Which .38 bullet type?


June 17, 2006, 08:18 PM
I need to feed a .38 snubby. I want to use standard pressure .38 SPL with a solid non-expanding bullet. I'm not sure if SWC, LRN, or FMJ is best. What i'm most concerned about is bullets deforming, breaking apart and losing weight when shot into various mediums. I've seen LRN bullets badly deformed and shaved when recovered from flesh and bone, perhaps FMJ would not do that because of the jacket keeping the bullet together?

Any help?

** Factory ammunition only.**

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June 17, 2006, 09:23 PM
I think FMJ is your best bet to suffer the least from deformation in a standard pressure .38 special round. Any of the the usual suspects (Fed, Rem, Win, etc) should fit the bill.

June 17, 2006, 10:07 PM
FMJ should deform the least and be the least effective stopper of the options. Don't quite understand the requirement, but I find lots of FMJ in the back stop at the range that look like they could be reloaded and fired again.

Jim Watson
June 17, 2006, 10:19 PM
I don't understand your requirements, I WANT a bullet to be deformed in flesh and bone, which is why I use hollowpoints.
But if you just must, you need a FMJ or a handload with really hard cast bullet. The low velocity plated junk they sell at Cheapmart is not good for much, but Fiocchi makes a 158 gr FMC as well as a couple of lighter bullet loads.

June 17, 2006, 11:43 PM
I'm not a ballistics expert, but what about a LSCW?? I'd like to think it's a descent bullet for non +P applications in .38 Spl. I've heard tales of LRN ammo beeing a poor manstopper in .38 Spl (but I've had no experience in this, and have not done any formal research). The LSWC may deform slightly, but it would be my choice for a .38 Spl non +P defense load, for what it's worth.

Again, I'm no expert, so I'm looking forward to more discussion on this matter.


June 18, 2006, 01:45 AM
I doubt there is much effective difference between a hard cast LRN bullet and a FMJ. The standard pressure (or should I say low pressure at 750FPS) 125 and 158gr LRN bullets don't deform at all when fired into a block of pressure treated lumber, and very slightly deform when bouncing off of an old shovel. I have had the standard Remington UMC 130gr fmj bullets flatten out when shooting at an old computer hard drive, if that says anything....

If you change your mind about standard pressure ammunition, the Speer Lawman 158gr TMJ (total metal jacket) was reccomended in another thread for use in deep penetrating/non expanding situations.

June 18, 2006, 07:52 AM
I think I understand your requirement. You want something that will penetrate to the vitals and hold together while doing it. Not a bad idea in a snub. Georgia arms makes some plated SWC ammo which might fit your bill, or S&B makes a 158gn standard pressure FMJ which is also a Flat Point that would tend to crush tissue instead of slipping thru it. They make a jacketed soft point in the same configuration as well. Magtech makes some jacketed flat points as well in several different weights. As far as Lead Round Nose goes, I work with a retired cop who has several registered kills with LRN. So I guess it does work.
Personally I would stick with a LSWC or flat point for penetration. With standard pressures my concern is that if a bullet does expand, it won't go deep enough.
Hornady makes a 158gn XTP round in standard pressure, and I understand that they don't expand that much, but penetrate better than other JHP's at the lower speeds.

Brian Williams
June 18, 2006, 08:08 AM
Standard velocity LSWC in 38 spec will do the trick.

June 18, 2006, 09:13 AM
The SWCs I find in the dirt at the range tend to be deformed or somewhat flattened at the point. That probably wouldn't happen in tissue, of course. Dirt is tougher than tissue. But, the FMJ stuff, like I say, often looks as if you could reload and fire it again even in dirt! Just on your criteria, not trying to read anything into it, FMJ.

That said, I carry +P hollow points in my snubby and ain't changin' that! The FBI load is hard to beat even in a snubby for effectiveness in this caliber. It's penetration is PLENTY and it deforms/expands to do more tissue damage. I see no reason to start shooting any round nose standard pressure loads. If I could get .357 ballistics out of a snubby without all the flash/bang/recoil, I'd go .357. But, .38s work better in snubs IMHO.

June 18, 2006, 11:47 AM
I understand what you want but not "why" you want it! :)

I have a S&W Model 38 Bodyguard with the two inch barrel. It is an older model from around 1959 and NOT +P rated. I carried it in the pocket for years with a limited supply or Federal 125 Grain HP "NYCLAD" bullets. They expanded well in test media and were the top choice for snubbies with pressure limitations.

As for now I keep it loaded with standard velocity 158 grain lead SWC bullets. It is a verry accurate load AND the sights are regulated for it. The rounds I have recovered showed little deformation and no weight loss. If I were to pack this gun for defense or trail use this is the round I would carry.

June 20, 2006, 02:25 PM
Just got a box of the S&B 158gn 38spl soft point in standard pressure. Haven't shot em yet, but they look good. The soft point is flat with sharp edges, approximating a swc, but it's jacketed! If it shoots like the FMJ, it may be a winner. Might be heavy for my small frame, but perfect for my old model 10. They list it pretty hot, but if you read the fine print, they use a 7.5in barrel, so who knows. I don't have a chrono. so I really won't be able
to tell for sure. Anybody know?

June 21, 2006, 10:37 AM
The least amount of bullet deformity when hitting the body?

I would say the FMJ, then LRN then SWC.

Of course this depends on where it hits the body.

I understand you are just completing a thought.

Sounds like you are trying a new approach to something. Good luck. :)

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