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Old July 4, 2012, 10:19 AM   #76
Tom Servo
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Just curious, but if the .38 Special IS so special, WHY have the vast majority of police departments left not only the .38 Sprcial, but the 9MM (which is also .38 caliber) for the .40 S&W?
Neither bullet is .38". The .38 uses a .357" bullet, and the 9mm uses a .355" bullet.

The switchover was due to many factors, and wasn't an outright repudiation of the merits of the .38.

First off, officers don't shoot as well as they used to, and the "solution" was a gun that held more rounds.

Second, the Glock pistols and their ilk are lighter than service revolvers.

Third, the FBI was involved in a botched shootout in which the 9mm was deemed inadequate against homicidal former Rangers with .223 rifles. The bullet that "failed" actually performed quite well, but they chose to blame hardware in the aftermath, so they went with the 10mm.

That didn't work out, so they drained a bunch of powder out, made a smaller cartridge, and the .40 S&W was the resulting compromise.
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Old July 4, 2012, 11:50 AM   #77
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The 44 Special is actually .429, which is only 20% larger than a 357 magnum/38 Special without any expansion. With the velocity of the 357 you can get bullets that expand to over twice their original dimensions as seen here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxXTN...ure=plpp_video

.754 >>>>>>>>> .429 >> .357


I actually carry a 9mm as my daily carry gun and I am fine with the 12"-14" of penetration and roughly .65" of expansion I can expect from the Federal HST.
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Old July 4, 2012, 01:45 PM   #78
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As to +P and magnum loads...I wouldn't use a caliber if that's what's required to make them effective.
I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I don't understand this statement at all. To me thats like saying you'd find a turbo or super charged engine less effective than the engine by itself.
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Old July 4, 2012, 01:51 PM   #79
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As to +P and magnum loads...I wouldn't use a caliber if that's what's required to make them effective.
Just to clarify, there are no circumstances where one would be able to safely use a "magnum" load to make a non-magnum caliber more effective. (The only possible exception would be the Hornady "Light Magnum" ammunition series, but that's rifle ammunition and isn't really applicable to this discussion.)

Either a caliber is a magnum caliber and the use of magnum ammunition is safe, or it's not a magnum caliber and the use of magnum ammunition is unsafe. Basically all that to say that you can't use .357Magnum ammunition in a .38Spl to make it more effective. It shouldn't chamber, for one thing, and if it did, it would be dangerous to fire it.

I'm torn on +P ammunition. Generally speaking, I'm a big fan of not trying to make things do things they're not really designed to do. However, .38Spl was originally designed to be a blackpowder cartridge, so there's an argument to be made that virtually any .38spl ammunition you purchase does something the caliber wasn't originally intended to do. I think, within reason, the use of +P in some calibers makes a lot of sense.
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Old July 4, 2012, 02:02 PM   #80
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"I don't mean to be disrespectful, but I don't understand this statement at all. To me thats like saying you'd find a turbo or super charged engine less effective than the engine by itself.'

The purpose of using +P loadings in the past was to insure expansion when the bullet impacted things like leather coats or heavy denim. But modern bullets like the Speer Gold Dot, Winchester PDX-1, And Hornady Critical Defense have made +P ammunition obsolete. +P adds additional wear and tear on the firearm that isn't necessary. Or in your car comparison, it would be the equivalent of driving a Funny Car to the grocery store to go shopping.

Last edited by Deputy276; July 4, 2012 at 02:09 PM.
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Old July 4, 2012, 02:08 PM   #81
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Actually, the .44 Special diameter is .432
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.44_Special

And when you are talking about using something as small as a revolver/pistol vs a human body, you need every advantage in bullet size you can get.
In other words, "bigger holes make deader souls".
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Old July 4, 2012, 02:18 PM   #82
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Actually, the .44 Special diameter is .432
It's .429", same as the .44 Magnum.

I'm not sure why wiki says .432", but it's wrong.
Quote:
But modern bullets like the Speer Gold Dot, Winchester PDX-1, And Hornady Critical Defense have made +P ammunition obsolete.
All of the ammo/bullets you're talking about are available loaded in .38spl +P.

http://www.speer-ammo.com/ballistics...x?loadNo=23720

http://www.hornady.com/store/38-Spec...tical-Defense/

http://www.winchester.com/PRODUCTS/h...es/S38PDB.aspx

Clearly even with the modern bullets, Speer, Hornady & Winchester feel it's still worthwhile to provide +P loadings that use them.

I suggest that rather than coming up with a personal theory of handgun terminal performance and then casting about for any scrap of data that could possibly be twisted to support it, you instead research the topic and then come up with a theory that fits the data.
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Old July 4, 2012, 02:30 PM   #83
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Also from Wikipedia...

"The .44 Remington Magnum, or simply .44 Magnum, is a large-bore cartridge originally designed for revolvers. After introduction, it was quickly adopted for carbines and rifles. Despite the ".44" designation, all guns chambered for the .44 Magnum case, and its parent case, the .44 Special, use bullets of approximately 0.429 in (10.9 mm) diameter.[3]"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/.44_Magnum
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Old July 4, 2012, 02:40 PM   #84
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The purpose of using +P loadings in the past was to insure expansion when the bullet impacted things like leather coats or heavy denim. But modern bullets like the Hornady Gold Dot, Winchester PDX-1, And Hornady Critical Defense have made +P ammunition obsolete. +P adds additional wear and tear on the firearm that isn't necessary. Or in your car comparison, it would be the equivalent of driving a Funny Car to the grocery store to go shopping.
The purpose of using +P and magnum loads "today" is to insure expandsion and penitration. Speer makes the Gold Dot not Hornady and if I had a Funny Car and a Family Car in my drive and I thought driving the Funny Car to the grocery store instead of the Family Car would give me the edge to save my life I would do it. Deputy 276 you should do your homework as all the loads you list are also available in 38Spl. +p loadings.

What can I say I'm a slow typer.
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Old July 4, 2012, 03:45 PM   #85
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Actually, +P loads have been around since before WWII, although they weren't called that and not all .38 special revolvers were rated to take them. They have been called .38-44 and .38 Hi-Speed or High Velocity. The Hi-Speed designation was also applied to other cartridges and were not intended to even be used in handguns. Surely the penetration was greater, which was probably the whole point, but whether or not they were otherwise more effective is arguable. They came in round nose lead and metal point. There doesn't seem to have been any hollow point or semi-wadcutter revolver available before the war. I was surprised there were hollow point bullets available in .30 Luger, 9mm Luger and .38 Super, or they were according to the catalog listing I have here. Doesn't mean you could find them, though.
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Old July 4, 2012, 05:50 PM   #86
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For 14 years of my 32 year LE career I carried 357 Magnums and still today I carry 357 magnums. I have seen lots of people shot with 38's and 357 magnums, all different types of bullets. There is a gulf of difference in the wound produced by a 38 special and a 357 magnum. The velocity is the key, as the bullet may be identical.

One of my main carry guns today is a 357 snub loaded with 125 DPX's. I see the snub nose as an experts gun, a novice will generally have a tough time hitting anything and become discouraged. The 38 is easier to master, and easier to shoot. A 38 propels a 158 Grain bullet at 850 fps, a 357 shoots the same bullet at 1300, take your pick.

A 38 will work if you do your part. Like the 9mm and the 45 ACP it has been around for a century.
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Old July 4, 2012, 07:33 PM   #87
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"The purpose of using +P and magnum loads "today" is to insure expandsion and penitration. Speer makes the Gold Dot not Hornady and if I had a Funny Car and a Family Car in my drive and I thought driving the Funny Car to the grocery store instead of the Family Car would give me the edge to save my life I would do it. Deputy 276 you should do your homework as all the loads you list are also available in 38Spl. +p loadings.

What can I say I'm a slow typer."

And that purpose is OBSOLETE. In case you are unaware and still living in the 80s, curent bullet design has no need of +P loadings. I changed the Horandy-to-Speer right after I realized my mistake. Whoosh...that's the sound of my Funny Car comment flying over your head. Just because a load is available in +P, doesn't make it a wise choice.

And it's EXPANSION and PENETRATION. And +P will NOT increase penetration. It will actually DECREASE penetration, as it will force the bullet to expand quickly and NOT penetrate.

Are we done playing school teacher now?
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Old July 4, 2012, 07:42 PM   #88
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The 38 is easier to master, and easier to shoot. A 38 propels a 158 Grain bullet at 850 fps, a 357 shoots the same bullet at 1300, take your pick.

I'll take the .44 Special shooting a 200 grain GDHP at 875FPS. Recoil is milder than any .357 magnum and penetration is even better with the heavy bullet. Plus it expands reliably. A .22 is easy to master...doesn't necessarily make it a good choice.
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Old July 4, 2012, 08:12 PM   #89
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+P was not designed to ENSURE expansion. It was designed to increase velocity which in turn increases the chance of expansion or expansion itself in any caliber. A 38 Special +P 125 grain bullet is often around 500 fps slower than the same 357 magnum bullet. Does that mean everyone carrying around a 357 magnum should carry standard pressure 38 Specials because their is no need for the extra 500 fps of velocity? Hell no! Extra velocity does not necessarily decrease penetration either. A 357 magnum will both out-penetrate and out-expand a 9mm using the same bullet in the same weight (125/124 grain).


If I carried a 44 Special I'd still carry the +P if I could. That 875 fps for the 200 grain Gold Dot is on the low end for reliable expansion. The 200 grain +P Gold Dot for the 45 ACP is 1080 fps by comparison.
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Old July 4, 2012, 08:45 PM   #90
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And that purpose is OBSOLETE. In case you are unaware and still living in the 80s, curent bullet design has no need of +P loadings.
Didn't you look at the links in my last post? Every one of the companies whose products you listed and which you defined as making the point of +P obsolete, provides the very bullets you listed in +P loadings.

I don't know where you came up with your theory about .38Spl +P, but so far you haven't provided anything that supports it. Simply saying it's obsolete doesn't prove anything, especially when the bullets you list as supposedly making it obsolete are ALL provided in +P loadings.
Quote:
And +P will NOT increase penetration. It will actually DECREASE penetration, as it will force the bullet to expand quickly and NOT penetrate.
Simply driving an expanding bullet faster will tend to have that effect since bullets are typically designed to operate properly in a particular velocity range. However, as a general statement, the comment needs some more clarification. Modern self-defense ammunition is designed to provide both adequate penetration and expansion, and if one looks at the ballistics testing done, it's clear that +P loadings generally penetrate just as well, or perhaps even better, than standard pressure loadings because the bullets loaded in them are designed to operate properly at the velocity they're loaded to.

Again, I'm not a huge fan of +P loadings, but in my opinion, the .38Spl is one caliber that can benefit significantly from the use of +P loadings. In addition, those loadings have been around so long that when it comes to self-defense ammunition, they're as mainstream as the standard pressure loadings. That's something that can't be said of any other caliber, to my knowledge. There's really not much downside to their use.
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Old July 4, 2012, 08:45 PM   #91
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Deputy, I'm still trying to understand your point. I thought you were saying that since the 38 wasn't originally a +P round, now that they are available as +P's you feel the entire classification of cartridge isn't effective? If I have that right, I'm just not seeing the logic.

For example, lets take tnoutdoors' findings for the Speer Gold Dot's you mention. Here's his 38+p test: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k890Rio2oBY And here's his 357 test: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxXTNzpBcvM

The 357 out performs the 38, no doubt about it. But both are WELL above the Fed's requirement for FBI agent use. Some of us, myself included, might prefer a round that penetrates in the 13" range, not in the 15". But both are very effective.

Help me understand what you're trying to say?
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Old July 4, 2012, 08:56 PM   #92
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First off the best you can expect in a snub with +P is a 200 FPS increase in velocity. And that is with a relativley light 125 grain bullet. You will NOT get better penetraion. Velocity doesn't increase lethality. If you think it does, then you are mistaken.

JasonWilliam: What I am saying is bullet expansion technology has caught up to the point that +P in ANYTHING is no longer needed and only promotes faster wear of your firearm. +P is not some magical, mystical improvement in ANY round. It was, at best, a stopgap fix for bullets that wouldn't expand well at normal velocities. But present day bullets in modern loadings DO expand witout the use of +P. If you want to see comparisons of expansion, pick one bullet weight in one caliber and them compare them side by side....+P and non-+P. The problem with YouTube is the tests are unscientific and there are ZERO tests of non-+P loads. At least, I haven't found any.
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Old July 4, 2012, 09:10 PM   #93
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A couple things:
-is +P harder on the weapon than a 357mag? If so, how? If your revolver is chambered for .357, shooting 38+p shouldn't hurt it one bit. Right?

-so you're saying that a 38+p and 38non+p will perform the same, all other things being equal?

A quick check of some specs would seem to disprove that idea. For example, Win Super X's (from CheaperThanDirt.com) (I couldn't find the same grain weight in my 2 minutes of looking, but I think that kind of makes the point):

In 38non+p 110-Grain Silvertip Hollow Point
Muzzle Velocity: 945 fps
Muzzle Energy: 218 ft/lbs

In 38+p 125 Grain Silvertip Hollow Point
Muzzle Velocity: 945 fps
Muzzle Energy: 248 ft/lbs

The way I read that is you can throw more lead at the same speed and deliver a bigger punch using +p. Its not much more, but 10% is something.

With all that said, and if my assumption that +p doesn't harm a weapon chambered for 357, why not run +p's if their benefits appeal to you?

Last edited by JasonWilliam; July 4, 2012 at 10:51 PM.
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Old July 4, 2012, 09:10 PM   #94
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Deputy, you will not get 200 fps more in a +P loading, more like an extra 50 fps.

Tnoutdoors9 has done a ton of tests. In the Federal HST he tested both the 147 grain standard pressure version and +P version. The +P did in fact have more expansion and less penetration, but it was close and the penetration was still adequate. However, that is not always the case. He has tested both a 124 grain 9mm Gold Dot and 125 grain 357 magnum Gold Dot which is basically the same bullet, except the 357 magnum gives you about 100 more fps even out of his 3" barrel. The 357 magnum out-penetrated the 9mm at around 15" to 13" and out-expanded it by around .75 to .61. Personally I'll take an HST over anything, but they don't make those for revolver rounds. The Gold Dot is my 2nd choice.
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Old July 4, 2012, 09:50 PM   #95
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I dont know if the point has been lost or if there was one or if the conversation is veering off course but I am lost. Modern loads make the +P obselete? What does .38 Special have to do with .357 Magnum in this context? The .38 Special is a venerable choice for SD. If it wasnt it would have not stayed in production for the last 113 years. What am I missing? I carry +p because the specs on every load I have ever viewed are better. I dont care if it is by 10 fps or 100 fps. Better is better. I would only load standard pressure .38 Special for range work and if I had a gun I wasnt comfortable shooting it in. I have fired thousands of rounds of +p from my S&W Airweights and they are still good to go.

Just going off stats for Buffalo Bore lets say.

Standard Pressure 158 grain LSWCHP .38 Special: 850 F.P.S / 253 Ft.-Lbs. M.E.

+P 158 grain LSWCHP .38 Special: 1,000 F.P.S / 351 Ft.-Lbs M.E.

To me that is a huge difference. I do not agree with that implied point at all that a modern standard pressure round has taken out the need for +P. If the standard pressure has advanced that much wouldnt the +P loadings have advanced as well? A 158 grain loading is going to penetrate heavy anyway. 1 test I saw the standard round went 20" through simulated media and the +P did 22". That is OVER penetration in my view. I dont use .38 Special to hunt anything and I have yet to meet a man who's heart is 20" deep. Some standard pressure rounds do out penetrate +P loadings and the reason is not advancement in modern bullet technology it is simply the standard pressure doesnt have the velocity to make the bullet mushroom so it in effect acts as a FMJ round. Thats why ammo makers have started dropping the grain weight on "modern" standard pressure rounds to get the velocity up IMO. If I wanted a slow moving standard pressure that will not expand and penetrate like a FMJ then I would just buy FMJ.

Thats just my view on it.
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Old July 4, 2012, 10:15 PM   #96
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DEPUTY 276, it is quite clear you are a 44 Special fan as am I. I thought you might like to hear of an experence with the 44 Special and Speer Gold Dot ammo. A friend used a 4" 44 Special to shoot a mountain lion. At the shot the animal was facing him at a few yards. The cat took the 44 Special in the chest. While the cat didnt die right away, it did die. When skinned the bullet traveled deep into the cat. However the bullet did not expand. I examined it afterwards and it could have been reloaded and shot again. I expected more from the Gold Dots and this is just one trial but it was dissapointing.
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Old July 5, 2012, 03:38 AM   #97
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Why not the .38 Spl?

Howdy,

One finds it difficult to imagine a LE officer delivering a solid torso hit with the much disparaged 158 gr LRN from a 4-inch barrel to a bad guy, only to have him continue fighting. Please provide examples.
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Old July 5, 2012, 04:26 AM   #98
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Larry C.

As far as I'm concerned you hit the nail on the head.

It will work just fine.(158gr swc) It has for me. More than once. All the info, data, opinions, charts, graph's, and discussion are fine. In 25 years on the streets, and several armed confrontations I've survived... I've come to a few conclusions.
1) No one wants to get shot. (no matter what the caliber)
2) No one wants to be shot again. (No matter what the caliber)
3) You fight with what you have.

Glenn
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Old July 5, 2012, 09:44 AM   #99
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A couple things:
-is +P harder on the weapon than a 357mag? If so, how? If your revolver is chambered for .357, shooting 38+p shouldn't hurt it one bit. Right?

-so you're saying that a 38+p and 38non+p will perform the same, all other things being equal?

A quick check of some specs would seem to disprove that idea. For example, Win Super X's (from CheaperThanDirt.com) (I couldn't find the same grain weight in my 2 minutes of looking, but I think that kind of makes the point):

In 38non+p 110-Grain Silvertip Hollow Point
Muzzle Velocity: 945 fps
Muzzle Energy: 218 ft/lbs

In 38+p 125 Grain Silvertip Hollow Point
Muzzle Velocity: 945 fps
Muzzle Energy: 248 ft/lbs

The way I read that is you can throw more lead at the same speed and deliver a bigger punch using +p. Its not much more, but 10% is something.

With all that said, and if my assumption that +p doesn't harm a weapon chambered for 357, why not run +p's if their benefits appeal to you?
--------------------------------
Ummmmm...the TOPIC is "What can and what can't a .38 special do?" I don't seem to see a .357 mentioned in the topic.
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Old July 5, 2012, 09:46 AM   #100
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"Deputy, you will not get 200 fps more in a +P loading, more like an extra 50 fps."

You will note I said AT BEST. It depends on the bullet weight as far as what kind of performance gain you get. Again....the topic is .38 special...NOT .357 magnum.
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