Monday, December 29, 2014

Some 38 special & 357 magnum carbine observations: The Ruger 77/357 carbine hand-loaded part 1

There are few things in life that make more sense than to have a good rifle in the same caliber as your sidearm. There are passels of carbines, as they should be called as they are of a sub class of what would otherwise be a battle rifle, not for their physical size as the M4 "carbine" is called but as for their caliber to be had in nearly any pistol caliber one desires. This idea is not a new one, it just makes logistical sense to have a pistol and a rifle/carbine take the same ammo. The practice is sound, having to only worry about obtaining and carrying just one caliber such as .45 colt or two if .44spl/44mag is your choice as it keeps things long as you can obtain that one caliber at least.

The primary focus on the following concerns specifically the Ruger 77/357 bolt action carbine (or rifle if you prefer). The little 5.5 lb 4-5 shot package just at 38.5" overall has a lot to offer somebody who is looking for a rugged firearm to accompany them into the middle of nowhere which isn't a bad place to find oneself now and again. Mostly this post is focusing on the increased performance you can expect out of the longer barrel of such a handy carbine, the same could be expected from a handi-rifle, Contender rifle or lever action. The fact that this carbine features such a mild to wild caliber in such a rugged offering being it bolt action stainless gun with synthetic stock! Gives this little package a good deal of versatility when it is put up to say a wood stocked lever action that may have trouble feeding a large variety of rounds one may wish to put down the pipe.

Note- the previously discontinued offering of the 77/357 was blued my knowledge only stainless is being offered now.

All data was with using CCI primers and given in feet per second. The LCR was tested out of curiosity, not for serious comparison however it does show some problems that could crop up in load selection.

  • .38 Special - 92gr Round nose cast 4.9gr of Bullseye  
              77/357-   1278,1297,1302
              GP100 4"-  913, 927, 939
              S&W 65 4"-906, 965 , 907
             LCR-  544? 900, 916, 746

Note there are 4 velocities given for the LCR, the first 544 FPS  may have been a error of some sort, maybe the chronograph caught something other than the bullet, some shed lube perhaps. But the fact the 4th shot is so much lower than the middle two make me think either my charges were not consistent or we were having ignition issues with such a fast powder compared with case capacity and bullet weight. Something to keep in mind when wanting to use a given round across such a wide variety of barrels

  • .38 Special - 148gr Speer Factory hollow base wad cutter (HBWC) with the classic 2.7gr Bullseye
         77/357- 769, 760, 754
         GP100 4"- 587, 618, 598 
         S&W 65- 608, 595, 617
         LCR-563, 589

This is a popular target load for the .38 Special, it seems the 2.7gr load is the staple for a lot of shooters. Not to mentioned highly economical as you get 2592 loads per pound...that is less than a penny of powder in each shot (I purchased Bullseye @ $18 a lb in November of this year).

  • .38 Special- 160Gr WC 3.8gr Bullseye
          77/357- 974, 973, 976
          GP100 4"-817, 795, 797
          S&W 65 4"- 801, 813, 793
          LCR- 755, 729, 729

This load I kind of just came up with, I had a lot of these heavy 160gr Wadcutters already cast up from a while back just needed a excuse to send them down range. It is interesting to note just how little difference there is in this load between the revolvers and the carbine....Though velocities were exceedingly consistent in the rifle there is only about 250 fps difference between the LCR and the carbine. My thinking is the powder being Bullseye it burns too quickly for the longer barrel to give it any sort of major boost one might be looking for as a benefit to toting a longer barreled version of their sidearm around.

  • .357 Magnum- 158gr Lee SWC 14gr Alliant 2400
           77/357- 1702, 1629, 1675 
           GP100 4"- 1174, 1205, 1123
           S&W 65- 1241, 1216,1213
 No LCR data was collected due to our fondness with the feeling in our hands (Read, this load is stout in snub nose guns) not to mention accuracy was questionable since the chronograph was set further away than normal.

This bullet whose mold is offered by Lee is quickly becoming one of my all time favorite bullet selections available in the 38/357 realm. It cuts a nice clean hold in targets and is easier to load that most SWC bullets from a speed-loader into the cylinder of a revolver. It feeds easily in the 77 and offers a versatile all around bullet in the 158gr realm.

These were just some observations, testing will continue along with other bullet designs being added as time and equipment allows.  I plan to add some swagged projectiles to the lineup as well as a light 125Gr cast bullet, 173gr cast bullet, 215gr cast bullet and a .375 round ball pushed through a .357 sizer for plinker/small game rounds.

As I stated before I can see the sense in stocking only one caliber of ammo but you can quickly get into a lot of specialty loads if you deal with 38/357 or .44spl/.44mag  and want small game loads, shot loads and medium/big game thumpers.


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