Smith and wesson and heavy loads


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sam700
March 4, 2008, 01:21 AM
I've always heard that Smith and Wesson revolvers weren't meant to take full power loads, but was always wondering why. I'm curious as to which component are heavy loads likely to wear excessively on.

Would a 270 grain bullet at approx 1300 fps be excessive on a 5 inch 629 (20 grains of H110)? I asked a similar question a while ago, but never got a clear answer.

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ArchAngelCD
March 4, 2008, 01:30 AM
Many shooters think all S&W revolvers are weak because of the damage that was being done to K frame .357 Magnum revolvers by shooting 125gr Bullets instead of 158gr bullets which it was designed to shoot. The only problem erosion was the forcing because of the velocity achieved from the light bullets. This does not translate into all S&W revolver being weak, especially the Model 629. Any round that is within SAAMI specs is safe to shoot in your S&W revolver. That load above is just barely above the current starting load for a 270gr bullet and H110 so load them up and go out and shoot them!!.

Majic
March 4, 2008, 01:57 AM
It's not the K-frame story but how the N-frame didn't hold up to the silhoulette shooters with their max 300+ grain loads. The N-frame has since been enhanced to cure some of it's problems but it still is not as strong as some other big bores. Remember the N-frame started life out as a .44 spl and was beefed up to be a .44 magnum.
A 270 grainer shouldn't give a N-frame in good shape much trouble. It's when you get to the 300 grainers they can become stressed.

RobertFBurnett
March 4, 2008, 02:19 AM
Many shooters think all S&W revolvers are weak because of the damage that was being done to K frame .357 Magnum revolvers by shooting 125gr Bullets instead of 158gr bullets which it was designed to shoot.
+1 to that, it has also been brought up in the past that since reloaders have that extra "Ruger Only" column Smiths are automatically weaker. I don't consider my Remington 1100 12 gauge "weaker" than my Winchester 1300 12 gauge just because the Winchester also takes 3" shells. :)

My $0.02
RFB

Triple S
March 4, 2008, 04:45 AM
I don't know if it's bad luck or what, but after 15-20 Garrett 310 grain Hammerheads through my 629, the cylinder release fell off. I have never had this happen before shooting up to 300 grain bullets, but when I stepped up to the full powder loads, the release fell off. Luck or not, it happened. It was an easy fix with a little lok-tite, but it made me wonder about the frame on my S&W with "full" power loads.

GJgo
March 4, 2008, 07:14 AM
I have a relatively new 629 classic, I run handloaded 240gr XTP at 1400 fps out of its 7" barrel. Seems fine so far!

BlindJustice
March 4, 2008, 08:34 AM
Quote:
Many shooters think all S&W revolvers are weak because of the damage that was being done to K frame .357 Magnum revolvers by shooting 125gr Bullets instead of 158gr bullets which it was designed to shoot

I would debate this point.

The original K-frame originated in 1899, chambered for the
.38 Special. The .357 Magnum was first chambered in the N-frame
in 1935. Bill Jordan championed the K-frame in .357 Magnum as
a lighter carry weapon for LEOs. After some time it was found if the
MOdel 19 was fed a steady diet of full house .357 Magnum they would
shoot loose after 5,000 rounds. Why is the blame being put on the 125
gr. JHP loading? In a gun review/test by a gun writer with the introduction
of the Titanium cylinder S&Ws, the gun writer stated S&W advises with a
327PD to not use bullet weights heavier than 125 gr. If you do you risk a
bulged cylinder or worse. This is backed up with the other poster poining out
the N-frame in .44 Mag. has problems once the really heavy 300 gr. hot louds
are used. Fire a 125 gr. JHP full house in .357 Mag and then shoot the full
house 158 gr. and which one is going to recoil more - the heavier bullet given equal pressure.

In my 625 .45 ACP, 230 gr. Speer GD JHP have more felt recoil than 185 gr. GD JHPs. But some ideas get in brains and there's no changing them even
with the advice of the manufacturer.

BlindJustice
March 4, 2008, 09:27 AM
S&W frames and the move to Magnums
I may be off by a year or so.... but here goes.
K-frame
38 SPecial 1899
.357 Magnum Post 1957
L-frame
.357 Magnum Early 1980s
J-frame
.38 Special Post-WWII
J-Frame Magnum
.357 Magnum 1996
N-Frame
.44 Special 1908
.45 ACP 1917 (45 Auto Rim 1920 )
.38 Special High Velocity Early 1930s
it was a predeccsor to +P
.357 Magnum 1935
.44 Magnum 1957
.41 Magnum 1969
10MM Early 1980s

SAAMI pressure ratings
.38 Special 19,000 PSI
.38 SPecial +P 21,000 pSI
.45 ACP 21,000 PSI
.45 ACP +P 23,000 PSI

THe Magnums are in the 35,000 - 40,000 PSI range

I think my 625 will have a long trouble free life, even with
some hot .45 AUto RIm loads

Use ammo appropriate for the design, and with some
S&Ws use some lighter loads, the Magnums with the exception
of the.41 have .38 and .44 SPecial for SD/HD for quicker
ctrolled fire.

ArchAngelCD
March 4, 2008, 09:38 AM
BlindJustice,
You can dispute my point all you want but it's still fact.
First off, I specifically mentioned forcing cone erosion.
Secondly, I was talking about K frame revolver that most people would know about, not revolver from over 100 years ago.

The Model 19 you speak of was designed when most rounds were topped with a 158gr bullet that traveled between 1400 and 1500 fps. Those revolvers did fine with those rounds, it was when 125gr bullets became popular the troubles began. Those screamers were pushed to over 1900 fps and it took it's toll on the forcing cone and the revolver overall. That's why the L frame was designed and replaced the K frame.

This isn't a contest, just the facts. I know there are other factors that contribute to the bad reputation of S&W Magnum revolvers but the one I mentioned has the lions share of the blame and is accurate. (although in my first post I wrote the word "forcing" but left out "cone" but it should be obvious forcing cone is what I meant since I didn't leave out the word erosion.)

BTW, your SAAMI specs are off for both the .38 Special and .38 Special +P. Current SAAMI limits are 17,000 PSI and 18,500 PSI respectively. (although most people go with the old limit for the .38 Special +P of 20,000 PSI but not 21,000 PSI) The limit for the .357 Magnum is 35,000 PSI, not 40,000 PSI.

Feanaro
March 4, 2008, 09:42 AM
I've always heard that Smith and Wesson revolvers weren't meant to take full power loads

I wouldn't characterize the "Ruger Only" loads as "full power loads," as that implies they are the standard... which they aren't. Smith and Wesson revolvers will fire standard power loads just fine. It's the hot-rodded, max pressure stuff that should be reserved for Ruger revolvers.

Deer Hunter
March 4, 2008, 09:48 AM
If you have enough money and time to fire x amount of rounds through an S&W revolve (new model) to do it damage, kudos to you. However, the difference between round count of an S&W revolver and a ruger revolver is astronomically small.

In other words, Take a new S&W 629 and a Ruger .44 mag. If the S&W breaks six rounds before a Ruger, oh well. I bet your wallet broke way before either revolver did, though.

ArchAngelCD
March 4, 2008, 10:01 AM
I bet your wallet broke way before either revolver did, though.
Deer Hunter,
Even before the ammo prices went crazy no truer words have ever been spoken about those 2 revolvers... :) (our poor wallets!!)

RobertFBurnett
March 4, 2008, 10:08 AM
Deer Hunter,
Even before the ammo prices went crazy no truer words have ever been spoken about those 2 revolvers... (our poor wallets!!)
Part of the reason I got a 9mm earlier this year, helps strreeeetch out your range day $. Heck the other day I took the ranges rental .22s out for a spin just to spend only $7.00 for some trigger time.

No ammo can keep going up, its the gas that gets us, I worry for those lucky sons of guns that have ranges on their property, can you imagine taking a 10 min walk around the hill, putting on eyes and ears and calling range hot at will? Ahhh a man can dream. :)

RFB

ArchAngelCD
March 4, 2008, 10:21 AM
A range on my property is a dream that will never come true. Even though I live in a small town my home is within the City limits so shooting is a no-no...

Snapping Twig
March 4, 2008, 10:45 AM
You can shoot any SAMMI approved rounds in a Smith - no problem whatsoever.

The section of your reloading manual marked "Ruger and TC only" is literally over pressure rounds that are not considered to be within SAAMI specifications.

The fact that certain firearms are able to withstand these extreme pressure rounds has no bearing on S&W pistol's abilities to fire full power magnums.

You can fire 300+ grain bullets out of a S&W with the understanding that the powder charge conforms to SAAMI pressures for the cartridge.

jgo296
March 4, 2008, 10:45 AM
i thought the little scandium 357's had a minimum bullet weight something about the lightest bullets jump the crimp too fast and expel burning gasses where they need not be

BlindJustice
March 4, 2008, 11:14 AM
y'all stay up late - sheeish I'm PST

Yeah, Ammo prices - shopping for a 9mm myself.

Methinks ArchANgel is quoting velocities out of barrel
lengths longer than a 4" LEO carry gun. The only reason the
158 gr. bullet weight was used was Lee Jurras at Super Vel
didn't start that til the late 1960s, then it still took
15 or more years to start getting some reliable JHPs created.

I agree we disagree

sam700
March 4, 2008, 12:33 PM
Sounds like I'm pretty safe then. Thanks for all the input!

BlindJustice
March 4, 2008, 12:47 PM
Seems with the K-frame, ArchAngelCD & RobertFBurnett, there's a
bit of truth in both arguments with the use of .357 Mag loads on this
platform.

http://www.lesjones.com/posts/003804.shtml

Do either of you have a source for your argument?
I searched for Parts 1-6 but only found Part 5 about
barrel lengths. Anyone know if Barrel length would be
related to forcing cone erosion with lighter bullet weights
in the N-Frame? I'm not sure if it does, since the snubbies
have this issue with 110 gr. bullets - perhaps it is more the
type of powder, slow vs faster burning?


As far as number of rounds fired - I've been putting
about 200 rds a month through my 625 That's,
well do the Math. In a few years it'll be over 5K but
I doubt there will be any issues.

FYI - IT got a Master Revolver Action Job ($ 125 ) at the
S&W Perf. Center for it's 2007 xmas present Everyone
who has handled it rave about the trigger action. Now my
L-frame is giving me "that look," if you know what
I mean.

R-

harmonic
March 4, 2008, 12:52 PM
My 629-1 noticeably loosened up after about 1000 midrange loads.

They really aren't as massive as, say, the Ruger 44s and don't hold up as well. I've owned Super Blackhawks, Redhawks, and a Super Redhawk. The Rugers take the heaviest loads made and just smile.

Smith isn't a "fragile" gun, but it's not as durable as some. And full charge magnum loads in the 44s wear it out quite a bit faster.

Chester32141
March 4, 2008, 01:29 PM
On the question of loads in a Smith and Wesson ... I have a Model 37 Airweight 3.5" barrel ... looks to be unfired ... I picked up a case of cowboy loads to break it in gently ... would firing 4-5 rounds of +Ps hurt it ... That's what I load for home defense or should I use the cowboy loads for defense too ...

Chester

rcmodel
March 4, 2008, 01:47 PM
A limited diet of +p won't hurt any modern S&W J-Frame.

Practice with standard pressure all you want, and carry +P.
It will not hurt a thing to shoot a few now & then.

Some 15 years ago or more, Shooting Times magazine did a 5,000 round torture test on a pair of S&W Airweight's using +P ammo.

At the end of the test, they could detect no measurable change in either gun.

rcmodel

BlindJustice
March 4, 2008, 05:13 PM
There was some demarcation on S&Ws and .38 SPcl. +P as a no no
that may be mid-50s or something. The current catalogue does specify
whether S&W rates a .38 Spcl chambered revolver as +P capable.
I would like to find a Model 15 in great shape and shoot .38 Spcl +P all the
time - no problem with that


Rant on...

I think SAAMI is idiotic rating the .45 Auto RIm at 14,000 PSI which is the
same level they rate .44 Special, .45 Colt. as well as .38-40 and other cartridges which originated in the Black Powder Pre-Smokeless powder modern era. the .45 Auto Rim came into being in 1920 and designed for
smokeless powder from int's inception. IT was chambered in the large frame revolvers - S&W N-frame and the Colt New Service. Therre's always the
excuse SAAMI has of not upping the PSI rating because of old balloon head cases - I don't think Rem-Peters ever created any .45 Auto RIm with that
kinda brass but it was stuck in stone, a soft lead RN bullet at 25 fps less than the regular .45 ACP FMJ load. So, now Rem. Fed. WW and Speer doesn't
load it and smaller manufacturers like Buffalo Bore, DOuble Tap GA etc simply
ignore the SAAMI rating and punch it up to .45 ACP levels.

I have a source for .45 Auto Rim
185 gr. Golden Saber @ 1,050 FPS as well as
225 gr. Barnes XPB HP @ 900+ FPS

I don't believe it's straining my 625 heck the same
company offers the 185 gr. GS at 50 FPS higher
velocity.

ok, rant off....

At least CorBon submitted their .400 CorBon cartridge to
SAAMI and it's rated at 23,000 PSI same as .45 ACP +P

I'm not sure if that means anything at all - handloaders and
companies will load to the velocities or near there that CorBon
originally came out with or until primers flatten and they have
to back off.... but it's a moot point to a certain degree since it
isn't a Revolver cartridge. Yet... hey,there's always yets, right?

R-

unspellable
March 5, 2008, 02:17 PM
Many factors enter into how fast a revolver wears, it's not simply pressure. A weak point in the S&W is the means of limiting forward travel of the cylinder. The tail of the yoke bears on the bottom of the cylinder well. The yoke tail has something of an edge so the stress is concentrated at this point and results in rapid wear. On the other hand the old style Colt lock work concentrated stress on the tip of the hand. Neither of these issues have anything to do with erosion which is usually a question of what sort of load is in use. The S&W will take as much pressure as a Ruger without catastrophic failure, but with overly heavy loads it will go loose quicker. (By actual destructive testing, a S&W N frame 45 Colt cylinder and a Ruger Blackhawk 45 Colt cylinder both came unglued at around 60,000 cup. But in actual practice you will have a multitude of other problems before you get to60,000 cup.

pinkymingeo
March 5, 2008, 05:05 PM
When I read threads like this I wonder what on earth I'm gonna shoot with a handgun that a 240-250gr bullet at 1200fps won't kill. For that matter, a 250 at 950fps will kill most anything. I've never been a fan of very heavy loads in the major calibers. Just don't see the point.

sam700
March 5, 2008, 10:47 PM
Just out of curiosity when you say loose, you're talking about the groups opening up as a result of erosion in the forcing cone?

pinkymingeo
March 6, 2008, 05:34 AM
What's generally meant is increased endshake and less precise lockup. These things are easily fixed by a competent gunsmith.

harmonic
March 6, 2008, 11:18 PM
Just out of curiosity when you say loose, you're talking about the groups opening up as a result of erosion in the forcing cone?

If you take a revolver, cock it, then pull the trigger with your thumb on the hammer. Lower the hammer with your finger still on the trigger. With the hammer down onto the frame and your finger still on the trigger, use your off hand an gently try to wiggle the cylinder. That's the way us old timers check the lockup and timing, because that will be the state/condition whenever you pull the trigger.

My 629 had zero play in the cylinder when I bought it. After about 1000 rounds of midrange ammo it was considerably looser.

One other thing about large frame Smiths is the mass of the cylinder. In rapid fire double action shooting the cylinder is spinning until it contacts the hand. The hand is a relatively small piece of metal and contacts a small surface area of the cylinder. Since the mass is trying to continue to spin, and since the hand is the only thing that stops it, rumor has it that rapid fire double action shooting is hard on the N frame Smith.

It is a pretty antiquated design, after all, coming down from the black powder revolver days.

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