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Old July 15, 2014, 12:41 PM   #1
Nick_C_S
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Range Report - Factory 38/357 Defense

Yesterday, I chronographed some factory defense rounds for revolver. (Sorry, no ballistics gelatin.)

Speer 38 Special +P 135g GDHP SB
Speer 357 Magnum 125g GDHP
Federal Hydrashock 158g JHP

My test gun was my carry revolver - S&W M686+ 3" bbl. The purpose of my range trip was to verify their "real world" velocities through my actual carry piece.

First on tap - The Speer 38+P Short Barrel round:
955 fps; Standard Deviation 9.48; 273 ft/lbs.
(I also brought along my M67 4" bbl = 1011 fps)

Next - The Speer 125g GDHP:
1297 fps; SD 28.58; 467 ft/lbs.

Finally - The Federal 158g Hydrashock:
1236 fps; SD 14.42; 536 ft/lbs.

Notes: These are all 10-shot groups.

I usually carry the Short Barrel 38's. The SB bullet construction is designed to reliably expand at 800 fps, so 955 fps is more than sufficient for proper expansion. They feel potent and I believe would be effective with proper placement (of course).

The Speer 125's had a very sharp recoil, noticeable muzzle flash (sunny day, covered range), and seemed very loud (with foam inserts and overheads). They also delivered erratic velocity (SD 28.58). This is not my choice for carry.

The Federal Hydrashocks had a more manageable recoil; no noticeable muzzle flash (I'm sure there's some - just didn't see it); and I just felt more comfortable shooting these over the Speer 125's. There was less felt recoil, yet more muzzle energy. I liked these and will consider carrying them.

Parting note: I wish I had Speer 357 Mag 135g GDHP SB - the 357 version of the 38+P's I tested. But I've literally been looking for them for over two years and have never seen them anywhere - ever. I doubt they're actually in production.
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Old July 15, 2014, 01:53 PM   #2
amd6547
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"...Parting note: I wish I had Speer 357 Mag 135g GDHP SB - the 357 version of the 38+P's I tested. But I've literally been looking for them for over two years and have never seen them anywhere - ever. I doubt they're actually in production..."

I feel the same way about the 145gn Winchester Silvertip load...been looking for it for years. It used to shoot well in a Security Six I owned years ago. Now that I have a 3" GP100, I would like to try some. I have bought, shot, and sold two 357's over a period of years since I saw any.

Nice report.
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Old July 15, 2014, 03:18 PM   #3
Nick_C_S
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145 STHP

Last autumn, I actually chrono'd the Win 145 STHP through the same 3" 686.

1235 fps. Good round.

Those rounds I chronographed however, were the last 145 STHP's I had. They were probably 20 years old.
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Old July 15, 2014, 03:34 PM   #4
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I read all I could concerning the 38Special high preformance loads for y all steel Model 36 (no dash) Nickled Chief, and my Model-10-6 blued 4" HB.
I have NO intentions of shooting +P loads in either revolver to avoid aabuse to the revolvers and if I wanted a .357Mag, I have a 4 5/8" .357 Vaquero for full house factory loads.
Of the loads i tested (mid to full range reloads) and regular 158 gr Factory loads along with the 125gr Speer XTP Factory Loads ( My favorite).
On the 158 gr Factory Loads, the Remington 158 gr LRN loads preform the most accurate even from the Vaquero!
The 125 gr Speer loads have a small muzzle flash, a meduim loud muzzle report from the chief. andwhen fired from the Model 10 almost NO recoil, very small flash and low Muzzle report.
I have no way to estimate the actual preformance of thesse loads. I have considered using wet Phone books to actually be able to see the damage. I have never seen Geleton tests but understand that the Speer XTP HP is a very explosive preformer, expending all energy in the target.
I also ran some tests using the Winchestr 158 gr Cowboy load. Now this is supposed to be a lowr powered load but the M/V and Bullet weight ('Specs from Winchester) mathmatically worked out to 250f/p of energy!!!
Standard Remington 158gr LRN bullet loads work out to 200ft lbs of energy!
If I am to consider fighting power loads I must include the Winchester CAS loads in th brew.
This puts both the Speer XTP ,38 Special load and the WW 158gr CAS load to be in the neighborhood of the power I want!
I load first full cylinders with the Speer's and when I run out then it's the Winchesters!
As a sidenote: I rantests using my Vaquero and +P Remington Golden Sabere in the .357 Vaquero. To my suprise, the Ruger turned BEST 7 yard accuracy using the Golden Sabre!!! Recoil and muzzle blast were about 70% of a full power Remington 158 gr, 357 Magnum load.
I intend on carrying this as my "trail" load for the Ruger as I am not likely to run into any Bears or big Cats where I go, should I go where dangerous game is, I will use full 158 gr Remingtons or the like.
The simple heavy weight of the Vaquero and the super power of the +P are totally safe for use i the Vaquero and both weight and barrel length make a very fine shooting cartrige.
For very accurate.38 Speial loads for the Rugerm the 158 gr remington RN shoot very accurately i this revolver and are my favorite target load.
As said, I intend to follow the origonal instructions from S&W and will NOT shoot +P amm through the 36 0r Model 10.
Another sidenote:
I just ocated information that there is ofically NO Model 10-6! Evidentlly, it is a prototype model of the Meduim Frame .357. It was developed as a testbed for themeduim frame Model 64 Stainless Steel revolver!
The barrel is both threaded and pinned.
My Model 10-6 never was sold to the public, instead it went on a specia prograam to the British Costabulary for issue to arm tbe British Bobbys on the street, Mine carrys British proofs and a special serial number etched into the sideplate for identification to the British. There are many individual stampmarks added by the Brits, Proofmarks, even more to classify the revolver than S&W stamped! All except for the British armory ID number are discreetly hidden on the gun. I don't know why they couldn't have been more discreet about the armourers number set? It's Ok as it's part of the history of the revolver...
Ifindeed the story of the "-6" is true, then the revolver is totally capable of handling .357 Magnum ammo, so the +p fodder is harmless to the rvover.
Still I will follow my "Gut Feeling" and stick with .38 Special High Preformance ammo.
The Model 36 (no dash) is a steel framed, Nickled version. A former owner bobbed the Hammer for DAO shooting. My intention anyway, so the missing hammer spur makes no diference to me.
DAO shooting is my main reason for choosing both revovers.
Admittedly, two things drew me to the Chief. One being the bobbed Hammer, second the beautifull Nickled finish and wood grips. Due to recoil of the little revolver, I ordered a set of S&W/Uncle Mikes rubber grips to both fill the spaces arund the frame andsecondly to tame recoil.. to my suprise, the grip set only cost $18 straight from the S&W store! They work great!
The preformance of the Speer 125 gr ammo fired fro the Chief isvery good! 7Yd groups fored from a prtaticed hand are nice and tight! Fired from mybegineers hand, not so good. I need a LOT of pratice with this gun!
Not only is the revolver small and hard to control but I really need to learn how to shoot DA!
My pratice sessions consist of either LRN or LSWC Sierria bullets loaded to 775fps using3.3 gr of WST, a clean burning, low noise and flash powder. It gives many, many, loads per pound and the gun stays extremely clean after shooting!
The special alloy Sierria bullets are cast of a harder alloy containing a high silver content and leaves the barrel very clean!
Good pratice ammo and it could double as a defense load too.
I get the sme rsult from the Model 10 with these loads
For self-defense I would only use Factory ammo!
One can never count on someone elses handloads and even loads that you assembel , no matter how careful you are, should not be used for self-defense! Chances of irregular components or fouled Powder is possible. Therefore ONLY use Current Manufacture Factory ammo for protection!

Find a load that gives best accuracy and highest power for your .38 Special and only shoot it!
HTH,
ZVP
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Old July 15, 2014, 03:55 PM   #5
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Facler Water Box

For the home experimenters out their I thought I would mention the Facler Water Box for testing bullet expansion.

My last one was constructed with a 2 X 12 Bottom Board and 2 X 8 Side Boards. I made the length 4 Foot.
Simply make a 3 sided box with the 2 X 8's as sides. Adjust as required for a good fit on the Zip Loc Bags.
I cut a hole to shoot through in a scrap piece of plywood for the front to stack the Zip Loc Bags against.
Fill up your Quart bags with water, Shoot, and measure how deep the Main part of the bullet went. You can probably tell where it came apart, if it did also.

The Old Formula is Take the Bullet Penetration Depth in Water X 1.8 to get the corresponding Penetration Depth in 10% Gel.

Not perfect, but as close as us normal mortals will get to ballistic Gel results.

AND it makes for a fun experiment.

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Old July 15, 2014, 08:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
The Federal 158g Hydrashock: 1236 fps
Get the same results in my 3" 357.
The Remington 158 gr sjhp's I've checked ran about 50 fps slower, but I like them, too.

Quote:
Speer 38+P Short Barrel round:... 4" bbl = 1011 fps)
Glad to hear it. I'll have to look for some of those. Had some Speer Lawman 140 jhp's that hit 1000 fps, but all the 38+p I've checked recently is wimpier.
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Old July 16, 2014, 06:42 PM   #7
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Just found the Speer Gold Dot .357 short barrel in a store today. 26.99 for a box of 20. Had never seen them in person before. Picked up a box. Can't wait to try them.
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Old July 16, 2014, 11:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Just found the Speer Gold Dot .357 short barrel
I'm curious where that was?

They'll probably show up at my LGS in 2018.
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Old July 17, 2014, 12:04 AM   #9
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The velocities of the Hydra-Shok is impressive considering that they are advertised at 1240fps from what I assume is a 4" or longer barrel. I wonder if Federal's 158gr "Personal Defense" JHP (older semi-jacketed hollowpoint) would yield similar velocity results. The reason I'm curious is because I've shied away from 158gr Hydra-Shoks due to that particular loading historically having issues expanding from short barrels and/or through heavy clothing.
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Old July 17, 2014, 07:49 AM   #10
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Nick C S: found it at a shop here in CT.
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Old July 17, 2014, 03:11 PM   #11
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This topic suggests to me that I am lucky. I guess I did the right thing some time ago to stock up on boxes of certain 357 ammo other guys are trying to find. Works out that way sometimes. I guess ammo is one of those things you either get or miss depending on timing and location.
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Old July 17, 2014, 04:15 PM   #12
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
I've shied away from 158gr Hydra-Shoks due to that particular loading historically having issues expanding from short barrels and/or through heavy clothing.
Yes, 1236 fps should be fast enough for the bullet to work as designed. But as always, one should never count on bullet expansion in a SD situation.

I respond to this with trepidation because I don't mean for this string to become a discussion of terminal ballistics.

Somebody here on TFL once astutely stated "you must first make a hole." I couldn't have said it better. I believe one should not worry about over-penetration - expect it. Regardless of bullet weight/design/velocity, expect it to pass through the intended target and travel beyond.

Heavy bullets for SD appeal to me - I want to first make that hole. Expansion is secondary and outside my control.
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Old July 19, 2014, 04:49 PM   #13
Nick_C_S
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Federal Hydra-Shok 130g Low Recoil

So after chronographing the rounds in my OP, I realized that I shot off all my SD ammo for my carry 357

Off to the LGS . . . I picked up two boxes (40 rds) of some Federal "Hydra-Shok" (I guess I've been spelling it wrong before) 130g Low Recoil. Federal product # PD357HS2H. (So you don't have to assume, this is a 357 Mag round, not a 38+P.)

Their website states 1410 fps muzzle vel. That doesn't sound low recoil to me. We'll see.

Hopefully, I can get these out to the range for some chronoghraphing this coming week. When I do, I'll post.
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Old July 27, 2014, 03:29 PM   #14
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Range Report - Federal Hydra-Shok 130g Low Recoil

As promised, I have chrono data for the Federal 130g Hydra-Shok "Low Recoil" 357 Magnum round. Again, with a Smith 686 3" bbl:

1356 fps; SD 17.05; 530 ft/lbs.

Amazingly, these rounds really are low recoil. I mean, that have plenty of snap, to certain. But they didn't kick as hard as a lot of handloads I was chronographing today.

Nice Standard Deviation too. Very consistent. I am quite pleased. This will now be my carry ammo for my 686 3".

I had my 686 4" bbl out today; and I was chronographing everything through both guns. But . . . they called the two minutes 'till cease fire when I was shooting these through the 3". Since it was the last loading I had to chrono today, I didn't feel like waiting 20 minutes for the range to go hot again; then waiting another 20 to go cease-fire to put my target away/clean up. No, I wasn't going to spend another 40 minutes of my weekend to get 4" bbl data - for an ammo/gun combination that I'm never going to use.

I know from extensive experience to add about 70 fps for just about any round between the 3" & 4". So figure about 1425 fps though a 4". And they advertise at 1410 fps (does not specify bbl length). So that sounds about right.
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Old August 5, 2014, 04:40 PM   #15
Nick_C_S
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Speer 357 Mag 135g GDHP SB

Quote:
Just found the Speer Gold Dot .357 short barrel in a store today.
Me too. I've heard of these things for a couple years now, but have never actually seen them - until today.

Bought 3 boxes. Chronograph data forthcoming.
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Old August 6, 2014, 05:45 PM   #16
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I run the GD 135's in my SP-101

I figured I was getting 900 fps +or- from my 2 1/4" barrel. Your chrono seems to verify that.
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Old August 6, 2014, 05:58 PM   #17
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
I figured I was getting 900 fps +or- from my 2 1/4" barrel.
Yes, the 38+P loading of the 135g GDHP SB is a good round and will reliably expand at 900 fps. I too believe you're 2.25" bbl is getting 900 fps.

I just got the 357 Mag version of them. Looked for years and could never find them - was beginning to think they were just an urban legend. But now I have them. Can't wait to get them through the chrono too.
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Old August 6, 2014, 10:06 PM   #18
Super Sneaky Steve
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With a 3" SP101 I was able to handload a 125 SGD up to 1367fps/518ft/lbs using H110 powder.

This is a high recoil, high flash round.
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Old August 7, 2014, 01:04 PM   #19
Nick_C_S
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This is a high recoil, high flash round.
I should say so!

Unless making a light and fire show is a high priority, H110 is a completely unacceptable propellant for any firearm with a barrel length under 6". There's more to creating a round "balanced" for a gun's barrel length than to simply measure the velocity. Just IMO.
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Old August 7, 2014, 01:48 PM   #20
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I picked up a box of the speer 135gr SB .357s this past weekend. I was a little disappointed when I learned (according to Speer's website) that they are just slightly more powerful than the .38 spc+p version.

It's not that I think they would be insufficient, it's just for what I had to pay for them ($31.99+tax) I think the next time I will just buy what my LGS always stocks (Hornady 125gr CD and 158gr XTP) for about $21.99 or $22.99+ tax.

Either way I have a box of 20 and five are loaded in my model 649-5. So I will be looking forward to your report and thanks on advance for doing so.
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Old August 7, 2014, 01:59 PM   #21
Nick_C_S
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I was a little disappointed when I learned (according to Speer's website) that they are just slightly more powerful than the .38 spc+p version.
Yes, they are a modest (by 357 Mag standards) round - by design. I can hear the powder inside when I shake them. They - I believe - are designed to fill that gap between 38+P and powerful 357 loadings that are "a bit much" for those of slight build and/or small frame guns.

I'm looking forward to my chronograph session too. Once I do, I will start a new thread with all my data for every factory defense round I have tested for 38/357.
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Old August 9, 2014, 09:24 PM   #22
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Well I shot a cylinder full of my gold dots today. Pretty impressed.


Shot out of my S&W model 649-5 at seven yards, off hand, SA and standing. First shot was the bullseye. Second and fourth were the high shots. Third was the right shot and fifth was the left shot.

They shot point of aim for me and surprisingly had a good amount of felt recoil. Not any real muzzle blast to speak of but much more recoil than any .38+p I've shot.

Still looking forward to your report. My final thoughts on them are they are still five of them loaded in my gun. I will stay on the lookout for some more of these as well, just not for the $31.99+tax that I had to pay for these.
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Old August 9, 2014, 09:56 PM   #23
Nick_C_S
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I'm gonna try to get out Monday.

The issue is that these GD SB's are the only thing I need to chronograph right now lol. Isn't hardly worth a trip to the range to set up the chrono - just to test 10 rounds.

I've got a couple loads dancing around in my head right now. Maybe I'll load 'em up tomorrow - that'll give me enough fodder worthy a trip out there.
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Old August 9, 2014, 09:58 PM   #24
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I like you idea for making the ZipLock box but why not just make
some b-gel?
It's easier than the baggie box & inexpensive.
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Old August 10, 2014, 09:24 AM   #25
matt2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick_C_S View Post
I'm gonna try to get out Monday.

The issue is that these GD SB's are the only thing I need to chronograph right now lol. Isn't hardly worth a trip to the range to set up the chrono - just to test 10 rounds.

I've got a couple loads dancing around in my head right now. Maybe I'll load 'em up tomorrow - that'll give me enough fodder worthy a trip out there.
I'm going to look out for your post. I'm predicting they will come in a little warmer than advertised (Speer says less than a 1000fps).
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