Is the 38 spl a self defense round ?


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regal
December 29, 2008, 03:59 PM
I am talking about the non +P 38 special fired from a snub nose revolver. Is this a viable self defense round or should I invest in a new +P capable J-frame?

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Glockman17366
December 29, 2008, 04:06 PM
For self defense, where the goal is to stop an assailant (not necessarily kill him or her), a standard .38 Spl has been an effective round for many, many years.
Maybe it's not the optimal round nowadays, but I reckon it'll do the job.

My .38's are +P rated,so that's what I carry in them. But I normally shoot standard pressure .38's through them.

regal
December 29, 2008, 04:11 PM
What is a good 38 special non +P type ammo to carry ?

orchidhunter
December 29, 2008, 04:19 PM
regal, The Nyclad non +P will be back on the market soon, it will be a good choice. orchidhunter

kostner
December 29, 2008, 04:22 PM
I carry Federal HydraShok 110 grain in my SW442. I think you will like them. Also carry a few in the Bianchi Speed Strips.

exflatlander
December 29, 2008, 04:23 PM
I think with a short .38 it is more about practice and accuracy than the type of bullet you use. They can be hard to shoot well and if you can't hit what you are aiming at I don't care how good the ammo is.

I have a old 3" S&W mod 36 that I can put all 5 double action in the black at 25 ft with cheap UMC or Winchester USA 130 gr FMJ that I practice with.

Maybe they won't expand like high-end JHP but I still like my chances I as I know I can hit something with it.

hexidismal
December 29, 2008, 04:34 PM
In a word, YES.
Do I carry it ? No.

I actually didn't believe much in .38 special as a modern defense round until I saw it tested fairly a few times. One example is from Gun Tests magazine did a study back in 2006. ( Yes, I know you can't always trust what the magazines say ) , but various other tests seem to have similar results. See for example a site I trust far more than any magazine.
http://www.brassfetcher.com/index_files/Page1716.htm ( Great site run by THR member JE223 )

http://www.gun-tests.com/issues/18_9/features/38_Special_5358-1.html
Remington’s Express load was the most accurate ammunition (1.0 in. at 25 yards average) with good penetration (15 inches). The bullet expanded to 0.617 inch and retained almost all its original weight. (The piece to the right of the main slug didn’t detach, so we counted it in the expansion number and in the retained-weight calculation.) It’s the best choice for a lower-recoil .38 Special ammo, in our estimation.

There are other factors though I think making the .38 special viable. It's easier to shoot for instance. Now, I've had my arguments on this board with the "It's all about placement, even a .22lr is perfectly viable for self defense" crowd. It's not ALL about placement, but certainly that's a big part of it. The only truly viable self-defense weapon for you is the one you can quickly and accurately hit your target with. For a lot of people, a standard pressure .38 special is a bit easier to do that with.

So.. should you upgrade to a 38+P ? Heck I don't know , but I can say I don't think you should change the gun and round you carry till you're as well practiced with a new one as you are with your old one.

sidheshooter
December 29, 2008, 04:35 PM
x-flat,

I also have one of those heavy barrel 3" 36 chiefs; a true classic (thanks frank mcgee!). It had to go back to the factory to be retimed after a single box of the old cci "lawman" 110-grain +p loads.

That said, it has worked like a charm since then with whatever I have run through it (no more really light hot loads, however) including remington 158 LSWCHP +P, Federal Hydrashok 129 +P and lots of standard pressure rounds.

I'm glad to see the return of the nyclad 125, and I'm also intrigued by the buffalo bore standard pressure 158 LSWCHP...

But for carry, all my HKS loaders are stuffed with the remington version of the 158g +P load, FWIW. It's proven, and it also shoots to point of aim...

C-grunt
December 29, 2008, 04:38 PM
Its still a .35 caliber round at or above 700 FPS. Its got plenty of oomph to ruin anyones day. I had some of Federals low recoil round in my SP101 for a while for the wife who is recoil shy. Looking at the tests here and else where it did fairly well in the ballistic gel.

Kleanbore
December 29, 2008, 04:39 PM
From Regal: Is this [(non +P .38 Special in a snub)] a viable self defense round or should I invest in a new +P capable J-frame?

I have a new +P capable Airweight 642, but I use standard pressure loads (110 grain Silvertip). They are easier to shoot well, and much better for a rapid, aimed second shot, than hotter loads.

If you have a J-frame, you might consider investing in Crimson Trace grips, depending on how well you shoot quickly at SD ranges (say, 21 feet) without a sight picture. I find them invaluable, to the extent that the lack of availability of those grips for a Colt Detective Special is the only factor that would keep me from getting one of those or a Cobra.

Good luck.

regal
December 31, 2008, 01:20 PM
I am sort of odd in that I shoot better with this snub than any of my other handguns (even my Makarov.) I am one of those who just do better with a revolver and the J frame fits my hands perfectly.

Thanks for the info

wrxguyusa
December 31, 2008, 01:27 PM
I'd consider looking into these standard pressure rounds:

The price is a bit shocking, but the performance might be worth it?

Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure Short Barrel Heavy .38 Special (http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#standard38)

158gr. very soft lead cast, SWC-HC gas checked bullet
854 fps (256 ft. lbs.) from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

Very hard cast 150gr. WAD CUTTER bullet
868 fps (251 ft. lbs.)from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

Speer Low Velocity uni-core 125 gr. Jacketed hollow cavity
921 fps (235 ft. lbs.) from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

Yo Mama
December 31, 2008, 01:27 PM
Nyclad non +P

Was just reading Ayoob book, and this was his favorite. Glad to hear it's coming back.

salthouse
December 31, 2008, 01:33 PM
I think the 38 spl non +P is more than adequate as a personal defense round.

But, if you want to get something that is +P capable, why not!

I'm not an expert but I would bet most PD situations happen inside of 7yds, probably inside of 3yds. A lot of rounds are capable inside of 3 yds.

A little off topic but I'm not surprised at your ability to shoot better with the snubbie than the Mak. A buddy of mine has a Russian Mak that cannot come close to outshooting my Kel-tec. I think they vary a lot in accuracy/quality.

oneounceload
December 31, 2008, 01:35 PM
The price is a bit shocking, but the performance might be worth it?

Since you might be using them to save your life, you need to ask yourself if YOU'RE worth the few extra dollars?

mbt2001
December 31, 2008, 01:37 PM
The .38 special is a capable defensive round and has a well vetted history. Agreed, it isn't the .45, but it is a fine round.

Carry with confidence.

you need to ask yourself if YOU'RE worth the few extra dollars?

I hear that all the time... At the end of the day, if you are carrying a firearm you are betting your life on series of $0.02 cent springs working in conjunction to pop a $0.01 primer.

Shoot a few loads of various rounds, ranging from combat to target and whichever one shoots best out of your pistol for you then use it. Focus on "double taps". From a J frame, most hollow points do not have enough velocity to open widely, so it is something to consider.

exflatlander
December 31, 2008, 01:39 PM
I found some standard pressure 125gr Hornady XTPs yesterday that I have read good things about. I will hopefully get to try them out tomorrow if it stops snowing.

wrxguyusa
December 31, 2008, 01:50 PM
Since you might be using them to save your life, you need to ask yourself if YOU'RE worth the few extra dollars?

Yes, we all know how important we are, I was more referring to other quality ammunition on the market. I don't know if these cartridges are the best and the price is on the high side. Pricey exotic rounds are not always better, but these look good on paper.

off-topic: Buffalo Bore does make some amazing 325gr 45 colt +P very fun to shoot, still waiting to use it on a boar and see what it does.

okespe04
December 31, 2008, 02:05 PM
yes .38 is fine. It was used by police for many decades, and many people carry, and own .38 revolvers with confidence.

ljnowell
December 31, 2008, 02:05 PM
If I were to shoot a non +p load from my .38 for defense I think I would use some of my LSWC.

JFrame
December 31, 2008, 02:10 PM
Quote by wrxguyusa:

I'd consider looking into these standard pressure rounds:

The price is a bit shocking, but the performance might be worth it?

Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure Short Barrel Heavy .38 Special

158gr. very soft lead cast, SWC-HC gas checked bullet
854 fps (256 ft. lbs.) from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

Very hard cast 150gr. WAD CUTTER bullet
868 fps (251 ft. lbs.)from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

Speer Low Velocity uni-core 125 gr. Jacketed hollow cavity
921 fps (235 ft. lbs.) from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

I have to get my hands on some of these Buffalo Bore loads -- they look quite intriguing...

:)

FullEffect1911
December 31, 2008, 02:33 PM
I think those buffalo bore loads are the best you can get in standard pressure .38 special loads. Thing is they will recoil like a +P, there is just no getting around the physics of if all.

Still, in this case pressure is pressure and your gun will be fine.

Get them (if you wish) and carry with confidence.

Walkalong
December 31, 2008, 02:58 PM
Yes it is.

mainmech48
December 31, 2008, 03:18 PM
With the advances in projectile technology in the last several years, I'd say "yes". The days when you needed a solid 900-1000 f/s to get reliable terminal performance from an expanding bullet are long over.

Now they can engineer and build a bullet to deliver it's optimum terminal performance within about any given set of velocity parameters. You've still got to put it where it counts most, but your chances of it opening up and dumping its maximum energy there have never been better.

rondog
December 31, 2008, 03:28 PM
It sure ain't a hunting round.....

PRM
December 31, 2008, 04:40 PM
[QUOTE]It sure ain't a hunting round..... - rondog [QUOTE]

That would depend on what your hunting - been more than a few racoons, not to mention rabbits that have been brought home with a .38.

As far as a defense round - it has been a primary and back-up round for police officers for over a century. Even seen use as a military round. Are there better - yep, is it adequate - absolutely.

sm
December 31, 2008, 04:45 PM
Yes, the standard pressure .38spl is still a defensive round.

The guns were manufactured to shoot standard pressure 158 gr loads point of aim/point of impact, along with 148 gr lead semi wad cutters.

I prefer standard pressure 158 gr lead semi wad cutters.


Then again the standard pressure 158 gr lead round nose had no problems putting down cows fired from a old S&W Model 36 and 1929 Colt Detective Special either.

Cows have been put down for a long long time with these loadings and will continue to be.

Unless I guess cows start joining gun forums and finding out what they are "supposed to do" and that is not ending up "kilt".


*wink*

Friendly, Don't Fire!
December 31, 2008, 04:55 PM
135 grain Hollow Points, +P #23921

If your gun is not +P, then I concur with others that the 158g Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Points (aka, the FBI load) will work EXTREMELY WELL.

My 642 shoots +P loads. When I shot both +P and non+P, without a chronograph, I really couldn't tell the difference, there was that little difference in the "feel" of the two loads, comparatively-speaking.

If you can shoot the gun well, then that is really over half "the battle."

Someone that can shoot 15 rounds real fast in a semi-automatic may not be a good a shot at all with 15 rounds.
You might be a lot better shot with just one round from your 38.
Remember, shot placement is EVERYTHING.

One well-placed shot is better than 15 near hits!

S&Wfan
December 31, 2008, 10:44 PM
The .38 Spl. has been putting down bad guys for many, many decades now, and will for many more decades too I hope!

Lee Harvey Oswald gunned down officer J. D. Tippett in Dallas with his .38 S&W K-frame. Not long after, Oswald was gunned down with one .38 Special round fired by Jack Ruby from his Colt Detective "snubbie."

Ruby gut shot Oswald on purpose. "I wanted him to suffer as much as possible before he died," was his reply.
Oswald hit the floor immediately in extreme pain . . .and die he did, even though an ambulance was already on the scene, and the hospital not far away.


TODAY'S ONLY DIFFERENCE IN PERFORMANCE . . . are the better designed bullets today that folks didn't have "back in the day."

However . . . the good old FBI standard load is a great one for .38 snubbies . . . the 158 grain Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Point (LSWC-HP).

Snubbies had sights regulated to shoot at point of aim with 158 grain ammo, thus the lighter weight bullets will generally shoot lower (since the faster velocities of the lighter loads has the bullet exit the tube earlier than heavier bullets . . . and thus before more recoil lifts the barrel a bit higher.

KyJim
January 1, 2009, 02:48 AM
If your gun is not +P, then I concur with others that the 158g Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Points (aka, the FBI load) will work EXTREMELY WELL.
The "FBI Load" was loaded to +P pressures. It was not a standard pressure loading. The old standard 158 gr lead round nose (LRN) round used for very many years was known as the "Widow Maker" because it's perceived shortcomings led to many police widows.

Today's bullets, however, are much more effective. I sometimes carry an older Model 38 which is not rated for +p ammo, so I believe .38 special is a viable defense round. The Buffalo Bore ammo mentioned in a previous post warrants close attention, especially the Gold Dots.

kmrcstintn
January 1, 2009, 02:54 AM
a few non +p choices for self defense are...

Winchester Silvertip 110gr jhp, Federal Hydrashok 110gr jhp, Hornady XTP 125gr jhp; Hornady XTP 158gr jhp; Buffalo Bore's full wadcutter & semiwadcutter non +p loads; soon to be resurrected Federal Nyclad 125gr lswchp; soon to be released Hornady FTX 110gr ?polymer filled? hollowpoint

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