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Thread: 38 Spec 158gr +P Loads?

  1. #1
    Boolit Buddy
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    38 Spec 158gr +P Loads?

    I'm planning on investing in a very reasonably priced S&W 14-3 38 Spec in the near future. I know that these guns were built for target shooting, and that they can easily utilize loads with +P level pressures. I was tempted to get a 586, but cast bullet velocities don't vary that much between the 38+P loads, and the 357 mag. While I plan to mostly shoot standard level loads (158gr-800fps) out of this gun, I do like to "push" the proverbial envelope from time to time, and I was wondering if I might be able to get a 158gr bullet to 1000fps from this gun, or possibly 1100fps? I know it's a bit much to ask of such a gun, but curiosity killed the cat. I plan to use either the Lee TL358-158-SWC, or the 358-158-RF, and cast from WW lead.

  2. #2
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Getting 1000 fps with a 158-grain bullet from a 6" revolver cannot be done without exceeding industry +P pressure substantially.

    Factory lead +P loads will do about 900 fps. I don't recommend shooting very much of +P in your Model 14 if you want it to last.

    If high velocity is that important to you, you should sell that model 14 and get the 586...
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  3. #3
    Boolit Master quail4jake's Avatar
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    Hodgdon data shows all 158 gr +P loads under 1000 fps, I load 158 XTPs and a 158 gr LRN with 5.5 grs of Longshot and get really great results, 980 fps SD 15 with my model 14. That is the only charge weight Hodgdon recommends for 158 gr +P with Longshot.
    Also...what Outpost said, ditto...

  4. #4
    Boolit Buddy
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    A steady diet of +P ammunition isn't the plan, just more of a hundred yard experiment. Would standard loads suffice? Or would they destabilize and keyhole by then?
    Last edited by huntingsgr8; 11-30-2017 at 04:13 PM.

  5. #5
    Boolit Master Grmps's Avatar
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  6. #6
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    If speed is your need drop down a bit in bullet weight. My 14-3 is a tack driver (2" or less@50 yds) with both the Lee 120TC and the Lee 125RF. I run both with 4.2/Bullseye and that's right at 1000 fps. Accuracy is superb and pressures are below max standard. Both those bullets will outshoot any 158's from an accuracy standpoint.

    PS. 158's@850-900 fps will do just fine to 100 yds. I use the 158 rn as my 100 yd ram load in Hunters pistol silhouette. I've shot them out to 200 yds off the bench at a steel swinger with good results
    Last edited by fecmech; 11-30-2017 at 04:06 PM.
    "Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
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  7. #7
    Boolit Master quail4jake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntingsgr8 View Post
    A steady diet of +P ammunition isn't the plan, just more of a hundred yard experiment. Would standard load suffice? Or would they destabilize and keyhole by then?
    Great question, I only shoot +P in my 14 for groundhog hunting but I did fire it at 50+ yds just to try it. Grouped great at 50 and 75 but not so much at 100. I never tried standard LRN or WC over 50.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntingsgr8 View Post
    I'm planning on investing in a very reasonably priced S&W 14-3 38 Spec in the near future. I know that these guns were built for target shooting, and that they can easily utilize loads with +P level pressures. I was tempted to get a 586, but cast bullet velocities don't vary that much between the 38+P loads, and the 357 mag. While I plan to mostly shoot standard level loads (158gr-800fps) out of this gun, I do like to "push" the proverbial envelope from time to time, and I was wondering if I might be able to get a 158gr bullet to 1000fps from this gun, or possibly 1100fps? I know it's a bit much to ask of such a gun, but curiosity killed the cat. I plan to use either the Lee TL358-158-SWC, or the 358-158-RF, and cast from WW lead.
    Pressures are measured via Oehler M43 PBL using a Contender barrel.

    I duplicate 38 SPL +P LSWC loads with 3 bullets; 358477 (152 gr), 358156HP (150 gr) and the TL358-158-SWC HP (158 gr). Crimp is in the crimp groove on the 358477, front groove on the 358156 and the 2nd lube groove on the TL bullet. They are cast soft, usually of 30-1 or 40-1 alloy. I load them in W-W 38 SPL +P cases over 5.5 gr Alliant Unique with a Winchester small pistol primer. Velocities run 950 - 980 fps out of my 5" M15 S&W (same as your M14 but with just 1" less barrel). The measured pressures run 19,000 to 19,900 psi(M43). The SAAMI MAP for 38 SPL +P is 20,000 psi. Winchester 38 SPL +P 158 LSWCHP factory runs 18,000 to 18,900 psi(M43) in the same test barrel and runs 940 fps from my 5" M-15.

    With either of your bullets, weighing not over 158 gr, loaded 5.3 to 5.5 gr Alliant Unique should come very close to 1000 fps and still be at or under the SAAMI MAP for the 38 SPL +P cartridge.
    Larry Gibson

    “Deficient observation is merely a form of ignorance and responsible for the many morbid notions and foolish ideas prevailing.”
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  9. #9
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    Save that fine model 14 for target loads and target shooting...that's what it was made for.

    Buy a 357 Magnum to hot rod with.....something made for magnum, then you wont have to worry about damaging it. Heavy loads take a toll on a gun not built for it.
    Besides ,life's too short to have just one revolver !
    I would bet money the 14-3 is not rated for +P loads...it will be stamped on the barrel, if it's not stamped on the barrel don't shoot them in it. Better safe than sorry .
    Gary
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  10. #10
    Boolit Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    If you intend to shoot more than 100 rounds of +P in your Model 14 spread over the life of the gun, you may want to have a Rockwell hardness test done. A place where it won't show is on the top strap under the rear sight tang, then the mark is covered when the sight is replaced. This is also the area where the frame stretches if you abuse the gun with too many hot loads.

    A +P rated revolver or .357 will test Rc24 minimum. A plain carbon steel Model 10-6 or earlier will go maybe Rc20. Most of the Model 14 target revolvers I tested over the years were soft and wouldn't even register on the "C" scale being Rb80-90. This was for guns made in the 1970s and 1980s. Never tested any made after that, as agency changed to 9mm pistols..
    The ENEMY is listening.
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  11. #11
    Boolit Buddy
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    I might be won over to the 586 6", but I have never even held one. Got to play with a GP100 6'' a bit a few days ago, thought it was kinda unbalanced, but the biggest turn off was that I couldn't cock it with one hand. The 586 I'm ogling is only about 175$ more than the 14-3. Still....that 38 just bit me when I picked it up.....

  12. #12
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    You hotrod a mod 14 the forcing cone will shread. Take it from a fellow who has replaced many barrels on them and mod 19s with hot 357 loads to much.
    The 14 was designed for target loads + p loads were not around. The 19 was designed for carry with magnum and using when necessary but using a lot of 38 spec.

  13. #13
    Boolit Buddy
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    Thoughts on these? The cast 158gr SWC http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data...erBW%5B%5D=158

    6.3grs of HS6, 5.3grs of CFE Pistol

  14. #14
    Boolit Master
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    I don't know if your shooter is rated for +p or not but according to B. Pearce, 6gr. of long shot under a 158gr. Oregon trail sec gives 1086fps from a 6" k-38. This is from the Oct 2016 issue of Handloader. BTW the article has a number of cast bullet 158gr loads that run more than 1000fps and a couple nearing 1100fps in +p pressures. Although it sounds like your revolver will fall apart if you use +p in it.

  15. #15
    Boolit Buddy
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    I hate to dispute someone with more practiced hands than my own, but the S&W forum had a thread on whether or not a 14-3 could be used safely with +p loads. The general consensus was yes. Though Hodgdon lists two loads in my link that go over 1000fps at normal 38 pressures. Thoughts on those?

  16. #16
    Boolit Master tazman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by huntingsgr8 View Post
    Thoughts on these? The cast 158gr SWC http://www.hodgdonreloading.com/data...erBW%5B%5D=158

    6.3grs of HS6, 5.3grs of CFE Pistol
    I have tested and chronographed CFE Pistol at 5.0 grains with 158 grain boolits in my 6" revolvers and got 950fps average with excellent accuracy. This is my favorite full power load.

  17. #17
    Boolit Master Texas by God's Avatar
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    If it's a good price, buy it and don't hot rod it.
    It bit you because they are great revolvers for target &small game.
    If you want to see how good you are with a handgun- the K38 will tell you.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk

  18. #18
    Boolit Master
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    I'm going to jump on board with everyone else telling you to avoid shooting +P loads in a S&W model 14.

    The model 14 is a fine target gun, perhaps one of the best factory target DA revolvers ever made. Please do not abuse that gun.

    If you really need speed (and I don't know what the attraction is) get a magnum revolver.

  19. #19
    Boolit Master quail4jake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Texas by God View Post
    If it's a good price, buy it and don't hot rod it.
    It bit you because they are great revolvers for target &small game.
    If you want to see how good you are with a handgun- the K38 will tell you.

    Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
    Ditto that! There's nothing like that K 38, mine is a 1972 and was worked at the S&W performance shop. I tried using a soft wadcutter tuned up to about 800 fps on groudhogs, it makes 'em spin, doesn't jelly 'em like the XTP but they don't run either!

  20. #20
    Boolit Man
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    Western powders have recipe on their website with 158gr LSWC making 1000+ fps with True Blue out of 7.5" barrel with listed pressure of 16460 PSI.

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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