Western Powder Loads For The .357 Henry Big Boy Rifle

The Clarys review the Western Powder Loads For The .357 Henry Big Boy Rifle.

Western Powders Choices
Western Powders Choices

USA – -(AmmoLand.com)- The Henry Big Boy rifles have been around for many years, chambered in .357 Mag./.38 Special, .44 Mag./.44 Special and .45 Colt. It is available in both brass frame and steel frame versions and has become popular with cowboy action shooters, as well as hunters. When we had the opportunity to test the new Color Case Hardened Big Boy in .357 Magnum caliber, we jumped at the chance. Our in-depth review of the latest Big Boy, the Color Case Hardened version, can be read here:

Henry Big Boy Rifles
Henry Big Boy Rifles

There is one problem with modern-day .357 magnum loads: Many of the ammunition manufacturers have watered down their .357 Magnum factory loads. You read that right. They have reduced the powder to make the round more acceptable in small frame revolvers. Because of these reduced power loads, many commercial .357 Magnum offerings are not suitable for feral hog or whitetail hunting. You must carefully choose your ammunition for your intended purpose. As such, if you are serious about hunting with a .357 caliber, it is better to reload your ammunition to ensure that you are capable of humanely harvesting your game.

There is a wide range of acceptable bullets available, and multiple powders are listed in most reloading manuals. In our original article, our reloads were powered by Hodgdon's H110 (Winchester 296 is the same with a different name).

Western Powders 11FS, Enforcer, and 1680

However, several of our readers asked us to test the performance of three Western powders (11FS, Enforcer, and 1680). With that in mind, we loaded fifty rounds of each powder using new Starline brass, CCI magnum primers and 158 grain Hornady XTP bullets. Before firing for accuracy, all three loads were chronographed for their average velocity, and the results were entered into the Exbal ballistic program to obtain values at 25-yard increments from 0 yards (M.V.) to 100 yards. Our Zia Rifle and Pistol Range sits at a 5,232 elevation here in New Mexico.

We fired multiple three and four shot groups using the new Caldwell Turret Rest at 75 yards. A .357 Magnum rifle/carbine shooting full power hunting ammunition should be sufficient up to 100 yards on deer and wild hogs, with proper bullet placement.

Velocity and Accuracy of .357 Magnum Loads with Western Powders:

Henry 357 Accurate 11FS Load with 158gr XTP at 75 yards
Henry 357 Accurate 11FS Load with 158gr XTP at 75 yards

11FS Powder results (15.7 grains) 158 grain Hornady XTP: Smallest group 1/2″; largest group 1-1/4″; average group size 7/8″

Muzzle: 1,544 f.p.s. / 836 ft. lbs.
25 yards: 1,470 f.p.s. / 758 ft. lbs.
50 yards: 1,400 f.p.s. / 687 ft. lbs.
75 yards: 1,334 f.p.s. / 624 ft. lbs.
100 yards: 1,274 f.p.s. / 569 ft. lbs.


Henry 357 Accurate 1680 Load with 158gr XTP at 75 yards
Henry 357 Accurate 1680 Load with 158gr XTP at 75 yards

1680 Powder results (17.0 grains) 158 grain Hornady XTP: Smallest group 1/2″; largest group 1-0″; average group size 7/8″

Muzzle: 1,700 f.p.s. / 1,014 ft. lbs.
25 yards: 1,618 f.p.s. / 919 ft. lbs.
50 yards: 1,541 f.p.s. / 833 ft. lbs.
75 yards: 1,467 f.p.s. / 755 ft. lbs.
100 yards: 1,397 f.p.s. / 684 ft. lbs.


Henry 357 Enforcer powder Load with 158gr XTP at 75 yards
Henry 357 Enforcer powder Load with 158gr XTP at 75 yards

 

The Western Powders Handloading Guide offers much more than just load data.
The Western Powders Handloading Guide offers much more than just load data.

Enforcer Powder results (13.0 grains) 158 grain XTP: Smallest group 7/8″; largest group 1-1/2″; average group size 1-1/4″

 

Muzzle: 1,300 f.p.s. / 593 ft. lbs.
25 yards: 1,243 f.p.s. / 552 ft. lbs.
50 yards: 1,191 f.p.s. / 497 ft. lbs.
75 yards: 1,145 f.p.s. / 460 ft. lbs.
100 yards: 1,105 f.p.s. / 428 ft. lbs.

It should be of no surprise to anyone that with proper loads, the Henry Big Boy is a real “tack-driver.” However, with two of the Western powder loads, it was so accurate that one has to see the targets to believe it possible from a lever-gun shooting pistol-ammunition.

Both the 11FS and 1680 loads are acceptable for close range deer and feral hog hunts. Whereas, the Enforcer load, while enjoyable to shoot with its very light recoil is more of a plinking and fun round, rather than a hunting load.

If you don't reload with Western powders, it is worth giving them a try, as they shoot clean, shoot accurately and meter well…. good stuff. And, in case you are wondering, we used Rob Behr's new book, “Western Powders Handloading Guide,” for our load data. If you do not have Rob's book, buy it, you will not regret the decision. It is loaded with factual information of value to beginners as well as advanced reloaders.


Jim and Mary Clary
Jim and Mary Clary

About Jim and Mary Clary:

Jim and Mary Clary have co-authored over six hundred published articles (and counting) on shooting and hunting. You can read many of them on AmmoLand News.

  • 8 thoughts on “Western Powder Loads For The .357 Henry Big Boy Rifle

    1. Hi. The Lyman manual shows Acc#9 as the best in their testing. Any thoughts on the use of Acc#9 in Henry big boy 357 magnum? I’m using a Hornady 158gr FP .bullet , Starline brass and CCI 500 small pistol magnum primers.
      Sure would appreciate your feedback.
      Thanks.

    2. I have never seen 1680 used in a pistol ctg. Anything for 44mag with 1680? I normally load h-110 for both. A load I carried when in the military was 180g H.P. w/29.5 of H-110 and 240g S.P. w/ 23.5 H-110. The 180’s never over penetrated any “targets” and the 240’s would break most any part of a car engine you sent it to. The 180’s were pushing 1,600 fps and the 240’s were over 1,375 fps.

    3. Someone has their data wrong!!

      AA 1680 is not listed to be used for .357 Magnum loads:

      This from Western powder:

      Because it’s not a powder used in the 357 Magnum. The 357 Mag (pistol & rifle) both use the same pistol cartridge and load data. And A1680 is too slow of a powder to be used.

      Don W.

      CSR

      406-234-0422

    4. Jim I am currently running tests on the 11 FS on the 357 with 180 & 200 gr bullets & I am getting some great results. Also some 41 mag with 265 grs & others I have used Western powders 7 really like some. The 5744 is one of my favorites especially in obsolete guns
      Merry Christmas

    5. I use several Accurate/Western powders for reloading pistol and rifle ammo. All have proved the conclusions you came to in this article. My favorite rifle load is 32 grains of Accurate 2460 behind a Sierra 150 grain flat nose for my .30-30. It shoots under 1″ groups off the bench with iron sights at 50 yards. I also use #5 and #7 for pistol loads and they measure very well as well as delivering good accuracy at the range. I just wish my eyes were as good as they used to be.

      Phil in Tx

    6. Interesting about not having full power loads in factory .357 ammo. I’m not surprised. But I reload my own so I very rarely buy commercial. I use hp-38, titegroup and occasionally trail boss for my .357’s. Always looking for new powders etc. I’m going to have to look into this powder.

      1. Hi Ron,
        Check out our original article on the Case Colored Big Boy. If you want maximum power, well within safety limits, check out Hodgdon’s H110 powder. It was specifically designed for the .357 and .44 magnum calibers.
        Jim and Mary

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