.357 Maximum loads published in the various reloading manuals only take pressures to about 40,000 psi while the SAAMI maximum pressure for this round is 48,000 psi.
The loads listed below are relatively hot, just to the point of very light cratering of the primer, and may be too hot in barrels with shorter chamber throats.
ALWAYS start low and work up.
Hard unlocking of the barrel and cases that are hard to extract indicate your load is too hot, so back off the powder charge immediately.
Maximum working loads that loosen primer pockets after just a few reloadings also mean backing off.
Case head hardness varies.
Remington cases are the hardest and handle extreme pressures best.
In side by side destruct testing I have done, the softer case head of Jamison brass loosens the primer pocket with much lower loads than the Remington brass will take.
Case life determines your maximum working load.
Since the .357 Maximum is essentially the same diameter as .223 Rem/5.56 NATO, pressures can be taken to the same 54,000 c.u.p. pressures of the 5.56, even in the Contender.
Prototype loads in the development of the Ruger .357 Maximum revolvers, according to the main "field test" shooter's report from a Remington engineer, prototype loads went as high as 75,000, presumably c.u.p. But even 75,000 p.s.i. is WAY up there.
Here is a quick summary of the results, validating what I have been speculating for years!
That is, the optimum barrel length is about 20", with very little gain past 20" even with the slowest powder practical in .357 Maximum.
158 gr. Hornady XTP flat point, 25 gr. H-110.
2357 fps at 24"
2399 fps at 23"
2358 fps at 22"
2356 fps at 21"
2401 fps at 20"!
24" velocity may be a fluke, but from this we can assume maximum velocity is reached by 20" of barrel travel with H-110/WW-296 powder burning rate.
24" group, 1.198" center to center.
180 gr. Henson bullet, 24 gr. H-110
2177 fps at 24"
2158 fps at 23"
2164 fps at 22"
2160 fps at 21"
2167 fps at 20"
The total spread in velocity between 24" and 20" is only 19 fps, average of 4 3/4 fps per inch of barrel length!
First group at 24" with factory crown shot .810" center to center, and in spite of just a saw cut and rough deburring of the cut, the 20" barrel grouped .286" center to center!
180 gr. Henson bullet, 28.5 gr. Lil Gun powder.
2316 fps at 24"
2325 fps at 23"
2315 fps at 22"
2297 fps at 21"
2262 fps at 20"
Notes: Total change from fastest to slowest, 63 fps, an average of 15 fps per inch of barrel travel.
Lil Gun is slower burning than H-110, suggesting there is some advantage with a little more than 20" of barrel length with slower powders, but not enough difference to warrant the extra bulk of a longer barrel in most hunting situations.
24" group with factory crown, 1.156".
180 gr. Henson bullet, 30.5 gr. AA-168 powder
I was out of new brass, and only had 5 cases left to work with.
Thus, only 24" to 23" test could be run.
2295 fps at 24"
2281 fps at 23"
Velocity loss in 1 inch, 14 fps.
At 24" with factory crown, this load shot .847" center to center with two shots touching and the presumed "clean barrel" first shot opening the group nearly 3/4". Meaning, with a fouling shot, it likely would have cut one ragged hole.
First, this test was not all inclusive by any means but gives good indications of what to expect.
Accuracy testing was not a priority but gave impressive results in spite of the lack of a fouling shot before each 3-shot group.
For those wanting to squeeze the last little bit of bullet drop out of the trajectory for those 250 yard plus shots, use the slower powders with the higher b.c. Henson 180 gr. bullet in a longer barrel.
But for general hunting conditions, the tests show there is very, very little to be gained from longer, unwieldy barrels that tend to not be as accurate as shorter barrels.
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|180 gr. .35 cal. Henson Bullets:|
As of this date, 9-8-2016, R.G. Henson is starting another run of his 180 gr. H.P. .35 cal. game bullets and may have them completed in time for the later fall hunts.
If you would like to be notified when they are in stock here,
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Tentatively the price will be $59/100 plus $7 shipping up to 500 bullets per USPS small flat rate box. Credit card payment accepted.
|Click here for details about Henson's 180 gr. .35 cal. bullets!|
|.357 Remington Maximum Barrels:
Match Grade Machine is trying to keep .357 Max. barrels in stock for immediate shipment.
If they do not have quite what you want in stock, their 4 week production time should still get a barrel into your hands for the later hunting seasons this year.
Order online or give them a call:
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