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.38 ammo question - from my mom.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Kenpo, Mar 21, 2009.

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  1. Kenpo

    Kenpo Member

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    I know the whole "best ammo for self defense" thing gets discussed often. I have searched, but my criteria is making it a little bit more difficult to find answers.

    Almost all the recommendations on the forum suggest something "+P" for .38 special.

    The issue is, that my mom was wanting a small and simple revolver for concealed carry. I got her a S&W 642, which she likes very much. However, being a small gal the +p rounds are a little sharp in terms of recoil. She is not recoil sensitive at all, but her follow up shots are impaired.

    Thoughts or suggestions? Of course, I probably wont be able to find any of the ammo you suggest, but that's another issue.
     
  2. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    there is nothing wrong with standard load .38 special.. they are going to make a hole, hollow points will expand on impact... combine that with accurate and faster follow up shots, and you have a combination that is far deadlier than a .38 +p that misses its target... it isnt all about FPS...
     
  3. Kenpo

    Kenpo Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply. What would you recommend in standard load, by way of bullet weight? Any company producing particularly good ammo for .38? I assume any of the reputable brands do a great job.
     
  4. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

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    any reputables... hard to say beyond that as some guns shoot different ammo better... same with the bullet weight... it all depends on what the gun likes... 125 grains do the trick for me... as do the 158's though they are a bit stouter...for follow up accuracy, I would go with the lighter bullet weight.... in the end, it isnt going to make a whole lot of difference... what you give up in bullet wieght, you gain in speed... if you get a good hollow point personal defense load, it will do the trick, I dont care if it is a .22... (not my first choice). I suggest buying a few boxes with different bullet weights and letting her try them out...find what the gun likes and what she handles the best.
     
  5. Oro

    Oro Member

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    Two rounds for self defense I like in the .38 special are below. I normally like heavy bullets (158gr in this case), but I really like Speer products, so would have no problem with this one:

    1) The speer Gold Dot short-barrel

    http://www.speer-ammo.com/products/short_brl.aspx

    2) The Hornady XTP

    http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/?productNumber=686149

    Two other things that might help her:

    1) Check her grip. Make sure she's taking a proper two-hand Weaver grip, with both fore-aft tension in her grip as it is supposed to work. This can help her reduce perceived recoil, control it better.

    2) Have her practice dry-firing. This will let her see if she is flinching, and train in a good grip and trigger action without guesswork.
     
  6. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    An often overlooked milder .38 Special load thatwould be a great defender is a 148gr full wadcutter normally sold as target ammo. It starts at a full .357" OD - and has a great enough mass to make a substantial wound channel while not slapping the stew out of your hand. It likely won't shatter a shoulder or pelvis - or exit your home's wallboard and siding to offer coollateral damage to your neighbors.

    Of course, I keep my 642 Airweight CCW and 2" 10 and 4" 64 house guns loaded with the most effective defensive rounds, the Remington R38S12 158gr LHPSWC +P rated rounds. My wife is 5'10" - and, even in the 4" 64, she isn't fond of that round. As it is a SHTF round, we keep it. If she would carry a 642, I'd likely load those 148gr wadcutters, which, in Remingtons, were ~$31/50 the last time I looked.

    Stainz
     
  7. eme

    eme Member

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    Instead of going with another type of ammo, try putting larger grips on the 642/442. Using larger grips will take away "some" of the concealablity, but with mine I can still hide it in the front pocket of my jeans. With larger grips the recoil is tamed and follow up shots are very reasonable. Good luck in your quest.
     
  8. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    Magsafe Defender is made in non +P 38 Spec. and is supposedly a good self defense load. It does hit a little low compared to standard ammunition and it's expensive. However it also has less recoil than standard ammo.

    I had my snubbie Mag-na-ported ($95) and the recoil reduction was noticeable.
     
  9. Bboomer

    Bboomer Member

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    You make no mention what ammo that you have tried nor the bullet weight.

    +P is a good round with a 158 grain bullet. Keep in mind that I've little exerience with various factory loaded ammo products as I cast and load all of my ammo. I do have a few onhand factory jacketed bullets (NOS & Win) in 158 and 125 grain that I use for CCW use, sometimes.

    But for instance if recoil is too harsh using a 158 gr bullet then try a 125 gr or even 110. Naturally as the bullet weight decreases felt recoil will decrease as well. Also keep in mind that as bullet weight decreases velocity increases so its not a bad trade off.

    Do keep in mind that Point-of-Impact/PO Aim was designed around the 158g bullet. However since most confrontations happen within 15 feet, POA/POI shouldn't be a hugh factor for CCW, but on paper.

    As was mentioned above, a lead SWC or WC is a good CCW load if not better IMO when it comes to expansion @ 7-800 fps.

    Myself I do prefer the 158g over the lighter weights.

    Nice choice for a CCW revolver.

    Good Luck
     
  10. REB

    REB Member

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    I normally like a heavy bullet in all calibers but for a reduced recoil 38SP +p the corbon DPX seems to be a very good round. My wife shoots them in her 642 without any problems which is not true for most other +P loads. Penetration for this light bullet at least in testing is very good as well.

    http://www.brassfetcher.com/110 grain Cor-Bon DPX.html
    http://www.brassfetcher.com/Cor-Bon 110gr +P DPX all copper hollowpoint (Heavy clothing test).html
    http://www.brassfetcher.com/Cor-Bon 110gr +P DPX (From a Derringer).html
     
  11. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    This is very important, as you should never count on one shot to stop an attack. A lower-powered load that hits the target is better than a 20mm cannon shell that misses. If +P recoil in the little revolver is excessive, by all means find something more comfortable to shoot. Even Dirty Harry admitted to using "light specials" in his .44 Magnum. :p
     
  12. ChemicalArts

    ChemicalArts Member

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    As a SD load, the Corbon DPX for 38 has the Barnes expanding copper bullets might be a good carry choice:

    http://www.cabelas.com/prod-1/0060839216731a.shtml

    They're as expensive as heck, but make for a nice high velocity bullet and only 110 grains. I practice with a few (usually in the 357 variety) every time I go to the range just to make sure I feel comfortable with them. I have them in a speed loader in my pistol box (in both 357 and 38).

    I would also suggest she practice a lot to improve on follow up shots.
     
  13. UpTheIrons

    UpTheIrons Member

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    Yet one more option, and one that I've been looking at closely of late, is the new Hornady Critical Defense ammo.

    http://www.hornady.com/story.php?s=786

    110 grain bullet, but you won't ge the advertised velocity out of a 642, but these are guaranteed to mushroom, and they're available in +P and non-+P variants for .38 Special.

    I have yet to see them anywhere, so I have no idea of cost, but they are intriguing.
     
  14. wnycollector

    wnycollector Member

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    +1 on the WC suggestion. I loaded my wifes 638 with the 148gr TCJ/DEWC from mastercast. here is a link for the ammo http://mastercast.net/amo.htm
     
  15. skoro

    skoro Member

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    I have an old 1950s S&W Model 37 snubbie that I'll only use std 38 Spl loads in.

    There are some very effective rounds still available:

    Federal Personal Defense 110gr Hydra-Shock

    Hornady JHP/XTP

    Buffalo Bore (two loads):

    158gr Lead Hollow Point - good expander

    150gr Hardcast Wadcutter - good penetrator

    Any of these would work well in a self-defense situation and their standard pressure powder charges will keep recoil very reasonable.
     
  16. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    A heavy bullet will add to the felt recoil. I would suggest the newly re-released standard pressure 125gr Federal Nycad .38 Special round. It is one of the best non+P SD rounds available anywhere on the planet.
     
  17. Kenpo

    Kenpo Member

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    All,

    The advice and recommendations are appreciated. It's nice to get a good running list to evaluate. I'll be picking up a few different boxes to let her test out.

    Thanks.
     
  18. Ichiro

    Ichiro Member

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    Aguila 158-grain lead hollowpoint. Very nice shooting in a 642 (well, relatively).
     
  19. alistaire

    alistaire Member

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    Try Gold Dot Short Barrel. It is designed for snubbies.
     
  20. 007BondJamesBond007

    007BondJamesBond007 Member

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    Add Crimson Trace Grips

    I would add the Crimson Trace Grips to the J frame for your mom. I will help with dry fireing as it will show her how the gun moves when she pulls the trigger. I a defensive mode she may not have time to line up the sights. See the video on the Crimson Trace web site.
     
  21. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Guys, the OP specifically asked for recommendations for ammo that wasn't rated +P yet you are telling him to buy +P ammo. Come on now... Help the OP out with what he asked about... :uhoh:
     
  22. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Member

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    If Federal is still making the "Personal Defense" standard pressure 110-gr. HydraShok load, this was quite mild to shoot in my Colt Agent. Expensive to practice with, though.
     
  23. Kenpo

    Kenpo Member

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    007BondJamesBond007, we were at one of the local gun shops the other day and a fella in their had a 642 with the Crimson trace grips. My mom really like them. He said he found them online for $150.00. I'll be keeping my eye out.

    Thanks to everyone else for the ammo recommendations.

    My mom really likes shooting my CZ P-01, and my S&W .40, she just isn't comfortable with the manual of arms. It became obvious that clearing jams etc was gonna be a bit of a curve. Especially with the slide on the CZ. She is really liking the little, easy to carry and use 642.
     
  24. Photoman

    Photoman Member

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    Definitely use the lighter bullets in standard pressure.

    Federal Personal Defense H-S 110gr
    Winchester Silvertip 110gr
    Federal Personal Defense Nyclad 125gr
    Speer Gold Dot 125gr
    Federal Gold Match Wadcutter 148gr

    Also, a larger, three finger grip will go a long way toward reducing felt recoil.
     
  25. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    That's a very good point. There are suitable inexpensive grips available from Pachmayr, Hogue and a few others if you want to stick with rubber.
     
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