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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have seen quite a bit of internet lore out there stating the snub nosed .357 mag is impractical as too much velocity is lost to the short barrel. I have chronographed short barreled .357's in the past and have found many of these claims to be exaggerated. I recently picked up another snubby SP101, lnib, at a price I couldn't pass up. So I decided to clock some loads to see how she fares. I figured I'd document my findings this time for everyone's reference.

I have always wanted a spurless model and have carried these little revolvers quite a bit. They have to be some of my favorite guns. Anyhow, it was a cold day today, 15 deg F, but I managed to gather some data from the chronograph.

In short, yes some velocity will be lost with the snubby's shorter barrel, but as the numbers below show, the .357 snubby still produces velocities well within magnum territory. I don't know how temperature sensitive the loads I used are, but I have previously found cold weather typically tends to lower velocity numbers so keep that in consideration. As far as shootibility goes, I find the magnum SP101's recoil no less manageable than that of a S&W 642 with 158 gr +p loads.

Here's the little bugger with the big bark:



And the results:

SP101 2.25" barrel, B/C gap measures about .007-.008

Remington UMC 125 gr jhp, 5 shots:
1263
1250
1241
1303
1284
Avg:
1268 fps
446 fpe

American Eagle 158 gr jsp, 5 shots:
1076
1076
1055
1077
1057
Avg:
1068 fps
400 fpe

Handload - 16.7 gr H110 w/ 158 gr Hornady XTP:
1112
1076
1067
1077
1087
Avg:
1083 fps
412 fpe

S&W SD9VE 4" barrel 9mm for reference

Federal Aluminium 115 gr fmj, 15 shot
Avg:
1161 fps
344 fpe

Hope any folks interested in these fine revolvers find this data useful.
 

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Good for you, Andy. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that the 357 mag is no better than a 38 +P in a snub nose, I could probably buy another snub-nose. Have no issue with those that prefer the 38 for its lower recoil and muzzle blast - those are valid issues in a small revolver - but a 38 is not a 357.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Good for you, Andy. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard that the 357 mag is no better than a 38 +P in a snub nose, I could probably buy another snub-nose. Have no issue with those that prefer the 38 for its lower recoil and muzzle blast - those are valid issues in a small revolver - but a 38 is not a 357.
Exactly! There is just no comparison with the .38 +p. If I recall correctly, I was getting about 735 fps out of my old S&W 642 using Remington's 158 gr +p lswchp's. And that little revolver stung the hand pretty fierce with those. Aside from being easier to carry in the pocket, I'll take my SP101 any day over the Airweight j frames. The magnum's muzzle blast is pretty stout, but the recoil is actually not bad at all out of the heavier Ruger. And that's with the factory grips. I have the Hogue monogrip on my 4.2" SP101 and it really helps tame the recoil even more. Just can't go wrong with an SP101!
 

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I'm with you. Much prefer steel frames to alloy frames in this class of gun, even though I take a bit of a hit on the weight. Definitely makes for a more shootable gun for me even with the 38s and, of course, the 357s. Personal call, of course, on how much weight versus how easy to shoot you want in a gun.

I also went with Hogues on my SP in 357 for taming recoil a bit with heavy 357s. Really helps.
 

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Buffalo Bore 38 Spl +P 158 gr LSWC-HP/GC's chronied 1,037 FPS in my 2 1/4" SP. I imagine their 357 ammo would be in the 1,200 FPS + range.

I agree with the OP the loss of velocity isn't as significant as some make it out to be.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Buffalo Bore 38 Spl +P 158 gr LSWC-HP/GC's chronied 1,037 FPS in my 2 1/4" SP. I imagine their 357 ammo would be in the 1,200 FPS + range.

I agree with the OP the loss of velocity isn't as significant as some make it out to be.
BB lists their 158 gr .357 load @ 1398 fps from a 3" model 60. I have found the often stated estimate of 50 fps loss of velocity per inch less of barrel length to be a pretty reasonable predicition so I would not be surprised if this load easily broke 1300 fps from a 2.25" sp101. I'd love to get a hold of what ever powder they use!
 

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Thanks for posting that.

I wonder how much speed the temperature might have stolen? I've had rifle velocities sap a hundred fps in very cold temps. I was never ambitious enough to clock handgun velocities at 15 degrees, but it likely takes a bit of velocity.

I've checked .38 snub speeds from time to time in my M36's and my M637. The numbers are all over the place, and can vary by as much as 100fps. Just as interesting, some loads are faster in one gun than they are in another. I don't see much evidence in my small collection that one 2" barrel is faster or slower than the other. Just different.

.38's in any flavor never get within 200fps of a .357 load bullet for bullet.
 

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What does the group think or better have had experience with Speer 135 grain Gold Dot in a SP101 357 Magnum with a 2.25”barrel.

The powders Speer recommends are:

See page 806 in Speer #15 Manual (Short Barrel Velocities using a S&W Model 19 2.5”)

Accurate No. 9
Hodgdon H110
Alliant 2400
Alliant Power Pistol
Winchester 296
Alliant Unique
Vihtavuori 3N37

I have some Unique but which powder optimizes performance without excessive muzzle blast (wasted powder).
 

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Thanks for the data, I have a 3" Sp101 in 357. I need to get my chrony out.
 

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Thanks for the info. The +P .38 Spl doesn't even come close to the .357 in velocities. The difference is significant. I much prefer the extra heft of the SP101 over a flyweight S&W. I carry the 2.25" SP101 in my right front pocket 12 hrs a day and it's no problem at all.

135gr Speer GD .357 in the SP101
 

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Gold Dot SB 357 load doing 1072 out of my Kimber K6 2" Accurate round and easy to shoot at speed.

Remington Golden Saber 125 grain reduced velocity (read short barrel) 1126 out of the same Kimber K6 2".

Both loads are accurate and very usable in snubbies. Hope this helps.
 

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Remington HTP 125 grain SJHP in my 2.25" SP101, a total of 15 rounds over 3 sessions, overall average currently is 1275 fps.
This particular load I've been looking at recently - a 500rnd case is pretty reasonably priced which more easily allows for training with the carry ammo.

Thanks for the info. Anyone know the velocities of the old school green/yellow box .357 Rem 158gr SJHP in a 2.25" SP101? I'm debating the 125gr vs the 158gr...
 

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I got my Chrony out yesterday. I've settled on my load, 125gr FMJHP over 9gr of Unique. It averaged at 1260 out of my SP101 with 3 inch barrel. The opinion of faster powders with shorter barrels certainly is fact.
 
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