April 23, 2009, 10:34 AM
Providing that the velocities are similar what would have better expansion out of a 1.5" barrel 38 SPL a 158grain Lead Round Nose
or a 158grain Semi-Jacketed Hollow Point.

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April 23, 2009, 10:39 AM
LRN fouls the barrell more, I like SJHP personally

April 23, 2009, 11:33 AM
Round nose bullets are a historically notoriously poorly performing round. So saith Skeeter Skelton, 20 years ago. I suspect the same is true today.

A far better choice in lead bullets is a 158 grain semi-wadcutter or, even better,a S-W hollow point. It's square "shoulder" actually "cuts" through the target, where a RN just pushes through. The SWHP, preferably loaded to +P velocity, was the choice of the FBI when the .38 was issued.

A SJHP is a better choice than a LRN for almost every application except target work. Use the cheaper lead bullet for that. If it were me (and it is), I only use the SWC.


Steve C
April 23, 2009, 12:17 PM
Neither one will expand out of a 1.5 to 2" barrel. Solid bullets don't expand at all though you may get minor deformation if they hit a large bone. HP's require enough velocity to get the bullet to expand. With a conventional old style JHP bullet like shown that minimum velocity is around 1,000 fps at the muzzle, a velocity that is not obtainable with a 158gr bullet from a .38 spl with short barrel even with +P loads. This is why the best .38 hollow point in 158gr weight for the .38 spl is the LSWCHP an all soft lead (no Jacket) bullet to allow for some expansion at modest velocity.

While a 158gr JHP bullet can be loaded in the .38 spl its performance will be no better than any solid bullet. This is why Speer no longer lists 158gr JHP or JSP loads for the .38 spl in their reloading manuals.

Jim Watson
April 23, 2009, 12:44 PM
Agree with Steve, the LRN will not expand and will do well to deform a bit.

A heavy JHP will not likely expand at .38 Special snubby velocity - and that velocity will be less than for lead at the pressures available.

I like the lead hollowpoint, the Nyclad (said to be coming back), and a light fast JHP like the Gold Dot short barrel load; in that order.

April 23, 2009, 07:15 PM
Ok, I so I should use these,


148 Grain

April 23, 2009, 07:33 PM
I'm kinda on the fence about the hollow base wadcutters; the lead can be really soft and loading data usually sets a low velocity range;

there are folks that have inverted these and used them as a 'pseudo-hollowpoint' load; again I don't reload yet so I can't comment on their effectiveness

Ben Shepherd
April 23, 2009, 07:37 PM
Loaded backwards those 148 HBWC can be nasty, depending on two things:

1. How hard they are(usually very soft unless they are purposely cast out of a hard alloy)

2. Impact velocity.

Direct answer to your question given your criteria: The hollow point by a mile, the RN won't expand at all with the velocities you'll achieve in that short barrel.

April 23, 2009, 07:47 PM
I am going to test these 148 grain LWCHP's (if I got the acronym right) on some water melons and get back to you.

Thanks for the advise, I am new to reloading and the help is appreciated.

April 23, 2009, 10:48 PM
what would have better expansion

Kind of a "loaded" question. Which would expand more a bullet designed to expand or one that isn't designed to expand

LRN fouls the barrell more,

Lead is easier to clean out than copper fouling. A lead bullet that's been lubed properly and shot at velocities appropriate for it's hardness is no harder to clean than a jacketed bullet and may be easier.If you're looking for expansion in a short barrel a lead bullet is a much better choice.

I tried the reversed HBWC and had mixed results. Some expanded well and some basically ripped off half the hollow base (now the nose). This was on water jugs which really only proves their effectiveness on water jugs. If you were shooting at targets with varied densities (miscle, bone, organs, etc) I think the results may be worst. These were Speer swaged bullets so they were soft. I don't think they are worth the effort.

Steve C
April 23, 2009, 11:53 PM
Buy some 158gr LSWCHP's by Speer or Hornady and load behind 4.5 to 4.7 grs of W231 or 5.2grs of Unique.

April 24, 2009, 12:09 AM
The all-lead hollowpoints are a good idea, though best suited to 3"+ barrels. For a snubby... does Speer sell their 135 gr short-barrel Gold Dots as components? If so, get those. If not, get the loaded ammo.

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