A GOOD 38+P Gold Dot 135-gr practice load....


September 21, 2007, 06:25 PM
Some of you know that, for those of us carrying the lightweight revolvers, the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 135-grain 38+P PD round is a good one--about the max recoil one wants to deal with, highly accurate, and receiving good reviews for function.

The trouble is, of course, that the factory load costs about $1.00 per round. Further, unless you've been a real J-frame afficiando, to shoot it effectively in SD scenarios takes both acclimation and practice--lots of practice.

Speer, for a short while, had PDF files on the Internet for both the 38+P and the 357 Magnum with reloading recipes with that 135-gr bullet. They really hadn't done 2" testing, but they did give one a start on recipes that will provide decent expansion even at 38+P velocities.

I've spent the last three months working on load development with this bullet, and with a nominal lead bullet equivalent. 16 loads from four 38s/357s will go under the chrono in the near future--next week, I think. Meanwhile, I can honestly recomment their AA#5 workup:

7.0 gr. of AA#5 and the GDSB135 JHP Note that this is a max load; Speer says it is under 20,000 (or the OLD SAMMI spec for 38+P) It is included in the new (14th) Speer manual, the one that just came out.

This load feels virtually identical to the factory round, shoots a bit lower but functionally to the same POA--and will cost about 25 cents per round. My workup used Starline Brass, WSPs, and simply set the LOA to mid cannelure, with a firm crimp.

And, one can achieve 'identical' feel to the factory and the above load using a .358 140 Lead TC, available from Chey Cast, Mastercasterbullets.com, and some others--with 6.4 grains of AA#5 and the same primer and brass--and again with the LOA set to mid cannelure and a firm crimp. This round costs, at today's prices, about 12 cents per round. (Round pricing includes a 10-load amortization of new Starline brass at about $140.00/M)

Unless you are used to the lightweight J-frames, I'd recommend reducing the recipe about .5 grain and using that to get used to shooting the round. It will feel like a 'real' load, but it will minimize tearing up your trigger finger or the web between your forefinger and thumb if your hands are out of shape. Also check these adjusted loads against other published data, preferably from the powder manufacturer. None of these .5-gr. lower loads should be outside the 38 Special recipes on the low end, but you are responsible for your own decisions as to where to start.

If you do decide to use this recipe, you should use it only in modern j-frames capable of +P pressures, and back up at least 5% for a starting point. I built up the load in 0.1 gr. increments to get as close to the feel of the factory ammo as possible; my (Lee) reloading scale and measure can do that weight variation reliably. All rounds were loaded on a Lee updated turret with a 4-die setup. Finally, be sure to use 38+P brass, and I would recommend the same headstamp as well. These are close-to-max loads, and in some case max loads, and the leftover brass from those softball DEWC loads won't cut it.

FWIW, hundreds--actually, over 2000 rounds--have been fired of the various recipes out of my 640, and a several hundred out of my 340. The 640 (24 oz) is completely comfortable with these loads now; with the 340 (13.3 oz) I can get through one cylinder in a measured rapid-fire and reload and shoot another five without undue discomfort.

I'm now turning to producing the loads for the chrono tests--they'll be run through the 340, the 640, a 3" Model 65, and a 4" 686+.

Feel free to try this recipe--the bigger report will take some time. Any questions, ask away.

Jim H.

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September 21, 2007, 06:38 PM
I still have Speer's load printout and recently fell into some #5 at an auction so I'll give it a try. I've done the Power Pistol load and have to say I couldn't tell much difference and the velocities were just a little lower than the factory rounds. It'll be interesting to see how it chronographs.

September 21, 2007, 10:23 PM
the 'replica' loadings to be 6.4 grains with the Speer GDSB135JHP, and 6.0 grains with the 140LTC.

Power Pistol is probably the most economical round to shoot, and it is very accurate and to POA, nominally. However, it has the 'least-similar' feel to the recoil impulse of the powders I've worked up (AA#5, AA#7, PP, and V.N350). The PP impulse is "sharp;" the AA#5 load is "full" and IMO most closely duplicated the feel of the factory ammo.

All of the loads, including the factory ammo, shot to close to the same POA at the current shooting distance (10 yards); the AA#7 loads consistently shoot about 3/8" to 1/2" low. All recipes appear to be capable of one-hole groups. For the chrono tests, I'll be re-sighting the CT laser grips to 15 yards with the factory ammo, and we'll see how much the groups open up.

Jim H.

September 23, 2007, 05:11 AM
Would you happen to have a copy of that PDF file? If so, would you be kind enough to post it or send me a copy via email?

Thank you for the above information...

September 25, 2007, 08:00 AM
I followed this over from you post on the 642 Club. Anxious to see how the chrono testing wrings out.

Which of your recipes most closely emulates the the SGD .357 for short barrels? I'm that versant is some of the reload and component terminology yet so you may have to interpert for the layman, me.


September 25, 2007, 12:25 PM
DAdams--none of these loads replicate the .357 GDSB reloads; they strictly address the 38+P factory loads.

However, as I've alluded to above, I have taken the time to build replicas of the 38+P loads in 357 cases. Between those recipes and the recipes Speer provides for the 357 135-gr. (and 147-gr) GDSB bullets, one ought to be able to come in fairly nicely. In fact, to quote from the Speer 357 data sheet,

To approximate the Speer 357 Magnum Gold Dot Short Barrel service load in a snub-nose revolver, load the 135 gr bullet with 8.8 gr of Power istol, 8.4 gr of VihtaVuori 3N37, or 7.6 gr of Unique. These should give you around 1000 ft/sec from a 2" 357 Magnum revolver.

Other posters interested in these GDSB bullet loads have tried the 357 load in lightweights, and they report it's a pretty unpleasant load to shoot. Given the test reports I've seen so far--Steven A. Camp's report, and the waterbox and gelatin tests done by a poster here (whose name escapes me), the 38+P load appears to work well enough, and its relatively-softer recoil will enable one to shoot it more accurately and faster and to reload easier.

It does appear that, based on Accurate reloading data for a 150-gr. LRN in a .357 case, one can "go on up" with that powder as well to replicate the GDSB 135-gr. factory load. However, I don't know if the feel is the same. For me, that is the name of the game--to develop economical "replica loads" for acclimation and practice.

Jim H.

drifter don
March 30, 2016, 01:00 PM
I know this is a really old thread but does anyone have a copy of the Speer PDF they could share?


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