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.38 spl hiking load recommendations

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by kmrcstintn, Jan 16, 2016.

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  1. kmrcstintn

    kmrcstintn Member

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    recently acquired a Ruger LCRX with 3" barrel for various defense roles which includes hiking & woods walking; I am seeking recommendations for a .38 spl or .38 spl +p load to use for defense in the woods or while hiking against threats such as coyotes, malcontent hominids, stray dogs, etc; already have CCI shotshells for snakes; this revolver will be my main defensive handgun for quite awhile and moving up to .357 magnum is not an option...thanks
     
  2. Panzerschwein

    Panzerschwein member

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    Use the Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P Short Barrel Load.

    A bonded bullet that will expand and go deep. Excellent for human defense and against critters as well. Manageable recoil and very low muzzle flash.

    The Buffalo Bore 158 grain +P load is also a sure smoker from a 3" barrel, but has a stiff kick.
     
  3. HGM22

    HGM22 Member

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    Take a look at Remington Golden Saber as well.
     
  4. SeanSw

    SeanSw Member

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    The Golden Saber 125gr +p load has a little heat on it. It's common and fairly inexpensive. The tests I've seen online show it to be one of the top performers in this caliber and it shoots well in both of my Ruger LCRs. I personally prefer the less snappy but heavier rounds. For hiking or woods carry I might go with the standard pressure 150gr wadcutters, which are easy shooters (Underwood Ammo and Buffalo Bore make them) or maybe the standard pressure or +p 158gr semi wadcutter hollow points. They should penetrate fairly deep even from a short barrel and work well on small 4 legged or 2 legged threats if necessary.
     
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    I carry the FBI load in the woods when I carry a .38 Special. I think the heavier bullet is a better choice than the light stuff many now carry. (FBI load = 158gr LSWC/HP .38 Special +P)

    Just remember, never sacrifice accuracy for a few more FPS because no matter how fast the bullet travels it is useless unless you hit what you shoot at. Carry the ammo you can shoot well and is accurate in your gun.
     
  6. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    If you handloaded I would say a 158 grain lead semi wadcutter loaded with a stout charge of a medium burning powder. Something like AA#5 or Power Pistol. There is even data out there for 2400 though I find it too slow.
     
  7. eldon519

    eldon519 Member

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    I like the FBI load too.

    ETA: I should also point out that by their own testing and data, the Speer 135 +P short barrel load has a tendency for underpenetration in many mediums. Not that it falls terribly short, it just isn't ideal.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2016
  8. Wishoot

    Wishoot Member

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    My personal opinion is that HP's are fine for two-legged critters, but for the 4-legged variety, I'd rather have a heavy bullet with enough chutzpah to penetrate flesh and bone.

    I'll take a 158gr powder coated LSWC loaded as hot as can be.
     
  9. ADKWOODSMAN

    ADKWOODSMAN Member

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    A hollow based wadcutter loaded with the open end out will do some major hurt.
     
  10. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I like the Speer stuff Cooldill mentioned. Though for the woods I tend to carry a 357 loaded with 158gr Speers.
     
  11. 336A

    336A Member

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    Definitely go with the heavier 158gr bullet as penetration is key here, you never know what you will encounter so you need something that will make it to the pump house. My vote goes to the "FBI" load if you can find it in your area. I know at one time Remington used to produce a Solid 158gr SWC (+P), if I could find that that would be my pick for the woods. There are other options out there however that up the ante' a little bit so long as you don't mind paying a little more.

    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=288

    https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=111

    I don't rely on commercial ammo as I reload, but I normally use the .38 SPL as my main woods gun as well. I don't load my .38 SPL to the sissy weenie levels that the factories have relegated it to today. Instead I load to what the cartridge was supposed to do and that is around 850fps with a 158gr bullet. I had to use this load a few years back when for a coup de' grace on a doe that I spine shot. From 10' it had complete penetration of the deer's head so I know it works.

    My next project is to play with some cast DEWC, the Speer #13 has some good data for these that seem to duplicate the Buffalo Bore WC ammo and it's within standard pressures to boot. Here is nice read on these for you if your interested.

    http://www.hensleygibbs.com/edharri...The Double-End Wadcutter and the FBI Load.htm
     
  12. kmrcstintn

    kmrcstintn Member

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    sounds good so far...

    I have some Remington FBI load from a few years ago leftover from a different revolver; I have access to 158gr lrn's but figure they wouldn't cause enough damage; I've seen several brands of 158gr fmj's but our game commission in PA frowns on anything other than full lead or expandables...

    guess I'll research a few smaller companies (Double Tap, Buffalo Bore, Underwood) for an affordable solid semiwadcutter...
     
  13. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    No no no, let's not continue to spread that! Lol.
     
  14. kmrcstintn

    kmrcstintn Member

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  15. stevekozak

    stevekozak Member

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    GS is my .38 Spl load of choice.
     
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  16. greenmtnguy

    greenmtnguy Member

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    For woods work, I usually carry 158 grn lead bullets in my 38 - wild critters are alot tougher than thin skinned humans, and where I often go, encountering anything from a rabid racoon, a 60 lb coyote up through an angry 1200 pound moose is possible. On the fixed sight revolvers, the 158 grn load is generally what they are regulated for and often shoot the best - in case I am stuck in the woods for a few days and need to take a squirrel or rabbit for food. Otherwise I usually carry the Remington +P 135 gn loads or critical defense loads for 'social' situations.
     
  17. rdrancher

    rdrancher Member

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  18. Deaf Smith

    Deaf Smith Member

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    Buffalo Bore is the way to go.

    Deaf
     
  19. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Member

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    Those coyotes in New England are big and tough skinned;
    coyotemay18200904R2.jpg
     
  20. Barry the Bear

    Barry the Bear Member

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    .38 can't even kill armadillos!!! :D. Hopefully someone remembers that news story. In all seriousness I shall echo what some other posters have said, a semi wadcutter 158 gr will do the job, had to take a coyote with one once, it was not a pretty sight but it did the job forcefully.
     
  21. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    To me anytime I have to kill one of Gods creatures and it's not for food I find it to not be a pretty sight. Sometimes we have to do it though.
     
  22. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Member

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    Unless you are hiking with a pet dog, you can scratch coyotes as a threat; feral dog packs can be unpredictable and if things go bad, it'll go down faster than you can imagine.

    As others have stated, heavy SWCs/WFNs come highly recommended, JHPs will not hold up in brush.
     
  23. Steve C

    Steve C Member

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    Your primary threat in the woods will be from people unless you are hiking in an area with large predators like bear, wolves or cougars.

    Never heard of a coyote attacking an adult human though checking Wikipedia that says there have been at least 160 attacks on humans in the last 30 years, so its a very rare occurrence and most have been in Los Angeles County CA. Likely because stupid urbanites feed them. They also point out that coyote attacks generally result in minor injury as they are rather small. Coyotes (the animal kind) are don't pack up to hunt so they don't provide much of a threat.

    Main thing with wildlife is don't do anything stupid like approach the animal or try and pet it. Don't wear perfumes that attract large predators, don't carry food in open containers and don't scream and run away as it excites the predator/prey instinct. If they don't run away from you, they're not afraid of you, and that's a bad combination if you approach them. More people are killed and injured by deer in rut than by bears every year in the US often because they want to pet bambi who isn't afraid of them at the time.

    Dogs on the other hand will pack up and in some areas packs of wild dogs are a serious threat. They have no fear of humans since most where pets at one time. A dog that appears sick is always a danger as they may have rabies even if they're not foaming at the mouth.

    Anything that will kill a person will kill a dog or a coyote so any good JHP or lead HP will take care of both threats.

    If you hike in an area where there are bear then one of the bear pepper spray repelant you can find at sporting good stores would be a less expensive option than a heavier caliber handgun.
     
  24. Water-Man

    Water-Man Member

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    Buffalo Bore 150gr. HC-WC for four legged varmints.

    960 velocity 3" barrel.
     
  25. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    I've been in a situation where coyotes showed aggression. There were several. My father fired a round in the ground in front of them and that was enough to scare then off.

    Later he told me that he wouldn't have enough shots to kill them all so it was better to try and scare them.
     
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