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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I use an 1894c and a S&W 686. I recently bought some 158 grain hard cast swc (Hunters Supply) off MidwayUSA.com. Several reloading sites indicate that lead bullets ought be kept below 900 fps, in order to avoid leading the barrel. I applied this loading rule when I loaded a light 158 grain LRN (not hard cast). Does this advice also apply to the hard cast lead bullets ?

Hook686
 

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I was able to use up to 6gr. of unique, before leading, and the inevitable tumbling/inaccuracy associated with too high velocity in the plain base cheap bullet. I now use a bullet mold (180gr. cast) from mountain molds with a gas check that clocks 1800fps plus. Making your own bullets is the way to go. Keep it simple, and get along out of it. I had enough of those cowboy velocities. I could get better performance from a plain based bullet with my GP 100. The 1894C is not deficient, but more efficient with powder. A little goes a long way. Perhaps a more realistic velocity max is about 1100fps.
 

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You might want to try coating them with liquid alox before loading them, I haven't had any leading problems out of my 357 Max HandiRifle, at about 1800 fps with the plain base bullets.
Just my 2cents
:wink:
 

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I just lucked into a nice mild load for my 357s using Hornady 140g Cowboy bullets, CCI-550 primers, and 5.7g of Unique.

Absolutely zero leading after almost 200 rounds now in my Blackhawk!
 

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I used to shoot Hornady's swaged 158 gr SWC out of my 8 3/8 686 at 1,000 fps using 5.0 grs of WW231 and CCI 500's. These bullets are close to pure lead at 6 Bhn. They did lead lightly after 200 to 300 rounds. They appeared to be coated with Alox and Motor Mica.

I recently started casting my own. Using a Lyman #358156 155 gr SWCGC mould, I was dropping WW alloy bullets at 160 grs when lubed and checked. The hardnest of the air cooled bullets is 11-12 Bhn, which is far below commercial hardcast. Due to the bullets hardness, over the soft Hornady, I had to bump the WW231 load up to 6.0 grs and 1,100 fps to achieve the same accuracy. Took a little more umph to obturate the bullet. This load groups at 0.61" for 5 shots at 25 yards using a red dot sight. I also loaded these bullets to 1,400 fps with 13.0 grs of Hercules 2400. They were just as accurate as the plinkers with 100 yard groups running at 3 inches. Neither the plinker or high velocity load lead at all. I'm using liquid Alox with a final dusting of Motor Mica. Both loads are out of published reloading manuals.

Leading in barrels can be a combination of things. Bullet to barrel fit, lube type, lube breakdown, lube hardness, powder burn rate, velocity, bullet base design, and bullet hardness. The usual cause is bullet size and lube type. Your bullet should be 0.001 to 0.002 larger than your bore. You will need to slug your bore to find this out. Velocity is kind of a moot point in the 357. Velocities that exceed a cast bullet's potential are above 2,000 fps. Some have shot cast at above 2,600 fps.

Bullet hardness is also a non-issue for the 357. Granted you don't want to take a pure lead bullet to 1,500 fps with WW296, cause you will lead severely. On the otherhand, most commercial cast are very hard at 18 to 28 Bhn. They try to sell you on this as needed, but they make them hard to ship nice and pretty. A softer bullet would get all banged up in the mail. Remember, most side hammer muzzleloader shooters used pure lead bullets at 1,600 to 1,800 fps. Never heard them bitch about leading.

In regards to lubes, most commercial lubes are pretty good now-a-days. Again makers use a lube that sticks to the bullet and stays there for shipping. It may not be the best for your gun. Somebody already mentioned applying some liquid Alox, it's a great idea. I've been hard pressed to find a more accurate lube for my 357. Believe me I've tried. I've got a Saeco lube sizer with 357 die that's not getting any use. The biggest trick to lubes is just finding one your gun likes. Remember bullet lubes are like motor oil for your barrel. They provide lubrication as well as gas sealing properties. Lubes come soft and sticky to hard and shiny. Weather can dictate lube requirements too. You don't run 90 weight in your chevy during winter time.

The bullets base design can have a big effect on leading. Plain base bullets usually shoot pretty good until you go too high in velocity. This is around 1,600 to 1,800 fps. so your pistol is ok but your rifle my not like them. A bevel base bullet, while easier to load, seems to be more suseptable to leading, IMHO. Gas check bullets help with a lot of sins. They are a bit more forgiving to barrel fit. The GC does act as a scraper to remove leading too.

How you push your cast bullet does effect leading. I've found that I can push a 158 gr cast to 1,450 out of my 686. I have done this with 2400 and 296 powders. In almost all cases, the 2400 load will be more accurate and have less leading. It seems to be made for cast. How hot and aggressive a powders burn is has a bearing on the base of a bullet. Sometimes a softer shooting powder helps.

Hope this stuff is of use.

Here's a pic of some of my hard cast. I cast them with a pure lead nose and a heat treat WW shank. Shot them in wet phone books at 1,400 fps. Penetration was 12 inches with a 1 1/2 wound channel, 6 inches deep.

 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Very nice information BA ... Have you found the slower burning 2400 powder preferable to a faster Unique, or Bullseye ? Is the 2400 the "Softer burning powder" ?

Hook686
 

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Of the magnum pistol powders such as WW296, H110, Lil Gun, 4227, and 2400, I would consider 2400 being a softer shooting one. As far as the quick burners it all depends what your trying to accomplish. You can drive a 158 gr cast bullet pretty quick with Bullseye or Red Dot. You can also choose a slightly slower powder like 231, AA #5, Universal, Titegroup, or Unique to get to the same velocity. Some like to shoot a medium velocity load, say 1,100 to 1,200 fps with Unique or Blue Dot.

Personally I like the Bullseye and Red Dot powders for the 600-800 full wad cutter loads. When I jump up a couple of hundred fps, I go with WW231, but I have lots of it. Its clean burning and 6.0 grs is cheap shooting. Never much cared for Unique. Its a dirty powder and can be quite suseptable to temperature variance. It can also be super accurate. My shooting buddy used to use Unique in his 41 Mag for a silhouette load. It would shoot 3/4 inch 25 yard groups all day long, as long as it was 50 to 65 degrees outside. On 80 degree days you could barely hit a bull in the ass with it.

Your best bet is to study a few loading manuals and go to Hodgdon's web site and print off a burn rate chart. This will help in picking a powder of the proper speed for what your trying to do. The 357 is pretty easy to load for and there's lots of powder available for it. If your trying to work up a load that works for both your pistol and rifle, you may have to do a bit more work. A 6-8 inch barrel requires a little faster powder to get a complete burn vs a 16-20 rifle barrel. Have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
LSWC in tube feed

Hunters Supply indicated that their cast bullets are 18 hardness and good for about 1600 fps. However they did not recommend the .38 SWC, but rather suggested their .38 FP bullet in the Marlins.

Is the problem here fear of bullets in the tube detonating on recoil of the .357 magnum carbine ?

13.0 grains of 2400 did really fine in my S&W 686 today, and the same load looks good in the Marlin, on paper .... Have folks heard of problems with the SWC in the Marlins ?

Hook686
 

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There is no danger of a tube detonation with the SWC. The occasional rifle will have trouble feeding SWC and get hung up on the bullet shoulder. RNFP eliminates that possibility, but it is moot if your rifle feeds the SWC smoothly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Well thank you very much for that information ... I'll have to try feeding some of the rounds I made for the S&W 686 in the Marlin 1894c. The 13.0 grains of 2400 sure fired sweetly in the 686. If they do as well in the Marlin, I think I have a bell ringer. :D

Hook686
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Hook686 said:
...

The 13.0 grains of 2400 sure fired sweetly in the 686. If they do as well in the Marlin, I think I have a bell ringer. :D

Hook686
The 13.0 grains of 2400 did not do well in the Marlin 1894C. but 13.4 and 13.5 grains did very well. I tried the 13.4 and 13.5 grains of 2400 in the S&W 6" 686 PP today. Both did fine with a 1 1/2 to 2 inch group at 25 yards (elbows on a table holding as steady as I can). I also shot an equally tight group using a 14.0 grain load of 2400 behind the Hunters Supply 158 grain SWC.

I tested 12.4 grain load of 2400 behind the Speer 158 grain Gold Dot. It did a fine job, as did a test of 11.3 grains of 2400 behind a Hornady 180 grain XTP. I'll work more with these two, but I now have at least one good load (158 grain hard cast swc) that fires equally well in my Marlin 1894C and my 6" S&W 686.

How sweet it is.

Hook686
 
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