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2007 .38 Special +P versus 1977 .38 Special +P

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by .455_Hunter, Jul 23, 2008.

  1. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Well-Known Member


    There is always a back and forth discussion about whether ammo companies continue to detune there products over liability concerns, etc.

    Here is my input for the debate…

    While I don’t have access to much vintage .38 special ammo, I did happen to a have full box of Remington’s (now discontinued :() +P loading of a 158 gr. LRN made in 1977 (box date code). The best comparison would be to the current +P loading of a 158 gr. LSWC-HP, bought from Bass Pro Shops in 2007.

    Here are the results, out of my 1942 production Colt Official Police with the 6” heavy barrel:

    1977 Remington .38 Special +P (158 gr. LRN)

    Average Velocity (3 shots) = 1007 fps
    Average Energy (3 shots) = 356 fpe

    2007 Remington .38 Special +P (158 gr. LSWC-HP)

    Average Velocity (3 shots) = 1000 fps
    Average Energy (3 shots) = 351 fpe


    1007 fps vs 1000 fps

    It appears that Remington has maintained the exact performance of their +P lead loads very well over the past 30 years. Any difference between them is purely academic due to the low number of shots fired. Out course different ammo lots/guns could yield different results, but that’s OK.

    Please comment!

    I know somebody will complain that I should have done the testing in a 2” j-frame because nobody uses 6” .38 revolvers anymore. Funny thing is that I DO carry my 6” .38 for real defensive use. :rolleyes:

    Take Care,


    351 WINCHESTER Well-Known Member

    I have never seen a box date code on any ammo. Is something the mfg. puts on or something else?
  3. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Well-Known Member

    Date Code

    Good question!

    The date code is technically for the box itself and was stamped on by the manufacturer who did the printing. It indicates a date of 4/77. Of course, that does not mean that the ammo was loaded the same month, but I am willing to bet that Remington's box backlog was on the order of months, not years ("Just-In-Time" manufacturing was already in place during the 70's).

    FYI- The nomenclature for the load tested is "38 Special (+P) 158 GRAIN LEAD R38S8"
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2008
  4. C-grunt

    C-grunt Well-Known Member

    You actually carry the 1942 Colt???

    I wouldnt carry it. Those old revolvers are just to pretty to be carried. I request pictures.
  5. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Well-Known Member

  6. doc540

    doc540 Well-Known Member

    I have no scientific data to back up my perceptions, but a few months ago I toted several boxes of older .38 ammo to the range.

    My dad had cleaned out his closet and given them to me.

    They included green/yellow Remington boxes and blue/white S&W boxes. All of them probably came from the '60's and '70's.

    I was grateful to get some extra, free ammo to shoot through my Smith Model 36.


    After I'd torched off a few even the Range Master noticed how "peppy" they were.

    Then I couldn't get one ejected from the cylinder. Popped it with a small screw driver and found this:

    I don't know how hot they were originally loaded, but they seemed to be significantly hotter than the WWB 130 gn +P's I was shooting. I didn't shoot any more of them after this split case round.

    They seemed to shoot more like a mild .357 mag to me.:confused:

    Could it be that some "standard, over-the-counter" .38 +P's manufactured in the '60's and '70's was loaded hotter than current +P's?
  7. DB

    DB Well-Known Member

    Attached is a S&W ammo specification sheet from some years back that someone had on a website recently. I believe I've read that S&W brand ammo was actually manufactured by Fiocchi. The specs on .38+p look more like a .357 magnum of today. No wonder that box of S&W ammo I had back then seemed so hot!

    Attached Files:

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