180 Grain 357 Magnum

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180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby KeepArms » 03 May 2021 13:38

I've been enjoying shooting some 180-grain cast lead bullets out of my R92 lately to work up a hunting load. I started out loading them over H110 according to Hodgdon's data, and the most accurate load was right at the max powder charge listed on the website. Charges from starting load data all the way up to the maximum load data showed case head expansion (I believe that's the term for what I'm trying to describe) greater than what I've seen in my revolvers, but I had no other signs and I read that this is normal in lever actions, so I kept going. The expansion is not uniform around the case. I'm measuring 0.380" across the narrow dimension of the ring and 0.384" across the wide dimension of the ring with cases shot w/ a book-max H110 charge.

I have some IMR4227 that I also wanted to try. I shot through a ladder working from Hodgdon's min to max with the 180-grain bullets and couldn't get the bullets going fast enough to stabilize. I had difficulty keeping shots on a 3'x3' piece of cardboard at 100 yards. Then I went and found some (probably older) compressed load data from some bullet manufacturers and worked up to a new maximum that brought me from a 3' group to a 3" group. At this new book-maximum charge weight I'm measuring 0.380" across the narrow dimension of the expanded ring around the case and 0.383" across the wide dimension.

I can see my groups getting smaller as I keep working up the load ladders, so I've been doing more research and I ended up downloading Gordon's Reloading Tool and modeling some of these charges. Gordon's shows that am under max pressure with all of these loads because they use the European maximum pressure for 357 magnum (who knew). I've since read that the SAAMI reduced 357 magnum max pressure in the mid-90s and the current IMR4227 may be the same as the old H4227 which was different from the old IMR4227 which may be the one referenced in some of the older load data I was using. After reading all of this, I'm leaning towards abandoning IMR4227 and just using H110. The expansion worries me a little, though.

Is the expansion of the cases just due to the way lever actions are chambered? Am I going to have short case life shooting these loads?
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby Reese-Mo » 03 May 2021 16:17

The expansion just in front of the rim will vary quite a bit from firearm to firearm because the chamber dimensions vary just a little bit too. One thing to consider is that the Rossi chamber may have just a little bit of relief on the bottom edge to assist feeding. Are the primer pockets staying tight? Are there any extraction difficulties? Every time I've gone over the top with a .357 extraction difficulties happened as one of the first signs of excessive pressure.
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby Ohio3Wheels » 03 May 2021 19:02

I use a good bit of H110 in both my 357 and 45 Colt (both 92s) and lately I've been experimenting with Lil'Gun in both and think I like it better. Gave up on 4227(either flavor) about 10 years ago. Just wasn't doing what I wanted.

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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby Reese-Mo » 03 May 2021 19:53

H110, 2400 for me, back in the day. These days, load with what ya can get seems to be the recipe to follow 'round these parts.
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby Archer » 03 May 2021 20:25

I have a preference for 2400 but I've picked up a stash of H110 because I could get it.
I have a lb of IMR2700 that was old stock when the shop stopped stocking or selling powder. I'll probably load it behind something I intend on using for plinking but I don't anticipate getting more.
Picked up a 4 lb Lil gun canister in between Flexible Obama and Joe Chicom.

Reese-Mo's comment about the Rossi chamber ramp seems to be a bit too true on one of my .44 rifles. If nothing else I'm getting some discoloration or a little deformation that seems to match the ramp area.
The .357 seems ok, as in I haven't noticed anything weird with the brass I've fed it or the other .44 M Rossi for that matter.
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby GasGuzzler » 04 May 2021 05:50

2400 does best for me in a revolver but is very hard to find since about 2013. Lil'Gun is now the answer for .357 magnum hot loads. The R92 needs a lot of help with heavy .357s because of the 1:30" twist.
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby Ranch Dog » 04 May 2021 05:51

Yep, Lil'Gun is the power of choice for me with the 180-grain. I should say was, I sold that rifle.
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby KeepArms » 04 May 2021 08:07

Thanks for the responses, everyone. I am glad Reese-Mo is confirming what I was thinking about the chamber size. I have no other pressure signs. I've been reading about 357 lever actions being notorious for stretching brass when shot at true .357 magnum velocities/pressures. The 12th edition Speer Reloading Manual states "All lever-action 357 Magnum rifles have bolts which lock at the rear. This allows the bolt to spring slightly during firing, stretching the case. Use only new or once-fired cases for maximum loads."

Between the reloading discord and a large number of local gun shops, the availability of any of the powders mentioned hasn't been an issue for me this year. I was hoping to just stock the 4227 because I can load it in 4-5 other guns. It sounds like 4227 will also produce less stretch and give my brass a longer lifespan. I got a glimpse of the 4th edition Lyman Cast Bullet Handbook (2019) last night, and it lists the load I was shooting, so I'm feeling much better about it. It seems that the case capacity available with a cast 180-grain bullet vs a longer jacketed 180-grain bullet makes all the difference in this cartridge/powder/barrel twist combo. I'm going to shoot a bit more with both powders to see if either is more accurate. I also just ordered a chronograph so I can get a better idea of how much terminal performance I might be missing out on.
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby GasGuzzler » 05 May 2021 06:40

I lot of people get 4227 because they can use it in other stuff but to me, it doesn't do anything really well...just a few things OK.
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Re: 180 Grain 357 Magnum

Postby Gunny268 » 05 May 2021 12:33

I used to use 4227 (255 and 270 gr bullets at 780-840 fps loads) and H110 (heavy bullets up to 1100 fps loads) in my 45 colt loads, but switched to Lil'Gun because it gave the gun better accuracy with both the 300 gr. and 255 gr. bullets and Std.Dev. in the low teens. 4227 is now used only my 300BLK loads, and it produces very good results. For my 357 Rossi, I'm still just plinking with the 125 gr. No hunting loads anticipated, for now.
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