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.38 spl hiking load recommendations

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

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  1. chaim

    chaim Member

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    For the woods, add me to the heavy bullet crowd. For regular self-defense I prefer 125ish gr JHP (usually Gold Dots or Hornady Critical Defense for .38+P). Hiking in the woods, you don't know what you may encounter, and you may need to smash through some underbrush/branches to get to the threat, so heavy and solid is my preference.

    My first preference is a stout 158gr hard cast lead SWC. Heavy enough for penetration should you be unlucky enough to have to face a bear (and as someone else mentioned, bring bear spray as your first line of defense), but a sharp shouldered SWC makes a good self defense load against a 2-legged attacker as well.

    My second preference is a stout hard cast lead WC. Full caliber wound channel, good penetration.

    My third choice (all of these are pretty close) is the 158gr hard cast lead SWCHP. The 158gr SWCHP is great for 2-legged attackers, and the hard cast version should give adequate penetration for most wildlife attacks.

    For all options, you would be best off if you handload and can load them pretty stout. If you don't handload, Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, and Underwood are probably your best bet.
     
  2. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    The gun demands milder ammo, although no 38 is really all that punishing or uncontrollable (to me). My reloading for the smaller guns includes bullets lighter than the 158 grail weight. The 125 is easy to source, so that's what I use in little 38 or 357s. My carry ammo is Speer Short Barrel or the DEFENSE round from, I think, Winchester. I will check when a puppy is not sleeping in my lap.
     
  3. ApacheCoTodd

    ApacheCoTodd Member

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    I like a mix

    Two rounds up front of snake-shot and then Federal Hydras.

    Todd.
     
  4. 69Falcon

    69Falcon Member

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    My first choice for woods and everyday carry is the 158gr. LSWC-HP. My second choice is the regular 158gr. cast SWC.
     
  5. chaim

    chaim Member

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    That is a good point since the OP has an LCRx. My original suggestion still stands since this is for a woods gun, go heavy in weight, and preferably go with a hard cast SWC, followed by a hard cast WC, and third choice is a SWCHP. If your (OP) hand can stand it, go with one of the heavy loads from Buffalo Bore or +P from Underwood or Double Tap. However, even in standard non-+P loadings, the Buffalo Bore and Underwood should still give the penetration you want in a woods loading.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
  6. CPLofMARINES

    CPLofMARINES Member

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    A hot FMJ. I want penetration, I'm not concerned about
    hitting an innocent bystander. A hard cast, SWC would be
    ideal, 158 grn. Just get a .357 We are talking a woods
    gun.
     
  7. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Personal opinion... any 38spl +P JHP should be more than sufficient for this purpose. If you carry a particular ammo in the gun or use for home defense, I would use that.
     
  8. jmorris

    jmorris Member

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    I generally use 1 snake shot then whatever I and the gun shoot the best. In my life I have never had a coyote act in an aggressive manner towards me. If they know where I am they are either running away or several hundred yards away trying to see what I am up to.
     
  9. kmrcstintn

    kmrcstintn Member

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    wanted to followup since the dynamics of my original post changed; I was given a good trade-in appraisal so the LCRX went towards a Beretta Nano; since I also have my dad's S&W 642 (inherited after he passed) the feedback on .38 spl hiking loads is still relevant...

    in the 9mm realm I have Hornady Critical Defense 115gr FTX leftover from previous 9mm pistols; I am selecting Hornady XTP 147gr for a hiking load (the XTP is designed for controlled expansion which promotes deeper penetration)...

    thank you for your feedback...
     
  10. Elm Creek Smith

    Elm Creek Smith Member

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    Posted by kmrcstintn:
    Seems a shame. The Ruger LCRx 3 inch with adjustable sights seems ideal for backpacking where every ounce counts. My work BUG is a S&W 642-2 with an Apex Tactical Carry spring kit.
     
  11. greenmtnguy

    greenmtnguy Member

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    I've never had to shoot a poisonous snake in my life, but in the extremely rare case I did I'd still go with 158 gn lead loads in the gun for the more likely statistical case of shooting something that could be more dangerous to me or others with me. Dangerous snakes are very rare up here, save for a rare timber rattler or some cottonmouths in swamps further south. OTOH, where I live, hike, and hunt, encountering larger (and sometimes aggressive, unfrightened of humans) coyotes is not out of the question - I've had some staring contests at 10 feet with some while my shotgun was 20 feet away against a tree, but this is getting off topic. Sometimes they are rabid, sometimes not. They will usually avoid humans, but they've also run in packs under my tree stand while I've been in it. They are much larger than the tiny coyotes that are common in the southwest. Our coyotes fill in the slot in the food chain that the gray wolves in Montana fill. They aren't as big, though 50-60 pounds is fairly common.

    I think that you need to consider what the possible threats are in your area, and plan accordingly. What may be fine for one person is overkill for another, or totally inadequate if you're hiking in big grizzly territory.
     
  12. dawei

    dawei Member

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  13. roscoe

    roscoe Member

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  14. pintler

    pintler Member

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    >https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...t_detail&p=291

    I concur, but gotta say - $28 for 20 rounds is a pretty good incentive to reload!

    (I just looked up Laser Cast 158 SWC ... $123 per 1000, or $2.46 per 20. 20 primers adds 60 cents or so, with powder, it's still going to be under $4 per 20. 38 brass would last a looong time. That's a buck a round savings at least.

    Midway has a Rockchucker kit for $289, dies maybe $50 ... that's going to amortize pretty quick. I've never timed rounds per hour w/ a rockchucker, but at a buck a round it's gotta be a pretty good wage.
     
  15. lobo9er

    lobo9er Member

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    my grandpa used 22 shorts hollow points to kill coyotes. Granted those were aimed shots. But your 38 with a quality ammo is gonna do fine. I personally like gold dots and hornady. Remington golden sabers are good stuff too. Lots of good suggestions here.
     
  16. rdrancher

    rdrancher Member

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    The Outdoorsman looks like a nice round, but BB warns that they may start jumping crimp in lightweight revolvers if subjected to more than 5 or 6 shots. Since the OP is using a 642, it's a possibility. I guess one could start marking cases just to be safe? No thanks...I'll stick to the 150 gr. hard cast wadcutter in my 642. I know first hand that it works and jumping crimp is not a problem.
     
  17. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I thought the LCRX was a good choice and you got rid of it so quickly... a week or so. I guess you'll use the S&W 642. Same recommendation..... any normal powered JHP is more than sufficient if you can hit your target at any distance. I often carry a 22LR for this purpose. Never needed a gun for defensive purposes in the woods regardless of bears. I don't kill snakes for the sake of killing them. Dogs are the only thing of concern is some areas and a 22 is enough for them in most cases.
     
  18. Bama Drifter

    Bama Drifter Member

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    I keep seeing "load them stout" crop up. Is 158gr LSWC over 5.5gr of Unique stout enough? I see 5.2gr = .38 +P in the manuals, but I believe it to be a watered down figure. 5.5gr in .38spl case gives me pleasant accuracy in several revolvers and I load 5.5 into a magnum case for my .357mag cowboy ammo. What say you Driftwood or Deaf?
     
  19. MICHAEL T

    MICHAEL T Member

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    Yep at room distance or little longer That not a long range round. Used after door kicked opened in drug raids in old days . Was across the room bullet as weren't allowed 357's bullets then. Will key hole at any real distance . I still have a few in a plastic case. Mine were loaded real hot would rock the little 36S&W I have no idea how they were loaded and he gone to happy reload ground
     
  20. LeonCarr

    LeonCarr Member

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    1. +P 158 Grain Hard Cast SWC, either Buffalo Bore or Handloaded
    2. +P 158 Grain LSWCHP
    3. 130 Grain or 158 Grain FMJ

    I think penetration should be the priority for a hiking gun, works better on four legged varmints and will still take care of two legged varmints.

    Just my .02,
    LeonCarr
     
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