of a K-frame 3” M-13 in .357, I agree with the others and don’t load max loads for that gun. (My high-horsepower 140-158 gr JHP loads with H-110 I save for the L-frame 686) The K-frame gets .38 up to mid-range .357 loads, usually with 3.5 gr of Bullseye (148 gr WC in .357 cases or 5.5 gr Unique (125 to 158 lead, plated or jacketed in .357 cases).

    The K-frame Smiths just aren’t up to a constant battering from full house .357 loads, so shooting softer loads like these it’ll last a generation or two without undue strain on the works and forcing cone.

    Welcome to THR, there is a HUGE amount of knowledge and experience among the masses. Have fun finding the right loads and let us know how it goes.

    Stay safe.
     
  11. joneb

    joneb Member

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    I have loaded 152gr Reno LSWC BHN 12 with 5.6gr of VV n-340 in 38 spl I would consider this a very warm 38 spl load. It was very accurate through a S&W M10 6" but there was some leading.
    I have worked on reduced 357 mag loads for some time but mostly with plated bullets. The powders I prefer for this have been Accurate #5, VV n-340, and BE-86. I will soon try WSF for this as well.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  12. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    You chose a powder that isn't particularly popular and so I won't be surprised if it's you that will have to answer most of the questions you've asked beyond what's available from VV's published data.

    I see a lot of responses with more popular powders like Bullseye, Unique, Titegroup etc. I consider those powders suitable for light .357 Magnums rather than midrange loads.

    A couple of people mentioned BE-86 for midrange loads, and I will be another. I've found it works very well as long as it's not reduced to more than one or two tenths of a grain under published max loads. Any less than that and it gets wimpy fast. Do work up loads normally though as published maximum is no place to start.

    The midrange powder I've found to give good performance over a wider range of charge masses is Longshot. I've been able to meet my midrange velocity goals with Longshot at four tenths grain under maximum published loads and in spite of it being a ball powder, it's been very consistent with those reduced charges and even with a standard primer.

    With BE-86 and Longshot, I've been able to get 5-shot standard deviation of velocity to 10 or less. In all cases, I use standard, not magnum primers. A firm roll crimp is essential. I use a Lee FCD. I have not found either powder to be position sensitive as they both fill a good portion of the case.

    Another midrange powder I experimented with is Alliant Steel. The large flakes meter poorly in a drum powder measure, so for testing I weighed all charges. I found it to be a dirty powder in .357 Magnum, and while it matched velocities of BE-86 and Longshot, it wasn't consistent and the ES and SD were wider.

    I think you're on the right path with midrange .357 loads, especially with the 6" barrel. That long barrel will give you the same velocity as the hottest magnums out of a 3" gun, but with a midrange load burning half the mass in [a faster] powder, with less recoil and less erosion, flame cutting, and fireball throwing drama.

    Because of your long barrel, you will probably exceed soft cast bullet velocity limits with midrange loads. There's a lot of .357" bullets out there so I can't answer for every one. 158 gr. is a good choice if you want to keep velocities tame enough for unjacketed bullets. I recommend plated bullets for the range. I've had good results with RMR and Berry's. I prefer the RMR for the cannalure and they publish a 1400 fps maximum velocity. Berry's is 1250 fps for the standard thickness plating -- still high enough for what I consider midrange 158 gr. loads. I like the hollowpoint version of either bullet because it results in a longer bullet more similar to the defensive bullet I carry. For defensive bullet choices, I refer you to published test results. I don't have more special knowledge.

    For the wife and daughter, I would assume you'd prefer light loads for recreation or training, unless you're referring to defensive loads for their use. I also load for my wife and children to shoot for fun. I can't provide as much knowledge as others on light loads. I just use published data for HP-38. I think if I run out of that, I'll use Titegroup next time.

    If you're looking for midrange defensive loads, it's not quite clear. You might be best off just using factory .38 Special +P and considering the 6" barrel, you should get good results. If you're determined to do something more than that, I suggest an approach like this. Take a look at the Lucky Gunner Handgun Self-Defense Ammunition Ballistics Test for .357 Magnum. Look at the results for the 2" gun. Find a bullet with good results that is available as a component for reloading. Then load that bullet to similar velocity from your 6" barrel. With the 6" barrel, you should be able to match 2" velocity with a lighter charge of faster powder -- a midrange load.
     
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  13. Blue68f100

    Blue68f100 Member

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    Welcome to THR.

    Sorry can't help you with the VV powder, I use WST for my softer BE plinking loads.
     
  14. Mr_Flintstone

    Mr_Flintstone Member

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    I’ve never used VV powders either. They just aren’t available here. For around 158 gr at 900-1000 FPS I use Bullseye, Titegroup, and sometimes Trail Boss. I’m sure VV powders are excellent, and will serve you well, but don’t limit yourself. Try different powders/bullets until you find what you like best.
     
  15. Kp321

    Kp321 Member

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    What pistol loads use BLC-2? Downloading with rifle powders can lead to some very bad results.
     
  16. mdi

    mdi Member

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    I assume from the question, perhaps wrongly, you are fairly new at reloading. If I am wrong, just ignore this post.

    I say to every newer reloader that will listen; begin with starting loads (regardless of powder or what "they" say) and work up to a load that suits your needs. K.I.S.S. The powders you mention have quite a bit of data available for appropriate components.

    "...personal reviews for each", ignore this. I also tell newer reloaders my Rule #1; Pay no attention to any load data from any forum expert, range rat, gun counter clerk, well intended friend, pet loads website or gun shop guru. Get data from published reloading manuals (and maybe a bit from powder manufacturer's web sites). All the reloading manuals I have (except Lee that uses other's data, which I rarely use) list data that is pressure tested in "certified" laboratories and are safe. Particular guns may need to have loads worked up, but they are safe from the beginning. I have been reloading since '69 and have had one squib (in 1970) and no Kabooms (perhaps one or two "too hot" loads) and have plenty of info to keep me reloading with the data supplied by my published reloading manuals. I have never gone wrong with any data I found in any published reloading manual...
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
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  17. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    Welcome aboard, sorry I can’t help with your preferred powder. I have used Bullseye at 5.0 grains under a 158 cast swc with a mild crimp for years and it is a nice pleasant mild load. It sure of the velocity either. Might be something to look into.
     
  18. AABEN

    AABEN Member

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    Most of the powder I use is Accurate and Winchester then IMR Accurate is the one I load with the most I have load thousand of rounds in my years of loading But this past year I only loaded very little I having trouble getting around at the gun range and so is my 2 shooting friends and I have lost 2 and I loaded for them all when we where shooting.
     
  19. vaalpens

    vaalpens Member

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    Thanks for the information regarding BE-86 and Longshot. I like Longshot in 40s&w and can concur that it provides good performance over a wider charge range. I will need to do more testing with Longshot and 357mag though.

    I am planning on doing some load workup using BE-86 in 357mag, but using the Speer 135gr TMJ bullet. Speer/Alliant has some good load data for the 135gr TMJ and GDHP, but one powder missing is BE-86. I am planning to probably key off the Unique Speer 135gr TMJ load data, but maybe start .1gr or .2gr higher than the Unique data.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2019
  20. PO2Hammer

    PO2Hammer Member

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    7.0 grains N340 under a Speer 125 TMJ is my favorite practice load.
    I'm blessed not to have a chronograph to satisfy.
     
  21. slickracer

    slickracer Member

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    6 to 6.5 Unique are exactly what you're looking for.
     
  22. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    I have three T/C Contenders and a and a T/C Encore with all pistol barrels I load on the softer side for my seven year old grandson.
     
  23. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Well then, 2 days and the OP has not come back yet?
     
  24. Highland Lofts

    Highland Lofts Member

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    It happens alot.
     
  25. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yea, they don't have to log on to read the replies, just to post. I hope we have been helpful. :)
     
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