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Thread: 4" S&W Model 15, Lots of questions......

  1. #1
    Boolit Master
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    4" S&W Model 15, Lots of questions......

    I recently acquired a 4" Smith 15-3. I like the little pistol awfully well and plan on making it kind of a go-to kind of gun (carry under a jacket, trail gun, delivering the coup de grace to trapped hogs).
    I've tried some Lee 158 RF's (I like the profile of this bullet a lot) on top of 4.2 grains of Unique. It seems a little anemic and speeds were sort of erratic over my chrony (from 620-750). I was planning on upping the next batch to 4.5, I don't really want to get into +P territory, but I want all I can get. I know it's a question with a LOT of variables, but how high can I go, either charge-wise OR velocity wise. Also, I have H-Universal and 2400 on hand if anyone has any good loads with either of those two.

    Back to the 158 RF's, I love the profile and was thinking about a 6 cavity mold, but I HATE the bevel base, does anyone offer a reasonably priced service of removing the bevel base from Lee Molds?

    I also have a Lyman 358129 on hand, been a while since I casted any with it, but I want to think it's a bit undersized (I remember a .358 sizer barely touches the sides) but if anyone has any good loads with the above powders for this bullet, I'd be glad to hear them.

    I've never been wild about Smith's Magna grips, but the target models seem a bit too huge for this gun, especially for any kind of CC. Anyone have any opinions of the Tyler T grips? Do they install without drilling or altering the grip frame?

    Lastly, leather. Looking for something belt carry, rides pretty high, strap or thumb break, maybe sort of a western look but practical. Thinking El Paso Saddlery 1920 or simply rugged 120? Opinions?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Unique is better for full charge loads and does not burn as well when reduced. If you don't want +P a charge of 4.5-4.8 grains will approximate factory 158-grain velocity. A charge of 5.0 is not quite +P with 158 grain lead bullets, but will be with heavier bullets over 160 grains.
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master
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    I like 158 gr. over 3.5 gr. of Bullseye in my 15-3. B'eye is more uniform with a partial case fill than Unique; as said above bump Unique up a bit and it will serve well. My gun is 4".

  4. #4
    Boolit Master

    Mtnfolk75's Avatar
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    For the last 40 or so years, my go-to load for 4" K Frames has been 5.0 grains of Unique under a 158 grain LSWC using CCI-500 P-primers. I bump up to 5.5/5.8 when I want more power, has worked well for me for many 1,000's of rounds
    Livin' my dream in a little cabin on a mountain .....

  5. #5
    Boolit Master




    Scharfschuetze's Avatar
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    Better grips for the Model 15

    I've never been wild about Smith's Magna grips, but the target models seem a bit too huge for this gun, especially for any kind of CC. Anyone have any opinions of the Tyler T grips? Do they install without drilling or altering the grip frame?
    The Tyler T Grip is great if you can find one for a K Frame and one compliments the Magna grip nicely. I've generally used them on J frame revolvers where the small magna grip was mandatory for concealment purposes.

    While in my police career, I often reduced the target grips to manageable size by reducing the diameter and rounding off the base of the grip significantly for double action shooting. I did that for a number of the officers during my tenure as one of the firearms training officers. The S&W target grips are the antithesis of a good double action grip as they were really designed for single action, one handed shooting back when that was popular at both police academies and the NRA bullseye courses of fire.

    Here is a set of the modified grips on an older 32/20 3d Model Smith K Frame. I might add though, that unaltered original target grips are getting to be very expensive and a collector item.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Scharfschuetze; 08-07-2017 at 11:57 AM.
    Keep your powder dry,

    Scharf

  6. #6
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Tyler Manufacturing is still in business and you can get T-grips configured for the old pre-WW2 S&Ws and Colts as well as the modern stuff. They don't do credit card or Internet sales, you will have to download the order form and mail it with a check the old fashioned way, but the quality is the same as ever, and I like them.

    http://www.t-grips.com/

    Featuring the full product line of Tyler T-Grip Adaptors Available in Aluminum or Bronze in a variety of finishes
    For Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, Rossi, and Taurus
    __________________________________________________ __________________
    FOR ORDERING, you may send in a personal check, postal money order, cashier's check, or bank money order to:

    Tyler MFG
    PO BOX 492
    NEWALLA, OK 74857

    PHONE NUMBER: 405-625-4992
    Call, Leave a message, or text phone hours: M-F 1 PM to 5 PM CST
    tylermfg@gmail.com
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master




    Scharfschuetze's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info Outpost. I've been looking for a T Grip for my Colt Official Police revolver for quite a while.
    Keep your powder dry,

    Scharf

  8. #8
    Boolit Master Uncle Jimbo's Avatar
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    The best load and most accurate load I found for my 15-3 is a lee 125 gr RF over 4 grs of Green Dot. But this is just my findings. Your experiences may vary.

  9. #9
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    I have a S&W 15 like yours and love it. I don't have or use any of the powders you mention. For full power 38 special loads, I use either Bullseye or CFE Pistol.
    I get around 800fps with 3.5 of Bullseye and right at 900fps with 5.0 of CFE pistol. Neither of these is rated as +P. I get great accuracy with both loads. Both loads with 150-160 grain boolits.

  10. #10
    Boolit Master

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    I'll bet you'd like the Pachmayr Professional Gripper grips.

  11. #11
    Boolit Master
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    Potsy-I've been loading and shooting 38 Special for many, many years. It's a great cartridge and the S&W model 15 is a great gun.

    As for the Tyler "T-grip" adaptor, yes they are available, they work quite well and are easy to install (loosen the grips, slide the tabs under the grip panel and tighten the grips back up - done!).

    Here's a model 10 with a Tyler T-grip :

    Click image for larger version. 

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    As for a good load with a 158gr bullet - there are dozens but I've always liked a 158gr SWC with somewhere between 4.1 and 4.4 grains of WW231. The 4.4 grain load is getting a little warm but shouldn't be in the +P range.

    Most of my K-frames respond well to the 4.1 grain load of WW231 but I have one that likes the slightly hotter 4.4 load.

    I'm in the process of working up a couple of loads with Bullseye and several members of this forum have been extremely helpful in that endeavor.



    As for your holster question, there are a lot of good possibilities out there. A good pancake style holster will handle most duties. A pancake holster with a thumb break snap is useful if you're engaged in vigorous activity.
    I'm a fan of Don Hume holsters. Galco makes some nice gear and there are countless others on the market.

    Good Luck and enjoy that Model 15.
    Last edited by Petrol & Powder; 08-08-2017 at 07:32 AM.

  12. #12
    Boolit Master

    condorjohn's Avatar
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    My favorite load is 140 HBWC and 700X. I found these grips at a gun show, no mfg marking. Fit me perfectly.Click image for larger version. 

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    So when is this "Old enough to know better" supposed to kick in?

  13. #13
    Boolit Master
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    I have a 4" M15, target hammer, target trigger, S&W finger groove Goncalo Alves grips. Love it, and have had it for 25+ years. I'll throw in another vote for 5 grains of Unique for a powerful load that is not quite +P.
    And, I don't think you're gonna find a more perfect holster for that revolver than an El Paso Saddlery 1920 Tom Threepersons.

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    Thanks for all the replies!!!!
    Pretty much thinking at this point bumping up a 1/2 grain of Unique would cure what ails things in that department.
    Got to thinking how much I like my Galco Pancake holster for my Kimber, so now I'm thinking El Paso Saddlery #77 Tortilla. Maybe get a little nuts and get the basket weave stamping.
    I'll probably roll either a set of Altamont Targets or a pretty set of Altamont Magna style with a Tyler T grip.
    I've no doubt the Pachmayrs feel wonderful, but I just can't like the look of Pachmayrs on a blued gun (stainless doesn't seem to offend my discriminating senses nearly so bad).
    Honestly, I was never a .38 Special fan. I've had a Detective Special that my Grandad gave me a long time ago. It shoots very well for a snub. But the feel of this 15 (even with magnas) and a single action pull like a varmint rifle (don't think I've even shot it double action), has me hooked.

  15. #15
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    That trigger is the reason the K frame Smith has been such a winner at the target range.

  16. #16
    Boolit Master
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    The El Paso #77 is a fine all-around holster. It is a high ride design, it covers the entire barrel and trigger guard and holds the gun close to the body. The high & tight design makes the gun easy to carry (particularly concealed) but more difficult to draw from (the gun must be pulled higher to clear the holster). For protecting and concealing the gun, it's probably about as good as you can get.
    The Tom Threepersons style holster is a more traditional design but not one of my personal favorites. It utilizes a strap over the hammer instead of a thumb break snap, the trigger guard is exposed and it doesn't protect the rear sight as well as some other designs. It is functional and very traditional in appearance.

    Some of the Galco pancake style holsters are cut away on the front which assists with the draw but exposes the rear sight.
    I've never had a bad Don Hume holster and I think you can still get the "Double-nine" [H721] holster for a K-frame.
    Bell Charter Oak made a great speed scabbard that covered the rear sight and hammer spur but dispensed with the thumb break in exchange for higher leather around the hammer/rear sight. It was very fast and secure but unfortunately, it's no longer offered.


    There are unlimited variations in holsters and OP will have no problem finding what he wants if he defines his desires first.

    I agree with the OP, Pachmayr grips will work fine but just don't look quite right on a blued revolver
    The easiest solution is a Tyler T-grip but like holster, but there are plenty of options. The cut down target grips shown in post #5 look VERY practical (nicely done Scharfschuetze !). Altamont or Eagle grips would be another option.

    Those model 15's can SHOOT !
    The OP has a great gun.

  17. #17
    Boolit Buddy oldhenry's Avatar
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    My 1st. center fire handgun was a 4" M15 (back then I believe the 4" was the only choice......'61). I paid a whopping $79.00 for it new..........I should have bought a dozen. Also back then I called it the Combat Masterpiece. Probably the slickest handgun I've ever owned. In the '60s (and now) heavy bullets were my favorite. Then 3.0 & 3.5 gr. Bullseye with the Lyman #358156 & #358429 was what I shot. Later I changed to PB but since I can't find a published load for that powder now, I'll not list it here. Now I use 4.0-4.5 of HP-38/231 with the #358429.

    I gave that gun to my younger son about 10 years ago...........it's his favorite gun now. I feel good that a special gun went to a fine man who is special in so many ways.

    Henry

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    Henry, I'm digging that old vertical twin motorcycle from your avatar !

  19. #19
    Boolit Master Thumbcocker's Avatar
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    In 61 $79 was serious coin.
    You'll go far providin' you ain't burnt alive or scalped."

    Will Geer as Bear Claw in "Jeramiah Johnson"

  20. #20
    Boolit Master
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thumbcocker View Post
    In 61 $79 was serious coin.
    In 2017 dollars today would be 640.04 dollars. That still a lot of money still today.

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Abbreviations used in Reloading

BP Bronze Point IMR Improved Military Rifle PTD Pointed
BR Bench Rest M Magnum RN Round Nose
BT Boat Tail PL Power-Lokt SP Soft Point
C Compressed Charge PR Primer SPCL Soft Point "Core-Lokt"
HP Hollow Point PSPCL Pointed Soft Point "Core Lokt" C.O.L. Cartridge Overall Length
PSP Pointed Soft Point Spz Spitzer Point SBT Spitzer Boat Tail
LRN Lead Round Nose LWC Lead Wad Cutter LSWC Lead Semi Wad Cutter
GC Gas Check