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Old 07-06-2009, 09:43 AM
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Post Duplicating Buffalo Bore FBI Load

For awhile now I’ve been impressed with Buffalo Bore awesome 158 gr. lead SWCHP 38 special load (#20A). Clocked at over 1040 fps from 2” bbl and 1160 fps (!) from 4” bbl, BB FBI load is without a doubt the most powerful 38 special load on the market today. Who says 38/44 is a thing of the past?

As a reloader I always wanted to replicate it. What does it take to get this type of ballistics in 38 special? Can it be done within +P limits? Tim Sundles who developed this load used to post on THR. People often asked him these questions. Tim provided some information but it only added to the mystery around his load. Over time Tim stated that:
  1. BB #20A load is within SAAMI pressure limit
  2. It is safe to fire it in any modern 38 special +P revolver in a good operating condition
  3. He uses flash-suppressed non-canister powder which is not available in stores
  4. To protect BB trade secrets he will provide no further information
A few months back a member of this forum, 336A, posted that Rimrock Bullets Co. sells 160 gr. soft lead SWCHP bullets used in BB load – link. Thanks, 336A! I bought some of them and can confirm that it is in fact the same bullet.

With the right bullet in hand, my BB FBI load duplication project was off to a good start. First things first – I broke one of the BB rounds. Inside the case I found 7.5 gr. of a flake powder. It looked somewhat similar to SR4756 but it wasn’t same. Below are close-up shots of the two powders taken at 11x magnification. You will see that BB flakes are smaller and thicker than SR4756.



Looking at these pictures someone may wonder if they were taken with an expensive lab microscope. Nothing of the kind, folks. I used my trusty 8 y.o. consumer digital SLR equipped with 20 y.o. 50 mm Nikon lens ($85 at the time) and a set of extension rings worth $60 NIB. It’s honest backyard science, folks, no cheating

Now, BB load is charged with 7.5 gr. of powder. We can assume that it must be one of the medium burn rate powders, not the likes of Bullseye or 2400. After studying recent and not so recent manual, I chose four powders to work with – HS-6, Longshot, SR4756 and VihtaVuori N340. All handloads were built as close as possible to BB load, except for less crimp. I did apply firm crimp but stopped short of making crimp line simply to extend service life of my brass. I found that bullets were held very securely without excessive crimp. It took over dozen good hits with Dillon bullet puller to break these rounds; normally I consider 5-6 hits to be good enough.


Buffalo Bore FBI load (left) and handload (right); Rimrock 160 gr. SWCHP. All handloads were made with Rimrock bullets,
S&B 38spl cases; OAL 1.46”; firm crimp. Primers: Rem 1-1/2 in N340, Longshot and SR4756 loads; Win SPM in HS6 loads.


BB load clocked 1044 fps in my 2-1/4” bbl SP101 – exactly as advertised. After several extended load-building and chronographing sessions, I found out what powder charge is needed to get same velocity in my handloads. Here it is:



Here you have it - four replicas of Buffalo Bore FBI load.

For those who want cheaper training load – I suggest that you try TVB 158 gr. SWC instead of Rimrock SWCHP. Rimrock makes wonderful soft hollow point bullet. It's close to perfect for self defense snubby loads but it is also rather expensive as far as training goes. I see no reason to punch holes in the paper with a $18.50/100 lead slugs. TVB bullets sell for almost 3 times less; in my tests they clocked at almost same velocity as Rimrock's and produced no leading at BB velocities. TVB bullets are available from a member of this forum Jessie aka NKJ Nut - Tennessee Valley Bullets.

Naturally, all of my BB replicas were well above published load recommendations for 38spl+P. FWIW, pressure calculations placed HS-6 and Longshot loads in 26,000-27,000 range; N340 and SR4756 were running a bit higher. Primers showed moderate deformation consistent with this range of pressures.



Does any of this mean that BB load has to be above +P pressure limit? Not at all. It is entirely possible that Tim Sundles’ secret flake powder allows him to reach 38/44 ballistics with 38spl+P pressures. The only way to find out would be to have his load tested by H.P. White or another reputable lab.



I have to say that I am not too concerned with the load pressure. My steel frame Colt Detective Special is quite happy with Buffalo Bore FBI load. And so am I.

Mike
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Old 07-06-2009, 10:05 AM
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Very interesting report. Well thought out and executed. Thanks for sharing this info.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:14 PM
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Mike, thanks for the detailed report. I very much enjoyed it.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:20 PM
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Exclamation I haven't read the whole thing yet, work you know!

Mike,
I wonder if you need to take a look at SR7625. That powder is very close to what you have in the Buffalo Bore photo. I'll take a picture of some of mine when I get home!

Just a thought.
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Old 07-06-2009, 12:56 PM
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Mike;
Beautiful Report.
Thanks,
Roger.
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Old 07-06-2009, 02:43 PM
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Thanks for all the hard work!
Great report! As well as pictures!
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Old 07-06-2009, 04:09 PM
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Question Not sure!

Well, I got home and took a picture of SR7625 and the more I look at it the less I think it matches.

Click on the attachment to view the picture. See what you think. What about someone that has some Alliant Power Pistol taking a picture of that and posting it.

Mike,

You are my hero when it comes to these reports. I may have video in mine but you really have the data! How about an amazing chart or two!
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Old 07-06-2009, 06:25 PM
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HopTob,

Thanks for the information. Well done and excellent presentation.

Do you by any chance shoot .380 Auto? I would be interested in duplicating BB 380 loads. Here in hot Florida with light clothing a .380 is always with me and coordinates well with my Speedo.

The only powder I have that looks a bit like the BB powder is Blue Dot??

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Old 07-06-2009, 06:33 PM
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Thanks for the good words, guys. Glad you found my BB replica project helpful. When it comes to reporting -- I am learning from the best.

Skip, nice picture of SR7625! What "microscope" are you using? Turns out making great video's is only one of your virtues

To me the the two powders look very similar. However I don't think BB uses SR7625. Based on Hodgdon tables SR7625 is faster than SR4756 (about 1 gr. or so) while BB powder is 0.5 grain slower.

As far as the charts go... I am working on an article for "The Journal of Backyard Ballistics"; there will be a plenty of charts there . In the meantime -- check your email.

Mike

P.S. Thanks, OCD! Sorry, I have no data on BB 380 Auto load and no experience with this caliber. I hear it's a good one. James Bond used it, it must be good enough. Just haven't gotten around to try it myself. -Mike
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Old 07-07-2009, 12:56 AM
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Very informative, and well thought out. Thank you very much.
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Old 07-07-2009, 02:16 AM
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great report, great photos, well done man.
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Old 07-08-2009, 08:44 PM
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Happy birthday, Mike.
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:15 AM
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Thank you, Erich. Nice of you to remember.

Mike
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Old 07-09-2009, 05:04 AM
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Apologies!
Had no idea it was your B-day?
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Old 07-09-2009, 02:21 PM
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Thank you, Spot.

Mike
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Old 07-09-2009, 03:04 PM
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Thanks for the extensive report, I know how much work went into developing it. I gave a FBI Load replica load I use which is 7.0gr HS-6 with a 158gr LSWC/HP bullet and a Magnum SP primer. I'm fairly sure that load is within the 20,000 PSI limit and I get just about 900 fps from a 2" barrel. (889 fps average) I'm wondering what 7.5gr HS-6 would do considering that's the charge in the BB load. I use a Hornady bullet without a gas check and there's no leading in my FBI replica.
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Old 07-09-2009, 07:37 PM
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Great points as always, Tony. I should have mentioned in my report that this project builds up on excellent FBI load development work that you, Jim and others have done and posted before.

In fact my favorite powder for this application is same as yours - HS6. First of, it's old, tried and true powder. When you use it, you don't expect unpleasant surprises such as unexpected pressure spikes, excessive temperature sensitivity, etc. There is a lot to be said for using same powder as generations of reloaders used before you.

Based on my pressure calculations HS6 reaches BB velocities at the lowest pressure point among the powders I tested. Of course, calculations are just that - calculations. They could prove inaccurate but that's the best I've got. With 160 gr. soft RB bullet and 2-1/4" SP101 (fast gun with slightly longer barrel than 2" you used) I got following numbers:

6.3 gr. HS6.....843 fps....16,200 CUP (Hodgdon max charge and pressure)
7.0 gr. HS6.....928 fps....19,900 CUP
7.5 gr. HS6.....986 fps....22,800 CUP
8.0 gr. HS6....1042 fps....25,900 CUP

Note that even though BB round is charged with 7.5 gr. of a powder, it is a different powder than HS6. It took 8.0 gr. HS6 to replicate BB velocity. I sent some additional information to your yahoo email address.

Another interesting connection here is that 8.0 gr. HS6 under 158 gr. lead bullet is... That's right, it's the maximum load recommendation for 38 special from Speer #8.

Mike
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Old 07-09-2009, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
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Of course, calculations are just that - calculations. They could prove inaccurate but that's the best I've got.
There is a certain amount of truth to that statement!
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Old 07-09-2009, 10:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoptob View Post
Great points as always, Tony. I should have mentioned in my report that this project builds up on excellent FBI load development work that you, Jim and others have done and posted before.

In fact my favorite powder for this application is same as yours - HS6. First of, it's old, tried and true powder. When you use it, you don't expect unpleasant surprises such as unexpected pressure spikes, excessive temperature sensitivity, etc. There is a lot to be said for using same powder as generations of reloaders used before you.

Based on my pressure calculations HS6 reaches BB velocities at the lowest pressure point among the powders I tested. Of course, calculations are just that - calculations. They could prove inaccurate but that's the best I've got. With 160 gr. soft RB bullet and 2-1/4" SP101 (fast gun with slightly longer barrel than 2" you used) I got following numbers:

6.3 gr. HS6.....843 fps....16,200 CUP (Hodgdon max charge and pressure)
7.0 gr. HS6.....928 fps....19,900 CUP
7.5 gr. HS6.....986 fps....22,800 CUP
8.0 gr. HS6....1042 fps....25,900 CUP

Note that even though BB round is charged with 7.5 gr. of a powder, it is a different powder than HS6. It took 8.0 gr. HS6 to replicate BB velocity. I sent some additional information to your yahoo email address.

Another interesting connection here is that 8.0 gr. HS6 under 158 gr. lead bullet is... That's right, it's the maximum load recommendation for 38 special from Speer #8.

Mike
More interesting is that the charge of 4756 it takes to duplicate the BB load isn't the max .38 special load in the #8
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Old 07-09-2009, 11:22 PM
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It's not even the minimum SR 4756 load in the # 8 . . .
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Old 07-10-2009, 01:12 AM
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Mike,

Happy belated birthday!

I have been mulling over this data for a while now. In that mulling, I went back to the image of the fired brass and noticed a couple of things.



The only signs of cratering appear to be the 5th round of 4756, #1, #3 and #5 of Longshot and N340. There's also a flattened primer, #2, with HS-6 that just about fills the primer pocket. None of this would be a concern to me, due to how minor most of it is, except the HS-6 load where there is a lesser degree of flattening on the remaining cartridges.

Since I have sold my only 2", I don't have the means to try any of these loads in anything less than a 4" barrel.
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Old 07-10-2009, 09:56 AM
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Thank you, Paul.

Another sign of increasing pressure that I was talking about is impression of the breach face. At this velocity you can see it on almost all primers. Minor point - primer #2 in HS-6 series may not be as flat as it seems. Some of the cases in my S&B lot have no bevel on the primer pocket; this is one of them. Without a bevel primers look flatter then they are.

Agree with you that all these signs ain't terribly impressive. I suppose it's a good thing.

Mike
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Old 07-11-2009, 12:22 AM
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Yep, now that you pointed it out I can see what was making it look so flattened. I thought something was out of the ordinary, but I didn't look at the bevel on the primer pocket.

Those HS-6 loads have flattened the primers somewhat, but that may be due to having to use magnum primers instead of Rem 1 1/2s, i.e. the cup material may be the actual difference.

As I reflect further, I don't even have a 4" .38 Special anymore. I gave my 1949 M&P to my daughter, so I only have a 6" M14 now.
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Old 08-16-2009, 12:07 PM
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Hi, I haven't been on the forum in a while so have been browsing through some of the interesting threads. While I do not have a suitible camera to post a detail pic, a side by side exam of PowerPistol and 4756 looks like a match to your pics of BB's powder and 4756-All of which proves naught since BB says that it is non canister grade and therefore may differ in burning rate from what we buy........but I have found PP a great performing powder in.38 special at the current low levels of SAAMI pressure handbook loads.
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Old 08-17-2009, 12:22 AM
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I hate to say it, but SAAMI has as much credibility as a certain high level politician on the scene right now.
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Old 08-20-2009, 03:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hoptob View Post
Great points as always, Tony. I should have mentioned in my report that this project builds up on excellent FBI load development work that you, Jim and others have done and posted before.

In fact my favorite powder for this application is same as yours - HS6. First of, it's old, tried and true powder. When you use it, you don't expect unpleasant surprises such as unexpected pressure spikes, excessive temperature sensitivity, etc. There is a lot to be said for using same powder as generations of reloaders used before you.

Based on my pressure calculations HS6 reaches BB velocities at the lowest pressure point among the powders I tested. Of course, calculations are just that - calculations. They could prove inaccurate but that's the best I've got. With 160 gr. soft RB bullet and 2-1/4" SP101 (fast gun with slightly longer barrel than 2" you used) I got following numbers:

6.3 gr. HS6.....843 fps....16,200 CUP (Hodgdon max charge and pressure)
7.0 gr. HS6.....928 fps....19,900 CUP
7.5 gr. HS6.....986 fps....22,800 CUP
8.0 gr. HS6....1042 fps....25,900 CUP

Note that even though BB round is charged with 7.5 gr. of a powder, it is a different powder than HS6. It took 8.0 gr. HS6 to replicate BB velocity. I sent some additional information to your yahoo email address.

Another interesting connection here is that 8.0 gr. HS6 under 158 gr. lead bullet is... That's right, it's the maximum load recommendation for 38 special from Speer #8.

Mike
Mike,
Thanks, I did get the additional information you sent...

Now that is very interesting, Speer #8 listed 8.0gr HS-6, wow... I'm glad to see my working load of 7.0gr HS-6 is actually under 20,000 PSI as I thought. That is my favorite .38 Special +P round to date. Thanks again for all the info...
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Old 01-17-2010, 11:05 PM
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Default Buffalo Bore Pressure

I visited this topic a few years back and learned that Buffalo Bore Ammo sets their .38 Spl. +P pressure ceiling higher than SAMMI members do.

Current SAMMI: .38Spl +P 20,000 psi

Buffalo Bore: .38Spl +P 22,000 psi

See this link for a more in depth discussion:

Will the real .38+P please stand up? - Page 2 - Shooters Forum
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Old 01-18-2010, 09:55 PM
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Mike, do you have any 2400 to compare next to the BB powder?

Also, if you are trying to experiment outside SAAMI specs, do you happen to have a copy of Lyman/Ideal Handbook #39? They have data for heavy framed .38 specials and moderate .357s that might be of use to you.

And please be careful.
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Old 01-25-2010, 02:03 AM
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Since this thread has come back I might as well chime in again. Like the above posts I've been wondering if Power Pistol (or a variant of) might be the powder used in the BB ammo.
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Old 01-25-2010, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Like the above posts I've been wondering if Power Pistol (or a variant of) might be the powder used in the BB ammo.
I doubt it, Tony: I've run max +P loads with Power Pistol in the .38, and I don't quite get the velocities that the BB stuff delivers. Get lots of flash, though!
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Old 01-25-2010, 06:13 PM
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So then... How well does a soft 158 gr. SWCHP actually penetrate at 1050 FPS? Is it really any better than a hard SWC? I have my doubts.

If I could find a 147 gr. cast HP bullet for the 9mm, I believe I can get 1100 FPS out of my 2" 940. And it's amazing how many people think 147 gr. bullets are a terrible choice in the 9mm.

Dave Sinko
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:34 PM
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Lyman makes, or used to make, a 147 gr cast HP that only gets 1061 fps out of a 4" barrel, according to Lyman 49th edition. That's 368 ft lbs of energy from a 4" barrel.

OTOH, I have clocked 1100 fps out of a 2" barrel with .38 Specials using a 158 gr bullet for 425 ft lbs of energy.

How much that extra 58 ft pounds means on a target is unknown to me, but if I had my druthers, I'd druther have it.
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Old 01-25-2010, 10:58 PM
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Hoptob, have you thought about Ramshot's Silhouette? It's a duplicate of WAP, and the Ramshot load data lists (from a 7.75" barrel) a 158 gr SWC getting 1046fps over 5.6gr at 16,720psi. It's also flash suppressed. It's right below HS-6 on Ramshot's burn rate chart, too.

Great photo essay and test! Thank you!
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Old 01-27-2010, 02:57 PM
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A most interesting thread indeed. I am always on the lookout for warm .38 loads. However, I am also something of a cautious creature whenever I see really warm or speedy loads (yes, pressure worries me!). I am interested in trying some of these loads in some of my own revolvers (mostly k-frame .357s...but with a 686 and a Highway Patrolman thrown in for good measure). Has anyone else attempted to duplicate these loads in other guns...and with what results?
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Old 02-14-2010, 04:41 PM
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Is Unique too old fashioned for that bullet?
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Old 02-16-2010, 08:07 AM
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Default FWIW..........

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Originally Posted by ddixie884 View Post
Would I be close, if I were to assume that the TFBI load charge of Unique has two 5s in it?
My Lyman 45th shows 5.4gr. Unique(Max.) under a 158gr. cast(.358), from a 6" mod. 14 S&W @ 1002fps.
Rem 1-1/2 primer
Rem cases
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Old 02-16-2010, 08:17 AM
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Default Just a hunch(probably wrong! LOL)

Though I have never opened up a BB shell to see the powder, I always suspected it just might be Lil-Gun inside, Lil-Gun REALLY turns on with heavy for caliber bullets, driving them at the highest velocities, usually with FAR less pressure than any other powder, As I said, I have never seen the BB powder.
And IIRC BB came on the scene just about the time Lil-Gun did.
And I know for a fact that in 180gr. 357's Lil-Gun will duplicate the 180gr. BB loading to a "T"! Without any signs of excess pressure.
Food for thought

Last edited by maglvr; 02-16-2010 at 08:24 AM.
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Old 02-19-2010, 03:09 AM
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Glad to see old thread coming back from oblivion.

I have not tried to duplicate BB load with other powders. It's unlikely that they use 2400 or Lil'gun just because there was only 7.5 gr. of a powder in the case. It would probably take a lot more of a slow powder to get to this kind of velocities. A member of this forum JFH has a lot of experience with Ramshot powders. I know that he likes them and I trust his opinion and experience. Unique is a possibility but I don't think two 5's wouldn't cut it. According to Alliant manual (link) 5.2 gr. Unique only gets you 919 fps from a 6-incher. I'd expect that it takes 6.5-7.0 gr. Unique to get 1000+ fps from a 2" bbl.

Thanks for nice comments I am working on and off on a new project "Speer 135 grain load on steroids". Will eventually finish it off and post the results.

Cheers,

Mike
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Old 02-19-2010, 04:28 AM
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Quote:
Thanks for nice comments I am working on and off on a new project "Speer 135 grain load on steroids". Will eventually finish it off and post the results.
Mike,
May I suggest using a 140gr Hornady XTP bullet for your load development. Those 135gr Gold Dots are very expensive compared to the Hornady bullets. When I was working on replicating the 135gr Short Barrel .38 Special +P and .357 Magnum rounds that's what I did. (I was very lucky to get 3 boxes of 100 for only $12/100) Even at retail prices they are still much cheaper.
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Old 02-19-2010, 05:42 AM
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Hoptob, I have already posted my appreciation of your fine research project, and post, but I will say again. GOOD JOB!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 01-14-2012, 04:40 PM
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This thread is just too good to be relegated to the dust bin.
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Old 01-15-2012, 04:45 AM
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This thread is just too good to be relegated to the dust bin.
This is true!
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Old 01-15-2012, 03:49 PM
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It's baaaaa-aaaaaaaack!

Seriously, there's a ton of good info in this thread. Kudos to the contributors!
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Old 01-15-2012, 10:52 PM
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I found the data interesting and appreciate the report. One thing I didn't see mentioned is if any of the loads produce a low flash. I'm not familiar with BB's FBI load but a friend of mine carries BB in his Model 10 snubby. He told me he selected BB ammo based on its low flash claim. I'm not sure of the specific type of BB ammo he uses and I'm not sure if is +P or FBI load.

Years ago my shooting bud discharged his Model 10 snubby on a coyote that wandered into his camp ground late at night. I don't recall the type of ammo he used but he claimed the muzzle flash nearly blinded him and his wife both for several seconds.
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Old 10-22-2013, 03:33 PM
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I've heard remarks in forums to the effect that Accurate Arms powder has little flash.
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Old 10-23-2013, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sinko View Post
So then... How well does a soft 158 gr. SWCHP actually penetrate at 1050 FPS? Is it really any better than a hard SWC? I have my doubts.
If I could find a 147 gr. cast HP bullet for the 9mm, I believe I can get 1100 FPS out of my 2" 940. And it's amazing how many people think 147 gr. bullets are a terrible choice in the 9mm. Dave Sinko
Since this thread has been resurrected, I'm gonna reply to this 3-1/2 year old post.
I doubt a soft SWC-HP will penetrate as well as a hardcast SWC, at any velocity which expands it. The hard bullet being unexpanded is smaller & has greater sectional density and will therefore penetrate deeper at a given velocity.. But I would pick the expanding bullet IF the penetration is sufficient for the intended target. Self-defense against unarmored human beans (even wearing a leather jacket or similar) is different than shooting game animals which might have a gristle plate or other hardened features protecting their innards..
And I don't see the point in a cast hollowpoint bullet-- unless cast quite soft (which most people don't do), it won't expand so it might as well be a plain SWC . In which case a full wadctter will do more damage IMHO.

Last edited by hotrod150; 10-25-2013 at 02:35 PM.
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Old 10-24-2013, 11:30 PM
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Speaking of flash suppressed powder, has anyone tried BE-86?
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:35 AM
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Speaking of flash suppressed powder, has anyone tried BE-86?
Has anyone GOT any?????
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Old 10-25-2013, 12:56 AM
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If anyone is interested, you can see the night time muzzle flash from the BB #20A out of a 2" snubbie, as well as some other photos I took of some ammo that Hoptob (Mike) sent me for testing with a camera.

More night muzzle flash pics - courtesy of Hoptob

I can promise all of you that none of these shots in the dark, and many others I have done while photographing them, caused any temporary night blindness whatsoever.
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:09 PM
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Yeah, I'm bumping this thread.
I'm getting into loading .38 and .357 and have been interested in duplicating the BB FBI load for some time now.
This zombie thread must remain active.
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340, 357 magnum, 380, 38spl, 686, 940, bullseye, colt, crimp, detective, highway patrolman, hornady, k-frame, m14, model 10, model 14, patrolman, presentation, primer, sig arms, silhouette, snubby

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