38 special and power

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Bezoar, Jan 14, 2015.

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  1. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    Here is the question,
    in the hodgdon manuals ive seen they use a nice 7.5 inch or better barrel to develop the data for 38 special. In all of them i cannot find any little spot that gives data for duplicating the heavy duty 38 special loads im seeing online

    buffalo bore and underwood for startes can give you ammo that pushed a 158 grain lead bullet to 1200 fps in a 4 inch barrel. Elmer and the the rest had to go over standard 38 special pressure in a rechambered 44 special revolver to get that type of velocity.

    So are these truly standard pressure 38 special + p

    38/44 loads

    or light 357 magnums?
     
  2. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Today's .357 Magnum (158 grain) is yesterday's 38-44 level. Original .357 Magnum ammunition was a whole different critter than we've seen since the mid 70s when they dropped it from the catalogs.

    Today's +P is preetty much yesterday's standard .38 Special.

    They've toned'em down a bit, likely because they have pressure testing equipment that shows what they're really dealin' with.

    Buffalo Bore's specs are a little over 38-44 High Velocity aka HD spec...which advertised 1175 fps from a 5-inch barrel.

    PM incoming
     
  3. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    IMO there are no free rides. If BB's ammo produces much higher velocities than all others they are not building them to the same pressure limits. If it could be done within the current SAAMI limits everyone would be doing it.
     
  4. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    One proof of this is to actually buy ( I know a sin) :D Some of their 158 LSWCHP +P 38 specials/ Shoot them in a snubby of your choice.

    Positively brutal. I would say they are 357 Mags!

    IMHO it does you no good anyway. Hard to get off a second shot and I doubt the round will penetrate or do more damage than a "milder" 38 +P
     
  5. bdb benzino

    bdb benzino Member

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    Except that the Buffalobore claims to use a special lead that has a particular softness that allows those velocities without going over pressure.
     
  6. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    All else being equal, IMHO, there are two ways to get high velocity figures from any cartridge.

    1. Go to higher pressures.
    2. Lie.

    Jim
     
  7. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Believe it or not, Buffalo Bore doesn't use 'magic lead'.

    None of the big brand ammo companies (Win, Rem, Fed) load to full 100% SAAMI Max pressure.

    Nor do they always use the optimal powder choice for highest velocity possible.

    They use the powder that gives the least expensive cost per round while meeting the velocity goal they need to meet.

    Buffalo Bore, Garrett, and others Do load to Max SAAMI pressure, and use the specific powder choices to safely do it, darned the cost.
    Cause the customer is going to pay for it in the exorbitant ammo prices they charge.

    rc
     
  8. CZ9shooter

    CZ9shooter Member

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    They dont lie. I chronoed Buffalo Bore's FBI load from my Jframe. My 5 shot average was less than a dozen fps off of their advertised velocity (1000fps).

    I am not sure how they do it, maybe they are over pressure, idk. But somewhere I heard one time that they mix powders in order to maintain peak pressure for a longer duration. Normaly you cant go mixing powders all willey nilly, but maybe they have technology that we dont have that allows them to do it safely.
     
  9. Schwing

    Schwing Member

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    I don't think 1100-1200fps is a stretch. I have 158 grain loads using good old promo that I have clocked at over 1000fps with my chronograph and those are not even close to max loads. To me, they defeat the purpose of using my .38 which is for mild recoil and fun. I have come to the conclusion that it is best to leave the wrist rockers to my .357 and higher.
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Maybe a notch lower than BB, but there was a gunzine article on Cor Bon ammo a few years ago. The author lined up a PV setup - he must have had Connections, paid testing would cost more than he would get for the article - and ran most of Cor Bon's catalog through it.
    All but one were just under SAAMI maximum and very near advertised velocity.
    That one was .38 Special +P which was fast, but also at what I recall as 94% of .357 pressure. I can believe it, I fired two shots with it in the then-new titanium S&W and handed it back to the proud owner. Reportedly they toned down that load.
     
  11. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    they did tone down the 357 from the get go. what ive seen is a little load of a 146 grain bullet pushed to 48,500 cup that was only safe for 200 rounds in an n frame at the testing stage.
    wouldnt THAT be fun in a scandium j frame?


    its just that a 158 grain jsp or jhp from a 4 inch barrel at 1200 fps and 550 pounds of muzzle energy is the standard HUNTING load for the 357 from winchester, federal, remington and so on.

    But when you can get a 38 special +p that duplicates it, one kind of gets a bit curious as to what your actually using.
     
  12. gamestalker

    gamestalker member

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    There are safe +P pressure loads that will get pretty darn close, if not right on the money, I load them regularly using Longshot.

    From a 2.5" snub, I push 38+P 158's, JHP's to better than 1050 fps., this is one of my everyday carry loads. Those same loads exceed 1100 fps from my 4" barrel with ease. That said, I would put money on it that from a 5", those velocities would be even higher.

    Now if these loads utilized lead of the right hardness / softness, I would bet on it they would hit that target velocity of 1200 fps..

    GS
     
  13. ACP

    ACP Member

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    I have both the BB .38+P and .357 Magnum "tactical" load for short-barreled revolvers. I believe BB claims just under 1100fps for both loads in 3" guns, both around 400 ft. lbs. at the muzzle.

    I choose to shoot the BB .357 in my S&W M65. The .38 +P actually seems harsher (louder, more recoil) out of a 3" barrel.

    But I shoot 158-gr. +P Winchester out of my S&W 642 all the time and think nothing of it. I'm guessing that's in the upper 800's for speed out of a 1+7/8" snub.
     
  14. dickydalton

    dickydalton Member

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    This will draw a boat load of crap but, there is a reason there are 38 Specials and 357 Magnums. If you want 357 magnum velocity then use a 357 Magnum. If you'd like less recoil and maybe to hit better use a 38 Special. Missing due to recoil and muzzle blast or perceived same is stupid. Now, before you all start screaming, my main defense gun is a 629 Mountain Revolver in 44 Magnum. It has 4 44 Specials in front and two 44 Mags behind, so I'm not really scared of recoil.
     
  15. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    RC explains the power issue very well. A good example of this is Winchester 158gr LSWCHP +P sometimes called the FBI or the Chicago police load. Winchester lists the current factory ballistics at 890 fps for their bullet from a 4" vented test barrel. The old Winchester load data shows 4.5gr W231 as maximum standard pressure with 158 lead bullet at 830 fps 15,800psi and 4.7 gr as max for +P 860 fps 17,100 psi. That is only 100 psi more than maximum 17,000 psi for standard pressure ammo and well below the 18,500 psi SAAMI max for +P.

    I have loaded the 4.7gr W231 load behind 158gr Speer LSWC and LSWCHP bullets in Winchester cases lit by WSP primers for an average chrono'd velocity of 879 fps from a 4" S&W model 66 and 911 fps from a 4-5/8" Ruger Blackhawk. Very close to Winchesters data velocity estimates for both handload data and factory ammo and what one would expect for different firearms.

    The point being that a manufacturer who loads to near max SAAMI pressure standards could reach higher velocities which is what Buffalo Bore and other custom loaders do. No magic powder, perhaps a different powder than used by the big manufacturers, but pushed to a higher velocity by more pressure.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2015
  16. USSR

    USSR Member

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    Personally, I view the clamoring for uber high velocity loads as fairly short sighted. What most are doing is taking a limited number of standard jacketed projectiles or overly hard cast bullets, and pushing them as fast as they can. My take on handgun loads is taking a normally attainable velocity for a particular weight bullet, and matching a lead HP bullet consisting of a custom alloy designed by me to expand within the previously stated velocity parameters. Since there is no hydrostatic shock associated with handgun loads, it's all about a large permanent wound cavity and penetration. Just MHO.

    Don
     
  17. murf

    murf Member

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    buffalo bore lists their "outdoorsman" 158gn lswc load at 1186fps out of a 6" combat masterpiece. the speer 6 reloading manual shows a 160gn lswc top load at 1020fps out of a 6" k-38. the manual also shows a 160gn lswc top load at 1110fps out of a 6.5" pressure test barrel. the pressure of that load is 18,000 c.u.p.

    i imagine the buffalo bore load pressure is a bit higher than 18k.

    murf

    p.s. the old c.u.p. max pressure for 38 special +p is 22,400, for 38 special is 18,900.

    new c.u.p. max pressures are 20,000 and 17,000 respectively.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  18. 336A

    336A Member

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    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015
  19. WestKentucky

    WestKentucky Member

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    I personally don't see that big of a deal with weak loads, normal loads, or wristbreakers...with that said I load my own almost exclusively. The SAAMI numbers typically mean less to me than the conversion of yen to pesos. Each gun will tell a shooter what it wants, what it can handle, and when you start pushing into the danger zone the gun starts telling you to back off. You have to know to look for signs, but they are obvious. In rifles, you get thing like hard bolt lifts, stovepipe or fail to feed in autoloaders, stuck shells in chambers etc, but mainly case head issues. The gun says HEY, BACK OFF, you just have to speak it's language. In handguns you have all the same issues, with the addition of revolvers locking up, autos slides doing odd things etc. So with each gun telling me what it wants or doesn't want then why should I care about if SAAMI says 5 psi or 5 million psi...that one word I used earlier...i handload ALMOST exclusively. The only thing that matters is that a box of factory ammo doesn't blow my gun up and injure me. I typically avoid buffalo bore or similar high pressure rounds for this, but I still inspect just the same to make sure factory ammo isn't going to be a major issue.

    With that bit of a rant over I finally will make my point...when people deal with anything that can injure them whether it be a car, a gun, even standing structures that could fall, people need to understand the danger signs. With guns I have seen an overabundance of people who simply buy and shoot with no concern other than cheap costs. When it comes to things that are a bit more extreme as is the case of powerful ammo, racecars, or 100 year old polebarns these things get even more important. Please please please educate yourself and your friends on these things and carefully inspect your toys before, during and after use.
     
  20. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    I said that one way to get higher velocities was to go to higher pressure. I did not say or imply that any ammo maker exceeded safe pressures, only that there is no magic way of getting higher velocities (given the same bullet weight and barrel) and keeping the pressure the same or lower. Those who insist that they can push a .38 Special bullet at some super velocity with no increase in pressure over the standard load are in my category number 2.

    Jim
     
  21. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Assuming a given powder, that's true...but getting higher velocities without upping the pressure...and sometimes with less pressure... is easily done with a slower powder.

    Think Bullseye vs 2400. At equal (near maximum) pressures, 2400 will produce quite a bit more velocity with a given bullet.
     
  22. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    In fact, as EC Harris has claimed -- and proved to my satisfaction -- soft lead, because it obturates so well, produces HIGHER pressures than jacketed bullets, all other things being equal.
     
  23. murf

    murf Member

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    336a,

    thanks for the heads-up on the saami updated data (2013). it is the same as the old (1993) data, just adds a few new calibers.

    in regard to saami data in the 1993 specs: 38 special and 38 special +p m.a.p. pressure just happens to be the same for copper crusher and piezoelectric measurement methods (it is usually different for other calibers).

    i referred to the c.u.p. method in my previous post to try and compare current saami standards with pressure results in the speer 6 manual that was published in 1964 (pre-piezo).

    murf
     
  24. murf

    murf Member

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    maybe buffalo bore is going the "lee juras" route and reducing the diameter of the bullet to reduce pressure while maintaining velocity.

    murf
     
  25. Bezoar

    Bezoar member

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    is it not more of a nanny state thing? water down the ammunition so that its OK for the gun companies to make fragile light 16 ounce handguns that wont wear out after a single box of REGULAR/REAL ammunition?
     
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