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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm reloading .357 Mag for a Marlin 1894 24" barrel (Ballard rifling as far as I can tell) using Hodgdon Titegroup, with commercial 158 grain cast lead bullets and small CCI pistol primers. I use a Lee dieset. The Hodgdon website gives two separate maximim loads.

1. 158 GR. LSWC (0.358" diameter bullet): 5 grains
2. 158 GR. HDY XTP (0.357" diameter bullet): 6.1 grains

I've worked up to 5.1 grains, and the recoil I get seems rather less that what I usually get for the factory loaded ammunition I've used. Would it be OK to work up to 6.1 grains for the cast lead bullets, or do I risk causing damage or fouling up the barrel?

Also, do you know if barrel cleanliness has much of an effect on accuracy for the Marlin? I tried a few different loads (4.7 grain and 5.1 grain charge, crimped and uncrimped cases) at 50m and the groupings weren't particularly great, probably 5" groups (in comparison I was getting <1" for a bolt action Savage Arms .22LR using the same scope), although the rifle seemed to perform a bit better with 4.7 grain charge and uncrimped rounds. It was a rather windy day and when I cleaned the barrel afterwards it did seem particularly dirty (i'd not cleaned it in a while and took me longer to do that normal). Any advice much appreciated
 

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I've never used Titegroup so I can't comment on that?, they probably recommend the lighter load for the cast boolit to keep velocity down, you can push lead fast enough to push it beyond the riflings ability to hold onto it!, then all you get is a leaded up barrel!
I crimp ALL my 357 ammo, I run the same loads in my Blackhawk and 1894C, but I've never run cast boolits in them either, and 2400 is the powder of choice.
You may need to slug your barrel and see what size bullets it needs?, it may be a bit over sized?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I crimp ALL my 357 ammo, I run the same loads in my Blackhawk and 1894C, but I've never run cast boolits in them either, and 2400 is the powder of choice.
Thanks, what effect does the crimping have? What sort of accuracy should I expect?
 

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Crimping holds the bullet in place so that it is not pushed into the case by the spring in the mag tube or recoil. I have never seen definitive proof that the crimp has any effect on the accuracy of properly assembled cartridges. If the bullet is pushed back into the case it changes pressure which in turn will affect accuracy.
 

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First of all, working up a load based on felt recoil is a very bad idea. Different powders have different burn rates and peak pressures. Crimping can also affect the bullet pull (pressure before the bullet starts moving) and improve uniformity. What is the hardness of your bullets. I accidently bought some "low-velocity" aka low hardness bullets and you could see the lead vapor trail going downrange; what a mess to clean out the barrel. I daresay with a 24 inch barrel you need a slower burning powder than Titegroup. I tried some H4227 in my 18 1/2 inch 1894C and so far really like the results. BTW, my recoil with this powder felt low, but I was sending dirt/dust 10 feet into the air off the 50 yard berm, so those bullets had plenty of oomph.
 

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Appears you went straight to the max loads instead of working up from the start. That would be one mistake. Should you attempt to exceed recommended max load with the LSWC, that would be a second mistake. Look at the pressure Hodgdons shows for 6.1 grains behind a jacked bullet, 41,900 cup vs the 24,900 cup for a max lead load. Granted the pressure would be a little lower with a cast bullet but not enough to keep lead from smearing all the way through your barrel. Even if your bullets are gas checked they will probable smear lead at those pressures.

Accuracy is gun dependent, especially with cast bullets. What shoots accurately in my gun may not shoot accuratly in your gun and vice versa. My experience is best accuracy is usually below max loads. I can take a SWC and a RNF cast of the same weight, same powder and the RNF will print 2 inches at 100 yards but the SWC at best is 5-6 inches at 100 yards out of my 1894C. For what ever reason my gun simply does not like SWC's and I've heard several others on here claim the same. Some do say they shoot fine in their rifles.

Bottom line, accuracy will be dictated by what your gun says it likes and that takes trial and error with different powers and loads. Especially with casts and sometimes even with jacketed bullets. If you are new to loading cast bullets I recommend something along the lines of the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook or this site Index to Articles, Firearms, Shooting Sports, Cast Bullets, Industry News, Handloading which has a lot of good information on lead bullets.
 

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Accuracy is gun dependent
Have you tried other bullet weights?
My 20" cb, which is the model after your 24", will not shoot 158gr cast worth a damn, no matter which powder I use.
Try a 125gr or a 180gr and see if you get a better result, mine likes the 180gr best and then likes it even more with a rifle powder like 2400, 4227, or Lil'gun, with all but Lil'gun being at or above max book loads.

As has already been said,
DON"T start at max loads, and DON"T use feel to judge pressure. Both these could result in you having to scrounge up bits of your fingers and rifle from all over the firing line, Assuming you still have eyes with which to find the bits.
There is a correct way to work up loads, and in the best interests of your well-being and your rifle it would be worth researching how to do it safely.
 
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I use Titegroup for 158gr plated (out of a 4" GP100), keeping it around 1000fps by using 4.0-4.2gr. Over 5.0gr out of a 24" barrel likely moving much faster, get the lead scrubber ready. The barrel on my 1894c is slightly oversize and leads when I look at cast.
Titegroup is a good, inexpensive powder for target loads, not really good for maxing out.

Would recommend using a gas checks if bullets not sized perfectly for the barrel. Otherwise would go with plated or jacketed. Nothing wrong with lead, just my remlin barrel may be a little on the rough side.

I get good results with 158gr jacketed and H110 or I4227 if feeling the need for speed or hunting whitetail. (H110 is really fun out of 4" revolver, big flame and noise.)
 

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Just a FYI, drop down to the Reloading section and check out the Thread " What would cause this" I'm very lucky.
 
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Are you using Magnum primers as recommended by Hodgdons for Titegroup?
I'm using 4.6 grains under a Lee 158g hand cast RNFP .359 bullet, double tumble lubed in liquid Alox and factory crimped. These run at 1138 fps and very accurate out of my 18 inch 1894C. They don't lead the bore even after 150 rounds of softish 12 BHN lead.
I used to use store bought Hannams RNFP (hard lead) which mic at .358. These weren't as accurate and caused slight leading after 75 rounds.... too small and too hard IMO.

UPDATE - Load increased to 4.85 grains of Titegroup for 1216 fps and a sonic crack.....accuracy deteriorated. Keep them subsonic !!!
 

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Appears you went straight to the max loads instead of working up from the start. That would be one mistake. Should you attempt to exceed recommended max load with the LSWC, that would be a second mistake. Look at the pressure Hodgdons shows for 6.1 grains behind a jacked bullet, 41,900 cup vs the 24,900 cup for a max lead load. Granted the pressure would be a little lower with a cast bullet but not enough to keep lead from smearing all the way through your barrel. Even if your bullets are gas checked they will probable smear lead at those pressures.

Accuracy is gun dependent, especially with cast bullets. What shoots accurately in my gun may not shoot accuratly in your gun and vice versa. My experience is best accuracy is usually below max loads. I can take a SWC and a RNF cast of the same weight, same powder and the RNF will print 2 inches at 100 yards but the SWC at best is 5-6 inches at 100 yards out of my 1894C. For what ever reason my gun simply does not like SWC's and I've heard several others on here claim the same. Some do say they shoot fine in their rifles.

Bottom line, accuracy will be dictated by what your gun says it likes and that takes trial and error with different powers and loads. Especially with casts and sometimes even with jacketed bullets. If you are new to loading cast bullets I recommend something along the lines of the Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook or this site Index to Articles, Firearms, Shooting Sports, Cast Bullets, Industry News, Handloading which has a lot of good information on lead bullets.
What Gohon say's here is Sound Wisdom. You should employ it !
 

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Lets discuss barrel cleanliness - You absolutely should NOT mix lead and jacketed bullets. Jacketed bullets will leave copper fowling in the bore - this will cause lead bullets to "lead" the bore and the more "leading" you have the more accuracy you lose.

Remove all the copper fowling before shooting lead bullets...and remove all the lead before shooting jackets bullets. I found it much simpler to stay with jacketed bullets - (copper is easier to remove than lead!)

Another factor in lead bullet accuracy is the fit of the bullet. Shouldn't be much of a problem with a Ballard rifled 1894, but if you try any 9mm or .380 bullets you may notice a loss of accuracy (may - may not). Bullets that are "too small" will leave lead in the barrel and the more lead in the barrel the worse the accuracy.

Get a Lee Factory Crimp Die and crimp every bullet - has two affects. 1. Eliminated "set-back" from recoil and 2. Lets the powder charge build up a "full head of steam" before the bullet starts down the bore - a minimal affect to be sure, but we're talking accuracy and ever little bit helps.

You have a most-desirable rifle - been looking for one for some time now. It is one of the "ideal" rifles for Lever Action Silhouette - but you'll need to shoot a heavier bullet at 200 meter rams...many use 190gr or 210gr bullets for the long-shots. I'm jealous.

Suggestion - stick to either lead or jacketed, and never mix them.

Michael

PS _ just read more posts...accuracy comes with mid-power loads, almost never from full-power loads. Try something in the 1200fps range.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks for all the advice, much appreciated. I'll take it all on board and see what happens. First thing is to get that barrel clean!
 

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I use TITEGROUP in MOST of my 357 loads because they're generic for rifle and revolver alike.

IF you're loading RIFLE SPECIFIC, I'd suggest 2400 or other slower powders. Also, MARLIN rifles are considered to have somewhat oversized bores. Conventional wisdom is to use .360 or larger boolits, gas checked, hard alloy, and something with a lot of bearing surface. My favorites are various round nose/flat point moulds. I've used the LYMAN 158, but prefer the NOE 180 grainer.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Well, just for an update, I gave the barrel a good clean and tried 3 loads, and groups seemed a bit better. A comparison of 4.4, 4.7 and 5.1 grain Titegroup show the 4.4 and 4.7 perform better than the 5.1 grain load. I'll see if I can get heavier bullets or swaged lead ones to see how much of a difference that makes and keep you posted.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
I'm looking to load a 180gr Magnum round, but Hodgdon don't publish data for 180gn cast lead with Titegroup. The closest is 180 GR. NOS PART 0.357", between 5 and 5.5 grains. No idea what NOS Part stands for, but the diameter of the cast lead bullets I have is 0.357". Will the 5 grains be OK? I've tried to compare data for other powders where a comparison between 180 grain and lighter, e.g. 158, 125, or 110 bullets does exist and it's not that clear if a heavier bullet requires more or less powder than a lighter one. The 180 grain bullet is longer than the 158 and more of it will be inserted into the brass case, so a smaller volume will result. I suppose this means higher pressures so best dial down a bit, maybe to the 4.5 grains starting load recommended for the 158 grain?
 

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A "magnum round" will need something slower than titegroup, try 2400, Lil'gun or 4227.
NOS part is short for Nosler partition, it is a jacketed bullet designed for hunting. A cast lead bullet with the same weight will develop less pressure than jacketed with the same powder charge because lead causes less friction than copper.
With Titegroup and 180gr jacketed, Lees second edition lists 5gr to 5.5gr. With a lead bullet you are safe to use the same load. Start at 5.0gr and work up in increments of 1/10th gr up to 5.5gr, shooting groups for accuracy at each level. You should see an improvement in accuracy as you go up and then a decrease in accuracy when you pass the peak. That peak is what you are looking for. If you haven't hit the peak before you hit 5.5gr you have 2 choices, change powders, or move up another 1/10gr. WARNING, if you go with option 2 you need to be very careful in watching and measuring for pressure signs.
Lee lists Titegroup velocities between 936fps and 1020fps, these are of course revolver velocities, by comparison 2400 and 4227 are producing 1250fps - 1300fps revolver velocities. My 175gr lead bullet and 4227 load develop 1750fps out of a 20" barrel, but that load is a little above book so I won't list the powder charge here (it is safe in my rifle only), Lil'gun will be even faster but I haven't had a chance to chrony that load yet. Those loads will easily knock down the 200 mtr ram if I can hit him.
I gather you are still not too experienced in reloading. I would seriously recommend to you that you get a copy of Lee's second edition or a similar manual and read it cover to cover, preferably twice. This is really essential for your health and also to keep your rifle in good unexploded condition. I started with Lees manual and now have about 4 manuals and I never start anything new without first going back to the manuals to determine whether what I plan to do is safe.
 
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Discussion Starter #19
I'll certainly buy the manual but I have been using manufacturer information and some other manuals for info, not just Internet forums! 4.4 grains Titegroup with 158 head managed the best groups so far, about 1.5 inches at 25m, but the 10 rounds I shot seemed to make 2 separate groups. I borrowed a chronograph and they came in about 1050 fps but with some 40 fps variation. I also tried some 38 special with 5 grains Ramshot Trueblue, not very good groups. I'll work on the Titegroup a bit longer to see what I can achieve.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Just an update but I've been experimenting with Ramshot True Blue, Hodgdon Titegroup and HS6, with CCI and Remington pistol primers and 158 or 180 gn cast bullets at a 25m range, using a red dot sight. For each load I'm using the case brand of case. I've noticed a huge variation in groups.

I've bought a Lee adjustable charge bar to add .1 grain increments to the loads. Interestingly, the Titegroup 4.7 grains are grouping much better now with a 158 grain bullet, 30mm group at 25m (15mm if you exclude 1 flyer from a 5 round group as 4 were touching), maybe as I'm being a bit more careful in loading. I think a better loading technique will bring this down even more. 4.5 grains Titegroup give a 45mm group with CCI and 25mm with Remington! This Remington group included 3 rounds touching (14mm group), and the other 2 about 15mm to the right, but these two were also touching, leading me to think I need to improve my loading technique.

The starting load of 6 grains of HS6 or 8.8 grains Ramshot True Blue on the other hand give groups of 3-4 inches. Very different feel to the recoil as well. I'll carry on the experiment!
 
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