Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > Ammunition-Gunsmithing > Ammo
Forum Register Expert Commentary Members List


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 07-03-2010, 02:41 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default Some .38 Special Chronograph Tests

This has been posted over on Stephen Camp's forum and a couple of others.

Here's some fun and games I had a couple of week ago. I even wore all the hide off of my elbows on a pleasant summer's afternoon. I hadn't had the chronograph out in a couple of years so dug out the chronograph's screens and went to work.

Years ago I conducted a fairly extensive "chronographic survey" of the .38 Special, testing both a selection of handloads and factory loads. The results were recorded in a personal handloading manual. In referring back to the notes I found that the testing began on July 1, 1980.

While rooting around for the chronograph screens I found a couple of boxes of factory +P ammo from the era along with a box of heavy bullet handloads from that first test in 1980. I have additional boxes of my favorite .38 Special self defense loads on hand, along with a couple of boxes of the potent Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain SWC-HP load that I've been threatening to test for some time, so determined to revisit the .38 Special. Here's the portion of the test that primarily involved the factory loads. It may take some time to test some additional handloads that are rolling around in my head and all might not find them interesting.

Have I mentioned that the Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain load is potent? Whoa! No need to ever attempt to build nuclear powered handloads with Buffalo Bore available.

This test was conducted in a very "scientific" manner. Since I'm not interested in incrementally sawing off my longest .38 Special revolver's barrel inch by inch, different revolvers were used for each barrel length recorded. This introduces a large variable. Also, since I didn't want to broil in the hot sun all afternoon, I appropriated the club's rifle range so as to sit in the shade and use a bench rest as a table. The rifle range faces west so has a long awning projection to help keep the sun out of shooters' eyes in the afternoon. This awning is of limited benefit but required that the screens to be set up 9 feet from the muzzles of the revolvers (well 8 feet, 3 5/8 inches from that long-snouted Model 14). We had a "cool spell" that week when the test was conducted and the afternoon high was 96F.

The chronograph used is the same Oehler Model 12 used 30 years ago.

List of Smith & Wesson revolvers used for these tests. All were chambered for the .38 Special except for the 6-inch gun which is a .357 Magnum.

Model 10: 2-inch
Model 10: Heavy Barrel: 4-inch
Military & Police: 5-inch
Model 27: .357 Magnum: 6-inch
Model 14: 8 3/8-inch

Except as noted, 10-shot strings were recorded. In some cases there was not enough ammo to provide for 50 rounds for each of the five revolvers. Muzzle velocity, muzzle energy, extreme spread, and standard deviation were examined (well, muzzle less 9 feet).

Smith & Wesson officially proscribes using any of their revolvers made prior to 1958 with +P ammunition. The 5-inch gun was a real oldie so was not used with some of the ammunition on hand however it was tested with some of the +P ammunition. It handled 30 rounds of Remington and Winchester +P 158 grain ammunition with aplomb.

I still have 2 of the revolvers (the 4-inch and the 8 3/8-inch) which were used in July 1980 tests so pressed them into service again. I also retested the boxes of factory loads and the handload which were tested in 1980. These were: Winchester +P 158 grain SWC-HP, Super Vel 110 grain JHC, and a handload consisting of 9.5 grains of 2400 topped by a 200 grain Remington lead round nose bullet. The Super Vel is a partial box left from the last test 30 years ago. The Winchester +P is of that era. The handload with the 200 grain bullet was a part of the batch I loaded at the time of the first test in 1980.

Each barrel length will be featured in a separate post.

Factory ammunition tested:
Independence 130 grain FMJ round nose
PMC El Dorado Starfire +P 125 grain JHP (apparently discontinued?)
Remington target 148 grain lead hollow based wadcutter
Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (two different boxes)
Remington +P 158 grain lead SWC
Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP
Super Vel +P 110 grain JHP
Sellier & Bellot 158 grain FMJ flat point

Handloads:
158 grain lead round nose, 3.8 grains of Bullseye
200 grain Remington lead round nose, 9.5 grains 2400*

*Maximum load as published in older Lyman manual. Don't try it without working up carefully.



The +P line-up. Especially note the two different Winchester Western boxes of ammo tested. How old do y'all think that white box is? I just uncovered it in some stuff I was going through while getting the chronograph screens. It was a full unopened box. I'm remembering it as being from the late 1970s/early 1980s. It is marked $12.00.


Did I mention that Buffalo Bore .38 Special +P ammunition is red hot? From their site:

S&W mod. 60, 2 inch- 1040 fps (379 ft. lbs.)
S&W mod. 66, 2.5 inch- 1059 fps (393 ft. lbs.)
Ruger SP101, 3 inch- 1143 fps (458 ft. lbs.)
S&W Mt. Gun, 4 inch- 1162 fps (474 ft. lbs.)
Reply With Quote
The Following 4 Users Like Post:
  #2  
Old 07-03-2010, 02:42 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

2-inch barrel

Handload: 158 grain round nose lead /3.8 grains Bullseye

MV 718 fps
ME 181 ft./lbs.
ES 32
SD 12

Independence 130 grain FMJ round nose

MV 803 fps
ME 186 ft./lbs.
ES 34
SD 14

PMC Eldorado Starfire +P 125 gr. JHP (now discontinued) 5 rounds tested

MV 871 fps
ME 210 ft./lbs
ES 28
SC 14

Remington 148 grain hollow based wadcutter

MV 707 fps
ME 164 ft./lbs.
ES 14
SD 6

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in gray box)

MV 808 fps
ME 229 ft./lbs.
ES 28
SC 8

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in older white box)

MV 843 fps
ME 249 ft./lbs
ES 67
SD 24

Remington +P 158 grain lead SWC

MV 875 FPS
ME 273 ft./lbs.
ES 61
SD 23

Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP

MV 1063 fps
ME 397 ft./lbs.
ES 56
SC 24

Handload: Remington 200 grain lead round nose/9.5 grains 2400 (6 rounds fired)

MV 835
ME 309
ES 48
SD 18

SuperVel +P 110 grain JHP

MV 981 fps
ME 216 ft./lbs.
ES 48
SD 28

Sellier & Bellot 158 grain FMJ flat point

MV 747 fps
ME 195 ft./lbs.
ES 25
SD 11

Last edited by bmcgilvray; 07-03-2010 at 02:47 PM.
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #3  
Old 07-03-2010, 02:46 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

4-inch barrel

Handload: 158 grain round nose lead /3.8 grains Bullseye

MV 771 fps
ME 209 ft./lbs.
ES 59
SD 24

Independence 130 grain FMJ round nose

MV 850 fps
ME 208 ft./lbs.
ES 62
SD 24

PMC Eldorado Starfire +P 125 gr. JHP (now discontinued) 5 rounds tested

MV 935 fps
ME 243 ft./lbs
ES 142
SC 35

Remington 148 grain hollow based wadcutter

MV 729 fps
ME 175 ft./lbs.
ES 35
SD 12

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in gray box)

MV 905 fps
ME 287 ft./lbs.
ES 92
SC 37

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in older white box)

MV 943 fps
ME 312 ft./lbs
ES 20
SD 8

Remington +P 158 grain lead SWC

MV 942 FPS
ME 311 ft./lbs.
ES 66
SD 30

Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP

MV 1145 fps
ME 460 ft./lbs.
ES 36
SC 14

Handload: Remington 200 grain lead round nose/9.5 grains (6 rounds fired)

MV 860 fps
ME 328 ft./lbs.
ES 59
SD 19

SuperVel +P 110 grain JHP

MV 1195 fps
ME 349 ft./lbs.
ES 55
SD 22

Sellier & Bellot 158 grain FMJ flat point

MV 785 fps
ME 216 ft./lbs.
ES 44
SD 16
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 07-03-2010, 02:47 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

5-inch barrel

Handload: 158 grain round nose lead /3.8 grains Bullseye

MV 804 fps
ME 227 ft./lbs.
ES 51
SD 20

Independence 130 grain FMJ round nose

MV 888 fps
ME 228 ft./lbs.
ES 32
SD 9

Remington 148 grain hollow based wadcutter

MV 727 fps
ME 174 ft./lbs.
ES 20
SD 7

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in gray box)

MV 922 fps
ME 298 ft./lbs.
ES 69
SC 26

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in older white box)

MV 949 fps
ME 316 ft./lbs
ES 72
SD 32

Remington +P 158 grain lead SWC

MV 964 FPS
ME 326 ft./lbs.
ES 72
SD 32

Sellier & Bellot 158 grain FMJ flat point

MV 778 fps
ME 212 ft./lbs.
ES 36
SD 13
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 07-03-2010, 02:51 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

6-inch barrel

Handload: 158 grain round nose lead /3.8 grains Bullseye

MV 775 fps
ME 210 ft./lbs.
ES 27
SD 12

Independence 130 grain FMJ round nose

MV 892 fps
ME 230 ft./lbs.
ES 56
SD 24

PMC Eldorado Starfire +P 125 gr. JHP (now discontinued) 5 rounds tested

MV 961 fps
ME 256 ft./lbs
ES 63
SC 30

Remington 148 grain hollow based wadcutter

MV 740 fps
ME 180 ft./lbs.
ES 31
SD 7

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in gray box)

MV 926 fps
ME 301 ft./lbs.
ES 78
SC 30

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in older white box)

MV 960 fps
ME 323 ft./lbs
ES 35
SD 16

Remington +P 158 grain lead SWC

MV 971 FPS
ME 331 ft./lbs.
ES 61
SD 23

Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP

MV 1185 fps
ME 498 ft./lbs.
ES 41
SC 18

Handload: Remington 200 grain lead round nose (6 rounds fired)

MV 888
ME 350
ES 41
SD 14

SuperVel +P 110 grain JHP

MV 1248 fps
ME 380 ft./lbs.
ES 79
SD 45

Sellier & Bellot 158 grain FMJ flat point

MV 798 fps
ME 223 ft./lbs.
ES 63
SD 34
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 07-03-2010, 02:52 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

8 3/8-inch barrel

Handload: 158 grain round nose lead /3.8 grains Bullseye

MV 884 fps
ME 274 ft./lbs.
ES 31
SD 15

Independence 130 grain FMJ round nose

MV 1039 fps
ME 311 ft./lbs.
ES 115
SD 54

PMC Eldorado Starfire +P 125 gr. JHP (now discontinued) 5 rounds tested

MV 1065 fps
ME 315 ft./lbs
ES 65
SC 47

Remington 148 grain hollow based wadcutter

MV 814 fps
ME 218 ft./lbs.
ES 33
SD 14

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in gray box)

MV 1027 fps
ME 370 ft./lbs.
ES 54
SC 24

Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP (in older white box)

MV 1037 fps
ME 388 ft./lbs
ES 42
SD 17

Remington +P 158 grain lead SWC

MV 1099 FPS
ME 424 ft./lbs.
ES 57
SD 24

Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP

MV 1286 fps
ME 580 ft./lbs.
ES 28
SC 13

Handload: Remington 200 grain lead round nose/9.5 grains of 2400

MV 953 fps
ME 403
ES 37
SD 10

SuperVel +P 110 grain JHP

MV 1301 fps
ME 414 ft./lbs.
ES 89
SD 37

Sellier & Bellot 158 grain FMJ flat point

MV 747 fps
ME 195 ft./lbs.
ES 25
SD 11
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 07-03-2010, 03:00 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

There you have it. My so-called "learned paper" on the results of the tests conducted on June 15th. My elbows have almost healed over. Some observations:

Lots of eye-opening stuff here. First up for consideration is the "magic ammo," Buffalo Bore's +P 158 load. Did I mention to y'all that it is hot? I cannot see how they do it! Empty cases just dribble out of cylinders. Primers don't look like they've had a bad case of the gas. Handily beats any wild handloading creation I've ever concocted. Probably exceeds the old .38-44 high-velocity load. Recoil is heavy but not really as bad as one would expect. Buffalo Bore caused even the long 8 3/8-inch Model 14 to torque a bit when fired and the N-Frame Model 27 was lively. I used a J-Frame Smith & Wesson Model 36 Chief's Special for the 2-inch portion of the test 30 years ago and it was a bear to shoot with various heavy loads. The 2-inch Model 10 I used on that Tuesday was much more manageable; an old softy by comparison. I was glad to have it along to use for testing this stuff. It is unimaginable that a 2-inch .38 snub can yield 400 ft. /lbs of energy with any load and it just gets better and better with longer barrels: 460 ft/lbs. from a 4-inch, 500 ft/lbs. from a 6-inch, and fully 580 ft/lbs. from an 8 3/8-inch! Velocities stayed pretty tight and didn't go all over the place.

SuperVel is still hot stuff. It also exhibited the flattest primers of the day. Velocity performance wasn't very tight overall and there was a lot of partially burnt powder crumbs getting all over everything each time I extracted a cylinder-full of cases and put them back in the box. Recoil paled in comparison with both the Buffalo Bore and the 200 grain handload that immediately preceded it on each revolver test.

I don't take light 110-125 grain bullets seriously enough in the .38 Special. I've not done a lot of testing with them. The PMC stuff was several years old and is now discontinued I believe. This performed about typical for the breed in my view. The light bullet +P loads offer neither the bullet weight nor the velocity to become a meaningful choice for the .38 Special in my view. I ought to obtain and test some of the latest and greatest ammo offerings in the 110-125 grain weight category of +P .38 Special ammunition. I hate to invest the money in the ammo just to burn it up and figure the newer offerings still won't exactly "set the woods on fire." I'm sure expansion characteristics are improved but I'll still take my chances with old technology of heavy, sharp shouldered lead semi-wadcutter bullets.

I had picked up a fresh box of Remington 148 grain target ammunition from the local Higginbotham's a few weeks ago just for this test. It turned in a nice performance. It seemed consistent through each revolver used.

Look at the interplay between the 4, 5, and 6 inch barrels. The Remington 148 grain load and the Sellier & Bellot 158 grain FMJ load gave more velocity from the 4-inch than the 5-inch. The 5-inch beat the 6-inch with the Bullseye fueled handload and the 5-inch came close to catching the 6-inch with the 2 different Winchester +P 158 grain loads and the Remington +P 158 grain load.

The .38 Special "walks and talks" when fired through the long-nosed 8 3/8-inch barrel. Now if only there was some way to conceal all that length of artillery.

SuperVel, Starfire, and the cheapo Independence brands all seemed more prone to wild velocity swings. For that matter the Winchester +P 158 grain loads threw a bullet that was "out there" on occasion, especially the ammunition in the gray box. Remington +P 158 grain was only fair. Perhaps these performance loads can't be expected to shoot like target ammo. Perhaps the guy running this test doesn't know what he's talking about. I've always considered any load that stayed under 50 fps spread in revolvers to be good.

I intend to expand this test to include some additional loads. I'd particularly like to test the Speer "short-barrel" loading...in the longer barrels, hah.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 07-03-2010, 03:08 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

In the 1980 test the Winchester +P 158 grain lead SWC-HP gave this performance.

2 inch barrel:

MV 830fps
ME 242 ft./lbs.

4-inch barrel:

MV 962 fps
ME 325 ft./lbs.

8 3/8-inch barrel

MV 1051 fps
ME 388 ft./lbs.


The 1980 test of the Super Vel.

4-inch barrel:

MV 1237 fps
ME 376 ft./lbs.

8 3/8-inch barrel:

MV 1319 fps
ME 425 ft./lbs.


200 grain Remington lead round nose load with 9.5 grains of 2400. In July of 1980 this load produced the following performance.

4-inch barrel

MV 842 fps
ME 313 ft./lbs.
ES 38

8 3/8-inch barrel

MV 922 fps
ME 382 ft./lbs.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 07-03-2010, 03:09 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

Sorry about the configuration of the data. Take Dramamine before flipping back and forth.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 07-03-2010, 03:33 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: Mesa, Arizona
Posts: 2,228
Likes: 346
Liked 965 Times in 332 Posts
Default

bmcgilvray,

Just FYI, the Buffalo Bore 38 Special +P 158g SWC-GC just about duplicates the reported performance of the old 38/44. It was supposed to give 1150 fps, barrel length not specified but I bet 4" or 5". You got 1145 fps from a 4", which is dang close.

Dave
__________________
RSVN '69-'71
PCSD (Ret)
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 07-03-2010, 07:07 PM
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: The Rust Belt Buckle/Mich
Posts: 2,404
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Thumbs up

bmcgilvray, there's no need to hide a 8 3/8"er to get that power, Just stuff a 4" .357 in your pants and go.

As far as 110 gr. bullets go, just try DPX. That bullet is highly unconventional and I doubt underpenetration is an issue with it. See the Perma-Gel Test Results thread. It's in there.

Regarding Buffalo Bore getting those crazy high velocities without any signs of high pressure, my hunch is that they are blending two different powders, perhaps a medium speed and a slow one. Just a SWAG, I don't know much about blending powders.

Thanks for the hard work. This is cool stuff!
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 07-03-2010, 07:41 PM
roaddog28's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Fallbrook, CA
Posts: 1,074
Likes: 47
Liked 93 Times in 32 Posts
Default

Hi,
Thoses numbers on Buffalo Bores are something else. They are my SD round for my K frame 38 special revolvers and my K frame magnums. Who needs a magnum round with numbers like the above tests? I am glad I have two boxes for self defense.

Regards,
roaddog28
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 07-03-2010, 09:25 PM
Black_Talon's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: SoCal - SGV
Posts: 435
Likes: 187
Liked 55 Times in 27 Posts
Default

Props for consistency by using the old Oehler M12.

Are those a PITA to use compared to modern chronographs, or what? I used one extensively back in the late 1970's. It's like using a abacus compared to a modern scientific calculator. At least they use the sky screens though. Only thing worse was the older versions with the foil screens.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 07-03-2010, 10:01 PM
smith17's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 1,386
Likes: 92
Liked 203 Times in 87 Posts
Default

Interesting data on the Super Vel with the short 2" barrel. Velocity picked up significantly with the addition of 2 more inches.
Ed
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 07-03-2010, 10:21 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black_Talon View Post
Props for consistency by using the old Oehler M12.

Are those a PITA to use compared to modern chronographs, or what? I used one extensively back in the late 1970's. It's like using a abacus compared to a modern scientific calculator. At least they use the sky screens though. Only thing worse was the older versions with the foil screens.
It's not so bad. When I bought it in 1979, Oehler offered the Model 12 for $99 and the Model 33 for $299. I considered the Model 33 but decided that for the difference in price, I could purchase a $4.99 calculator and keep track of shot series on a pad of paper. Turning the knob to obtain readings and consulting the tables in the book is somewhat slow. The skyscreens are probably the biggest point of convenience.

I still use that same pocket calculator which is stored in the kit I assembled for the chronograph.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 07-04-2010, 12:58 AM
Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Texas Gulf Coast
Posts: 366
Likes: 3
Liked 14 Times in 12 Posts
Default

Thanks for posting this data. I've been whining for years about the lack of a 38/44 equivalent factory load. I may have to shut up, because the BB product seems to fill the need.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 07-04-2010, 03:23 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Surprise, Az. USA
Posts: 338
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Default

Very well done. I need to let the people at ICORE.ORG know your data so that they can let people use so other factory ammo during matches. We require a power factor, Bullet Weight times Velocity to be 120000 or better.

Your data shows more ammo than is currently allowed.
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 07-04-2010, 05:41 AM
bassoneer's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Knoxville, TN
Posts: 395
Likes: 75
Liked 46 Times in 22 Posts
Default

Very good data. I have a question for you guys regarding the Buffalo Bore 158 +P LSWC HP rounds. I bought a box to test through my little snubbie...testing to me means shooting into a series of 8 lined up water jugs and checking: a) depth of penetration; and b) expanded shape. What happened was unexpected...the BB round went in and immediately expanded, but had so much power the expanded ring sheared right off of the core of the bullet and left only a .357" diameter cylinder. The remaining .357" inner core went way deep (like into the 6th jug), but there was no expansion...the expanded section sheared off immediately because of: a) soft lead; and b) high speed. So, have you guys shot these BB's into anything to see what happens? Surely I'm not the only one to see what happens with this super-high velocity round...I'm wondering if I should repeat the test next time I go to the range, or have you guys had similar experiences? With that type of performance in water, I wonder what it would do in other materials? Thanks, B
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 07-04-2010, 07:10 AM
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: The Rust Belt Buckle/Mich
Posts: 2,404
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Default

Bassoneer, that was a thought provoking post. Water testing will cause bullets to expand more aggressively than 10% gel, or living tissue. The value of water tests, IMO, is that if a bullet doesn't expand in water, it's very unlikely to do so if used for social purposes.

I went to www.brassfetcher.com (click on the "old website" link, then go to .38 special) and found gel tests of BB's std. pressure and +P FBI loads. The std. pressure version seemed to have issues such as you describe while the +P didn't.

I think Buffalo Bore would do well to take a bullet like the Remington 125 gr. SJHP, Speer 135 gr. Gold Dot, Sierra 140 gr. JHP, of the right 158 gr. JHP/SJHP and apply their ballistic magic to it. My hunch is that those bullets would actually make a better .38+P load than the one they are using. BB is still making a decent load though.

Last edited by flop-shank; 07-04-2010 at 07:18 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 07-04-2010, 10:42 AM
cp1969's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Kansas
Posts: 1,369
Likes: 279
Liked 44 Times in 29 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by flop-shank View Post
my hunch is that they are blending two different powders, perhaps a medium speed and a slow one. Just a SWAG, I don't know much about blending powders.
I have some limited experience with blending powders. There's a reason why they tell you not to do it.

Early in my reloading career, a little bit of IMR4831 got dumped in a can of IMR4895. Instead of 'waste' it, we decided to use it on my friend's brother's .270. We loaded some 130 gr bullets using the minimum charge of 4895, intending to work up from there.

The first shot welded the bolt closed. This was in a 760 Remington, not the strongest of actions but not the weakest, either, and certainly capable of handling factory ammo pressure.
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 07-04-2010, 02:43 PM
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: The Rust Belt Buckle/Mich
Posts: 2,404
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Default

......and that, folks is exactly why I don't know much about blending powders. I've no desire to flirt with stuff like that.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 07-04-2010, 04:18 PM
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Arizona
Posts: 1,229
Likes: 0
Liked 9 Times in 5 Posts
Default

Great info on the .38spl.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 07-05-2010, 04:08 PM
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 140
Likes: 2
Liked 9 Times in 4 Posts
Default

Did anyone mention that the BB load is just EVIL from a 2" ? or am I wimping out here?
Reply With Quote
  #24  
Old 07-05-2010, 05:22 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob1109 View Post
Did anyone mention that the BB load is just EVIL from a 2" ? or am I wimping out here?
The recoil is healthy. I didn't choose to use a steel framed Chief's Special for 2-inch testing and also kept the Buffalo Bore out of the Model 642. I intend to get a couple more boxes and will try them in the Model 642.
Reply With Quote
  #25  
Old 07-24-2010, 02:03 PM
chief38's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 5,388
Likes: 569
Liked 2,166 Times in 1,096 Posts
Default BUFFALO BORE AMMO

I ran a similar chronograph test on a bunch of .38 special "carry" ammo about 6 months ago (posted on this forum). Although my personal testing was not as extensive as this one, I did come up with similar results. I used a 2" Chief Special model 60 (my carry gun) for the testing and I was shooting all afternoon. The recoil is stiff from the BB ammo, but it is not at all difficult to manage. In fact, it actually proved to be one of the more accurate loadings I tested. My carry gun has the original round butt factory wood grips on it with a Tyler "T" grip installed, and I had no problem controlling it either with one or two hand shooting. How Tim Sundles gets those velocities out of a two inch tube without going over the maximum pressure is beyond me. I have tested and carry a bunch of his products. He loads a .357 Magnum with a 158 grain sjhp bullet that hits 1400 fps out out of my 3" model 65. NOW THAT'S IMPRESSIVE! Shame on the "Big Three" for not coming up with BB "type" ammo years ago. Thankfully, Buffalo Bore did!!

Regards,
chief38
Reply With Quote
  #26  
Old 07-24-2010, 05:54 PM
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: The Rust Belt Buckle/Mich
Posts: 2,404
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Default

Quote:
How Tim Sundles gets those velocities out of a two inch tube without going over the maximum pressure is beyond me.
My guess is that he's mixing powders with different burn rates and/or he's running closer to max pressure. Whatever the case, the cat has his **** together.
Reply With Quote
  #27  
Old 07-24-2010, 07:02 PM
chief38's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 5,388
Likes: 569
Liked 2,166 Times in 1,096 Posts
Default

I'LL SECOND THAT!
Reply With Quote
  #28  
Old 07-24-2010, 07:34 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Indianapolis,Ind.
Posts: 68
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Bmcgilvray my box of win white box 158+p is from 1975-1977 era

dick44
Reply With Quote
  #29  
Old 07-25-2010, 11:17 AM
redlevel's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: GA
Posts: 3,930
Likes: 2,061
Liked 3,369 Times in 989 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
The recoil is healthy. I didn't choose to use a steel framed Chief's Special for 2-inch testing and also kept the Buffalo Bore out of the Model 642. I intend to get a couple more boxes and will try them in the Model 642.
I just (yesterday) ordered 100 rounds of the BB 158 gr. +p. I have agonized over carrying a Chiefs Special because of the anemic-ness of most .38 special loads from the j-frame. I have tried carrying larger guns, but the Model 60/36 just works for me. I intend to shoot five, maybe 10 rounds each from my two main carry pieces just to verify that they print where I need them to at 5 yards. 1000-plus fps and near 400 ft.lbs sounds a lot better than the numbers from the old El Dorado Starfire 125 gr +p loads I'm carrying now.

I also plan to sight a couple of four inch K-frame "truck guns" at 50 feet. Low end .357 performance from K-frames is a pretty good proposition, seems like to me. I have ideas of taking one of the Ks to the deer stand and testing the load on a medium size doe, given the opportunity.
__________________
Georgia On My Mind
Reply With Quote
  #30  
Old 07-25-2010, 12:39 PM
Member
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 140
Likes: 2
Liked 9 Times in 4 Posts
Default

This is by terry_p on another site...for all you handloaders:


Trying to duplicate the Buffalo Bore 38 Spl +P 158 gr LSWCHP-GC

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I used a Rim Rock bullet that is very similar if not the same bullet that Buffalo Bore uses. I chose Power Pistol powder and had previously worked up from what was listed as min to max in the Speer Manual so I chose the +P max load of 6.0 gr which had previously had not caused me any pressure issues and was consistent.

I brought my chrony to the range, set up and proceeded to fire 5 Buffalo Bores, and 5 of my loads from my SP101 and recorded each reading after firing 5. I then proceeded to fire 5 each from my LCR and record each. The results from the BB were impressive averaging 1037 FPS in the SP and averaging 1017 in the LCR. I didn't see unburns and the loads didn't show any excess pressure signs in either revolver. My loads chronied an average of 936 FPS in the SP and 894 FPS in the LCR and did not show signs of excess pressure in either revolver but were not quite as snappy as the BB's. The only problem I had with my reloads was for some reason my 38 Spl sizer die wasn't putting a very strong roll crimp on the Rim Rocks and was adjusted as aggressive as I could get it. I quickly checked a random loose RR bullet when I got home for size and it was right on at .357 so the next time I'll use my 357 mag dies and see if I can get a little more consistent and agressive roll crimp as they are newer dies.

The load is what it is because I am at the top and other powders listed in Speer are listed as generating slower bullet speed. I'm still down from 100 fps to 124 FPS from the factory so they obviously are using a different powder but the two loads seemed to shoot to the same point or about an inch below point of aim at 7 yards.

It was an interesting exercise and although I didn't match speed the loads will be good for practice and not a bad alternative to the $2.00 per cartridge for the Buffalo Bore's.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #31  
Old 07-25-2010, 05:20 PM
chief38's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 5,388
Likes: 569
Liked 2,166 Times in 1,096 Posts
Default

Well, apparently Tim Sundles of Buffalo Bore Ammo has either figured it out himself or hired a ammunition/reloading genius. I am sure his "recipe" is in a safe somewhere just like the Coca-Cola formula is. Not only has he hit the nail on the head with the 38 specials and 357's, but all his stuff is just dynamic!

When I go into the woods hiking (NOT hunting) my S&W model 65 is always with me and it is stoked with Buffalo Bore 180 grain .357 hard cast bullets. They run over 1300 fps. out of the 3" tube, and at 180 grains should do the job in an emergency. If I was hunting this gun/ammo combo would not be my first choice; that would be a .44 Mag. or better, but just to tote along on a hike I feel it will do the trick in an emergency.
Reply With Quote
  #32  
Old 07-25-2010, 06:55 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 10,816
Likes: 6,177
Liked 2,901 Times in 1,635 Posts
Default

I've been told by ammo co. engineers that they sometimes use lots of powder that are not offered in what they called "cannister grade".

That may explain why BB is able to achieve those high velocities. They may be using powders not available to reloaders. And they may well be at the edge of the SAAMI pressure envelope. Probably only BB knows for sure.

T-Star
Reply With Quote
  #33  
Old 07-25-2010, 07:54 PM
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: The Rust Belt Buckle/Mich
Posts: 2,404
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by redlevel View Post
I just (yesterday) ordered 100 rounds of the BB 158 gr. +p. I have agonized over carrying a Chiefs Special because of the anemic-ness of most .38 special loads from the j-frame. I have tried carrying larger guns, but the Model 60/36 just works for me. I intend to shoot five, maybe 10 rounds each from my two main carry pieces just to verify that they print where I need them to at 5 yards. 1000-plus fps and near 400 ft.lbs sounds a lot better than the numbers from the old El Dorado Starfire 125 gr +p loads I'm carrying now.

I also plan to sight a couple of four inch K-frame "truck guns" at 50 feet. Low end .357 performance from K-frames is a pretty good proposition, seems like to me. I have ideas of taking one of the Ks to the deer stand and testing the load on a medium size doe, given the opportunity.
redlevel, I like your thinking and I remember your cool mean looking old 36.
Reply With Quote
  #34  
Old 07-25-2010, 08:00 PM
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: The Rust Belt Buckle/Mich
Posts: 2,404
Likes: 0
Liked 13 Times in 9 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob1109 View Post
This is by terry_p on another site...for all you handloaders:


Trying to duplicate the Buffalo Bore 38 Spl +P 158 gr LSWCHP-GC
Terry_p is on the right track and probably came up with as good of a load as any of us mere mortals can, except perhaps using an old fire breathing manual such as, IIRC, Speer #8. I'm pretty certain Buffalo Bore is using powders not commercially available and more importantly, blending powders with two different burn rates.

Power Pistol is also a good choice when approaching peak pressures because it meters so consistently.

Last edited by flop-shank; 07-25-2010 at 08:03 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #35  
Old 07-28-2010, 06:02 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Kansas
Posts: 300
Likes: 0
Liked 6 Times in 4 Posts
Default

In KS the .357mag would be a legal deer round, the .38 wouldn't be.

Just sayin.
Reply With Quote
  #36  
Old 09-30-2010, 11:29 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Avery,Tx
Posts: 757
Likes: 94
Liked 65 Times in 45 Posts
Default canister powders

I read, years ago, when Super Vel belonged to Lee Jurras, their .38spl was loaded with a cannister grade of Unique not available to the public. This was in a gun magazine, Guns and Ammo I think.
__________________
dd884
JMHO-YMMV
Reply With Quote
  #37  
Old 10-01-2010, 04:01 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,952
Likes: 0
Liked 200 Times in 128 Posts
Default

Has anybody ever pulled apart a Buffalo Bore cartridge and looked at the powder? Or weighed it?

I'm starting to really like my 2" Model 64 but the K Frame does not handle the heavy loads nearly as well as the J Frames. I'm plagued with sticky extraction when I use heavier charges of SR4756, and I'm still well shy of 8.0 grs. I had been wondering how the Buffalo Bore extracts from the K Frame .38 Specials, so now I know. My next project will be Power Pistol in the 64. I have never used this powder in .38 Special.

Speaking of Power Pistol, I have gotten 1080 FPS in my 2" 9mm Model 940 with 147 gr. Gold Dots. And I get very easy extraction. That's not too shabby for a case which has far less capacity than the .38 Special. I'm willing to bet that if I had a good cast bullet I could hit 1100 FPS. In spite of this, it's amazing how many people scorn the 147 gr. 9mm at face value yet stand in awe of the .38 Special and similar ballistics.

Dave Sinko
Reply With Quote
The Following User Likes This Post:
  #38  
Old 10-01-2010, 05:09 PM
true fire's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: pennsylvania
Posts: 66
Likes: 12
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

nice read and nice data information.
Reply With Quote
  #39  
Old 02-27-2011, 04:50 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

I like the results you got with the 200 gr lead and 9.5 gr 2400. 835 fps is nothing to sneeze at out of a 2" barrel. I have a Lyman 358430 195 gr mould that I would like to have hollow pointed and use for carry ammo in my snubby. That load of 2400 prints a bit off todays charts, did it show any pressure signs?
Reply With Quote
  #40  
Old 06-30-2011, 03:37 AM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

Sorry to be so slow to see your question, Shakey Jakey.

The 200 grain round nose bullets with the 2400 didn't show any "traditional" pressure signs. Not certain that means anything though. It's possible that the .38 Special won't really show evidence of high pressure in the form of sticky cases and funky primers until one has taken it into the realms of the .357 Magnum.
Reply With Quote
  #41  
Old 06-30-2011, 04:13 AM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

This thread was resurrected to finish posting some accumulated data.

We chronographed and accuracy tested 3 different concoctions, two target loads and a higher performance concoction in January of this year, over a 3 day period in which we had glorious weather for excursions to the range.

Revolvers used were the same as before:

Smith & Wesson Model 10 2-inch
Smith & Wesson Model 10 HB 4-inch
Smith & Wesson Military & Police 5-inch
Smith & Wesson Model 27 .357 Magnum 6-inch
Smith & Wesson Model 14 .38 Special 8 3/8-inch


Two loads performed pretty well as expected. One of them was new and one was a more thorough retest. A third load was a puzzler that yielded velocities far higher than expected.

A new load for me made use of Green Dot. I think I remember trying a can of Green Dot back in the late 1970s but made no notes about it. This load uses TVB's excellent 148 grain double-ended wadcutter.

148 grain TVB DEWC/3.7 grains Green Dot

2-Inch Barrel
Muzzle Velocity: 669 fps
Muzzle Energy: 147 ft./lbs
Extreme Spread: 45
Standard Deviation: 23

4-Inch Barrel
MV: 706 fps
ME: 164 ft./lbs.
ES: 43 fps
SD: 14 fps

5-Inch Barrel
MV: 735 fps
ME: 179 ft./lbs.
ES: 17 fps
SD: 7 fps

6-Inch Barrel
MV: 690 fps
ME: 156 ft./lbs.
ES: 31 fps
SD: 13 fps

8 3/8-Inch Barrel
MV: 775 fps
ME: 197 ft./lbs.
ES: 73 fps
SD: 33 fps


Next up is an old standard, the 148 grain hollow-base wadcutter backed by 2.8 grains of Bulls-Eye. It performed in January much the same as it did 30 years ago. The good Hornady 148 grain HBWC bullet was used.

148 grain HBWC/2.8 grains Bulls-Eye

2-Inch Barrel
MV: 643 fps
ME: 136 ft./lbs.
ES: 29 fps
ES: 12 fps

4-Inch Barrel
MV: 689 fps
MV: 156 ft./lbs.
ES: 42 fps
SD: 17 fps

5-Inch Barrel
MV: 712 fps
ME: 167 ft./lbs.
ES: 20 fps
SD: 9

6-Inch Barrel
MV: 693 fps
ME: 158 ft./lbs.
ES: 37 fps
SD: 16 fps

8 3/8-Inch Barrel
MV: 765 fps
ME: 192 ft./lbs.
ES: 33 fps
SD: 12 fps

This last load tested didn't behave as expected. Using a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter I've previously tested 4.8 grains of Unique and 5.4 grains of Unique on a few occasions so thought to split the difference and test 5.1 grains of Unique. I wasn't expecting anything out of the ordinary but it gave considerably higher velocities in all barrel lengths than 5.4 grains of Unique did in previous tests. I re-checked the distance between the sky-screens to find it correct. I weighed the bullets and they checked out 158-159 grains and were .358" in diameter. I broke down a handloaded cartridge to re-weigh the powder charge and it checked out correctly. It felt quite lively after shooting a lot of the light 148 grain loads.

I felt unsatisfied and displeased after testing this one because I can't explain it.

158 grain lead SWC/5.1 grains Unique

2-Inch Barrel
MV: 922 fps
ME: 298 ft./lbs.
ES: 40 fps
SD: 19 fps

4-Inch Barrel
MV: 987 fps
ME: 342 ft./lbs.
ES: 67 fps
SD: 28 fps

5-Inch Barrel
MV: 1031 fps
ME: 373 ft./lbs
ES: 37 fps
SD: 15 fps

6-Inch Barrel
MV: 1018 fps
ME: 364 ft./lbs
ES: 33 fps
SD: 14 fps

8 3/8-Inch Barrel
MV: 1117 fps
ME: 426 ft./lbs.
ES: 34 fps
SD: 15 fps

I probably shouldn't have subjected the 5-inch Smith & Wesson Military & Police revolver to testing with this Unique handload due to the revolver's age. Won't do that again.

The 5-inch M&P seems to show a pattern of consistent velocity performance with most loads tested in it, both last week and last summer.

The Model 27 frequently registers lower velocities than the 5-inch M&P with the same loads.

The Green Dot load with the 148 grain DEWC bullet grouped about as well as the HBWC bullet loaded with Bulls-Eye. The Green Dot load didn't seem to foul the revolvers but was very smoky to shoot and I don't think it was from the bullet lube. It could just be a characteristic of the powder. I've still got a lot of Green Dot in the can so will play with it some more. It doesn't seem to display any especially endearing characteristics over other fast burning powders.

It's only three loads but a whole lot of shooting was involved, mostly because the great weather encouraged it. Revisiting the data I recall that the afternoon temperature was in the low 50s on that week in January. Hard to remember how that feels since we've "enjoyed" 100F or more for the month of June. I had great fun shooting the revolvers for group.

Here are some target highlights from the load tests. Targets where significant operator error was in evidence were not photographed but only the best efforts. There were lots of targets that started out with promise but came to grief with a bullet hole "off towards Jones."

5-shot groups predominated because it was convenient to load one row from a 50 round box. Most groups were shot from 10 yards.

Here are examples of the best effort in the Model 14. One each of the Green Dot load and Bulls-Eye load, the Green Dot load being on the left.


Plebeian Model 10s can group right along side the so called target models. One each of the Green Dot load and Bulls-Eye load, the Green Dot load again being on the left.


A slightly heavier, but still crisp, single action trigger and less user-friendly sights make shooting the oldie M&P a bit more of a chore but it still turned in a decent performance.


The best effort with the Model 10 2-inch in single action mode at 10 yards with the 158 grain SWC/5.1 grains of Unique load.


Best single action group at 10 yards with the Model 14 using 158 grain SWC with 5.1 grains of Unique.


A double-action group shot rapid-fire from 10 yards with the Model 10 and the 158 SWC/5.1 Unique load.


A more deliberate double-action attempt at 7 yards with the 5-inch M&P and the 158 gr. SWC/5/1 gr Unique load.

Last edited by bmcgilvray; 06-30-2011 at 05:06 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #42  
Old 06-30-2011, 04:50 AM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

I ran the .38 Special revolvers through the wringer a few weeks ago, working up and testing some performance handloads. The tests concentrated on four different loads, all using 158 grain lead SWC bullets. As always, the same four revolvers were used, 2 of which have been used for many years as in all .38 Special chronograph testing.

Smith & Wesson Model 10 2-inch
Smith & Wesson Model 10 Heavy Barrel 4-inch
Smith & Wesson Model 27 6-inch (since no 6-inch 38 Special was on hand)
Smith & Wesson Model 14 8 3/8-inch

The bullets tested were from a batch I cast perhaps 20-25 years ago using the Lyman No. 358156 mould. They actually weighed 159-160 grains. They were well-formed with nice sharp shoulders and bases. They were made from straight wheel weights with some range lead thrown in as I recall (not very scientific I'll admit). They were lubed with stick Alox. I was a bit concerned that the lube would be dried out but the bullets didn't seem to lead too badly despite being abused with heavy handloads. At the conclusion of the tests the revolvers scrubbed up easily with no sterner measures required to "get the lead out."

Loads tested

The loads tested were published loads from "back in the day." Loading manuals are more mild mannered these days.

5.4 grains of Unique
This was published as maximum by Lyman for many years. I think Erich nicknamed it the "Texas FBI Load" and it does make a good substitute for the factory +P 158 grain lead SWC load. The latest formulation of Unique was used for the tests. Unique seems to be "jazzed up" a bit from that used in tests 30 years ago. I first noticed this when testing Unique earlier this year.

5.0 grains of Herco
This was prepared on a whim, just to see what it could do. 5.0 grains seems to be around maximum in most data sources though the infamous Speer No. 8 shows a maximum of 6.5 grains of Herco. It was decided not to take Herco that high.

11.5 grains of 2400
This also was a published maximum by Lyman for many years. Some folks considered this to be a .38-44 equivalent handload for the .38 Special. The latest formulation of 2400 was used. I'd tested this load many years ago but the data didn't get recorded for some reason so a retest was needed. I was curious about the performance level of 2400 with the 158 grain lead SWC in the .38 Special.

8.0 grains of SR 4756
"The Load" It's bigger! it's better! It'll give all the performance one can squeeze out of the .38 Special. This is the starting load for this powder as published in the Speer No. 8 guide. I'd hate to try to work this one up to the maximum listed charge weight which is only one grain higher. Whether it is advisable to use even the listed starting load is subject to debate. Probably not. The Speer No. 8 was compiled in the late 1960s. Maybe they were smoking "cigarettes and all kinds of things" while working up loads in their lab back then.

Since we'd already tested 5.1 grains of Unique earlier this year we didn't bother to work up to maximum with it. With the other loads the effort was made to work from arbitrary lower levels in .2 grain increments toward the goal charge weights. Herco was worked up from 4.6 grains. 2400 was worked up from 10.5 grains and SR 4756 was worked up from 7.5 grains.

Working up the three loads in three different .38 Special revolvers was a bit tedious and, frankly I'm not certain that much may be determined by doing this in the .38 Special given its normal operating pressure levels. I wonder if any of the assumed pressure "signs" can be reached until one is operating fully within .357 Magnum territory which is far beyond .38 Special levels. Only the SR 4756 load showed a dab of cratering and that was in my old favorite 4-inch Model 10. Cases for all 4 loads gave normal ejection in all revolvers. Of course both "The Load" and the max. 2400 load could be straying closer to .357 Magnum levels.

Some limited range time was spent shooting these loads at paper to see what sort of accuracy may be expected of them. I'm thinking that the .38 Special revolvers were grateful to see the backside of these tests.

158 Grain Lead SWC/5.4 Grains of Unique

2-inch Barrel
MV 964 fps
ME 326 ft./lbs
ES 75 fps
SD 33 fps

4-inch Barrel
MV 1026 fps
ME 369 ft/lbs.
ES 31 fps
SD 13.4 fps

6-inch Barrel
MV 1047 fps
ME 385 ft./lbs.
ES 43 fps
SD 16.6 fps

8 3/8-inch Barrel
MV 1149 fps
ME 463 ft./lbs.
ES 56 fps
SD 23.3 fps


158 Grain Lead SWC/5.0 Grains Herco

2-inch Barrel
MV 912 fps
ME 292 ft./lbs.
ES 38 fps
SD 14.3 fps

4-inch Barrel
MV 964 fps
ME 326 ft./lbs.
ES 34 fps
SD 14.5 fps

6-inch Barrel
MV 976 fps
ME 334 ft./lbs.
ES 64 fps
SD 23.7 fps

8 3/8-inch Barrel
MV 1069 fps
ME 401 ft./lbs.
ES 83 fps
SD 33.1 fps


158 Grain Lead SWC/11.5 Grains 2400

2-inch Barrel
MV 1037 fps
ME 377 ft./lbs.
ES 71 fps
SD 30.2 fps

4-inch Barrel
MV 1150 fps
ME 464 ft./lbs.
ES 50 fps
SD 26.8

6-inch Barrel
MV 1162 fps
ME 474 ft./lbs.
ES 58 fps
SD 22.2 fps

8 3/8-inch Barrel
MV 1102 fps
ME 426 ft./lbs.
ES 67 fps
SD 24.0 fps


158 Grain Lead SWC/8.0 Grains SR 4756

2-inch Barrel
MV 1150 fps
ME 464 ft./lbs.
ES 51 fps
SD 26.5 fps

4-inch Barrel
MV 1234 fps
ME 534 ft./lbs.
ES 23 fps
SD 12.3

6-inch Barrel
MV 1251 fps
ME 549 ft./lbs.
ES 23 fps
SD 8.9 fps

8 3/8-inch Barrel
MV 1173 fps
ME 483 ft./lbs.
ES 18 fps
SD 7.7 fps


It will be noted that the slower powders still register the highest velocities in the short barrel.

During this test it was surprising to find that both 2400 and SR 4756 gave higher velocities when fired out of the 4-inch and the 6-inch barrels rather than when fired out of the 8 3/8-inch barrel. This has never occurred before and I can't explain it.

It appears that the 2400 load can duplicate the performance of the Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain lead SWC factory load and that "The Load" can whip the Buffalo Bore factory load except in the 8 3/8-inch barrel of the Model 14. Buffalo Bore was the velocity champion in that barrel with the 158 grain bullet weight, strange as it may seem.

How stressful these handloads are compared to the Buffalo Bore load is hard to say. All are probably high pressure with "The Load" likely winning the prize. No primers pierced or flowed and a hint of cratering was only observed on a few, but not all of the primers in the Model 10 Heavy Barrel when used with "The Load." All cases dribbled out of cylinders when started with the ejector rod.

Recoil was brisk but very manageable in the two Model 10s. In the Model 27 and the long-barreled Model 14 recoil doesn't amount to much. All gave a snappy report and "The Load" seemed to give a particularly evil crack. Perhaps it's all in my head though.

"The Load" damaged one my spinning quail discs. I was using the top of a disc for an aiming reference for chronographing and a round fired from the 6-inch Model 27 went high, smacking a quail right on it's narrow welded base, nearly tearing it off the target frame. It has already been mended.

So ends the .38 Special test epic. It only lacked two days taking a year to accomplish the handload testing goals. There are always factory loads to try and I still have to get some of that pesky W231 so I'll be testing .38 Special some more in future. I don't see anything else interesting to try when testing really heavy handloads in the .38 Special so will probably not venture into that phase again.

I was hoping to shoot off a couple of the F A '26 .45 ACP cartridges I recently picked up, being able to say that they still gave a good performance over the chronograph screens after all these years, but several tries on two of the three were a bust. They were duds. I saved the best looking one for the collection.


Do not anticipate the same results by using the same powder charge weights in your own revolvers. Carefully work up to any load. Take any handloading information found on internet forums with a grain of salt.

This means you!

Last edited by bmcgilvray; 06-30-2011 at 05:14 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #43  
Old 06-30-2011, 05:06 AM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

Some mediocre results from efforts to put the loads on paper, burning up the remainder of the test loads. While it was very windy at the range, these targets represent the best of an embarrassing lot. The rest were best forgotten.

The 2-inch Model 10 and 5.4 grains of Unique. Shot the left target at 10 yards in single action mode . Also showing a spontaneous 25 yard effort, also shot single action. It was the only revolver that was unlimbered at 25 yards. I'd thought to make a bit longer effort with the snub in order to show it off. Didn't work out and there wasn't enough ammo for a second attempt. This was a 6-shot attempt. Note the merest hit of a bullet clip on the right side of the target.


Here's the 4-inch Model 10 HB with "The Load." 10 yards, both single action and double action.



The 8 3/8-inch and a single action group (group you say?) at 10 yards with the 2400 load.



It's a sure bet that these weren't target handloads. The revolvers didn't seem to be excessively leaded by visual examination and proved not to be difficult to clean.

It is possible to equal the Buffalo Bore +P 158 grain factory loads by reaching back to data in older handloading manuals but I'd be sorely tempted to load with Buffalo Bore for self defense purposes since such handloads can't be pressure tested. These loads were worked up but they still could be too much of a good thing for any type of long term use.

Perhaps these loads would have some hunting application but it would be easier to leave the .38 Special at home and just go with the .357 Magnum.
Reply With Quote
  #44  
Old 06-30-2011, 11:53 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Avery,Tx
Posts: 757
Likes: 94
Liked 65 Times in 45 Posts
Default

BMc great info as usual. Just goes to show, the .38spl is a very under rated and emasculated round. You have a tendency to reawaken the lost potential of older calibers. THANX for sharing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
__________________
dd884
JMHO-YMMV
Reply With Quote
  #45  
Old 07-01-2011, 01:06 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Baton Rouge, LA
Posts: 240
Likes: 39
Liked 48 Times in 23 Posts
Default

Finally took time to sit down and read this entire thread, and it is some very good work indeed! Thanks, Brian, for a great write-up. Wish I could go back 30 years with test data, but I'm not sure I would have been able to distinguish between a chronograph and a TV antenna back then! (Remember "regular" TV antennas??)

I found all the data & analysis interesting, but of course must single out the 200g bullet info for special mention :-) I've recently cast some 200g LSWC (from a group buy mold on Cast Boolits) and can only imagine how many milk jugs they would smash through at your velocities! They'd probably still be traveling. . . .I didn't calculate free recoil on your loads, but think that it would provide a good excuse to buy an old N-frame .38-44! Maybe you can treat yourself to one to commemorate the project. . . ?

It's always interesting to see how different loads seem to have sweet spots, and like you I noticed that the 5" barrel seems to let a lot of loads show off with optimum velocities and tiny ES/SD numbers. The 4" is also a great platform, isn't it?

Thanks for all the effort & I'll be certain to bookmark this thread!

Dana
Reply With Quote
  #46  
Old 07-01-2011, 02:02 PM
bmcgilvray's Avatar
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,197
Likes: 1,051
Liked 635 Times in 208 Posts
Default

Thank you for your kind comments, ddxie884!

Hi Dana;

I'm still interested in 200 grain bullets too and also in .38 S&W. I just haven't been able to keep up with maintaining supplies of ammo for regular shooting to do a proper look at .38 S&W.

Have a bunch of sized, once-fired .38 S&W on the bench, your sack of 200 grain bullets, some dandy 148 grain DEWCs, some 158 grain SWCs, some older 200 grain handloads, and of course boxes of factory loads. The next chronograph session will be for the old wheezer .38 S&W.

May get some bullets poked into cases next week. Family activities on the 4th are about to consume me, not that I mind.
Reply With Quote
  #47  
Old 07-01-2011, 03:03 PM
dcxplant's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Phoenix, AZ
Posts: 1,224
Likes: 364
Liked 783 Times in 370 Posts
Default

Your hard and thorough work is very much appreciated!!

This validates my choice of using a J-frame for daily carry.

It's a gun I'll carry every day, and I am 100% confidant that a shot placed in the critical zone will stop the threat, probably with extreme prejudice.

Thanks again, very useful info and this thread is exactly why I joined this forum.

DcXplant
Reply With Quote
  #48  
Old 07-01-2011, 03:12 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Georgia
Posts: 848
Likes: 8
Liked 48 Times in 31 Posts
Default

This is really an excellent post; I love to see others' chronograph results to compare with my own.

The 5.4/Unique load with 158 SWC is a favorite load of mine. Also, you have demonstrated something a few of us have known for a good while: 2400 is a viable choice for top velocities in .38 Special, regardless of barrel length. Working at the upper end of the data and employing a heavy crimp optimizes it and keeps the unburned powder residue to a minimum.

Thanks for all the hard work; I've sat at a bench and squinted at numbers on that little screen enough to know that it can be a job, especially when the weather is hot.
Reply With Quote
  #49  
Old 07-01-2011, 03:21 PM
Will Carry's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 579
Likes: 133
Liked 247 Times in 119 Posts
Default

Thanks for all the work in compiling that data. That is meaty. Just the facts mam' and no bull.
Reply With Quote
  #50  
Old 07-01-2011, 03:32 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 6
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

A wealth of information. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
223, 357 magnum, 380, 38spl, 642, 669, bullseye, cartridge, chronograph, ejector, extractor, hornady, k-frame, military, model 10, model 14, model 27, model 60, n-frame, remington, sig arms, snubnose, wadcutter, winchester

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
Ammo Thread, Some .38 Special Chronograph Tests in Ammunition-Gunsmithing; This has been posted over on Stephen Camp's forum and a couple of others. Here's some fun and games I ...
LinkBacks (?)
LinkBack to this Thread: http://smith-wessonforum.com/ammo/144598-some-38-special-chronograph-tests.html
Posted By For Type Date
First 38 special reloads. - THR This thread Refback 08-31-2014 07:43 PM
.38 woods round - The Firing Line Forums This thread Refback 08-23-2014 12:41 PM
.38 Special In The Utah Mountains...Trail Gun?? - The Firing Line Forums This thread Refback 07-15-2013 10:55 AM
Firearms & Self-defense | The Gentleman Adventurer | Page 6 This thread Refback 06-10-2013 11:52 PM
Need S&W Mod 10 advice - The Firing Line Forums This thread Refback 05-21-2013 01:11 AM
Pregunta importante sobre .44 magnum? - Página 2 This thread Refback 04-26-2013 02:08 PM
revolvers | The Gentleman Adventurer This thread Refback 03-25-2013 01:26 PM
.38 special | The Gentleman Adventurer This thread Refback 02-11-2013 08:47 PM
What is more powerful? .38 or 9mm? - Page 3 - THR This thread Refback 02-10-2013 05:52 AM
Gelatin test: .38 spl Buffalo Bore 158 gr LSWCHP - THR This thread Refback 02-09-2013 01:19 AM
Considering upgrading my pocket gun - Page 2 This thread Refback 01-11-2013 02:13 PM
.38 Special Ballistics Confusion ? - The Firing Line Forums This thread Refback 12-29-2012 08:32 AM
.38 special vs. 9x19mm - Page 2 - THR This thread Refback 10-12-2012 05:57 PM
THR - A Range report: Buffalo Bore 158g .357 & .38 +p This thread Refback 07-10-2012 10:55 PM
Paco Kelly's Leverguns.com • View topic - 38 Special 180 grain jacket loads This thread Refback 06-04-2012 02:30 PM
Corbon DPX .38 Special Question - The Firing Line Forums This thread Refback 04-27-2012 12:11 PM
S&W model 14-4 with a 8 3/8" bbl. - Glock Talk This thread Refback 04-16-2012 05:29 PM
Holy .357 Magnum... - Page 4 - M14 Forum This thread Pingback 03-19-2012 05:35 PM
A Whole Deep Pit of Wheelgun Nerdiness | The Gentleman Adventurer This thread Refback 02-28-2012 11:45 PM
S&W M10 Club - Page 5 - THR This thread Refback 02-19-2012 08:58 PM
5rds. .38spl or 8rds .380 - Georgia Outdoor News Forum This thread Refback 02-17-2012 09:02 AM
Powder Recommendations for 38 Special +P 158 LSWCHP? - THR This thread Refback 02-15-2012 01:35 PM
Buffalo Bore 38 Special +P 158grain This thread Refback 02-12-2012 08:40 PM

Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Gun Tests Magazine = BEWARE purist The Lounge 34 06-02-2014 02:31 AM
Gun Tests Magazine mag318 Smith & Wesson Semi-Auto Pistols 12 01-03-2011 08:18 PM
Heart Tests DVD The Lounge 13 11-23-2010 01:29 AM
Opinions/Tests on Win RA40155HP Out West Ammo 6 07-04-2009 06:53 PM
Drug Tests BlackSky The Lounge 26 04-23-2009 03:58 PM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
smith-wessonforum.com tested by Norton Internet Security smith-wessonforum.com tested by McAfee Internet Security

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 05:55 PM.


© S-W Forum, LLC 2000-2015
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)