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Old January 14, 2022, 08:20 PM   #1
Jcon72
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Good load for 2" S&W model 327

So apparently I will be gifted one of the S&W model 327's soon, the snubbie .357 Mag with titanium cylinder. I'm just wondering what would be the best recommended powder to use that will give best performance from the short barrel--with .38 Spl and/or .357 Mag brass--while minimizing damage to the cylinder face as much as possible. I'll most likely be using 158gr bullets, both SWC and jacketed.
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Old January 15, 2022, 03:48 PM   #2
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It's a tricky question to answer for several reasons. In longer barrels, the generalization holds true that the powder producing the most velocity in the shorter barrels will also produce the most velocity in longer barrels. The premise behind this is that the barrel is long enough that the bullet is still in the barrel after the peak pressure has passed. But the snubby barrels are so short that unless you can guarantee good ignition, the slower powders can still be trying to reach their peak when the bullet clears the muzzle. As a result, for good velocity consistency, you often need a faster powder. The other reason for a faster powder in snubbies is to hold down the nighttime blinding fireballs and the muzzle blast.

So, first, anything you can do to improve ignition consistency is a plus. The main factor in that is getting primers properly seated, which means pushing them in two to four thousandths past the point where the feet of the anvil are just touching the floor of the primer pocket, so you actually compress the tip of the anvil into the priming mix in the cup by that much. If you don't have a means of measuring this, just seat fairly hard.

The next thing is to choose a powder that will be mostly consumed in the short barrel. This can be difficult as primers often unseat the bullets before the powder burn gets well underway, another reason for choosing a relatively quick powder. It is also a reason for producing a very solid crimp. The Redding Profile Crimp Die produces the best roll crimp I've seen. The Lee Collet-Style Crimp Die is available in 357 Magnum (currently on sale for under $12 at Midway) and will also produce a stout crimp. Note that of the two, only the Redding die works with both 38 Special and 357 Magnum. The Lee die cannot be made for multiple case lengths and is not available in 38 Special.

Then you get to choose the powder. Personally, I would be using something like 231/HP-38 (same powder differently packaged) or Universal or even Unique to start. You can try Bullseye. One board member even went to Clays in his gun recently. You can play with slower powders, but will have fireball and blast penalties and will probably see the velocities become less regular.
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Old January 15, 2022, 05:49 PM   #3
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So I'm fond of questions.

Will this be your first time loading?

Will this be your first time loading rimmed cartridges 38/357?

If your already loading what powders do you already have on hand?


Unclenick is on point with his advice, as always. I too would recommend HP-38/231, universal, or unique. If you want to shoot the gun a fair bit comfortably I am playing around with Hodgdon's clays and am very happy with it so far.

I did some testing the other day with my snubbie looking for powders that would get me a good full burn. Heres the link to the thread https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=613662

And to keep things easy here were my results. they are also in post #40 of the thread.

Ruger LCR chambered 38spl P+ (no +P loads used) with a 1.87in barrel.
Mixed 38spl brass
CCI #500 Small Pistol Primers
Brazos 158g SWC (hi-tek coated lead)
5 shot groups unless otherwise noted

Power Pistol (the one with a lot of unburned powder)
4.7g, avg 734fps, SD 4.35, ES 8 (4 shots, 1 registered at 13,000fps was removed)
5.2g, 804fos (only got 1 good reading, 1 error, 104fps, 99fps, 102fps, 804fps)

HP-38 (aka W-231)
3.1, avg 524fps, SD 22.6, ES 53
3.7, avg 652fps, SD 27.63, ES 75
4.4, Avg 739fps, SD 4.39, ES 11

Hodgdon Clays
2.8, avg 632, SD 12.77, ES 28
3.1, Avg 677, SD 14.17, ES 37

Notes,
Power Pistol had an unholy muzzle flash, Bright light yellow, about 8in in diameter and about 1ft long. Recoil was painful in the light gun.

HP-38, Has minimal muzzle flash, small orange fire ball, maybe 1in by 1in. recoil was moderate, not painful.

Clays. No muzzle flash. Mild recoil but snappy or abrupt. Could shoot these regularly in the snubbie.
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Old January 15, 2022, 06:36 PM   #4
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While I don't doubt Uncle Nick is right about the dies he mentions, I've never used either and don't plan to.

I've been loading .38/.357 on the same Lyman die set I started with in the early 70s and never had any issues with crimp, once I got enough experience to understand what I was doing (and that was VERY early on).

The factory seating die has a roll crimp shoulder and will produce as much or as little crimp as you adjust it for. Never needed or found any point to using a separate die for crimping.

One thing Uncle Nick didn't mention, is the other reason you need a good crimp for a snub nose gun. While keeping the bullet in place for proper powder ignition is one important thing there is another, also important reason, and that is bullet pull.

"Crimp jump" is something to be aware of and the lighter the gun and the heavier the load the greater the bullet pulling effect of recoil in a revolver is.

Unlike other firearm designs, the way rounds are held in a revolver cylinder means that during recoil, cases are pulled away from the bullet due to inertia. A proper crimp negates this effect.

When you get to loading for your new gun, I suggest you not load a large quantity of ammo to begin with but load small batches and test fire them before any volume production. Test fire a cylinder full except for the last round. Then check it for any bullet movement. If there is any you need to adjust your crimp. IF no bullet jump, test again, firing a second cylinder full with that same last round from the first firing. If that one round takes 10 shots of recoil with no bullet jump, I'd call that amount of crimp good for volume production.

Uniform case length also helps A LOT!

What I usually do to start the adjustment of the die for crimping is to use a factory round and and screw the die down against it hand tight. THEN I load a few rounds and test fire them as I described. This tells you if the crimp you set is enough or if you need to adjust it a little more.

Good luck with your new gun, have fun, be safe and let us know any other questions you have.
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Old January 15, 2022, 09:36 PM   #5
Jcon72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenick View Post
....As a result, for good velocity consistency, you often need a faster powder. The other reason for a faster powder in snubbies is to hold down the nighttime blinding fireballs and the muzzle blast.
Yes, I understand that, but the titanium cylinder can be somewhat sensitive to certain loads and the face of it can become eroded if not careful. I wasn't sure if there are certain powders that are more/less of a problem in this regard and this is one of the big factors I would like to learn more about. Certainly don't want to hurt such a nice gun.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenick View Post
....The main factor in that is getting primers properly seated, which means pushing them in two to four thousandths past the point where the feet of the anvil are just touching the floor of the primer pocket, so you actually compress the tip of the anvil into the priming mix in the cup by that much. If you don't have a means of measuring this, just seat fairly hard.
This is SOP for me.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenick View Post
The next thing is to choose a powder that will be mostly consumed in the short barrel. This can be difficult as primers often unseat the bullets before the powder burn gets well underway, another reason for choosing a relatively quick powder. It is also a reason for producing a very solid crimp. The Redding Profile Crimp Die produces the best roll crimp I've seen. The Lee Collet-Style Crimp Die is available in 357 Magnum (currently on sale for under $12 at Midway) and will also produce a stout crimp. Note that of the two, only the Redding die works with both 38 Special and 357 Magnum. The Lee die cannot be made for multiple case lengths and is not available in 38 Special.
Pretty sure I have a Redding profile crimp die for 38/357 that I picked up at a gun show a year or two ago for $5 or $10. Might be a different caliber but I'm almost certain it's 38/357.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unclenick View Post
Then you get to choose the powder. Personally, I would be using something like 231/HP-38 (same powder differently packaged) or Universal or even Unique to start. You can try Bullseye. One board member even went to Clays in his gun recently. You can play with slower powders, but will have fireball and blast penalties and will probably see the velocities become less regular.
I have quite a bit of HP-38 and Bullseye and a pound of Unique that I've not yet cracked open.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow9mm View Post
So I'm fond of questions.
Will this be your first time loading?
Will this be your first time loading rimmed cartridges 38/357?
Oh, no, I've been loading for several years and my very first experience was .38 Spl. While I do load other cartridges I would have to say that the majority of my reloading (and my preference, really) is rimmed cartridges including .38 Spl, .41 Mag, .44 Mag, .45 Colt and have just started on .327 Federal, .460 S&W and soon will be doing a bit of .444 Marlin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow9mm View Post
If your already loading what powders do you already have on hand?

Unclenick is on point with his advice, as always. I too would recommend HP-38/231, universal, or unique. If you want to shoot the gun a fair bit comfortably I am playing around with Hodgdon's clays and am very happy with it so far.
For pistol powder I have Bullseye, Unique, 700-X, H-110 (probably not good for this project), HP-38, HS-6, Longshot and TiteGroup (might be a good candidate here?). Today while at a gun show I saw a pound of Clays and really should have picked it up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadow9mm View Post
I did some testing the other day with my snubbie looking for powders that would get me a good full burn. Heres the link to the thread https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=613662
Yes, I read that thread, thank you. My point in posting this thread was not to hijack yours while attempting to gain some advice in powder choice specifically in regard to the titanium cylinder. For your situation the 4.4gr load of HP-38 looked pretty good, all things considered.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
While I don't doubt Uncle Nick is right about the dies he mentions, I've never used either and don't plan to.

I've been loading .38/.357 on the same Lyman die set I started with in the early 70s and never had any issues with crimp, once I got enough experience to understand what I was doing (and that was VERY early on).

The factory seating die has a roll crimp shoulder and will produce as much or as little crimp as you adjust it for. Never needed or found any point to using a separate die for crimping.
Yes, I have no problem using a RCBS seating/crimp die for crimping but usually use an extra one that I have, crimping in a separate step after seating. As stated above, I'm pretty sure there's a Redding 38/357 profile crimp die up in my room as well, just gotta double check.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
One thing Uncle Nick didn't mention, is the other reason you need a good crimp for a snub nose gun. While keeping the bullet in place for proper powder ignition is one important thing there is another, also important reason, and that is bullet pull.
Yes, I'm aware of this concern but thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
When you get to loading for your new gun, I suggest you not load a large quantity of ammo to begin with but load small batches and test fire them before any volume production. Test fire a cylinder full except for the last round. Then check it for any bullet movement. If there is any you need to adjust your crimp. IF no bullet jump, test again, firing a second cylinder full with that same last round from the first firing. If that one round takes 10 shots of recoil with no bullet jump, I'd call that amount of crimp good for volume production.
Yep, I learned long ago to test in small batches! It only takes (or at least SHOULD take) one or two experiences of having to pull bullets to learn that bit of wisdom.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
Good luck with your new gun, have fun, be safe and let us know any other questions you have.
Thanks, guys!
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Old January 15, 2022, 10:54 PM   #6
Radny97
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Good load for 2" S&W model 327

They’ve answered most of what I would say, but given the powders you have on hand, I’d try HS-6, Longshot and Unique with magnum primers and a heavy crimp and see which one works best for you.


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Old January 16, 2022, 03:39 AM   #7
Shadow9mm
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I have heard titegroup and lilgun will both leave the gun warmer than most after a few firings. As well as that lilgun can cause premature erosion and or wear. I cannot say for tite group, but lil gun does warm the gun up pretty quick. Although I have not seen the erosion they talk about.

If it's a 2in gun with titanium cylinder it may be unpleasant to painful to shoot with full power 38s and 357s, just fair warning.

Based on the powders you have I would start out with hp-38 or unique and see where you wind up. Both are good powders with good reputations for working well in 38spl. I would not go any slower than that though. Based on my tinkering so far it seems that with full charges of slower powders you may get a bit more velocity, but just be wasting some of the powder.
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Old January 16, 2022, 07:56 AM   #8
Jcon72
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Yeah, I will not use Li'l Gun in any of my guns because of it's reputation of forcing cone damage.
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Old January 16, 2022, 08:07 AM   #9
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I can't comment on 357 in snubbie, but I have a snubbie in 38 Special and have used 6.0gr. of Unique with Speer Gold Dot 110 gr. bullets. I just got some W-231 that I'm going to try since it is a little faster burn and probably better suited for use in a snubbie. I would stay with lighter weight bullets in a snubbie.
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Old January 16, 2022, 09:11 AM   #10
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I’m content to load a 2” 357 at the 38 spcl +p level. The most may be a 357 mag case at the min level.

Your Win-231 is about where I would start. Yes, ensure the bullets don’t move under recoil.
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Old January 16, 2022, 09:30 AM   #11
Jcon72
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdoudna View Post
I can't comment on 357 in snubbie, but I have a snubbie in 38 Special and have used 6.0gr. of Unique with Speer Gold Dot 110 gr. bullets. I just got some W-231 that I'm going to try since it is a little faster burn and probably better suited for use in a snubbie. I would stay with lighter weight bullets in a snubbie.
S&W specifically says not to shoot bullets less than 125gr in the 327.
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Old January 16, 2022, 06:00 PM   #12
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That's because the light bullets get out of the short barrel too fast to get the powder to burn the way it should. I note that Speer's Gold Dot ammo for short barrels uses a 135-grain bullet, though a Gold Dot is soft enough that a 125-grain jacketed slug may offer similar start pressure resistance.
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Old January 18, 2022, 04:01 PM   #13
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For what its worth. I load my 38 short Colt using a 38 spl sizing die and the rest are 9 mm dies. I get a nice tight taper crimp on them
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Last edited by Unclenick; January 20, 2022 at 06:36 PM. Reason: Typo fix
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Old February 3, 2022, 10:38 PM   #14
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A max charge of something like 231 would probably do better than H110 and similar out of such a short tube. Blue dot may even be faster than you want but would also be better than the true magnum powders in that short a barrel.
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Old February 6, 2022, 11:31 AM   #15
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And to the original concern about cylinder face wear, this is a function of pressure and temperature and the volume of gas blowing out of the barrel/cylinder gap. Winchester long bragged that its spherical powders were a little cooler burning than stick and flake powders, so Winchester 231 (HP-38 is the same powder, but packaged with the Hodgdon branding) should be a good choice from that standpoint.

Powders with flash suppressants should also be on the cooler side. If you are going to try a slower powder, see if you can lay hands on BE-86, which is a low flash powder. Most such powders have nitrosoguanidine or a related compound that lowers flame temperature some.
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Old February 6, 2022, 11:39 AM   #16
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Thank you, Unclenick. I have lots of HP-38 on hand so I'll probably start there. It's just gonna be a little while before I get a chance to do load workup.
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