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Is .38 Special Sufficient for SD ?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Gun Master, Mar 23, 2017.

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  1. Gun Master

    Gun Master Member

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    The basic question still remains :
    Is the .38 S&W Special sufficient for self defense ?
    Your choice of load, bullet variant, etc.

    Personally, I believe the .38 Special is not dead, but deadly !

    What do you REALLY think the .38 Special is capable of, in self defense .
    Now is the time to tell the truth, and share some wisdom .
    OK ?
     
  2. Ratshooter

    Ratshooter Member

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    With the advances in bullet design it is better now than its ever been. But it was never any slouch. The RNL may not have been the best stopper/killer but it still stopped a lot of bad guys and good guys. My uncle the cop used a model 15 way back in the mid 60s to kill one man while on duty. The bullet was the standard police load RNL 158gr special. One shot was all it took and the guy he shot dropped right in his tracks and never moved.

    Its what I have kept for a HD gun for around the last 25 years loaded with 158gr SWCHP loads from remington.
     
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  3. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    Who is questioning it's capability?

    I think it is plenty sufficient.
     
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  4. MedWheeler

    MedWheeler Member

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    Any gun, in any caliber, is sufficient for self-defense..

    ..unless it isn't.

    But, the .38 Special still garners a lot of respect from me, and I carry one from time to time. My four snubs not rated for "+P" are loaded with Winchester "Defend" 130-grain JHP ammunition. My 3-inch gun rated for "+P", as well as my two 4-inch revolvers chambered in .357 are loaded with Remington-UMC +P 125-grain SJHP stuff.

    I feel fine with this.
     
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  5. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Of course it is. Virtually any load in .38 Special will penetrate deeply enough to damage the central nervous system or circulatory system. That's what stops people. Some of the loads available will do a hell of a lot of damage when they get there too. I use the Buffalo Bore 158gr. SWCHPs designed for short-barreled guns. +P velocity/standard pressure. Good stuff.
     
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  6. bullseye308

    bullseye308 Member

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    I was just wondering this myself recently. How about the standard target load of a pure lead 148 soup can over 2.7gr. of BE? That's the only loads I have for my S&W 67.
     
  7. Michael Tinker Pearce

    Michael Tinker Pearce Member

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    Not ideal, but they'll do the job as long as you hit something important with them.
     
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  8. Twiki357

    Twiki357 Member

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    I have no concerns about the 38 special being adequate for self-defense. That’s all I have loaded for home and carry. All 158g SWCs.
     
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  9. AZAndy
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    AZAndy Contributing Member

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    It worked well enough for Jack Ruby, as I recall.
     
  10. shafter

    shafter Member

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    Who can say? It might work fine in one set of circumstances and in a different scenario maybe not, but the same can be said for any round. It's a little light for me to be truly comfortable with but with good ammo I might be willing to roll the dice.
     
  11. Alte Schule

    Alte Schule Member

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    In 1970 the U.S. Army issued me a S&W Model 10. The .38 SP military ball ammo was pretty anemic as compared to today's standards but kept recoil to a minimum and, for me, allowed for quicker more accurate follow up shots. Today I have two .38 Sp in my EDC rotation. A S&W 637 and a Ruger LCRx 3". I keep the 637 Airweight loaded with Hornady Critical Defense Lite or 100 gr.Glaser and the LCRx with Remington +P. Old school it may be but I'm confident in the ability of those rounds to stop any threat I may encounter.
     
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  12. Zendude
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    Zendude Contributing Member

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    I think 38 is just fine for self defense, as far as being able to disable an an attacker. The more relevant question is whether you are ok with having only 5 or 6 rounds in the gun, especially for home defense. But that's a separate discussion I guess.
     
  13. Snowdog

    Snowdog Member

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    With all the modern JHPs available today, I'd say the .38 Special has caught its second wind.
    I personally like Remington's 125gr +P Golden Saber, but most modern offerings will get the job done just fine.
     
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  14. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    What's the right answer here? So many are going to rationalize a defense of why their pocket gun and girly-man load are okay. ;)
    Concealment and comfort are self justifying. The ability to decisively stop a threat was never a priority. Open carry is a different matter, wherein I consider a larger caliber a better decision.
     
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  15. GBExpat

    GBExpat Member

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    .38Spl is more than adequate for my self-defense.
     
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  16. 25cschaefer

    25cschaefer Member

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    In similar bullet weights the 9mm Luger only edges 100-200fps faster, it is certainly not questioned as to its effectiveness by most self defense gurus. The 38S&W out shines the 380acp by a mile yet it is one of the most popular self defense cartridges around today.
     
  17. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    For the most part, the SD/HD scenarios and owner proficiency with their particular firearm dictate effectiveness much more than caliber. IMHO, for 95% of all civilian SD scenarios, a .38 with 5 shots is plenty.
     
  18. xXxplosive

    xXxplosive Member

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    ......a LE friend years back on the job, shot and killed an assailant while on duty, one shot with his service revolver.....Model 10 and 158gr. RN .....yup, it's all about placement.
     
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  19. ABTOMAT

    ABTOMAT Member

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    When I see SD caliber discussions I always remember that the little .32 ACP was a standard police/military round for 40 years in Europe. 9mm or .40 might be a better alternative compared to .38spc but it's not like people's hides have gotten thicker in the last 100 years.
     
  20. azrn

    azrn Member

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    the 38 spec. will kill you and ruin your whole day.
     
  21. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    "9mm or .40" don't fire in a conventional revolver. Let's keep the faith here.
     
  22. ABTOMAT

    ABTOMAT Member

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    Well then let's say .327 and .357.
     
  23. The Bushmaster

    The Bushmaster Member

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    The .38 has been around for well over a hundred years in various cartridge configurations and is still manufactured to this day and probably for many generations to come.

    I own three .38 Specials. All Model 10 S&W and I would not feel disarmed carrying any one of them.

    My favorite load...5 grains of W-231 under a 140 grain Remington SJHP.
     
  24. Kendal Black

    Kendal Black Member

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    The .38 Special saw a whole lot of use in the last century as a police and military cartridge. There were some complaints about its effectiveness, particularly in its old-fashioned round-nose loadings. On the other hand, cops and soldiers love to complain. Its more modern loadings left less to complain about. That does not mean no one did.

    What the .38 Special has is a clear track record of mostly satisfactory use under several sets of circumstances where lethal encounters are guaranteed to happen.

    The largest animal I'm aware of being killed with a .38 Special was a polar bear, but the circumstances were unusual.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1971/06/06/a...-put-arm-into-cage-bear-grabs-man-and-is.html
     
  25. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Is it adequate? Yes
    Preference? Speer 135 gr short Barrel, or some sort of +p loading with a minimum weight of 130 gr. bullet.
     
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