Deep penetrating .38 Special?


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bg226
May 31, 2006, 05:14 PM
I need help in finding a solid, deep penetrating .38 Special load. Something that will not deform or break apart. I'm not sure if FMJ is better than just lead bullets.

I find two puposes for such a load:

1. Barrier penetration.
2. Last resort defense from animals.

Any advice?

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Sharps Shooter
May 31, 2006, 05:28 PM
How about a 168-grain "Keith" SWC over a charge of HS-6? I'm just venturing a guess, but it seems to me that ought to be a pretty 38 Special load as far as penetration goes. Leadheads Bullets Inc. casts the bullets.

S&WIowegan
May 31, 2006, 05:34 PM
As soon as I saw the title of this post, I thought Leadheads. They make Keith-style hardcast bullets I have used with success. Sharpshooter beat me to it. I would use 2400 as a powder though.

Bob.

MCgunner
May 31, 2006, 06:02 PM
I cast a Lee 158 grain tumble lube SWC that is very accurate. I load it in front of 5.0 grains of Unique. It's mildly +P and I'd trust it to penetrate. I either carry it or a wadcutter in my Rossi .38 afield. If I'm where I might get a close encounter with a Hog and I have the .38 in lieu of a heavier caliber (easier to carry so I carry it a lot), I'll often put the 158s in it knowing I can hit a rabbit with it, too, and it don't expand.

That above load is sort of a standard old reliable in the reloading world as is the 2.6 grains Bullseye/148 grain wadcutter I load. If they ain't broke, why fix 'em?

Cosmoline
May 31, 2006, 06:13 PM
180 or 200 grain hardcasts should do nicely. They're hard to find in a .38 Special factory load these days, being much more common with .357's. But they can be loaded into the .38 special and even at a reduced velocity will penetrate like nobody's business.

Jim March
May 31, 2006, 06:21 PM
Take a LSWC-HP +P from Remington, Buffalo Bore or old-stock Cor-Bon and fill the cavity with epoxy. Probably the deepest punch you'll ever get out of a 38.

RyanM
May 31, 2006, 06:29 PM
Try to keep the velocity up over 900 fps, especially if it's soft lead and/or roundnose. As velocity goes lower, you have an increasing chance of the bullet glancing off bone. A SWC with copper on the tip only would probably be ideal.

bg226
June 1, 2006, 11:33 AM
Okay, It looks like the .38 Special is just not enough gun for animals.

MCgunner
June 1, 2006, 11:59 AM
I don't reload, so I decided to go with FMJ. Here is a WWB 130 gr. shot from a 4" Model 15.

This load is at 800 fps and seems slow. Is 130 Gr. going 800 fps light loaded or is it true .38 special?

I get 185 foot lbs which would make it a pretty weak sub standard pressure load. Most standard pressure loads run around 200 ft lbs from a 4" barrel. +P stuff can approach or exceed 300 ft lbs from a service revolver.

For penetration, a heavier hard cast bullet of +P velocity is better. A round nose is a good idea, too, if you could get one in the 158 grain weight loaded to +P pressures. Won't leave a lot of tissue damage, but will penetrate about as good as any .38. The flat point of a SWC actually does do some pretty impressive tissue damage, though, if that matters. Shoot an animal with a round nose and you might not even get a blood trail to follow. I have recovered animals shot with impressive rifle rounds whose bullet didn't expand and I couldn't even find an entry or exit wound until the skin was peeled off. I'd expect similar from a round nose FMJ bullet, though I've never tried it and never will.

Just remember that if you go for penetration, you're going to give up some tissue damage. There's no free lunch here and you're talking a pretty weak handgun round to boot. If you're really worried about animal defense, that sorta starts around the .357 magnum to me and depending on the animal, that might not be enough. I might want to go with a magnum that starts with a 4. The .38 is an adequate self defense round, but I wouldn't wanna carry it as a black bear hunting round, nor would I want to defend myself with it against a black bear. I'd be shootin' for the eyes if I had to use one for that.

S&WIowegan
June 1, 2006, 12:08 PM
That round is probably the least effective you could choose for anything other than plinking. You should shop for a much heavier bullet.

Bob.

Cosmoline
June 1, 2006, 03:05 PM
Okay, It looks like the .38 Special is just not enough gun for animals.

Not true at all. If you have a heavy frame .357 revolver you can take pressures up to +p+ levels or higher and make the .38 into a .357 magnum. Of course, it would be a lot easier to just use .357's. Even at its normal power levels, it's sufficient for small game and light medium game at close range.

Matt King
June 1, 2006, 03:13 PM
That round is probably the least effective you could choose for anything other than plinking. You should shop for a much heavier bullet.


This is just not true. A .38 special is an ideal self defense round, and can handle almost any small game.

nitesite
June 1, 2006, 04:17 PM
KYImports has a bunch of new Remington Express 158-gr LSWC +P ammo for $12.99 or $13.99/box. Fifty round boxes, nice nickel-plated cases, really good stuff/highest quality and a terrific price.

I just bought a few boxes from them, and love it. You'd be amazed how deep these will drive.

I think Remington's site states 950-fps which is pretty warm for a factory 158-gr .38 Special.

I've never found them cheaper anywhere else.

ATAShooter
June 1, 2006, 04:21 PM
No long story, this has been rough... I had the misfortune of putting down our 12yr old Shepherd tuesday. .38spl, Hornady 158gr XTP over 4.5 bullseye. Did the job quickly, 1 shot. I have chrono'd these before @ 785fps. Max was 120 lbs. So needless to say the 38 Spl is very effective.

S&WIowegan
June 1, 2006, 04:37 PM
That's what we're trying to get across.....the Rem. 158gr.LSWC-HP is the classic load. Order a few boxes and you've got what you need. I think I'll get some too!:D

Bob.

BigG
June 1, 2006, 04:46 PM
They used to sell a 200 grain almost spherical nosed bullet for 38 Special that would probably give the best results. A heavier bullet with a blunt nose will usually penetrate better than a lighter bullet. YMMV

nitesite
June 1, 2006, 05:17 PM
S&WIowegan (hey I've been reading your posts elsewhere for a while now)~

Keep in mind I'm talking LSWCs, not LSWCHPs.

I tried to get some of them as well, but they were sold out of them :(

(at that price it's no wonder).

MCgunner
June 1, 2006, 05:21 PM
Quote:
That round is probably the least effective you could choose for anything other than plinking. You should shop for a much heavier bullet.



This is just not true. A .38 special is an ideal self defense round, and can handle almost any small game.


I read that as the 130 grain FMJ at 800 FPS was not enough load, not that the .38 wasn't enough caliber. Would help if the poster would have put up the quote he was addressing I reckon. :D

S&WIowegan
June 1, 2006, 05:26 PM
sorry to nitesite for misquoting him:o The non-HP load may well be a little better for penetration anyway. Gotta get me some:)

Bob.

RyanM
June 1, 2006, 05:37 PM
Well, if you've got arthritis or bad wrists or something, and 130 grains at 800 fps is all the recoil you can handle, that wouldn't be a bad defense load. It'd beat 95 gr at 850 fps from a .380, or 71 gr at 900 fps from a .32, or 50 gr at 760 fps from a .25, or 40 gr at 800 fps from a .22.

Stainz
June 1, 2006, 05:52 PM
If you put much faith in the stats accumulated by Marshall/Sanow in their 'One Shot Stats', you'll note that a +P 158gr LHPSWC round, from a 2"-er, is actually significantly better than a 230gr 'ball' round in .45 ACP. This round is only suited for thin skin targets - but it will open to double or more it's impact area. I have chrono-ed the Remington R38S12 version, ~$21/50 when ordered through my pusher, at 834 fps from my 2" 10, 912 fps from my 3" 65, and 994 fps from my 6" 66. Again, great for a massive wound channel in a thin-skinned target.

I wonder if a 148gr plated full wad-cutter, like the hollow back variant Berry's Bullets made, would produce a deep wound? The old trick of turning it around - presenting a deep hollow front - might have some use, too - or, as many believe, would it act like a crude HP? Still, a full WC, even at 148gr, may just be the answer. I have gotten ~750 fps with 3.3gr Titegroup, the 148gr HBWC, in .38 Special brass - fired from my 2" 10. No pressure signs - but boogeys from my 6" 66 @ 800+ fps. Probably not much deformation... it may not have the KE required to break bones, either. I'll stick with the 158gr LHPSWC and LSWC +P's... I have the former in my 10's speedloaders - and a Blazer shot shell (Snakes!).

Stainz

nitesite
June 1, 2006, 06:08 PM
My reason for the LSWCs was to hopefully create two holes, one of them an exit. Most rapid blood loss if CNS isn't hit.

Plus it's almost as cheap as plinking ammo!

revolvergeek
June 1, 2006, 08:04 PM
If you are looking for factory ammo, consider the Speer Lawman 158 TMJ-FP +p. I carry it in may 642 when I go to the beach as my Anti-Shark ammo. :D

MCgunner
June 1, 2006, 08:33 PM
I've tranquilized sharks up to five feet with the 158 grain SWC +P load I mentioned. Works well. :D Shark should be in the bay, soon, too!

bg226
June 1, 2006, 09:00 PM
The Lawman TMJ is very powerful. 158 Gr. @ 900 fps.

I've got to get some of this anti-shark ammo. :D

nitesite
June 1, 2006, 09:23 PM
:rolleyes: Well, I gotta say it's a nice change of pace to read about effective loads for sharks than "What's best for bears?"! :p

revolvergeek
June 2, 2006, 11:27 AM
Interestingly enough it looks like Speer is also doing a non +P 135 TMJ/FP in their Blazer Brass line rated at 840 FPS out of a 2 inch barrel for 211 FPE.

http://www.le.atk.com/Interior.asp?section=2&page=pages/ccispeer/ccispeer_lawman.asp

BluesBear
June 3, 2006, 08:46 AM
They used to sell a 200 grain almost spherical nosed bullet for 38 Special that would probably give the best results...
:barf: The old Wester Cartridge Company (Winchester) "Super Police" load. :barf:

600fps from a 6" barrel.I have seen them bounce off of 1/4" plywood used to hold targets.
Let me rephrase that.
I have FELT them bounce off 1/4" plywood.
(When they hit your ankle they sting like hell.)

BigG
June 3, 2006, 08:55 AM
Well, heck, I tried. I thought a heaping teaspoonful of 2400 a la Keith might do the trick. - Ouch! those rebounding slugs do hurt! :eek:

BluesBear
June 3, 2006, 09:12 AM
Yes a good Keith Bullet over 2400 should work quite nicely.
I've seen a couple of Whitetail taken with that type of load.


I produced a special run of 170gr FMJ .38 Special +P+ ammo for a Sheriff's department back in the early 1980s. It was (is) an Eastern Kentucky county where they had a lot of coal mine strikes. They requested a heavy bullet for maximum penetration. So they got them.

It seems that the doors on coal trucks are rather substantial. :what:

Nhsport
June 3, 2006, 11:33 AM
I will also cast my vote for a swc. The rn in theory will give you more penetration but the swc has a much better reputation as a hunting round.Try to run it in a longer or at least a medium length barrel,and load it as fast as your type of gun will allow.

nitesite
June 5, 2006, 12:26 PM
Ooops! I didn't get the 158-gr +P LSWC at KYImports, it was from www.sportsmansguide.com.

My bad...

http://www.sportsmansguide.com/cb/cb.asp?a=236196

seeker_two
June 6, 2006, 01:41 PM
You may also want to try the 158gr. FMJ flat-points from Sellier & Bellot. I usually keep a reload of it as backup for my .38's and .357's. The .38's are loaded warmer than the American loads, too. :D

If nothing else, you can pull the bullets and make your own +P loads with them... ;)

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