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38 Spl/357 Mag Handloads

This is a discussion on 38 Spl/357 Mag Handloads within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Greetings folks, I've been reloading for some time now, but not 38 Spl/357 Mag - and am about to get started as I've added another ...


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Old February 20th, 2017, 05:56 AM   #1
 
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38 Spl/357 Mag Handloads

Greetings folks,

I've been reloading for some time now, but not 38 Spl/357 Mag - and am about to get started as I've added another GP100 to my lineup.

I have a Gp100 SS 6", short lug, and very recently a GP100 WC SS 3".

I presently conceal carry a Sig 9mm, but plan to carry the GP100 WC while out in the WI/MN Northwoods.

Do many/any of you load 125 gr lead/plated bullets for practice for conceal carry practice ?

For bulk lead bullets, any recommendations for good, reliable brands ?

Do I ( or should I ) slug the barrel or do you just go with .358 dia lead bullets and .357 plated bullets ( such as Berry's Bullets ) ?

FWIW, I only conceal carry factory ammunition, but for practice and shooting IDPA I will use reloads.

Appreciate any thoughts and comments.

Best Regards, Vic



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Old February 20th, 2017, 07:02 AM   #2
 
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I've been loading a lot of Xtreme plated bullets. Keep an eye out for daily deals on their website. I always order when they do free shipping.
I just shoot their standard sizing and have seem to have good luck. Just don't load magnum velocity.
Missouri Bullet company is also pretty good.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 07:06 AM   #3
 
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I have a 4" GP100 that is both my house gun and woods gun. For home defensive purposes, I keep Remington .38 Spl +P 158 gr lead HP rounds in it. When out hunting/in the woods, I put my 158 gr JSP .357 Mag handloads in it.

For practice .38 Spl +P handloads, I use cast SWC bullets with enough W231 powder to make them the same velocity of the +P factory rounds. For plinking loads, I just use a bit less powder. I haven't tried any plated bullets in .38/.357, but I have used them in 9mm, .45 ACP, and moderate .44 Mag loads.

For proper size cast bullets in a revolver, the key dimensions are the cylinder chamber throat diameters. The diameters should all be the same, and the bullet diameter should be about 0.001" larger than the throats.

It is a good idea to 'slug' your barrel and measure it with a micrometer, just to find out the max diameter and 'feel' the locations of any bore restrictions.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 07:14 AM   #4
 
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I have tried lead in my 1911/.45 auto, but prefer plated bullets from Berry's of Xtreme, whoever has the best deal. Keep in mind plated bullets normally have a velocity limit of 1,250 FPS from the manufacturer, but Berry's sells some (TP) thick plated that they rate to 1,500 FPS.

I have also recently tested Eggleston coated lead bullets in .380 & .45 acp, as well as 9mm & they performed very well.
They can also be ordered in different diameters. The sample 125 gr. 9mm bullets could be ordered in .356", .357" or .358"

Missouri Bullet Co. ( as mentioned earlier) is very good & they also carry a fairly new line of coated bullets.

For your carry ammo, check out Sig's new SD ammo, currently on sale at Cabela's for very good prices.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 08:21 AM   #5
 
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I have had good results in .357 magnum loads using Berry's plated 125gr bullets. For cast lead my go-to bullet for .38spl and mid-range .357 loads comes from Oregon Trail. I love their Lazer Cast 158gr SWC projectiles.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 10:02 AM   #6
 
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Vic I have loaded Rainer brass plated HP's for my .327FM. I know that they also make some nice looking brass plated HP's in .358 diameter for your .357/.38Special loads I am fairly certain you can get them in the 125-158 grain sized bullets as well. I would check out online Midway USA for your bullets either regular jhp/jsp or the brass plated or LSWC as well. I have had good luck with them on most of my reloading needs. Glad to hear you are getting your .357's set up!!! I would eventually like to get another GP100 in a 5 inch barrel. How is your GP100WC working out for you???
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Old February 20th, 2017, 10:18 AM   #7
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Plated bullets often pose problems for new reloaders, mostly about load data and crimping. Experienced reloaders rarely have problems because they know the theories behind load levels and crimping procedures. For the plated bullets I've tried (about 1,200) I use lead bullet data and methods.

For lead bullets in a revolver, it's a good idea to know the cylinder throat diameter and size/purchase bullets that diameter (my 3, 38s have .358" throat throats so I size my bullets to .358"). You don't need 22 BHN for any handgun shooting so no need to buy "hard cast", just make sure they are the right diameter.

If I were in your situation, I'd get some inexpensive 125 gr jacketed bullets for practice and beginning load development, and some premium 125 gr. SD bullets for carry. Develop a load with the inexpensive bullets, tweek for the premium bullets. POI should be pretty close for the two bullets/loads...
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Old February 20th, 2017, 11:17 AM   #8
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gqucool View Post
Vic I have loaded Rainer brass plated HP's for my .327FM. I know that they also make some nice looking brass plated HP's in .358 diameter for your .357/.38Special loads I am fairly certain you can get them in the 125-158 grain sized bullets as well. I would check out online Midway USA for your bullets either regular jhp/jsp or the brass plated or LSWC as well. I have had good luck with them on most of my reloading needs. Glad to hear you are getting your .357's set up!!! I would eventually like to get another GP100 in a 5 inch barrel. How is your GP100WC working out for you???
I've shot my new WC several times and enjoy it very much. I've decided to pursue Ruger service fix the slightly canted barrel. Their service dept is closed today ( Presidents Day ), so I'll have to wait until tomorrow......thought I'd be ok with the canted barrel, BUT.....

In the meantime, I'll get bullets, primers and powder and get started. I'll shoot my 6" until the WC comes back from Ruger.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 04:00 PM   #9
 
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when I shot NRA Bullseye with my 357 Revolver I never put a plated or jacketed bullet thru it. I use Hornady 158g SWC to load 38SPL. Cat#10408 300 ran around $30. I also cast my own. We were a indoor league so low velocity rounds were used.
I guess I need to look up GP100
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Old February 20th, 2017, 05:16 PM   #10
 
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I have reloaded and shot a LOT of 38 Special cartridges in my life. It is a great cartridge and the GP-100 is a great platform for that great cartridge.

Before I seriously got into bullet casting for cartridge guns (I casted for BP guns for some time) I would frequently purchase commercial cast bullets for my reloading needs. Commercially available cast bullets fall into two categories: acceptable and terrible.
The acceptable ones would work fairly well without a lot of leading issues.
The terrible ones would lead the bore.

The major problem with commercially produced lead bullets is they are often too hard, too small and have hard lube. The hard alloy and hard lube are used to help the bullets survive shipping without damage but those factors cause problems after shipping.
Some companies produced better bullets than others. Unless you're shooting maximum velocities with magnum loads, always try to go with a softer bullet, a softer lube and at least .358" diameter. (if your revolver's dimensions allow for that size)

Jacketed bullets eliminate the issues with leading but they are more expensive. I also feel that lead bullets and revolvers kind of go together and I rarely shoot jacketed bullets in revolvers anymore.

Plated bullets are sort of in between lead bullets and jackets bullets. The plating is very thin and the underlying lead bullet is fairly soft. Those traits can be both good and bad depending on your gun, the velocity and your reloading techniques. I can make plated bullets work in a revolver but I prefer to just cast my own.

As for bullet weight - There are very good reasons behind the "standard" bullet weights for calibers. Without getting into a lot of history and science, I will say that the 158 grain bullet weight does a lot of things REALLY well in a 38 Special. You can go down to a 148 grain wadcutter and up to a 170ish grain in magnum loads but you will find that the 158 grain projectile and 38 Special go together really well and it's not just tradition.

For a lead bullet you will want the bullet to fit the cylinder throat and ideally that diameter will be slightly larger than the groove diameter of the barrel. Generally .358" is a good place to start. Rugers tend to have tight throats and that can be an issue when shooting lead bullets. If a .358" diameter bullet will push through the throats with finger pressure, you're in a good place to start with .358" bullets.

For an "all-around" load I like a 158gr lead SWC in a 38 Special casing with about 4.4 grains of ww231 [AKA HP-38] . Seat to the crimping groove and use a roll crimp.
Using a slightly lighter, (153ish grain) solid full wadcuuter I'll drop that back to 4.0 grains of ww231.

With a 148 grain hollow base wadcutter you must drop the charge down to 3.0 grains of ww231, but that's a fun load to shoot. Furthermore, the soft swaged HBWC bullets are a good value for the occasional shooter/reloader. I used Speer and Hornady HBWC's with excellent results.

For a plated bullet you may find that a taper crimp works a bit better. YMMV.



GOOD LUCK

Last edited by Petrol and Powder; February 20th, 2017 at 05:21 PM.
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Old February 20th, 2017, 06:51 PM   #11
 
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I've tried several but have settled on Xtreme bullets for all revolvers except the 454 in which case i go with Penn bullets. In the 357 I like their plated 158 grain SWC.
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Old February 21st, 2017, 05:16 AM   #12
 
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I prefer Xtreme bullets too.

Here's a tip. Wait for a Holiday whether it be Valentines Day, President's Day, Labor Day etc. and they have great sales. Typically free shipping and 5-10% off.

So wait for a holiday and save.
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