Is +P really +P


October 6, 2007, 10:37 AM
I have been shopping for a ccw for my wife. She has narrowed it down to a Airweight J framed .38. Since older J framed .38's are only meant to shoot non +P ammo I have been comparing balistics of various manufactuers ammo and I found something interesting (to me at least).

Fiocchi makes a standard pressure 125gr sjsp round that is 950fps and 250lbs. Magtech, Hornady, Speer and Remington all make a 125 gr +P loading that are ~950fps and ~250lbs. Whats up? is the fiocchi really +P or are the other loadings playing it safe and calling theirs +P?

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October 6, 2007, 10:44 AM
Several important things to consider:

1. Use the brand ammo that shoots perfectly to "point of aim."

2. "Figures lie . . . and liars figure." Loosely translated . . . specs published by one ammo maker vs. another can vary from the truth . . . and almost always to the "slow" side when discussing ammo speed.

3. 50 fps. difference ain't gonna matter much anyway. Placement, and bullet performance are paramount.

4. Don't discount "standard" velocity ammo in that light J frame either. If in doubt, refer back to point number three.

Good luck!


October 6, 2007, 10:50 AM
According to this article (, +P isn't about velocity and energy, but pressure. I would imagine that the manufacturers are using +P pressures, but delivering "only" .38 Special velocities.

October 6, 2007, 11:03 AM
I think the figures may be pretty close with the Speer Gold Dot and the Rem Golden Sabre not far behind, but a lot of manufacturers use a 6" or longer pressure barrel to test their ammo. You aint gonna get those velocities with many if not most brands in a 2 or 3" revolver.:uhoh:

October 6, 2007, 11:20 AM
If you are worried abot using +p, you may want to look into Buffalo Bore's standard pressure loadings for .38 spl.

They can get the velocity (and therefore energy) of really hot +p loads, without the pressure.

October 6, 2007, 11:33 AM
I'm not worried about actually carrying the ammo in a J frame. I just thought it was interesting that some manufacturers can (theoretically) get the same results in standard pressure loadings while others need added pressure to do it.

I think that the corporate law departments of some of these ammo companies use the +P designation to minimize their liability if something goes wrong with an older revolver! I guess that was the point I was really trying to make;)

October 6, 2007, 04:07 PM
Fiocchi ammo may not be made to SAAMI specs. If the ammo made is made in Italy Eurpoeans usually load hotter than SAAMI spec. Also. is the barrel lenght listed? Fioccho may use a longer barrel than then others when testing their ammo.

October 6, 2007, 07:54 PM
Also consider Fiocchi ammo, in general, is about the hottest factory ammo made.

October 6, 2007, 08:03 PM
From what I've read today's Factory .38 Spl +P rounds are no more powerful than normal .38 Special rounds from years ago. Factory loads are very weak for some reason and I don't think it's right. You should get the full benefit from any caliber you choose to carry and fire.

Gary A
October 6, 2007, 09:22 PM
Fiocchi has changed their website. If memory serves their old website listed the barrel lengths for the various velocities. I believe the .38 Spl and .357 velocities came from pretty long barrels. Could be mistaken. Fiocchi is hot but I'm not sure it is that much hotter. Their 142 grain .357 is pretty hot, though, for sure.

October 6, 2007, 10:57 PM
I know their 7.65mm Browning is loaded very HOT. It is rated 200 fps faster than their .380 Auto with just as much energy. Unreal for a small round like the 7.65mm Browning.

Gary A
October 6, 2007, 11:22 PM
I know their 7.65mm Browning is loaded very HOT.

You're right about that, Archangel. Their 60 grain SJHP is not a great expander (at least out of 2+ inch barrels) but it does put some punch in that little round.

October 7, 2007, 12:30 AM
BuffaloBore is good stuff. So is Doubletap (, and they are better priced. From their site.

.38 Special +P 125gr. Speer Gold Dot JHP (LV) 50rds

In 10% ordinance gelatin with 4 layers of denim and two of light cotton:
12.75" penetration
.652" expansion

Velocity: 1175fps / 4" Ruger GP-100
1.875" bbl S&W - 1100fps
Bullet: Speer Gold Dot Low Velocity

Steve C
October 7, 2007, 01:35 AM
From what I've read today's Factory .38 Spl +P rounds are no more powerful than normal .38 Special rounds from years ago.

The 70's before the +P label just like today there was standard velocity and there was high velocity ammo at higher pressures. They where labeled as "Police Loads", Hi-power, Super X, etc. Ballistic charts showed much higher velocities then but they where generally measured from fixed breach test barrels longer than 6". You'd get the same velocities from todays ammo if you used the same methods. Instead of Buffalo Bore and Double Tap there was Super Vel.

Old load manuals used to put a note in the load data introduction for those pistol cartridges that where chambered in both modern and legacy firearms to only use the start data for aluminum frame and other light weight guns and use max loads for large frame revolvers only. We used to believe people where not all ignorant and could read with comprehension. Lawyers and stupid people have convinced the general business population otherwise.

I have chrono'd Italian manufactured 9mm Fiocchi ammo and it is definitely warmer than most American standard equal to plus P from providers like Corbon. 115gr Fiocchi JHP chrono'd at 1,288 fps from my Glock 19 and 1,298 from my Beretta 92.

Never had any of their .38 spl but would expect it to be a heavier loading than most. Just cause its not labeled +P does not mean its not +P in pressure.

October 7, 2007, 09:34 AM
I agree 100% with GaryA...that fiocchi 142gr .357 lets you know you are shooting a magnum round:)

October 7, 2007, 09:44 AM
My wife was dead set on a J-frame Airweight also, so I bought her one. To make a short story long, I accquired a S&W Mod. 10-5 2" snubbie from my late father. After she shot it, she told me to put the airweight in the safe and she will keep the Mod. 10 out for her go-to gun. If you're shaped like a bowling pin, watch out, she's deadly!

October 7, 2007, 07:08 PM
Bo, its a win, win for me:) if she like it fine, if she dosent...oh well I guess I will keep it!!!!

October 7, 2007, 08:25 PM
I have a mod. 36 J frame in .38 and my gunsmith said it would be ok to shoot +p because out of a 2 inch barrel it does not build up enough pressure to damage the gun. Is this true?

October 8, 2007, 05:15 PM
+P technically means increased pressure, but, the problem with +P ammo in older, soft-framed guns is they have too much recoil, not too much pressure. Over many hundreds (if not thousands) of rounds, the increased recoil batters the frame, stretches it out, and ruins the gun.

Many .38 SPL revolver cylinders can take .357 magnum pressures easily, just ask Clark. It's the recoil battering that's the problem.

If you really care about the long-term (hundreds or thousands of rounds, remember) durability of your gun, do not fire ammunition with a higher velocity and weight than standard pressure.

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