Further discussion with jfh re practice load similar to Speer .38 GDSB +P


March 20, 2008, 01:55 PM
These were some PM's jfh and I agreed should be posted as a thread.

HELLO, jfh-

I really appreciate your posts and the time you've spent trying to inform others.

Here's one of them:

(please note correction to url for mastercast-it's mastercastbullets.com (not mastercasterbullets.com)


Do you still stand by your recommendations? My J-frame is a 442-2 Airweight.

(It's carried with the factory Speer .38 spec. +P 135gr GDHPSB for SD in a Mika round cut pocket holster or in a DeSantis Nemesis or SuperFly. Grips are currently the Hogue Monogrip [I don't like boot grips at all for these loads] and I like them a lot and they conceal well enough. I have the Pachmayr Compacs and Compac Pros on order, and will check those out as well-one of those three grips I will finally choose for carry).]

Particularly, my understanding is AA#5 and the GDHPSB or those Chey cast 140gr TCFP or mastercastbullets.com constitute the basic components.

I was going to ask you if I could use other bullets, and I have a 'few' :cuss: :banghead: , ranging from 125gr Win JHP to Berry's and RAN CPB, but no 135's or 140's-mostly 125gr in the HP.

And I have 148gr and 158gr WC's in various configurations, both cast and RAN and Berry's.

I have Starline .38 brass and Win SP Primers. I'm thinking that perhaps I should just buy the Chey Cast or Mastercast, since you have apparently spent a great deal of time in your testing and recommend them. I don't feel like incurring the cost of the Speer 135gr HPSB at more than 20 cents per plus shipping.

I want to shoot at least 500 of the reloads to replicate the factory round.

So, I'm basically asking you if any of these others are worthwhile using-I don't want to spend a lot of time in load development, though.

Should I just buy the Chey Cast, Mastercast, or other 140gr LTCFP? I think that I've answered my own question.

Thanks for your time.



Originally Posted by brentfoto
See, I have at least 5000-6000 .38 cal. bullets lying around, and I find it difficult to justify not using them!

Anyway, I'm going to just buy the Chey, Mastercast, or other 140 grainer in lead.

Though recoil is generally subjective, you have said that you have spent 'months' developing the load, and I don't have the time to wade through all those different bullets and tinker and extrapolate loads to duplicate.

Since you have already done that, and a bird is worth two, if not three in the bush (in this instance), I just want to 'thank you' for what you have done and I hope that, perhaps, through you, I have found a load that reasonably duplicates factory.

Have other posters tried your recommendations at all? I haven't seen anything on that.

Really, thanks for the work that you have done.

Hi, Brent--

OK, I think we covered which bullet to buy--140 lead TCFP or similar, and yes, it does take a lot of tinkering. I currently have about 4000-plus development rounds built for chrono and subjective recoil testing shortly.

I think you can limit your expense by getting this load set up for yourself by

1) buy one extra box of the GDSB135-gr. PD round--either the Speer consumer 20-round box almost anywhere, or the 50-round CCI LEO box at Streichers.

2) buy "x" amount of the 140-gr. LTCs--at least 500 or more, IMO.

3) build one set of development reloads--at least ten rounds each (I use twenty rounds minimum) in increments of two-tenths grain. So, you will have ten or twenty rounds each in steps from 6.2-6.4-6.6-6.8 gr.

4) At the range, fire five of the factory rounds. Note carefully how the recoil "feels" to your hand, not how much the revolver jumps, or whatever. Think about how "hard," how "sudden" or how "firm" the recoil feels to you. This is hard to do--i.e., to develop a memory of how this round feels to you. Write a comment down about this, "thinking" about the feel while you do. This process will help you "fix" the characteristics of the factory round recoil in your memory.

5) Now fire five of the reloads: try the 6.4-gr. load, and see if you think the recoil of that recipe matches the recoil you just felt from the factory round.

6) Repeat test 4--e.g., fire five more factory rounds, and see if you think that the recoil is similar to what you just shot in the reload recipe.

7) If your assessment is that this second factory firing was "harder", then the next reload to try is the 6.6 gr. load--you get the idea, I am sure.

This procedure should get you to the particular charge weight as close as you can this first trip. Now go home and load fifty rounds of the weight you think is most like the factory round. (And, reload the other round weights you may have fired, so you can have ten on hand again.

At the range next time, fire at least twenty of the selected reload / preferred weight, then fire five of the factory rounds. You should be able to immediately tell if you need to tweak the recipe a bit up or down. Write down your reactions, and you're good to go for reloading a bunch of practice rounds. There may need to be one further refinement after you've shot a few hundred rounds, but you know the procedure. I now use 7.0 gr. if I use 38 Special cases, and this load is actually a touch stiffer than the factory round--and that gives me, I think a bit of a psychological "comfort" should I have to shoot defensively some time.

As you know, all these rounds are what are called "Plus P" or Plus-P-Plus" loads--e.g., the pressures are about 20,000 psi or higher, so do not use them if you're uncomfortable with shooting them. I can't be responsible for what you may do.

If you find that the actual replica reload you've developed is too hot for you to shoot comfortably for at least thirty-fifty rounds, then load at least 100 rounds of a lighter charge and practice with those. As your hand gets conditioned, you'll be able to move up easily enough.

I now shoot 200 rounds or so in an hour or so, the lightest of which is this load (actually, the 357-case version, for easier cleaning)--recently I've been working on the "FBI load" development--which is a round with about 30%-40% (and more) KE / ft. lbs., and my hand is not sore even after those reloads.

Good luck with this, and if you have any more questions, just post (on this new thread).


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March 20, 2008, 02:36 PM
I like the accuracy of the Speer, and prefer it over both the old standby FBI load and the DPX.

One must really shoot all three, and also consider the BB standard or +P, to make a truly informed decision, which may in part, be 'subjective'.

However, you're not going to go 'wrong' with any of them, IMHO.

I just like the Speer, and it's apparently working for the NYPD and LE in general, good QC overall, and its ballistics (esp. expansion) are impressive.

So, back to topic. "Practice reloads" to duplicate the factory Speer 135gr .38 spec. +P GDHPSB...

Has anyone tried out jfh's recipes?

March 20, 2008, 04:31 PM
Thanks for posting those PMs, Brent. For once, I don't think there are any significant typos to correct--so I will just make the following addendums:

1. Although I am continuing to load the original list of powders found in the Speer 38+P PDF file, it really is "just" AA#5 that most clearly replicates the feel of the factory round.

2. I'm also beginning to work with the Speer GDSG 135-gr. 357 Magnum rounds to find that "replica" reload. Others have found, and I tend to agree with the limited "subjective recoil" testing so far, that Power Pistol may be the preferred powder for replicating that factory round.

3. Note that the PM COPYs delineate a load development procedure. However, the underlying goal for that load development procedure is a conditioning and acclimation procedure--one that, I think, maximizes the benefits of say "practice...a lot."

I see Brent added a description of his grips for his airweight. With that in mind, I should mention that my "development j-frame" is a 640 with the CT LG-305 grips. It is this revolver that I routinely fire about 200 rounds or so at a range session. The lightweight I carry--an M&P 340, with the CT LG-405 (boot) grips, get fired anywhere from 25 to 75 rounds as well, or in some combination with the 640.

Finally, to clarify--those 4000 rounds built up for testing consist of both "replica recipes" of the 38+P 135-gr. load, and mostly new tests of the "FBI loads". The different LD boxes of ammo include for 38 and 357 case recipes, and will be chrono'd in a month or so. (We still have a snowstorm coming in here in metro MN tonight.) Of particular interest to some of us will be a set of LD cartridges using SR-4756 and the Speer 158LSWC-HP bullet, in sets ranging from 4.8 to 8.6 grains--and all in the 38 case. The chrono results from that set of LD runs ought to be interesting.

Jim H.

March 20, 2008, 08:29 PM
CAVEAT: I think the 'trial' loads noted in the original post would apply to using the Gold Dot bullet and NOT the 140gr LTCFP? Correct or incorrect?

I don't want there to be any confusion. In the first post, there is a link. In that link you say 7.0 for the Gold Dot bullet and 6.4 for the 140TC. Those, apparently, were the loads that you found that best replicated the factory in YOUR gun, correct?

March 20, 2008, 10:35 PM
Just to add to this conversation, I was also working on 135gr Speer replica ammo the same time Jim was. We were bouncing load data and results back and forth to each other during the summer. The data he's quoting is valid and I know this because I was shooting it too. We were both gathering data and comparing the results to validate our findings. At the time I didn't have any 135gr Speer bullets or 140gr Cast bullets so I used 140gr Hornady XTP bullets for my tests. (I was lucky enough to find several Hundred for a very good price.)

I totally agree AA#5 will replicate the feel and recoil of the 135gr Gold Dot .38 Special +P Short Barrel round.

In addition I did some work with the Gold Dot .357 Magnum Short Barrel round. I found 8.8gr of Power Pistol will closely replicate the feel, recoil and velocity of the Factory round. Of course you should work your way up to that charge because I think it's a little on the high side of the pressure limits.

March 20, 2008, 11:12 PM

1. Yes, the loads we found that replicated the feel were about 6.4 gr. of AA#5 with the 140LTC and 7.0 gr. of #5 with the GDSB135JHP bullet.

2. Keep in mind that you should back up 5%, or even 10% to work these loads up in your revolver--which is, of course, nominally the routine for the Load Development I outlined above.

ArchAngelCD: Thank you for jumping in to confirm that information--at one point in our PMs, brentfoto inquired about who else may have been working with the data--and I forgot to address that. My apologies for not including you in the work so far.

At any rate, once I shoot the first sets of the "FBI loads" LD boxes, I'll be swinging back to the 357 Magnum 135-gr. replica reloads work.

Any other observations, others can chime in--

Jim H.

March 21, 2008, 01:44 AM
Don't be silly Jim, I wasn't looking for recognition. I was only letting "brentfoto" know your data was valid because he asked, "Has anyone tried out jfh's recipes?"

I also made up some FBI loads but can't yet test them out because as soon as all the snow and ice left us here in PA the floods moved in. As soon as the weather breaks and all the water subsides I'll let you, and anyone else that interested know how the rounds I made up using HS-6 performed. Like I think I mentioned to you before, I think HS-6 is the way to go with the FBI loads. I tried Longshot but I didn't get good results. I guess I should have listened to Hodgdon when they told me in a email they won't supply data for lead bullets in a .38 Special because they didn't get good results in their tests.

BTW, I'm using Hornady 158gr LSWC/HP bullets for the tests and I also have a good supply of 158gr LSWC Roger's Better Bullets to use in preliminary tests so as not to waste the HP lead rounds. (because they are more expensive than the Roger's bullets)

IMPORTANT QUESTION!! Does anyone have an alternate source for LSWC/HP bullets other than Hornady? Their bullets are knurled without a crimp groove and don't seem to be as accurate as bullets with a smooth side, grease groove and a crimp groove.

Here is a photo of the Hornady bullets:


Here is what I'm looking for:


March 21, 2008, 08:05 AM
Whoops-deleted...Never mind, got it...HP

Hmm... don't know.

March 21, 2008, 10:00 AM
ArchangelCD--I know you were validating and not looking for personal recognition. That kind of inference is merely my take on posting in forum communities like this one. That is, such verification is a willingness to share knowledge / data is part of the culture, and all who contribute to this knowledge help validate the information.

At any rate: as noted earlier, this load, whether the 140LTC bullet or the GDSB135JHP bullet is used, is that it is a load that generates "Plus P" and arguably even "Plus P Plus" pressures. The conventional wisdom about lead / jacketed reloading is that a lead bullet can be driven to similar ballistics because it offers creates less friction with the lands and grooves. To the extent subjective recoil is a measurement of that friction, it holds true in this particular recipe

As for bullets: I've got the Hornady's on hand, but I've been using the Speer variant--which do have a cannelure, and their lube is dust-and-grunge free. I think I bought mine from Grafs, or from Midway during a sale. Price is about the same, IIRC. Meanwhile, I too have found a locally-cast 158-gr.LSWC that has a lower BHN number (about 10), and it is providing similar characteristics to the Speer 158LWSC-HP in the tests done so far.

Sooner or later the weather will cooperate, ArchAngelCD--you have the rain and floods; this morning we have another two inches of snow, with another two-to-six inches coming in, it looks like. I'm going to go build some 158LSWC / #7 LD boxes, I think.

Jim H.

March 22, 2008, 02:05 AM

Any idea of published maximum loads for .38 spec. for the 140 TCFP and the 135gr GDHPSB bullet using AA#5, or were your posted 'best' loadings also the maximum loads?

I looked at the Accurate data, which I have a hard copy of in my possession, and the only thing that comes close would be the Sierra 140gr JHP with a max load of 6.4gr AA#5. Further note this would generate a pressure of only 16,700psi in a 7.75" bbl. This is the published hard copy of Accurate Edition 3.2.

Now, I had seen a reference to Speer publishing loads for the GDHPSB, and I believe threads revealed these were in a pdf file. Could you forward a copy of that file to me?

Notwithstanding the foregoing, are these Speer PDF's on the web, or were they on the web at one time and later removed, and, if so, and you know-for what reason?

Or was this data located elsewhere?

Thanks in advance.

March 22, 2008, 02:26 AM
I'm waiting for my Chey-Cast bullets to arrive. I've weighed my remaining AA#5 on my postal scale-about 2.3 ounces left.

Went to two LGS's-none carry AA#5 and I might have to wait a month for it.

So, I figure that I might be able to work up about 150 cartridges of the stuff -but that would be to the very end. That would be a good start, at least.

I usually order from Powder Valley, but I can't justify the Hazmat fee unless I buy in bulk, and I really don't need any other powder at the present.

Well...there it is... :uhoh:

March 22, 2008, 02:38 AM
1. I've sent you three pdf files, Brent--one for 38 Special, one for 357 Magnum, and the documentation for the development of the 135-gr. bullet. Generally, in working with the PDF recipes, I found the MAX load was the one most likely to replicate the velocity of the factory load for Power Pistol, but AA#5 felt most like the factory load and still made it into the published / recommended velocities for PD use.

Note that for the PDF data, the published data reference a 6" barrel, and the fact that Speer used a 20,000 psi ceiling for these loads. In the Speer 14 manual, these pdf recipes were supplemented, modified slightly, and expanded with short barrel recipes measured from a 2" (2& 1/2"?) model 19, IIRC; they still use a 20,000 psi ceiling.

2. There is no published data for the 140 lead bullets. As you can imagine, Speer is in the business of providing data to sell their bullets.

I worked up the lead load myself using the conventional wisdom and development techniques outlined earlier. Basically, I backed up a half-grain from the Jacketed bullet recipe max, then backed up another 5% or 10%, then loaded up in one-tenth grain increments until the subjective recoil felt the same as the MAX load for the jacketed bullet. Then I measured the chrono results, and tweaked the load from there. Were I to do it over again, I would stay with two-tenth grain increments.

Different lead bullet BHN and diameters will have an impact on both velocity and subjective recoil, so tweaked loads for your revolver may be a bit different from my data--I now get bullets mostly from Mastercastbullets.net and from Penn Bullets.

Jim H.

March 22, 2008, 09:23 AM
jfh & ArchAngelCD

jfh-all files received. Thank you.
(I do note more specific outright suggestions for the .357 loads, and your findings re Power Pistol 8.8 confirm Speer's recommendations).

I see Unique is listed as a suggested propellant for the .38 GDSB reload.

Did either or both of you ever try loading the .38 spec. 135gr GD or 140gr TC with Unique powder?

If so, how did it fare in comparison to the AA#5 (I've got 1-2 lbs. of the Unique)? Or was it like 'apples n oranges'? :scrutiny:

Finally, are SAAMI max specifications at this time at 20,000 psi or have they been lowered? I ask this not knowing the reason why these charts are not more readily available. Perhaps the specs were lowered and since these charts mention 20,000 psi in many loadings that might explain it?
Please 'school me' on that one... :)


March 22, 2008, 11:08 AM
I tried Unique--once. Even at MAX recipe, it was slow, and it felt nothing like the factory cartridge, so I set it aside.

As for the SAAMI specs--well, at best, the current ones are a standard well subscribed to, but also are quite controversial.

Here (http://www.leverguns.com/articles/saami_pressures.htm) is a chart for the current (2004) specifications. Google is your friend, Brent.

The SAMMI standards have been inconsistently revised over the years, and particularly so for 38 Special and 357 Magnum. In the latest iteration, 38 Special was lowered to 17,000, and the 'Plus P' is at 18,500. Not too long ago, 38 Special was at 18,500 IIRC, and Plus P went out to 21,000 or 21,500. This downward revision occurred despite the fact that, arguably, currently-manufactured firearms are metallurgically superior to ones made thirty or forty years ago--and the Seventies were apparently the Apex of higher-pressure reloading.

While there are good reasons for revisions--notably, an increasing standardization in measuring techniques--the current victimology mentality, as well as the propensity to sue for our own mistakes, have lead to policy changes by anyone from component manufacturers on up to the (voluntary) standards organizations. As you might suspect, powder manufacturers are particularly susceptible to liability fears--the latest Hodgdon data is a good example of this.

You can use google to uncover more discussions of pressure measuring, Brent--it's a wide-ranging discussion.

But, at the best, one needs to make a reasoned decision--nobody can tell a reloader what recipe will be "safe" in a particular firearm.

I do shoot any of my 38 test loads in my current-generation 442. IMO, these plus-p / plus-p plus loads are safe to shoot--but their repeated use probably impacts the life of the firearm; the aluminum-framed 38 Special j-frame revolvers are NOT the same as the scandium or steel-framed magnum designs. The bottom line is, I mostly shoot them in my magnum j-frames.

Jim H.

March 23, 2008, 07:06 AM
Thanks for the info and I'll try to Google more!

Though you have not directly answered my question why the pdf is not on the web, it would be reasonable to assume that a lowering of the SAAMI .38 +P to 18,500 psi may be a factor.

The natural question, therefore, is whether current Speer 135gr GDHPSB is loaded to the higher pressure or not. If Speer is a member of SAAMI I would think they might be so limited?

In any event, I'll start 10% lower than your ultimate recommendations shooting the Airweight 442 with its aluminum frame. So, for the 140gr LTCFP, I'll start at about AA#5 5.8gr and take it from there in .2gr increments upward.

I don't have a scandium-framed gun, and would not want to shoot these anyway in those lighter guns due to recoil and associated discomfort, nevertheless recognizing that from a metallurgical standpoint they are better suited for such loads.

March 23, 2008, 09:49 AM
Heh, I need to proofread my answers for completeness, Brent.

AFAICT, the SAAMI latest adjustments to 38 / 38+P / 357 Magnum pressure specs had no relation to the pdf files' removal. They were originally published on the Speer site as supplemental information. When Speer 14 came out, they incorporated and expanded their GDSB bullet and short barrel data, and removed the supplemental files since the printed material was now up to date. They still use 20,000 psi for their recipe MAX in Speer 14.

Meanwhile, your starting point is just fine, AFAICT. If you need to stay at a lesser level while your hand is getting conditioned, that's just fine. Just shoot at least a few of the next-step-up loads in each session--as long as it doesn't cause you to flinch.

When you get your own 'Replica Reload' sorted out, please publish your results.

Any other questions, feel free to ask.

Jim H.

March 23, 2008, 10:32 AM

National Bullet has a config similar (http://nationalbullet.com/index.php?name=38_Cal_Bullets)to what you are looking for. I have never bought from NB direct (I get mine at Fur Fin & Feather) but others here have had less than satisfactory customer service.

March 24, 2008, 02:17 AM
Thank you for the link but I don't see and 158gr LSWC/HP bullets on their list, I only see the LSWC bullets. Did they have the HP bullets at one time and took them down for some reason?

Again, thanks for the link...

March 24, 2008, 07:31 AM
They did not. I missed the HP designation in your post. Sorry

March 24, 2008, 10:44 AM
Off hand, I don't know of anyone selling the 158LSWC-HP cast bullets.

I think the reason may be shipping damage / complaints from customers, as well as the cost / benefit ratio for a bullet that is probably sold in small amounts.

However, Speer and Hornady apparently have the shipping issues sorted out with their softer swaged bullets. I do see a bit of nose deformation on the odd bullet as I use them--but that doesn't worry me. These rounds aren't being built for paperpunching accuracy, after all, and I do carry factory loads.

Jim H.

March 25, 2008, 11:40 AM
No need to apologize for trying to help. I appreciate the effort.

I'll look into the Speer bullets. I haven't tried them yet...

March 25, 2008, 12:07 PM
I was at the range yesterday, mostly working with the "FBI Load" recipes.

My boxes of "Reference Ammo"--the Remington 158LSWC-HP factory round--haven't arrived yet. The Georgia Arms reloads had arrived, so I shot them first.

Here's what I've sorted out so far:

1. The 38 Special "replica reload" (as measured by subjective recoil, not a chrono yet) to the Georgia Arms round (ballistics: ca. 900 fps from a 4" barrel; 800 fps from a 1 & 7/8" barrel, as measured by Stephen Camp and reported here (http://www.familyfriendsfirearms.com/forum/showpost.php?p=507572&postcount=1)) appears to be about

1. 6.0 gr. of SR-4756 under the Speer 158-gr. LSWC-HP swaged bullet, and

2. 5.8 gr. with a locally-cast 158-gr. LSWC bullet that is fairly soft (BHN=10)

This kind of data fits in well with the historical data of SR-4756 / 38 Special loads discussed in other forums:

Now I'm trying to crossover to AA#5, as well as sort out the equivalent-ballistics load in 357 cases.

So far, AA#5 seems to use approximately the same charge weights as SR-4756. #5 recoil is a bit fuller, while 4756 recoil is smoother.

Chrono tests await--but it appears that we have yet another late-winter snowstorm arriving in a couple of days....

ArchangelCD: The Speer 158-gr. LSWC-HP bullets are worth trying, IMO, but if you can get some softer-cast 158-gr. lead bullets, they are probably close enough. Also, I just noted that Stephen Camp thinks the GA load uses the Hornady bullets--I have some of those on hand, too, so I'll check them out a bit more. In initial testing, they leaded far more than the Speers.

Jim H.

March 25, 2008, 12:25 PM

'Wilco' about posting my results once I work up the various loads and have that range session. Should be within a week or two.

I'm thinking of shooting eight practice loads for each gradation.

Shoot four reloads, four factory, four of the same reloads again for each gradation, and so on... do you think this will be enough to make an adequate comparison?

Since I only have twenty-two of the factory at this time, I'm gonna have to buy a new box of the Speer factory rounds if I want to do more. Money is a bit tight as I've purchased some new guns so that only leaves me with six. Five will be for carry, so I guess my extra five in the Bianchi speed strip will have to be Rem GS .38 +P that I have on hand. May buy another box of the Speer factory at a later time.

TC Bullets have not arrived yet.

March 25, 2008, 01:32 PM
When you can afford it, Brent, I would approach it this way:

1. Shoot two cylinders' full of the factory loads. Take your time, and "think" about the recoil--you really want to fix in your mind what that factory recoil is like.

2. Now shoot five of your reloads--start at the bottom. You should immediately recognize as too weak.

3. If your hand is tired, however, or that level is uncomfortable, stay at that level. Period. Continue to shoot at that level until your hand is no longer sore for at least fifty rounds.

The next session, try shooting five factory rounds--and then immediately try the 6.4 gr. load after them. You should be able to tell how to tweak the recipe.

But, for acclimation, stay at that lower level you were shooting at until you can shoot at least fifty rounds in succession.

more later--got an appointment.

Jim H.

March 27, 2008, 10:34 PM
I got a good local deal on a box of the 135gr GDSB-50 rounder's. So now I have 72 factory rounds.

This will, hopefully, be my last box of factory for a long while.

First I'll follow your suggestion and shoot 10 factory.

Think I will then shoot 5-5-5, with the middle 5 factory. I'll start with 5.8gr AA#5, and will go up in .2gr increments, if my hand can handle it. That will use up only 30-35 or so for the first range trip, and will leave some left over for subsequent tweaking, and for carry, and practice.

Thanks for your continuing advice, jfh and archangel. When I get those 140gr TCFP in, will work up the loads and report on my first range trip right here.

March 28, 2008, 01:50 AM
I also ordered 2 boxes of Remington 158gr LSWC/HP rounds as a base. I'll be testing rounds made with HS-6 and post the results. (as soon as the weather cooperates) I charged 6.3gr, 6.5gr, 6.6gr, 6.8gr and 7.0 gr. I think the 7.0gr might be a little on the hot side even for a +P round but I'll test them all in my M640 so it should be fine.

March 28, 2008, 10:37 AM
I just did the in-depth "replica reload" testing yesterday, now that I have the Rem rounds at hand.

About 6.0 gr. of #5 does one version, using the cheaper local 158LSWC bullet. 5.8 to 6.0 of SR-4756 also does it with the Speer 158LSWC-HP bullets. AA#5 works good, but not the best--SR-4756 is smoother; it really does look to be "the" powder for short-barrel 158-gr. loads.

These are NOT the Speer #8 loads (obviously), and they feel very similar to the 135-gr 38+P GDSB loads--as they should, given Stephen Camp's reports of 800-820 fps for the Rem 38S12 from a 2" j-frame.

Now I'm off and running to find the 357-case equivalent--or a little hotter.

I'm also more than ever convinced that those powders that run from about WSF on up through V.3N37 on the Hodgdon chart are the powders that work for short-barreled revolvers--with an emphasis at the lower end--at least for 38 Special ballistics.

More later--

Jim H.

March 30, 2008, 03:37 AM
jfh and ArchAngelCD:

I received the Chey-Cast bullets yesterday afternoon. It took about a week to receive them after ordering on the internet.

I think the powder/recoil effect with the AA#5 and the 140gr LTCFP vs. the factory .38 spec. 135gr Speer GDHPSB +P is so similar as to be indistinguishable.

So I commend you, jfh, and ArchAngel CD, for the work you have done and enormous time you must have spent in settling on this one powder for the replica load.

The Speer SB cartridges came from 50-rd. boxes, #53921, and I believe they're usually distributed to LE. Whether they differ in any respect from the 20-rd. boxes readily available to the public I do not know.

What surprised me was that after shooting 5.8, 6.0, 6.2 and finally 6.4gr AA#5, I came to the conclusion that the factory round is still stouter than the 6.4gr handload, but not by very much-perhaps .1 or . 2, so I'm thinking about 'upping' the dosage by .1 grain increments. I'm wondering if this is inadvisable because I don't know the maximum charge for the load. The factory had more 'bite' to the recoil, more power, than the 6.4gr loads that I tried-about 25 of those loads.

I'm thinking it might be prudent to compare 6.4, 6.5, 6.6gr AA#5 with the factory Speer 135gr. GDHP +P in a K-frame solely for purposes of felt recoil and to "be safer". When appropriate load has been determined, I could shoot one or two of them in the 442 and check for any difficulties. (I don't have any sc or ti .357 snubbies).

I did shoot 50 factory rounds and about 75 'clone' progressive reloads. That's a total of 125 cartridges in +P in my S&W 442-2 J-frame Airweight revolver rated for .38 spec. +P.

The Speer factory round shot better to POA, but I did not aim as carefully with the reloads and did not really compare the two re POA/POI all that much-I probably should have observed differences with more vigor; however, I was checking for felt recoil and was concentrating on that factor. Live and learn. I think the handloads shot a bit to the right more (I'm left-handed). Shooting distances were 7-~12 yards.

Looks as if I'll have to do some tweaking. Next range session will be this Monday, as I have to see my gunsmith there on another matter.

Thank you for your continuing input and support.

CAVEAT: Everyone proceeds at their own risk and should determine what is appropriate for their firearms, and their own health and safety. I'm only relating my experience in the above post(s)-your experience may differ, and what may work in any of my loads and firearms may not work in yours safely. Always check published manuals and loads before proceeding in any reloading endeavor. What I post may not even work safely in my firearms as I'm tinkering and experimenting with unpublished information at times.

As an aside on rubber grips for the J-frame 442-2 Airweight:
Went to the range tonight and shot 50 Speer .38 spec. 135gr GDHPSB +P, and about 75 test 'clone' loads. That's 125 +P loads.

We're talking about significant loads, up to about 20,000 psi.

Pachmayr Compac Professionals-PAINFUL after 2 rounds of the Speer. Great for concealment, though. Immediately took them off after only 2 shots and switched grips to the

Pachmayr Compacs- PAINFUL. After only 3-5 rounds of the Speer I switched grips again. The Compacs are a bit bulky for concealment. The grips are very attractive, fit my hand perfectly, and give the impression of a 'smooth, unpainful ride' re recoil. Notwithstanding the above, they were surprisingly disappointing in the felt recoil realm. YMMV.

Hogue Monogrips- Are manageable with the recoil. I like this grip the best for hot loads. A bit of a compromise for pocket carry, but can be done in a Mika or Nemesis.

The Hogue Monogrips 'win out' over all the other rubber grips I've tried concerning recoil. Those grips include the Pachmayrs' above as well as the UM boot grips, and the Hogue Bantams.

The only others grips I'm considering might be the Tyler-T's. They should certainly conceal well enough, but what about my hand from the recoil of round after round of +P for practice? Are +P hot loads 'manageable' with the Tyler T's? I STILL don't know the benefit from buying them, except to fill the gap between the frame and the trigger guard (already exists with the rubber grips) and a more secure grip on the firearm.

One can compromise for concealability:
I am of the view that one should practice with the same grip used for carry. But I've been unable thus far to find a completely suitable concealment grip in which my hand can take the pounding incurred in practice with numerous +P loads.

As a compromise, I guess that one could practice only with the Hogue Monogrips and carry with the Pachmayr Compac Professionals or one of the boot grips. With practice, one should have a proper sight picture, so whether one uses another grip should not upset that sight picture. One must consider and weigh the remote possibility of ever having to pull the gun-nevermind actually shoot someone, with the benefit to one's hand and enjoyability that shooting with the better grip will afford.

One can always do a lot of dry-firing with the carry grip, also, sighting in all the time.

But I'm not entirely comfortable with the notion of using different grips for practice and carry.]

March 30, 2008, 06:42 PM
Just found this thread. Very interesting, thanks for posting detailed reports. It seems several of us have been trying to improve on 158 gr. loads for use in light frame revolvers :)

I've been playing with some loads for 158 gr. jacketed bullet, but am not sure about expansion at 800-900 fps. Is there a proven jacketed performer in this range? There several reports out there, but they tend to cover either higher velocity ranges or lighter bullets or lead. I'd be particularly interested in any data on expansion of Speer 158 gr. GD's (link (http://www.midwayusa.com/mediasvr.dll/highresimage?saleitemid=762724)) and Remington 158 gr. SJHP's (link (http://www.midwayusa.com/mediasvr.dll/highresimage?saleitemid=122672)) around 900 fps. Your thoughts and pointers would be much appreciated.


March 30, 2008, 07:03 PM
I'm glad to see you are getting the same results Jim and I have gotten. It looks like using AA#5 to replicate the Speer 135gr round will work as a practice round for you too.

If you decide to replicate Speer's Gold Dot 135gr Short Barrel .357 Magnum round I have a recipe for that too. :D

March 30, 2008, 07:49 PM

No, but I might want to replicate the FBI load for fun, using SWC bullets in 158gr.

Which powder(s) for that replica load?

Prompt response appreciated.

March 30, 2008, 07:56 PM
I'm testing FBI replica loads with HS-6 right now. I haven't been able to get to the range to Chrono any of them so I can give you details yet.

Also, Speer's recommended MAX charge for AA#5 is 7.0gr so you aren't pushing the limits with a charge of 6.8gr AA#5.

March 30, 2008, 08:14 PM
No, but I might want to replicate the FBI load for fun, using SWC bullets in 158gr.

Which powder(s) for that replica load?

I use 5.3gr -5.4gr of Unique under a Hornady 158gr SWCHP, shoots great in my M10 at 10yd.;)


March 30, 2008, 08:47 PM
And to add to this discussion:

For Brentfoto:

1. I am not surprised that you might want to tweak the load a bit more. It's the "each revolver is different" observation. This is probably a product of the variations in gaps at the cylinder / barrel junction. FWIW, my 340 (1 & 7/8" barrel) generally runs about 30 fps faster than my 640 (2 & 1/8" barrel)--and, AFAICT, that's strictly a function of the gap--i.e., my 340 is assembled to tighter tolerances.

2. I've been told by Speer that the CCI LEO 50-round boxes contain the same ammo as the Speer 20-round consumer boxes.

As for that final recipe tweak: Well, the Speer PDF 38+P / 135-gr. JHP data does run out to 7.0 grains. The reloader's 'rule-of-thumb' is that lead bullets typically run to the same pressure with about five-tenths less charge--so you probably are in the same pressure range. For that matter, give the typical plus-or-minus one-tenth grain tolerances to scales, you have the latitude to go higher.

Since I use a 357-frame j-frame, I have run the load up to 7.2 grains--but then ESs opened up and SDs widend, so I backed up.

I have shot this reload through my 686P 4" --40 oz.--as well--and in a revolver that size, its recoil is mild.

3. About grips--like you, I've tried various grips--but really, only on my M60 / 3". I've always kept a boot grip on the 340, which is my usual carry gun. Since the grip on the 340 is the Crimson Trace LG-405, it does have a recoil pocket over the backstrap and that also makes for a larger grip

I just installed the Hogue rubber monogrip on the M60 a few days ago, and shot it for the first time that way--prior to that, I'd had both Compac grips on it, like you--and cared for neither of them, although the larger (standard? covers the backstrap...) version worked ok for me. At any rate, I agree--this is about the best grip I know of for recoil control if one is willing to sacrifice the boot grip size.

4. If you were able to shoot 100+ rounds from your 442, I'd say you already have a well-conditioned hand. So, adjust your load as needed to fully replicate the Speer factory round and practice away--now you can concentrate on your shooting skills. Use the Quad Five as your guideline, and don't worry about groups smaller than five inches for now.

If you want to condition your hand further, you might want to change out to a boot grip and stay with that until you can shoot two quad fives back-to-back (disregard the reload time) and still feel ready to shoot again.

Meanwhile--don't you get a real feeling of satisfaction about being able to practice for about $6.00 a box of ammo instead of $26.00 ?

hoptob / Mike: About 158-gr. hollowpoints: I just reviewed Speer's comments about their Short Barrel bullets in the #14 manual--and they do NOT include the 158-gr. bullet. I take that to mean that one will NOT obtain optimal expansion at velocities at which 2" barrel revolvers typically operate--for the moment, let's call that between 700 and 900 fps.

That velocity range is the one at which a bullet like the 158-gr LSWC and LSWC-HP bullets penetrate deepest. Add in cold weather factors like additional layers of clothing to plug up hollow points--and you get the idea. I know I decided to carry 158-gr LSWC-HPs for the winter up here. Note that neither ArchangelCD and I are using jacketed bullets, however, Mike. At these velocities, I would rather use the LSWC / deeper penetration approach.

Speer also makes a swaged 158-gr. LSWC-HP, available from Midway. I've also tried the Hornady equivalent, and that appears to lead a bit more than the Speer version.

I went to the range again and extensively tested the 357-lite version of the Rem 38S12 ammo--e.g., "the FBI load" but tweaked to provide the same recoil as the factory 38+P load when built in a 357 case. To my surprise, AA#5 works well--but with the typical 357 Magnum caveats of much flash and blast. (The 140 LTC loads flash, but have no blast.) This might be a function of the lube of my cheaper local 158-gr LSWCs--I'll try the Speer 158LSWC-HPs once I get the subjective recoil sorted out.

So, ArchangelCD is chasing 900 fps with HS-6 and the 158-gr. bullets; I'm chasing 850 fps with a number of powders, but probably SR-4756--and since I can't chrono right now, I'm focusing on subjective recoil.

In summary, then: For 158-gr. practice loads in lightweights, I would work on using LSWCs and try to match the Remington 38S12 ballistics. Stephen Camp reports those as being about 805-820 fps from a 2" airweight.

For carry, there are those astounding Buffalo Bore rounds--the 20A(?), I believe--that are 38+P+s--e.g., they run over 1000 fps from a 2" barrel. I chrono'd them at 1020 fps from the M&P340. They were shootable, but it's a stout, stout load.

Jim H.

March 30, 2008, 08:52 PM
336A: I keep hearing about unique for this kind of load--but when I tried it off the Speer PDF sheet (e.g., with 140 LTCs or with the Speer GDSB135JHP bullets), I found wide ESs and low velocity, so I set it aside. In #14, Speer limits Unique to 5.2 gr. to keep within their 20,000 pressure limit, and when shot from an M15 / 2" they report 834 fps.

What length barrel on your M10?

Do you have any chrono results?

Jim H.

Do you have any chrono results with

March 30, 2008, 09:29 PM
336A: I keep hearing about unique for this kind of load--but when I tried it off the Speer PDF sheet (e.g., with 140 LTCs or with the Speer GDSB135JHP bullets), I found wide ESs and low velocity, so I set it aside. In #14, Speer limits Unique to 5.2 gr. to keep within their 20,000 pressure limit, and when shot from an M15 / 2" they report 834 fps.

What length barrel on your M10?

Do you have any chrono results?

Jim H.

JFH I don't have any chrono data I wish I did.:( However before loading up those rounds I got good feedback from folks more knowledgable than I. If I had to take a SWAG I'd guess that I'm getting about 950 FPS for the 5.4gr charge weight. I know of one fella that chronographed the 5.4gr charge with the same bullet at 983 FPS from his 4" M15. I have found Unique to work very well with lead bullets.

Brian Pearce did a review of the 135gr GD in the latest Handloader Mag, he also got very low velocities with Unique just as you did. I'm a bit dumfounded that this powder performs so poorly with this bullet. In the excellent article Mr. Pearce wrote up on the .38/44 a few years back, he listed some .38 SPL +P data for readers to compare to .38/44 data. The Unique loads with the 125gr bullets were actually quite stout.

BTW the barrel on my M10 is 4".

March 30, 2008, 09:58 PM
ArchAngelCD I'm testing FBI replica loads with HS-6 right now. I haven't been able to get to the range to Chrono any of them so I can give you details yet.

Also, Speer's recommended MAX charge for AA#5 is 7.0gr so you aren't pushing the limits with a charge of 6.8gr AA#5.
Today 04

I'm just about out of AA#5. It's amazing that the Dillon Powder Measure on my SDB is throwing this powder so consistently, and I'm below the built-in baffles at this time. Talk about running low!

So I need to order some more for the replica loads, and that is why I also inquired about powder for the replica FBI load (I need to place an order for powders forthwith!).

Thanks for the info.

Point of clarification: When you say the max AA#5 is 7.0gr, that recipe is for the actual Speer GDHP bullet.

I'm reloading lead TCFP.

How did you come up with a max of 6.8gr for me? Curious.


March 30, 2008, 10:05 PM
"...How did you come up with a max of 6.8gr for me? Curious."

The most conservative rule of thumb is to stay about five-tenths grain below a jacketed bullet MAX load, Brent. Lots of us also believe you can safely use the same data for both types of bullets, if it is not a firewall-type load.

Well, if you are ordering powder, get AA#5, and try a pound of HS-6 and a pound of SR-4756.

Jim H.

March 30, 2008, 10:18 PM

Thanks, I'll respond to your most recent detailed post, above, tonight.

March 31, 2008, 02:09 AM

Went through your detailed post, above, and thank you for your remarks.

The Pachmayrs come in an assortment of flavors. Compac Professionals have the open backstrap. They were terrible for recoil, but great for concealment.

The Compacs have the closed backstrap. I actually thought they would be the best rubber grips of all. But I did not like the felt recoil with them. They are the next in line up from the Compac Pros, but the grip is rather thick so they're a bit bulky for carry. That, combined with the poor recoil experience, has led me to discount them entirely for carry or range. It's unfortunate because they're beautiful grips. YMMV. I have them listed WTS: in the classifieds.

I think the next step up may be the Grippers, Gripper Decelerators, and the Presentation grips. The Pachmayr website has a FAQ's section which pretty accurately describes the various recommended grips in relation to consumer needs.


I agree with you and others in saying the Hogue Monogrips are the best J-frame grips you can buy to reduce the effects of felt recoil.

I'll just have to change over to the Monogrips for range sessions. The rest of the time I'll probably just carry in a Mika or Nemesis with the Compac Professionals and hope that I never have to shoot anyone due to the felt recoil with those grips and for other reasons. ;)

BTW, don't know meaning of :

Quad Five
firewall loads


Range trip tomorrow! Shooting 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.7gr AA#5, with the lead 140TC.

March 31, 2008, 03:02 AM
Thanks for detailed response, Jim. There is indeed very little available data on expansion of jacketed bullets in 700-900 fps range. 135 gr. Speer GD-SB is the only exeption I know of. But looking at these bullets, especially Remington SJHP's, I just find it hard to believe they won't expand well.


Left to right are Remington .38spl SJHP 110, 125, 140, 158 and 180 gr. and Speer .38spl 158 gr LSWCHP. I mean, just look at this huge exposed lead dome! Of course looks don't proove anything. I guess I'll just have to find a secluded pond and fire one of these into 4-5' of water to be sure :)

Good that you guys are going after replica FBI loads on steroids. In the meantime, I'll get jacketed bullet going at 800-900 fps from a snub and we can compare the notes. I'll be using 4756 first and switch to Unique if needed.

Interesting comments on the grips, Brent and Jim. I too tried many available grips and ended up with Pach Compac Pro on 442, stock U.Mike on 640, and Hogue mono on SP101. Why? I guess they just "look good" :)


March 31, 2008, 03:21 AM
I can only comment on the 442 with the Pachmayr Compac Pros. They look nice and conceal well enough so that I feel comfortable with them in a pocket holster. It ends there, unfortunately...:fire:

jfh apparently recommends building one's hand up no matter the grip. I would consider doing so but 'fear' that within a few weeks, or a month or more without practice, all gained would be lost.

It's practice with +P with the Monogrips-no 'if's' 'ands' or 'but's' about it, but I feel uncomfortable carrying Monogrips in a pocket holster unless pocket is quite deep. (BTW, Monogrips are also great for the K and L frames).

March 31, 2008, 04:38 AM

I am 100% with Jim about need for grueling recoil practice to shoot snubs well. It took me about 1000 rounds of first mild and then full house 357 mag rounds shot from 640 to get used to recoil. Not to blow my horn, but now I can shoot them rapidly and accurately strong or weak hand. Once earned this skill does not go away easily - more or less like learning to ride a bike.



March 31, 2008, 05:00 AM
The 640 is a steel frame, is it not? So it might be easier, even with .357 with the stock UM boot grip.

Have you shot the Speer .38 spec. factory 135gr GDHPSB +P in your 442 equipped with the Pachmayr Compac Pros? If so, have you shot 50-100 of them in a range session?

It's not the recoil itself that I'm having difficulty with-it's the discomfort to my hand. I had to actually shake my hand after a few of those rounds with the Pachmayr Compac Professionals.

Perhaps one can acclimate, but with the Monogrip, it's considerably more comfortable.

The Compac Pros 'look' good enough. They provide a solid, non-slip grip, but I don't like the 'feel' of them all that much in my hand. They feel on the 'rough' side with that checkering. OTOH, this helps in maintaining a solid grip. But I get the feeling when sighting in with them of an old Peggy Lee song entitled, "Is that all there is"? Am I weird, or what? :what: Maybe it's the hour that I'm writing this post. The Compac Pros make my hand feel somewhat unassisted, almost out there alone. However, I really like the improvement in concealability when comparing them to the Monogrips.

BTW, my 442 weighs 15.0 oz. equipped with the Hogue Monogrip. That's a tad less than with the stock UM boot grips.

March 31, 2008, 02:19 PM
The M640 doesn't come stock with UM Boot grips, it comes with UM Combat grips which are a little longer. I replaced the Combat grips with Boot grips on my M640. I practice with both the M640 and M638 which is also a 15oz Airweight.

When I practice I use the UM Boot grips but when I test fire many rounds I change over to Pachmayer Gripper Grips. I wouldn't carry with those grips because they are very large but they are great when testing 100 rounds or more.

I have found I like the Uncle Mike's Boot grips better than the Hogue Bantam grips. For sore reason I just like the feel better and I have bought a few spares from S&W because I don't think they will be available much longer.

I agree the design of Remington's Jacket should allow for expansion. It looks like those "cutouts" should allow the mushroom to flatten easily. I'm sure they will expand at 900 fps without a problem.

March 31, 2008, 04:42 PM
If I had to choose between the Bantams and the UM boot grips in consideration solely re felt recoil, I would choose the UM's too.

I already sold my UM boot grips so I ask you this:

Have you shot the Speer .38 spec. factory 135gr GDHPSB +P in an Airweight equipped with the Pachmayr Compac Pros? If so, have you shot 50-100 (or equivalent loads) in one range session with those grips?

Have you shot the Speer .38 spec. factory 135gr GDHPSB +P in an Airweight equipped with the UM boot grips? If so, have you shot 50-100 (or equivalent loads) in one range session with those grips?

How would you compare the UM boot grips to the Compac Pros re felt recoil (and pain) assuming all questions are answered in the affirmative?

March 31, 2008, 05:25 PM
There's a LOT of good commentary and chitchat in this thread, isn't there?

hand conditioning: While it still is not extensively laid out the first posts in this thread, the whole notion of developing "replica reloads" and then adjusting the load charges to provide for lighter recoil is my attempt to address the physical conditioning and the related training issues of "muscle memory," etc., etc., to make one a proficient shooter.

When I started last summer, my hand was woefully out of shape. I could shoot softball DEWC loads more than once--but at the end of qualifying for my carry permit (which I did with those in the 340; the 640 was at the 'smiths), I didn't even want to shoot for a day or two.

As I started shaking out the 38+P 135-gr. replica reloads, my hand kept getting banged up (knuckle on the trigger finger, thumb web; bruising on the thumb heel), and it took about two months to get calloused enough to avoid raw skin. As that occurred, my hand started getting stronger. I mixed shooting the 640 (CT-305 grips) about 80 percent of the time with shooting the M&P340 (CT-405 / boot grips) about 20% of the time.

The tingling in my hand continued to decrease. By September I was able to shoot the Buffalo Bore 20A loads with no trouble in the 640, followed up with the five shots in the 340, and I could have reloaded. So, we can now segue to

Grip selection: While this is highly personal, I also think that the use of boot grips (maximum concealability) on a revolver designed almost exclusively for concealed carry (lightweight DAO j-frames) is the most suitable application. I've followed DAdam's use of the Monogrip on his j-frames, and I don't really agree with it because of the extent to which it limits concealability. Further, from what I can tell with my various experiments in grips on these different j-frames (M&P340, 640, M60/3" and 442), the larger grips will inhibit hand conditioning. In short--the tingling will disappear, Brent, when your hand is conditioned fully, and it will get conditioned faster if you shoot with a boot / combat grip.

I think that approach--setting up the most appropriate carry gun, then using the practice-replica reloads routine in the context of "successive approximations" is better than shifting the grip later and having to relearn different "muscle memory" for the grip. Doing the latter takes a LOT of shooting, I think--at least for those of us who are not pros.

Even with the minimal shooting I've done this winter (maybe 600 rounds a month), I've maintained the callouses and the strength. In fact, the 225 rounds or so I shot last Saturday--in about a hour and a half, with three different guns--didn't even leave my hand sore, at all. Hoptob is right; it's a bit like bicycle riding--as far as the muscle memory goes, at least.

Meanwhile, of all the grips I've put on the M60, the Monogrip looks the best, I think and it works very well with my hand size. Since the M60 is strictly a fun / range gun and I acquired it to get chrono data from a 3" barrel, I'll set that one up for comfort.

Hollow Points: You know, I hadn't really thought about those Remingtons--and I think I even have some on hand (in lighter weights). Meanwhile, I am about to place an order with Mike at Mastercastbullets.com for his 158LSWCs--which are, of course, cheaper than the cheap ones at my LGS, unfortunately, and probably are better. However, the lower BHN of the local bullets might come closer to the characteristics of the Speer--what do you guys think about that?--e.g., shooting a softer-cast LSWC.

I have figured out, however, that the Speers take about one- or two-tenths grain less powder for the same subjective recoil. Whatever that info is worth yet, I don't know.

Jargon definitions:

Quad Five: This term is my adaptation of a drill Old Fuff here recommends for carry guns:

Basic Proficiency is measured by shooting five shots in five seconds at five yards and in a five-inch group.

It's a wonderful drill--do it on a simple piece of paper, or a paper plate, whatever. Use "successive approximations" to make it fit with your conditioning. The five yards is easy enough to sort out, as is the five shots--that's a j-frame cylinderfull. Instead of a bullseye-type shot, try flash sight pictures and speed up the trigger time until the group is outside of five inches--then back up slightly. And / or, don't speed up the string time until the group size stays five inches or smaller. Don't be perfectionistic--settle for 80 percent, and stay at it.

Integrate it with lighter-weight practice rounds. You can push or pull on this model; just don't set too-high goals to begin with.

Once you can reliably do that--and your hand doesn't tingle too much--then try doing two in a row. (Ignore the reload skills; practice that separately.)

firewall: From automotive jargon--the firewall being the partition between the engine / front compartment and the passenger compartment. It refers to pressing the accelerator fully forward, to maximize power, and keeping it there--hence, in shooting, to build a MAXimum power load for a given caliber. SAAMI-spec loads are not "to the firewall"; there are margins there before the liklihood of catastrophic failure.

enough. The snow continues to fall, and I am going to sit by the fireplace and read a book. (That's a joke; I don't have a fireplace.)

Jim H.

March 31, 2008, 05:45 PM
Have you shot the Speer .38 spec. factory 135gr GDHPSB +P in an Airweight equipped with the UM boot grips? If so, have you shot 50-100 (or equivalent loads) in one range session with those grips?

How would you compare the UM boot grips to the Compac Pros re felt recoil (and pain) assuming all questions are answered in the affirmative?

I have fired several Hundred Speer Factory 135gr .38 Special +P rounds through my M638 (15oz Airweight) with the stock UM Boot grips. I don't find it painful as long as I don't shoot more than 40-50 rounds. I had a set of Pachmayr Compac Pro grips for a short time but they were bigger than I wanted for conceal carry so I sold them. The Pachmayr grips I now have are Gripper Grips. They are the biggest grips Pachmayr sells. Sorry, I don't remember how different the Compac Pro grips felt compared to the UM Boot grips.

March 31, 2008, 05:45 PM
IMPORTANT QUESTION!! Does anyone have an alternate source for LSWC/HP bullets other than Hornady? Their bullets are knurled without a crimp groove and don't seem to be as accurate as bullets with a smooth side, grease groove and a crimp groove.

I bought a big box of them last year from Midsouth. I see the price has gone up a bit since then (I shoulda bought 2 or 3 boxes): http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com/item.asp?sku=00051515


March 31, 2008, 05:49 PM
Thanks for the link, I'll probably order a box. How well do they shoot? I just got a box of Speer LSWC/HP bullets but haven't shot them yet. Have you compared the above bullets to Speer's bullets by any chance?

Thanks again for the link!

March 31, 2008, 06:45 PM
I've loaded up 100 of 'em using 4.5 grains of Unique and they shoot OK in my S&W 15. This is what I keep loaded at all times in one of my "house guns". I probably should have used 5 grains of Unique, but the data I had at the time said 4.5 was max.

I haven't chronied them, nor done any other ballistics tests, so I don't really know what the previous "OK" means. :) As far as accuracy, they only need to be able to hit a Bad Guy at 20' (or less) and I regularly target shoot with similarly-loaded cast bullets at 50' so I don't think that'll be a problem as long as they go "Bang".

March 31, 2008, 08:27 PM
Now I understand what 'Quad Five' refers to...
And, 'firewall'...firewall seems to be 'better than 50-50 chance of kaboom', yes? It exceeds max SAAMI loads, and closely approaches the max the gun can handle.

Tonight I'll shoot up to, perhaps, 6.6gr AA#5 140gr LTCFP in the Airweight. If that doesn't match the GDHP +P recoil I'll switch gun to the M65 4" K-frame for the remaining 6.7gr. load.

CAVEAT: Everyone proceeds at their own risk and should determine what is appropriate for their firearms, and their personal health and safety. I'm only relating my experience in the above post(s)-your experience may differ, and what may work in any of my loads and firearms may not work in yours safely. Always check published manuals and loads before proceeding in any reloading endeavor. What I post may not even work safely in my firearms as I'm tinkering and experimenting with unpublished information at times.

We shall see-6.4 was not a perfect match for me before. Maybe 6.5 or 6.6 might do it. I'd rather not have to switch to the K-frame. But I don't want to stretch the frame of the Airweight, either.

I've ordered 2 lbs. of AA#5. That should keep me for a while.

As to the FBI load, I may cook up up some of them. Awfully smokey round, though, in a range setting.


I'd prefer to direct my attention more to investigating a replica load for the 9mm Speer 124gr GDHPSB +P, and/or the Fed 9mm P9HST2, which is a standard pressure duty load for a PD in my area. 'Carry what the cops use' for SD has some value in certain circumstances.


April 1, 2008, 03:56 AM
CAVEAT: Everyone proceeds at their own risk and should determine what is appropriate for their firearms, and their personal health and safety. I'm only relating my experience in the above post(s)-your experience may differ, and what may work in any of my loads and firearms may not work in yours safely. Always check published manuals and loads before proceeding in any reloading endeavor. What I post may not even work safely in my firearms as I'm tinkering and experimenting with unpublished information at times.

Well, I went to the range tonight with my 442.

Original recommendation for replica load while using the 140gr LTCFP was 6.4gr AA#5.

I had shot up to 6.4 the other day and thought the factory round stouter. I did shoot 6.4 again, tonight, just to be sure, and was of the same opinion.

So I went up to 6.5, 6.6, and 6.7. I did not have any loads beyond 6.7gr of AA#5, and did not shoot with the K-frame as I felt confident my 442 could handle the pressure. YMMV!

After shooting up to 6.6, I marked my card 'clone load' for that 6.6gr. load, but figured that I might as well try shooting 6.7 since I had 10 of them. Well, after comparing with only 4 or so factory rounds with that 6.7 load, I marked THAT 6.7 card 'REAL' clone. YMMV!

When I say 'clone' or 'real clone' I say so only with respect to felt recoil, the sound of the report, and the way the gun reacts to that recoil. 'Discomfort' is also considered, because as one is graduating up .1gr at a time it is difficult to gauge a clone load without a chronograph, and discriminate recoil from .1 increase to another. We're talking subjective findings here, especially in light of my lack of chrono data when firing at the indoor range, and no real POA vs. POI analysis.

Nevertheless, at 6.7 it seemed as if I was shooting the same cartridges. I say this because at that point I had staggered each cartridge of the factory and the reloads. I shot two four round cylinders at that point- 1 reload, 1 factory, 1 reload, 1 factory, and in reverse.

I need more factory Gold Dot! And I need to load up 6.6-6.8, inclusive, for further testing. This will require another 50-rd. box of factory.

Anyway, a third or fourth range trip will be necessary in determining MY 'true', replica load!

The third trip to the range will fine tune further, and I may go to my outdoor range and use the chrono. A fourth trip will be to confirm the results of the third.

Then I 'guess' that I'll have to load up a considerable lot of them. :)

Thanks and regards,

April 1, 2008, 03:58 AM
Great post, Jim, masterpiece! I particularly liked your description of extraneous knuckles appearing exactly where you need them on the shooting hand. I call them badges of honor. :) Also learned from you post about 'Quad Five' - I shoot this drill but never knew it's called that.

Arch and Jim, turns out Remington uses 125 gr. SJHP in one of their 38spl +p loads - R38S2. Looking through my logs I discovered that I even chonographed it at some point! The load clocked 881 fps from 2 1/8" 640 and 985 fps from 4" GP100. I ordered some of 158 gr. SJHP's from Midway. If it's managable at 900 fps from Mx42 it may become interesting choice for SD carry.

Brent, I dry fire my 442 a lot but almost never shoot it. It's kept strictly for carry purposes. I was taught to practice with heavier loads in steel guns instead. As far as relative recoil goes, mid range 357 magnum feels about same in 640 as Speer 135 gr. in 442; full house 357 magnums (e.g. R357M1 or equivalent handloads) kicks A LOT harder. That's why I choose to practice with full house loads in 640. To answer your question, yes, I have shot 50-100 of those in one session. Does it help to shoot Speer 135 gr. from 442? I think it does - I do Quad Five drill with this combo under 3 sec from low ready. And it's really not as hard as it sounds. Just follow Jim's instructions above and you'll be there soon too.

As far as grip selection goes, I think it's a personal choice. My hands are medium small and I am comfortable with smaller grips like Pach Compac Pro. Guys with bigger hands may be better served with large grips.


P.S. Nice report, Brent. --M

April 1, 2008, 12:44 PM
At any rate, some more ongoing comments.

ArchangelCD: re 158LSWC-HPs I like the Speers better than the Hornady. As noted earlier, replication is about .1 or .2 gr below 158LSWC-358s in a softer lead. Keep us posted on your results, and let us know about the Magnus bullet.

brentfoto: At this point, my approach would be to drop the factory round comparison to save money, and spend the time on the acclimation and quad five shooting. There are two reasons for this--

1. You are "close enough"--if not perfectly on replication--and probably well within a normal range of variation. Variation, that is, on the normal spread of powder-measure drops, mass-produced bullet-weight, and the variances in lead formulations in different orders of bullets.

2. The discrimination you have now--while you are 'new' at this kind of training--is less than it will be after some extensive shooting while you are in this kind of mindset (i.e., of "successive approximations," etc.), and you need to develop the "muscle memory" that goes with the conditioning and grip size you are using. With additional conditioning and muscle memory, your discriminations will be finer / better.

For example, I was able to use 6.8 gr. as my clone load for some fair amount--perhaps 2,000 rounds or so. Then I got my 140LRNFP-358 order in from Penn Bullets. Those are extremely high-quality hard cast bullets--a BHN of about 22. (The Chey Cast 140LTC-357 originals were about 15, IIRC, and the Mastercast 140LTC-357 originals about 15 BHN.) The PB140LRNs required tweaking for crimp, and the 6.8 gr. recipe was now noticably "above' the factory round. Replica reloads with those bullets can easily be at 6.6 gr. in my revolvers.

So, in summary--settle in at 6.7 gr., or 6.6 gr. and shoot the reloads, and don't obsess over the "final" version 'cause it's gonna change as your hand and your skills change.

I will be really, really curious about your chrono results. I suspect that you will find the 6.7 gr. load is running about 860 fps or so. That's what it runs in my 442; in the 640 it runs about 880, and in the M&P340, about 900-910. My later tests had some wider SDs, but I probably had the crimping out-of-spec--I'll know more when I can test again this spring.

However, look out for the "tyranny of the numbers" phenomenon--i.e., you start tweaking to get accuracy or low SDs-ESs, or accuracy tweaks. The guiding principle for me remains "replication" for facilitating proficiency.

hoptob: Thanks for the compliments--but I really didn't grow extra knuckles, just the appropriate callouses.:p

During that two-month period, I basically had to keep bandages on with bacitracin on them to keep the skin soft enough to thicken. Even then, in September I had some trouble with skin cracking in the web. I imagine this is just the indiosyncrasies of personal body chemisty (I'm older; my skin is drier), but the point is, I did try to follow a regimen to build and maintain the callouses.

As far as those Remington hollowpoints go--once we get the loads sorted out, we ought to send them over to what's-his-name--you know the guy that's doing the extensive gelatin tests with carry guns. (He posts on THR; I have the link but am too lazy to look it up now.) I agree, 900 fps from a 357 magnum frame ought to be the goal. 38 frames should probably stay at 800+ fps.

FWIW, we had a solid 6'-8" of snow that ended by daybreak today--it's a helluva April Fool's day.

Jim H.

April 1, 2008, 12:57 PM

Thanks for your general comments about the tenor of this thread. I agree wholeheartedly.

Right now, perhaps I will take your advise and forego even more of the factory rounds. I do get my box of 50, though, for less than $30.00, tax included, from my LE contact who is an FFL. That works out to about sixty cents a round. Still, with my cash flow, that's expensive. Even if I were not having such problems, it's expensive. And it's likely to only increase.

I'll just concentrate on the LTCFP reloads at 6.6 or 6.7gr in my 442 and will chrono them with the Chey-Cast bullets when I get a chance.

I don't have the light/lightbulb setup for chrono in an indoor range, and will have to shoot outdoors. The downside is that nearest target will be at about 25 yds. - range rules due to safety concerns at that club.

Will practice, practice, practice, and will start doing the Quad Five, but will have to do @7 yrds. due to indoor range rules, unless excused.

April 1, 2008, 05:46 PM
On another matter, there must be a world of difference in recoil shooting a 640 and a 442-there's a half-pound (8 oz.) difference (23 oz. v. 15 oz.)in weight between the two.

I just weighed my 442 empty with the Bantam grips - 14.3 oz. -so there's nearly a 9 oz. difference!

Monogrip for practice, Bantam for carry with the 442. That's 'my' ticket-YMMV.

April 1, 2008, 09:03 PM
I really didn't grow extra knuckles, just the appropriate callouses.

Well, Jim, that would be a sight to remember. :D And 6' 8" of snow is a sight to remember for sure. Even for MN! We get snow in WA too - 1-2" at a time...

Excellent idea about gelatin testing. Are you thinking about brassfetcher? I didn't know he'd do it "for hire" but we certainly ought to ask.

Brent, agree that there is significant weight difference between 442 and 640. There is also significant differences between recoil of 135 gr. bullet traveling at 860 fps and 125 gr. bullet at 1250 fps :) Anyway, I am glad you found the grips that work for you.


April 2, 2008, 02:35 AM
Again I'm faced with a disappointing day. The temps actually got way up to 68 degrees today but the rain was relentless so I couldn't shoot today even though it was a warm day. It's supposed to drop back down to below 40 degrees again tomorrow and the rain is going to continue. I have no idea when I'll be able to test these rounds, I really can't wait to pass them over a Chrono.

Wow man....that's some Spring you are having. I was upset about all the rain that's been going on here but you are really getting hit I see. I guess it's not so bad here after all. (well, except for the flooding that is!)

Good luck digging out buddy.....

April 2, 2008, 05:41 AM
Thank you, Mike.

April 2, 2008, 10:31 AM
The ground is still covered here, but the warmup is on its way. The streets were plowed early--so they were dry. As a result, I made it to the (indoor) commercial range to test some more (FBI) replica reloads.

I've just about homed in on the charge weights for AA#5 (done, really), SR-4756 (done; see Mack Heath link); WSF, True Blue, and Silhouette. Keep in mind that there really are TWO generally-accepted charge weights for the SR-4756 recipes.

The 'standard' one, referenced by Mack Heath, is 6.3 gr. of SR-4756 under a 158LSWC-HP. This one, described as a (mild) +P+ load, is fairly close to the current Rem38S12 and Georgia Arms' 38E feel. 6.0 gr. under the Speer 158LSWC-HP is a more-precise equivalent, I think, for replica recoil. This slight reduction is probably a result of the factory ammo being built to nominally the current SAAMI 38 Special plus-P standard.

The 'upgrade' one, also from Mack Heath, is 6.8 grains of SR-4756 under the same bullet--but loaded to 357 Magnum length, or 1.590. Based on the "SR-4756" loads chronologies on the S&W forum, it appears this was a load built in the 1970s to provide 38-Special ammunition for Law Enforcement that provided 357 Magnum performance if their duty gun was a 38 Special.

Apparently there have been bullet redesigns since then to provide consistent seating depth--i.e., cannelure adjustments. Personally, I see no advantage to using 38 Special cases--and we all know the disadvantages--except for the kind of situation outlined above. It clearly is outside generally-accepted practices for our current time.

I've loaded the 6.8-gr. charge in 357 cases. It is this level of charge that appears to be the one that gets these bullets (or any 158-gr) running at about 900 fps from a 2" or 2.5" barrel. Given the historical load development of the 38/357 case, that's quite a jump from the nominal 38-Special ballistics of 755 fps from a 4" or 6" barrel, with a 158-gr. bullet, is its initial smokeless powder loading.

So, summarize--we really can consider two different levels of 158-gr. HP performance, one of which is suitable for the 38 Special / aluminum j-frames. And, beyond this, in the firewall ranges, are the Speer #8 loads and, in one fashion or another, the Buffalo Bore '+P+' 20A.

hoptob: How did you set up that 8.5-gr. charge, Mike? Was it loaded to nominally 38 Special (1.460) lengths, or to the 357 (1.590) length? Either way, you are a braver man than I am--so far.

Brentfoto: It sounds like you have right source for the CCI 50-round boxes. They are also available from Streichers, here (http://www.streichers.com/ProductDetail.aspx?Catalog=Guns%20and%20Ammo&Category=AMMO_DHAND&Prod=CCI-38GD). Like you, I pay sales tax, and I doubt shipping charges are cheaper than your deal--but at least it's an alternative source.

My experiences with shooting these j-frames exactly mirror Mikes--i.e., I bought the 640 for practice and load development, and the M&P340 for carry. At the level of conditioning I now have, I can shift readily between either gun--but the 220 rounds I fired yesterday in the 640 is beyond what I can do in the M&P340.

At the "basic proficiency" level, I can do quad fives back to back now with any of these loads we've been discussing in the 340. I doubt I could go beyond two with the Buffalo Bore load, however.

Jim H.

April 2, 2008, 01:44 PM
Great price with Streicher's. Can public buy this round from them?

April 2, 2008, 03:31 PM
"...Can public buy this round from them?"

Yes; I think a fair number of THR'ers now buy there, Brent.

Jim H.

April 2, 2008, 10:24 PM

Bullets were sitted deep, OAL = 1.425". I was using Montana Gold 158 JHP - it has cannelure band high up on the bullet.

I really don't think this is about bravery. I could be naive but just find it hard to believe that any damage can come to the gun before brass expands and extraction becomes sticky. Basically this is a "load development methodology" as described in Speer #8. Starting with #9 they changed corporate policy and added another confounding factor - loads were not to exceed SAAMI specs. They described this in detail in the introduction to load tables in Speer #9. The rest is history.

I am neither recommending nor advocating this approach. It just makes sense to me and I am using it for my own load development.


April 2, 2008, 10:47 PM
That's interesting about Montana Gold high cannelure.

Now, about that bravery--interestingly enough, I wasn't thinking in terms of pressure issues--just in terms of recoil, and the anticipation of it. I agree with you in general that I would be looking to issues of sticky extraction first.

However, in the one overpressure incident I have dealt with (17-18 gr. of AA#7 in a 38 Special case--five rounds; I shot all five of them), the first two cases were not sticky. Jerry over at Handloads.com estimated the pressure at 55,000 to 72,000.

That was in the 640, last July. The cylinder was damaged--stretched over each of the thinnest part of each chamber.

I do NOT read primers--that same incident produced primers with little cratering, some flow, and no punctures. And, my own questions about extraction include doubts about it as a reliable indicator, simply because of cleanliness issues--e.g., crud on the cylinder walls.

But, it does sound like you and I approach bigger loads with an eye to the same indicators.

Jim H.

April 3, 2008, 05:25 AM
But, it does sound like you and I approach bigger loads with an eye to the same indicators.
It does indeed, Jim. I agree that there is no absolutely reliable, objective way to know when one is too close to the limit. We have to go with the preponderance of evidence, so to speak. I recall from your earlier very detailed and helpful description of the incident that 3 other cases were not happy campers. I would have thought that if you were intentionally working your way up to that 17 gr. load, you would have noticed that something was not right well before you reached the limit.

But then again, it's just a theory which may prove wrong at any time.


April 9, 2008, 03:03 AM
For those of you, guys, who followed this thread - I posted an update on SR4756/SJHP ballistics in S&W forum. Here is a link (http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/570103904/m/5901019492).


April 9, 2008, 09:18 AM
His presentation is invaluable--it's the best elaboration of "FBI LOAD" data I know of, period.

Congratulations on some good work, Mike. I'm going to be testing my loads as soon as winter quits here and the road in to the pistol range is drivable.

Jim H.

May 6, 2008, 05:35 PM
Bump. This thread is just too good to lose in the background noise.

Jim H.

May 6, 2008, 10:41 PM
jfh, Brent, Arch, hoptob and company:

I just finished reading the entire thread. Now I need to reread it and strip the good stuff into a word doc for posterities sake.

I've followed DAdam's use of the Monogrip on his j-frames, and I don't really agree with it because of the extent to which it limits concealability.

My first J Frame a 642 came with the standard grips and straightaway I purchased a set of CT 405s. I found that any of the plus P avaliable and particularly as the .38spl Plus P debate on the 642 forum settled in on the the SGDFSB 135 PP and later some of the BB and more recently a resurgance in the COR BON 110 DPX, I have stayed with the SGD and BB 20C.

A year later I purchased the 340 and ordered it with 405s it was too good a deal to pass on.
I had a romance with the Hogue Mongrips for a few months but indeed did find that in many chinos the grip was excessive. I sure did like the way it tamed the 13 oz 340 and particularly with the .357 SGDFSB. Ultimately (six months or so ago) I reported on THR 340 thread I had switched back to the 405s and there I will stay. Maybe. I still have the urge though for curiosity sake to purchase the 305s. In the event they are too long I would probably opt to carry a couple of the other pocket buggers that I have come to know.

I know awhile back I told Jim that for Xmas I bought an LnL. Just to take advantage of the bullet offer. Unfortunately I tasked my son to place the order and he opted for the .45 JHP. I don't own a .45. :rolleyes: But he does. Imagine that.

Also I am in the process of moving to TN where we will actually have the space (basement) and a winter forcing one into a man cave to pursue things men do in man caves. In this case acquiring the skill of loading.

Hence I am devouring all this information with great relish and am in my mentoring stage. Perhaps based on having nothing but the LnL, a scale, and micrometer so far, those of you knee deep in this could guide me with a list of required equipment and starter kit of cases, primers, powders, bullets to do 1000 each Plus P and .357 SGDFSB.
I won't be able to get into this in earnest until late fall and winter but am looking forward to developing the skill set and over the next few months ordering in supplies. ;)


May 7, 2008, 07:26 AM
Need: powder funnel; some method of lubing cases (a pad and RCBS case lube has worked for me for 40 years) even though you will (I hope) get carbide sizing dies the lube makes things go smoother; calipers to measure case length and OAL. Although you shouldn't have much of a problem with straight sided pistol cases growing in length a case trimmer will occasionally be needed.

Nice to have: powder trickler, volumetric powder measure, hand primer, tumbler (this will eventually be a must have).

Order from a supplier who will ship your powder and primers on the same hazmat fee unless you are getting these locally. I have found that if I buy locally it is about a wash over what I save buying on-line by the time I pay the shipping and the hazmat.

You will need a sturdy bench with no spring in the top.


May 7, 2008, 11:00 AM
Let's look at the larger issues first--

1. Bench details: I'll leave that to the user--I'm going to assume that you will have a decent enough space to set up in. Likewise, for bench size and layout. My current reloading bench is only 54" wide--and it really works OK but is too small when one considers storage issues.

Two benches ago, I discovered that an ideal reloading bench could be build by using base cabinets (well-made ones, not fiberboard) topped with an extra-deep, extra-thick top. For example, over 22" deep cabinets, installing a nominal 1.5 to 2" thick top made of MDO or HDO and covered with a cheap laminate is strong enough to deal with the leverage issues. If the top is about 28"-30" deep, the presses are mounted outside the cabinets, and there is kneespace should you like to sit while working. This works very well for me--but then again, I am not reloading .50BMG, nor big magnum rifle cases in general.

The one construction detail to attend to is to build it level. The slightest pitch--particularly forward--will have an impact on the case alignment during die insertion, and it is a real PITA.

2. Presses: We don't need to get into the endless single-stage versus whatever discussions, nor the sequential-versus-batch processes. All press types have a place on most reloading benches. For people whose reloading is oriented to handgun cartridges and includes semiauto handguns, single stages are simply not productive enough if you value your time. Further, progressives are not a good press to learn on--there's just too much going on at once for the beginner to maintain adequate safety and QC.

So, in addition to your progressive, I would start with a turret. The Lee Classic Cast is currently the most popular one, I think--and for good reason: It can be used as a single stage or as an auto-indexing turret. So, I would get a Lee classic cast and begin with that--setup for two calibers, perhaps. Keep in mind that if you are interested in Load development--tweaking these "replica reload" recipes in limited runs--an auto-indexing turret is ideal, and a progressive is a PITA.

Your LnL is an excellent press, Dennis, so you have the production side of things covered once you get the basics under control.

3. Hardware: Recently, there have been very good threads written about the various needs--and particularly with the Lee Classic Cast as the press. Here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=353587) is one such thread, and from that you can build your own buy list. When you get it built, Dennis, shoot it into a post in this forum and others will critique it.

Back on track--kind of: ArchAngelCD sent me an email last night after digging out the Pet Loads data on the 38 Special by Ken Waters. This is information developed during the Sixties, I believe, and it really represents the hiatus of load development prior to our current computer-physics-driven ideology. I'm going to look it over and see what to add to this thread, or to another one about short-barreled (revolver) reloading.

Jim H.

May 7, 2008, 07:14 PM
This thread is just too good to lose in the background noise. Yes it is :)

Could you please forward a link to the "Pet Loads..." thread? I'd be interested to take a look.

Dennis, if you think this thread is long, I wonder what do you have to say about this one (http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/570103904/m/4701012262)? Keep in mind - it was 3rd opinion!



May 7, 2008, 07:33 PM
When we get a thread on Pet Loads data, you'll see it. AFAIK, the info may be available at Loaddata.com--i.e., the latest incarnation of the "Rifle / Handloader" publishing group.

Otherwise, look for a (printed) copy on eBay, maybe.

Jim H.

June 3, 2008, 12:24 PM
I did chrono some loads on the 13th of May. No printer, so no SD, ES, etc.
But that has changed and I now have a printer. I may go out later today to chrono some more loads.

.38 sp. Speer 135 clone load:

6.7gr AA#5, 140 TCFP from Chey-Cast:

725, 769, 767, 739, 726, 760, 834, 803, 799, 811, 806, 788, 804, 803, 883.

Factory Speer 135 GDHP: 912, 910, 911, 894, 915.

Some other loads I chrono'd that day:

Win 125 JHP with 6.7gr AA#5:

814, 882, 883, 866.

Factory CorBon 110gr DPX:

1071, 1036

Rem factory 158gr +P (FBI load):

863, 885


July 29, 2008, 12:36 PM
I thought I'd drag this one up for a bit more discussion, as I'm currently working down the path of recreating this load for practice. First of all, thanks to all on this thread for the invaluable information. It has been extremely helpful as a starting point!

I have on hand: AA#5, Unique, Bullseye, and 2400. I bought 38+P and 357 brass (Starline). I have focused so far on loading in the 38spl cases, although I am not opposed to loading 357 if that's where I need to go.

Bullets: I have some of the Hornady 140gr TC lead "Cowboy" bullets. I am loading to Hornady's specified OAL of 1.450". These bullets, as mentioned previously in the thread, have no cannelure so crimping can be an issue. I have found if you roll crimp them, accuracy can suffer. So this time I applied a taper crimp. Good idea/bad idea? I don't know but at least I didn't have any OAL changes when firing. I am using CCI small pistol primers.

Yesterday, I shot the 6.4, 6.5, and 6.6gr AA#5 loads, back to back with the factory loads. Instead of using my M&P340, I took my Mod 27 simply because I felt like shooting it (she's a newer acquisition). :p

For me, even the 6.6 loads were substantially less stout than the factory GDSB +P loads. Perhaps these are closer in "feel" in the super-lightweight snubs? Perhaps my choice of bullet, and the lack of a firm roll crimp, is impacting this?

I'd be happy to entertain any thoughts. I don't want to simply keep upping the powder, if I'm close to max to begin with. I may try to load some of these bullets in the same manner in 357 cases if I move to more powder... Of course, then, the load points change.

July 29, 2008, 02:50 PM
loplop: Some quick answers:

1. Some more reloading data for the GDSB135-JHP has shown up--Handloader, April 2008 (March?) did a reload article. With an LOA of 1.470, they run the load from 6.8 to 7.2 gr. From a 3" model 60, that got the GDSB135JHP running to 930 fps. (I don't think this article is online anywhere yet, unless you are a member at the Handloader site.)

As for MAX loads--well, there are a few issues to consider:

1. The SAAMI 38+P spec is 18,500 psi.

2. Speer uses 20,000 psi as its standard for GDSB loads. That standard, BTW, is what was used in this "replica" reload development.

3. The European standard (CIP)--has no 'standard' and '+P' split; the max pressure in PSI for 38 Special is 21,750. FWIW--I believe that standard was implemented at least 20 years ago. It has me wondering if Revolver manufacturers like S&W & Ruger vary their metallurgical standards for shipments to Europe, or whether they use a cheaper steel / alloy here. Personally, I don't think so....

Are those Hornday bullets swaged, and not cast?--I don't know them, but I find what little I've shot with Hornady or Speer swaged does take about two-tenths more, I think.

As for crimp--I do use a moderate roll crimp, and for these kind of practice rounds, I do not build for accuracy--i.e., the tweaking of either charge weight, crimp, LOA, whatever--tends to make them less of a "replica reload."

About that recoil: I suspect that, between your bullet selection and your lower-charges to date, you are still on the lower side of the GDSB38+P ballistics. As for recoil comparison in the 27--well, if you run the momentum / foot-lbs formulas, I suspect you will note that a nominal 5% drop in recoil in a 13.3 oz revolver is quite a bit more when that same round is shot from a (nominal) 40 oz. revolver.

Sounds like you are moving along in the right direction, though.

Jim H.

July 30, 2008, 01:19 AM
It is the April 2008 Edition of Handloader. (issue # 252)
The reloading data for the 135gr Speer Gold Dot SB rounds is on page 21. (the article starts on page 20) I was very happy to see the author was using the same exact charge in one of his loads of AA#5 that I settled on. (6.8gr) I guess I'm not so dumb after all!! LOL

July 30, 2008, 09:12 AM
Thanks for the thoughts. I am not yet a member of Handloader, it sounds like I should look into it.

Yes, these Hornady bullets are swaged lead. I can take a photo later this evening if you'd like. They are FP bullets with the "crosshatch" pattern on the sides, no cannelure. I have a hard time figuring out how much roll crimp to apply to bullets like these; if it's visible to the eye, I'm certainly cutting into the bullet. That's why I tried the taper crimp.

Perhaps I'll go back to a roll crimp and just try not to cut too deeply into the bullet. If I do this I'll dial back to 6.4 again and work up; I bet the pressures will go up (comparatively). Once I work through this box of Hornady's, I'll look for another brand.

I don't worry too much about the gun strength, since the M&P340 and Mod 27 are 357's they should be fine... But the brass, yes, that worries me at the top ends of these charges :) I haven't seen any signs of overpressure, though. No sticky extraction, primers look totally normal.

I will say this: I really like AA#5! It flows so well through my Hornady powder thrower. A joy to work with, especially compared to powders such as Unique.

July 30, 2008, 09:38 AM

Unless you are committed to Hornady, buy / order some good cast bullets. Chey Cast, MasterCast-IL, and Penn Bullets all have 140-gr. bullets. Chey Cast and MasterCast have BHNs of about 15, and that hardness level obdurates well with loads at these pressures in my S&Ws. Penn, OTOH, does Hard Cast (BHN 21-22), and they are good for driving harder and faster--not necessarily needed for this kind of load.

I found .358s work the best, with least leading--but you might want to try some .357s as well and see which works the best in your M&P340.

Depending on the brass brand and its previous usage, you don't need to worry about it, IMO. I have both used 38 Specials I bought some years ago, and a new(er) supply of Starline, and none of either set is showing undue wear at these 18-20000 psi uses. I will mention, however, that some of the used brass and some of my new / once-shot major-brand cases that were from the softball target loads do seem to be thinner, and I segregate those.

As for sticky extraction--that hasn't shown up in my guns until the nominal 45,000-plus pressure range--in other words, beyond 357 Mag MAX pressures. And, primers are similar--they may be progress in flattening, but even the primers I shot in my overcharge incident last summer showed no piercing, no leakage, and little cratering--and they were used at something like 55,000-72,000 psi.

About on-line / for-pay reloading resources: I've found Handloader to be of mixed value to me. If you are interested in historical data, it has it in spades, of course. But the search engine was slow and clumsy the last time I tried it. The written publication, OTOH, is of value.

OTOH, Ammoguide is of value to me--even with my limited reloading interest. It is easy to use, has good tools, and has a massive repository of loads in it.

Jim H.

July 30, 2008, 12:04 PM
Great info, Jim. I'm not committed to Hornady, per se, I just found a box and grabbed them. I do really like their XTP bullets, but they are significantly more expensive, and since I have no real need for a HP, just a waste of money for me.

I will research some lead. Maybe I'll go for the Penn's, as I could run them in 357, too. I really like the magnum loads in my Mod 27. Not so much in the M&P :p

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