What SD rnds in your .38 spl snub-nosed revolver?


April 13, 2007, 02:42 AM
This poll is a collaborative research project by members of The 642 Club (http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=138658).

We are researching optimal SD (self defense) rnds for .38 spl snub-nosed revolvers with barrels of 2" or less.
We shoot air weights (642, 442, 637...), but are interested in optimal rnds for 2" barrels regardless of gun weight.

We have included 16 different rnds in this poll. We acknowledge that there are other rnds available, but because these polls only allow 16 options, we have chosen 16 of the more commonly used SD rnds (based on our experience). If your SD rnd is not included, please vote "other" and let us know what it is.

Also, if you're willing, please tell us why you chose the SD rnd that you use.

Penetration? Velocity? Autopsy studies? Cost? Reputation? Availability? Recoil? Other factors?

Finally, if you based your decision on published information, please cite sources.



If you enjoyed reading about "What SD rnds in your .38 spl snub-nosed revolver?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
April 13, 2007, 02:44 AM
158 grain Lead Semi Wadcutter
Not hollow point

April 13, 2007, 03:21 AM
I use a couple of different rounds in my 642/442.

My choices are:
110 gr. Federal Low Recoil HS/JHP
125 gr. Speer Gold Dots +P
129 gr. Federal Hydra-shok JHP +P
135 gr. Speer Gold Dot +P
158 gr. Speer TMJ +P

AS you can see I like both Federal & Speer Ammunition. My most used is:
110 gr. Federal Low Recoil HS/JHP
129 gr. Federal Hydra-shok JHP +P
158 gr. Speer TMJ +P

Although I have pelnty of all.

I'm interested in hearing about others thoughts on rounds I currently don't use or have.

April 13, 2007, 06:24 AM
I keep Rem R38S12 158gr +P LSWCHP in speedloaders for my 2" 10, 5" 686+, and 6" 66, with the latter two locked away. The 2" 10 and my 642 are kept loaded. I chose the round due to it's long-time record of effectiveness.


April 13, 2007, 06:54 AM
442: Remington "FBI Load." I also chose this for its proven effectiveness, and the softer lead of the Remington over the other brands as I believe it expands better out of a snubby. I carry a speed strip reload with Speer GDHP 135gr 38sl +P load for commonality with...

MP340: Speer GDHP 135gr 38 +P. I experience bullet pull with the FBI load in this gun, so I run the Speer's when I carry 38spl. here.

Ala Dan
April 13, 2007, 07:30 AM
158 grain Federal Nyclads

April 13, 2007, 07:31 AM
If, by the time I come of age, cncealed carry is still legal, I'll probably pack a snub with the Buffalo Bore 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint. Proven effectiveness of the FBI load, and a roarin' flas-suppressed 350 ft-lbs to boot. Corbon DPX also does this, but in a much lighter bullet. If I want light bullets, I'd carry a nine.

April 13, 2007, 07:45 AM
158 grain gas checked Lead Semi Wadcutter, no hollow point. I want all the penetration I can get with a short barreled gun, and I don't think I will get sufficient expansion in most cases to make a difference..

Hit them hard and often.

hit or miss
April 13, 2007, 07:54 AM
Remington +P 125 grain SJHP R38S2 in my 637. When I bought the gun last week that was the only HP load he had for the 38 in the store. I hate to have a gun and not have any suitable sd loads so I bought them. I'll be interested to follow this thread for the info and the research.

April 13, 2007, 07:56 AM
I carry the short-barrel .38's by Speer in my Colt DS, but am really looking forward to receiving Buffalo Bore's 158gr. NON +P's that I ordered earlier this week.

April 13, 2007, 07:57 AM

Speer 146gr Semi-Jacketed SWC-HP @ 850fps. Chosen because it doesn't lead like the 158gr LSWCHP and POA=POI.

Self-cast Lee 148gr TLWC (actual weight 152gr, 18-22 BHN) @ 950fps

Chosen after reading Cirillo's book, re-affirmed by Buff Bores new release, and POA=POI

April 13, 2007, 08:34 AM
For +p rated revolvers: Remington 158gr LSWHP +p (expansion & penetration and 30+ year history as excellent SD round)

For non +p rated weapons: Federal 110gr JHP Low Recoil hydra shoks (expansion and low recoil for easy 2nd shot placement)

April 13, 2007, 09:35 AM
158 grain LSWC. 4 grains of WW 231
to lazy and cheap to chase around town for a box of Remingtons or Winchester 158 grain LHP.
They all shoot to point of aim.

April 13, 2007, 09:57 AM
As long as I've got some left, I am loaded with the old Corbon 125gr +p.

Otherwise, another 125gr +p (I've got some Winchester right now) in my Taurus 85SSUL. The Speer 135gr short barrel and the Buffalobore sound great but they are almost impossible to find in my neck of the woods.

April 13, 2007, 09:58 AM
I carry the Speer 135 grain +P load in my Smith & Wesson model 640 (no dash, .38 Special).

The reasons I chose this load are:

1) The high quality of Speer products,

2) The fact that the load was made for short barreled revolvers,

3) The NYPD uses them,

and 4) This info packet: http://www.le.atk.com/pdf/SpeerTech38_135HP.pdf

April 13, 2007, 09:58 AM
you forgot the speer gold dot short barrel flavor

April 13, 2007, 09:59 AM
I use my own loads with 125 JHP Remington Golden Sabre bullets over 7.0 grains of Unique for 1,100 FPS from a 5" revolver which probably means about 1,000-1,025 from the 2" gun. Factory +P clocks a pathetic 840 FPS from a 2" M&P (925 from the 5" revolver).

April 13, 2007, 10:10 AM
you forgot the speer gold dot short barrel flavor

That is the 135 grain +P load.

April 13, 2007, 10:16 AM
For my 442 I carry the remainder of a case of Cor-Bon 158gr LSWHP (975 fps from my 442). When I bought the case, the LSWHP was the best proven technology from the snub. I will probably be out of those within the next six months, so I’m very interested in the comparable Buffalo Bore offering.

April 13, 2007, 10:17 AM
Corbon DPX + P

Don't leave home without them!

April 13, 2007, 10:29 AM
I carry this round for a few of reasons. First, I read the entire 642Club thread, (recommended reading even for those who do not carry a 642). Secondly, trial. I tend to buy a batch of assorted ammunition when I first get a gun - especially a carry weapon. I shoot a lot and evaluate what has the best feel, (accuracy, recoil, hit probability, stopping probability) - not necessarily in that order. I then do some reading and research and make my decision.

In this case, I found the 135gr GDHP to be just the ticket. I would however be lying if I didn't mention one other variable - cost. I found a deal on 1,000 rounds for an incredibly low price (about .25 a round). It will be nice being able to affordably train with the ammo I'm carrying....

April 13, 2007, 10:44 AM
135 gr gold dots for me....642...but I also have some 158 nyclads hanging around too...but mostly the 135's.

April 13, 2007, 10:55 AM
158 gr. LSWCHP FBI +PThat one, made using Hornady cast bullets, mixed brass, Fed primers.

1 old 0311
April 13, 2007, 01:56 PM
My .38 is a indoor/house gun. Glaser Blue Tips.

Jim March
April 13, 2007, 02:30 PM
Speer 135+P for now. I want to try the new standard pressure Buffbores as soon as possible, the 150s and 158s.

April 13, 2007, 02:31 PM
Federal Hydra-Shoks. I use them in all my SD handguns except for my Taurus 450 and that's only because Fed. doesn't make a round in 45LC.


April 13, 2007, 03:08 PM
I use the Federal 158gr. "FBI" load in all of my SD .38s and .357s. Very accurate and controllable.

April 13, 2007, 03:13 PM
In this moment,my snub .38 is loaded with GOLDEN SABER 125GR JHP

April 13, 2007, 03:47 PM
My overall favorite, based on my shooting in my 1 7/8" barrel S&W J-frames, is the new Gold Dot "short barrel" 135gr+P JHP. It has the best accuracy and precision of ANY .38 Special load I've tried.

I'm also happy with the 158gr+P LSWCHP loads from both Remington and Buffalo Bore. I have the impression from experience that the Winchester variety of this particular load is less consistent (less precise), and by report, its expansion is also less reliable than the Remington.
I have no information about the expansion of the Buffalo Bore stuff, but their ammo seems to be very well made, and at over $1/round, I guess it should be!

April 13, 2007, 03:52 PM
Federal 158 gr +P Nyclads in my 3" SP101. I'll be ordering the new 158 gr LSWCHP and 150 gr full WC HC from Buffalo Bore soon to try in my M38 Airweight.

April 13, 2007, 04:19 PM
The Nyclad 158gr+P HP rounds were very good, but unfortunately Federal discontinued its Nyclad line a few years ago, so other than being able to locate the occasional "cache" of this round from rare sources, it won't be available.

April 13, 2007, 04:41 PM
+1 Jim March

Jeff Timm
April 13, 2007, 04:59 PM
Winchester 110 gr. Standard Velocity Silver Tips.

Who has an old Model 38. :D

April 13, 2007, 05:45 PM
currently loaded with Cor Bon 125 grain +P.

April 13, 2007, 06:11 PM
Slightly downloaded Speer gold dot 135grs, 4.5gs of titegroup. This is mid +P range.

The out of the box load is just a little too warm for me.

April 13, 2007, 07:00 PM
Speer Gold Dot 135 gr Short Barrel .38 Sp +P are by far the best SD ammo for a .38 +P rated Snub on the market today since they were specifically designed for a 1.875" barrel. The FBI load was the King but it has been de-throned.

For an older non +P Snub, it looks like Buffalo Bore's new standard pressure Short Barrel round is the ticket.

April 13, 2007, 07:04 PM
Both the 4" .38 and the 2" .38 love LSWCHP +P 158-grainers. Remington is my brand of choice.

I am however, very interested in trying Buffalo Bore's new standard pressure 158 LHP load, especially in the alloy framed Colt Agent that's on my hip right now.

I prefer the heavy bullet in a 2" snub, because it penetrates deep, I like the lead hollow point, because it has a history of reliable expansion. I like the 158-grain LHP, because it has a reputation for being a geniune fight stopper.


Jim March
April 13, 2007, 07:11 PM
ArchAngel: I disagree, I think the Remington 158+P plain lead hollowpoint still matches the Speer 135+P in snubbies and in some cases beats it.

The Winchester 158+P is too hard for snubbies, won't expand. The Federal flavors were too weak, both plain lead and Nyclad 158+.

The BuffBore 158 standard pressure Tim just whipped up matches the Remmie in performance but at less pressure, less leading and flash-suppressed powder. In combination it might finally topple the Speer 135+P as king of the snubbie hill...unless you can cope with the BuffBore 158+P, which IS as far as I'm concerned the most lethal 38+P on the market.

April 13, 2007, 07:25 PM
135 Speer Gold Dot for now.

Looking at CorBon DPX in .45 acp right now, and may look at other calibers as soon as I can afford to... :)

April 13, 2007, 07:50 PM
158gr +p lhp


April 13, 2007, 08:33 PM
158-gr X-Treme Bullet plated semi-wadcutters which I handloaded.


I want maximum penetration more than I want expansion which might reduce how deeply a bullet will drive. The SWC profile cuts a large clean entrance hole and wound channel. The general populace in the Heart of Dixie is overweight or obese. I want the highest probability that my self-defense load will not stop short. This bullet's weight and configuration is just what I'm looking for.

April 13, 2007, 08:55 PM
Speer Gold Dot "short barrel" 135gr+P JHP

April 13, 2007, 09:04 PM
Speer Gold Dot 135gr+P JHP

April 13, 2007, 09:25 PM
I use the 158 Remington LSWCHP+P's. My Taurus 85 Ultra-lite is my "everywhere" gun and thanks to Stephen Camp.. the Remington load is the only thing I carry in it.

April 13, 2007, 09:59 PM
I use full match wadcutters in my Cobra. I just ordered some of BuffaloBores for trial.

April 13, 2007, 10:07 PM
How about my Colt Cobra? Does that count? :o

Lyman mold . . . ummm . . . I forget the mold number . . . 358432???

It drops 162-ish gr full Wadcutters. I don't rely on, or even expect a .38 Special to expand for me, so I chose penetration with the largest flat frontal area bullet I could find. When I carry it, that's what I have in it.

April 13, 2007, 11:52 PM
Remington 158 gr. LSWCHP+P as carry round in my 642 with Magtech's 158 gr. SJHP+P for "+P practice" ($17.50/box of 50). Both shoot to point of aim almost exactly at 7-10 yards.

Old Fuff
April 14, 2007, 01:28 AM
The Old Fuff belongs to a small minority – at least on this forum – that doesn’t stoke his snubbies with the latest and hottest. I believe in control allowing fast, accurate repeat shots, high - not low penetration, and a bullet that goes right to the point of aim.

No .38 Special or .357 Magnum is going to make an instant stop unless some severe damage is done to the aggressor’s central nervous system. Under the usual rules of engagement the attacker gets to start the ball, and only then can the good guy (or gal) respond. Survival depends on a matched combination of speed and accuracy, and this doesn’t mean basketball-sized groups at 15 yards. :uhoh:

Some popular hollow points may expand well in jelly, but human tissue isn’t jelly, and it is sometimes behind some cover. To accomplish the mission you have to reach the targeted vital organ, and I am far more concerned about under penetration then over penetration when working with a short barrel.

Follow this link to see Stephen Camp’s observations – in particular the standard loaded 158-grain semi-wadcutter. Also notice his 7-yard / 3 shot group. Obviously this is not what a true-blue tactical sort of guy would ever get caught with, but then – the Old Fuff isn’t particularly tactical. Oh well, to each his own…


Jim March
April 14, 2007, 01:57 AM
Old Fuff: Tim Sundles apparently set up the 150gr hardcast full wadcutter for your type of thinking. It's likely carrying as much bullet energy as any other vendor's 158gr+P SWC, but with less peak pressure and likely a harder bullet than most SWCs.

April 14, 2007, 02:09 AM
Very interesting results so far, folks. Thanks for voting and expressing opinions.

And even though the 135 gr. Speer +P has been in the lead from the gitgo (by a large margin), I'm finding interest in what Jim March, Fuff and others are saying about the 158 gr. rnds.

This quote from Nitesite sums it up nicely for me, and puts things in the context of reality:

The general populace in the Heart of Dixie is overweight or obese. I want the highest probability that my self-defense load will not stop short.I think that overweight status is not just restricted to Dixie.

It'll be interesting to see where this rabbit hole goes.

April 14, 2007, 02:09 AM
110 grain Silvertips in my Model 38 Bodyguard. No +P for me.

April 14, 2007, 02:45 AM
That way I get four speed loaders full!!!
125gr Rem GS!!!

April 14, 2007, 03:13 AM
Never thought much about the .38 Special round until I started pocket carrying occasionally with the recent purchase of a S&W 642 . . . Since then though I have been researching these loads - like a lot of folks it seems.

Part of the reason I bought a 642 versus a .380 (other than revolver reliability) was the ability to shoot heavier bullets. What I was looking for was significant enough improvement in energy over the best .380 ACP ammo which makes about 200 ft/lbs. Also I think lighter bullets can be deflected more easily rather than punching through things like bone.

That led me to settle (for now at least) on the Remington FBI load. The new +P Buff Bore version is IMHO, the hottest .38 Special +P load commercially available, but also too hot in an airweight for fast follow up shots, not to mention unpleasant to shoot in general from a 15 oz gun.

Problem being the Remmie FBI loads cause leading. The solution I found is to use Magtech's 158 gr. SJHP for practice. This load is identical to the Remmie FBI load in velocity and energy. It's also cheap at $17.50/50. I don't think they would be great for defense as the HP cavity is really small, shallow and has thick walls. The LSWCHP's and GDHP's have wide, deep HP cavities and I don't think that's a coincidence as to helping their performance.

The Speer 135 GDHP-SB is also an excellent round. I just wish they had a 158 grain version at about 900 fps.

Someone had also mentioned the old Speer 4205 half-jacketed SWCHP in another thread. . . .

Wonder how this bullet would perform if pushed about 900-950 fps? Well I would think.

The more I learn about the "humble" .38 Special, the more I am impressed with it's ability to get the job done for self-defense. That's been quite a journey for a guy who thought anything short of a 10mm or .357 magnum was inadequate not long ago.:o

April 14, 2007, 03:15 AM
SW 642 Airweight...

First 2...Glaser +P Silver
Next 3...Fed. 129 g. Hydra-Shok +P
(1) HKS speedloader...more Hydra-Shoks

Jim March
April 14, 2007, 03:20 AM
The 38Snubbie gets a lot done out of all proportion to it's paper ballistics, because the slugs don't need any compromise for feed ramp reliability.

People talk about the hottest 380s matching the 38Spl in snubs. Don't you believe it. The rounds discussed in this thread as being among the best wouldn't work AT ALL in semi-autos.

April 14, 2007, 03:23 AM
The new +P Buff Bore version is IMHO, the hottest .38 Special +P load commercially available, but also too hot in an airweight for fast follow up shots, not to mention unpleasant to shoot in general from a 15 oz gun.Tiger,

Imagine an airweight with a set of full Hogue Monogrips that allows a LOT more control.
(Like those on mine. (http://thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=55579&d=1175075355) No, I don't pocket carry it.)

Would those BuffBore's be more appealing to you then?

April 14, 2007, 03:26 AM
The 38Snubbie gets a lot done out of all proportion to it's paper ballistics,
because the slugs don't need any compromise for feed ramp reliability.Jim, would you mind explaining the phrase "feed ramp reliability"? That's a new one for me.


Jim March
April 14, 2007, 03:46 AM
What I mean is, the bullet shapes we take for granted in wheelguns would cause most semi-autos to choke hard unless they've had major gunsmithing and feed ramp polishing done. And some would be impossible regardless.

There is no 9mm semi-auto round that I'm aware of that has a huge gaping JHP cavity the size of the Speer 135. And there's a reason for that: they would hang up on the feed ramps of most slideguns if it was tried.

S&W did successfully make a semi-auto in 38Spl years ago that would feed target wadcutters. But that's ALL it would eat - it was specially tuned for that bullet shape.

Ammo for semi-autos needs to be as close to "ball nose profile" as possible even if it's hollowpoint, so as to cause as few jams as possible.

We need no such compromises for our wheelguns, so the ammo makers brew up projectile shapes meant to work at the target rather than inside the gun.

April 14, 2007, 03:47 AM
Imagine an airweight with a set of full Hogue Monogrips that allows a LOT more control.
(Like those on mine. No, I don't pocket carry it.)

Would those BuffBore's be more appealing to you then?

Yes, they probably would be a bit more controllable with a full monogrip, but my 642 is purely a pocket dweller - Actually just went the other direction with grips - Hogue Bantams. That bigger full monogrip just wouldn't work well for me there I believe.

If I'm going to belt carry concealed (IWB or OWB) for now, it's usually a compact semi-auto (Glock 29). Going with my new "less is more" strategy with carry calibers, the G29 is probably going to make way soon for a compact semi auto in 9mm . . . or maybe something like a 640 or Model 60;)

April 14, 2007, 03:58 AM
Jim, thanks. Understood. Re-enforces my satisfaction that I've gone 100% wheel gun.

...or maybe something like a 640 or Model 60Tiger,

You should drop in over here (http://thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=263134).
I suspect you've got some opinions that may be of value there.


April 14, 2007, 05:32 AM
I looked over that Speer technical paper. It stated that the 135gr +P GDHP would hit steel and penetrate 12" - and displayed the same 'splat' look we find littering the ground in front of steel rebounding plates at the range. It must mean gelatin penetration with that shape... else, the round could have serious use against armor... Ah, statistics!

I went with the Rem 'FBI' load after reading Marshall & Sanow's stats on 'one shot stops' several years back. They, from a snubby, were found to be better fight 'stoppers' than .45ACP 230gr ball ammo from a 1911 - by several percentage points - from data taken from 'real' events. Leading isn't a problem here - a 'Lewis Lead Remover' (Brownell's) - or the Hoppes equivalent - will remove that easily - and should be in everyone's cleaning kit. Lead won't wear your barrel as quickly as copper clad, either. Of course, there is that lead and lead vapor problem - and resultant exclusion from many indoor ranges. The heavy lube smoke is a problem, too. Of course, these are 'doomsday rounds', and generally not shot from plinkers - or used as bullseye ammo. There are far better - and more affordable - rounds for those purposes.


Old Fuff
April 14, 2007, 10:02 AM
Jim March:

Old Fuff: Tim Sundles apparently set up the 150gr hardcast full wadcutter for your type of thinking. It's likely carrying as much bullet energy as any other vendor's 158gr+P SWC, but with less peak pressure and likely a harder bullet than most SWCs.

I know, and I find it interesting. Hopefully the loss of 8-grains in bullet weight won't effect the pointof aim / point of impact.

April 14, 2007, 11:18 AM
Why are so many carrying the hydra-shocks?

April 14, 2007, 12:15 PM
They consistantly work. They feed in all of my autos perfectly and they expand.
Additionally, whatever powder Fed uses seems to be very low flash based on my experience.


April 14, 2007, 10:34 PM
Federal Nyclad 158 grain SWHP +P.

April 15, 2007, 12:08 AM
I voted 'FBI' and 'other'

out of production Federal Premium Nyclad 158 gr lead semiwadcutter hollowpoint .38 spl +p; basically the FBI load with a nylon coating to reduce/eliminate lead fouling; I have a decent stash and I use this load in 3 different revolvers;

the other load that I use from time to time is the Winchester WWB Personal Defense 125gr semijacketed hollowpoint .38 spl +p; lower muzzle flash and felt recoil than the Remington equivalent of the same load;

April 15, 2007, 12:30 AM
And don't forget or rule out the heavily-muscled thugs who have pecs of steel. I have no faith or confidence in 110-gr bullets. Sure, they get up to speed quickly out of a short barrel. The problem is that they also decelerate more quickly than heavier bullets because they lack mass and therefore inertia. So even if a light bullet hits, say, a spine... it might not smash its way thru.

Gelatin is homogenous and doesn't contain gristle or bone or varying densities of tissue. So I choose a load that will drive thru all of them.

If I have to shoot, I hope that my bullet will cut and smash thru the fat or armor and still strike hard against the deep organs or CNS.

158-gr SWC all the way, baby.

April 15, 2007, 12:53 AM
Old Fuff wrote:
The Old Fuff belongs to a small minority – at least on this forum – that doesn’t stoke his snubbies with the latest and hottest. I believe in control allowing fast, accurate repeat shots, high - not low penetration, and a bullet that goes right to the point of aim.- post #48

I seem to be another member of this minority.

I also suspect Old Fuff also takes into account folks and physical limits, be it age, injury or just nagging old Arthritis.

BullfrogKen mentioned a old Colt Cobra, well another great point, some folks have a Older snub and don't want to shoot anything more potent - I do not out of a 1928 Detective Special, or Old Model 36 or 37.

POA/POI on some of these guns, were just set up / regulated for 158 gr load.

I like the old "FBI Load", have used it. I also know a person, retired, hands not what they used to be, and just a 158 gr standard LSWC , allows him to hit what aiming at, and allows quality practice.
FBI Load he just cannot do anymore, and at one time he carried that load on duty.
His wife cannot either, she is not able to do handguns much, except .22.
Her home gun is a Lever action rifle in .357.

Gun fit to shooter for task as they say...
Sometimes age, injury, sickness changes one over time as well...

April 15, 2007, 12:58 AM
sm said: POA/POI on some of these guns, were just set up / regulated for 158 gr load.

Yep, most sights on any fixed sighted revolver you'll come across were regulated with that weight and velocity bullet. More recent ones might not, recent being a relative term . . .

April 15, 2007, 01:29 AM
In my 642 HSM 158gr SWC dependable, accurate and reasonably priced.:cool:

April 15, 2007, 03:16 AM
What I mean is, the bullet shapes we take for granted in wheelguns would cause most semi-autos to choke hard unless they've had major gunsmithing and feed ramp polishing done. And some would be impossible regardless.

There is no 9mm semi-auto round that I'm aware of that has a huge gaping JHP cavity the size of the Speer 135. And there's a reason for that: they would hang up on the feed ramps of most slideguns if it was tried.

S&W did successfully make a semi-auto in 38Spl years ago that would feed target wadcutters. But that's ALL it would eat - it was specially tuned for that bullet shape.

Ammo for semi-autos needs to be as close to "ball nose profile" as possible even if it's hollowpoint, so as to cause as few jams as possible.

We need no such compromises for our wheelguns, so the ammo makers brew up projectile shapes meant to work at the target rather than inside the gun.

I've got no desire to start a revolver vs. semi auto battle, specially since I own many revolvers and pocket carry one also. But your comments don't properly reflect modern autoloaders or modern ammo.

Large open cavity hollow points have been available for autoloaders for a long time. One that comes to mind that's been around about 20 years or longer is the CCI/Speer 200 grain .45 caliber "flying ashtray". The cavity was huge and both my Sig P220 and my Glock 21 fed them with 100% reliability. That bullet has been far surpassed by more modern bullet designs but they're still available in the Blazer line. There have been similar large cavity bullets for other autoloading calibers as well.

But the real reason you don't see many large cavity hollow point bullets for autoloaders isn't that the guns can't chamber them, no the real reason is that such huge hollow cavities are no longer required to make the bullet expand and perform properly just as high velocity isn't required any longer either.

Bullets like the Ranger, Gold Dot, Golden Saber and Silvertip rely on bullet design, scored jackets and computer shaped cavities more than they rely on cavity size or velocity to expand. The cavity no longer needs to be huge, making it smaller and shaping it properly not only aids reliability but also aids in ballistics and expansion. And they expand quite reliably, testing, both real world and gelatin, shows that they expand to nearly double their starting size, almost every time. Why continue to make huge cavities when it's not necessary and would be more reliable in questionable guns without them?

I love revolvers too, but let's not kid ourselves as to the functionality of autoloaders or the efficiency of their ammo. It's every bit as good as a revolver in most cases.

Where autoloaders begin to have reliability problems is with the very small, very light guns. I've yet to find an autoloader that's smaller and lighter than a Glock 26 that's reliable and powerful enough to bet my life on. And bullet design seems to have little to do with it, with the sole exception of a .32 Kel-Tec I had my tiny autos aren't totally reliable even with FMJ ammo. And I ain't betting my live on a .32. Very small, very light autos just aren't extremely reliable, at least that's been my experience and I've had a bunch of them. There are several I'm still working with, but I don't get my hopes too high.

Which is why my pocket gun is a J frame revolver.

April 15, 2007, 03:24 AM
3rdPig > Good points and you may well be correct. However, why would Speer open up the frontal section of their revolver caliber GDHP's if they could just use the more tapered narrower cavity GDHP's seen in their autoloader rounds of similar caliber/bullet weights/velocities? No concern with feeding in more various makes of pistol perhaps?

April 15, 2007, 02:54 PM
Hornady Custom 158 gr JHP/XTP
muzzle 800 fps
50 yds 775 fps
100 yds 750 fps

April 15, 2007, 09:00 PM
I currently carry the 135 Speer GDHP +P, but I am tempted by the new 158 grain std pressure Buffalo Bore load. Maybe I'll order some of the std pressure ammo for my 642 and the +P for my 686 sometime.

April 15, 2007, 10:22 PM
110gr Federal Hydra-Shoks. The 135gr +P GDs had way too much recoil out of my M&P340 for my recoil sensitive hands and the 110gr hit closer to POA. 110gr Silvertips left around too much unburnt powder.

April 16, 2007, 10:41 AM
Since the Nyclads are no longer available as loaded rounds, and my supply of Nyclad bullets for reloading is dwindling, as so many here have done, I have gone to the Speer GD 135 grain JHP +P in my Model 60, SP-101s and Taurus 650 and 651. The SP-101s are my only snub revolvers that I can 'comfortably' shoot .357 for more than a cylinder full.

April 16, 2007, 03:30 PM
Speer gold dots in the short barrel loading. I don't carry my j frame much anymore since i bought a keltec P3AT that has been 100% reliable with golden sabers.

April 16, 2007, 04:03 PM
I have switched ALL of my 38 special revolvers over to the Speer GDHP 135gr +p. I like it in my j-frames as well as my k-frames.

Jeff Timm
April 19, 2007, 03:58 PM
Does anyone still load the old 200 gr. Super Police .38 Special?

Who figures if you don't like hollowpoints, go for weight. :D

April 19, 2007, 04:34 PM
Black Hills 148 gr target wadcutter. No, i am not kidding.

April 19, 2007, 08:31 PM
158 gr. LSWCHP FBI +P What ever brand I can find, This load is street proved over many years Un like the new Speer It has no record to stand on. Think I like a heavy proven bullet.
Also in some testing I say the SWCLHP mor than held its own against the Speer and Corbon loads

Ops Officer
April 19, 2007, 10:16 PM
Federal Hydra-Shok 129 grain, JHP +P for my wife's 642.

Steve C
April 20, 2007, 06:55 PM
125gr Federal Nyclads standard or +P
158gr Speer LSWCHP's on top of 4.5grs of W231.
125gr Rem Golden Sabers on top of 6.0grs Unique.

April 20, 2007, 07:02 PM
Speer GDHP 135gr +p

April 20, 2007, 10:05 PM
I used to have real trouble deciding what to use and for a while was trying to use the 158gr lswchp +p rounds but they were a real handful out of an airweight for me. Plus after some research I found out they don't have a great track record of expanding after clothing out of 2" barrels, although 4+" is another story. Since then I've taken the advice of Dr. Gary Roberts and went with Winchester's X38SMRP, the 148gr super-x wadcutter in the cylinder and a speed loader of speer 135 gr's in the pocket. They're not amazing rounds but the wadcutter profile gives me a good crush cavity thats the width of the bullet and they're much easier shooting than the fbi load. I can notice a difference in how fast I'm ready to follow up. The speer loads are ready to hit the clylinder if a reload is needed. I think its a pretty good compromise even if it did mean acknowledging I'm not the best snub shooter in the world.

April 20, 2007, 11:15 PM
Top three:

135 gr. Speer Gold Dot +P: 32.00%
158 gr. LSWCHP FBI +P: 19.11%
Other: 14.67%

Over the last few days, I've watched a slight increase in the vote proportion for those 158 gr. LSWCHP FBI +P. Still well behind the 135 gr. Speer Gold Dot +P, but ...

This continues to be an interesting exercise.
Those of us in the 642 Club continue discussing the results,
and how to interpret them once the numbers are in. :scrutiny:

Thanks to all for sharing your knowledge, experiences and opinions.


April 21, 2007, 11:13 AM
Other: 125 GR JSP (flat nose) Winchester WinClean .38 Special (minus P).

I carry what that with which I practice.

April 25, 2007, 01:13 AM
Any more votes,
or are we done here?

April 25, 2007, 05:30 PM
Hell, I'll cast my vote. Bought my first .38 snubby, a Taurus 85, in stainless today. Next stop was Bass Pro Shops for a box of Remington Golden Sabre +P 125gr. Ask me why? I don't know. I carry hollowpoints in everything, even though I realize that in .38 Special it probably makes more sense for a heavier, solid bullet design.

April 28, 2007, 05:59 AM
135 gr. Speer Gold Dot +P: 31.35%
158 gr. LSWCHP FBI +P (specify brand): 20.24%

Since this poll began, every day,
those 135's have been ahead of the 158's.

Yet, I've noticed a trend:
the 158's have been ever so slowly,
inch by inch, catching up.

The 158's are still only at 64% of the vote for 135's,
but gaining ground ... oh ... so ... slowly ... :scrutiny:

Is there a message here?

Are 158's the tortoise and 135's the hare?

Will the heavier tortoise eventually catch the hare?

Stay tuned; we'll find out.

April 28, 2007, 09:26 AM
I voted Speer GDHP 135gr +p. I am using that in both my 642 and my 3" model 10 bedside gun. Prior to that I really liked the winchester 130gr as it has a really large cavity in the hollow point.

That said, Im really interested by those two new standard pressure Buffalo Bore loads if the recoil is less than the gold dots.

Im hoping someone will get some and post a range report :). If it doesnt happen soon I might just break down and order them myself to try it out.

April 28, 2007, 12:49 PM
Although I have a .357 J-frame (M&P 340), I will still be carrying it with the 135 grain Speer Gold Dots in .38 +P.

Brian Williams
April 28, 2007, 01:00 PM
I reload my own 158 gr LSWC in Win or Fed brass with 4 gr of 231 touched off with Federal primers. It gets the job done and is fairly accurate while allowing quick follow-up shots

April 28, 2007, 02:27 PM
I switched to Gold Dots and put the Nyclads back in their box as a future collectible. :D

April 28, 2007, 02:31 PM
Call me old school 158 grain Plus P SWC HP here.

April 28, 2007, 11:04 PM
What is gas checked? I think I have seen this explained, gases going around the bullet before it enters the barrel? But I am not sure please explain. Thanks

Brian Williams
April 28, 2007, 11:11 PM
Gas checked is to put a copper cup on the base of the bullet, it prevents the hot powder gases from melting the base of the bullet.

April 29, 2007, 08:47 AM
I use Speer GDHP 135gr. +p; when you care enough to send the very best...

May 1, 2007, 12:29 AM
NYCLAD 158 SWCHP +P. Old school. Street proven

May 1, 2007, 01:23 AM
158 grain Lead Semi Wadcutter, remanufactured and new.
Not hollow point


May 2, 2007, 02:11 AM
Go here (http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=274139) to read, learn ...
maybe even evolve ...


May 2, 2007, 09:00 AM
"Black Hills 148 gr target wadcutter. No, i am not kidding.

Me too!

May 9, 2007, 03:50 PM
I guess folks have forgotten about this poll. And I was cheering the FBI load on to victory. Maybe I picked the wrong one to back.

May 9, 2007, 04:23 PM
B'man, I think most who were going to vote have done so already. This little bump may bring in a few more votes, though ... ya never know.

The pattern has been clear from the first page, though: the Speer 135s took an early lead and never relinquished it. Those 158's have been riding in a commanding second place, especially if one combines the data for all 4 158 categories.

Of course, all this data still leaves an interesting question to be discussed: what do they mean?

That is, is the 135 gr Speer chosen most because it really IS the superior round, or is it in the lead because ... well, because it is in the lead (that is, because so many people use it, others think it is a superior round and use it, too)?

Yes, I know that it was designed specifically for snubbie .38s. I understand that. But given all the water under the bridge since it was designed for that purpose, that doesn't necessarily mean
it is still the superior rnd under all conditions.

Now, having opened that particular Pandora's box,
I'm just going to sit back and read. :evil:


May 9, 2007, 04:49 PM
Nem...it's all about marketing. That, and availability of the product. Most people shoot what they can get hold of. Cost is also a big factor for some...many have never made it past Wally World's "sale" shelf. Ok...I'm a bit disgruntled that Corbon DPX has not done better on this poll. It is, IMHO, the superior round, albeit, difficult to find and rather spendy. Rifle hunters know about the all-copper Barnes bullets, however, it has only recently come onto the side arm market.

May 9, 2007, 10:56 PM
Hey Nem,
I was trying to relight the pharr, as some in NC would say, though it probably has gone out. I kept hoping for a surge in the 158gr category, albeit right now I'm still carrying the last of my Federal 110gr non +P's.

May 10, 2007, 01:44 AM
B'man, I'm glad your struck a fresh match under the pharr.
Might be some momentum left in this bullet yet.

'Specially with you specifying those 110 gr non +P. That's a pretty big leap there, from 110 all the way to 158, bypassing that almighty 135 in the process.

What's your thinking there. If you have confidence in the 110's, is that starting to waver a bit? And what about the 158's is so ... attractive?

I'm NOT being critical of that, however. Far from it. I have the same amount of variation in my own deliberations about which rnds to burn; I can't seem to land on just one that sounds like, "Ah, this is it!".

So, I'm always curious about what other people's decision processes are.

I'm hoping that we'll continue to discuss this. I've seen a lot of data here, but am far from saturated in terms of explanations about "why I use rnd X".


May 10, 2007, 11:18 PM
The reason I have the 110gr Fed. still in my 642 is that my dealer reccomended them for low recoil and easier 2nd shot placement. They are very easy to shoot and the hollow point opens up pretty well according to advertisement.

The reason I like the Remington 158gr LSWCHP +P is that it's history as a stopper goes back almost 40 years with many LEO's giving their approval. The only bad thing about the 158gr is the recoil. Of course, if you ever have to use a weapon in SD, you'll probably only need 1 or 2 shots. It's just the practicing with that heavy a load that kills my right thumb.:fire: My thumb probably has a touch of arthritis, but I've never asked a Dr. about it.

So at present I still have the 110's loaded up, but I will not throw my 2 extra boxes of Remingtons away.

May 11, 2007, 09:55 AM
Brassman and Nem870 - I have reread the thread, (hey that rhymes) and there has been a lot of good information posted - even though much was opinions, those are valuable as well.

DawgFvr makes a good point as well - availability coupled with marketing. I went to 4 different gun shops in my area. The closest thing I came to a 158 was MagTec 158 FMJ. Sure, I could probably order some, but they are cost prohibitive. Still, if there were a box on the shelf, I'd likely buy em and try em. I do not reload and for the immediate future won't - maybe some day.

When deciding on which round to carry, I do rely at least a little on what's available to me, (immediately). I also mix in a lot of trial and error, (mostly trial) coupled with research. Up until my 642, I have been carrying a .45ACP in some form, for the last 8-years. For many of those years, I carried Black Talons and pretty much ignored any thoughts on ever switching. I had what I felt was a "superior round" for me. It wasn't until I bought my ParaOrdinance 6.45, that I started to really look at what I was carrying for ammunition. I had been carrying the Talons for years and years and ceremoniously shot the 40-rounds I had been hanging onto for so long. It felt good to let go and open my mind up a bit...

Knowing I'm rambling now, (sorry), I'll get to the end of it. I shot many, many boxes - at great cost I might add, of every defense round I could get my hands on - from mild to wild. I also did a fair amount of research, (technical coupled with opinion) and found the Remington Golden Sabre 185 JHP's were the ticket... Was I carrying a "superior round"? Perhaps, but that didn't really matter. I was carrying what felt best to me - with the full knowledge that even if there were better rounds out there, I still would not want to take a hit from a Golden Sabre.

I arrived at the Speer 135 +P GDHP's in much the same manner. I shot a lot of everything. I must have fired 10 different rounds in the first week of my 642CT ownership. My decision to carry the 135's came from a lot of reading, a lot of shooting and zero marketing. I also factored in cost. With many FFL's jumping on the "Hype-Train" and marking up self defense rounds into the stratosphere, (especially around here), finding 1,000 rounds of 135's for $240.00 delivered was too good to pass up. Pulling some empty boxes out of my car - representing 4 dealers here is my area was telling: Federal HydraShoks 20 rounds - $18.95, Speer GDHP 125's 20 rounds $19.95, Cor-Bon 125's 20 rounds $21.95...Winchester 125 JHP, (the best value of all four) $19.95 50 rounds. The list goes on, but illustrates that marketing may begin with the ammo companies, but ends with many, (not all) FFL's "marking up the hype"...

Truth is, I don't honestly know if my Speer 135 +P GDHP's are "superior" to the FBI loads. What I do know is they work for me, are a handfull, (big bark) and I would not want to be on the receiving end of either of them... ;)

May 11, 2007, 10:09 AM
The last few years have been tough times for ammo companies. With China becoming industrialized and eating up the worlds supply of metals, metal prices have doubled. Whats worse, it appears it will only get worse. Stock up now.

Jeff Timm
May 12, 2007, 09:23 AM
Back in the 1980s there was a flirtation with very light bullets in the .38 Special to get hollow points to expand to maximum.

The Feds issued some 95 gr .38 Special Hollow points, and there was at least one factory load with a 85gr from the .380 in the .38 Special case.

I like the 110 gr. Standard Velocity in my old Model 38 S&W and I accept the lack of penetration because my personal defense needs are different from an LEOs needs. I don't intend to shoot a man sideways while he fires a rifle at someone else.

Who hopes he never has to do any empirical testing of his theory.

May 13, 2007, 05:57 PM
In the 80s or 90s Gun Test did a test of 38spl. +p loads. There pick at that time was Corbon 125grn.+p. I still have a few boxs and a Catalog. They claim over 1000 fps from a 2" gun. They shoot good from my 2" 38s so thats what I carry.

January 6, 2008, 03:43 PM
Model 49 2" snubnose.

I voted for the Speer 135gr +P GDHP.

In my view, the 'other two' in contention, Rem 158 LHP +P and the Cor-Bon 110 DPX +P, are, however, great rounds.

Gel test results are similar, with, perhaps the edge to the Cor-Bon, but the other two make it up in expansion?

Anyway, the Rem is a bit much recoil for me, especially with follow-up shots. Too much muzzle flip for me. It's also lead (a bit dirty) and I believe may have had some problems underexpanding and overpenetrating in the denim and/or other tests. I could be wrong.

I actually think between the Cor-Bon and the Speer the former may be more desirable on penetration, and I believe the major reason for selecting the Cor-Bon in addition to penetration would be for the Barnes copper bullet, that has no jacket or lead core, and is a very reliable expander. But I believe that it's pricey and I had a little difficulty extracting a cylinder full after testing it. That happened once, and I shot a total of 2 and 1/2 cylinders-14 rounds. It's also not readily available much of the time.

The Speer seems to group well, is law-enforcement approved, reliable and available. It's heavier than the Cor-Bon. The ballistic gelatin tests appear excellent, especially with barriers. However, I am concerned with penetration in bare ballistic gelatin-seems to lag a bit compared to Rem and Cor-Bon, and have actually seen results, I think, on brassfetcher.com where it did not pass 12" (this conflicts with the Speer data on the website-but even Speer has bare gelatin at 11"-negligible FBI standards failure).

Very tough deciding which for carry...I've switched back and forth, and have even considered mixing the DPX and the GD in one cylinder. But decided against it for multiple shot consistency. Any views on mixing and matching in one cylinder?

These are the top three loads AFAIK, but the Buffalo Bores may be worth looking at...however, if ever in a SD situation, I think it better to go with the load the 'cops' use...and the load now is apparently 'Speer GD 135gr +P'. I can also get it locally and relatively cheaper than the Cor-Bon and can get it in the 50 round boxes.

January 7, 2008, 11:04 AM
I still have a bunch of old Corbon 38spl. +P 125g. It was rated over 1000 FPS out of a 2".

January 7, 2008, 01:25 PM
After carrying a variety of different rounds, testing them and reading as much as I could on the various rounds I finally selected the Gold Dot 135 Grain +P's.

I'm happy with my choice and it's a "proven" load for a snubbie.


January 7, 2008, 08:20 PM
I'm using 125gr Speer Gold Dots because they were available locally when 135gr Gold Dots weren't.

January 8, 2008, 07:26 AM
Speer 135 gr Gold Dot +P in an x42.


January 9, 2008, 08:36 PM
Because I carry a Colt Cobra and much shooting with +P loads is not recommended, I rely on non-+P loads- which are getting harder and harder to find when loaded with "self-defense" bullets. I also want a bullet weight that corresponds with a 25 yard poa to poi. So, I have pretty much settled on Fiocchi SJHP 148 grain which, in my case at least, seems to be proving a good compromise between controllable (relatively mild) repeat shots, expansion and penetration. I've also been experimenting with Hornady JHP/XTP 158 grain and Buffalo Bore JHC Speer Low Vel. 125 grain loads.

However, at the end of the day, I'll be the first to concede that no empirical, definitive data exists that proves one competitive load superior to another in every situation- way too many variables involved.

January 9, 2008, 09:33 PM
Other: Hornady XTP

January 10, 2008, 11:05 AM
Remington 130gr. Same as my target shooting round. If the first one doesnt stopp'em, then I have 5 more where it came from.


January 10, 2008, 11:30 AM
Remington 158gr LSWCHP+P

January 10, 2008, 03:08 PM
Federal 129 gr HYDRA-SHOK JHP

This is my personal defense carry load. Being relatively new at CCW, I made this my choice based on recommendations from friends. If these don't work when the SHTF, I won't have any friends to be mad at.:eek::eek:

January 10, 2008, 10:39 PM
Federal Nyclad +P 158gr. LSWCHP -til they run out.

January 10, 2008, 11:29 PM
CORBON 38 special +P 125gr JHP. i also have speed strip loaders filled with Speer Gold dots +P

January 11, 2008, 03:27 AM
I voted for other. I just bought my first revolver, SW 642CT, I'm picking it up today, can't wait. So I will probably buy a box of the best ammo they have on hand at my dealer. Probable will be Rem GS 125+p, he said he had those in stock, no 135 GD's. However, I really like DT's ammo, so i just bought a box of their 125gr +p gold dots to test out for my regular carry round. Specs on the website look great.

January 11, 2008, 10:25 AM
I have my Cobra stoked with Buffalo Boe's standard pressure 158gr LSWC-HPs. They are gas checked, which is a nice bonus.

I need to get a mag for my Colt GM wadcutter gun;)

January 11, 2008, 04:06 PM
I like the Buffalo Bore 158 grn +p LSWHPGC and load my snubbies with that round when I have been shooting and the .357 magnums will not fit (.38 rings).

But, I keep the speed strips and speed loaders loaded with the Speer GDHP 135 grn +p because the speed strips and loaders go in and out of pockets day after day after day. The Lead HPs will deform after getting banged around like this over time. The Speer JHP round resists getting deformed. (I am NOT talking about abusing them either).

I also like the Remington FBI load for my wifes SP101. The Buffalo Bores are just a tad too much for her.

Lots of good ammo out there that serves different purposes. It doesn't have to be an "Either / Or" proposition. I own several different brands and have a use for all of them (well, I hope NOT to have a use for them)

January 11, 2008, 04:24 PM
Reload m'own. My brand.:D

Hornady 125grain JHP
Winchester 231 powder
Winchester WSP primer
Miscellaneous brass case of one brand or another.

January 11, 2008, 09:37 PM
I voted for Remington 158gr SWCHP, the FBI load in my 637 snubby. But don't drop those cartridges! They always land bullet first, which converts them to range ammo. To confuse things, my Browning Hi Power is loaded with Speer 124gr Gold Dots.
Cordially, Jack

January 11, 2008, 10:18 PM
I use Doubletap's 125g Gold Dot +P because it moves at 9mm Velocities, very good round.

January 12, 2008, 03:34 PM
Remington 158gr LSWCHP +P I use them in my 640 and 642. I plan on working up a practice load that is similar to save $$.


January 12, 2008, 08:47 PM
Federal .38 special +P 158 gr. LSWCHP.

(A while back I bought a box of .38 special +P Speer Gold Dot 135 gr. JHP's. I need to fire some of those. I'll switch if I like them.)

Ed Ely
January 12, 2008, 09:51 PM
I still like OLD Win 125 gr STHP +P
in my S&W 638.


May 14, 2008, 01:04 PM
I think the stoutest load re recoil is the Rem FBI LHP +P in 158gr followed by the 110gr DPX +P and then the GDSB 135gr +P.

Yesterday's chrono results:

The FBI load was a consistent 850 fps or so. The DPX chrono'd easily over 1100fps. The GD 135gr was a consistent 910 fps average, above posted velocity on the Speer site.

I voted for and prefer the GD .38 +P 135gr. I shoot it more accurately and I can get 50 round boxes locally at savings. I've had the benefit of the reloaded 'clone' recipe worked up by others, particularly jfh and ArchAngelCD, and I can't distinguish 'clone' from factory re recoil.

My hand 'hurt more' shooting the FBI load. :)

DPX, imho, is not competitively priced. I found it stouter and less accurate to shoot FOR ME.

All loads were shot with the Hogue Bantam grips. Gun (442-2) only weighs 14.3 oz. empty with them.

The Speer is a fabulous round, IMHO. It's my SD load in .38 and in 9mm. Very accurate, consistent.

You can't go wrong with any of the three. It's a matter of personal preference. And there's plenty of other fine loads out there.

May 14, 2008, 01:47 PM
130 grain Federal HydraShok

May 14, 2008, 05:25 PM
125 gr. Speer Gold Dot +P

May 14, 2008, 10:01 PM
Buffalo Bore 150 grain hard cast wad cutters are in the cylinder of my 642 w/ Crimson Trace LG-405 grips. They're right at the ceiling of what I can tolerate while still being accurate with rapid fire. Since they're not suitable for rapid reloads, Speer 135 grain +P Gold Dots reside in the speed loaders.

Works for me...

May 15, 2008, 07:08 AM
Well, to answer the question of what rounds are in my actual snubbies, it is some of my precious, dwindling supply of Federal Nyclad 125-grain standard pressure, which was informally called the "Chief's Special" load. It is not a mild load, with several gunwriters back in the day, who actually chrono'ed the stuff, finding it would be faster in an individual snubby than jacketed 125-grain +P stuff. Optimized for short barrels, a complete burn in the snubby barrel with the Chief's Special load would give better velocity than an incomplete burn with a +P optimized for longer barrels.

I have in the past used the FBI load; nothing wrong with it, but I reckon once the Nyclads are used up, I will use the Speer stuff loaded for short barrels, as it seems NYPD officers are happy with its real-world performance.

May 15, 2008, 08:32 AM
Remington +P 158gr LSWCHP in my 1972 Colt Cobra.

MagTech (std pressure) 158gr SJHP in my 1959 Colt Cobra (which has been retired to the back of my safe mostly these days).


May 15, 2008, 07:00 PM
Federal Nyclad +P is what I use in my Smith & Wesson Airweight model 638.

May 16, 2008, 08:39 PM
158 gr. LSWCHP +P Remington is my choice. Load it in my S&W mod. 36 & 60, in my Ruger 3" SP101 and in my new model Colt Agent. Will probably switch to same load in std. pressure for my old 36 and the agent next time I buy. Just for them as they are a little my "delicate".

May 16, 2008, 08:43 PM
doubletap +P 125gr LV gold dots

May 16, 2008, 09:27 PM
Remington 158gr +p LHP.


May 16, 2008, 11:59 PM
I voted for the 158gr FBI load, yet I carry Federal SWCHP but do not know what weight they are as I got them loose without the box, I can see when loaded in the cylinder the bullet does not reach the the end of the cylinder like a regular 158gr LRN, therefore I would think the bullet is smaller and lighter, but never had other brands in SWCHP configuration to compare, maybe all SWCHP are shorter than LRN and still weight 158gr. If anyone can correct me please do.


May 17, 2008, 08:15 AM
When I can get it I use the speer 135's, but lately I've been using the WWB 125 +p hp. My speed loaders have plain fmj's for smoother reload.

May 17, 2008, 08:50 AM
doubletap +P 125gr LV gold dots

I just acquired a box of these to test. If I like them, it will replace the 135 Grain Speer Gold Dots as my carry load.

I've often considered loading it with the 158 grn FBI load, and carrying the 125 Double Taps as a reload as the the 125 grain jacketted bullets are easier to line up with the chambers.

May 17, 2008, 11:38 AM
Model 49 and 442: Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure 158's.
Model 640 (38): First 2 up are BB Standard Pressure 158's,
followed by 3 BB 158 +P's.
Model 340 PD: First 2 up are Corbon DPX 38 +P's,
followed by 3 Double Tap 125 38+P's.

May 17, 2008, 11:41 AM

Why are you considering such a change in carry ammo?

May 17, 2008, 02:59 PM

Why are you considering such a change in carry ammo?

Well, it comes down to penetration. The Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P is a great choice for the snubnose 38. Very low muzzle flash, controllable/manageable recoil, and very good expansion.

Problem is it consistently manages only about 10" of penetration in ballistics gell http://www.brassfetcher.com/Speer%20135%20grain%20GoldDot%20Short%20Barrel.html. While that isn't bad (10" is my bare minimum), there are deeper penetrating rounds out there that meet or exceed the FBI's recommended 12" minimum. I have seen it posted quite a bit lately that the human skin is more elastic/resistant to bullet impact than other tissues. The rule of thumb I've seen is that just to penetrate the skin is equal to 2" of penetration in ballistics gell. If that's true, then the Speers have 8" to spare.

The Double Tap 125 +Ps use a Speer Gold Dot JHP low velocity bullet, pushed to 1100 fps. Though I can't find the info now, IIRC it manages 2" better penetration than the 135 grain Speers. The 158 grain +P LSWCHP "FBI Load" typically penetrates better as well. Another excellent cartridge that I considered was the 110 grain +P Corbon DPX, though they are friggin' expensive.

Of course, shot placement is the other part of the equation. Hopefully next weekend, I will be able to carefully compare my accuracy firing the Speer Gold Dots, DTs and the 158 grain FBI load. Basically, I'll carry the deepest penetrating round that is most controllable in my hands. So for example, if I can't hit squat with the Double Taps, I won't carry them.

So basically, it's been a while since I evaluated my carry load in my 642, so it's just time to re-evaluate in my book.

May 17, 2008, 04:20 PM
Understood. but the Speer apparently don't concern LE and have a good street record. And brass fetcher is only one source. (Note the Rem did not reach 12", also in the bf tests. And these tests, while helpful, are not done under strict laboratory conditions, and many times a correction factor must be applied).

The results for barrier penetration are better for the Speer than the LHP.

Additionally, I really don't think 10", 11" or 12" is that crucial in bare gelatin.

DPX is priced way too high and I absolutely refuse to pay that. I'm personally refusing to buy DPX, and I also don't like it for accuracy in my gun. It does not have much of a street record, AFAIK, it's less controllable, imv, than the GD, there's a better deal for me on the Speer locally. YMMV.

LHP is way too smoky and painful for me to shoot, compared to the others. I practice with what I carry, or a clone load thereof, and that is the Speer 135 GDHP SB.

Let us know about the DT. I'm particularly interested in accuracy, consistency. I find the GD to be quite accurate in my 442, and I like that! Moreover, the other day I chrono'd the GD and the five rounds came out at over 900 fps. DPX averaged about 1050 with the 110 gr. copper bullet. I'd go with the 135 gr. over 900fps over the DPX 110...

It really boils down to personal preference, like most things, including price, availability, ease of shooting it, accuracy....

May 18, 2008, 07:36 AM
It really boils down to personal preference, like most things, including price, availability, ease of shooting it, accuracy....

Right you are. I am willing to carry any of the three (and other I haven't tested ... maybe another day). I'll post my very informal results here and/or in the 642 club.

May 18, 2008, 09:13 AM
My favorite snub round isn't listed. Federal Nyclad 125 non +P round "The Chief Speical Load". I know it's discontinued but it would have been nice to added it to see the response.

May 18, 2008, 10:01 AM
My carry load is a reload.It is an Alberts 145 grain hydra shock produced in the 80's. In apperance it looks like a wadcutter.The bullet was designed to be loaded with the hollow portion pointing out.The hydra shock post is in the middle. It was designed to operate at standard velocities from a 2" barrel. Federal dropped this bullet when they took over the hydra shocks. Recoil is moderate and tests in water and soaked catalogs was very good. Byron

Gary A
May 18, 2008, 10:06 AM
Speer 135 Gold Dots +P in the steel frame. Currently in an older-style Airweight is plain old 158 Lead SWCs soon to be replaced with discontinued Federal 125 Std Nyclads now that warm weather is upon us.

James A. Dewey
May 18, 2008, 11:58 AM
I just bought a '68 Colt Agent, defdinetly needs bigger grips, experimenting with handloads, definitly not to use +p need poi at short range for snakes common here in NM this is my pocket gun .

May 18, 2008, 12:33 PM
roblem is it consistently manages only about 10" of penetration in ballistics gell http://www.brassfetcher.com/Speer%20...%20Barrel.html. While that isn't bad (10" is my bare minimum), there are deeper penetrating rounds out there that meet or exceed the FBI's recommended 12" minimum. I have seen it posted quite a bit lately that the human skin is more elastic/resistant to bullet impact than other tissues. The rule of thumb I've seen is that just to penetrate the skin is equal to 2" of penetration in ballistics gell. If that's true, then the Speers have 8" to spare.
The brass fetcher reference is good, but I'd also point out that sometimes his block isn't fully within spec, he doesn't always get multiple shots, etc.

As far as process goes, I trust DocGKR to get more accurate results from his gel tests. He reports
.38 Sp Speer 135 gr +P JHP Gold Dot (53921), ave vel=856f/s
BG: pen=13.1”, RD=0.56”, RW=134.5gr
4 layer denim: pen=13.6”, RD=0.53”, RW=134.1gr
auto windshield: pen=9.4”, RD=0.51”, RW=129.6gr

I'd also point out that out of the 2" barrel guns the 158gr lswchp usually fails to expand through fabric. Lighter jhps that do expand usually underpenetrate. A soft shooting round like a 148gr wadcutter might be worth trying as well. They'll have sufficient pentation, be controllable and not bad to practice with in light weight guns. The sharp shoulder of the wadcutter will help with stopping your attacker too.

May 18, 2008, 03:48 PM
contains the following post by 'Chuck' for the Speer:

.38sp 135gr Gold Dot +P from S&W 642
heavy clothing; pen 11" ex .552 820fps
heavy clothing; pen 12.25" ex .555 845fps
auto glass; pen 6.75" ex .72

Lucky Strike
September 1, 2008, 11:48 AM
Wow....very informative thread...i'll be picking up a box of the top 3 vote getters and seeing which works best for me outta my soon to be new 642

Old Grump
September 1, 2008, 02:54 PM
158 gr LRN or 158 gr SW. +p is absolutely wasted in a snubbie unless you really enjoy muzzle flash and noise. At the ranges you are going to be using a snubbie the booger man really will not be able to tell the difference.

September 1, 2008, 03:04 PM
148 gr. wadcutters :)


September 3, 2008, 06:00 AM
In 4" : 158 LSWC & 5.3 gr W-231
In 2" : 125 JSP or JHP & 5.6 gr VihtaVuori N320

September 3, 2008, 06:42 AM
I have an old S&W Model 37 alloy revolver that's in perfect shape, but I won't fire +P ammo from it. So it normally carries the Federal 110gr low recoil hollow points. Sometimes I load it with Buffalo Bore 150gr hardcast, though.

My Model 642 gets either Buffalo Bore 158gr hollow points, 135gr Gold Dots, or Remington Golden Sabers.

I never feel undergunned.

September 3, 2008, 07:21 AM
148 gr Hornady XTP NON+P

I didn't really do any research...it was priced about the same as other competitive stuff and I was looking for non+p which is not carried locally.

September 3, 2008, 08:02 AM
Federal FMJ FLAT points

No plus pee ammo

September 3, 2008, 02:36 PM
148 grain wadcutters. Low recoil, good pentration. Accurate. Cheap to practice with.

Arrogant Bastard
September 3, 2008, 02:58 PM
My S&W 640 is loaded with Buffalo Bore 158-gr. LSWCHP +P. I keep a couple speed strips of Reminton 125-gr. Golden Saber for reloading, as i don't want soft lead scribbling all over my pockets.

September 5, 2008, 05:58 PM
I use mainly 135 grain Speer Gold-Dot+P rounds in my 638, although I will also use 110 grain Cor-Bon +P, Winchester 125 grain +P, and Cor-Bon Pow'R Ball ammo.

Speer's are good and they are accurate in my snub out to a good disance for a 2" barrel.

September 5, 2008, 10:53 PM
Blackhills ammo. Chewy

September 5, 2008, 11:36 PM
hornady 158 gr XTP

Big Mike
September 6, 2008, 10:15 AM
SP-101, from the box, Speer Gold Dot, "Personal Protection", 38 SPL+P 125 gr. GDHP.

September 6, 2008, 09:25 PM
In grandma's gun, .357, I keep Fed 110 low recoil, and the last shot a .357 MagSafe.

My Model S&W 37 158 gr. Magtech Semi Jacketed Hollow Point (SJHP) "Non-+Ps"

In my main carry it GDHP 135g +P.

P5 Guy
September 8, 2008, 10:24 PM
158+p SWCHP made by Federal.

September 8, 2008, 10:36 PM
Voted 150gr hardcast wadcutter because that is what *I* would carry if given the choice. Expansion means nothing if penetration is not met. I think the hardcast wadcutter fills the bill best dealing with the short barrel velocities and various encounters one may have while armed with a snubbie. One benefit of a revolver is the ability to chamber wide flat noses bullets. I consider this a plus and would arm myself accordingly.

September 9, 2008, 01:55 AM
158 gr LRN or 158 gr SW. +p is absolutely wasted in a snubbie unless you really enjoy muzzle flash and noise. At the ranges you are going to be using a snubbie the booger man really will not be able to tell the difference.
Really? The info here http://www.brassfetcher.com/38special2inchbarrel.html doesn't agree with that (thanks to THR member JE223 for sharing all his testing with us via www.brassfetcher.com).

Dr. Snubnose
September 9, 2008, 03:52 AM
Don't carry a .38 snubnose as much as I prefer the .357 mag. but when I do...Nyclads 125 grain the Federal's 158 grain Nyclads as well....or some special Magsafe rounds(+p+ made for me by the late Joe Zambone (original inventor and owner of magsafe ammo)...Doc:D

September 9, 2008, 07:04 AM
I've been switching around between Remington 158 gr. HPs and Speer Gold Dots 135 gr. HPs, both loaded in +P. I also have a bunch of Federal Hydro-Shocks +P+ that I only shoot through my SP101.

However, Buffalo Bore non +P rounds seem to be the way to go these days, especially for my 642. which I shoot a lot. I figure I'd go easy on the J-frame before it starts to rattle apart.:)

September 16, 2008, 12:28 PM
I bought some of these at a good price - and figured that with the short barrel type ammo, premium manufacturer, and just a bit more ooooomph :eek: than the 125gr HPs so many of us like.

From where I sit, I like to actually shoot that premium ammo more than I like to pay for it.:what: I figure a buck a round is a little steep. So what I wind up doing is buying "fairly priced" premium ammo (like the Speer instead of, say, Magsafe) and shooting my carry ammo a couple times a year to keep it fresh.

I know you could argue that the very best (most expensive) premium ammo might be somewhat better ammo. I would argue that I'm comfortable shooting my somewhat cheaper ammo more often, and still sticking with better than average ammo.

September 17, 2008, 06:09 AM
Wow, hadn't checked in here in a while.

Looks like those 135 gr SGD+P
are the current rnd of preference,
even if our buddy JT might disagree. ;)

September 20, 2008, 06:52 PM
I shot some of my old Corbon Ammo I have, 38SPL 125G+P 1150FPS from a 2". I forgot how hot this stuff is, shooting it out of my 642, holy crap. Had to hang on for dear life. It feels wilder than shooting full house 357s in my 605.

September 21, 2008, 09:21 AM
Speer Gold Dot 135gr +p for me.

September 22, 2008, 12:06 PM
BuffBore 158gr. LSWCHC *NON* +P...

September 22, 2008, 12:32 PM
federal 129gr. hydro-shoks. 900 fps in my scandium s&w snub with less recoil (which is a factor in scandium snubs) than +p loads.

September 22, 2008, 10:05 PM
Friend of mine made me three defensive batches, one is 148 IHBWC, the second is 125 JHP, the last is 140 JHP +P

September 22, 2008, 11:02 PM
Another vote for Speer GD +P 135gr.

September 22, 2008, 11:30 PM
I've decided to compromise and carry a mixed load of three 135 GD +P followed by two Rem 158 LHP +P in my 442.

September 23, 2008, 08:23 AM
what i like about the Remmington 158gr. +p LHP is that it give more of a push in the hand when fired versus the lighter +p rounds that give more muzzle flip and twist when fired in my 642-1s.

October 10, 2008, 01:48 PM
Practice with 158 grain standard pressure loads. But carry these.
1,000 fps and 351 ft./lbs nothing even comes close.

October 11, 2008, 12:11 AM
125 gr Hornady XTPs. I picked them because of accuracy and recoil (My primary carry is a S&W642 Airweight) I can get more holes and faster on the target with this round and that is what I am after. I am a firm believer in penetration and shot placement with a light practical to carry revolver. If I was after a bigger hole I would carry a .45 ACP which makes a bigger hole.

October 11, 2008, 12:58 AM
125gr Gold Dots at 1000fps, have stowed away more 158gr Hornady LSWCHP at 900fps. (out of my 4" gun) if I run out of gold dots.

October 11, 2008, 02:02 AM
Double tap 125gr +p gold dots

Shawnee Gene
October 13, 2008, 12:35 AM
Glaser Safety Slugs, both Blue and Silver, & Hornady XTP 125 & 158. I carry Blues and 125s in the warmer months & Silvers and 158s when it gets colder. These are all Standard pressure loads. I have an old model S&W 37, & I do not use +P loads in it.

October 13, 2008, 12:46 AM
I found that a handload of WW 231/HP38 and a good cast 158 LSWC will penetrate and hit to point of aim,
I practice more and hit better when the ammo cost is less.
Its not magic bullets its hitting the magic parts,

October 14, 2008, 04:09 AM
Hey Nem, look's like this thread is alive and well...

For my 642/442 its Buffalo Bore 158gr +P (20A) for carry, and any 148/158gr WC for training.

But you already knew that...:D...

May 15, 2009, 02:12 PM
Speer 135gr+p for carry in my Taurus ultra-lite. Proven short barrel sd round from what I've read.

May 15, 2009, 02:15 PM
Federal 129 gr Hydra Shok JHP +P,...because that's what most of our LE folks use for their off duty,...including our State Police and Conservation Officers. Defensible AND effective.

May 15, 2009, 02:57 PM
I make my own, but I'm always on the look out for better recipes.

May 17, 2009, 01:08 AM
Pow'R Ball all the way!

May 17, 2009, 01:38 AM
1940s, maybe early '50s, 'Peters', 'Police Load', 158 grn, RNL, Nickel Cases...with that light blush of 'White' on the Lead, which they sometimes get when old enough...

Cpt. America
May 17, 2009, 02:07 AM
158 grain Remington wade cutters.

July 2, 2009, 11:16 AM
Let's kick this excellent thread BTT and see if there are any additions.

Someone surely will need to add Federal Nyclad to the list by now?

Loyalist Dave
July 2, 2009, 11:34 AM
Either the 130 grain Winchester +P or the 158 grain Winchester LSWHP +P, in that order,of what I'd ask for first. I like the velocity of the 130 from my snubbies, and I like the inertia of the 158 as well, so it seems to me like a close tie. The 158 +P LSWHP are the old, police stand-by and are found in many many stores, so easy to find and restock personal supplies. Depending on how "liberal" your local prosecutors are, if you get into an SD situation, I like the possibility of my attorney arguing "This type of ammunition was used by local law enforcement here in [insert jurisdiction name] for twenty years." Yeah, it sounds stupid, but use the hottest, newest, coolest packaged ammo (or your own reloads) and the anti-gunners will try and make you out as having fired mercury tipped, cyanide coated, nuclear launched, home made death pills, instead of simple defense ammo. At least here in the PRoM.


July 2, 2009, 12:58 PM
I have thought about ordering some if and when any come available. I carried the NYCLAD load for years in my S&W 36. I have gotten so used to the Hornady 125 gr XTP/JHP load now that I don't really know if I want to change. Better loads have come available in recent years in all of the brands.

July 2, 2009, 02:32 PM
FEDERAL 125 grain NYCLAD hollow point

July 2, 2009, 03:05 PM
I like the 125 gr Hornady XTP with a +P load of Bullseye.
These are the only cases I trim and hone the flash hole. Also I weigh each charge to what the gun likes.

July 5, 2009, 07:41 PM
110 grain Hornady Critical Defense 38 spl +P (or non +P is OK also).

July 6, 2009, 04:22 AM
The BB 158 FBI Load performs well out of my Ruger SP 2 inch at 848 fps
which is plenty for inside my house.
I have some Speer 135 gr +p also.....which are hotter at 992 fps last time I shot one.

July 6, 2009, 11:18 PM
my .38/.357 loves.38 speer gold dot +p

July 8, 2009, 11:34 PM
Remington 125gr FNEBs (kind of like a semi-jacketed semi-wadcutter), standard load, in my CA Undercover. During winter, when clothing is heavier, I sometimes switch to a Winchester "target" round that is basically a fully-jacketed semi-wadcutter weighing 148 grains (or is it 158? Hmm.. can't remember.)

July 9, 2009, 12:46 PM
110 gr. Hornady Critical Defense .38 Special. in my 442.

July 9, 2009, 10:11 PM
remington 125gr sjhp.

July 9, 2009, 10:15 PM
Bb 125 hp

July 10, 2009, 07:43 PM
Hornady Critical Defense

July 10, 2009, 08:19 PM
Remington UMC 125 grain, plus P, semi jacketed hollow points. X

July 10, 2009, 09:29 PM
I use Hornady 158 grain XTP hollow points in R-P cases with a Vihta Vuori N340 load halfway between the specified starting load and max. Charter Arms "Undercover" 2" wheelgun and it hits point of aim at 10 yards.
If I do my part, group size is under 2" at 15 yards. Does the same out of a friend's S & W Chief's Special.

July 11, 2009, 12:05 AM
I use a 158 lswc/hp over 2400. Runs 950 fps out of a J-frame.

July 11, 2009, 01:40 AM
I carry the Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P short barrel in my S&W 37-2 Airweight. I actually prefer heavier bullets in .38 Special, and my preference would be to carry one of the 158 grain LSWCHP +P loadings available (probably Federal's). However, here are my reasons for carrying the GDHP 135 grain:

1) Its available in my area in 50 round boxes
2) I am required by policy to carry the same round (or qualify with both bullet weights) in the gun and for reloads. I would prefer to carry the LSWCHP in the revolver and carry the 135 grain GDHP in my speed strips. The GDHP is less prone to damage than the soft lead SWCHP and has a smoother profile for reloading. However, I would rather have the heavier SWC profile bullet in the gun.

I have tested the 135 grain GDHP, including chornographing it from my revolver. It averages about 850 fps out of the 1 7/8" barrel. Overall, I'm happy with it.

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