New 2 Me 357 Mag. Bullet help needed.

entoptics

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Jan 16, 2018
Messages
617
Just scored this beauty from my Mom and her Partner. S&W 686, 6", in very good shape. Googled a bit, and it seems the serial prefix and "no dash" means she's from the mid-80s. The trigger is butter smooth in DA, and a perfect 3.75 lb SA pull.

SW686.jpg


First 357 I've owned, and other than my Single Six, and a nickel plated 32 S&W "belly gun" from the turn of the last century that my dad gave me, this is the tiniest revolver I own...She's such a cute little thing.

Problem is...I can't shoot it, as there's not a scrap of ammo or reloading components available right now. I have primers, H110, and a few dozen 357 mag brass I've scrounged up over the years cause I won't throw anything away, but I can't find any appropriate "magnum" projectiles.

I always like to give a gun a "purpose", even if it will likely never actually see that duty in my hands. Since my other revolvers start at 44 mag and go up from there, I've decided that her "purpose" will be as a "light weight" backup gun for lions/tiger/bears (OH MY!). In other words, more horsepower than my G23 can muster, but smaller and handier than my other hand canons.

So couple questions...

1) Any 357 gurus have a favorite bullet? 140 XTP would be the lightest thing I'd look at (deer, 2 legs, etc), and probably want to run 158 class, as it's the baby version of the 240 gr 44 (nearly identical SD and BC), which I like a lot. Probably don't wanna go much above this weight, as the efficiency really drops, and if I really thought I needed that much penetration, I'd carry something that starts with a 4...

I'm not interested in "plinker" or 38 spc, but I'm down with most anything that "works" at full tilt 357 mag (as in compressed H110 and fireballs). Gas checked hard cast, conventional jacketed, or even all copper if I'm convinced it works.

2) Anyone have any scraps they'd sell me (brass/bullets) so I can at least get started while I wait for the panic buying to pass? Really pains me to not be able to shoot the thing.
 

Tiny Tim

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Jan 26, 2015
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905
Nice score! I have nothing in that caliber but you have the right ideas, right weight. Depending on the condition of the barrel, cast bullets may foul the bore if driven hard. A hard cast bullet may be easier to find than jacketed. Gas checks are a definite plus. Love H110 in my 44. Good luck and congratulations.
 

snox801

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Sep 19, 2012
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3,487
Location
Spring Lake Michigan
It’s been a while since I’ve done anything with mine. But the best bullet I’ve found was the cutting edge phd bullet. Take a few deer and hogs with it. I would also look at hammer and see if they have any for it. They use a softer copper that seem to work great.
I may also be able to find some brass laying Around. Like I said been forever since I’ve played with it. But if you have the starter stuff I would get some cutting edge. They are pricey but expensive is better than none at all at least till things calm down.
 

Critter Picker

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Oct 30, 2019
Messages
97
Location
Wisconsin
My favorite store bought bullet for my Smiths has always been the Sierra 158 JHC. that being said I started casting my own bullets 50 years ago. WARNING this is a very addictive option. Back in the mid 70's I ran into my high school graphics teacher and ended up buying 3/4 ton of linotype from him. I worked at a tire place and brought home a 5 gal pail of wheel weights every couple of weeks. My garage has so much lead in the one corner that it could tip up like the Titanic at any moment. In handguns I've found that cast bullets are superior to jacketed bullets because you can size them to the bore of the gun.

I'm sure that you can find cast bullets for sale on the net. I have even found specific bullets for sale and tried them before I bought the mould.

Good luck, enjoy your 686 they are a lot of fun!

PS just bought some brass from Starline. It's the best handgun brass I've ever purchased. Measured every piece and the length is right there. No need to trim. That's pretty rare. On your handgun brass keep all trimmed to the same length because a uniform crimp is critical for accuracy.
 

Frog4aday

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Oct 25, 2007
Messages
1,123
Location
Tennessee, USA
The 140 gr XTP bullets have been very accurate in my 4" GP-100, so I lean that way when looking to do anything "serious" with .357 mag. I see they make a 158gr version, which is more to your liking for bullet weight. The XTP's just seem to be accurate in most guns, so can't go wrong starting there...if only they were available!

Your 686 looks great. Hopefully it's a shooter. I really like the front heavy weight of the 586/686 guns. They suck up the recoil & hold steadier for me.

I got a dud many years ago, made during Bangor Punta times. Spit tremendous amounts of lead & jacket material out side/forcing cone area. Gunsmith checked it and barrel was on crooked. That particular gun also was recalled as it would lock up tight on full power loads (something to do with firing pin bushing?) None of that soured me on S&W or 586/686 guns. I just got the Friday @ 4pm model. It happens.

I hope you can find some bullets to give your new toy a spin around the block.
 

entoptics

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Joined
Jan 16, 2018
Messages
617
Thanks for the replies.

@snox801 Thanks for the offer. I'd love to get a few more brass, but I suppose till I find some bullets, there's not much point yet.

@243winxb Thanks for the link. I actually found those when I was searching, but I'm hesitant to pay the "scalpers" price they are charging. Many places list them for ≤ $20 per hundred. If I had bullets to go with them, I'd go ahead and pay, but with my luck, I'd buy the double price brass now, not get any bullets, then everything would be back in stock for half the price...

@Frog4aday The XTP line has shot VERY well in every caliber I've tried (9mm, 40, 44, 451, and 500). Shot quite a few of various weights/diameters into water and wet paper, and other than my 454 Casull, they all held up outstanding also. The 454 just drives them a little too hard. They still hold together OK, but are a bit explosive and don't penetrate well. Frankly, I've not found any cup/core bullet that will really penetrate well in 454, even from my 4 5/8" FA83. Out of my 454 Rossi 92, cup/core = grenade...😳
 

T3ninja

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Feb 20, 2016
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600
Location
NW indiana
My dad has a Henry .357 and we both had blackhawks in .357. We shot the same load (h110 and 158 XTP) out of all 3. It shoots well out of 3, and he has killed several deer with the Henry, out to around 140 yards. I’m pretty sure every deer he has shot has been a pass through (upwards of 10 deer).
 

pttp

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Oct 11, 2017
Messages
129
Very nice revolver you have added to your collection!

I have used H110 in all my magnum handguns with very good results. For your purpose I think the 158gr. bullets are the correct choice. The XTP and the Nosler version with visible "pettles" of the jacket towards the nose have worked well.

Until you can find jacketed bullets I would suggest looking at. castboolits.gunloads.com. There should be sources of hardcast gas checked "boolits" that could be loaded hot enough. You will need to slug your barrel and chamber(s). The boolits can be purchased sized to your specs in the range of .002" larger than bore diameter, .001" smaller than chamber diameter.
 

entoptics

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Joined
Jan 16, 2018
Messages
617
Think I'm gonna try these bad boys...


They are a bit spendy compared to XTP, Nosler, Sierra, Etc, but it appears that I can get them in hand in a reasonable time. If they shoot good, they're a viable "First Choice" anyway. They oughta be pretty ferocious with the big meplat, and with BHN 22 and a gas check, I think they should stand up to full tilt loads. Hoping I can get them up around 1400 fps, though I don't really know what to expect from a 6" Smith. Loading data either seems to be in 10" test barrels with no cylinder gap (utterly stupid and near useless IMO), or 4" guns.

They also have the longest nose to crimp offered by this manufacturer, so that should leave a smidgen extra space for powder over other options. I measured a piece of fired brass, then cartridge base to cylinder face, and it looks like I have ~0.4" to work with outside the case, so that leaves me ~0.075 "safety". Can't imagine 357 has enough sauce to worry too much about crimp jumping, particularly in a 6" full lug barrel.

Don't have anything to slug the throat/barrel right now, so I'm gonna assume 0.358" is close enough. Not like this is a revolver from the first world war or something.

Probably won't order till I get a line on some more brass (I only found 35 pieces in my stash, @snox801 PM inbound). If anyone has any other suggestions for quality hard cast, gas-checked bullets, let me know.
 

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