.357" 158 gr. XTP

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K-Texas
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.357" 158 gr. XTP

#1

Post by K-Texas » Mon Oct 21, 2019 3:59 pm

I intended to test some snub loads in .357 in conjunction to a thread in the general section. Didn't know until Friday that my SP was a lucky dog who won a raffle on Thursday and brought along a brand new S&W 4" 686 Plus. That's as long as I'd want the barrel length to be for a 7-shot combat revolver.

Years ago he bought one of the early 7-shot Taurus Trackers which immediately had problems ejecting 125 gr JHP factory loads. I wasn't sure what to expect from the 686+. Luckily, I had a few of the WIN loaded 125 gr. JHPs that I had chrono'd previously at around 1475 FPS from a 4" GP-100 that seems to have a slightly faster bore. It ran a bit slower in the 686+ but the cases ejected easily and we ran some 140 gr. XTP handloads through it because I knew they were near Max Pressure. Again, they ejected easily.

I have one of the newer Accurate powders which is a version of W296 but has a flash suppressant added. That's 11 FS and after talking to Rob Behr up at Western Powder Co, his opinion is that it can be loaded using W296 data. I wish now I had chrono'd it from the 4" GP-100. I used ladder loads to get up to the Max Charge of 16.7 grs. Hodgdon shows the same charge for W296/H110 for the 158 gr. XTP, but from the 686+ it was a bit slow at 1123 FPS and seems pretty mild. CCI 550 primers were used. I did chrono that load from his 2 1/2" M66-4 to get 997 FPS. I water tested that load from the 4" 686+ and it performed pretty well. Shooting into 1-gallon water jugs I have found best penetration with a JHP reaching the 4th jug. This load went just barely out of the 4th but did not penetrate the 5th I decided to add for the first test.

It wasn't exactly easy to view the Flash characteristics, but from what I could tell, Flash was pretty mild. Nothing like W296/H110. The Lyman P&R III shows 17 grs to be their Max Charge and what I'll load next; that load will get chrono'd from the GP-100 as well as the 686. In older Lyman data, the 46th in this case, data is a bit warmer for the Hornady 158 gr. JHP that was the forerunner to the XTP. And as you might suspect, they went up to 17.7 grs of H110 with a pressure rating of 42,000 CUP.

For carry loads with low flash I tend to use faster burning powders like Accurate No 9, and No 7 can usually provide some pretty accurate loads at a bit less velocity. If all else fails, or barrel length is 3" or less, Ramshot True Blue is very hard to beat. But, if you have a 4 or 5" .357 Magnum for carry or as a field gun, 11FS shows good potential. From the GP100, based on other loads chrono'd, I'd expect the 16.7 gr. charge of 11FS to come in at around 1200 FPS. Some of you may already be aware that Alliant 300-MP was made for the same application. I have not tried it as yet. What I was actually trying to do was reach typical factory load velocity for 158s at say 1250 FPS, so more testing to come! ;-)
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K-Texas
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Re: .357" 158 gr. XTP

#2

Post by K-Texas » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:59 pm

Made more loads yesterday and went up to Lyman's 17.0 gr. Max Charge that chrono'd 1309 FPS from their 4" Universal Receiver. The load is getting very close to 100% load density and I'm hoping the higher charge will get velocity near to the factory load level.

I made these loads with high expectations. I had previously trimmed StarLine cases, so I found the median length and selected cases that are +/- .002" of that median. Cleaned primer pockets as well which I typically reserve for Hunting and Defense loads. The few loaded rounds I checked for OACL were within .001".

We're pleased with what we're seeing from the muzzle in terms of low flash. Now if accuracy is there with velocity comparable to factory loads I'll be well pleased. For revolvers 4" and shorter I typically don't load the slower burning magnum propellants. I have three excellent powders that are relatively low flash ranging from Ramshot True Blue, AA No 7 and No 9. True Blue is what I've used most to limit the velocity loss from firing from 4" barrels down to 2 1/2" for Defense loads.

Hope to have good news after the next shoot. ;-)
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K-Texas
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Re: .357" 158 gr. XTP

#3

Post by K-Texas » Thu Nov 28, 2019 3:38 pm

After going through some reevaluation of my Balance beam scale and digital, I got another digital. My shooting partner has had very good results with the Frankford Arsenal unit sold by Midway for like $30. It weighs up to 750 grs. rather than the 1500 grs. of other more expensive models. Hoping mine will work as well as his. So far it matches the RC 130 exactly. So I go to the Midway site just now to get the link for the digital and find it's on sale for $19.99 instead of the $29.99 I paid. https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1012713364?pid=175512

So, to the point, turns out that the charge was 17.1 grs. rather than 17.0. No problem there since it jibes with other pressure tested data from Lyman. The chrono results turned out a bit different from what I was expecting. Previously, my GP100 was giving higher velocity with the 140 gr. XTP loads than my partners new S&W 686+. That changed with this 158 gr. XTP load that chrono'd 1264 FPS from the 4" 686+ vs 1241 for the 4.2" GP100. Right around factory load velocity.

I'm usually a bit closer to the velocity Lyman got from their 4" test barrel. They did however use H110 at 17.0 grs. Max in the P & R III. W296 is the base propellant for Accurate 11 FS. And, of course, H110 is Hodgdon branded W296. Western's 11 FS data duplicates Hodgdon's data for H110 and W296 and my load matches the Lyman 46th charge of W296 at 17.1 gr. With H110, however, it goes up to 17.7 grs. Guess they didn't get the memo about H110 being rebranded W296. But even at 17.7 grs. Max for H110, the pressure tested at 42,000 CUP and below the MAP for the .357 Magnum.

Accuracy is excellent and so is penetration. In fact, the first bullet we fired into 5 water jugs just barely left the 5th. We didn't find it so we just did another test, Had to look a bit for it and found the first bullet as well. From the QAS Q-Model, the prediction for penetration is 19.77". Just in time for my shooting partner who has hogs showing up on his exterior camera system. ;-)
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Boxerrider
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Re: .357" 158 gr. XTP

#4

Post by Boxerrider » Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:08 am

The XTP has a reputation as a penetrator. Did the bullets that went through the water jugs expand much?
I'm currently doing some work with that bullet in my 38 special J frames.


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K-Texas
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Re: .357" 158 gr. XTP

#5

Post by K-Texas » Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:37 pm

Boxerrider wrote:
Fri Nov 29, 2019 10:08 am
The XTP has a reputation as a penetrator. Did the bullets that went through the water jugs expand much?
I'm currently doing some work with that bullet in my 38 special J frames.
Boxerrider, the 158 gr. XTPs expanded about the way you would expect. IIRC, Hornady states that XTPs will typically expand 1.5x. That would be .536" while the 2 I recovered were just under .520".

I load the 140 gr. XTPs for defense loads, but not exclusively. When loading for short barreled revolvers 3" and shorter I switch to Ramshot True Blue to prevent as much velocity loss as you'll get from slower burning powders when barrel length shortens. But from the GP100 I have 3 different loads with True Blue, Accurate No 7 and No 9. All come in at close to 1300 FPS, so they're potent but still fairly easy to control in DA firing.

I don't typically make .38 Special Defense loads. But if I did I would use a better expander like the 125 or 135 gr. SB Gold Dots. I like the 140 gr. weight for short barrel revolvers to help ensure good penetration, but the 135 gr. SB Gold Dot is close enough. Midway occasionally has them on sale at a good price. Sometimes even competitive with the XTPs or a little lower. With the lower velocity of .38 Sp. loads I would have to do some testing with the 125 gr. as well 135 gr. SB Gold Dots.

If you can chrono your loads at the same distance from the muzzle as you place the 1st water jug, find the average diameter and recovered weight and I can run the load through the QAS Q-Model. I think 4 jugs should work, but when in doubt, add an extra. ;-)
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K-Texas
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Re: .357" 158 gr. XTP

#6

Post by K-Texas » Fri Nov 29, 2019 3:48 pm

Pardon the double-post but something else came to mind. As far as expansion and penetration from a .38 Snub, it might be worth considering what the FBI once did. When they were issued 3" S&W M13 .357 Magnums, the duty load was a 158 gr. LSWCHP +P .38 Special. SPEER and Hornady still make those bullets and they are less expensive as a bonus. These bullets are swaged lead, but at the typical velocity from a .38 Snub, there should not be a leading problem. The softer alloy of a swaged HP may allow these bullets to expand as much as any while the weight will aid penetration.

A few years ago there were some tests being conducted with softer cast-lead hollow-points and the results were very good. The bullets were from smaller vendors with the alloy optimized for lower velocity loads like .38 Sp and .45 ACP. Then poly-coated bullets were rapidly increasing in popularity. Knowing that Missouri Bullet Co. offered cast lead "Target" bullets at 12 BHN, I knew some of them would get poly-coated. So I emailed them and asked if poly-coated HPs were on the way. They didn't have anything in the works at that time which was a few years back. They told me that the biggest obstacle to making cast/coated HPs was the tooling.

I still feel like poly-coated HPs are gonna happen. In fact, they actually got a good start back in the 1980s when S&W was still in the ammo-biz and developed the Nyclad bullets which they later sold the rights for that technology to Federal. Now that Federal is selling their "SynTec" bullet loads which are poly-coated vs the Nylon coated Nyclads, I would not be too surprised to see them offer SynTec HPs. But the Nyclads, where available, have performed well over the years in LE use. The key thing here, so far as the lead bullet underneath, is the alloy. My thoughts from what I had seen was that 12 BHN should work well.

Practice bullets could be made with a number of 158 gr. poly-coated, where the risk of leading a bore is far less. But with velocity under 900 FPS and with bullets .001" larger than the barrels groove dia. leading should not be a problem with swaged or 12 BHN cast-lead. One reason MBC offers them. But for a few dollars more you could be shooting poly-coated versions of the same bullets at reasonable cost without the worries normally associated with lead bullets. I can't say that I've ever had any problems with leading from cast bullets, mainly because I followed the simple instructions of using a bullet, in this case, a .358" cast lead when the bore is .357". The Hornady and SPEER LSWCHPs are .358" in diameter, and you'll need to slug the bore to find its groove dia. That can be done easily with a swaged bullet so long as the groove dia of the barrel isn't .358" where there would be no change to the swaged bullet's dia. If the bore is .357" as it should be, swaged bullet slug dia will be reduced to .357". If you can also find the dia of the cylinder throats, that's a plus.

As far as defense loads, the factory loaded swaged versions probably won't be fired enough to cause any problems. With poly-coated, there should be no problem so long as the appropriate powder is used. A few, like TiteGroup burn very hot which can melt the poly-coating at the base of the bullet. Whether or not that would be the case at 900 FPS or less would probably need to be determined, but I'd skip the worries altogether by using powders best suited to poly-coated where 2 new powders were made for that specific application. Alliant Sport Pistol and Winchester W244. Or, if Alliant BE86 gave good results with poly-coated practice loads, the flash deterrent added to BE86 would make it a good choice for defense loads as well. I think the question came up recently concerning the 158 gr. LSWCHP factory load offerings and most of them that I'm aware of are rated +P. And definitely be aware that Buffalo Bore's version is fairly hot. But for those who don't mind the recoil, snub .38s is what Buffalo Bore had in mind. I haven't used BE86 as I haven't used any flake powder for many years. BE86 is what I'd try if I did, and because I have it, I'd try Accurate No 2 which is a spherical and not a flake powder that is low in bulk density which makes it lofty. Better case fill by weight and like Titegroup, it is not powder position sensitive. I'll likely be posting on .38 Sp loads charged with No 2 before long. A couple of flake powders I would use along with BE86 are single-based meaning nitrocellulose while double-based flake powders like BE86 have a small quantity of Nitroglycerin added to the nitrocellulose. That would not concern me because while double-based flake powders flash more than single-based flake powders, the flash deterrent coating added to BE86 will solve that issue. Hodgdon keeps saying that they are dropping 2 single-based flake powders which are IMR SR 7625 and SR 4756, but they don't seem to be in any hurry to do it. Then there's the new line of IMR flake powders that might be worth a look. ;-)
Anything that can be corrupted by man; will be corrupted.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want . . .


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Re: .357" 158 gr. XTP

#7

Post by K-Texas » Fri Dec 20, 2019 1:24 pm

Just an update because I wasn't expecting to be as impressed with Accurate's new 11 FS for loads fired from 4" barrels. In a recent trip to the range which was for testing various loads to deal with the large Sow my shooting partner dispatched the following day. I had a good number of .357 Magnum loads that used the RMR 158 gr. PHP loaded with True Blue, AA No 7 & No 9 and 11 FS. We shot them as sunlight was fading and found that 11 FS delivers on what it was intended for.

My SP took the Sow with a 150 gr. Power Point in .308 WIN, but with the number of feral hogs that have shown up on his exterior mounted game cameras, he won't be getting far away from his 4" 686+. For hog defense, it might also be worth considering the 158 gr. XTP FP. Basically a soft point that should provide even deeper penetration. He is also considering the 180 gr. XTP for that particular purpose.

I'm hoping I have 4# of 11 FS on the way, and further load development will continue including larger magnums. If it does all the same things as its W296 parent powder in terms of velocity, I see it covering 2 bases. One being where you might use W296 or H110 for higher energy hunting loads, as well as .357 Magnum defense loads. ;-)
Anything that can be corrupted by man; will be corrupted.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want . . .

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