|.357 Remington Maximum Encore rifle and handgun barrels.
15" and 16 1/2" stainless heavy contour Encore barrels in stock now. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Mike Bellm at 541 956 6938.
These are the same as TC's "heavy" and Pro Hunter contour, .8" at the muzzle, and take TC's forends.
These 1-16 twist barrels are the last of my blanks.
For other lengths and twist rates, contact Match Grade Machine directly.
16 1/2" $395
|How to get a .357 Maximum barrel for Encores, Contenders, and H&R type break open guns, briefly, with more details further down this page:
|1) TC factory .357 MAGnum 12" blued G2 & Contender barrels; shoot as MAGnum or rechamber to MAXimum for $95 more, ppd. Call Kurt, 970 433 9525. Supply has been sparse, but he has a quantity available. |
|2) Match Grade Machine, best source for .357 Max. barrels, Click Here|
You have the option to have Match Grade Machine chamber the barrel they make to your order, however you want it made for handgun or rifle use, OR, you can have them hand off the completed Contender or Encore barrel MINUS the chamber to me for my chamber work for an additional $80. More detail about Match Grade Machine , "MGM", farther down this page.
Match Grade Machine is your best choice for Contender and Encore barrels!
|How do Match Grade Machine's chambers shoot?
See these targets below, all shot from a 1-20 twist barrel.
MGM first set out to see what bullets 1-20 twist would actually stabilize, but the test REALLY got interesting!
1-20 twist is not supposed to shoot the heavier bullets like this and blows what I have been saying about needing a faster twist rate for anything over 160 gr. NOT true, as these targets clearly show!
For years, based on David White's accuracy work with a slow twist barrel, I steered shooters toward 1-18 twist or faster if shooting anything 180 gr. or heavier. David simply did not get good accuracy with 180 gr. bullets in his tests with a 1-20 twist barrel.
HOWEVER....... TAKE A HARD LOOK AT MGM'S DATA BELOW, NOT ONLY STABILIZING BULLETS UP THROUGH 225 GR. BUT GETTING GROUPS FROM 1/4" TO .598"!!!!
Top row, left to right:
140 gr. Remington JHP, .744" spread
140 gr. Hornady FTX, .812" spread
158 gr. Hornady XTP, .966" spread
180 gr. Hornady XTP, .544" spread
Bottom row, left to right:
180 gr. Speer FN, .251" spread
180 gr. Barnes TTSX, .363" spread
200 gr. Hornady FTX, .248" spread
225 gr. Sierra SBT, .598" spread
(NOTE: MGM's test guy shot these groups at 80 yards, not a full 100 yards, but certainly show the potentials.)
|3) Have me rechamber an existing .357 MAGnum to MAXimum, Click Here|
This takes you to the Barrel Work page that details the rechambering and other custom work I do, including rechambering the H&R break open type barrels.
Here is a tip for .357 Maximum performance in a .357 MAGnum barrel when .357 Maximum brass is not available.
|.357 Maximum loads in MAGnum cases|
|The .357 Remington Maximum is one of the most efficient and effective handgun rounds there is in handgun lengths, and as a rifle round it is extremely effective to 250 yards and in good hands even 300 yards!|
One 24" rifle barrel customer reported "half dollar" groups dead on at 200 yards, and "coffee cup" size groups 10" low at 300 yards with 158 gr. Hornady XTP handgun bullets no less!
My son, Kurt, the parts and tools guy here, shot a 1" group at 300 yards from his rifle barrel with the 180 gr. Hornady Single Shot pistol bullet!
|The grin on P.J.K.'s face says he loves his results with his 10" .357 Max. and the perfectly mushroomed 180 gr. Hornady XTP bullets:|
I guess no one told him you have to have a gee whiz monster magnum for elk, but the elk didn't know the difference.
|And the perfectly mushroomed recovered Hornady 180 gr. XTP bullets:
Except for the more exotic custom bullets currently available, Hornady's 158 gr. and 180 gr. XTP bullets perform the best among revolver type bullets. They hold together while all others I know of tend to break up.
The 180 gr. XTP is great for all ranges.
If you opt for 158 gr. bullets, and shots tend to be close in, choose the 158 gr. XTP Flat Point for maximum rifle velocities where impact velocity remains high at close range. The flat point is less likely to break up at high velocity.
Choose the 158 gr. Hollow Point for better expansion at longer ranges.
.357 Rem. Max. as a varmint round? Why not? The accuracy is there!
|Jim Hendershot, Jr. skimmed this young marmot off the rocks with a 75 yard off hand shot using a 12" TC G2 factory barrel rechambered to .357 Rem. Max. by Mike Bellm, 4x NcStar pistol scope.|
(Many of you have had trigger jobs done by Jim Hendershot senior. Jim junior pictured above had been battling cancer for some time, but lost the battle. In memory of Jim Jr., his pic will remain here.)
|And it is simply a deer harvesting machine:|
|Note the ENTRY hole made by the 180 gr. Hornady XTP hollow point bullet. His load, 27 gr. AA1680, Federal Match primers. Seth reports all shots have been pass-through shots & quick kills. Pic courtesy Seth K.|
|Seth K. wrote:
I hope all is well with you. I ended up taking 4 deer (no big ones) with the .357 Max pistol barrel you made for me and have attached a few pics. Check out the ENTRY hole on the shoulder in the second pic.
What an awesome setup. I did not even get my rifle out of the gun safe this year. I hunted all season with the Max. I have been hunting for 20+ years and with Alabama’s liberal bag limit have taken literally hundreds of deer over the years and I can honestly say I have not been as excited as I was hunting with the pistol this year in a long time.
I am officially on the bandwagon for the .357 Max
Thanks again for all the help getting everything set up.
|180 gr. Hornady XTP expansion.... perfect!|
|12" Contender, 180 grain Hornady XTP over 27 grains of AA1680 powder|
The 180 gr. Hornady XTP is a "Go-To" bullet in both handgun and rifle .357 Max. barrels. However, production of this bullet has been "Temporarily Suspended", meaning it is not scheduled for production probably through 2016. In the current market, manufacturers are going where the $$ are based on demand. I strongly recommend you call or email Hornady and give them a better picture of what the demand is for this staple item!
Meanwhile, the 158 gr. XTP while not optimum does an excellent job on deer in the Max.
The 158 & 180 gr. XTP bullets have a MUCH thicker jacket in the shank of the bullet compared to nearly everyone else's similar revolver type bullets. Then toward the nose the jacket thins and is scored for perfect expansion. This construction holds the bullet together for good penetration while the nose expands and does its job.
Note also, Hornady puts an extra stout jacket on their 140 gr. .357 "Flex Tip" bullet, which reportedly does well on deer also. Thus you can run the speed up in rifle barrels with less chance of the bullet coming apart, while also getting good expansion from handgun length barrels.
Rifle velocities should be kept on the moderate side with other brands of revolver type bullets with thinner jackets where shots on deer or hogs tend to be close up, say, 100 yards +/-.
Look for more expansion test examples farther down this page.
|Another kill with a Max handgun.........|
|I've included the segment below dedicated to young shooters. .357 Max. is a great round for kids and smallish folks to start out with. And if .357 Maximum, AND .357 Magnum with the right load kills deer so well for youngsters, it must be adequate for us old timers as well.... and all ages in between!
|In a "man size" rifle or a perfect carbine for smaller folks, .357 Maximum delivers optimum performance with moderate recoil making good game shots much easier for any age of hunter.|
Harrison's first deer with his Contender .357 Remington Maximum carbine was a heart shot on this nice Maine whitetail. Congratulations! Well done, Harrison!
Barrel is a Match Grade Machine barrel chambered by Mike Bellm with Bellm machined in muzzle brake. The load was a moderate charge of 18 gr. H-110 with a 158 gr. JSP bullet, ample for the job and pleasant to shoot.
|How about a 5 (FIVE!) year old taking his deer with HIS .357 Maximum!
Kids and guns? The right thing, done right!
Young Ohio farm boy, Brayden B., and the doe he shot with his .357 Maximum.
Congratulations, Brayden, and thank you for the privilege of chambering and braking your barrel.
|And Brayden does it again with his .357 Maximum in the 2016 season.
|Miss "M.E.H." from Michigan and her deer.|
Her H&R is cut back to 16" for easy handling and still chambered for .357 Magnum. The 180 gr. Federal JHP factory load had plenty of penetration on M.E.H.'s quartering shot at about 35 yards. The doe only went about 40 yards.
M.E.H. and her twin sister will likely graduate up to moderate loads with .357 Maximum for fall 2016 with Dad guiding the way.
For hunting, .357 Maximum can be loaded up in small increments from .357 Magnum equivalent all the way up to nearly equal .308 Winchester. Or, it can be loaded down to about .38 Special equivalent for training and practice.
Or, as described near the top of this page, I can also chamber for .357 Magnum with an appropriate throat length to let you load "book" revolver loads for .357 Maximum in the .357 Magnum case for both better accuracy with standard .357 Magnum ammo AND much stouter handloads in the Magnum case.
If her sister does not pass up another buck for a bigger one, hopefully we'll be posting her picture here next!
|How did the Federal 180 gr. JHP bullet perform?
Here you have the round and the recovered bullet and nose fragments.
Not bad! It held together quite well.
|Encore .357 Max. Illinois deer sniping rig|
MGM custom barrel, chambered by Mike Bellm, Nikon Scope, Tony Gettel custom grip and forend, and Caldwell bipod.
|About the .357 Remington Maximum|
The .357 Remington Maximum is one of the finest all-around cartridges there is for the Encore and Contender/G2 shooting platforms, especially for hunting with handguns with 10" and longer barrels.
In carbine/rifle barrel lengths it readily equals or surpasses the time proven .35 Rem. as an excellent meat getter to 200 yards and beyond, depending on how it is loaded and what barrel length it is shot from.
It not only delivers the killing energy required quite nicely at these longer ranges, but when properly chambered, it is AMAZINGLY accurate, delivering varmint rifle accuracy that enables shooters to PLACE the shot at 200 yards without having to hold over the target.
The .357 Remington Maximum easily delivers sub-MOA accuracy when shot from a well assembled Encore or Contender/G2.
AND, this is done with common handgun bullets! Not special match grade bullets!
|While our focus is on the TC guns, other break open guns such as the CVA Scout pistol and the CVA Apex customized by David White, represented by the targets below, are an excellent basis for the .357 Remington Maximum also.
While more typical "hunting guns" may not give groups as tight as David's heavy barrel target setups do, his work clearly demonstrates the sterling accuracy the Max. is capable of with common, ordinary handgun bullets.
(H&R Handy Rifle, CVA Optima Elite, and other various break open single shots are also candidates for conversion to .357 Remington Maximum.)
|200 yard accuracy:|
Farther down this page you will find velocity, energy, and drop figures. Be sure to take a hard look at them and compare the data with other more common "deer gun" rounds in the various reloading manuals and other ballistics data resources.
You will find this little round stacks up quite favorably!
|The targets above are not a fluke!
Here is another testimonial to wet your appetite!
Subtract .358" from the .572" reading..... center-to-center comes out to .184"!
How many varmint guns you own shoot that well?
Hello again Mike.
I just wanted to say that I recently purchased a SS TC custom shop 357 mag encore barrel off of a guy who had you rechamber it to the 357 max sometime ago. This barrel is absolutely the most accurate barrel I have ever shot, period. I have gone through my encores with all your recommended parts & procedures & while working up a load for the upcoming deer season I managed to find several loads that shot incredibly well but one in particular was a 5 shot group at 100 yds that measured out at an amazing 0.215" center to center out of a lead sled solo rest. I can consistently shoot half inch groups off hand with this rifle! I've outshot several .308's, 22-250's and .204 rugers at the range with my "lowly little single shot" as one guy put it. You obviously didn't do the work for me but I'd like to thank you none the less for an outstanding job on this chamber. JG
.357 Remington Maximum was given a death sentence by SAAMI the day it was born.....
due to the forcing cone type chamber design they gave it for closed breech guns and the rather quick demise of revolvers chambered for it. Click on the page link below:
|.357 Remington Maximum chamber drawing|
This page shows the design of the SAAMI .357 Rem. Max. chamber compared to what a chamber with a true throat is. The best solution we have come up with for accuracy with the forcing cone chambers is to use long shanked, wide flat nose cast lead, gas checked bullets +/- 200 gr that seal off the bore sooner than shorter bullets do. The LBT designs such as put out by Cast Bullet Performance and others are recommended.
Factory .357 Maximum chambers have about a .4" long forcing cone instead of a true throat. Accuracy from such a chamber by design can never give the true accuracy potential this round is capable of. This same forcing cone design is now used by TC in all of their .357 Magnum chambers as well. Rechambering to the longer .357 Maximum chamber cuts out all but about .1" of the cone. SOME cone IS required for shooting cast lead bullets, so the .1" of cone remaining after rechambering to Max IS perfectly acceptable. In fact, on the older .357 Magnum chambers with a very short cone, no cone is left after rechambering and I DO cut a short, BUT abrupt cone at the mouth of the chamber so firing cast lead bullets does not leave a ring of lead between case neck and the end of the chamber neck.
|As you see in the targets above, accuracy in properly chambered and assembled guns is absolutely superb, BUT not from the ill-conceived forcing cone chambers the industry is forced to adopt in order to march lock step with SAAMI, insurance companies, and our sue happy American legal system.
Working outside of "the industry," we in the custom trades have the option of cutting chambers for .357 Maximum that are not ruined by a poor chamber design. We can cut chambers that have true throats in them, throats kept to minimum diameter, and aligned with the bore properly for superb accuracy.
.357 Remington Maximum is one of the most inherently accurate .35s available when chambered right. It is also one of the very easiest and cheapest hunting rounds to load for overall. And for those that do not reload, it is our hope that we can garner enough momentum for the round that a major manufacturer will once again supply not just loaded ammunition at SAAMI revolver specs, but loaded to the full potential of this little Mighty Mite!
In the meantime, there are smaller commercial loaders that do supply .357 Maximum loaded ammo and will also custom load ammo for you.
The three major ammunition manufacturers, Remington, Winchester, and Federal, all made ammunition for it when introduced, but today not even Remington, the company that gave birth to it, loads ammunition for it, and only Remington still sells empty .357 Remington Maximum brass which is only produced periodically.
LET'S CHANGE THIS!
I ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAKE YOUR INTEREST IN THE .357 REMINGTON MAXIMUM KNOWN TO WRITERS AND AMMUNITION MANUFACTURERS.
WE NEED A LONGER OVERALL CARTRIDGE LENGTH AND BONA FIDE HUNTING LOADS FOR CLOSED BREECH GUNS THAT EXCEED THE SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE REVOLVERS IT WAS ORIGINALLY DESIGNED FOR.
THE .357 REMINGTON MAXIMUM HAS A TOTALLY NEW HOME IN THE BREAK OPEN GUNS WHERE IT REACHES ITS FULL POTENTIAL.
|There are a number of ways to get a .357 Maximum barrel. Below you will see the various avenues explained.|
|.357 Remington Maximum conversions of existing barrels:|
|Contender & G2 Contender barrels:|
Contender & G2 barrel rechambering to .357 Rem. Maximum is limited to rechambering existing .357 Magnum Contender and G2 barrels to .357 Remington Maximum. Price for rechambering a .357 Magnum Contender (or Encore if you find one) to .357 Rem. Maximum is $95 post paid back to you.
|G2 set up with 12" barrel. Note choice of 180 gr. Remington HP bullets. Pic courtesy of Seth K.|
New current production 12" TC factory .357 Magnum G2 barrels are an excellent platform to start from building your .357 Rem. Max. meat getter.
|Encore and Pro Hunter barrels (and Contender/G2):|
|Custom made .357 Max. barrels by Match Grade Machine.|
Match Grade Machine is my pick of the custom barrel makers. You have the option of having them make your choice of Contender or Encore barrel in the length, contour, blued v. stainless, and any other options they offer and do the chamber which DOES have a true throat.
OR, if you prefer they will hand your custom made Contender or Encore barrel to me to chamber at added cost for my chamber work, $80.
They DO use a nice cylindrical throat that produces excellent accuracy potential. However, my throats are actually two diameter throats cut in two separate operations, cut independently of the chamber body, plus a SHORT cone. This arrangement accommodates all types of bullets that excel in the Max:
Cast lead bullets,
.358" jacketed bullets, and
.357" jacketed bullets.
I dial in the bore AT THE POINT WHERE THE THROAT WILL BE CUT before starting any chamber work to help assure the best possible alignment of the throat with the bore.
Match Grade Machine does a beautiful barrel crown. Some ask for me to recrown their barrels, but I see no benefit to you. Theirs is an excellent crown, FAR superior to any factory production crown.
|TC does not make any "production" .357 Magnum Encore barrels, so "custom order" is the only option for Encores.
|Rechambering H&R Handy Rifle barrels:|
Due to the forend stud being welded onto the barrel, a special set up is required that adds $30 to the cost.
Rechambering H&R barrels is $125 including return shipping.
|Here is the special setup required for rechambering the H&R barrels.|
The forend stud welded to the barrel prevents putting the barrel into the spindle of the lathe far enough to chuck up on the shank of the barrel like I do the TC barrels.
The round adaptor added to the barrel has to be dialed in, then a light skim cut made to the outside of the adaptor to assure complete concentricity with the chamber. The process is time consuming, but assures a good, accurate chamber and throat.
|Why not just have a barrel rechambered by a local "gunsmith", or just buy a reamer and ream it out yourself? |
Most "gunsmiths" just go buy a reamer and use it the way it was made, which is a big mistake that undermines the accuracy potential of the Max.
Look at the .357 Max. chamber diagrams here on our site and realize that from the factories & SAAMI spec reamers you get the long forcing cone arrangement..... what we are trying to get away from in the first place by rechambering to the 5/16" longer .357 Remington Maximum. We need to start with a shorter chamber, the .357 Magnum (or .38 Special), which when lengthened cuts out all but about .1" of the forward part of the cone in the .357 Magnum original chamber.
A short section of "cone" between the end of the chamber and the start of the throat is necessary when shooting cast lead bullets, which the .357 Max. is a natural for.
In fact,as mentioned again below, when starting from a barrel with no chamber, I go in with a separate reamer to cut a short, but more abrupt cone at the start of the throat to make the Max. chamber excel with both jacketed AND cast lead bullets.
|Getting the .357 Rem. Max. conversion work done:
For rechambering conversions, send your .357 Magnum barrel with NO scope base or sights to and make $95, $125 if the front sight is soldered on, (or $125 for rechambering H&R barrels) payment to:
NOTE: NEW ADDRESS
2410 West 350 North, Bld. #1
Hurricane, Utah 84737
I do take credit cards and Pay Pal, but do not take AMEX.
Includes return shipping.
(Round barrels only, front sight must be removable or be removed if an older vintage Contender barrel with front sight soldered on)
I keep getting calls wanting to know about delivery time. Call me if you just want to hear my voice, but this is what I will tell you:
1) I do not quote delivery times, period.
2) I give .357 Max rechambers priority.
3) Where practical I batch work, do a lot of Max. rechambers, and it won't be long.
|Relining conversions, costly to do but doable:
Either buy an existing barrel from us or if supplying your own barrel, send it and $50 non-refundable deposit. Balance due for the work will be billed upon completion.
Relining a barrel is more expensive than having Match Grade Machine make a totally new custom barrel, but relining is an option. Relining starts at $375 plus the cost of the blank, which usually runs the total cost up to about $500 depending on the cost of the blank barrel used to make the barrel liner.
Usually it is more cost effective to simply sell the sacrificial barrel and put that money into a new custom Encore or Contender/G2 barrel from Match Grade Machine.
Send Encore, Contender, or H&R type barrels to and make payment to:
2410 West 350 North, Bld. #1
Hurricane, Utah 84737
I do take credit cards and Pay Pal, but do not take AMEX.
|Price for relining and details about sending work in, Click here.|
|.357 Remington Maximum loaded ammunition, Click Here.|
This link takes you to our Related Links page where you will find a number of smaller commercial ammunition manufacturers who load for .357 Maximum, some of which also offer the option of custom loadings to suit your individual needs.
Note that the commercial loaders are out of .357 Max. brass from time to time, but many smaller companies will reload your fired brass or new brass you supply.
|Read on for more compelling information about the .357 Remington Maximum!|
|.357 Rem. Maximum as a rifle round out performs the old standby 200 yard deer rifle rounds like .30/30 Win. and .35 Rem.
Here are some comparative data. Compare the energy and drop figures for .35 Rem. and .30/30 to David White's data below.
Standard load for .35 Rem., Hornady data:
200 gr. bullet, 2000 fps at the muzzle.
Energy at 100 yards 1183 ft/lb
Energy at 200 yards 783 ft/lb
100 yard zero, drop at 200 yards 11.7"
Standard load for .30/30 Win., Hornady data:
150 gr. bullet, 2300 fps at the muzzle.
Energy at 100 yards 1175 ft/lb
Energy at 200 yards 762 ft/lb
100 yard zero, drop at 200 yards 8.5"
Compare these energy and drop figures to popular modern 100 gr. powder charge .45 and .50 cal. muzzle loader figures for various bullet weights. 150 gr. powder charges are noted for more recoil and not necessarily the best accuracy. 100 gr. powder charges are normally preferred.
The .357 Rem. Maximum's energy and drop figures compare vary favorably with many of the common 100 gr. muzzle loader loads and do it in much, much shorter, handier barrel lengths.
|Energy and drop figures listed below for .357 Maximum courtesy of David White:|
(Note, these loads are a bit conservative, roughly 100 fps slower than what many others are reporting.)
158 gr. - 160 gr. bullets / 2,400 fps....
100 yd. velocity / 1,922 fps....... ft. lbs. energy / 1,295...
200 yd. velocity / 1,512 fps....... ft. lbs. energy / 803...
100 yd. zero / 8.1" low at 200 yds...
180 gr. bullets / 2,300 fps....
100 yd. velocity / 1,976 fps....... ft. lbs. energy / 1,561
200 yd. velocity / 1.683 fps....... ft. lbs. energy / 1,132
100 yd. zero / 7.5" low at 200 yds...
|Velocities readily attainable with .357 Rem. Max, 24 1/2" barrel from David White, posted on his site:|
|Excellent velocity and accuracy work up of a .357 Max. Click here!|
Amazing groups and velocities to over 3000 fps!
Loads, bullets, expansion tests. EXCELLENT groups fired at 100 yards all the way out to 250 yards! Be sure to check out this page. Quite an eye opener.
|David's targets posted here were shot from a 1-20 twist barrel.|
|Here is a sample target from David's workup:|
The above target is not a fluke! There were numerous targets under 1/2" shot at 100 yards and groups hovering around 1" at 200 yards.
This is impressive accuracy for any hunting gun!
Plus these groups were not shot with "match" bullets, but rather common pistol bullets!
|The difference is pressure.|
The .357 Max can operate at the same pressures as the .223 Rem. and hotter 5.56 NATO ammo even in the old Contender. Permissible pressures are higher than standard .357 Max. SAAMI operating pressures that were originally set for the Ruger revolver at 48,000 psi while pressures for the old standby "deer rifles" are around 40,000 psi or less.
Granted, in appropriately stronger actions, the old standby rounds can be loaded hotter, so the comparisons made are NOT on a level playing field, granted, but serve as a reference point where factory ammo is concerned.
The point is that without crowding safety limits at all, the .357 Rem. Max. can actually deliver more energy at 200 yards and do it with the same or less drop than the benchmarks for the old standby "deer guns."
|Mike Bellm TCs .357 Remington Maximum reloading data page|
We have started to compile primarily rifle barrel length data for the Max.
Other links from this page have extensive handgun loading data, but little has been published for the Max. fired at full pressure from rifles where it is proving itself to excel as a rifle cartridge.
Some quick summary notes regarding barrel lengths, twist rates, primers, powder, ammo, and bullets to cover Frequently Asked Questions.
The very versatile .357 Rem. Maximum can be an experimenter's paradise from shooting light weight bullets at 3,000 fps (rifle length barrels) for devastation on varmints to 250 gr. and heavier bullets sub-sonic, and everything in between.
It is extremely efficient in short barrels with 10" being pretty much an optimum minimum length, but still exceeds revolver velocities in 7-8" barrels by about 150 fps. Cast lead bullets can increase velocities over the same weight of jacketed bullet by 100 fps or more.
.357 Maximum can be loaded down to very, very light target/plinking rounds for very quiet practice, small game, and training ammo for kids and recoil sensitive newcomers to shooting. In longer barrels with faster powders and lead bullets noise can be reduced to little more than that of an air gun.
Or, it can be loaded up to nearly equal the muzzle energy of a .308 Winchester!
THE MOST COMMONLY ASKED QUESTION IS:
CAN I SHOOT .357 MAGNUM AND .38 SPECIAL AMMO IN THE MAX?
Yes, you certainly can, but most bullets will be in "free flight" through the .3" of chamber before a bullet from a Mag case even enters the throat, .4" from .38 Special, so don't expect much for accuracy. It is better to use the .357 Max case but choose a lighter load.
WHAT LENGTH OF BARREL IS BEST?
My answer: I am not the one using it and don't know the conditions. There is no "best" barrel length.
.357 Rem. Max. is using a small volume of relatively fast powder in a largish bore size that is not as dependent on a lot of barrel length to produce velocity. Good testing should be done to show the curve where velocity gain per inch really diminishes, but 18-20" handles best and depending on the powder burning rate chosen, probably delivers optimum velocity. 2 to 4" of additional barrel length as a good guesstimate probably adds no more than 30 to maybe 60 fps.
Optimum barrel length for maximum velocity and good handling qualities of the gun is +/- 20".
12" handguns handle nicely and produce good velocities while 10" barrels are better manageable for off hand shots. 14" and longer barrels depend more on conditions that allow you to shoot from a rested position.
I like the weight, balance, and feel of the .810" untapered 12" G2 Contender handgun barrels and prefer the .8" diameter untapered Encore rifle barrels. Ie, put some weight in the barrel, but don't make it too long.
"Best" barrel length is what is best for YOU and how you shoot it.
I do NOT recommend light tapered barrels, nothing lighter than TC's "standard contour" 24" barrels.
Keep some weight in the barrel for stiffness. If actual total weight of the gun is an issue, go with a shorter barrel but keep the diameter at the muzzle at least .7".
I see no need for a brake on either .357 Max. handgun or rifle barrels.
In handgun lengths, recoil of maximum .357 Max. loads is modest compared to .44 Magnum as a benchmark.
In rifle length barrels, consider the fact that the Max. uses about 1/3 to 1/2 less powder than a .308 Win. with the same bullet weight, yet gives nearly the same energy . That greater charge of slower powder from a .308 Win. produces a lot more muzzle blast that propels the gun back at you much harder!
Also, the faster powders used in the Max., much faster than those used in .308 Win., result in lower muzzle pressures. Thus percentage-wise you get less recoil reduction from a muzzle brake on a Max. compared to the effects of a brake on a .308 Win.
Recoil from the .357 Max. is moderate enough for kids and ladies to be comfortable with without a muzzle brake, and unless shooting out past about 200 yards, there is no real reason to punish recoil sensitive shooters with hot loads. Moderate loads inside 150 to 200 yards do the job well and let less experienced shooters do their best shooting.
If you just want a brake, then brake the barrel.
Do I feel you need one? No.
Save your money, and your ears.
The vast majority of barrels have been the most commonly available 1-14 twist, which has proven great for all bullet weights except for extremely long, heavy bullets shot sub-sonic.
Based on MGM's tests, I have to revise my recommendations entirely!
For years I said:
"1-20 twist is fine up through 160 gr. bullets but may not stabilize heavier or longer pointed bullets.
1-18 twist handles up through 180 gr. bullets and short for weight 200 gr. round nose."
MGM's tests proved that 1-20 twist is entirely adequate up through the 225 gr. bullet they tested.
1-16 is what Remington has used for years for everything they have made in .35 Rem., .350 Rem. Mag, and to my knowledge .35 Whelen. 1-16 is probably the optimum for .357 Maximum, is less commonly available, but 1-16 twist is what I will be using predominantly from 2015 on.
So what is the answer to the twist rate question?
I lean toward a faster twist just to be on the safe side of accuracy and bullet stability in the animal. But even 1-20 twist was proven to be not only sufficiently fast enough but also turned in superb accuracy.
.357" OR .358" GROOVE DIAMETER? WHICH IS BEST?:
I see no difference in accuracy.
The throat diameter and the way I throat barrels is the key, regardless of groove diameter. .357" bullets shoot phenomenal groups in .358" barrels, and conversely, the undersize TC barrels with groove diameters around .356" shoot .358" bullets equally well.
From its inception as a revolver round with early experimental loads exceeding 75,000 psi in the Ruger revolvers, the Remington No. 7 1/2 primer was used. It is considered a MAGNUM RIFLE primer. Use rifle primers, not handgun, and generally use MAGNUM primers, especially with ball powders.
For reduced loads, use bulky, faster burning, easier to ignite flake powders like Unique and Blue Dot, powders known for good accuracy in moderate pressure rounds. Trail Boss is noted for being excellent in very reduced loads. IMR-4759 and 2400 for intermediate loads equivalent to or a notch or two above .357 Magnum levels. One thing I have noticed about 2400 is that lower pressure loads leave a lot of unburned powder in the barrel while hotter loads leave virtually no unburned powder in the bore. Why velocities published for 2400 are on the low side may be due to producing less consistent pressures with hotter loads, which is only conjecture on my part. However, 2400 is worth experimenting with at charges a few grains higher than are normally published.
For full throttle loads, the 4227 powders (IMR and Hodgdon), Hodgdon Lil Gun, and similar are about the fastest burning rate powders that should be used.
WW-296/H-110 (one in the same powder) are rated faster burning than the 4227 powders but for velocity WW-296/H-110 beat the 4227's and are pretty much the go-to choice with 140 gr. to 180 gr. bullets. Following the manufacturers' recommendations for WW-296/H-110, do not use less than published charges. I would add that with bullets seated out, start with near maximum published charges and go up a grain or two OVER published maximum loads..... and crimp.
Not much has been done with AA-5744, which falls in between WW-296/H-110 and AA-1680 for burning rate, but this less-in-demand powder may be more available and prove to be a good one. The jury is still out.
AA-1680 is pretty much the benchmark for top velocity with 180 gr. to 200 gr. bullets and has the benefit of being the safest powder to push to the extreme since you virtually cannot go over-pressure with it. Reloader 7 is the slowest powder to choose, works well, and falls into this same general description.
Other powders by Scott, Norma, Vihtavouri, Ramshot, etc. should fall into the above burning rate range between 2400 and Lil Gun on the fast end and Reloader 7 on the slow end. Do a web search for powder burning rate charts.
Alliant 300-MP is in the right burning rate range and should work well in the Max., especially with 180 gr. bullets.
For those who like to experiment where no data is published, the Max. offers plenty of opportunities.
JACKETED BULLETS FOR LARGER GAME, ESPECIALLY DEER:
Some report good results on deer with Hornady's 140 gr. Flex Tip bullet, but this is the lightest bullet for deer.
Barnes' 140 gr. solid copper handgun bullet will withstand all the speed you can feed it, but from full throttle loads in rifles will break off the petals at the nose yet retain about 65% of its weight for good penetration.
Results posted on this page with various brands of 158 gr. bullets favor those by Hornady and Remington for deer while other brands not loaded to full potential velocity may prove to not break up and be quite alright for deer. 158-160 gr. is plenty adequate for deer.
Most jacketed handgun bullets have very thin jackets and will literally unfold on themselves and not penetrate when run at full speed on closer shots where the terminal velocity is up close to 2,000 fps yet.
Hopefully Remington will produce their 180 gr. .357 HP bullet again sometime. If you find any, snag 'em in the meantime.
For velocity, longer range trajectory, and penetration 180 gr. is generally optimum while 200 gr. bullets may be preferred for larger hogs. Reserve the pointed bullets for rifle velocities to assure expansion. As noted elsewhere here, the Hornady XTP and Remington flat nose and hollow point bullets perform well in both handgun length barrels and rifle lengths.
Speer's .358" 180 gr. flat tip rifle bullet is excellent in the Max..... when available.
While the price of premium handgun bullets like Hawk, Swift, and Northfork runs a buck or more per pop, these bullets will expand and hold together at just about any speed the Max. will drive them. My suggestion is go ahead and spend $50 or more on premium 180 gr. bullets, make sure you are sighted in with them, and simply reserve them for serious hunting. We hate $3 to $4 a gallon gas to get to where we hunt, but spend it anyway. Look at your hunting bullets the same way. Hunting bullets are not the place to pinch pennies unless you are sure you can place head, neck/spine, or heart shots where bullet failure is not an issue for you.
CAST LEAD BULLETS:
Reduced loads are ok with most any weight and type of plain base or gas checked bullet.
Slower powders tend to minimize potential to lead the barrel.
Hunting bullets should be gas checked and have a WIDE FLAT NOSE design for best effect on game.
Stick with 180 gr. and heavier bullets for deer with the benefit of a potential velocity increase of 100 to as much as 150 fps over the same weight of jacketed bullet. With the throats I cut, .358" sized diameter should be best across the board, but would not dismiss .357" diameter.
CRIMP OR NOT TO CRIMP:
I've always said it is not necessary to crimp the Max, BUT all those nice groups David White has posted here were with crimped loads, crimped in the factory cannelure, meaning a largish jump to the rifling and raising doubts about the common wisdom of seating bullets to the lands for best accuracy. Experiment for yourself, and crimp IF it produces better accuracy for you.
TIP REGARDING CRIMPING:
I have not done anything with or given much credence to the Lee Factory Crimp Die, BUT, recent reports are that with the thin jackets of handgun bullets especially, the Lee Factory Crimp Die will effectively make its own cannelure groove in the bullet.
Try it with bullets seated out where no cannelure/crimp groove exists.
One caveat is the carbide ring used in Lee's dies, both the factory crimp die and the carbide size die, size quite small and tend to overwork cases. If your fired case diameter is much over .381" at the base, I would suggest another brand that does not size so small.
MINIMUM SEATING DEPTH:
Interestingly, the old discontinued pointed 150 gr. .35 Remington bullet measures a scant .2" from its base to the center of the cannelure. 3/16" to .2" is a sufficient length of bullet shank in the case. Seat bullets out as far as you need to for full charges of 1680 and Rel 7 powders! Make use of all that powder capacity wasted on revolver length loads.
WHO MAKES THE BEST RELOADING DIES FOR .357 MAXIMUM?
Redding usually works the cases the least and has the best overall finish.
Carbide dies are well worth the extra cost.
Seat stem in current production Redding Mag/Max dies is shaped to handle all bullet profiles by contacting down close to the bullet shank.
Another plus for Redding. No need for separate seat stems for round nose and flat nose bullets with the Redding seat die.
Note the caveat above about Lee's carbide size die sizing too small for some chambers and overworking the case at the head. In general, I would avoid the Lee carbide size & factory crimp dies.
If your seat die leaves a bulge below the crimp, go to a taper crimp die to straighten out the bulge of a roll crimp.
From over 30 years of chambering and test firing .357 Maximum barrels with loads that crater primers "proofing" chambers, for good, safe, functional maximum loads, I recommend taking powder charges up to the point primers begin to show a light crater around the firing pin indent that you can snag with a finger nail, then backing charges off to JUST below the point where the cratering first appears. Or, crater them a little if you like.
This small diameter cartridge, even in Contenders, is very forgiving, but don't get too crazy with it.
STARLINE .357 MAXIMUM BRASS:
2016 Starline finally began making .357 Maximum brass.
Quality is superb, though not as hard in the head as Remington.
Meaning, hot loads you can run ok in Remington brass may expand the primer pocket in Starline's brass.
Sample loaded .357 Maximum ammo from Jamison/Captech had about a 20% failure rate on the first firing as the ammo came from them.
Cases split lengthwise about 1/2" up from the case head.
This brass was apparently from an earlier production run. Whether they have corrected the problem as of 2015 or not, I do not know at this writing. There have been no complaints about 2015 production Jamison/Captech brass splitting.
Bottom line is that I would not get buried too deeply in Jamison/Captech brass until time proves it is ok.
REMINGTON .357 MAXIMUM BRASS:
Remington's Max brass is still the best, hardest, and most durable made, including the 1980s vintage Winchester and Federal .357 Maximum brass.
BUT, I am not optimistic about Remington making Max. brass again..... at least not until "the industry" gets hungry again. So long as they are on a roll with government contracts, they continue to neglect their own progeny.
WHAT ABOUT .360 DAN WESSON?
This brass is enough shorter that I would not rely on it for accuracy from the much longer .357 Maximum chamber, but since Starline has the brass in stock as of this 2015 writing, I certainly can cut the chamber for it, and this length of chamber makes shooting .357 MAGnum ammo in the Dan Wesson chamber much more likely to give decent accuracy than attempting to get good accuracy from .357 MAGnum in the still longer .357 MAXimum chamber.
.360 Dan Wesson will not realize the full velocity potentials of the .357 Maximum, but is a good step up from .357 MAGnum. If shots are normally not past the 200 yard range, .360 Dan Wesson should to the job well.
NERVOUS ABOUT BRASS SUPPLY BUT NEED A ROUND LESS THAN 1.8" FOR YOUR STATE'S DEER REGS?
Consider .357 Bain & Davis, very easily made from always available .44 Magnum brass.
Velocity potentials are on par with the .357 Maximum, but due to the larger chamber diameter and the high pressures produced by published loads, it is better reserved for Encore barrels.
It was for a time chambered in Contender barrels, but is a bit hard on Contender frames.
G2 frames are less "stretchy" and will stand up to the B&D better than Contender frames.
.357 Herrett is likewise an excellent choice where regs do not stipulate "straight wall case". It is made from .30/30 brass, readily available, but is a bit of a pain to many reloaders who object to having to cut cases back to 1.750".
It is extra work, but file and trim dies make the chore easy enough for anyone to do.
NEW TO RELOADING???
.357 Max. is a good place to start and the cheapest of setups like Lee's cheap presses & powder dippers, Lee's original "smash and bash" "Lee Loader", and Lyman's Tong Tool, will produce good results for the rankest of amateur with a smattering of common sense using published loads.
YOU DON'T RELOAD AND DON'T WANT TO?
FINE...... no problem. Buy loaded ammo, save the empty brass, and send it to a company such as Colorado Custom Cartridges and have them reload it for you! Minimum lots of 100 pieces are usually required.
Colorado Custom Cartridges will also load .357 Bain & Davis, .360 Dan Wesson, and .357 Herrett.
Or.... since it is hard to go wrong loading .357 Max ammo or .360 Dan Wesson, have a reliable friend load it for you.
|Colorado Custom Cartridges, Click here!|
There are a lot of custom ammo makers to choose from, but Colorado Custom Cartridges is our favorite and one we work with extensively. For both new ammo, loading your new and/or fired brass with standard loads, or customized loads, contact them! They are a cut above the rest and will work in smaller quantities, 100 or more, as well as larger production runs.
Colorado Custom Cartridges loads and reloads a wide variety of all types of standard ammo plus a lot of obsolete ammo tailored to your gun & needs.
|Grizzly Cartridge Company, Click here!|
Grizzly Cartridge Co. is geared more for volume and specializes in more standardized newly loaded ammo, both with jacketed bullets and cast lead bullet loads in conjunction with their Cast Performance side of their business.
They will also do production runs reloading your fired brass.
Buy directly from Grizzly or via Midway-USA where Grizzly ammo is featured.
|Neither of these two companies are jacklegs in a shack out back with a Dillon working willy-nilly.
The personable owners of both companies come from high tech industry experiences, VERY well educated professional tech types with a keen attention to detail, insured, and very reliable.
|I encourage you to go through various other resources listed randomly below for more information about the .357 Rem. Maximum in various barrel lengths.|
|Handloader magazine article on a 10 inch .357 Max.|
Click on the title above for a pdf download from Handloader magazine.
This excellent March/April 1994 article by John O'Renick is available courtesy of Wolfe Publishing, publishers of Rifle, Handloader, and Successful Hunter magazines.
Excellent treatise on a wide, wide range of bullets and powders taken from an older .357 Magnum Contender barrel I rechambered to .357 Max. Excellent 10" barrel data!
It should be noted, per the original chamber drawing included, this barrel had the older short cone throat. Rechambering the later .357 Mag. TC chambers with the .4" long forcing cone does leave about .1" of the original cone in the chamber. Ie, not quite all of it is cut out, which is a plus with lead bullets. Look at the cone in the .357 Mag. drawing in the article. This type of short angled cone prevents lead bullets from shearing as they go into the cylindrical throat I cut.
I have continued to experiment with throat configurations over the years and have been cutting a two diameter throat instead of the tapered design shown. With lead shooters in mind, I cut the same type of short cone shown for the early .357 Mag. chambers, followed by the two step cylindrical throat.
Special thanks goes also to "Headstamp" for bringing this nearly forgotten article to my attention and graciously providing the pdf file available for free here.
|Rifle, Handloader, Successful Hunter magazines by Wolfe Publishing|
Title is an active link to Wolfe Publishing. Special thanks to Wolfe Publishing for permission to reproduce the above article on the .357 Max. These excellent publications have grown dramatically in popularity. Take a free look at magazine samples and also access back issues online.
|.357 Rem. Maximum Article by Glen Fryxell |
Excellent article on the Los Angeles Silhouette Club site with emphasis on cast lead.
|Hobie's webpage on his .357 Max. TC factory carbine barrel|
Good overall info, data, bullet choices.
|.357 MAGNUM article by Paco Kelly.... data, rifle and handgun.|
While the .357 Magnum is the subject of his article, it shows the potentials of the smallish straightwall .35 cal. cartridges, gives pressures and velocities in both handgun and rifle with the same loads, reports how various handgun bullet types actually perform on game, and compares the .357 Magnum's superior performance compared to the primary turn of the 19th century leverguns our forefathers successfully collected game with. It is both informative and colorful while making one rethink the lowly .357 Magnum. It is a good basis for understanding just how much more the .357 Rem. Maximum can be relied on when its full potential is realized in the break open TC guns.
|More About Working With The .357 Remington Maximum|
|180 gr Bullets Are Generally The Best Choice For The .357 Max., but bullets through 200 gr. give more penetration if needed and still have ample veloctiy for good expansion on larger, tougher game like hogs.|
|Left: Hornady 180 gr. XTP,
Center: Hornady 200 gr. Spire Point, NOT recommended at lower velocities as from a 10" barrel,
Right: Remington 180 gr. Hollow Soft Point
180 gr. gives the best combination of sectional density for a good long range trajectory while being able to be driven fast enough for good expansion on deer size game, even from 10" barrels, out to 150 to 200 yards depending on how the barrel has been sighted in.
Heavier bullets and pointed bullets may not be driven fast enough for good expansion when fired from 10" barrels.
DO NOT choose sharply pointed bullets such as the Spire Point bullet above for use in short barrels. While this point form may be better for long range trajectory, it is far more likely to simply punch a small hole through game without expanding when started out at about 1,700-1,800 fps from a 10" barrel.
However, the Hornady 180 gr. Single Shot Pistol spire point bullet is reported to expand well when shot at maximum rifle barrel velocities, though David Whites expansion tests in ballistic gelatin contradict reports from the field.
This excellent bullet is temporarily NOT in production. Contact Hornady and let your needs be known. Encourage production of this bullet!
The excellent Hornady XTP on the left above is an oustanding game bullet, though the nearly full bullet diameter of the soft point and an ample hollow point in the Remington bullet, right, will open more readily and still maintain good weight retention.
I would expect somewhat better penetration on larger deer with the XTP while the Remington bullet should be a better choice on smaller deer with less mass to expand the bullet.
As shown in the targets below, both the 180 gr. XTP and the Remington 180 gr. HP give outstanding accuracy when fired from a barrel with a proper throat.
Which bullet to choose? Try 'em both. Both are excellent game bullets!
|Longer for its weight Barnes TTSX 180 gr. solid copper bullet fits right in with the long throats used for the Max. in the break open guns.
Same weight Hornady bullet for comparison.
Note that reportedly minimum velocity for expansion is 1900 fps, which limits its usable range for reliable expansion from the Max.
Reports from the field indicate it performs well on deer, as would be expected from Barnes, but be sure to be aware of the distance at which terminal velocity is below about 1,900 fps and not shoot deer past that point.
In other words, once the velocity drops below about 1,900 fps, the Barnes bullet may not expand much and just punch a hole through.
Brisk charges of AA-1680 should give the maximum velocity potential with this bullet.
|Barnes 180 gr. TTSX shot at 1,870 fps into water, left, and Hornady 158 gr. XTP shot into water at 2,150 fps from 20 yards.|
|Test and pic thanks to P.P.|
"Shot the Hornady 158gr. jhp and Barnes 180 gr. TTSX into Fackler (water) box. Penetration numbers are corrected to ballistic gel using a factor of 1.55. The range to impact was 20 yards. M.V. of the 158 was 2150. Bullet started fragmenting at 4.5" and penetrated to 11" with fully mushroomed bullet weighing (only) 108 gr. Probably ok at 100 yards but going to make a mess at close range. The 180gr. M.V. was 1870. Recoil was mild. I suspect at the 2300 range, recoil would be a little stout for some shooters.
The 180 (rifle bullet ) penetrated 27 inches. It was 4 perfect petals and weighed 178.5 gr.
I believe the 1.5 gr. loss was entirely from the plastic tip.
Note by Mike Bellm:
Notice that even though the 158 gr. XTP lost a lot of its weight, its shank stayed intact and maintained a wide frontal area. This is excellent performance for a bullet shot beyond its lower velocity design limits.
Note also in the expansion tests by David White below, out at the 200 to 250 yard mark the more frangible bullets expanded well and held together well.
|What to take from the above tests:|
Again, quoting P.P.:
"Using Barnes b.c. of .369 yields 1900 fps at 225 yards from m.v. of 2400."
Set 225 yards as the approximate maximum range for the Barnes TTSX if you start it at 2,400 fps. But, don't forget to factor in reduced velocity in colder temperatures encountered when hunting. Nothing like running hunting loads through the chronograph at the temperature you are actually hunting.
The 158 gr. Hornady..... avoid shoulder and angling shots close in, but expect good terminal performance at longer ranges depending on how fast you start it out.
Velocity potential is 2,500 to 2,600 fps.
|158 -160 gr. pistol bullets do exceptionally well in the Max. even at rifle barrel velocities.|
Bullets, such as the Sierra 158 gr. pictured above, from other manufacturers do well, but the Remington bullet appears to hold together the best for that perfect mushroom we like to see and less tendency to break up on impact.
Close in shots with Sierra, Speer, and Nosler REVOLVER BULLETS run full throttle may blow up on shoulder shots, so be careful of shot placement. Low behind the shoulder is always a good choice of shot placement, as are head and neck shots or front on shots in the chest.
Here again the Remington pistol bullet reigns among the best for the combination of accuracy, expansion, and weight retention at all velocities.
|180 gr. Hornady XTP, left, 180 gr. Remington, right|
Note the somewhat more pointed shape of the Remington bullet and the much wider, but jacketed hollow point of the Hornady XTP bullet.
The huge soft nose of the Remington bullet allows it to expand easily at short barrel handgun velocities out to 200 yards.
Note also that the correct seating depth for both the Hornady XTP and the Remington Hollow Point 180 gr. bullets in my .357 Max. chambers is approximately at the lower cannelure on the XTP bullet or lower.
Currently, 2015, it does not appear Remington is making the 180 gr. bullet, and in these uncertain times in the industry, only time will tell if they will produce it again. But if you run across them somewhere, I'd suggest stocking up on them.
Crimping is generally not necessary, with the exception of using powders such as WW-296 and the identical H-110, that require a solid crimp. To crimp or not to crimp with other powders? Experiment with both.
Use small rifle primers in the .357 Remington Max. If magnum primers are used, back off powder charges and work up to maximum. The original Remington factory ammo used the Rem 7 1/2 primer, considered a magnum primer.
Maximum loads can be taken to a pressure level just below where primers start to crater, ie, show a slight ridge around the firing pin indent. Work at that pressure level or back off to just below where the crater first starts to appear.
|Remington "bulk" 158 gr. jacketed soft point is an EXCELLENT performer!|
|Perfect mushroom and excellent weight retention!|
|And how is this for 250 yard accuracy?|
The above 4 pix courtesy of Davide White, fired from one of his custom barrel projects.
David also adds this note:
By deburring the flash holes, I gained an average of 30 fps. in velocity and standard diviations dropped from the 30's down to single didgits! I tested this with the three powders used and three different bullets. Very consistant performance.
|See more results and data on his site. Click here.|
|Click here for more expansion test results|
|David White's bullet recommendations:|
My take on choosing bullets for the 357 Maximum...
I have been shooting the 357 Maximum for just a couple of years now but, I have shot a couple of thousand rounds at various targets and game and as such, I'd like to think I have learned a thing or two about bullet choice...
When it comes to shooting deer, I recommend any of the 158-160 gr. Jacketed Soft Point bullets. These bullets can handle the higher velocities of the 357 Maximum and have proven to expand to a perfect "mushroom"...
Of the heavier 180 gr. bullets, the Remington 180 gr. SJHP expands at nearly all velocity levels and most any range you would ever shoot the Max at. This is my personal choice in deer bullets for the 357 Maximum...
For the hog and black bear hunters, I would recommend the SPEER 180 gr. F.N.S.P.. These bullets do seem to expand very well in the thicker skinned game. My wife ahot a 150 lb. hog using the SPEER bullet and it passed completely through on a broadside shot with an exit hole big enough to drop a golf ball through...
One of my buddy's has been shooting Hornady's 180 gr. XTP on deer with excellent results. This bullet is designed as a "pistol" bullet and as such, the recovered bullets show expansion as "perfect mushrooms"....
|180 gr. Hornady SSP Accuracy.|
|Encore .357max 23" bbl. 100 yards using 180 Hornady SSP, 30gr AA1680, and CCI BR4 small rifle primers|
Note how far the bullets are seated out.
|Some results with the 30 gr. charge of 1680 and 180 gr. Hornady SSP bullet|
This doe field dressed 128lbs. My 13yr old cousin shot his deer with my 357max rifle at approx 20yds. He hit her high in the spine and the bullet traveled several inches along side the spine after breaking it before exiting. The shot took her down with authority. The load is 180gr ssp hornady behind 30gr AA1680.
This is the load that shot the dime size group on your webpage.
This buck field dressed approx 170lbs was shot at approx 105yds. Firearm was a H&R Ultra opened to 357max. Load was 180gr Hornady SSP behind 30rg AA1680. Velocity is 2200fps range and groups MOA in this rifle. Bullet hit the buck on his left entering between the last two ribs and exiting behind the last rib on the right side essentially taking out the back of the lungs and the liver. The deer fell over the creek above him in the picture. He lay about 15ft from where he was shot. You could easily stick your thumb in the exit hole. This buck was killed by my buddy Adam Saunders.
|More venison in the freezer.....70 yard shot, 180 gr SSP at @ 2400. Fps.
Did the job!!!!! Very pleased!!! B.D.R.
|12" TC factory G2 barrel rechambered to Max., by lady shooter, Margi Constantino.|
Margi is a 3 time NRA Distinguished shooter, reloader, and Iowa deer hunter.
She was touching bullet holes with a pretty consistent 1" flier. Finally installing a Bellm Oversize Hinge Pin, here is the result.
Hornady 180 gr. XTP
AA 1680 25.0 grains
CCI 400 Small Rifle Primer
Seated to 2.090"
Shot @ 53 yards with a Burris 3x9
Cases were trimmed for uniformity (although none really needed it.)
Mouth of cases were slightly belled.
Biggest improvement to my G-2 was addition of the 1-x hinge pin.,
Why did I wait sooooo long???
This load is repeatable.
The first target is a 3 shot group....the second is 5. I think I can reduce that stringing by tweaking the powder a bit.
|NRA Women On Target, NRA Distinguished, Margi Constantino|
|Bear Tooth Bullets|
See Bear Tooth Bullets for excellent LBT design .35 cal. gas checked cast lead bullets for the .357 Maximum.
Lead bullets will usually give a significant velocity gain over the same weight of jacketed bullets.
Any of the 180 to 210 gr. bullets shown on this page and the Rifle Bullets page that is listed in the menu should be excellent meat getters in the .357 Rem Max.
Since velocities and pressures are high, use only the gas checked designs, and since you are to seat bullets out as far as you can, the shorter bullet shanks let you seat the bullets out farther without exposing the lube grooves.
|Some 180 gr. cast lead bullets from Cast Performance, left, and LBT, rightPhotos courtesy of Mike Harmon who feels cast bullets penetrate and hold up better than thin jacket pistol bullets.|
|Cast Performance LBT style bullets, in stock this date 11-15-2014, Click here!|
With the shortage of jacketed .35 cal. bullets in 2014, don't trip over these excellent gas checked 180 to 200 gr. cast lead bullets!
|LBT cast bullet accuracy, 100 yards from Harmon's Ruger revolver, iron sights.|
|126 yard antelope|
|200 yard, 3-shot group, iron sights|
|Bullets Lighter and Heavier Than 180 gr.|
Lighter 158/160 gr. bullets will give higher velocities and may be ok on smaller deer, but may not give enough penetration on larger deer, depending on shot placement.
Bullets heavier than 200 gr. may not be travelling fast enough for ample expansion. If 200 gr. bullets are preferred, choose round nose bullets designed for the .35 Remington which produces similar velocities in handgun length barrels.
For sheer devastation on varmints, try the Hornady 146 gr. HP bullet. It performs like a Hornady SX or Sierra Blitz .22 varmint bullet.
|.357" 180 gr. Remington Hollow Point Jacketed bullets:|
The generous, full diameter hollow lead point of this bullet with scalloped jacket to start expansion gives optimum game performance even at lower velocities from 10" barrels, approx. 1700 fps.
|50 yard group, .357 Rem. 180 gr. bulk bullets, top target, .358 Hornady 180 gr. XTP bullets bottom target, 12" G2 Contender barrel rechambered by Bellm|
|Good groups with Remington bulk 180 gr. bullets, top target,
180 gr. Hornady XTP bullets, bottom target.
The Remington bulk bullets do shoot well!
Note both the more expensive Hornady and cheaper Remington bulk bullets essentially grouped the same. There was, however, a significant velocity spread which we cannot account for at this point.
With further load development work, we should get essentially identical velocities.
Your feedback & comments on the .357 Max. barrels I chamber is appreciated. If you care to share with others, have it posted here:
|SS Encore, 22" full bull matte blued MGM barrel chambered by MGM. Tony Gettel stocks finished in black onyx. Thumbhole stock with a 13" fluted forend. 3-9x40 vortex diamondback scope, your 3lb trigger kit.
Its a shooter!
I've not been this excited about a gun since the inline muzzleloader came out.
Thanks to you guys and your website!
|Many shooters are drawn into the .460 S&W. My rant on .460 S&W produced this testimonial:|
Very good & true "rant" on the .460 S&W. I too was drawn in to the if bigger is better, than the .460 S&W must be a good choice. "WRONG" After I finally found an Encore barrel at a decent price, I then spent several hundred dollars with both your shop & David White which included the usual accuracy issues from your shop & a barrel cut, recrown & muzzle brake from David, a 6 screw scope base & several sets of rings from you & trial & error I finally got the scope to stay put. It is an exceptionally accurate barrel but it is not fun to shoot. Not at all, even with a brake. I finally stumbled across a couple .357 max encore barrels (one which is a custom shop mag barrel rechambered by you) not only is it the absolute mist accurate single shot barrel I've ever fired- like .225" center to center groups regularly- it is one of the most fun guns I have to shoot. From 180 grain deer loads to 110 grain 500 yard milk jug destroyer loads & everything in between. I have not touched that sledgehammer .460 barrel in a couple years now. I'd sell it if I could get anywhere close to the money I've got in it. You're right, that round is a dumb chambering for deer. Thanks for all of your "max" info which helped lead me to the best deer hunting round that I think exists. Thank you. W.G.
Received my rechambered 357 Max barrel on Wed. Took it to the range today. You were telling the truth about this cartridge. Just had 158 gr. bullets on hand to load but after preping the barrel and getting a zero. I shot three shot groups that were touching at 50 yards. Only had a cheap red dot to put on this to boot. Some good glass and 180 grain Hor. that I picked up today and this thing will be a whitetail killing machine. Too bad this is my son-in-laws barrel. May have to have one made for myself.
Thank you for the work done and for trying to keep this fine cartridge alive. G.R.
Just to prove you right again. I choose the Hornady 158 XTP (mainly because that was what was available for .357 at the local gun store). I had a few 158 Sierraflat nose on hand when I got the max barrel from you. They were the easiest to load and your recipe was right on target. The Sierra's were wonderful but since I only had 10 or so I was off to the gun shop and picked up the Hornady's. Easiest bullets I have ever reloaded, your brass was perfect and the rounds were set 3/16's as you suggested. Put all rounds in a 1 1/2 circle first time out. Tweaked the rifle (not the load ) and am down to 3/4 inch groups. First deer was a doe at 56 yards, dropped like a rock, exit hole 1 inch. I cannot tell you enough, the .357 Max is one wicked round and your recipe (26 grains 4227) set the bullet out with 3/16's left for crimp is perfect. I bought a box of 180 grain Hornady SSP bullets but I really do not want to mess with the 158's! Perfect barrel, perfect recipe and perfect seating! Thank you and Merry Christmas!!!!
|What you will find below.|
Posted here will be information in support of the .357 Remington Maximum that will include many personal accounts of working with the round, personally supplied loading data, recommendations, and sources of supplies for shooting the .357 Max.
We welcome your input!
ANY DATA FOUND HERE IN THIS SECTION OR ANYWHERE ON THIS SITE IS PROVIDED AS A GUIDE ONLY. MIKE BELLM'S TCS, MIKE BELLM, NOR ANY CONTRIBUTOR OF LOADING DATA OR INFORMATION PROVIDED HERE ASSUME ANY LIABILITY FOR THE INDIVIDUAL'S PERCEPTION OF OR USE OF SAID INFORMATION PRESENTED.
COMMON SENSE AND GOOD JUDGEMENT CANNOT BE BUILT INTO GUNS AND MUST BE SUPPLIED BY THE OPERATOR!
ALL GENERAL SAFETY GUIDELINES APPLY, INCLUDING THE BASIC RULES OF:
1) START LOW AND WORK UP, ALWAYS, WITH ANY GIVEN LOAD. IF YOU MAKE ANY CHANGES TO THE LOAD, START OVER WITH POWDER CHARGES REDUCED BY AT LEAST 10% AND WORK BACK UP TO MAXIMUM.
2) AT THE FIRST HINT OF HARD OPENING OCCURRING AS LOADS ARE CHANGED/INCREASED, BACK OFF.
(When the effort required to open the barrel goes from normal to hard, it usually indicates that more force has been applied to the breechface, the frame has flexed significantly, and in trying to return to its relaxed position is exerting force on the case head, thus making the barrel hard to unlock. This degree of flexing is excess, so back off the powder charges or look for other causes of high pressure creating this undue flexing.)
|Contender with Choate folding stock, .357 Mag. custom barrel rechambered to .357 Max.|
The folding stocks have been fairly popular ever since Choate gave the Contender carbines their attention. Handy, more compact, and quite viable.
|Choate Contender folding stock. Click here.|
We carry a full product line of Choate stocks. See the menu list.
|Here is an account from "headstamp" that gives some idea of what to expect for handgun velocities and accuracy from 10" barrels.|
Hi Mike, Here is something for Surplus powder fans and the Max at any rate along with some first impressions on scope mounting, bullet type, etc. FWIW as follows:
Finally got to do some load work with the BTB 358 WLN+P gas checked bullet in the 357 Maximum. I had a 10" Contender bbl in 357 Mag rechambered to the Max by Mike Bellm. This gets rid of the "forcing cone" throat in the Mag and replaces it with what can be described as a gentle tapering Ball Seat type throat arrangement.
I'm really getting to like this barrel very much as it's a snap to resize cases and develop loads for it. Also, recoil is very manageable and a surprising amount of power can be obtained from the 10" bbl. I see this cartridge as a great woods round out to 100 yds or so in the Contender.
Getting to the loads, I utilized WC680 Surplus powder with Federal 205 Small Rifle primers and Remington cases. This powder has exhibited 2 distinct burning rates of lots out there so some caution is in order to begin load development with it. Turning to my Hornady manual, both WW 680 and AA1680 loads were listed with WW 680 loads showing lighter powder charges than the AA1680 in the Max for comparable velocities. So, I elected to use the WW680 charge weights to give me some leeway with the Surplus lot I had. It turned out that the WC680 I have is apparently a slow lot and in fact is much more comparable to AA1680 that I also have on hand.
I started with 19.5 grs of WC680 on up to a top charge of 23.8 grs as listed in the Hornady manual for WW680. Velocities were quite inconsistent and unburned powder flakes were present in the barrel on up to the 23.8 gr load. Velocities ran from 1280 FPS on the low side to 1500 FPS at the 23.8 gr load. The interesting part is that these loads were still quite accurate even though the powder and velocities were very inconsistent. Accuracy averaged a ragged 1.5" hole at 25 yds. Black smudges also appeared on the outside of cases with soot actually backing up at the breech plate showing very low pressures relatively.
My next visit to the range was with heavier charges of WC680 starting at 24.5 grs on up to a compressed charge of 28.0grs. The 24.5 to 25.5 gr loads exhibited the same sooting and unburned powder residue in the barrel. Then, things started to change with the 26.0 gr loads. I noticed a distinct jump in velocities from about 1680FPS to 1713 FPS with the 26 grain load. Also the powder residue just started to lessen. At the 26.5 gr loading (1722 FPS) things started to improve more with extreme spreads starting to lessen considerably. This first slightly compressed loading started to tell the real tale loud and clear. Powder residue dropped to about a quarter of what it was with previous loads. Cases were sealing off well in the chamber. Also, extreme spreads dropped to 25-30 FPS. The 27 to 28 gr loads showed steady velocity increases and powder residue dropping to slight to nothing. The 28 grain load showed less pressure than my full up WW296 loads do with a lighter bullet from primer appearances and other indicators. The velocity averaged 1850 FPS with an extreme spread of about 10-15FPS. Accuracy looks to be extremely good at less than .8" at 25 yds with the 2X scope I have on this 10" bbl. albeit I was not shooting for accuracy but more for pressure and velocities at this session.
To review, it appears this ball powder likes to be somewhat compressed at least in the Max in MY bbl. The performance exhibited by it clearly demonstrated that fact. Once it was, ballistics settled right into a predictable outcome. Regarding the 180 gr WLN+P, this bullet almost appears to be made for this round as it's crimp groove in my rechambering is positioned perfectly for the throat length. And yes, with this powder at least, a moderate to heavy crimp must be applied to aid ignition. Actually, all loads were taper crimped with an older CH taper crimp die I have just above the crimp groove.
The wide driving band area on this bullet allowed this. This die tapered the case mouth perfectly into the side of the bullet imbedding it into the lead like a pseudo Factory Crimp die. A taper crimp in this way is quite firm, more so than a roll crimp in the crimp groove in my opinion. A Redding profile crimp being even better as it is a combination of the 2 crimps.
I could have went to higher charge weights but I really don't like to compress more than is reasonable in my estimation with ball powders. Carried to an extreme, they will become like a solid mass thus affecting consistent burning progression. Sort of like lighting a fuse instead.
Originally, I experimented with AA2200 powder but found it to be too slow in this cartridge. My thanks to Johann Loubser over at Accurate powder for some excellent advice and a very correct prediction on that experiment too. LOL.
A note or two on the scope and mount is in order. The scope base I'm using is a Leupold double dovetail. Originally, Leupold rings were installed on it. After having scope slippage problems, I opted to try the newer Signature rings from Burris on the Leupold base. I've found these to be excellent rings with terrific gripping power with one caveat. After you first install the scope in them, check back in few days or so and retighten the ring halves again. I've found the plastic inserts take a "set" to the inside surfaces and the rings will loosen. After retightening them a few days later, they are still good and snug. So watch for this little condition to develop with them.
The Bushnell Trophy 2X handgun scope has held up very well and is an excellent value for the money, surprisingly so actually. All my barrels that wear the Trophys have never had any problems. A 2X6 variable on my 358 Bellm has been pounded with a few hundred rounds and it is still going strong with no point of impact shift whatsoever or nothing detectable at any rate.
Again, if you are in the market for a woods range cartridge for deer, black bear and the like or more, look into the Max. It's really an under-rated cartridge for hunting and didn't deserve it's fast "death" shortly after introduction by uninformed "experts". The 180 gr WFN+P from Beartooth Bullets at 1850+ FPS from a 10" bbl is nothing to sneeze at either. A nice little carbine in this cartridge would be a great application for it too.
I look forward to further experimentation with this barrel.
158 gr. Hornady JFP
Rem cases (New)
Federal 205 SR Primers
Range Temp- 65 degrees
Determined max loading at 23.5 grs due to sticky extraction at 25 grs powder. Velocity average at 1910+FPS at 23.5 grs WW296. Looks to be very accurate also. 50 yd group of .875"/3 shots. Two holes touching and the 3rd opening the group.
Caution should be used with published book data worked up in factory TC barrels and applied to the Bellm rechambered barrel due to it's far more "normal" throat arrangement. My Bellm rechambered barrel, in at least my experience, exhibited max load indications and higher velocities far below the maximum loads listed for a factory barrel. (This weight bullet, this powder type) There is no sacrifice in velocity however, in fact, comparing my Bellm rechambered barrel strictly to some book loadings of factory TC barrels, the factory barrels produced less velocity with more powder needing to be burned or simply needed more powder to develop velocities in line with my Bellm rechamber. This basically tells me, this barrel, with a more conventional/correct throat arrangement, will operate more efficiently than a TC factory chambering in this round.
I haven't done an actual side by side comparison however, but have read enough accounts of other shooters with their factory barrels to give it at least some serious consideration.
Bullets were seated to crimp groove and moderate to heavy crimped.
|And from ol' Slopshot:|
Mike, no reply necessay, know you're trying to keep shop running on time.
Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents worth on the Max.
My experience was with the first factory 14 inch for Contender. I found I could get within 150 fps of the .35 Rem. 14 inch Contender, shooting Hornady xtp 180 grs. and the OLD Hercules (1st Alliant production, pre-factory blowup) RL 7. Usually the load I was using at the time would also be with 200 to 300 fps of the 21 inch carbine .35 Rem. barrel. Finally ordered a 18 or 20 inch(old age memory) carbine barrel from tc custom, and it was usually within 100 to 150 fps of 35 Rem carbine barrels.
To me the 14 inch was the IDEAL length for Max. pistol barrel (maybe 15"). My load was getting around 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 groups at hundred and 3 inch at 150 yds. Not hot either, so I imagine the Encore could be shot a little hotter.
Enough of your time, all this to let you know don't sell the 14 inch (maybe 15") short for the Max. Sure helps to tame some of the muzzle blast and barrel lift.
ol' Slopshot (don't sell the 180 gr. XTP short either, makes an elk caliber out of the TC .357 Mag. and .357 Max. It doesn't lose much in fps to 150 yds. and WILL PENETRATE)
Here's my two cents worth:
I started out with a 14" .357 MAG barrel I purchased from T/C's custom shop.
I wanted to have the barrel re-chambered for the .357 MAX so per your recommendation
I contacted David White to do the job (you were not accepting any new jobs at the
David did a great job! After David did his magic I have to say this is one of the most
accurate barrels I have ever shot. The only problem I had was after firing a few
through the barrel it started breaking open every time I would shoot it. I sent the
barrel to you
so you could figure out why it would not stay locked up and you installed an
oversized hinge pin
and replaced the lockup lugs. I have not had one problem with the barrel since.
I shoot big bore pistol silhouette (out to two hundred yards) and consistently
shoot scores in the low 30's out of a possible 40. I love shooting the .357 MAX and
would have to say it's my favorite round. I use Remington's 180gr SJHP bullet with
18.5gr of WC820 powder and CCI small rifle primers. Muzzle velocity averages 1746 fps.
I have used Hornady's 180gr XTP hollow point bullet but found the Remington 180gr
just as accurate and quite a bit cheaper when purchased in quantities of 500 or 1000.
Given the accuracy, low cost and ease of loading, the .357 MAX is
truly a superb cartridge.
Thanks Mike and keep up the good work!
You will like this. I went out in the artic wasteland that our shooting range as become. I brought
the max, some loads with 25 grs 1680, cci rifle primer, hornady 180ssp, and my home made 3point
adjustable shooting rest because I knew I was not going to be able to hold that thing steady in this
weather. Set the rest up, zeroed rest at 100 yards, boresighted scope at same distance, first group
went about 1inch. some later groups went less than that, got one group around 3/4". I was freezing and starting to shake, so gun will do better yet. groups open after that as I got colder, and I quit when most of the SSP ammo was gone and I was doing about 2 inches. I shot some of
the last of the mini-max ammo, and that got its usuall 2", I am convinced stability issues. The 3/4 inch group might have just been plus and minus shaking canceling out, but I figure the gun is a
real 1 moa performer., maybe better in easier conditions. It was pretty windy and cold over there
today, definitely not a gold wing day at the range. But I learned that the gun is a shooter.
(The above barrel is an older .357 Mag 10" factory "bull" barrel that had the older vintage short throat. The owner had extended the throat prior to my rechambering it to .357 Max. and did it very well. The results speak for themselves!... Mike Bellm)
|From Bryan C.|
Note by Mike Bellm:
This was originally a TC custom shop barrel that had a .386" diameter chamber, WAY too large in diameter. It bulged the cases very badly as a .357 Rem. Max. The only way to salvage the barrel as a Max. was to reline it, end to end, which I did.
Here is Bryan's report on it:
The load for that 357 Max. that I ended up using was a Hornady 180 gr. SP SS/PB, Fed. GM205M primer, and 21.0gr. of Win. 296. The Cartridge Overall Length was 2.247" and the Average Velocity was 1705 fps. This was in a 12" barrel. This is the barrel that was used in the relining project. It dropped a deer at 120 yards in January. It's really good for someone that wants a good long range flat shooting pistol cartridge without a lot of recoil. I set it up for a friend of mine who was just getting started in handgun hunting. He wanted a 50 AE in a 10" Encore like mine but I told him that the 357 Max.would be a better choice for him as I am used to the recoil and concussion of the 50 AE. He didn't regret the choice.
|... and another account on 200 gr. bullets from Bryan.|
|100 yard group, 200 gr. Hornady Spire Point. Note that in some instances in the past the Hornady Spire point at these velocities does not appear to expand very well and may not be the best choice for deer size game.|
Chronographed the 200 grain Hornady Spire Points
today. They were pushing 1626 fps. If you're
interested the load was 19.8 gr. of Winchester 296,
Federal GM205M primer, and OAL of 2.358". It put 4
shots in 3/4" at 100 yards with 3 of them in 3/8".
I read your latest on the 357 Max and the Remington 180g HP.
I have worked up a what appears to be a very good load for my 357 Max. The Sierra 225g BT over 23.9g of Reloader-7 and Rem 71/2 BR primer. COAL = 2.44.
With this load and my Burris 4x I can strike a 10" steel gong at 200 yards. The group size at 50 yards is under .5 inch. Recoil is moderate but not harsh. I will be whitetail hunting with this load on December 27. Ohio is one of the states that requires straight-walled cases for handgun calibers. Also the cartridge must be one that was commercially produced, so there cannot be any wildcats. It is a good thing that Ruger produced the 357 Max in the Blackhawk.