Interesting Ammo Find & Questions


April 1, 2013, 08:22 PM
I was recently pursuing Gun broker when I came across a box of these...

I've read about it in the past so I was not surprised when I saw this..

This neat find has left me with a few questions I'm hoping some of you can answer:

- How much is this ammo is out there? I'd like to hold on to this box but wouldn't mind having one to shoot.

- What about the warning? Could this ammo be any worse on my Airweight or my hand than the 1,000fps 125 gr +P Underwood I shoot?

- Lastly, was it removed from service because of the recoil, poor performance or both?

In terms of performance, this is the most I could find as far as ammo test go...

The results do not seem ideal but its easy to make the argument that a massive wound cavity and minimal penetration is ideal in a few different scenarios.

Anyways, just thought I'd share and see what other info I could scare up.


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April 1, 2013, 09:03 PM
I doubt there is much of this ammo out there. It was a contract from the Treasury Dept. in the late 1970's to early 80's and was replaced by Federals 147 gr. +P+ which did 1000 fps from a 4" barrel.

The Treasury dept. wanted a round with more penetration. I would not shoot it in an airweight although it has been done and has ruined more than one gun. Recoil is very mild. Winchester developed a new bullet for this load and while penetration was not very good, the bullet held up very well and as I recall had a 1 shot stop rating of about 82%, which from a .38 is pretty good. The secret service especially liked this round.

I used to have a bunch, but I shot most of it up. It's mostly a collector item now.

Corbon makes a some dandy loads that are +P rated as does Buffalo Bore.

I shot this round thru my S & W 2" with the Brassfetcher and we got 1061 fps. (hot day).
Expansion was .69 and penetration was about 10". Weight retention was almost 100%.

April 1, 2013, 09:23 PM
351 Win,

Thanks for the reply. Corbon does have some great choices, I have a few boxes of pre- DPX stuff in the safe that is great. I figured the Winchester is worth holding on to, simply for the conversational qualities. In fact, my father isn't the biggest fan of guns thought it was the coolest thing ever.

April 1, 2013, 09:38 PM
Regardless of all that.

The ammo is 30 -40 years old now, and possibly unreliable depending on how it has been stored.
And the bullets used were 1st. or 2nd. Gen JHP.

Todays ammo is not as hot, or as hard on a gun.

But it doesn't need to be.

Because were are into 3rd. / 4th. Gen JHP bullet designs now..

There is nothing magical about it.
Just old over-priced ammo that can be out performed in a snubby with todays 135 grain Short barrel Gold Dot loads, and others.


Jim K
April 3, 2013, 10:41 PM
That +P+ (not +P) ammo was loaded in excess of industry standard for .38 Special. In fact, there never was a SAAMI standard because it was never to be sold on the commercial market; most of the +P+ ammo out there was "liberated" from police supply, often after a department switched to auto pistols. Some boxes were marked for use only in revolvers chambered for the .357 Magnum.

It was what someone called a "public relations" cartridge. It gave police a load closer to the power of the .357 Magnum without the political baggage of the word "magnum". So when some bad guy was shot by the police, the police spokesman could deny that the local friendly cops were using those evil "magnum" revolvers, just the plain old .38 Special.

I don't know that it was "removed from service". The contract ran out and they never renewed it because police were switching to auto pistols and the 9mm.

I strongly recommend reading and heeding the warning. Even though there may be better ammo today, that stuff is still pretty hot and would be very hard on a small or alloy frame revolver.


April 4, 2013, 12:49 AM
It was more common in LE circles than many believe.

As already stated, it was developed for the US Treasury (Secret Service). It's most famous use was when some nut jumped over a fence and the White House Police put him down with one shot. It's record for one shot stops in LE circles is only exceeded by the 125gr JHP .357 Magnum.

It was also adopted by the California Highway Patrol when they issued their first duty gun. They went so far to avoid the Magnum label, that they had S&W make them up a .38 spl chambered 6" M-66 to fire it...this was the M-68. Several local CA LEAs adopted the cartridge as well...they just lumped their order with the State order.

I found the +P+ loading unpleasant to shoot and not very accurate...we were issued the S&W M-15 K-frame...and I couldn't even imagine shooting in in a J-frame, much less an Airweight model. I believe the beating our guns took from the cartridge lead, at least in part, to us going back to the 125gr +P JHP and eventually to the M-13 with the 125gr JHP Magnum

evan price
April 4, 2013, 05:23 AM
I've got some Cor-Bon 110-grain +Ps that were supposedly a more-modern JHP version. Shot out of my 4" 10-6 they were very controllable, but loud.
My normal carry ammo for 38 specials is the Federal Hydra-Shok 147-gr +P+. There was a few cases turned in with police trade revolvers a few years back and I stocked up.

Al Thompson
April 5, 2013, 08:00 AM
Evan, check your expansion. I too got some that was a Police Department trade in. I found that the lot of 147 +P+ I have does not expand, even in water jugs. :(

April 5, 2013, 08:59 PM
It's really not that hot, that's just an urban legend that is kept alive on the internet. I've still got a box I was issued in the early 1970's, friends have several boxes, and an antique dealer in Raleigh, NC has a whole case of it.

I chronoed it a few years ago in a 4" Model 15 and it came up way short of the same vintage Super Vel. The Treasury load averaged only 1077 fps, while the Super Vel averaged 1221 fps, both 110 grain HP from the same gun on the same day. Someone on the S&W ammo forum tested the Treasury load and came within 10 fps of what my test revealed, which I think validates both tests. In reality, it's not so hot, but people like to think it is.

April 5, 2013, 09:24 PM
I believe that. Still wouldn't put it through an Airweight.

April 5, 2013, 10:03 PM
You can still get winchester ranger 38 +p+ 110 grain. It's 1150 fps. Feels like a powder puff In a model 19. I'd rather have a heavier more modern bullet going faster. But if all you had was a 38 I suppose you could do worse. The box in question is nothing special. Maybe keep it for a collectable discussion piece but I would assign no premium to it over a new box of similar ammo.

April 6, 2013, 02:22 AM
I shot 1000s of rounds of that "Treasury Load" back in the late 70s and early 80s. It works okay in a steel K frame 38 or a 357. I have personal knowledge of a few S&W Model 60s that blew out cylinders (one of them the top strap) after a few hundred rounds of that ammo. After that we were told only to shoot it in magnum revolvers.

As 9mmepiphany said this was issued for political reasons (yes we're using 357 magnum revolvers but 38 special ammo).

I chroned the last i had of this a couple of years ago and it gave me 1300 fps in a 4" GP100.

I would not use that in any J frame.

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