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Buffalo Bore 158gr .357Mag from J-frame

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by harrygunner, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. harrygunner

    harrygunner Well-Known Member

    I like fast, heavy .357 Mag ammo out of my S&W 640-1 revolver. Its steel construction gives it enough weight to make it easy to control. That J-frame has a 2.125" barrel.

    Recently bought a ProChrono Digital chronograph and wanted to post my results.

    Altitude: 3221 ft, Temperature: 48 degrees, Barometric pressure: 26.9 inHg

    Buffalo Bore 158gr JHC : 1242, 1231, 1226, 1260, 1255 : avg 1243 ft/s and 540 ft-lb energy

    That's an effective load, one I would want if I ever need to use the J-frame as a BUG.

    Unfortunately, from Buffalo Bore, one can receive different ammo listed under the same product number. I chrono'ed my older rounds, the ones that appear to have Speer bonded bullets. Liked them and stopped by a Cabelas to pick up more. I should have opened the box and inspected the ammo.

    Here's a photo of two rounds purchased a couple of days ago (on the left) and a few years ago (on the right). They were both sold in boxes identified as "Item 19C/20".

    In my mind, ammo manufacturers should present the same consistency as McDonalds. Any place and any time, Big Mac's are the same. If the ammo is different, give it a different product number.

    Underwood has 158gr .357 Mag ammo. Their photo looks similar to the older BB ammo I like. Going to order some from UW.

    Attached Files:

  2. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    You would think but that's what one expects from the big manufacturers. Buffalo Bore is more like a mom and pop small restaurant compared to the McDonalds of the ammo makers like Winchester, Remington, Federal, and CCI. They are really a custom loader similar to Corbon and don't produce near the amount of ammo that the big companies put out.

    As a relatively small operation they can't control their supply chain like a large company that both manufactures ammunition along with the bullets, brass, and primers. Perhaps one day they will get there but that remains to be seen. Variation in product in small ways is just one of the things you have to accept if you do business with a small and less mature company. I'm sure if BB would have evolved into the ammo business like CCI/Speer and Hornady starting with bullet production they would be able to provide more uniform product.
  3. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Well-Known Member

    I dont think that was the point. If I am reading the OP correctly, the point wasn't that they need to keep making the same ammo consistently. It was that if they change the ammo, the code on it should change accordingly so that the buyer can be aware that it is a slightly different product. Makes sense to me.
  4. intercooler

    intercooler member

    Kevin's heavy .357 isn't there yet. I just tested Buffalo Bore 158 and DoubleTap 158 a couple weeks back. The one on the right is a Gold Dot. I'm perplexed on the left but looks like a SJSP.

    Let me look at my pictures.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2012
  5. Tony_the_tiger

    Tony_the_tiger Well-Known Member

    I believe BB stopped using gold dots for some reason or other.

    Underwood still uses 158 grain gold dots, and I have shot them through a 640. They don't burn all the powder off but they are very hot.
  6. intercooler

    intercooler member

    Buffalo Bore
  7. harrygunner

    harrygunner Well-Known Member

    I loaded up on Buffalo Bore and Double Tap ammo several years back in what apparently were their hay days. If they had just kept doing what they were doing. :banghead:

    I've actually seen that soft lead core/copper jacketed bullet in Buffalo Bore ammo. Once again, many moons ago I bought some of their 170gr .357 Mag rounds. They list its specs on the website, but don't sell it anymore.

    Kevin Underwood's site has a picture of his 158gr .357 Mag rounds and refers to a Speer bonded JHP.

    I was on the road and was able to visit two Cabelas in two different states. Found the BB ammo in one. Unfortunately, that store is down the road a way or I'd return them.

    Sweet shooting round in that steel gun. I like having a decent load in a BUG. I figure if I'm using it, the situation is at least as serious as one that would call for using my primary. Maybe even more serious in that I could be still facing a threat after exhausting the ammo for my primary. But, I tend to limit carrying the 640 in an ankle hoster to long distance road travel. Usually means I'm staying in hotels and riding in areas where I may not realize it's the bad part of town.

    I'll place an order with Kevin. Figure I'll load up on his ammo just in case. :)
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012
  8. intercooler

    intercooler member


    AJMBLAZER Well-Known Member

    BB changed bullets in a few of their loads a while back. You've probably got old vs new.

    Was the performance any different?
  10. harrygunner

    harrygunner Well-Known Member

    Haven't chronographed the new box. I had posted the question about speeds for this load, but did not get a response. I recently I bought a chronograph to see how they perform in the S&W 640-1.

    Posted the speeds in case anyone else was interested.

    Liked the speed and energy, but my local Cabelas was out. I was planning a drive that would take me past another Cabelas in another state and picked up the box there. Underwood Ammo sells rounds with the components and performance I like, so problem solved. I'll just buy from them from now on.
  11. Tony_the_tiger

    Tony_the_tiger Well-Known Member

    Not to stir the pot, since I own a few boxes of Underwood's gold dot 158 in .357, but tnoutdoors9 reported less than stellar performance (depending on your views) in terms of reported velocity and penetration. This round penetrated the entire block and some water jugs even when it expanded.


    Compare to Speer's own 125 jhp load, which took out about 15" of gel and had a great wound cavity.


    Also featured here where it does penetrate through


    Not to be confused with the 135 grain gold dot, which is not a part of this discussion.

    I respect your choices however these tests and others have my .357 loaded with Speer's 125 for social work and Buffalo Bores 180 Hardcast for the woods.

    Underwoods performance is somewhere in between the two which, as noted, could be seen as positive or could be seen as a mixed bag. I understand the appeal of putting an Underwood 158 gold dot in a snub since it arguably can achieve Speer's intended factory velocity for that bullet yet out of the short barrel. Having shot it in a 640, I disliked the way the Underwood load tended to leave alot of unburned powder and debris on the firearm. A load I really liked for the 640 was Corbon's 125 DPX round or Buffalo Bores slightly hotter version of it. For my 4" Gp100 i'll stick to the above rounds. That said, I've shot the Underwood 158 out of a Gp100 and it is accurate and the powder burning issue seen in the 640 does not appear to be evident.

    Good luck and please report back on more chronograph results.
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2012
  12. beag_nut

    beag_nut Well-Known Member

    Now you know why I handload.
  13. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    I handload and have worked up to the threshold of something failing hundred of times.

    That absolute max I can get out of P3AT or LCP 380s is 1100 fps 90 gr Gold Dot, and that is without ANY margin.... given the feed ramp intrusion of those ~ .27"

    Buffalo bore claims 1100 fps 90 gr Gold Dot in those handguns.

    That means that Buffalo Bore is either right on the edge, of they have some powder that I do not have access to.

    My guess is that they are loading hot.
    My guess is that company will grow.
    My guess is that when that company gets big, they will stop loading hot.
  14. scaatylobo

    scaatylobo Well-Known Member


    After firing about 300 factory loaded .357 magnums through my first S&W 640-1,I had shot it out of time and had to send it back to S&W.

    I was on the job and it was a working BUG,so I got it back fast,but I did not trust it again to shoot heavy loads for practice and street.

    I traded it for a Glock 27 in .40 S&W with a good deal more firepower for a BUG.

    I had fired 180 grainers [ Black Talons ] through the 640-1 so that might have been the problem.

    I now shoot lighter loads and prefer the 125 or 135 for the same frames.
  15. targetshooter22

    targetshooter22 Well-Known Member

    Yup, this is why some handload. If you want consistency, you need to control it to own it.

    All the best,
  16. harrygunner

    harrygunner Well-Known Member

    'Tony_the_tiger' Thanks for the videos. Good information. I'm OK with penetration since I live in the wild west among big critters and folks with lots of padding (clothes and otherwise).

    I've had this 640-1 since 2002 and have shot lots of rounds through it. It's held up so far.

    A while back, I took several kinds of .357 Mag ammo to an indoor range to see which worked best for me with that gun. I shot each looking for accuracy, controllability and muzzle flash. In that evaluation, I also shot Federal 125gr, Remington 125gr and Federal 130gr Hydra-Shok.

    That 640-1 likes Winchester Silvertip 145gr and these older Buffalo Bore 158gr loads. Seems to settle down with less jerking and shoots to POA with heavier bullets. If I ever need to use it in self-defense, those factors are important to me.

    I have no idea what the new BB bullets are or how they perform. I'll call BB and ask about the manufacturer. l'm going to buy some Parabellum Research and Underwood rounds to see how they fit these factors.

    Going to get into handloading for 10mm. But, the 640 is a BUG I carry on infrequent occasions, so I'll stick with factory ammo for it.

    Thanks all for the tips.

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