Working out of load data for my carry loads.

This is a discussion on Working out of load data for my carry loads. within the Reloading forums, part of the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics category; Hello everyone. I'd like to ask a few questions about some loads that I recently put together, but have not yet shot because I want ...

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    Working out of load data for my carry loads.

    Hello everyone.

    I'd like to ask a few questions about some loads that I recently put together, but have not yet shot because I want to make sure they are safe. I've made the decision to carry my own reloads because I like the fact that I can custom build a round that fits my gun, my skill and defensive desires. I'll start off by stating that I am aware of the controversy over using reloads for carry and I'm very comfortable with my decision to do so. Now that I've got that part out of the way, this is what I have thus far:

    For my Taurus .357 magnum which is solid steel with a 4in barrel, I put together a 158gr XTP in front of 6.4 gr of HP-38 and a CCI 550 primer and set it at the min OAL 1.580. I got this load from Lee Modern Reloading 2nd Ed.. I like this round a lot. I shoot pretty accurate with it and it seems to be powerful enough to do reasonable damage without over penetration according to some primitive ballistic testing that I've done (if anyone has more info about the ballistic of this round, feel free to share).

    I decided that I'd try to improve the accuracy of this round by increasing it's OAL to reduce the amount of free-bore travel before it engages the rifling. So I did just that without making any other modifications.

    When I tested the accuracy of this load I noticed the grouping was a bit sloppy and the round felt under-powered. I decided to look into the math of what I had done and make adjustments. The length of the new rounds were increased by 8%, so I figured there was also a result of 8% more space within the case. My logic kicked in and told me to increase the charge by 8%. So, I did just that. I loaded 7 more of the same rounds with an additional 8% more powder to compensate for the additional 8% of space which came out to 6.9gr. 6.9gr is the Max load at an OAL of 1.580, so I felt safe with this charge being how my OAL is now 1.6355. Mathematically, I'd think that this should shoot as well as the original load at 1.580. I decided to make an additional 7 rounds at 7.1gr and another 7 at 7.3 gr.

    I'm new to reloading, so I want to get some advice before I fire these rounds. I hope I explained myself clearly. Is it sufficient to say that increasing the powder charge percentage to match the increased OAL percentage is safe? Particularly with the characteristics of HP-38? I haven't loaded outside of provided data yet, so I'd like to know what I may be missing before I destroy my beloved firearm and cause injury to myself.

    I am doing this in hopes of making my round as accurate as possible with the firearm that I'm using. Thanks guys.

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  3. #2
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    Hornady XTP Bullets 38 Cal (357 Diameter) 158 Grain Jacketed Hollow

    It is assumed that this is the bullet.

    It's not absolutely necessary but it is most expedient to seat such a bullet in the cannelure (crimp groove) provided. A load that gives fairly heavy recoil can cause bullets to "jump their crimp," especially jacketed bullets if one attempts to crimp outside the cannelure. A bullet that jumps its crimp does so from inertia; the abrupt recoil of the revolver causes it and the remaining loaded cartridges housed in the cylinder to move backwards, away from the mass represented by the bullets. This is the same principle as is used in an inertia bullet puller. This is a bad thing and will likely leave one or more bullets protruding out of the front of the cylinder's chambers. Attempting a repeat shot with bullets protruding ties up the revolver since the cylinder obviously cannot rotate due to bullets butting against the forcing cone and interfering with mechanical function. If bullets protrude far enough then loose powder is introduced into places in the revolver where it ought not be, further degrading revolver reliability just when the user might need it most. Also, even if bullets don't protrude enough to tie up the revolver, a more uneven velocity performance will be obtained if bullets aren't seated to uniform depths because they jumped their crimps to various degrees.

    One can only get away with no crimp with only the mildest of loads. A .38 Special revolver will become tied up if standard velocity ammunition is prepared and inadequate or improper crimp is applied. A .357 Magnum revolver only heightens the problem.

    HP-38 is a fast burning handgun powder, at its best when used for handloads prepared for accuracy and when velocity is not a primary consideration. Since it is used in smaller charge weights it provides great economy as well. For a full-powered load using jacketed bullets in the .357 Magnum, the maximum charge one may use of HP-38 will not yield the velocities the .357 Magnum is capable of generating. Pressure spikes too rapidly to give optimum acceleration to the bullet.

    What you're looking for are powders that give a slightly slower burning rate. These will require larger charge weights but will propel the projectile to a higher muzzle velocity while enjoying lower pressures. Alliant 2400 is the first stop for obtaining the maximum velocity with a 158 grain lead, plated, or jacketed bullet in the .357 Magnum cartridge. It is possible to get around 1400 fps from a 158 grain bullet with a full charge of 2400 powder behind it in the .357 Magnum cartridge. The old maximum charge weight listed in many reloading manuals in bygone times was 15 grains to 15.5 grains of 2400. Phil Sharpe's excellent book "Guide To Handloading" showed even higher charge weights but was published back in the day when the only .357 Magnums in existence were the sturdy, large frame Colt and Smith & Wesson double-action revolvers along with a smattering of Colt Single Action Army revolvers, which also offered a reserve of strength when chambered for .357 Magnum. These days there are too many smaller, and frankly more fragile, .357 Magnum revolvers out there along with revolvers of dubious manufacture that simply wouldn't hold up to the battering of the old standard loads of bygone days.

    I have crowded 1500 fps with heavy charges of 2400 and cast lead 158 grain bullets in an N-Frame Smith & Wesson Model 27 with 6-inch barrel. I wouldn't be interested in shooting such a load in a smaller revolver.

    I'll leave it to you to seek out your own personal goal for assembling heavy .357 Magnum handloads if you like but will say that 14.0 grains of 2400 is at or above most current manuals' maximum listed charge weight for 2400 powder when used with 158 grain bullets in the .357 Magnum cartridge. Also, it must be considered that cast lead bullets can generally accept a higher maximum charge weight than a jacketed bullet of the exact same weight. The jacketed bullet will produce more friction than the softer lead bullet so powder charge weights must be adjusted accordingly.

    Another really good powder for making potent .357 Magnum ammunition with 158 grain bullets is H110 and it's twin Winchester 296. Blue Dot and Accurate No. 9 are also contenders for gaining the most from the .357 Magnum cartridge with heavier bullet weights like the 158 grain bullet. I've used both H110 and Blue Dot to make powerful and accurate .357 Magnum loads with 158 grain Sierra jacketed bullets.

    You may not be interested in obtaining near max velocities with your 158 grain loads. If not then you will be fine with HP-38 for your purposes.

    Whatever course you choose, you have more flexibility in producing your own ammunition, tailored for your own revolver. Just be certain to work up each and every load choice. Change a component, any component of the load and start fresh working up the load, never relying on luck to keep you out of difficulties induced by excessive pressures.
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    Distinguished Member Array dangerranger's Avatar
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    You may or may not get what you want in accuracy by playing with OAL. But I have found that Lee's data is pretty much lawyer proof. As in safe in almost any gun chambered for that data. However my own most accurate loads are most often not at the maximum performance level. I mostly load pistols with Tightgroup, Like HP38 its fast burning and I can get many more loads per pound. That's great for practice, plinking, and action pistol rounds. But if I was shooting for bulls eye scores there are much better powders out there. DR

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    Where to start...

    1. There is no Free bore adjustment to made with a revolver as applies to the bullets jump into the rifling. Try to push a bullet through the cylinder throat opening and it should become apparent what I am talking about.

    2. "IF", a. the crimping cannelure will allow (and this is where you are most likely loosing pressure) as the .357 needs a good roll crimp, and b. the cylinder is chambered deep enough, which, if your measurements are accurate, appears to be the case as I "assume" you checked to ensure the rounds fit and the cylinder closed without effort on the longest OCL, you did right?!? You may see some benefit. However, Free bore and case volume do not directly relate to each other. Especially if you now have the bullet ogive up against the inner face of the cylinder throat.

    3. "NO", you can not extrapolate from the load tables mathematically! Powder does not operate that way. The pressure can go several thousand C.U.P. per tenth grain in pistol cases depending on burn rate, jacket hardness, primer brisance, actual bore diameter etc...
    I.E. I don't have current HP-38 data without digging for it but the bullet you are using when loaded with Unique has a max. charge of 8.3 grains at 38,300 C.U.P. IIRC max C.U.P. for the .357 Mag is 40-42,000 C.U.P.. HP-38 must be at least 5-6 steps faster than Unique and you are going to use a load .4 gr. over what you state to be the listed max charge because you moved the bullet out 55 thousands of an inch and may well have it jammed against the throat..

    "I" would suggest you read a few reloading manuals and follow their instructions regarding pressure and its application to individual components. The manuals are written after extensive and on going testing to validate conformance to SAAMI specs. However, it's your hands, eyes and pistol...
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Hornady XTP Bullets 38 Cal (357 Diameter) 158 Grain Jacketed Hollow

    It is assumed that this is the bullet.

    It's not absolutely necessary but it is most expedient to seat such a bullet in the cannelure (crimp groove) provided. A load that gives fairly heavy recoil can cause bullets to "jump their crimp," especially jacketed bullets if one attempts to crimp outside the cannelure. A bullet that jumps its crimp does so from inertia; the abrupt recoil of the revolver causes it and the remaining loaded cartridges housed in the cylinder to move backwards, away from the mass represented by the bullets. This is the same principle as is used in an inertia bullet puller. This is a bad thing and will likely leave one or more bullets protruding out of the front of the cylinder's chambers. Attempting a repeat shot with bullets protruding ties up the revolver since the cylinder obviously cannot rotate due to bullets butting against the forcing cone and interfering with mechanical function. If bullets protrude far enough then loose powder is introduced into places in the revolver where it ought not be, further degrading revolver reliability just when the user might need it most. Also, even if bullets don't protrude enough to tie up the revolver, a more uneven velocity performance will be obtained if bullets aren't seated to uniform depths because they jumped their crimps to various degrees.

    One can only get away with no crimp with only the mildest of loads. A .38 Special revolver will become tied up if standard velocity ammunition is prepared and inadequate or improper crimp is applied. A .357 Magnum revolver only heightens the problem.

    HP-38 is a fast burning handgun powder, at its best when used for handloads prepared for accuracy and when velocity is not a primary consideration. Since it is used in smaller charge weights it provides great economy as well. For a full-powered load using jacketed bullets in the .357 Magnum, the maximum charge one may use of HP-38 will not yield the velocities the .357 Magnum is capable of generating. Pressure spikes too rapidly to give optimum acceleration to the bullet.

    What you're looking for are powders that give a slightly slower burning rate. These will require larger charge weights but will propel the projectile to a higher muzzle velocity while enjoying lower pressures. Alliant 2400 is the first stop for obtaining the maximum velocity with a 158 grain lead, plated, or jacketed bullet in the .357 Magnum cartridge. It is possible to get around 1400 fps from a 158 grain bullet with a full charge of 2400 powder behind it in the .357 Magnum cartridge. The old maximum charge weight listed in many reloading manuals in bygone times was 15 grains to 15.5 grains of 2400. Phil Sharpe's excellent book "Guide To Handloading" showed even higher charge weights but was published back in the day when the only .357 Magnums in existence were the sturdy, large frame Colt and Smith & Wesson double-action revolvers along with a smattering of Colt Single Action Army revolvers, which also offered a reserve of strength when chambered for .357 Magnum. These days there are too many smaller, and frankly more fragile, .357 Magnum revolvers out there along with revolvers of dubious manufacture that simply wouldn't hold up to the battering of the old standard loads of bygone days.

    I have crowded 1500 fps with heavy charges of 2400 and cast lead 158 grain bullets in an N-Frame Smith & Wesson Model 27 with 6-inch barrel. I wouldn't be interested in shooting such a load in a smaller revolver.

    I'll leave it to you to seek out your own personal goal for assembling heavy .357 Magnum handloads if you like but will say that 14.0 grains of 2400 is at or above most current manuals' maximum listed charge weight for 2400 powder when used with 158 grain bullets in the .357 Magnum cartridge. Also, it must be considered that cast lead bullets can generally accept a higher maximum charge weight than a jacketed bullet of the exact same weight. The jacketed bullet will produce more friction than the softer lead bullet so powder charge weights must be adjusted accordingly.

    Another really good powder for making potent .357 Magnum ammunition with 158 grain bullets is H110 and it's twin Winchester 296. Blue Dot and Accurate No. 9 are also contenders for gaining the most from the .357 Magnum cartridge with heavier bullet weights like the 158 grain bullet. I've used both H110 and Blue Dot to make powerful and accurate .357 Magnum loads with 158 grain Sierra jacketed bullets.

    You may not be interested in obtaining near max velocities with your 158 grain loads. If not then you will be fine with HP-38 for your purposes.

    Whatever course you choose, you have more flexibility in producing your own ammunition, tailored for your own revolver. Just be certain to work up each and every load choice. Change a component, any component of the load and start fresh working up the load, never relying on luck to keep you out of difficulties induced by excessive pressures.
    Mr. BMC,

    Yes, crimp-jump is a bit of a problem to tangle with. I've only tried the XTP (and yes, your link is the same bullet) roll-crimped below the cannelure recently when I tried increasing OAL without increasing the charge. I was surprised to see that there wasn't any noticeable jump, this is why I continued on with the longer rounds that I asked about. Time will tell whether it will be an issue.
    Concerning powders, I would like to try 2400 but as I'm sure you know--the good stuff is hard to come by right now. Fortunatly I scored some H110 before the SHTF. I have worked up a few loads with the H110 and have decided to use that for my 44 mag, and or my .357 as battle rounds (yes, in case the Red Coats come for our guns). I enjoyed the H110 at a very mild dose. However, the recoil, muzzle-flash and penetration are all a bit much for my self-defense, carry loads. Blue Dot is a powder that I currently have, but I have not found any load data for it along with the 158gr XTP.

    Basically, I'm interested in a load that is more powerful than the .38+P, but I don't want magnum power that will cause over-penetration liabilities. Big, slow bullets seem to be the best choice for me. 950-1100 fps seem to be a good combination according to the ballistic calculators I've looked at online. Yeah, I guess I sound like Goldy-Lox trying to find "just right". So far I'd say searching for the holy grail of the perfect load is half the fun

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    Jem102, thanks for your post.
    "2. "IF", a. the crimping cannelure will allow (and this is where you are most likely loosing pressure) as the .357 needs a good roll crimp"
    It did not occur to me that the original loss of pressure (that I could feel) might have came from not having a crimp in the cannelure. I tend to over think these types of things.
    "3. "NO", you can not extrapolate from the load tables mathematically!" Thanks for clear answer. I wasn't sure if I would be able to just crunch a few numbers and carry on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dangerranger View Post
    You may or may not get what you want in accuracy by playing with OAL. But I have found that Lee's data is pretty much lawyer proof. As in safe in almost any gun chambered for that data. However my own most accurate loads are most often not at the maximum performance level. I mostly load pistols with Tightgroup, Like HP38 its fast burning and I can get many more loads per pound. That's great for practice, plinking, and action pistol rounds. But if I was shooting for bulls eye scores there are much better powders out there. DR
    Tightgroup is another powder that I have been keeping an eye out for. As far as practice rounds go, I've mostly been using Hodgon Clays and IMR PB along with 158gr cast lead. Some powders that I've used seem to yield better accuracy close to max, and some powders like H110 have done better for me in a lower range. A powerful fast bullet is worthless if it isn't hitting it's target, so I just work up till I find a tight shot group.

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    Thanks guys, you've been very helpful.

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    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    If I may make a suggestion, get your hands on a Lyman manual. The newest is #49 but try to find a #47 or #48. For a single book they will teach you more about handgun reloading than any other. You are obviously an intelligent person but internal ballistics is a study in and of itself. Just as any other subject you have mastered, do the ground work and all will be well. Good shooting.
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    I've worn out my Lee Modern Reloading manual. I could use a few more in my arsenal.

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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    The load you seek can best be achieved with 2400.

    What you really want is a 38/44 loading, which is easy to get with either 38spl cases in a magnum revolver, or downloaded 357 mag cases.

    The funny thing is, the power level you are really looking for, is more easily attainable with less fuss and pressure by simply stepping up to a 44 spl loaded with a 250 bullet over 7.5 grns of Unique.

    I have found there is no need to even fool with or tolerate the ear splitting 357 magnum anymore, as a 44 spl can handily beat it in every way and is more pleasent to shoot, especially with your goal.
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    Just a word: You may want to look into the legal problems with carrying reloaded self defense rounds.

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    Quote Originally Posted by likesbigbullets View Post
    I decided to look into the math of what I had done and make adjustments. The length of the new rounds were increased by 8%, so I figured there was also a result of 8% more space within the case. My logic kicked in and told me to increase the charge by 8%. So, I did just that. I loaded 7 more of the same rounds with an additional 8% more powder to compensate for the additional 8% of space which came out to 6.9gr. 6.9gr is the Max load at an OAL of 1.580, so I felt safe with this charge being how my OAL is now 1.6355. Mathematically, I'd think that this should shoot as well as the original load at 1.580. I decided to make an additional 7 rounds at 7.1gr and another 7 at 7.3 gr.
    Don't ever think like that again. Internal case pressures are not linear they are exponential and so is every variable along with it.

    I'm new to reloading, so I want to get some advice before I fire these rounds.
    Load the the book OAL and keep it within SAAMI OAL. Get some more experience before you go playing around with variables you don't understand. There is a reason loads are worked up. You're engineering a small explosion two feet from your face. Not something to play around with or make guesses at the results.
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    VIP Member Array Tubby45's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhilG View Post
    Just a word: You may want to look into the legal problems with carrying reloaded self defense rounds.
    That's been covered elsewhere and is off topic for this subforum and this thread. Leave it elsewhere and not in this thread.
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    Tubby I actually left another forum because any time I'd mention an idea or question that hinted at reloads for self-defense, it sparked a completely irrelevant discussion that went no where. You guys have been great!

    I'm pulling those rounds apart when I get a chance. I'm going to stick with my original load that was doing just fine. I'll do some research on using Blue Dot in place of the HP-38 just to see if I gain anything positive from the slower burning powder. I don't have any of the other powders that are commonly used, so i'll have to work off of load data for Speer GDHP.

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