Review of Georgia Arms .38 Special Loads

Discussion in 'Gun and Product Reviews' started by Stephen A. Camp, Oct 8, 2008.

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  1. Stephen A. Camp

    Stephen A. Camp Member

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    Jul 14, 2008
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    Hello. Like many other folks, the rather substantial ammunition price increases in recent times used to make me gnaw a cigar nearly in two, but since I quit them back in February, I now just have to grit my teeth! (If I have to give up coffee, too, life will not be worth living and I STILL want my cigars!)

    Realizing that such actions gain nothing, I began handloading more but also decided to try some other ammunition sources. Cutting to the chase, I bought some of what Georgia Arms calls "canned heat" in several calibers and loads, including .38 Special. I bought mine in 500 and 1000 round batches and comes in very nice GI-type ammunition cans that can certainly be reused.

    I noticed that while the cases appear shiney and new, there are different headstamps on them so I think that cases have been shot before and expertly cleaned and resized. One would need to check with Georgia Arms about that.

    Over the past several months, I have tried three of this company's .38 Special loads. They are:

    125-gr. "Cowboy" Load (Cast Flat Point), which is listed at 750 ft/sec
    158-gr. CSWC, which is listed at 775 ft/sec
    158-gr PSWC, which is actually a Plated Flat Point, which is listed at 800 ft/sec.

    Chronographing from a 4" S&W Model 64 on a previous range visit resulted in these 10-shot average velocities and Std. Deviations.

    125-gr. CFP: 766 ft/sec with a SD of 21 ft/sec
    158-gr. LSWC: 794 ft/sec with a SD of 12 ft/sec
    158-gr. CFP: 821 ft/sec with a SD of 13 ft/sec

    Today I shot the 158-gr. PFP and the "Cowboy Load" from my 4" S&W Model 64-1. I would have shot the 158-gr. CSWC except that I forgot and left the bag of that ammo on my bench! (It has shot nicely for me in the past, however.)
    SWM64gray1jpg.jpg
    This Model 64-1 was used in today's shooting. This picture was taken at a different time with GA's 158-gr. LSWC next to the revolver. I don't guess this old thing is "tactical" enough these days, but I like them.

    GA38AmmoModel64010-1.jpg
    Here are the two loads tried today. LOA for the 125-gr. load is 1.435" while the 158-gr. plated load measures 1.414".

    The first run of the day was what law enforcement firearm instructor, Jim Higginbotham, refers to as a "standard controllability test". To do this, the handgun is held at a low-ready in a two-hand hold and on the buzzer, one fires 5 shots onto a folded sheet of 8 1/2 x 11" paper, ie: a target sized 4 1/4 x 5 1/2". I didn't use that but rather a target I normally use at 25 yards. To "pass" the time required must be under 2 seconds with all shots within the target. Distance is 5 yards.

    GA38AmmoModel64007.jpg
    This was the first "group" fired today. I tried this a couple of more times with results that were very similar. Though not quite as hot as my usual "carry load" (Remington 158-gr. LHP +P), the times were very, very close.

    GA38AmmoModel64004.jpg
    At 15-yards, GA's 125-gr. CFP grouped nicely enough but POI is just below POA in my fixed-sighted Model 64, not something to be unexpected as these revolvers do seem to be sighted in for 158-gr. ammunition.

    GA38AmmoModel64006.jpg
    25-yard groups with the same ammo producted very similar results with respect to POI being lower than POA.

    GA38AmmoModel64002.jpg
    The 158-gr. plated load was dead-bang "on" for me at both 15 and 25 yards.

    GA38AmmoModel64005.jpg
    All groups except for the controllability drill were fired with my wrists braced and double-action, though I did "stage" the trigger pull for each shot. I am sure that the ammunition groups better than I am able to take advantage of. I am only guessing, but it has to be a safe bet that the ammo/gun combination are capable of MUCH smaller groups than the ones shown here.

    Neither on this range trip nor several others has any of the GA reloaded ammunition (in any caliber) failed to fire, produced any squibs or otherwise proved less than satisfactory.

    The cast loads "smoke" like any others using lube on the bullet and more than the plated loads but no more than my own handloads using lubed cast bullets.

    "Are they clean shooting?"

    This question is one frequently asked.

    My answer is that my gun gets dirty when I shoot them but it does this with any load. I've fired about 300 GA cast loads through this .38 in a single session and it never "gummed up" or caused any malfunctions.

    To me, that's clean enough. I have noted no undue leading when cleaning my revolver barrels after shooting GA's cast bullet loads.
    If, for whatever reasons, might be wanting to load up on ammunition, Georgia-Arms' products might be worth taking a hard look at. If interested, they can be found here:

    www.georgia-arms.com

    (I am in no way affiliated with Georgia Arms, make no money from them and buy their products from them at the same prices shown on their site. I simply think that they are offering shooters good ammunition.)

    Whether or not this is accurate enough for formal bullseye competition, I cannot say. It could be in some guns but I didn't have access to a mechanical rest and I cannot shoot good enough to tell. It has proven itself accurate enough for my use.

    I'll be buying more.

    Best.
     


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