Best load for 2" barreled .38special


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Moonclip
April 17, 2008, 10:13 PM
I'm torn between what loads are best for these guns. In guns that can take +P pressures I'm partial to the Remington version of the FBI load since it has softer lead than the other makers it seems. More likely to expand I'd think. I'm thinking of the Gold Dots for shorter barrels though.

In guns that are airweights or older or for controlability I use Winchester 110gr non plus P silvertips though I'd use the Federal non plus p hp's in this claiber if I had some. What do you think?

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REB
April 17, 2008, 10:19 PM
My vote would be for the Corbon DPX because it has decent expansion and still has good penetration. It also performs decent though had targets such as car windows or doors.

Moonclip
April 17, 2008, 10:20 PM
I'll have to look in to it. Does it shoot kind of low though with fixed sights? I've not used much CorBon ammo.

Huddog
April 17, 2008, 10:22 PM
I carry Gold Dot 125 in my S&W 642. It penetrates well and is very accurate from this gun.

jaydubya
April 17, 2008, 10:25 PM
My 637 snubby contains that exact same load: the Remington FBI load. And I don't shoot much of it because it beats my hand up -- twenty rounds max. I practice with www.mastercast.net's 148gr DEWC, which is a bit easier on my poor old body. They also have a 100gr WC that lopes along at less than 700fps, and feels like a .22. Unfortunately, from my 637 into my target of choice, that load tends to tear strips rather than nice, round, clean holes. Works just fine from my 4" 686+, but the puny pop from that great big revolving pistol shames me at the range.
Cordially, Jack

Camjr
April 17, 2008, 10:32 PM
My 642 is loaded with the Speer GD 135+p as I type this.

Texas Colt
April 17, 2008, 10:37 PM
My Colts are loaded with the Speer 135 grain Gold Dot. They are accurate and are going 890 fps out of a 2" barrel. Not bad for a 38 Special.

Jim March
April 17, 2008, 11:05 PM
They're both great rounds.

I think the 158s have a slight edge, unless the gun is very light...15oz or less, run the 135 as it's set up to resist being yanked out under recoil.

If the gun can take it, Buffalo Bore's 158+P is in a whole 'nuther class. Otherwise run the standard-pressure Buffalo Bore 158 or the Remington 158+P...they'll do near identical damage, you'll pay extra for the BB158 but if your gun is very old and/or weak pay that extra.

Winchester's 158+P isn't bad but the lead is too hard for reliable expansion in a 2" - works OK in a 4" or more barrel.

Avoid old-stock Federal 158s, plain or nyclad. They ain't loaded hot enough even in what Federal laughingly calls "+P".

Old-stock Cor-Bon 158+P was crazy-hot, as fast as the Buffalo Bore 158+P, but the latter has a gas-check copper bottom plate to reduce leading. Cor-Bon didn't bother and leading was horrendous.

spwenger
April 17, 2008, 11:07 PM
...on Cor-Bon DPX.

Why? Best expansion (in gelatin testing) after penetrrating four layers of denim and, reportedly, virtually no deviation from point of aim when fired through auto glas at compound angles.

Second choice? Speer's 135 short-barrel loads.

I assume the poll was intended for .38 Special but I think I'd still go the same way in .357 Magnum, if I chose to take on the greater blast and flash. I've had students who used the 135 gr. Speer Magnum load and it seemed well suited for their short-barrel revolvers.

ARTiger
April 18, 2008, 12:53 AM
They're both great rounds.

I think the 158s have a slight edge, unless the gun is very light...15oz or less, run the 135 as it's set up to resist being yanked out under recoil.

If the gun can take it, Buffalo Bore's 158+P is in a whole 'nuther class. Otherwise run the standard-pressure Buffalo Bore 158 or the Remington 158+P...they'll do near identical damage, you'll pay extra for the BB158 but if your gun is very old and/or weak pay that extra.

+1 to Mr. March. Lots of stuff out there that'll work, but the Speer 135SB, Rem FBI Load and Buff Bore Gas Checked 158 LHP are clearly at the top of most lists.

Dismantler
April 18, 2008, 08:39 AM
I carry wadcutters. I am not a real big fan of recoil in a snubby. I can hit accurately with them, and I do not worry about overpenetration. I carry a Model 442 Airweight.

71Commander
April 18, 2008, 09:01 AM
135gr Speer Gold Dot hollowpoint +P. This round was developed for the LW, 2" snubbies.

AKCOP
April 18, 2008, 09:10 AM
Regardless of which round you decide upon one test I always added was shooting a few rounds at night. Amazing how an exceptionally large muzzle flash can knock out any night vision you had.

rgs1975
April 18, 2008, 11:12 AM
I'm using 130gr Federal HydraShok because that's what I've got. Anyone have an opinion on that round out of a 2" 38?

coach22
April 18, 2008, 11:42 AM
My 2 inch J's are loaded like this:
340 PD:
First 2 up Corbon DPX 38+P,
last 3 up Double Tap 38+P 125's.
442 (pre lock nickel) and 49 (pre lock nickel):
Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure 158's.
640 (38):
First 2 up Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure 158's,
last 3 up Buffalo Bore 158 +P's.
In the 340 and 640, loading it that way
gives me 2 quick shots and more power, if needed,
with the last 3. The first 2 also kind of warm you up.

coach22

foghornl
April 18, 2008, 12:07 PM
MY 2" snubby .38Spl is a {Gasp!} RG...so I don't use any of the hotter stuff in it. I use the Federal 110-Gr JHP "Personal Protection Load" [NON +P] when I choose to use my snubby.

guninthewater
April 18, 2008, 12:10 PM
I like the Gold Dot "Short Barrel" load.

DawgFvr
April 18, 2008, 12:13 PM
I use 110 grain Corbon DPX + P. If those hurt the BG half as much as my hand after lauching a few of those out of the 642, I'll be satisfied. To be honest...I'm actually considering a mix load in the future. Those 150 grain Buf Bor wad cutters give over 16 inches consistent penetration.

jfh
April 18, 2008, 12:25 PM
Here's some general observations on PD rounds for 2" barrels.

I started carrying an M&P 340 (13.3 oz) last summer, and I wanted to become proficient with it. To do that, I've been working with both the Rem 38S12 (and the Georgia Arms 38E reload) and the Speer 38+P GDSB 135-gr. rounds as models in building "replica reloads" so that I could afford the practice and training I wanted to do. Ten months later, I've shot about 9,000 rounds through a 640 (23 oz), 1100 rounds or so through the 340, another 300 rounds through a 442, and 500 rounds through an M60-3". Many of the reload recipes and the factory rounds have been chronographed.

For novice 2" shooters, particularly with lightweights, it is more important to replicate the "feel" of the round, not the ballistics performance.


Performance:

1. The Speer GDSB 38+P 135-gr. round runs about 860-900 fps from my 2" revolvers.

2. The FBI loads run about 800+to 820, based on Stephen Camp's tests. Keep in mind that this round was originally developed for 2.5" to 3" barrel guns, and the fabled "LEO-only" loads from the 1970s ran about 870 fps.

3. The FC 130-gr (129gr?) 38+P load ran about 860 fps.

As you may know, brassfetcher has run numerous tests on PD ammo; see his gelatin tests. The Speer GDSB bullets were, AFAIK, the first bullets to be tuned to operate well at low-to-moderate velocities. The FBI-load bullets--a lead SWC, with an HP to possibly provide expansion, really do operate differently, as Jim March points out.

4. Because of one's "muscle memory" once you're proficient, the two rounds will shoot to a different POA. I started developing 'replica reloads' for the FBI round this winter--and I do shoot about 1"-2" higher at 10 yards with this round.

Shooting proficiency:

1. If you're shooting a lightweight, there is no way around needing to get your hand conditioned for shooting either round well. Although I've been a tool-user, I was out of shape last year. To begin with, I carried the FC non-plus-P 110-gr. round--and I could barely shoot a cylinderfull from the 340.

2. A lot of practice will develop the "muscle memory" you need to shoot accurately with either type of round, but that is different for each bullet weight. I carried the Speer round until the weather got cold; then I started carrying the the Buffalo Bore 20A(?) round-- the 158-gr LSWC-HP round that runs 1000 fps from a 2" barrel. (They actually do; I chrono'd them.)

3. Unless you are a very experienced shooter to begin with, you need to practice with the round you carry. Since I am a reloader, I was able to use Speer's data for reloading to develop a replica in subjective recoil (and in similar ballistics, but that is coincidental). Once that was sorted out, it was easy to "back up" the charge weight to produce less recoil, but still felt the same. I then used the ed. psy. concept of "successive approximations" to build my proficiency.

4. A good basic drill is Old Fuff's "quad five:"

5 yards
5 shots
5" circle
5 seconds.

FYI, one can build "replica reloads" with lead cast bullets of

1. the Speer round for about 10 cents each, and of
2. the FBI load for about 11 cents each.

If you choose to use the actual factory bullet, (the Speer 135-gr GDSB, or a Speer 158LSWC-HP), your costs will be about 26 cents each or 15 cents each.

So, whichever round you choose, Moonclip, stay with it, and practice--a lot.

Jim H.

Wolfeye
April 18, 2008, 01:56 PM
I have my fiance interested in .38+p, but she said she wants non-toxic ammo. The only lead-free, non-toxic ammo I've found is a new clean-firing 110 gr DPX from Corbon. It looks like it's not listed on their main webpage yet, but it shows up in their online store. It's expensive. :cuss:

Money aside, I hear DPX is a good performer...? Edit: Never mind the question, I just read up. She'll be shooting it from an SP101, so recoil shouldn't be too horrible.

rgs1975
April 18, 2008, 02:21 PM
but she said she wants non-toxic ammoJust buy her some FMJ and tell her it's soldid copper, no lead. ;)

Wolfeye
April 18, 2008, 02:42 PM
I know, aye... all-copper/clean firing stuff is expensive enough that I might start handloading.

sthomper
March 9, 2012, 06:23 PM
"and I do not worry about overpenetration."

becuase of the round used or that you are more likely to miss your target altogether anyway on a few shots??

dscampbell
March 9, 2012, 07:34 PM
Buffalo Bore standard pressure 158 grain .38 special. It has a lower level of flash so you can still see after your first round goes off. I use it in my EDC model 36 since 1974.

jon86
March 10, 2012, 10:20 AM
I didn't vote, but I am comfortable with both of these rounds. I can get the R38S12 locally, so that is what I usually carry. I am plenty comfortable with the speer 135 grain load also.

roaddog28
March 10, 2012, 12:42 PM
I voted other. I think the cast wadcutter by Buffalo Bore would well in a 2 inch or shorter revolver. This is a 150 gr round running at 850 fps. Wadcutters will punch a good hole and not deform as much as other rounds. Plus wadcutters do not depend on expansion to perform.
Opinion only,
Howard

skidder
March 10, 2012, 12:49 PM
I voted other...
I don't buy factory loaded ammo, but I found that 125gr. JHP loaded between 850 and 900fps gives good results (I prefer Hornady). I have two 38s, one is +P and the other is not. This load is safe to shoot in both. Back in the day some called this a "Police Service" load (Red Dot powder will give you this speed whithout the +P pressure rating).
I shoot this variation in my 4" and 2" 357/38's and the penetration and expansion are descent. You should be able to find a similar load to this in several different factory brands.

ball3006
March 10, 2012, 08:32 PM
I load Hornady Zombie ammo in my Chief's Special....chris3

chanroc
March 11, 2012, 10:02 PM
I personally like the non plus-p version of Hornady's 110 gr Critical Defense in my Airweight 638. I'd probably be just as content with a standard 158 gr semi wadcutter. Just go with what you shoot the best. I'd like to try Federal's 125 LHP Nyclads, but those are tough to find in my neck of the woods.

Thaddeus Jones
March 12, 2012, 02:06 PM
The NYPD had another one shot stop using this load Sunday. Off duty Detective shot and killed a skell who tried to mug him.

One shot of 135 grain 38+P short barrel out of a 5 shot J-frame took the skell out of the gene pool.

I use this load im my K and J frame snubs. Low flash and very accurate. Evidently very effective as well! :)

agent89
March 12, 2012, 03:34 PM
I load Buffalo Bore for defence in all my revolvers. The 158gr lead hp in the +p38 is a really good choice. All good condition "A" brand guns can handle them no problem.;)

TonyT
March 12, 2012, 04:24 PM
Speer makes a Gold Dot load specifically designed for short barreled revolvers. The old 158 gr LWCHP also is a good load. I would feel secure with either.

Remllez
March 12, 2012, 06:00 PM
The Gold Dot load is a good defense round but shoot them and note where they hit for you, they tend to shoot low out of both my J-frames. I carry a 158 grain LSWC at standard pressure.

They shoot POA/POI for me, practice, practice, practice....it takes a while to learn to shoot those little blasters well but it's time well spent and will improve your overall shooting skills.

mavracer
March 12, 2012, 06:03 PM
I like both.

charlie echo
March 12, 2012, 08:45 PM
158+P HP in all steel revolvers. If I can find 158+P Wadcutters (not semi-Wadcutters) factory loaded, then i'd stock up.

pete950
March 12, 2012, 09:07 PM
Were did the off duty P.O place his sho?

DesertFox
March 12, 2012, 09:21 PM
I know the rule of thumb is factory ammo for CCW and all but I usually roll my own with 125gr JHP or 158gr LSWC, non +P loaded moderately to minimize flash. 6 shots of that in one pocket, 9 22LR in the other. Perfect for vermin or the remote chance of an encounter with a hostile 2 legged critter.

Tony_the_tiger
March 12, 2012, 09:28 PM
Corbon DPX 110 grain +P copper hollowpoint.

This is the load I carry in my S&W 442.

Photo and text courtesy of Steve Camp and Mike Shovel.

http://i978.photobucket.com/albums/ae269/kiwirat33/Dpx.jpg

royal barnes
March 12, 2012, 09:48 PM
I shoot the current crop of Federal 125 Nyclads in all my snubs. Recoil is not excessive, expansion is very good, and I have no trouble finding them at my local LEO store. I don't know whether they sell to the public but since I'm a retired LEO and know most of the sales staff questions have never come up. They carry the white 50 round boxes at a very reasonable price. I bought a case................just in case. The manager says they haven't been difficult to get but he has to order a pallet at a time.

Pyro
March 12, 2012, 09:52 PM
Buffalo Bore Wadcutter Or a SWC bullet.

Art Eatman
March 13, 2012, 07:25 PM
I carry Hydra-Shok +P for only one reason: The coroner's report to the jury on which I served said that any of the standard Hydra-Shoks would have been fatal. That's any of five hits from a distance of maybe five feet, with no exiting. Shot from a 2" snubbie. It worked out pretty well. He went down rapidly, and it was as close to DRT as makes no nevermind.

Old Fuff
March 13, 2012, 07:59 PM
The coroner's report to the jury on which I served said that any of the standard Hydra-Shoks would have been fatal. That's any of five hits from a distance of maybe five feet, with no exiting.

Did the shooter remember to use a 2-handed Weaver Stance and get a flash sight picture??? :uhoh:

hariph creek
March 14, 2012, 02:10 AM
Buffalo Bore (non+p) 158gr LSWCHP, in a 1950 Colt Detective Special. Supposed to push 850fps from a 2" barrel. POA=POI that works for me.
I know there's newer hotter loads. I know there are more powerful rounds. I know there are more modern/advanced handguns, too.
Meh...I like this, it works. I like to carry and shoot something I actually like.

hariph creek
March 14, 2012, 02:13 AM
I would not want to defend myself in court. With anything that says ''Zombie'' anywhere on it.

S&Wfan
March 14, 2012, 03:18 AM
From five feet, into the gut, even the ol' 158 grain lead round nose got the job done . . . as it did here on Lee Harvey Oswald via Jack Ruby out of his 2" barreled Colt Detective Special.

http://lunatruth.com/Mission%20Control%20%20%20Uncovering%20the%20Truth%20about%20the%20Apollo%20Missions_files/john_f_kennedy_oswald_shot.jpg

Ruby decided to shoot Oswald in the gut so it would "hurt as much as possible until he died." An ambulance was right at the jail and he was whisked off on live tv (I remember it well) to the same hospital as Kennedy had died. Oswald was a goner too . . . in short but very painful order.

What do I carry in my snubbie?

Lots of stuff around the house, including Remington 158gn LSWC-HP +P.

What I load 'em with though is what shoots the tightest little groups, allows FASTEST recovery times between rounds, and shoots directly at POA.

PS: Your fastest recovery times between rounds, with perfect accuracy, will NOT be shooting snappy, muzzle-rising +P ammo.

royal barnes
March 14, 2012, 11:12 PM
I don't know what load he was using but I believe Jack Ruby's gun was a blued Colt Cobra with a hammer shroud.

HankB
March 14, 2012, 11:52 PM
I normally carry a 340Sc loaded with .357s . . . but in .38 Special, from a purely ballistic standpoint, here are my choices:

1. HBWC loaded backwards over a hefty charge of SR4756. The original (pre-knurled) Hornady bullets work best, but haven't been available for decades. Speer's HBWC bullets are acceptable.

2. 158+P LSWC-HP

3. Speer short-barrel 135+P JHP

Actually, I think the ammo manufacturers have gotten their act together on bullet construction, so I'd be OK with premium ammo from any of the Big Four manufacturers; physics says they'll all perform more or less the same.

FotoTomas
March 15, 2012, 09:47 AM
I can not say what is "best" but I use the Remington +P 125 grain JHP in my small S&W J frames and the Colt Detective Special.

Been very happy with them for target practice as well as the occasional match. They were very effective when I had a raccoon acting funny during midday on a woods walk that I had to put down.

The bonus is they are the 100 round value pack at WalMart for a good price.

sidheshooter
March 15, 2012, 11:13 AM
I carry Hydra-Shok +P for only one reason: The coroner's report to the jury on which I served said that any of the standard Hydra-Shoks would have been fatal. That's any of five hits from a distance of maybe five feet, with no exiting. Shot from a 2" snubbie. It worked out pretty well. He went down rapidly, and it was as close to DRT as makes no nevermind.

Just to clarify, that's the 129 +P, rather than the 147 +P+?


--
I've got several different .38/.357s. Most of them get some variation of the older "FBI" load: Remington in my 3" 36-1, Remington or BB standard pressure in my 2" model 12, whatever (Federal, Federal 147+P+, some old Proload heavy FBI, even silvertip 145 .357 for woods hiking) in my 3" 65, corbon's old screamer "RCMP" (hot "FBI") in my 2 1/4" SPNY.

The exception is my Brinks "NY-1" spec 64; for some reason the sights on that gun are regulated differently than every other revolver I have in the diameter. I'm leaning towards 129 HS in that one, but I need to print some Speer GDHP at some point.

But I digress. If I could only have one load for all of them, it would be the Remington 158 LSWCHP+P.

Thaddeus Jones
March 15, 2012, 11:59 AM
My 4 inch 64-5 "NY-1 knockoff" ;) prints the 125 and 130 grain 38+P to point of aim. Hope this helps! :)

sidheshooter
March 15, 2012, 02:11 PM
^^^Sounds about right, TJ! I'll have to find a good 125-gr load to try...

:)

sidheshooter
March 15, 2012, 02:38 PM
^^^Sounds about right, TJ! I'll have to find a good 125-gr load to try, thanks...

:)

DocRx
March 16, 2012, 01:19 PM
SS, I use the reverend Federal 125gr. 357mag. JHP (one shot "stopping power" of 96% per Ayoob/Snadow) in my Ruger KLCR357/38., they have a little kick to them, but are handled well by the Hogue Tamer Grips already installed. Take care and be safe.

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