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Old July 10, 2000, 11:42 AM   #1
JackFlash
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Here's one that keeps cropping up:

Lots of guns are chambered for the .357 magnum. You can shoot 38 Spc. in these guns, but it seems too that you could load the 38 Spc. to magnum pressures to use in a gun designed for the .357 magnum.

I have a Smith Mod. 10 +P K-Frame in 38 Spc. which is the identical gun to the .357 mag. except for the chamber length.

The real issue with loading the 38 Spc. case to magnum velocities/pressures is that the shorter case will develop a higher pressure with the same load as the higher capacity/longer case of the .357 mag.

Several firearms engineers who know what they're talking about assure me that the web in the .38 Spc. case is sufficiently strong and sufficiently supported to manage magnum load pressures.

So, I'm working up loads that move into the low end of the magnum range. We're using bulky, slow burning "magnum" powders, checking for pressure indicators, and staying on the low end of the magnum load data.

Chrono data shows the loads generate magnum velocities. But I don't have any means to measure working pressure other than some fancy/arcane math.

Anybody else working on this sort of load? Maybe 44 Spc. cases in a 44 magnum?
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Old July 10, 2000, 02:01 PM   #2
Paul B.
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Jack. Do a little research on a cartridge called the 38/44. This was the forerunner to the .357 Mag. and was a hot loaded .38 Spl. designed to be fired in "N" frame S&Ws or Colt New Services or other 44-45 framed .38's.
.38 Spl Plus-P's with 158 gr. bullets seem to run about 900 FPS from a 4 inch barrel. 38/44's ran 1150 FPS with a 158 gr. lead bullet from a 6 1/2 inch barrel.
Considering the improvement in the steel used in handguns today, would I fire one of these 38/44 or equivilent loads in a "K" frame gun? In a word, NO!
Recoil in an S&W 38/44 Outdoorsman is just about as stout as the original .357 Mag. loads which ran almost 300 FPS faster that what is loaded today. (Comparing 158 gr. lead SWC loads. No jacketed ammo available in 1935)
How potent was the 38/44? I used one back in 1958 or 9 to kill a black bear. It took two shots.
The .357 was downloaded because of guns such as the S&W Model 19 and 66, on the "K" frame were being shot loose due to the hot ammo.
I don't have the specs for Plus-P-Plus ammo in .38 Spl., but I think even that stuff is below the 38/44 ammo in pressure.
Be careful. The hand you lose could be yours.
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Old July 10, 2000, 02:46 PM   #3
Mike Irwin
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Paul,

Jacketed soft-point ammo WAS available for handguns in 1935. I've got some pre-WW II .357 ammo that uses flat-point semi-jacketed bullets.

Years ago I chronographed some original .357 Mag. ammo with lead bullets.

Hot? Nope.

STINKING HOT!

------------------
Beware the man with the S&W .357 Mag.
Chances are he knows how to use it.
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Old July 10, 2000, 03:26 PM   #4
JackFlash
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Paul B,

Thanks for the input on the 38/44. Hadn't heard about that one. We're working on low end magnum velocities, not pushing the upper end of the velocity envelope for .357. (Pushing the envelope for 38 Spc. though.)

The K-Frame Mod. 10 +P 38 Spc. is the same exact gun as the K-Frame Mod. 10 .357 magnum. The only difference between the two is the length of the chamber. The cylinders are the same length.

This K-Frame is considerably heavier than the J-Frame Mod. 60 I have which is chambered for .357 mag.

No . . . we're not loading toward maximum magnum loads. Although I have an engineer friend who has loaded substantially past magnum loads in an aluminum frame Colt -- without damage to the gun or pressure indicators.

Essentially, I'm loading just past +P. The Hodgdon +P loads for 158 gr. run 995 fps. Max velocity. I'm looking at loads in HS6, HS7, and H110 that run 158 gr. at about 1150 fps.

I had a cannon blow up in my hand as a kid on the 4th. of July about 35 years ago. Been there, not going to do that again.


[This message has been edited by JackFlash (edited July 10, 2000).]
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Old July 11, 2000, 01:31 PM   #5
Paul B.
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Mike. I find that interesting about the 1935 jacketed bullets. Everything I read about the early .357 ammo was that the bullets were lead, and that they were too soft and leaded badly. (I was born a few years after that.) No one evr mentioned that jacketed bullets were manufactured as well.
I hear that about how hot that early ammo was. For years I loaded my .357 Mag. ammo to duplicate the original specs. Still do, but only in my S&W (pre-sellout) Model 27 and 28. Not in my Model 66 though.
If you are interested, the is an article at (www.sixgunner.com/guests/paco.htm) on hot loads in the .357 for strong guns.
BTW. Who made that early jacketed ammo?
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Old July 12, 2000, 05:40 AM   #6
Hal
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I believe there is also a difference in heat treatment between the Model 10 and the Model 19 as well as a difference in chamber length. The Model 10 is a .38, while the Model 19 is the .38/,357. The fixed sight variation of the K-frame Smith is the Model 13, which is not the same as the model 10, even though they look alike. There is no such animal as the Model 10 +P or +P+. The plus and plus-P-plus designations are, I belive marketing terms used to designate .38 special loadings that exceed SAMMI values for the .38Special. While the brass may be strong enough to handle the extra pressure, I would advise caution where the selection of powder is concerned. Different powders have considerably different pressure curves, and it doesn't take much to cross the line in terms of dangerous levels. 231 and Unique have almost identicle(sp) burn rates, but Unique is far more forgiving where pressures are concerned. One extra granual of 231 can be a disaster, while half a grain of Unique can be OK. Also what works fine on one Model 10, may be wayyyyy overboard on another Model 10. Point being there are far too many variables concerned.

Honestly, loading to a certain pressure is a job best left for those equipped to handle it. A K-frame model 10 is no real substitute for a pressure barrel. The stakes are a bit too high. I don't want to come across as preachy about it, and forgive me if it sounds that way. Elmer Keith did a lot of work with heavy loads years ago, and had more than his share of blow ups. I would recommend reading what he wrote about the subject as it is not only interesting, but still pertains to today.

Experimentation is great, but PLEASE, Please, please be careful. Guns are replaceable, but so far most body parts aren't.


[This message has been edited by RAE (edited July 12, 2000).]
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Old July 12, 2000, 08:09 AM   #7
Clark
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This is one of those situations where there is a protocall to follow for safety sake.

If you deviate from what the load books say, you had better know what you are doing, because if you get hurt it will be your fault.
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Old July 13, 2000, 09:57 PM   #8
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Every time someone says that S&W has different heat treatment for a 38 and a 357, it turns out the person does not know what steel or heat treat was used.

I refer to this as "synthetic justification of load book religion fundamentalism"

It reminds me of asking old ladies at HCI why it is dangerous for children to play with empty high capacity magazines.

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Old July 13, 2000, 10:52 PM   #9
Good Guy
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by JackFlash:
. Anybody else working on this sort of load? Maybe 44 Spc. cases in a 44 magnum? [/quote]

I have an old RCBS reloading guide that I got when I purchesed my RCBS "Junior" reloading press back in the early 1970's. Elmer Keith listed his 44 special loads in it. Loaded up Elmer's recommendation, a box of 50 44 specials with hardcast 240gr SWC over 17.0grs of Hercules 2400 and standard primers. Shot them in my old 1926 Model 44sp Hand Ejector. Recoil was almost at the OUCH level in that light of a gun. I think I shot maybe 3 cylinders full. That was enough for me.

I did pick up a box of perfect, once fired 44special "balloon head" cases. These cases were discontued in the 1950's I believe. Elmer's listed load for these cases was 18.5 grs of #2400!!! Needless to say, I never loaded them up.

If you want magnum performance, buy a magnum handgun. Enjoy the standard cartridge guns for what they are.


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Old July 14, 2000, 09:22 AM   #10
Clark
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I just bought a 38 sp Saturday with the specific purpose of shooting 357 mag loads till it fails. It is an aluminum frame. I am done doing that with S&W and Colt revolvers. It is just too tragic to see them wrecked. The one I got Saturday is an off brand. Any of the readers here would be ashamed to own it. No one will miss it. It will be my luck it will load up to sticky cases with no dammage and I will be stuck owning that turkey.

[This message has been edited by Clark (edited July 14, 2000).]
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Old July 14, 2000, 09:19 PM   #11
Clark
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A guy shot a ballon head case near here and got brass in the nose and blood on his shirt.

Balloon head brass is very bad.
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Old July 15, 2000, 05:57 AM   #12
Hal
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<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Clark:
Every time someone says that S&W has different heat treatment for a 38 and a 357, it turns out the person does not know what steel or heat treat was used.

I refer to this as "synthetic justification of load book religion fundamentalism"

It reminds me of asking old ladies at HCI why it is dangerous for children to play with empty high capacity magazines.

[/quote]

Most times I see someone "pushing the envelope" I'm reminded why there are "Keep hands and feet from under the mower" stickers. Part common sense, part product liability concerns.
Yeah, you got me. I have no idea what steel or heat treat Smith uses. Since I don't make them, all I can do is parrot what the Smith rep told me, hence the "I believe" part of the post. If you know, please share the information with us.


[This message has been edited by RAE (edited July 15, 2000).]
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Old July 15, 2000, 04:57 PM   #13
Clark
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There is a relationship that exists between two individual of different knowledge. Either communication takes place to get them in ballance or the informed see the other as fear and ignorance while the uninformed sees the other as crazy and dangerous.

This is very analagous to gun control, where a party cannot imagine safe gun handling. Gun people appear to them crazy and dangerous and they call them "gun nuts".
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Old July 16, 2000, 09:58 AM   #14
JackFlash
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OK . . . For the record:

Smith & Wesson makes a "+P" Model 10 in 38 Spc. (SKU 10025) it's a 4" bull barrel, K-Frame, 9 5/16" OAL and 36.0 oz.

The Mod 10 +P is an ounce heavier than the Mod. 65 (SKU 102604) and otherwise precisely the same specs as the Mod. 10 with the exception of being stainless steel and chambered for .357 magnum.

Any metalurgist will tell you that blue gun steel has a higher tensile strength than stainless -- generally.

Yes, it's possible to vary heat treatment in the two guns, but insofar as all the other specs are identical, I'm betting a company like Smith & Wesson is NOT going to produce a product with inferior heat treatment if they're set up to do something better. From a product and manufacturing perspective it makes no sense to cut that corner.

The Mod. 10 +P K-Frame has a barrel diameter of about 3/4" and a cylinder wall thickness a the thinnest point of 1/8".

My Mod. 60, J-Frame chambered for .357 magnum with NO LOAD RESTRICTIONS WHATEVER for a "lightweight frame revolver" has a barrel diameter of 5/8" and a cylinder wall thickness of 3/32". It's more than 1/3 lighter than the Mod. 10 at 22.5 oz.

Hodgdon lists 158 gr. +P loads of HS6, 7.3 gr. for a cup of 19,2000.

Hodgdon lists working pressures for +P loads as high as 21,900 cup.

Hodgdon lists 158 gr. lead bullet .357 mag loads of HS6 ranging from 7.0 to 8.0 gr. and cup ranging from 17,500 to 21,400.

HS6 is a fairly bulky, double-base pistol powder with calculable pressure characteristics which can be extrapoloated by crunching the numbers in the data manuals. The number sets are numerous, the data base is extensive.

Nominal case capacity of .357 Mag is .6201 cu. in.

Nominal case capacity of .38 Spc is .5376 cu. in.

5367/6201= 38 Spc having 86.69% case capacity of the .357 Mag. without seating a bullet.

Seating a bullet equal depth in both cases would result in a lower proportional case capacity 38 Spc. compared to 357 Mag.

The load data for +P and .357 Mag. overlap with consistency -- both in charge weight and in cup pressure.

SAAMI specs for maximum loads are typically 20% of catastophic failure rate pressures. They're calculated to provide a MINIMUM standard safety margin for the least robust of firearms. Smith & Wesson K-Frame revolvers in +P configurations greatly exceed minimum SAAMI pressure specs.

There's a wide margin of safety engineered into these loads -- not just to provide for variations in powder lots, components, error, and shooter safety but also to ensure that the load does not inflict damage to the firearm by distorting the frame, etc.

When working up a load, there are numerous protocols to follow to check for excessive pressure. Hodgdon lists eight pressure indices. Hodgdon also lists fifteen causes of excessive pressure, fourteen of them relating to reloading errors and inconsistent procedures.

Just for the record, the +P load data specifies 7.3 gr. of HS6 and a maxumum of 8.0 gr. for the .357 load. The +P charge is just slightly less than a 10% reduction of the .357 load for this bullet weight.

We've crunched the numbers, done the homework, analyzed the data. The gun is extra robust. The components are in excellent condition. The reloading protocol is stringently accurate and consistent. Load performance is vigorously monitored.

We're not flying by the seat of our pants. And the loads that we're working up are very conservative.

Clark is loading with the intent of having the gun fail--greatly exceeding magnum load data in guns designed for standard 38 Spc. His intent is to generate data relating to catastrophic failure. I'm intent upon working up a "+P+" load in a gun designed to manage magnum pressures.

Dancing with the Devil, perhaps, but it's not like we don't know what we're doing.
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