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Old October 19, 2013, 09:21 AM   #1
The Rattler
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Best Personal Defense Rounds

I have S & W L frame 686 and j frame 642. I'm relatively new to handguns & want the best personal defense rounds for them. So far, it seems that the weight of the bullet is of prime importance; e.g. 125 grain, 130, and 135 grain. Hornady touts its polimar tip preventing clothing from stopping the bullet expansion, but it is only 110 grain bullet. They may not penetrate enough. There are also 150+ & 180+ grain, but I have heard they are so big, the may not expand at all.

Can your voices of experience help me sort through all of this?
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Old October 19, 2013, 09:34 AM   #2
militant
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Remington 125 gr jsp or whatever you can shoot the most accurate.
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Old October 19, 2013, 09:39 AM   #3
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What I can tell you is this. In my 642, all I carry is the 135 gr. short barrel load. Keeping in mind that this load was developed at the request of the largest PD in the world, and they made the rules as to what they wanted, I feel quite confidant it will do exactly what I want it to.
Recoil is sharp, and takes a bit of getting used to, but I have no doubt as to the effectiveness of the load.
As for the L frame, the old FBI load should be just dandy.
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Old October 19, 2013, 10:55 AM   #4
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In .357 magnum, I carry the Federal 125gr jhp loading, box code 357B. This loading has an excellent track record in real world use. It has the highest percentage of one stop shots out of any loading in any caliber.
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Old October 19, 2013, 11:23 AM   #5
Mike Irwin
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I've started carrying Speer 135-gr. +P Gold Dot.

Shot some out of my 2" Model 042 into a trashcan full of water. Expansion was excellent.
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Old October 19, 2013, 11:28 AM   #6
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I will tell you what I keep on hand and then offer you a bit of advice.

135 grain Speer Gold Dots in 38 and the 125 grain in 357. They are the best in my opinion. That said my HKS speed loaders are filled with the Hornady because the cone shape guides the round into the cylinder nicely and they have a special type of crimp to prevent bullet set back (the Gold Dots do as well).

That said, go on YouTube and search for "ammo test + (your caliber of choice)". You will find some great work done by intelligent people showing penetration, expansion, etc. TNoutdoors9 is one of my favorites and he is one of maybe 2-3 channels that I subscribe to.
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Old October 19, 2013, 12:02 PM   #7
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I have watched a lot of TNoutdoors9 ammo review videos. They are very informative.
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Old October 19, 2013, 06:01 PM   #8
ClydeFrog
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Guns & Ammo...

In general nearly any 125gr JHP .357magnum brand will do very well.
I often used Remington Golden Saber 125gr JHP rounds in my Ruger SP101.
Other brands include DPX, Federal 125gr JHP, Speer Gold Dot 125gr or 110gr JHP, Glaser Silver Safety Slug, Magsafe.
For .38spl; Speer Gold Dot 135gr JHP +P, Buffalo Bore 158gr lead SWC HP +P, Magsafe SWAT, DPX, Ranger T/T Series.

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PS: only use factory ammunition too, no hand loads or reloads for defense.
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Old October 19, 2013, 06:31 PM   #9
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I know your 642 is a snubby. But I'm curious what the barrel length of your 686 is.

For the 642, Mike Irwin, engineer88, and I think alike: It's the Speer 135g GDHP SB +P. Great short barrel round. In fact, it's my home protection round in a 686+ w/ 3" barrel.

The best personal defense round is the one you're comfortable shooting.

Getting to bullet weights: all things being equal, heavier is better. But guess what? . . . all things are never equal. Ultimately you want penetration. It's mass (weight) that penetrates. Physics 101. Without proper penetration, you've got nothing. Expansion is important; but only after penetration. Makes sense? I think sometimes we shooters can't see the forest for the trees. We tend to overthink and get into too much minutiae.

So a heavier bullet is better. Right? Not so fast. . .

There's also overpenetration - especially in a public setting. Basic Firearm Rule #3: Be certain of your target and what is behind it. And at low velocities, a heavy bullet may not expand enough to deliver its energy into its intended target and pass on through to do collateral damage to that dreaded place called lawsuit city. This is where lighter bullets start to look attractive

I could go on. This is a huge subject. But I'm typing this while at work. Somebody relieve me, and take over please
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Old October 24, 2013, 08:28 AM   #10
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Rem golden saber 125

I carry a 3 inch GP-100 right now with Remington 38 Special 125gr Golden Saber rounds. Low muzzle flash, manageable recoil, and I had the opportunity to test one on an opossum inside my chicken coop. The results were very impressive. I have complete faith in that round.
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Old October 24, 2013, 10:36 AM   #11
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in my J frame revolvers, I carry a load using the Sierra 140 grain JHP, over Blue Dot powder. It is very accurate in my revolvers, and expands well in test media.
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Old October 24, 2013, 11:20 AM   #12
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Best Personal Defense Rounds
The ones in the gun in my hand...
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Old October 24, 2013, 04:06 PM   #13
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For your 642, the two best commonly available self-defense loadings seem to be Speer 135gr +P Short Barrel Gold Dot and Remington 158gr +P LSWCHP (sometimes referred to as the "FBI Load" though it was actually Winchester's version used by the FBI).

In .357 Magnum for your 686 (though there wouldn't be anything wrong with using the same .38 +P ammo as your 642) you've got lots of options. Most anything in the 125gr weight will be quite good so long as it's a hollowpoint including Remington 125gr Golden Saber, Hornady 125gr Critical Defense, Speer 125gr Gold Dot, Cor-Bon 125gr DPX or the 125gr SJHP loadings from Federal, Winchester, and Remington. If you want a touch heavier bullet, Federal 130gr Hydra-Shok, Cor-Bon 140gr JHP, Winchester 145gr Silvertip, or one of the 158gr SJHP loadings from Winchester, Remington, or Federal are also excellent. Really, about the only JHP's that I don't recommend in .357 Magnum are the various 110gr loadings due to shallow penetration or Speer 158gr Gold Dot, Federal 158gr Hydra-Shok, and any 180gr HP due to lackluster expansion.
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Old October 26, 2013, 07:32 AM   #14
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Golden Saber 125 gr. More than enough to take care of business and much easier on your ears and eyes should you need to fire with no protection, which IS important.
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Old October 26, 2013, 02:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by The Rattler
I have S & W L frame 686 and j frame 642. I'm relatively new to handguns & want the best personal defense rounds for them. So far, it seems that the weight of the bullet is of prime importance; e.g. 125 grain, 130, and 135 grain. Hornady touts its polimar tip preventing clothing from stopping the bullet expansion, but it is only 110 grain bullet. They may not penetrate enough. There are also 150+ & 180+ grain, but I have heard they are so big, the may not expand at all.

Can your voices of experience help me sort through all of this?
I carry Fiocchi® 158gr XTP in my 357 Magnum; and Buffalo Bore® Standard Pressure 158gr LSWCHCGC in my 5 shot 38 Special.
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Old October 26, 2013, 10:47 PM   #16
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For your 686 I would go with any major manufacturer of 357 158gr ammo. Whether it expands or not, you'll get the penetration you need.
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Old October 27, 2013, 05:53 AM   #17
rebs
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Quote:
PS: only use factory ammunition too, no hand loads or reloads for defense.
why no hand loads for self defense ?
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Old October 27, 2013, 07:06 AM   #18
Brian Pfleuger
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Best Personal Defense Rounds

In the interest of not derailing the thread, please see this thread for information about using hand loads for self defense.
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Old October 27, 2013, 08:55 AM   #19
rebs
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Thank you Brian
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Old October 27, 2013, 05:59 PM   #20
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Rattler the best ammo for you is the brand and bullet style you are the most accurate with, so a little trial and error may well be in order. For myself in my .357 Magnum revolvers I use a 158Gr LSWC over 14.5 grains of 2400, or the Buffalo Bore 38/44 +P round, which can be rather pricy.
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Old October 27, 2013, 06:48 PM   #21
blackwaterstout
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Re: Best Personal Defense Rounds

Not sure how good it is but I have Hornady critical defense rounds in my 9mm right now. I've never had to use it but I've fired off a mag full of it to see how it shot. Seemed okay to me
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Old October 27, 2013, 09:52 PM   #22
Andy Blozinski
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For snub nose pistols, you should get the heaviest weight bullet in the style of bullet that you feel is the best.
Some time back a person on this list posted a site that had some test data. The tester had fired a bunch of different bullets and calibers through various pistols. The most interesting thing I noticed was that heavier bullets suffered less relative velocity degradation than lighter bullets when used in shorter barrels. I'll pull some numbers out of the air to clarify what I mean. When going from a 4" barrel to a 2" barrel, a 125 grain bullet might have suffered a 30% degradation in muzzle velocity, while a 158 grain bullet maybe only suffered 20%. The end result was that the heavier bullets ended up having favorable muzzle energies. Heavier bullets will tend to plough through bone better due to momentum. So, if you get muzzle energies from a heavier bullet that a similar to the lighter bullet, you get the best of both worlds. You will always lose something when going to a shorter barrel but you lose less with a heavier bullet.
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Old October 27, 2013, 10:34 PM   #23
ClydeFrog
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Post #17, recent "high profile trial"...

To answer post #17:
I advise not to use hand loads for general defense because you may need to explain or demonstrate the firearm's ballistics in court.
A civil lawyer or a prosecutor may make a issue of it too.
Just like the recent "high profile trial" in central Florida, you & your statements/actions will be under intense scrutiny after a critical incident.
A criminalist or crime lab tech could testify that your handloads couldn't be tested or be compared to any other ammunition the same way factory rounds could.
Some shark fin lawyer or some asst DA looking for media attention will make a big issue of using handloads.
I often suggest to forum members that they use LE grade factory rounds that can be shown to work properly & be authorized by public safety agencies.
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Old October 27, 2013, 11:11 PM   #24
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I'll second tnoutdoors9's videos on youtube because he's done alot of testing with both the .38 and .357 defensive loads, including several out of short barreled revolvers. Brassfetcher.com also has some ballistics gel test with both calibers, just be sure to check the barrel lengths in the test. Compared to a service length barrel (say 4 to 6 inches), a snub nose produces much less velocity and bullets may not expand (and non-expanding bullets go through lots of stuff before stopping).

Loads that seem to get good penetration and expansion in both snub nose and full-size guns are the +P all lead 158 hollowpoint semiwadcutter, the 125 +P Golden Sabre and the 135 +P Short Barrel Gold Dot. All these loads will work in both the 642 and 686. After you get comfortable with hot .38 specials in the 686, you might want to try the 125 gr jacketed hollowpoints in the .357 mag. Most consider them as some of best defensive loads ever produced. They will be loud and have some recoil, so double up on your hearing protection and go back to .38s if you start flinching.
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Old October 28, 2013, 12:52 AM   #25
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For a J-frame, I like CorBon DPX. It's one of the best for penetration and expansion and the recoil is tolerable.
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