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Old February 9, 2009, 09:49 AM   #1
FyredUp
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FMJ vs HP for self defense

I am sure this question has been asked a million, if not a billion times here, but here goes again.

I have a .38 revolver and a 9mm and .45 autos. I tend to buy round nose lead for the .38 since it is cheap and I guess right or wrong this pistol would probably be my last choice for self defense anyways. For the 9mm and the .45 I have split my purchases between FMJ and HP with FMJ being the majority. I have been wondering of late, especially after reading the Miami shoot out thread if perhaps I am better off just buying FMJ and skipping the HP all together. Monetarily it makes sense since FMJ is cheaper, but I am not sure it makes sense from a self defense standpoint.

Also if anyone has a better idea for ammunition for the .38 I am all ears. It is a S&W Model 10 M&P and is at least 45 years old.

Thanks.
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Old February 9, 2009, 10:13 AM   #2
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Boss, the Miami FBI shootout was in 1986. Keep that in mind.

There are few popular rounds that penetrate as much as 9mm FMJ. That's through walls, through people, through obstacles... it's not a good choice for anywhere other than the range. (and it's a lousy choice for the battle field, but that's a whole other discussion)

Modern hollow point ammo is much better for defense in a 9mm. It's less important, but still important in a .45. In .38, I'd choose lead SWC over FMJ, and HP over FMJ.

45-year old S&W model 10 is not rated for +P ammo. I would shoot much, if any hot defense ammo through it, but that's not to say you couldn't get away with a few rounds. They do make non+P .38 Special defense ammo... Federal makes a 110 grain low-recoil Hydra-Shock and Hornady makes a 125-grain non+P loading.
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Old February 9, 2009, 10:22 AM   #3
Al Thompson
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Get some 135 Gold Dot +P JHPs for your .38. If your worried about the gun wearing out due to the +P, just shoot a cylinder full to check POI/POA.

Agree with Sevens - take that argument far enough (one instance in one gunfight) and you could drive yourself nuts. Never mentioned is the two documented "shoot throughs" that happened in NY using 9mm ball. That was reportedly why they switched to 9mm JHPs.
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Old February 9, 2009, 10:27 AM   #4
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First, shooting +P through an old S&W mod. 10 is not a big issue. I had a model 10 that I put lots of +P ammo through...no problem. The fact is most modern over the counter .38 +P is not all that hot anyway.

As far as FMJ. I find that FMJ brands like American Eagle, S&B, and Fiocchi runs hotter than most other brands.

As far as the argument about which to use in SD......that argument should be settled in about the next two hundred years or so.
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Old February 9, 2009, 10:31 AM   #5
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In standard (non+p) .38spl, I'd suggest winchester silvertip 110gr JHP's.

For defensive handgun rounds, you want something with adequate penetration but also something that puts its energy into the target. The problem with FMJ is over-penetration, which means it exits the target with a lot of it's energy unspent. Sure it's effective if you hit a vital target (heart, liver, head-shot and so forth), but there is also a lot of body mass where it's just going to go clean through with minimal effect.

So I would say, for your self defense ammo, always keep some good quality HP's on hand. I too buy mostly FMJ, for range use. But I also have a smaller stock of JHP's for all my calibers (9mm, .38/.357 and .45acp). I will usually shoot off some of it every 3-6 months in a practice session, and promptly replace whatever I've used up.
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Old February 9, 2009, 11:04 AM   #6
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I have been keeping my 9mm and my .45 with magazines loaded with hollowpoints. But lately I have been considering keeping one for each loaded with HP and one with FMJ. I have 230 grain HP's for the .45 and I think they are 147 grain HP's for the 9mm.

I asked the guy at my local gunstore for a recommendation for hollow points for my .38 and he said he wouldn't go that route. Any ideas why? I guess one of the reasons I kind of rejected the .38 as a defense weapon is one of the things at my impromptu range is an old 55 gallon drum and while the 9mm, .45 and even .22 hollowpoints go through this thing like crazy about a third or so of the .38 round nose lead bounce off. I have picked them up off the ground in front of the barrel. I am using MagTech ammo since it is cheap and for plinking it is fine. But defensively this has made me believe this round is completely inadequate.

Last edited by FyredUp; February 9, 2009 at 11:12 AM.
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Old February 9, 2009, 11:26 AM   #7
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For the safety of others around you, and the lawyer stuff, definitely use HP.

Two reasons: safer for you and others who might unwittingly be in the line of fire, and less safe for the bad guy.

I carry Federal Tactical HST 124 gr HP in my 9mm Glock 26. This ammunition cycles great, you can get it in +P as well. Also, the recoil is not significantly more than a 115 fmj.

Other JHP are just as effective as well. All good rounds, leaps and bounds ahead of the 1980's.
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Old February 9, 2009, 11:29 AM   #8
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*Bangs head against wall.

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Old February 9, 2009, 11:35 AM   #9
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In my revolvers, I usually opt for SWC or Hollow points. I do worry a bit about over-penetration with FMJ 357's.

For my auto's, I pretty much only carry a 45acp. I used to load up with HP's, but I find myself less particular these days. I will load it with FMJ's just as often as HP's and not worry about it. Actually, I occassionally prefer FMJ's so as not to worry about feeding issues, but I never really had any with JHP's either, come to think of it.

If I am carrying something small, such as a .32, I always load FMJ for the extra (adequate) penetration.

For your 9mm, I would suggest JHP's.
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Old February 9, 2009, 11:45 AM   #10
FyredUp
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Quote:
goodspeed(TPF): *Bangs head against wall.
Dude! Stop that!! It doesn't help and will only give you a headache.

Now tell me why you are banging your head against the wall?
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Old February 9, 2009, 11:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
the .38 round nose lead bounce off.
Quote:
But defensively this has made me believe this round is completely inadequate.

from the left, .38 Special standard velocity 158 grain LRN, 130 grain Win SXT, 125 grain Sierra hand load, 173 grain Keith Type hand load, Remington 158 grain LSWC-HP +P, .45 ACP 230 grain FMJ WCC 78 Match.



Actually the .38 Special is quite adeqate for defense, it has proven itself to be many times, even with the LRN. So is the .45 ACP FMJ, I feel like the 9 mm FMJ will work also, but it is a deeper penetrator than the .45 ACP and in its full metal jacket guise does less tissue damage.

I myself would have no problem using any of the loads in my picture for defense. However the .38 load that, in my opinion, that comes closest to being as effective as the 230 grain .45 ACP FMJ, is the 158 grain LSWC-HP. I would have no qualms about using it in a Model 10 S&W, in fact I use it in my 1929 vintage Colt Police Positive, in moderation. It is tried and true and effective.





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Old February 9, 2009, 12:07 PM   #12
FyredUp
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double post...sorry for the inconvenience.

MOVE ALONG NOTHING TO SEE HERE FOLKS
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Old February 9, 2009, 12:08 PM   #13
FyredUp
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Quote:
nate45: I myself would have no problem using any of the loads in my picture for defense. However the .38 load that, in my opinion, that comes closest to being as effective as the 230 grain .45 ACP FMJ, is the 158 grain LSWC-HP. I would have no qualms about using it in a Model 10 S&W, in fact I use it in my 1929 vintage Colt Police Positive. It is tried and true and effective.
So who makes the 158 grain LSWC-HP round? I am willing to give it a try.

Thanks
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Old February 9, 2009, 12:15 PM   #14
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Stick with a quality HP as much as possible.
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Old February 9, 2009, 12:16 PM   #15
nate45
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Winchester, Federal, Remington and Buffalo Bore all produce good quality 158 grain Lead Semi Wadcutter Hollow Points.

According to Stephen Camp the Remington is slightly softer lead and consequently gives slightly better expansion than the harder lead of the Winchester and Federal offerings, especially in snub nose revolvers.. I use the Remington myself, but I have used the Federal and Winchester in the past. I have never used the Buffalo Bore, but I have seen several credible members of this forum and others recommend it.
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Old February 9, 2009, 12:21 PM   #16
FyredUp
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Thanks.

Next time I am at either the gun store or gander Mountain I will see what I can find.
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Old February 9, 2009, 01:55 PM   #17
The Great Mahoo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FyredUp
Next time I am at either the gun store or gander Mountain I will see what I can find.
A word of caution here. I never buy ammo from Gander Mountain. There isn't anything inherently wrong with it, but I find it to be atleast 30% higher than any other store in town. Even the ammo at the local pistol range is cheaper, and its marked up for a convenience charge.
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Old February 9, 2009, 08:03 PM   #18
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My first choice for .38 ammo is Corbon DPX which uses an all copper 110 gr bullet. My second choice is the Remington LSWCHP.

Both offer good penetration and expansion even after passing thru several layers of clothing.
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