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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #1 
About 5-6 years ago I was looking at making a 357mag ar15 upper and got to looking at a 357Mag-rimless and figured why not a 357Max?  At the time it was a "just because" build for me, but with the DNR regulation changed it can now be used for deer hunting in the "limited Firearms Zone" where I hunt.  I looked a great deal on the bellmtc site and was impressed with the hot-rodded loads for the 357Max.  I had a cheap $35 .357 1"20" timberwolf blank which wasn't ideal but would work for testing.  Since a rimless cartridge would headspace off of the case mouth a standard 357Max reamer wouldn't work.  So I made one based off the saami 357Max chamber drawings only modified for a case mouth shoulder.   Made a barrel with basically larger M4 feed ramp cuts and then looked at mags.  Pmags with the forward bullet guides removed allow rounds to double stack although you do lose a couple rounds capacity on a 20rnd and a 30rnd only holds about 25-26.  We mostly just target shoot or hunt so we have mainly just used 5 or 10 rnd modified mags.   The first rifle was very crude but fed and cycled the rounds.  I was able to test several different bullet types to see what it likes and didn't like.  Early on I tried 158 and 180gr XTP and 180gr SSP bullets from hornady.  They fed very well as did some 200gr SP sierra bullets.  What I found didn't feed well was blunt exposed lead bullets or blunt bullets that were long.  Part of the issue with the long blunt bullets was that the noses were inside the chamber before the bases were released from the magazine feed lips.  Trimming the feed lips on the mags slightly helped as did a deeper seating depth. 

With proof the concept worked I bought a Green Mountain .358" 1"14" twist barrel and made a new reamer with a properly sized pilot for the larger bore .350"-.358" v/s .347-.357".  A couple years later MI allowed straight walled cartridges between 1.2" to 1.8" and at least .35" for hunting in their limited zone.  I was all set and used my 357AR rifle that first year.  Hunting state land I saw many more other hunters than normal but eventually got a 6pt at around 60 yards. The 180gr SSP drove deep into the marshy ground after passing through the deer.  Couldn't be happier with the performance.  The exit hole for the broadside shot was a little smaller than a golf ball but larger than a quarter.  357ARalive!.jpg  357AR-GMblank.jpg  bait.JPG 

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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #2 
The next season my son and I made a 357AR rifle for him.   We used the same GMB blank only lightened up the rifle with a carbine length hand guard and magpul stock and grip.  I went with a "big bore" type barrel extension on his rifle where the two feed ramps are just blended together.  It fed just fine also.  His rifle ended up being over a pound lighter than mine, so at some point I'll lighten my barrel and replace the furniture as I like the lighter weight of his.  He ended up getting a doe with his the first year at 142yds (laser rangefinder) and the performance was similar to mine the year before.  The clearly hit deer went about 20 yds and piled up.  Wasn't able to recover that  bullet either but it broke the opposite shoulder on the way out.  He picked out the image to be engraved on his lower and he picked the outline of MI with a deer skull and antlers in it. N15.JPG  357AR.JPG  357AR-2015.JPG 
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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #3 
Here's the mag mods.  Basically the bullet feed guides need removed.  I've tried several different types of mags, but the Pmags are probably the best. Also made a new reamer with a floating pilot. 

pmag10-1.JPG  pmag10-2.JPG  357AR-floating-4.jpg

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68BlackRifle

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Reply with quote  #4 
I think with Iowa new straight wall deer season this would be a big hit .
Good right up thanks for sharing . 

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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #5 
Originally I hadn't intended running cast bullets in my ar15's other than my 9mms.  After making my second 357AR reamer I spoke with Dave Manson of Manson Reamers and sent him a few dummy rounds to have a reamer made.  After a little back and forth we settled on a chamber design and he sent me a beautifully machined reamer.   He had suggested adding more chamber taper (.005" total) to help the autoloader cycle better and shortening up the freebore a bit as I had it too long in my initial print.  I chambered my pistol with that reamer and it made a very nice chamber.  It fed about the same, but I noticed that with the additional taper the cases needed trimmed sooner.  I know that issue could be fixed if I got a steel die and opened it up slightly for the increased base diameter.  But I'm stubborn and like using a carbide die.  I also noticed when I started also using cast bullets that many of them would engrave into the rifling upon chambering or not chamber due to the shorter freebore.   Taking the use of cast bullets and a carbide die into consideration I made another reamer (6th overall) that I hoped would work better.  The overall chamber taper was .003" which still feeds well and has a longer interval between case trimmings, and .150" of freebore which allows 208-220gr cast bullets to chamber well.  Here's the two prints for comparison.

357AR-Manson.jpg  357AR (max-rimless).jpg 

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68BlackRifle

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Reply with quote  #6 
I was playing around with Sinclair expander but I keep getting a bulge in neck area

Attached Images
jpeg 20170713_123838.jpg (112.96 KB, 30 views)

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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #7 
Looks like two things.  Are you fully expanding the cases and reaming or turning the necks? 
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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #8 
I make my 357AR cases from 223 cases and although it's labor intensive, they seem to last a good while unless I step on them or lose them.  Best of all 223/556 once fired is cheap.  Al in MI sent me a link to buffalo arms   https://www.buffaloarms.com/223-cylindrical-1-76long-cases-223cyl   at $1.30 each they're pricy but would just need trimmed and reamed.       A couple of guys have made the cases from 357Max brass which just involves changing the rimmed case to rimless, but I like using cheap 223 and 556 brass. So here's the steps:

 1. trim to 1.640"-1.650" and debur

 2. anneal

 3. lube inside the case and expand case mouth with skinny expander

 4. expand case body with blunt expander

 5. resize

 6. roll case shoulder wrinkle away (optional)

 7. turn necks/ream to .0105" case wall thickness

 8. trim to final length 1.595" and tumble

 9. load/shoot


  Any flaw in the case mouth of the parent case will result in a split, so the initial trim and debur really cuts down on losses. This batch of LC-13 cases probably would of been fine without turning/reaming, but I've had others like FC cases that wouldn't chamber without turning so I just turn them all. Really all you're reaming or turning off is where the base of the bullet would be. The two expander stems are made from a bolt (it's quick and easy) and some hardened drill rod.  They just fit into a Lee 38-357 powder through die body. After speaking with Al a bit I recently made a few new expander stems that seem to save a couple steps over my previous methods.  I hope to be able to test them out this summer making more 357AR cases. 357AR-caseforming2.JPG  3expanders.JPG 

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Bajabusdoc

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Reply with quote  #9 
Heads up called Manson reamers they just sold the last one ten min ago....next run 8 to ten weeks 175.00 solid 210.00 pilot bearing. Puls ship. Taking orders if you call. 1 810 953 0732

Or whoever beat me to the phone consider making two barrels and ill buy one
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Bajabusdoc

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Reply with quote  #10 
So mark if you have any 358 barrels that are not YETIfied and woul like to put large caliber 556 extension on 16 inch we could maybe start a list. I would be in for one. ☝
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68BlackRifle

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Reply with quote  #11 
What kind of speed will you get from 180 and 200 grain bullets . I'm sure it can send a 158 smoking down tube .
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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #12 
Out of a 16" barrel we're getting around 2100-2150fps with the 180gr SSP.  You can push them up just over 2200fps and still be within the PSI limits but they aren't as accurate and a deer isn't going to care about another 50-100 fps.  You can get 2300fps out of 158gr xtp's, over 2400fps with the 140grFTX (they don't feed well though) just under 2100fps with the 200gr FTX, cast 212gr fngc I've run up to just over 2000fps although I got better groups around 1900fps.   I've got a new 228gr NOE mold I need to try out. You do gain some speed with longer barrels, but not a lot and they're cumbersome in a treestand. We've used W296/H110, 2400, Lilgun, IMR4227, bluedot and so far I like the LilGun and W296 the best followed closely by 2400. 
  NOE228gr.JPG

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68BlackRifle

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Reply with quote  #13 
I have become a big fan of H110 , I'm sure it will work as well.
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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #14 
Unless you're using some older stuff,  H110 and W296 are the same powder in the same plastic bottle with different labels on them.   I have some of the new stuff, but I'm down to the bottom of an 8# can of W296 from the East Alton IL plant right now.   After that I may I've got a couple 1lb tins squirreled away somewhere and then it's onto the new stuff.  There's even some newer powders that might be worth trying if they have better availability, but my preferred powders seem to be in better supply lately.  A Chronograph and the QuickLoad software are very helpful working up loads that are above 357Maximum reloading book max loads.   Little changes in case capacity and seating depth start to have big effects on pressure once the closer you get to max psi.   
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68BlackRifle

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Reply with quote  #15 
I'm still trying figure best method of getting the neck bump out . With the tools I have available,
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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #16 
Do you have a lathe or access to one?  If not even a drill, a file, some sand paper and some O1 drill rod would work to make an expander depending on the die set you have.  I've used a lathe, a forester trimmer with a reamer, and a self made ream die to thin the necks.  Expanding at least the top half is all you really need to do to ream or turn the necks.   The bottom 1/3 takes a 357Max type load to iron out any wasp waisted area that remains. 
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68BlackRifle

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Reply with quote  #17 
I was able to use my K&M neck turner in after expanding 32 , nice and smooth . then expand up to 35 . Had some blow outs , but i have a couple 5 gallon buckets of 556 pick ups It works .

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kdbarker

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Reply with quote  #18 
Here is how I expanded the necks for a similar 357cal cartridge I was working before seeing Moleman's awesome work with a 357cal cartridge for the AR.

My full length expander that I made seems to work nicely. Using an assortment of 223/5.56 brass, I just anneal, use the 277WLV (.277/6.8 dia) expander, then a 30cal expander, then my full length expander tapered .355", then run it thought my 357 sizer die, and trim to 1.605"
The 180gr bullets shown in the photo are seated to 2.265"


20161122_171329.jpg 


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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #19 
The expander and cases look good KDBARKER. I'm mainly using range brass although I started out only using R-P cases.  Since the cases vary in shoulder thickness which turns into neck thickness variations once formed I just ream or turn everything.  I'd thought about making a chamber reamer that would account for neck thickness variations which tend to be worse towards the bottom of the bullet but figured keeping it simple was the best option. So far the worst cases have been a batch of federals that were much thicker overall even next to any 5.56 case I've run across.  Don't know if it was a fluke or what but I stopped using federal cases as they had to be kept separate.  
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SteveOM

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Reply with quote  #20 
Mark @MDWS, do you think this is a wildcat you might make barrels for? It seem to fit well with your other 5.56x45 based cartridges.
I haven't run a wildcat of any persuasion yet (although if your Wolverine was in full swing when I did my 6.8SPC I think I would have gone with it instead), but I would definitely buy a barrel, dies, expander etc for this .357 Max Rimless if you made them. I have more LC brass than I can use in my lifetime in my .223 and 5.56.
Thanks
Steve O
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MDWS

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Reply with quote  #21 
We would definitely consider it if we had the backing of the developers.
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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #22 
Have at it.  It's basically a 357Max modified to work with a rimless case and run at a little higher pressure.  I personally think it would be good to have different sets of eyes on it and hope it will eventually become more widely used.  I would only ask that you keep the 357AR name.   I usually get lots of questions on it and requests for me to make barrels which I used to do in the past but am not anymore. It would be nice to have someone to refer people to that want a barrel made.  Standard 357mag-max die sets work with the addition of an autoloader taper crimp die. 
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Bajabusdoc

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Reply with quote  #23 
So looks like a 9mm luger taper crimp would work correct?
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Moleman

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Reply with quote  #24 
It would and I've used one, but see if you can locate one of the ones for a 38/357 as they have the taper further up inside the die so you can screw in more of the die.  I think the 9x19 taper crimp die only gets 3 threads in my press when it's set up for 357AR cases. 
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SteveOM

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Reply with quote  #25 
Moleman,
Perhaps you stated this, and I missed it - if so sorry!
What gas length and port size did you land on?
Due to bore diameter vs case size I'd guess Carbine, but that's only a guess.
If I had QuickLoad or other SW I could figure it out.
Thanks,
Steve
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