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Old 07-25-2020, 10:25 AM
Daimler1989 Daimler1989 is offline
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Default .38 Special K-Frames and light bullets

Hello,

I own a Model 13-3 and being well aware of the warning to avoid shooting .357 Magnum loads with lighter than the standard 158 grs bullets, I wonder if this is the same with .38 Special ammo. Is there a risk of damaging the forcing cone or cracking the frame as well with .38 Special (and +P) jacketed bullets in the 125-135 grs range? For example a 125 gr softpoint/hollow point at 900-1000 ft/s?

regards from Germany
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Old 07-25-2020, 10:58 AM
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I believe the issue with light bullets is a function of energy transmitted to the forcing cone. A light bullet at high velocity (125 gr .357 Magnums reach 1300-1400 fps) will transmit more force than the same weight projectile at .38 Special velocities. Energy increases proportionate to the square of velocity so changes there have a greater effect than bullet mass.

So, I would say no worries with typical 125 gr .38 Specials.
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by murphydog View Post
I believe the issue with light bullets is a function of energy transmitted to the forcing cone. A light bullet at high velocity (125 gr .357 Magnums reach 1300-1400 fps) will transmit more force than the same weight projectile at .38 Special velocities. Energy increases proportionate to the square of velocity so changes there have a greater effect than bullet mass.

So, I would say no worries with typical 125 gr .38 Specials.
I agree with murphydog.
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Old 07-25-2020, 11:27 AM
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38 Special loads, even +P loads, do not generate the pressure and do not have the volume of very slow burning powder that it takes to flame cut the top strap or erode the forcing cone.
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Old 07-25-2020, 12:33 PM
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I have a 19-3 that I loaded light loads with a 85g bullet, one session was all it took to flame cut the frame. Not much flame cutting but enough to surprise me.

The lighter the weight of the bullet the shorter it is and my take on it is that there is a longer jump from cylinder to forcing cone.

Correct me if I am wrong!

Ed
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Old 07-25-2020, 02:13 PM
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I have a 19-3 that I loaded light loads with a 85g bullet, one session was all it took to flame cut the frame. Not much flame cutting but enough to surprise me.

The lighter the weight of the bullet the shorter it is and my take on it is that there is a longer jump from cylinder to forcing cone.

Correct me if I am wrong!

Ed
That is a super light bullet for 38 Special or 357 Magnum. Were you loading 357 Magnum or 38 Special loads with that bullet?
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Old 07-25-2020, 05:03 PM
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Somewhere around 20,000 rounds of full power 125 JHP 357 Magnums.

Calling Urban Myth on the 125 theory.

I know of a 19-5 that cracked firing 38 Special wadcutter ammo. Not the ammo cracking the cones, it's something about the cones.
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Old 07-25-2020, 09:28 PM
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Yeah this problem is only with 357 ammo and light bullets - and only because the light bullets are loaded with lots of HOT powder for lots of velocity.
A total non-issue with 38 special level powder charges.
I only use 110gr and 125gr bullets in 38s and use only 148gr and heavier in 357 rounds.
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Old 07-26-2020, 10:14 AM
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Yeah this problem is only with 357 ammo and light bullets - and only because the light bullets are loaded with lots of HOT powder for lots of velocity.
A total non-issue with 38 special level powder charges.
I only use 110gr and 125gr bullets in 38s and use only 148gr and heavier in 357 rounds.
Again, a 19-5 cracked using 38 range ammo. I also heard of several breaking with 158 ammo. The 19-5s are most likely to fail compared to -3s and -4s. I have not seen or heard of a 13 failing. No 66s either.

One theory I like is carbon deposits creating hot spots that can crack the metal. Always keep the forcing cone scrupulously clean. The 19-3 I pictured earlier has been scrubbed clean every 50 rounds. So far nada.
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:34 AM
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Again, a 19-5 cracked using 38 range ammo. I also heard of several breaking with 158 ammo. The 19-5s are most likely to fail compared to -3s and -4s. I have not seen or heard of a 13 failing. No 66s either.

One theory I like is carbon deposits creating hot spots that can crack the metal. Always keep the forcing cone scrupulously clean. The 19-3 I pictured earlier has been scrubbed clean every 50 rounds. So far nada.
The cleaning part makes perfect sense.
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:37 AM
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Somewhere around 20,000 rounds of full power 125 JHP 357 Magnums.

Calling Urban Myth on the 125 theory.

I know of a 19-5 that cracked firing 38 Special wadcutter ammo. Not the ammo cracking the cones, it's something about the cones.
That one is interesting. This is the first time I've ever heard of one cracked by firing 38 special. A few questions.
1) Your gun - so you've actually seen it?
2) Owned since new - so the ammo history is fully known?
3) Never fired any light bullet 357 rounds?
4) What is different about the dash 5 barrel/forcing cone?

So since the forcing cone cracked while firing 38 special, I'm wondering if the actual damage that lead to the cracked forcing cone was done firing light bullet 357 loads, and when it finally let go it just happened to be when firing 38 specials. Unless it has never fired any light bullet 357 loads and has only been used firing 38 specials.

Forgive me for seeming so skeptical but having read probably 100 accounts of cracked forcing cones in K-frame 357s, this is the first claim I've ever come across for 38 specials doing damage to one, and I have never heard of a 38 special only gun with a cracked forcing cone - despite the fact that the barrels and forcing cones are essentially the same - or actually slightly longer and thinner. Of course firing the hot 357s isn't an option in the 38 special guns.
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:42 AM
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^^^ I would attribute that to COVID.
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Old 07-26-2020, 12:01 PM
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That is a super light bullet for 38 Special or 357 Magnum. Were you loading 357 Magnum or 38 Special loads with that bullet?
38 special. I have never loaded 357! I will see if I can find them-they were marked as 38 special bullets but I realize years later they were probably for .380s.

Ed
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:11 AM
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Thanks everyone for your input. What I understand is that I will not have to fear much for my 13-3 when using .38 +p or .38 handloads at the upper end of the loading data with jacketed bullets in the lower weigth range. That's good news...

best regards from Germany
Ulrich
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Old 07-27-2020, 03:35 PM
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You might find your point of impact shifts low with lighter bullets. I used to own a Model 14 with an 8-3/8" barrel that shot to the point of aim with 148-grain wadcutters but four inches low at 25 yards with 110-grain hollowpoints loaded for woodchuck hunting. The rear sight could not be adjusted high enough to compensate for the shift but another rear sight blade that Smith & Wesson installed for me worked for both loads. You gun, however, having no adjustable rear sight might not be as easily fixed.

Ed
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Old 07-27-2020, 05:20 PM
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The only experience I've had with this was a Model 19 fired with a lot of 140 gr bullets with heavy charges, the forcing cone did not crack but was frosted looking, I think it was burnt away due to the higher heat/flame temp.generated by the heavy charges of slow burning powders, 2400/296. The gun was stolen from me or it may have cracked with more firing. This was before I was aware of a problem. I shoot 148 wadcutter loads almost exclusively in my current 19, it still looks like new after a lot of shooting.
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Old 07-28-2020, 06:34 AM
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Quote:
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The only experience I've had with this was a Model 19 fired with a lot of 140 gr bullets with heavy charges, the forcing cone did not crack but was frosted looking, I think it was burnt away due to the higher heat/flame temp.generated by the heavy charges of slow burning powders, 2400/296. The gun was stolen from me or it may have cracked with more firing. This was before I was aware of a problem. I shoot 148 wadcutter loads almost exclusively in my current 19, it still looks like new after a lot of shooting.

W-296/H-110 are considered to be the worst offenders, 2400 less so.
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Old 08-03-2020, 08:11 PM
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Default Isn't it the 'flat'...

...that's milled into the bottom of the barrel on mod19s that weakened the forcing cone?
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