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Non +P .38spl defense cartridge recommendations?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Col. Plink, Apr 2, 2013.

  1. Col. Plink

    Col. Plink Well-Known Member

    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!
  2. tackleberry45

    tackleberry45 Well-Known Member

    I am carrying Hornady Cirtical Defense 110
  3. firesky101

    firesky101 Well-Known Member

    Standard pressure 158gr lswc should do fine. I would not personally count on getting penetration and expansion from standard pressure velocities hence the lswc.
  4. eldon519

    eldon519 Well-Known Member

    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.
  5. roaddog28

    roaddog28 Well-Known Member

    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.

  6. 336A

    336A Well-Known Member

    +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.
  7. ssyoumans

    ssyoumans Well-Known Member

  8. Col. Plink

    Col. Plink Well-Known Member

    Was considering a Rossi M841, now probably going with a Taurus M82 that will handle +P...
  9. VA27

    VA27 Well-Known Member

    Wadcutter from one of the big three.
  10. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    Another vote for a 148gr full watcutter, aka 'target ammo'. Lead or clad - whichever you find these days!

  11. beatledog7

    beatledog7 Well-Known Member

    Federal Nyclads, if you can find any.
  12. Agsalaska

    Agsalaska Well-Known Member

  13. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Well-Known Member

    "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.
  14. Rosemead

    Rosemead Member

    I like the Magtechs 158 gr semi jacket soft point. Shot them in both my Colt police positive and my Taurus 85.
  15. golden

    golden Well-Known Member


    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.

  16. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    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.
  17. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    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
  18. snooperman

    snooperman Well-Known Member

    I like Federal Nyclad.
  19. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf member

    You could always get a .357 magnum.. they are not +P.
  20. pete950

    pete950 Well-Known Member

    +++ 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!!!

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