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Thread: Mold Suggestions for .357 Maximum

  1. #1
    Boolit Master

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    Mold Suggestions for .357 Maximum

    After keeping a eye out for several years, I believe I have a Ruger New Model Maximum nailed down. Lord knows they're not getting cheaper. Was offered a near mint example with 150 pieces of brass for $800. Now I need a mold and dies. What do you all suggest? I see Lee has a 200 gr mold, but it only seems to come in a GC design, which I want to avoid. As I plan to PC, I see no reason to bother with GC'c. I do have a 180 gr Accurate mold for the .38 S&W with a .361 diameter. Maybe size them down?

  2. #2
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    Boolit Master RKJ's Avatar
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    I like the 360 PB from MP molds. Itís a copy of the H&G 503. Iíve got the 6 cavity in brass, itís heavy but it drops bullets that look and shoot great. Iíve also hot a Saeco but itís GC so donít use it much now, but it drops great bullets too. These are 158 Grain and might be too light for your Max.

    After reading your post again Iím sure you want something bigger. Sorry.

  4. #4
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    RCBS 180 SIL or Lee 200, The speed you to need to run it a GC is a very ideal or just shoot 38 special or 357 magnum out of it. That lee mold works well out of a rifle.
    Last edited by dannyd; 01-12-2022 at 06:51 PM.

  5. #5
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    I have shot thousands of the RCBS 180 Sil boolits out of mine when I was competing in Sillywett. It always performed well for me.
    Old enough to know better, young enough to do it anyway!

    When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem is a nail.

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    I agree with zarrinvz24……Elmer’s bullet!

  7. #7
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    I used the 358429 and it worked good too; it liked Unique.

  8. #8
    Boolit Master
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    I think your Accurate 180 will size down and be about perfect in your Ruger. My Max is a Henry rifle, I use both the RCBS 180 silhouette and a MiHec 180 rnfp cast. I also have the RCBS 200 mold, but prefer the 180 grain. YMMV, hc18flyer

  9. #9
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Unless you are wanting to shoot light loads, then you will want a gas check. Even a 180gr is probably going to be north of 1400 fps. If you really wanted a plain base, I suggest you look at something heavier. I had really good luck with 215-220 grain bullets in this cartridge. I used a gas checked bullet, but for reference, I'd choose something like the NOE SC360-232-RF-U5, although that is going to depend on how long your cylinder is. I was shooting a Dan Wesson with a massive cylinder. I'm guessing the Blackhawk is shorter.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master
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    I have loaded the max for 4 different handguns. Two Dan Wesson IHMSA specials, a 10" and 14" Contender.

    Either 180s or 200s work pretty good. Contrary to popular opinion, I ran all of mine full power with PC and no gas check. Yes, even the Lee 200. Zero leading and good accuracy. For each gun, at least one of my cast bullets shot as good as J Words.

    I would try the mold you have first.

  11. #11
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    Define good accuracy. While a plain base can certainly shoot good at higher velocities, it gets really tough when you are up 1500-1600+ fps. Again, I'm certain it can be done, but I was unable to do it. Plain base accuracy at those speeds is usually minute of paper plate at 30 yards, and that's about the best I can say about it. It's way easier to just use a gas check, or a heavier bullet.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

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    Thanks for the input guys. I agree P Flados, I see no reason to gas check at that velocity. I have several other handgun calibers I shoot up these speeds with no issues. I will definitely be trying the .361 mold first. Would be nice to get more use from it as i don't shoot a great deal of .38 S&W.

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    A fine gentleman,, David Bradshaw was instrumental in helping Ruger develop the .357 Maximum. He has one of the first production Rugers too. When he speaks about the Ruger Maxi,, those of us who are in the know,, shut up & listen. he's also a Handgun Silhouette shooter & champion. He's written some articles for magazines etc. In other words,, a very educated & accomplished shooter,, including at longer ranges & for better accuracy than many.

    That said,, he, along with Lee Martin developed a cast bullet design,, just for the Maximum. And it wasn't until he'd tested it extensively that he introduced it to others.
    Mountain Molds was the company that made the molds at first,, & up until they retired & closed,, were THE place to get one. Accurate Molds I believe now has the design.
    It's called the "Bradshaw/Martin .357 Maxi" mold. It casts a 194-195 grn bullet.

    I currently own a pair of the Mountain Molds,, one in brass & one in Aluminum.

    If you want to read a LOT more about it,, go to the "single action" Forum, owned by Lee Martin. Pages of discussion, testing, pictures, & a lot of other great info on it.

    It is now my only serious mold for my Maxi's,, (of which I own a few Rugers & a few Contender barrels in.)

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by megasupermagnum View Post
    Define good accuracy. .
    These were all IHMSA applications. I was able to close to my desired 2 MOA with the Contender barrels, but was willing to settle with just over 3 MOA for the revolvers. Part of this was my old eyes and open sights vs. scope.

    Again, I compared against J Words (I still have a stash of Speer 200s) and was able to get comparable results for each gun.

    I found one old photo of a 2.35 MOA open sight group with the 10" Contender:

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	357 Max 2.35 Iron Sight.jpg 
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    Last edited by P Flados; 01-13-2022 at 02:25 AM.

  15. #15
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    The 358627 was marketed as the bullet for the Max. I shoot some in my guns, a 10" contender and a Handi-Rifle. The NOE 180 gr WFN gets a lot more use. https://noebulletmolds.com/site/prod...60-182-wfn-u2/
    I have shot the Saeco 352, a 245 gr in the rifle and gone as light as 150 gr but see no purpose in either. I find the 429 just a little on the light side for what I want to do with the Max.
    [The Montana Gianni] Front sight and squeeze

  16. #16
    Boolit Master

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    Does anyone here shoot their Maximum Blackhawks? It seems the discussing it is in context to other platforms. Is the top strap cutting issue really that serious?

  17. #17
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    Do as I mentioned,, and look into David Bradshaw. He shoots his Ruger Maxi,, A LOT,, and can enlighten you a good bit. I shoot mine. as do many others who own one.

    The top strap flame cutting issue was mostly a result of people using light bullets, and a hot faster burning powder,, trying for velocity. That gun was built for heavier bullets & slower burning powders. And even if it does get a little top strap burn,, it will only go a small depth,, and STOP. it doesn't continue.
    Yes,,, Bill Ruger stopped production on these guns after reports of the top strap flame cutting. But it wasn't because of it causing guns to blow up or anything. It was because the people complaining and saying a lot of negative stuff. Bill had a temper,, and he got pizzed at these few folks who whined etc. He pulled 5000 of the Maxi's & destroyed them. He vowed to never make another one.

    Also,, what many do not know,, is other guns & such have also had top strap flame cutting without the "publicity" that the Ruger got.

    It's a simple thing.
    Use heavier bullets,, (none lighter than 158 & to many that's light,) use a slower burning powder,, and enjoy it. Most of the good ones like a 180-200 grn bullet.
    Again,, go look at the stuff David Bradshaw has published.

  18. #18
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    I like and have shot my maxis since the late 1980's. I have a Ruger too. Zero issues and because Im shooting only my handloads no appreciable cutting on my top strap. Ut from my reading it only cut so far and stopped. In a Contender 14" and a H&R 21" I shoot or did, mostly Hornady 180 ssp on game. For a cast I agree with Zarrin and those who suggest a 358429. Many good suggestions. Including the not as popular 358627. Its a 220 ish grain Keith.

    100% you DO NOT NEED a gc with a proper powder coating in this caliber. Even from a longer 24" barrel in my Savage 24 have I seen any coating related fouling.

    MOST 357 Mag dies will load the Maxi. I have Redding Lyman and RCBS dies and all work for me. I have modified seater stems for the pointy bullets.

    Its a great caliber hope it brings you as much enjoyment mine has. I have taken dozens of deer and a few hogs with this caliber in the last 35 plus years shooting it.

    CW
    NRA Life member ē REMEMBER, FREEDOM IS NOT FREE its being paid for in BLOOD.
    Come visit my RUMBLE page!!

    https://www.RUMBLE.com/user/Cwlongshot

  19. #19
    Boolit Master
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    There is a guy, David Bradshaw, on singleactions.com forum that worked with Bill Ruger and his sons and engineers on the development of the 357 maximum. Bradshaw was a TOP IMHSA shooter and knows his business. That is where I would head on this subject of bullets, PB cast, gas checked, or jacketed.
    We Know Mass Cannot Be Weighed But It Has Newtonian Weight And That Is Derived From Kilograms And Kilograms Can Be Converted to Pounds. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed. But How is the kilograms obtained? Can Kilograms Be Weighed? Evidentally Yes It Can. But, Still Mass Cannot Be Weighed So Kilograms Must Not Exist. Funny Isn't It.
    One good thing out of this the next time I'm at the doctors and they want to weigh me I'll tell them mass cannot be weighed.

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    I have a stainless Dan Wesson 357 Max that I bought new for IHMSA use. My son has a blue version of the same gun. Although my personal experience is with the Dan Wesson, I have kept up with the cutting issue for other guns.

    Top strap cutting on Dan Wesson revolvers gets visible pretty quick, but then seems to stop getting any worse. I still use mine for IHMSA occasionally and do not worry about it. Shoot one enough and you may also get some erosion on the barrel face and throat. Since the barrel can be easily removed and put into a lathe, clean up of the barrel is easy on a Dan Wesson.

    Top strap cutting was misunderstood and the Ruger response was unwarranted. People did keep shooting them and I have never heard of a gun that got bad enough that anything needed to be done about it.

    It is recommended to not shoot hot 357 Max loads with light bullets in revolvers. The guns were really intended for 180 grs and up. If you want to shoot 158s, I would recommend a powder no slower than say 2400 and I would keep loads just under book max. Anything lighter and I would (and do) use an even faster powder and keep loads down at 357 magnum power levels.

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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