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how many of you test your handgun handloads

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how many of you test your handgun handloads

Old 07-17-2020, 02:24 PM
  #1  
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Default how many of you test your handgun handloads

how many of you test your handgun handloads , for accuracy and penetration before you go hunting?
how many guys stick to reliable load data"
one of the guys I occasionally hunt with had recently gotten into handloading,
he had purchased a 6" Ruger 357 mag revolver and wanted to go hog hunting with it,
he had purchased a 170-grain mold and cast up a couple of pounds of projectiles
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1010242033


he had hand loaded a couple of dozen cartridges with those bullets in some 357 mag brass he found at a local range,
while he waited for his ordered components like powder and primers and brass to arrive
I have no idea where he looked up the load data ,
but he said it should be safe enough as it was for,
200 grain bullets in a 38 spc
and it was being used in his ruger 357 mag
and remembered he had used green dot powder
I pulled one cartridge apart, it looked like it had 4.5 grains of powder
I could not find a single similar reference.
I suggested we pull the ammo and re load with known powder in a listed charge weight.
he insisted we try his handloads, knowing it was a 357 mag and only 4.5 grains of powder,
I was reluctant to let him,
but he insisted and placed a 2x4 on the ground outside my shop and fired a couple cartridges into it,
the bullets barely exited the 2x4 and were found on the dirt under the board.
obviously this was not a load Id suggest he hunt with.
and I handed him an old lyman manual
and told him to keep it.

Lyman 45th Reloading

and suggested he read it and only use info he verified in at least three different printed manuals as his sources
we all make mistakes, we were all young and invincible,
and luckily this was minor but it could have gone very wrong.

it could have been a huge over load rather than an underload that would most likely not be effective,
you can,t just guess or randomly pick powder types and bullet weights

Last edited by hardcastonly; 07-18-2020 at 07:13 AM.
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Old 07-17-2020, 11:09 PM
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The old Alliant catalog lists 6.0grn Green Dot as the max for .357mag with a 158 LSWC and with a 180 JFP, and 5.0 as max for a 200 LRN. It lists 3.5 max for a 158 LSWC, 3.4 max for a 160 JSP, and 3.1 max for a 200 LRN in 38spcl cases - bumping to ~3.7-3.8 max for the 158/160 class in 357mag cases, only operating under 16kpsi. The .38spcl+P data with a 17kpsi max shows 3.7grn for a 158 LSWC and 3.2grn for a 200 LRN - again, scaling somewhere around 3.5 for the 200 and 4.0 for the 158 if loaded in a 357mag case...

So at 4.5 grn under a 170 cast in a 357mag case, he was over 17kpsi 38spcl+P standards by about 3/4 grain, and likely falling about the same 3/4 grain under a predicted max for a 34kpsi standard. Likely cooking somewhere around 24-28kpsi. Not a max pressure load, but certainly not a low pressure load either. Based on the data, Iíd guess it would have been trucking around 850, maybe just under 900fps from a 6Ē barrel. A little faster than a typical 158 +P load, and touting a bit more bullet weight. Not a max load, but not a load I would want to stand in front of.

Stopping a bullet in a 2x4 isnít so surprising, however. Iíve caught hundreds of 45acp 225-230grn slugs, full power loads, in 2x4ís. I caught end cut scrap from my brotherís construction job when I was in college, stood them on fence rails and used them for bowling pin match practice. Theyíd catch the bullet more often than not. The same loads which would easily flatten a bad guy or a buck. Iíd catch 115-124 class 9mm slugs in double layered 2x4ís regularly also - speed makes a big difference.
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Old 07-18-2020, 07:05 AM
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thanks for posting the details, I'm sure he will appreciate it, I know I do appreciate it!
the main point I was trying to impress on him was that you don,t want to use of a single source for load data ,
and to test his loads for accuracy and penetration,
the days of using soaking wet phone books or sears catalogs stacked 2 feet thick,
as a bullet penetration test medium seems to be over as they no longer drop those off regularly
purchase of several load manuals is almost mandatory.
if you reload a good deal.
especially with a powder or bullet weight that's not all that commonly used is marginally risky.
I've used that bullet several times while hunting with a 357 mag revolver,
but Ive found 2400, h110, and blue dot all to be a better match in that velocities
are higher penetration better and if you pay attention to the load manuals and cross-check, several
very safe.
I have found that a 357 mag with those 170-grain hard cast bullets are a good choice,
but I'd be leary of green dot powder as a propellant,
found 12 grains of 2400 or 14 grains of h110 to work rather well.
Id expect a decent hunting load to penetrate through a bit more than a single 2x4 board.
especially since I know from experience that that bullet will easily do much better in a 357 mag revolver

Last edited by hardcastonly; 07-18-2020 at 09:35 AM.
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Old 07-19-2020, 09:24 AM
  #4  
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Sometimes you only have a single source of data, especially for newer cartridges. I've been loading for about 55 years now and I have reloading manuals from way back then. The max loads in those old manuals more often than not exceed those using the same components today. Today's manuals have what I refer to as lawyer maximums.
But even saying that I've rarely found a rifle that shot maximum loads accurately. I'm sure the same can be said for pistol loads too but I'm not a good enough pistol shot to notice a difference.
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Old 07-21-2020, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by bronko22000 View Post
I'm sure the same can be said for pistol loads too but I'm not a good enough pistol shot to notice a difference.
It's pretty much the same as loading for a rifle. The big exceptions for handgunners are Hodgdon H110 and Winchester 296, which tend to perform best at maximum or near maximum loads.
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Old 07-21-2020, 11:30 PM
  #6  
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Or over maximum loads...

Magnum revolver powders usually offer their best performance near, at, or even over max. My pet load for my 44mag are over 2 grains over max book data, as is my pet load for 357/44 B&D.

Then again, Iíve also found fantastic accuracy in 223rem, 243win, 6 creed, 6.5 Grendel, and 300wm, which come to mind, from loads which were above book maxima.

Youíll find nodes where you look for them. Manufacturers develop data based on cartridge capacities and burn rates to ensure acceptable performance can be found within their window. If you never look outside of book data, you canít be surprised when you find nodes within the data.
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