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Thread: Cowboy Load Needed for Lee 358-125-RF .357/.38 SPL Bullet

  1. #1
    Boolit Bub Liberty1776's Avatar
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    Cowboy Load Needed for Lee 358-125-RF .357/.38 SPL Bullet

    Tonight I casted up 600 boolits using a Lee 358-125-RF 6-cavity mold using 50:50 wheelweight/lead alloy.

    They dropped at about 130 grains each.

    They are going to be fired in Ruger New Vaquero .357 5-1/2" revolvers (Bisley grips) for Cowboy Action Shooting at our local range for my wife and me.

    I have a good supply of Trail Boss, which I have already loaded into light .44 Mag/200 grain slugs for the Marlin lever action.

    Though the Lee mold spec says "125 grains," the boolits drop at +/- 130 grains.

    So, using Hodgdon data for 130 grain .358 bullets in .357 brass I see no Trail Boss data. There's a CFE Pistol load, but its minimum charge of 6.3 grains sends the bullet down range at 1300 fps. Too fast. I'd like around 830 fps.

    I'm planning on using .357 brass so it won't leave a ring on the cylinder like if I employ .38 SPL brass.

    Looking at the Hodgdon data for 125 grain cast LRNFP bullets, they offer a Trail Boss load of 3.5 grains (874 fps) to 5.3 grains (1035 fps).

    So, here's the question: though my boolits are supposed to drop at 125 grains, but actually drop at 130 grains, if I use the above Trail Boss loads in .357 brass, do you think I'm going to have any problems?

    I can't believe I'm even asking this question. It's so arcane that only the most persnickety people in the world would even care. But I think I've found a group of guys who are that persnickety.

    I intend on powder coating the boolits with Harbor Freight red, and sizing them to .358. Any ideas?

    Here's my boolit:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Lee 358-125 cast bullet.jpg 
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ID:	234045

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Boolit Bub Liberty1776's Avatar
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    That Trail Boss page from Hodgdon was very informative.

    Mark the case where the bottom of the bullet will be, fill to that mark, weigh the load. That's the maximum load for that cartridge.

    Starting load is 70% of that weight.

    Apparently, the weight of the bullet isn't critical.

    Thanks.

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy Low Budget Shooter's Avatar
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    Unless you were talking about max loads for 357 Magnum or something like that, the difference in load data between 125 and 130 grains is insignificant.
    A box of premium carry ammo is too expensive at about $30, so I've spent $1,000 on molds, lead, lube, primers, and powder over the past 10 years to make some that's cheaper!

  5. #5
    Your op made me dig out my reloading notes. My wife shot cowboy action for a few years with New Vaqueros and used 357 brass (cause we already had a bunch.....and I liked the notion of no cylinder ring)
    130 gr cast over 4 gr of Trailboss was one of the loads she used for a while. Clocked 764 fps thru the chrono.

  6. #6
    Boolit Buddy
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    Welcome to the madness, Sam.

  7. #7
    Boolit Master


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    My Kids used to Shoot 3.0 grs of TiteGroup in a .38spl case using a 158gr RNFP in a Colt .357mag & a spaghetti clone each. And a Marlin 1894CS & 1894CB (the Good 24"bbl'd one). Never saw an advantage to a lighter weight bullet. The Kids sure didn't like them.
    A good dry brushing in the cylinders alleviated any crud in the revolvers. And a chamber brush twisted back and forth in the rifles cleared out that crud.

    Good Luck in what's left of sass.
    I HATE auto-correct


    Happiness is a Warm GUN & more ammo to shoot in it.

    My Experience and My Opinion, are just that, Mine.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by dg31872 View Post
    Welcome to the madness, Sam.
    Thanks for the welcome. I've spent lots of time getting lots of good info from this site but just joined now.
    Great forum!

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master
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    Apparently, the weight of the bullet isn't critical.
    A fact that most reloaders do not know but keep asking because they don't read about TB on the Hodgdon website
    Regards
    John

  10. #10
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    You can simply take standard 38 special data and toss it into a 357 case using the 10% increase rule.

    Makes MUCH more sense then trying to figure out a "cowboy" load unless you want to make your own 38 long colt.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master


    Springfield's Avatar
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    Just use the 125 grain info, the 5 grains bullet weight won't matter a bit. Putting on a heavy or light crimp would probably make more difference. You are over thinking it.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master
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    I am using 2.8 grains bullseye with that bullet and lee tuble lube. Very nice in both my Colt SAA 357 and Marlin 1894CS microgroove. Unsized this bullet is cast with wheel weight alloy and dropping into water at .358-.359. No sizing needed. 38 special cases of course.

  13. #13
    3.2 grains of Clays is a great load for that bullet.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master



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    Quote Originally Posted by Liberty1776 View Post
    Tonight I casted up 600 boolits using a Lee 358-125-RF 6-cavity mold using 50:50 wheelweight/lead alloy.

    They dropped at about 130 grains each.

    They are going to be fired in Ruger New Vaquero .357 5-1/2" revolvers (Bisley grips) for Cowboy Action Shooting at our local range for my wife and me.

    I have a good supply of Trail Boss, which I have already loaded into light .44 Mag/200 grain slugs for the Marlin lever action.

    Though the Lee mold spec says "125 grains," the boolits drop at +/- 130 grains.

    So, using Hodgdon data for 130 grain .358 bullets in .357 brass I see no Trail Boss data. There's a CFE Pistol load, but its minimum charge of 6.3 grains sends the bullet down range at 1300 fps. Too fast. I'd like around 830 fps.

    I'm planning on using .357 brass so it won't leave a ring on the cylinder like if I employ .38 SPL brass.

    Here's my boolit:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	Lee 358-125 cast bullet.jpg 
Views:	20 
Size:	5.3 KB 
ID:	234045
    I just bought this mold myself! Good lookin' lil boolit ain't it!

    Weight difference is simply your mix and a LEE mold... Not a big worry, as long as you are able to size the bullet to a size YOU want.

    What's this cylinder ring you speak of?

    CW
    NRA Life member • REMEMBER, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE its being paid for in BLOOD.

  15. #15
    Boolit Man
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    3.8 Bullseye in 38 spl brass is a fine load in my sp101. No cylinder ring noted after 1000's of rounds fired.

  16. #16
    Boolit Man
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    Why are you dropping in water? ACWW should do just fine at that speed. Just wondering.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by NorthMoccasin View Post
    Why are you dropping in water? ACWW should do just fine at that speed. Just wondering.
    This, a harder bulet will lead to less obturation, possible leading and less accuracy at low velocities.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  18. #18
    Boolit Grand Master


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    I've conducted an extensive test of 38 SPL "Cowboy Action" loads, both factory and reloads with 125 gr cast bullets. You'll find a velocity of 550 - 600 fps out of your Vaquero is probably going to prove the best. As mentioned in previous posts a load of 3.2 - 3.8 gr of Clays, Bullseye, N320, N32C, Titegroup, 231, etc. is going to be what you want.

    Most use the same load in the 38/357 lever guns also.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
    ― Nikola Tesla

  19. #19
    Boolit Bub Liberty1776's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cwlongshot View Post

    What's this cylinder ring you speak of?

    CW
    The .38 SPL case is .125" shorter than the .357 Mag. If you shoot .38 all the time, a carbon ring builds up in the cylinder that must be scrubbed out or the .357 rounds won't fit in the cylinder cleanly.

    Not a bit problem, really.

  20. #20
    Boolit Bub Liberty1776's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Gibson View Post
    I've conducted an extensive test of 38 SPL "Cowboy Action" loads, both factory and reloads with 125 gr cast bullets. You'll find a velocity of 550 - 600 fps out of your Vaquero is probably going to prove the best. As mentioned in previous posts a load of 3.2 - 3.8 gr of Clays, Bullseye, N320, N32C, Titegroup, 231, etc. is going to be what you want.

    Most use the same load in the 38/357 lever guns also.
    Thanks. I've been using 3.0 grains of Trail Boss under a 125 gr Polymer Coated (PC) RNFP Lee boolit.

    Then I needed to load low-velocity 12-ga shotgun for the Stoeger. So I used 14 grains of Clays under 7/8 oz of 7-1/2 shot.

    So I have some Clays. May try loading up some .38's with it. I see Clays pops up on a lot of loading data and general users.

    Thanks.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check