357 Magnum Question


March 7, 2010, 10:00 AM
I recently acquired a like-new S&W Model 19-5. In looking up interesting tidbits about the model on the internet I came across a heated controversy about whether it was safe to shoot modern 357 loads through them because of the flat spot on the forcing cone. Supposedly the original 357 Magnum loads were less powerful than newer rounds, especially those with 125 gr bullets and lighter. I don't wish to move the controversy here, I'm just wondering what the original loads might be (bullet weight and velocity) so I can duplicate them and play it safe? Something somewhere lead me to believe that the original bullets were 158 gr.

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March 7, 2010, 10:32 AM
I believe the general concensus is just don't shoot a million hot 125's in them and you'll be OK.

Many threads about it here. Search may find them.

March 7, 2010, 10:37 AM
Hello friends and neighbors // I try S&W direct for that kind of info. JMHO

March 7, 2010, 10:55 AM
I would stick with 38+p or 357 Medium Velocity Golden Sabers in her.

The Bushmaster
March 7, 2010, 11:05 AM
Limit the number of 125 grain full house .357 magnums fired in your Mod 19.

My Mod 19-5 has seen only .357 magnum ammunition from it's date of birth (1986). Very few were 125 grain loads. I load 140 grain and heavier and am having no problems. I recommend the same for yours. Just keep an eye on the flame cutting of the top strap and the thin part of the forcing cone. I have some flame cutting that developed early on, but has not gotten any worse in the last 15 years of use.

March 7, 2010, 11:13 AM
Supposedly the original 357 Magnum loads were less powerful than newer rounds, especially those with 125 gr bullets and lighter.Nope.
At the time the Model 19 was introduced and took over the police market by storm, the standard factory load was a 158 grain lead SWC bullet using 2400 flake powder, at 40,000 PSI pressure.
On top of that, the bullets were too soft, and they leaded badly and increased pressure further.

That was followed by the first JHP loads from the Super-Vel company. They were the first 110 & 125 grain JHP loads to hit the police market in the 1970's.
They were loaded with ball powder, to what must have been +P pressure, as they were way hotter then other .357 factory loads from Winchester & Remington.

My personal feeling is that a lot of those loads got shot in dirty Model 19's with badly leaded forcing cones left over from the 158 lead bullet loads.

To further compound the problem, police range training sessions were shot with mass quanities of .38 Spec. target ammo, followed by a few cylinderfuls of Super-Vel to see what they were like.
With no cleaning the chambers or barrel first.
That sometimes lead to a Series of Unfortunate Events, and cracked forcing cones.

More recently, SAAMI has reduced the pressure standard on several calibers, including reducing the .357 Magnum to 35,000 CUP.

I have loaded for my Model 19 & 66 for many years using a 140 grain JHP over 14.5 grains 2400. This is a good mid-range magnum load that will not hurt any gun.


March 7, 2010, 11:32 AM
I remember reading all the gun rags when the Model 19 first came out and all the "experts" of the day recommended that this revolver be carried with 158gr jacketed 357 Mag rounds, but practice with using 38 Special rounds to keep from loosining up this firearm. Remember, when this revolver was introduced there were not any so called high velocity/high pressure 110 or 125 gr factory ammo on the market then That ammo was introduced by a gentleman named Lee Jurras in his "Hi-Vel" 110 and 125 gr 357 Mag loads. These loads and those new loads by Speer and theother big boys would shake that Model 19 revolver to pieces in short order with a steady diet of that high pressure ammo. A few cylinder loads of the current hot stuff won't hurt your firearm, but stay away from constant use of it. Yes, I am old enough to remember the introduction of the Model 19 and all the hype Bill Jordan and Sketter Skelton gave it as the "ideal poice revolver". Just wish I could have afforded one back then. :)

March 7, 2010, 11:56 AM
The Model 19 was introduced in 1955.

Just looking at a 1967 Shooters Bible.
(Velocities from 8 3/8" barrels)

Remington offered only three .357 Mag loads.
158 Hi-Speed Lead SWC @ 1,410 FPS.
158 Hi-Speed Lead Metal Piercing @ 1,410 FPS.
158 Hi-Speed JSP @ 1,550 FPS.

Winchester offered two.
158 lead SWC @ 1,410 FPS.
158 lead Metal Piercing @ 1,410 FPS.

Norma only had one load.
158 JSP @ 1,520 FPS.

Federal offered none.

That was it for .357 ammo for the first 12 years or more of the Model 19.
As I recall at the time, almost all cops were using the 158 lead SWC & LMP loads.
There was some interest in the Norma & Remington JSP loads by hunters.

Nothing changed until Super-Vel opened it's doors 5-6 years later in the early 1970's.
It's a long and winding story, but Lee Jurras / Super-Vel was forced out of business when Norma, Rem, Win, and Fed would no longer sell him empty brass with the Super-Vel head-stamp.
Not long after that, everybody was loading hot & light JHP loads in .357.

It could have been a price-fixing & monopoly scandal in this day & age.
But it wasn't then.


March 7, 2010, 01:09 PM
Thanks for all the input folks!
@RCMODEL: That's an interesting theory you have, and it would explain the rarity of cracking events. The sun rarely sets on a dirty gun around my house, so you've relieved lots of concern on my part.
Also, your recipe was exactly what I was looking for. Thanks again.

The Bushmaster
March 7, 2010, 02:52 PM
By The Way speedreed. Be careful. You will fall in love with that Mod 19. I assure you...

March 7, 2010, 03:25 PM
If I'm reading this thread correctly, I should NOT fire 110 gr in my SW 19-2? Or if so do it, just occasionally. (My son loaned me the pistol w/ammo, I've have not fired it yet). Please correct me if incorrect. Thank you.


March 7, 2010, 03:42 PM
I really don't think occasional use, or CCW carry with it will hurt anything with todays kinder gentler ammo.

Todays 110 grain ammo is not going as fast, or has as much pressure as yesterdays 125 & 158 grain ammo was.

Remington loads a 125 grain mid-range Golden-Saber load rated at 1,220 if you want to shoot 125's.
Full power 125's are rated at 1,450.
Remingtons 110 load is rated at 1,295.

The thing of it is though, 110 or 125 grain full power loads use as much as 7.0 grains more ball powder then the old 158 flake powder loads.
That is bound to increase flame cutting on the top strap.


March 7, 2010, 08:39 PM
@Bushmaster: Too late! She's pretty and sweet! Hmm, I wonder if she has a sister?

March 7, 2010, 09:37 PM
@Bushmaster: Too late! She's pretty and sweet! Hmm, I wonder if she has a sister?
What are you looking for--A three-some???

March 7, 2010, 09:49 PM
I bought my first Model 19, 6" in 1971, while I was still in the Police Academy, and it's still in my safe. It's fired thousands of rounds of hot .38 specials over the years, and a few .357 Magnums, and it's still tight. I even used it in PPC competition for about two years, until I could afford a proper PPC gun.

I'm down to three Model 19's right now, a 2.5", a 4" and the 6". They're great guns, but I don't consider them appropriate for a steady diet of light bullet .357 Magnum loads. That was why S&W came out with the L frame revolvers, to better handle a diet of .357 Magnum ammunition.

Hope this helps.


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