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Deep penetrating .38 Special?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by bg226, May 31, 2006.

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  1. bg226

    bg226 Member

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    I need help in finding a solid, deep penetrating .38 Special load. Something that will not deform or break apart. I'm not sure if FMJ is better than just lead bullets.

    I find two puposes for such a load:

    1. Barrier penetration.
    2. Last resort defense from animals.

    Any advice?
     
  2. Sharps Shooter

    Sharps Shooter Member

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    How about a 168-grain "Keith" SWC over a charge of HS-6? I'm just venturing a guess, but it seems to me that ought to be a pretty 38 Special load as far as penetration goes. Leadheads Bullets Inc. casts the bullets.
     
  3. S&WIowegan

    S&WIowegan Member

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    Leadheads!

    As soon as I saw the title of this post, I thought Leadheads. They make Keith-style hardcast bullets I have used with success. Sharpshooter beat me to it. I would use 2400 as a powder though.

    Bob.
     
  4. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I cast a Lee 158 grain tumble lube SWC that is very accurate. I load it in front of 5.0 grains of Unique. It's mildly +P and I'd trust it to penetrate. I either carry it or a wadcutter in my Rossi .38 afield. If I'm where I might get a close encounter with a Hog and I have the .38 in lieu of a heavier caliber (easier to carry so I carry it a lot), I'll often put the 158s in it knowing I can hit a rabbit with it, too, and it don't expand.

    That above load is sort of a standard old reliable in the reloading world as is the 2.6 grains Bullseye/148 grain wadcutter I load. If they ain't broke, why fix 'em?
     
  5. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    180 or 200 grain hardcasts should do nicely. They're hard to find in a .38 Special factory load these days, being much more common with .357's. But they can be loaded into the .38 special and even at a reduced velocity will penetrate like nobody's business.
     
  6. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    Take a LSWC-HP +P from Remington, Buffalo Bore or old-stock Cor-Bon and fill the cavity with epoxy. Probably the deepest punch you'll ever get out of a 38.
     
  7. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    Try to keep the velocity up over 900 fps, especially if it's soft lead and/or roundnose. As velocity goes lower, you have an increasing chance of the bullet glancing off bone. A SWC with copper on the tip only would probably be ideal.
     
  8. bg226

    bg226 Member

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    Okay, It looks like the .38 Special is just not enough gun for animals.
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2006
  9. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I get 185 foot lbs which would make it a pretty weak sub standard pressure load. Most standard pressure loads run around 200 ft lbs from a 4" barrel. +P stuff can approach or exceed 300 ft lbs from a service revolver.

    For penetration, a heavier hard cast bullet of +P velocity is better. A round nose is a good idea, too, if you could get one in the 158 grain weight loaded to +P pressures. Won't leave a lot of tissue damage, but will penetrate about as good as any .38. The flat point of a SWC actually does do some pretty impressive tissue damage, though, if that matters. Shoot an animal with a round nose and you might not even get a blood trail to follow. I have recovered animals shot with impressive rifle rounds whose bullet didn't expand and I couldn't even find an entry or exit wound until the skin was peeled off. I'd expect similar from a round nose FMJ bullet, though I've never tried it and never will.

    Just remember that if you go for penetration, you're going to give up some tissue damage. There's no free lunch here and you're talking a pretty weak handgun round to boot. If you're really worried about animal defense, that sorta starts around the .357 magnum to me and depending on the animal, that might not be enough. I might want to go with a magnum that starts with a 4. The .38 is an adequate self defense round, but I wouldn't wanna carry it as a black bear hunting round, nor would I want to defend myself with it against a black bear. I'd be shootin' for the eyes if I had to use one for that.
     
  10. S&WIowegan

    S&WIowegan Member

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    .38 Special

    That round is probably the least effective you could choose for anything other than plinking. You should shop for a much heavier bullet.

    Bob.
     
  11. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    Not true at all. If you have a heavy frame .357 revolver you can take pressures up to +p+ levels or higher and make the .38 into a .357 magnum. Of course, it would be a lot easier to just use .357's. Even at its normal power levels, it's sufficient for small game and light medium game at close range.
     
  12. Matt King

    Matt King Member

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    This is just not true. A .38 special is an ideal self defense round, and can handle almost any small game.
     
  13. nitesite

    nitesite Member

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    KYImports has a bunch of new Remington Express 158-gr LSWC +P ammo for $12.99 or $13.99/box. Fifty round boxes, nice nickel-plated cases, really good stuff/highest quality and a terrific price.

    I just bought a few boxes from them, and love it. You'd be amazed how deep these will drive.

    I think Remington's site states 950-fps which is pretty warm for a factory 158-gr .38 Special.

    I've never found them cheaper anywhere else.
     
  14. ATAShooter

    ATAShooter Member

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    No long story, this has been rough... I had the misfortune of putting down our 12yr old Shepherd tuesday. .38spl, Hornady 158gr XTP over 4.5 bullseye. Did the job quickly, 1 shot. I have chrono'd these before @ 785fps. Max was 120 lbs. So needless to say the 38 Spl is very effective.
     
  15. S&WIowegan

    S&WIowegan Member

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    nitesite's got it right!!!

    That's what we're trying to get across.....the Rem. 158gr.LSWC-HP is the classic load. Order a few boxes and you've got what you need. I think I'll get some too!:D

    Bob.
     
  16. BigG

    BigG Member

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    They used to sell a 200 grain almost spherical nosed bullet for 38 Special that would probably give the best results. A heavier bullet with a blunt nose will usually penetrate better than a lighter bullet. YMMV
     
  17. nitesite

    nitesite Member

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    S&WIowegan (hey I've been reading your posts elsewhere for a while now)~

    Keep in mind I'm talking LSWCs, not LSWCHPs.

    I tried to get some of them as well, but they were sold out of them :(

    (at that price it's no wonder).
     
  18. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I read that as the 130 grain FMJ at 800 FPS was not enough load, not that the .38 wasn't enough caliber. Would help if the poster would have put up the quote he was addressing I reckon. :D
     
  19. S&WIowegan

    S&WIowegan Member

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    My bad

    sorry to nitesite for misquoting him:eek: The non-HP load may well be a little better for penetration anyway. Gotta get me some:)

    Bob.
     
  20. RyanM

    RyanM Member

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    Well, if you've got arthritis or bad wrists or something, and 130 grains at 800 fps is all the recoil you can handle, that wouldn't be a bad defense load. It'd beat 95 gr at 850 fps from a .380, or 71 gr at 900 fps from a .32, or 50 gr at 760 fps from a .25, or 40 gr at 800 fps from a .22.
     
  21. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    If you put much faith in the stats accumulated by Marshall/Sanow in their 'One Shot Stats', you'll note that a +P 158gr LHPSWC round, from a 2"-er, is actually significantly better than a 230gr 'ball' round in .45 ACP. This round is only suited for thin skin targets - but it will open to double or more it's impact area. I have chrono-ed the Remington R38S12 version, ~$21/50 when ordered through my pusher, at 834 fps from my 2" 10, 912 fps from my 3" 65, and 994 fps from my 6" 66. Again, great for a massive wound channel in a thin-skinned target.

    I wonder if a 148gr plated full wad-cutter, like the hollow back variant Berry's Bullets made, would produce a deep wound? The old trick of turning it around - presenting a deep hollow front - might have some use, too - or, as many believe, would it act like a crude HP? Still, a full WC, even at 148gr, may just be the answer. I have gotten ~750 fps with 3.3gr Titegroup, the 148gr HBWC, in .38 Special brass - fired from my 2" 10. No pressure signs - but boogeys from my 6" 66 @ 800+ fps. Probably not much deformation... it may not have the KE required to break bones, either. I'll stick with the 158gr LHPSWC and LSWC +P's... I have the former in my 10's speedloaders - and a Blazer shot shell (Snakes!).

    Stainz
     
  22. nitesite

    nitesite Member

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    My reason for the LSWCs was to hopefully create two holes, one of them an exit. Most rapid blood loss if CNS isn't hit.

    Plus it's almost as cheap as plinking ammo!
     
  23. revolvergeek

    revolvergeek Member

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    If you are looking for factory ammo, consider the Speer Lawman 158 TMJ-FP +p. I carry it in may 642 when I go to the beach as my Anti-Shark ammo. :D
     
  24. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    I've tranquilized sharks up to five feet with the 158 grain SWC +P load I mentioned. Works well. :D Shark should be in the bay, soon, too!
     
  25. bg226

    bg226 Member

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    The Lawman TMJ is very powerful. 158 Gr. @ 900 fps.

    I've got to get some of this anti-shark ammo. :D
     
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