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.38 caliber question...

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by TheProf, Jul 9, 2009.

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  1. TheProf

    TheProf Member

    Jul 1, 2009
    I found some .38 special (158 grain JHP/XTP) by Hornandy.

    Also found some .38 special (158 lead nose) Federal brand.

    1. Are they any good for self-defense? (Is there a special purpose for them...I usually load with 125 grain HP Winchester for SD.)

    2. Someone told me that copper jacketed bullets should never be fired after firing lead nose bullets. Something about ruining the barrel. Is there any truth to this?
  2. 308win

    308win Member

    Jun 23, 2003
    Ohio - The Heart of it All
    Yes, however, you may not get the terminal performance you need out of a short barrel.

  3. gwnorth

    gwnorth Member

    Sep 3, 2008
    North Carolina
    JHP would always be the preferred choice for personal defence. A hollow point may not always expand, but it sure won't ever shrink.

    I shoot lead and jacketed ammo all the time out of my revolvers - never had an issue. You may need to clean out lead fouling from time to time if you shoot a lot of lead. However, in my experience, shooting factory hard cast lead in .38spl or .357 has never caused enough leading in my barrels to cause me any concern. I actually like to end a day at the range with some jacketed .357 magnum loads just because they will both help clean any leading out of the barrel, and cleans out the cylinders after shooting .38's in them (although if I ever were to notice any resistance to a .357 when loading, I'd run a .40 calibre brush through there to clean out any buildup from the .38spl loads)
  4. Deanimator

    Deanimator Member

    Mar 30, 2006
    Rocky River, Ohio
    Lead round nose isn't optimal for self-defense. That having been said, I'd take it over ANY .380 or 9mm Makarov.

    The 158gr. JHPs should be very good.

    For self-defense, I keep Federal 158 lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoints in all of my .38 and .357 revolvers.
  5. Dave Markowitz

    Dave Markowitz Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Plymouth Meeting, PA
    Lead round nose? Lead SWC? Lead SWCHP? It makes a diference.
  6. Fumbler

    Fumbler Member

    Oct 28, 2004
    Rocky Mount, NC, USA
    The XTP would be ok for self defense, but there are better choices. The 158 gr XTP bullet tends to be a sturdy bullet that doesn't open up well at low velocities. It's better suited for the 357 mag than 38 Special.
    The lighter XTPs in 38 would do better, as would Gold Dots, Winchester's Ranger, etc.

    If the 158gr lead bullet is a round nose then it wouldn't be good. If it were a lead hollow point it will do well. If it's a semi wadcutter or full wadcutter then it'll do ok.

    It's usually fine to do that and many lead bullet shooters will shoot a jacketed bullet to help clean the lead out of the barrel.
    However, it wouldn't be a good idea to do that if there's a lot of lead fouling because the fouling can act as a bore obstruction. that would take a whole lot of fouling though.
  7. higene

    higene Member

    Feb 10, 2009
    Sunny Yacolt Washington
    .357 bullets (357 or 38)

    Mass A's crew did a lot of police shooting tests in the '90s. Remington 125 jhp was top revolver with 92% one shot stops (from 4" revolvers). It beat 9mm, 45 ACP, and 44 Mag. (I did not make this stuff up). There is a lot of controversy about this or any assertion 'which is best'. You can read for yourself on THR. Search for Marshal and Sanow, read some and make your own decision. In a 4" or shorter revolver I would go with 125s loaded hot.

    ** Warning don't try this at home **

    Some folks put 357 loads up in 38 Special cases (for 357 revolvers like a Ruger Blackhawk). If one were to do this, one would work up the loads slowly and Make sure the hot loads don't get into old 38 Specials.

    Once fired 38 Special cases used to be $50 for 500. I don't know what they go for now (not many places shooting mass 38 Specials anymore) but I bet with the way ammo prices are going we could see this again.

    ** Warning don't try this at home **

    Think and BE SAFE


  8. Floppy_D

    Floppy_D Member In Memoriam

    Jul 4, 2007
    NAS Pensacola
    Oh lordy.

    Or anywhere. Why share that?

    Don't load 357mag loads in 38spl cases. Even if they were intended for a 357, the smaller OAL would increase pressure.

    1. Nope, they're fine. Some like fast/light, some like slow/heavy. 158g bullets are just fine.

    2. The concern is that a lead-fouled barrel will add obstruction to a FMJ as it passes, potentially spiking pressure. Clean in between, and no worries.
  9. Landric

    Landric Member

    Apr 19, 2003
    Kansas City Metro
    higene said:

    Actually, it was the Federal 125 grain SJHP in .357 Magnum, not .38 Special that had the best results. The Remington, IIRC, was a close second. Of course whether their data is useful depends on how you look at it. Since they methodology involved throwing out all shootings in which more than one round struck home, the results are skewed in favor of one-shot stops. Since the normal response to a stopping failure is to shoot again, and multiple hits were thrown out, a lot of possible failures were not included in the results.

    Its important to note that the OP was talking about .38 Special ammunition and your post is discussing .357 ammunition. Both use .357 (or .358) caliber bullets, but they are very different. Your post is somewhat misleading as you seem to be using the word bullets as being interchangible with ammunition, which it is not.

    As to the original question, its pretty generally accepted that the Federal 158 grain LSWCHP +P is a good .38 Special defense round, while the 158 grain RNL isn't. The XTP is a good bullet, but at .38 Special velocities it might not expand much or at all. It would be a much better choice than a non-hollowpoint bullet, but I'd choose a SWCHP over it if it were me.
  10. earplug

    earplug Member

    Oct 9, 2006
    Colorado Springs
    What type of firearm are you using? What barrel length?

    I'm betting a couple of bytes that your federal 158 load is a Lead Semi Wad cutter Hollow Point (LSWCHP) some may delete the L.
    I would prefer the Federal LSWHP to any jacketed round in a 38 spl. Lack of velocity will keep most jacketed bullets from expanding at 38 spl loadings. The SWC shape is a better tissue destroyer if the bullet does not expand.
    158 grain bullets tend to shoot to point of aim in fixed sight revolvers. Perhaps the factory has a better clue then us?
    I have not read all of Mas A's writings. I know a 125 grain bullet in .357 Rem Mag is very highly rated as a man stopper.
    I have not read the same for a 125 grain 38 spl.
    If anyone can cite this writing i'm interested.
  11. Virginian

    Virginian Member

    Apr 7, 2003
    Williamsburg, Virginia
    Well, I thought the Remington 125 SJHPs were the numero uno bullet, but I agree it was .357 rather than 38 Spl. loads.
  12. John Wayne

    John Wayne Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    I use Winchester 158 gr. SJHP +P loads in my S&W 442 (1 7/8" bbl.). Chrono'd them recently at 958 fps from the 442, and 1040 fps from a model 10 (4" bbl.).

    I was really impressed, given the price of $20 per box of 50. I'd been expecting much lower velocities, especially from the snubby. They may not be ideal but hey, you shoot what you can afford.
  13. chrisf8657

    chrisf8657 Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Phoenix, AZ
    Gold Dot Short Barrel .38 +P or 158 grain Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollowpoint is the best choice for the snub.
  14. snooperman

    snooperman Member

    May 4, 2009
    lead bullets

    Lead round nose has poor ballistics in the human body according to Marshall and Sanow. It tends to hit and veer off at right angles to entry wound. The lead wadcutter would be a better choice for lead bullets in the 38 special. Why not try the proven Federal Nyclad that is made for non plus P 38 revolvers? It has a remarkable record. Another would be the new Hornady critical defense 110 grain 38 special round.
  15. Zeke/PA

    Zeke/PA Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    Southeastern Pa.
    I shoot a considerable amount of commercial hard-cast in my revolvers and clean only occassionally to remove what appears to be a small amount of lead fouling.
    It's one of the rewards of shooting purchased stuff, a consistant alloy, versus the home cast variety.
    Some cleaning is always necessary after a range trip however as I reload a lot of Bullseye which seems to be rather dirty.
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