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Thread: Smith & Wesson 340 and 396 loads

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    Default Smith & Wesson 340 and 396 loads

    I have a 396 .44 Spl and a 340PD .357. The 396 says "Max Bullet 200 grain" and the 340 says "No less than 120 gr bullet".

    Any insight on why these Air Lites are labeled opposit when it comes to heavy bullets? I was told the recoil of heavy loads in the .44 Spl might cause the bullet to "jump crimp" and come out of the case enough to jam the cylinder. If this is the case wouldn't it be just as bad, if not worse in a heavier bullet in the .357?

    How about a heavily crimped case and a heavier hard cast bullet in the .44? This thing weighs less than half of my Dan Wesson .44 Mag, so I was hoping my wife could carry it while we're ATVing. While the lighter bullets are better'n fingernails in a fight with a bear...a heavier cast bullet might even the odds a little more.

    I know a .44 Spl ain't ideal for bear protection, but a .44 Spl in your hand is better than a .45-70 back at the house...and we're more likely to carry something if it's lighter and more comfortable.

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    Thumbs up re:396

    I've had my S&W M396 for about 10 years, and did some research into the "restriction" on bullet weights. S&W told me that the reason for the "restriction" was due to likely crimp jumping, and increased recoil due to heavier bullets. After talking to Tim Sundles of Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I decided to try his "Heavy .44 Special" loading which is a 255 gr. SWC (Keith type) gas checked bullet clocking 984 fps from the 3.25" barrel of a M396. I've now been using that load for about 8 years. I'm very satisfied. The recoil is stout, but manageable. After all this time and about 400 rounds thru the pistol, I'm comfortable with it. And it's the only pistol I carry in the woods. At 21 oz loaded, it goes all the time without notice. And at close range, it should have excellent penetration. (If I were to buy another handgun, it would be the S&W M329, but it would then need to be magnaported and have an action job.)

    I have never had any crimp jumping problems with the Buffalo Bore ammo. I wouldn't shoot it one-handed though. As I said the recoil is stout. And when I shoot it left handed, I inevitably trip the cylinder latch and dump the remaining rounds on the ground. That said, I very much like the pistol/ammo combo. The maximum damage in the minimum package. And I killed a moose with it at about 20 yards several years ago - I originally bought the M396 to protect my dog team from moose in the winter. It'll work.

    I also use Buffalo Bore's 45/70 ammo in my Winchester M1886 EL (repro) ..... 350 gr JFN @ 2150 fps .... described as a "Penetrator Load". I like Mr. Sundle's ammo.

    http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#44spl

    I've owned a number of 44 magnums - 2 Rugers and 2 M29's and a M629 Mountain Gun. they all ended up in the sled bag, on the truck seat, or at home. I found them annoying to wear regularly. With my M396, it's never been an issue. When I need it, it's always there.

    Take a pretty determined lady to shoot the M396 with BB's Heavy 44 Special 255 gr load. My wife prefers her standard weight Ruger 357 4". Perhaps you might let the lady pick a gun that suits her.

    Happy trails.

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    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Default

    [quote=AKRoadkill;272026]I have a 396 .44 Spl and a 340PD .357. The 396 says "Max Bullet 200 grain" and the 340 says "No less than 120 gr bullet".

    I called to ask S&W about the lite weight bullets in the PD 340 and was told the worry was the "short bullet causing erosion of the chambers" .

    Now for the laugh, I asked if then, it would be wrong to shoot .38 spls in the 340. I was told that it was perfectly OK. Go figure, I can't!
    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tryants." (Thomas Jefferson

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    Member AKRoadkill's Avatar
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    Okay then...I was figuring maybe something with the velocity damaging the barrel or something. Methinks yer S&W rep knows not of which he/she speaketh.

    Rick, do you know of any place around town that might have the BB ammo? I make my own .45-70 heavy loads. 440 gr hardcast at 1875 fps out of the Guide Gun.

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    Smile Buffalo Bore....

    I'm in Fairbanks.... BB is sold at Sentry Hardware/Frontier Sporting Goods up here. You'll have to call around in your area. BB does have a distributor in Anchorage, so call BB and ask them for the name.
    Happy Trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKRoadkill View Post
    I have a 396 .44 Spl and a 340PD .357. The 396 says "Max Bullet 200 grain" and the 340 says "No less than 120 gr bullet".

    Any insight on why these Air Lites are labeled opposit when it comes to heavy bullets? I was told the recoil of heavy loads in the .44 Spl might cause the bullet to "jump crimp" and come out of the case enough to jam the cylinder. If this is the case wouldn't it be just as bad, if not worse in a heavier bullet in the .357?

    How about a heavily crimped case and a heavier hard cast bullet in the .44? This thing weighs less than half of my Dan Wesson .44 Mag, so I was hoping my wife could carry it while we're ATVing. While the lighter bullets are better'n fingernails in a fight with a bear...a heavier cast bullet might even the odds a little more.

    I know a .44 Spl ain't ideal for bear protection, but a .44 Spl in your hand is better than a .45-70 back at the house...and we're more likely to carry something if it's lighter and more comfortable.
    I'm not sure about the reasoning S&W has for the bullet weight limit but I haven't know the 44 spcl to be bad about jumping crimp even in light guns. I have not shot ulta lite guns like Ricks with heavy loads, he would know about that. My son in law has a 696 3" gun and I have a M24 3" gun and I've loaded them with 240-255 grain SWC at about 900+ fps. That is a stout load for the spcl but not unreasonable and I would think it would be fine in the 396's as well. POI will be a factor but at nail scratching distance it won't matter. I would also have a lot of faith in that load with that hard cast bullet of about 250 grains at 900 fps. I think it will make an exit wound. That caliber is more practical in those light weight compact revolvers than a magnum round and they are more shootable from a down in the mud, one handed, poke 'em in the eye kind of situation. That being their real value, as well as light weight and portable. Buffalo Bore ammo is heavy duty ammo and will be hard on guns but the gun will take more of it than we will. A guy should shoot often with the practice loads then shoot a cylinder full of the serious duty loads once in a while to be sure things work, then reserve them for carry.

    I really think a lot of the 44 spcl and find it to be a very useful everyday carry caliber for man or beast. That five shot 696 all steel gun is compact and potent and still popular. I've noticed the prices up around $800 for used guns, I'm not the only one that likes them. The airweight 396 though not quite as rugged is well made and serves the same niche.
    Last edited by Murphy; 05-25-2008 at 15:45.
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  7. #7

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    I can't compare weights, but I put a whole lot of stiff loads through the old Charter Arms bulldog 44. I shot some that were harder to hold onto than I wanted by quite a stretch, but never once had an issue with jumping crimps. Sounds like sky pie to me.

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    Default 44 spl loads and pistols

    My original pistol for protecting my dog team was a 44 spl SS Charter Arms Bulldog. It, like my M396, weighed 21 ounces loaded. If I remember correctly, my load for it was 9 grs of Unique behind a 250 gr Keith style bullet.... never had a chronograph in those days. The M396 has a titanium cylinder, and should take pressure more comfortably than the Bulldog's steel cylinder. Buffalo Bore notes that their HD 44 spl 255 load is suitable for all 44 spls in good working order EXCEPT the Charter Arms Bulldog. Remember, also, Elmer Keith was loading the 44 special to magnum levels, before Remington lengthened the case and called it the 44 Remington Magnum.

    I love my M396. It's my reliable companion in the woods. The BB load is about as stout as I want to shoot thru it. I do sometimes think about picking up a M329, doing an action job and having it Magnaported, just like BrownBear's. Though I might want it, I don't need it. For me, my M396 fills that need. But, then, someday I might not resist the temptation.

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