In my experience ( 25 years as a street cop) 38 wadcutters suck worse than anything else for personal protection. They are designed for low recoil target shooting. If you were to say increase the velocity to about 1000 fps, then you would have something.
BuffaloBore does a good job getting a 150gr WC going 850 FPSish from a 2" vented barrel at standard 38spl pressure. I can do the same at +P, shot placement will decide if the load is adequate.