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Old 03-14-2017, 04:06 PM
BradLH BradLH is offline
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Default 686 Target Load

Just bought a 686-4 and want to develop a 38 Special target load for it. My first priority is accuracy out to 25 yards, second is easy barrel cleaning, and third is low recoil.

I've loaded many thousands of 45 ACP LSWC at about 750 FPS, leading with that load in my 1911 is minimal. I've also loaded a few thousand 45 ACP Poly coated bullets that caused excessive barrel leading and polymer deposits. Due to the effort needed to clean the barrel I think I'm done with the coated bullets.

The vendor I used for 45 LSWC bullets doesn't have .358 diameter so I've looked for information on Bayou, Missouri, and Zero lead bullets. I don't really have a preference on bullet profile except where it may effect accuracy.

I understand the need to use bullets of the correct diameter for proper barrel fit, so I'm wondering if there's any consensus on which of the bullets mentioned above is best for accuracy and minimal leading. Also is there a consensus on the best velocity range for accuracy and minimal leading using a 158 grain lead bullet in a 4" 686?

Thanks,
Brad
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Old 03-14-2017, 04:43 PM
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While looking through more posts I saw Magnus bullets mentioned, the poster mentioned they're a soft alloy. The Magnus website lists them as .357 diameter. I find that strange since most lead bullets are listed as .358, are the Magnus soft enough that they obturate and seal?
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Old 03-14-2017, 04:56 PM
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2.8 grains of Bullseye or 2.5 grains of WST under a 158-gr LSWC. In a 686, I would load in .357 Magnum brass and bump up the load very slightly.

.357-diameter is usually listed for "match" chambers and barrels.

I've used the .357-diameter swaged LSWCs from Magnus, and didn't have a problem. Magnus bullets aren't any softer than any other swaged bullet.

Tbh, while they were very good, unless you were shooting 25/50-yard DR matches, I don't think you'll notice a difference.
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Old 03-14-2017, 05:19 PM
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Default 686 Target Load

I load 5.0gr HP38 for my model 27 6" barrel using a local cast 158gr LSWC.
This is slightly hotter than 38+P and I use the 357 brass. Willyboy
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Old 03-14-2017, 05:44 PM
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686 6 inch
Hornady swaged 158 SWC
with 5 grains Unique
357 cases

velocity 830 to 870



I call it my benchmark load - because if this load isn't grouping well at 25 yards - its time to go home
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Old 03-14-2017, 06:03 PM
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I have found that 4.0 grs of WST works great , accurate and very clean . My fiance shoots 4.5 grs of Ramshot Zip , accurate and low recoil . Both loads use a 158 gr cast bullet . I'm sure swaged will shoot fine also with the above loads .
The 5.0 grs of Unique has been a favorite of many a shooter . Skeeter Skelton said it was a " good working mans load " . Also using a 158 gr lead bullet . I loaded up some 125 gr lead bullet loads using tite group , very low recoil and seemed accurate . They were being shot out of J frame airweights .
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Old 03-14-2017, 07:16 PM
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My preferred target load is 3.2 gr of Red Dot under a 158 gr LSWC. It shoots well in my 2 1/2" Model 66 and 686+, 3" Model 19. 4" Model 10 and 4" Model 15, 6" Model 19, 6" Model 66 and 6" Security Six.

Hornady listed a starting load at 2.6 gr and the max load at 3.9 gr with the 158 LSWC, so 3.2 is pretty middle of the road.
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Old 03-14-2017, 07:38 PM
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Thanks guys. I ordered Starline 357 brass and Zero 158 LSWC, I already have Bullseye and W231 to try. If that doesn't work I'll try Unique and Hornady bullets.

Couple more questions, it doesn't look like the Hornady bullets have a crimp groove. Do you seat them deep enough to roll crimp over the shoulder or do you use a taper crimp leaving some shoulder outside the case. Also, has anyone been successful seating lead bullets in new Starline brass without swaging them down. The new Starline 45 ACP brass I've loaded is so tight I use jacketed bullets for the first firing.
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:05 PM
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Sounds like a good plan.

From what I hear, Zero bullets are fine, maybe better than the Hornady's.

I always size and trim new 357 brass before use.

I usually seat the shoulder flush and roll crimp over the shoulder for this combination. I've seated a little out and taper crimped too....it seems the roll crimp gives me better accuracy.....yours may differ...
Both ways work.
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:13 PM
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I second the 5gr of Unique and would add 3.5gr Bullseye, over 158gr cast. I also shoot the 3.5gr load over 150gr cast in 38 special cases. Both are very accurate loads. I cast my own so I am not as familiar with where to buy them though, I am only really familiar with Missouri and Dardas. If you have not checked Dardas bullets you might want to. Dardas has a good 158gr cast swc.
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by forestswin View Post
From what I hear, Zero bullets are fine, maybe better than the Hornady's.
They're a favorite of bullseye shooters, both their various .45 bullets (including their JHPs), and 158 LSWCs for the DR guys.

But to be honest, I've shot very well with both Missouri Bullet's offerings, and Speers. A little bit less on the Speers. Achieving accuracy at 25 yards is not difficult at all--select an appropriate low-pressure powder, a non-terrible bullet, and have at it.
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Old 03-14-2017, 08:50 PM
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Brad A lewis lead remover and a few drops of Kroil is the answer to your lead removal problems
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Old 03-14-2017, 09:02 PM
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mate i use 135gn RN, with 3.8gn of AP50 (an Aussie powder) about equal to W231, with about 8mm of the rn protruding from the 38 special case...
the other load a lot of folk use down here is 2.5gns of the same powder, with a 105 gn lee SWC (i cast n coat my own) and size to .357..the projectile is them seated so deep the top of the SWC is even with the case mouth...these are super accurate
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Old 03-14-2017, 09:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by S&WNUT View Post
Brad A lewis lead remover and a few drops of Kroil is the answer to your lead removal problems
When using LSWC a few passes with Chore Boy and a bronze brush work fine for my 1911. With the Poly coated lead I've tried soaking in Kroil, Lewis lead remover, and scrubbing with Chore Boy. I eventually get it cleaned up but my concern is barrel wear. One thing I didn't try is the 50/50 mix of peroxide and vinegar, but that would have been next if I hadn't finally used up those 2,000 bullets.
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Old 03-14-2017, 09:39 PM
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For a light target load in 38 special I use Red River Bullets 125 gn TC over 3.7 gn 700-X. For some reason it looks like I've never chronographed this load, but it should be in the 850-900 fps range.
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:56 PM
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I'd look no further than 3.3gr to 3.6gr of bullseye and a 158gr bullet.

Also look at coated bullets in the future sized to .358".

I've posted these groups before. 6-shot groups @ 50ft from my 686. They are only @ 50ft because that's the typical distance I use them at. I either shoot 50ft nra bullseye or we do a spinoff of bowlingpins. We use 12ga shotgun shells @ 50ft instead of bowling pins @ 25ft.



A 200 round range session with those bullseye 3.3gr loads pictured above. The 686 doesn't need cleaned until the 700+ round mark.


There's no leading with those coated bullets. It takes a wet patch with nothing more than hoppe's #9 to clean the bbl.
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:43 AM
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Since you do not like coated you might try a plated 148gr wc
along with the 158gr lead bullets.

My 686 6" likes a lead 158gr wc at 976fps with IMR4227, 918fps with Bullsye
788fps with Trail Boss and 108fp with HS-6 powder for a few of the slow accurate loads.

Good luck wih those load.
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:55 AM
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158 grain Mo Bullet Co coated semi wadcutters, 3.0 gr Bullseye averaged 668 fps out of a 5 inch model 27.
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:09 AM
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My light loads are 158gr RNFP from Missouri Bullets with 5.5gr or 6gr of AA#5 in a .357 Magnum case. Very light recoil from my 686+.
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:57 PM
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I like 3.5 grains of Trail Boss behind a 125 grain RNFP coated bullet. I shoot them in 357 brass however. I have plenty of 357 brass and can think of no reason to load 38 Spl brass.
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:08 PM
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In my 686 SSR I load 4.3 grains of 231, Starline 357 case, CC!500 primer and SNS 158 SWC grain coated bullet. Mild recoil, very accurate at 25 yards and no leading.

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Old 03-15-2017, 05:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLH View Post
Also, has anyone been successful seating lead bullets in new Starline brass without swaging them down. The new Starline 45 ACP brass I've loaded is so tight I use jacketed bullets for the first firing.
I really like the "slip fit" Lyman M Expander. I use them on my Dillon 550 for .38 / .357 / .45acp. Big improvement over the standard design.

Takes an extra step - as it's not "powder through", but well worth it, IMHO. Currently on sale at Midway:

Lyman Neck Expander M Die 38 Special 357 Mag 357 Maximum

My standard range load:
Dardas 158LSWC / TiteGroup 3.6 / .357 brass / wwsp primers
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Old 03-16-2017, 11:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCF View Post
Takes an extra step - as it's not "powder through", but well worth it, IMHO. Currently on sale at Midway:
I use one of these for 45 ACP in my Dillon 650. They show one for 9/.38 but it may be a bit snug for .358" lead.

Mr.BulletFeeder by DAA Powder Funnel - Dillon
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Old 03-17-2017, 03:52 AM
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You already got a bunch of good loads in this thread.

One of my two favorite .38 Special loads is a 158gr LSWC over 4.0gr W231/HP-38. It is very accurate and clean in all my 38/357 revolvers.

For the ultimate in clean go with a coated bullet since most of the dirt and soot comes from the lube on cast bullets.

My other favorite .38 Special load is a 148gr DEWC over 3.4gr W231. If you prefer a HBWC go with 3.2gr W231 instead.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLH View Post
I ordered Starline 357 brass and Zero 158 LSWC... has anyone been successful seating lead bullets in new Starline brass without swaging them down. The new Starline 45 ACP brass I've loaded is so tight I use jacketed bullets for the first firing.
Like GCF said, I too feel the "M" style expander dies are better with lead bullets.

The expander plug is longer which provides deeper case expansion so the lead bullet doesn't have to do the case expanding the last bit that it's seated.

All of RCBS's new expander dies are "M" style too.

Also, if your expander plug is too small of diameter for the lead bullets diameter you're using, that tight fit will squash the base.

Some Cowboy Action dies have larger diameter expanders plugs.

A tight fit is good for jacketed bullets in magnum loads that need a lot of case tension but not so great for soft lead bullets.

.
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Old 03-18-2017, 02:37 AM
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Default Forget it's a .357

Give it the 148 gr HBWC with 2.8 gr of Bullseye. One thing I do, though, is to load these in .357 brass to keep the crud ring away.

I've shot plenty of Speer and Hornady swaged HBWC and SWCs and haven't had a bit of lead problems.
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLH View Post
I use one of these for 45 ACP in my Dillon 650. They show one for 9/.38 but it may be a bit snug for .358" lead.

Mr.BulletFeeder by DAA Powder Funnel - Dillon
I've been curious about the Mr. BulletFeeder expander / funnels for a while. W/ regards to suitability for different kinds of bullets, the big question for me is, what is the OD of the expander?

I contacted them by email once, inquiring about expander diameter, & they were a little vague. Indicated that the exact OD, kind of depended on the particular production run.

The OD of my Lyman M 38 / 357, is 0.355", & the .45 plug is 0.449. Figuring 0.001" springback (depending on the brass), I get case mouth ID's of 0.354", & 0.448" respectively.

I don't load swaged (& very rarely jacketed) in either caliber, but the "M" seems to work well w/ .358" (cast & plated), as well as .452" cast, & .451" plated.

I'm not sure how snug, is too snug - for swaged bullet match loads, but I'd think a custom machined 0.356" (or 0.357") OD expander, might be interesting to try out.

A "new style", Dillon .38 / .357 expander, has an OD of 0.354", producing an expanded case mouth ID of 0.353", which to me, has always seemed a bit snug - for hard cast .38 / .357 target loads. Other's mileage may vary, I suppose.

Can you provide an OD, of your Mr. BF, .45 cal expander?
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Old 03-18-2017, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post

I've shot plenty of Speer and Hornady swaged HBWC and SWCs and haven't had a bit of lead problems.
I've never loaded either, but been curious.

I guess I've been wondering if there is any real accuracy advantage, to swaged - over cast. Assuming uniform, correct ID cylinder throats, of course.

What's your take?
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Old 03-18-2017, 05:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BradLH View Post

I understand the need to use bullets of the correct diameter for proper barrel fit, so I'm wondering if there's any consensus on which of the bullets mentioned above is best for accuracy and minimal leading. Also is there a consensus on the best velocity range for accuracy and minimal leading using a 158 grain lead bullet in a 4" 686?

Thanks,
Brad
May have been mentioned previously, but at least from what I've seen, the key to achieving correct cast bullet, to barrel groove diameter size (bullet size should be .001" - .002" over groove diameter - when entering the forcing cone), is cylinder throats of a uniform .357" - .3585" ID.

Anything smaller, will swage the bullet down equal to (or smaller then) your barrel groove diameter - leaving you solely dependent on bullet obduration, to seal, & hold the rifling.

A firm finger pressure, lead bullet / cylinder throat push through, is said to be ideal.

Note that even revolvers w/ minimum ID cylinder throats, can usually be made to shoot accurately (w/ some load combination), as long as the throat ID's are uniform. Unfortunately, it's not unusual, to find a revolver w/ one (or more) throat ID - smaller then the rest.

My $0.02, anyway...
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Old 03-21-2017, 11:21 PM
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Quote:
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Can you provide an OD, of your Mr. BF, .45 cal expander?
Measuring with a micrometer I get 0.4491" below the shoulder and 0.4555" above the shoulder. I didn't think to measure length before putting everything back together but the MBF powder funnel appears to be about 1/10" shorter than the Dillon on the expander portion.

My MBF powder funnel works great with jacketed bullets but I've not used it enough with lead bullets to give a recommendation.

I've only loaded about 250 of the 357 Magnum with lead bullets and have been using a single stage with a Redding Competition Pro 3 die set and RCBS Cowboy expander. Seems to be working well so far, even with virgin Starline, but I'd like to get set up for 357 on the Dillon soon.

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Old 03-22-2017, 12:13 PM
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Quote:
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Measuring with a micrometer I get 0.4491" below the shoulder and 0.4555" above the shoulder. I didn't think to measure length before putting everything back together but the MBF powder funnel appears to be about 1/10" shorter than the Dillon on the expander portion.

My MBF powder funnel works great with jacketed bullets but I've not used it enough with lead bullets to give a recommendation.

I've only loaded about 250 of the 357 Magnum with lead bullets and have been using a single stage with a Redding Competition Pro 3 die set and RCBS Cowboy expander. Seems to be working well so far, even with virgin Starline, but I'd like to get set up for 357 on the Dillon soon.
Thanks for the info. I suspect your MBF expander funnel will work great w/ CB's.

Is the RCBS CB expander, of the same "slip fit" design, as the MBF, & Lyman M? Also, did you happen to get a "below the shoulder" OD?

Looking forward to a report on the Zero swaged .358" SWC's. I have had very good results w/ their .45acp / 185, & 230 JHP bullets, & been curious about their swaged .38 HP's.
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Old 03-23-2017, 10:17 PM
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Default reloading the 357

I typically use Berry's copper plated bullets for the 357 magnum, (approx .10 per 158 grain bullet). I've used lead but usually limit the lead to 38 special.
I got a great deal on some 125 grain HP and have been using Alliant Power Pro 300 MP powder my Hornady manual shows a maximum velocity of 1600 fps using 20.4 grains as a maximum load. The Alliant web site lists a maximum load of 22.3 grains which pushes a Speer Gold Dot at 1995 fps according to their data, I started at 20 grains and have worked up to 22 grains with no problems in my Smith 686. Holding a 2" group at 50 yards from a rest. Alliant Powder - Reloader's Guide
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Old 03-23-2017, 11:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCF View Post
Is the RCBS CB expander, of the same "slip fit" design, as the MBF, & Lyman M? Also, did you happen to get a "below the shoulder" OD?

Looking forward to a report on the Zero swaged .358" SWC's. I have had very good results w/ their .45acp / 185, & 230 JHP bullets, & been curious about their swaged .38 HP's.
The RCBS "Cowboy" expander is similar to the MBF powder funnel and measures 0.3563" below the shoulder, 0.3605" O.D. shoulder and is tapered above the shoulder. The length of the 0.3563" O.D. portion is 0.415".

I've only tried 100 each of the 158 grain Hornady LSWC, Zero LSWC and Missouri coated LRN but I'm favoring the Zero so far.
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Old 03-24-2017, 01:44 AM
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Default It's the soft hollow base.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by GCF View Post
I've never loaded either, but been curious.

I guess I've been wondering if there is any real accuracy advantage, to swaged - over cast. Assuming uniform, correct ID cylinder throats, of course.

What's your take?
It's the soft hollow base that is the most accurate. Trouble is, about any decent bullet will shoot better than I do and a hard cast SWC will do about as well for me.

Slow speed, heavy bullet combo is the least affected by any external factor and gravity drop is extremely predictable given any location. You may have to adjust if you are near a mountain full of iron ore but I've never encountered that as gravity is pretty constant all throughout this region.

Altitude can be a factor in bullet drop but again, it can be adjusted for quickly and predictably.

Temperature and humidity will affect air density but unless changing rapidly, can be accounted for.

These are usually more of a factor in rifle shooting.

Again, for me, nothing is as inconsistent as my seeing/shooting ability.
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Old 03-24-2017, 10:35 AM
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[QUOTE=shermris;139523483]I typically use Berry's copper plated bullets for the 357 magnum, (approx .10 per 158 grain bullet). I've used lead but usually limit the lead to 38 special.


How fast do you push those copper plated bullets?
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Old 03-24-2017, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post
It's the soft hollow base that is the most accurate. Trouble is, about any decent bullet will shoot better than I do and a hard cast SWC will do about as well for me.

Slow speed, heavy bullet combo is the least affected by any external factor and gravity drop is extremely predictable given any location. You may have to adjust if you are near a mountain full of iron ore but I've never encountered that as gravity is pretty constant all throughout this region.

Altitude can be a factor in bullet drop but again, it can be adjusted for quickly and predictably.

Temperature and humidity will affect air density but unless changing rapidly, can be accounted for.

These are usually more of a factor in rifle shooting.

Again, for me, nothing is as inconsistent as my seeing/shooting ability.
I am concerned more with being closer to the equator and the humidity, height above or at sea level and the moon phase, of course those who live below the equator have it all in reverse!
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Old 03-25-2017, 01:31 AM
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Quote:
How fast do you push those copper plated bullets?
Xtreme's standard plated (SPB-Superior Plated) bullet has a 1200 fps recommended max. I believe Berry's is the same, or 1250. Accuracy deteriorates if you go over that, in my experience. I usually shoot mine in the 1050 - 1125 fps range & are accurate.

Xtreme has a thicker plated bullet (Hollow Points (HP) and Heavy Plate Concave Base (HPCB) ) in many calibers that they rate to 1500 fps. Pricing is very competitive.

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Old 03-25-2017, 01:32 PM
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[quote=BLUEDOT37;139525158]
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Originally Posted by sjs View Post

Xtreme's standard plated (SPB-Superior Plated) bullet has a 1200 fps recommended max. I believe Berry's is the same, or 1250. Accuracy deteriorates if you go over that, in my experience. I usually shoot mine in the 1050 - 1125 fps range & are accurate.


What are your suggested loads (or at least powders of choice), for accuracy w/ the Xtreme 158SWC / .358"?

I have a box of them, & to date, am not making much progress w/ Unique...

An otherwise accurate, 4" / M686-ND, for the record.
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Old 03-25-2017, 02:13 PM
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don't give up on coated bullets.

commercial bullets are usually too hard (brinell 18 and up!)
they make them hard for shipping reasons they don't look
damaged after being bounced around in a truck.

i make my own alloy to 11 brinell which for me is perfect
i powder coat load and shoot....zero leading.

zero deposits of any kind.
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Old 03-25-2017, 06:30 PM
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My magical 38 Special accuracy load is :
Lyman # 358432 - 160 grain or the NOE reproduction 358-160-WC, both of these are 160 grain button nosed wadcutter bullets. cast and sized .357 or .358 , makes no difference in my guns.
with 2.7 grains of Bullseye , in 38 Special case and crimp into the crimp groove.
A 25 shot group at 25 yards will make one ragged hole 1 1/2 " across, that's from a rest and a model 64 S&W set up for target shooting.
I have found no other load/bullet that will better this one and I've tried many .
Gary
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Old 03-26-2017, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCF View Post
What are your suggested loads (or at least powders of choice), for accuracy w/ the Xtreme 158SWC / .358"? ...w/ Unique ...
Uniq @ 7.0gr= ~965fps

CFE-P @ 6.3gr= ~900fps

G-D @ 5.7gr= ~975fps

P-P @ 7.5gr= ~940fps

- Xtreme 158gr P-RNFP, all in S-L 357 cases, using CCI-500, & a light/moderate taper crimp at the cannelure (1.525"), shoot great in my 686+, 327TRR8 or 627PC w/5" bbls.

- I only used a small batch (100?) of the P-SWC initially & then experimented with the others, later settling on the RNFP for no overwhelming reason. I seated these a little longer at 1.550". These are the few powders I tried, with them, that I noted shot the best:

HP-38 @ 5.6gr= ~1000fps

B-E @ 6.0gr= ~1050fps

- Now you know everything I do.

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Old 03-26-2017, 01:07 PM
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- Now you know everything I do.

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Thanks for the tip!
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Old 03-27-2017, 10:33 AM
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I use close to the same load as bb57, but with red dots brother, blue dot.

So a 158 LSWC (Tumble Lube variety) over 6.2 grains of blue dot. It meters like ****, so I use the Lee powder dipper, .3 cc x 2 for each load. DOUBLE CHECK WITH YOUR SCALE!!!

This is the most accurate load out of my 327 TRR8. In fact, most accurate handgun load I have out of any of my hansguns, the 10mm, 44 mag and others feel neglected.
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Old 03-31-2017, 04:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GCF View Post
I really like the "slip fit" Lyman M Expander. I use them on my Dillon 550 for .38 / .357 / .45acp. Big improvement over the standard design.
Takes an extra step - as it's not "powder through", but well worth it, IMHO. Currently on sale at Midway:
"M" style dies are a goodness...when I first started reloading, only Lyman had this. I have one for each of my guns.
Another alternative...Newer RCBS .38/357 dies now have an "M" style expander .
I read that somewhere, and called the company to purchase one of the newer expander stems. The rep sent me one...no charge! It works a treat! Thanks, RCBS!

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Old 03-31-2017, 05:59 PM
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I find a nice mild accurate load for .38 spec. to be 3.2 grains of HP38 pushing a 158 grain plated semi-wadcutter.
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Old 03-31-2017, 09:11 PM
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Can't use lead at my range, so I use Xtreme plated flat nose, both 125 gr and 158 gr. I also use MGN cases, and a load of HP-38 that is between plus P and bottom of MGN. My last trip to the range, 5.0 gr for the 158 gr and 6.0 gr for the 125 gr. My revolver is the 4 inch M686 6 shot. Easy shooting for the M686, and a little snappy in my M640 Pro. I have also used the plated 148 gr WC's. Was very accurate, but seemed to stress my Starline cases with deeper seating depth. I have read that WC's need a different case because of this. But, I did shoot a 1 inch group at 30 feet. My best of the day, but the gun and bullet seemed up to the challenge. I was using 5.0 gr Bullseye, again in MGN cases. I might use heavier loads if this was the only revolver I was loading for, but I have a lot of Arthritis in my wrist and fingers and like to use the same cartridges for my carry gun, the M640 Pro. The 125 gr cost less, about 8 cents instead of 10 cents, a round. I only load some 158 gr to emulate my 158 gr BB LSWCHP non plus P carry ammo for the 640 Pro. The 640 shoots low with lighter ammo, or I would use Speer 135 gr SB and just load 125 gr bullets for everything. Unfortunately, I can't shoot my lead carry ammo at the range, but plated works well for practice. I shot a cylinders worth of the lead and got busted. They could see the smoke on the TV cameras.

Best,
Rick
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