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Non +P .38 Special ammo?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by gadget_man39, Nov 24, 2010.

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  1. gadget_man39

    gadget_man39 Member

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    Greetings fellow shooters! I would like to tap into the wealth of knowledge here on THR.

    I'm seeking recommendations for good standard .38 Special loads for use in a 70's vintage Colt Agent revolver. Colt does not recommend the use of +P ammunition in this gun. Suggestions for practice and SD rounds would be appreciated.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2010
  2. Oyeboten

    Oyeboten Member

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    Standard Loadings of anyone's Factory 158 Grain Semi-Wad Cutters would be good for general Target Shooting, and, should hit to something close to if not right on, for Point of Aim.


    Where's the images of the little Snubulator?
     
  3. SergeantC

    SergeantC Member

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    Buffalo Bore makes standard pressure 125 & 18 gr hollowpoints, and Federal recently put the NyClad back into production as a 125 gr standard pressure round.
     
  4. wrs840

    wrs840 Member

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    For a standard practice round I like PMC Bronze 132gr FMJ.

    For a SD round in a non+P I suppose Buffalo Bore #20C 158gr Soft Lead SWC-HC Hollowpoints might be the ticket, assuming your Colt Agent is a 2-1/6" bbl.

    Les
     
  5. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Of course it needs to be mentioned that current "+P" is about the same power as standard pressure ammo when your gun was made.

    38 Specials have been emasculated
     
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    IMO you're in luck because what I consider to be one of the best none +P .38 Special ammo is back on the market, the Federal Nyclad ammo. It's extremely accurate in my 1975 vintage S&W M36 and my Colt Detective.
     
  7. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    What Guillermo said is true...

    What is now regarded as +P is really what we used 40-50 years ago as a "STANDARD" load for the 38 special. A few of the older alloy guns failed because of the inherent weakness of those metals and because of the fear of lawsuits it was down loaded. That said, there are several excellent loads that will work just as well with the newer ammo that was mentioned such as the Federal NYCLAD that I use. Also Hornady critical defense has been shown to go through fabric at lower velocities and open up very well. The new ammo today is by far superior to what we had back then.
     
  8. Creature

    Creature Member

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    For self defense, I will ONLY carry Buffalo Bore 158gr LSWCHP Standard Pressure loads in my old S&W Chief's Special. Heavy hitting and shoots POA for short barrel snubbies.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. dogsoldier0513

    dogsoldier0513 Member

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    Are you SURE about the 'No +Ps' from Colt? Massad Ayoob has stated that even the aluminum-framed Colts, i.e. Agents, Cobras, etc, produced from 1968 on, can safely fire in excess of 5,000 +P loads w/o damage. When I carried a Colt Agent as a BUG (ca. 1989-1992), I qualified with and carried it Federal 129 gr. +P HSs.

    If you reload, try 3.2 grs. W-W W231 and either a 148 gr. wadcutter or a 150-160 gr. semi-wadcutter.
     
  10. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    Colt does not recommend using +P loads in any...

    of the early aluminum frame guns. I have 2 of them made in the 1960-65 years and was told by them not to use +P ammo in them. I do not know what the cut off date is for that but if you call Colt at !-800-962-Colt they will give you the info. With all the "New" ammo that is being made for the snubby that will do the job at low velocity with good expansion and penetration , the extra recoil with +P ammo in these light weight guns might not be needed.
     
  11. HOWARD J

    HOWARD J Member

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    I have used +P ammo in my old alum frame S & W 38 spl.
    After about 6 rounds the frame moved about 1000 " & I sanded it down & never used
    +P again. Now I reload ammo for this gun//////////////////
     
  12. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    I just re-read the chapter from Ed Lovette's Book...

    "The snubby revolver". In his first book he recommended +P in steel frame guns . And in his 2nd edition he recommends Magsafe defender loads now for alloy guns and +P magsafe for steel guns. I have a Colt Agent that was made in 1984 anfd have shot +P in it but do not like that much recoil at age 70 now so I use the Federal NYCLAD. I also carry the Colt magnum carry sometimes with 125gr 357 magnum but it is not fun to shoot.
     
  13. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Wish I could find a Magnum Carry that I was willing to buy.

    That is a great gun that is largely overlooked in the sea of revolvers, probably because they made so few.
     
  14. Matt018

    Matt018 Member

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    I would say Speer Lawman, They are fmj and they shoot great out of my swith and wesson snubbie.
     
  15. RSVP2RIP

    RSVP2RIP Member

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    I have a Colt Cobra (same thing only different grips/fiinish) and shooting a couple of +P is not going to be detrimental...however, I am told that after 1000 rounds you need to send the gunback to Colt so they can measure the frame opening to see if it is streched. Even on the steel framed detectives and such, you need to do it every 5000 rounds. I'm not sure where I read it but I want to say in a letter from Colt. I'd like to err on the side of caution so you don't wear somthing out first and just use the Buffalo Bore #20C load. It's also what I use.
     
  16. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    The misinformation concerning +P is truly amazing.

    First off +P ammo will not "stretch" the frame of any Colt. Not alloy and CERTAINLY not steel. That is urban legend.

    Here are the facts
    Prior to 1974 standard pressure 158 LRN grain factory load was rated at 855 FPS.
    "Hi-Speed" loads were rated at 1,090 FPS.

    todays 158 grain load is rated at 755 FPS.
    The +P is rated at 890 FPS

    Look at the numbers.
    Today's +P ammo is barely (4%) more powerful than the standard ammo that Colt said that you could shoot with aplomb.

    Shoot what you want...but do NOT buy into the marketing hyperbole about +P ammo.

    Do not shoot +P+ without knowing the pressure of that particular cartridge. There is NO industry standard for +P+.
     
  17. marsofold

    marsofold Member

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    I have the same gun with the same pressure concerns. I use Federal 125 grain HP Nyclads obtained at GB to feed it. Standard pressure, low recoil, and known performance. The Buffalo Bore 158gr LSWCHP Standard Pressure loads do look interesting, though. Wouldn't mind seeing some gelatin expansion data on it. For targets I use Remington 130 grain MC (full metal jacket) because the bullet weight is close enough to my nyclads to keep the POI the same and I can get them cheap at Walmart.
     
  18. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    facts are no match for the power of the urban legend
     
  19. FCDeputy1911

    FCDeputy1911 Member

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    I have used Winchester 125 grain silver tips and Hornaday Critical Defense Ammo 110 grain flex tip. Both do well for me .
     
  20. duns

    duns Member

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    Guillermo, the muzzle velocity is 4% higher but energy is proportional to velocity squared so 8% higher. Stress could be supposed proportional to energy and fatigue damage to stress to the power 3 or 4. which means fatigue damage might be 27%-38% faster. Maybe the recommendation to use non P+ is to prolong the life of the gun not to prevent it being stretched beyond use at the first shot?
     
  21. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    While the little Colt D-frame snubbies are excellent revolvers in many ways, they have one weakness in that the cylinder is latched only at the back, and not at the crane (best) or end of the ejector rod (next best). The excessive use of Plus-P loads can result in a sprung crane that no longer fits tightly against the frame. This is not a hard condition to fix, but finding someone who knows how to do it can be. One of my personal Detective Special's dates from the middle 1950's and is still as tight and well timed as the day it came out of the factory, but I have made a point of being careful what I feed it because I consider some of the stuff on the market today to be too hot for the platform on one side, and unnecessary if the shooter does his/her part on the other. On those rare occasions when I feel that a snubby won't do what needs to be done I switch to a heavier/larger gun. A snubby can give you only so much, and after that what you have is muzzle blast and flash.
     
  22. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    the recommendation to not use +P is because of lawyers

    If it were up to the manufacturers and their shysters they would recommend that you not shoot 38 +P out of Model 27s.
     
  23. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

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    The misinformation concerning +P is truly amazing.


    But don't confuse pressure and velocity. You can have a higher pressure load that gives you less velocity than a lower pressure load. Also consider that prior to the 70s, velocities were measured in non vented test barrels. This would give you a higher velocity than you'll ever get in a revolver. Today they are measured in vented barrels (duplicates cylinder gap loss) or in actual handguns.

    Back to the OP's question. I like the Remington 158 SWC standard pressure load. It is also one of the most accurate factory loads I have ever used. I also like 148 wadcutters in short barrel revolvers for a multitude of reasons that have been discussed countless times.
     
  24. gadget_man39

    gadget_man39 Member

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    Thanks guys for some great suggestions! You've given me several options to explore. I'm thinking about learning how to roll my own too! This Colt Agent has been in the family for a considerable length of time and was handed down to me, so I really don't want to do something that would damage it or cause premature wear and tear.

    Thanks for all your replies!
     
  25. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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