.38 Special Corbon DPX 110-gr. Ammo Tests...


Stephen A. Camp
October 22, 2004, 11:37 PM
Hello. I recently tested some of this standard pressure ammunition using three thirty-eight's so that velocities, accuracy, and expansion characteristics could be seen from a 1 7/8" J-frame as well as from 3" and 4" K-frame revolvers.

The bullet used is from Barnes and is called an "X bullet". I've seen good results with it from some rifles and Thompson-Center pistols in the past.

This was my first exposure to the pistol caliber X bullet. It is homogeneous and has no jacket to separate or fragment away from the lead core. As it is less dense than lead, an X bullet of the same weight as one of lead will be longer.

Here is the profile of the Corbon DPX. It is loaded in Remington cases and the bullets are firmly crimped. In none of the guns used did any bullets unseat in the least. "DPX" stands for "Deep Penetrating X (Bullet)".

Shooting was done no farther than 15 yards today and average velocities listed are based on 10 shots fired approximately 10' from the chronograph screeens. Not so scientific as tests performed by others, I simply fired the .38 DPX rounds into water and recovered the bullets.

The revolvers used were a 1 7/8" S&W Model 638, a 3" Model 64, and a 4" Model 10.

Corbon advertises this load at 1200 ft/sec. I didn't quite get that in my guns, but the 3 and 4" barrels provided average speeds in that general area.

S&W M638:
Average Velocity: 1017 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 40
Std. Deviation: 16

S&W M64:
Average Velocity: 1118 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 84
Std. Deviation: 27

S&W M10:
Average Velocity: 1122 ft/sec
Extreme Spread: 72
Std. Deviation: 25

Here are some recovered bullets fired through the barrel lengths written next to them. The "worst" case is the bullet at the bottom right that was fired from the J-frame. The rest were surprisingly similar from all barrel lengths. Recovered bullets appeared not to have lost but one or two grains after expansion, but I cannot say exactly as I did not weigh them before shooting. Essentially, no bullet weight was lost. The "worst" case bullet measured 0.48 x 0.44". The rest hovered right around 0.67" diameters.

At 15 yards, six shots were fired in slow-fire and single-action. The ammunition grouped better than most of us could in a fight; better than I could, anyway. Groups fired from the Model 10 were equivalent.

From the smaller gun, I fired a slow-fire double-action group of 10 shots.
There were 2 key holing hits, one each at 7 and 9 O' clock. These shots were fired at 10 yards.

I do not know if the key holing was due to the longer bullet in the ammunition or peculiar to my particular revolver. I fired 5 shots from a Model 642 I had with me and no such problems occured.

Recoil felt considerably less than that of my usual snub "carry load," Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P.

Corbon advises that this DPX load will penetrate into 12" or more and others testing it in 10% gelatin report that it both penetrates and expands whether striking bare or clothed gelatin.

If interested, there is a more detailed report here:



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October 22, 2004, 11:46 PM
Steve .... another of your inimitable style reports ... great! And thanks. Always good to read info and I know how much time and effort is involved too.

The ''rogue'' bullet had to have suffered some tumble but - I'd not be overly surprised out of the snub barrel ..... if a few did that now and again. Overall expansion pattern is impressive. IMO the longer a bullet - ahead of driving area, the more likely can be a tumble factor - well with handgun velocities anyways.

So 110grain ... extrapolating from velocities ...... from the 4" M10 we see just over 300 ft lbs energy .... at 10 feet. That is plenty useful I think.

Jim March
October 23, 2004, 12:47 AM
VERY interesting. Great report.

This stuff has merit for some situations - lightweight guns, guns of questionable strength, situations where the shooter can't cope with recoil or any combination :).

Every once in a while we get somebody who needs to press an old S&W M&P ("pre-model-10") into a self defense role...or an early aluminum frame gun like the S&W 12 or similar. This stuff would be perfect. Early S&W stainless guns were kinda questionable in the metallurgy department. I'm halfway considering testing some in my old Charter Arms as that's actually borderline for +P.

As to the keyholing: I'd say that's a matter of compatibility with a particular gun. The solution is clear: test at least 40+ through any prospective carry gun.

If somebody had, say, a 5" barrel M&P around, no other gun available and they needed home defense...dang, this stuff would rock, esp. from that kinda barrel length.

October 23, 2004, 01:46 AM
Excellent information.....as always ! I appreciate your testing and as I have been looking forward to reports on the Corbon DPX 38 Special load I am pleased to see this posted. As you indicate this load "may" well be the ( better ? )sucessor to the standard pressure 125gr.NYCLAD load. Could it be there now exists a standard pressure, moderate recoiling 38 Special round that opens reliably from a snub barrel and gives consistent penetration up to 12" in bare and clothed test medium ? I'm trying to curb my enthusiasm and adopt a sensible "wait and see" approach.
Thanks again for your excellent report.


Stephen A. Camp
October 23, 2004, 01:55 AM
Hello and thanks for the thumbs up on the post. I'll be checking around with others on this .38 load and will try it in another J-frame or two as well.


Jim March
October 23, 2004, 06:08 AM
Yeah, it'd be useful to know if it simply "doesn't like some guns".

Could it be there now exists a standard pressure, moderate recoiling 38 Special round that opens reliably from a snub barrel and gives consistent penetration up to 12" in bare and clothed test medium?

That's what it looks like...SO LONG as your gun will shoot it OK?

Note that Federal's "Personal Defense" 110grain JHP in 38Spl standard pressure will barely hit 800fps with a good tailwind :scrutiny:.

October 23, 2004, 01:15 PM

Your posts are always most excellent. I have yet to see one that was not well-written and so informative. You always include appropriate pictures/illustrations. I hope to have a .38 snub soon, so I particularly enjoyed this one. As usual, Professional.....Thorough.....Complete.

Thanks again.



October 23, 2004, 01:55 PM
Thanks for the excellent (as always) report.

One question, did you notice a change in impact? Most revolvers are sighted-in for 158 grain bullets and in my experience lighter weight bullets tend to shoot lower.

Stephen A. Camp
October 23, 2004, 02:10 PM
Hello. Yes, the DPX hit dead on at 10 to 15 yards. The 158's I normally shoot require a 6 O'clock hold as they're a bit high.


October 23, 2004, 05:18 PM
Thank you Mr. Camp for the test! While I have gone "back" to Remington LSWHP + p in my snubs and all my .38 specials, I am open minded enough to buy some, range test AND slaughter a goat or two with them before I carry. The problem with anything lighter than 158 grain has been penetration in the past, along with POI versus fixed sights. The 110 grain Win 'treasury load" was pretty good BUT being +P+ I was always afraid of damaging anything uder a K frame with it! I like the "petals" that Barnes bullet forms-like ranger talon! ;)

Stephen A. Camp
October 25, 2004, 12:05 AM
Hello. I tried 10 more shots from another Model 642 and 10 from a Colt Agent. None of the shots fired from the Agent key holed. There was 1 key hole from the other 642.


October 25, 2004, 01:26 AM

So it does okay in gelatin. How does it do if it has to punch through bone first? I.e., a rib, the sternum, etc? Will it still go deep enough to get to the vitals?

Stephen A. Camp
October 25, 2004, 01:30 AM
Hello. I cannot afford gelatin nor have a place to shoot it at a constant temperature so that results are the same from one day this month to another day in another month where the temperature of the block might be considerably different.

From what I've read and discussed with folks who have, it does fine in the gelatin and it doesn't seem to matter much if it passes through the usual barriers like 4-layers of denim before smacking the gelatin.

I've talked with no one who's shot anything with bone in it so I don't know the answer to that one. As opportunities arise, I'm going to try and pop a critter with this load using the last few I have to see what happens in actual flesh, blood, and bone.


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