My Friend, The .357 (Part 2)

Written by Skeeter in the mid-1960s, the following is the second part of an article found by his wife Sally shortly after Skeeter's death in January 1988. It was published for the first time in the June 1988 issue of Shooting Times in its unedited version. We present it again unedited as a special tribute to Skeeter. The first part appeared in last month's issue.
--The Editors

Almost all the objections to the .357 Magnum as a police weapon come from city police departments. It is argued, with some justification, that an officer who fires a magnum in a crowded city is more likely to kill innocent noncombatives than he would be if armed with a standard .38 Special. Not much mention is given to the fact that the same officer runs a hell of a lot more risk of being killed himself when his low-powered .38 fails to put an armed opponent out of action.


The .357 can, when necessary, be loaded down to any desired velocity level that will preclude unwanted penetration and yet offer a very good stopping power with proper bullets.


The Texas Department of Public Safety and the U.S. Border Patrol have accepted the .357 as standard for the patrol officers. Many of these well-trained cops frequently work in crowded, metropolitan areas. Those that do find it a simple thing to load their magnums with medium-velocity handloads, sometimes with expanding bullets that are good manstoppers but which won't penetrate dangerously. These thinking cops carry full-powered "maggie" loads in the bullet loops of their Sam Browne belts. If the need arises to stop a car or rouse out a barricaded gunman, they can do it.

The long suit of the .357 is its versatility in handling a wide range of special-purpose cartridges. These range from powder-puff .38 Special target loads to full-powered hunting rounds of up to 1600 fps velocity.


I have used many different bullet styles besides the Lyman 358156, although it has remained nearest my heart. A flatnosed semiwadcutter bullet performs best in the .357, especially in heavier loads, and several other good designs are available. In preparing to load for this caliber, some thought should be given to the use of the swaged half-jacket bullets, although I have found them to be generally less satisfactory than good cast bullets, due to their leading qualities and to their greater expense.


Below is a table of my favorite .357 loads, separated into three categories. The first two sections, light loads and medium loads, can be put up in either .38 Special or .357 Magnum cases. I generally load these in .38 Special cases so they can be readily identified and also because .38 brass is cheaper. The third section, heavy loads, should be assembled in sound, clean .357 cases. While not each is a maximum load, they perform better than any other combinations of the same bullet and powder that I have tried. Bullets used are .357-inch diameter. Velocities are estimated to be those obtained in an 83„8-inch-barreled revolver.

table#specialTable {padding: none;background: black; font-family: Arial,Helvetica, sans-serif;text-align: left;font-size: 11px;}table#specialTable tr {color: red; background:blue;}#specialTable td {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #cccccc; color:black;border-right: 1px solid black; border-bottom: 1px solid black;}#specialTable td.noright {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #adadad;color: black;border-right: none;border-left: none; border-bottom: 1px solidblack;}#specialTable td.noleft {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #adadad;color: black;border-right: 1px solid black;border-left: none; border-bottom:1px solid black;}#specialTable td.noborder {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #669966;color: black ;border-right: none; border-bottom: 1px solid black;}#specialTable th {margin: 2px; padding: 2px; background: #ffffff; color:black;font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif;text-align:left;font-size: 9px;}#specialTable tr.offcolor td { background: #ffffff;}#specialTable tr.footer {}#specialTable td.footer {}#specialTable h3 { margin: 0; padding:0;font-size: 15px; border-bottom: 2pxsolid #669966;}.bottom { 2px solid black;}

Skeeter's Favorite .357 Magnum Handloads

BULLETPOWDERVELOCITY
(grs.)(Type)(fps)
Light Loads
Lyman 158-gr. 3581565.3Unique900
Lyman 150-gr. 357446 HP5.05066950
Lyman 170-gr. 3584293.5Bullseye850
150-gr. swaged half jacket 5.0Unique900
Medium Loads
Lyman 158-gr. 35815613.524001200
Lyman 150-gr 358156 HP13.524001250
Lyman 150-gr. 358156 HP7.0Unique1250
Lyman 170-gr. 3584296.0Unique1150
Lyman 158-gr. 3574465.0Red Dot1000
Lyman 158-gr. 35744612.047591250
150-gr. swaged half jacket7.5Unique1300
Heavy Loads
Lyman 150-gr. 358156 HP15.524001500
Lyman 158-gr. 35815615.024001450
Lyman 150-gr. 358156 HP15.042271400
Lyman 158-gr. 3581568.0Unique1400
Lyman 150-gr. 358156 HP14.0Sharpshooter1600
Lyman 158-gr. 35744614.524001450
Lyman 170-gr. 35842914.524001400
Lyman 170-gr. 35842913.5H2401350
150-gr. swaged half jacket14.524001400
NOTE: All load data should be used with caution. Always start with reduced loads first and make sure they are safe in each of your guns before proceeding to the high test loads listed. Since Shooting Times has no control over your choice of components, guns, or actual loadings, neither Shooting Times nor the various firearms and components manufacturers assume any responsibility for the use of this data.

Since so many varying factors apply to make the results of handloading good, indifferent, or disastrous, neither Shooting Times nor I can be responsible for results obtained by the reader. I can only say that these loads have been safe and useful in my guns.

This list, of course, is by no means a comprehensive selection of .357 loads. It merely represents some that have worked well in my experience. Powder charges listed here may be used with other bullets of the same weight and similar design, but it is well to remember that a plainbase bullet, such as the 357446, will give higher pressures with the same powder charge than the gaschecked 358156. Too, a bullet case of soft alloy will show higher pressures and more barrel leading than one composed of a hard mixture, such as 1:10 tin to lead.

Barrel lengths affect muzzle velocities, but not as much as you may think. Longer barrels do a better job of burning the slow powders necessary for magnum loads, and many hunters buy guns with uncomfortably long barrels in order to squeeze the last foot-second of velocity from their loads.

Tests have shown that in cutting an 83„8-inch-barreled Smith .357 off one inch at a time, only about 35 fps velocity is lost for each inch removed when factory or high-velocity handloads are fired. This means that the shooter who carries an 83„8-inch model that gives 1500 fps would still get 1415 fps out of a six-inch revolver and 1345 fps if he chopped her down to four inches. The game he shoots isn't likely to know the difference, and the maggie man should pick the barrel length that he can shoot best and carry most comfortably.

In the middle '30s, the Smith & Wesson was the only sixgun chambered in .357. Colt didn't seem especially interested in the cartridge but did produce a few Model P single actions in that caliber, along with a sprinkling of New Service and Shooting Master double actions with its .45 frame. These prewar Colts are now collector's items.

Today Smith & Wesson offers its old original model, slightly refined, as well as a less highly finished version of the same gun, called the Highway Patrolman. Advances in metallurgy have enabled Smith & Wesson to chamber its .38 Special revolver for the .357 cartridge, and it holds forth as the Combat Magnum, filled up with target sights and a heavy, ribbed barrel.

Colt sells sixguns in the form of the old Model P single action and its target-sighted offspring, the New Frontier. The Python, an improved version of the famous .38 Officer's Model target revolver, is the top gun in the Colt line and one of the most popular .357s used by police. The Trooper is a less fancy version, competing with the S&W Highway Patrolman in price.

Sturm, Ruger & Co. came out with its .357 Blackhawk in 1955, and it is an extremely practical, durable hunting arm. Intercontinental Arms of Los Angeles imports the Dakota, a good replica of the Colt single action from Italy that can be had in .357. Intercontinental also sells a sturdy derringer in the same caliber.

All of these handguns are strong and accurate. At one time or another, I have carried each of them at my side on hunting trips or in law-enforcement work. If I had to choose just one gun to side me for the rest of my life, be it handgun, rifle, or shotgun, I would select a .357 Magnum revolver.

So if you're in a critical mood, pal, lay off my .357--it's an old friend of mine.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

Black Hills Evolution of Rifle Cartridge: .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match

David Fortier talks with Jeff Hoffman of Black Hills Ammunition about the evolution of the .308 Win. 175 Gr. Match bullet.

All About .300 Blackout

All About .300 Blackout

The .300 Blackout is here to stay, and we take some time to look at new technology surrounding this cartridge. Next, we pit subsonic rivals against each other before stretching the legs of this CQB round out to 600 yards from a short 9-inch barrel.

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

The Future Of Special Operations Small Arms

We're taking a look at what the Army's Elite Units are using for service rifles and what the future of SOCOM sniping looks like.

The Glock 21

The Glock 21

Frank and Tony from Gallery of Guns spice up the Glock test using their non-dominant hands.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Harvey A. Donaldson may be best known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp wildcat cartridge, but during his lifetime he was popularly called the “pioneer benchrester.”  Gunsmithing

Harvey Donaldson: Pioneer Benchrester

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 07, 2019

Harvey A. Donaldson may be best known for his .219 Donaldson Wasp wildcat cartridge, but...

Daniel Defense has blazed a new trail with its first-ever bolt-action rifle, the Daniel Defense Delta 5. Rifles

Daniel Defense Delta 5 Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft - May 31, 2019

Daniel Defense has blazed a new trail with its first-ever bolt-action rifle, the Daniel...

Burris has expanded its top-of-the-line Veracity hunting riflescope line with new 2-10X 42mm and 3-15X 50mm RFP (rear focal plane) models. Optics

Burris Veracity RFP Riflescopes

Jake Edmondson - June 04, 2019

Burris has expanded its top-of-the-line Veracity hunting riflescope line with new 2-10X 42mm...

Is the SIG P320 9mm modular pistol the best polymer-frame high-capacity sidearm ever designed? Let's find out. Handguns

SIG P320 9mm Review

Joseph Von Benedikt - September 13, 2018

Is the SIG P320 9mm modular pistol the best polymer-frame high-capacity sidearm ever designed?...

See More Trending Articles

More Handguns

The painful part about Brian Lohman Manufacturing's new YMIR Model 1911 is that it carries a retail price of $6,999. Not many of us can afford to pay that much for a pistol, but if you think of this gun as being a piece of art, one that you can actually use and then pass down to an heir, then maybe the sting of its price is tolerable. Handguns

Lohman YMIR 1911 Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft - June 16, 2020

The painful part about Brian Lohman Manufacturing's new YMIR Model 1911 is that it carries a...

The Smith & Wesson Model 57 N-Frame .41 Magnum—a favorite of sixgun superstars—refuses to go out of style. Handguns

Smith & Wesson Model 57 N-Frame .41 Magnum Review

Payton Miller - May 20, 2020

The Smith & Wesson Model 57 N-Frame .41 Magnum—a favorite of sixgun superstars—refuses to go...

While most new handguns are chambered for the popular 9mm and .45 ACP, interest in .22 LR and 10mm Auto semiautomatic pistols appears to be resurging. Here's just a taste of the many exciting new handguns for 2020. Handguns

24 New Handguns for 2020

Lane Pearce - June 02, 2020

While most new handguns are chambered for the popular 9mm and .45 ACP, interest in .22 LR and...

We like the name of the new Taurus handgun-hunting revolver. It's called the Raging Hunter. We like the way the revolver handles and shoots, too. Handguns

Taurus Raging Hunter Review

Joel J. Hutchcroft - April 08, 2020

We like the name of the new Taurus handgun-hunting revolver. It's called the Raging Hunter. We...

See More Handguns

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Shooting Times subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now