Semi-jacketed hollowpoint out of a snub nose?


August 31, 2007, 08:40 PM
How well do they expand? I assumed the exposed lead would help expansion out of such a short barrel, is this assumption true?

Is there a more ideal round out of the snub nose for SD applications?

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August 31, 2007, 09:12 PM
What caliber?

August 31, 2007, 09:16 PM
.38 spl. Sorry wasn't thinking straight when i made the post.

August 31, 2007, 09:27 PM
I believe the top two for the 38 Sp. would be the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel or CorBon DPX loads.

There is one test of the Speer short barrel at

Do a search and you will find more on it and also some on the DPX load.

August 31, 2007, 09:35 PM
originally posted by boredelmo
How well do they expand?

Not well at all unless they are extremely light weight.

I assumed the exposed lead would help expansion out of such a short barrel, is this assumption true?

A .357" bullet of sufficient weight to penetrate and be effective thru bone, gristle, sinew and muscle tissues and still destroy vital organs or CNS tissues (except for a good head shot) does not have the necessary speed to initiate expansion of a semi-jacketed hollow point.

Is there a more ideal round out of the snub nose for SD applications?

Yes. Do a search on "FBI Load" and "158 LSWC" or "FBI LSWCHP".

The .38 snub nose revolver is one of the most difficult handguns to become proficient with. It would be foolish to become proficient with one against paper targets, only to find that the ammunition you used to become proficient with is marginal to poor if you really needed to depend on your sidearm.

August 31, 2007, 09:49 PM

Rather than go into reallllly long winded dissertation on this, decided to bring along these to answer most of and more than might have been asked. Similar info is available here with a search of the old threads.

August 31, 2007, 11:02 PM

Compelling and well written, but I don't want to leave a paper trail.

Jim March
August 31, 2007, 11:33 PM
The only type that does work is the Cor-Bon 110gr 38+P. But it's going like a bat outta hell and it's pushing the "+P" pressure envelope pretty hard. I wouldn't fire that unless I knew my 38 was pretty strong, OR I had a 357 gun.

For the most part, what works in 38 snub is either a very high-tech slug like the Gold Dot 135 and Cor-Bon DPX, or the 158gr plain lead hollowpoints doing at least 825-850fps from the muzzle.

August 31, 2007, 11:53 PM
I carry 158-gr LSWCs in my 442. I even carry hard cast (20-22 BHN) 148-gr BBDEWCs quite often.

Both versions drive deep, shoot to the sights, and cut a good hole starting at the skin.

I could care less about expansion (as the 110-gr DPX claims).

September 1, 2007, 12:06 AM
The all-Copper Barnes Bullet Rules! Any hunter will tell you that. I carry 110 grain Corbon DPX in my 642 and 125 grain Corbon DPX in my GP100. I also carry 160 grain DPX in my short barreled .45 Auto and the 80 grain .380 in my P3AT.

September 1, 2007, 12:15 AM
Originally posted by Jim March
The only type that does work is the Cor-Bon 110gr 38+P.

Jim, I never thought I would disagree with you on anything gun-related. However, I must do so this in one instance.

I've tried very hard to get reliable expansion from DPX bullets from my short-barrelled .38 revolver. I have shot 110-gr DPX +P rounds from my 2" 442 (and also from a 4" 686) thru one T-shirt layer over a thin layer of moist thin deerskin chamois which covered a 5/8"-thick cheap steak. Behind these layers, which I hoped would replicate clothing/skin/muscle I used 1/2 gallon cardboard milk cartons to capture the bullets.

The bullet on the left was fired thru a 4" 686. The one on the right came from my 2" 442. Five minutes apart, same day, same conditions.

I love Cor-Bon ammo and have a long purchase history with them. But I'm sticking with heavy bullets rather than the light ones when it comes to short-barrelled revolvers.

September 1, 2007, 12:27 AM
I wont argue with you on your personal is/was yours after all. There are beau coup profesionally documented/tested results that differ from yours all over the internet. I think I'll stick with their results rather than yours...just me.;f=28;t=000096;p=0

Jim March
September 1, 2007, 12:29 AM
Jim, I never thought I would disagree with you on anything gun-related. However, I must do so this in one instance.

I've tried very hard to get reliable expansion from DPX bullets from my short-barrelled .38 revolver.

Huh. Interesting.

Stephen Camp got different results:

Brassfetcher tried one out of a Derringer with and without heavy clothing - worked OK both ways:

Also from a snub revolver:

Again, they work, expansion is...meh, not THAT great, about .5 most of the time. But that'll get the job done.


Your test method isn't half bad. Have you chronied that gun? Is it possible it's not spitting 'em out fast enough? *Maybe* the bore is funky enough that it does OK with soft lead slugs forming a good gas seal, but isn't sealing well with the DPX all-copper?

September 1, 2007, 12:48 AM
This is a good debate, and I don't for a moment assume that my amateur testing can be held up against professional testing. If I were reading my posts I would be skeptical as well since I am not using established testing standards. How can I compete with the FBI and other experts?

BTW, I have had fantastic expansion results from the .45 ACP DPX bullet. I believe it is because of the wider cavity. Also, I have not tested the rifle caliber DPX bullets, but I would assume that with rifle velocities the expansion results are more easily attainable. But from a 1-7/8" snubbie the results can be somewhat evasive.

But I hunt game and I know that over the ribcage there is more than just cloth and then gel.

My unscientific theory is that putting some denim over a gelatin media (which is quite hydraulic by nature) without the added factors such as skin and muscle is not the protocol I wish to study.

It is my opinion that animals and humans have more complex layers than just denim and gelatin and that is what I tried to replicate. IMHO gelatin tests allow scientists to record consistency of results but that does not replicate real world anatomical roadblocks such as skin and muscle.

Very best regards,

Dave (nitesite)

September 1, 2007, 01:10 AM
Gosh, I am quickly losing credibility (if I even had any to start with here). But please be kind and allow me this one consideration...

I'm throwing more complexity into the mix than just shooting into water, gel or wet newsprint. I'm adding layers of tissues (skin/muscle) into the equation that I have not previously seen tried before.

I'm fairly certain that if I shot a 110-DPX from a 2" revolver into a laundry basket full of Zip-Loc baggies filled with water I might get very different results as far as expansion.

I have half a box of the 110-gr DPX ammo left, so perhaps this weekend I might try to see where I went wrong in my theories.

September 1, 2007, 03:43 AM
nitesite, Jim March, everyone, - great thread.

I understand where you coming from, and I happen to like the 442 and the loadings you shared.
I happen to like the Model 36. 37s, and with the old standard 158gr LSWC , or 158 gr LSWC-HP.

Now I grew up with Colts for Autos, and Smith and Wesson for Revolvers.
That said, I do have a 1928 Colt Detective Special, and in it, I use the standard 158 gr LSWC.

This 158 grain shoots POA/POI, in these guns, as most .38spl were set up to shoot this load.
My other loading is 148 gr Wadcutters.

Part of my "why" has to do with:
-I have a history of working with physically limited folks, and recoil concerns.
-Quick effective hits, and not having recoil affect the ability to do so.
-Older guns, some sentimental, not being subjected to accelerated wear .

Testing: I use the Scientific Shoot Mud /Dirt Test. *grin*
Mentors were doing this before I was born in '55.
Jello, was a special treat we ate...

Now I am around Vets, farms, ranches, and critters being put down and hunted.
It is real damn scary how the bullets retrieved from critters actually shot, replicated the Scientific Shoot Mud /Dirt Test.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against new technologies and all...still...

Ninety percent of fishing lures are designed to catch fisher person's wallets - not fish -anon.

Keep in mind, my time was spent doing shotgun stuff - so from that testing, which some is applicable to other firearms and loads-

I have stayed in trouble , as my mentors did, by stating that is does not matter what a box of ammo says, what the gun /gun ammo mfg says, what the gun magazine says, what a barrel, or choke is marked...
One has to shoot for themselves to see what "that" gun does with "that" load.

Add, no guarantee anything will do what is supposed to...
Again, the real scary part, was that same bullet,fired from the same gun, same distance (as near could) records kept , and notes made, recovered from a critter, was that damn close!

Like I said, Vets would come out, or I would hang around with Docs...I have been around when someone was shot.

I get bigger and get to see some Autopsy reports, even bigger, I work in a Main OR.

A patient stuck a 4" medium frame .357 revolver in his mouth, and pulled the trigger on a .357 load, and lived.
I've seen the lowly 158 gr LRN, put a cow down right then
Wee did the organ harvest on a male patient shot with a 158 gr LRN as well.

I respect everyones take, Jim, Mr. Camp, and nitesite's.

My concern is new folks, getting wrapped around the axle on Hardware (guns, loads) over Software (skill sets).

I'd rather have a person watching my six, that has fired 1000 rds of and carries 158 , or 148 gr wadcutter's , in a old J frame/ Detective Special than the person with the new loadings, he/she has only fired a box of.

I'll take this person over a new shooter with whiz bang loads fired from Glock in 9mm or .40 cal as well.

Great thread-

New shooters, pay attention please.

Jim March
September 1, 2007, 04:37 AM
nitesite: I'm not criticizing! Honestly, I think your test media setup is quite good as anything else I've seen and better than many.

I think rather than shooting at more media, it would be interesting to speed-test a couple of those out of your gun. Let's eliminate anything wonky going on there. Brassfetcher clocked most of his five at 1065+, with one dropping to 1013. And that slow one was also abnormal in expansion: .429, bordering on "failure" compared to the rest. OK, this stuff needs to be moving to work - they need close to 1,100 and over that is probably best.

What speed is your gun spitting them out? I think that will *maybe* tell us more than shooting more wrapped-up meat. Not that shooting wrapped meat is bad :)....


Please don't think we're hammering on you. You may have discovered a real weakness with this load when tested properly...OR maybe your gun just doesn't like these babies?

For the record, I agree with you: I like the Speer 135+P better than the 110DPX, and I think the Remington and Buffalo Bore 158gr plain lead hollowpoints are likely the best possible in snub 38s.

September 1, 2007, 06:01 AM
When you're talking self-defense, to me there's no debate. A lead bullet of sufficent weight will do the job. Proven again and again. A JHP might do the job, and might not. Maybe it'll expand, maybe it won't. Should penetrate, but who knows? I'll take "will" to "might" any day.

Jim March
September 1, 2007, 06:29 AM
When you're talking self-defense, to me there's no debate. A lead bullet of sufficent weight will do the job. Proven again and again. A JHP might do the job, and might not. Maybe it'll expand, maybe it won't. Should penetrate, but who knows? I'll take "will" to "might" any day.

When we're dealing with velocities below 900fps, yeah, you can make a strong argument that way. At some point up past 1,100ish (varies a bit) unjacketed lead slugs designed to expand will come utterly unglued, not to mention lead the bejeezus out of barrels.

(Hardcast is another matter but not a good choice for personal defense.)

September 1, 2007, 07:05 AM
I guess I'll just stick to the tried and true "FBI load", like my Remington R38S12 +P 158 gr LHPSWC - and the excellent bargain - and very similar ballistically - 158gr +P LSWC (HP) Georgia Arms reloads for practice. I've chrono-ed them from 840-860 fps from my 642 & 2" 10. If memory serves me correctly, they actually presented a higher 'One Shot Stop' stat, from a snubby, in Marshall & Sanow's list than the old standby .45 ACP ball round from a standard 1911. Again, depending on memory, I believe the FBI left this chambering in their snubbies because they went to higher capacity bottom-feeders. Still, little matters if the rounds are not well-placed... or miss.

Whatever you shoot, you must be versed in it's accuracy, ie, POI vs POA, from your particular snubby. That takes experience - with your personal defense round - or it's nearest equivalent. In the +P 158gr LSWC(HP) rounds, the softer Remington lead opens more reliably, according to most, than the harder lead - like the GA Arms ammo. It wouldn't matter much with a 6" barrel - like my 6" 66 - as it will make 960+ fps from them (997 fps for the Remi's!). The 'expansion' is more important to us at snubby speeds - the softer lead is better here, of course.

The Remi's are not cheap - ~$30/50 nowadays. Of course, compared with the CorBon DPX - or even the great Speer 135gr GDHP - they are a bargain. That makes the $17/100 GA Arms reloads bargain basement for sure. Don't get me wrong, you can't hardly tell the difference between shooting the Speer snubby load, Remi's, or GA Arms rounds I've mentioned - all are loud and 'smart' about the same from recoil with the dimunitive OEM grips on a 642. The twice-the-mass 2" 10 is far more comfortable to shoot... my house gun. I'll stick with lead at these speeds for reliable opening... and mass!


Jim March
September 1, 2007, 12:19 PM
+1 for Stainz.

The only thing I'd add is that if your gun is "strength marginal" Buffalo Bore's variant of the same load in standard pressure 158 is worth looking into. Pricey but worth it in some guns.

You then go to Georgia Arms or similar for standard pressure 158gr cheap reloads for practice.

The 642 is NOT "strength marginal" but my vintage Charter Undercover is, also any older aluminum-frame gun, arguably the older Colt Dick Specials, early S&W 36, etc.

September 1, 2007, 12:21 PM
Good Morning!

I'm glad to wake up and see that I'm not getting beat up real bad this morning! :)

As I said in my very first sentence on my first post in this thread, I usually carry 158-grain LSWCs in my 442. See the post I made back in April (#12).

My illustration of the DEWC as a carry round was simply to help people absorb the notion that it's not always the most hi-tech Buck Rogers bullet that gets the job done. So I chose one of my photos that was the exact polar opposite, for maximum effect in making my point. I believe I accomplished my goal. :)

I have a chronograph and I will shoot some of the left-over 110-DPX that I have over the screens. I have lots of time over this long weekend.!

Thanks, everyone, for your encouragement and support! :)

September 1, 2007, 12:51 PM

I have several boxes of R38S14, the Remington LSWC version of the FBI load LSWCHP. Also I have 4-5 sealed bags of the GA 158-gr LSWCHP as well. I settled on standard pressure 158 LSWCs because I believe I can still get adequate penetration without the hollow point or the +P pressures, which are just a bit "snappy" in an Airweight Centennial.

You are correct that the Georgia Arms version is very good for carry or defense for many people who prefer that load. But if I were to choose hollow points I would select the Remington bullet over the GA or Winchesters, both of which are harder and and as you mentioned are less likely to open from a snubbie.

I must be "Old School" since I use only heavy lead bullets from all my revolvers. Double Ended 148-gr WCs, 158-gr LSWCs, or 170-gr Keith SWCs. I don't recall the last time I even shot a jacketed bullet from any of my wheelguns!

September 1, 2007, 12:52 PM
Are there any other commercial loadings of the 158gr LHPSWC / LSWCHP "FBI load"? I can only find the Remington R38S12 via mail order.

Timely thread. I just picked up a 642 last week.

-- Sam

September 1, 2007, 01:07 PM
that 45-70 derringer on brassfetcher worked real good.

Jim March
September 1, 2007, 04:32 PM
As far as bullet weight goes: I recently tried some 125gr very high performance 357 fodder from Doubletap. From my 4.68" New Vaquero they're likely hitting 1,600fps, maybe more. Almost 800ft/lbs energy on tap.

Blew up a bowling ball with one. Literally, at 20ft or so range split it in half and sent pieces of the "concrete" innards 25ft+. Fist-size chunk came back past me.

I'm not ready to say for sure, but I suspect that as long as the slug will hold together at that pace, and the high-speed variant Gold Dot 125 is likely to, something really magical happens. This is a round I would *not* want to stand in front of.

Jim March
September 1, 2007, 04:36 PM
Yosemite: Winchester still makes this type of slug. Energy level and pressure is very similar to the Remmie, but the Winchester is a harder cast lead not good for snubby use. From a 4" or more barrel it's fine though and likely a better choice from a really long tube of 8" or more.

Buffalo Bore ships this sort of slug in two flavors: a "king of the hill" +P *monster* and a standard-pressure that duplicates the bullet performance of the Remington yet does so without +P. Really, really sweet load.

You may find old-stock Cor-Bons that were as hot as the Buffbore +Ps - 1,000fps from a snubby, putting the snub into healthy 9mm territory.

Old-stock Federals on the other hand were way wimpy. AVOID.

September 1, 2007, 04:59 PM
OK guys....I'm fairly new to guns and very new to revolvers.
I've recently purchased a 642 and after a few boxes (60 rds) of the Speer Gold Dot +p 125 gr I am quite pleased with the accuracy at SD ranges.

My question is, are penetration and expansion sufficient with this round for SD from a snubbie at fairly close range or should I just be concerned with placement?

My normal ccw is not this revolver, but sometimes in really hot weather, I do carry it.

September 1, 2007, 05:05 PM
I've been carrying the "lowly" h/c wadcutter for years. It puts down dillas and other critters faster than most of the high performance jhp's. Plus they are more accurate (generally) and a heck of a lot cheaper for practice.

Jim March
September 1, 2007, 05:31 PM
Bilt4Comfort: that round is pretty good. The Gold Dot 125gr works from snubbies if it's A) +P and B) it's the "low velocity" variant. You can tell by looking at the nose: if the hollowpoint is reasonably big and deep, it's the low-speed type. The high-speed is little more than a dimple - works great at 1,600fps from a 357, sucks wind in a 38. You almost certainly have the good one for your gun.

The 135+P is better :) but the 125+P low-speed ain't bad.

September 1, 2007, 10:10 PM
Before I exit this thread and start my own new topic about whether I might have a slow gun with regard to the 110-gr +P DPX load...

I just want to thank the esteemed Mr. Jim Marsh for his tactful advice and for some suggestions for me to try, and to SM as well for his words of encouragement regarding carrying old-technology bullets that are still in the mainstream.

My intent is to assemble four well-known .38-Special +P loads that have been repeatedly chrono'd from 2" J-Frames. I brought my boxed ammo outside this afternoon to photograph, so you can see what I'll be chronographing tomorrow. I want to see if these factory loads

are "right on the money" or seem slower than they should be from my 2" Model 442.

Tomorrow I shall post my results, and please contribute your opinions!

September 2, 2007, 01:08 AM
In a 2" 38 special I have always liked a Hornady hollow based wadcutter at the recommended loads for target; I however load them upside down. A good shoot is a good shoot IMHO

September 2, 2007, 10:17 AM
Yosemite, Fed and Win also offer the FBI load. I have some vintage Federal 158gr +P Nyclad as well. Don't get Mr. March started on the Federal, tho'. I like the WW, myself, and carry it exclusively.

September 2, 2007, 12:31 PM
i think testing it in cheapo meat is the best way to get the best aproximation of expansion in soft tissue. The camois is way to thick and hard compared to human skin, so im betting a rump roast or chuck steak that 3 months old with a layer of cotton tshirt is going to give more accurate results then gelatin.

Seriously, the companies seem to make testing methods that make them look the best, and everyone else uses those methods for duplication. Seriously, lets all input 1+1 into our calculators and hit the = button, what did you get?

September 2, 2007, 03:23 PM
Did you notice that I said it was very thin chamois and that it had been soaked in water? I think it's as close to skin as one can get with materials on hand. You're right, a roast with a layer of fat over the muscle would be nice to try. So would baby-back ribs!

I've got chrono results in for the 110 DPX +P and five other loads, and the photos are uploaded. I'll start another thread in this (Revolvers) forum, hopefully within the hour.

I'll call it "DPX 110s and five other loads chrono'd from my 442".

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