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. 38Spl Semi-wadcutter or Hollowpoints

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Choclabman, Apr 12, 2010.

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  1. Choclabman

    Choclabman Member

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    I have always preferred pistols, and need help on the subject of revolver ammunition.


    I am curious as to which one is better out of small revolvers. The revolvers is question are

    1. Colt Detective Special
    2. S&W Model 36


    My wife carries both, and has stated she prefers the recoil of a 158gr semi-wadcutter. That is fine for paper shooting, but I prefer a JHP for self defense.

    I have loaded them with Gold Dot 135gr+P Short Barrel. They only see a few of these loads fired. She will shoot many 158gr semi-wadcutters and only a few of the JHP at the range.

    As stated she prefers the semi-wadcutter, and would like to use them all the time. I think a JHP would be better.

    When dealing with short barrel revolvers like these two, am I wrong in this thinking?
     
  2. madcratebuilder

    madcratebuilder Member

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    Let her shoot the SWC's, it's placement that counts.
     
  3. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

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    Shot placement is far more critical than bullet composition -- at least in this application and between the two choices given.

    A 158 gr. semi-wadcutter will do JUST fine, if she hits what she's aiming at.

    If she misses I can't imagine how the JHP will be better! ;)
     
  4. Old Shooter

    Old Shooter Member

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    If the day comes when she needs to use one of those weapons SHE needs to feel comfortable and confident in the load SHE is using.

    Both loads should perform equally well assuming similiar shot placement therefor I would let her use whichever load SHE prefers.

    It's going to be her finger on the trigger, not yours.

    I carry semi-wadcutter hollow points in my revolvers and feel secure with my choice but there is nothing wrong with a JHP either.
     
  5. jfh

    jfh Member

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    She could carry the Rem 38S12s--which is a 158-gr. LSWC-HP round, at (current) plus-p pressures; runs about 800+ fps from either of the two guns specified. Seems to me that round would make you both happy...

    Jim H.
     
  6. Manco

    Manco Member

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    Don't believe the hype regarding expansion--JHPs are better suited for more powerful calibers that would otherwise grossly overpenetrate and waste much of their energy. On the other hand, 158 grain SWC rounds have a proven track record in .38 Special and will give you all the penetration (more important than expansion) you need.

    These "short barrel" rounds are apparently designed to get the same expansion that the regular Gold Dots would get from the higher velocity of longer-barreled guns, which is exactly the opposite of what they should be doing since penetration, already marginal at best in the regular 135 grain Gold Dot, will suffer even more.

    I think that the SWC would be a better performer in addition to being more comfortable for most people to shoot. So far I don't see any points in favor of the Gold Dot in this caliber, except for the wider wound channel, but that comes with tradeoffs in more important areas.

    In my opinion, short barrels generally benefit from heavier bullets, so that's another win for the 158 grain SWC. The old "FBI load"--158 grain LSWCHP--is also worthy of consideration if you want some expansion, but avoid the often-favored Remington version because it uses rather soft lead and will deform excessively; many people favor it because it expands so much, but expansion is useless without adequate penetration, much like penetration is useless if you can't hit the target reliably and repeatedly. I'm not saying that the JHP in question isn't effective, but I'd take these other rounds over it, given a choice.

    Assuming that I'm not just plain nuts and there is a decent consensus here, tell your wife that she was right all along, and hopefully it will win you some points before it's too late. ;)
     
  7. JMusic

    JMusic member

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    My 638 and 36 hit at point of aim at158
     
  8. ScratchnDent

    ScratchnDent Member

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    My snubby is loaded with 158 LSWC right now. I figure a .358 hole through an upraised arm and into the vitals is better than a .500 hole that stops in the arm.
     
  9. Husker_Fan

    Husker_Fan Member

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    I have a refinished Victory that is my favorite gun to shoot. It is much more accurate with my 158 SWC loads than any commercial HP's I've tried. It also has such a good trigger that it screams to be carried, at least around the house. When it is, I use the same 158 SWCs over 4.1 grains of W231 that I shoot at the range. It just works too well for me and that gun.
     
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Between the gold dots and a soft lead SWC, I'd go with the second. It will penetrate better and be easier to shoot. But I'd take the 158 grain LSWCHP over either.
     
  11. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Member

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    Yes, bear in mind that both of those guns were sighted in to use 158g bullets which will cause the lighter ones to hit low. I'm with cosmoline on this: 158g SWCHP in lead is my choice at 158g. The normal pressure ones will be just as or more effective than a SWC and the +P stuff will expand reliably.
     
  12. Choclabman

    Choclabman Member

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    Thanks for the replies/help.

    My wife prefer the 158gr semi-wadcutters. She likes the light recoil, and is dead accurate with them.

    From what I have read here, I will stop pushing the JHP's.

    I do appreciate the help.
     
  13. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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  14. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Member

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    I love the buffalo bore +p stuff but yeah, it's a little more agressive. The standard pressure 158's should be nice to her hands while still giving her an effective terminal result.
     
  15. Choclabman

    Choclabman Member

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    One last question. She has been using Winchester 158gr lead SWC(X38WCPSV) and Remington's version at the range.

    Are these good for self defense, or should we look elsewhere?


    I(we) are open to suggestions. I can buy a box of several different kinds, and let her choose the one she prefers.
     
  16. jfh

    jfh Member

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    Well, you've got two good leads here--the Rem 38S12s, and the BB20Cs W.E.G. pictured above. Why don't you get a box of each and see which she likes?

    I don't think you need to look elsewhere, although my opinions are like all other poster's and worth what you are paying for them.

    Jim H.
     
  17. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    That's all you really need to say. Did you ever wonder where the saying "Dead Accurate" came from? Think about it and you will know your wife should be shooting exactly what she likes to shoot because she's "Dead Accurate" with that load.
     
  18. tasco 74

    tasco 74 Member

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    when my father in law was the town cop here he kept his little colt .38 det. spl. loaded with wadcutter reloads my brother in law
    made for him..... i use the same old cast bair press to this day to reload on.... i always wondered how wadcutters were for sd work......................

    LIFE IS SHORT.....
     
  19. Choclabman

    Choclabman Member

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    Thanks for the help. Ammo of the two suggested loads are one the way. Which ever one she prefers is the one she will carry. I'm out of it. It is up to her.


    The reason I initially pushed JHP's, is that I was raised on pistols. HK's, Glocks, Sig's, Colt(Government, Commander), Wilson, etc. I use FMJ for practice, and JHP for self defense. I do have a couple of 4" and 6" .357 mags. I load them the same way as my pistols.

    The semi-wadcutter thing is old hat to many. But is new to me. New to me, so I was leery of them.
    But if they perform well for SD, and the wife prefers them, then so be it.


    Thanks again to the help.
     
  20. jmortimer

    jmortimer Member

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    Don't get the Buffalo Bore "Soft" 158 SWC get the 150 grain Hard Cast DEWC - bigger meplat and better penetration. And there is the minor problem the the "soft" bullet blows apart in ballistic gelatin while the hard cast penetrates two feet. Easy decision - bigger meplat, bullet does not fragment, and better penetration.
    http://www.brassfetcher.com/Buffalo...r standard pressure Hard Cast Wad Cutter.html
    http://www.brassfetcher.com/Buffalo Bore 158gr (non +P) SWC-HC.html
    http://www.brassfetcher.com/Buffalo Bore 125gr Speer Low Velocity JHC.html
    The Buffalo Bore 125 grain Speer JHC penetrated 12 inches and expanded to over .500 inches. Not bad -my second choice but two feet of penetrtion of blunt force works for me. I'll shoot through my target with a blunt nose/meplat.
     
  21. blusteel7

    blusteel7 Member

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    My 36 is always loaded with 158-SWC
     
  22. pete950

    pete950 Member

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    I have my back up 642 while on duty loaded with the Buffalo Boar 150 gr full wadcutter good penitration to those vitals.

    Pete
     
  23. joneb

    joneb Member

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    No arguments from me,
    guns 003.jpg :)
     
  24. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    As stated she prefers the semi-wadcutter, and would like to use them all the time. I think a JHP would be better.


    Well...maybe. Yes, there are loads made for short barrels that will expand and all that but your wife may not the attendant muzzle blast. Muzzle blast usually bothers people more than recoil. If she shoots better with the 158 SWC loads let her use that. She won't be losing a lot. Have her try 148 wadcutters. This is what I use in short barrel 38s like those you describe. She might like those better.

    You don't need to carry the highest pressure, super expanding bullet, hi tech, rhino roller load to be effective. You have to hit what you shoot at.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2010
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