How hard are these on 357's

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the fatman

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:D Howdy another curiosity. I keep reading here and there about 125gr and 110 gr loads being hard on 357s. Has anybody actually destroyed one or seen one destroyed. How long does it take. Years ago I kind of enjoyed shooting 110 gr. at aerosol paint cans. Blow the base out and you have a nice although messy rocket. I never noticed any damage but didn't keep it long before swapping for the next must have gun. Any way just another curious James question. Thanks in advance.
 

AzRebel

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I don't think it's much of an issue with stronger firearms. It might be an issue in revolvers with thinner cylinder walls.

In the early '80s, my brother inherited a S&W model 19 when our grandfather passed away. He shot mostly 110 & 125 grain loads though it. Back then, there was no internet, and .357 ammo was generally considered "safe" in .357 mag firearms.

And they SHOULD be safe in all .357 mag firearms.

One day while cleaning, he noticed a crack in the cylinder wall, in one of the "flutes".

It would be pretty easy to blame the ammo, and he shot many different brands. Whether the ammo is to blame or not, I can't say. I'm convinced that if it had been a S&W 686, Ruger GP-100, or Blackhawk, there'd have never been an issue. The thin cylinder walls of the model 19 are a weak point to be considered before purchase if full time, full house .357's are going to be used.

If it's an "issue", I think it's mostly in weaker designed firearms. How long it might take to "destroy" one would largely be a matter of which firearm it is, and how well it was made.

I shot an awful lot of 110 and 125 grain .357 ammo myself through one of the first GP-100's, a NM Blackhawk, and a couple of 686's way back when without any issues at all. I doubt it's much of an issue in stronger designed firearms.

Daryl
 

btrumanj

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You didn't mentio what gun. I have one of the comparatively "weak" S&W model 66s. Although I kinda baby it nowadays shooting mostly lead, it's had a bunch of the White box 110gr loads which are really not all that hot through it. Most of the premium 125 JHPs are something else. They are screamers but that old 66 has survived many a one of those too. I keep hearing of cracked forcing cones in K frame S&Ws but have never seen one. Eventually with continued shooting the hot 125s will erode the forcing cone of most all revolvers but it can be recut.
Unless you are shooting thousands of the 110 gr loads I wouldn't worry too much especially if your gun is a Ruger. JMO, others may disagree :)
 

Jimbo357mag

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I have see pics of flame cutting, rough and cracked forcing cones and other damage from hott loads.

Here is a Smith 686 with flame cutting.

flamecut-686--s113.jpg


...and here is a model 19 with a cracked forcing cone.

crackedm19forcingcone2kg3.jpg


...Jimbo
 

gwnorth

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I'd say it is pretty well known that use of hot loaded, light weight .357 load will inherently increase the likelihood of significant flame cutting, forcing cone erosion, and on some models (e.g. S&W k frames) forcing cone cracks. Not that it will cause significant damage on any make or model, but you are certainly more likely to develop a problem.

Personally, I do sometimes shoot 125gr in my GP100's, but not often. And I stick to 145gr and up in my k frame and ruger sixes.
 

bub

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The only big issue I've ever heard of regarding light .357 ammo was in Smith K-Frame Magnums. Supposedly, the light bullets, being shorter than the heavier bullets, clear the end of the cylinder sooner than the heavier bullets would, allowing unburned/still burning powder to blast the forcing cone, top strap and such, causing extremely accelerated wear, cracked forcing cones and severe flame cutting. Using heavier (and thus, longer) bullets is supposed to take care of much of the problem. When the Magnum K Frames were first designed and sold, there weren't many (maybe not any?) light bullet .357 loads and they were supposedly designed around 158gr loads. The cracked forcing cone problem comes from where S&W milled away part of the bottom of the forcing cone to allow clearance for the crane to close. This thin spot weakens the forcing cone and this is where they tend to split. From everything I have read, the splitting forcing cones tend to be more prevalent on blued guns rather than stainless, although stainless guns can split, too.

Another problem I have read about is the supposed fragility of the K Frame Magnums with steady diets of .357 ammo. Allegedly, they will wear out, go out of time and so on a LOT sooner than larger/stronger .357s with a steady diet of .357 ammo. From what I have read, this is because they were designed for limited amounts of actual .357ammo, with the gun designed for practice with .38 and carry with .357s. When they were designed and marketed, this was common practice. In the mid/late '70s, Police Departments started practicing with their carry loads, which is allegedly when the problems started cropping up.

With light bullets (110gr and 125gr), even with heavier guns, flame cutting is supposedly a common problem. It's really not that big of a problem; from everything I have ever read, flame cutting will progress so far, then stop. Makes the gun look bad but not supposed to progress far enough to compromise structural integrity.

Myself, I've never encountered these problems. I only ever had one K Frame, a well-used (though still delightfully shootable) Mod 66. It was a recreational gun, however, and I only ever shot .38s out of it. The rest of my .357s are larger/heavier/more well designed (4" GP100, 2 1/4" SP101 and a 2 1/8" S&W M649 Magnum Bodyguard) so I don't anticipate any trouble. If you're worried about it, not much you can do other than retire the gun for recreational purposes only, only shoot .38s out of it or reload so that you can tinker with powder/bullet combos to minimize the problems. Those are about the only options. The .357, even in it's modern semi-neutered form, is still a powerful handful for a portable, concealable handgun. Not much you can do about that, it is the nature of the beast. It works well out of well-designed guns but can quickly beat to death lighter guns or those that are poorly designed.

Bub
 

the fatman

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:D Thanks for all the replies so far. I don't have a 357 so I wasn't being brand specific. I just like handguns especially revolvers. Spend probably too much time thinking about them. Decided to see if somebody had first hand experience. Wondered from stories how bad the flame cutting got. Broken forceing cone would really blow. Was shooting tin cans yesterday with the 44 alaskan brought back fond memories of paint can space ships. :shock: :lol:
 

gwnorth

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If you really want a .357 that you probably cannot wear out, get a GP100 or a S&W 28. Ruger's frame and components are designed for any and all .357 use, and the M28 is essentially a .357 built on a .44mag N-frame (4 inch M28 weighs nearly the same as a 6" full lug GP100).

In any of the lighter framed guns, and where things like forcing cones and top straps are thinner, a little more caution in what you shoot and how much of the light stuff seems prudent. You are just pushing your luck by shooting a ton of light loads in those guns.

And there are known instances of Ruger Six series guns having cracked forcing cones. In the last years of production, Ruger changed the gas ring on the six series guns, and had to cut the 6-oclock position on the forcing cone just like S&W had to do on the k frames to allow clearance of the closed cylinder (my 1982 Police Service Six does not have the cut, but my 1988 Service Six does, so the change was sometime between 1982-1988).
 

GaryA

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I really prefer heavier loads, e.g. 158 grain, but have also wondered, asked and researched as much as possible on that question. I don't think I have anywhere near a definitive answer but it seems clear that the 125 grain loads at a nominal 1450 fps from a 4 inch barrel are somewhat hard on a lot of guns. I am much less certain that the 110 grain loads at a nominal 1295 fps from a 4 inch barrel (e.g. Win White Box) are particularly hard on a gun, although I remain being open to being convinced otherwise. There are 110 grain loadings that are spec'd at 1500+ fps from a 4 inch barrel and I can certainly see why they would be equally hard on a gun as the 125s. I still believe that the "standard" modern 110s (at 1295 fps which are, after all, touted for small-frame defensive revolvers) and the medium-velocity 125s (1220 fps/4 inch e.g. Golden Saber) would not be any harder on a gun than most magnum loadings. After all, 158 grain loads are spec'd at 1235 fps. If they are, I can't for the life of me see why. No one complains that 115 grain 9mm loads are hard on small revolvers and they are ballistically equivalent. Nonetheless, I'm trying to keep my mind and my eyes open.
 

Cary

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Jimbo357mag":2kfngrhy said:
I have see pics of flame cutting, rough and cracked forcing cones and other damage from hott loads.

Here is a Smith 686 with flame cutting.

flamecut-686--s113.jpg


...and here is a model 19 with a cracked forcing cone.

crackedm19forcingcone2kg3.jpg


...Jimbo
Hey Jimbo how did you get my M19 :shock: ? That picture looks just like the M19-6 I lost several years ago while shooting 125 grain bullets out of it.
Cary
 

roaddog28

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bub":2gpalbn5 said:
The only big issue I've ever heard of regarding light .357 ammo was in Smith K-Frame Magnums. Supposedly, the light bullets, being shorter than the heavier bullets, clear the end of the cylinder sooner than the heavier bullets would, allowing unburned/still burning powder to blast the forcing cone, top strap and such, causing extremely accelerated wear, cracked forcing cones and severe flame cutting. Using heavier (and thus, longer) bullets is supposed to take care of much of the problem. When the Magnum K Frames were first designed and sold, there weren't many (maybe not any?) light bullet .357 loads and they were supposedly designed around 158gr loads. The cracked forcing cone problem comes from where S&W milled away part of the bottom of the forcing cone to allow clearance for the crane to close. This thin spot weakens the forcing cone and this is where they tend to split. From everything I have read, the splitting forcing cones tend to be more prevalent on blued guns rather than stainless, although stainless guns can split, too.

Another problem I have read about is the supposed fragility of the K Frame Magnums with steady diets of .357 ammo. Allegedly, they will wear out, go out of time and so on a LOT sooner than larger/stronger .357s with a steady diet of .357 ammo. From what I have read, this is because they were designed for limited amounts of actual .357ammo, with the gun designed for practice with .38 and carry with .357s. When they were designed and marketed, this was common practice. In the mid/late '70s, Police Departments started practicing with their carry loads, which is allegedly when the problems started cropping up.

With light bullets (110gr and 125gr), even with heavier guns, flame cutting is supposedly a common problem. It's really not that big of a problem; from everything I have ever read, flame cutting will progress so far, then stop. Makes the gun look bad but not supposed to progress far enough to compromise structural integrity.

Myself, I've never encountered these problems. I only ever had one K Frame, a well-used (though still delightfully shootable) Mod 66. It was a recreational gun, however, and I only ever shot .38s out of it. The rest of my .357s are larger/heavier/more well designed (4" GP100, 2 1/4" SP101 and a 2 1/8" S&W M649 Magnum Bodyguard) so I don't anticipate any trouble. If you're worried about it, not much you can do other than retire the gun for recreational purposes only, only shoot .38s out of it or reload so that you can tinker with powder/bullet combos to minimize the problems. Those are about the only options. The .357, even in it's modern semi-neutered form, is still a powerful handful for a portable, concealable handgun. Not much you can do about that, it is the nature of the beast. It works well out of well-designed guns but can quickly beat to death lighter guns or those that are poorly designed.

Bub
Bub hit the nail on the head. The K frame S&W magnum was a 38 special revolver modified to shoot 357s on occasion.
If a person wants to shoots a lot of light grain high velocity rounds then I
I would get a New Model Blackhawk 357. The New Model Blackhawks are built on the 44 magnum platform. The forcing cone is thick and basically over built for the 357 magnum round. I have never read or heard of any New Model Blackhawk ever have any problem shooting light grain full house ammo. Too me a person would have to find a Ruger Redhawk 357 to beat a Ruger New Model Blackhawk. A person can do their own handloads and just about any grain or velocity and use them in a Blackhawk without issues.
Good luck,
roaddog28
 
A

Anonymous

I have a Police service six that I cracked the forcing cone on and it was due to shooting too many full power loads in it. And yes, they were mostly 125 grainers.

This is what opened my eyes to the fallacy of trying to get every last FPS out of a gun/cartridge that is really quite adaquate if loaded to about 10% under maximun levels.

I agree that the GP 100 or a model 28 Smith will stand the pressures better, perhaps for a long time, but I have come to realize as I have matured, that loading any handgun to maximun pressures is folly and hard on the gun to boot.

After all, how is a 125 grain bullet that is going at 1400 fps + any better than the same bullet going 1200 fps? What will the former do that the latter will not?

In my opinion, new shooters should not be allowed to look at ballistic tables before they are 40 years old. :lol:
 

Jimbo357mag

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Cary":2kghqpa0 said:
Hey Jimbo how did you get my M19 :shock: ? That picture looks just like the M19-6 I lost several years ago while shooting 125 grain bullets out of it.
Cary

I did an "image" search on Google. I think those pics were posted on the S&W Forum, under different topics. :D

...Jimbo
 

EarlFH

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The light bullets were ultimately determined to be the cause of the flame cutting, in the 357 Maximums. People were reloading them with 110, and 125 grain bullets, at warp speeds. Once people realized what the problem was, and went to the 180 grain bullets, the flame cutting was decreased, and stopped after it went to a certain depth. Unfortunately the cure came too late for the Ruger maximums, which were soon found to be able to handle rounds up to the 500 Linebaugh Long, when built right. :(
EarlFH
 

maxpress

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guns and ammo had an article where they shot 5000rnds of 125s out of a 686 and a gp100. they said the problem had mostly been solved and the gp100 shot better at the end of the test.
 

Bucks Owin

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IMO, a Ruger of any model will shoot fast 110/125 loads for a couple lifetimes. (Be too uncomfortable in a little SP101 to shoot them enough to hurt it! :shock: ) And IMO, those who ruined a M19 forcing cone by shooting enough light bullet loads at max pressures (hey, it's a S&W, they'll fix it! :roll: ) got what they deserved! Apparently, very few M19 forcing cones actually failed, and those that did needed about 5000+ rds to do it as I've read. It sounds like some 19 owners shot nothing BUT thousands of light bullet firecrackers! That wasn't what Bill Jordan had in mind back in '55. The 19 Combat Magnum can use full tilt .357 of ANY weight for carry but shouldn't be fired with them exclusively. For my part, I've fired about 1,000 of those hot 125 HP's in accuracy testing, maybe another 500 of 158/Lilgun loads @ 1350 but have decided the M19 is just to nice a carry gun to beat up with hot loads, especially since S&W now "replaces" rather than "repairs" ruined 19's. I think I'll stick to Skeeter's favorite combo, 358156/2400 @ 1200 for the most part for my future M19 shooting. It worked for him and that's good enough for me. I have been "enlightened" as he put it....:wink: Shown, 6" Combat Magnum M19-4
M19-4001.jpg
 
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