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Old 11-25-2010, 10:12 PM
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Default hot and accurate .357 loads for deer

I am planning on running my .357 686 6" on deer. It is topped with a leupold 2x. Right now I am running 11.7 grains of aa number 7 behind a 158 grain xtp. This combo gives me 1258 fps. It is really accurate however the bullet starts to drop alittle more than I would like beyond 65 yards.

My accurate manual says that 11.4 grains of this aa number 7 gave 1462 for velocity out of a 6 inch test barrel. I gather that this is just a barrel with no forcing cone area to love velocity at. Am I really losing 200 fps of velocity or do I just have a really slow batch of powder? Primers don't really look that bad and I don't have sticky extraction so can I just work up by 1/10th's like an over the book max rifle load?

Does anyone have a really hot load from an old reloading book that I could work up to. Or can anyone tell me which reloading book to look in.

I gather that a 158 grain bullet should penetrate a deer's shoulder and still expand if thrown through the ribs. Is that about right?
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Old 11-25-2010, 10:50 PM
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I have used a cast Lyman 358156, 158 gr. gas checked SWC over a near max charge of 2400 or A#9 on deer. I'm convinced that a cast bullet is best for me and the way I hunt, JHP of whatever extraction always seemed a poor use of resources(money). Another feature of cast is lower friction coefficient, consequently higher velocity, all other things being equal. If you don't cast your own check out Cast Performance Bullets. I have used them in bigger bore revolvers and Contenders and quite liked them, but they are pricey.
My opinion of your use of A#7 for 158 gr. bullets is that you would enhance your performance with a slightly slower powder in a 6" barrel, hence the 2400 or A#9.
Another factor from my side is that I've never used a S&W for the purpose you describe. I used Ruger, Taurus, Colt and 10" Contenders.
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Old 11-25-2010, 11:05 PM
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Instead of expecting to get higher velocity you are better off revising your expectations to what is reasonable. 1258 FPS from a jacketed 158 gr. bullet from a 6" barrel is about all that can be expected, and I say this after many years of chronographing .357 Magnum with many different propellants.

Depending on your gun, not the powder lot, you will see between 1200-1350 from a 6"barrel revolver. The only way to improve on this is to change to a cast bullet and you can gain about 100 FPS by doing nothing else.

Look at it from a practical standpoint. With your load and a 50 yd. zero range your drop at 100 yds will be ca. 5.4". Even if you could get velocity up to 1350 drop would still be ca. 4.7". The difference, .7", is about the diameter of your index finger if you have normal hands. Do you really believe this is going to make any practical difference at 100 yds? And at this distance bullet energy is down to ca. 400 '#, not even legal for Deer in many states!

In spite of the fact that animals as large as Elk, Polar Bear and Moose have been killed with a .357 Magnum it wasn't done at ranges where bullet drop was a factor. .357 Magnum is a marginal big game cartridge from a revolver at reasonable ranges, under 50 yds. This applies to all revolver cartridges!

If you want a 100 yd. gun buy a rifle, don't try or expect to make a 6" .357 Magnum into a 150 yd. Deer gun by magic loading, it isn't going to happen, isn't fair to the game and isn't good sportsmanship.
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Old 11-25-2010, 11:58 PM
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+1 on everything Alk8944 wrote. The big question isn't as much what the velocity and drop are beyond 65 yards, but whether you can shoot the gun accurately enough at longer ranges to insure a humane kill. I agree that 50 yards is a reasonable limit for the .357 shot from a revolver on deer sized animals no matter what load you use. IMHO anybody using a handgun for deer should be able to shoot six-inch, and preferably less, groups at 50 yards from whatever position they will be using in the field. The 2X scope should be a great help in achieving that.
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Old 11-26-2010, 01:09 AM
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My cousin-in-law, the late gunwriter Robert Shimek, often wrote of using the 357 Mag as a deer hunting cartridge in Peterson's and G&A. I still have some of the old back issues, but more importantly shot and hunted with him on occasion. He really liked the 357, mainly because he shot it well. My first deer hunting handgun was a 6.5" SS Blackhawk inspired by his stories of success. I wasn't exactly sure I could handle the terrifying 44 Mag at the time (things change).

At one time he advocated the 125gr JHP driven to max velocity in his 6" Model 27, yet cautioned that it was only to be used at less than 50 yards and for broadside lung/heart shots. Most of his kills were well inside of that distance. In the area hunted near the Allegheny NF the trees were thick and close shots were the norm when stalking on the ground. He took quite a few deer but came to realize that the 125 JHP was not a tough enough bullet if it hit a rib or bone. He turned to using a 140gr bullet, either a JHP or JFP for better penetration and toughness. He favored the lighter bullets because of their higher velocities. Cast bullets weren't in vogue as hunting bullets at the time like now, higher velocity and "shock" being favored, but there is a lot to be said for a good cast bullet at high velocity.

We have better jacketed hunting bullets these days than we did then. The Hornady HP/XTP is an excellent bullet. I would recommend one in the 140 gr range, driven to max velocity. However, no matter what you use, I would definately limit it to less than 50 yards. That was the one steadfast rule he had, and he made the 357 work. I think he would be pleased with the bullet choices today; no doubt the Sierra 140gr JHP, or the Hornady XTP would be favorites. They're what I'd use if I was inclined to use my 8 3/8" Model 27 (but I think I could be convincing that the Ruger Lipsey's 44 Special was better!)
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Old 11-26-2010, 01:12 AM
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Once upon a time, about 6 years ago, I ran the same .38 Special load, 12.5 gr of Alliant 2400, over a chrony using 158 gr XTPs. I used three different guns to check the velocity and got: 1212 fps with a 6" Security Six, 1194 fps with a 4" M66-2 and 1198 fps with a 6" 686.

A couple of observations, 1) the gun has a lot to do with the actual velocity. The 4" M66 was only 4 fps slower than a 6" 686. 2) a .357 that's only 50-60 fps faster than a .38 Special with the same bullet isn't really a .357 Mag, regardless of what is being sold now for .357 Magnums.

A Lyman 358429 bullet at 168-170 gr will produce an average of 1270 fps MV with 622 ft lbs of energy (ME) out of .38 Special brass and not do any damage to a L frame or to yourself. If it's loaded as a .357 Magnum, you can stretch that to an average 1420 fps MV with 775 ft lbs of ME. That's getting close the original .357 Magnum load circa 1935.

If you want a little flatter trajectory, you'll probably have to go to 125 gr bullets and I recommend a Sierra JHC #8320 that will produce 1575 fps MV, or more, and 690 ME, depending on the load. At that velocity, it will kill whitetails. Even then, the drop at 200 yards is in the neighborhood of 20" with a 100 yard zero out of a rifle doing 2000 fps+.

I would also suggest checking with Tennessee Valley Bullets for your lead bullets and save some money.
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Old 11-26-2010, 03:43 PM
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Default 6 inch

This gun is about a 6 inch gun at 100 yards. It will even go 2 inches at 100 off a bench. On gunblast.com the guy says that a 150 grain sierra at 1275 works well on deer. So I guess that a 158 at 1258 isn't too far off? I mean it can't be much worse than a hard cast can it?
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Old 11-26-2010, 04:21 PM
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No reason it wouldn't work. The 158 XTP is a good bullet. But I'd still limit the range to around 50 yards to ensure a better hit and humane kill. It's starting to lose a lot of pep at 100 and will may be outside of the 158s design envelope to provide enough penetration/expansion. Thus, the idea of a slightly lighter bullet to retain higher velocity or a cast bullet that is better at penetration.
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Old 11-26-2010, 04:41 PM
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i killed a doe last year with my 627-5 using 140gr leverevolution .357 at 15 yards. She took 4 long strides and hit the ground. Bullet hit her in the front of her left shoulder as she was quartered toward me. The entry hole wasnt much larger than my index finger but her lungs were both shredded and her heart was torn nearly in half. I was pretty pleased with the ballistics but then again I was pretty close.
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Old 11-26-2010, 04:52 PM
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I am also a big fan of the 160 grain #358156 SWC gas checked bullet on top of 13.0 grains of 2400. This load is very accurate, and while I won't be able to use it on deer, but boy am I waiting for a coyote to come into gun range.
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Old 11-26-2010, 10:05 PM
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My current 686 deer load is a 158gr XTP bullet and 16.0gr of 4227. Very accurate.

Don
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:35 PM
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IMO the primary duty when hunting with a handgun is to make a humane kill. That means you don't take a shot at a range beyond your ability or the capability of the gun/caliber.

I'm also not buying that a 686 is capable of a 2 inch group at 100 yards, every test I've ever seen indicates that it's a 2 inch shooter at 25 yards, not 100, and that's from a fixed machine rest.

If the OP wants to take a deer at 100 yards, I would suggest using a rifle or something with more power, like the 460 magnum. To be blunt, the 357 Magnum lacks energy at 100 yards to insure a clean kill unless the hit is just perfect and the 686 isn't accurate enough to get that perfect hit. I would suggest you limit your range to 25 yards where the 686 has both the energy and accuracy to do the job well.
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Old 11-26-2010, 11:46 PM
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Instead of making a clean one shot humane kill more difficult by choosing an inadequate cartridge, why don't you make hunting more challenging by going bare footed.
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Old 11-27-2010, 12:50 AM
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A lot of the accuracy issues with handguns is in the quality of the ammunition being used. It isn't just the gun and that goes for rifles too.

Commercial rifle ammunition has gotten better over the years, but I'm not sure that same claim can be made for handgun ammunition. I've seen some silhouette groups shot with scoped handguns that were 2", or better, at 100 yards.
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Old 11-27-2010, 02:57 AM
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Good morning
Go to the 180 grainers and you will not have to be wondering about penetration through the shoulders at 50 yards. An old Michigan hunter once said figure about 1 grain of revolver lead per pound of deer. Shoot for the chest and get that bullet to exit and you wont needs dogs to find your table fare. Me now being 60 I think he was pretty close to the facts.
But no matter what the 357 revolver is a minimal large deer cartrige.
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Old 11-27-2010, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
In spite of the fact that animals as large as Elk, Polar Bear and Moose have been killed with a .357 Magnum it wasn't done at ranges where bullet drop was a factor. .357 Magnum is a marginal big game cartridge from a revolver at reasonable ranges, under 50 yds. This applies to all revolver cartridges!
Somebody should have told Major Wesson all of that.

Quote:
Antelope - 200 yards (2 shots)

Elk - 130 yards (1 shot)

Moose - 100 yards (1 shot)

Grizzly Bear - 135 yards (1 shot)
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Old 11-27-2010, 07:05 AM
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Well, it seems that no one answered your original question. Let me try.

NO! Do not simply increase the AA#7 load until you get the velocity you want. Every firearm is an individual. Maybe you just have one that is slow.

If you want more velocity, go with a slower powder and load to published data. Since you are using AA#7, they still offer a slower powder in AA#9. H110/W296 or AA#9 would be my first suggestion to get the velocity up. I can guarantee that any of them will get it to acceptable levels.

I have a load with SR4756 that gets 1280fps from a 6" barrel with a 158gr LSWC. It is the wife's load for her M586. In a Marlin 1894 it delivers right at 1600fps.

In the Hodgdon 2008 Annual Reloading Manual, they list a load in 357Mag with the 158gr XTP that runs 1590fps from a 10" barrel. It has been my experience that in a handgun with a cylinder gap that I can expect a 30-70fps difference in velocity per inch of barrel depending on powder used. I will tell you that H110/W296 will deliver considerably more than the 1200fps you are getting now.

Currently, I have two loads for the 158gr XTP. One for the Marlin and one for the M586. The Marlin load is a Brian Pearce load of Lil' Gun and delivers over 2000fps from the 20" barrel. I wouldn't recommend that load for a handgun though because of the trouble that has been noted with Lil' Gun. The handgun load I have already mentioned.

FWIW, use a slower powder. As far as the "big enough" argument goes, shot placement is critical. You have to put it where it counts. A 22LR has killed things too. You just have to put it were it has to go within its range. Bigger and harder and faster just means that a sloppy shot may go more unnoticed!
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Old 11-27-2010, 07:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post
I'm also not buying that a 686 is capable of a 2 inch group at 100 yards, every test I've ever seen indicates that it's a 2 inch shooter at 25 yards, not 100, and that's from a fixed machine rest.

If the OP wants to take a deer at 100 yards, I would suggest using a rifle or something with more power, like the 460 magnum. To be blunt, the 357 Magnum lacks energy at 100 yards to insure a clean kill unless the hit is just perfect and the 686 isn't accurate enough to get that perfect hit. I would suggest you limit your range to 25 yards where the 686 has both the energy and accuracy to do the job well.
This is actual shooting results: 158gr LSWC, maximum load of WC820 (MILSURP Powder like H110) and clay pigeons at 100 yards, open sights, 15 years ago (that's important!). All of that from two different guns with 6" barrels, a M686 and M586 and two shooters, my 16 year old son(at the time) and a much younger me!

Now, I'm not going to say that we hit a clay pigeon on every shot but I wouldn't have wanted to be one that was counting on a miss either!

With a scope?

Not to mention the folks that shoot PPC with them to 50 yards. They use a B27 target where the 10 ring is around 2" wide. Ever seen some of those scores? The really good folks are shooting 597 out of 600! Granted, they aren't maximum loads of 357Mag but still!

The platform is accurate enough to take a deer at 100 yards. In my opinion though, it is the bare minimum. Perfect shots rarely provide themselves in the real world. It would take a perfect opportunity to make it work. Put it in a carbine though? NO PROBLEMO!
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Old 11-27-2010, 07:37 AM
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i agree with crazy smith also, i too have used wc820 with very good results, i now use a full load of 2400 and out of my 686 83/8 bl with a 2 power scope i have shot 2-2 1/2'' at 100yds. off of the bench, and have taken deer at 85yds with 1 shot. shot placement is the key factor. also give the hornady 140gr. leverevolution bullet a try it is realy accurate out of my 686 and marlin.
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Paul5388 View Post
I've seen some silhouette groups shot with scoped handguns that were 2", or better, at 100 yards.
True. I know some revolvers are capable of that (like the Freedom Arms, some custom ones, even the occassional straight from the box one) but most T/C Contenders will easily do 2" groups at 100 yards. My 357Max will beat that. Even the 45-70 easily shoots 2" groups or better from a rest.
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Old 11-27-2010, 08:46 PM
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Groo here
Know your game so you can put the bullet where you need to..
Know your gun, with the load you select, and the range you will shoot,
I use a 357 TR-R8 with a Red dot for deer, the gun is sighted
at 100 yds and will keep most loads on a paper plate [ my Deer Target] at that distance.
The load I make is a 180 gr hard lead rnfp bullet with a
95% loading of WW680 { sub AA1680} and Win primers.
how fast ????? is it flat [stay on a paper plate to 100]
will it take deer YES.
The question is will you shoot enought with the gun
to allow you to hit at that distance.
Shoot paper plate with your gun and load [ no less than 158gr and
flat nose is best as hp's are iffy]
If the farest you can hit the plate 6 for 6 in field positions
is 25yds -that is it 50 yds,75yds 100 yds.
The 357 can hit at much greater ranger than most believe and many can shoot.
Example: Back in1998 I hit 3 out of five on a man sized target with
110 gr jhp 357's about 1300 from my 4in Python shooting prone.
Range : 300yds
Place: Thunder Ranch
Class: Triad.
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:14 PM
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I'm going to add a bit more advice to the excellent post by Groo:

He already covered limiting your range to that in which you can keep all your shots on a paper plate. That is a Golden Rule of hunting deer with a pistol.

The second most important rule, in my mind is this: Follow up every shot, whether you think you hit OR missed. Do NOT expect the deer to fall when you shoot it. For every one that drops in his tracks, probably ten do not. Some won't show any sign whatsoever of being hit. Go to the spot where they were when you shot and look for any evidence you can find of a hit. This is where full penetration really helps--exit wounds almost always leave blood on the ground, entrance wounds do not. Practice up on your tracking if you're going to hunt with a handgun, especially a .357. It doesn't have much margin of error.

Profit from others' mistakes and advice. Don't learn this the hard way, as I have.
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Old 11-27-2010, 09:44 PM
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^ Amen! What he said
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22lr, 357 magnum, 622, 627, 686, carbine, cartridge, colt, hornady, l frame, m66, m686, model 27, model 686, ppc, ruger, scope, sig arms, silhouette, taurus

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