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Old January 6, 2012, 05:40 PM   #1
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Factory ammo pressures

I recently bought a s&w 686-3 the six inch barrel, six shot
Revolver, as my first handgun. I'm normally shooting a mix of ammo
When I go to the range.(mainly .38 fmj.) As .38s get easier to shoot, I'm wanting to stick to .357 to get used to the recoil to help with not flinching so much

I'm aware that grain weight refers to the actual bullet weight.

So my question is; are all factory (namely .357) bullets loaded to the same powder pressure? How can I tell what's gonna be a heavier load versus lighter? If there is one, that is....
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Old January 6, 2012, 11:27 PM   #2
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Factory stuff is loaded somewhere within the SAAMI pressure specs.

More pressure doesn't always mean more recoil. There are many different powders with different characteristics.

The short answer is you don't really know unless you try them out. Find something you like to shoot and if you want more information on how it's performing you can get a chronograph to measure the speed, knowing the weight of the bullet you can then calculate the energy.

The fun really starts when you start loading your own. That makes it easier to create a perfect load for you and your needs.
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Old January 7, 2012, 01:53 PM   #3
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So my question is; are all factory (namely .357) bullets loaded to the same powder pressure? How can I tell what's gonna be a heavier load versus lighter? If there is one, that is....
No, all factory loads are loaded to various pressures.
What you can do to get a fairly accurate idea of what the felt recoil will be is to look at bullet weight. Generally, the heavier the bullet the more felt recoil. That assumes that the compared loads are "full" (or comparable loads) other than bullet weight.

With some internet research on the loads you have available for purchase you might find more information about muzzle velocity. While there are many factors which go into the complex calculation of free or felt recoil, you can focus on bullet weight and muzzle velocity.

Sorry, no simple answer.
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Old January 7, 2012, 02:30 PM   #4
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Generally, you'll get more felt recoil with full-house 125gr. loads. I usually keep mine loaded with 145gr. Winchester Silvertips which, to me, is a 'happy medium'. Of coarse there are Reduced Recoil loads as well.
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Old January 7, 2012, 03:00 PM   #5
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All factory ammo is loaded at max pressures or very near it.
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Old January 7, 2012, 03:45 PM   #6
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All factory ammo is loaded at max pressures or very near it

Not at all. SAAMI standard pressure is under MAX pressure. Each cartridge has it's own MAX and standard which factory ammo is loaded to.

+P is higher than STANDARD , yet still under MAX.

Some cartridges are held very low for various safety reasons.

SAAMI = Sporting Arms & Ammunition Manufacturers Institute.
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Old January 8, 2012, 11:41 AM   #7
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Most magnum handgun ammo is loaded at the upper end of the accepted pressure range simply because customers want top performance or they buy some other brand. The exceptions are the loads designed for specific use, lower recoil from lighter guns, or something similar.
When a customer buys 357 or 44 magnum ammo he expects it to be hot otherwise, he'd be buying 38 or 44 specials.
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Old January 9, 2012, 12:40 AM   #8
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Get yourself a box of Blazer Brass 158 grain JHP, a box of Speer short Barrel .357 magnum loads (135 grain), and a box of Remington 158 grain Semi Jacketed Hollow Point, or Winchester 145 grain Silver Tip in .357 magnum.

Shoot them side by side and you will note the difference.

Note: I consider the Speer and the Blazer to be mild .357 magnum loadings in a 6" 686, while I view the Remington, or Winchester to be moderate loadings. None of these are what I would call 'Full house' loadings, such as Buffalo Bore puts out.

Good luck ... that 686, 6" revolver is a good one ... nice weight to it. You will be fine with working up to bigger booms.

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Last edited by Hook686; January 9, 2012 at 12:46 PM.
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Old January 9, 2012, 01:48 AM   #9
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Old January 10, 2012, 06:47 PM   #10
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See, the thing about pressure is that it can occur very briefly as just a momentary spike, or over a longer period of time. It's a balancing act to get the highest speeds out a certain barrel length with a certain weight of bullet and not exceed the published pressure standard.

Last week I bought a box of Black Hills 125 gr. .357 Mag at the gun shop for the heck of it. It's supposed to be 1500 fps. Okay, okay that's only 50 fps faster then the high-dollar Remington hollow points, but I had the money burning a hole in my pocket. We'll shoot them Friday.

•Muzzle Velocity: 1500 fps
•Muzzle Energy: 625 ft. lbs.

edited to add: The six comments are all highly positive. I guess if it's good for a 350# hog, etc.

Last edited by johnbt; January 11, 2012 at 06:43 PM.
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Old January 10, 2012, 06:55 PM   #11
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Buffalo Bore lists the actual velocities of their ammo when shot out of different guns.

Of course to get 1700 fps you have to pay a lot for 20 rounds, but they say it's safe to shoot in any decent .357.

If somebody carried it locally I'd buy it.
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