Anybody load SWC, such as 148 grain, and I think I saw some 158 grain lead SWC, in 357 Magnum instead of 38 special cases?
I'm just wondering if, when shooting lead SWC's in a 357 Mag shell case, out of a 357 Mag revolver, if the length of the case, compared to the length of 38 SPC cases, will eliminate or greatly decreased either carbon or fouling?
Obviously when I am shooting SWC out of a 38 special revolver, I would obviously use 38 special cases.
I am also assuming that I could take the preferred charge of whatever powder I'd be using for 38 Special cases with SWC, and add 10% to it, would be a good starting point to working up a load. If you do this, and have any preferred loading data, or any advice comments etc, I'd be interested in hearing it.
Yes, generally what you are considering should be just fine, possibly a few caveats. That is, 38 spcl loads & data in 357 mag cases.
First off, the load is likely less efficient if one compared fps results, to a 38 spcl case. It may take more powder to match the speed of a 38 case. Some powders may be more forgiving between the cases. While testing be mindful of sticking a bullet if to weak.
I’m not a real high volume shooter, especially without cleaning. That ‘crud-ring’ can be overstated at times.
I have done casual 357 loads from the 38 +p level to starting charge weights in 357 data. With a lighter revolver, that’s often enough for me.
Started reloading in 1972, first caliber was .38 Special. Started casting my own bullets in 1973. I have not purchased factory .38 Special or .357 magnum ammunition in decades, but I have loaded and fired many thousands of rounds.
My main bullet molds for these calibers are .358-158 SWC and .358-150 SWC-HP, both plain-base (no gas checks). For .38 Special I cast with straight used wheel weight metal; for .357 magnum I add 30% linotype metal for a stronger and harder result. Still using a vintage lubri-sizer and NRA-formula Alox lube.
Over the years I have used about every pistol and shotgun powder offered. None provided better performance, accuracy, or reliability than Unique.
My practice load in .38 Special is 4.5 Unique. Standard pressure load for general use is 5.0 Unique. +P level load is 5.4 Unique. Either of my bullets are fine with these.
In .357 magnum my practice load is 6.5 Unique. Field and hunting load is 7.0 Unique, proven adequate for Colorado mule deer (150-250 lbs. live weight) on several occasions.
Shooting .38 Special in .357 revolvers is never a problem. Any residue or "crusty rings" in the chambers yield easily to a dry bronze bore brush as a first step in the cleaning process.
You can (and probably will) experiment with dozens of variations in bullets and powder charges. Nothing wrong with that. I'm just reporting what has been successful for my needs for a half-century, for whatever it is worth to you.
Retired holster maker.
Retired police chief.
Formerly Sergeant, US Army Airborne Infantry, Pathfinders
My experience is a little different from Lobo's. I got a S&W Model 28 in the early 1970's. A friend had a reloading business and loaded .38 wadcutters for several local police departments. He would sell them to me at the price he charged the police. It was about the same price if I wanted to buy the components. I shot thousands of .38 wadcutters in that gun. One day I took it out with some factory .357 ammo. They were very hard to get in the chamber and harder to extract. I fired 6 and stopped. I guess had never cleaned the chambers good enough. I went home and scrubbed and soaked and scrubbed some more. I finally got the chambers clean enough that .357 Mags would drop right in. Since then, I only shoot .38s in guns chambered for .38s and .357s in guns chambered for .357. I have loaded 158 gr. commercial cast SWCs in .357 Mag. cases for years. I use Unique and have never had any problems. Data is not hard to find. I set up the Dillion and run all my .38s and then adjust the dies and powder measure and load all of my .357s/.
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I used to worry about buildup in the chambers from shooting .38s in my .357s, but then I discovered these: https://www.proshotproducts.co...ber-Brush_p_511.html . They're sized for a chamber (not the barrel!), are a very tight fit and very agressive, but a couple of passes will leave your revolver chambers looking like new.
I don’t like running .38 Special rounds in my .357’s as it runs afoul with an OCD type tick with me. I realize the practice is perfectly safe and rational but if my barrel says .357 then every cartridge in the cylinder will say .357.
If I want to shoot .38 Special I have a GP-100 that is chambered in .38 Special only. Thus non full blown magnum rounds are of interest to me, particularly in the 135-148 grain range.
I don’t have anywhere close to Lobo’s experience loading .357 Magnum but I do handload that and often use my homecast bullets. I have not yet experimented with cast SWC (I will get there eventually) but I do use RNFP and FP bullets. If you are into casting get a mold that throws only flat based bullets. Accurate Custom Molds www.accuratemolds.com has an extensive catalog and I can say that the 36-140-O (flat point gas checked design) and 36-146-OL (RNFP cowboy style flat based)have worked well for me. White label lubes blue carnauba and Lyman Orange Magic lube have worked with those bullets, providing perfectly adequate lube and no leading. If you are buying commercial cast bullets, I would avoid any bevel based bullets. You will probably pay more for this. I think the gas cutting on the bevel based bullet is the single biggest (certainly not the only) cause of leading.
For load data, look at the Hodgdon database, particularly with Winchester 244 and 572 powders. I have loaded and had loaded by a type 06 FFL several hundred of the 36-140-O with 6.9 grains of W572. Same deal with the 36-146-OL but those get 5. 9 grains of W244. These rounds are spicier than any .38 Special but fairly tame for a .357 Magnum. I should dust off my Chronograph and see what they yield in my 3 inch GP-100 .357 but probably are 1100-1250 fps velocity range. I have used 4.5 grains of W572 with a plated 148 grain Wadcutter and it was a very pleasant mild-ish .357 Magnum wadcutter load. Only my inability to source more .357 brass has kept me from loading this combination in quantity.
Finally if you want a commercial coated cast lead bullet, the Missouri bullets 140 grain coated flat point , I have also used with success.
"scrubbed and soaked and scrubbed some more", this tells me why you had difficulty. The solvent acts as a lubricant so the bore brush passes over the crusty deposits. A dry brush will cut through the crud with just a few passes, then a patch and solvent will finish the clean-up.
I keep a selection of used bore brushes. After they become worn to a point that they no longer do a good job in the intended caliber they can be used as chamber brushes on a lesser caliber. A worn .40 caliber bore brush makes short work of .357 chambers.
A worn bore brush can also be wrapped with a bit of 0000-grade steel wool and used for cleaning heavily fouled chambers. Insert, then rotate two or three times, remove and watch the crud fall out.
I once purchased a .357 revolver with bore and chambers that looked like sewer pipes, and the price was ridiculously low because of that. Took it home, spent a half-hour for a detail-stripping and good cleaning, the bore and chambers were perfect. Accurate and reliable again.
Retired holster maker.
Retired police chief.
Formerly Sergeant, US Army Airborne Infantry, Pathfinders
You may very well be right. I do not know and I am not going to crud up a revolver to find out. I know I used Kroil, Hoppe's # 9 and bore brushes. I know that my policy of only shooting .38s in guns chambered for .38 and only shooting .357s in guns chambered for .357 has completely eliminated any chance of that happening again.
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I’ve never worried too much about it…nowadays I tend to load .357 in .357 cases with cast SWC…even with really reduced charges…90% of the time with powder coated home cast 158 grain projectiles…but a “range hack” was once shared with me for taking care of any carbon ring left in the longer cylinder from firing shorter cased cartridges (real or imagined…I’ve had way more issues from firing .22 shorts in my grandfather’s old Winchester 67A) and that was to precisely expand a .357 magnum case just to the correct diameter of the cylinder to form a “scrape” to push into the cylinder from time to time (works best with a warm cylinder) to make any “carbon ring” (more from powder residue than lead) go away (in all truthfulness it was not that big of an issue)…just my opine
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I load my 357 mag cases with 38 148grain wad cutters and load for the 38Special. Don’t have my notes in front of me. I’ve never had an issue with any powder I use(d). I use the wad cutters and a lee tumble lube 158 grain cast bullet that I powder coat.
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For cleaning revolver cylinders I long ago discovered that a stainless steel “Tornado” brush by Hoppe’s worked the best. The hardest residue I ever cleaned was the sealant used around the bullets of military issue 38 Special ammunition. It seemed like conventional bronze brushes didn’t touch the stuff, but some back and forth scrubbing with a Tornado removed it quickly.
Hoppe’s was the originator, I believe, but other companies offer them now. As I recall I used the larger size (.40) for the cylinders.
I’ve always been leery of steel brushes with conventional bristles, and many manufacturers specifically caution against using them, but I used the Tornado style for many years and never saw any problems with them.
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The Hoppes Tornado brush is what I use also.
I shoot a revolver in IDPA competition and that brush is the fastest way to clean out the cylinder on the range.
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I'm another who has never had issues with the carbon ring, even after 100 rounds fired. However I'm one of those OCD's who gets out the cleaning kit as soon as I get home from the range. Yeah, a clean gun is a happy gun and I do like my guns happy.
That said if you want to run light loads in Magnum cases there is one powder that will not only work with the lightest 38 special but is also capable of producing a somewhat hot 357 Magnum. In addition this particular powder has absolutely NO Position Sensitivity. That powder is Vihtavouri 3N37 and it is the IDEAL powder for any 9mm/38 caliber load. BTW when I started using it it was about 8 dollars more per pound that the common handgun powder brands. However it's performance at that time made it well worth the cost. Now for some really good news. All those common handgun powder brands have boosted prices a bunch due to "Covid and Inflation" and Vihtavouri powders are now price competitive with Alliant, Hodgdon, Accurate, IMR, and Winchester. In addition 3N37 is now very often in stock. So, those hunting for some unobtanium Unique may want to pick up some 3N37 and give it a try. Because as Justin Wilson would say, "you will like it I GUARANTEE".
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