We’ve loaded .38 and .357 with Berry’s before, but if you’re looking for a high velocity .38+P or .357 magnum load with modest recoil, Berry’s 125 grain Flat Point Thick Plate bullet is a great option!
Ultimate Reloader LLC / Making with Metal Disclaimer: (by reading this article and/or watching video content you accept these terms). The content on this website (including videos, articles, ammunition reloading data, technical articles, gunsmithing and other information) is for demonstration purposes only. Do not attempt any of the processes or procedures shown or described on this website. All gunsmithing procedures should be carried out by a qualified and licensed gunsmith at their own risk. Do not attempt to repair or modify any firearms based on information on this website. Ultimate Reloader, LLC and Making With Metal can not be held liable for property or personal damage due to viewers/readers of this website performing activities, procedures, techniques, or practices described in whole or part on this website. By accepting these terms, you agree that you alone are solely responsible for your own safety and property as it pertains to activities, procedures, techniques, or practices described in whole or part on this website.
About the Cartridges
Higher pressure .38 Special loads have been around since the 1930’s and are still popular. Today’s loads are designated +P to denote a higher pressure load which develops more velocity and power than a standard .38 Special load. (NOT ALL .38 SPECIAL REVOLVERS ARE RATED FOR +P AMMUNITION!) I’ve shot factory .38 Special ammunition so mild that it produced only about 650 fps. Our +P load is far more powerful than that anemic level of performance.
The .357 Magnum has been around since 1935 and has been used by outdoorsmen, police, military and for self-defense. .357 Magnum ammunition is loaded to roughly twice the pressure level of a .38 Special +P. The cartridge case was deliberately lengthened to preclude its use in weaker .38 Special revolvers.
My experience with the .38 and .357 cartridges started in the 1970’s when I got my first .357 magnum revolver. These days I shoot a lot more .38’s than .357’s for practice, but often carry full power .357 loads when I’m camping, fishing, hunting, or hiking.
A .357 Magnum load that earned a near mythical reputation as a man-stopper is the famous high velocity 125 grain JHP. This load has an intense muzzle blast and can also be quite rough on the forcing cones of some revolvers. L-frame Smith & Wesson revolvers and Ruger revolvers are plenty tough enough for that load, but I don’t even use them in my old K-frame S&W Model 19. The loads we used for this story are mild enough that I’d happily use them from any .357 magnum revolver but have enough punch to be quite useful.
About Berry’s .38/.357 125 Grain Flat Point Thick Plate Bullets
Berry’s was founded in 1961 by Ray Berry. They offer various reloading supplies and over 60 types of plated bullets. Copper plated bullets are an affordable alternative to both lead and jacketed bullets, allowing for more practice!
Copper plating is quite different from a conventional jacketed bullet. Typically I find them to shoot very cleanly—without any of the mess left behind by lead bullets and lube—and far less expensive than jacketed bullets. You can use load data for both jacketed and lead bullets with Berry’s plated bullets, but it’s important not to over crimp.
Most Berry’s handgun bullets (standard plated) are limited to 1250 fps. Exceeding that velocity level may strip the copper plating away and cause poor bullet performance. These bullets, like the 158 grain Thick-Plate bullets we tested last year, allow 1,500 fps.
Berry’s Superior Plated Bullets® are the finest bonded copper-jacketed bullets available today. Starting with a swaged lead core, they are electroplated with copper to their final weight, leaving no lead exposure. They are then re-struck to precise specifications, ensuring a solid bond and providing consistency with every round. Indoor range safe and unbelievably accurate, Berry’s Superior Plated Bullets® are the choice of shooters everywhere.
- Bullet O.A.L.: .518″
- Cartridge Name: .38 Spl
- Cartridge O.A.L.: 1.445″
- Max Velocity: 1250 fps
- Cartridge Name: .357 Mag
- Cartridge O.A.L.: 1.580″
- Max Velocity: 1250 fps
- Load data for our Superior Plated Bullets® can be found in any manual or on any powder manufacturer’s website.
- Cast or jacketed data with the same grain weight and profile will work with our bullets.
- You can use a taper or a roll crimp.
- Don’t over crimp the brass after seating. This causes bullet core separation, leading to increased copper fouling and accuracy issues.
- Don’t exceed the recommended maximum velocities listed. This creates bullet core separation and accuracy issues.
The Loading Setup
My loading setup was simple: a good RCBS carbide die set with a fourth die for roll crimping. I’ve found I get better results when I seat and crimp in separate steps. Lyman’s 8-station brass smith All-American turret press makes it easy to leave a four-die setup mounted at all times so it’s ready for me to crank out ammo anytime.
The Frankford Arsenal Perfect Seat Hand Primer continues to impress! It’s easy to use and all shell holders are contained in the kit. It’s also easy to switch from large primers to small primers. This has quickly become one of my favorite tools for priming cases.
Lyman’s powder measure dropped consistent charges of Titegroup powder and I felt no need to weigh the charges after the powder measure had been properly adjusted and set.
About the Loads
These 125’s offer a very pleasant shooting experience, generating less recoil than typical 158 grain loads. The Berry’s are satisfyingly accurate, and cleanup is much easier than when using soft lead bullets.
I loaded 5.0 grains of Titegroup for a practice .38 + P load with a standard CCI small pistol primer and 7.5 grains of Titegroup for a practice .357 with a Winchester small pistol magnum primer. I was impressed with Titegroup in both the .38 and .357 Magnum loads and will be using it in more handgun loads in the future. It’s both accurate and clean-burning.
**Note: These are practice loads, not hunting or self-defense loads.**
As we’ve seen in other tests, the 20” barreled rifle can generate about 400 fps more muzzle velocity than the 4” revolver.
With the 125 grain .357 magnum loads, this exceeds Berry’s recommended maximum! Berry’s rates the bullet for 1,500 fps. This load produced 1589 fps from the rifle. We did not note any problems with this, but recommend that Berry’s speed limit for the bullet be observed.
This new thick plate version of the .38 caliber 125 grain Berry’s bullet is a welcome addition to the line. It carries on Berry’s tradition of clean-shooting, accurate and economical bullets while allowing higher muzzle velocities possible with the .357 Magnum cartridge. Remember, the loads we used are recommended only for revolvers rated for +P or Magnum ammunition.
Get the Gear
Don’t miss out on Ultimate Reloader updates, make sure you’re subscribed!