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Is the 38 spl a self defense round ?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by regal, Dec 29, 2008.

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  1. regal

    regal Member

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    I am talking about the non +P 38 special fired from a snub nose revolver. Is this a viable self defense round or should I invest in a new +P capable J-frame?
     
  2. Glockman17366

    Glockman17366 Member

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    For self defense, where the goal is to stop an assailant (not necessarily kill him or her), a standard .38 Spl has been an effective round for many, many years.
    Maybe it's not the optimal round nowadays, but I reckon it'll do the job.

    My .38's are +P rated,so that's what I carry in them. But I normally shoot standard pressure .38's through them.
     
  3. regal

    regal Member

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    What is a good 38 special non +P type ammo to carry ?
     
  4. orchidhunter

    orchidhunter member

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    regal, The Nyclad non +P will be back on the market soon, it will be a good choice. orchidhunter
     
  5. kostner

    kostner Member

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    I carry Federal HydraShok 110 grain in my SW442. I think you will like them. Also carry a few in the Bianchi Speed Strips.
     
  6. exflatlander

    exflatlander Member

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    I think with a short .38 it is more about practice and accuracy than the type of bullet you use. They can be hard to shoot well and if you can't hit what you are aiming at I don't care how good the ammo is.

    I have a old 3" S&W mod 36 that I can put all 5 double action in the black at 25 ft with cheap UMC or Winchester USA 130 gr FMJ that I practice with.

    Maybe they won't expand like high-end JHP but I still like my chances I as I know I can hit something with it.
     
  7. hexidismal

    hexidismal Member

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    In a word, YES.
    Do I carry it ? No.

    I actually didn't believe much in .38 special as a modern defense round until I saw it tested fairly a few times. One example is from Gun Tests magazine did a study back in 2006. ( Yes, I know you can't always trust what the magazines say ) , but various other tests seem to have similar results. See for example a site I trust far more than any magazine.
    http://www.brassfetcher.com/index_files/Page1716.htm ( Great site run by THR member JE223 )

    http://www.gun-tests.com/issues/18_9/features/38_Special_5358-1.html
    There are other factors though I think making the .38 special viable. It's easier to shoot for instance. Now, I've had my arguments on this board with the "It's all about placement, even a .22lr is perfectly viable for self defense" crowd. It's not ALL about placement, but certainly that's a big part of it. The only truly viable self-defense weapon for you is the one you can quickly and accurately hit your target with. For a lot of people, a standard pressure .38 special is a bit easier to do that with.

    So.. should you upgrade to a 38+P ? Heck I don't know , but I can say I don't think you should change the gun and round you carry till you're as well practiced with a new one as you are with your old one.
     
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2008
  8. sidheshooter

    sidheshooter Member

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    x-flat,

    I also have one of those heavy barrel 3" 36 chiefs; a true classic (thanks frank mcgee!). It had to go back to the factory to be retimed after a single box of the old cci "lawman" 110-grain +p loads.

    That said, it has worked like a charm since then with whatever I have run through it (no more really light hot loads, however) including remington 158 LSWCHP +P, Federal Hydrashok 129 +P and lots of standard pressure rounds.

    I'm glad to see the return of the nyclad 125, and I'm also intrigued by the buffalo bore standard pressure 158 LSWCHP...

    But for carry, all my HKS loaders are stuffed with the remington version of the 158g +P load, FWIW. It's proven, and it also shoots to point of aim...
     
  9. C-grunt

    C-grunt Member

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    Its still a .35 caliber round at or above 700 FPS. Its got plenty of oomph to ruin anyones day. I had some of Federals low recoil round in my SP101 for a while for the wife who is recoil shy. Looking at the tests here and else where it did fairly well in the ballistic gel.
     
  10. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator

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    From Regal:
    I have a new +P capable Airweight 642, but I use standard pressure loads (110 grain Silvertip). They are easier to shoot well, and much better for a rapid, aimed second shot, than hotter loads.

    If you have a J-frame, you might consider investing in Crimson Trace grips, depending on how well you shoot quickly at SD ranges (say, 21 feet) without a sight picture. I find them invaluable, to the extent that the lack of availability of those grips for a Colt Detective Special is the only factor that would keep me from getting one of those or a Cobra.

    Good luck.
     
  11. regal

    regal Member

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    I am sort of odd in that I shoot better with this snub than any of my other handguns (even my Makarov.) I am one of those who just do better with a revolver and the J frame fits my hands perfectly.

    Thanks for the info
     
  12. wrxguyusa

    wrxguyusa Member

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    I'd consider looking into these standard pressure rounds:

    The price is a bit shocking, but the performance might be worth it?

    Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure Short Barrel Heavy .38 Special

    158gr. very soft lead cast, SWC-HC gas checked bullet
    854 fps (256 ft. lbs.) from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

    Very hard cast 150gr. WAD CUTTER bullet
    868 fps (251 ft. lbs.)from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel

    Speer Low Velocity uni-core 125 gr. Jacketed hollow cavity
    921 fps (235 ft. lbs.) from S&W mod. 60, 2 inch barrel
     
  13. Yo Mama

    Yo Mama Member

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    Was just reading Ayoob book, and this was his favorite. Glad to hear it's coming back.
     
  14. salthouse

    salthouse Member

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    I think the 38 spl non +P is more than adequate as a personal defense round.

    But, if you want to get something that is +P capable, why not!

    I'm not an expert but I would bet most PD situations happen inside of 7yds, probably inside of 3yds. A lot of rounds are capable inside of 3 yds.

    A little off topic but I'm not surprised at your ability to shoot better with the snubbie than the Mak. A buddy of mine has a Russian Mak that cannot come close to outshooting my Kel-tec. I think they vary a lot in accuracy/quality.
     
  15. oneounceload

    oneounceload member

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    Since you might be using them to save your life, you need to ask yourself if YOU'RE worth the few extra dollars?
     
  16. mbt2001

    mbt2001 Member

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    The .38 special is a capable defensive round and has a well vetted history. Agreed, it isn't the .45, but it is a fine round.

    Carry with confidence.

    I hear that all the time... At the end of the day, if you are carrying a firearm you are betting your life on series of $0.02 cent springs working in conjunction to pop a $0.01 primer.

    Shoot a few loads of various rounds, ranging from combat to target and whichever one shoots best out of your pistol for you then use it. Focus on "double taps". From a J frame, most hollow points do not have enough velocity to open widely, so it is something to consider.
     
  17. exflatlander

    exflatlander Member

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    I found some standard pressure 125gr Hornady XTPs yesterday that I have read good things about. I will hopefully get to try them out tomorrow if it stops snowing.
     
  18. wrxguyusa

    wrxguyusa Member

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    Yes, we all know how important we are, I was more referring to other quality ammunition on the market. I don't know if these cartridges are the best and the price is on the high side. Pricey exotic rounds are not always better, but these look good on paper.

    off-topic: Buffalo Bore does make some amazing 325gr 45 colt +P very fun to shoot, still waiting to use it on a boar and see what it does.
     
  19. okespe04

    okespe04 Member

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    yes .38 is fine. It was used by police for many decades, and many people carry, and own .38 revolvers with confidence.
     
  20. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    If I were to shoot a non +p load from my .38 for defense I think I would use some of my LSWC.
     
  21. JFrame

    JFrame Member

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    I have to get my hands on some of these Buffalo Bore loads -- they look quite intriguing...

    :)
     
  22. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Member

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    I think those buffalo bore loads are the best you can get in standard pressure .38 special loads. Thing is they will recoil like a +P, there is just no getting around the physics of if all.

    Still, in this case pressure is pressure and your gun will be fine.

    Get them (if you wish) and carry with confidence.
     
  23. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Yes it is.
     
  24. mainmech48

    mainmech48 Member

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    With the advances in projectile technology in the last several years, I'd say "yes". The days when you needed a solid 900-1000 f/s to get reliable terminal performance from an expanding bullet are long over.

    Now they can engineer and build a bullet to deliver it's optimum terminal performance within about any given set of velocity parameters. You've still got to put it where it counts most, but your chances of it opening up and dumping its maximum energy there have never been better.
     
  25. rondog

    rondog Member

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    It sure ain't a hunting round.....
     
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