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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
158 gr. Keith style 357 w/gas check.
I believe it is common (or has been for many decades....now disappearing) knowledge that the original 357 mag. load was 158 gr. swc with a copper check, 15.3 "ish" grains of 2400. Giving a velocity of 1550'ish' in an 8 inch revolver. I've ran that load in all of my rugers for years. ..(It usually runs a tad over 1500 fps in a 6 inch and gets quite a bit slower with shorter barrels...and MUCH higher in a marlin). I tried the H110 loads (my go to powder for 44 mag) but it seemed I just gained a lot of boom and flash but not really anything in the velocity dept..(and I always had to come up w/magnum primers).,
RECENTLY, I have been working loads up for Ramshot Enforcer. (Powders are in short supply and I have about 12# of enforcer...and Enforcer seems like it should be an extremely good powder for mag handguns. According to my chrony.. I am ending up with wannabe loads like the ones I used to buy at Walmart back in the day. Since Enforcer (4100) began it's life only 25 or 30 years ago,..there is probably no data out there that isn't watered down. So,.. I find myself thinking a program like Quickload might be of some benefit. Anybody out there have quickload, and does it include "Enforcer" (and for that matter "HS7")? I have read that there are powders "missing" from quickload, but I cannot find a list anywhere.

(If any of you want to have the argument about magnums being "de-rated" or not,.. please have it in another discussion....or show me where there is still availability of 357 mag. 158's @ 1550 ish fps. (or 44 mag 240's @ 1575 fps).)

(For the record, I have been looking for an original (dark green box) of 44 mags. so I can do a pull down. I've never found a pull down of the original 44 mag ammo on any chatboard. My guess is it is 23 gr. of 2400.. but I only think that because VERY EARLY handload data has that load.) I would guess that everybody involved in that early load has long since died so how would you know without pulling down an original cartridge. My go to for 44 mag is H110...so it is more of a curiosity thing for me.
 

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Yes, QuickLOAD has all the Ramshot powders. There is a learning curve for the program. Typically, and especially with straight wall cases, I find it tends to produce more velocity for a given peak pressure than matches published test barrel results. In other words, it tends to underestimate peak pressure when velocity is accurate and overestimate velocity when pressure is accurate. But not in every case. So you want some measured pressure and velocity numbers from the manufacturer to compare to and learn to tweak the software's arguments to get a matching result to calibrate the powder model to the powder used in the pressure tests made by the manufacturer (or another agent).

I am aware some loads of some powders have been dropped because the adoption of full graphical pressure data has revealed pressure anomalies in some combinations. Also, a lot of old load manual data was developed without actual pressure measuring, instead, relying on pressure signs that really only apply to the particular combination of the gun and components used. A lot of that old data turned out to exceed SAAMI numbers after lawyers finally convinced the load manual authors that at least their top loads should be measured.

I don't know of any actual specification derating (current SAAMI values are unchanged from the 1993 standard), but what is printed on the boxes can be deceiving because SAAMI has two 357 Magnum standard test barrels for manufacturers to choose from. One is a 4" vented barrel (this simulates a 4" revolver barrel with a 0.008" barrel-to-cylinder gap and barrel length measured from the gap forward) and the other is a 10" single-shot pistol style barrel with barrel length measured from the breech end and with no vent or gap. So you have to know which one a manufacturer used. These days, the shorter revolver barrel is the most common choice.

The SAAMI standard velocity for the 4" vented barrel for both lead and jacketed 158-grain bullets is 1220 fps, while the same loads in the 10" barrel are 1545 fps for lead bullets and 1600 fps for jacketed bullets. All numbers are ±90 fps, which does give manufacturers a bit of leeway. Also, the SAAMI standard is a voluntary standard, so manufacturers are free to ignore it if they choose to, as with "youth" loads for rifles, for example. Anyway, you have to know which barrel was used to set the velocity in both cases before you can compare an older commercial loading with a current one.

The second fly in the ointment is the load manuals don't use the SAAMI pressure numbers the same way a manufacturer does. Where a manufacturer uses the SAAMI MAP (Maximum Average {peak} Pressure) as an actual average he can load to if he needs to do that to meet the standard velocity range, data for handloaders use it as an upper limit for the highest peak pressure observed within in a sample of ten rounds. This is done because a manufacturer has a pressure barrel and access to SAAMI reference loads for calibrating pressure instrumentation, where most handloaders have to rely on recipes for powders whose burn rate varies some from lot to lot. Because of this, where maximum load pressures are published with the data, the maximum charges don't all have the same pressure value. The ones listed with higher maximum pressure values were the ones that exhibited the least peak pressure variation during testing. Handload data ignores the SAAMI standard velocities because of this and because of their need to publish data that lets handloaders use powders they have on hand even when they are sub-optimal. The bottom line is, handloader data will generally be lower in pressure and velocity than some commercial loads reach.

Pulling down old loads makes for some historical interest, but cannot be counted on to apply to modern versions of the same powders. A number of powder manufacturing process changes have occurred over the years and there has been elimination of some chemical constituents in favor of others, so you pretty much have to rig your own pressure test barrel (using the Pressure Trace instrument, usually) and compare to commercial loads that function the way you want to see if you are running hotter or not.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I'm probably going to get Quickload. Or at least make an attempt to talk myself into it. It's expensive, but I guess people deserve to get paid for coming up with something like that. I had read somewhere that they had taken some powders out,..and I was worried that one might be something I want, but the only two I can think of right now are HS7 and Enforcer. Referring to de-rating by Saami. I was not referring to 1993 at all. More like 1970.ish..and I wasn't referring to saami, but rather the actual ammo. . As far as 2400 is concerned,..I've shot every 2400 powder (but not from when you could buy it in a paper bag..if that actually happened) (that I am aware of) and my chrony has never noticed much of a difference. The old cardboard containers, the old square steel tins, and the more modern ones also. I think I actually called someone at Alliant ten or twenty years ago and I believe he (might have been a she....I used to call them once in a while when I was younger and had energy) said that there was no significant changes,..not any more than a batch to batch consistency type of thing. But I think with 2400 that's been hashed over enough that people know it's not going to differ more than batch to batch. Lawyers make them change part #s and names when burn rate changes. Somebody at Aliant told me that they put a flash suppressant in Unique or Power Pistol (I can't remember which,..but it was a popular powder),..and it changed the burn rate,..so they gave it a new name and made data for it. I think that was BE86 but I can't remember.

Oh, and I think what I am realizing...the original 357 mag guns. The strength of the guns stayed the same and did not go down just because SAAMI did some pressure testing and said "hey...your guns are stronger than you think..by our calculations". My understanding is that even today,..REPUTABLE mfgrs. routinely check exactly what point their cylinders will blow up at..as they did in the past..and give themselves a huge safety margin. The pressure seems to be reported more as a courtesy.

Is it just a co-incidence that 357 ammo was largely neutered around the same era that certain mfgrs. started selling 357 mags. that were really just beefed up 38 specials? Follow the money and the profit.

I have settled (for the time being) on 15.1 ish grains of Enforcer/4100 for my 158 gas checks. They run nicely. Yesterday evening my chrony was reading around 1370ish in a 6 inch ruger., as opposed to 15.0 of 2400 getting me about 5 fps less, and H110 @ 16.7 gr. getting me about the same. Battery may have been low or something,..Those 2400 and H110 loads usually chrony closer to 1500 fps. in a 6".. Yesterday was cloudy so I didn't use the screens. Maybe that had something to do with it. My last previously recorded velocities were April 4th, and in a 4 inch ruger I was at 1450ish fps. Yesterday I thought one of my sensors had dirt or something on it (error reading),..and I wiped it down..I may have pushed to hard.

OK, I'm going to try to talk myself (and my wife) into that software
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Enforcer is in my version, but HS-7 is not, although I probably bought it at least ten years ago and haven't updated (it does have HS-6 so likely the later updates will suit you just fine). Still, it is a predictive model, and only as good as the data given. You have to really make sure you are getting case capacity, OAL, bullet dimensions, etc., exactly right. And if you create your own bullet profiles, which isn't all that hard to do, make sure you have the start pressure correct for the bullet type. And so on. It takes a while to sort it all out.

A huge wrench in all this is the typical freebore that revolvers have. This has the effect of (to a certain extent) increasing the usable case volume, like freebore in a Weatherby or many European cartridges does. I don't know how to compensate for that. My experience is, for what it's worth, that heavy-for-caliber bullets tend to match the velocity predictions much better, for revolvers. So, if you are going to put stock in the program, I'd start with the heavier bullets that you can come up with. Someone else may have a different experience, though, so don't just take my word for it. You're going to have to spend a little time with the chronograph.

Last, you may be well correct that smaller, lighter .357s drove some of the reworking of pressure limits.... but that may not have been the only factor. Consider that the basic S&W design just didn't handle the battering of recoil all that well. The silhouette shooters found that out in a hurry. The "weekend warrior" who put maybe a box or two of cartridges through the gun in a year, or a decade, wasn't battering the guns to death. The serious target shooters were.

In addition to that, the CUP system that the .357 was developed under turned out to be notoriously unreliable. The 1970-ish revamping of pressure data pretty well was about the time that piezo-electric transducers, and strain gauge systems, started to be more available (cheaper, anyway). Plenty of reloading manuals were published before that without any pressure-testing at all. So maybe SAAMI could have set the PSI limit a little higher; I can only imagine the eyebrows raised when pressure testing started to get done with something besides CUP in the industry. Yes..... some guns could handle the earlier, hotter loads without being battered to death. And some could not. The industry clearly had to do something. I am free to load my New Model Blackhawk to what I want, but absolutely have no intention of torching off the same rounds in my lightweight .357, or 3-screw .357 either.

Just some thoughts.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
HS7 is the equivalent of winchester 571 (if I remember the number correctly they are the exact same powder,...like 296 and H110). That's about all I can find out about it..other that it's in the old load data books fairly often. Other than wheelguns, I shoot 10mm quite often and HS7 is a really good match for that. Not much out there with HS7 and 10mm, I was hoping the software would take up the slack. I'm just shooting medium to low loads with the HS7 and 10mm until I can find some data................or until I cave in and buy the software. It sure sounds complicated using that software. I was thinking it would be simple, but from what you've said,..it's anything but simple.

Talk about old hot loads.... I have a couple really old load manuals, and I think there are some 38 special loads listed that are about equal to white box loads from walmart..I mean, nowhere near what they are today. I do not own a smith 357. Everything 357 I have is Ruger,..except for a Rossi Snubby. It's easy to pack, but nowhere near as strong as the 2 3/4" Rugers. There used to be a powder co. called Alcan,..and they made powders that were listed in many of the old load books. I've never seen a can of Alcan that I can remember.
 

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571/HS7 was discontinued. I don't recall QuickLOAD ever having either, and I've been using the program for about 20 years. The powders that make it into the database are purchased and tested in a vivacity bomb by the author, so what gets into the database depends on his being able to buy the powder and test it in Germany. It has only gotten bigger over time, that I can recall. There are some omissions, like the IMR SR powders and 700X and 800X. The author explained he had found those varied so much over time as their sources changed that he wasn't comfortable including a representation of them because it could wind up too different from a current version.

Winchester 572 is in about the right place on the relative burn rate charts to be close to 571, but I certainly wouldn't trust the same load data to be right without careful testing.

It's good to have it confirmed that 2400 has remained constant. Bullseye has been, as well. The next trick will be to try to learn if SAAMI changed anything. They keep paper records of their old standards, but they have to go look them up if someone requests them. They were never been posted online before the early '90s standards. Another approach might be reading through Elmer Keith's stuff to see if he mentions the loads he developed for the 357 Magnum cartridge back in the '30s. I've only read a couple of his books and don't recall that information, specifically, but it may be available somewhere.

For a look at how imprecise the old copper crusher system was, here's a table published in the 1993 standard showing how reference load pressure is determined by averaging results from several test facilities. This is the same lot of 30 Carbine reference ammunition tested by nine different facilities by copper crusher. Note how much the pressure measurements vary (23%) as compared to how much more consistent the velocity measurements are (3.5%). Also note how much the pressure SD varies, as that's an indication of the consistency of the ballistic technician running the test. The Remington, Ilion test has nearly twice the pressure SD allowed for by SAAMI (4% for centerfire rifle). The calibration would have been tarage tables supplied by the copper slug supplier.

101572


Some of the past hotter commercial loads could have been due to poor pressure measurements, on top of everything else.
 
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Technology has changed over the past century, as has liability. What was deemed safe 87 years ago using primitive 19th century measurement devices may not be considered safe when using modern technology. As discussed above, considering how things are measured as well as the plethora of wildly different firearms so chambered, it is no wonder that current .357 Magnum data is lower than it once was. Trying to duplicate reported mid-20th century factory ballistics is likely an exercise in frustration. I know the OP doesn’t want to hear this, but facts....



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I've loaded a few pretty warm loads over the years with 158 gr. cast and jacketed. Also some 193 gr. cast. I know that 16.0 gr. 2400 and CCI 550 with 158 gr. is warm. It ejected easy and no flattened or cratered primers but, was not fun to shoot.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Yes, unfortunately, the claimed velocities from manufacturers can be a bit suspect. Nobody knew any different till chronographs got cheap!
 

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Some were fired into ballistic pendulums, some into pairs of discs on a rotating synchronous motor, and many used the old electromechanical devices. The military had one since the '30s or so which was a vacuum tube device using what amounted to metal detector coils as the start and stop screens. The coils didn't locate the bullets very precisely, so they put them fifty yards apart with the start screen at one yard. This put the midpoint at 26 yards (78 feet), which is why a lot of military velocities are given for that distance. But they averaged the velocity for the TOF between screens, and over that distance, the non-linearity of velocity drop just starts to show, so these were always off the actual 78-foot velocity by a couple of feet per second. Also, I think the TOF timer was electromechanical as well like the one GE built for Ed McGivern to try to make quick-draw records with. To read a hundredth of a second accurately with these devices would be a challenge. Modern equipment is much better.
 
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