Georgia Arms 38 Spec 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: Informal test

Georgia Arms 38 Spec 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: Informal Test

This is a discussion on Georgia Arms 38 Spec 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: Informal Test within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Hello. "Gomer," a gentleman who posts here at The High Road contacted me some weeks back concerning Georgia Arms' commercially reloaded .38 Special ammunition and ...

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Thread: Georgia Arms 38 Spec 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: Informal test

  1. #1
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    Georgia Arms 38 Spec 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: Informal test

    Hello. "Gomer," a gentleman who posts here at The High Road contacted me some weeks back concerning Georgia Arms' commercially reloaded .38 Special ammunition and asked if I'd ever tried it. I responded that I had not. He generously sent me 25 rounds of this ammunition for informal penetration & expansion testing as well as for chronograph checking from a J-frame's 1 7/8" barrel and a 4" if possible.

    He bought the ammunition at nominal cost compared to factory new ammunition and it was described as being +P and rated at 900 ft/sec and 284 ft-lbs. of kinetic energy.


    The two test guns for today's informal tests were an S&W Model 642 and a 4" heavy bbl Model 10.

    With a limited amount of ammunition, here is how I decided to use it.

    One 5-shot group with each revolver for a total of 10 shots fired.
    3 shots from each revolver into wetpack for a total of 6 shots fired.
    4 shots over the chronograph from the Model 642
    5 shots over the chronograph from the Model 10

    Certainly this is not an extensive scientific test, but it gives a general idea of what might be expected from similar revolvers.

    As is my usual protocol in making expansion test media, I soaked newsprint for 24 hours and then drained it 30 minutes before shooting.

    Shooting: One target was fired at 15 yards from a rest and in single-action with the Model 10. Another target was shot standing and with a two-hand hold using the Model 642 at 7 yards.


    At 7 yards, the Georgia Arms ammunition grouped nicely from the S&W snub.


    Likewise, at 15 yards, this ammunition proved itself capable of very nice grouping.

    Penetration:

    Three shots of the Georgia Arms 158-gr. LSWCHP +P was fired into the super-saturated newsprint from both a snub 1 7/8" bbl and the common 4" service bbl of the larger Model 10. Shooting was done approximately 5' from the target. I thought it might be of interest to see how some of the other often-recommended snub 38 loads compared so I fired my stand-by, Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P, as well as Speer's 135-gr. Gold Dot +P and Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P. Three rounds of these were also fired.

    Here are the average penetration depths measured for rounds fired from the Model 642:

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 9 1/2"
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 8 1/2"
    Speer 135-gr. GD +P: 7 1/2"
    Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P: 8"

    From the 4" Model 10 I only used the two LSWCHP +P loads because the DPX and GD were engineered for short bbl's and my supply is extremely limited on each.

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 7 1/2"
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 7 1/2"

    Expansion:

    From the snub the average expanded diameters were:

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.36" (No expansion from any of the shots fired.)
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.589" x 0.568" x 0.495" tall
    Speer 135-gr. GD +P: 0.545" x 0.543" x 0.432" tall
    Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P: 0.567" x 0.582" x 0.504" tall


    Not surprisingly, the Georgia Arms' unexpanded bullet penetrated deeper than the other loads which did expand from the snub. From left to right: GA, R-P, Corbon, and Speer.

    None of these bullets lost any significant weight after expansion.

    From the 4" S&W Model 10:

    GA 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.568" x 0.540" x 0.503" tall
    R-P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 0.606" x 0.577" x 0.446" tall


    These are from left to right: Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P and two of GA's bullets. All expanded when fired from a 4" revolver.

    Chronograph Results:

    Fired from the 1 7/8" bbl Model 642 the GA averaged 802 ft/sec and had a standard deviation of 17 ft/sec.
    This is almost exactly what I get from the Remington load in most lots. My current lot of Remington is a little hotter and averaged 837 ft/sec from this same gun.

    From the 4", Georgia Arms' 158-gr. LSWCHP +P averaged 897 ft/sec with a standard deviation of 18 ft/sec.

    I think that this is close enough to their advertised 900 ft/sec to say that they are truthfully advertising their listed velocities and it becomes clear that their claim is based on a 4" barrel.

    Observations: None of the 25 shots fired today were difficult to extract nor exhibited any "sticking." Cases were obviously reloaded and from different makers, but the ammunition was both consistent over the chronograph and accurate enough for 99.99% of our needs.

    Its velocity from both the snub and the service-length revolver barrels closely approximated Remington's +P version of this load. I believe that the GA ammunition is in fact +P. Felt recoil is subjective to be sure, but I noted no differences between the Georgia Arms ammunition and the Remington when fired. (Perhaps my hands are not calibrated finely enough?)

    I think that the bullet's used are from Hornady, but am not sure. The shape of the bullet and the small hollow cavity remind me of the old Hornady bullets I used to reload in this design, but they had sort of a waffle pattern on the sides.


    Both the Remington (left) and GA (right) 158-gr. LSWCHP +P bullets were fired into the same test media from the same snub revolver.

    I would not consider this for defensive use from a snub unless I simply wanted inexpensive ammo that mimics the traditional SWC in this bullet weight. From the 4" gun, it does expand…at least for the three shots I fired into wetpack, but I personally think that I'll stick with the Remington in this style bullet from the snub and probably in the 4" as well. The DPX and Gold Dots continue to show promise as new loads for the snub 38's, but I still do not count out the Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P for the snub-nose. These are all choices for the individual user to make.

    Does this mean that I believe that this Georgia Arms' reloaded .38 Special round is useless? No, far from it! I think it would make a peach of a practice load for non-reloaders to use when wanting to practice with something that duplicates POA vs. POI and felt recoil of their carry load…if that happens to be a 158-gr. bullet loaded to +P velocities.

    I want to thank "Gomer" again for his kind gesture in sending me this ammunition and hope that the information here is of interest.

    For folks interested in more information, below is the link for Georgia
    Arms:

    http://www.georgia-arms.com/

    Best.

    PS: If interested, here are results from similar informal tests that might be of interest:

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/3...on%20tests.htm

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/3...mmo%20test.htm


  2. #2
    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    This company is 3 miles from my house. I have used their ammo for range purposes and it is pretty good stuff. I concur with Mr. Camp and would never use this ammo for Self Defense unless it was last ditch.

    Once again a great article Mr. Camp!
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

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    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    I can't speak to the quality of their handgun ammo, but I had such a problem several years ago with some of their rifle ammo, I safely disposed of my unused poertion and never purchased from them again. I bought 250 rds of 7.62x51 (.308) for my Springfield Armory M1A. The gun had hummed with all brands of ammo until I picked up the half case from Georgia Arms. Suddenly I had failures to extract everywhere! The gun would run one or two rounds on a 20rd magazine and I'd get an FTE. I would immediately swap out the ammo for another brand and it would sing without pause. Back to the G.A. stuff and the failures start again. I won't buy ANY ammo from them ever again.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

  4. #4
    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExSoldier
    I can't speak to the quality of their handgun ammo, but I had such a problem several years ago with some of their rifle ammo, I safely disposed of my unused poertion and never purchased from them again. I bought 250 rds of 7.62x51 (.308) for my Springfield Armory M1A. The gun had hummed with all brands of ammo until I picked up the half case from Georgia Arms. Suddenly I had failures to extract everywhere! The gun would run one or two rounds on a 20rd magazine and I'd get an FTE. I would immediately swap out the ammo for another brand and it would sing without pause. Back to the G.A. stuff and the failures start again. I won't buy ANY ammo from them ever again.
    I have never shot the rifle ammo but that doesn't sound good!!! Makes me wonder a little about quality control! And when it comes to quality control and ammo...........
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

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    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday
    I have never shot the rifle ammo but that doesn't sound good!!! Makes me wonder a little about quality control! And when it comes to quality control and ammo...........
    I agree. In fact that's what my friend's all said as well. The 250rds was packaged as loose rounds in one of those little skinny army ammo cans...a thirty caliber ammo can IIRC. I went thru nearly 150 rds of that batch (out of 250) and then I just got scared the ammo was going to damage my gun.
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

  6. #6
    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExSoldier
    I agree. In fact that's what my friend's all said as well. The 250rds was packaged as loose rounds in one of those little skinny army ammo cans...a thirty caliber ammo can IIRC. I went thru nearly 150 rds of that batch (out of 250) and then I just got scared the ammo was going to damage my gun.
    Good call, because in my eyes a Springfield M1A isn't just a gun....it's an investment!!!!

    I don't think that I will use the ammo again after hearing this. I have always felt a little leary about using reloads but I have been lucky with their stuff before. Heck WWB is so cheap at WallyWorld (In 9mm!) I guess it makes sense to stick with the factory loaded stuff.
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

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    VIP Member Array ExSoldier's Avatar
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    Exclamation M1A's RULE!

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc Holliday
    Good call, because in my eyes a Springfield M1A isn't just a gun....it's an investment!!!!
    That statement is just sooooooo true! I have owned two M1A's now and I'm saving up for the SOCOM 16. That original M1A was a base level model with a painted camo stock. Good shooter, but I was a newlywed and we had to pay a huge AMEX bill, so I sold it off. Then later I got a small windfall of cash and picked up an M1A SUPERMATCH and sent it off to ROBAR for some tuning and the application of their NP3 finish inside and ROGARD exterior finish. I topped the piece with the range finding Sheppherd scope. The scope folks needed a specific brand and weight of ammo. After the Georgia Arms debacle, I went the other direction and mandated FEDERAL GOLD MATCH 168gr BTHP. Then I bought 3,000 rds of THAT stuff. This is now my ultra long range SHTF gun. For that rainy day I hope never arrives when I might have to reach out and touch somebody....and given the events of today in the UK that's suddenly a potential reality!
    Former Army Infantry Captain; 25 yrs as an NRA Certified Instructor; Avid practitioner of the martial art: KLIK-PAO.

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    Member Array Lumberjack98's Avatar
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    Great write up and thank you for sharing.
    XD9 Service
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  9. #9
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    Steve - thank you for sharing your work once more.

    Informal your tests may be but they are full of objective comment and ''real world'' assessment. They sure give me immense pleasure to read - plus I know how long it can take to do a series of tests.

    Most interesting how the expansion (or not) was obviously relative to the critical vel' difference thru snub and 4" - so yeah - not a choice for carry but - good to see demonstrated.
    Chris - P95
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  10. #10
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    Hello. Thanks to all for their replies.

    Best.

  11. #11
    Distinguished Member Array Doc Holliday's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ExSoldier
    That statement is just sooooooo true! I have owned two M1A's now and I'm saving up for the SOCOM 16. That original M1A was a base level model with a painted camo stock. Good shooter, but I was a newlywed and we had to pay a huge AMEX bill, so I sold it off. Then later I got a small windfall of cash and picked up an M1A SUPERMATCH and sent it off to ROBAR for some tuning and the application of their NP3 finish inside and ROGARD exterior finish. I topped the piece with the range finding Sheppherd scope. The scope folks needed a specific brand and weight of ammo. After the Georgia Arms debacle, I went the other direction and mandated FEDERAL GOLD MATCH 168gr BTHP. Then I bought 3,000 rds of THAT stuff. This is now my ultra long range SHTF gun. For that rainy day I hope never arrives when I might have to reach out and touch somebody....and given the events of today in the UK that's suddenly a potential reality!

    Sounds like a sweet set up. I have always coveted the M1A but I just can't afford one yet. I am a public educator (Social Studies, High School) like you but I support my wife and two year old son on my salary. Someday I will have a M1A when my ship comes in....perhaps when the wife graduates with her education degree and gets a job. But until then all I can do is drool.........

    My SHTF rifle is a used but not abused Norinco MAK-90. She may be FUGLY but she's got it where it counts! I had a Colt AR but financial difficulties as a newly wed dictated that I sell it off. That was five years ago.
    Why Ike, whatever do you mean? Maybe poker's just not your game Ike. I know! Let's have a spelling contest!

  12. #12
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    Stephen, as always an excellent review. I would like to see a review of some of Georgia Arms new ammunition. I fired a good number of their 180 gr. FMJ in my S&W 1066 this week and found it every bit as good as Winchester or Remington practice ammo for a very good price. I have also fired some of their JHP ammo and have had no problems with it. I am not as close to them as Doc, but was relatively close this week when Artz and I got together to shoot. If their ammo other performs handgun ammo performs as well as this you reviewed did it might be worth a trip to pick up a good supply. They usually have a table set up at some gun shows here in Alabama as well.

    Thanks again for you input.
    George

    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I'm not sure about the universe. Albert Einstein

  13. #13
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    "I think that the bullet's used are from Hornady, but am not sure."

    FYI, I was told by the owner of GA at a gun show that the bullet is made 'in house' by GA.

    valian

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