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Downloading the .357 to 38 Special Specs?

This is a discussion on Downloading the .357 to 38 Special Specs? within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; I would like to load down .357 to 38 special specs. I will be using bullseye powder and my reloading book says that for a ...


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Old June 1st, 2008, 11:55 AM   #1
 
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Downloading the .357 to 38 Special Specs?

I would like to load down .357 to 38 special specs. I will be using bullseye powder and my reloading book says that for a .357 200 grain lead bullets should be loaded with 4.8 grains of powder. On the other hand 38 special specs say use 3.0 grains of bullseye. I will most likely try somewhere in the middle. My main question is on the bullets themselves. I have speer 200 gr. FMJ. Unfortunately my Lee reloading manual doesn't give me load data for 200 gr. FMJ bullets. I did notice that comparing the load data that i do have with loadings for both FMJ and lead bullets, that the lead bullets are always loaded with less powder than the FMJ.
My reasoning for wanting to load down the .357 to close to 38 special specs is for practice ammunition and cheat range sessions. I have both a TC contender in .357 Mag and a SP101 that i'd like to work up loads for.

Thanks

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Old June 1st, 2008, 01:36 PM   #2
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Chicken-Farmer, A chill ran up my spine when I read your post. Here's some basic information .... Lead bullets seal better in the bore so less pressure is lost to "blow-by" than with jacketed bullets. As a result, loads with lead bullets will use less powder assuming the same bullet weight and velocity. If you load at the high end of the chart, a powder charge intended for a jacketed bullet could result in excess chamber pressure with a lead bullet.

If you load the same bullet in a 38 Special case and a 357 Mag case, the extra internal space changes the powder's burn characteristics. Generally you will need slightly more powder in a 357 Mag case to get the same velocity with the same bullet than with a 38 Special case.

Personally, I think your bullets are way too heavy and you are flirting with danger. Additionally, heavy bullets and fast burning powder are a dangerous combination. The T/C might work OK with 200 gr bullets but your SP-101 will like bullets in the 125 to 140 grain range much better.

Bullseye is a great powder for light target loads. It reaches a high peak pressure quickly, then drops off. It is a dangerous powder to use with heavy bullets because chamber pressure can peak way over the max rating and blow up your gun. A good rule to follow is to always use fast burning powder for light bullets and slow burning powder for heavy bullets.
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Old June 1st, 2008, 02:18 PM   #3
 
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Another problem you are facing when using a 200 gr jacketed bullet with a small charge of Bullseye is the probability of sticking a bullet in the barrel. This will be especially true with the longer barrel in the T/C.

You are not likely to find the data you are looking for because it is usually felt that 200 grain bullets are overly heavy for the .38. And when 200 grainers were loaded in the .38, they were lead bullets.

If you are looking for inexpensive practice loads, you will be better served by using lead bullets and go with a lighter bullet to save on the cost of the lead. Heavier bullets cost proportionately more than lighter ones. If you go wih a 158, your SP will be/should be right on the sights. A 125 will hit lower, but if you go for group you will be fine.

A 125 TC tends to be a very accurate bullet. Load it over 5 grs of Bullseye or 5 grs of WST in a .357 case and you will have a load running right around 950 fps. Use a standard primer with either load. If you just have to have a jacketed bullet, you can use the same loading data for any of the 125 JHPs/JSPs. If you want to duplicate those ballistics with a .38 Special case, all you have to do is cut the charge back by 0.5 grs with either powder.
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Old June 1st, 2008, 04:01 PM   #4
 
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What are the 200 gr sierra jacketed bullets used for then?

I assume the bullets are for sillhouette shooting where the heavier bullets would be desirable. What powder are you guys using for reloading .357 mag? I have always used bullseye when i reload for my nagant pistol and .45 ACP. I like bullseye because i get more reloads out of a pound of powder. I live on an island in Alaska and we pay very high premiums for "explosives" such as powder and primers. I purchased the 200 gr bullets at our small local sporting good store yesterday for $7.88 per hundred on sale. I can purchase 158 gr sierra bullets but they are $15 per 100. It almost defeats the purpose of reloading them when they are that price. A box of 50 .357 Mag costs about $15 locally here. Ironically 38 special is $21 per 50 for American Eagle! Primers run $3.87 per hundred, powder is pushing $25 per pound.
I understand that i shouldn't load 38 special rounds to .357 mag pressures. What i want to do is the opposite. I want to load my .357 cases down to 38 special velocity, but use a heavier grain bullet to retain some energy. I do this when i load my mosin nagant pistol. I use the lee dies that convert 32-20 necked brass into straight-walled cartridges. I do use 95 gr lead wad cutter bullets and the pressures are way below the 32 H&R Magnum ammo people are using in their mosin pistols. My reloads are more on par with .32 special.
I have my C&R license and receive a pretty good discount from Midway USA, but shipping on the 500 bullet box of 95 grain .32 bullets alone was $20. So when i can find something locally on sale at a decent price, or priced competitively with online sources i snatch it up.
Does anybody shoot 200gr jacketed ammo in their TC contenders or Ruger SP101's?

Thanks

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Old June 1st, 2008, 04:40 PM   #5
 
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I have a unopen can of bullseye I won in a match 20 plus yrs ago . It's a scary powder
to play with , It's not forgiving like Unique is what I use in my 357 reduced loads .
Here is a pic of my 30-20 TC with 200 gr cast and 165 gr jacket . The case volume is
small and it goes from mild to wild in a heart beat . It's take a seasoned reloader to pick
a load out the air and try it. It's hard to get the heavy bullet to stabilize in
30-20 TC also ...

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Old June 6th, 2008, 05:49 AM   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chicken-Farmer View Post
I assume the bullets are for sillhouette shooting where the heavier bullets would be desirable. What powder are you guys using for reloading .357 mag? I have always used bullseye when i reload for my nagant pistol and .45 ACP. I like bullseye because i get more reloads out of a pound of powder. I live on an island in Alaska and we pay very high premiums for "explosives" such as powder and primers. I purchased the 200 gr bullets at our small local sporting good store yesterday for $7.88 per hundred on sale. I can purchase 158 gr sierra bullets but they are $15 per 100. It almost defeats the purpose of reloading them when they are that price. A box of 50 .357 Mag costs about $15 locally here. Ironically 38 special is $21 per 50 for American Eagle! Primers run $3.87 per hundred, powder is pushing $25 per pound.
I understand that i shouldn't load 38 special rounds to .357 mag pressures. What i want to do is the opposite. I want to load my .357 cases down to 38 special velocity, but use a heavier grain bullet to retain some energy. I do this when i load my mosin nagant pistol. I use the lee dies that convert 32-20 necked brass into straight-walled cartridges. I do use 95 gr lead wad cutter bullets and the pressures are way below the 32 H&R Magnum ammo people are using in their mosin pistols. My reloads are more on par with .32 special.
I have my C&R license and receive a pretty good discount from Midway USA, but shipping on the 500 bullet box of 95 grain .32 bullets alone was $20. So when i can find something locally on sale at a decent price, or priced competitively with online sources i snatch it up.
Does anybody shoot 200gr jacketed ammo in their TC contenders or Ruger SP101's?

Thanks

Chicken-Farmer

The heavier .357 diameter jacketed bullets (180-200 grainers) are routinely used for sillhouette shooting. The problem you are running into is your desire to use Bullseye. Folks have recommended that you use a slower powder.

Sierra currently (5th Ed.) shows loads for their 180 FPJ Match bullet in .38 Specials. The max velocity they show is 850 fps out of a 6" S&W K-38. The powders they recommend start with Unique on the fast side and go through 2400, 296, and 4227 on the slow end. They show loads in .357 cases using the same powders that run from 800 fps through 1050 fps. On the slow end, the .357 loads are right in the .38 Special range. But you are going to need to use a different (slower) powder to get what you are looking for without running the risk of spiking pressures or sticking a bullet in the barrel.

If you were looking for something running in the 900 fps area, you could do that with a whole raft of powders, but all of them would have to be slower than Bullseye. You are trying to make a very difficult trade-off with the heaviest .38/.357 jacketed bullet and the fastest powder.
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Old June 6th, 2008, 09:32 PM   #7
 
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Why not just load using .357 brass? I agree with everyone else as well, try a slower powder with a bullet that heavy. I have had really good results using Unique and win 231 but I don't throw anything heavier than 158 grain in my wheelies either.
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 05:09 AM   #8
 
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Using something faster than Bullseye with those 200 grainers is good advise. Try some WSF, AA #5, or Unique.

I like AA #2 for .38 loads in .357 brass, but with 158 Gr and lighter bullets. It may work fine for 200 Gr bullets as it is not as sensitive or as fast as Bullseye, but I would work up carefully if you try it.
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Old June 22nd, 2008, 08:34 AM   #9
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullitholz View Post
Why not just load using .357 brass? I agree with everyone else as well, try a slower powder with a bullet that heavy. I have had really good results using Unique and win 231 but I don't throw anything heavier than 158 grain in my wheelies either.
I was thinking the very same thing myself. good point.
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Old June 23rd, 2008, 12:36 PM   #10
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Walkalong, Your post is a mix of confusion and danger .... hopefully just a typo. First, Bullseye IS one of the fastest powders on the market. AA#2 is also very fast and not recommended for heavy bullets. I hope you meant ... try a much slower burning powder not a faster one. Take a look at the powder burn rate chart in our Library, then read my previous post.
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Old June 24th, 2008, 07:02 PM   #11
 
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Good thread on Bullseye. As a reloading newbie this information is very helpful. I've used more Bullseye than any other powder. Seems to give good results in .45 ACP and .38 158gr lrn. I've tended to load on the light side of "guides" and, after reading these posts will be a lot less likely to try heavier loads. Most of my latest .38 loads have been with Unique, which seem to be a bit more consistent. I've stayed with 158gr for my .38 loads. A while back I bought a couple of boxes of 125 gr WWB and none of m revolvers liked it. I had lots of scatter than went away when I switched to 158 gr bullets.
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Old June 30th, 2008, 11:09 AM   #12
 
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Smile

"Walkalong, Your post is a mix of confusion and danger .... hopefully just a typo"

I see your point. The "faster" was definitely a mind fart. I have numerous burn rate charts. I know better, but it was not that clear even if the poster figured that out.

AA #2 does act slower than Bullseye, but was not a good recomendation to try, even with the be careful advise attached.

At least I did say. "Try some WSF, AA #5, or Unique"

Last edited by Walkalong; June 30th, 2008 at 11:17 AM. Reason: At least
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Old June 30th, 2008, 02:12 PM   #13
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Walkalong, We'll give you credit for At least I did say. "Try some WSF, AA #5, or Unique"
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Old July 1st, 2008, 03:36 AM   #14
 
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Thanks. I'll do better. Promise.
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Old July 1st, 2008, 01:11 PM   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bullitholz View Post
Why not just load using .357 brass?
Isn't that EXACTLY what he said he was wanting to do?

Not trying to be a pain, just trying not to be confused. As someone who wants to get into reloading, this thread seems to have some REALLY good warnings in it, but that question got me really corn-fused.
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