Defensive Ammo for Snub


March 28, 2004, 10:17 PM
My favorite HP are Gold Dots but looking at the pics on they don't expand out of short barreled .38's What's a good choice?

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March 28, 2004, 11:53 PM
Remington Golden Saber

March 29, 2004, 12:40 AM
My feeling has always been that just because a bullet doesn't expand when fired thru denim into gelatin doesn't mean it won't expand or deform in a human being.

Speer has a new +P load that uses a 135 gr. Gold Dot hollowpoint. It was designed for snub nose revolvers. Expansion and penetration is good in denim/gelatin test.

I personally use +P 158 gr. lead hollowpoints, but I would be perfectly okay with using a +p 125 gr. Gold Dot or Golden Saber.

March 29, 2004, 12:45 AM
There are two new rounds out that I highly recommend as being probably the best snubby ammo available right now. First, Speer has this new load (described on their Web site):
38 Special +P Gold Dot® Ammunition

For 2004, Speer® introduces a new +P loading with a heavier bullet for better performance. The new load carries a newly-designed 135 grain Gold Dot hollow point built for 38 Special velocities. It features a broad, deep cavity and has true bonded-core construction, patented* two-step cavity formation that establishes expansion parameters for both core and jacket, which has made Gold Dot the fastest-growing handgun bullet for “missioncritical” work.

• Velocity of 975 ft/sec from a 4" vented test barrel
— Insures sufficient velocity for optimum terminal performance, even in 2" barrels
• Uni-Cor® technology
— True bonded-core technology virtually eliminates core-jacket separations
• Special cavity design
— Give full expansion at 38 Special velocities
• Nickel-plated brass case
— Armored for real-world environmental conditions
• CCI® primers
— Non-corrosive and non-mercuric
— Sure-fire ignition under tough conditions

23921 38 Special +P 135 Gr. Gold Dot Hollow Point - 20 per box; 500 per case
Then, Buffalo Bore is developing a new 158gr. LSWCHP load giving a genuine 1,000 fps from a snubby - without excessive pressure! They also load the 125gr. Speer Gold Dot to higher velocities. Their Web site has this to say about them:
Heavy .38 Special +P

Item No. 20A20 158 gr. L.S.W.C.H.P.--G.C. (1,000fps/M.E. 351 ft.lbs.) Per Box of 20 $19.99

Item No. 20B20 125 gr. L.V. Gold Dot (1,050fps/M.E. 306 ft.lbs.) Per Box of 20 $19.99

About Buffalo Bore Heavy .38 Special +P ammo

The new buffalo Bore Heavy 38 SPL+p ammo will maximize the effectiveness of your 38 SPL revolver. All velocities are taken from S&W J frame revolvers with 2 inch barrels. The powders are flash suppressed so as to not hinder your vision should you be required to drop the hammer in low light.

Item 20A/20 is the terrific SOFT lead semi wad cutter hollow cavity bullet, however we've added a gas check to stop the leading that this load typically causes with other manufacturers version of this bullet.

Item 20B/20 uses the low velocity (LV) Gold Dot bullet that is designed to expand at as little as 800 fps, so will get expansion out of very short barrels.

Whether you prefer the very soft semi wadcutter lead bullet, or a very soft JHC, (jacketed hollow cavity) these HVY 38 SPL+p loads will turbo charge your 38 SPL revolver.
I suspect the BB 158gr. load may be a bit much for an alloy/lightweight snubby, so I've ordered some of the 135gr. Speer loads (should be here next week) for those guns. I think the BB load will be the ne plus ultra for full-weight (i.e. steel-frame) snubs and conventional 4"-barrel .38's (perhaps even for those who want a lighter load for their .357 Magnum snubbies).

Jim March
March 29, 2004, 01:43 AM
Preacherman is right. Two points of clarification:

* The Buffalo Bore load will be shipping sometime this summer.

* Being slick, heavy and loaded hot, those 158s may get yanked out of the cases in the ultralight snubbies in Aluminum, TI and Scandium. I don't think they're going to be a good idea for any gun under the 20/21oz weight range of a steel-frame S&W snubbie...and even then not without testing - I'd load five, fire four, check to see if that last one is starting to yank out of the shell. By the time you hit the 26oz weight range of the Ruger SP101, short-barrel S&W 66 or heavier, this should be a non-issue

Speer's documentation on the new 135 says that they've researched this "ultralight bullet puller effect" and made sure it's a non-issue. In a 10.5oz/12.5oz late-model S&W I'd still check with the "shoot four, measure the fifth" trick a couple times but they should be fine - Speer is a pretty competent bunch.

March 29, 2004, 07:25 AM
Being slick, heavy and loaded hot, those 158s may get yanked out of the cases in the ultralight snubbies in Aluminum, TI and Scandium.

Not to try and argue but, I keep reading this type of thing, and I don't believe it's true. My Scandium Smith says on the barrel "no less than 120 gr bullet" and the manual says that separation can happen with less than 120 gr bullet. The manual makes no statement at all about heavier bullets.

BTW I've been shooting .357 mag and .38spcl +p 158 grain bullets out of mine and have never had any separations occur.

March 29, 2004, 07:31 AM
Yes, trust but verify.

.357 Winchester 145 gr Silvertips jumped out of their cases after only one or two shots locking up the gun. I ran the rest thru a Lee Factory Crimp die and gave them a heavy crimp. These shot fine.

158 gr Hydrashocks have been fine in my 11.5oz SC360 "scandium".


March 29, 2004, 09:36 AM
Thanks guys. I'm gonna order the new 135 gold dot.

March 29, 2004, 09:40 AM
This might help...

Jim March
March 29, 2004, 12:32 PM
Mike: this is one of those things where I *really* hope my concerns are groundless. The 12.5oz Scandium 357s are certainly *strong* enough to deal with the new BuffBore 158+Ps.

I would do the "load five, shoot four, measure the fifth" trick at least three times before carrying that load in any of the 15oz-or-under critters. Heck, I intend to do so in my 17oz mixed aluminum/steel construction Charter Arms Undercover if I score some (may stick with GD135s pending a look at some credible gelatin photos and test data).

March 29, 2004, 09:16 PM
Should you choose any load/handload using Hornady 125-gr XTPs (one of my favorites for accuracy and good design), make sure you actually get a velocity at or above 850 fps. It's designed for terminal velocities from 800 fps all the way up to .357 MAXIMUM levels, and has been tested in both water (hard medium) and paraffin (soft medium) before being turned loose on Jello(r). Fackler says straight water results in penetration something like 1.6 times the penetration in ballistic gelatin, but is much easier to test with as long as you aren't taking photos.

March 29, 2004, 09:26 PM
Jim, no offense either taken nor intended, I just noticed a lot of don't shoot "heavy" bullets advice; while my firearm, manual, and experience said don't shoot "lightweight" bullets. Although that isn't always accurate either as explained by wally.

Anyways I usually shoot "heavy" semi-jacketed .38spcl +p or .357mag hollow points out of my snubbies. I'm not positive these are ideal, but I'd sure hate to get hit by one.

March 29, 2004, 09:42 PM
How about CorBon PowRball? They make a 100gr+P loading in .38

Jim March
March 29, 2004, 11:46 PM
I don't know what to make of the 100grain Pow'R'Ball. Seems a bit light but if it's going fast enough...

We need good test data :).

Ridge Counter
March 30, 2004, 01:06 AM
I'll second the Golden Saber High Performance Cartridges, 38 Special+P, 125 Grains, Brass Jacketed Hollow Point, 25 Rounds per Box, 20 Boxes per Case.

Personally, I prefer the .357 Magnum Golden Saber in 125 grains; just a little more oooomph!!


March 30, 2004, 01:19 AM
For what it's worth I'm shooting the following out of M60 .357 snub:

Speer .357 125gr Gold Dots

Win. .357 145gr Silvertips

Win. .38+P 130gr SXT's

Rem. .38+P 125gr Golden Sabers


UMC .38 130gr MC for blasting

The gun seems to like them all and is most accurate with the Gold Dots, not by much though. The M60 handles all these very well, glad the guns no lighter when shooting the .357's!

May 10, 2006, 07:06 PM
Federal 129gr 38 Special +p has a good feel to it (to me). I've tried it in a 38 Special and 357 snub. Doesn't have as sharp of a bite as Corbon and I haven't heard of Federals jumping out of cases.

Loyalist Dave
May 10, 2006, 11:16 PM
Every thing that I have read, as well as conversations with medical examiners, indicates that if a handgun round aint going supersonic on impact (1100 fps or more) you can't depend on a mushrooming of a factory slug no matter what the slug design. (soft all-lead from a handload is a different story) You won't get speed like that from a snubby. You should also have at least a 125 grain projectile, and the heavier the better as you may have to go through some stuff before getting to the necessary areas of the target.

May 11, 2006, 12:54 AM

Stephen A. Camp
May 11, 2006, 02:33 AM
Hello. If interested, here are some water expansion tests with some .38 Special rounds mentioned.

In the J-frame S&W, I've cast my lot with Remington's 158-gr. LSWCHP+P. For me it has expanded when shot into water, super-saturated newsprint, and results were very similar to what I've seen when they've been removed from animals when a snub was used to finish them off. When bone was hit, the bullets were less uniform and more "jagged", for lack of a better description. This was before I had a digital camera so I have no pictures of them.

I've not yet had (or taken) the time to try Speer's 135-gr. Snub Load, but folks testing it indicate that it works nicely. I will get around to shooting this load as I'm very curious/interested in it.
Here are three expanded bullets fired from an S&W Model 642 into water. From left to right: Corbon 110-gr. DPX, Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P, and Federal 125-gr. Nyclad hollow point standard pressure.
A firearms examiner sent me this picture. It is of a Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP+P fired into ballistic gelatin.

It is my understanding that few hollow points fired from the snub .38 will expand reliably after passing through 4-layers of denim, which is described as a "worst case scenario." The DPX does so, but I'm not sure on the newest Speer snub 135-gr. Gold Dot. It very well may.

For those considering the Remington load mentioned, I've had no problems with it in several Airweight S&W snubs (aluminum frame), but S&W warns against using non-jacketed bullets in their super light revolvers, so the Gold Dot or DPX would be the better choices there for sure. I have tried this out just to see and lead bullets do unseat themselves in the ultra lightweight snubs. For me, it repeatedly happened on the 4th or 5th shots of the cylinder.

I have not tried Hornady's XTP in .38 Special and while I like it quite a lot in other calibers, I have no information whatsover on it from a 38 snub.

My own informal "tests" have led me to believe that unless the revolver is being carried in the pocket or absolute total concealment is a primary consideration, the 3" bbl has much more to offer than might initially be expected with but a slightly longer barrel and over the chronograph, some loads show essentially equivalent performance to the 4" service barrels; not all but some. If the revolver is to be a "car gun", holstered belt gun, or used for home defense, I'd go with the 3" over the 1 7/8" snubs.

The .38 snub with Remington's LSWCHP+P is what my snubs are loaded with at present. This may very well not be the choice for other folks, but something that remains constant in my opinion is getting the vital hit(s) as quickly as possible. Whatever one's choice in ammo winds up being, I still believe that we have got to put it in the right place (or places) to make a felon stop because he has to rather than just wants to.


May 11, 2006, 10:04 AM
This link is some informal tests I posted earlier. Byron

July 16, 2006, 09:32 PM
I fired some golden sabers from my 442 into water a few years ago. The bullets expanded well and I was pretty happy with the performance. I was carryin the gold dots but from what I've read about the powrball rounds they seem to penetrate pretty well for a light bullet and the claimed velocity means they are really moving out compared to most 38 loads. They also make reloads a lot easier too with the rounded profile. The jury is probably still out on this round but I'm thinking they will be pretty effective.

December 22, 2006, 10:48 PM
I forgot to mention, when I fired the Gold Dots on the range, one of the rounds 'Keyholed". It tumbled and hit the target sideways. That is why I chose the Powrball rounds over the Gold Dots.

December 23, 2006, 03:33 AM
Why are you carrying the 125 gr Gold dot .357's when they make a 135 gr Short Barrel .357 round?

Crosstimbers Okie
December 23, 2006, 04:24 PM
For good discussions...

December 29, 2006, 11:40 AM
Over the weekend I fired some of my ammo into a stack of soaked newspaper. The 100gr Powrball load failed to expand. The round penetrated about three inches, turned sideways and continued to a depth of about 12 inches. The 135gr Gold Dot expanded perfectly and penetrated about 7 inches. I think the newsprint is a little harder on the ammo than gelatin so I would expect more penetration in gelatin than the newsprint. I was a bit put off by the performance of the Powrball so I filled up a couple of water jugs to see how it work on that. I fired the shot a little low but the round penetrated two jugs and missed the third jug so I wasn't able to recover the round. By my experience though it didn't seem as though there was much expansion going through the water jugs either. The bottom line is to me that the Powrball load didn't show me that it was very reliable, granted only two rounds were tested, and the recovered round was REALLY light. I feel more comfortable with the Gold Dot for now. I think I really need to investigate the DPX load too. The initial impact of the light load was impressive to say the least but its lack of expansion was a little disappointing.

December 29, 2006, 05:57 PM
Speer's Gold Dot 135 gr Short Barrel round in .38 Special +P and .357 Magnum are rated the best right now out of a 2" barrel. The were specifically designed for the 2" barrel Snub Nose. This may change in the future but right now that's the round to carry.

December 29, 2006, 07:13 PM
There is piece in the Speer Gold Dot:

Dollar An Hour
December 29, 2006, 07:35 PM
The 135gr GDHP's can be tricky to find, and aren't cheap, but I think they're a winner for a snubby.

December 29, 2006, 08:12 PM
Sorry to disagree but 135 gr short barrel Speer Gold Dots are not hard to find. I have seen them in a lot of small stores and at Dick's Sporting Goods, Cabella's and Gander Mountain. As for price, they are no more expensive than any other top end round like Federal rounds. I have seen them in boxes of 20 for between $12 and $16 retail. My local guns shop gets them for me in 50 round boxes for $17.95. I don't think that's at all expensive.

Most dealers don't want you to know about the 50 round boxes.

135 gr Short Barrel .38 +P
20 round box Part # 23921 50 round box Part # 53921

135 gr Short Barrel .357 Magnum
20 round box Part # 23917 50 round box Part # 53917

December 30, 2006, 01:39 PM
I have to say Archangel is on to something and not just because we are related. Speer says that the short barreled .357 does 1000 fps and 300 ft lbs from a 2 inch gun. Pretty mild for a .357 but 140 fps faster than the same bullet in +P, thats impressive. The one thing to consider is this may just be the stuff to pack in all those airweight and airlite little J frames to avoid permanent joint damage and carpul tunnel. It also might just be a good ticket in the 4" guns with the theory that if the round was designed to be efficient in a 2", it should cut down on the muzzle blast and thereby making it a decent home defense round for those who use a fullsize .357. Recoil should be farely light in a K or L frame gun, another plus. BTW the +P round was developed for the NYPD for the off-duty 1 7/8" revolvers. Previously the issue round was the NYCLAD 158 SWHP +P. Having used both in my 640 I can say that the new Speer round has slightly less recoil and shoots point of aim just like the 158's. Reports have been favorable all around. It is what is currently taking up cylinder space in all my revolvers. THere is a good article on the +P round in the American Backyard Forum, worthy or a read. Bill

December 30, 2006, 01:42 PM
Just noticed the link that Commacho posted, same article. :cuss:

December 30, 2006, 02:07 PM
My local guns shop gets them for me in 50 round boxes for $17.95.I'd like to find a deal like that around here. I could finally retire those last six Nyclads I've been lugging around in my Det. Spl.
Ask 'em to order another box for me, and I'll be down to pick it up when it stops snowing here. ;)

Thanks, Camacho, for the link to the TGZ article. I might invest in some shooting gloves before my next trip to the range. :scrutiny:

Went looking for gloves at Midway, and also looked up the Gold Dots. They have the 20-round boxes of .38 for $14.69 until 12/31.

January 5, 2007, 10:26 PM
STOPS SNOWING ?!?!?! I'm a Minnesotan but I'm living in West Virginia for the last four years. I haven't even SEEN a snowflake this year.:( I would LOVE to go to the range in the snow. If the ground is frozen the is NO MUD. This place is infested with god forsaken mud. Enjoy the snow, lucky dog.

January 5, 2007, 10:45 PM
Heh. Well, actually, we only got a couple of inches here, and it disappeared over the next few days. My wife works for a snowplow manufacturer, and it's made things kinda lean for the company. They need more dealers in Colorado and the other places that got pounded recently. :uhoh:
The last weather report I heard said it might hit 60 tomorrow. Mud Season is already here. The black flies and touroids can't be far behind. :(

But my orders from Midway and CTD arrived today. I got a package of Glaser Silvers (.38 "not +P") from one, and a 20-round box of the Gold Dots from the other, plus cleaning supplies and other stuff. :cool:

ryan b
January 5, 2007, 11:50 PM
Try Cor Bon 110 grain DPX

January 6, 2007, 05:24 AM
Marshall posted some good load selections...

The only rounds I'd also suggest are the Corbon +P+ 110gr JHP, the Glaser Silver or Magsafe SWAT load.

I bought 2 packs of .38spl ExtremeshockUSA rounds. They do not look very impressive. :rolleyes:

The specs say they are powerful but I plan to shoot em up soon and get some more well known ammo. ;)

Rusty S

January 6, 2007, 11:23 AM
I really like my 125 grain PMC eldorado Starfires.

The Real Hawkeye
January 6, 2007, 11:48 AM
Buffalo Bore 158 gr lead SWC HP +p.

January 6, 2007, 02:59 PM
I plan on trying the 110gr DPX rounds. The 9mm rounds performed well in some wetpack I shot a couple of weeks ago.

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