38 +P....Gold Dot SB <or> Golden Saber?


November 17, 2006, 03:51 PM
can i assume that for practical purposes, both these rounds would be fine for SD.

i have a Ruger Security six 2.5" barrel.


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November 17, 2006, 03:56 PM
The Speer 135gr. bullet is a brand-new design, specifically 'formulated' to work out of short barrels. Shooting tests with it have produced damage in meat and gelatin rivalling that of some 125gr. .357 Magnum loads. As a result, it's my #1 recommendation in .38 Special +P loads right now, at least for lightweight snubbies. My favorite load is the Buffalo Bore 158gr. LSWCHP at 1,000 fps out of a 2" barrel, but that's really heavy on the hands out of an Airweight or lighter gun. I reserve it for steel-frame revolvers. I'd certainly recommend it for your Ruger, with the Speer load as an excellent second choice.

November 17, 2006, 04:04 PM
fps and muzzle energy can go out the window--You are comparing porsche and ferrari, they will both do the job equally well. Whichever you have the most confidence in be it accuracy or otherwise should be the deciding factor.

Jim March
November 17, 2006, 05:24 PM
What the Reverend said :).

If you can't get those, the third-string choice would be the Remington 158gr lead hollowpoint. Fourth would be either one of the various Gold Dot 125gr +P loads as loaded by Speer, Buffalo Bore, Black Hills and a few others - although Speer has cut off supplies of these projectiles to smaller ammo houses, some may still be selling their last right now. Fifth would be the Winchester 130gr "Supreme" +P JHP - this "big hollowpoint design" influenced the Speer Gold Dot 135.

One other thing though: I know you asked about 38+P, but...there's now a couple of "reduced power, reduced recoil" 357s out there worthy of consideration in your gun. The same Speer projectile from the 135gr 38+P load is also loaded as a "short barrel special" 357 doing about 200fps faster. I test-fired some of these in my New Vaquero and compared to the 135+P version, they didn't "sting" much more and turned out to be more accurate in my gun - 2" groups @ 25yrds for the 357 version, 3" for 38+P.

I tried some VERY hot 125gr loads from Doubletap in the same session and they felt a lot snappier than the 135gr Speer 357. My Vaq at the time had sharp checkered plastic grips that were really putting a hurt on with the higher power loads.

The Remington Golden Saber is another "mild 357" worth thinking about but I think the Speer 135 357 kicks it's butt.

November 17, 2006, 07:01 PM
Have you considered Glazer Safety Slugs? I'm thinking about trying 'em myself. The concept seems pretty neat.

From an ammo website...

"The Glaser Safety Slug is a high velocity, pre-fragmented projectile, produced in a round-nose style bullet. Against inanimate targets such as wood, the bullet does not break up, providing effective barrier protection. Impact with tissue stimulants causes immediate and complete fragmentation, releasing the core particles in a cone shaped pattern of over 300 sub-projectiles (30 Cal.). This 100% energy transfer occurs twice as rapidly as conventional projectiles. Guaranteed 100% feeding reliability provided by the new round-nose style bullet. Superior penetration in solid targets over conventional projectiles due to higher velocity and muzzle energy. No exit penetration of animate targets in any Safety Slug Caliber."

November 17, 2006, 07:20 PM
Thanks for all your suggestions. i'm leery of the glaser as i dont think it will give me enough penetration.


November 17, 2006, 08:04 PM
I've been thinking the same thing about the Safety Slugs, but my neighbors are extremely close and......I'm a little concerned about "friendly fire". :D

November 17, 2006, 08:29 PM
My favorite load is the Buffalo Bore 158gr. LSWCHP at 1,000 fps out of a 2" barrel, but that's really heavy on the hands out of an Airweight or lighter gun. I reserve it for steel-frame revolvers. I'd certainly recommend it for your Ruger, with the Speer load as an excellent second choice.

AAAACCCCKKKKKK!!!!! I'm trying to imagine Buffalo Bores out of my little snubbie. I may have nightmares. I KNOW I'll have nightmares. :neener:

I use the "short barrel" Speers out of my snubbie. I don't have any kind of setup to do gelatin tests and I'll be hanged if I'm going to waste a good deer carcasse on test firing :D but they shoot well and I'm as accurate with them as I am with pretty much anything else out of the m37. I'd second the recommendation (for the Speers, that is)


Jim March
November 17, 2006, 09:33 PM
The BuffBore 158s are still a 38+P. They're probably going to feel a lot like shooting the milder flavors of 357 fodder, such as the Speer 135gr 357.

So in the Ruger 357 in question, yeah, the Buffbore 158 38+P is a viable answer.

Buffbore's 357 ammo on the other hand features some real Godzilla-killas and I think I'd want a bigger gun than that particular older Ruger model only a bit more hefty than a K-Frame S&W 357. (That said, the old Ruger Security/Service Six series were tough guns and will handle at least moderate diets of ANY factory 357 including Buffbore, Doubletap, Grizzly and the like.)

In an ultra-lightweight gun, forget it - lead is slick, recoil will be high, odds are they'll "yank" under recoil. Not a good idea.

November 18, 2006, 03:28 AM
given those two choices I would opt for the Speer SB GDHP.

November 18, 2006, 03:47 AM
Reread post #2.

Ditto that, says a SW 642 owner.

November 18, 2006, 11:18 AM
Even though the Speer 135gr is designed to work out of a snubbie, anybody have any thoughts on how it'd work out of the standard S&W Model 10, 4-inch bbl?

I imagine it'd be pretty good but I don't really know. Comments will be appreciated.


November 18, 2006, 11:27 AM
THe 2.75" Ruger is a pretty heavy weapon for its size. As a result, I would stick to .357 magnum, unless you are very leery of recoil. All the published tests show that even with short barrels you gain considerably shooting .357 over +P .38.

I carry 158 .357 Gold Dots in my short barrel Speed-Six.

Jim March
November 18, 2006, 11:30 AM
Oweno: Speer loads that same 135gr projectile in both 38+P and "mild 357" flavors, with about 200fps difference between them from the same length barrel.

The +P version does about 850-900fps from a 2" barrel, the 357 does 1050-1,100. Speer claims that the round works well across that whole velocity range and based on the various tests I've seen, I believe them. At 850fps the round expands but isn't close to "bottomed out", in other words the "petals" are open but not folded back very much if at all. And Gold Dots usually resist "shredding problems" at too great a speed because the jacket is electroplate-bonded to the lead core. Lead/copper separation is very uncommon with Gold Dots (aka "shedding the jacket").

So if you shoot the +P from a 4" tube, you pick up 100fps and put it RIGHT in the sweet spot for the round.

The tricky question isn't running the +P version from a 4" tube, it's running the 357 version from a 4"...or the 4.68" tube in my New Vaquero. NOW you're exceeding the round's design envelope by about 100fps or a tad more.

I *think* it can take that, and I'm loading the 357 version of the Speer 135 in my New Vaq. But I'm betting quite a lot on the Gold Dot's ability to hold together at speed. I suspect I may lose a couple inches of penetration and I'm risking the round flat-out falling apart, but it's also the most accurate round I've shot in this gun and it feels SO good to shoot that I'm taking the risk. ANYBODY ELSE'S MILEAGE MAY VARY, m'kay?

In your case with a 38spl gun it's a non-issue: the 38+P variant will work great.

November 18, 2006, 12:09 PM
Thanks, Jim. Good info!


November 18, 2006, 07:34 PM
Definitely an aquired taste - and when shooting them out of my SP 101 I honestly couldn't tell the difference between them and a "toned-down" .357 round.

But, they might make an interesting SD round out of...say...my 686+, which would likely soak up the recoil nicely. I've honestly thought about using them as that revolver's carry load in place of the Silvertips I now use as I'm kinda leery about loosing a couple .357's off (if it came down to it) in a SD situation indoors. The sound might be pretty nasty hearing wise!

November 19, 2006, 12:53 AM
I say yes for the following reasons: 1. The +P Speer Gold Dot 135 gr. was developed for a short barrel and I like the test results that I saw on the Speer web site; and
2. I wrote Remington and asked them to recommend a self defense load for a 2 3/4" .357 magnum Ruger Speed Six. Answer was that the +P 125 gr. Golden Sabre hollowpoint is one of their best for a short barrel.

Jim March
November 19, 2006, 09:43 AM
Remington's 158gr lead hollowpoint +P is a much cheaper and lower-tech round than the Golden Saber...but in this case cheaper and lower-tech works better.

Remington's marketing people may be reluctant to admit as much...gee, I wonder why?

I'll take the Remmie plain lead 158+P hollowpoint over anything else in the Remington catalog in 38/38+P, any day of the week.

November 19, 2006, 02:49 PM
Well, as it turns out I have a box of .357 Buffalo Bore 158 gr handy and I'm off to the range to try them out. I guess I didn't suffer enough punishment with their "souped up" FBI load out of SP 101, so I'll try these rounds out of my 4" 686+.

If its while before I post again, I guess you can figure that my hand is still hurting :evil:

Jim March
November 19, 2006, 02:58 PM


I don't care how gnarly a 38 we're talking about, you are NOT going to hurt yourself firing 38+P out of a 686 or similar size GP100. M'kay? It's just not going to happen. It's not like the BuffBores are fueled by Dilithium or something.

It's good ammo, damned good ammo, but it's not magic.

November 19, 2006, 07:43 PM
I fired the Remington FBI Load (.38spl LSWCHP +P) out of my 686+ this afternoon and while not a soft round was comfortable and very manageable.
Its tempting to carry this.

THEN I fired Buffalo Bore's .357 rd, in 158 gr out the same gun and it STUNG!
I fired it side-by-side with my usual carry load for that revolver, Winchester 145 gr .357 ST and it FAR outweighed the ST in terms of stoutness of recoil.

Funny thing was, the ST was more accurate in my opinion, although that could simply be because I was used to firing it. Stiil, by any measure (and I'm not recoil shy) I think the BB in the .357 flavour, even fired out of an all steel L frame sized gun like a 686 or GP 100 is pretty stout.

Maybe I'll see what BB's version of the FBI is like out of my 686 - maybe THATS what i'll end up carrying. I figure the velocity must e pretty good out of 4" bbl.

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