FBI Load .38 Special?

Bill B.

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Jun 25, 2004
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I have opportunity to buy 1000 Federal +P 158 grain LSWHP at about 50 cents each. I thought this was a great price till I got to reading some of the review's. There was a a bunch of reviews that said by the 3rd shot in a J frame the cylinder would lock up where the bullet would slide forward in the case during recoil. Per the reviews the lighter the J frame the worse the problem. A[so it said these bullets are not crimped in so running them back through a crimp die doesn't seem like a good idea as there would have to be a psi increase. I didn't see where anyone was having issues with a full size .38/.357. I had been wanting to try some of these loads but have been unable to find until now. My question is is bullet moving out of the case under recoil something that you know first hand occurs with these rounds or just internet rumors? I hate to buy 1000 rounds knowing I can't use any in a J frame. Thanks!
 
I have opportunity to buy 1000 Federal +P 158 grain LSWHP at about 50 cents each. I thought this was a great price till I got to reading some of the review's. There was a a bunch of reviews that said by the 3rd shot in a J frame the cylinder would lock up where the bullet would slide forward in the case during recoil. Per the reviews the lighter the J frame the worse the problem. A[so it said these bullets are not crimped in so running them back through a crimp die doesn't seem like a good idea as there would have to be a psi increase. I didn't see where anyone was having issues with a full size .38/.357. I had been wanting to try some of these loads but have been unable to find until now. My question is is bullet moving out of the case under recoil something that you know first hand occurs with these rounds or just internet rumors? I hate to buy 1000 rounds knowing I can't use any in a J frame. Thanks!
All you have is a J frame to shoot them through?
 
I've seen the condition you describe, only it was a guy shooting bulk-pack .357 Magnums in an alloy J-frame. After a couple of shots the cylinder wouldn't turn because a bullet walked forward far enough to jam against the frame. It being a S&W, the cylinder couldn't be opened. The only fix I know of is to tap the bullet back home.

...And I guess that's one more reason not to shoot hot loads in a little revolver. :)
 
If you run that load in a steel J frame it is very likely to be ok. Test it. Eyeball five fresh rounds. Load all five but fire only four. Remove the unfired round and see if the projectile has jumped crimp after being subjected to the recoil of four fired rounds in your gun. This is the test in the S&W manual specifically for very lightweight titanium cylinder revolvers.

As to effectiveness, maybe not quite as good as speer gold dot 135 grain short barrel +P (53921 or 23921) or Winchester ranger bonded 130 grain +P or the PDX1 equivalent. But if you can hit with it its a pretty good load even if the Winchester and Remington were considered better than the federal version.

Since you have not bought any yet, I'd recommend searching up the speer gold dots mentioned above. Recent manufactured lots are available. I bought a case here, first time using them for any purchases: https://www.bereli.com/53921/

My case lot was made in 1Q24. Fresh.
 
What caught my eye on these Federal SWCHP was the price. I have to pay more for 158 grain lead rounds than 50 cents. I had heard this bullet design was very effective but most of those shooting them was most likely Detective's using a S&W M19 2 3/4 inch or a S&W Model 10 2 inch. I have other rounds to use in a J frame including those Speer Gold Dots, Hornady Critical Defense and 148 grain lead wadcutters. Sadly the last wadcutters I found locally in .38 special was priced at $61 dollars a box! I thought that at the price it might be a good time to stock up on these Federal but would prefer to have ammo that I can use in any .38 special if needed. Thanks for the replies and the information.
 
If you have to buy ammo , these guys are one that usually have decent prices, and a lot of times, free shipping if you're buying by the case. A fair selection to choose from too.



Another that usually has some decent prices and free shipping on case lots.

 
I have opportunity to buy 1000 Federal +P 158 grain LSWHP at about 50 cents each.

Very good price anymore for factory loaded anything.

I thought this was a great price till I got to reading some of the review's. There was a a bunch of reviews that said by the 3rd shot in a J frame the cylinder would lock up where the bullet would slide forward in the case during recoil. Per the reviews the lighter the J frame the worse the problem. A[so it said these bullets are not crimped in so running them back through a crimp die doesn't seem like a good idea as there would have to be a psi increase. I didn't see where anyone was having issues with a full size .38/.357. I had been wanting to try some of these loads but have been unable to find until now. My question is is bullet moving out of the case under recoil something that you know first hand occurs with these rounds or just internet rumors? I hate to buy 1000 rounds knowing I can't use any in a J frame. Thanks!

If it turns out to be an actual problem, tighten up the crimp by running them through a Lee Factory Crimp Die. Running them through an FCD is trivial, should not be a problem.
 
Adding a little crimp Is Not going to make an unsafe load ...
Crimps help with a complete burn and hold bullets in place but will not "skyrocket" pressures to dangerous levels ... that old wives tale has been blown all out of porportion to reality .

Light weight revolvers do suffer more from "Bullet Creep" than heavier all steel ... That is True !
Test your loads in the Air Weight and see ... a Lee Factory Crimp Die can be used to add a bit more crimp if needed ... and you will be good to go !

Save your brass and think about reloading . I use a Lee Hand Press to reload all my handgun and 30-30 rifle ammo with , sitting inside at my computer desk or coffee table .
The Lee Hand Press Kit sells for $68.02 at Midway USA and is in stock !
Think about the savings !
Load Safe
Gary
 
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I have opportunity to buy 1000 Federal +P 158 grain LSWHP at about 50 cents each. I thought this was a great price till I got to reading some of the review's. There was a a bunch of reviews that said by the 3rd shot in a J frame the cylinder would lock up where the bullet would slide forward in the case during recoil. Per the reviews the lighter the J frame the worse the problem. A[so it said these bullets are not crimped in so running them back through a crimp die doesn't seem like a good idea as there would have to be a psi increase. I didn't see where anyone was having issues with a full size .38/.357. I had been wanting to try some of these loads but have been unable to find until now. My question is is bullet moving out of the case under recoil something that you know first hand occurs with these rounds or just internet rumors? I hate to buy 1000 rounds knowing I can't use any in a J frame. Thanks!
The price is not bad but if you buy them I would crimp them. When I started loading 357 I barely put any crimp on them I was told you didn’t need to but then with a heavy load of W296 I had one back out from recoil you don’t want it to happen it is a pain in the butt it locks up your revolver. Trying to tap it back in is dangerous IMHO I was going to try it but was afraid of setting off the round I took it to a gunsmith . When I went to pick it up he told me you need to put a heavy crimp on your 357’s or you will be back here again.
 
A proper crimp also makes for positive ignition. Ive had squibs because of a lack of it and didn't understand what was happening at first. The primer can and will force the bullet out of the case and into the forcing cone and barrel before the powder charge fully ignites.

If the bullet just starts into the forcing cone and doesn't clear the cylinder, the gun is locked up like a slipped crimp, but the only access to it is through the barrel and you will need a brass rod to be able to tap it back into the cylinder to get it open. Sometimes with a slipped crimp outside the frame, you can push or tap it back enough to get it open. If it makes it into the barrel, you had best be paying attention and not stroke that trigger again.

Im kind of surprised that a factory would let full powered (or anything really) ammo go without a crimp. That just seems odd and have to wonder where that bit of info is coming from. If this is really FBI ammo meant for issue, it doesn't make sense.

I used to roll crimp my 38's and 357's and now use a taper crimp. I shoot my brass to failure and don't trim pistol brass. As the brass ages/weakens and/or the cases arent the exact same length (they are usually all pretty close though), the roll crimps seem to give more failures here. The taper crimp seems to have solved that and I haven't had a slipped crimp or squib due to that with them since I switched.

Its kind of funny that in all the other threads about the revolvers being more reliable and less prone to stoppages, and when you bring up the slipped crimp issues, you're told its a rarity and nothing to worry about, yet already here, we have a number of people talking about it.
 
I shot some of these loads in my S&W 340PD and after shooting 2 rounds the remainder started to move out of the case. After firing 4 rounds the last one moved out so much I easily pulled the bullet out with my fingers. I believe shooting them in an all steel revolver you would be ok.
 
I’ve never seen that with top tier factory ammo.

Awful lot of cops carried that round in Airweight Smiths and Colts for a very long time.

I’ve probably shot 100 of these out of my new Airweight Kimber. No bullet pull at all.

They seem well crimped. IMG_8989.jpeg

My hand gets tired way before the gun does.
 
A[so it said these bullets are not crimped
This simply sounds odd for factory lead bullet loads.
If they prove to be uncrimped (unlikely) then adding some shouldn't hurt.
Personally, I've gone to Full Charge Wadcutters for lightweight snubs; much more controllable. Do have some wrath-of-God 140gr Fiocchi that clock at nearly 1100'sec out of a snub, but they get meat in both directions.
And yes, revolver ammunition is stupid expensive. I save my components for them, and buy 9s loaded.
Moon
 
I've seen the condition you describe, only it was a guy shooting bulk-pack .357 Magnums in an alloy J-frame. After a couple of shots the cylinder wouldn't turn because a bullet walked forward far enough to jam against the frame. It being a S&W, the cylinder couldn't be opened. The only fix I know of is to tap the bullet back home.

...And I guess that's one more reason not to shoot hot loads in a little revolver. :)
I have had this issue with a WW 140gr Silvertip .357 Mag in a S&W SC360 Scandium J-frame. The .38 special recoil is not in the same ballpark and shouldn't be a problem if the ammo has a proper crimp. I shot up the rest of my silvertip ammo in my SC360 without issue by giving them a bit of extra crimp on my reloading press. Newer .357 Mag ammo hasn't had this problem, I suspect manufacturers became aware of the issue and crimped a bit more to fix it as I did with that antique ammo (pre-dates introduction of "Scandium" revolvers).

That photo of the Federal +P LSWC-HP looks like it has plenty of crimp.
 
I’ve never seen that with top tier factory ammo.

Awful lot of cops carried that round in Airweight Smiths and Colts for a very long time.

I’ve probably shot 100 of these out of my new Airweight Kimber. No bullet pull at all.

They seem well crimped. View attachment 1214112

My hand gets tired way before the gun does.
An RCBS Tech once told me that "Factory crimps are Overcrimps". The picture must be like what he was referring to. Even though I have a taper crimp die, I prefer a visible crimp on my reloads.
 
DO NOT USE THE LEE FCD die!
Use a standard seating/crimp die!
The FCD has a carbide sizer ring that will size down the bullet in the case eliminating much of the case grip/friction/tension on the case increasing the likelihood of bullet jump.
I recently worked up some “+P+” loads for my Taurus M856 to duplicate the FBI load. I had to increase the crimp to look like the photo of the Federal ammo to prevent bullet jumping.
I won’t post the load but was EASILY able to get 900+ fps with a 158gr bullet from the 2”bbl and they hit 1,000+ fps from my S&W Model15. (LongShot powder).

I suggest you focus on some good accurate loads at standard pressure for practice and purchase some Buffalo Bore or UnderWood factory for carry. No point in abusing your investment…
This won’t jump a crimp, but isn’t excessive. This is with a Lee standard seating/crimp die. But is only 3.4gr of #231. VERY ACCURATE!
 

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DO NOT USE THE LEE FCD die!
Use a standard seating/crimp die!
The FCD has a carbide sizer ring that will size down the bullet in the case eliminating much of the case grip/friction on the case increasing the likelihood of bullet jump.
I recently worked up some “+P+” loads for my Taurus M856 to duplicate the FBI load. I had to increase the crimp to look like the photo of the Federal ammo to prevent bullet jumping.
I won’t post the load but was EASILY able to get 900+ fps with a 158gr bullet from the 2”bbl and they hit 1,000+ fps from my S&W Model15.

I suggest you focus on some good accurate loads at standard pressure for practice and purchase some Buffalo Bore or UnderWood factory for carry. No point in abusing your investment…
This won’t jump a crimp, but isn’t excessive. This is with a Lee standard seating/crimp die. But is only 3.4gr of #231. VERY ACCURATE!
Good advice from Goose.... best regards, Rod
 
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