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Thread: Looking for a 357 load

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    Member jrt34's Avatar
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    Default Looking for a 357 load

    I recently picked up a bag of cast bullets labeled 357/38 - 165 grain - 357446.

    A quick google search didn't yield any load data but I think it's a Lyman mould (their site didn't have data either). Is anyone familer with this particular bullet? Could someone get me pointed in the direction of some data?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

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    It's a Lyman bullet alright. In my latest Lyman cast bullet manual (1980) it shows up in the 38 Special listings, but for some reason not in the 357. It's not in the 1973 version of the cast bullet manual for either case, nor is it the 45th edition reloading manual (1970) or the 39th edition (1953). Yet there it is again in the 46th edition (1982) of the handloading manual for the 38 Special again and not the 357. I've got some older manuals out on loan, but I'm guessing it's not worth tracking them down because in all the older references I have on hand the cast bullets in this caliber all start 358XXX. I'm guessing there was some kind of change in the Lyman line that occurred between manual 45 and 46, corresponding roughly to the release of the 1980 version of the cast bullet manual.

    All interesting and curious, but it doesn't answer your question. I don't own that particular mould, but I'm guessing that due to it's plain base it's best cast at least out of wheelweights, if not an even harder alloy if you want to push the velocities.

    Can you scratch the nose with your thumbnail? That's a Q&D test to see how hard it is. If you can't scratch them and you don't know what the alloy is, I'd set 950-100fps as your max velocity to avoid leading, then nudge it up from there if you aren't getting any leading. Any way for you to find out for sure what alloy they're cast from?

    My favorite 357 load with harder bullets is doing 1250fps or so with the very similar bullet but with a gas check (358156 at 155 grains), but it's about 10% below "book" max using 2400 and standard primers. Mine are hard cast, and I could probably snort them up a little more, but case life is good and there's absolutely no leading. Accuracy is unbelievable.

    If you want a good all around plinking load with a bit more pop that a 38 special, I'd bet on a charge of Unique in that 10-15% below max range for a similar plain based, hard cast bullet. If they're fairly soft, I'd go ahead and use 38 special cases and loads, almost certainly with Unique.

    You will probably want to pick up either the most recent Lyman handloading manual or cast bullet manual for more info. Cast bullet shooting is addictive, and either of those will be your bible in lead bullet land.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jrt34 View Post
    I recently picked up a bag of cast bullets labeled 357/38 - 165 grain - 357446.

    A quick google search didn't yield any load data but I think it's a Lyman mould (their site didn't have data either). Is anyone familer with this particular bullet? Could someone get me pointed in the direction of some data?

    Thanks in advance.
    You ddn't say what you want to do with these, shoot cans or elephant but I'm afraid they will be relegated to the duties of plinkers.

    A 357 at 357 velocity is a notorious leader (ledder). Bullets really need to be sized correctly and need to be gas checked and of course need to be hard, about BHN 21. Also it does depend on the gun and just how smoth the barrel is. I have an old M28 with a very slick barrel and when sized correctly with gas checks I can hit 1400 fps with my 180 WFNGC with nary a trace of lead for about 40 shots. Unknown bullets should be approached gently just as BrownBear suggests.

    What powders do you have or do you plan to buy for this experiment? I have loats of data for that weight range of cast bullets. SR4756 is still one of the very best powders for mid range loads in 38 and 357 cases, as well as many other calibers. It burns very clean and good for plain base bullets.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  4. #4

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    Good point on the SR4756 Murphy. I forgot about it due to an "overstock" of Unique in the house right now.

    Hey jrt34---

    There's something more to consider on the leading question, though it's not something I'd take on for a single bag of bullets. It's only worth your thought and expense if you decide cast bullets are a worthwhile path for you to continue following.

    Many handguns, and especially 357's in my experience, profit from reaming the forcing cone at the rear of the barrel to a less steap angle. The forcing cones on most handguns is steap for best shooting with jacketed bullets, which is really too steap for cast. Rather than retype the details, I talk a bit more about it in this thread up in the handgunning section of the forum and provide a link for the tool.

    Back in the day of bowling pin shooting we put together a couple of classes for under 40 cal handguns- one for semiautos and one for revolvers. The 357 dominated the revolver class, and hot hardcast loads dominated those. My daughter and I went through a whole bunch of them in four different 686 Smiths and a Python. All were terrible leaders until I reamed the forcing cones, which cured the problem completely.

    Put the thought of forcing cone reaming on the back burner right now, but come back to it if you decide you really want to get into lead bullets.

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    I looked through the Lyman book and they list that bullet, the 357446 at anywhere from 162 to 165 grains depending on alloy. If it does weigh 165 grains it approximates #2 alloy and would be better for lower velocity loads for the 357. About 1000 fps or less. That mold number is an old ideal mold number, it's been around for a while. I always preffered the 358429 Keith style bullet with its big single lube groove, over the two smaller grooves. Also the Keith style has more nose and less base and can be driven faster. It also weighs 168 grains at Lyman #2 and your 357446 will weigh 165 grains with #2 alloy. The 162 grains is for Lynotype metal. I don't think the old 446 number is still listed in the available molds for the 357/358 bullets anymore.

    The point of all this, other than exercise for my fingers, is that you don't want to put a lot of effort into building the perfect load around that bullet unless you have a source for them or have the mold. I pick up boxes of stray bullets at bargain prices at gun shows and such all the time and some are great, some are not but either way I just send them on their way to natures recycling bin......mother earth and don't fret about finding the perfect load. Throw a dab of unique in a case and stuff 'em on top, put a little crimp on it a head to the range.

    Here's some data for that bullet.
    38 Spcl Brass
    Unique 4.2 to 4.7 grains
    SR4756 4.2 to 5.5 grains
    Blue Dot 6.3 to 7.0 grains
    AA#5 5.2 to 5.8 grains

    357 brass
    Blue Dot 8.2 to 8.8 grains
    AA#7 10.2 to 11.0 grains
    2400 11.4 to 13.0 grains

    This data is meant to make low to mid velocity loads, none are max but may be max to prevent leading. Good luck with it and do some shootin'.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



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    Default Much Obliged

    Gents,
    Your feedback is very much appreciated. Murphy, Iím especially obliged for the data. And to BrownBear, to answer your question, these non-gas checked bullets are very hard.
    Iíve got Lymanís 48th manual but the closest that manual gets is a 160 or 170 grain linotype (I donít even know what that means!) bullet, and Iím not super comfortable about just winging things. Needless to say, I feel a little more comfortable using data published for the exact bullet Iím shooting, so thanks again for the research.
    I think that's a great point about not spending too much time working on getting a great load. I donít cast my own bullets (yet) and I donít have a steady supply of these. Iím basically looking to load up a paper plinker that my wife and I can economically throw down range through our smith 19 and 65 four inch revolvers. That being said, and given that I as well have a supply of Unique on hand, Ill definitely take your advice and ďthrow a little dab in a case, stuff em on top, put on a little crimp and head to the rangeĒ!
    BrownBear, thanks for your comments on reaming the forcing cone. Interestingly enough, I bought my Smith 19 used at a show (probably never do that again!) and when I took it shooting I noticed some gold deposits on the end of the barrel (I was shooting gold dot bullets). Not feeling comfortable with a shaving revolver, I took the gun to see a friend of mine who has over 5 decades experience working on guns. He confirmed that the hand that rotates the cylinder was worn out and replaced it for me. He also ďchamfered the forcing cone, to open things up a bitĒ. This must be exactly what youíre talking about?
    One last question. Do either of you have any experience with Laser Cast bullets from Oregon Trail? I just picked up five hundred 158 grain 38 Cal SWC's. Was hoping they turn out to be a decent plinker bullet.
    Thanks again.

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    What type of gun are you shooting it out of, and what level loads are you after? For mild to midrange loads, it's tought to beat Unique. If you stay 1/2 gr under top loads for generic 158/160 gr cast bullets you'll be good to go. For top end loads, tough to top 2400 in the 357. There are two different peak pressures for the 357 depending on how strong your 357 is. Just be aware that original 357 mag data was at the higher pressure level, if you find any old ideal/lyman data.

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