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Load Development for .357mag in Lever Gun


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Gents,

 

I've done plenty of load development for precision rifles, but when it came to pistol and lever guns, I've always just loaded to power factor for IDPA or CAS, and called it quits. I want to work up a more accurate, full power .357 load for my Marlin 1894 CST (16.5" barrel).

 

I've got some 158 XTP's and some 300-MP powder. Eventually I'll probably load 180's as fast as I can get em to go. 

 

For those that do work up loads, how do you do it? I'd rather make it simpler and quicker than my precision rifle workups, but if thats what it'll take, then I can do that too, just figured I'd ask first. 

 

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For me, I normally develop my loads using a few reloading manuals and a chronograph.

 

In the process, I look for pressure signs, erratic velocities, etc......

 

Sometimes, my results closely mirror reloading manual information and my testing becomes

easier.   Sometimes, there are MANY powders to test, which means I spend more time at the

reloading bench and using the chronograph a lot.

 

This works for me.   

 

As a side note, my test experience with the .357 for some max loads involved

powders like H110, LilGun and I think I've gotten good results with AA#7 and/or AA#9.

 

..........Widder

 

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4 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

For me, I normally develop my loads using a few reloading manuals and a chronograph.

In the process, I look for pressure signs, erratic velocities, etc......

 

Sometimes, my results closely mirror reloading manual information and my testing becomes

easier.   Sometimes, there are MANY powders to test, which means I spend more time at the

reloading bench and using the chronograph a lot.

 

As a side note, my test experience with the .357 for some max loads involved

powders like H110, LilGun and I think I've gotten good results with AA#7 and/or AA#9.

..........Widder

 

 

After a lot of researching 357 powders online, I had narrowed it to a few: H110, 2400, Lil Gun, 300-Mp, and a few others. Those seemed to be what most guys were getting the best velocities out of with .357 and longer barrels. I found 300-MP locally and went with it. Its my only powder choice right now that will be able to get the higher velocities so hoping it pans out. 


If my gun hates the XTP's thats fine, I can try different bullets. 

 

As far as pressure signs, I'm assuming same as with precision bolt guns? 

-Sticky bolt (lever in this case)

-Flat primers

-Primer craters (more than normal)

Any others for straight walled cases or lever guns? 

 

300-MP burn rate is actually a little slower than H110 and Lil Gun. Alliant unfortunately doesn't give min/max loads, but the one load they do list is pushing a 170gr bullet at 1620fps. 

 

Normally for precision rifles, I would load 1 round per charge weight increasing it until I hit pressures signs, then back off about 1-2%. Not sure if thats as widely accepted for lever guns. 

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Howdy,

Since the same design marlin will run 44 mag just fine why worry

about the high end of 357 mag?

Sounds like fun. I havent been shootin in a while. 

I sure miss it.

Hope it changes soon.  Empty shelves dont look good.

Best

CR

 

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11 minutes ago, Chili Ron said:

Howdy,

Since the same design marlin will run 44 mag just fine why worry

about the high end of 357 mag?

Sounds like fun. I havent been shootin in a while. 

I sure miss it.

Hope it changes soon.  Empty shelves dont look good.

Best

CR

 

 

While I do understand that, pressure is my concern....and 40k psi in a 357 is just as dangerous as 40k psi in a 44mag. 

 

I'm pretty well stocked for now, but obviously that dwindles fast haha. 

I have 200 new Starline 357 cases for this as well. 

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40kpsi on a .357 head is more localized than 40kpsi on a .44 mag head.

The Marlin bolt does not lock up like a bolt gun with multiple lugs.  The bolt is hollow and quite spongy when compared to a bolt gun.

Tread lightly.

Lil'gun, 2400 and 5744 would probably be good powders.

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9 hours ago, Tom Bullweed said:

40kpsi on a .357 head is more localized than 40kpsi on a .44 mag head.

The Marlin bolt does not lock up like a bolt gun with multiple lugs.  The bolt is hollow and quite spongy when compared to a bolt gun.

Tread lightly.

Lil'gun, 2400 and 5744 would probably be good powders.

The Marlin 94 bolt is locked in place with a solid block of steel. 

One of the strongest built receivers out there.

OLG 

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I appreciate the powder recommendations gentlemen, but I ONLY have 300-MP and I doubt I'll be getting any of the other powders anytime soon, so 300-MP is what I'll be using. 

 

I was more so concerned with pushing my reloads to the top end in lever guns. I have plenty of experience working near the top for bolt guns and AR's, but I do not have experience near the top end on Lever Guns.

 

My main question was are the signs of overpressure on bolt guns the same for lever guns? Should I be looking for anything unique/specific for lever guns? How hard can I push my Marlin 1894 for those who have done it? How strong is it compared to bolt guns? other lever guns? 


It sounds like the 1894 design is very robust and especially in using .357. 

Again this will be occasional shooting. 95% of my shooting is 1000fps with 125's as I run this lever gun suppressed 100% of the time. 

 

I appreciate everyones input, but please don't respond with safety concerns. I understand that no advice is legal or specific to my situation, and I take a lot of precaution when working up near the top end. Complacency really killed the cat, and I don't plan on being complacent in this endeavor. Thanks 

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If you aren't worried about keeping the OAL something you can cycle the gun with, you can get improved performance by using 360 Dan Wesson Load data and a bullet with a long Ogive like the Lee 358-200-RF.  I'm only familiar with Winchester Actions and for rifle loads I've mainly used IMR4227, but I'm starting to dabble in H110.  You're probably not planning on using these loads for Normal matches, but I thought I should point out for any new person looking at this forum, that it's very easy with these powders to exceed the 1400 fps max limit for main match use.  

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2 hours ago, El CupAJoe said:

If you aren't worried about keeping the OAL something you can cycle the gun with, you can get improved performance by using 360 Dan Wesson Load data and a bullet with a long Ogive like the Lee 358-200-RF.  I'm only familiar with Winchester Actions and for rifle loads I've mainly used IMR4227, but I'm starting to dabble in H110.  You're probably not planning on using these loads for Normal matches, but I thought I should point out for any new person looking at this forum, that it's very easy with these powders to exceed the 1400 fps max limit for main match use.  

 

Thats good information, I may look into that.

No these loads are going to be used in my 1894 CST, which isn't SASS legal anyways. Its my "modern" lever action, as it sports a red dot, XS sights, an MLOK rail/forearm, flashlight, suppressor, etc.. Sure is fun though. I use an Uberti '73 for SASS. 

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7 hours ago, Big Hand Zack said:

 

My main question was are the signs of overpressure on bolt guns the same for lever guns? Should I be looking for anything unique/specific for lever guns? How hard can I push my Marlin 1894 for those who have done it? How strong is it compared to bolt guns? other lever guns? 

 

 

Zack,

your pressure signs might show differently ON THE RIFLE (bolt vs lever), but the pressure signs on the brass and primer

should be the same in either rifle.

 

The lever rifle can show pressure by an overly stiff opening of the lever.   And sometimes, the bolt

can show battering signs on the outward tip of the lever AND on the bolt safety lug.

 

In my opinion, assuming you are using a good, sound 1894 Marlin, there ain't much you can do

that should harm the rifle.   You may experience split brass, stiff extractions, and flattened or blown

out primers, but the rifle should be able to handle any recipe you use from reloading manuals.

 

..........Widder

 

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2 hours ago, Widder, SASS #59054 said:

 

Zack,

your pressure signs might show differently ON THE RIFLE (bolt vs lever), but the pressure signs on the brass and primer

should be the same in either rifle.

 

The lever rifle can show pressure by an overly stiff opening of the lever.   And sometimes, the bolt

can show battering signs on the outward tip of the lever AND on the bolt safety lug.

 

In my opinion, assuming you are using a good, sound 1894 Marlin, there ain't much you can do

that should harm the rifle.   You may experience split brass, stiff extractions, and flattened or blown

out primers, but the rifle should be able to handle any recipe you use from reloading manuals.

 

..........Widder

 

 

Perfect! Thats what I was looking for, thank you much Widder and appreciate the experienced input. 

 

I'll post up my findings when I get all through with it for anyone else wondering. Thanks again 

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Granted, this is in our .44 mag rifles but stay within the guidelines with H110. Low end loads were erratic and topend listed loads started to show signs of high pressure. I ended up backing down about five percent of max. The Hornady XTP works well, especially the heavier for caliber bullets.

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10 hours ago, Michigan Slim said:

Granted, this is in our .44 mag rifles but stay within the guidelines with H110. Low end loads were erratic and topend listed loads started to show signs of high pressure. I ended up backing down about five percent of max. The Hornady XTP works well, especially the heavier for caliber bullets.

 

I really want to try 180 FP XTP's but not even sure if they make them. I was planning on trying some gas checked hard cast 180 grainers as well, but I think Missouri is like 16 week backlogged right now or something. 

 

Unfortunately Alliant only gives one load for 300-MP and .357's, so I do need to do a little experimenting. Plan on going up in 0.1-0.2gr intervals until I hit pressure and then back off a little, re-test this summer when its hot and then finalize it. 

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