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I tried Buffalo Bore's 158-gr LSWCHP .38 spl+P

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Arrogant Bastard, Jul 23, 2008.

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  1. Arrogant Bastard

    Arrogant Bastard Member

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    I fired 5 rounds of the Buffalo Bore interspersed with my normal range ammo, Remington UMC 130-gr .38 spl with my S&W 640...

    Holy cow! It packs rather a whallop. I could DEFINITELY tell which rounds were BB.

    I tried firing .38 spl+P Golden Saber with my normal range ammo, and honestly, I couldn't tell which was which. Not a problem with BB -- it was quite obvious when I touched off one of those.

    I am considering getting a box of cheap .357 mag ammo and touch off a few of those on each range trip, interspersed with normal .38 spl, just to get used to the extra recoil.
     
  2. doc540

    doc540 Member

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  3. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    I like Blazer aluminum and Monarch (available at one of many fine Houston Academy stores) for "cheap" maggie loads. If you reload, or if you do a brass swap with one of the on-line commercial reloaders, the Monarch is reloadable. If not, the Blazer is a buck or two less and shoots very well for me out of my 6" GP100 and 3" SP101.

    Q
     
  4. The_Shootist

    The_Shootist Member

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    Yeah Q

    Funny you should mention that about Blazer .357 ammo. I was still dialing in my new 642 today, but brought along my SP 101 (3 1/3" bbl) as well with 50 rds of Blazer 158g JHP .357 ammo.

    I was stunned at how easy it was to shoot out of my SP 101 - easy recoil, good groups at 7 yds of 3-4 in just a pleasant wxperience.

    Don't get me wrong, I could tell I was firing .357 ammo out of my Ruger, it just wasn't the usual head banging/hand wringing experience I had had in the past. Or maybe putting 150 rds through my 642 in the same session sort of innoculated me :D.

    If this ammo was any good on the street (and I'm not sure of any specs for how its hollow point performs in actual SD situations or in ballistic gellatin) I might end up falling in love with SP 101 all over again. $ 20 / 50 at Academy , good/accurate weight, easy and accurate on the follow up shots - whats not too like?
     
  5. Gary A

    Gary A Member

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    I believe the nominal velocity for Blazer 158 grain JHP .357 is 1150 fps from a 4 inch barrel versus a nominal 1235 fps for many 158 loadings. That would account for the better manners. I like shooting the Blazer. They used to put a pretty decent hollowpoint in it but more recently the HP seems like more of a dimple. The only thing I don't like about Blazer is the very light case weight and less-smooth aluminum makes for stickier extraction.
     
  6. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    The ONLY drawback to those BB 158+P monsters...well OK, there's two:

    1) I personally won't shoot them in "strength marginal" guns. That includes my vintage Charter Undercover, most early-model S&W and Colt snubbies, for SURE the first generation S&W stainless snubs or early S&W stainless K-frame 38s, any pre-WW2 S&W (except of course the "Heavy Duty"!), any aluminum-framed gun (lacking Scandium) period, any vintage 38Spl Taurus or Rossi. Again: this is my personal policy. Some will no doubt disagree with a few of these and that's cool. None should "blow up" but they might wear out a LOT faster.

    2) They're also not for use in ultra-light guns even if the gun is strong enough. If the gun is too light, recoil could be extreme enough to yank the bullets out of the shells on rounds not yet fired, lengthening the rounds and possibly tying up the guns. I'm not 100% sure of the cutoff point. At 19oz for a steel S&W snubby you should be OK but I'd still load five, shoot four, carefully examine the last unfired round to make sure it hasn't stretched.

    A Charter Undercover (17oz) might be too light. Taurus has made Titanium snubs down around 15oz, and S&W has the infamous 12.5oz 357 and 10.5oz 38. I guarantee you'll have problems with at the 12.5oz level and below!!! Anything above that, test thoroughly (at least two or three runs of "shoot four, examine #5").

    Note that S&W makes some larger-frame Scandium snubbies now, including (I think?) an 8-shot built on an N-frame. That latter should be heavy enough to cope with a BB +P load.

    Other than these issues, the BB 158+P is the ABSOLUTE king of the 38 snubbie loads, period, end of discussion. Tromps anything in terms of energy, runs right up there with 9mm from a 4" barrel for cryin' out loud. Just an awesome load :).
     
  7. skoro

    skoro Member

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    In my 4" Model 10, that Buffalo Bore load is juuust right. I wouldn't even think of trying it in my 642 snubbie, though. :eek:

    I'm gonna need the use of my right hand for years to come. ;)
     
  8. Arrogant Bastard

    Arrogant Bastard Member

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    I wouldn't shoot 'em from a 642, either. Mine's a 640, rated for .357 mag.
     
  9. doc540

    doc540 Member

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    "Other than these issues, the BB 158+P is the ABSOLUTE king of the 38 snubbie loads, period, end of discussion."

    whooah....that's one of the last things I'd say on a public discussion board.:D
     
  10. cherryriver

    cherryriver Member

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    At a buck a round, I wasn't too keen on lots of Buffalo Bore experimenting. But as someone who was raised on Elmer Keith and his cohorts extolling the virtues of heavy semiwadcutter loads, this BB +P loads look just like what Elmer'd want.
    Well, if they were hardcast and didn't have hollow points. But still.
    I bought a 20-box and touched off two of them in my Detective Special, while aiming through my chrono.
    I got right at 1000fps, for goodness' sake. The recoil was on the stiff side but far from scary. And 1000fps in a snub just knocks me out; that's right on the edge of making major power factor for USPSA. In two inches!
    The empties fell right out when I opened the gun. The primers looked good and there were no ill effects noted.
    These are what are in my .38s. Wowee.
     
  11. Arrogant Bastard

    Arrogant Bastard Member

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    For defensive loads in a .38 snubnose, it really is a safe assertion to make.

    And for those worried about the cost per round, it's not like you're practicing regularly with them. I shot 5 mixed in with 100 Magtech .38 spl rounds, and now that I know how they feel, I don't feel a need to fire more in practice. Perhaps I will obtain a box of .357, and shoot a few of those interspersed with my regular practice ammo. Is there such a thing as a mild .357 load that would better approximate the recoil from the BB 158-gr +P loads?
     
  12. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    How does Buffalo Bore stack up (in real-world shooting) to Cor-Bon and DoubleTap, in both .38+P and .357 Magnum?

    I know it's a bit of a false comparison, as they use different bullet weights (in their .357 load, for example, BB uses a 125 grain where CB & DT use a 158).

    Realizing all three are real wrist-wrenchers, which is king of the pile?

    Q
     
  13. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    The BB 158+P lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint is absolutely unmatched in snubby 38 energy levels. Period, end of discussion.

    Cor-Bon USED to make an equivelent load, and every once in a while you find them at gun shows or the like. They might be cheaper than BB. But the likely reason the Cor-Bons were canceled was that with no gascheck there was massive barrel lead buildup. Also, Cor-Bon's pressure levels with the 110gr and 125gr 38+Ps were noticeably high and as these rounds pre-date the modern powders BB is using to get these energies, I'm not sure I'd trust the Cor-Bons not to pressure spike into the "red zone" some.

    Note the experiences reported in this thread of "shells dropping free cleanly". That's a good thing, it means pressures in the BB aren't all that psycho :).

    Doubletap isn't loading a plain lead 158gr slug. That's what's needed for peak performance in a 38snubbie. Lead is slicker than copper. If you ran a 125gr lead slug it would likely come unglued on impact. If you run jacketed 125s you can't match the energy levels of the 158 lead slug.

    It really is the snub king.
     
  14. pps

    pps Member

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    I have not had any issues with BB 158gr 38+p tying up my 340pd, but the .357mag chamber is a good 1/10" longer than in a 38 special.

    I have had some .357 loadings tie up the cylinder. Wallyworld wwb were the worst offenders.
     
  15. TAB

    TAB Member

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    BB is good stuff. I've found that thier numbers are spot on and in some cases low balled.

    Then again they actually use guns for testing, not test barrels.

    some of thier "heavy" and "+P+" stuff is pretty damn crazy when it comes to power levels.
     
  16. Quoheleth

    Quoheleth Member

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    Didn't I read somewhere that BB uses a Ruger GP100 to test its .357 ammo? Maybe its .38+P, too...

    If so, that says something about their trust in Ruger, and Ruger's inherent toughness.

    Q
     
  17. cocojo

    cocojo Member

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    Hey Doc540, Did you get your wife squared away after shooting those BB loads? What did she finally settle on? Hornaday & Fiocchi make 125 JHPXTP standard velocity round also.
     
  18. whichfinger

    whichfinger Member

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    Educate me

    I'm still in learning mode. As I understand it, SAAMI specifications are just that: specifications. A manufacturer either meets them or doesn't. If SAAMI specs for .38+p state pressure must be 10% over standard pressure (I don't know what the spec actually says, but for the sake of argument I've picked 10%), and if a manufacturer's ammo clocks in at a consistent 11%, it does not meet SAAMI specs, and is over-powered for a +p rated firearm. OTOH, if the ammo approaches, but doesn't exceed, 9%, it too does not meet SAAMI specs, and is underpowered for a +p load.

    So: If every manufacturer produces .38+p to SAAMI specs, why would one brand produce more felt recoil from the same gun than any other, given equal bullet weights?
     
  19. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    SAAMI is about peak pressure. A given round will have a "pressure curve" - the pressure will build, peak and then taper off. What kills the gun is the "high spot" in the curve.

    BUT: if you "broaden the curve", if you get the pressure to rise quickly but then STAY at a high level for a while before tapering off, you can do what seems to be impossible: produce more actual bullet energy (which affects felt recoil) while not being any harder on the gun than a load with less overall energy yet a HIGHER pressure spike.

    That's what Buffalo Bore, Doubletap and Grizzly Ammo are doing: broadening the curve with very specialized powder and extensive testing.

    Of the three, Buffalo Bore appears to be the very best by a smidge. Well...wait, Grizzly might be as good but they're doing hardcast-only, no jacketed stuff last I checked. Oh, and there's Garrett also specializing in hardcast, that dude knows what he's doing too!

    Without the pressure test gear available to those guys, it's almost impossible to match their performance doing home hand-loading. The only way you can match those guys on your own loading bench is to use "overstrength" guns that are abnormally strong for a given caliber, and even then it's risky. As you hit the edge of the envelope and then add fractionally more powder, you run the risk of a kaboom as tiny additional charge amounts can cause pressure to spike wildly. When you're in a realm where a 2% charge increase causes a 25% or more pressure rise, whoa, you're dancing on a knife's edge.

    The "hot ammo houses" are starting with special test setups that are as close to unbreakable as possible, as they measure what's going on at this "edge". Only then do they test candidate products in real guns.

    They don't explore the edge in real guns.
     
  20. whichfinger

    whichfinger Member

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    Ah ... thanks so much for the concise and logical explanation. The fog clears a bit. :) But I would guess barrel length plays a major role in the equation. If a round is optimized for, say, a 4" barrel, wouldn't most of that pressure surge get turned into flash and bang in a snubby instead of penetration and expansion? IOW, BB, et al, +p in a 2" barrel is pretty much a waste of money?
     
  21. cherryriver

    cherryriver Member

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    I wouldn't fret too much about the four-inch. I ran the same Buffalo Bore 158 +P and got about 1060 in a four-inch Python, sixty more feet per than the snub.
    Another point I'd make about the Buffalo Bore is that while stiff, the recoil impulse is nothing outrageous.
    While it doesn't hold as much for sixguns, I spent a bunch of time working out what major-power load kicked the least in a 1911. Changing powder makes some huge differences, and the fastest burner kicked the least.
    I'll have to spend some time experimenting for the .38, but I do know that at the +P threshold with 158gr Berry's, VV320, relatively fast for the caliber and case size, makes a nice push-like load compared to VV350 or Unique.
    Buffalo Bore obviously hit on a special combination.
     
  22. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    The BB 38Spl and 38+P loads are ALL tuned for 2" barrels. In fact with a gain of only 60fps going to a 4" barrel, that would indicate that the powder charge is getting mostly burned up in the first 2" - normally I'd expect more boost out of a 4" over a 2" (closer to 100fps difference).

    BUT: while Pythons are accurate, they're not known for being "fast spitters" like the newer S&W tubes and most Rugers. So the test out of a 4" Python may not mean that much...

    What really matters is "how fast is the slug going, and what speed does it need to expand?"

    We know that 158gr all-lead hollowpoints by Remington expand well at 850fps, which they usually get in a snub when loaded by Remington at +P. Assuming the Buffalo Bore is ballpark similar a slug, then the 850-870 range it gets in standard pressure should be fine, and the 1,000fps they get in +P and a snubby will be great :).

    OK, so what if you have a 6" barrel 38Spl gun? Not a common setup but they do exist...they tend to be older models like the Colt Officer's Match 38 (the Python's ancestor) or various old S&Ws. If you shoot BuffBore +P in these, first, you're accelerating the wear of a classic gun and second, you might have been better off shooting the BuffBore standard pressure version.

    Any hollowpoint can be "overdriven" - move it too fast on impact and the nose will expand but then "shred" and you're left with a shortened wadcutter that's maybe 30% lighter than the original slug and only slightly fatter than original if at all. This isn't optimum, although it'll still hurt :).

    The BuffBore +P variant might end up overdriven out of a 6". The standard pressure load (starting out 150fps or so slower) is more likely to work from a long tube.

    As a bonus you put less wear on a vintage gun.

    Another point:

    It's easier to get this "long mild pressure spike" effect with a large-case-capacity shell. A lot of people successfully drive 44magnum energy levels with the same weight and speed of bullet in 45LC from a strong gun (Ruger full-size single action, or Redhawk, SuperRedhawk, Colt Anaconda, etc.). When you do, the 45LC+P setup will get that work done with as much as 10,000psi less peak pressure versus 44Maggie because the 45LC's case capacity is bigger. Firing these bigger-shell recipes gives you as much recoil as on an equivelent 44Mag load, but the 45LC's "recoil profile" feels "mellower". It's like the difference between your hand getting pushed on versus slapped - the total energy delivered to your hand might be the same, but the way you feel it is radically different.

    We're seeing some of that effect with the BuffBore 158+P. Yeah, the energy is really there but because it's tuned to issue that power over a broader area of time (even if we're only talking tiny fractions of a second), the power delivery isn't as horrid as the raw numbers might suggest :).
     
  23. doc540

    doc540 Member

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    "Hey Doc540, Did you get your wife squared away after shooting those BB loads? What did she finally settle on? Hornaday & Fiocchi make 125 JHPXTP standard velocity round also."

    Thanks for asking, Cjo.

    We now have 500 rnds of Master Cast 100gn wadcutters, but we haven't been able to get back to the range to shoot. Hope to go one evening this week.

    I'll post a report.
     
  24. whichfinger

    whichfinger Member

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    This has been a very informative thread. Keep it up, guys - my head ain't nowhere near exploding yet. ;)
     
  25. mtngunr

    mtngunr Member

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    For a real knuckle duster from Speer blow-up manual days, we used to shoot the Keith 160grSWC over 12-12.5grs/2400 in .38Spl brass out of the then-new M60's...this is an exciting load in a Ruger Blackhawk old model, and I DON'T recommend anyone try it in anything less.
     
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