Which Standard Pressure .38 spl in a J-Frame?


Tequila jake
December 14, 2006, 01:05 PM
I've shot 158 gr +P LSWCHP from a J-frame and the recoil was substantial, but manageable. I'm going to try out Speer 135 gr +P GDHP and Cor-Bon 110 gr +P DPX for recoil and accuracy. My concern is that although I don't find the recoil painful, I'm sure it will adversely affect recovery times. Can anyone recommend a standard pressure round that has tested well in bare gelatin and gelatin covered with 4 layers of denim?

Tequila Jake

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December 14, 2006, 02:03 PM
You'll find the lower weight rounds will be more manageable in +p. Like around 125gn or so. Also, Hornady makes standard pressure defense ammo as well.
Below 125gn, ammo can be erratic, flyers, tumblers, etc. Kiss a lot of frogs.

Tequila jake
December 14, 2006, 03:26 PM

Thanks for the info. Have you tried either the Speer 135 gr +P GDHP or the Corbon 110 gr +P DPX in any of your J-frames? By the way, my J-frame is the Airweight 642.

Tequila Jake

December 14, 2006, 04:06 PM
Hornady makes a 125gr and a 158gr XTP
loads that are standard pressure,i don't
know how well they would do in gel tests.
The box lists the 125gr at 900fps,158gr at
800fps from a 4" barrel.In a snuby i would
go with the 125gr if they shot POA.I would
give up a little recovery time to have better
ammo in my carry piece,also make sure
your revolver fits your hand.Try different
grips if you need to and that might help
with the felt recoil.I went thru 4 sets of grips
before settling on the uncle mikes that came
on my 642-2.I prefer the uncle mikes that
come on new magnum j frames,they cover
the back strap and have 3 finger grooves but
are just a little large for pocket carry in my
work pants.

Tequila jake
December 15, 2006, 10:49 AM

Thanks for your input. As I stated in my original post, I did not find the recoil of the 158 gr +P LSWCHP painful, but it did "torque" the pistol up and to the right, thus affecting recovery times. We'll see how it goes with the Speer and Corbon ammo--if I can ever find any of the Corbon. I've called several of the gun shops here in San Antonio and nobody seems to carry it. I'll probably have to order it directly from Corbon.

Tequila Jake:banghead:

December 15, 2006, 11:01 AM
You may also find that light bullets hit quite low. I've tried 125 grain WWB +P in my Taurus and it hits WAY low compared to my 140 or 158 grain carry stuff, even my wadcutter loads. I am not willing to file my sight that much.

December 15, 2006, 11:08 AM
My dad doesn't care for recoil and his old model 38 won't handle +P rounds, so I got him some low recoil, 110 gr, Federal Hydrashok. I don't shoot gelatin, and have heard that expansion is "iffy". However, the low recoil is what is manageable for him. At personal defense distances, I'm not too concerned about printing low.

I would like to try the Corbon 110 DPX. They look like good round for the recoil sensitive.

December 15, 2006, 06:24 PM
Tequila jake,
All I am shooting out of my M-638 are the Speer Gold Dot 135 gr +P short barrel rounds now. I like the way they shoot and they hit only slightly lower than the 158 gr rounds. The Short Barrel rounds are made specifically for 2" barrel revolvers.

I just bought new grips for my 638. The Pachmayr "Compac" grips are only slightly larger than the stock Uncle Mike's boot grips but they are well worth it. Covering the back strap absorbs some of the "kick" you feel in your thumb and adding a little length for your little finger adds control with the +P rounds.

December 15, 2006, 08:19 PM
First, is the 38 spl an older revolver? If so, you shouldn't be firing any +p rounds through it,. An older 38 spl pressure is rated up tp 17,000 psi. +p rounds are rated at 20,000psi. Only fire +p rounds in a 38 spl that are rated for +p rounds

Tequila jake
December 18, 2006, 12:26 PM
ranger 53,

It's a brand new 642 and it is rated for +P.

I have another question for everybody concerning the Corbon 110 gr +P DPX:

I have read that it penetrates as much as 1/4" of mild steel. If it really penetrates that much, maybe I'd better try something else. I live in an apartment and wouldn't want a stray shot going through a wall and hitting a neighbor.

Anybody have any other recommendations for loads for a 642 for an apartment-dweller?

Tequila Jake

December 18, 2006, 01:29 PM
Try the Speer Gold Dot 135 gr Short Barrel rounds, not the normal 125 gr .38 Spl +P rounds they produce. You will be very happy with the results. Also, give the Pachmayr Compac grips I mentioned in my other post a try.

December 18, 2006, 04:50 PM
Read this from Stephen A Camp, he knows a lot of useful info.


December 18, 2006, 09:19 PM
Jake, sorry so long for the reply. I have shot the corbons in my 357 snub, and I couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with them. They must load them with plutonium or something because they barked louder than the 357 loads and flew all over the place! I only shot an airweight once, it was my friends. I had some nice Georgia Arms 125gn JHP 38+p's that I was trying out and we shot a few in his. They were very nice. Recoil was manageable and they shot to POA. With premium ammo, I've had best luck with Speer goldot 125's and PMC Starfire 125's, both in +p. I haven't shot the 135gn loads but give them a try. People speak highly of them. Another good load that's easy on the wallet is the UMC 125gn JHP 38+p. It's cheap and a good shooter. Another good alternative is a nice 158gn S&B FMJ in standard pressure 38spl. Shoots good, has a nice flat meplat (nose), and they also have a JSP with a flat meplat as well. Good penetrators and a standard pressure load if you're worried about an older gun.. The S&W manual states any of their revolvers made after 1958 are +p rated, so Shoot enough of the +p's to familiarize yourself with the load, and then find a practice load that mimics it. Shot placement is most important, after that penetration. I saw a "large" guy at the mall yesterday, and actually wondered to myself that if I had to shoot him if my carry ammo would penetrate far enough to do any good! Something to think about! Especially with a 38 snub. Maybe these "Keith bullet advocates" are right?:confused:

December 19, 2006, 12:29 AM
My observation, and opinion; based upon personal experience, will be contrary to most others. FWIW it is: +P ammunition really gives you no advantage in 2" snub nosed guns. +P generates much more recoil and muzzle blast without any significant increase in performance. Thus you have a far longer return to battery for aimed repeat shots. In 4" barrel & longer guns however +P & even +P+ offer substansially more advantage. (The new Speer® 135gr +P GDHP is an exception. This +P round was specifically engineered for maximum performance in 2" barrel guns). You have 4 choices in factory std pressure ammo.

1. Federal® Premium 125gr Nyclad HP (no longer made but still available)
2. Aguila® 158gr JHP
3. MagTech® 158gr JHP
4. Hornady® 158 JHPXT

I have used all four in my BUG/ODG. All shoot to POA in my Mdl 37 Airweight®. Currently my dept issues both Aguila® & MagTech® ammo for our BUGs. It performs very well.

Again just my $.02; I hope the above is of use to you.

December 19, 2006, 01:30 AM
The only standard pressure I would sugest for snubby would be the 125 nyclad load. You can still get it from ammoman.com IIRC, I think Federal still makes it in limted numbers.

IMHO there is a big difference in recoil between 158+P and 125+P in airwt j frames. I normally use 125+P gold dots in my j frame.

December 19, 2006, 02:32 AM
I normally use 125+P gold dots in my j frame.
Have you tried the Speer Gold Dot 135 gr Short Barrel .38 +P rounds yet?

December 19, 2006, 05:01 AM
ArchAngelCD: Nope, haven't been able to find any to try yet. I have heard from one person I know that for recoil it seems close to the 158+P to them.

December 19, 2006, 05:30 PM
The recoil seemed a little stiff to me too. I know it was stiffer than the Remington 130 gr UMC .38 Spl rounds I shot but not that much more. The recoil isn't as stiff with the Speer rounds as it is with Corbon rounds. The Pachmayr Compac grips I installed made a big difference so the felt recoil is no longer an issue and back to battery is very fast now.

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