Handgun Reloading Tips

beerbucksducks

Beginner
Dec 1, 2014
139
0
Hey guys,
I have always received sound information from the members here and appreciate the amount of knowledge present. With that said I wanted to reach out here for any tips you guys may have for starting to load for hand gun cartridges. Here is a little background info.

I have loaded for my hunting rifles for years and have a solid grasp on reloading safe and accurate ammunition. I have never attempted to load any handgun chamberings. In the past I have shot mostly 38 special, 9mm and 40 S&W. All of which shot factory ammo. I recently filled out the paperwork on a Ruger SP101 357 Magnum with a 3 inch barrel. Background checks here are out 4 weeks currently, which has given me too much time to think. This gun will be my all around side arm for the woods. I would like to learn to load for it and produce an accurate woods load with coated hard cast bullets. I have purchased some 158 grain coated cast bullets, lil gun, and federal small pistol mag primers.

I am hoping to get some tips or advice from you guys on anything you think I should know going in or any differences in the loading process compared to rifles. I appreciate any advice you may have to offer!


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
21
Biggest difference is straight wall vs bottle neck. Usually carbide dies don’t need lube for resizing... so that’s a big time saver.

I like some of the simple progressives, especially for rounds like 45acp which are expensive to buy, but cheap to reload. Your new 357mag sounds like a good one to load.

I would buy 9mm unless you are really trying to win competitions. You can nearly buy it for what you can make it.
I make money shooting 45 and 44. Last time I did the math, I can load 45 or 44 for about 22 cents a round. The bullet being the most expensive component.

Don’t go too crazy on trying powders. You will really only need one or two.


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flyingagg

Beginner
Dec 16, 2019
140
37
I used to reload a lot for 357 . I had great luck with 2400 when loading JHP. I can't fine my notebook to see what I used for cast bullets. Next to the 9mm, the 357 is my favorite sidearm
 

beerbucksducks

Beginner
Dec 1, 2014
139
0
I believe my grandpa still has standard RCBS dies I will probably use. If they are not carbide, I would assume I still use case lube?

Also, is reloading data fairly universal for like weight bullets? Meaning, can I use a starting load for a 158 grain JHP with 158 grain coat cast? Does normal cast data differ from coated?


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
21
Cast and jacketed will be different.

All loads are light compared to rifle.

I used about 10 grains in my 44 mags and 4 in my 38’s. I think 45 ACP was about 4.9.

I get to start over as I lost gear and notes in a flood. Metering light powder loads is a pita. I was just starting to use a new to me powder, I think it was accurate #5, and it metered better than any flake powder. I think it was spherical.

You’ll want a good powder drop if you plan to do lots of pistol loads.

Ie if you shoot a 100 rounds a day, get a good progressive.


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beerbucksducks

Beginner
Dec 1, 2014
139
0
mjcmichigan":1wh2bufm said:
Cast and jacketed will be different.

All loads are light compared to rifle.

I used about 10 grains in my 44 mags and 4 in my 38’s. I think 45 ACP was about 4.9.

I get to start over as I lost gear and notes in a flood. Metering light powder loads is a pita. I was just starting to use a new to me powder, I think it was accurate #5, and it metered better than any flake powder. I think it was spherical.

You’ll want a good powder drop if you plan to do lots of pistol loads.

Ie if you shoot a 100 rounds a day, get a good progressive.


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Ok, thank you for your help. Right now I am just planning to load my “woods load” and buy practice loads for the time being. I have a single stage press so I won’t be cranking out too much volume.


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
21
beerbucksducks":1nqg5c5w said:
Hey guys,
I have always received sound information from the members here and appreciate the amount of knowledge present. With that said I wanted to reach out here for any tips you guys may have for starting to load for hand gun cartridges. Here is a little background info.

I have loaded for my hunting rifles for years and have a solid grasp on reloading safe and accurate ammunition. I have never attempted to load any handgun chamberings. In the past I have shot mostly 38 special, 9mm and 40 S&W. All of which shot factory ammo. I recently filled out the paperwork on a Ruger SP101 357 Magnum with a 3 inch barrel. Background checks here are out 4 weeks currently, which has given me too much time to think. This gun will be my all around side arm for the woods. I would like to learn to load for it and produce an accurate woods load with coated hard cast bullets. I have purchased some 158 grain coated cast bullets, lil gun, and federal small pistol mag primers.

I am hoping to get some tips or advice from you guys on anything you think I should know going in or any differences in the loading process compared to rifles. I appreciate any advice you may have to offer!


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So, you mentioned side arm in the woods. Is that for plinking? Or do you have other concerns like grizzlies bears or sows with cubs ... I can think of a few worst things. I’ve seen cast bullets punch straight through if they are too hard.

I do carry a 357 mag as a back up side arm, some times a 44mag, and sometimes a 9mm. Depends what I think might be in the woods with me. The 44 alternates solids and HP. The 9’s I have HP with a plastic tip.

Single stage press is fine for 357. Should be a great shooter for you!


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beerbucksducks

Beginner
Dec 1, 2014
139
0
I am talking a side arm for protection from 2 and 4 legged predators while scouting and archery hunting. I am in Washington state, so main predators are cougar and black bear, but we do have some grizzlies around. Grizzlies are the main reason I was thinking hard cast. I know the 357 isn’t ideal for grizzlies but figured with hard cast bullets it would be a better alternative to my 9mm. I am not sure the bullets I purchased are suited for the magnum loads with “lil gun” as the only data I am finding with this powder is JHP data.


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
21
You should be fine with that firearm and cartridge. I bear hunt alone in upper Michigan. The 357 handles most situations. The wolf packs pushed me to carry a clip loaded gun. Black bear and cougar, the 357 works. Buffalo bore makes a heavy 357, but I think you can load better.


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beerbucksducks

Beginner
Dec 1, 2014
139
0
Sounds good! Thank you for the help. Any other ideas or advice is greatly appreciated!


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beerbucksducks

Beginner
Dec 1, 2014
139
0
5shot":veuod4ru said:
I'm just on the North side...if you want some help, let me know.
Thank you for the offer! I may take you up on that once I get the gun and gather everything I need.


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mjcmichigan

Handloader
Dec 26, 2016
2,263
21
Yes on the case lube for non-carbide sizer dies. Consider not tumbling the cases until after resized. Gets all the lube off the case. Neck tension is most reliable on clean cases. (Spray lubes can get in the case.)

I prefer imperial wax on my rifle dies. My pistol dies are carbide.


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Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,466
736
I load quite a few 38 specials, well, not a lot compared to real revolver guys...

Used to load a lot of 357 magnums, but now just load my 38 Special practice ammo with cast lead bullets. Want a real eye-opener about handgun accuracy, load some soft lead hollow-base wadcutters over a modest charge of Bullseye... Oh good grief! But I digress. Sorry. Good small game load too. Ooops, digressing again. It really is a very pleasant 38 special load, and one that will teach excellent marksmanship.

Re the 357's - I just don't shoot enough of them to load them very often anymore. When I do, I usually stick with a 158 grain cast semi-wadcutter.

There are some great 357 mag factory loads available. Back in 2012 I posted here about the Remington 158 grain JHP ammo, which produced 1237 fps from my 2.5" S&W Model 19, and blasted through 4 one-gallon jugs... I was impressed. Never did get around to testing it again, like I was going to. I don't think I'd want to take on a grizzly with it, but beats picking up a stick or a rock.
7V6Qj96l.jpg


Here's a link to that test: viewtopic.php?f=54&t=18216

Buffalo Bore produces a 180 grain cast flat point load that they advertise at 1,400 fps, and over 700 ft lbs of energy. :shock:

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l ... list&c=162

I'm not sure that I want to shoot that stuff from my 2.5" Model 19, but wow... Of note, they claim 1300 fps from a 3" 357 mag revolver... Buffalo Bore also makes other stout 38 and 357 ammo, intended for use against bears and the like.

Had a conversation some time ago with a fellow who had killed over 200 black bears. He was a professional trapper/hunter here in Washington state. Said that he started shooting them with heavy cast bullets, but switched to jacketed hollow points for more immediate results. I was surprised as I was a fan of of heavy hard cast bullets for revolvers.

*Disclaimer - I've only seen one black bear killed with a revolver - it had been wounded by a rifle hunter. My buddy and I tracked it and he shot it at about 4 yards with a 300+ grain cast lead bullet from his 44 magnum. That worked really well.

So... There's a lot out there before settling on a load. I think that for me, at this point in my life, I'm going to keep on loading relatively gentle 38 loads for practice, and have a few studly 357 mag loads for when it matters.

Of late I've been doing a lot of hiking, all of it in bear country here in Chelan County, and I'm carrying my 357 Model 19, with 145 grain Silvertip hollow points. I'm more concerned about meth freaks than I am about wild animals, but whatever, I think the 357 is likely "enough" for my purposes. If I know I'm in grizzly country, I hike with the 44 revolver. Absolutely.
eJfLOBdl.jpg


Regards, Guy
 

Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,466
736
BTW - on grizzlies - I've only shot one. That hunt remains clear in my mind.

I missed the first shot at about 40 - 50 yards, with my trusted 30-06 rifle. Missed him clean. My bad.

About 30-40 yards, bear was moving quickly, heading downhill, diagonally. I shot at the near-side leg/shoulder and broke the leg. The 200 grain Nosler Partition with 2600 fps muzzle velocity penetrated into the chest cavity. The bear fell almost instantly. About the same time that I'd worked the bolt and got back on target... The bear was up again. Another poor shot, then the guide joined in with his 338 Win Mag and Barnes 225's. We made a couple of good hits, a couple of poor hits and I was out of ammo with the bear on the dirt again at about 15 yards. A second good hit with the 30-06 had dropped him, and he was hurt badly enough that he wasn't getting up. Well, not yet anyway. I can't say he charged us, we were moving towards him and he was moving towards us, closing the gap. As I was reaching into my pocket for more ammo, the guide handed me his 338 Win Mag and I used that to finish the bear while he was there on the tundra.

Then I think I took my first breath in about 30 seconds.

So... my impression of grizzly, this was an interior grizzly, not a huge coastal Alaskan brown bear, is that they can be very, very tough. Have to admit that I'm not a big fan of the idea of using a handgun on one, though no doubt it has been done.

Dr. Mike, Gerry, and others here on the forum have far more experience with grizzlies than I have.

Black bears are enough challenge for me I think. I'd like to take one with my 44 revolver. :grin:

This post was just to inject what little grizzly experience I have into the discussion.

Regards, Guy
 

beerbucksducks

Beginner
Dec 1, 2014
139
0
Thanks Guy! I think I am on the same page as you with loading 38 special practice loads and then loading up the heavier 357 mag loads for the the woods.

I just noticed the cast bullets I bought are 150s not 158s. I think I will load these in 38 brass as practice loads and pick up some heavier 170-180 class bullets to load with the lil gun. It seems that lil gun is supposed to shine with the heavies.

I completely agree on not wanting to tackle a grizzly with a handgun, but I think A 180 out of the 357 will give me more comfort than a 148 out of the 9 while hunting and scouting NE WA.

Alternate question, is crimping important with revolver loads? I have never crimped my rifle ammo and am wondering if it is necessary with revolver loads?


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Guy Miner

Master Loader
Apr 6, 2006
16,466
736
Many revolver bullets have a crimp groove in them. A good roll crimp into that crimp groove will help keep the bullets from "jumping" forward during recoil and potentially tying up the revolver.

I learned that one via experience, 'cause like you, I hadn't needed to crimp my rifle loads, but whoo-wee, YES, I needed to crimp my heavy kicking revolver loads.

A lightly crimped bullet did indeed tie up my revolver. That could be bad with the bear chewing on a leg. :shock:

I recommend building a few dummy rounds without powder or primer, to get that good roll crimp. Some folks like to apply the roll crimp in a separate operation after seating the bullet. Some folks are able to set the die to produce a good crimp when seating the bullet. Either way can work just fine.

BTW, with semi-auto pistols, a mere "taper crimp" is used, so that the 45 ACP can headspace on the case mouth. Kinda. :wink:

Guy
 
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