Buffalo Bore 357 short barrel ammo

This is a discussion on Buffalo Bore 357 short barrel ammo within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Does anyone have much experience with Buffalo Bore's short barrel low flash, low recoil 357 ammo? ...or how it compares to Speers' Gold Dot 135 ...

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Thread: Buffalo Bore 357 short barrel ammo

  1. #1
    Member Array hbc's Avatar
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    Buffalo Bore 357 short barrel ammo

    Does anyone have much experience with Buffalo Bore's short barrel low flash, low recoil 357 ammo? ...or how it compares to Speers' Gold Dot 135 gr. short barrel 357 ammo, or other manufacturers' (e.g., Hornady) short barrel 357 ammo? My impression is that the BB short barrel 357 loadings are somewhat hotter than those of other manufacturers, but I may be wrong.

    Another question... is there a generally agreed upon optimal weight or weight range for a 357 mag self-defense round fired from a light snubbie? I've seen folks advocating for everything from 100 grain to 158 grain. My sense is that this is a personal preference matter (related to recoil tolerance, etc.), but are there substantive/valid reasons for choosing a lighter versus heavier bullet weight, or vice versa?

    Thanks in advance,
    HBC

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  3. #2
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    It's personal preference no matter what the "generally agreed" will try to tell you.

    I like 158 grain loads in .357 Magnum but I don't habitually carry the cartridge for self-defense purposes.
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    Member Array Archie's Avatar
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    I have no direct experience with Buffalo Bore ammunition in any form. I do my own. They seem to have a good reputation.

    No, there is no 'generally accepted weight range' for snubbies. There are two main camps in the discussion; the 'heavy bullet is better in all cases' camp (of which I am one) and the 'lighter bullets go faster and have less recoil' camp, which has many adherents as well.

    I honestly think - from my experience, study and experimentation with loading and shooting things other than humans - the heavy bullet is superior in defense use. I find I am not particularly recoil sensitive, either.

    On the other hand, there are light bullet .357 Magnum loads that do much better than 9x19 loadings with the same weight and style bullet and people are convinced they are the answer.

    You're going to have to shoot some yourself, do more reading and make up your own mind. In the final analysis, you'll want the highest horsepower (as you think matters) loading you can reliably shoot accurately. Any hit is better than any miss. (But a hit with a BIG round is better than a hit with a dinky round.)
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    Comparing apples to apples with the same bullet caliber, type, weight, style and load (standard or +p), Speer Gold Dot is pretty tough to equal or better in velocity except in specalty rounds such as Buffalo Bore - which is pretty tough to better with anything other than risky wildcat handloads. But, with the average Buffalo Bore round usually going for over a buck a pop, they're not ones to go out and burn up a few hunderd at the range. I carry nothing but BB +p in my CC pistols since I want all the stroke I can get if I have to use it for self defense, but only the Gold Dots are close enough in velocity and recoil to do reasonable-priced, reasonably-comparitive close-range practice with.

    However, low recoil, low flash, rounds tailored for very short barrels are generally using faster burning powder and lighter loads since all the burning has to be finished before the bullet leaves the short barrel. So, comparing any brand of low recoil/low flash round with a standard factory load isn't going to be "apples to apples".

    Maybe someone here has already done so or knows of a related link, but I've always wondered if the tailored "short barrel" rounds (not of the low recoil/low flash type) actually produce as good a velocity from a short barrel gun than a standard round would produce (even though there is some loss of energy from the slower burning powder of a standard round not being fully burned before bullet exit). Guess a future project will be setting up my chrono and comparing some "shortie specials" with standard ammo and identical bullets just for S&Gs. This sounds more like a project for Tangle

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    VIP Member Array dawei's Avatar
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    I agree with Archie, and am of the heavier projectile school. ALL fixed sight 38 Special and 357 Magnum revolvers are regulated to have a POA/POI with 158gr ammunition. By all I mean Charter®, Colt®, Rossi®, Ruger®, Smith & Wesson®, and Taurus®. Back in the day the 357 Magnum was regulated with 158gr ammo at 1450fps. Today almost all 357 Magnum 158gr ammunition is loaded to a more sedate 1250fps. Federal® and Remington® load 125gr ammunition to 1450fps. This 125gr load is what gave the 357 Magnum the awesome reputation as a one shot stop man stopper. The full tilt 125gr load is a bear for recoil however in a snub nose (1⅞-2½" barrel) 357. If you decide to carry 125gr ammo in your 357 snubby I recommend the Remington® Golden Saber® at 1220fps (4" barrel). For me personally however I carry the Speer® 158gr Gold Dot®. I carry this load because it is the most accurate in my guns; and, validates my personal belief that heavier is better. YMMV however.
    Last edited by dawei; February 23rd, 2012 at 11:10 AM.
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    I have tried and use all 3 buffalo bore low flash-tactical .357 magnum offerings in my magnums, for my model 66 snubby I use the 158 gr load.
    "Don't start none, won't be none!"

  8. #7
    Member Array Archie's Avatar
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    More about short barrel loads.

    The other issue in this is that of 'short barrel' loads.

    I've been reloading for over thirty years now. I've had a chronograph of one form or other for over twenty years and I've chronographed hundreds if not thousands of rounds. One aspect of reloading that fascinates me is how the same load performs in more than one firearm.

    I've never seen a case where the 'fastest' load in a six or four inch gun was not the 'fastest' load in a two inch gun. In other words, a 'slow' powder load - properly developed and operating at proper pressure levels - always outruns a 'fast' powder load - properly developed and operating at proper pressure levels; regardless of the barrel length. At the price of Buffalo Bore rounds, I've never opted to buy some and pull them apart to determine what sort of powder charge is involved. I doubt if it is a fast burning powder - and I could be wrong.

    Please note I specified "properly developed and operating at proper pressure levels". I know some nitwit is going to argue a .38 Special full of H1000 and a 125 grain bullet is not as fast as the same case and bullet with a proper load of Unique. (If there's anyone who thinks H1000 powder is properly developed and operating at proper pressure levels in a .38 Special, he or she should get rid of all reloading equipment and go back to video gaming.)

    There is a place for 'low flash' loads. I understand this is accomplished by powder additives that prevent the muzzle flash of many powders. I have never worked with this concept and frankly don't know much about the technique. The materials are not accessible to handloaders on a routine basis, to the best of my knowledge. If someone knows better, please speak up. (I'd like to find out more about it.)

    Also on the subject: Muzzle flash does NOT indicate powder is still burning after the projectile leaves the barrel. Muzzle flash is a secondary effect caused by the temperature of the propellent gases meeting the atmosphere. Again, I don't really remember all of the explanation at the moment. However, all the high level ballasticians agree the powder burns within the first couple inches of bullet travel; even in rifles. AND, there are always some powder kernels that never burn, even in small charges of fast powder.
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    You da man, Archie!

    FWIW I've asked Ruger what they use for test firing the LCR (mine is a .357). The answer I got was "124 gr +P". This may have been the ammo du juor but that's what they told me.

  10. #9
    Member Array Ivan's Avatar
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    I've been using the BB 158 gr. .357 load for awhile now in my 640. I like it better than the Hornady Critical Defense that I had originally tried. I think the recoil is a bit reduced, but it is still a stout load and will get your attention when you use it! Follow up shots are not bad and I have found it to be an accurate load for my gun and my shooting ability. I like that it has actual gun test data on the BB web site and it appears to be a well thought out load.

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    Distinguished Member Array Fitch's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Archie;2177103]The other issue in this is that of 'short barrel' loads.

    I've been reloading for over thirty years now. I've had a chronograph of one form or other for over twenty years and I've chronographed hundreds if not thousands of rounds. One aspect of reloading that fascinates me is how the same load performs in more than one firearm.

    I've never seen a case where the 'fastest' load in a six or four inch gun was not the 'fastest' load in a two inch gun. /[QUOTE]



    <snip>

    However, all the high level ballasticians agree the powder burns within the first couple inches of bullet travel; even in rifles.
    That last sentence is simply not true. Rifles reach peak pressure within the first couple of inches of bullet travel, but the powder, depending on the load optimization almost always burns till the bullets are near the muzzle unless it's an intentional subsonic load, and in some cases it doesn't all burn. Using powder fast enough to burn within the first couple of inches of bullet travel would result in remarkably slow muzzle velocities or blow the rifle apart. Rifles get their high velocities because the powder burns to maximize the average pressure over the length of the barrel. That means some of it is still burning to evolve gasses and minimize pressure drop as the bullet increases the internal pressurized volume by moving down the barrel.

    Fitch
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  12. #11
    Member Array Archie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archie
    However, all the high level ballasticians agree the powder burns within the first couple inches of bullet travel; even in rifles.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fitch
    That last sentence is simply not true. Rifles reach peak pressure within the first couple of inches of bullet travel, but the powder, depending on the load optimization almost always burns till the bullets are near the muzzle unless it's an intentional subsonic load, and in some cases it doesn't all burn. Using powder fast enough to burn within the first couple of inches of bullet travel would result in remarkably slow muzzle velocities or blow the rifle apart. Rifles get their high velocities because the powder burns to maximize the average pressure over the length of the barrel. That means some of it is still burning to evolve gasses and minimize pressure drop as the bullet increases the internal pressurized volume by moving down the barrel.
    Fitch, I suggest you do some reading on the subject. One of the most germane treatments of the subject is Firearms Pressure Factors by Lloyd Brownell, PhD. I got my copy from Wolfe Publishing a few years ago.

    I'm sorry to say, but you are wrong. All the powder (that will burn) in a given load burns in the first bit of barrel travel. There is a lag in the pressure cycle, but it's pretty much all gone in the first third or so of barrel travel. You are correct in that some powder simply doesn't burn. It is not because those kernels of powder are the ones 'left over' at the muzzle when the bullet leaves and pressure drops. One notes unburnt powder kernels even in small charges of 'fast' pistol powders. I will even agree with you that the idea of powder burning all the way down the barrel is intuitive - it should be that way. But it isn't.

    You are also correct in your statement about '...average pressure over the length of the barrel...' This is accomplished by selecting a slower burning powder. However, the difference between 'fast' and 'slow' powder is measured in thousandths of a second. In common language, t'aint much. In looking at pressure curves, the pressure is at 'average' in only two points of the curve - once on the upstroke and again on the downstroke. The best one can do to spread out the average is to lengthen the horizontal stretch (time) of the pressure curve.

    Now I'll qualify and back up a bit. There are instances where powder does not all burn in the initial pressure phase. This is the instance of a powder charge being loaded lower than the proper burning range for the powder. One notes lots of smudging, a good amount of either unburnt or poorly burnt kernels and a rather disappointing report and velocity of the projectile. This is not the desired effect or result.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archie View Post
    ...

    Now I'll qualify and back up a bit. There are instances where powder does not all burn in the initial pressure phase. This is the instance of a powder charge being loaded lower than the proper burning range for the powder. One notes lots of smudging, a good amount of either unburnt or poorly burnt kernels and a rather disappointing report and velocity of the projectile. This is not the desired effect or result.
    Make some loads for chillins do ya, Archie?

    My Uncle tried bunny loads on me. Even a pre pubescent boy can tell the difference when he's standing between a mighty Anaconda and a long barreled S&W .357.

    I wouldn't go for it. I stood my ground and demanded my manly guns and a Metit Badge to boot!

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    Distinguished Member Array Fitch's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Archie View Post
    Fitch, I suggest you do some reading on the subject. One of the most germane treatments of the subject is Firearms Pressure Factors by Lloyd Brownell, PhD. I got my copy from Wolfe Publishing a few years ago.

    I'm sorry to say, but you are wrong. All the powder (that will burn) in a given load burns in the first bit of barrel travel. There is a lag in the pressure cycle, but it's pretty much all gone in the first third or so of barrel travel.
    You are correct, I was wrong. I was mis-understanding what was happening. Slower powder does take longer to burn, and will burn farther up the barrel, but it is apparently burned in the first third or less. In fairness, you must admit it takes longer than the first couple of inches in a rifle barrel, especially something like a .300WinMAG that has so much powder in it, but it is apparently less than half the barrel.

    Pistol cartridges are capacity limited and will frequently have the same powder charge and powder type for max velocity regardless of barrel length. Not necessarily true for high capacity rifle cartridges. In QuickLoad, the closest thing I have to a lab at the moment, a .300 WinMAG shooting a 180g Accubond out of a 24" barrel @ ~3,000 fps optimizes with something like 77 or 78g of RL25, same cartridge, same bullet, 6" barrel, optimizes with something like 45g of a much faster powder, AA5744. The pressure peak occurrs at 1.7" of bullet travel with the faster powder, 2.8" with the slower powder. The slower powder is burning farther down the barrel than the faster powder, but I have no data on how much farther.

    The rifle cartridge powder puff load (and sometimes the subsonic load problem) problem has been hypothesized to be powder that burns very late just a bit before the bullet exits the barrel resulting in a second pressure peak that is very high. Some folks claim this phenomena is responsible for some pretty spectacular barrels bursting near the muzzle.

    Fitch
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    I did some testing this weekend and thought I would pass the results along, I also posted these results on another forum.
    I used a 2.25" Ruger SP101, 3.125" Ruger SP101, and a 6" GP100.

    All ammo tested was new, Factory ammo, 76 degrees, 750' above sea level. Used Chrony at 10' from muzzle.

    Speer Gold Dot 135gr Short Barrel 357 Mag. Nice reduced power 357 w/reduced flash.
    2" 1043 fps, 326 ft-lbs
    3" 1138 fps, 388 ft-lbs (almost 100fps more)
    6" 1227 fps, 451 ft-lbs


    Hornady 140gr XTP - Full power 357 Mag loads.
    2" 1162 fps, 420 ft-lbs
    3" 1304 fps, 529 ft-lbs (large gain)
    6" 1422 fps, 629 ft-lbs


    Buffalo Bore 140gr Standard Velocity Short Barrel/low flash ammo
    2" 1154 fps, 414 ft-lbs
    3" 1196 fps, 445 ft-lbs (small gain)
    6" 1330 fps, 550 ft-lbs


    Speer 125gr GD HP
    2" no data, fired in 3" by mistake
    3" 1286 fps, 459 ft-lbs
    6" 1502 fps, 627 ft-lbs

    Reviewing the numbers, with a 2", any of the loads should get the job done. I pack with the Speer Short Barrels and BB's. Less blast than the 125's or the 140gr Hornady.
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    Over 1000 fps out of a snubby is some serious THWACK!

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