30 April 2023

360 Buckhammer - Can I Load It Like a 357 version of 38-55?

I've been on a slow quest to learn about loading 357 Magnum and 38 Special. My next steps are to start learning about casting my own lead bullets. One of the ideas I've had is how can you get those cast bullets to perform with black powder and black powder substitutes for the purpose of hunting. 357 Mag cases can run black powder but the performance is fairly low.

38-55 Winchester is an old cartridge from way back in the 1880's but it uses a larger .37 caliber bullet instead of the .358 inch bullets used by the 38 In-Name-Only 38 Special and .357 Magnum. What specs I have found show that 360 Buckhammer is using a .358 bullet. I've also seen .359 inch. Note that between 38-55 and 360 BKHM, the old Winchester case is much longer at 53mm where the 360 is 46mm.

My thought is, depending on the diameter of the barrels and the diameter of the bullets as they drop from a mold, a person could load those cast bullets into a 360 BKHM case. If you adjust the alloy to make harder and softer bullets, you can download the cases with smokeless (like Trailboss) or use black powder or a substitute like Triple Seven or Blackhorn 209. What little data I have found on old 38-55 loads uses a 255 grain bullet with black pushing it around 1200 to 1300 fps. A softer alloy can easily get cast bullets to expand at those velocities. 

I have two molds. One is a 200 grain flat nose from Lee (358-200-RF) and a Lyman 155 gr Keith hollow point. I expect that the lighter weight 155 gr bullets might be moving too fast given that we're 100 grains lighter. That said, a harder lead alloy and sufficient lube should help keep barrel leading down while giving you good expansion. That could make for a great deer slayer. 

It could be the barrels would need a .359 diameter bullet instead of a cast .358 but I don't know just yet since the cartridge is so new. I don't want to spend a bunch of money on another lever action so I'd wait to see if someone came out with a single shot.

The question boils down to why. Why would this matter? Well, really it's just a function of using the molds I already have to make bullets that work in several guns. It also means I can load those bullets into a cartridge gun for hunting using various powders. It would also help in situations where smokeless powder isn't available for logistical reasons but BP substitute or just BP is available. 

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