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Virtually all reloading data for .357 Rem. Maximum published by the industry is WAY, WAY below the potentials of the .357 Max. in the closed breech guns.
Most "maximum" loads are more like starting loads.

Use the maximum pressure indicators described above and run the loads up for the full potential of the .357 Maximum to be realized.

SAAMI maximum pressure for the .357 Maximum is 48,000 psi, yet much of the published data stops at an anemic 40,000 psi.

As stated on the main Max. page, you can just as safely run pressures up to the same as for 5.56 NATO, which is around 54,000 psi.

There is quite a large margin of safety between what is published and what you can actually safely operate the Max. cartridge at.

To Crimp or Not To Crimp?
For years I said crimping was not necessary, with the thesis that resistance at the rifling was ample and more substantial than a crimp resisting movement of the bullet as powder is being ignited and pressure building.

But, note that the tight groups shot by David White posted on our Max. pages were fired with bullets crimped.

Lacking a cannelure groove closer to the base of the bullet, this normally means having to stuff a lot of bullet shank into the case, thus really reducing case capacity and the maximum velocity potentials of the Max.

Depending on how hard the bullet shank is, some shooters report that the Lee Factory Crimp die will effectively crimp into the bullet shank where no cannelure exists. Try it.



From his very thorough velocity, accuracy, and expansion tests of a number of bullets,
(See these amazing test results! Click here!)
we'll start this page with the excellent workup done by David White.

Note that:
cases used were Remington, and
primers used were Remington 7 1/2 benchrest rifle primers.


POWDER: Winchester 296 / 21.0 gr.
BULLET: Remington 158 gr. J.S.P.
VELOCITY: 2,088 fps.
.......................................................................................................
POWDER: Winchester 296 / 23.0 gr.
BULLET: Remington 158 gr. J.S.P.
VELOCITY: 2,227 fps.
.......................................................................................................
POWDER: Winchester 296 / 25.0 gr.
BULLET: Remington 158 gr. J.S.P.
VELOCITY: 2,445 fps.
.......................................................................................................
POWDER: AA1680 / 28.0 gr.
BULLET: Remington 158 gr. J.S.P.
VELOCITY: 2,292 fps.
.......................................................................................................
POWDER: AA1680 / 30.0 gr.
BULLET: Remington 158 gr. J.S.P.
VELOCITY: 2,403 fps.
.......................................................................................................
POWDER: Alliant 2400 / 18.0 gr.
BULLET: Remington 158 gr. J.S.P.
VELOCITY: 1,995 fps.
.......................................................................................................
POWDER: Alliant 2400 / 20.0 gr.
BULLET: Remington 158 gr. J.S.P.
VELOCITY: 2,192 fps.
.......................................................................................................

Other notes:
Maximum velocity for all 125 gr. bullets tested was 2,700 to 2,800 fps....

Maximum velocity for 180 gr. bullets tested was just over 2,400 fps....

With the Hornady 140 gr. FTX bullet, I safely got 2,700 fps....

Compare a 180 gr. bullet coming out of the Max. at 2400 fps (+) against a 180 gr. bullet coming out of the .308 Win. at 2400 to 2500 fps.

Both produce approximately 2400 foot pounds of energy at the muzzle!


The 180 gr. .30 cal. bullet has a much higher ballistic coefficient and will drop less at longer ranges than the 180 gr. .35 cal. bullet will.

The .30 cal. will also arrive at the longer ranges with more energy albeit making a smaller hole and potentially less than ideal bullet expansion.

On the other hand, most of the lighter .35 cal. bullets are much more lightly constructed and designed to expand at lower velocities.

What the .357 Maximum gives up in trajectory and energy at, say, 300 yards, it tends to make up for with a larger wound channel.

Perhaps we have been selling the .357 Maximum short by calling it a 200 yard rifle cartridge, and 300 yards may prove to be quite realistic for it. Time and your experiences in the field with the Max. are the factors that determine what its maximum effective range is, no pun intended.

Handloads.com .357 Max load data
Excellent listing of .357 Maximum loading data, some of which is pressure tested, along with some interesting comments about the effectiveness of the .357 Maximum.

Accurate Arms .357 Max. load data, Click Here!
Note that pressures are WAY low compared to what you can safely operate the Max. at. Their 40,000 psi maximum loads listed are barely starting loads, even in Contenders. Work up to where primers start to crater, then back off just below where the cratering begins.

Following this regimen test firing barrels since 1983, there has never been problem one, and only rarely after many, many hot loadings do I ever throw a case away with a loose primer pocket.

There is no reason whatever to limit pressures in Contenders or Encores to less than what you would operate a .223 Rem. or 5.56 NATO round at. If roughly 54,000 psi is considered safe pressures for these rounds, such pressures are equally safe in the Max. in these guns.

Some notes on reloading dies:
The bullet seating stem must keep the bullet aligned with the case, so be sure the seat stem in your seating die will do that ok.

Seat stems for .357 Magnum or Maximum are set up for either round nose or flat point bullets in most instances. When using pointed spitzer type bullets you may need to get a replacement seat stem.

Redding reports they have changed their seat stem to make contact on all bullets closer to the full diameter shank of the bullet and should work fine with pointed bullets.

RCBS reports the seat stem for .35 Whelen works in their dies that have the 1/4" thread seat stem. If the die has a 1/2" thread from the top side of the seat die, the correct seat stem is their #90018 stem.

LEE FACTORY CRIMP DIE:
Recommended.
A carbide ring in the bottom of the die sizes down any bulge resulting from the crimp.
The standard Lee factory crimp die is a roll crimp. If you want the segmented crimp common to the bottle neck cases, they will retrofit their factory crimp die with the collet type crimp insert and ask that you send some dummy rounds with your die when returning it for the retrofit.


Notes on powders:
One in the same WW-296 and H-110 are/is one of the best choices overall. Use Magnum rifle primers.

For 180 gr. to 200 gr. bullets, Accurate Arms 1680 has the benefit of not only producing the highest velocities but also doing it the most safely. Accurate Arms reports you virtually cannot go over pressure with it in the .357 Max.
Accuracy is also superb. I recommend using Magnum rifle primers with it.

There are numerous newer powders on the market that are also excellent, some of which may prove to be even better.

Newer powders I have not done much with and for which data may not be available include:

Alliant 300-MP
Accurate Arms 5744
Accurate Arms 4100
Accurate Arms 2200

Hodgdon Lil Gun is on the fast side of burning rates for the Max. but is a favorite of many.

Accurate Arms 4100 appears very similar in burning rate to Lil Gun.

Accuracy and expansion results examples:
Picture perfect expansion!
Energy at 200 yards, 803 ft. lbs., compares to 100 gr charges from .45 cal & .50 cal. muzzle loaders at this distance.

100 yd. zero / 8.1" low at 200 yds
Very Impressive 250 yard accuracy!


 

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