1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Further discussion with jfh re practice load similar to Speer .38 GDSB +P

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by brentfoto, Mar 20, 2008.

  1. brentfoto

    brentfoto member

    Further discussion jfh re practice load similar to Speer .38 sp. 135gr GDHPSB +P

    These were some PM's jfh and I agreed should be posted as a thread.

    HELLO, jfh-

    I really appreciate your posts and the time you've spent trying to inform others.

    Here's one of them:

    (please note correction to url for mastercast-it's mastercastbullets.com (not mastercasterbullets.com)


    Do you still stand by your recommendations? My J-frame is a 442-2 Airweight.

    (It's carried with the factory Speer .38 spec. +P 135gr GDHPSB for SD in a Mika round cut pocket holster or in a DeSantis Nemesis or SuperFly. Grips are currently the Hogue Monogrip [I don't like boot grips at all for these loads] and I like them a lot and they conceal well enough. I have the Pachmayr Compacs and Compac Pros on order, and will check those out as well-one of those three grips I will finally choose for carry).]

    Particularly, my understanding is AA#5 and the GDHPSB or those Chey cast 140gr TCFP or mastercastbullets.com constitute the basic components.

    I was going to ask you if I could use other bullets, and I have a 'few' :cuss: :banghead: , ranging from 125gr Win JHP to Berry's and RAN CPB, but no 135's or 140's-mostly 125gr in the HP.

    And I have 148gr and 158gr WC's in various configurations, both cast and RAN and Berry's.

    I have Starline .38 brass and Win SP Primers. I'm thinking that perhaps I should just buy the Chey Cast or Mastercast, since you have apparently spent a great deal of time in your testing and recommend them. I don't feel like incurring the cost of the Speer 135gr HPSB at more than 20 cents per plus shipping.

    I want to shoot at least 500 of the reloads to replicate the factory round.

    So, I'm basically asking you if any of these others are worthwhile using-I don't want to spend a lot of time in load development, though.

    Should I just buy the Chey Cast, Mastercast, or other 140gr LTCFP? I think that I've answered my own question.

    Thanks for your time.



    Originally Posted by brentfoto
    See, I have at least 5000-6000 .38 cal. bullets lying around, and I find it difficult to justify not using them!

    Anyway, I'm going to just buy the Chey, Mastercast, or other 140 grainer in lead.

    Though recoil is generally subjective, you have said that you have spent 'months' developing the load, and I don't have the time to wade through all those different bullets and tinker and extrapolate loads to duplicate.

    Since you have already done that, and a bird is worth two, if not three in the bush (in this instance), I just want to 'thank you' for what you have done and I hope that, perhaps, through you, I have found a load that reasonably duplicates factory.

    Have other posters tried your recommendations at all? I haven't seen anything on that.

    Really, thanks for the work that you have done.

    Hi, Brent--

    OK, I think we covered which bullet to buy--140 lead TCFP or similar, and yes, it does take a lot of tinkering. I currently have about 4000-plus development rounds built for chrono and subjective recoil testing shortly.

    I think you can limit your expense by getting this load set up for yourself by

    1) buy one extra box of the GDSB135-gr. PD round--either the Speer consumer 20-round box almost anywhere, or the 50-round CCI LEO box at Streichers.

    2) buy "x" amount of the 140-gr. LTCs--at least 500 or more, IMO.

    3) build one set of development reloads--at least ten rounds each (I use twenty rounds minimum) in increments of two-tenths grain. So, you will have ten or twenty rounds each in steps from 6.2-6.4-6.6-6.8 gr.

    4) At the range, fire five of the factory rounds. Note carefully how the recoil "feels" to your hand, not how much the revolver jumps, or whatever. Think about how "hard," how "sudden" or how "firm" the recoil feels to you. This is hard to do--i.e., to develop a memory of how this round feels to you. Write a comment down about this, "thinking" about the feel while you do. This process will help you "fix" the characteristics of the factory round recoil in your memory.

    5) Now fire five of the reloads: try the 6.4-gr. load, and see if you think the recoil of that recipe matches the recoil you just felt from the factory round.

    6) Repeat test 4--e.g., fire five more factory rounds, and see if you think that the recoil is similar to what you just shot in the reload recipe.

    7) If your assessment is that this second factory firing was "harder", then the next reload to try is the 6.6 gr. load--you get the idea, I am sure.

    This procedure should get you to the particular charge weight as close as you can this first trip. Now go home and load fifty rounds of the weight you think is most like the factory round. (And, reload the other round weights you may have fired, so you can have ten on hand again.

    At the range next time, fire at least twenty of the selected reload / preferred weight, then fire five of the factory rounds. You should be able to immediately tell if you need to tweak the recipe a bit up or down. Write down your reactions, and you're good to go for reloading a bunch of practice rounds. There may need to be one further refinement after you've shot a few hundred rounds, but you know the procedure. I now use 7.0 gr. if I use 38 Special cases, and this load is actually a touch stiffer than the factory round--and that gives me, I think a bit of a psychological "comfort" should I have to shoot defensively some time.

    As you know, all these rounds are what are called "Plus P" or Plus-P-Plus" loads--e.g., the pressures are about 20,000 psi or higher, so do not use them if you're uncomfortable with shooting them. I can't be responsible for what you may do.

    If you find that the actual replica reload you've developed is too hot for you to shoot comfortably for at least thirty-fifty rounds, then load at least 100 rounds of a lighter charge and practice with those. As your hand gets conditioned, you'll be able to move up easily enough.

    I now shoot 200 rounds or so in an hour or so, the lightest of which is this load (actually, the 357-case version, for easier cleaning)--recently I've been working on the "FBI load" development--which is a round with about 30%-40% (and more) KE / ft. lbs., and my hand is not sore even after those reloads.

    Good luck with this, and if you have any more questions, just post (on this new thread).

    Last edited: Mar 20, 2008
  2. brentfoto

    brentfoto member

    I like the accuracy of the Speer, and prefer it over both the old standby FBI load and the DPX.

    One must really shoot all three, and also consider the BB standard or +P, to make a truly informed decision, which may in part, be 'subjective'.

    However, you're not going to go 'wrong' with any of them, IMHO.

    I just like the Speer, and it's apparently working for the NYPD and LE in general, good QC overall, and its ballistics (esp. expansion) are impressive.

    So, back to topic. "Practice reloads" to duplicate the factory Speer 135gr .38 spec. +P GDHPSB...

    Has anyone tried out jfh's recipes?
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2008
  3. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    Thanks for posting those PMs, Brent. For once, I don't think there are any significant typos to correct--so I will just make the following addendums:

    1. Although I am continuing to load the original list of powders found in the Speer 38+P PDF file, it really is "just" AA#5 that most clearly replicates the feel of the factory round.

    2. I'm also beginning to work with the Speer GDSG 135-gr. 357 Magnum rounds to find that "replica" reload. Others have found, and I tend to agree with the limited "subjective recoil" testing so far, that Power Pistol may be the preferred powder for replicating that factory round.

    3. Note that the PM COPYs delineate a load development procedure. However, the underlying goal for that load development procedure is a conditioning and acclimation procedure--one that, I think, maximizes the benefits of say "practice...a lot."

    I see Brent added a description of his grips for his airweight. With that in mind, I should mention that my "development j-frame" is a 640 with the CT LG-305 grips. It is this revolver that I routinely fire about 200 rounds or so at a range session. The lightweight I carry--an M&P 340, with the CT LG-405 (boot) grips, get fired anywhere from 25 to 75 rounds as well, or in some combination with the 640.

    Finally, to clarify--those 4000 rounds built up for testing consist of both "replica recipes" of the 38+P 135-gr. load, and mostly new tests of the "FBI loads". The different LD boxes of ammo include for 38 and 357 case recipes, and will be chrono'd in a month or so. (We still have a snowstorm coming in here in metro MN tonight.) Of particular interest to some of us will be a set of LD cartridges using SR-4756 and the Speer 158LSWC-HP bullet, in sets ranging from 4.8 to 8.6 grains--and all in the 38 case. The chrono results from that set of LD runs ought to be interesting.

    Jim H.
  4. brentfoto

    brentfoto member

    CAVEAT: I think the 'trial' loads noted in the original post would apply to using the Gold Dot bullet and NOT the 140gr LTCFP? Correct or incorrect?

    I don't want there to be any confusion. In the first post, there is a link. In that link you say 7.0 for the Gold Dot bullet and 6.4 for the 140TC. Those, apparently, were the loads that you found that best replicated the factory in YOUR gun, correct?
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2008
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Just to add to this conversation, I was also working on 135gr Speer replica ammo the same time Jim was. We were bouncing load data and results back and forth to each other during the summer. The data he's quoting is valid and I know this because I was shooting it too. We were both gathering data and comparing the results to validate our findings. At the time I didn't have any 135gr Speer bullets or 140gr Cast bullets so I used 140gr Hornady XTP bullets for my tests. (I was lucky enough to find several Hundred for a very good price.)

    I totally agree AA#5 will replicate the feel and recoil of the 135gr Gold Dot .38 Special +P Short Barrel round.

    In addition I did some work with the Gold Dot .357 Magnum Short Barrel round. I found 8.8gr of Power Pistol will closely replicate the feel, recoil and velocity of the Factory round. Of course you should work your way up to that charge because I think it's a little on the high side of the pressure limits.
  6. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member


    1. Yes, the loads we found that replicated the feel were about 6.4 gr. of AA#5 with the 140LTC and 7.0 gr. of #5 with the GDSB135JHP bullet.

    2. Keep in mind that you should back up 5%, or even 10% to work these loads up in your revolver--which is, of course, nominally the routine for the Load Development I outlined above.

    ArchAngelCD: Thank you for jumping in to confirm that information--at one point in our PMs, brentfoto inquired about who else may have been working with the data--and I forgot to address that. My apologies for not including you in the work so far.

    At any rate, once I shoot the first sets of the "FBI loads" LD boxes, I'll be swinging back to the 357 Magnum 135-gr. replica reloads work.

    Any other observations, others can chime in--

    Jim H.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2008
  7. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Don't be silly Jim, I wasn't looking for recognition. I was only letting "brentfoto" know your data was valid because he asked, "Has anyone tried out jfh's recipes?"

    I also made up some FBI loads but can't yet test them out because as soon as all the snow and ice left us here in PA the floods moved in. As soon as the weather breaks and all the water subsides I'll let you, and anyone else that interested know how the rounds I made up using HS-6 performed. Like I think I mentioned to you before, I think HS-6 is the way to go with the FBI loads. I tried Longshot but I didn't get good results. I guess I should have listened to Hodgdon when they told me in a email they won't supply data for lead bullets in a .38 Special because they didn't get good results in their tests.

    BTW, I'm using Hornady 158gr LSWC/HP bullets for the tests and I also have a good supply of 158gr LSWC Roger's Better Bullets to use in preliminary tests so as not to waste the HP lead rounds. (because they are more expensive than the Roger's bullets)

    IMPORTANT QUESTION!! Does anyone have an alternate source for LSWC/HP bullets other than Hornady? Their bullets are knurled without a crimp groove and don't seem to be as accurate as bullets with a smooth side, grease groove and a crimp groove.

    Here is a photo of the Hornady bullets:


    Here is what I'm looking for:

  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    Whoops-deleted...Never mind, got it...HP

    Hmm... don't know.
  9. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    ArchangelCD--I know you were validating and not looking for personal recognition. That kind of inference is merely my take on posting in forum communities like this one. That is, such verification is a willingness to share knowledge / data is part of the culture, and all who contribute to this knowledge help validate the information.

    At any rate: as noted earlier, this load, whether the 140LTC bullet or the GDSB135JHP bullet is used, is that it is a load that generates "Plus P" and arguably even "Plus P Plus" pressures. The conventional wisdom about lead / jacketed reloading is that a lead bullet can be driven to similar ballistics because it offers creates less friction with the lands and grooves. To the extent subjective recoil is a measurement of that friction, it holds true in this particular recipe

    As for bullets: I've got the Hornady's on hand, but I've been using the Speer variant--which do have a cannelure, and their lube is dust-and-grunge free. I think I bought mine from Grafs, or from Midway during a sale. Price is about the same, IIRC. Meanwhile, I too have found a locally-cast 158-gr.LSWC that has a lower BHN number (about 10), and it is providing similar characteristics to the Speer 158LWSC-HP in the tests done so far.

    Sooner or later the weather will cooperate, ArchAngelCD--you have the rain and floods; this morning we have another two inches of snow, with another two-to-six inches coming in, it looks like. I'm going to go build some 158LSWC / #7 LD boxes, I think.

    Jim H.
  10. brentfoto

    brentfoto member


    Any idea of published maximum loads for .38 spec. for the 140 TCFP and the 135gr GDHPSB bullet using AA#5, or were your posted 'best' loadings also the maximum loads?

    I looked at the Accurate data, which I have a hard copy of in my possession, and the only thing that comes close would be the Sierra 140gr JHP with a max load of 6.4gr AA#5. Further note this would generate a pressure of only 16,700psi in a 7.75" bbl. This is the published hard copy of Accurate Edition 3.2.

    Now, I had seen a reference to Speer publishing loads for the GDHPSB, and I believe threads revealed these were in a pdf file. Could you forward a copy of that file to me?

    Notwithstanding the foregoing, are these Speer PDF's on the web, or were they on the web at one time and later removed, and, if so, and you know-for what reason?

    Or was this data located elsewhere?

    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2008
  11. brentfoto

    brentfoto member

    I'm waiting for my Chey-Cast bullets to arrive. I've weighed my remaining AA#5 on my postal scale-about 2.3 ounces left.

    Went to two LGS's-none carry AA#5 and I might have to wait a month for it.

    So, I figure that I might be able to work up about 150 cartridges of the stuff -but that would be to the very end. That would be a good start, at least.

    I usually order from Powder Valley, but I can't justify the Hazmat fee unless I buy in bulk, and I really don't need any other powder at the present.

    Well...there it is... :uhoh:
  12. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    1. I've sent you three pdf files, Brent--one for 38 Special, one for 357 Magnum, and the documentation for the development of the 135-gr. bullet. Generally, in working with the PDF recipes, I found the MAX load was the one most likely to replicate the velocity of the factory load for Power Pistol, but AA#5 felt most like the factory load and still made it into the published / recommended velocities for PD use.

    Note that for the PDF data, the published data reference a 6" barrel, and the fact that Speer used a 20,000 psi ceiling for these loads. In the Speer 14 manual, these pdf recipes were supplemented, modified slightly, and expanded with short barrel recipes measured from a 2" (2& 1/2"?) model 19, IIRC; they still use a 20,000 psi ceiling.

    2. There is no published data for the 140 lead bullets. As you can imagine, Speer is in the business of providing data to sell their bullets.

    I worked up the lead load myself using the conventional wisdom and development techniques outlined earlier. Basically, I backed up a half-grain from the Jacketed bullet recipe max, then backed up another 5% or 10%, then loaded up in one-tenth grain increments until the subjective recoil felt the same as the MAX load for the jacketed bullet. Then I measured the chrono results, and tweaked the load from there. Were I to do it over again, I would stay with two-tenth grain increments.

    Different lead bullet BHN and diameters will have an impact on both velocity and subjective recoil, so tweaked loads for your revolver may be a bit different from my data--I now get bullets mostly from Mastercastbullets.net and from Penn Bullets.

    Jim H.
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2008
  13. brentfoto

    brentfoto member

    jfh & ArchAngelCD

    jfh-all files received. Thank you.
    (I do note more specific outright suggestions for the .357 loads, and your findings re Power Pistol 8.8 confirm Speer's recommendations).

    I see Unique is listed as a suggested propellant for the .38 GDSB reload.

    Did either or both of you ever try loading the .38 spec. 135gr GD or 140gr TC with Unique powder?

    If so, how did it fare in comparison to the AA#5 (I've got 1-2 lbs. of the Unique)? Or was it like 'apples n oranges'? :scrutiny:

    Finally, are SAAMI max specifications at this time at 20,000 psi or have they been lowered? I ask this not knowing the reason why these charts are not more readily available. Perhaps the specs were lowered and since these charts mention 20,000 psi in many loadings that might explain it?
    Please 'school me' on that one... :)

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2008
  14. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    I tried Unique--once. Even at MAX recipe, it was slow, and it felt nothing like the factory cartridge, so I set it aside.

    As for the SAAMI specs--well, at best, the current ones are a standard well subscribed to, but also are quite controversial.

    Here is a chart for the current (2004) specifications. Google is your friend, Brent.

    The SAMMI standards have been inconsistently revised over the years, and particularly so for 38 Special and 357 Magnum. In the latest iteration, 38 Special was lowered to 17,000, and the 'Plus P' is at 18,500. Not too long ago, 38 Special was at 18,500 IIRC, and Plus P went out to 21,000 or 21,500. This downward revision occurred despite the fact that, arguably, currently-manufactured firearms are metallurgically superior to ones made thirty or forty years ago--and the Seventies were apparently the Apex of higher-pressure reloading.

    While there are good reasons for revisions--notably, an increasing standardization in measuring techniques--the current victimology mentality, as well as the propensity to sue for our own mistakes, have lead to policy changes by anyone from component manufacturers on up to the (voluntary) standards organizations. As you might suspect, powder manufacturers are particularly susceptible to liability fears--the latest Hodgdon data is a good example of this.

    You can use google to uncover more discussions of pressure measuring, Brent--it's a wide-ranging discussion.

    But, at the best, one needs to make a reasoned decision--nobody can tell a reloader what recipe will be "safe" in a particular firearm.

    I do shoot any of my 38 test loads in my current-generation 442. IMO, these plus-p / plus-p plus loads are safe to shoot--but their repeated use probably impacts the life of the firearm; the aluminum-framed 38 Special j-frame revolvers are NOT the same as the scandium or steel-framed magnum designs. The bottom line is, I mostly shoot them in my magnum j-frames.

    Jim H.
  15. brentfoto

    brentfoto member

    Thanks for the info and I'll try to Google more!

    Though you have not directly answered my question why the pdf is not on the web, it would be reasonable to assume that a lowering of the SAAMI .38 +P to 18,500 psi may be a factor.

    The natural question, therefore, is whether current Speer 135gr GDHPSB is loaded to the higher pressure or not. If Speer is a member of SAAMI I would think they might be so limited?

    In any event, I'll start 10% lower than your ultimate recommendations shooting the Airweight 442 with its aluminum frame. So, for the 140gr LTCFP, I'll start at about AA#5 5.8gr and take it from there in .2gr increments upward.

    I don't have a scandium-framed gun, and would not want to shoot these anyway in those lighter guns due to recoil and associated discomfort, nevertheless recognizing that from a metallurgical standpoint they are better suited for such loads.
  16. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    Heh, I need to proofread my answers for completeness, Brent.

    AFAICT, the SAAMI latest adjustments to 38 / 38+P / 357 Magnum pressure specs had no relation to the pdf files' removal. They were originally published on the Speer site as supplemental information. When Speer 14 came out, they incorporated and expanded their GDSB bullet and short barrel data, and removed the supplemental files since the printed material was now up to date. They still use 20,000 psi for their recipe MAX in Speer 14.

    Meanwhile, your starting point is just fine, AFAICT. If you need to stay at a lesser level while your hand is getting conditioned, that's just fine. Just shoot at least a few of the next-step-up loads in each session--as long as it doesn't cause you to flinch.

    When you get your own 'Replica Reload' sorted out, please publish your results.

    Any other questions, feel free to ask.

    Jim H.
  17. 308win

    308win Well-Known Member


    National Bullet has a config similar to what you are looking for. I have never bought from NB direct (I get mine at Fur Fin & Feather) but others here have had less than satisfactory customer service.
  18. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the link but I don't see and 158gr LSWC/HP bullets on their list, I only see the LSWC bullets. Did they have the HP bullets at one time and took them down for some reason?

    Again, thanks for the link...
  19. 308win

    308win Well-Known Member

    They did not. I missed the HP designation in your post. Sorry
  20. jfh

    jfh Well-Known Member

    Off hand, I don't know of anyone selling the 158LSWC-HP cast bullets.

    I think the reason may be shipping damage / complaints from customers, as well as the cost / benefit ratio for a bullet that is probably sold in small amounts.

    However, Speer and Hornady apparently have the shipping issues sorted out with their softer swaged bullets. I do see a bit of nose deformation on the odd bullet as I use them--but that doesn't worry me. These rounds aren't being built for paperpunching accuracy, after all, and I do carry factory loads.

    Jim H.

Share This Page