(There was also a +P+ factory load for a while, but SAAMI doesn’t list a +P+ pressure level and the Federal, Remington and Winchester websites don’t list any such loads. Or at least I can’t find them. Life used to be easy when gun stores offered stacks of free catalogs with simple tables, but major ammo makers apparently hate user-friendly websites.)

Most .357-diameter handgun bullets are designed for .357 Magnum velocities, so won’t expand at lower velocities, though Speer offers a special 135-grain Gold Dot Short Barrel bullet. I couldn’t find any for the handload testing but data for the 140-grain bullet used will work.

GUNS publisher and American Handgunner editor Roy Huntington was a cop back when the .38 Special ruled. He likes heavier lead bullets, whether semi-wadcutters or real wadcutters. The “FBI load,” a hollowpoint 158-grain made of very soft lead, is also an option. I have a supply of Speer’s discontinued swaged 158-grain hollowpoints, but decided to hoard them rather than punch holes in paper, substituting bullets cast with my very first mold, the revered Lyman 358156.

The handloads were gleaned from a bunch of sources, and shot in three revolvers. Milder loads were mostly tested in an older stainless Rossi 88 with a 3-inch barrel, originally belonging to my stepfather-in-law. After “Doc” passed away, my wife Eileen and I were visiting her mother, an anti-gunner from New York City. One morning she entered the living room holding the Rossi by the very end of the butt and asked, “Can you get rid of this?”