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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Has anyone ever tried loading a .360 round ball in a 38 Spl / 357 Mag?

The ball weighs 70 grains and would get 224 ft-lb energy at 1200 fps.

I wonder if I could get there in a 2" or 4" bbl using Unique, Red Dot, or 231.
 

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Speed would be your enemy. There is just not that much contact area on a .360" ball in a .358" bore....it's like a little engraved belt around the soft lead ball.
Past a certain (low) speed, it just wants to strip and shoot wild.
 

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If you Google round ball loads in 38 Special, you'll find a lot of conversation on the Cast Boolits Forum and others, going back a number of years.
Also, this might give you a little info: http://www.castpics.net/LoadData/Round Ball Loads.pdf

Tip: Coat your 000 Buckshot with Lee Alox liquid (and let dry) before loading, it'll help prevent leading. Keep your velocity reasonable (not 1200 FPS). Most people find that Bullseye, or other fast powders work best.

P.S. I wouldn't worry too much about the small contact area of the round ball, they do quite well in percussion revolvers.
 

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Do realize that originals (and most reproductions) are running a slow twist...often about 1:30 and have rather aggressive rifling. A few with progressive twist barrels, but few of the repros bothered to copy that. Just haven't had a whole lot of luck loading round ball in modern revolver's faster twist to 1200fps.
 

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Do realize that originals (and most reproductions) are running a slow twist...often about 1:30 and have rather aggressive rifling. A few with progressive twist barrels, but few of the repros bothered to copy that. Just haven't had a whole lot of luck loading round ball in modern revolver's faster twist to 1200fps.
Yep, most of the loads I've seen cited on various forums, tend to run around 600-800 FPS (with some sort of lube, Lee liquid or powder coat), no where near the OP's desired 1200 FPS. Having said that, round ball loads in 38 Special/357 Mag, 44 Special/Mag, 45 ACP/Colt have been done (single and multi ball loads), and have been used as 'special purpose' (in building rat control!) and 'plinking' loads for many years. Some of the earlier loading manuals (Speer, Lyman Cast) included info on RB loads.


 

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MANY years ago we used to do that, but the velocities we loaded them to was VERY low, in the 300-400 fps range or slower. Around the turn of the 20th century you used to be able to buy revolver cartridge's loaded with round ball at extremely slow velocities called "gallery loads" intended for indoor practice. Not sure where you'd shoot those indoor, pretty sure my wife would give me Hades if I shot one in our living room. Regardless, the practice seemed to be common enough that someone was commercially making such loads.
 

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Can revive the idea...and it works. Rifle or pistol.





Interested enough to pick apart the old corroded past collectors status gallery loads.

Evident they by-passed the current standards for loading black powder. No compressed loads, lots of air space. Occasionally would find a gallery ball load with an over powder wad. In today’s world, we’d worry about the long run up to the ball and the wad being a secondary projectile.


Not too many old gallery loads loaded with early smokeless (possible that semi-smokeless of the time..hard to visually identify). They still made gallery ball loads, but were losing in popularity by that time.

A few freaks. Were some 44/40 ball loads that I think were intended for Marbles “game getter” smooth bores that were full charge black powder. Actually, guessing they were technically .44XL shot loads, just without the XL case.

The only “modern” ammo I’ve taken apart with “loose” (not compressed) black powder has been 37mm flare. Was surprised to see that, but by visual and burn smell, it was lose non-compressed black powder (and a really tiny amount for that sized case...but it only needs to lift the flare 400 feet or so).


Had to try the shooting quality of 44/40 round ball “game getter” loads in both a smooth bore .44XL shot and a .44/40 rifle. With a full black powder charge, wasn’t all that much to choose from a rifled barrel (Win 92) and a smooth bore barrel (H&A .44XL shot barrel). Either way, would hit a 6” plate at 20-25 yards….miss it more than hit it at 35 yards


No ball to recover...but from the nasty leading in the rifle barrel (more leading at the muzzle end than at the breech), and thinking full charge of black was stripping in the rifling. Makes sense that it would leave more leading where it was going fast enough to strip.

Ball was pretty good in a .45-70 (.460” ball) at really low speeds...even good in 50/70 (.520” ball).

Introduced some .25ACP owners to shooting those horrid little pistols with #3 buck as the bullet. Wouldn’t feed or cycle, but accuracy turned out to be about the same at 10 yards (which ain’t saying much). BTW..even a primer will toss that #3 buck through a 'baby browning'...so like .25acp CB caps.

Kept a .32SWL running though 4 years (I lie...was 5 1/2 years...did the “hippy: thing for 18 months) for super cheap with a filed nail for a decapper, putty knife for re-capping, pound of Bullseye, ½ bag of OO buck, an empty .22short case as a powered dipper, and whatever I could find greasy/free as lube.

Dupicating them with today’s smokeless, I turned to a “fluffy” (low density) fast pistol powder. Seemed Red Dot worked better than the others (easy to ignite, lower density than Bullseye, less powder position sensitive).

I still pointed the pistol/rifle “up” between shots to at least give it an even position.
 

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It may help fatten a 0.360" ball for better rifling grip if you follow the current craze and powder coat it. You could also make a stack of washers with holes bigger than the ball that come up just short of its height so you can use an arbor press or a vice to squash the balls out a little flatter (the washers act as a stop for consistent results), then run them through a .360 or .359 sizing die to give them more grip. Bit of a bother, but would let you shoot them a bit faster.
 
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It may help fatten a 0.360" ball for better rifling grip if you follow the current craze and powder coat it. You could also make a stack of washers with holes bigger than the ball that come up just short of its height so you can use an arbor press or a vice to squash the balls out a little flatter (the washers act as a stop for consistent results), then run them through a .360 or .359 sizing die to give them more grip. Bit of a bother, but would let you shoot them a bit faster.
The link I provided above has a video where the guy did the powder coating thing for round balls for loading in his .380, 9mm, 38 Spec., 357 Mag., 44 Spec., 44 Mag., 45 ACP, and 45 Colt, so that guy is 'all in' with this round ball fixed cartridge thing (not sure the intended purpose, though). Some of the forum 'chatter', from the Cast Boolits and The High Road forums, mentioned running the .360" 000 Buck through a .358" Lyman sizer/lubricator to get that slight flat for rifling 'grip' you are talking about. Some pushed through washers. Some mentioned using card wads over the powder, cardboard, lubed felt, poly material, etc. (cut with the end of a sharp chamfered case).
 

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I have loaded many round balls for the 38spl/357 case. Also for the 44 cal. Lubed with Lee Alox lube, good for 1100fps. . Let dry . Load ball with the spru cut straight up or straight down . I cast my own from scrap wheel weights, BHN 10.5. . I load enough Red Dot for about 650 to a max of 700 fps. Crimp the case mouth into the middle of the ball. I have never used or needed a filler . Place your target in front of a large bundle of rags. That way you can retrieve every one , so as to cast & shoot them again.
 

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That brings up the question of the shot hardness. If these were pure lead balls intended for a cap and ball revolver or a muzzleloader, they'd strip more easily than hard shot with a lot of antimony in it. So the source is important.
 
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