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.357 magnum, old school loads.

This is a discussion on .357 magnum, old school loads. within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; From what I understand the original .357s were loaded to higher pressure than todays loads. So my question, are the newer heavier guns like say ...


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Old March 16th, 2013, 10:26 AM   #1
 
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.357 magnum, old school loads.

From what I understand the original .357s were loaded to higher pressure than todays loads. So my question, are the newer heavier guns like say a Blackhwak or maybe the nicer S&W guns safe for those loads?
What does the collective in here know about why they reduced the loads?
I'm certainly not advocating doing anything unsafe but have heard the reduction was because of all the "pocket" revolvers. So it would be no different than the .45 Colt loads.



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Old March 16th, 2013, 11:14 AM   #2
 
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The sience for calculating chamber pressures has evolved and the reduction in loading is part of that ever evolving sience. Loads that pioneered the magnum "craze" were found to be quite higher when tested with the newer methods ,psi as opossed to C.U.P.)piezeio electric strain gauges in stead of copper crusher pellets etc.

The legal aspects of high pressure loads in revolers and pistols that are of poor design is another.

The 45 Colt cartridge and some others that fall into the black powder design modernized with newer smokless powders have their following, and with the newer ways of load development have shown to be safe, if used in modern designed handguns.

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Old March 16th, 2013, 11:23 AM   #3
 
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Here's some specs from S.A.M.M.I (Sporting Arms and Manufacture's Institute): Hope it helps... Check out their site or anyone of the Powder Company sites...



Cartridge
Weight @ 15’ @ 15’ Pressure Lot Mean Mean
(gr.) Type Vented Bbl. Test Bbl. (MAP) (MPLM) (MPSM)

357 Mag
110 JHP-SJHP 1,270 1,650 350 361 378
125 BJHP 1,220 1,500
125 SJHP N/E 1,500
125 SP-SJHP 1,425 1,875
130 JSP-JHP 1,300 N/E
140 SJHP 1,330 1,750
145 STHP 1,270 1,670
158 SP-SJHP 1,220 1,600
158 SWC-SWCHP-MP-L 1,220 1,545
180 PG N/E 1,400
180 JHP-STHP N/E 1,400

357 Remington Maximum
158 SJHP 1,800 1,950 400 413 432
180 JHP 1,530 1,750

Last edited by model1911; March 16th, 2013 at 11:46 AM.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 02:06 PM   #4
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Sr40ken, The 357 Magnum has quite a history. It was developed in 1935 using a S&W N-frame revolver ... now known as a S&W Mod 27 or 28. These revolvers had beefy barrels, massive cylinders, and heavy frames that could hold very high pressure. When SAAMI standardized the 357 Magnum, maximum chamber pressure was rated at 46,000 CUP, which translates to 43,500 psi in modern terms.

In 1955, Bill Jordan (famous US Border Patrol Agent and gun magazine writer) got an idea and worked with S&W to make a lighter weight revolver more suitable for law enforcement. S&W used the popular 38 Special K-frame with a much smaller cylinder and frame than the massive N-frame, yet with a special heat treated cylinder that would hold up to SAAMI pressures. This revolver went into production in 1957 as a S&W Model 19. In 1972, S&W made the very first stainless steel revolver, a Model 66 ... which was identical to a blued Mod 19 ... also chambered in 357 Mag. Problems with these guns surfaced soon after they were released, however S&W put the word out to LEAs to shoot lower powered 38 Specials for qualification or practice and save 357 Mag ammo for duty loads. The cylinders were fine but both the Mod 19 and 66 were just too weak to withstand SAAMI rated magnum pressures. The barrels on all K-frames had a section of the barrel (under the forcing cone) cut away to allow the yoke to seat. Not a problem with 38 Specials but when 357 Mags were fired, many of the barrels split at the mouth. Additionally, the 19 & 66 top straps were notorious for stretching and the yoke tubes peened badly, which increased endshake to a point of being dangerous .... basically just a bad design all around for the high pressure 357 Mag loads.

After replacing countless Mod 19 & 66 barrels and frames, S&W decided in 1995 to petition SAAMI to lower chamber pressure to 35,000 psi ... a full 25% reduction. The lower pressure seemed to fix the problem, however it took several years for ammunition manufacturers to develop new loads with the lower 35k psi SAAMI standard so guns were still being subject to barrel and/or frame replacements. In 1999, S&W discontinued the Mod 19 and reduced production on Mod 66s until 2005 when they were also discontinued.

Today, SAAMI maintains two pressure standards for the 357 Magnum ... 43,500 psi (46,000 CUP) and 35,000 psi. Nearly all US ammo manufactures discontinued the higher pressure loads as did most reloading manuals. Only a few companies such as Corban and Buffalo Bore still make the higher SAAMI pressure loads. 43,500 psi is still the CIP (European version of SAAMI) standard so if you buy European ammo such as Seller & Beloit, you will get the "hot" 43.5k loads.

So what happens when you shoot 43,500 psi loads in your 357 Mag revolver? The gun doesn't blow up but it sure takes a toll on wear. It is estimated ... the 25% reduction in chamber pressure will extend the life of all 357 Mag revolvers by 10 fold .... and yes, that applies to strong Ruger Blackhawks too. The wear issues with Rugers are mostly increased endshake due to the frame and cylinder getting peened ... both in the front where the gas tube contacts the frame and the rear where the ratchet column contacts the recoil shield. Ruger DA revolvers suffer more from crane tube peening, which also increases endshake. Excessive endshake will result in misfires (light primer strikes), but much worse ... the cylinder may unlatch when fired, which could release the bullet when not aligned with the bore.

What do you lose with lower pressure loads? If you look at an old Speer #11 manual, a 357 Mag load with a 158gr bullet max loaded with 17.8gr of H-110 will produce a muzzle velocity of 1330 fps. In the new Speer #14 manual, the max load of H-110 is 15.5gr, which produces 1217 fps or about 113 fps lower. Most of the other listed loads also lose about 100 fps compared to the older load data ... not really a big deal, especially when it makes your gun last 10x longer.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 03:26 PM   #5
 
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I shoot 13.5 grs. of 2400 with the 173 gr. Keith bullet from my S&W model 19-4 with no problems whatsoever! I also shoot the same load from a Colt new frontier. I have been shooting this load for over 30 years with no ill effects with either revolver.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 04:32 PM   #6
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smithnframe, A 13.5gr load of 2400 with a 173 gr lead bullet only produces about 27,000 psi ... not even close to current lower pressure standards and a far cry from the old 357 Mag 43,500 psi standard. In fact your load is under the "starting" load in most reloading sources.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 05:36 PM   #7
 
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The original 357s werwe large from revolvers and were very durable. Manufacturers did not worry about liabilty as much so they went ahead and loaded you know what to the walls.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 07:15 PM   #8
 
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Quote:
The original 357s were large from revolvers and were very durable
Ever look at a large frame Blackhawk or a .357 Redhawk .... Still build like a tank even today.... Even the medium frame .357 is more than adequate for the 'old' standard. Look at the Cylinder wall thickness between a .44 Mag and a .357 BH recalling the pressure standards of each....

I don't buy S&Ws, so can't say about those revolvers...

Personally, I load to around 1000fps to 1100fps in .357 ... Need more I go up a caliber to the .44.... Need more go up to the .45 Colt ... Still keeping velocity around 1000-1100.... But now the bullet packs more weight and makes bigger and deeper holes....

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Old March 16th, 2013, 07:31 PM   #9
 
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I was taught from my dad that as long as I stay within the parameters of current reloading manuals and use healthy firearms, no harm will come.

Ruger New Model Blackhawk 357 Magnum Photo by bullmoose1965 | Photobucket

357 New Model Blackhawk, 7 1/2" bbl.
Lots of metal between chambers on this cylinder.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 08:49 PM   #10
 
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lowegan, thanks for your posts which pretty much confirm my beliefs. My personal opinion and practice I never load to the top especially for putting holes in paper. My loads so far even with the newer 300MP powder are going over the Chrony at decent pace as far as power would indicate. These are 10% from Alliants max. I would think the only time I would want a hotter load would be if I was in woods with bear or other big critter that may want to have me for supper.
But my main reason for asking is I've been hankering for a Blackhawk( had .45, 30 years ago), even tho I favor the .45 Colt I would rather not add another caliber and I already have my Taurus revolver and lever rifle so a .357 Blackhawk would be more pratical(plus look good next to the '92). And as much as I love my Taurus .357 I would expect the Blackhawk would be stronger. jmho
Alliant has an advertised load for a 158gr @ 1600 fps plus for 10" barrel. I would like to see 13 to 1400. My last trip over the chrony was about 1250(6" Taurus 66)with no pressure signs so I would say I'm close. So a 7.5" BH may be what I could scratch me itch with.
Again thaks for everyones input.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 09:25 PM   #11
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Rollurown65, I hate to be the bearer of bad news but ... that's not a 7 1/2" barrel, it's a 6 1/2". Ruger only makes the 357 BH in a 4 5/8" and a 6 1/2". You are right about staying within the parameters of current reloading manuals though.

rclark, The 357 Mag Redhawk holds the record for having the thickest cylinder and one of the lowest life expectancies. Guess why Ruger took them off the market? The massive cylinder beats the cylinder latch to death and causes the lock notches to peen badly. It is not unusual for a 357 Redhawk to skip past a chamber when cocking the hammer in SA or pulling the trigger in DA. When this happens, the cylinder is kaput and likely the cylinder latch window was peened wider ... which means a new frame too.

357 Mag Blackhawks are very strong guns but I agree ... no sense in pushing the limits. There's always something bigger if you need more power. I'm plum tickled with 1150~1200 fps using a 158 gr JHP ... well under 35k psi standards. Back when I had my shop, I got a lot of Ruger 357 BHs in with excessive endshake. This was during the time when factory ammo and reloading manuals were following the old SAAMI 43,500 psi standards. Never had a problem with the cylinder blowing ... it was always the recoil shield that got a divot beat in it from being battered by the small ratchet column. No good fix ... shims are impossible at the rear of the cylinder because of the window for the pawl. The only fix was to TIG weld the recoil shield then machine it back to spec.
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Old March 16th, 2013, 10:28 PM   #12
 
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Iowegan, you're right...fat fingered the number.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 05:55 AM   #13
 
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I did the same thing, I forgot the .357 was 6.5 meself. So I prolly should resign to what I have or get a .45 for more power Something to ponder.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 01:51 PM   #14
 
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I forgot to mention my loads are using 38 spl brass.
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Old March 20th, 2013, 04:58 AM   #15
 
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Thanks, Iowegun, interesting reading.
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