Is a magnum load in a short barrel revolver wasted?


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d-dogg
January 16, 2013, 11:27 PM
Sorry for the dumb question, but I figured the hand loaders would be the best crowd to answer this.

Basically I'm trying to evaluate whether a short barreled .357 is really going to pack a whole lot more punch than a .38 SPL at the same short barrel length.

I think I read at some point that powders used in magnum loads are slower burning to help accelerate the projectile to maximum muzzle velocity.

If this is correct then is it essentially a waste to shot a magnum load in a short barrel revolver?

I have a .44 magnum with 10.5" barrel, and it produces a heck of a muzzle flash, which sort of leads me to believe the powder is not fully burned even after 10.5".

Or is my thinking all wrong? Please educate me.

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rcmodel
January 16, 2013, 11:39 PM
Most of the the powder is burned inside the cylinder, regardless of the caliber or barrel length.
A little more is burned in the first inch or so of barrel.

The huge fireball is not unburned powder.
It is super-heated high-pressure gas hitting the free oxygen in the air outside the barrels muzzle crown and making it light up like white plasma gas.


Now to the question.

A .357 in a short barrel will always outperform a +P .38 in a short barrel.
Need Proof?
It kicks harder, because it is going faster.

At the expense of higher recoil & muzzle blast.

Pick your poison.
Myself?

I carry +P .38 Spl. Short-Barrel Gold Dots or .158 lead SWC in snubby .357's.

rc

gspn
January 17, 2013, 12:29 AM
I hate it when RC is the first one into a thread...cause it's over...everything has been answered. :D

788Ham
January 17, 2013, 12:38 AM
Way to go rc, use some of that knowledge you've got stored up!

joneb
January 17, 2013, 01:48 AM
I have a 2.75" barreled 357 mag. I have had good results with Accurate #7.
I would recommend this powder for manageable 357 mag. load.

Madcap_Magician
January 17, 2013, 10:06 AM
I dunno about wasted. As rcmodel pointed out, it will always be more powerful than the .38 Special +P, although Buffalo Bore does have an insane .38 Special +P load that I think is a LSWC going 1100 fps, which is pretty close to what you'd see from a .357.

I think for me what it comes down to is that in a steel gun with a 2.5" barrel or longer, you lose less performance than from a 1-7/8" J-frame, and the increased recoil control from the extra weight of a steel gun makes it worthwhile to carry .357 in a larger, heavier snub or short-barreled revolver (3" being my favorite). In the airweight and scandium versions of the J-frame, the massively increased recoil makes .38 Special +P painful and .357 downright uncontrollable, so for the smallest and lightest revolvers, .38 Special is the only practical route for me.

Buck13
January 17, 2013, 12:04 PM
You can see the actual numbers here.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html
http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/38special.html

Looks like the shortest barrel for which they used the same real-world gun in both tests was a 3", and .357 kicked the .38's butt to the tune of about 300 fps with 125 grain bullets.

Which means it's going to kick your wrist about a third harder, too.

CraigC
January 17, 2013, 12:43 PM
I hate it when RC is the first one into a thread...cause it's over...everything has been answered.
Yep. ;)

sellersm
January 17, 2013, 12:49 PM
Never much to add after rc has answered, as has been mentioned, but it's sure good to read his replies!! Thank you rcmodel...

SSN Vet
January 17, 2013, 01:36 PM
Just for kicks and giggles.... load up a near max. charge of a fast powder like W231 in a magnum case (I've seen 6.7 gr as a published max under a 158 gr JFN)...

This will be the definition of a "snappy" load.... even in a 6" barrel, so hang onto your hat with that snubby.

Just don't load too many.... unless you like to pull bullets.

And please don't ask me how I know this :rolleyes:

I kept a few around, just for demostration purposes, when I want to show someone the difference between a slow and fast burning powder.

gamestalker
January 17, 2013, 01:37 PM
There is certainly some loss in velocity, but to consider it a total waste, not by any means. I load for snubs using H110 and there is a decernable increase in velocity with magum loads. I don't however have any snub nosed 44 magnums, my shortest barreled one is 6"-ish. But the .357 mags I load for are 2" snubs and 6", and although there is an increase in the longer barrel v.s. the snubs, velocity in both is viable with magnum loads.

GS

454PB
January 17, 2013, 03:44 PM
One of the first handloader's tools we should buy is a chronograph. I've owned several, going back 40 years. You'll be surprised at what you see, and learn to take all of what you read with a grain of salt.

Depending on the gun, shorter barrels can exhibit velocity drops anywhere from nearly zero to 20%. Accepted wisdom says that using a slow burning powder like H-110 in a 2.5" .357 magnum is a waste of powder, but I've seen velocities that were only 100 fps. slower in the snubbie than in a 6" barrel. However, you ARE going to see a huge fireball and terrific muzzle blast. Maybe that's not all bad when you're trying to deter a bad guy.

SlamFire1
January 17, 2013, 04:18 PM
I have shot thousands of 38 Specials through my snubbies. I have shot 357 snubbies and found the blast and recoil objectionable. These 357 snubbies weigh more than the 38 Specials and I don't want to carry the extra weight.

I also believe that the little extra velocity gained with a 357 in a snubbie is not enough to offset what I consider the disadvantages.

In a 4" or 6" barrel, the 357 is the better choice of cartridge for self defense.

For a concealed carry gun, I think the 38 Special is the better choice.

tbob38
January 17, 2013, 04:51 PM
For defense I carry 125gr 357 magnum rounds in my 2.5 inch model 19, when carrying a small revolver. I want all I can get and to heck with the blast. Don't find the recoil that bad.

Loc n Load
January 17, 2013, 05:28 PM
Carried revolvers as a duty weapon for half of my career as a LEO, Ballistically you sacrifice approx. 50 fps per inch in bl lngth.....at one time my agency issued us k frame smith's with 2" bl"s chambered for 38 spl. They issued us what would become known as the "treasury load"...it was a +P+ 38 spl that ran a 110 gr. JHP at near 357 velocities. It was a nightmare to train and instruct. Huge muzzle blast, enormous muzzle flash ( especially on night qual's), and a lots of felt recoil. WE had so many new hires failing firearms qual, that the brass hats decided we should train & qualify new hires with 38 spl wadcutters. You can probably see the problems that are going to stem from that. Recoil, muzzle blast, and muzzle flash is all a factor, but it all depends on the shooter. Some people can handle those factors, some simply cannot.
I have seen that conundrum played out with several agency's staff that I instructed with short bl revolvers shooting the +P+ 38's and later full power 357 magnums. All of this was back in the 70's & 80's.

Rule3
January 18, 2013, 12:21 AM
IMHO, yes it is a waste, Chronograph it it out of your gun. Even if you get 50 FPS more from it is it worth the blast, flash, recoil??

In the overall scheme of hings at SD distance will it make a difference??

Better yet try it out of a alloy J frame.:eek:

CraigC
January 18, 2013, 10:41 AM
Overall I would agree that the .38Spl is the better cartridge for a 2" revolver but also understand that by choosing so I am taking a hit ballistically. There's no reason to make up arguments about there being little gain to justify this choice. The chronograph tell us the real story.


Accepted wisdom says that using a slow burning powder like H-110 in a 2.5" .357 magnum is a waste of powder...
In this case "accepted wisdom" is wrong.


Even if you get 50 FPS more...
You can't assume anything, there are too many variables between individual guns. In this case, the data from BBTI is probably the best tool to judge this by. I'm seeing a difference not of 50fps but of 300fps, given that their 3" numbers are the most comparable to a 2" snubby. Sorry folks but you cannot nearly double the operating pressure and expect only 50fps difference. IMHO, there way too much myth and legend surrounding this subject and very little fact.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com

Rule3
January 18, 2013, 11:58 AM
Overall I would agree that the .38Spl is the better cartridge for a 2" revolver but also understand that by choosing so I am taking a hit ballistically. There's no reason to make up arguments about there being little gain to justify this choice. The chronograph tell us the real story.



In this case "accepted wisdom" is wrong.



You can't assume anything, there are too many variables between individual guns. In this case, the data from BBTI is probably the best tool to judge this by. I'm seeing a difference not of 50fps but of 300fps, given that their 3" numbers are the most comparable to a 2" snubby. Sorry folks but you cannot nearly double the operating pressure and expect only 50fps difference. IMHO, there way too much myth and legend surrounding this subject and very little fact.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com
Well right there you are interpolating "their 3" numbers"
That isn't a 2" or 1-7/8" barrel. You can't change the laws of physics

But of course use what ever you feel "comfortable" with and try and get of an accurate second shot;)

Guess I am blind as I do not see 38+P not the same exact bullet used for 38 spl and 357 mag???

CraigC
January 18, 2013, 12:13 PM
That isn't a 2" or 1-7/8" barrel. You can't change the laws of physics
Smart guy, their measurement includes the chamber. So yes, their 3" number is very close to what one would expect from a 2" revolver. :rolleyes:

It doesn't really matter how well it replicates a specific revolver length, it is an identical length which is perfect for comparing the two to each other and that is what is in question.


Guess I am blind as I do not see 38+P not the same exact bullet used for 38 spl and 357 mag???
No, the 300fps figure was for a .357 load that was 15gr HEAVIER than the fastest .38 load. Comparing the fastest 125gr .38 load, the .357 was 400fps faster. So you're really not helping yourself. No matter how you look at it, the argument that "you don't gain much with a .357 in a short barrel" is 100% bogus. Now if you want to talk about recoil and follow-up shots, that is another matter.

I love how people try to twist the facts to fit their argument.

Certaindeaf
January 18, 2013, 12:25 PM
It's certainly not wasted.. it's big fun to set off car alarms fifty feet away!

Rule3
January 18, 2013, 02:00 PM
"Smart guy, their measurement includes the chamber. So yes, their 3" number is very close to what one would expect from a 2" revolver. "

Then why is it ballistics by the INCH.:) So close as in hand grenades?

I checked my manuals and my chronograph data with the same exact bullet, gun and powder between a 38+P and 357. In a SW M 640 (1-7/8);) Gold Dot 135 SB.

And yes you certainly can get more than 50 fps more like 100 or more so you are certainly correct. I was wrong with the 50 FPS or more comment.

The question was, Is it a waste? I think it is. Will that extra fps matter? We can discuss or debate FPS ballistics all day but the bottom line in a SD situation at 10 feet or less will the bad guy know the difference??

murf
January 18, 2013, 02:20 PM
looking at the buffalo bore website i found a 125 grain low flash load for both the 38 special and the 357 magnum, muzzle velocities of 935 fps and 1235 fps respectively.

oh, almost forgot to mention, these numbers are from 2 inch revolver barreled guns.

murf

Rule3
January 18, 2013, 02:59 PM
I thought this would just morph into a get a 45 discussion:uhoh:

CraigC
January 18, 2013, 03:20 PM
The question was, Is it a waste? I think it is. Will that extra fps matter?
So now we've gone from, "there ain't a difference" to "there is a difference but it doesn't matter"??? Interesting. :rolleyes:

If you don't think 400fps matters, well then I really can't help because you clearly don't have a clue how all this works. I guess they really didn't need to develop the .357 at all then, huh? Or the .44Mag for that matter.


Then why is it ballistics by the INCH. So close as in hand grenades?
I don't know how I can be more clear but I will try. Jesus. Revolver barrels are not measured with the chamber. Only the barrel itself is measured. With me on this? BBTI did not use revolvers for their tests. Their barrel is measured with the chamber. So do you understand that their 3" barrel includes the chamber and that a 2" revolver barrel does not? It would be different if we were talking about autos but we are not. Get it?

Certaindeaf
January 18, 2013, 04:26 PM
I think the barrel is the rifled part (except if it's not a revolver). never know though

R.W.Dale
January 18, 2013, 04:32 PM
I think the barrel is the rifled part (except if it's not a revolver). never know though

This is wrong

Even the atf measures to the breach face to determine barrel length EXCEPT

ON REVOLVERS wich get measured from the cylinder face forward.

BBTI's data for a 2" bbl would be equal to a revolver with a 1/2" barrel. I've never seen such a gun have y'all?



Simple answer to this thread is if you have about 4" to accelerate a bullet of a given weight wich bullet will accelerate faster?

The bullet with 20,000 psi pushing on it or the bullet with 35,000psi


At best 38 from a 2" barrel is a 800fps cartridge with 125g ammunition.

In the same gun 357 with the right load will do 1200+

Now to really twist your minds a 9mm 2" revolver will only loose about 100fps to the magnum with over 2x the case capacity. Its all about the pressure rating in short barrelled guns, burn rate really doesn't become a factor till you step up to carbine length bbls



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Certaindeaf
January 18, 2013, 04:35 PM
That's what I said.. well except for the rifled part. Maybe I should've said the part that holds the rifling. anyway, knock yourself out

GLOOB
January 18, 2013, 04:38 PM
This is the reloading forum. I dunno why you're comparing 38 special to 357 magnum. You ought to be comparing 357 magnum with moderate charges of medium-fast burn rate powders to full tilt 357 magnum loads using slow magnum powders.

Out of a 2-3" barrel, you will gain only a fraction of the extra velocity, all the extra kick, and some bonus muzzle blast to boot. 1700-1800fps looks great on a loading chart until you see the test barrel is 10" long.

For most pistol calibers, the length of the barrel doesn't matter as much. It makes a bigger difference when you're looking at 357 with its large case volume. That large volume is what allows the use of big charges of slower rifle powders (H110 was developed for the 30 carbine, IIRC). And barrel length becomes more of a factor. The faster load will generally remain the faster load. But you will get less gains to offset the extra recoil and muzzle blast.

A 9mm carbine might shoot a few hundred fps faster than a pistol if you work up the right load. But a 357 carbine can be made into a completely different animal vs a short barrel revolver. Those crazy fast 357 carbine loads won't be very impressive out of the revolver, unless your chronograph measures muzzle blast.

R.W.Dale
January 18, 2013, 04:42 PM
In this comparison, you will gain only a fraction of the extra velocity, all the extra kick, and some bonus muzzle blast to boot. 1700-1800fps looks great on a loading chart until you see the test barrel is 10" long.


http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=653813

My testing bears this out that the shorter the barrel the LESS pronounced advantage slow powders have over faster. BUT they do retain an advantage none the lesd



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CraigC
January 18, 2013, 04:44 PM
You ought to be comparing 357 magnum with moderate charges of medium burn rate powders to full tilt 357 magnum loads using slower magnum powders.
The result is the same, no matter how long or short the barrel is. Max velocity will always be with slower powders like H110/296 or Lil Gun.


Out of a 2-3" barrel, you will gain only a fraction of the extra velocity, all the extra kick
I guess you could call 40-50% more a "fraction".

R.W.Dale
January 18, 2013, 04:47 PM
I guess you could call 40-50% more a "fraction".

You wont gain nearly that much. Not even 10%





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Rule3
January 18, 2013, 04:55 PM
So now we've gone from, "there ain't a difference" to "there is a difference but it doesn't matter"??? Interesting. :rolleyes:

If you don't think 400fps matters, well then I really can't help because you clearly don't have a clue how all this works. I guess they really didn't need to develop the .357 at all then, huh? Or the .44Mag for that matter.



I don't know how I can be more clear but I will try. Jesus. Revolver barrels are not measured with the chamber. Only the barrel itself is measured. With me on this? BBTI did not use revolvers for their tests. Their barrel is measured with the chamber. So do you understand that their 3" barrel includes the chamber and that a 2" revolver barrel does not? It would be different if we were talking about autos but we are not. Get it?
Why don't you chill out and get of your high horse. Who do you think you are that you can speak to anyone this way?

You are right I am wrong. Carry on.

CraigC
January 18, 2013, 05:01 PM
You wont gain nearly that much. Not even 10%
I assumed that "fraction" was .38 vs. .357 but re-reading it he may have meant medium vs. slow burning rates.


Why don't you chill out and get of your high horse. Who do you think you are that you can speak to anyone this way?
Calling me names won't make you any less wrong. So which is it, either it only makes a 50fps difference and that doesn't matter, or it makes a 400fps difference and it still doesn't matter? I guess whatever the facts are, whether it makes a difference or not, it doesn't matter. Now I understand how you construct your arguments. :rolleyes:

Robert
January 18, 2013, 05:16 PM
That's enough bickering for one thread.

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