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357 sig reloading

I have been reloading for the 357 sig for about 2 years. (switched from 40s&w). I have been reloading all my ammo since 1950, and for pistol since 1995. I thought that I had it all figured out, but have run into problems which might be shared by others, and now THINK I have it figured those out. I am shooting a P229.

The problem arose from headspace. I started to have failure to fires(FTF), to start with using new unfired Starline brass, and then occasionally with older reloaded cases. The hammer would make no contact with the primer and I was puzzled to say the least. Then, following some leads from this forum and other sources, I saw that there were TWO views of headspacing for the 357 sig: 1) that headspace was on the case mouth, and 2) that it was on the shoulder. And all authoritative, not hearsay. I have, and regularly use a Wilson case gauge, and realized that my new, unfired cases, and some of my resized cases, dropped too far into the gauge with the head well below the the lower cut of the gauge. My “aha moment”.

It seems that I was taper crimping hard enough that the cases frequently went into my pistol chamber far enough that the hammer could not reach and I got the FTF. When reloading, I use a Lee 40 caliber carbide sizer and then a non carbide die for the neck. And sometimes I used the neck sizer hard enough to set the shoulder back. And of course, my new, unfired cases, made for a minimum chamber, also could not headspace on the shoulder and if taper crimped sufficiently, would not headspace on the mouth.

My solution has been to load practice loads in the new cases, being careful not to crimp so hard, and getting that initial headspacing on the mouth. And then being very careful when neck sizing to not set the shoulder back, on all loads, and hence headspacing on the shoulder. The problem seems to be solved.

One could say, just don’t crimp so hard, but when I do that, and with the unique short neck of the 357 sig, I would get loads that would not chamber because the bullet was pushed back into the case and the load would hang up when chambering.

Long story, but I hope helpful to someone.
 

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According to SAAMI (USA) and CIP (Europe) the .357 Sig round headspaces on the case mouth.

Any cartridge that headspaces this way on the mouth (most of the rimless pistol cartridges) will be unsupported if taper crimped too far.

Those hand held "calibrated chamber" style cartridge gauges are one of the best ways to verify reloading settings. I 100% inspect cartridges coming off my press with these gauges.

I do find this headspacing style surprising for a shouldered cartridge since the shoulder would be the most logical place to headspace it, but that's not what's in the standards... I really wonder why the designers chose the mouth....
 
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I had problems with my bullets setting back when I crimped the bullets. I lube my cases and full length size the cartridge. Instead of crimping, I seat my bullet without opening the case mouth. It solved my problem. I hope it will solve yours. I know many people don't crimp rifle cartridges and it works on my .357sig rounds too. Good luck!
 

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I've sized the 357SIG cases to headspace off the shoulder as an experiment,basically to say that it could be done & it worked...until you change any component in the equation...aka brass,lube etc.

I full length size each case to set back the shoulder aka bottle neck rifle cases & draw an I/D sizer back through the neck also w/o issues since the mid 90's.

IF,a piece of range pick up brass gets mixed in,I push that case through a web sizer to eliminate a case bulge from striker/1911 unsupported chambers & is relegated as PORT brass(once it clears the ejection port its history)

Case gauges are a scam & marketed for rookies since that reamer is NOT the same reamer that cut your chamber

USE THE CHAMBER THAT YOU ARE RELOADING FOR to "PLUNK" TEST in any platform that you are reloading for to eliminate the Oh Chit factor.

Load a dummy round for function testing & run/cycle it several times checking for bullet set back....through the magazine...the way a controlled round feed semi auto pistol is/was designed to operate.

Pic of my cast .356"125gr L-TC FB 18Bhn @1350fps.
357SIG neck is SIZED for .004" press fit
taper crimp to remove case mouth flare ONLY.
10's of thousands fired through my P226 & P229 working stock SIG's in 30 years.

Using a size button will reduce bullet set back in the short neck 357SIG case.
 

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I bet the reason for headspacing on the case mouth is because they envisioned people modifying 40 cases and they would be too short for the chamber and cause a FTF issue. Resizing a 40 case won't result in a case the same length as a genuine 357 Sig case.
 

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I bet the reason for headspacing on the case mouth is because they envisioned people modifying 40 cases and they would be too short for the chamber and cause a FTF issue. Resizing a 40 case won't result in a case the same length as a genuine 357 Sig case.
Exactly
&
Anything mechanical can NOT be rendered idiot proof....when humans are involved.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
357 sig headspace

In reply to DansSigs and Trophied

Great comments and ideas here. I agree with Danssigs about the plunk test, using your own chamber as a gauge. That is one of the checks I went through and it showed exactly the same result as the case gauge, so at least in my case the case gauge does work well.

As for the reason for headspacing on the mouth, I do not agree that the short old 40 cases would be the problem, because if the shoulder was correct for the chamber it would not matter if the case OAL was short.

All fun and interesting stuff. I love it!
 

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If I could make a suggestion, try a Lee Factory Crimp Die for your 357 Sig loads. I used to laugh at the Lee advertisements regarding the Lee Factory Crimp Die since I loaded on a Dillon 650 using Dillon dies with a separate Dillon crimping die, and I too was having an occasional FTF with my loads. A shooting buddy got tired of my complaining and gave me a 357 Sig Factory Crimp Die as a gift. I laughed at what I thought was a Lee POS until I gave it a try. Guess what, it works! Never had another FTF again since I started using the Lee die. Worked for me, JMHO!
 

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to loadedround;
I have been using the Lee factory crimp die on all my reloads, but perhaps giving too hard a crimp. The 357 sig has so short a neck for holding the bullet, and I am sufficiently concerned about bullet set back, that I feel safer using the harder crimp and headspacing off the shoulder, which does seem to work very well.
 

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drandski:
I would suggest backing off your Lee Crimp Die a quarter turn at a time to see if your problem disappears. If so, then lock the die down and you're good to go. Let us know how you make out.

583916]to loadedround;
I have been using the Lee factory crimp die on all my reloads, but perhaps giving too hard a crimp. The 357 sig has so short a neck for holding the bullet, and I am sufficiently concerned about bullet set back, that I feel safer using the harder crimp and headspacing off the shoulder, which does seem to work very well.[/QUOTE]
 
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to loadedround;
I have been using the Lee factory crimp die on all my reloads, but perhaps giving too hard a crimp. The 357 sig has so short a neck for holding the bullet, and I am sufficiently concerned about bullet set back, that I feel safer using the harder crimp and headspacing off the shoulder, which does seem to work very well.
I lost all my worries of bullet setback by using AA#9 powder as it's a compressed load for 357sig at 13gr max . I use 11.8gr that is compressed just right for my 128gr cast TC bullet then I went to work on the crimp as others have said very little
 

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I don't have bullet "set back"or "jump" issues w/ these & there is substantially more weight/momentum involved.
Supersonic 350gr L-FN GC @ 1750fps chonographed.
Sub sonic 500gr L-FN HB @ 1150fps chronographed.

Any bottle neck pistol case should have the I/D of the neck sized w/ an expander once the O/D & shoulder has been set back a few thousandths in the F/L size die operation.

O/D neck sizing variances in neck wall thickness' & brass elasticity will play havoc in one's techniques/procedures unless turned to true the necks.

I do not turn or trim pistol brass w/ exception to 454Casull brass trim length.
 

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