common HD .38 +p ammo for snubs, 4", 6" guns...what say you?


June 26, 2008, 07:45 PM
in our household, we have several snubby revolvers, a 4" revolver, and a 6" revolver that I want to share a common stash of .38 spl +p defensive ammo instead of buying several brands/weights based on what is best for each length barrel...this kinda crap gets old and driving to several different shops only to find they are out of stock is not an option when gas is more than $4 a gallon; :mad:

summary: 1 7/8" barreled snubbies, 4" barreled revolvers, 6" barreled ammo that works...what say you?

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June 26, 2008, 08:14 PM
I'd go with Double Tap's .38+p. It'll kick butt out of the 2", and at the 6", i'd bet it's up near .357mag territory (out of a snubbie. Not hardcore hunting rounds from long bbl guns).


June 26, 2008, 08:59 PM
Remington .38+P 158gr LSWCHP.

Check out Brass Fetcher. The Remington 158gr Lead Hollow Point expanded to about .59 out of a 1 7/8 barrel Smith and still penetrated almost 12".

Same round out of a 4" gun.

Add up his testing results with the KNOWN street record of this round and it's a no brainer. I carry it in all my +P rated .38's.

June 27, 2008, 09:43 AM
I'd say either the 158 gr LSWCHP+P (the Remington version may expand the best out of a short barrel) or Corbon DPX.

I personally use the 158 gr LSWCHP+P load from Georgia Arms, but my shortest revolver has a 3" barrel. I don't know if this ammo will expand reliably out of a 2" barrel. But it is good ammo at a good price.

June 27, 2008, 12:17 PM
+1 of the DT +P 125gr .38. Both of my snubs are loaded with it. In point of fact, ALL of my guns are loaded with DT ammo!

Stephen A. Camp
June 27, 2008, 12:37 PM
Hello. My choice would be the Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P mentioned previously thought the company refers to it as a LHP +P.

Here are some informal test results and chronographed speeds from different lenght bbl's if it might be of use:

[b]Z_Infidel:[/i] It seems that the GA LSWCHP +P expands out of longer bbls but not snubs, at least for me:


June 27, 2008, 03:06 PM
thanks so far; Double Tap's powder mix behind Gold Dots & tried-n-true old unjacketed lead; I was leaning toward the Remington variant of the FBI load, but wanted to 'feel' a concensus; another ole timer that floats around our house is Winchester or Remington semijacketed 125gr .38 spl +p's cuz they are what my dad is familiar with from using them for years in security work; the Double Tap load would be just a technological step forward

June 27, 2008, 04:29 PM
I'll add my voice to the FBI load. I like the Remington offering best over the Winchester round but both are accurate.

June 27, 2008, 06:23 PM
common HD .38 +p ammo for snubs, 4", 6" guns...what say you?
Just to be sure. Are you asking for a load recommendation for Heavy Duty 38/44 revolvers (as in Outdoorsman) or for regular 38spl +p. I like FBI load and all but 38/44 can do more than that.


June 27, 2008, 06:47 PM
The WWB 125grn +p looks great in gello, is fairly cheap and is available at most of the marts.

June 27, 2008, 07:22 PM
I see that Mr. Camp has semi-scientifically verified my suspicions. I have the 158 gr LSWCHP+P load from Georgia Arms in my Model 65 3", but Remington 125-grain R38S2 in my 642. Unfortunately, I haven't had the chance to test in any media.


June 27, 2008, 08:56 PM
Speer Gold Dot 135gr

Good price now in bulk on

Just bought and received 500 rnds.


June 27, 2008, 11:26 PM
Although I have and will continue the Rem +p FBI load in my Colt D frame snubs, I use the new Gold Dot 135 'short barrel' in the S&W j frame snubs. I use the FBI load in my 2.5" 242(7 shot), in the 2" Model 15,the 2.5 Diamondback and in all my S&W 4" guns that are post war.
Now the post war 6" guns I like 110 grain hollowpoints at 1200fps, like the old Supervel load. These are absolutely devastating on dogs and smaller animals to 50 yards or so.
For practice I shoot cast 150 grain round nose from a 6 cavity gang mold ,usually with Bullseye to give 800fps from a 4" barrel.

June 28, 2008, 07:45 AM
I keep a few hundred 158gr LHP+P on hand, it looks good out of any barrel length, from my 2" J-frames to my 4" K-frames.

My wife loads her .357s with it for carry.

June 28, 2008, 08:12 AM
I've chronoed the speer 135 SBGD from my 4" 65 and they average 950 which is near the 357 load from a snub. as others have said there's some on GB for low $.

June 28, 2008, 11:31 AM
WalMart sells 100 pack of Remington .38 Special +p 125 gr for $29. It's a stout +p hollowpoint that works well in 2" and 6". Its copper jacket makes the barrel easier to clean. It's my range ammo. My 8" revolver by the bed side has 158 gr .357 magnum hollowpoints in it. I want the bastard incapacitated as fast as possible.

June 28, 2008, 11:42 AM
Remington 158 gr SWCLHPs are great stuff. For a round that works the best in all barrel lengths, that'd be my first choice.

July 2, 2008, 05:49 PM
Mr. Camp, thank you for posting that link -- very informative. Of course, now I'm hoping I get enough velocity with my 3" Model 64s. My guess is probably...

July 2, 2008, 08:26 PM
After seeing Mr. Camp's GA Arms test a while back I bought some to use in my 4" Smith. I don't own a snub (yet ;) ) so I don't have to worry as much about it not expanding. Thank you to Mr. Camp for all the work he does (I love the ( site :) )

Stephen A. Camp
July 2, 2008, 11:40 PM
Hello. I am glad to have been of service. I sort of think that it will do fine from the 3" since chronographed velocities from a couple of my 3" .38's compared to 4" guns are usually extremely close.

Best and good luck.

July 3, 2008, 08:50 PM
Have a homework assignment of sorts for those who delve into these kind of things. Get out the snacks and tall beverages though.LOL
Anything I was going to add to the discussion is in the link.

July 4, 2008, 07:37 AM
Mr. Camp: Thanks again for making me drool on my keyboard, that 10's stocks are gorgeous. I wonder if they are still available - my 64 needs something there.

I am down to my last box of each, the GA Arms and the Remi's. Time to re-order - if I can find a source for those Remis for <$30/box. Those R38S12's are not available locally, for sure. If I remember, GA Arms listed their rounds as '158gr LSWC +P', too, totally hidden is the fact they are HPs. Still, they are nearly identical, ballistically, to the Remi's - and great pracrtice rounds for my 642 & 4" 64. So, that was sage advice, several years back - carry Remi's in 2"-4", practice with GA Arms in all of them - and carry, when need be, in your 4"+ .38/.357Ms.


Stephen A. Camp
July 4, 2008, 08:36 AM
Hello, Stainz: You can get the style grip you saw on my Model 10 via Mr. Collins' site here:


July 4, 2008, 10:02 AM
It appears that both the Georgia Arms 38E and the Rem 38S12 meet the latest 38+P specs--i.e., are loaded to a SAMMI pressure level of 18,500. The 38E appears to use the Hornady 158LSWC-HP round, FWIW.

I bought both of these cartridges this winter and shot them in my 2" j-frames--a 442, M&P 340, and 640. My initial tests were to determine "subjective recoil" characteristics for my Replica Reloads reloading project. (Both felt virtually identical, with a "full" recoil similar to the GDSB 38+P 135-gr. factory round.)

So far, I've only chrono'd them through the 640. From that (2&1/8") barrel, the GA 38E averaged 777 fps and the 38S12 averaged about 805.

I've been busy testing reloaded ammo to meet this nominal (800 fps / 2" barrel) performance level, so I haven't returned to more chrono tests of this factory ammunition, but I'll run some more out in both the 340 and the M60 (3" barrel). I also have a Night Guard 386 (L frame, 2&1/2" barrel) coming in sooner or later--so, we'll have a range of barrel lengths' velocities available once I get the data assembled.

I have also found out that CIP--the European Standards group--has no "38-Plus-P" standard: they simply run 38 Special pressures out to (the equivalent of) 21,750 PSI. Do you suppose 38 Special revolver manufacturers are building their products to two different standards, and shipping stronger 38 Special frames to Europe?

More testing needs to be done, but right now my preference leans to the GDSB 38+P 135-gr. round for daily carry in a 2" barrel. Maybe we can get Speer to do a GDSB 158-gr bullet.

Jim H.

July 4, 2008, 01:55 PM
thanks all...been busy, so I've not checked back in a few days; found the local Gander Mountain is now starting to keep the Remmy FBI load in stock so I got a box to top off my stock & I'll do this every so often; even though the all lead hollowpoint is way outmoded, it still performs well...I'm happy with that; :evil:

July 4, 2008, 03:42 PM
My choice has been Winchester SXT Personal Protection 38 Special +P 130 gr (catalog no. S38SP). Since I don't have facilities for comparison testing, this choice is based mostly on faith in the manufacturer and my belief that this is not rocket science. I feel that with adequate training and practice with the revolver used the bad guy will go down, even if it takes more than one round to do the job.

July 6, 2008, 05:15 AM
Just about any HP +P should be fine.

I personally, having revolvers all over my house too, I have GD-HP 125g +Ps.

Waldo Pepper
July 6, 2008, 11:46 AM
My 642-2 is always loaded with WW 38 +P LSWCHP 158 grain store bought, but I have 158 grain LSWCHP's from Hornady and two other mfg. Some are sweged and some are cast, the cast is target ammo for my S&W 610-3 when plinking. I do have some of the low velocity Speer JHP's to load for the 642-2, but I am not sure I will use them over the sweged LSWCHP in that gun.

The reality is one has to remember that guns like the 642 and others are what used to be called "belly guns", they were never designed to be shot further out then 1 to 10 yards at most and were generally best when stuck in BG's belly and fired.

If I am able to wear my G-29 I always go with it, twice the rounds carried in J frames. I can hit bowling pins with ease at 25 yards with 135 Nosler JHP hitting about 1600 fps, and they just explode.

July 6, 2008, 11:56 AM
I truly doubt that there is much real difference in any commercially available 38 Special load. One will work about as well as another unless you go with the pricey and often hard to find "specialty" makers and even then there likely isn't a whole lot of difference in performance.

Practice your shot placement. That's more important than straining to get an additional 50-100 FPS.

July 6, 2008, 12:25 PM
My 2" 442 has either cast 148-gr BBDEWC over Titegroup, or 158-gr cast LSWC over Unique.

Expansion is the least of my concerns. I want clean cutting and deep penetrating bullets. The barrel length handicaps me enough, I don't want anything else to compromise penetration.

July 7, 2008, 02:02 AM
For my snubbie 158gr SWCHP 38spl +P. For my 4" 38spl +P Federal HST.

July 16, 2008, 07:11 PM
I tried about 8 diff ammo in my SP101 .357 2.25". It likes DT 25gr .357 best! Shoots the most accurate, least flash and lower recoil than most, including the Federal Low Recoil (why do they call it that...must be a typo). I'm going to use it in my 16" EMF 92 lever once that arrives. It will scream out of that barrel!

I just ordered some DT 125gr .38 +P for my new 642 that is being tuned by Gemini Customs (just like my SP101).

DT has great prices, high velocity, Speer Gold Dots, and rapid delivery.

July 16, 2008, 11:38 PM
This question is for Steven Camp. Do you think the loads in the 135 JHP 38+P advertised by Speer as the Personal Defense Load is the same load as the one they are calling the Short Barrel load ?

Stephen A. Camp
July 16, 2008, 11:49 PM
Hello. I went over the CCI/Speer's site and found that the Gold Dot Short Bbl Personal Protection load (Part # 23921) is the only one that I can find with that weight bullet. When I went to their "Short Barrel" information and then to "Product Listings", the same Gold Dot Personal Protection loads came up followed by the Gold Dot Short Bbl Personal Protection loads:

So, yes, I do believe that the Speer 135-gr. +P Short Bbl Load is the same as the 38 Special 135-gr. +P Short bbl Personal Protection one. I think that perhaps the nomenclature is all that differs. It is my understanding that this same 135-gr. Gold Dot bullet that is used in the +P (higher end) 38 Special load is the same that is used in their low-end/low-recoil 357 load, which starts out about 100 ft/sec faster.

If interested, the results of informal testing can be found here on the Speer, Corbon DPX and Remington LHP +P loads:


July 17, 2008, 10:45 AM
I have to thank you a lot for this info about the 135 Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection load. The problem I have found in most retail stores is I can only locate the boxes that don't say Short Barrel on them. You and other enthusiast like Josh Smith [on another thread] have really helped us with really helpfull info,and we all enjoy your work ; just tell us you'll keep it up !

Stephen A. Camp
July 17, 2008, 11:39 AM
Hello and thanks.


July 17, 2008, 10:34 PM
I bought SPEER 135 gr short barrel .357 mag, and that was extra whimpy. And extra inaccurate. And extra expensive. I hated that one extra much at the gun range.

July 17, 2008, 11:40 PM
Gold Dot Short Bbl Personal Protection load (Part # 23921)

FYI, Speer part # 53921 is for the box of 50, which is usually (re: all the time!) much cheaper than the box of 20 # 23921.

GunBroker was mentioned a few times. Here is one of the seller's links. Very good price. I just ordered 5 boxes / 250 rounds for $90.00 ($75.00 + $15.00 shipping).

Items for sale by: sellforless A+(2071) (

If you enjoyed reading about "common HD .38 +p ammo for snubs, 4", 6" guns...what say you?" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!