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Hot Loads in a K Frame?

Discussion in 'The Wheelhouse' started by District18, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. I've heard it before, don't run a lot of hot loads through a K frame, but I was wondering if anyone here has. Specifically I have a model 65 ladysmith 3". I'm wondering how hot can I go without trashing my gun? Are Buffalo Bores heavy .357 loads out of the question?
  2. CanMan

    CanMan Silver Member

    Jun 15, 2012
    in flagrante

    I haven't put a lot of 'hot loads' through my Model 19, but then again I'm not a real fan of max/hot loads anyway. I don't think a moderate diet of the hot stuff will hurt anything. Let forcing cone and top strap erosion be the limiting factor...the hotter the load, the more it's gonna happen. Recoil usually dictates the number of hot loads I want to shoot! :wavey:

  3. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    I too shoot/carry a 3' 65 among several "K" frames and have been shooting some since the '70s. I paid close attention to this issue when it was a "current" topic. I have explained it a coouple dozen times and have finally come to a "simple explanation that saves me time, to wit:

    The problem arises with 125 gn and lighter bullets driven at magnum velocities since these projectiles lack the momentum to transition from cylinder to forcing cone in a smooth" manner. They tend to hesitate in the forcing cone until the pressure "bumps" them on their way. This puts pressure on the forcing cone it was not intended to absorb. That coupled with the flat taken off the bottom of the forcing cone increase the potential for cracking. It also explains the flame cutting of the topstrap as the pressure vents at the cylinder gap.

    The heavier 158 gn bullets seem to transition smoother and are far less prone to this issue.

    Many people have argued this, but it is easy for someone who reloads to test the theory.

    Given the range from low .38 loads to top .357 loads it is easy to find a load of a favorite powder that is safe for both 125 gn and 158 gn bullets (final velocity is unimportant.) load a few cases with each bullet weight and the same amount of powder behind both and then have someone else fire them on a darkened range while you observe the flash at the barrel/cylinder gap. If the explanation (theory) is incorrect there should be no difference between the flash, but if it is correct it will be obvious. (BTW I suggest 2400 for the powder, it gives a very satisfactory demonstration of the principle.)
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2012
  4. Thanks guys for the input.
  5. gunsmoke92


    Jul 22, 2005
    Rigby, Idaho
    countrygun and CanMan have given you a lot of good information.

    Now let me try and give you some more concerning your last question. The last thing I would run through any K frame is Buffalo Bore. Don't get me wrong, Buffalo Bore is great ammo, if you're sporting an L or N frame Smith, or a Ruger. You need to understand that the K frames were originally .38s modified to accept the new .357 cartridge, hence the flat undercut in the forcing cone area which allowed for installation of the larger crane and cylinder. The completely redesigned L frame guns corrected that weakness. Get one of those if you're really into "hot" loads, save your K frame for something a little more pleasant and it will serve you well for many years to come.
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2012
  6. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    I would never run Buffalo Bore through a K frame.
  7. 2afreedom


    May 6, 2007
    The South
    One of the reasons I picked up a 686 SSR was that I didn't want to run a bunch of hot loads through my 65 and 19. They ain't makin em any more and I want to be shooting them for a lifetime. Jordan designed these guns to shoot .38 and carry .357. If you want to go hot, the L frame (686) will stand up to the heavier loads without being much bigger.
  8. ss30378


    Mar 14, 2012
    Brian Pearce wrote a nice little write up in handloader mag about running performance loads in the k frame. They have a long cylinder and he used that to create very close to full pressure performance while keeping pressures in the mid 20k range.