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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was doing my daily morning reading on reloading and came across a discussion on spherical / collidal powders ie h110 ,2400 and w296 vs flake powders ie unique. Accoriding to the post was fast burning powders produced better velocities and performance in short bbl revolvers vs the slower heavy hitters in .357mag. Its something I have thought about over the last few weeks after having several federal factory loads hit me in the face with what looked like unburnt powder in my taurus 605 poly with a 2inch barrel but have not had this happen with my lighter reloads or my hornady critical defense.

In the discussion they were showing unique producing better velocities in short bbl vs 2400 and h110.

What powder does everyone recommend for shorter barrel lengths for practice and defensive loads.

Im sure true blue will come up here and im curious as to how it does vs the more readily available powders. Im not aure what kind of powder truw blue is but every thread I have read all talk about it.


Thanks in advance
 

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I don't load 357 for use in any gun shorter than 4"; that's personal. I do load and use many, many rounds of 38 Special for use in 2". After playing this game since the 1950's I have used Bullseye and then in the 80's I tried and liked Accurate #2. Look at the powder burn rate chart in your loading manual, for short barrels you want faster powder. Unique in 357 should serve you well.
 

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Well if I had a short bbl .357 mag revolver and was to reload just for it I would use one of the faster burning powders like Tight Group, Unique or even give Trail Boss a try. But that is just because I all ready have these powders.
 

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Beyond just better velocities, a faster powder reduces the flash. I've always believed that most of the slow-burners burnt more of their powder after the bullet left the barrel, than while it was in the barrel, causing the horrendous muzzle flash some of them have. I'd use Universal.
 

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FFFg Goex.:D
 

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As guesser has said, with short barrels use faster powders. From what I have read, slower powders can set up a condition called "flame cutting" which is an erosion under the forward section of your revolver's top strap at the forcing cone.

My 38's consist of 2 Taurus Titanium ported M 85's (circa 2001) and a Charter Arms Undercover Lite. These are 2" snubbies. I use the Lee Auto Powder Dispenser with corresponding cavity/hole numbers:

Win 231 Disk #37 3.7 grains with Xtreme 158 plated.

Titegroup Disk #30 3.4 grains with EITHER 125 Berry's plated or 158 Xtreme plated. It's funny how this same charge is good for both bullets.

Accurate #5 Disk #40 6.1 grains with 125 Berry's plated.

Accurate #5 Disk #37 5.6 grains with Xtreme 158 plated.

Bullseye Disk #34 3.3 grains with EITHER 125 Berry's plated or 158 Xtreme plated.

I have not tried the 125 grain Berry's plated with Win 231 powder but when I do I'll use 4.2 grains.

Note: I have also used Xtreme's 125 FP plated when I didn't have any Berry's. Internet chatter says that the Xtreme's have a thicker plating with their plated bullets. It's a toss up as far as I'm concerned.

Now if you're wanting to get into coated bullets, check out the following 38 special offerings:

Acme 125 TCPF and 158 Semi Wadcutter.
Bang and Clang 125 TCFP. Yes...that's their real name!
Ringer's 125 TCFP.
Falcon 125 TCFP.

I've ordered from all 4 companies and each has been good to deal with.
 

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An addendum to my above:

Here's my average chrono numbers in a recent session with the snubbies...

Win 231 3.7 grains 158 Xtreme plated: 553 fps

Titegroup 3.4 grains 125 Berry's plated: 600 fps

Titegroup 3.4 grains 158 Xtreme plated: 560 fps

Accurate #5 6.1 grains 125 Berry's plated: 699 fps

Accurate #5 5.6 grains 158 Xtreme plated: 565 fps

These are my fun shootin' practice very manageable recoil loads. This will give you an idea as to where you're at with a 2" barrel. But since most published chrono loads are done with either a 4" or 6" barrel, consult the following ballistics chart to help understand my data:

BBTI - Ballistics by the Inch :: .38 Special Results



 

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Faster burning powders work better in short barreled revolvers or semi-autos. That is because the powder is all burned by the time the bullet leaves the cone of the barrel. If you use slower burning powder, like Unique, my experience is that you get powder or flakes on your hands and wrists, where it didn't all burn. As long as you stay on the faster burning side of the spectrum, like HP-38, Titegroup, Red Dot, Bullseye, and some others, you should be fine. I can't remember the burn rate for H110 or other magnum powders, but of course using these powders should drive the bullet faster, as long as the gun can handle it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Lst range trip I tried a few loads of hp-38 and had flakes all over the place lol it was a light load in .38 and 357 mag cases at 4.5 and 5.0gns. Does this sound right with it being a fast burning powder?
 

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With your 38 load, what size bullets were you using?
 

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Accurate #2 or Accurate #7
 
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HP-38 is on the faster burning side, but I am not sure if it's as fast as Titegroup, Bullseye, or some of the others. Experiment with some other fast burners and see what you come up with.
 

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Lst range trip I tried a few loads of hp-38 and had flakes all over the place lol it was a light load in .38 and 357 mag cases at 4.5 and 5.0gns. Does this sound right with it being a fast burning powder?
Sounds like you used a standard primer. A Magnum primer will help get a complete burn with HP38/W231. Just remember, in .357 Magnum, some powders can be too fast. HP38 is probably as fast as I would go, but in my case, 10.1 grs. of True Blue, a WSPM and a 125 gr. JHP makes an excellent short barrel load. Mine were tested with a 2 3/4" Ruger Speed-Six. Accurate with very low flash.

glenwolde's point is well taken. He's been doing this long enough that I would certainly consider his recommendation of Universal. Just remember that a faster burning powder doesn't necessarily guarantee low flash. That you need to confirm with the specific powder. As far as Flake powders that are suitable for .357 Magnum, Power Pistol will get you respectable velocity if you like a flamethrower. The good news is that BE86 might be worth a look, and basically, it's a flash suppressed version of Power Pistol.

Overall I think you'll have better luck with Spehricals (ball type) powders. Look at Hodgdon's burn rate chart for those like N340 and slower to around AA #7. AA #5 has been mentioned and it would be a very good choice. I'd use True Blue that is very similar to AA #5 in burn rate, but AA #5 you can find. Another couple of powders worth considering would be V-V 3N37 and N350 but they're pricey. NobelSport/Vectan makes a copy of N350 labelled Ba 7 1/2 that costs considerably less if it's available locally. I can not however speak to its flash signature because I haven't used it. Made plenty of loads with 3N37 and it's excellent, but not a great deal different than CFE Pistol and particularly Silhouette.

I've really only scratched the surface with Silhouette, and Western shows no data. But for many years, a fellow named Steve Ricciardelli (Steve's Pages) has collected data from every load manual and data booklet known to man. He show's .357 Magnum data for WAP which is Silhouette. That is, before Winchester unwisely dropped it and Western Powder Co. acquiring its rights.

A few years ago I was given some WIN 158 & 110 gr. JHPs. Really not into 110s for defense, but I did make some loads with Silhouette and the 110s. Shot a good number of them last time out from the 4.2" GP100. Firing DA at 7 yards I was putting them into the X-Ring, almost at will. And as you know Silhouette and CFE Pistol have flash retardants in their chemistry. You might want to check Hodgdon's reloading center online to see if they give CFE Pistol data.

And while I mentioned the True Blue load for 125 gr. JHPs, I used the REM 125 gr. SJHP that can be a bit fragile with the soft lead at the nose. The data is actually for the 125 gr. XTP. One of the few 125s I'd use for this. Mostly, for the short-barrel loads we like 140 gr. JHPs, and definitely include the 135 gr. Gold Dot as far as making a serious defense load for a short barrel .357 Mag. The 140s well help ensure penetration while they expand.;)
 

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I was doing my daily morning reading on reloading and came across a discussion on spherical / collidal powders ie h110 ,2400 and w296 vs flake powders ie unique. Accoriding to the post was fast burning powders produced better velocities and performance in short bbl revolvers vs the slower heavy hitters in .357mag. Its something I have thought about over the last few weeks after having several federal factory loads hit me in the face with what looked like unburnt powder in my taurus 605 poly with a 2inch barrel but have not had this happen with my lighter reloads or my hornady critical defense.

In the discussion they were showing unique producing better velocities in short bbl vs 2400 and h110.

What powder does everyone recommend for shorter barrel lengths for practice and defensive loads.

Im sure true blue will come up here and im curious as to how it does vs the more readily available powders. Im not aure what kind of powder truw blue is but every thread I have read all talk about it.


Thanks in advance

Sorta depends on bullet weight. Heavier bullets accelerate slower and catch the pressure peak that a worthless 125 grain doesn't. People are SO into 125 and 110 grain stuff thanks to Marshall/Sanow. Well, those stats were done in 4-6" revolvers. I get 550 ft lbs out of my 2" 605 poly and have backed that up originally in a 2" Ruger SP101. I do it with 2400 and a 140 grain JHP. I've gotten 660 ft lbs using AA#9 (slow ball powder) and a 180 grain Hornady JHP. I do not carry that load in anything, but my 6.5" Blackhawk. It's a hunting load, but it gets 660 ft lbs from a 2" barrel and 780 ft lbs from a 6.5" barrel. :D

No, I DO NOT use fast powders in the .357 magnum. All they do is increase pressure for very little return. Stick with Unique in .38 Special and leave the .357 to the magnum stuff like 296 if you like ball powders, or AA#9.

JM INFORMED Opinion you understand. I've been doing .357 for a long time, carry one and have killed with 'em (game, not humans :D ). Get a chronograph. You don't have to work off hearsay that way and it's fun to do your own testing. :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Sounds like you used a standard primer. A Magnum primer will help get a complete burn with HP38/W231. Just remember, in .357 Magnum, some powders can be too fast. HP38 is probably as fast as I would go, but in my case, 10.1 grs. of True Blue, a WSPM and a 125 gr. JHP makes an excellent short barrel load. Mine were tested with a 2 3/4" Ruger Speed-Six. Accurate with very low flash.

glenwolde's point is well taken. He's been doing this long enough that I would certainly consider his recommendation of Universal. Just remember that a faster burning powder doesn't necessarily guarantee low flash. That you need to confirm with the specific powder. As far as Flake powders that are suitable for .357 Magnum, Power Pistol will get you respectable velocity if you like a flamethrower. The good news is that BE86 might be worth a look, and basically, it's a flash suppressed version of Power Pistol.

Overall I think you'll have better luck with Spehricals (ball type) powders. Look at Hodgdon's burn rate chart for those like N340 and slower to around AA #7. AA #5 has been mentioned and it would be a very good choice. I'd use True Blue that is very similar to AA #5 in burn rate, but AA #5 you can find. Another couple of powders worth considering would be V-V 3N37 and N350 but they're pricey. NobelSport/Vectan makes a copy of N350 labelled Ba 7 1/2 that costs considerably less if it's available locally. I can not however speak to its flash signature because I haven't used it. Made plenty of loads with 3N37 and it's excellent, but not a great deal different than CFE Pistol and particularly Silhouette.

I've really only scratched the surface with Silhouette, and Western shows no data. But for many years, a fellow named Steve Ricciardelli (Steve's Pages) has collected data from every load manual and data booklet known to man. He show's .357 Magnum data for WAP which is Silhouette. That is, before Winchester unwisely dropped it and Western Powder Co. acquiring its rights.

A few years ago I was given some WIN 158 & 110 gr. JHPs. Really not into 110s for defense, but I did make some loads with Silhouette and the 110s. Shot a good number of them last time out from the 4.2" GP100. Firing DA at 7 yards I was putting them into the X-Ring, almost at will. And as you know Silhouette and CFE Pistol have flash retardants in their chemistry. You might want to check Hodgdon's reloading center online to see if they give CFE Pistol data.

And while I mentioned the True Blue load for 125 gr. JHPs, I used the REM 125 gr. SJHP that can be a bit fragile with the soft lead at the nose. The data is actually for the 125 gr. XTP. One of the few 125s I'd use for this. Mostly, for the short-barrel loads we like 140 gr. JHPs, and definitely include the 135 gr. Gold Dot as far as making a serious defense load for a short barrel .357 Mag. The 140s well help ensure penetration while they expand.;)
Sorta depends on bullet weight. Heavier bullets accelerate slower and catch the pressure peak that a worthless 125 grain doesn't. People are SO into 125 and 110 grain stuff thanks to Marshall/Sanow. Well, those stats were done in 4-6" revolvers. I get 550 ft lbs out of my 2" 605 poly and have backed that up originally in a 2" Ruger SP101. I do it with 2400 and a 140 grain JHP. I've gotten 660 ft lbs using AA#9 (slow ball powder) and a 180 grain Hornady JHP. I do not carry that load in anything, but my 6.5" Blackhawk. It's a hunting load, but it gets 660 ft lbs from a 2" barrel and 780 ft lbs from a 6.5" barrel. :D

No, I DO NOT use fast powders in the .357 magnum. All they do is increase pressure for very little return. Stick with Unique in .38 Special and leave the .357 to the magnum stuff like 296 if you like ball powders, or AA#9.

JM INFORMED Opinion you understand. I've been doing .357 for a long time, carry one and have killed with 'em (game, not humans :D ). Get a chronograph. You don't have to work off hearsay that way and it's fun to do your own testing. :D

Defintly since I had .38 specials with normal spp it could have been from them. With the magnums I had cci magnums 550. I really like the 140s and it was what I planned to carry but when I saw all the testing and the expansion was sub par in gelitin It turned me off to them. The expansion for the 125sjhp from remington was great and the 125ftx tip was nice also. But im going to defintly have to look at the 140gn ftx bullets again. 660ft lbs sounds like it brutal for your wrist lol

I have had tons of windshield time to think and defintly need a chrono to make a defensive round. Hoping to get atleast 500ft lbs of force out of a 140gn jhp or ftx tip for the 605 poly down the road.


If the fast powders increase pressure quickly and have little time to burn due to the 2inch better would that not make them better? Thats what has been confusing me. Most of the load data i see is all from 6 - 10 inch barrels.

I really appreciate all the input , suggestions and experience from everyone.

still have a ton to learn.
 

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The trick is pressure and the length of time at peak pressure. Fast powders spike, slower powders spread that pressure out as the bullet accelerates. What kills the 125s is that they accelerate too quick and are out the barrel before that pressure peak gets there in 2" guns. 125s need at least 4" of barrel. I get less than 400 ft lbs from a HOT 125 out of a 2" barrel using 2400 and I can't get any more'n that with Unique, a powder I use for +P .38s.

I quit worrying about jello years ago. Animals and humans ain't made of jello. There are bones and such in there. My fave bullet, and I have a few left, were the Speer 140s. They're very accurate, but no longer available. SO, I bought some Hornady XTPs to play with. I've found XTPs to be very accurate in .45ACP and Colt and in 9x19 and the 90 grainers in 9x17. I need to load some to test, but I have no doubt they'll return excellent accuracy and that's what I care a lot more about than jello.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The trick is pressure and the length of time at peak pressure. Fast powders spike, slower powders spread that pressure out as the bullet accelerates. What kills the 125s is that they accelerate too quick and are out the barrel before that pressure peak gets there in 2" guns. 125s need at least 4" of barrel. I get less than 400 ft lbs from a HOT 125 out of a 2" barrel using 2400 and I can't get any more'n that with Unique, a powder I use for +P .38s.

I quit worrying about jello years ago. Animals and humans ain't made of jello. There are bones and such in there. My fave bullet, and I have a few left, were the Speer 140s. They're very accurate, but no longer available. SO, I bought some Hornady XTPs to play with. I've found XTPs to be very accurate in .45ACP and Colt and in 9x19 and the 90 grainers in 9x17. I need to load some to test, but I have no doubt they'll return excellent accuracy and that's what I care a lot more about than jello.

Defintly , its the reason why I like paul harrels meat target when testing ammo it shows how it reacts when it hits meat and bones. I bet those loads will perform well, I personally do not like gellitin tests prefer meat tests but some rounds there is no meat testing done as of yet. The only 140 ftx I have seen is the gel test from luck gunner so far.
 

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Defintly since I had .38 specials with normal spp it could have been from them. With the magnums I had cci magnums 550. I really like the 140s and it was what I planned to carry but when I saw all the testing and the expansion was sub par in gelitin It turned me off to them. The expansion for the 125sjhp from remington was great and the 125ftx tip was nice also. But im going to defintly have to look at the 140gn ftx bullets again. 660ft lbs sounds like it brutal for your wrist lol

I have had tons of windshield time to think and defintly need a chrono to make a defensive round. Hoping to get atleast 500ft lbs of force out of a 140gn jhp or ftx tip for the 605 poly down the road.


If the fast powders increase pressure quickly and have little time to burn due to the 2inch better would that not make them better? Thats what has been confusing me. Most of the load data i see is all from 6 - 10 inch barrels.

I really appreciate all the input , suggestions and experience from everyone.

still have a ton to learn.
I use magnum primers with W231, even in .38 Sp. Should clear your problem up, there. Some of the older sphericals like W231/HP38 and HS6 can be a bit harder to ignite in some loads. Then there are slower burning sphericals that work fine with a CCI-500.

Native Texan makes a good point about very fast powders being prone to pressure spikes. Personally, I wouldn't use them in anything hotter than medium velocity magnum loads, and that's only if they're all you have. I really don't consider HP38/W231 in that category. Fast? yes, but just ahead of Unique in burn rate. The sphericals that are slower, and for me, N340 is a good place to start because it's a kind of general use handgun powder that's just a bit faster than AA #5 & True Blue. I've loaded a good many .357 Magnum rounds with AA #5, but that was years ago and what I had on hand. Back far enough that it came from Israel. Load it per the data and begin with a start charge. You won't have any problem at the velocity you're likely to want. You already know what I think about True Blue, and yeah, like everything else, it can be over-charged. But Pressure Spike? I don't think so. TB is more pressure stable than a good many powders with much slower burn rates. All anyone need do is refer to their Lyman .357 Magnum data and you'll see that while it won't give the highest velocity in the data, that didn't stop Lyman from loading it to higher pressure than any other powder in the data. I really like to recommend it to newer handloaders because of the safety factor. The 10.1 gr. Charge I mentioned is about mid-range and comes from the Lyman manual. I worked up from 9.5 grs. OACL was 1.583" and at 10.1 grs. with the REM 125 gr. SJHP, avg. velocity from the 2 3/4" Speed-Six was 1278 FPS. Extreme Spread was 45 FPS with a Standard Deviation of 13 FPS. That was for 12 rounds, twice around the cylinder. The weak link being that it pretty much destroys the nose of the 125 gr. SJHP. So while we're on that topic, just remember that all 125 gr. JHPs were not created equal. The XTP is about the only 125 I'd use for a defense load, but as I mentioned, today that would be the 135 gr. Gold Dot. As far as just standard Cup-and-core JHPs, 140 grs. is the best place to start, with the exception of the 135 gr. Gold Dot which is close enough. We'll have to wait and see which bullet Federal is going to offer handloaders, but there should be a 135 or 140, and it may be the Hydra-Shok.

I really didn't remember that we had so many older loads still among my shooting partner and me, and those 110s were basically for blasting. Too light for even .38 Sp., IMO.

Bigger but better, there were some loads from 1/05/07 using the REM 140 gr. SJHP and I used CCI-500s, Starline cases and 11.0 grs. of A #7. Very accurate! And from the 4.2" GP100 on 1/22/19, 10 rounds chrono'd 1214 FPS, ES was 42 with an SD of 14 FPS. I don't know if we'll ever be able to get that bullet again, but I'd probably use the CCI-550 next time, just to see if SD can go lower. But in this case with both True Blue and AA #7, the charges are a good bit below Max and increasing velocity/pressure would probably clean that up a bit. Still not bad, however with SD just being slightly greater than 1 FPS per round. Better than factory, anyway! Back in 8/19/13, the AA #7 load chrono'd 1116 from the 2 3/4" Speed-Six. ES was 31 with SD at 11 FPS with the 140 SJHP. For the moment, these older AA #7, 140 gr. SJHP loads are what I'm keeping handy.

Just checked and Hodgdon does list .357 Magnum data for CFE Pistol. W572 is a new one that I haven't tried yet but would. It falls into the same category.

When I was deciding on loads for the upcoming article, I use 10.1 grs. of True Blue from the old load, the loads for the article will be with RMR 125 & 158 gr. Plated Hollow-points. Hope to have it ready by mid April, and you'll see how much of this plays out. True Blue is not considered a fast burning powder, it's just the fastest I will use for the article. 50 with the 125 and 50 with the 158. Did the same thing with AA #7 and since I'm gonna cover 500 handloads, I rounded it out with 50 rounds using the 158 gr. PHP and a Start Charge of the new 11FS which is in the W296/H110/300-MP burn rate group. They were all spawned by W296. The next group I'll load and test will follow suit, 50 each of the 125 and 158s, but with AA #9, Ramshot Enforcer and 50 .38 Special loads with the 158 charged with AA #2 for, hopefully. a gun game load at around 130 PF. These loads will also be fired and chrono'd from a 2 1/2" Smith M66 for comparison.

I hope you and others will benefit from the article because I think it's gonna answer a number of your questions.

Lastly, I'm very aware of the 140 gr. FTX. Haven't used any as yet and don't know how long it will be before I do. I also like the 140 gr. XTP and as I mentioned, it's about the heaviest constructed 125, and there is a Soft Point version of it at 125. The thing about XTPs, and I've used them all in .357 Magnum including the 180, you can kind of consider them "controlled expansion." Rarely will they over-expand at the high velocity which makes them a very good choice for self-defense loads. I'm not into the gel thing either, because I don't have to be. I've been running Charles Schwartz's QAS Q-Model for around 5 years now. By knowing the velocity of the bullet at impact, the recovered diameter and weight, it will accurately predict penetration in 10% Calibrated Ordnance gel. That's what the FBI uses, not to be confused with the Clear Ballistics product that does not match. Over 800 rounds tested in both mediums, and Charles is probably above that by now, and with an accuracy rate of over 95%. There is no ballistic science that I am not aware of as far as anything used for predicting performance. 95+ % accuracy is about as good as it will ever get, and WTH, I was already shooting water jugs anyway. In his book, Quantitative Ammunition Selection, the best thing I've seen on terminal performance in 40+ years of shooting magnum handguns, he has a standardized method that's more accurate. For my articles where I'm using the jugs, he doesn't give me any grief about my shortcut method and runs the data himself. That is, from the numbers I post. Another shortcut I take is that I place the 1st jug to be shot at the same distance I chrono at, 12'. Average diameter will require 6 measurements on the bullet. The 3 greatest diameters with 3 taken in-between the expanded petals, or at the narrowest points.;)
 
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