I gathered together a sample of my handgun cartridges. All of the ones pictured below are potentially lethal. They all
penetrate well enough to go through the sternum and into, or out the back of the spine of a any unarmoured, full grown human. Same goes for the cranium of the same.
No one in there right mind would want to be shot with one of them. If you are thinking right now, that there are any cartridges in the photo below, that you are not
afraid of being shot with...well, I can't tell you what I really think of you, because of the forum rules.
Since this thread is about the .38 Special cartridge/.357 caliber lets focus on those.
from the left:
Remington .38 Special 158 grain LRN(Lead Round Nose), Remington 158 grain LSWC-HP(Lead Semi Wadcutter-Hollow Point), handloaded .38 Special +P 173 grain KT(Keith Type), Winchester .38 Special +P 130 grain SXT(Supreme Expansion Technology), handloaded .357 Magnum 180 grain Nosler Partition-HG(Handgun), handloaded .357 Magnum 158 grain LSWC.
I would feel confident defending myself with any of those. My current .38 Special SD(Self Defense) projectiles are the 135 grain Speer SB
(Short Barrel). In .357 its the 180 grain Nosler Partiton HG
If my .38 was loaded with SWC though, I wouldn't be worried. If my .357 Magnum was loaded with SWC, I wouldn't be either.
If the reader's favorite .357 projectile wasn't mentioned in this post, don't feel bad, my opinion is pretty much the same about the rest too.
Why do I load the 180 grain Nosler Partition-HG
for SD? Some might wonder. Why instead of a 125 grain Gold Dot, 158 grain XTP, etc, etc do you choose it? Its the one I like thats why. In truth, I wouldn't feel bad with any of the premium HP projectiles. I just like the Nosler HG. It performs awesome in meat and in the FBI protocols. It acts similar to the Barnes bullets in expansion and its heavy lead base carries it on through things like bone and windshield glass.
You pick the projectile that you want to be shot with, I'll pass and pick none.