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Old 03-06-2011, 03:48 PM
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Default What Exactly Is a "Hot Load"?

Just joined this forum and the ranks of a handgun owner.... so pardon me if this seems like a stupid question to all you veteran shooters out there but I'm not exactly sure what a "hot Load" is or means.... and why anyone would want to shoot this type of ammo?

I have a S&W .38+P/.357 so would a "hot load" in my gun be a .38+P+??

Maybe this is a bit simplistic but if you want to shoot more powerful ammo....why not just buy a bigger gun?
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Old 03-06-2011, 03:58 PM
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It has no definite meaning. Some say "hot load" refering to a max load for a particular cartridge that is still safe and within limits. Others would say a "hot" load is one that is over maximum and bordering on unsafe.

Stretching what you have instead of just buying a bigger gun is one of the benefits of handloading. The "hot load" bug is mostly centered around the magnum handgun cartridges for some reason. I guess some of us are just recoil junkies...

To me, a "hot load" for your gun would be a .357 case with a 125gr JHP and a max charge of H110/W296. Still safe, but it's definitely going to wake you up when you touch one off, especially from a short barrel.
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Old 03-06-2011, 04:15 PM
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Thanks. So I am guessing .357 ammo that is 158 grain is really going to pack a punch.
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Old 03-06-2011, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon88 View Post
It has no definite meaning. Some say "hot load" refering to a max load for a particular cartridge that is still safe and within limits. Others would say a "hot" load is one that is over maximum and bordering on unsafe.

Stretching what you have instead of just buying a bigger gun is one of the benefits of handloading. The "hot load" bug is mostly centered around the magnum handgun cartridges for some reason. I guess some of us are just recoil junkies...

To me, a "hot load" for your gun would be a .357 case with a 125gr JHP and a max charge of H110/W296. Still safe, but it's definitely going to wake you up when you touch one off, especially from a short barrel.
I want to second this and add that I personally stay away from such ammo. I see no need to stress my guns. Like you add at the last part, I will buy a bigger gun If I need more bang. But handloading can be done safely with some hotter loads for a person's own reasoning. For me, handloading is about cost savings, not worrying over the shortages as much, and making ammo tailored to my gun that increases accuracy.
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Old 03-06-2011, 05:38 PM
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Originally Posted by LadySmithShooter View Post
Thanks. So I am guessing .357 ammo that is 158 grain is really going to pack a punch.
Yes, kinda. To me even the hottest 357 load isn't unmanageable, but I shoot 44 magnum a lot. In 357, a 158 gr load will have a stronger felt recoil in the hand. A 125gr under the right powder will have less felt recoil, but a whole lot of flash and a very loud report.

Both can put down some serious energy on target, again with the right load. The 158gr bullet will have the edge on penetration.
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:01 PM
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I have noticed over the years some factory loads just seem a lot hotter to me. Since I don't have a chronograph this is all subjective. They just produce a lot more recoil and muzzle blast. I have noticed it mostly with .357 Magnums. Some 125 Grn loads have a lot more recoil than the 158 Grn ones, at least in my guns. They are considered some of the most effective loads in this caliber.
By the way, the only stupid question is one you don't ask. At least that's what I always heard, but I never asked about it.
Welcome to the forum.
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:14 PM
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Also in reloading a "hot" load may be one that is in the safe are as listed in the reloading manuals but is too hot for your gun. If you get flattened primers ot other signs of too high pressure then that load is too hot for your firearm even if it listed as safe in the manual.
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:19 PM
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I shoot factory ammo but have seen more than a few guns damaged due to hot handloads. Using them is not going to jusitfy ruining an expensive gun or injurying my wonderful overweight body.
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:29 PM
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When I started reloading in the mid-1960s Hot loads were quite common , just start at max and work up. They batter the heck out of the gun and don't accomplish much more. A few cartridges that had to be removed with brass rods convinced me that max meant max. Accuracy also suffers not to mention safety. In loading you can make enough minor errors that can cause problems without using too much powder. Just changing bullets of the same weight can cause enough grief. All jacked bullets are not of the same construction. Most bullet companies have websites that can give guidance. Heaven help you if you load Barnes lead free without their data.
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Old 03-06-2011, 06:39 PM
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We can define it any number of ways. Any load that approaches maximum in the loading manuals is a hot load. Once the load reaches or exceeds max, its probably too hot.

And any load that shows pressure signs is hot. I say too hot, but what do I know. If the case is hard to extract (or won't), if the primers are protruding or flattened, if the case just forward of the rim has expanded, if the case necks are splitting in otherwise good condition brass.

The goal of handloading is to make safe and economical loads. When you push that beyond what factory loads deliver, its at least hot, probably too hot.
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Old 03-06-2011, 07:17 PM
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Thanks to all of you who posted. Very good information. I was worried about shooting ammo that might damage my gun. The guys in the gun shops/supply stores have been pretty nice but not necessarily as knowledgable as I expected. I couldn't seem to get a straight answer on grain. I guess it can be pretty complicated and difficult to know everything about every gun. Thanks again.
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Old 03-06-2011, 10:16 PM
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If you have a fairly modern revolver that is in good condition I certainly wouldn't worry about harming it with factory ammunition from reputable companies. Especially if you plan to shoot .38 Special loads in a .357 Magnum. Some posters have mentioned handloads, but I get the impression you won't be using them, if so that's a whole different story.
The "grains" we talk about are referring to bullet weight. Powder is measured in grains too, but I think you are being confused by our references to 125 Grn and 158 Grn. We are talking about how heavy the bullet is. That will clearly be marked on the boxes of factory ammo. I would not be concerned about this as far as safety in factory ammo. It is an important consideration when deciding on which load is most effective for hunting or self defense, and there is a lot of information out there about that, and of course we would be glad to help you figure it out.
At any rate, don't worry too much about harming your gun with good factory loads. You could probably wear it out with thousands of rounds fired, but I doubt you're gonna break it.
All the best.
Jim
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Old 03-07-2011, 02:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadySmithShooter View Post
.........I have a S&W .38+P/.357 so would a "hot load" in my gun be a .38+P+??..........
The term "hot Load" has different meanings to different people and in different aplications, so let's use the term "Muzzle Energy", which is defined as
(Bullet Weight in grains) X (Muzzle Velocity in feet per seond) Squared / 450,411. (By the way --- 1 pound = 7,000 grains)

In an order of increasing muzzle energy, the ammunition your revolver will fire is: .38Spl, .38Spl+P, .38Apl+P+ and .357Mag.

A typical .38Spl will have about 310 ft-lb of Muzzle Energy while a .357Mag will have about 550 ft-lb, and the other two fall somewhere in between.

The higher the Muzzle Energy, the greater the recoil. However, the heavier bullet doesn't necessarily have the highest Muzzle Energy because bullet weight is a linear function while velocity is exponential and lighter bullets tend to leave the barrel at a higher velocity than heavier ones do.

If you want low recoil ammo to practice with, use low velocity ammo, regardless of bullet weight.

Don't worry about asking questions, we all had to learn this stuff also and it takes time, but the fog eventually clears

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Old 03-07-2011, 07:36 PM
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If you have a fairly modern revolver that is in good condition I certainly wouldn't worry about harming it with factory ammunition from reputable companies. Especially if you plan to shoot .38 Special loads in a .357 Magnum. Some posters have mentioned handloads, but I get the impression you won't be using them, if so that's a whole different story.
The "grains" we talk about are referring to bullet weight. Powder is measured in grains too, but I think you are being confused by our references to 125 Grn and 158 Grn. We are talking about how heavy the bullet is. That will clearly be marked on the boxes of factory ammo. I would not be concerned about this as far as safety in factory ammo. It is an important consideration when deciding on which load is most effective for hunting or self defense, and there is a lot of information out there about that, and of course we would be glad to help you figure it out.
At any rate, don't worry too much about harming your gun with good factory loads. You could probably wear it out with thousands of rounds fired, but I doubt you're gonna break it.
All the best.
Jim



Thanks Jim. You are correct about that. I don't believe I will be using handloads. The gun is new and I have practiced with the .38+P ammo but I would like to feel just as comfortable with the .357, also, that little extra space left in each chamber when I shoot .38 ammo can be tough to clean. Thanks again.

Brenda
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Old 03-07-2011, 07:53 PM
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The term "hot Load" has different meanings to different people and in different aplications, so let's use the term "Muzzle Energy", which is defined as
(Bullet Weight in grains) X (Muzzle Velocity in feet per seond) Squared / 450,411. (By the way --- 1 pound = 7,000 grains)

In an order of increasing muzzle energy, the ammunition your revolver will fire is: .38Spl, .38Spl+P, .38Apl+P+ and .357Mag.

A typical .38Spl will have about 310 ft-lb of Muzzle Energy while a .357Mag will have about 550 ft-lb, and the other two fall somewhere in between.

The higher the Muzzle Energy, the greater the recoil. However, the heavier bullet doesn't necessarily have the highest Muzzle Energy because bullet weight is a linear function while velocity is exponential and lighter bullets tend to leave the barrel at a higher velocity than heavier ones do.

If you want low recoil ammo to practice with, use low velocity ammo, regardless of bullet weight.

Don't worry about asking questions, we all had to learn this stuff also and it takes time, but the fog eventually clears

John
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Thanks John. I guess I should have paid closer attention to those physics classes in college. It would have been great if they had a range with guns to demonstrate the concept......now that would have been total hands-on learning.

I've decided I'm going to shoot a high grain and a low grain and see how each feels. I'm actually quit a small person but I have no problem with the .38+P recoil. Will keep you posted.

Thanks again.

Brenda
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Old 03-07-2011, 08:08 PM
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Brenda,
What revolver do you have? Also, is it just a shooter or a self defense gun?
Details, we need details!
Jim

Last edited by P&R Fan; 03-07-2011 at 08:14 PM.
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Old 03-07-2011, 11:27 PM
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If you want some 158 gr 357 loads that aren't full power, but are in 357 cases (no scrubbing the carbon ring like a 38 sp round), look for 357 ammo loaded with lead bullets instead of jacketed bullets..

There are factory lead loads that clock about 1,000 fps, which is at or just above 38 sp +P level. Should work great in your gun and be pleasant to shoot.
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Old 03-08-2011, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LadySmithShooter View Post
..........Thanks John. I guess I should have paid closer attention to those physics classes in college. It would have been great if they had a range with guns to demonstrate the concept......now that would have been total hands-on learning.

I've decided I'm going to shoot a high grain and a low grain and see how each feels. I'm actually quit a small person but I have no problem with the .38+P recoil. Will keep you posted.

Thanks again.

Brenda
Brenda,

I suspect you did a "cut&paste" for your last couple of replies, which is fine, but it's easier to click on the Quote button at the bottom right of the post you want to reply to and the posted message is automatically transferred to the reply window you type in. You can then delete extraneous parts of the "quote", change colors and/or fonts for emphasis. etc. Just be sure not to delete/modify the first and/or last sets of brackets ("[" and "]") or it'll look a little strange when posted.

FWIW, I insert a series of periods (..........) when I delete portions of a "quote" as I did in your "quoted" post above.

Also FWIW, my wife doesn't like cleaning out the carbon ring when she fires .38spl in .357mag revolvers and prefers less recoil so she can shoot more without being sore the next day. I found some bulk .357 158gr LRNFP "Cowboy Loads" (800fps - 225 ft-lb Muzzle Energy - less than a typical .38spl) at a fairly reasonable price that she thinks is the best thing since sliced bread. She actually enjoys shooting full blown .357mag out of a snubbie (all steel - not an air-weight), but only takes a couple cylinders full before fun becomes more like work than fun and she either stops or switches to the milder stuff.

Try everything you can lay your hands on and Practice, Practice, Practice.
Eventually you'll find what suits you and your gun best, and most likely have a lot of fun finding out.

John
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Old 03-10-2011, 09:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P&R Fan View Post
Brenda,
What revolver do you have? Also, is it just a shooter or a self defense gun?
Details, we need details!
Jim
Ok Jim......I have a Lady Smith .357 mag and I love it....love it...love it.
Its a great concealed carry weapon and it gorgeous.

Brenda
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Old 03-10-2011, 09:55 PM
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Brenda,

I suspect you did a "cut&paste" for your last couple of replies, which is fine, but it's easier to click on the Quote button at the bottom right of the post you want to reply to and the posted message is automatically transferred to the reply window you type in. You can then delete extraneous parts of the "quote", change colors and/or fonts for emphasis. etc. Just be sure not to delete/modify the first and/or last sets of brackets ("[" and "]") or it'll look a little strange when posted.

FWIW, I insert a series of periods (..........) when I delete portions of a "quote" as I did in your "quoted" post above.

Also FWIW, my wife doesn't like cleaning out the carbon ring when she fires .38spl in .357mag revolvers and prefers less recoil so she can shoot more without being sore the next day. I found some bulk .357 158gr LRNFP "Cowboy Loads" (800fps - 225 ft-lb Muzzle Energy - less than a typical .38spl) at a fairly reasonable price that she thinks is the best thing since sliced bread. She actually enjoys shooting full blown .357mag out of a snubbie (all steel - not an air-weight), but only takes a couple cylinders full before fun becomes more like work than fun and she either stops or switches to the milder stuff.

Try everything you can lay your hands on and Practice, Practice, Practice.
Eventually you'll find what suits you and your gun best, and most likely have a lot of fun finding out.

John
Thank you for the tip John. I dont spend much time in forums or chat rooms....that type of thing.....so I don't navigate so well sometimes. I think this is a great forum but I struggle with sitting in a room on a computer talking to other people. I would rather be out and about "doing" in person. I do appreciate the fact that it is a great way to share information and bring people together that might not otherwise be able to talk.

What exactly is a cowboy load? I recently bought some .357 Mag 158 Grain to shoot cuz I really dont like the cleaning....and speaking of cleaning....what do you have to use to get your gun clean after those +P rounds. I tried the traditional stuff. Gun store gave me some stuff that smells like WD-40....it helped but man.....what a pain.....I spent 4 hours trying to get it clean and it still has rings.....they're lighter....but they're still there.

Brenda
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:00 PM
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Originally Posted by m1gunner View Post
If you want some 158 gr 357 loads that aren't full power, but are in 357 cases (no scrubbing the carbon ring like a 38 sp round), look for 357 ammo loaded with lead bullets instead of jacketed bullets..

There are factory lead loads that clock about 1,000 fps, which is at or just above 38 sp +P level. Should work great in your gun and be pleasant to shoot.
Really......humm. Someone told me not to shoot lead bullets cuz you have to clean even more. Wow this ammo stuff is really confusing....maybe I misunderstood. Maybe I confused it with more copper build up in the barrel and more cleaning....does that sound right?

Brenda
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Old 03-11-2011, 07:19 AM
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Brenda, the Cowboy Loads are usually Lead Flat Nosed loads that are loaded to very modest velocities. They were intended for use in cowboy matches and won't usually have the recoil that full power loads do. Check the ammunition companies out online and you can find them, or in a well stocked gun store.
For cleaning I'm a dinosaur and still use Hoppes #9 solvent. It works good, plus the smell alone is worth it. Ask anybody who was raised around guns, especially if they're middle aged or older, and they will tell you that smell brings back memories. For me it reminds me of my Dad and Grandpa. There are lots of cleaners on the market, but this is my favorite.
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Old 03-11-2011, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by LadySmithShooter View Post
Really......humm. Someone told me not to shoot lead bullets cuz you have to clean even more. Wow this ammo stuff is really confusing....maybe I misunderstood. Maybe I confused it with more copper build up in the barrel and more cleaning....does that sound right?

Brenda
You might get some leading, but it isn't difficult or expensive to clean up. A pad of "chore boy" copper pot scrubber will clean your revolver barrels for several thousand rounds. You just wrap some around an old bore brush, add some solvent , and the lead comes right out with a few passes.

To me, the biggest plus in shooting lead loads is less wear and tear on the barrel. It is near impossible to wear out a barrel shooting lead. Copper jacketed bullets are much harder on the gun. The second benifit is lower cost to shoot.
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Old 03-11-2011, 02:56 PM
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Originally Posted by LadySmithShooter View Post
...........
What exactly is a cowboy load? I recently bought some .357 Mag 158 Grain to shoot cuz I really dont like the cleaning....and speaking of cleaning....what do you have to use to get your gun clean after those +P rounds. I tried the traditional stuff. Gun store gave me some stuff that smells like WD-40....it helped but man.....what a pain.....I spent 4 hours trying to get it clean and it still has rings.....they're lighter....but they're still there.

Brenda
Like P&R Fan said, Cowboy Loads are loaded with less powder, so they have less recoil. They aren't much good for distance shooting, but neither is a snub nosed revolver and under 25 yards they have about the same accuracy as full power rounds.

If you cannot find any locally, this is what my wife used before I figured out how to reload them for her.
.357 Magnum 158gr Rd. Nose Flat Pt. 1000pk
(They come in quantities 50 and 100 also.)

As for cleaning, I'll probably get yelled at by other forum members, but I finish a range session by running a few FMJs through the guns I've been shooting lead through, give them a squirt of Kroil, CLP, or something similar and then I run a Bore-Snake though them while they're still warm followed by a wipe down with an oiled rag. At home I'll give them more thorough cleaning if they need it, but only if they need it.

Both lead and jacketed bullets can leave residue behind, but there are solvent for both and the clean up is fairly easy if you don't let the build-up to get too bad. A quick cleaning after each range session usually takes care of it. The Chore Boy trick mentioned by m1gunner will take care of a heavier build up, but let me add that running a bore mop soaked in solvent and letting it set for several minutes before running the strands of a Chore Boy pad wrapped around a bore mop helps. Also make sure it is copper, some of the scrub pads are copper coated steel, which could scratch your bore.

As for the rings of powder residue that form right before the cylinder diameter reduces down to the throat diameter when you shoot .38spl in a .357mag, they aren't a problem unless they are thick enough to hamper loading and extracting .357mag ammo. I use oversized bore mops and brushes to keep the rings in my .357mag revolvers to a mild roar, but I never use steel bore brushes.

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Old 03-11-2011, 03:48 PM
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Yes, kinda. To me even the hottest 357 load isn't unmanageable, but I shoot 44 magnum a lot. In 357, a 158 gr load will have a stronger felt recoil in the hand. A 125gr under the right powder will have less felt recoil, but a whole lot of flash and a very loud report.

Both can put down some serious energy on target, again with the right load. The 158gr bullet will have the edge on penetration.
If you get a bullet of any weight under the powder, you're going to get a bullet stuck in the barrel and a mess of loose powder.
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Old 03-11-2011, 04:27 PM
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A bore snake while the barrel is still warm will take care of most leading. IMHO if your barrel is leading more than what a bore snake can handle there are other issues you need to deal with (bullet size, composition, velocity etc...)
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:39 PM
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Originally Posted by JohnnieB View Post
Like P&R Fan said, Cowboy Loads are loaded with less powder, so they have less recoil. They aren't much good for distance shooting, but neither is a snub nosed revolver and under 25 yards they have about the same accuracy as full power rounds.

If you cannot find any locally, this is what my wife used before I figured out how to reload them for her.
.357 Magnum 158gr Rd. Nose Flat Pt. 1000pk
(They come in quantities 50 and 100 also.) Great.....thanks for the info...will check it out.

As for cleaning, I'll probably get yelled at by other forum members, but I finish a range session by running a few FMJs through the guns I've been shooting lead through, give them a squirt of Kroil, CLP, or something similar and then I run a Bore-Snake though them while they're still warm followed by a wipe down with an oiled rag. At home I'll give them more thorough cleaning if they need it, but only if they need it.

As for the rings of powder residue that form right before the cylinder diameter reduces down to the throat diameter when you shoot .38spl in a .357mag, they aren't a problem unless they are thick enough to hamper loading and extracting .357mag ammo. I use oversized bore mops and brushes to keep the rings in my .357mag revolvers to a mild roar, but I never use steel bore brushes. I took my gun to the gun supply store and they said the rings were ware and if I shop a few .357s thru it then they would disappear. Did that today and the rings are still there even after a thorough cleaning. Shooting seemed fine but extracting seemed a bit stickey in one chamber in particular. I also bruised the heck out of my hand. Tightened up my grip and it really helped but by then it was too late.....space between my thumb and index finger is purple. Ha ha......learned a lesson there.

John
Thanks for all the information.

Brenda
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Old 03-12-2011, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by P&R Fan View Post
Brenda, the Cowboy Loads are usually Lead Flat Nosed loads that are loaded to very modest velocities. They were intended for use in cowboy matches and won't usually have the recoil that full power loads do. Check the ammunition companies out online and you can find them, or in a well stocked gun store.
For cleaning I'm a dinosaur and still use Hoppes #9 solvent. It works good, plus the smell alone is worth it. Ask anybody who was raised around guns, especially if they're middle aged or older, and they will tell you that smell brings back memories. For me it reminds me of my Dad and Grandpa. There are lots of cleaners on the market, but this is my favorite.
Stick around and you'll learn a bunch of stuff. We're glad you're here.
Brenda

Definitely going to check those out. The base of my thumb is purple. Ha Ha...what a loser. I just wouldnt give up.....shot 50 rounds.....thought it was just sore.....didn't know it was bruising. I wont be slack'n on that grip next time.
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Load Request - .357 Magnum 170gr LSWC "Keith" JakeB Reloading 15 08-10-2010 01:31 AM
How long to get your "load up" promo mags from S&W? DavidRSA Smith & Wesson M&P15 Rifles 6 01-23-2010 10:37 PM
At what point does a "load" become a "Magnum"? Rule3 Reloading 18 08-31-2009 08:17 AM
Just watched Ermey on "lock n load," got a question... Len The Lounge 17 08-30-2009 03:41 PM

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