How Hot & Light is too much in S&W Revolvers?


February 19, 2011, 05:25 PM
I've been doing a little reloading for .38/.357 and want to experiment a little bit more with different bullet weights and powders. I've heard that with too light of a bullet and too hot of a load I could risk cracking my forcing cone on my 19-4. Does this mean that 110-125 grain .357's and .38's loaded near max load are a no-no?

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February 19, 2011, 05:58 PM
Forcing cones get flame cut as the bullets enter them. The light fast ones tend to have a bit more of the heat behind them.

You will never see a difference in the pistol as you shoot them though the idea of a steady diet of the ultra-hot light loads may speed up wear overall.

The pressures get a bit high and the felt recoil of the pistol is different with that light rocket in your hand. The 180 grain bullet over a heavy load of H110 in a 44 Magnum feels totally different than a 240 grainer over a charge of Blue Dot. One is like a Weatherby rifle and the other is like an 870. You get what you pay for.


February 19, 2011, 05:58 PM
i don't know what kind of condition your gun is in. If it is in good condition you should be good to go with the caliber stamped on the barrel

February 19, 2011, 06:15 PM
Its in almost brand new condition. It has less than 250 rounds through it.

February 19, 2011, 07:29 PM
I would expect that a modern handgun should be able to handle a published load in that caliber.

Personally I much prefer low-mid range loads for my range practice. More rounds per pound of powder, less wear and tear on my pistols. Max velocity loads as a steady diet are rarely recommended for any handgun.

February 19, 2011, 07:30 PM
I had a 25 year hiatus from shooting so my 19-3 (bought new) doesn't have that many round through it. I'm limiting it to +P+ equivalent loads max. If I have the urge to shoot something heavier I'll use my 44 SBH.
Many people will say the old SuperVel loads were the reason for the cracked forcing cones. And I've heard that Bill Jordan intended the gun to be used with 38 SPL loads for practice and 357 loads for duty use. YMMV.

February 19, 2011, 07:34 PM
Your 19-4 will handle any .38 +P. Due to the forcing cone being relieved to allow clearance for the cylinder frame they are a bit fragile for full time use of hot .357 Magnum loads. Download in between 38+P and full house .357 Magnum and you'll be okay. Better yet, load to .38+P in .357 Magnum cases and you'll get plenty of lifespan from your model 19.;)

February 19, 2011, 07:47 PM
Agree with CZ57. The Model 19 is a K-frame S&W. Due to the frame being smaller, the forcing cone has a relief cut in it. A Google search for the model 19 and cracked forcing cone will get you heated opinions. If it were my gun I would stick with a heavier buller for full-load .357 Magnum. Any .38 Special load is fine.

February 19, 2011, 08:32 PM
It is a fact that some of the older hot 125 Gr loadings could damage a K Frame forcing cone if it was fed a steady diet of them. It was generally considered a good idea to limit their use and stick with heavier bullet weights in the K Frame guns. How many would be too many? I have no clue. Remember as well that the stuff back then was hotter than most of today's fodder.

I do not shoot any real hot 125's in my 19-4, but that's not really a problem for me because I do not load any really hot 125's anyway. :)

Better yet, load to .38+P in .357 Magnum cases and you'll get plenty of lifespan from your model 19.
Agreed. Even 125's at 1250 to 1300 FPS are milder than full tilt boogie loads and is all the fun 125 wise that I want anyway.

February 19, 2011, 08:52 PM
I get better accuracy out of the heavier bullets.

February 19, 2011, 10:29 PM
Hot loads in a K frame will knock it out of time way before they hurt the forcing cone or top strap.

Smith 19s were made from specially heat treated 15 style guns. Shoot 80% of the time with 38s, sight in with 357s and carry thusly. Great guns. Just not meant for abuse. Why else would they bring out the L frames. Got both, enjoy each in the way they were meant to be used. For the nasty stuff, I use a 28, a stainless blackhawk, or a tight security six.

February 19, 2011, 11:04 PM
I avoid the 125gr magnum loads in my 19-5. Other than that, just about any sane load is good.

The bottom of the barrel is cut to allow clearance for the crane on the K-frame. This means the forcing cone is thin at the bottom. Hot 125gr loads can cause it to crack there. The rule of thumb I've always followed was no magnum loads less than 140gr. In fact, I've never loaded anything but 158gr bullets at magnum levels in mine.

February 19, 2011, 11:11 PM
A steady diet of hot .357 loads is hard on 'K' frames. Doesn't mean you can never shoot 'em. Hot .38 loads won't bother it though.

February 19, 2011, 11:32 PM
I've never cracked a cone so I can't say personally. What I can say is the forcing cone on a ruger is way thinner than even the thin part of a smith cone. And ruger's are considered bullet proof. So I seriously doubt the little relief cut on the bottom of a smith forcing cone has anything to do with it cracking.

emmett dunham
February 20, 2011, 12:30 AM
The second weapon I purchased was a Model 19 S&W Revolver and I was shooting with a friend who had another Model Smith Revolver he was shooting. I ran out of ammo and he passed some ammo over to shoot and I loaded it up and the first round I fired stuck the cylinder and it would not open or rotate. After playing around for a few minutes I got the cylinder to open and rotate, I fired the revolver again and with the same result. I took a look at the ammo and it was marked 38+P+ and could not understand why there was a problem with this ammo. When I got home I got the manual out and looked at the chart for ammo and it was listed that +P+ ammo should not be used in the Model 19. I Don't know about cracking the forcing cone, I do know about seizing the cylinder using +P+ ammo. The only thing I could think about the special ammo was that for some reason the round builds up excessive pressure for the 19.


February 20, 2011, 01:43 AM
A steady diet of hot .357 loads is hard on 'K' frames. Doesn't mean you can never shoot 'em. Hot .38 loads won't bother it though.

That's exactly what I was looking for. I don't intend to load any .357 with less than a 158 grain bullet, I was more concerned about running .38 +P in it.

February 20, 2011, 08:26 AM
I was more concerned about running .38 +P in itIt will eat those like candy. :)

Hondo 60
February 20, 2011, 09:37 AM
When the K-Frames were developed, they used 158 gr lead bullets.
So supposedly that's going to give you the best accuracy.

However I've found that not to be the case with my M10 4".
In that gun, I've found that 125 gr plated HSM bullets give me the best accuracy.
I'm sure is has to due with the width of the bullet & the inside diameter of the chamber/barrel.

You'll have to play around with different bullets, powders & charge weights to get the best from your gun, as each gun is different.

February 20, 2011, 11:28 AM
I load for my 66-5 with 110s, 125s, and 158s and never worry about how hot they are. I go full house with H110 and W-296 as a steady diet and have probaly put at least a couple of thousand through that revolver, and don't know how many through my 66-2, a lot. Both of those revolvers are still nice and tight and I'm not seeing any wear problems with regard to the forcing cones. The pressure cut to the strap is pretty well defined, but by no means problematic. I simply love to shoot the full house stuff out of all my guns and have heard a bunch of critics telling me it will greatly shorten their life span. There is just something about feeling that magnum potential that satisfies my purpose for hand loading. I'm still waiting for a death in my collection after many years and rounds. As a matter of fact, I just finished loading a box of 110 XTPs with 23.0 grain of 296 a few minutes ago.

February 20, 2011, 12:07 PM
From what I've read the M-66 doesn't have an issue with split forcing cones, just the steel M-19's.
And I also recall that guys who shot PPC that poured thousands of round through a K-frame saying even with 38 loads they would loosen up faster than a Ruger or N-frame.
Don't get me wrong, I have no safe queens. In fact my M-19 is my favorite "walk in the woods" and plinker gun.

February 20, 2011, 12:23 PM
I can't speak to other experience but I can say that PPC revolver I shoot was built on a Model 10. So far it has digested in the neighborhood of 100,000 rounds. All 148 gr HBWC's over 2.8 of BE or 3.1 of 231. It is still tight and still has the X-ring accuracy needed for the sport.

I reserve my hot 38 loadings for my L-frames.


February 20, 2011, 03:02 PM
I had 2 66's. I shot one with about 350 rounds of Remington 125 magnum loads. I sent it back to s & w to be retimed and they replaced the barrel, cylinder, hand and some other parts - FREE. I think the magnum loads of yesteryear were hotter than today's factory ammo, but I cannot prove it.

Heck, when the Treasury dept. tried Supervel's magnum load their 19's went south in a hurry.

February 20, 2011, 03:10 PM
I like Colt revolvers better than S&W revolvers, because it is easy to shoot the bolt loose on an S&W, but hard, if not impossible on a Colt.

But for forcing cones, I have never been able to hurt an S&W forcing cone.
But the old 32 S&W Long revolvers made by Colt that are tiny get the forcing cone blown out or blown to pieces by 327 Federal like loads. I have to pull the barrel and weld up a new cone. After my fix, they are tough.

February 20, 2011, 05:56 PM
I joined the BP in 1979. We used Rugers and Colt Troopers for training. The training ammo was good old 148 grain HBWC. The step up once you learned how to shoot was to what they called the "Federal" load. It was a 125 gr +P+ 38 Special. When you mastered that they turned you loose with 158 gr JHP 357's.

That +P+ was plenty hot for the average agent to start with. The 357's were an eye openers for some.

I personally would not feed a 19/66 a steady load of the hot stuff. No reason to abuse it. The Model 29 ended up needing a "performance" package to stay alive. I guess the S&W package for the 19 was the L-Frame.


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