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Georgia Arms 158-gr. LSWCHP +P...

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Stephen A. Camp, Aug 10, 2006.

  1. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello. "Gomer," a gentleman who posts here at The High Road contacted me some weeks back concerning Georgia Arms' commercially reloaded .38 Special ammunition and asked if I'd ever tried it. I responded that I had not. He generously sent me 25 rounds of this ammunition for informal penetration & expansion testing as well as for chronograph checking from a J-frame's 1 7/8" barrel and a 4" if possible.

    He bought the ammunition at nominal cost compared to factory new ammunition and it was described as being +P and rated at 900 ft/sec and 284 ft-lbs. of kinetic energy.

    The two test guns for today's informal tests were an S&W Model 642 and a 4" heavy bbl Model 10.

    With a limited amount of ammunition, here is how I decided to use it.

    One 5-shot group with each revolver for a total of 10 shots fired.
    3 shots from each revolver into wetpack for a total of 6 shots fired.
    4 shots over the chronograph from the Model 642
    5 shots over the chronograph from the Model 10

    Certainly this is not an extensive scientific test, but it gives a general idea of what might be expected from similar revolvers.

    As is my usual protocol in making expansion test media, I soaked newsprint for 24 hours and then drained it 30 minutes before shooting.

    Shooting: One target was fired at 15 yards from a rest and in single-action with the Model 10. Another target was shot standing and with a two-hand hold using the Model 642 at 7 yards.

    At 7 yards, the Georgia Arms ammunition grouped nicely from the S&W snub.

    Likewise, at 15 yards, this ammunition proved itself capable of very nice grouping.


    Three shots of the Georgia Arms 158-gr. LSWCHP +P was fired into the super-saturated newsprint from both a snub 1 7/8" bbl and the common 4" service bbl of the larger Model 10. Shooting was done approximately 5' from the target. I thought it might be of interest to see how some of the other often-recommended snub 38 loads compared so I fired my stand-by, Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P, as well as Speer's 135-gr. Gold Dot +P and Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P. Three rounds of these were also fired.

    Here are the average penetration depths measured for rounds fired from the Model 642:

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 9 1/2"
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 8 1/2"
    Speer 135-gr. GD +P: 7 1/2"
    Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P: 8"

    From the 4" Model 10 I only used the two LSWCHP +P loads because the DPX and GD were engineered for short bbl's and my supply is extremely limited on each.

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 7 1/2"
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 7 1/2"


    From the snub the average expanded diameters were:

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.36" (No expansion from any of the shots fired.)
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.589" x 0.568" x 0.495" tall
    Speer 135-gr. GD +P: 0.545" x 0.543" x 0.432" tall
    Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P: 0.567" x 0.582" x 0.504" tall

    Not surprisingly, the Georgia Arms' unexpanded bullet penetrated deeper than the other loads which did expand from the snub. From left to right: GA, R-P, Corbon, and Speer.

    None of these bullets lost any significant weight after expansion.

    From the 4" S&W Model 10:

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.568" x 0.540" x 0.503" tall
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.606" x 0.577" x 0.446" tall

    These are from left to right: Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P and two of GA's bullets. All expanded when fired from a 4" revolver.

    Chronograph Results:

    Fired from the 1 7/8" bbl Model 642 the GA averaged 802 ft/sec and had a standard deviation of 17 ft/sec.
    This is almost exactly what I get from the Remington load in most lots. My current lot of Remington is a little hotter and averaged 837 ft/sec from this same gun.

    From the 4", Georgia Arms' 158-gr. LSWCHP +P averaged 897 ft/sec with a standard deviation of 18 ft/sec.

    I think that this is close enough to their advertised 900 ft/sec to say that they are truthfully advertising their listed velocities and it becomes clear that their claim is based on a 4" barrel.

    Observations: None of the 25 shots fired today were difficult to extract nor exhibited any "sticking." Cases were obviously reloaded and from different makers, but the ammunition was both consistent over the chronograph and accurate enough for 99.99% of our needs.

    Its velocity from both the snub and the service-length revolver barrels closely approximated Remington's +P version of this load. I believe that the GA ammunition is in fact +P. Felt recoil is subjective to be sure, but I noted no differences between the Georgia Arms ammunition and the Remington when fired. (Perhaps my hands are not calibrated finely enough?)

    I think that the bullet's used are from Hornady, but am not sure. The shape of the bullet and the small hollow cavity remind me of the old Hornady bullets I used to reload in this design, but they had sort of a waffle pattern on the sides.

    Both the Remington (left) and GA (right) 158-gr. LSWCHP +P bullets were fired into the same test media from the same snub revolver.

    I would not consider this for defensive use from a snub unless I simply wanted inexpensive ammo that mimics the traditional SWC in this bullet weight. From the 4" gun, it does expand…at least for the three shots I fired into wetpack, but I personally think that I'll stick with the Remington in this style bullet from the snub and probably in the 4" as well. The DPX and Gold Dots continue to show promise as new loads for the snub 38's, but I still do not count out the Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P for the snub-nose. These are all choices for the individual user to make.

    Does this mean that I believe that this Georgia Arms' reloaded .38 Special round is useless? No, far from it! I think it would make a peach of a practice load for non-reloaders to use when wanting to practice with something that duplicates POA vs. POI and felt recoil of their carry load…if that happens to be a 158-gr. bullet loaded to +P velocities.

    I want to thank "Gomer" again for his kind gesture in sending me this ammunition and hope that the information here is of interest.

    For folks interested in more information, below is the link for Georgia



    PS: If interested, here are results from similar informal tests that might be of interest:

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/38 Special Expansion Tests.htm

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/38 Snub Ammo Test.htm
  2. ARTiger

    ARTiger Well-Known Member

    Excellent work as usual Mr. Camp. Thank you for sharing. That's one beaut of a Mod. 10 BTW.
  3. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello and thanks very much.

  4. ugaarguy

    ugaarguy Moderator Staff Member

    Thank you for the review Mr. Camp, and thank you Gomer for supplying the ammo. While not a Remington LSWCHP, it looks to me like the GA rounds still supplied quite acceptable terminal ballistics in the longer bbl gun. I would think at the price point that this would be a good round to stock up for emergency supplies if one doesn't handload. This was a very enlightening review.
  5. Jim March

    Jim March Well-Known Member

    Thank you both - bigtime.

    It looks like this stuff is very equivelent to the Winchester 158+P. It's obvious from the pics that the hollowpoint cavity is smaller on the GA than on the Remmies.

    It's hard to say if the reduced expansion from the GA load is due to cavity shape or lead hardness. We're pretty sure the Winchester is harder than the Remmie and the Remmie seems a hair faster.

    All of this shows how the snubbies are at the "ragged edge" of being effective. Small variations in speed, hollowpoint design and lead composition are affecting expansion. This is one reason I like a very tight gap in snubbies, to help with velocity.
  6. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello, sir. I suspect you are correct. With the "official scientific thumbnail test," the GA bullet, which I think is a Hornady, seems harder than the dead soft Remington.

  7. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    Great info - and post, Mr. Camp! I guess my long held opinion that the R-P variant is the best choice for my 2" 10 for PD/HD was appropriate. I really like the ammo produced by those GA folks, they may be 110 miles from here and I see them at the local shows, but sometimes even they aren't 'perfect'. Their 200gr GDHP .44 Special uses the same Speer #4427 bullet as I did reloading, and, of course, CCI uses in their Blazer offering - spot on with that one.

    I have noted GA's use of other Hornady bullets, like the assumed JHP of their's in the 100gr JHP .32 H&RM round. I've chrono-ed it at 1156 fps from my 4.6" Ruger SS BHG. Testing them for penetration/expansion would be axiomatic now, as Ruger canned both the SSM's and the SP101's in that caliber this year. Still, they do generally make ammo that represents a great value today. If I can find some R-P 158gr LHPSWC bullets to reload, a dupe of their commercial +P loading would be best, else the GA rounds make sense for my 'training' as well. Again, thanks!

  8. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Well-Known Member

    Thanks Stephen. A bit off topic maybe, but where did you get the grip panels on the Mdl 10 4" heavy barrel?

  9. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

  10. gomer

    gomer Well-Known Member

    Thank you very much for doing that testing Stephen! I found these rounds at a gun show a few months back and bought them because they were such a good deal. I wanted Stephen to test them for me to see how they worked out of a 2in snub. My carry load in my Taurus 85UL is the Remington 158gr LSWCHP+P and the GA loads "feels" and shoots the same as that load. Now after this testing I know I'll be sticking with the Remington load for carry, but I'll keep the GA load as my primary range load since it is half the price of the Remington stuff. I'll also use the GA load in my 4inch revolvers in the field as a "walking around" load.

    Once again, thanks to Mr. Camp for his testing and time.
  11. fiVe

    fiVe Well-Known Member

    This is the kind of post that makes THR a valuable firearm resource.

    Since it is from Stephen Camp, it is (as usual) a great, informative post.
  12. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Moderator In Memoriam

    Hello and thank you all, especially Gomer for sending the ammunition.

  13. revolvergeek

    revolvergeek Well-Known Member

    Very informative post, as always. Thanks!

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