Any Info on Gold Dot Short Barrel ammo?


August 3, 2007, 09:11 PM
I know that most ammo is designed for standard barrel lengths and the powder pressure profile may not be optimum for short barrelled handguns. I also know that with everything else being equal that higher velocities can be had with longer barrelled handguns. My question is: Does the new Gold Dot Short Barrelled Handgun ammo have powder that is optimized for short barrels, or have bullets with a thinner jacket to ensure expansion at lower velocities, or it it both? I did not find any info on their website.

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August 3, 2007, 11:17 PM
My testing says that velocities tend to be very similar, so I'm betting it's the bullet structure. Both types of short barrel Gold Dots that I have show very deep hollows in the noses.

August 4, 2007, 04:52 PM
I figured it was done with faster powder but I found just the bullets for sale at midway that said this:

To meet this new challenge, Speer introduces Gold Dot SB, a special class of cartridges that is perfect for compact firearms. We started in 2004 with the superb 38 Special +P 135-grain HP load that has been hailed as the best load for 38 "snubbies." We do this with special bullet designs that allow proper expansion at reduced velocities without sacrificing tactical penetration. Cartridges like the 357 and 44 Magnum feature reduced recoil allowing better control.
Like all Gold Dot ammo, the new Gold Dot SB features bullets with true, bonded-core construction for high retained weights and excellent penetration. We increase the surface area of the cavity, and mate velocity to the job at hand.

So it looks like it may be both faster powder and a bullet that expands at lower velocities.

August 4, 2007, 08:27 PM
DTDrew makes a good point.

It should be pointed out that the .38 Spec. load was specifically designed for snubbies and is a short barreled load even if the box doesn't indicate it.

I think that most SD ammo out there is devloped with shorter ccw barrels in mind these days.

August 4, 2007, 09:33 PM
shot from a 2"--S&W 642-1.

Note that the GD 135 load did 921 FPS. The same site has more extensive tests elsewhere--fish around a bit and you will find them.

Elsewhere, Speer has put out a pdf data sheet showing how one can reload the SB bullets to get satisfactory terminal performance. Here's the link to the 38SPL+P GD 135 sheet:

In this information, the load data show the GD135 was shot from a 4" barrel. Read the text to see how it applies to 2" barrels. If you study the two data sets carefully, I think you'll find that the factory powder is optimized for 2", and that these "SB" Bullets have a deeper cavity as well.

I recently got my CCL and carry a 340 (Scandium, 13.3 oz). I also bought a 640 (SS, 24 oz) for (re)load development for a practice rounds. My initial carry round is the Federal 110 gr 38SPL PD round; as I gain greater skills and proficiency, I am transitioning to the GD135 SPL+P load. After a few hundred rounds in the 640 with various lead bullets, and perhaps 80-100 rounds in the 340, I shot the GD135 load. It was stout but entirely shootable in the 640, and I found it managable enough in the 340 to say I could shoot the cylinder dry and consider a reload. Trigger bite, though....

On the reload side, I have found a 140-gr TC bullet from two suppliers. The first one--from Chey Cast--has been successfully tested with the AA#5 Speer data. 'Successful' here means that 6.7 gr and 6.8 gr. of AA#5 shot to the same POA and felt the same as the factory load, but I haven't put it through the chrono yet--that's this week's task.

In sum, reloading costs of about 12 cents per round trump factory round costs of .70 to 1.00 per round...even with using actual GD135 bullets, the reload cost is about 22 cents or so.

I'm not so sure all manufacturers have optimized their SD loads for the advancements made in JHP design in the last fifteen years--that's a marketing decision, and in the shooting business 'tradition' counts for a lot. I would hope the 'premium' SD products have been, but Speer is the only one I know of that is apparently promoting it.

Jim H.

Sir Aardvark
August 5, 2007, 01:23 PM
Hi Jim -

"I recently got my CCL and carry a 340 (Scandium, 13.3 oz). My initial carry round is the Federal 110 gr 38SPL PD round;"

This is just an FYI to head off any possible safety issues, but the 340PD has printed on right side of its barrel "NO LESS THAN 120GR BULLET"

August 7, 2007, 11:19 AM
I took that warning to apply to super-powered .357 rounds. IOW, the light-bullet / setback issue is limited to rounds where the type of recoil is liable to affect bullet seating. I consider the warning to be for two issues:

the first is a CYA for S&W against possible failure to fire in a shooting situation where setback could result in a fatality to the user.

the second is to avoid frame damage--heating/cutting associated with these high-powered, lighter-weight rounds, which is particularly damaging to the alloy frames.

In my own usage--although I have shot 'some' of the FC 38 SPL / 110gr PD rounds, I am transitioning up, so to speak, to that Speer 38 SPL+P / 135 gr round. Yesterday I shot about forty rounds of my intermediate reload in the 340--a .357 case with a 140-gr Lead TC round over 5.0 gr. of 231. That recoil is now manageable for me at a moderate rapid-fire, point-shoot scenario. Accuracy is still not very good at 7 yards, but it will improve.

Jim H.

August 7, 2007, 11:22 AM
There has been a lot of discussion of the GD+P 135 on, which includes a number of tests and discussions by ballisticians and at least one ammo manufacturer's rep. A search there may turn up some info.

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