Non +P .38spl defense cartridge recommendations?


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Col. Plink
April 2, 2013, 01:30 PM
Hey y'all,
Considering a .38spl revolver not rated for +P but would like to know if there are commercial defense loads available that pack a similar wallop.

Basically I'd like to be able to get something like .38spl+P/.357 terminal ballistics for an older revolver not rated for +P.
Hoping to shoot cheap stuff for fun and have good defensive capability if needed.

Thanks in advance!

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tackleberry45
April 2, 2013, 02:44 PM
I am carrying Hornady Cirtical Defense 110

firesky101
April 2, 2013, 03:38 PM
Standard pressure 158gr lswc should do fine. I would not personally count on getting penetration and expansion from standard pressure velocities hence the lswc.

eldon519
April 2, 2013, 03:55 PM
I believe for awhile in the past few years, some reputable organization (maybe the IWBA?) was recommending target wadcutters for .38 snubs. As mentioned, with the velocities of a typical .38, it's tough to get adequate penetration (12" or more) AND expansion, so they basically recommended the 148gr wadcutter because a 100% meplat will cause as much damage as possible for a non-expanding projectile, achieve adequate penetration, and do it with minimal recoil.

For a reload you might want something different since it would be hard to speed-load a wadcutter.

roaddog28
April 2, 2013, 04:35 PM
A good choice for a short barrel 38 special standard pressure round in my opinion would be Buffalo Bores 150 gr hard cast wad cutter. Excellent penetration for snub nose revolvers.

Howard

336A
April 2, 2013, 04:37 PM
+1 what to what eldon said. You might want to take a look at the Buffalo Bore options too, another good load is the Federal 125gr Nyclad HP load.

ssyoumans
April 2, 2013, 04:39 PM
Buffalo Bore also makes a standard pressure round that is probably better than most others. I would choose it or a Hornady Critical Defense round.

BTW, what model revolver are we talking about?

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=110

Col. Plink
April 2, 2013, 06:09 PM
Was considering a Rossi M841, now probably going with a Taurus M82 that will handle +P...

VA27
April 2, 2013, 07:06 PM
Wadcutter from one of the big three.

Stainz
April 2, 2013, 07:34 PM
Another vote for a 148gr full watcutter, aka 'target ammo'. Lead or clad - whichever you find these days!

Stainz

beatledog7
April 2, 2013, 10:22 PM
Federal Nyclads, if you can find any.

Agsalaska
April 2, 2013, 11:17 PM
Wadcutters.

Jim Watson
April 2, 2013, 11:27 PM
"Not rated for +P" does not mean "hand grenade at 10% higher pressure."
I load my Airweights with name brand +P hollowpoints and move along.

The Buffalo Bore stuff is the most powerful standard pressure stuff I know of.

I have shot midrange wadcutters into various media and have not been impressed.

Rosemead
April 3, 2013, 02:53 AM
I like the Magtechs 158 gr semi jacket soft point. Shot them in both my Colt police positive and my Taurus 85.

golden
April 3, 2013, 04:07 AM
PLINK,

Stay away from the non expanding loads. The NYPD was trying to avoid using a hollow point load in their .38 Special revolvers and went to the 158 grain semi wadcutter. They found it no more effective than the infamous 158 grain round nose load which is the ammo that gave the .38 Special such a bad reputation with the police.

I use 125 grain FEDERAL Nyclad ammo in my snubby .38 Specials. Recoil is light and this bullet WILL EXPAND. It is so soft, that you can deform the bullet with you finger. The Nyclad coating means it will not lead up the barrel of your revolver.

If you go with a +P rated gun, then you have a much larger choice of ammo. I use REMINGTON 125 grain +P semi jacketed ammo in my medium frame revolvers.

Make sure that ammo you choose will shoot to the point of aim or close to it.

Jim

ArchAngelCD
April 3, 2013, 04:12 AM
Just a note, not all revolver that can shoot +P ammo are marked +P on the barrel. If the revolver was manufactured before they came up the the marketing gimmick of +P ammo how can the barrel be marked +P? S&W says any all Steel revolver with a model number is perfectly safe with +P ammo. (1957 on) Most also believe any S&W revolver made post WWII is also safe.

Another note, most current .38 Special +P ammo is no hotter than standard ammo of the past when all those "old and weak none +P revolver" were made. Amazingly enough they are still around and capable of shooting ammo.

Steve C
April 3, 2013, 07:09 AM
Considering a .38spl revolver not rated for +P but would like to know if there are commercial defense loads available that pack a similar wallop....Basically I'd like to be able to get something like .38spl+P/.357 terminal ballistics for an older revolver not rated for +P.

Simple answer is no. None of the .38 spl even in +P will even approach the .357 mag ballistics.

All standard pressure ammo is going to be a little less potent, but that doesn't mean its not capable of being used for defense. Even a .22 LR can be used effectively for defense. There are some standard pressure loads that will likely be a little more effective than any solid bullet and that would be the Standard pressure Hornady FXT, Federal Nyclad.

People imagine all sorts of things about bullet effectiveness that really don't pan out in any study either statistically or in gel tests. Wad cutters are target ammo, they've been loaded in the .38 spl for 100+ years. If they where superior for self defense, every Police Department in the nation would have used them from the early 1900's to the development of effective hollow point ammo. They'll work in a pinch but its unlikely they're any better than LRN or SWC bullets.

YouTube wad cutter gel test (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yYYeICHamc)

snooperman
April 3, 2013, 04:11 PM
I like Federal Nyclad.

Certaindeaf
April 3, 2013, 06:59 PM
You could always get a .357 magnum.. they are not +P.

pete950
April 3, 2013, 07:59 PM
+++ for the full wadcutter if the Buffalo Bore is to hot Double Tap has a full hardcast wadcutter load rated at 750 fps out of a snub. Also they come in 50 round boxes instead of the BB 20 round boxes for $5 more a box!!!

hovercat
April 3, 2013, 11:32 PM
Get some hollow base wadcutters and load them backwards. Also, avoid hardcast for HD. They are great for practice, but you want a soft lead bullet that will flatten out for HD.
Check the Rossi website. I think that model is rated +P.

Hoppes Love Potion
April 4, 2013, 10:22 PM
It is my understanding that expansion, especially using subsonic ammo from snubnose revolvers, is not something you can count on. Clothing, ricochet off of bones or other obstacles, etc, may spoil the chance for expansion.

The idea behind hard cast wadcutters is that, for the full wound channel created by the (impressive!) penetration, there is a sharp continuous cut, exposing myriad vessels to hemorrhage with no tissue recovery. That chopped-out section, small as it might be, is not going to close easily.

In an expanding wound channel, the tissue recovers as the bullet passes. You don't have the same sharp edge as created by the hard cast wadcutter. The channel of the soft point or hollow point may become wider, and do more damage in certain sections, but the wadcutter's ability to remove a small cross-section of multiple organs is, IMHO, the more difficult injury to recover from. However, I am not completely sure that this ability to devastate the opponent LONG TERM is going to WIN THE DAY in the dynamics of an ongoing gunfight. Shot placement and the abilities of the individuals involved is likely going to play the major part, as always.

rcmodel
April 4, 2013, 10:30 PM
Get some hollow base wadcutters and load them backwards.Proven inefective 30 years ago.
If they open they go splat, make a surface wound, and do not penetrate deeply enough.

especially using subsonic ammo from snubnose revolvers, is not something you can count on. Clothing, ricochet off of bones or other obstacles, etc, may spoil the chance for expansion. You don't count on a lead SWC-HP expanding.
But if it does expand, it will drive on though deeply enough to damage organs and offer massive internal bleeding.

If it glances off a bone?
It will not expand, but it will tumble, which is just as bad, or effective in tearing up internal vital parts.

If it doesn't expand at all?


It is every bit as effective as a LSWC, because that is what it is if it doesn't expand.

rc

Hoppes Love Potion
April 4, 2013, 10:45 PM
No, the wound channel will not be the same. The sharp edge of the wadcutter does the damage. It is easily seen on a paper target. Also, I was describing the characteristics of a hard cast wadcutter, not a LSWC, so your comparison does not really correlate.

Waywatcher
April 5, 2013, 11:35 AM
I suggest hand loading: Power Pistol powder with 158 Rim Rock LSWCHP. At standard pressure, about 5.2 grains, it chronos above 900 fps out of my 4" S&W 15.

At +P pressure, 5.4 to 5.7 or so, it easily tops 950 fps.

bubba in ca
April 5, 2013, 12:05 PM
I use Hornaday critical defense in an older lightweight Colt snubbie. It doen``t kick bad and the bullet should expand because of the design and materials of the bullet. What ever it may or may not do, I choose it on purpose because of better stopping power than a .380, all other things being equal.

Keep in mind, however, that this is a SD gun designed for normal SD ranges (most under 10 feet) and I live in warm climates where a BD will probably be wearing a tee shirt. If I lived in a cold climate and still had the snubbie I would probably be looking at a copper jacketed ball ammo for the penetration.

Keep in mind how anemic handguns are as a SD weapon. For good stopping power, plan on 3 torso or head shots.

.357 is the best commonly used defensive handgun ammo because it has the muzzle energy and penetration that you will never get out of .38s or 9mms. If you choose not to use .357 for any reason, get the upgraded ammo, hit the right targets, and use multiple shots.

bubba in ca
April 5, 2013, 12:08 PM
I use Hornaday critical defense in an older lightweight Colt snubbie. It doen`t kick bad and the bullet should expand because of the design and materials of the bullet. What ever it may or may not do, I chose it on purpose because of better stopping power than a .380, all other things being equal.

Keep in mind, however, that this is a SD gun designed for normal SD ranges (most under 10 feet) and I live in warm climates where a BG will probably be wearing a tee shirt. If I lived in a cold climate and still had the snubbie I would probably be looking at a copper jacketed ball ammo for the penetration.

Keep in mind how anemic handguns are as a SD weapon. For good stopping power, plan on 3 torso or head shots.

.357 is the best commonly used defensive handgun ammo because it has the muzzle energy and penetration that you will never get out of .38s or 9mms. If you choose not to use .357 for any reason, more reason to get the upgraded ammo, hit the right targets, and use multiple shots.

marcclarke
April 12, 2013, 02:06 AM
Was considering a Rossi M841, now probably going with a Taurus M82 that will handle +P...
Col., yes, get a decent gun. That is, get at very least a .38 Special +P revolver, and much (!) better still get a .357 Magnum revolver. A .38 Special is a very low pressure round. A .38 Special +P is another very low pressure round, with just a tiny bit more pressure than the anemic .38 Special. A .357 is a high pressure round (lots higher pressure than a .38 Special) and will serve any self-defense need. You simply can't make a low-pressure .38 Special or .38 Special +P into a high pressure .357 Magnum with a magic powder or a magic bullet.

You can, however, make a .357 Magnum into a low pressure round by loading a .38 Special or a .38 Special +P cartridge into the cylinder of a .357 Magnum revolver. So I respectfully encourage you to get a .357 Magnum revolver and to load it with .38 Special or .38 Special +P for practice and plinking, and with a good self-defense .357 Magnum round for serious social intercourse (a polite euphemism for a serious gunfight).

PabloJ
April 12, 2013, 02:29 AM
Hey y'all,
Considering a .38spl revolver not rated for +P but would like to know if there are commercial defense loads available that pack a similar wallop.

Basically I'd like to be able to get something like .38spl+P/.357 terminal ballistics for an older revolver not rated for +P.
Hoping to shoot cheap stuff for fun and have good defensive capability if needed.

Thanks in advance!
Try some Hornady 158gr JHPs. These had not a lot of flash or recoil and were very accurate out of 2" S&W Model 12 (weapon weight about 19oz).

snooperman
April 12, 2013, 08:11 AM
I like the Federal Nyclad 125gr.

KODB
April 12, 2013, 04:00 PM
148 gr standard recipe wadcutter handloads for my Jframes backed up by 2 speedloaders with 158 LSWC- simply for ease of reloading. They all poke about the same hole and all have essentially the same (relatively poor) incapacitation potential unless CNS shot.

Bob

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