Similar recipe for Gold Dot 135 Short Barrel


November 25, 2007, 02:53 AM
Any ideas for working up a load similar to the Gold Dot 135 gr. load for a short barrel revolver? I'd like to work on the 38 and 357 loads for my Taurus 605. Was curious what they are likely doing to decrease the flash.

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November 25, 2007, 03:16 AM
jfh on this forum has done a lot of work replicating the Speer 135gr Short Barrel round. I'm sure he will give you a few hints when he reads this thread.

I personally feel 6.8gr AA#5 under a Gold Dot 135gr bullet feels very similar to the Speer Factory 135gr Short Barrel .38 Special +P round. (in a 1 7/8" S&W Model 638)

I personally feel 8.8gr of Powder Pistol under a Gold Dot 135gr bullet feels very similar to the Speer 135gr .357 Magnum Short Barrel Round. (in a 3" Ruger Police Service-Six)

November 25, 2007, 10:32 AM
Heh--I went to bed at 1:30, so my comments are late.

As for flash--the powders are formulated by the factories to control this factor; in the aftermarket, we have a limited number of powders to work with (at least for 2"-barrel revolvers). When I did my testing, I did not observe for this factor. IIRC, it was noticable with one powder--but which one, I don't remember.

As ArchAngelCD pointed out, recoil "feel" of the reload is probably the most important component in developing a PD practice round. There are other factors, typically the ones that reloaders usually strive for--velocity, accuracy, burn characteristics--but there is nothing like shooting a round that is subjectively similar to the recoil experience of the factory round. Further, one can easily "back up" the load to build lighter-recoil rounds for acclimation.

Speer tested eight powders with their GDSB135JHP in 38 Special loads. Of the five I've worked up so far, only one--Power Pistol--matches the factory velocities. It also is the one that feels least like the factory round; it has a sharp, quick recoil as opposed to the "full" recoil of the factory round.

As Archangel said, AA#5 is the one that feels most like the factory round. In my 640 and M&P 340 (both 38/357 j-frames), the recoil is quite similar to the factory round. For me, the Speer 38 Special MAX load of 7.0 grains runs about 850 fps, which is at or just below the Speer specification for that bullet.

Both reloads are / can be extremely accurate, albeit to a slightly-different POA. Groups under 1" at fifteen yards can be obtained if the shooter can do it.

Loading the Speer 135 JHP costs about 23 cents a round--and that includes a 1.5 cent case amortization. You can also use a 140-grain lead bullet to load good practice rounds, and that gets the cost down to 10 cents a round or so. Barrel leading is not really an issue with these short barrels at these velocities, but there can be leading at the frame / forcing cone. They are dirtier, generally, and mostly because of the (lead) bullet lube.

Lead bullets should be sized to match your barrel, I think, if you are shooting a .38-only revolver. All these reloads are at or near Speer's 20,000 PSI spec, and that was chosen before SAAMI lowered the 38+P specification to 18,500.

So, in summary: AA#5 under the GDSB135JHP bullet, near-or-at the Speer MAX load of 7.0 gr., results in a reload that 1) feels most like the factory load, and 2) runs about 30 fps slower than the typical factory velocity with the. Back off at least 5% to try it out in your gun, and back up .5 gr in trying the lead-bullet version. If you build these, be sure to roll-crimp on the cannelure and to produce a firm crimp.

The complete reloading data for this bullet can be found in the new / current Speer manual--the 13th, I believe.

Jim H.

November 25, 2007, 10:29 PM
Thanks for the comments!

Reloading saves money!!!

November 26, 2007, 01:16 AM
Great Info jfh,

Thank You


November 26, 2007, 08:52 PM
This might help...

Here's the LE ATK site, look in the upper right corner for a hotlink to the Gold Dot 135-gr technical data

There you will find a .pdf file that tells you all you want to know about the bullet. If you read to page nine you will see that they load the Gold Dot 135-gr Short Barrel bullet to 860-fps from a 1-7/8" S&W Model 640.

I hope that I could be of some help.

November 26, 2007, 11:28 PM
FWIW, here's the chrono results from my testing of the 38+ P factory round this summer: Each result is the average for five rounds--

S&W M&P340 (1 & 7/8") - 906 fps; 895 fps; 923 fps.
S&W 640 (2 & 1/8") - 886 fps; 901 fps
S&W 442 (2 & 1/8") - 861 fps.
S&W M60 (3") - 987 fps.

Jim H.

November 26, 2007, 11:40 PM
There is actually, a very good powder for this. AA#7 will get you some of the highest velocities obtainable from short barrels. Very comparable to factory loads and better in some cases. It is also one of the lowest flash powders on the market. It is a very dense fine grained powder that will meter exceptionally. Your tolerance to recoil will be the determing factor as pointed out.

#5 is a good powder, but #7 is even better for this task. E-mail Accurate and they should be able to help you with a load for the 135 if it isn't in the latest manual from SPEER.;)

November 26, 2007, 11:55 PM
and, for 2" barrels, AA# 7 was the worst-performing powder of the powders Speer reccommended for 38+P loads that I have tested so far.

At Speer's MAX load (8.2 gr.) under the GDSB135, the recoil felt very smooth and full, and POA was about 1/2" low. I then loaded up some #7 under the lead bullets and tweaked it to the same nominal subjective recoil--again, smooth, and slightly low for POA.

When I got out the chrono, NONE of the #7 loads broke 800 fps average--and that includes the ones at .2 gr. OVER the Speer MAX. It surprised me--but the chrono doesn't lie.

I haven't tested it yet in 3" or 4" barrels, but I did do a successful 'translation' into "357 lite" loads that will run 900 fps nicely. However, it simply doesn't match up with AA#5 or WSF for 38+P loads in 2" barrels.

Subjectively, I disliked it as well--it leaks from any of my Lee measures, although it does appear to meter accurately.
Jim H.

November 27, 2007, 12:25 AM
YMMV. And you didn't mention the charge, or which case your loading it into. For .357 Magnum, try using Accurate data. I've been using #7 for years with a 3" M65 LadySmith as well as a Ruger SP-101. I've recommended the load at Ruger Forum to other guys with SP-101s and they reported their results as excellent. You don't want to use #7 for .38 Special, but how are you going to replicate a .357 Magnum carry load with a 135 at .38 Special velocity?

The start charge for a 140 gr. JHP is 11.0 grains. Velocity from a 6" revolver was 1267 FPS in Accurates data. So, naturally, your velocity will be a good bit lower with a 2" revolver, but it should still be over 1100 FPS, not 800-900.;)

There's a cure for #7 leakage from a LEE powder measure. It's called the RCBS Uniflow.

November 27, 2007, 12:45 AM
I did mention the charge--both directly and indirectly: but I did omit the actual charge and the cartridge--which was a typing error. The Speer 38+P MAX charge is 8.2 gr. I loaded it to that MAX, and, as it turned out, also loaded the two different 140 lead bullets I had to 8.2--and did a run under the Speer GDSB135 at 8.4 gr. as well.

The cases used were new and used Starline; primers were WSP, for all my testing done so far.

The 2004 Accurate Manual (latest I have), downloaded as a pdf lists no #7 charges for 38 Special.

As for the Accurate data for 357 Magnum--my reloading goal for this project was to load ammo that 'replicated' the perceived recoil the GDSB 38+P 135-gr. factory round in a j-frame lightweight--and, replicate in ballistics as well, as possible. I did want to gain the benefit of 357s--i.e., cleaner chambers, a larger margin of safety. But, the primary goal was to build a practice round that would work well for acclimating to 357 lightweights--my carry guns, and the factory round I had selected for use in those--that's the GDSB 135-gr. 38+P factory round.

Those 2" barrel results were obtained from both a S&W M&P 340 and a 640.

I am just beginning to do more complete chrono results analysis, but at this point I would categorically say that #7 is not a suitable power for 38 Spl / 2" barrels. I wonder why Speer tested it in the first place--they did use a 6" barrel--where, there is no doubt it performs much better. In those tests, it was over 1000 fps (1030), just 35 fps behind PP and just 22 fps below #5.

Jim H.

November 27, 2007, 01:22 AM
Now I understand. You're replicating the .38 Special +P load. Accurate does not recommended #7 for .38 Special or hardly any other low pressure cartridge. If on the other hand you want a load that is comparable to factory .357 Magnum. #7 is an excellent way to go. At 985 grams/liter it is the densest handgun propellant available and is very fine grained.

Not to open a can of worms, but some of the .357 Snubbies are prone to sticky extraction as are some full size 7 shot .357 Magnums like the Taurus Tracker. For that application, I have used #7 and V-V 3N37 as well as others in shortened .357 Magnum cases for +P+ loads for use in .357 Magnum Revolvers ONLY. Both are excellent and will eliminate the extraction problems with the shorter case.

Regarding standard loading for .357 Magnum revolvers in .357 Magnum cases, #7 is one of the few powders available that is optimum for magnum loads in short barrelled magnum revolvers. Many reloaders and even the ammo manufacturers often fail to recognize this. There are good factory loads that are geared specifically to snubs, but if you load your own, there's a better way to do it than with H110 or 296. Powders just slightly ahead of those rated magnum like #7, V-V 3N37 & N350 and Blue Dot (if flash is not a concern) will actually have a lower percentage of velocity loss in shorter barrels by virtue of the slightly faster burn rate. Faster powders (medium and faster) won't get the velocity to begin with

Ramshot True Blue is another powder that will work very well if you are loading the .38 Special cases to +P, but if you want to replicate a .357 Magnum factory load, or even exceed it with a snub, #7 will do it with about as little muzzleblast as your likely to encounter while maintaining the velocity to make your snubbie an effective stopper, or as in the case of many, a good back-up for field use. As a starting point, Accurate's data for the 140 is a good place to start for SPEER's 135 if it's not given in the .357 Magnum data. I don't have the latest SPEER manual.;)

November 27, 2007, 01:25 AM
AA#7 isn't the way to go to replicate Speer's .357 Magnum Short Barrel round at all, Powder Pistol is. Like I said above, a charge of 8.8gr of Powder Pistol under a Speer 135gr bullet feels and shoots very close to the Factory round. As a matter of fact, Speer suggests seven different powders when working up the short barrel .357 Magnum round and AA#7 isn't one of them, AA#9 is though.

Speer Data for the Short Barrel .357 Magnum round:

135 gr Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel HP
COLA Tested @ 1.590"

H110* 17.5 gr - 1313 fps --- 18.5 gr - 1387 fps
W296* 17.5 gr - 1264 fps --- 18.5 gr - 1377 fps
2400 15.0 gr - 1299 fps --- 16.0 gr - 1377 fps
AA #9 14.5 gr - 1234 fps --- 15.5 gr - 1345 fps
Powder Pistol 8.6 gr - 1192 fps --- 9.6 gr - 1291 fps
Viht. 3N37 7.7 gr - 1093 fps --- 8.7 gr - 1185 fps
Unique 6.8 gr - 1082 fps --- 7.8 gr - 1185 fps
* – denotes use of CCI Magnum primer

This is their recommendations:
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 Powder Pistol
8.4 gr VihtaVuori 3N37
7.6 gr Unique
These loads should give you 1,000 ft/sec from a 2" 357 Magnum revolver

November 27, 2007, 01:35 AM
Well, if you want your snub to flash like a flamethrower, you might try alternating PP with Blue Dot on occasion. Without a doubt, Power Pistol is one of the brightest flashing powders you can use in any high pressure cartridge. That is most often the case with extruded flake powders. You might want to actually try these loads at night, assuming you've actually used #7. In the real world, there's a pretty good chance that that's where they may get used! I've tried pretty much all of them. I shoot at night when I test any load that might see defensive use.;)

I'd skip the first three to start with unless you really love muzzleblast. #9 is worth a try and #7 is not on your/SPEER list. I'm sorry to see SPEER missed it.

November 27, 2007, 11:45 AM
Yup, I'd experienced that flash when I was testing / chrono'g as dusk approached--but I was shooting various powders, and I didn't note which did that. Your post tells me which one.

Your comments on other powders are really, really intriguing, being the typical OC (that's Obsessive-Compulsive) reloader than I am. For the 38+P and 357-lite loads I've worked on, I already segued over to V. N350 and then V.3N37. The N350 loads (under all three bullets so far--GDSB135JHP, MC140 LTC-357, and PB140LRNFP-358) produce low velocities with "replica recoil" criteria--but typically good SDs and clean burns at the upper charge range. 3N37 MIGHT hit the Speer guidelines at absolutely MAX (V. says 7.1 gr)--and again, clean burns. More testing and die tweaking is needed, and maybe a slight boost into the +P+ realm.

The one powder I am currently really interested in is WSF. It appears to be the wonderpowder, and some basic pressure calcs done by someone else says it should be OK.

The first time I moved it over to the 38 / 357 cartridges, I put it into 357 and made some judicious guesstimates for the charge weight. Low and behold, I obtained the Speer 135-gr / 357 Magnum velocities, with a smoother and lower (subjective) recoil than the Speer 135-gr 38+P factory rounds. I then backed it into 38 special, and I've hit the factory 38+P velocities at charge weights below PP. There are no conventional symptoms of overpressure, none.

I originally bought WSF to load in 10mm, .40S&W, and perhaps .45ACP--that was about twelve years ago, so I am rusty on what my notes say from those reloads. This year, the reloading has been the 38/357 round, with only a smattering of 10mm.

I remain sold on the Speer 38 / 357 135-gr. bullets as the most attractive factory PD round for the lightweights, although I don't know of any data from PD shootings that would validate their performance. I suspect there will be some issues with jacket separation / breakup as that data is obtained--but their benefit in terms of increased "shootability" cannot be overstated.

I can now shoot a cylinder of the 38+P round, reload, and shoot another cylinder in rapid-fire and keep 4/5 of my shots in a fist-sized group at 5-7 yards. That's from the 13.3 oz M&P 340; in the 640, I could keep on going for quite awhile longer. I attribute that level of proficiency to the "acclimation" reloading paradigm I've followed in the last five months. If I can shoot enough to keep my hand in shape this winter, I am probably ready to move on to the GDSB 135-gr Magnum loads, like ArchAngelCD is doing.

OTOH, that BuffaloBore 158LSWC-HP 38+P (+P+) is calling--it will do over 1000 fps out of my M&P340, and it appears to currently feel about the same as the Speer 135-gr 357 round....VBG.

So, I bought a box of the Hornady 158grLSWC-HP bullets....

Jim H.

November 27, 2007, 02:43 PM
J, I've done more than a little research here myself. In the list of powders AA put up, the velocities appear to have been obtained in a longer barrel, then SPEER is making a recommendation for lighter than max charges for snubs. My latest SPEER manual is the #11 and I still use it for all revolver loads, particularly Magnum loads. I don't mean to sound contradictory to any manual, but recommending H110, 296 and 2400 for this use makes them appear to bit a bit short sided in their testing. If you loaded to an equal velocity for say a 6" .357 Magnum, with all of the powders listed and throw #7 and even WSF in there to say 1300 FPS, then fire the rounds in a snub and chronograph, you'll find that the only thing you'll get extra from the "Magnum" powders is Magnum Muzzleblast.

Of those listed, 3N37 and #9 are the only powders I could take seriously since Unique would only be slightly better than PP, as far as flash. Most often, lower flash is best obtained with dense ball powders like #5, #7, SP-2. HS-6 isn't bad and neither is 3N37. I have used all of these for my "Short Magnum" load as well with good results. Blue Dot works well, but like PP, it is going to produce a fireball at night over one foot. If only one shot should be required to stop a fight, you're probably going to survive if you make the first one count, but if you don't, your visual aquity will be seriously impaired.

I have considered WSF (but not used it) and I'm not surprised that you are getting good results. I've tried to get Ramshot to publish data for this type of load with Silhouette that has a flash retardent added. Like WSF, there is no data. It took some careful cross referencing to find a "Start Charge" but I finally settled on 8.0 grains of Silhouette with a 140 gr. Rem SJHP, CCI-500, .357 Starline case. The results were good. Good enough that I really hope that Ramshot will give it a look. They use the same ballistician for Ramshot and Accurate powders. Western Powder Co. is the parent of both. I consider Silhouette to be the closest American powder to 3N37 and max charges in most high pressure cartridges, run only a couple of tenths less with Silhouette vs. 3N37.

I certainly agree that the 135 should excel here. If it were a 4" revolver, I'd probably use #9 and push a 125 gr. JHP to over 1400 FPS. But, when barrel length gets below 4" in a .357 Magnum revolver, I start looking at those powders just slightly ahead of the magnums in burn rate with an emphasis on reducing muzzleblast as much as possible because of possible defense use. I consider #9 and Blue Dot to be "Tweeners" but both are excellent .357 Magnum powders depending on application. For full power loads, I'm using #9 more than anything else and need to try Enforcer that has a very close burn rate with excellent energy potential for the .357 Magnum. I also favor bullets over 125 grains for better penetration from snubs and settled on the 140 gr. SJHP. Not that I'm recommending handloads for defense, but I do live in Texas and the laws here do apply a good degree of common sense. The 135 gr. Gold Dot should be outstanding for these types of loads. Just for discussion, I'd say that anyone that uses a .357 Magnum snub should seriously consider a regimine using .357 Magnum cases and starting with the lowest charge listed by bullet weight, work your way up to a level of recoil that is not beyond your own personal threshold. Then, if you carry a factory defense round, you're a bit more likely to be able to get good bullet placement. Selecting the right powder is the key!;)

November 27, 2007, 03:03 PM
thanks for all that powder info, CZ57--you've given me a lot to digest. I may have to incorporate some changes in my "38+P 135-gr replica loads reloading project."

Jim H.

November 27, 2007, 03:09 PM
My pleasure!;)

December 16, 2007, 11:10 PM

I've been reading this thread and the several posts jfh made earlier regarding his load workups with great interest as I was sifting through looking for a load utilizing the GDHP-SB that I could load into both 38's and 357s. Given what looks like superb terminal ballistics for SD use, I guess I am not sure what if any benefit stepping up to the 357 version would yield. Further, it looks like the 38+P load would still work and be in the velocity window if fired out of a 4" gun.
My question(s):
1. Given a 4" M10 and M66 (my typical working 38/357 revolvers) why not load a version in 38 cases as well as 357 cases to yield approx 950-1000fps and essentially have the same performing load with respect to terminal ballistics, point of aim/impact. This should give great SD performance but be easier on the guns and my slowly/rapidly aging wrists and elbows :)

2. jfh- I saw you did do some workup previously with Titegroup. Have you gone any further with that or has anyone else? I still have tons of that laying around from building up midrange loads. Looking at the Hornady and Hogdon manuals it seems useable and would fall into this same area.

3. I currently use standard pressure 148gr wadcutters for snub loads and will probably stay there until I see more data/actual shoot results with a snub and this ammo. I am, however, very intrigued with using these loads in standard 4" service revolvers as the above illustrates. Have you done any chrono work with the 4" guns or only the snubs?

Thanks guys; great info and very stimulating experimentation!


December 16, 2007, 11:45 PM
The cold weather has put a bit of a halt to meaningful objective data--meaning I will NOT wade through the snow to set up a Chrono whose battery won't last.

From last year, I did get some minimal data for 4" barrels, with both 38 and 357 cartridges. I have more data for 3" barrels, and I am trying to read into this data what I can tell about both two-tenths grain charge changes and about barrel lengths in one inch increments.

Because I chose to standardize on the GDSB135 38+P round for my carry round, I used that data to chase 'replica' reloads--e.g., 135 gr, 880 or so FPS from a 2" barrel. I've accomplished my goal now of 'complete' acclimation--I can shoot repeated cylinders of that round from the M&P340 (13.3 oz empty) without undue discomfort, and in a measured rapid fire.

AFAICT, "standardizing" on the 2" barrel creates no issues--for example, in a 38 Spl case, 6.4 gr. of Power Pistol runs about 890 from a 2" barrel, and 960 from my M60-3" barrel. ArchAngleCD reports the Speer data of 8.8 gr. of PP in a 357 case gets to about 1000 fps from a 2" barrel.

The powders that work best in 2" are NOT the ones that work best in 6" barrels, that is for sure--but it shades off OK in 4" barrels. Right now I am setting up AA#5 to run in 357 cases under a 140LTC-358, with a target of 1000 fps from a 2" barrel (IOW, to replicate the GDSB135-357 load.) To do that, I am currently guesstimating that two tenths grain is worth 30 fps, and that 1" barrel length changes equals about 50 fps. If I work "backwards," that correlates somewhat with Accurate's data for full-power 357 loads with AA#5 under a 140JHP in a 6" barrel, as found in their 3.2 manual--at least enough to work up a development set to get the 1000 fps target from a 2" barrel. IOW, I did my calculations "coming up" from my translated 357-lite / #5 data, and then compared them to the manual from which I "worked down". I appear to be on the conservative side--which is right where I want to be.

I've shifted to 357 cases, even to run 38+P and +P+ pressures simply to make gun cleaning easier, and because clearly the pressures are climbing beyond specs for 38 Special.

What we don't know yet is when we are at the upper edges, so to speak, in 38 Special. I have pushed #5 in a 38 Special above 7.0 (7.0 is the Speer MAX, but below 20,000 according to them), and at a point not too much higher, found it did NOT generate the expected velocity increase and the SDs opened up again. To me, that's a sign of serious overpressure, so I quit. The gun is safe, of course; it's a 357--but if I'm not going to load that recipe in 38 Special, why bother?

So, to answer your questions directly about 4" barrels:

1. Yes, the 2" barrel loads work just fine in 4" barrels. Keep in mind that these GDSB bullets should not be driven much above 1000 fps, or they'll break up. It seems to me that the 38+P factory round will work the way you want it to in a 4" barrel. With that in mind, I would recommend the Speer 38+P PP loading--6.4 gr. max--to try out and see what it does in your gun(s). It won't feel like the factory round, but you may not consider that an important factor.

For a 38+P load with similar subjective recoil, you could try the MAX AA#5 load--7.0 gr.--but I doubt it will break 950 fps in a 4" barrel.

The number of different powders I've tested / will test tell me this kind of fine-tuning does depend significantly on burn rate, and what ever else happens in those microseconds when primary and secondary pressure waves build.

2. I called Titegroup "too fast" early on, and haven't revisited it--yet. As you can tell from the above, I am re-reading dried tea leaves this winter.

3. My 686P is a 4"--and the GDSB135 38+P is an absolute pussycat in it; I would probably carry the 357 load were that a carry gun. With the (hand) conditioning I have, I would also carry the 357 round in the M60--but the 340 is a carry gun; I just don't even know it is there in my pocket any more.

Meanwhile, I have gotten interested in the Speer 158gr. LSWC-HP at 850 fps or so from a 2" barrel--but don't know anything yet.

Jim H.

December 17, 2007, 02:00 AM
I did some work with the Speer .38 Special +P 135gr SB round in my 4" M686 but I can't find the data right now.

It has been reported that the SB rounds work just fine in a longer barrel and are being carried by some LEO who still carry a Service Revolver since their Department will buy only one .38 Special round. Sorry, I don't remember where I read that either but it was from a reputable WEB site, not a forum.

December 17, 2007, 09:46 PM
Thanks for the added info guys. I will try to work up some loads that run 850-900fps in my 4" guns so that they are in the "window" of performance for these sb bullets. Since I have gads of Titegroup and a fresh 8lbs of HP38 I will start here and see how we do. I am going to roll essentially the same load into both 38 and 357 cases with the goal of having a load that feels the same and shoots the same in both calibers AND is in the performance window for the GDHP parameters AND is easy to shoot fast and accurately. Once the blistery winter recedes from western PA I'll try to get some chrono data and post it up here.
This is exactly the conversation and info that makes this such a great forum. Thanks guys!


December 18, 2007, 12:41 AM
I'm sorry to say I highly doubt you will get the same feel as the Factory rounds with either of those 2 powders. I really suggest you use Powder Pistol if you want to use only 1 powder. (as recommended by Speer)

December 18, 2007, 10:27 AM
I see that HP38 is right next to Win231 on that Hodgdon burn rate chart I reference. With that in mind, it should built easy-shooting medium-power loads from a 4", I think. I built rounds with up to the max (4.6? 5.1?) with the 140LTC bullets early on and used them for 'basic' acclimation to the 640. Those rounds produced a medium recoil, a bit sharp, but felt-not-all like the GDSB135 factory round; they felt more like an overpowered softball wadcutter load.

Titegroup, OTOH, is way up near the top. Not a suitable powder for replication at all--but wonderful for softball.

Ballistically speaking, these two powders may get to 950 fps or so from a 4" barrel--I honestly don't know. Since Hodgdon now typically lists a 10" test barrel for their loads, you might try subtracting 200-300 fps or so from the velocities they list.

You will be able to build rounds using these powders with the GDSB135 (or a lead 140), and they may even produce satisfactory ballistics--but they won't be "replica" loads for either barrel length.

ArchAngelCD has sorted out the PP usage, too--try that one. My preference, of course, would be #5.

Jim H.

December 18, 2007, 03:56 PM
You'll have to pardon me here, but anyone using a 135 gr. Gold Dot for a handload must be contemplating at least the possibility that it could be used in a defensive application. Try to keep things in perspective. SPEER is only interested in your ability to replicate ballistics. It is obvious that they are not considering an actual defensive application. Power Pistol will obviously get you the right numbers as far as velocity, but that is only one part of the total equation. For a defense load, PP is about the last powder I'd choose for this. Blue Dot will get the numbers you're looking for, but I ain't gonna use it, either; even though I've burned more Blue Dot that any other handgun propellant for 25 years now. It doesn't fit the application for a defense load powder. If a flake powder was the way to go, you'd probably be better served by Unique in this case.

One thing anyone should do besides look at the manual when developing a defense load is to do some night shooting, or replicate it by shooting at an indoor range.

KODB: JFH is making a very good recommendation here with AA#5, considering the performance level you're looking for. #5 is a very low flash powder and works well with cast loads. You should easily be able to get your performance requirement with the 135 gr. Gold Dot, as well.

If this is really about a single powder working well for both cartridges, as well as many others, Ramshot True Blue will cover all the bases as well as any you'll find. Not necessarily in this particular order, but considering a compromise with these variables: Accuracy, velocity (as outlined), economy, and minimum flash and probably the lowest standard deviation numbers you're likely to see from the powders mentioned. Anything you can do with Unique, you can do with True Blue and get minimal flash and better ballistic uniformity in the bargain.

I don't have data for the Gold Dot, but looking at Ramshot's data for a 140 gr. Sierra, 5.3 grains (Listed as max) of True Blue achieved 916 FPS with a standard deviation of 8! Single digit SD's are not that easy to come by. Now, the reality: the results were achieved with a 7.71" ballistic test barrel. Your velocity will be lower, but here's the good news, the pressure for this load is 15,945 PSI; over 1000 PSI below the max for STANDARD pressure .38 Special (17,000 PSI). You should be able to bump the charge by looking at +P data. I feel pretty comfortable in saying that you should have no problem getting 950 - 1000 FPS in your 4" revolvers with the 135 gr. Gold Dot. You might even get to 950 FPS without going into +P pressure, and even then, today's limit of 18,500 PSI is mild enough to eliminate concern for the M10.

Only the newer manuals will have data for True Blue, but it's worth the trouble to get your hands on one. Ramshot's Start Charge for .357 Magnum and the same 140 gr. Sierra is 8.0 grains to achieve 1075 FPS and since the velocity was obtained with a 6" barrel, you should be very close with your 4" 686. That's considering that you'll actually be using a 135 gr. Gold Dot. In the past, I know that the Ramshot Ballistician used a 6" 686 to chronogragh velocity for testing of Accurate Powder's load data. My personal loads were warmer at around 1200 FPS from a 4" M19. There may be one inconvenience, but with a powder this dense (which will meter exceptionally, btw) and the lower charge level, I'd follow the recommendation to use a magnum primer for .357 loads, the only standard primer I'd use here would be the CCI-500. In .38 Special loads, standard primers are fine.;)

December 18, 2007, 05:06 PM
True Blue is like AA #2 in one regard. It gives real low ES & SD numbers, that's for sure. I just started trying it and it has real potential.

Both are "non flattened" small diameter ball powders, True Blue being very tiny. They flow like water through a meter and that may be part of the reason they give good numbers. I don't know. ;)

December 18, 2007, 06:25 PM
Can you hear me now?;)

WA, the real differences, you're already familiar with, so I'll go into it for everyone else. Where #2 and True Blue differ is obviously burn rate, so I'll mention the second to reinforce your sneaky suspicion: bulk density!

#2 is 650 Grams per liter, True Blue is 935 grams per liter. Combine that level of density with the extremely small sphere's and VOILA! I hope I've mentioned this before because I'm pretty sure I have: dense powders that meter this well do aid in the quest for lower extreme spread and standard deviation. Naturally, the chemical composition is the greater reason, but those Belgians made it that small for a reason. Since I started the quest to inform the reloading world of how good a powder True Blue really is, I've learned to pretty much disregard the detractors. I've heard all the complaints that have little validity, except for maybe the lazy.

1. It's dirty. Not at higher pressure and, what powder are you judging it by when you call it dirty? Can't be Unique or 231! Hopefully, they learned how to adequately clean a handgun before they started feeding it handloads! Very few powders see greater use for IPSC 9mm Major than True Blue. The only ones I can think of are Silhouette, 3N37 and good old HS-6.

2. Pressure spikes. Anyone that has had a pressure spike with this powder was overlooking a significant mistake they made in reloading with it. This is one of the most uniform powders that you'll ever see that comes under the heading of double-base. I like to cite the fact that FNH uses it to load their factory 5.7mm. Many don't see the significance when you're talking about the most common powders. True Blue is useful for all handgun cartridges. Serious loaders of 5.7 and 7.62 X 25mm know that there are very few powders that will get it done with excellent results. Okay, so there are others that are as broad, or nearly as broad in application as True Blue. How do they perform in a tougher test like the 5.7 or the 7.62 X 25? Now assume the IPSC top level competitors that push the envelope don't know what a pressure spike is, or what powder they need to use to avoid them.

Many of us consider ourselves to be pretty serious reloaders, so how does one overlook a powder that can provide single digit Standard Deviations in every cartridge there's load data for? In many cases, multiple bullet weight loads in a single caliber. I've seen the pressure curve analysis. From start to peak pressure, this is one of the most gradual risers I've ever seen, but then again, I do know how to digest pressure curve analysis.

Maybe I need to have someone explain to me what uniformity actually is!;)

Ten years from now, True Blue will be one of the most popular handgun propellants available to reloaders, unless something better comes along. I won't be holding my breath. In my experience, no matter how good a new powder is, it will take a minimum of 5 years to catch on. Sadly, this is why WAP was discontinued, as well as Vectan SP-2. Fortunately for all of us, we got WAP back, renamed and repackaged as Ramshot Silhouette. Go out on a limb and pick some up for your 9mm and .40 S&W loads. 10mm or .38 Super? Hell yeah! I know how much you like WSF, and it is an exceptional powder and not that different from Sil. This is the closest powder I've ever seen to V-V 3N37. And since I mentioned it, KODB, 3N37 will work very well for your needs and I believe that has been mentioned already. I would also recommend Silhouette, but there is no data. I have my estimates for other powders you can use data from to get a start charge, and maybe at some point we'll explore that, but I am leary of putting it up because of the newer reloaders we have coming on board. So when people go around assuming that the guys that develop load data are akin to God in some way: THINK AGAIN! Last I checked, there is no degree program in the US for ballisticians. The bulk of them come from mechanical and chemical engineering background. Obviously, they understand math and physics, but where they earn the bulk of their $ is in protecting their employers from civil liability.

There is no valid reason why we shouldn't have Silhouette data exactly for this application. Both .38 Special +P and short barrel .357 Magnum defense oriented, or defense practice loads. I've already contacted Ramshot about it and gave them a start load I've worked up for them. It consists of the following: 140 Gr. Rem. SJHP, Starline .357 Magnum case, 8.0 grains of Silhouette with a CCI-500 primer. If you want a good .357 Magnum snub load, it's a very good place to start. As I've mentioned before, for barrels of 3" or shorter, I like 140 gr. JHPs for the slightly better penetration they'll achieve with the lower snub velocity. I did not invent the concept, nor did anyone else here. A well known fellow Texan has been saying it for years. The former sheriff of Crockett Co., Jim Wilson. He's had to prove his hypothesis with actual performance.;)

December 18, 2007, 08:29 PM
I would also recommend Silhouette, but there is no data.
Ramshot does not provide data for Competition in the .45 ACP either, but they should. It is capable of giving excellent velocities and is cleaner than average. It is like AA #2, WST and W-231 in that it is very light colored and is easily seen in the case, which is a plus for me.

WST and Competition both work quite well for light loads in the .45, but Competition can provide velocity as well, if needed. It's not my favorite .45 powder, but it is a very good one. It's one of my 5 or 6 favorites for .45.

December 18, 2007, 09:09 PM
WA, I think you'll see Competition .45 ACP data very soon from Ramshot. Have you checked the newer manuals from Sierra and SPEER #14? Also, any question you have about a powder/load combination will be addressed with an e-mail to Ramshot. They're very good in the Customer Service dept.

Then there's ZIP which is also from Belgium like True Blue and would be a suitable powder to consider for the Topic of this thread as well as .45 ACP, though it's nearly, but not quite as fast as 231. Definitely cleaner. Comp and Silhouette are Primex products. ZIP, True Blue and Enforcer come from Belgium as do all of their rifle powders.;)

December 18, 2007, 09:40 PM
CZ57 and jfh-
Great info; thanks for the time and post. I will get ahold of some AA#5 to try with this project as well as some True Blue. I have prev used the 3N37 powders in handguns but primarily back when I was loading mostly 9 and 45acp. As you may have surmised, I am much more interested in acceptable ballistics so far as the GDHP-SB bullet is concerned and functional use than actual load duplication. In my rural area handloads do not seem to be a problem and I would be shocked if ever an issue in a legally proper SD situation. I do however wish to have acceptable stocks of properly performing loads for the cited guns. The tip regarding flash is particularly cogent. Most of the loads I've shot at night with titegroup have been ok from this regard which is one of the reasons I've used so much of it.

CZ-you have definitely piqued my curiosity regarding the Ramshot powders; I've never used any to date.


December 18, 2007, 09:51 PM
I would try Bullseye. Even though it is a very fast powder, it gives higher velocities and lower pressures than most other fast or medium-fast powders. (Look at Alliant's reloading handbook, where you can see all the load data at once on a chart) That seems like a perfect combination for a short barrel revolver.

December 18, 2007, 09:57 PM
Bob, you're welcome! I've used True Blue with both .38 Special and .357 magnum loads with the Rem. 140 gr. JHP. I think you'll really like True Blue and the bonus is that you can use it in many other cartridges as well, 9mm and .45 ACP up to +P level. I've had very good results with TB and both the 185 and 230 gr. Golden Sabers, If you use the Ramshot data for the same weights, you'll be fine. As WA pointed out in another thread, powder charges for the .451 Golden Sabers will have to be bumped a bit as you work up. These bullets yield the lowest pressure of any jacketed bullet you'll use. Their proprietary "Driving Band" is actually a term for the very short bullet shank, and it's the same length, or thereabouts, for both the 185 and 230.

I'm about to burn the last of my 4 lb. cannister of TB. A good many of the loads I'll make to burn it up will be 9mm to test it in a recent acquisition. I can't get it local, but I feel it's worth paying the haz-mat to order in quantity from Graf's.;)

December 18, 2007, 10:03 PM
Well, CZ57, you did it: just as I was bemoaning the cold weather again, you posted that push again about flash--not to mention the True Blue and Silhouette powders. In short, my implicit parameters for practice replica loads should take in flash levels. I'll probably put off any chrono testing for another four months at least--but the indoor range time can check for flash.

After reading your last posts, I ordered out N340, True Blue, and Silhouette, another 5K primers--and another dozen MTM boxes for load development sets I'll build this winter. I'll bet I buy more boxes before the winter is out, too.

Now, if I can just figure out where to slot in True Blue and Silhouette on the Hodgdon burn rate chart, I'd be happy. I downloaded the Ramshot chart, and it doesn't look ANYTHING like the Hodgdon chart--which does, incidentally, look similar to the Lyman P&R 3rd Ed. chart.

Bob: check with your local reloading supplier and see if he will give you a deal on volume purchases of the GDSB135 JHP bullets. They had a recent price jump, but if you can get them for under 20 cents a round, it's a good deal. Online prices will be about that PLUS shipping, I think. Generally, online I buy components almost exclusively from Graf & Sons--see the thread elsewhere about buyers' satisfaction with them.

I use (new) Starline 38+P brass, WSPs, and AA#5 at 7.0 gr. with the GDSB135--that's what gives me 850-860 fps from my 2" j-frames. A charge of 6.8-7.0 gr. under the Mastercastbullets 140LTC-357 does about the same. If you have used 38 brass, look out for lightweight stuff from 148-gr DEWC bullseye loads. And do keep in mind that these loads are over the current SAMMI spec at 18,500. Speer used 20,000 for their basis.

FWIW, I've worn out no brass yet, and I am up to at least seven reloads on some of the 38 Starline brass. And, to be more precise, all Starline 38 Special brass is +P rated, but they also provide some specifically headstamped that way.

These are the loads (firmly crimped at upper cannelure, or about 1.445 and 1.440 respectively) that really are awfully close to the factory ammo.

Good luck, and keep us posted as you get going.

Jim H.

December 18, 2007, 10:41 PM
Jim, somehow I've forgot how to access the Hodgdon burn rate chart. I know you told me that it differs from Ramshot's. I use Ramshot's, but just about all of them differ, anyway. Mostly due to the way an individual company conducts their "Closed Bomb" test where nothing is actually exploded and powder combustion duration is timed. Ramshot rates True Blue close to V-V N350 and that's probably slower than I remember Hodgdon's rating being. In my experience in a number of different cartridges, I'd rate it right with V-V N340, or maybe one or two places lower. I think it will remind you of a slightly slower version of AA#5, and that, you should like. Metering will be very similar.

Silhouette in your experiments should prove to be very interesting. I've been thinking more about what powders to suggest for .38 +P start charges. 340 is V-V's answer to the "all-around powder" question.

Thanks for posting your #5 loads for KODB to consider. Any of these 4 powders will keep flash about as low as it will go for these loads.;)

December 18, 2007, 10:59 PM
CZ57--the reference points you provide here to V-V N340/N350 are good enough to get me started with True Blue, I suspect. I'm not in a hurry--at least until the powder and boxes arrive--so I'll do some more research for both of them.

Meanwhile, here's ( the link to the Hodgdon chart. It has "felt" about right to me so far. Without going into a lot of typing here, look at the positions on the two charts of A#5, for example, but then look at Power Pistol and Unique. In my experience, the Hodgdon positions make more sense--but I'm an amateur here.

Jim H.

December 19, 2007, 01:12 AM
You got me all wrong! The feel and PIO are the only things I'm worried about when making a replica load. I'm not going to carry the rounds I make, I'm going to use them for practice. I refuse to fire off 50 to 100 rounds of the Speer ammo at $1 a piece for practice but I will practice with the ones I make for pennies on the dollar as long as I can get them close to the originals. For me, the feel is everything.

WARNING, the numbers below may be over the SAAMI specs, use them at your own risk!
I'm using AA#5 (6.8gr to 7.0gr) to replicate the .38 Special +P Short Barrel rounds and Powder Pistol (8.8gr) to replicate the .357 Magnum SB rounds and both feel right.

December 19, 2007, 12:08 PM
I have about 6 or 7 "Burn Rate Charts" printed off and stuck in my reloading book. (3 ring binder) Some are just copies of others with a different layout and name at the top. The ones from powder companies and places like Varmint Al's etc differ a good bit where some powders are on the chart. Some, like AA #2, will jump around a LOT. Some always seem to be right about the same place in the various charts. Most charts have AA #2 "faster" than it acts in the real world.

Remember, burn rate charts are a guide only, and a loose one at that.

340 is V-V's answer to the "all-around powder" question.
It is versatile, but gives more velocity for the recoil than other powders where I have tried it. Other than that, it is a good powder, but since my old bones don't want any more recoil than needed any more, I have gotten away from trying it. I am sure there are applications where it shines, I just don't know what they are.

AA #5 is a great all around powder, and WSF is proving to be very similar in that respect. Both should work well to replicate recoil/velocity in 135 Gr .38 +P type loads. I am not suprised to hear ArchAngelCD having good success with AA#5 for that. I bet Competition would work as well, but don't know. It would be interesting to see. I believe it would match the velocity at least.

It might be fun to work up some loads like this in .38 brass and tested in my 2.5" .686. :D I have plenty of different powders on hand to try from .45 testing.

Here is a link to Ramshots burn rate chart (, which is one of the few places you'll see their powders listed.

Note where they have WSF compared to AA #5 vs Hodgdon's chart via the link above provided by jfh.

Interesting. That's one reason why they are merely a loose guide and not load info.

December 19, 2007, 04:08 PM
AA, I understand your reasons and I believe they are valid. Where we split may be based on the differing philosophies of handgunning in PA vs. TX.

To everyone: One thing you'll find common to the best factory defense loads like SPEER's Gold Dot and Rem. Golden Sabers and many others if they're worth using, is that the propellants are treated to reduce flash. It should also be reflected in the various load manuals. This is a subject that I have seen visited on many, many occasions. When I see guys pushing the idea that magnum powders are still the way to go in short barrel magnums, I pretty much dismiss their lack of experience. AA, I know you're NOT doing that, and I'm NOT advocating the use of handloads for defense. When you have a favorite powder that can be used to replicate feel, like Power Pistol, or its parent powder, Bullseye, and there's no way you would use a handload for defense, I say, go for it! My question is: are you really replicating a defense load if you haven't considered flash? BTW, I was using PP about as soon as it hit the market.

Some people believe that the laws down here are a bit lax. I believe we have the most common sense gun laws in the US. If someone threatens your life as defined by the Texas Penal Code, and you shoot them, worrying about the type of load you used is a non factor. AND, it has happened. So while I won't advocate, I will tell you this, if someone threatens the safety of my child, wife or myself in my state, I don't give even a little damn about the load in my pistol, so long as it does what it's supposed to do. I hope to never need to. I learned fairly early on as a handloader, that I could produce, at least, the best that any factory load can provide.

To me, the first step in a defensive mindset is knowing how to avoid trouble to begin with. I know the odds of success are very good, but they are not absolute. Neither are they absolute that you won't have a handload in your gun when it's needed most. Hunting is a different situation. You most likely will use a magnum powder for a handgun hunting load unless it's small game. I don't know of a state that allows handgun hunting at night, so flash is not a concern. There have been cases where hunters have run into the wrong party in the field and had to defend themselves. Powder choice wasn't a factor due to the conditions.

What I'm reading from the original thought of this thread is that someone may have considered that their handload may be what they have when a gun is needed, as well as the replication aspect. I know guys that use 4" revolvers in the field. I start with 6" barrels, myself, but I don't know anyone going afield to take deer or anything larger with a 3" barrel magnum. They may be carrying one as a companion to their rifle because they don't assume that because they're out of town, they're also absolutely free of danger. They may also take a similar approach to mine as far as having an easy packing handgun for Coupe de Gracie duty that they hope not to need. (I like my version better then the French)

I most often associate 3" or shorter barreled revolvers with defense. There are powders that will cover all the bases, a select few, and I use them for defense cartridge loading. I like the sports of bullseye shooting and IPSC/IDPA, but I'd have to drive a very long way to compete in either, so I don't. What I do, is try to develop handloads for defense pistols that are match grade. I don't build target loads for 9mm. I build defense loads that are match accurate. I won't use anything faster than Unique (although I don't use it for this) for loading the .40 S&W if pressure's are going to be above the 30,000 PSI level. Glocks are not the only issue in the Ka-boom phenomenon. Many don't understand the pressure curve aspect when loading it and don't understand the concept that the .40 is a naturally fast pressure peaking cartridge. Most are now familiar with the concept of chamber support. Besides that, True Blue and Silhouette have given me the best accuracy, along with a CZ 75B, that I've ever had with the cartridge. I have carried the .45 ACP for defense purposes. I don't today, but there are few rounds I enjoy shooting more than the slow thumper.

In a pure defensive sense, I don't believe there will ever be a better defensive handgun than a 3" .357 Magnum if you have the ability to shoot it accurately in DA mode. Many feel pretty good about it with a good +P .38 Special load. I really like a combination of both, but that's another thread and definitely not for the inexperienced. Taking things a step further in finding a great powder to go either way, the choices fall into a much smaller window. I won't use a flake powder in either case. I want minimum flash. I also want the highest velocity possible for terminal performance provided accuracy compliments it. Factory level is minimum. In short, I want a low flash ball type powder. Many years of experience have led me to this conclusion as well as a considerable amount of night shooting. Okay, maybe our range rules are a bit lax.

I know I'm boring some to tears with my long winded diatribe, but if their still reading . . . who's to blame?

I want to make some final points. Walkalong has hypothesized about the relevance of fine grained, dense spherical propellants to ballistic uniformity through metering. I believe it has great merit. You will not find low flash powders commercially available that are not sherical and dense unless it is a very low pressure load. He also mentioned that burn rate charts are a guide, and not gospel. I agree completely. There are plenty of powders that will provide paradox to burn rate charts. One of my favorite examples is AA#5. It will be as fast as rated in some cartridges, but slower than it's rating in just as many. #5 is a top choice to meet the aspects of the thread. I like True Blue a bit better than #5 for it, but that's a personal preference. I like several others as well.

JFH is doing more work here than any of us are, currently. I find his conclusions much to my liking.

Thanks for the links to the burn rate charts, guys! I took the time to download them so I don't continually have to go to a website to see them. Independent burn rate charts are purely interpretation in most cases. I don't know many guys equipped to do closed bomb testing. They base their charts on their personal experience. Some of it is valid, some dismissable. I suggest that if you are into burn rate charts, you follow WA's advice, then look hardest at those who have actually done closed bomb testing. Beware, the results will be different there as well.;)

December 19, 2007, 04:58 PM
I have never understood why there were not more powders like AA #2. Tiny round balls instead of "flake" and "flattened" ball powders. More even metering, period. They have the technology to manage the burn rate by ways other than just surface area and deterents.

Yea, I know, Flake powders are generally bulkier and fill space better.

For someone like me who likes to shoot long distance, good numbers help.

December 19, 2007, 06:17 PM
But you're on it, WA, with #2 and True Blue. The smaller round balls are going to pack more uniformly than other sphericals that are flattened. Either will meter more uniformly than flake unless the flakes are very fine and dense. Not usually mutual in the case of flake. I should point out that several of the V-V powders are not as dense because of composition, but they do an excellent job with flash retardants. Anything near or above 900 grams/liter is truly dense. AA#5 is 950 grams/liter, True Blue is 935. Very close. The densest handgun powder available is AA#7 at 985 grams/liter.

Silhouette is dense enough at 800, and I promise I'll compare 3N37 because I believe it will be very close to 800 as well. Accurate weighs by grams per cc. Same thing but divide grams/liter by 1000.;)

December 19, 2007, 07:41 PM
Alright, while you guys were chattering away, I tried to do some research, a la Google...

1. Here's ( a PDF link to a Smokeless Powder Density chart. I have no idea of its quality--I've just located it.

2. Here's ( another PDF link to the LEE VMD chart.

3. And here's ( a link to a discussion here, mostly comparing BP and SP, in which some of these terms are discussed--I think.

Finally, Here's ( a link to an article on internal ballistics I am printing to read. I have no idea of the quality; maybe someone else will comment.

Will someone please review the difference between the (LEE) VMD list and the typical "Density" CZ57 has identified and which some manufacturers provide?

I don't care which one--but it would be interesting to put a Density / VMD rating into a handy chart, wouldn't it? I think I will try to do that, since I am building an Excel workbook with various reloading information for my "38 / 357 short barrel reloading project.

If anyone else has / can find a link to other VMD and / or density lists / tables, please e-mail them to me, or post them here.

Jim H.

December 19, 2007, 07:45 PM
Thanks again guys! I usually buy the majority of my components from Grafs as well; just got in 32# of various rifle and pistol powders this week. I guess another order is in the wind.
Regarding PA gun laws; we have decent carry laws and outside of the larger metro areas I do not believe there is any great fear of getting screwed because of the load you used IF the shooting was justified. I cannot comment further on the Philly or "downstate" areas because I live up in the northwest mountains.


December 19, 2007, 09:30 PM
KODB, beautiful country! I've been there. The best advice is always wait until your attorney is present to make any statement whatsoever after a defense shooting has occurred. This is a case where "don't ask, don't tell" is the best policy.

Jim, that is just outstanding. I've copied it. I encourage everyone to do the same and learn to use it.

Okay, definitions. First the chart from the link JFH provided is in GRAINS. I usually list grams per liter, or grams per cc. The chart will simplify things for those opposed to the metric system.

In any case, what I'm referring to is BULK density when I say 935 grams per liter, or whatever.

Volumetric density is the amount/percentage of a cubic centimeter that one Grain of powder occupies. Here's an example with the powders mentioned by Walkalong.

AA#2 VMD: .0838 cc/grain BD: 11.933 grains/cc

TB VMD: .0693 cc/grain BD 14.430 grains/cc

AA#2 will give greater case fill per grain of powder, it's 83% as dense as True Blue. This is what WA was describing with Flake powders. They give higher case fill per grain because their bulk density is much lower and VMD is higher. They are more prone to flashing because of their lack of density.

Accurate rates #2 Improved at .100 cc/grain. I believe the chart is using the former AA#2.

Turns out that 3N37 is 89% as dense as Silhouette. I thought that 3N37 would be closer to Sil. 3N37 has a bulk density of 10.953 grains per cc, Silhouette is 12.436 grains per cc.

This is also why flake powders are much more compressable and not as great a deterrent to bullet set-back as a dense ball powder that is slow enough to provide 100% load density. This is where I like to be with high pressure autoloading cartridges and it isn't easy to do. The 9mm and AA#7 is one of the best examples I can think of. VMD is lower at .0653, but bulk density is the highest at 15.314 and the least compressable powder you could choose. It's slower burn rate will allow higher charges to get 100% load density, sometimes slightly greater. In other words, a bullet can't set back because it has no place to go. I believe it is one of the safest bets for those who do seek to build +P level loads in 9mm.

I know we're talking about revolvers here, and some don't believe the rifle reloading principle carries over. I believe it does in how it relates to getting extremely low standard deviation and hopefully, better accuracy. We're not going to get there with the kinds of loads we're talking about for defense, but if you're building a super stopper hunting load, you might want to consider it when selecting a powder slow enough to provide magnum velocity. That's another thread yet, but if you're a big fan of H110, take a look at how it compares to L'il Gun.

Hopefully, this will all help folks understand why denser ball type, or spherical powders meter better.

Now, Jim, the burn rate portion looks suspiciously like it came from Ramshot!;)

Just in case anybody is wondering, shouldn't powders that are identical have the same VMD and Bulk density? If this list is from Ramshot, it is a few years old, but the burn rate chart is the one I use. I will concede that since Hodgdon bought Winchester Powders that they may indeed have Primex putting the same powder in two different cannisters, but I don't believe it's always been that way.

December 19, 2007, 10:48 PM
OK, I'm back--just took time to watch the shooting channel (Bianchi Cup) and got to see somebody from the AMU doing 1-second tactical reloads with a semi-auto....

At any rate: CZ57, the English Teacher in me is coming out: You say initially that "...the chart Jim provided..." and I say, indefinite antecedent! Which chart? the first one, from, or the Lee VMD chart? Spell it out so we are all thinking the same way / looking at the same kind of values as we continue to discuss.

Obviously, grams and grains are quite different in 'weight'--and I want to be precise here--IOW, is "gr." the abbreviation for gram? If you would put that down here, we'll have it straight once and for all--and we'll have a reference to it.

I can work in either metric or "English," but I sure think about loading charge weights in grains. As far as 'intuitively' sensing weight per a given volume, I'm indifferent--others may be less so. (If there are any European / metric users here, feel free to chime in with any helpful comments.)

Do any of the reloading stickys at the top have reference to these definitions? If not, we probably should get them in somewhere.

Now I'm back to adding these charts' values to the Excek workbook page.

Jim H.

December 19, 2007, 11:31 PM
Well this has been a interesting read :confused: I have not shot the Speer G dot SB and I feel uncomfortable that a English Major is on board :eek: but I must chime in :) I have a Ruger Security Six with a 2.75" Barrel and I can't find a AA#7 load that works well in it. As for stiff loads with 158 and 180grn jacketed bullets AA#9 and Blue Dot has given me excellent results, and for reduced and target loads Bullseye and AA#5 have provided excellent results as well.
But thats just me.

There's a right way to do stuff, and then there's the way I do it. :)

December 19, 2007, 11:53 PM
stay with us, jibjab--we need all the layman's input we can get if we're going to get educated on short barrel stuff.

Have you chrono'd any of your 2.75" barrel cartridges? And, try driving #5 harder; it seems to work just fine for my '357-lite' (WSP, 140LTC, 8.0 gr #5= 900 fps) 2" barrel stuff. The AA 2004 pdf data has some high-test loads, right out to about 43,000, IIRC.

Jim H.

December 20, 2007, 12:24 AM
I have to believe that a '0' was dropped.

IOW, the VMD should be .0844 with a density of 11.904

FWIW, I just charted Hodgdon's powders 21-39 (typically ones from the Speer 38 / 357 - GDSB 135-gr load data sheets) and listed BDs (bulk density), or grains / litre with them. (In the WSF example above, the BD would be 1190.)

Since I am not familiar with many different powders, does someone have / can create a list of powder types, especially for those (Hodgdon) powders 21-39?

Jim H.

December 20, 2007, 12:32 AM
Chrono :confused: I use a range finder, if I can hit a bird in the eye flyin at 50 yrds I caller good. Sorry I'm in just one of those moods :confused: the dog is 14 yrs old and she is having problems, things are up and down right now, sorry if I seem more off lately :(

December 20, 2007, 04:41 PM
It doesn't help that I said, "First the chart", instead of, "The first chart." So, I am glad we have an English Teacher around here. I don't know if you got the chart at Ramshot's website, but the burn rate portion of it definitely looks like their own. Most of the bulk density ratings I've seen, either use grams/liter, or grams/cc. The first chart shows bulk density in Grains/cc and volumetric density as cc/Grain. A comparison of the LEE VMD chart isn't necessary because everything you need is in the "First" chart. Unfortunately, the abbreviation "gr" is used for both grains and grams. All of the weights shown in the "First Chart" are in GRAINS.

JJ, it's disappointing to hear you couldn't find a good load with #7. 11.2 grains with the Rem. 140 gr. JHP, CCI-500 and Starline .357 cases works very well for me, but that was in a 4" M19. It is a bit slow for .38 +P loads and I believe Accurate omits it for that reason. I think it can be used for the dual purpose application we're discussing here, but the .38 +P loads will have to be "warm" before any appreciable result is achieved, and there are other powders that will do both that have plenty of data listed for them, as well. 3N37 is probably the slowest powder I'd use of those that have been discussed. As far as full magnum loads, Blue Dot was always one of my favorites, but I really like #9. As far as the topic goes, where we're looking at replication loads with both calibers, and keeping flash to a minimum, that rules out Blue Dot for me, as well as any other flake powder. Not that I don't use them, I just don't use them for this application. It's like I said before, if you feel sure that you'll never use a handload for defense, or shoot at night, you can replicate the feel of a defense load with any number of powders. If you want to keep flash to a minimum, like your factory should, the powder choices are slimmer pickens.;)

December 20, 2007, 05:03 PM
I have also moved the RAMSHOT Burn Rate Chart and that Density chart (the relevant part, at least) into my Excel "Burn Rates worksheet.

I've then massaged it slightly by creating new tables:

1. sorted by Hodgon Burn rate
2. sorted by Ramshot Burn rate
3. Hodgdon Burn rate sorted by BD, and
4. Ramshot Burn rate sorted by BD.

The result is that the RAMSHOT / tacticool order as modified in 4 starts to 'make sense.'--gotta digest it more, but I think it correlates
better with my field experiences and chrono testing.

I think the last qualifier should be "granule type"--how should we characterize granules? "Very fine ball", "fine ball", flake, coarse flake, that sort of thing?

How about "flash level?" another qualifier?

Of the Hodgdon Burn Rate powders 21-39, what kind of powders are they? How about Silhouette and True Blue, which aren't on the Hodgon chart?

If someone will tell me which powders are "very fine ball," "fine ball" etc., of those powders 21-39, I think we might have some real value in identified short barrel loads.

This project fits nicely into the photo editing I am doing for Christmas presents--I can only stand one activity for so long, then I switch to the other--

Jim H.

December 20, 2007, 05:22 PM
Jim, the conversion multiplier for Grams to Grains is 15.43, so you can confirm my statement. When I first looked at chart #1, something didn't look right on the bulk density side, and mainly due to the "gr" abbreviation, so I did check it.

For instance, Ramshot rates True Blue at .935 grams/cc (935 grams/liter). Multiply GRAMS by 15.43 and you get 14.427 GRAINS/cc. Referring to the chart, bulk density is listed at 14.430. .003 variation, easily explainable by the two decimal place multiplier.;)

December 20, 2007, 05:44 PM
CZ57, thank you for your explanations--it makes sense, and you saved me some effort right now at tracking the conversions down.

It seems to me that expressing the BD as GRAINS / cc, or possibly GRAINS / ltr makes the most sense to English-measurement-system reloaders.

Update: I just check definitions of "g" and "gr" online. The Free Dictionary does show that "g" is the accepted / dictionary definition of the metric 'gram' measurement.

However, to chase down the usage of "gr"--hoping that accepted usage was for our / reloader's definition, I had to go to the full word "grain"--there, it shows that "gr" has no standardized usage (typically, they associate it with 'grade') and that among the associations it is based in the avordupois measurement system--which has drams, which is how it gets over into reloading.

So, for conventions here, I propose we use "g" for grams, and "gr." for grains.

Jim H.

Jim H.

December 20, 2007, 08:04 PM

Works for me! It's one reason I used bold type when I typed the terms on several occasions. It can be confusing. You'd think the powder people would know that. But I can't complain; that is one useful chart!;)

December 25, 2007, 07:15 PM
I have a Ruger Security Six with a 2.75" Barrel and I can't find a AA#7 load that works well in it.
JJ, it's disappointing to hear you couldn't find a good load with #7.
I have loaded 158gr Rem.JHPs w/10.4gr of AA#7 and WSP with very good results in a 4" Colt Trooper, I will try these in the Ruger. The loads I tried in the Ruger were 10.6-11.2 of #7 the bullets were 158gr JHPs of unknown origin 69739 I have had good results in the Ruger using AA#9 and these bullets so it seemed easy to right off #7, but AA#7 seems like a better choice in a 2.75" barrel with 158gr jacketed bullets.

December 27, 2007, 08:12 AM
Personal favorite handloaded reproduction of factory Rem 357 mag 125 GS uses AA-7, from Sierra's listed accuracy load for 125 jhp.

Rem 357 GS over 12.1 grains AA-7, Fed small pistol MAG primer, very hard LFC, 1.585 COL for 1330 fps from S&W M28 4 incher. (nickeled Win 357 mag brass). This load has been very accurate in all 357's tried so far.

Have tried V V N-350 under Speer's 135 gdhp for smaller snub 357 mags.
7.5 grains N-350 with Fed 100 primer gave 1040 fps from S&W M66 2 1/2 incher, with excellent accuracy. (Win 357 mag brass)

Very generally speaking have had very good success with AA-7 in 357 mag , with the Fed mag primer. It does not appear capable of the velocitys gotten with the slowest burners, but significantly less flash and boom.

Really like the VV powders tried, however the accuracy seems to drop off substancially when getting close to max loads. The ones tried , do seem to have much less flash than some other powders.

January 3, 2008, 09:53 PM
Thanks for those comments!

Will begin with std. primers and mag. primers when loading faster burning powder. Also, I'm leaning toward loading more of the .357 mag. cases (and hopefully the .38 +P soon after).

January 4, 2008, 08:06 AM
Well, now that the Holidays are over, I am back at working on the 38+P / 357-lite reloading project.

This topic's various discussions have been the most valuable we've done so far, IMO. The various contributors here have added to my knowledge on this little niche of reloading.

I suggest we all bookmark this thread (I assume most of us do get routinely notified), and we make a point to contribute any new findings. Speaking for myself--I suspect more chrono information simply will be another three to four months off--e.g., 'after winter.' Meanwhile, I will gather subjective recoil data and accuracy testing during the indoor range practice time.

Meanwhile, following CZ57's comments, I've picked up Ramshot Silhouette and Vihtavuori N340 to explore. I've also "fiddled a bit" with Burn Rate Charts to index powders by density as well as by burn rate in charts from both Ramshot and Hodgdon. I have no conclusions on this fiddling yet.

Anyone else have anything to contribute for 'sub-topic' testing? Maybe CZ57 (or others) can contribute a summary comment about this work.

Jim H.

January 5, 2008, 10:16 AM
I picked up Speer 14 yesterday.

The data they provided in the earlier *.PDF data sheets for loading the GDSB135JHP bullet (Speer PN 4014) has been expanded and includes actual 2" barrel tests in both 38 and 357. They also include SB test data for the GDSB110JHP (Speer PN 4009) in standard 38 Special loadings.

The recipes are ranked by velocity, not by Burn Rate, charge size, or whatever.

The revolvers used were a S&W M15 / 2" for the 38 Special and 38+P loads, and a M19 / 2.5" for the 357 Magnum loads.

The 38 Special / 110-gr standard pressures include ten different powders--with that bullet, 6.8 gr. of AA#5 gave 860 (that's the highest starting charge velocity) and ends at 7.2 / 900. The fastest recipe was 5.8 gr. of Unique (max), averaging 936 from the M15 / 2".

The 38+P / 110-gr. loads show 6.3 gr. of Unique (max) at 976 as the fastest. AA#5, at 6.9 gr. max was right behind at 969.

In addition to the 38+P / 135-gr. PDF recipes--which, you may recall, were from a 6" barrel, they now list M15 / 2" velocities with those same charges. According to this testing, MAX charge velocities were topped by AA#7 at 882; AA#5 was right behind at 878, and PP max was 845.

They still use 20,000 as the 38+P max pressure.

All the 38 Special charges use standard primers.

For 357 magnum, they did NOT follow their GDSB-135 gr. recipe--e.g., to max out at appr. 1000 fps: they report AA#9 at a MAX of 15.5 gr doing 1258 with the GDSB135JHP. The 6" barrel PDF data is there, but the notes about what powders (e.g., V.3N37, etc.) will get the 135-gr to 1000 fps in a 2" barrel are not included. Only H-110 and 296 recipes require magnum primers.

All in all, this is an expansion of the SB recipes, just not nearly enough (IMO).

It also shows two results I was not expecting--that AA#7 in the 38+P / 135-gr. load was the fastest--see CZ57's and my discussion of this on page 1. As you may recall, I found no chrono results over 800 fps with AA#7, and that was from both a M&P340 and 640 (two different 2" barrel guns). And, I am quite surprised at the 38+P / 135-gr PP results in the 2" barrel: that is contrary to what both ArchAngelCD and I experience.

It is nice to see the 110-gr GDSB recipes added for 38 Special. I'd be real curious to see gelatin tests of the max 38 standard-pressure (17,000) 110-gr round. IOW, how does the 38 Spl AA#5 / 110-gr. load at 900 fps perform, compared to the 38+P AA#5 / 135-gr (my chrono, 860 fps) performance?

I'm still checking this post for typos--do not use these loads yet, unless you independently verify them.

Jim H.

January 25, 2008, 09:35 PM
Per CZ57's recommendations, I worked up some loads using RamShot's True Blue. I've also e-mailed them requesting more data if they have it available.

Here's some observations about the experience so far:

1. True Blue meters extremely well in my Lee Pro Auto Disk mounted on my Lee turret. I was quite surprised at this, given how fine True Blue and given the problems I have with AA#7 leaking. It flows smoothly, and is easy to tweak to .1-.2 gr. increments.

2. It was extremely accurate, with a POA that shifted only slightly, over a 1.0+ gr load range. Quite frankly, I've never seen such a broad-based sweet spot. Historically, a broad base for a sweet spot has indicated low SDs / EDs to me--but chrono testing is at least three months away.

3. Other characteristics--a full recoil, with no harshness / quickness in it. When measured against my reference 'replica load' of AA#5 under the 140LTC, it felt a bit more full, and may be harder recoiling--kind of like N350.

The recipe for that '357 light' load appears to be similar to AA#5s in weight; more testing is needed. Given its lower cost, it is more economical to shoot.

Jim H.

January 25, 2008, 11:49 PM
Jim, here's some info from another thread that might be useful on Silhouette. Glad to hear that TB worked so well for you. It is a phenomenal powder.;)

January 26, 2008, 12:13 AM
"...Jim, here's some info from another thread...."

Well? Well? :D

Jim H.

January 26, 2008, 12:15 AM
duplicate. I wish that David could find this unresponsive posting problem and fix it--

Jim H.

January 26, 2008, 08:59 AM
I do not understand why the powder companys do not make more powders like AA #2 and True Blue. ROUND, not flattened ball. (heck, it starts out that way anyway, round that is)

They flow through meters like water and do not leak, from some measures, like some razor thin flattened ball powders. I like the fact that AA#2 is grey and easily seen in the case as well. I have no dought that they both tend to give great ES & SD's is because they meter so consistentently. I have shot a lot of AA 2 and it always gives good numbers. I have limited experience with True Blue, but it has given good numbers for me as well.

jfh: I have had very good luck with AA #5 in .357 "lite" loads, so I am not suprised True Blue is looking good for it as well. Another one that does great for .357 "not quite as lite" loads is Universal Clays.

January 26, 2008, 09:38 AM
Walkalong, I just sent you an e-mail--do you have the Speer PDF files?

Jim H.

January 26, 2008, 04:17 PM
Oops, my bad:;

January 26, 2008, 05:18 PM
email returned

I wish that David could find this unresponsive posting problem and fix itYep, it's gotten me a time or two as well. :)

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