Need suggestions - 140 or 158 grain bullet that expands at .38 velocities


November 7, 2008, 05:11 PM
Any of you guys got some suggestions for a 140 or 158 grain bullet that will expand reliably at hot .38 Special/ mild .357 velocities?

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November 7, 2008, 05:18 PM
Hornady swaged 158 grain SWC-HP will start to expand at standard .38 Spl. velocity. Really opens up nice at +P levels, or low end .357.

It is an excellent factory duplicate bullet for the famous .38 Spl. FBI load.

It will lead badly at full-bore .357 velocity however.

November 7, 2008, 05:24 PM
The 140g Speer Gold Dot is designed exactly for that purpose. It's also my carry load in factory form.

November 7, 2008, 05:26 PM
rcmodel identified the 158-gr. bullet properly, IMO. From a 2" barrel, a 38+P factory load--or reload, with the right powder--runs just over 800 fps.

If you run overpressure (re)loads in 38 Special cases or build a medium-pressure 357 round with it running at about 900 fps, it also does just fine--no real leading. At 1000 fps , leading starts to show up.

FWIW, 900 fps is about the max I want to shoot from a lightweight 2" barrel.

At the nominal 140-gr. weight, the only decent bullet I know of in a JHP is the Gold Dot Short Barrel 135-gr. bullet. It is designed to open well at velocities as low as 850 fps, but it does tend to break up over 1000+ fps.

FWIW, the typical GDSB38+P factory round runs about 850 fps from a 2" barrel, and just over 1000 fps from a 4" barrel.

eagle103: I wasn't aware of the Speer 140 JHP being optimized for 38+P levels--has brassfetcher tested that one?

Jim H.

November 7, 2008, 05:28 PM
Speer #4014, 135 grain Gold-Dot Short-Barrel bullet is the one designed for the .38 Special.

I don't believe they make a 140 grain Gold-Dot.

November 7, 2008, 05:36 PM
Speer does not make a 140 Gold-Dot according to their website.

The only 140 grain .357" bullet listed is a conventional JHP.

dagger dog
November 7, 2008, 05:56 PM
148 gr. hollow base wad cutter reversed, Bullseye powder case trimmed to min OAL (1.155" )and seated flush with the case mouth.

You want to be carefull with the Bulseye loading every revolver is different, but around 2.6grs up to 3.5grs. they will expand greatly even with the 2.6 charge and get larger as the charge increases.

November 7, 2008, 06:27 PM
Brain fart. I use the 140g Hornady XTP (a bit cheaper) for practice and the 135g Speer for carry. Sorry.

November 7, 2008, 07:10 PM
I load Speer 158 grain LSWC HP's which seem softer than the Hornady to 880 fps with Unique, and 930 fps with Power Pistol at a sub max +P charge weights from a 3" model 60. I like both a lot, accuracy is good, and both would be more than satisfactory IMO for SD. Also use HS-6 with the same bullet to 825 fps, and it is accurate as well.

Can't think of a better bullet style and weight when driven to a proper impact velocity.

The Bushmaster
November 7, 2008, 10:31 PM
Hornady XTP 140 grain do well in both .38 Special and .357 magnum. So does Remington 140 grain SJHP...

Both must be ran to the high end of fps for standard .38 Special or into the +P range.

November 7, 2008, 10:46 PM
No handgun bullet will give you 100% reliable expansion. Even at high velocity.
"...LSWC HP's..." One of those will instantly flatten when it hits anything hardish. Bones, for instance.

November 8, 2008, 11:12 AM
Thanks. I've been looking at the LSWC HP's. Haven't ruled them out yet but it seems like they might lead pretty bad if they were moving too fast. If the Hornady's are harder they might be a better choice for .38+P or light .357.
I'm kind of leaning toward a 140 grain JHP.

November 8, 2008, 12:05 PM
The knurled Hornady bullets are wet tumble lubed, then dry mica coated. They are very slick, and I have no leading at all in my 3" S&W driven to the velocities mentioned.

November 8, 2008, 12:17 PM
I've also shot a few LD sets with the Hornady bullet Galil5.56 references--and experienced no leading here, either. This sample--so far--is not enough to draw any conclusions from, however.

In general, then, I suspect the leading issues, particularly in short barrels, are not a real problem--save for cleaning after practice with them.

I don't think I'm gonna worry about leading if I'm in a SD shooting.

Jim H.

The Bushmaster
November 8, 2008, 12:23 PM
Goon...If it's any help. I've taken Blacktail deer of the Northwest with Remington 140 grain SJHPs in .357 magnum. They do work...I have not shot anything with the Hornady XTP bullets and I really hope I don't as I use them for self defense...

November 8, 2008, 12:26 PM
BTW, The Bushmaster--is the mare skittish? The cat is worried about being stepped on.

Maybe the cat can sleep in the house with you. He's a cuddler--but beware: his hunting instincts are right below the surface.

Jim H.

November 8, 2008, 01:08 PM
while this is probably not what you want, it will expand, ant almost any velocity. use your 148 g Llead wad cutters and install them backwards! i loaded up a small batch that way years ago, just for fun. shot them into gallon water jugs. they just plain got HUGE! probably no practical use though.

November 8, 2008, 01:22 PM
Backward 148 grain HBWC's have been tried for at least 50 years that I can remember.

They are not worth a crap for a self-defense load because they expand too much, too fast.

Driven at .38 Spc. velocity, penetration will be very shallow because the quarter size expansion acts just like a great big drag parachute popping open. And they don't start out fast enough to overcome it.

In addition, they are not accurate beyond close range, because they are not stable and want to turn around (tumble) and fly point (heavy end) first.

The swaged lead 158 SWC-HP is the time tested & proven FBI load for snub-nose revolvers. They are heavy enough that even expanded, they will tend to keep going in the right direction and cut through bones and heavy clothing.

The modern high-tech solution is the 135 grain Gold-Dot.

You takes your pick and takes your chances, but either will do the job as well as it can be done with a .38 Spl. snubbie.

The Bushmaster
November 8, 2008, 01:27 PM
moooose102...Several years ago I had a friend that loaded defense loads using 148 gr lead wadcutter in that manor. Relying on the hollow base to do the job. I have experimented with that and have found that they do indeed expand...and tend to fragment early during penitration. If that is what you are after...That's what they'll do...

Jim...I hope your cat can get along with the barn cat, Cali. She is a rather small thing, but fully armed and has survived outdoors (never let in) for 14 years. The mare, Tulsa, is rather calm and easy unless she suspects something outside the barn. Then she tends to errupt from her stall to defend the home front... Not sure that Baby (the house cat, a Russian Blue) will appreciate company either...Do you have a cat cage? I guess I could loan you mine...:D

Bring lots of handgun ammunition. My range is always hot...

November 8, 2008, 01:43 PM
I know the gold dots are made to expand at lower speeds. The XTP's I have seen look a lot thicker. I have I load up 110 gold dots in 38's , they are supposed to expand down to 800 fps.

November 9, 2008, 10:12 PM
Thanks for all the guidance. I think I'll try some of the LSWC-HP's.
I'm trying to trade some .310 bullets for some right now but I may have to break down and accept cash and then just buy them.
Even if they wind up being useless they'll still take care of aluminum cans.

November 11, 2008, 03:43 AM
A 158gr LSWC/HP bullet from Hornady or Speer over a charge of 7.0gr HS-6 will exceed the Remington "FBI Load" in a 2" barrel with an AV of 889 fps and single digit SD numbers. Outstanding carry load IMO.

A charge of 7.0gr HS-6 is just the MAX charge of 7.2gr HS-6 listed in the newly released Lyman 49th Edition Reloading Manual.

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