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Loading .38 spcl / .357 mag -Worth it for a snub?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by Glock21sf-miami, Jan 4, 2010.

  1. Glock21sf-miami


    Jul 25, 2008
    Fellow shooters,

    Initially, I bought everything to reload .45 acp which is the caliber that I shoot the most.

    I have an SP101 2.25" DAO chambered in .357 mag and make a point of shooting it from time to time since it is my secondary carry. At first, I though that I wouldn't be shooting too much and maybe it was not worth it since buying the dies, shellplate and bullets (1K at least) would probably set me back a couple of hundred and I could always practice with .38 spcl and mix it up with some .357 mag every now and then. Took the little tank to the range yesterday and shooting 50 .357 rounds was all I could pleasantly shoot.
    However, I have been looking, and even .38 spcl ammo is getting close to $20 per 50. .357 mag is closer to $25 per 50 if you find it. If you check online stores you will find even higher prices for most stuff. Forget about finding .38 spcl or .357 mag ammo in Walmart unless you quit your job and set up camp in the parking lot.

    It is looking like loading .38 spcl / .357 mag is inevitable. Maybe I can load a light .357 round for practice so I can shoot something similar but more pleasant than my SD ammo.

    Any pointers? Experience with these calibers with this objective in mind?
    Powder and bullet suggestions? I already have W231 and WST...
  2. GioaJack

    GioaJack Conifer Jack

    Apr 14, 2009
    Conifer, CO

    Load for your .38/.357, without question.

    The most common load for a 2 or 2 1/2 inch is a 158 grain LSWC. You have a world of options in either load, from light Bullseye loads in .38 to mid .357 loads with Unique. Of course there are a plethora of other powders that can be used with excellent results.

    Shooting a few stout .357's can be fun, for the short term but as you found out they can be punishing on both the hand and the gun. I never carried .357 at work and I don't carry them now... 158 grain LSWCHP is all I carry whether the gun is chambered in .38 or .357. Many will disagree and that's fine but my experience and observations have demonstrated that it is very effective for what it is intended.

    The .38 is a very enjoyable round to load, very similar to .45 in that there is a world of variables to keep you from getting bored.

    As the years go by you'll become more and more appreciative of not bending over to pick up brass. :supergrin:


  3. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    If you are already setup to reload, buying a setup for 38/357 is well worth the $75-$100 IMO. That is like 4-5 boxes of ammo & you get to tailor your loads for whatever you want to practice with. I stopped laoding 38sp long ago for light loads in the 357mag. Just load them in 357mag cases & not hassle w/ resetting your dies everytime.
  4. G-31

    G-31 .357 Sig

    Jul 18, 2009
    Grand Junction, CO
  5. Gunnut 45/454

    Gunnut 45/454

    Jun 20, 2002
    I got back into the 38/357 mag after picking up a bunch of once shot 38/357mag brass at the range. Used to shoot it alot when I was younger. After cleaning it up and having it sit for about 5 months I got the notion to actually buy a gun to shoot it! Bought three actually! Bought a box of each 38/357 and I now have plenty of brass to load with! And all I do is reloads! I cast my own 125/158gr slugs! Now a days nobodies leaving any brass that I shoot-40/9 all kinds - but no 38/357mag, 45 ACP, 45LC,454, 30-30,'06 and 8mm? But that's O.K. as for when everyone was just leaving brass all over the place I was picking it up and have enough for my lifetime! Thanks to all you litterbugs!:supergrin:
  6. idahoglock36


    Mar 4, 2008
    There are times when all I shoot is the 38 like right now when snow is everywhere and I don't have to chase the brass....especially in the snow.

    I found that when I started reloading for the 38 I shot it way more.....of course I have to reload for the 38 more:whistling:. But it is a easy and less expensive round to reload (usually lead and less powder). Plus you can shoot a couple hundred at a time and not feel guilty.
  7. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    Definitely load your own. Like you said, buying .357 mag factory is expensive... IF you can find it.

    I'd also look at the data from the most recent Speer (14?)... they have short barrel data and bullets made to work in snubbies if you go beyond range fodder with your Ruger.

    231 should work for .38 special... I like 2400 for the .357 mag.
  8. srd


    Apr 4, 2009
    .38/.357 are fun to load and play with. Try some double ended wadcutters while you are at it. Try casting and you can really get the price down. Roughly 44 of the 158 gr from a pound of wheelweights.
  9. Glock21sf-miami


    Jul 25, 2008
    Thanks for the input! As soon I can spare a couple of bucks I'll go ahead and get the stuff I need. I just got tired of chasing ammo and making long lines. Loading .38 / .357 will enable me to forget about factory ammo and also shoot my wife's 642, which is a blast to shoot too.
    I'll start the research...
  10. fredj338


    Dec 22, 2004
    Yeah, good luck finding ww in many places, especially out in Kommiefornia & soon to be the rest of the west coast. If yo uhave to buy your alloy, casting is hardly worth the effort, but for some, it is as enjoyable as reloading.
  11. Kentucky Shooter

    Kentucky Shooter NRA Life Member

    Jun 12, 2009
    Absolutely!! The .357 can be loaded down to .38 levels to make a great practice round. I personally enjoy shooting them loaded to cowboy action levels with 158 grain lead bullets. They make great practice/plinking rounds.
  12. Daryl in Az

    Daryl in Az Enjoying life!

    Aug 31, 2007
    Buy carbide dies and go for it. I load for every centerfire cartridge I shoot, and I HATE buying factory ammo.

    I have something like 17 sets of dies for various cartridges, some I don't even shoot any more. I don't sell them 'cause sooner or later I might end up with a firearm chambered for them again. Used dies sell for a little of nothing, so I just keep 'em.

    Dies are a small investment that will pay for themselves in short order.


  13. Brucev


    Jul 19, 2009
    Buy a carbide die set, some powder, bullets and primers and reload your brass! You will be very pleased with the results. The first round I ever reloaded was the .30-06 Springfield. Results in my surplus Springfield 03-A3 were an immediate improvement in accuracy and a dramatic reduction in cost as well as the personal satisfaction of producing my own ammunition. The second round I ever reloaded was the .38 Special/.357 S&W Magnum. Results in this effort were similarly gratifying. Buy carbide dies... etc. Sincerely. Brucev.
  14. TimmyR41


    Apr 10, 2008
    here is a calculator from another website. it is a handloading cost vs savings calculator. you can input all the variables and see how many rounds it will take you to break even and what not.

    for 9mm i save about $4 per 100 fired over the wwb i can purchase at walmart.
  15. Glock21sf-miami


    Jul 25, 2008
    I tell you that reloading has saved my health! Being mad all the time out of frustration of not being able to find any ammo was killing me... in addition, I was thinking about forgetting my passion of everything gun just to avoid the frustration.....

    Needless to say, my doctor now is called Mr. Hornady LNL AP and I have a therapy session a couple of times per week. Life is beautiful! While everybody is losing time chasing a couple of rounds of ammo, I just go to my garage and Voila! I come out with 250 rounds....
  16. ron59

    ron59 Bustin Caps

    Jan 3, 2009
    Smyrna, GA
    I save almost $100 per 1000, which is $10 per 100. Are you having to pay for brass? Or not buying your components in large enough bulk?

    I have not had to ever just "pay for brass". Yes, I had bought a bunch of factory ammo in the past, but I saved the brass. If I never got into reloading, I would have been out that money, so I'm not going to count that as "buying brass". I also am able to scrounge some additional brass occasionally where I shoot.

    I'm reloading 1000 rounds of 147gr 9mm, with Solo-1000, for $138.

    My costs for components:
    8lbs of Solo 1000 $102.00 + shipping & hazmat = $134.95
    7000 CCI primers @ 22.50 + shipping & hazmat = 190.96
    3000 MG 147gr bullets = $305
    (charge = 3.8gr of powder)

    Plug those numbers into:

    and you get $138.00, PER 1000

    It's close to $238 (for the WWB 100-count value pack) at Walmart per 1000.
  17. ron59

    ron59 Bustin Caps

    Jan 3, 2009
    Smyrna, GA
    Sorry for the previous post, went a little "off topic".

    But this thread is interesting for me. I have a .357 S&W 3" revolver that I'd like to shoot some.... haven't been able to find "affordable" ammo in awhile. I have some brass, both .38 and .357.

    So you guys are saying that it's okay to load the .357 "light", to the point that it shoots like a .38 or even a .38 +P? I'd think with that big old case, that would be tough to do ??

    Can someone suggest some bullets (not lead, I shoot indoors and don't like the smoke) that would be good, and would either Solo-1000 or TiteGroup be a suitable powder?
  18. 1006


    Aug 12, 2007
    Newnan, Georgia
    I like the Berry's Bullets.
  19. MinervaDoe


    Jan 26, 2009
    San Jose, CA
    I actually will not do this for fear of different pressure between the cartridges. I always use only loads that I find in reloading manuals.

    I'm sure you may find people here who will tell you otherwise, but I just want to let you know that their opinions do not represent a consensus.

    Here's a good example:
    Go to this site
    open two windows side by side in your browser
    set one window up to look at .38 Special and one to look at .357
    For hdy 125 gr XTP, look at SR 4756 for both cartidges.
    The minimum .357 load also falls in the range of the .38 special. Look at the huge difference in pressure.
    I know my example goes in the opposite direction than what we are discussing, but ....
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2010