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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Getting setup to start loading for my 686p, and I picked up a few boxes of the 158gr FP/XTP for an upcoming hog hunt. This will be my first time using the 357 on a hunt and I will be in a tree stand hunting over corn in pine forest. I doubt my shot will be over 35 yards, but I'm wondering if an accurate but hot load of h110 will push the 158 FP/XTP fast enough to get any expansion at all in a 4" barrel. I'm going more for penetration than expansion, but I'm hoping that these will open up at least some. If anyone has tried using this combination on deer or hogs please let me know how the bullet performed and about terminal performance.

Also I noticed Hodgdon list 16.7 grains as max with this bullet with a case length of 1.285. Hornady list max load with this bullet at 15.7 with a case length of 1.280. Seems like a pretty big spread for .005 different in case length. Has anyone gone above the Hornady load using a 1.280 case length and if so at what point did you start having pressure signs if any. I don't normall push max, but for the hunt I want all the power I can get. I will be working up, but I'm not sure about pushing past the 15.7 max Hornady list, but at the same time I'd like to hear from other responsible seasoned loaders of this combo.
 

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You know the song

IF YOU PLACE IT WELL, IT WILL WORK. For hunting with a handgun as a primary I always used a 180 gr XTP bullet & 2400 powder in 357. A hard cast/wide meplat ( available here) "might" offer better penetration for hogs. Just a thought. If you are not totally confidant in your load, or a big hog comes in, having a rifle/shotgun along also, might not be a bad idea.
 

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I would suggest you don't start with max loads. I always start at starting loads and work up. If you're in a hurry, get some factory ammo, and practice with that. I don't use H110 anymore, it's been mebbe 18-20 years and I've had good luck with mid range 2400 or Bluedot data with 160 gr SWCs. If I figgered I might be pushing a particular cartridge a bit too much to get the job done, I go to a larger caliber...

Many reasons why reloading manuals differ; different equipment, dfferent lots of powder, primers. bullets and even brass...
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I would suggest you don't start with max loads. I always start at starting loads and work up. If you're in a hurry, get some factory ammo, and practice with that. I don't use H110 anymore, it's been mebbe 18-20 years and I've had good luck with mid range 2400 or Bluedot data with 160 gr SWCs. If I figgered I might be pushing a particular cartridge a bit too much to get the job done, I go to a larger caliber...

Many reasons why reloading manuals differ; different equipment, dfferent lots of powder, primers. bullets and even brass...
I'm not concerned about the 357's capability, but a full grain difference between the Hornady manual and Hodgdon is a large variance for a pistol caliber. I have never gone above published loads so my question is posed out of caution. I want to push this bullet within the velocity range that it performs best.
 

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I don't have my log right in front of me, but as far as case length, what ever SAAMI trim to is, and that's because I like a consistent roll crimp with H110. I don't pay any attention to case length beyond trimming to spec..

Now as far as the bullet and charge, I run just under Hodgdon max, and at max charge pressures have looked to be pushing the limit IMO. Don't misunderstand me, I like to get all I can from the .357 when it concerns big game, but I won't take chances and run mine at 16.3 grs..

Now regarding performance on big mule deer, one of my sons shot a big muley at almost 150 yds., yes 150 yds., talk about a lucky shot. That one was standing facing him and he hit it right between the eye's, it did a back flip and drooped right there. The 158 gr. XTP entered and exited, leaving a nice large exit wound out the back of his head, so I would assume it must have expanded pretty well.

Then one of my other sons shot another big muley from just under 100 yds., that one was quartering away, the bullet entered high on the shoulder area and exited out through the lower neck. Again, the exit was large enough to infer that the bullet expanded, that however was with a 158 gr. Gold Dot.

SMOA
 

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I've shot over fifty white tail with the 357mag and most of them were shot with Hornady XTP bullet. Most were shot with the 158g bullets and a few with the 180g bullets. I can assure you that at the ranges you're talking about, penetration and expansion won't be a problem. Almost all my loads were with WW296, the same powder as H110. You will find that the bullets lose expansion directly to the distance the animal is shot at. Here are two bullets recovered from one deer. One shot was broadside at 35 yards and the second shot was somewhere around 90 yards (I have it written down somewhere to the exact yard but can't find the note). Anyway, both bullets hit within two inches of each other, each one hit a rib going in, and both were found under the skin on the off side. Note the difference in expansion. Also, for penetration you will do better if you can find some Hornady XTP SP bullets instead of the HP. I think they still make them but they are somewhat hard to find.
 

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I second NSB's recommendation regarding the SP or FP XTP's. I wasn't aware that they made a SP actually, I thought it is a FP? Either way, SP or FP will certainly provide better penetration than a HP.

But if we're talking about the Gold Dots, those have a very different expansion characteristic than a typical HP does. They behave similarly to a cast IMO and will plow through pretty well. They will expand and pedal out quite well IME, but they seem to maintain more shank below the nose. I've also never had one fragment or shed the jacket, not at all.

Happy hunting and don't forget to give us a play by play report.

SMOA
 

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Didn't have a box around to check, but I thing you're right. They are FP, not SP (old age and memory......). Here's another pic of some XTP's recovered from deer at ranges under fifty yards. Hard to see in the pictures, but all had the jacket still attached.
 

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You are going to get about 1200 fps from a max load with the 158 gr. I doubt you will get much expansion from the XTP/FP.

I would go with the 185 gr bullet from BTB. It will probably penetrate completely from any angle.

Edit: I just looked at the Hornady site. The 158 gr XTP/FP is meant for velocities of 1150-1800 fps. Looks like it is intended for rifle speeds. The XTP/HP lists 700-1400 fps.
 

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You are going to get about 1200 fps from a max load with the 158 gr. I doubt you will get much expansion from the XTP/FP.

I would go with the 185 gr bullet from BTB. It will probably penetrate completely from any angle.

Edit: I just looked at the Hornady site. The 158 gr XTP/FP is meant for velocities of 1150-1800 fps. Looks like it is intended for rifle speeds. The XTP/HP lists 700-1400 fps.
They are both pistol bullets. The purpose of the FP over the HP is penetration. It will expand, but not as much as the HP. It gives the shooter a choice depending on what game they are hunting, the distances they might be shooting at, and what firearm is going to be used. Based on those variables, the shooter/hunter can select which bullet to use. For a Marlin 357mag rifle I had I found that I was getting a lot of expansion and less penetration due to the higher muzzle velocity with the HP's, so I used the FP's in the gun. At that point I started getting pass throughs with a larger exit hole. One size often doesn't fit all. In spite of all of that, I only ever lost one deer to a handgun shot and that was with a 44mag full power load. I simply made a bad shot. Even the most powerful caliber won't kill if it doesn't hit the vitals and the smallest often will when the shot is placed correctly.
 

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You likely already know and this is just a reminder, but if you change from your current load, you will need to re-zero your sights with the new load at the distance you intend to shoot at prior to going on the hunt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
I've shot over fifty white tail with the 357mag and most of them were shot with Hornady XTP bullet. Most were shot with the 158g bullets and a few with the 180g bullets. I can assure you that at the ranges you're talking about, penetration and expansion won't be a problem. Almost all my loads were with WW296, the same powder as H110. You will find that the bullets lose expansion directly to the distance the animal is shot at. Here are two bullets recovered from one deer. One shot was broadside at 35 yards and the second shot was somewhere around 90 yards (I have it written down somewhere to the exact yard but can't find the note). Anyway, both bullets hit within two inches of each other, each one hit a rib going in, and both were found under the skin on the off side. Note the difference in expansion. Also, for penetration you will do better if you can find some Hornady XTP SP bullets instead of the HP. I think they still make them but they are somewhat hard to find.
The bullet I am using is the 158gr FP/XTP. This bullet is designed for higher velocities and deeper penetration than the standard XTP. With the difference between Hodgdon and Hornady; I guess I have a reason to break out the chronograph. That should be a good tool to help evaluate the powder charge between different sources. I'll be very happy to get approx. 1250 fps with good accuracy. I'm not trying to overly hot rod my revolver. Standard magnum load with good accuracy is all I"m looking for. I want pass throughs on the hogs, and a little expansion would help. I think with the bullet starting @ 1250fps it would be just fine to do the job at 35 yards or less. I was just hoping to avoid breaking out the chronograph.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
You likely already know and this is just a reminder, but if you change from your current load, you will need to re-zero your sights with the new load at the distance you intend to shoot at prior to going on the hunt.
Good reminder. I'm going to be doing plenty of shooting once I get some loads worked up, and will be adjusting the sights once I'm all set with a recipe.
 

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Never doubt a 4" revolver. I've killed a passel of deer with a 6" 686 using bullets from 125 grains to 158 JHP. All the kills were impressive. I also used a 4" M19 on deer with complete success. But since you're after hogs, a tougher quarry, a strong bullet is needed. I still like 158 grain JHP which will expand slowly and penetrate well. Hogs are not tanks, just fairly tough critters.
 
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