Factory .38 Special velocity


January 30, 2010, 04:25 PM
Wondering if anyone has chronographed any factory 158 gr lead RN rounds lately out of a 4" revolver.
Just curious how they compare with what I'm loading..

If you have what rounds were they and what did you come up with?


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Steve C
January 30, 2010, 05:48 PM
If you go the the Winchester or Remington websites and look up the ballistics for their standard and +P loads indicated that they are tested from a 4" ventilated test barrel, they will be within +/- 5% when tested from a 4" revolver. There's variation between different revolvers on the same loads so you can not expect exact numbers. Plenty of individual data on line for factory loads they ran over their chronographs.

January 30, 2010, 06:34 PM
Wasn't looking for exact numbers.. Just wondering what other guys came up with with THEIR guns. I haven't found any of these rounds in my area in a while so just wondering.

January 30, 2010, 09:08 PM
I so seldom shoot factory ammo anymore. The closest comparison I have would be comparing factory loads in my snubbies with my reloads. And then looking at the reloads in a 4 inch barrel.

You can see that two factory loads chronograph just at 700 fps in these two snubbies. And my load of 158 L 3.5 grains Bullseye is just at 700 fps.

Then in the four inch Colt Police Positive, my 3.5 grain load is clocking just at 760 fps.

I would expect a standard pressure 158 lead factory bullet to do the same.

Colt Detective Special mfgr 1963

158 LRN 3.5 grs Bullseye mixed cases WSP (brass)

23-Sep-07 T = 79 °F

Ave Vel = 705
Std Dev = 12.16
ES = 34.59
High = 723.5
Low = 688.9
N = 12

158 LSWC Hornady Factory

23-Sep-07 T = 79 °F

Ave Vel = 700.8
Std Dev = 13.49
ES = 48.39
High = 724.1
Low = 675.7
N = 12

Taurus M85 B2UL 2" Barrel

158 LSWC 3.5 grs Bullseye thrown, Mixed Brass WSP
11-Dec-04 T = 54 °F shot little high and centered

Ave Vel = 686.3
Std Dev = 13.63
ES = 58.48
High = 718.8
Low = 660.3
N = 30

158 LRN Master Factory Ammo
30-Dec-04 T = 56 °F shot 6" high centered until barrel leaded

Ave Vel = 698.2
Std Dev = 20.56
ES = 105.8
High = 753.5
Low = 647.6
N = 32

Colt Police Positive Special 4" Barrel mfgr 1930

158 LRN 3.5grs Bullseye Mixed cases WSP 29-Jan-06
T = 68 °F
Ave Vel = 760.3
Std Dev = 27.53
ES = 111.4
High = 814.1
Low = 702.6
N = 29

January 30, 2010, 10:04 PM

I did some testing awhile back from a late 1960s 3 inch Model 10, and, a 5 inch circa 1903 S&W 'M&P'...so, one could suppose that a 4 inch would be about inbetween -

I tested several BP and '777' Loadings in .38 Special, and, some Factory Smokeless standard/traditional 158 rounds also.


So far, not quite 20 Grains of 3f BP ( reduced oweing to modern case volume from the original 21.5 was it? Grains BP loading of 1898/'99) and a Grease Wafer have better FPS for same weight Bullet than 'Factory' smokeless...

January 30, 2010, 10:30 PM
I did some remington 38+p 125gr jhp and the average was 930fps out of my 686 4"

January 31, 2010, 03:03 AM
Hey, awesome report Oyeboten..

mnhntr, that just about what I got from those R-P 125's from my 4" 686.
Back in the late '70's I was working for LASD and we were issued those rounds. If one ever shot those things at night ya couldn't see a hand in front of your face for about 10 minutes, lol. I examined a few of them and, IIRC, they were loaded with 7.5grs of some large flakey stuff. Looked like BlueDot without the dots..
Then in '79 we were issued some Federal LE 110gr JHPs. They clocked at about 1125fps.

Yea, I don't buy a lot of factory stuff either.. I've been rollin' my own since 1968 and never had any reason to. Just recently it's become a good idea to have factory rounds in your carry guns, so I've been looking at factory stuff a bit closer.

From what I can gather from all the excellent replies, is 3.5 grs Bullseye behind a 158gr lead something is still pretty darn close to what you buy at the store.

Thanks much..:)

Peter M. Eick
January 31, 2010, 08:41 AM
cbc 158 lead go 753 out of a 4" 38/44 HD.
Winchester 158 lead does 789.
Winchester 158 LHP does 742.
UMC 158 lead rn does 814.

I don't shoot a lot of factory so that is all I have.

January 31, 2010, 12:39 PM
UMC 158 lead rn does 814.

Not bad..


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