Informal 38 Snub Ammo Tests: Corbon vs Speer vs Remington


Stephen A. Camp
May 25, 2006, 06:05 PM
Hello. I was able to do some informal tests comparing the "old technology" 158-gr. LSWCHP +P to Corbon's 110-gr. DPX +P as well as Speer's 135-gr. GDHP +P.

Accuracy testing was done at 10 yards. All firing was done with my usual "24/7 gun", a well-used S&W Model 642.
The worst group shot was with Remington's 158-gr. LSWCHP +P. The fact that it was the worst could also be because it was first! Frankly, all three loads grouped very well and I believe that at this range they were all probably capable of much, much tighter groups than I shot.
The best group of the day was fired with Speer's 135-gr. GDHP +P.

Average velocities were based on 10 shots fired 10' from the chronograph screens. Here are the results:

Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P: 1164 ft/sec

Speer 135-gr. GDHP +P: 921 ft/sec

Rem 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 844 ft/sec

Fired into super-saturated newsprint which had soaked for 24 hours and been drained 30 minutes before shooting, the following penetration depths were recorded. Each is the average penetration based on 5 shots.

Corbon 110-gr. DPX +P: 8"

Speer 135-gr. GDHP +P: 7 1/2"

Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P: 8 1/2"
All expanded consistently and there was very little difference in penetration depths shot-to-shot with each load.

For those interested in a more detailed report, follow the link below:


If you enjoyed reading about "Informal 38 Snub Ammo Tests: Corbon vs Speer vs Remington" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
May 25, 2006, 06:12 PM
As always, very good work. Thanks.

May 25, 2006, 11:05 PM
The speer load is my carry load, thanks for the info.

May 25, 2006, 11:11 PM
Frankly, I'm surprised/impressed with the bullet expansion from a short barreled snubbie. Question: would these same results occur in a human?

May 26, 2006, 12:54 AM
Thanks, SC. I'll stick to 'my'/that Rem load , although the other two are more interesting than I thought! I'm surprised the Rem load didn't beat soundly the other two in penetration.It normally does almost 12" in gelatin but doesn't expand quite that much. I think the wet news print is a little more bullet resistant than gelatin IMHO. 850fps is good 158 grain velocity in a 1 7/8" barrel!:)

Stephen A. Camp
May 26, 2006, 02:07 AM

Husker:I've not seen a DPX or 135-gr Gold Dot removed from either animal or man. I have seen the Remington 158-gr LSWCHP +P removed from a deer when a snub was used to finish it off. The bullet expanded but not so uniformly; it was more "jagged" where it had apparently hit bone. The 9mm XTP's I've removed from animals have been very similar to what I've seen in the super-saturated newsprint and the same for 127-gr. Winchester +P+. Regardless of gelatin, water, or soaked newspaper test results, I think they're only an estimate sort of thing. Before I retired from police work, I did see a few bullets removed from human beings. They were often more lopsided, jagged, and usually less uniform than test results from a homogeneous medium.

Gordon: I have no doubt that the saturated newsprint is denser than gelatin and retards penetration more for sure. How much that does or doesn't affect expansion diameters I couldn't say. I think it might affect the dead soft lead Remington bullet more than the jacketed ones because it has no "exo-skeleton" so to speak without any jacket or alloy other than lead. Perhaps deformation affects it as much as expansion; I flat don't know. I've only seen one of these recovered and it was pretty chewed up as mentioned above.

From the snub, I do think that these are probably among the better choices for expansion and from what the serious testers are saying the DPX and Gold Dot seem to expand well after passing through various barriers before striking the 10% ballistic gelatin.

Here's a picture sent to me by a firearm examiner. It shows an expanded Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P fired into gelatin from a snub.
I don't have the dimensions but it might can be visually compared to the one I recovered from the super-saturated newsprint.


May 26, 2006, 10:32 AM
Mr. Camp, is it possible to compare the recoil effects of these +P rounds that are designed for snubbies to standard velocity cartridges. Some general comments would be appreciated. TIA. BTW, GREAT info you've presented.

Stephen A. Camp
May 26, 2006, 10:51 AM
Hello, sir. I can't help there as I don't have any standard pressure defense type loads for 38 Special.


Jim March
May 26, 2006, 12:05 PM
Husker, of these loads tested the Remmie will be mildest on the gun. If you're pressing something older, weaker or both into defensive service the Remmie would be my top choice.

Mr. Camp, GREAT data as always. Thank you.

Question though: do you think the Speer has "bottomed out", or can it be driven even faster and still be effective? Any chance you could shoot that round out of, say, a 6" barrel and see what happens?

I ask because Speer also uses that same 135gr projectile in 357Mag cases(!) and calls it a "357Mag low power short barrel specialty round". And having shot those in my 4.68" barrel Ruger New Vaquero side-by-side with the 135gr +P Gold Dot, the "magnum" feels only slightly more potent but is grouping tighter, around 2" at 25 yards, the best I've gotten out of that New Vaq. The 38+P version grouped about 3", the 125gr Gold Dot as loaded "full house crack of doom" by Doubletap ran 5" (this was all "off the benchrest").

Gold Dots have a good rep overall for holding together OK when driven past design specs. I haven't been able to chrony anything but working from feel and knowing my barrel length, I would guesstimate the 135gr 357s as doing 1150 - 1200fps. And like I say, it *looks* like Speer is using the same projectile as you've got here.

The other funny thing here is the penetration on the Cor-Bon 110. Whoa. That ain't a bad round at all, is it? I'm guessing the copper is expanding slower than the others might be, giving it a "deeper punch" than you'd expect.

Stephen A. Camp
May 26, 2006, 12:35 PM
Hello, sir. I suspect that the increased velocities of the .357 135-gr. Gold Dot load probably adds penetration as the bullet will probably hold together at the 1000 - 1050 ft/sec range I'm told this mid-range magnum loads attains. Such seems to be the case with Speer's 9mm 124-gr. std pressure GDHP vs their +P load with the same bullet. Corbon used to use Speer's 124-gr. Gold Dot loaded to their listed 1250 ft/sec, which was usually over 1300 ft/sec when chronographed from my Brownings and they held together fine in javelina.


Jim March
May 26, 2006, 01:40 PM
Yeah, that sounds about right.

For those just tuning in: Speer is doing something weird with the Gold Dots: the copper jacket is a heavy plating on top of the lead, it's not really a separate piece of metal. The lead and copper end up chemically bonded to each other and severely resist separation.

Other JHPs involve a copper/brass/aluminum jacket stretched over the lead somehow - sometimes molten lead is poured in to the jacket, sometimes it's a cold-forming process. In either case the jacket and lead core can separate, at which point the lead generally deforms down to a small bore size little bigger (if any) than original and the lightweight jacket goes nowhere as it's not heavy enough to punch deep. This isn't optimal and it's what happens if the load is "overdriven".

Upshot: Gold Dots don't have as low a "top speed ceiling" as traditional JHPs with a lead core.

The Barnes all-copper bullets solve the "top speed problem" by doing away with lead altogether and as we can see from Cor-Bon's use of one in this 110gr, it's definately an alternative.

May 26, 2006, 02:48 PM
Mr. Camp,

Have you had any experience with the 130 Gr. Winchester SXT 38 SPL +P?

I've observed impressive expansion and penetration on bare/clothed gelatin from a 2" snub.

Stephen A. Camp
May 26, 2006, 02:51 PM
Hello, sir. No, I've not messed around with that one any...yet.


May 26, 2006, 04:14 PM
What I found most interesting is that the Rem 158 had greater velocity than their own 125 JHP +P load from a 2" revolver. You got 844 FPS while I averaged 810 or so in my tests with the 125 load.

From a 2" barrel the Cor-Bon is doing pretty good and even the Speer is not too shabby at all for factory fodder.

Thanks for the info.

Stephen A. Camp
May 26, 2006, 05:20 PM
Hello, sir. I was a little surprised at the 844 ft/sec. When I have chronographed that load in the past, it was always right at about 800 ft/sec. This was a different lot number and relatively new so I don't know if the powder's been changed or what. From past experience with other loads, I have seen variations in the same brand/name ammunition depending upon the particular lot.


May 27, 2006, 10:19 AM
Okay.... The 135 grain speer gold dot appears to be top dog for snubs....
How do they perform out of 4" barrels ? I have heard they expand to fast and do not penetrate deep enough as a result of the increase velocity.
Any truth to that ?



Stephen A. Camp
May 27, 2006, 10:30 AM
Hello. I don't have the answer to that; I have not tried them out of a 4" bbl.

IF Speer's short barrel 135-gr. Gold Dot 357 load uses the same bullet, it would appear that it can be driven at least 100 ft/sec faster since that's reported to be differences in velocities between their 38 & 357 short barrel loads.


May 27, 2006, 10:40 AM
Thanks Sterphen. This re-validates the .38 Spl +P load as a good SD round. My wife carries a 642 exclusively and I carry one also if my clothing dictates the need for a pocket gun.

Jim March
May 27, 2006, 06:02 PM
I've got a 135gr 38+P and 357 pair of Gold Dots in my hands right now and if there's any difference, I can't see it.

May 27, 2006, 09:56 PM
As always, nothing beats a "Camp" review. Thanks for posting.

May 27, 2006, 11:30 PM
First of all, thanks Mr. Camp for such a great test and write up. I always love the cool pictures too. I wish I could shoot my 642 as well as you do yours. :)

Okay.... The 135 grain speer gold dot appears to be top dog for snubs....
How do they perform out of 4" barrels ? I have heard they expand to fast and do not penetrate deep enough as a result of the increase velocity.

According to this Speer PDF file (, they are getting 935fps out of a 4" barrel. If they are using the same exact bullet in the .357 mag version, then the .38 +P version in any revolver barrel length would be within the factory velocity limits. I'd love to see a document like that one on their .357 round.

It's amazing that Speer gets this same bullet to perform so well over a wide velocity range. Their engineers aparently did their homework on this projectile.

May 28, 2006, 12:02 AM
Mathematical analysis of the three:

158 gr LSWCHP
13.4" penetration
29.3 grams tissue crushed
2.7" temporary cavity diameter

135 gr GDHP
12.9" penetration
26.7 grams tissue crushed (adjusted)
2.7" temporary cavity diameter

110 gr DPX
12.5" penetration
23.3 grams tissue crushed (adjusted)
3.0" temporary cavity diameter

If you enjoyed reading about "Informal 38 Snub Ammo Tests: Corbon vs Speer vs Remington" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!