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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I was browsing the net, looking for load suggestions for my 357. The 357 is not what I'd like to categorize as a cowboy caliber, and the SAA NF with a 7 1/2" barrel doesn't fit the typical combat revolver definition. I was searching for a load that would help define my SAA NF, a fit, a gun that shots like it looks.

My search led me to a Skeeter article and in it he listed a medium load using Red Dot. I just happened to have about 2 pounds of Red dot that my brother gave me. He was talking to his neighbor about shooting, and how his brother (me) reloads for him, and his neighbor says that he used to reload and gives him some powder in a coffee tin. It has a label on it that said "Red Dot". Considering the circumstances, I'd normally just dispose of this powder, but I examined the powder and it had the "Red" dots in it, and there was about 2 pounds of it.

Bottom line, I loaded up some "Skeeter" ammo, with the Speer SWC HP instead of the Lyman 357466. We (my son and I) fired off a box, and I'll be loading some more. Clean burning, no leading, accurate enough to be a keeper and inexpensive to load. We went through a box in no time at all. I went 5 for 5 on the gong at 35 yds, although it didn't really ring it like a rifle does, soft(ish) lead at slow speed.

Before loading this load I checked other sources, to confirm it was a safe load. I referenced a 1978 Hercules manual, Speer #9, and Lee #2. It is not a top load, Skeeter wouldn't have listed it if it didn't have some merit, a 1000 fps load in a list of 1200 fps loads.

See the article @ http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=30

This load defines the gun, a gentle but powerful load (it meets or exceeds a 38 special +P or FBI load) and our local Sporting goods store stocks the bullets, Red Dot is available ( the 2 pounds will take some time to "burn" at 5 gr. a pop) and small pistol primers are also available. I'm presently using a CCI 500, and will probably try some others, Skeeter did not specify which primer he used, it suspect it didn't really matter.

I like the Speer SWC HP, it comes in a box of 500, they are well made, perhaps less than a dozen were misshapen or odd looking and they are 0.358 in diameter with a tough coating, similar to what is on 22 LR lead ammo. Very good product for those of us that don't cast our own bullets. I haven't tried them on game but they do a number on jugs of water and rip the crap out of the 2x4"s we use to attach our targets to. I don't as a rule endorse products on forums, but these are good.

TTFN
 

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INTERESTING, in that is an article never published in Skeeter's lifetime. That entire list is a compendium of loads from back when, and most all are still appropriate now.
 

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I've never used Red Dot in the .357 Magnum as it's a little fast burning for me, preferring HS-6 and #2400 for the .357 Magnum.

But the .357 Magnum is a cartridge that lends itself well to a variety of bullet/powder combinations.

Thanks for sharing your experience,

Bob Wright
 

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Good for you! As a reloader you have many options. Many magnum calibers sit somewhat idle by owners that are not reloaders. Reloaders know that any magnum can be down loaded and the benefits are often a more enjoyable range session. CCI primers are known to be hard but in a single action, this is a moot point. My range load for my .357 Colts is a hard cast lead bullet with a charge of unique going out at about 1100 FPS and is very manageable without lots of muzzle blast. Your load hitting 1000 FPS will work for 100 yard steel. We are using a 16" square 3/8" plate at 100 yards and lots of fun with the satisfying "ting" when one hits it. The 38 plus P load is getting 900 FPS and also works well. The 1100 FPS .357 load is almost too fast has its hard to both hear the boom and ting. One concern using fast powder in a magnum cartridge is of a double charge but there are ways to make this almost impossible. A double charge of red dot may almost fill the case so it would be easy to see.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Speer says that their swaged bullet should be limited to 1000 fps to limit leading. I don't cast my own, no experience shooting hard cast, and I suspect that hard cast can be driven a bit faster.

I'm pleased with this load, it rips the crap out of the 2x4's in the backstop, annihilates tin cans and milk jugs, seems accurate and leaves the gun relatively clean. This load just warms the gun, never gets too hot to touch.

If I had to shoot full power 357 factory ammo, the gun would sit in the safe. And at 55$ for a box of 500 bullets, it's fairly inexpensive ammo.
 

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The 5.0 Red Dot under a standard weight SWC in the 357 Magnum is an old and venerable recipe which somehow fell into disuse after World War II. I think it first appeared in Phil Sharpe’s book, The Complete Guide to Handloading, which was published in 1937.

http://i1342.photobucket.com/albums/o776/dace357/PDFC-001_zps03057f8a.jpg[/IMG][/URL

As you discovered, nitroexpress, Skeeter Skelton mentions it in his posthumous 1980s Shooting Times article, but it is strangely absent from his earlier published writings.

Jeff Cooper and Colonel Charles Askins both mention the load in the 1970s as a suitable “hot” load for the .38 Special snub-nosed revolver, but never suggested it as a 357 load.

While I have used the 5 grains of Red Dot in .38 Special cases in my Colt 357, I more generally use a 4.5 grain load which seems just as accurate and has the added bonus of being the weight which one of my Lee powder dippers throws. I haven’t chronographed the 4.5 load yet but I suspect it will give ballistics similar to the FBI + P load.

I find that Red Dot is a very versatile handgun propellant; 3.1 grains with a 148 or 158 grain bullet is good in the .38 Special, 4.5 grains works well in the .45 ACP under a 200 grain SWC and 6.0 grains works well under a 250 grain bullet in the .44 Special, .44 Magnum and the .45 Colt.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the additional information

The additional information helped satisfy my curiosity. In the 70's when I shot skeet, Red Dot and Green Dot were still popular, but were being replaced with newer powders like the latest Winchester powders. My old manuals list Red Dot and Green Dot loads for most pistol cartridges, but newer manuals do not. Interestingly, Trail Boss has been described as being bulky like Red Dot. I've used Trail Boss and would probably use it if it wasn't more expensive than Red Dot or if I knew of any issues with Red Dot. It's been a while, I used Green Dot in my 38 Spl and I think it was a more "sooty" than this Red Dot load. In the future I may load a box of 357 with Green Dot for comparison.

For the time being, I'll keep shooting and enjoying my "Skeeter" load.
 

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Trail boss appears to be loaded like Red dot or 700X by WEIGHT (not volume) and gives similar performance in handgun cartridges but it has 2 addition safety features. (1)While hard to believe because of the big donut flakes, it was design to meter very well in progressive machines (700X of which I shoot a lot sometimes does not in small disk measures). 2. Since it is so big and bulky, an overcharge or double charge if it will fit in the case should not hurt your gun. This is a big issue for progressive machines because issues or jams occur and if someone gets out of sequence; stuff happens. This is also a big bonus to such cartridges that originally were produced with black power and now use small charges of smokeless, of which 38 special was one. I am getting by with loading red dot and 700x for some cowboy and other light loads and its working well so far and I am saving money with red dot and 700X over trail boss but don't have the added benefits of the upper 2 features.
 

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Ha ha. How the times have changed. It sounds like Skeeter shot anything that moved, crawled or flew. The federal government would take grave exception to him shooting an eagle today. And cops with revolvers. And cops with bullets in their belt loops!
 

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Knowing that Red Dot is a fast powder, I still use it a lot in my .44 Special loads.... 5-6 grains....usually an all day
shooter with 240gr SWC. And its clean too!
 

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An email change and forgotten password necessitated a new registration. I'm the same member that started this thread.

A bunch has changed, I started shooting Cowboy Action and added several hip guns to my inventory. My foray into suitable loads was fraught with pitfalls. A 132 gr RN cast bullet that I bought a few thousand of never really worked well, OK, but not well. The best load was with Universal, 4.2 gr for a velocity of around 800 fps. It worked in Federal brass and a magnum pistol or small rifle primer. It would not work in the other brands of brass I had on hand. Errant fliers and bullet issues encouraged me to try another avenue.

I settled on a 147 gr painted bullet from X-Metal loaded to an OAL of 1.6", and used WW 452 powder, about 4.2 gr and the only primer to show any consistency was a WSP.

I did a lot of testing, chronographing loads to check for Velociity, Es and Sd. Testing was with 5 shots powder forward, against the bullet, and 5 shots powder against the primer. Now that was an education. Primers make a difference. Some work with powder forward, most with powder against the primer, but most times one would work.

My criteria of using 357 brass made the task more difficult with the larger volume case. I like to avoid the crude ring you get with 38 Spl brass. Coincidentally, I reduced the charge of 452 AA to 3.75 gr in 38 Spl brass and had to use a CCI 500 for consistent velocity, same bullet loaded to an OAL of 1.5" for my "66 lever gun. Velocity is about 950 in the rifle.

I've learnt that loading down is not a straight forward as one thinks, you can get some interesting results to say the least.
 

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Great thead- I am a big fan of Skeeter and the 357 is my friend too.

Yep- times have changed it's a very different country.

Yer granddad's pistol grips might get you in trouble, but you can head on down to the dope store and buy a big bag of it.

Etc etc et al..
 

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This is interesting in the fact I now have that same nickel NF .357 7 1/2” Colt. So far I have fired some magnum loads with 158 GC lead bullets using surplus WC820 powder originally intended for 30 carbine. I am reducing this load down to about 1100 FPS to simulate the velocity I was getting with unique.

I too do cowboy action shooting with with a SAA .357 5 1/2” and a simple cleaning after shooting 38 special wad cutters keeps the chamber clean enough so a .357 will drop in freely.
 

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WTF? Why? Shooting .357 mag loads in a Colt SAA revolver is a great idea, why?
SAA sights being the poor sight picture, what is being accomplished here? Cowboy Action shooters use powder puff loads at 15 yards to hit steel targets 15"X15."

Bowling pins, steel plates etc., do not need or require the IPSC power factor. Standard loads with lead bullets are the norm. Fire your .357 mag loads in a Smith/Colt/Ruger revolvers.
 

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WTF? Why? Shooting .357 mag loads in a Colt SAA revolver is a great idea, why?
SAA sights being the poor sight picture, what is being accomplished here? Cowboy Action shooters use powder puff loads at 15 yards to hit steel targets 15"X15."

Bowling pins, steel plates etc., do not need or require the IPSC power factor. Standard loads with lead bullets are the norm. Fire your .357 mag loads in a Smith/Colt/Ruger revolvers.
Ohmigwd! Hide your powder and primers! It's the RELOADING POLICE!
 

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A 357 load from Elmer Keith was 15gr of 2400 behind a 158gr hard cast semiwadcutter. I shot these years ago from a Ruger but no chrono data.


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