A little bit of chrono data from my 3-inch SP101

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Ferdinand

Single-Sixer
Joined
Sep 8, 2007
Messages
155
Location
Centerville, OH, USA
This isn't a comprehensive set of data for the SP101, but just info on a few loads, that I gathered in my quest for a manageable round for carry use - a balance of energy and felt recoil. I wanted more power than .38 Special, including +P loadings, could offer, but true full-power .357 rounds are hard to tolerate in any volume, in the 3-inch compact revolver.

First load was my old standby for .357 Mag. It's a 158gr JSP, over a charge of H110 that's a tenth of a grain under max. It shoots very well in my GP100, and 77/357, and I'd describe it as a classic loading for the cartridge. It averages 1725-1750 fps from my rifle. From the SP101, with its 3 inch barrel, this round averaged 1194 fps. I wouldn’t describe myself as being feeble, or afraid of recoil. This round is comfortable to shoot in my six inch GP100, but becomes uncomfortable to shoot after just 5-10 rounds, in the SP101.

The second and third loads both used a 125 grain XTP, over two different charges of 231. The Hodgdon website shows a range of 7.3 to 8.5 grains for this combination, in .357 Mag. With the lightest charge, the 125 XTPs averaged 1116 fps, very consistently. This yields energy of 346 ft/lbs.

The third and final load tested included 8 grains of 231 under the 125 XTP. This is well below the max, as I knew based on the H110 full-power load, that I didn’t want the cartridge's full capability for pressure and recoil. This load averaged 1308 fps, for 473 ft/lbs of energy. The recoil wasn’t bad, even shooting one-handed, strong or weak side. Accuracy was good, and I plan to do some additional work to evaluate that. This is a round that I can tolerate shooting enough to effectively train with.

Anyway – just a bit of information and observations for anyone with a similar revolver, and urge to have more power than .38 Special, but less than full-power .357 Mag. Perhaps I’ll call the final round tested "the .357 –P."
 

Ferdinand

Single-Sixer
Joined
Sep 8, 2007
Messages
155
Location
Centerville, OH, USA
With W231's relatively fast burn rate, I figured it would perform better in the short barrel, compared to slower burn propellants that delivery maximum velocities in a longer barrel. While I haven't shot these rounds in dim light, or darkness, I would expect less flash, compared to the slower burners. Not a factor at the range, but that can be a concern in other circumstances.

To try an even faster propellant, I might go with Bullseye, or to evaluate something a bit slower, perhaps Unique. However, I am pretty pleased with the 8 grain charge of W231 under the 125 XTP. Recoil isn't bad, accuracy is good, perhaps better than good, and the muzzle energy is well above .38 Special or even .45 ACP.
 

JStacy

Blackhawk
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Messages
503
Location
south Texas
This is an olde but a goodie! The 231 load data is much appreciated . It may be the load I am searching for. My best load from my 3" SP101 is 15.0/2400/146Speer 3/4 jacket(I know they don't make them anymore) at 1225 with a pretty good flash and boom. I will try your 231/125 load! I have a good supply of 231 and plenty of 125's. Glad i found this old but good report!
 

WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
48
I am quite anxious to see how much flash your testing revelas in low-light situations. I am looking at 3" revolver in the near future and I know that
the flash is a common occurence in the shorter barrels. I have to say that I'm a bit surprised at the higher numbers for the last cartridge in FPS.
As for renaming the load, how about .38+7? Nope, that makes it a .45:unsure:
 

Biggfoot44

Blackhawk
Joined
Sep 6, 2009
Messages
815
Flash you say ? How about a full load of 296 from a 2 inch .357 ? ( DW w/ multiple bbls , not a small frame.) That will give a 3 or 4 foot fireball ! Or are you implying you don't want a fireball ? :)


But seriously , the same powders that give highest velocities in long bbls also give highest velocities from stubby bbls .

BUT ; The margin of velocity difference is smaller , and the margin of difference in muzzle blast is greater . So give thought to your actual priorities .

Opinions of the relative importance of muzzle flash vary . The only way to eliminate ( or nearly so ) is factory loads with non cannister flash suppressed powders .

Of Magnum class powders , AA #9 has less blast and flash than the usual 2400 , etc .
 

WanderLust

Bearcat
Joined
Dec 2, 2017
Messages
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Biggfoot44, that's good info. I haven't reloaded in 20 years, but need to get back onto the hobby. I'd have to start from scratch with everything, and now is not the time to find supplies!
 

Bear Paw Jack

Hawkeye
Joined
Dec 19, 2001
Messages
9,572
Location
Alaska, Idaho USA
With W231's relatively fast burn rate, I figured it would perform better in the short barrel, compared to slower burn propellants that delivery maximum velocities in a longer barrel. While I haven't shot these rounds in dim light, or darkness, I would expect less flash, compared to the slower burners. Not a factor at the range, but that can be a concern in other circumstances.

To try an even faster propellant, I might go with Bullseye, or to evaluate something a bit slower, perhaps Unique. However, I am pretty pleased with the 8 grain charge of W231 under the 125 XTP. Recoil isn't bad, accuracy is good, perhaps better than good, and the muzzle energy is well above .38 Special or even .45 ACP.
Ferdinand, do you mind my asking what grips you are using in your SP101? I've found that to make a big difference in handling recoil. Factory grips (IMHO) suck. Beats my middle knuckle up. I've had reasonable luck with the Hogue grips (in rubber) and really like the Trausch grips (very difficult to find) but Pachmayer has a new grip out, I believe it's call Diamond (also rubber)
 

Biggfoot44

Blackhawk
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Everyone's hands are different . For Me , the stock grips on SP- 101 are usable thru .357s .
 

JStacy

Blackhawk
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Messages
503
Location
south Texas
Bigfoot ! I have shot some 20.0/296/125 grain out of my 2 3/4" Security Six just for fun and it would make a good defense load. If you missed them they would be blind and deaf and you could just walk away! Kind of like throwing a police flash bang into a room.
I like AA#9 for some things . It seems to be just a hair faster than 2400 but not by much!
 

Biggfoot44

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Yes , it is a hair faster than 2400 . But that's a just a Feature , not necessarily a Fault .

What also can be advantageous is AA9's flexibility in performing well over a wide range of pressures . Ie , able to load down better in contexts not usually thought of as suitable for " magnum " powders.

Example - Back when Dean Grinnell was doing the initial development of .45 Super , his prefered and top performing powder was AA9 , at the 25k pressure levels .
 

Zeke38

Bearcat
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Mar 22, 2022
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Location
Idaho
Bigfoot google 38-44 loads. Used in N frame Smiths and Colt DA large frame revolvers from the 1930s to the 1960s. Basically a 158 grain LSWC at 1125 out of a 4" revolver. They were 24Kpsi + and were safe to shoot in heavy steel revolvers chambered for 38 Specials. Obviously, they were not intended for I,J, or K frames or D frame Colts. I use a load of AA5 under a 125 XTP for 1110 out of a 3" Colt KC. My sweet spot with that Colt.

DO NOT LOAD THESE OLD 38-44 LOADS IN J FRAME SMITHS, D FRAME COLTS OR ANY 38 MEDIUM FRAME MADE BEFORE 1960. JUST ADD A COUPLE OF TENS OF GRAINS TO POWDER TO THE PUBLISHED 38-44 LOAD IN A 357 CASE. THIS INFO FOR REFERENCE ONLY.
 

JStacy

Blackhawk
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Messages
503
Location
south Texas
But that's a just a Feature , not necessarily a Fault .
I did not say the slightly faster burning rate was a fault , as you said ,just a feature? 2400 is also useful in a wide variety of applications , as is Unique and WW231. We have a lot of new powders out there now and all of them seem to fill a nitch , like Long shot and 40S&W will almost match a 10MM with a 180 grain bullet, note I said "almost". I am mostly staying with what I have a stock of to reload because I know what loads shoot well in my guns and a lot of powders are not available in rural Texas right now.
BTW I have a couple of pounds of #9 and it works great in some reloads I use.
 

Biggfoot44

Blackhawk
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Know .38-44 well .

Factory .38-44 was initially 1125fps , by late '50s and '60s was 1090fps . Both specified from 6.5 inch bbl .

Colt officially rated their Official Police ( & variants), New Service, and SAA for .38-44 .

Multiple contemporary sources report success with Factory .38-44 in Colt D Frame , S&W K frame , and yes , J Frame , at least in limited numbers .

.38-44 Handloads were a different matter . Keith once had his .38-44 pet load ( Keith bullet , well known charge of 2400 ) lab tested , and the pressure was 42K . That load would and did blow the cylinders in Colt OPs .

If/ when I ever have leisure time , I want to revisit .38-44 with promising new powders .
 
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