Several years ago I got in a good discussion about the
.357 being legal in Colorado to hunt big Game.
I hadnít read the game regulations for a while and much to my
surprise, it was stated it needed to achieve 550 foot pounds of energy at the
50 yard mark. Checking the
ballistic sheets in several publications and some new reloading books the .357
didnít make the grade. I passed
it off as of little interest because I didnít use the .357 much any way.
A couple years after this an acquaintance on the job
asked me what handgun I would recommend to start handgun hunting.
He stated he wanted to hunt deer at some point later on.
Informing him the twenty-two-rim fire was the proper starting point and
he should go from there, he said he only was going to buy one handgun and that
was all. It had to be capable of doing everything he wanted to do.
It went against my grain but the .357 seemed to be the only route to
He had done some reloading so I told him I would check
the possibilities and see what some of the reloading manuals had to offer.
The only new one that I had at the time was a Nosler #3.
Going back 20 to 30 years i found a lot of the heavy .357 loads in the
cast bullet variety would do what was necessary.
We called the Colorado Game and Fish Department and asked
if reloads would be acceptable in the .357 for hunting if they maintained the
550 foot pounds of energy at the 50 yard mark. They claimed if you could prove
it, if asked, it would be all right. Before
we go any farther, if you decide to go this route please call and verify this
for yourself. The proof should be
well established prior to using your reloads so no misunderstanding will
arise. As you are well aware if
you ask one question from three different people you may obtain six different
answers on different days.
If you do not want to reload or are not a reloader,
Fiocchi has three different bullet weights that will make the grade without an
argument. 125, 148 and 158 listed
in the 1996 Guns and Ammo annual. It is in black and white and nothing would
have to be proved. A six-inch
barrel or longer needs to be used to reach these velocities. There are custom
reloads that have exactly what is needed, but most of us are handloaders so
lets see what we can do.
(webmaster's note - also check Buffalo Bore's
Heavy .357 loads - www.buffalbore.com
Be very very aware each revolver will be different.
Without a doubt some will show pressures before the necessary velocity can be
obtained. You will have to do
your reloading very carefully and pay strict attention to what is going on.
All of this is information only and no one but you are
responsible for what you do. NO ONE! If you are not up to the task at hand
donít ask any one else to do it for you.
The slower burning powders are the best to use.
Powders like #9, 296, its twin H110 and 2400.
All of my personal loads are with 2400 because it is one of my favorite
powders and works very well. Chronographing
many handloads of 2400 I found standard large pistol primers produce the
lowest high and low spread between shots in the string.
Several times using freezers and thermosís and the
truck heater I have tested hot and cold loads, both in 70 degree and 20 degree
weather. Apparently this is not
enough of a temperature change to verify anything.
My loads that I chronographed showed a higher and lower spread than a
difference between cold and hot. This
is not to say it will not happen, but probably at a more extreme temperature
than I tried. This is about the actual conditions we normally hunt in.
You owe it to the game animal and yourself to be able to
hit accurately and limit your range so you can do it every time.
Bullet placement is the all-important factor.
A hit around the edges with a .357 is no different than the same with a
.454. Precise bullet placement is the key and should be
everybodyís goal regardless.
The tests I ran were with cast bullets only. The only jacketed bullets I had on hand were some older Remington
158-gr. Soft point and some 158 gr. Hornady of about the same vintage. I had serious pressure signs long before I could get to the
required velocity. Good quality
cast lead bullets normally produce higher velocity than jacketed bullets
when loaded at the same pressures. Therefore
we can reach the goals we need.
If you decide to do the fun thing and develop your own
loads you will need a good knowledge of reloading and working up safe loads.
A chronograph is essential as is all the reloading information you can
get. You can not have too much. Magazine articles, reloading manuals, any
published data, old, new, cast bullets and jacketed.
Here are some formulas needed to calculate your foot
pounds of energy, if you know the velocity at the muzzle:
Muzzle velocity squared x bullet weight divided by
450400 equal muzzle energy. The
numbers get rather large so a calculator needs to be able to do this.
The calculator on the computer will carry out far enough.
If you have a bullet weight you would like to use and
know the foot pounds of energy you wish to achieve, you may use:
Energy you want x 450400 divided by the
bullet weight, equals the square of the velocity, now find the square
root of the velocity and this equals the foot pounds of energy.
need 550 foot pounds of energy at 50 yards with a 173gr Keith: 550 X
450400 =247720000 divided by 173 = 1431907.5, the square root of
1431907.5 = 1196.6 which is the velocity at 50 yards of the 173 gr.
Keith bullet to achieve 550 foot pounds of energy.
The other formula is the so-called Knock Out
formula derived by African hunter John Taylor:
Bullet weight x velocity x bullet diameter divided
by 7000 equals KO factor.
Example: 180 x 1475 x .357 = 94783.5 divided by
7000 = 13.54 KO factor. Try this on some of the other cartridges like a
.243 with an 85-gr. bullet
It is very hard to chronograph at 50 yards, so I have
worked out a table that will give information to be close enough to the
required velocity and energy to work. Remember
that you may not be able to achieve, in your particular revolver, the needed
velocity, so you still have to be very careful. The muzzle velocities given are the very minimum to achieve
the 550 ft. lbs. of energy at 50 yards. To
reach these velocities, be very careful for not all revolvers will load this
hot and will show pressure signs before these velocities are reached.
||50 Yard Vel
||50 Yard Energy
||50 Yard KO
The down side of this will be all weights of any design
will equal these figures. The best
interest of the game, both animal and sport, is to use the best bullet designs
and the heavier weights and the highest velocity that may safely be achieved. The best in my opinion are the Keith and the LBT designs in
the 168-grain and up weights. A
little more penetration with the Keith and more destruction with good
penetration with the LBT. I
really have a preference for the 180 flat nose, gas check.
Cast of wheel weights, water dropped, crimped in the crimp groves it
fits all cylinders and feeds through the Rossi flawlessly.
The Keith usually needs to be crimped over the front band for some
cylinders (Mod. 27,28) and the 92 Rossi to feed well.
Interesting footnote: the Cast Performance LBT is
not the same bullet from the moulds of LBT. LBT is back in business by the
way. If you have loaded the
purchased LBT advertised bullets and decide to buy a LBT mould from LBT, do
not use the same loading data. Being
two different bullets, things could go haywire.
Each bullet will require a different approach to achieve the top loads.
One of the interesting bullets I have used is one cast
by Baers Hollows, P.O. Box 284, Eads, Colorado 81036, called a deep hollow
point. Cavity is about .160
diameter, depth .400 and a meplat of .250. Baers used the jackrabbit, before it became a game animal,
for his testing media. Reports
claim devastation like you wouldnít believe.
I nailed one Rockchuck using this bullet, and I must say it was
impressive. A quart plastic oil
container, washed out and filled with water, received one of the deep hollow
points and most of the water was nothing but a mist that evaporated in the
air. The same time the jackrabbit
was listed, as a game animal so was the rockchuck and the wily coyote.
About a year later they dropped the coyote but not the rest.
My cast bullets are water hardened by dropping the cast
bullet in a five-gallon bucket of water when the mould is hot enough for the
bullets to sizzle when they touch the water. Checking both Cast Performance
with my water hardened bullet they seem to both register the same hardness on
the LBT hardness tester. This is
20 to 21 BHN. The biggest
difference is in the velocity range for I get a higher velocity with the Cast
Performance over my cast LBT. Also
the few groups I have managed to keep and measure favor the Cast Performance
Using box wine containers filled with water and lined up
one behind the other I had quite a surprise.
I lined ten containers up and used the LBT cast bullet, water
hardened wheel weights, shot from a 5 Ĺ inch barreled Colt SAA at 1293fps.
The bullet penetrated all ten containers, 37 Ĺ inches, boxes and
bladders and sailed off across the countryside.
The next time I lined up twenty wine boxes and shot with a load that
clocked 1432fps out of the Colt and this time 15 were penetrated and recovered
in the 16th. This
was 56 ľ inches of penetration. These
out penetrated the .45 Colt factory Remington round and a 287gr. LBT cast at
The factory .45 penetrated 9 boxes dented the 10th but
stayed in the ninth, 33 ĺ inches. The 287gr. LBT .45 at 1060fps
penetrated 13 dented the 14th but stayed in the 13th and reached 48 ĺ inches.
The .45ís were presented by a 4 ĺ
The Rossi carbine with the Cast Performance 180 gr LBTat
1900fps gave an average of ten shots with an extreme spread of 36fps.
This velocity will make the .357 legal out of a rifle with 20 inch
barrel to 1000fpe plus at 100 yards. This
is the minimum requirement for the rifle loads in Colorado.
The KO factor of this load is 17.5.
Please keep in mind this is for information only.
Your choice is your own but I do have a lot more respect for the .357
with the heavier bullets.