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I have a buffet of .357 mag ammo in the stockpile, and due to simple availability of what was on the shelf at any given time over the years, I have several boxes of 110 grain cartridges in there. (most is 125 and 158 gr HP and JSP, and some 147 gr FMJ).
I have heard conflicting things about whether or not these 110's are safe to shoot in my pistols, and the eventual wear & tear.
I have older S&W revolvers in N and K frames of 4 and 2,5 inch barrels.
Please explain to me why these are an less than optimal load, and what damage I may be doing to my weapons.
I have seen newer S&W .357's with a warning on the barrel advising against bullet weights below a certain level, but none of my guns carry this warning.

Evidence based opinions welcome.
Thanks in advance
 

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I have never heard or seen anything about 110s tearing up guns. My .357Mag is 32 years old last month though. As a hunter, I have seen comments of tearing up game and not putting amimals down reliably.
 
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Throat erosion... err Flame Cutting top strap or something
Huh?

Given equivalent pressures, lighter bullets have a shorter dwell time to generate gas leakage between the cylinder and forcing cone.
 
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Upper loads of slow burning powder and light bullets tend to increase throat erosion and cutting. Because you end up using more of it with lighter bullets. IE .44mag 180gr with 296/H110. If you are say using a 180gr cast with a mild load of HS6 its not even close to the erosion/cutting, recoil, blast etc.
 

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The 110 grain, and even 125g, loads are much shorter than the 158g projectiles.

Meaning the base of the 110g bullet has left the cartridge case prior to the nose of the bullet entering the forcing cone.

Two issues are believed to to be caused by this.

Number one is flame cutting of the top strap by hot gases.

Number two is the bullet can lose stability when it leaves the case mouth, and it can slam into the forcing cone causing damage.

The K frames were allegedly susceptible to this with hot loads. Some people claim to have fired hundreds upon hundreds, or more, of magnum rounds through their K frames with no ill effects.

Some folks have reported just a few hot magnum loads led to catastrophic failures.

The L frame, 586 & 686 models, were very similar to the K frames in size but the weak areas were beefed up in order to prevent damage from hot loads.

I personally shoot very few magnum rounds through my K frames. And when I do I shoot 158g loads.

Check out S&W forums for more info. The exact causes and theories are still debated even now.

Some believe K frames damaged by magnum ammo had defects in the metallurgy from the factory. And that if the gun is solid when it leaves the factory it will digest all the magnums you can feed it.

Some believe the guns are solid if you shoot .38 special and carry magnums for self defense, shooting a very limited amount of magnum ammo to protect the vulnerable area.

Some blame the Super-vel ammo specifically for all reported issues.

And some blame only hot 110g and/or 125g loads, and believe you can shoot unlimited 158g magnums without damage.

Some claim magnum ammo will stretch the frame and cause timing issues after long term and frequent use.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I choose to shoot very limited magnum from mine, as I mostly practice at the range with my mild and inexpensive hand loads.

I have fired a few dozen magnum loads from it without worry. And I also know the prior owner, whom I bought it from, claims to have shot quite a few boxes of Remington 125g JHP from it.

If you want to buy a 357 for the thrill of shooting hot magnum loads then you should buy a GP100 or a S&W N frame IMO. S&W no longer has the parts nor the gunsmiths to repair the older guns, so most just consider it not worth the risk.

I personally like my K frames and have many that are chambered for 38 only, and I am comfortable carrying +P 38 for self defense.
 

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From what I've read, some combinations of (light/short) bullets and powders can cause failures of the frame or cone. I suspect it's not an issue with others. For example, if you've ever shot factory 125gr Golden Saber .357 rounds, you'd probably conclude this isn't going to be an issue there - they're cream-puffs. However, some of the 125gr 357 loads from "back in the day" (and currently) use much hotter charges with the light bullets, and can really light things up. YMMV

Personally, I run Underwood 158gr +P LSWCHP in my K frames as well as 158gr .357 from various manufacturers. They have plenty of bite and I really don't have to spend time worrying about any of this stuff. But, I prefer heavy bullets in any caliber, so it really isn't a compromise for me.
 

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From what I've read, some combinations of (light/short) bullets and powders can cause failures of the frame or cone. I suspect it's not an issue with others. For example, if you've ever shot factory 125gr Golden Saber .357 rounds, you'd probably conclude this isn't going to be an issue there - they're cream-puffs. However, some of the 125gr 357 loads from "back in the day" (and currently) use much hotter charges with the light bullets, and can really light things up. YMMV

Personally, I run Underwood 158gr +P LSWCHP in my K frames as well as 158gr .357 from various manufacturers. They have plenty of bite and I really don't have to spend time worrying about any of this stuff. But, I prefer heavy bullets in any caliber, so it really isn't a compromise for me.
The Gold Dot magnums are pretty disappointing also.
 

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Page 12 of the S&W Revolver Safety & Instruction Manual, at the end of the warning about selecting ammunition for use in their Ti, Sc & PD series revolvers:
CAUTION: Do not use Magnum loadings with bullet weights of less than 120 grains - This will reduce the possibility of premature erosion in titanium alloy cylinders.
(Checking for bullet pull is discussed elsewhere on that page in the safety manual, regardless of the bullet weight or whether it's .38SPL or Magnum ammunition.)

I've heard someone from the factory explain that this was due to the nature of the powers used in the lighter bullet weight Magnum ammunition and the hotter gasses produced. The lighter (than 120gr) loads could produce the possibility of premature gas erosion in the titanium cylinder throats and on the cylinder face (facing the forcing cone).
https://www.smith-wesson.com/sites/default/files/owners-manuals/S&W_Revolver_Manual_12-15-2014 (1).pdf
 

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I think you are fine with L and N frames. The issue is with lighter .357 bullets in the K frames. I will shoot some full load .357 158 grain through my model 19, but never 125 grains or less.

https://gunblast.com/Butch_MagnumLoads.htm
Even in N-frames will suffer top strap erosion with shorter bullets running hard on slow powders. Even a steady diet of 125 running max will increase flame cutting. Really though, how many full power mag loads do people shoot? At some point the flame cutting diminishes, problem, maybe maybe not. I have put a k-frame out of timimg twice. That was my 1st handgun & I still have it, though today it doesnt see many full power loads.
 
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Winchester White Box 110gr .357mag is all I feed my LCR .357 mag anymore. I’ll let y’all know if it causes any problems.
Though it is probably significantly downloaded from max.
You can probably be fine handloadng 110gr with max loads of a medium burner like Unique & not get erosion. The 110gr wt is just not very efficient imo.
 

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Winchester White Box 110gr .357mag is all I feed my LCR .357 mag anymore. I’ll let y’all know if it causes any problems.
In earlier Magnum (all-steel) revolver days the 110gr JHP Magnum loads often got the reputation of being "powder puff" loads, recoil-wise. They were what someone who was a bit recoil sensitive bought when it came to Magnum loads.

They also acquired the reputation of offering penetration on the shallow end of things (but so did the 110gr +P+ Treasury Load, according to some folks).

Nowadays, when it comes to revolvers that use titanium cylinders, they offer other potential issues.
 

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The 110 grain, and even 125g, loads are much shorter than the 158g projectiles.

Meaning the base of the 110g bullet has left the cartridge case prior to the nose of the bullet entering the forcing cone.

Two issues are believed to to be caused by this.

Number one is flame cutting of the top strap by hot gases.

Number two is the bullet can lose stability when it leaves the case mouth, and it can slam into the forcing cone causing damage.

The K frames were allegedly susceptible to this with hot loads. Some people claim to have fired hundreds upon hundreds, or more, of magnum rounds through their K frames with no ill effects.

Some folks have reported just a few hot magnum loads led to catastrophic failures.

The L frame, 586 & 686 models, were very similar to the K frames in size but the weak areas were beefed up in order to prevent damage from hot loads.

I personally shoot very few magnum rounds through my K frames. And when I do I shoot 158g loads.

Check out S&W forums for more info. The exact causes and theories are still debated even now.

Some believe K frames damaged by magnum ammo had defects in the metallurgy from the factory. And that if the gun is solid when it leaves the factory it will digest all the magnums you can feed it.

Some believe the guns are solid if you shoot .38 special and carry magnums for self defense, shooting a very limited amount of magnum ammo to protect the vulnerable area.

Some blame the Super-vel ammo specifically for all reported issues.

And some blame only hot 110g and/or 125g loads, and believe you can shoot unlimited 158g magnums without damage.

Some claim magnum ammo will stretch the frame and cause timing issues after long term and frequent use.

I think the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

I choose to shoot very limited magnum from mine, as I mostly practice at the range with my mild and inexpensive hand loads.

I have fired a few dozen magnum loads from it without worry. And I also know the prior owner, whom I bought it from, claims to have shot quite a few boxes of Remington 125g JHP from it.

If you want to buy a 357 for the thrill of shooting hot magnum loads then you should buy a GP100 or a S&W N frame IMO. S&W no longer has the parts nor the gunsmiths to repair the older guns, so most just consider it not worth the risk.

I personally like my K frames and have many that are chambered for 38 only, and I am comfortable carrying +P 38 for self defense.
This is the truth!

accuracy in lighter bullet are not anywhere compared to 158gr. Bullets.
 

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you're confusing running ww .38 spl treasury loads through a k frame .38.
 

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I was always under the impression that it was the 125 grain semi jacketed hollow point with an advertised velocity of 1,450 feet per second was the culprit for cracked K-frame forcing cones. That round was just plain mean, and the K-frame magnums were originally designed and intended for magnum use for duty, and wad cutters for everything else. The S&W Combat Magnum (Model 19) came along in 1955 when the .357 magnum rounds were still 158 grains. The Super Vels came in the mid 60s and the hot 125 followed at some point.

I joined the Border Patrol in 1990 when the issued duty load was a 110 grain .357 magnum, with the option of 145 grain Silver Tips for those who wanted to buy their own ammo (only case I’m aware of for the Old Patrol). The use of the 110 grain magnum was fairly recent, which the previous duty load being the .38 Special 110 grain +p+ Treasury Load. The 110 grain magnum supposedly mimicked the ballistics of the Treasury Load. When at the academy, I completed my final qualification with the Treasury Load and wasn’t issued the magnums until I reported to the field. I had a S&W 686, which was pretty immune to any problems that the hot 110s might have caused. On the other hand, there were a few Model 66s still in the field. They were highly desirable, but most were lead-spitting critters due to being out of time. The Border Patrol qualified with duty ammo (74 rounds at a time) four times per year. I don’t know how much the hot Treasury Loads or the Magnums contributed to the problem, however. Most of the agents packing the 66s thought that if they turned their revolver in for maintenance or repairs, they’d get issued any ole Ruger in the pile and might never get their 66 back. For some the 66 was their academy gun.

Anyway, in comparison to the Winchester Silvertips or the 125 grain magnums, I don’t recall that the 110s were all that hot or hard to control, except to maybe a poor shooter. I don’t know how much damage a steady diet of them would cause to a revolver.
 
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