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Discussion Starter #1
I have a model 66-2, 6" 357 mag and would like to start hand loading for. I would like to load for indoor target and outdoor range. For home protection I use factory loads. I have lots of brass that I have saved and would like to load. I understand this model is not a candidate for super high pressure loads with light bullets. Is there any good information out there for the model 66 so the load is not "too hot" or the lead "too heavy" for this gun? Last thing I want to do is ruin this perfectly fine work of art. I do apologize if this has already been covered, if it was I could not locate it.
 

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Welcome! There's been lots posted in the Reloading section. My first suggestion would be to get at least one loading manual. Several of them have a section with step by step instructions on how to reload. I've heard there are videos on You Tube too, but I've never watched one. Your gun will handle any load within specs. I wouldn't feed a 66 a steady diet of high pressure loads, but if you stay on the conservative side, the gun will outlive you. I really would suggest that you get a manual or two and become familiar with them before you get to the specific load data like powders, bullets, charges, etc. Also, it's a fairly significant outlay in cash to get started, not that I want to discourage you. Once you get to that point, believe me there are folks here willing to help that have been doing it for a LONG time. Good luck! Reloading is an extemely enjoyable hobby. If there are any specifics you'd like to know, just ask away!
 

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The best practice load is .38 Spcl . There are many combinations of bullet and powder out there.
 

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Just getting back into reloading myself & I'll 3rd the motion for a few reloading manuals. My 1st purchase recently was a LYMAN 49th Edition Reloading Handbook. Also grabbed an old HORNADY RELOADING 3RD EDITION. There's plenty of info on the internet too, but you know what the State Farm commercial says "if it's on the internet, it's gotta be true" :rolleyes:
These S&W guys are really great, but from past reloading experience (all positive), don't believe anything you hear & only half of what you see. :rolleyes: No offense intended to anyone here. 1 website I will share is HODGDON RELOADING I know I didn't answer your question, but I probably won't try .357 loading for awhile. Now with all that being said, I'll be aiming for 850 fps. when I start doing 125 gr., .38 sp.
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First of all... congratulations on the purchase of a outstanding example of S&W craftsmanship! The 66 is just about the ideal K-frame .357 Magnum revolver. For indoor target and outdoor range use the plain Jane 130 gr. FMJ .38 Special loads commonly sold at Wal-Mart, etc. will give very good results. A nice plus is that they tend to cut nice clean holes in target paper making it easy to score, etc. Given that you have a goodly supply of .38 Special brass on hand, handloading will allow you to enjoy shooting your revolver at less expense... and likely with better accuracy. There are many good loads available in multiple reloading books. A very basic service level .38 Special load that I have used for 30 years is one that I read in a article published by Skeeter Skelton. He suggested loading a cast lead 158-160 gr. lead semi-wadcutter bullet over 5.0 gr. of Unique powder w/ a standard small pistol primer. I have used that load in a lot of revolvers. It has always given very good results. If you choose to use it, reduce by 10% and work up paying attention to routine pressure indicators, etc. HTH. Sincerely. brucev.
 

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An excellent 357 target/range load that I use in my 4 S&Ws which includes a 66 is 4.8 gr of Bullseye and a 158 gr LSWC bullet.
 

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Great sidearm. I have the 4 inch model myself . Of a note if you opt to load 125 gr. jacketed bullets you need to keep them in the mid range and avoid using them in the full house range. There are several noted instances of these causing cracks in the forcing cones with moderate to prolonged use . My favorite target load for my 66 is a 158 gr. gas checked lead semi wad cutter behing 4.8 grs. of HP38 or W231 ( same powder ) in .357 cases .
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you for who have responded. I was going to stick with .357 brass to cut down on build up in the cylinder from the shorter .38 brass. This way I can load down for light loads and up for hotter loads. From what I have read this revolver likes 158 gr bullets. I am looking for this gun to last many more years, it was a good find with no condition issues what so ever. Have not picked up a manual yet, have reloaded shot gun in the long ago past, never did get into hand gun reloading though. Not looking for any fancy set up, at least not yet. I have been intrigued by that lee hand press, looks like lots of manual labor but seems like a good idea and an inexpensive place to start, and the dies will work in many bench presses if I decide to go all in. Yes there is a ton of videos on line to get familiar with hand loading and you can even find the charts. I do like the Hornady sight on line. I have been to the Midway site on line and have already priced out everything with many different combinations of bullets, powder and primers. I do need to pick up a manual thought before clicking the buy button to make sure I have the proper combinations. does not take much to put a hole in paper but I am looking forward to finding an outdoor range that has steel to shoot at. I found one not to far away that hosts cowboy shooting matches here in Fl. Any further ideas or suggestions I am all ears as they say.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Duane, thanks for the info, was born and raised in Phoenix until I moved to Florida, lots of family still there, great place.
 

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Sounds like you're on the right track to me! I started with the Lee Loader (the kind that you beat the heck out of with a hammer at each step) and quickly graduated to an RCBS Jr press. That was in '73 and it's still in use. If you can, I'd suggest starting off with a single stage press. You can find them used in good shape for pretty cheap. You're right, it doesn't take much to put holes in paper, but it also doesn't take much to make a mistake and damage your gun or worse. Just like when you loaded shotshells, stick with published data, be very meticulous, and have fun with it!
 

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instead of a single stage press, I suggest the lee classic turret press. the kit with the Pro Auto disk powder measure is quite inexpensive and it improves your workflow tremendously. it comes with the modern reloader manual that Lee publishes. that will have many combinations of powder and bullets for you to try.

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