Looking to replicate the "FBI Load" Federal 158gr LSWCHP +P

This is a discussion on Looking to replicate the "FBI Load" Federal 158gr LSWCHP +P within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I was looking to replicate the "FBI Load" or Federal 158gr LSWCHP +P. This ammo is sold by Remington and Winchester, but I would rather ...

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Thread: Looking to replicate the "FBI Load" Federal 158gr LSWCHP +P

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    Member Array arjuna70's Avatar
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    Looking to replicate the "FBI Load" Federal 158gr LSWCHP +P

    I was looking to replicate the "FBI Load" or Federal 158gr LSWCHP +P. This ammo is sold by Remington and Winchester, but I would rather just do this myself.

    I load right now for Bullseye competition in 45ACP and 38spl. I use primarily Bullseye and Clays for powder and Zero Bullets. Any suggestions for bullets and powder? Thanks.
    A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

    CCW: Dan Wesson CBOB ~ Springfield Micro Compact ~ Rohrbaugh R9 Elite ~ S&W 442 ~ Cougar 8000 Model L

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    Member Array arjuna70's Avatar
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    Forgot to add that I find myself carrying my S&W Model 442 most often these days.



    A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

    CCW: Dan Wesson CBOB ~ Springfield Micro Compact ~ Rohrbaugh R9 Elite ~ S&W 442 ~ Cougar 8000 Model L

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    VIP Member Array Majorlk's Avatar
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    Look in the reloading manuals for load that duplicates the desired velocity with that particular bullet. If memory serves, it's about 950 fps or so.
    An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life. - Robert A. Heinlein

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    The old time-honored maximum charge weight of 5.4 grains of Unique, as listed in several different reloading manuals published in bygone days, will duplicate of the "Fedingchester" 158 grain +P loading. When I carry my .38 Special revolvers with handloaded ammunition this is the one I use. This loading is heavier than max Unique charge weights found in current publications but has proved to be "fine" in any of my steel-framed .38 Special revolvers, both old and new, including a J-frame from 1952 and a K-Frame from 1910. Work up to it and load at your own risk.

    Velocities achieved through Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers of various barrel lengths using a 158 grain cast lead semi-wadcutter and 5.4 grains of Unique.

    2-inch: 847 fps
    4-inch: 935 fps
    5-inch: 952 fps
    6-inch: 1021 fps
    8 3/8-inch: 1007 fps



    For even more punch consult older Lyman manuals (the 46th edition or previous) for the loads listed for the 158 grain lead SWC and 2400 powder.

    For yet more punch, and the ultimate in .38 Special power, consult the Speer No. 8 (published 1970, second printing May 1971) manual for the starting load listed for SR 4756 and the 158 grain lead SWC on page 363 of the manual. Ejection was normal in my Smith & Wesson Model 10 Heavy Barrel 4-inch revolver but a third of the primers displayed some cratering out the batch of cartridges loaded. Velocity was 1200 fps with 505 ft/lbs of energy. This load should be in the category of "don't try this at home, kiddies" even though it was once published.

    There is no way I'd be willing to use the 2400 or SR 4756 data as listed in these older publications in an alloy-framed revolver like my S&W Model 642. Other than working them up and testing them I haven't made use of them in my revolvers.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    Member Array arjuna70's Avatar
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    bmcgilvray, thanks a lot for the detailed reply. I'm not familiar with using Unique powder maybe I should try it out. I'm just familar with and use Clays and Bullseye the most.

    How would you compare Unique vs Bullseye or Clays in terms of amount. 4.0 gr or Bullseye or Clays are pretty similar. I find Clays runs a little less dirty than the Bullseye but the accuracy is comparable (in target guns).

    Would you say that the Alloy framed models are not as "resilient" as the Steel models. I'm not trying to blow my hand off, just a solid +P load that I can use for defense purposes. The 442 is rated for 38spl +P loads per Smith&Wesson. Thanks again for the great post.
    A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

    CCW: Dan Wesson CBOB ~ Springfield Micro Compact ~ Rohrbaugh R9 Elite ~ S&W 442 ~ Cougar 8000 Model L

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    Unique is somewhat slower burning than Bullseye or Clays. With the very fast burning powders a "little dab will do ya'." In the .38 Special a 4.0 grain of Bullseye with a 158 grain bullet is over max. A charge of 4.0 grains of Unique would be a plodder with low pressure and sloppy burning characteristics.

    Unique has a reputation for being dirty but it really isn't unless used in minimum charge weights. At least that is what I've found. Since I clean my guns after use so it isn't an issue. So often the powder is blamed for a "dirty" load when it really originated with the bullet lube used on cast bullets. Too much is made of this "dirty" business anyway.

    Here's one version of a chart of burning rates of common propellants. It is relative and one can't just "mix and match" from a powder's position on the chart.


    link: Powder Burn Rates

    The revolvers with aluminum alloy frames have never had the reputation of strength that steel framed revolvers enjoy. That's the price one pays for the convenience of light weight.

    I prefer steel framed revolvers but have a +P rated S&W Model 642. I really feel the .38 Special is still a very effective choice when loaded with standard pressure 158 grain SWC bullets. The +P loads are a small but nice bonus.
    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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    Member Array forestranger's Avatar
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    I used the 5.4 gr Unique load with 158SWC or LHP for many years in steel frame 38s. It was listed as maximum but not +p. A 40+ year old M38 airweight Bodyguard got a "light" load of 5.2 grs for SD loads( no decent 38sp SD ammo back then ). Alliant lists 5.2 gr/158SWC as +p now. The old Bodyguard is still tight so can't tell any harm.

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    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    As far as I know the load uses a soft swaged bullet at what we call +P to provide the expansion to meet the FBI test criteria at that time. A hard cast bullet, HP or not, won't "upset" and expand like the soft swaged bullet at these velocities. I think both Hornaday and Speer offer this bullet in 500 packs with dry lube.
    An easier solution is to buy soft swaged 148 gr. Hollow based wadcutters from the same sources and run them backwards (hollow base forward) at max .38 spec. velocities not +P. I have had some impressive results in wet news print and carried these until the the 125 gr Federal NyClad came on the scene.
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    Member Array arjuna70's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great info. I appreciate the help.
    A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

    CCW: Dan Wesson CBOB ~ Springfield Micro Compact ~ Rohrbaugh R9 Elite ~ S&W 442 ~ Cougar 8000 Model L

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