Monday, January 3, 2011

Shooting Cast Bullets Over 1,000 FPS in a 357

Recently I've come across a lot of advice against shooting over 1,000FPS.  One even suggested that leading would quickly build and cause serious safety problems.  Another claimed that cast lead bullets melt at 1,200FPS.  Of course these claims are all false.  Two current Most Accurate Loads are rated (no chrono handy) at 1,120FPS and 1,200FPS.  Neither have leaded the barrel at all.

Another cast bullet myth is that loads over 1,000FPS require hard cast lead.  This is commonly accepted by many, if not most caster-handloaders.  The same two favorite loads are most accurate with very soft lead boolits. 7-8BHN, which is very soft.  In truth I can't measure the hardness of lead this soft as the Lee Hardness Tester starts at 8BHN.  The alloy is 10lbs of pure lead with 1 ounce of solder for tin, to help mould fillout while casting.  This is very soft, and it works very well over 1,000FPS.  Leaving a clean shiny barrel after 200 rounds or more in one session at the range.

With a good bullet design, like many SWC's, that fit the cylinder & throat, 1,300FPS and more, can and does work well.  That's with soft lead, not water dropped wheel weights or boolits hardened with any other method.

Some quick tips to shoot faster than 1,000FPS with lead:
  1. Use a SWC from 158 to 200 grains
  2. Avoid hard cast
  3. Softer works better, BHN 8 is better than BHN 11-12
  4. Bigger diameter is better, .359 is good, .360 is best (as long as your gun will chamber it)
  5. Swaged or undersized bullets may work just fine, but may need a coat of Lee Liquid Alox to help lube them
The most accurate bullets bullets work the best at all velocities, especially over 1,000FPS.  Look at the info at 357 Magnum Accuracy is About Semi-Wadcutters

Check out the other posts about alloys and accuracy in a 357 magnum.  Note I can't stress enough that the softer lead is more accurate more often than harder alloys.  While it's very possible to get good groups with WW and even water dropped WW.  They do have more flyers.  The soft boolits will out-shoot the harder 7-8 times out of 10.

So don't worry about the 1,000FPS being a limit for your plain base boolits.  Bevel base can work, HBWC's are another matter, light loads only.

Off topic and just for fun, here is a picture of what promises to be a great 357 revolver.  Dan Wesson of CZ USA is releasing a new 715 this year.  Is that sweet or what!

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