Lethality vs incapation....
Some of the forum members seem to confuse lethality with incapation(stopping power). A bullet may cause a lethal wound if the damage is severe but that injury may take TIME. A well engineered load(+P, frangible, JHP, etc) may increase the incapation or speed up the reaction(stopping power).
The short barrel(2-3") & smaller caliber(.38) create harder requirements for a duty/self defense round.
In order to assess a .38spl round's value, you should go by how well it performs with test media(FBI protocol/gel-milk jugs-wood-auto glass-etc) & real, documented use of force incidents.
PS: Author & sworn LE officer; Massad Ayoob wrote that he uses the Buffalo Bore 158gr lead SWC-HP +P over other brands. He also said the Speer Gold Dot 135gr JHP +P was a solid choice.