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Old August 19, 2021, 01:29 AM   #1
Shadow9mm
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+P+

So I have been shooting a number of years. I have tried +P ammo before but generally not found much benefit to it.

To my understanding some cartridges have saami +P ratings, but +P+ is above that, but no telling by how much..

I have now come into ownership of some Federal 38spl +P+ 148g hydra-shok "for law enforcement use only" ammo.

I have a 357 mag that I know it will be fine in. I also have a Ruger LCR 38spl that is +P rated. I am debating carrying the ammo in the LCR as defense ammo only.

Any thoughts? It is Federal factory ammo, but +P+ makes me nervous. As a reloader I feel like it's going above max, which I don't do...
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Old August 19, 2021, 03:39 AM   #2
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I would not shoot +P+ in a firearm rated only for .38 Special.
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Old August 19, 2021, 05:29 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Aguila Blanca View Post
I would not shoot +P+ in a firearm rated only for .38 Special.

Ditto … not even sure I’d shoot them in my SP101.
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Old August 19, 2021, 07:18 AM   #4
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I shot a .357 LCR, and imagine the negative effects on the receiving end couldn't be much more unpleasant than it is for the shooter; I wouldn't trade controllability for more feet-per-second, especially in a gun that's not easy to shoot under ideal conditions.
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Old August 19, 2021, 07:45 AM   #5
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No +P+ standard. I wouldn't want to mess with it. Get a .357, if you feel you need that much more power.
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Old August 19, 2021, 07:59 AM   #6
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It's always hard to know how to advise when it comes to +P+ ammo. The article below might be of interest to you.

And here's some numbers. The +P pressure limit for 38 Special is 20,000 psi. The proof pressure for 38 Special is 27,000 psi. The +P+ pressure of the ammo in the article is 23,500 psi.

https://www.shootingtimes.com/editor...ry-load/389102
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Old August 19, 2021, 08:08 AM   #7
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I have some Speer 9mm +p+. I can tell when I pull the trigger that I have the +p+ in the gun. I bought the ammo on a whim and have not seen any undue wear to my firearm. What I have left is stuff in a couple of magazines and carried for self defense (SD). I am not sure I would buy it again. Buying a box or two for SD won't hurt IMO. I would not make a steady diet of the stuff for my gun. YMMV
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Old August 19, 2021, 09:33 AM   #8
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+P+ is above that, but no telling by how much..
That right there is the key to my thinking about +P+. If I don't know what I'm shooting, I don't shoot it. In a .357 mag, I can't imagine .38 +P+ being hot enough to cause harm, but there actually isn't any guarantee even with that, because there just is no upper limit to the designation. I just don't mess with +P+ in any caliber. I'm cautious by nature, and I'm sure some will tell me I'm too cautious, but I paid for my handguns, they didn't.
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Old August 19, 2021, 09:58 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by TailGator View Post
That right there is the key to my thinking about +P+. If I don't know what I'm shooting, I don't shoot it. In a .357 mag, I can't imagine .38 +P+ being hot enough to cause harm, but there actually isn't any guarantee even with that, because there just is no upper limit to the designation. I just don't mess with +P+ in any caliber. I'm cautious by nature, and I'm sure some will tell me I'm too cautious, but I paid for my handguns, they didn't.
So you're saying that a 38 Special +P+ will exceed the proof pressure limit of a 357 Magnum (which is 47,000 psi)?
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Old August 19, 2021, 12:13 PM   #10
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It is Federal factory ammo, but +P+ makes me nervous
A +P+ .38 load, whether factory ammo or reload, is right at .357 mag level.

So the pertinent question is: if the cylinder chambers of the Ruger .38+P LCR were reamed out to .357 specs, would the LCR be able to handle the energy level of substantially equivalent .357 ammo?

If the answer is "Heck no!" , then don't risk KABOOMING! the LCR by shooting that +P+ ammo thru it.

If the answer is "Yes, it'd be fine," ... well, then blast away.
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Old August 19, 2021, 12:56 PM   #11
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My question would be…

This ammo you got a hold of, are we talking about old school late-1980’s or early 1990’s Federal Hydra-Shok ammo?

If that’s what is up for debate here, I’d advise against relying on 30+ year old ammo technology when we’ve seen massive developments in the performance of defense ammo. Buy some modern ammo and you won’t have to wonder exactly what the pressure spec of non-SAAMI compliant ammo might be.
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Old August 19, 2021, 01:01 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by JustJake View Post
A +P+ .38 load, whether factory ammo or reload, is right at .357 mag level.
So you're saying that 38 Special +P+ is right at 35,000 psi?
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Old August 19, 2021, 01:22 PM   #13
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I have now come into ownership of some Federal 38spl +P+ 148g hydra-shok "for law enforcement use only" ammo.
First question, how much ammo are we talking about? A box? three boxes? a case??? A semi trailer full?? (pipe dreams)

Next question, are you certain it is Federal factory loaded ammunition, and not reloaded ammo in Federal cases and boxes? (had to ask)

I believe Federal is still in business, if you want to know what pressure the +p+ you have was loaded to, you might call them and ask....

Next, a few points to consider about SAAMI, pressure numbers, and our guns.

SAAMI standards are for INDUSTRY safety. They are set so what is made using their standards will be safe and function properly in 99%+ of the guns in use. Barring some defect in your gun SAAMI specs WILL BE SAFE.

But, the SAAMI limits are NOT safety boundary limits. They are not the limits at which things fail.

And, on that subject, PROOF loads are also not the limit at which things fail. Our guns survive proof load testing without failing and without damage.

Once, anyway..

And this is what it comes down to, the maker's rating on guns for standard or +p is for continuous use. Is your gun going to blow up shooting ammo hotter than it is rated for (but still below proof level pressure)? Not likely.

can you damage your gun, wear it out prematurely shooting ammo hotter than it is rated for? Absolutely. How much shooting will do that?
NO ONE KNOWS.

It depends on the combination of specifics, and no one can tell you, first because they don't know all the specific interactions between your gun and the ammo, (and neither do you or I) and second, even if they did, no one will state "your gun will fail at round #457.." THe most you might find is some test where "our test gun failed at round #457"..which means almost nothing if your gun and ammo isn't identical to their test gun and ammo.

So, we ALL "err on the side of caution" about these things. Its just prudent, to stay where we are confident of both safety AND proper function.

For one example, I have a Colt alloy frame snubnose .38. Its long out of production now but at the time it was being made, Colt said it was ok with +p ammo. But, Colt ALSO said to send them the gun after firing 1,000 rounds of +p, so they could check it, and to send it to them every 1,000 rnds there after.

DO I shoot +p from that gun? No. Would I use +p in that gun at need without worry? Yes. (because there is no way I'm ever going to get close to shooting 1,000 rnds of it)

What matter isn't that ammo from a reputable ammo company like Federal is going to blow up your gun, (its HIGHLY unlikely) what matters is, is it going to work properly in your gun and how soon any overstrain (if there is any) will result in a problem. Only shooting will give you any idea of that. And only enough shooting will answer the question for certain, but testing to destruction is something most of us would rather avoid.

Ammo CAN be within "specs" and still be too much for your gun. Again, its a matter of specific combinations. and the stars lining up "just right".

I have read of this happening and personally experienced it, as well. Tested a .357 load (yes a hot one) that was within published data, in 4 different guns, flawless in 3 of them, but in one, fired cases stuck in the cylinder and could not be removed by normal hand pressure alone. The ammo was within spec, it was "safe" but it was NOT SUITABLE for that one specific individual revolver. And that one specific revolver worked normally with all other ammo.

And this is the only thing I would be concerned about shooting the Fed +p+ ammo you have from your gun. Not that it would blow it up, or damage it, but would it fire and eject properly. Only a shooting test will tell you that.

Call Federal, see what, if anything they can tell you about the ammo. Shoot a cylinder full and see if it behaves normally, or not. If it does, then I'd say you're fine to use it, once in a while.

Just my opinion, and worth what you paid for it, or possibly, less...
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Old August 19, 2021, 01:57 PM   #14
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I once read that any given batch of +P+ was loaded for a particular agency for a specific gun so it could be souped up to what that gun would handle but not more. Maybe an urban legend, it sounds like a lot of trouble. More likely Federal's idea of +P+ was standard across their product lineup but not necessarily the same as Winchester's specs.

The urban legend for the Winchester Q load was that while Magnum revolvers were issued, Magnum ammunition was not PC so they had a high velocity .38 on special order. Takes me back to O'Hara, US Treasury, starring David Janssen.

In automatics, I have not heard or read anybody to have a discouraging word for Federal 9BPLE +P+. I suspect it is just slightly over SAAMI +P.

Remember, while +P is typically about 10% higher chamber pressure than standard, that is 10% higher at the maximum. If your ammo is 1% above standard, it is still +P. Norma got caught by that years ago with the confusingly named ".38 Special Magnum." Initial advertising was that their superior powder gave +P velocity without +P pressures. Testing by SAAMI procedures for importation showed it was a bit over standard, so they had to add +P to the label and quieted down their sales pitch.

Last edited by Jim Watson; August 19, 2021 at 02:04 PM.
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Old August 19, 2021, 02:32 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JustJake V
A +P+ .38 load, whether factory ammo or reload, is right at .357 mag level.
Quote:
So you're saying that 38 Special +P+ is right at 35,000 psi?
"+P+" as an energy designation for the amount of propellant used isn't that quantitative. There can be variations, just as not all .357 ammo exhibits the same PSI figure even when factoring for the same bullet-weight.

That's why I said "right at .357 mag level," ... but maybe it would've been more accurate to say "+P+" would be signalling a "low-range" 357-level loading, certainly above .38+P.

But to me, the key question is again: what level of max energy was the Ruger LCR .38 designed to handle?

Once you know that, then you can decide whether it would be safe to fire someone's "+P+" .38 ammo thru it.
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Old August 19, 2021, 03:16 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by JustJake View Post
"+P+" as an energy designation for the amount of propellant used isn't that quantitative. There can be variations, just as not all .357 ammo exhibits the same PSI figure even when factoring for the same bullet-weight.

That's why I said "right at .357 mag level," ... but maybe it would've been more accurate to say "+P+" would be signalling a "low-range" 357-level loading, certainly above .38+P.

But to me, the key question is again: what level of max energy was the Ruger LCR .38 designed to handle?

Once you know that, then you can decide whether it would be safe to fire someone's "+P+" .38 ammo thru it.
That was really confusing.

The amount of propellant does not matter because that will vary with the exact powder used.

When you say 'energy', what do you mean? Muzzle energy? Guns are not rated for muzzle energy. Guns are rated for chamber pressure. They aren't the same.

There are 3 things that can be measured. Peak chamber pressure. Muzzle energy, which is a function of bullet weight and speed. Recoil force, which is a function of bullet weight, bullet speed, gun weight, powder charge weight. They are all different. You can have very high chamber pressure but low muzzle energy and recoil force, depending on which powder, bullet weight and overall length you use.
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Old August 19, 2021, 03:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by JustJake View Post
But to me, the key question is again: what level of max energy was the Ruger LCR .38 designed to handle?

Once you know that, then you can decide whether it would be safe to fire someone's "+P+" .38 ammo thru it.
Not really. You're still guessing the pressure on the ammo. As mentioned earlier in the thread it's probably close to 23.5K PSI. About 15% hotter than +P ammo but still no where close to .357 Mag ammo. FWIW my +P+ reloads could by 21K while someone else could have 30K PSI +P+ reloads.

The only way you're going to find the max energy the .38 LCR can handle is to test it yourself, as I'm pretty sure Ruger isn't going to tell you.

I'd guess a few rounds won't destroy the gun but I wouldn't want to by the test case unless you're fine with stressing the aluminum frame. Ruger beefed up the frame on the .357 models for a reason. I'd shoot the stuff through a .357 or at least a modern steel framed 38 special.
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Old August 19, 2021, 04:09 PM   #18
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As mentioned earlier in the thread it's probably close to 23.5K PSI.
Well, that is one load of one brand, no indication of standardization across the industry.
If a major agency orders up some ammo to be head stamped .38 Special but guaranteed to be shot only in Magnum revolvers, you could probably see some real "chili peppers."

A gunzine writer once got a supply of a well known hot load company's products and shot them in PV test barrels. All but one was as advertised, close to but not over maximum pressure, powder and bullet selected for high velocity.
The odd one out was a .38 labeled +P that tested out above 90% of .357 pressure. He said the company backed off their load.
A guy here had one of those "scandium" snubbys and some of that brand. I don't know if it were pre- or post article, +P or way overloaded, but I fired two shots and handed the gun back.
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Old August 19, 2021, 04:21 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
A guy here had one of those "scandium" snubbys and some of that brand. I don't know if it were pre- or post article, +P or way overloaded, but I fired two shots and handed the gun back.
Regular 38s are painful to shoot in the scandium j-frames. The aluminum j-frames, too.
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Old August 19, 2021, 06:09 PM   #20
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The 38 Special Q load was developed for Treasury agents M10 HB Revolvers.
The stuff I got in the early 90s was Federal marked .38 Special, for Law Enforcement only.
It was hot, 1150fps, out of my 4in M67 Smith
Also reportedly used by CHP, and and LA County Sheriffs.
The Federal 147gr 38 Special +P+ was the FBI last revolver load for .38 Special. It was used in F frame, and J frame Revolvers. Mostly 38s, but some K frame 357s.
Factory ballistic are 950fps out of 4in bbl.
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Old August 19, 2021, 06:25 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
First question, how much ammo are we talking about? A box? three boxes? a case??? A semi trailer full?? (pipe dreams)

Next question, are you certain it is Federal factory loaded ammunition, and not reloaded ammo in Federal cases and boxes? (had to ask)

I believe Federal is still in business, if you want to know what pressure the +p+ you have was loaded to, you might call them and ask....

Next, a few points to consider about SAAMI, pressure numbers, and our guns.

SAAMI standards are for INDUSTRY safety. They are set so what is made using their standards will be safe and function properly in 99%+ of the guns in use. Barring some defect in your gun SAAMI specs WILL BE SAFE.

But, the SAAMI limits are NOT safety boundary limits. They are not the limits at which things fail.

And, on that subject, PROOF loads are also not the limit at which things fail. Our guns survive proof load testing without failing and without damage.

Once, anyway..

And this is what it comes down to, the maker's rating on guns for standard or +p is for continuous use. Is your gun going to blow up shooting ammo hotter than it is rated for (but still below proof level pressure)? Not likely.

can you damage your gun, wear it out prematurely shooting ammo hotter than it is rated for? Absolutely. How much shooting will do that?
NO ONE KNOWS.

It depends on the combination of specifics, and no one can tell you, first because they don't know all the specific interactions between your gun and the ammo, (and neither do you or I) and second, even if they did, no one will state "your gun will fail at round #457.." THe most you might find is some test where "our test gun failed at round #457"..which means almost nothing if your gun and ammo isn't identical to their test gun and ammo.

So, we ALL "err on the side of caution" about these things. Its just prudent, to stay where we are confident of both safety AND proper function.

For one example, I have a Colt alloy frame snubnose .38. Its long out of production now but at the time it was being made, Colt said it was ok with +p ammo. But, Colt ALSO said to send them the gun after firing 1,000 rounds of +p, so they could check it, and to send it to them every 1,000 rnds there after.

DO I shoot +p from that gun? No. Would I use +p in that gun at need without worry? Yes. (because there is no way I'm ever going to get close to shooting 1,000 rnds of it)

What matter isn't that ammo from a reputable ammo company like Federal is going to blow up your gun, (its HIGHLY unlikely) what matters is, is it going to work properly in your gun and how soon any overstrain (if there is any) will result in a problem. Only shooting will give you any idea of that. And only enough shooting will answer the question for certain, but testing to destruction is something most of us would rather avoid.

Ammo CAN be within "specs" and still be too much for your gun. Again, its a matter of specific combinations. and the stars lining up "just right".

I have read of this happening and personally experienced it, as well. Tested a .357 load (yes a hot one) that was within published data, in 4 different guns, flawless in 3 of them, but in one, fired cases stuck in the cylinder and could not be removed by normal hand pressure alone. The ammo was within spec, it was "safe" but it was NOT SUITABLE for that one specific individual revolver. And that one specific revolver worked normally with all other ammo.

And this is the only thing I would be concerned about shooting the Fed +p+ ammo you have from your gun. Not that it would blow it up, or damage it, but would it fire and eject properly. Only a shooting test will tell you that.

Call Federal, see what, if anything they can tell you about the ammo. Shoot a cylinder full and see if it behaves normally, or not. If it does, then I'd say you're fine to use it, once in a while.

Just my opinion, and worth what you paid for it, or possibly, less...
45rnds total, and it was given to me for free...
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Old August 20, 2021, 09:58 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by JustJake View Post
A +P+ .38 load, whether factory ammo or reload, is right at .357 mag level.
So you're saying that 38 Special +P+ is right at 35,000 psi?

"Standard-pressure .38 Special loads have a maximum average chamber pressure limit of 17,000 psi as established by SAAMI. +P .38 Special rounds have an average maximum pressure of 20,000 psi. +P+ loads are above 20,000 psi. SAAMI does not identify +P+ pressure limits, but Winchester’s specification sheet for the RA38110HP+ shows the maximum average pressure as 23,500 psi." Shooting Times Magazine
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Old August 20, 2021, 10:28 AM   #23
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I personally have the mentality that if I feel I need +p+ in a cartridge, then what I really need is a different cartridge. In this case that would be 357 magnum, though I understand your LCR isn’t in 357 magnum.

To your question of can it physically survive the cartridge, my guess is yes but I’m not sure. I’d say ask Ruger, but not many manufacturers are going to tell you +p+ is approved for a given firearm (some exceptions do exist).


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Old August 20, 2021, 03:44 PM   #24
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So you're saying that a 38 Special +P+ will exceed the proof pressure limit of a 357 Magnum (which is 47,000 psi)?
Nope, didn't say anything like that. I said:

Quote:
In a .357 mag, I can't imagine .38 +P+ being hot enough to cause harm, but there actually isn't any guarantee even with that, because there just is no upper limit to the designation.
I added the emphasis this time. But I do stand by the statement that because there is no upper limit to +P+, there is no guarantee that it will not harm any particular handgun. In other words, although I can't imagine it happening, there is really nothing to keep someone from loading a round capable of damaging even a magnum and calling it +P+, because +P+ has no definition or limits.

To say that a +P+ couldn't damage a .357 magnum is to assert that a .38 case can't be loaded with any powder in any amount that would exceed 47K psi. I haven't researched it, but a .38 case is pretty big by modern standards, so I seriously doubt that the statement is true.

Last edited by TailGator; August 20, 2021 at 03:54 PM.
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Old August 20, 2021, 06:20 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by TailGator View Post
Nope, didn't say anything like that. I said:

I added the emphasis this time. But I do stand by the statement that because there is no upper limit to +P+, there is no guarantee that it will not harm any particular handgun. In other words, although I can't imagine it happening, there is really nothing to keep someone from loading a round capable of damaging even a magnum and calling it +P+, because +P+ has no definition or limits.

To say that a +P+ couldn't damage a .357 magnum is to assert that a .38 case can't be loaded with any powder in any amount that would exceed 47K psi. I haven't researched it, but a .38 case is pretty big by modern standards, so I seriously doubt that the statement is true.
You're saying the same thing again.
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