Stopping power of a 2-inch barrel 38spl?


PDA






vito
January 29, 2013, 09:21 AM
I certainly don't look to Hollywood or TV for accurate information about guns, but something on a recent police TV show made me wonder. The suspect had been shot in the shoulder and seriously wounded by the off-duty cop with his snubbie 38. The suspect claimed that he had been across the street from the dying cop when he was shot, but the detectives claimed he had to be lying. They stated that the power of the 2 inch barrel 38 was so poor that the suspect had to have been right next to the shooting cop for the wound to have been as severe as it was, and that had he actually been across the street (20 to 30 feet away) the round would not have done any serious damage. Having only fired my 2-inch j-frame at paper targets, I really don't know how effective this gun is if I had to use it for self defense at more than arms length distance, even with +p ammo in the gun. Anyone have good info on this subject?

If you enjoyed reading about "Stopping power of a 2-inch barrel 38spl?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
SaxonPig
January 29, 2013, 09:34 AM
Depends on who you ask. Some dismiss a 38 as a "mouse gun" while others feel comfortable with one. I have often packed a 2" 38 but I do rely on my own loads using a 125 JHP at a clocked 1,100 FPS. Factory +P is not a hot load (same 125 JHP @ 925 from a 4" barrel and about 900 in my 2" guns) and I do not wish to trust my life to it.

The difference between a 4" and 2" in 38 Special is not all that much. Maybe 25-50 FPS in most cases. Also, the drop in velocity after 100' (across the street) would not be all that noticeable, either.

It's Hollywood.

premier1
January 29, 2013, 09:48 AM
Let's put it this wat whenever people discuss stopping power all I ever say is would you like to get hit by one? Weather it's a .380,.22,or a .38 sp. In a snubnose. For me I really don't want to be hit by any. I carry a Taures moder 85S everyday in my job where I guard courthouses. I do carry my own loads of 125gr Hornady hollow points. I do trust that load for accuracy and stopping power,especially in the distance of a court room. I also like the fact that I can draw it and get a shot off in about 1 second.

Loc n Load
January 29, 2013, 10:20 AM
My first duty gun was a 38 spl and was issued to me in 75.....our dept. required us to carry LRN loads.....they were poor performers.....we then were allowed to carry JHP's......they were better....but one critical factor remains.
Bullet placement, this is the critical factor....I carried a sidearm as part of my job until 2008.....carried +p 38's, +P+ 38's, 357 magnums, 9mm's, 40's, 45's and finally a 357 sig. Regardless of what caliber or load we were issued, I have seen one shot stops with all of them when the bullet placement was good. And I have seen "bullet sponges" soak up multiple rounds when shot placement was poor. I am retired, and carry a j frame Smith daily with Speer 135 JHP's, I have guns chambered for more powerful rounds. But I know that my 2" model 49 will get the job done, if I do my part. And the most important part is, if I need it, I will have it.

mooner
January 29, 2013, 11:04 AM
I have clocked Buffalo Bore non +p 158 gr swchp at a solid 850+ fps out of my 442. That is certainly not a huge amount of power, but it isn't too bad either. It certainly stings a bit when you are the one sending them - I don't think I want to be on the receiving end.

460Kodiak
January 29, 2013, 11:20 AM
I think a .38 will stop a bad guy or human sized animal. The thing to remember is are you using a load that will obtain enough speed to expand? If animals are a worry, will it penetrate deep enough? Could your attacker be on drugs that will make them a harder target to stop?

As others have stated, shot placement is king.

I hike in remote areas with lots of mountain lions. Also, the city I venture into to do my shopping is getting worse and worse. I pocket carried a J frame loaded with Cor-Bon 110 gr. +P's. I was concerned that It would not be enough gun. I have since picked up a Springfield XDs. You get 6 shots total in the standard magazine with one in the chamber, 7+1 with the extended mag, a 3.3 inch bbl that will still give +P .45 ammo over 300 ft lbs of impact energy, and it is about the same size as a j frame. It is actually thinner. The back end that houses the striker mechanism may make it a bit harder to pocket carry, but an IWB holster works great. I'm going to try pocket carrying it this summer and see how it works.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=174898&d=1353266311

tipoc
January 29, 2013, 01:03 PM
They stated that the power of the 2 inch barrel 38 was so poor that the suspect had to have been right next to the shooting cop for the wound to have been as severe as it was, and that had he actually been across the street (20 to 30 feet away) the round would not have done any serious damage. Having only fired my 2-inch j-frame at paper targets, I really don't know how effective this gun is if I had to use it for self defense at more than arms length distance, even with +p ammo in the gun. Anyone have good info on this subject?

First off it's a TV show as you know, so the facts are distorted some in order to move the plot along. This is why bad guys with fully auto Uzis miss while the good guy with a Walther PPK hit all day long.

It would be very hard for anyone to tell the difference in whether a fella was shot from 2 feet away or 30 ft away based on the severity of the wound. The close range shot would have powder burns around it in a freckling pattern while the long range would not. The damage done by the bullet would be about the same at 1 yard or 10. This is because neither the drop in velocity or energy is that great at 10 yards.

For example: Remington's 158 gr. LHP +P leaves the barrel of a 4" gun at 890 fps at the muzzle and 278 ft pds. of energy. At 25 yards it's moving 872 fps. and has 267 ft. pds. of energy. So the difference in the damage done to a person at 3 ft. vs. 75 ft. would be un-measureable by any useful techniques in use today. It would make no difference in the actual world. Except that in the 2 foot shot there may be a pattern of burn in the flesh around the wound from the muzzle blast.

tipoc

MedWheeler
January 29, 2013, 01:04 PM
Depends on the load, but, at "across the street" distances, a .38 Special load, even from a snub, is extremely potentially-lethal. I'm sure your TV example didn't get into whether or not it was a low-power 148-grain target wadcutter or a 135-grain Speer Gold Dot +P Short Barrel round (of the two, I'm sure a modern-day off-duty cop would probably load his gun with the latter.)

Cosmoline
January 29, 2013, 01:21 PM
They stated that the power of the 2 inch barrel 38 was so poor that the suspect had to have been right next to the shooting cop for the wound to have been as severe as it was, and that had he actually been across the street (20 to 30 feet away) the round would not have done any serious damage.

That's unrefined, absolute nonsense. The .38 Special, particularly with a good +p loading, is deadly across a street or across a block. It's deadly across several blocks but tough to aim out of a snub.

There were some early experimental rounds and rimfires which might have been as weak as the dialog suggests, but they've been moribund for 150 years.

Screenwriters rarely know anything about firearms.

rcmodel
January 29, 2013, 01:22 PM
that had he actually been across the street (20 to 30 feet away) the round would not have done any serious damage.It would make absolutely no difference.

Except as tipoc mentioned, a very close range shot would have powder burn freckling around the wound, and a longer range shot wouldn't.

A 158 grain .38 Spl bullet that has 800 FPS velocity & 224 ft/lb energy at the muzzle still has 727 FPS velocity & 186 ft/lb energy at 150 yards, or 450 feet.

rc

royal barnes
January 29, 2013, 02:27 PM
It's Hollywierd!!!!!!:)

powder
January 29, 2013, 02:30 PM
TV and Hollyweird do more to the detriment of firearms misnomers than any mall ninja can.

A shot to the shoulder from a 38 sp at 10 yds is going to do damage.

Thaddeus Jones
January 29, 2013, 03:21 PM
If you are using the Speer Gold Dot 135 grain 38+P short barrel, I think you are good to go.

Thats what I use in my 640-1 J-frame.

s4s4u
January 29, 2013, 09:40 PM
something on a recent police TV show

Please do not cunfuse TV with reality!

Deltaboy
January 29, 2013, 09:47 PM
38 Will get the job done.

roaddog28
January 29, 2013, 09:56 PM
If I were carrying a 2 inch snubbie I would use Buffalo Bores 150 gr cast wadcutters. Cuts a nice hole and does not depend on expansion to do its job. Buffalo Bore claims 800 to 850 fps and a wadcutter penetrates better than most rounds.
Opinion only,
Howard

ArchAngelCD
January 30, 2013, 01:12 AM
Do you seriously think the .38 Special would have lasted over 100 years if it would do no harm to someone standing 20 to 30 feet away, even from a short barrel revolver? Really?

Like said above, it's not reality... Have you ever seen the would made by a .38 Special? It's not pretty!

Confederate
January 30, 2013, 03:02 AM
The .38 Spc is one of my favorite calibers, but out of a 2-inch barrel it could use some help. Thanks to modern bullet designs, new powder formulations and stronger guns, Junior G-Man models are much more efficient than ever. It doesn't help that Ruger is putting out its excellent LCDs with 1.82-inch barrels. What's wrong with them? A barrel should be at least two inches, preferably more. Why Ruger would screw up a gun by making it with such a short barrel is beyond me.

A couple of years ago, I got an LCD .357 that needed replacing. Alas, Ruger informed me that the LCD would not be in production again for six months or so it offered me a current production gun of similar cost. I paid $400 for the LCD (on sale) and I chose an SP-101 with a 2.5-inch barrel. They paid the transfer fee and made it an across the board swap. Looking back, I made out quite well. I chose the shorter barrel because I already had a 3-inch stainless Speed-Six.

Decades ago, however, the .38 2-inchers with heavy, slow bullets wouldn't even flatten a tire or pierce the bodies of many cars. Even from a 4-inch barrel, performance was so-so. The .357 fixed these problems and today I'd choose a magnum even if I intended to shoot .38s out of it. Why? Because the .357 so far outclasses anything available in .38, especially on the road or in the field.

It pokes through tires with ease, penetrates car bodies and then often will go through a back seat and incapacitate the driver. If Dennis Weaver had had a short-barreled .357, he probably could have taken out that truck driver in Duel. A .357 also would work against black bears better than a .38. (I recall reading the story of a couple on a honeymoon outing. After a while, they realized they were being tracked by a black bear. Nothing they did would shake it and for some lame reason the husband decided he could go get help. So they split up and when he returned with help, they found the partially eaten remains of the bear...just kidding...it was the woman...which proves that a good woman these days is hard to EAT.

Anyway, awful jokes aside, the .357 is worth having the extra horsepower over a .38, and modern .38 ammo makes both calibers absolutely superb. For EDC, I'd love to have a S&W 13/65 or 19/66 in a 2.5-inch pinned barrel, counterbored chambers, and stamped side plate. For home use and regular carry, I'd use .38 +P FBI, and for camping, hiking and cross country car trips, I'd use a Federal 125gr JHP or a 140gr JHP Speer load.

460Kodiak
January 30, 2013, 10:16 AM
LCDs with 1.82-inch barrels

You mean the LCR right? If not, what the heck is an LCD?

Nasty
January 30, 2013, 12:04 PM
LCD = A television gun



(I crack myself up)
:neener:

ETXhiker
January 30, 2013, 12:30 PM
While a .38 snubbie is no power house, the difference between muzzle velocity and velocity at 30 feet will be small, just like with any other firearm. Television writers like to make stuff up.

Action_Can_Do
January 30, 2013, 06:31 PM
As others have stated, never trust "gun facts" that you hear on television. 38 special loads vary so much in performance that it's impossible to make such a sweeping generalization. Not only is a 38 special fired from a short barrel quite capable of killing someone at 30 feet, it can also do so at 100 yards if bullet drop is factored in.

rswartsell
January 30, 2013, 06:52 PM
Agree with Thaddeus Jones,

Speer SB Gold Dot and the answer is "enough". Probably a few other premium loads too. Some say the FBI load makes the "enough" category. I don't doubt it for a moment.

pharmer
January 30, 2013, 08:35 PM
I sometimes carry a 640 with Rem +P 125 gr SJHP's. They are stout, hit hard. I wouldn't want to take one to the sternum. Joe

Jaymo
January 30, 2013, 10:04 PM
Buffalo Bore's FBI load clocks 1040 fps from a 2" Model 60.

chuckpro
January 31, 2013, 05:08 AM
First you can protect yourself with a 38 just as well as most hand gun. Good ammo and a well placed shot will get the job done, but just to clarify knock down power is not something that goes eighth hand gun cartridges. If you sever a part of the nerve center with a well placed shot they should immediately stop presenting a danger to you. Everything else is up in the air.

There was a shooting involving a FED LEO where the suspect forced several agents to a wall. The suspect didn't know they were FED agents, just thought they were business men. When the suspect started to shove the last agent against the wall the LEO emptied his 38 that he had in a chest rig thru the back of his suit coat. The ammo was "FBI load" hp and all 5(chief's special) shots hit center mass. The suspect fled the store and died on the side walk. The suspect had a 12ga and if his response would have been to fight instead of flight he could of killed all three agents before passing.

I dont know if this has anything to do with the OP but just something to think about. If i had to pull my 642 (or most of my carry guns) out because of a threat 30 feet away it would be because there was no other way to avoid the confrontation.

OH and i still have some of the factory "FBI Loads" from the late 80's that were issued to federal agents and supposed to be close in power to the 357. I have never done any scientific testing but when shoot them out of my Model 19 a 357 load makes a bigger boom than the 38 FBI Load. Just shooting them the recoil about like a modern +p round.

Northrunner
February 1, 2013, 12:39 AM
Hey Loc N Load,
What holster do you like for your 49? I've got a 649 (.38) that I'd like to carry but I have not found an IWB holster that I like yet.
Thanks...

vito
February 1, 2013, 08:15 AM
I have a N8 Tactical holster that feels great for my 640.

easyg
February 1, 2013, 02:45 PM
,Can a .38 round from a snubbie deter an attacker?

Sure. Most criminals don't want to get shot by any caliber.



Can a .38 round from a snubbie stop a determined attacker?

With excellent shot placement, and the right ammo, and a little luck, PROBABLY.



Will a .38 round from a snubbie RELIABLY stop a determined attacker?

In my humble opinion, even with excellent shot placement, and even with the right ammo, the answer is: NO.


One of the main reasons so many police agencies abandoned the .38 special in favor of the .357 magnum was because it was a rather poor man stopper, and that was with 4" barrel service revolvers.

vito
February 1, 2013, 04:10 PM
My 640 is made to shoot 357's; in a gun with a 2 inch barrel does it make a significant difference over 38 special? I know it is quite unpleasant to shoot 357mag at the range, and they sure are loud!

BlindJustice
February 1, 2013, 04:24 PM
Speer offers a line of HD ammo for short barrel applications.

Myself - my J-frame is a S&W Model 60 3" Bbl. with ramp front
and W&E adj rear sight. Carry load is Double Tap .38 +P 125 gr.
Gold Dot JHP DT rated at 1,125 fps w/4" Bbl. One advantage of
the 3" Bbl. is the extractor rod is full length to clear the empties

Randall

rswartsell
February 5, 2013, 10:01 PM
First of all, it will become obvious that I do not agree with easyg. That's OK. Diversity of opinion is what makes the world go round and creates forums.

For defense against humans, .38 spl. and especially with modern defense loads has a pretty good track record. The caveat offered is with good shot placement. Meaning if you can shoot under duress with chosen gun and load. Good.

If you can't, .357, 9mm+P, even .44 spl. or mag, hell even .50S&W mag will do NOTHING for you, except probably make the misses worse. I find a fundamental flaw in powering up and expecting more precision, better handling under duress and more effective follow up.

The modern defense loads, or saying screw the ammo lawyers and exploring the rounds ORIGINAL capacity will serve quite well for SD purposes in a manageable, practical package. The idea that it would not went out with LRN police loads decades ago.

NO chambering I ever heard of relieves the shooter from training and familiarization necessary to reliably put shots on target. The characteristics and weapon choices found with .38 spl. make this process as freindly and attainable as humanly possible.

Powering up to replace this essential step is a fool's mission.

S&Wfan
February 5, 2013, 11:48 PM
Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by a .38 Special snubbie (a Colt Detective Special). Jack Ruby said he wanted Oswald to suffer the most pain before he died so he deliberately shot Oswald in the gut. Oswald went straight down and was dead pretty soon.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-geYdwvIPM

My "always" on me handgun is a S&W Model 37 Airweight .38 Special. Yes, I have more powerful handguns, but I'm very confident with the little .38 that it will protect my life well. Heck, it is in its pocket holster as I type.

As with any handgun, or any firearm in general, shot placement is important . . . but if you do your job, the snubbie will do its job well too!!!

xXxplosive
February 5, 2013, 11:57 PM
Knew a LEO back in the late 70's who was called to a burglery in progress in the dark of the early morning....he and his partner found the BG on the roof who drew on my friend...my buddie fired one shot from his model 10 and put it right through the guys pump house....the BG was DRT with the .38 Special RN...no problem.......moral of the story......Shot Placement.

jhvaughan2
February 6, 2013, 01:02 AM
.38 special is enough. Period.
One thing missing in this discussion. You carry a 2" to be read to shoot someone less than 10' away. If you are 20-30 feet away in a SD situation you run for cover. If in a LE situation you carry something more than a 2".

(Sorry to be so practical here.)

Hapworth
February 6, 2013, 09:41 AM
Lee Harvey Oswald was shot by a .38 Special snubbie (a Colt Detective Special). Jack Ruby said he wanted Oswald to suffer the most pain before he died so he deliberately shot Oswald in the gut. Oswald went straight down and was dead pretty soon.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-geYdwvIPM
Dangit -- you used my example before I could. It was gonna be real cool and simple: "Ask Lee Harvey Oswald." So just to be fussy 'cause you beat me to the punch, it wasn't a Detective Special, it was a Cobra.

So there.

;)

rswartsell
February 6, 2013, 02:46 PM
P.S. The adoption of the .357 (and .38 super) by LE agencies was for the express purpose of combating the depression era crime wave by Dillinger et.al. They wanted a round to penetrate car bodies of the time. A decidedly OFFENSIVE tactic against fleeing felons. Not a SD scenario.

In the case of the .38 super it was to supplant the .45 acp. Not a round I have ever heard of lacking "stopping power" in SD. The goal was penetration, the sworn enemy of SD commonly referred to as "overpenetration", i.e. collateral damage.

Once in the LE lineup it remained for many agencies until the adoption of modern semi-autos.

Hondo 60
February 7, 2013, 02:03 AM
As others have stated, never trust "gun facts" that you hear on television. 38 special loads vary so much in performance that it's impossible to make such a sweeping generalization. Not only is a 38 special fired from a short barrel quite capable of killing someone at 30 feet, it can also do so at 100 yards if bullet drop is factored in.

Couldn't have said it better.

If you enjoyed reading about "Stopping power of a 2-inch barrel 38spl?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!