The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: General Handgun Forum

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old December 3, 2012, 10:24 AM   #1
Southern Shooter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 4, 2005
Location: central Louisiana
Posts: 443
.38 Special SWC Effectiveness

Several of my friends and I reload for .38 Special revolvers. In each of our families, every member has a service size .38 Special revolver. So, we load up a bunch of 158 grain Semi-wadcutters for range practice. They travel on average about 850 FPS, according to our chronograph.


We were discussing emergency preparedness, food storage, and of course stocking up of ammunition. We debated this question: As a last ditch effort, would a .36 caliber, 158 grain, semi-wadcutter, traveling at 830-850 FPS, hitting center-mass, be effective as a self-defense round?

Thanks
__________________
"My plea is that we stop seeking out the storm and enjoy more fully sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we accentuate the positive. I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment and endorse virtue and effort." Gordon B. Hinckley

Last edited by Southern Shooter; December 3, 2012 at 11:01 AM.
Southern Shooter is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 11:15 AM   #2
Old Grump
Member in memoriam
 
Join Date: April 9, 2009
Location: Blue River Wisconsin, in
Posts: 3,144
Guess what I use in my 38 spcl, .357 mag, 44 spcl, 45 ACP and light 44 mag target loads. If it was good enough for Kieth it's good enough for me and I don't often have to shoot twice. Rabbits to deer they work, I don't know why they wouldn't work on a boogerman so that is what my nightstand gun is loaded with.
__________________
Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern will, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
--Daniel Webster--
Old Grump is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 11:42 AM   #3
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,456
Quote:
would a .36 caliber, 158 grain, semi-wadcutter, traveling at 830-850 FPS, hitting center-mass, be effective as a self-defense round
Yes of course it would.

I've put down horses, deer, hogs, etc using a 150 grn LSWC (non hollow point) out of my 642.

Using the same bullet out of a 4" Model 28 357, I've killed several moose and a buffalo.

I have all the faith in the world in the 150-158 grn LSWC bullets out of a 38.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 12:12 PM   #4
Water-Man
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 23, 2008
Location: N. Georgia
Posts: 1,554
They'll work all day long and then some.
__________________
PROUD TO BE A VETERAN
Water-Man is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 12:43 PM   #5
481
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 18, 2011
Posts: 469
Quote:
Originally Posted by Southern Shooter:
Several of my friends and I reload for .38 Special revolvers. In each of our families, every member has a service size .38 Special revolver. So, we load up a bunch of 158 grain Semi-wadcutters for range practice. They travel on average about 850 FPS, according to our chronograph.


We were discussing emergency preparedness, food storage, and of course stocking up of ammunition. We debated this question: As a last ditch effort, would a .36 caliber, 158 grain, semi-wadcutter, traveling at 830-850 FPS, hitting center-mass, be effective as a self-defense round?

Thanks
I think they'd do just fine.

Assuming that the .38 158 gr SWCs are relatively hard and suffer minimal to no deformation after impact, they should, according to the Schwartz bullet penetration model penetrate to a depth of 30.7 inches in soft tissue unless heavy bone is struck.

An added plus is that SWCs don't need to expand to work as designed so there is no need to worry about a JHP cavity being plugged, etc.
__________________
My favorite "gun" book -

QUANTITATIVE AMMUNITION SELECTION
481 is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 12:44 PM   #6
Southern Shooter
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 4, 2005
Location: central Louisiana
Posts: 443
A Bit Surprised..........

I have to admit that I am a bit surprised by the responses, so far. But, I am very happy, too. I truly anticipated seeing this line of thinking slapped down, quickly.

Thanks
__________________
"My plea is that we stop seeking out the storm and enjoy more fully sunlight. I am suggesting that as we go through life we accentuate the positive. I am asking that we look a little deeper for the good, that we still our voices of insult and sarcasm, that we more generously compliment and endorse virtue and effort." Gordon B. Hinckley
Southern Shooter is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 01:08 PM   #7
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,456
Quote:
I truly anticipated seeing this line of thinking slapped down, quickly.
Only by people who never used them.

I carried them my whole 20 year career in LE, never had any worries.

When I first hired on they (Anchorage Police Dept) issued 158 RN lead bullets in 38s cast and reloaded by jail trusties.

No thanks, I went home and cast and loaded Lyman's 358477 bullets and carried them until I retired.

Still use them, only mostly in my 642.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 02:51 PM   #8
481
Senior Member
 
Join Date: April 18, 2011
Posts: 469
Quote:
I have to admit that I am a bit surprised by the responses, so far. But, I am very happy, too. I truly anticipated seeing this line of thinking slapped down, quickly.
With cynicism/skepticism being so common these days, it is a pleasant surprise. Sometimes I wonder if the firearms community isn't its own worst enemy for all of the pessimism that seems to pervade these venues.
__________________
My favorite "gun" book -

QUANTITATIVE AMMUNITION SELECTION
481 is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 03:08 PM   #9
m&p45acp10+1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 3, 2009
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 3,310
They have worked for many people for years. I would not waste a bit of time thinking about it. I would use mine if I had to. I would not feel out gunned, or under armed either.
__________________
No matter how many times you do it and nothing happens it only takes something going wrong one time to kill you.
m&p45acp10+1 is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 05:20 PM   #10
jhenry
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2006
Location: Ozarks
Posts: 1,813
The .38 Special is an easy round to reload, and a pound of powder goes a long way. The SWC penetrates well, and given a good hit will punch a decent hole in whatever. I probably have more 158 grain hard cast swc's in my stash of reloading components than anything else.
__________________
"A Liberal is someone who doesn't care what you do, as long as it's mandatory". - Charles Krauthammer
jhenry is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 06:22 PM   #11
SIGSHR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 13, 2005
Posts: 3,078
Has been, is now and will be. A hit with a 38 Special hurts a lot worse than a miss with a .357. Only caution is what those more knowledgeable about these things have said about using reloads for self defense.
SIGSHR is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 07:21 PM   #12
1 old 0311-1
Junior member
 
Join Date: November 5, 2012
Posts: 89
The ammo snobs will flame you but I also shoot SWC's.
1 old 0311-1 is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 09:34 PM   #13
jhenry
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 27, 2006
Location: Ozarks
Posts: 1,813
Any ammo snob that would slam a good lead SWC is no snob, he is an ammo noob. He probably never read much Keith either.
__________________
"A Liberal is someone who doesn't care what you do, as long as it's mandatory". - Charles Krauthammer
jhenry is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 10:06 PM   #14
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 11,364
I would expect so...

Quote:
would a .36 caliber, 158 grain, semi-wadcutter, traveling at 830-850 FPS, hitting center-mass, be effective as a self-defense round?
And the key here is "hitting center-mass". Almost everything is effective hitting center-mass. Where HP bullets have (and show) an advantage is when shots are less than perfect.

The SWC nose profile not only punches nice clean round full caliber holes in paper, it tends to to the same in tissue. This gives it a performance edge over the same bullet with a round/pointed nose shape.

While the .38 SPL has had failures, its successes are beyond count. Bottom line, if you put the bullet where it needs to go, it will work.

One shot stop statistics are nice ways to compare relative effectiveness of rounds, but my personal belief is to shoot until the threat goes away. Only hits count, and only hits in the right place can be counted on.

I prefer large calibers, but have and carry a .38 and don't feel inadequately armed. I also sometimes carry a .32acp, and don't feel undergunned there, either.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 10:21 PM   #15
kraigwy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 9,456
Quote:
One shot stop statistics are nice ways to compare relative effectiveness of rounds, but my personal belief is to shoot until the threat goes away.
I'm not a fan of "one shot stop" statistics.

I've seen too many deer and other critters run 100 yards or more after having their lung/heart turned to jelly.

Seen it with people too.

With deer and such, you can tell if it was a good hit by the reaction,....just give them a bit of time.

With something that is trying to hurt you, keep shooting until they keep flooping.
__________________
Kraig Stuart
CPT USAR Ret
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 10:43 PM   #16
nate45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 15, 2007
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,746
Since OSS(one shot stop) statistics were mentioned. I think its relevant to mention that the .38 Special standard velocity LRN(lead round nose) bullet had a OSS rating of right at 50%.

Lots of men and animals have been killed by the 158 grain LRN. Back in the day, before a lot was known about bullet performance. People bought a box of .38 Special LRN, loaded their revolvers and shot what they needed to. If one shot didn't do it, they shot it again.

None of the above is meant to recommend the LRN. Only to add emphasis to the fact, that the SWC(semi-wadcutter) is a significant step up in wounding effectiveness over the LRN. So it stands to reason that a well placed SWC would work, on the bases of those facts alone.

My personal opinion is that modern HP(hollow point) is the way to go though. They've come along way way with technology. The Speer 135 grain Short Barrel for instance is a very consistent performing projectile. Also the Barnes 110 grain is a great bullet for penetration and expansion. Don't let its 110 grain weight deceive you, thats only because of its advanced all copper construction.

tl;dr SWC will work better than LRN, but modern HP is better still
__________________
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."- Thomas Jefferson
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
(>_<)

Last edited by nate45; December 4, 2012 at 12:42 PM. Reason: typo, my proof reading was in condition mauve again. :D
nate45 is offline  
Old December 3, 2012, 10:44 PM   #17
Super Sneaky Steve
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 9, 2011
Posts: 740
http://youtu.be/okn_OS9twok

Here you can see a deer getting shot right in the kill zone with a .50 BMG and it still ran pretty far. If that deer were a man with a knife he could have done some damage before he went down.

There's always a bit of luck when it comes to these things.

But back to the OP's question. Yup I carry hard cast bulles for SD all the time.
__________________
anti-state, anti-war, pro-market
Super Sneaky Steve is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 01:42 PM   #18
nate45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 15, 2007
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,746
Some visual aids

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.



tl;dr You pick the projectile that you want to be shot with, I'll pass and pick none.
__________________
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."- Thomas Jefferson
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
(>_<)
nate45 is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 01:46 PM   #19
Nanuk
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 2, 2005
Location: Where the deer and the antelope roam.
Posts: 1,691
I have no problem with LSWC or LSWCHP. I just like to see more velocity. Even in my snubbies I use magnum loads. Like about 1000 fps as a velocity floor, even with my 44 loads.

Quote:
Lots of men and animals have been killed by the 158 grain LRN. Back in the day, before a lot was known about bullet performance. People bought a box of .38 Special LRN, loaded their revolvers and shot what they needed to. If one shot didn't do it, they shot it again.
Nate, I do not know where you get your information and this is not the first time you posted about the LRN. The 38 LRN was know as the "Widowmaker" in LE circles for decades, not because it worked so well, but because it did not and the cops that shot the BG's were then killed. A gunshot may be very fatal but yet not stop the attack. I do not care how lethal it is or is not, but I want the attack STOPPED. The 38 special LRN is a dismal performer, even worse than a target WC at 700 fps. It was kept in service, not because it worked, but because it was politically unfeasible for many departments to use magnums.
__________________
My rifle and pistol are tools, I am the weapon.

Last edited by Nanuk; December 4, 2012 at 01:55 PM.
Nanuk is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 02:18 PM   #20
nate45
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 15, 2007
Location: Illinois
Posts: 3,746
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanuk
Nate, I do not know where you get your information and this is not the first time you posted about the LRN. The 38 LRN was know as the "Widowmaker" in LE circles for decades, not because it worked so well, but because it did not and the cops that shot the BG's were then killed. A gunshot may be very fatal but yet not stop the attack. I do not care how lethal it is or is not, but I want the attack STOPPED. The 38 special LRN is a dismal performer, even worse than a target WC at 700 fps. It was kept in service, not because it worked, but because it was politically unfeasible for many departments to use magnums.



Quote:
Originally Posted by nate45
Lots of men and animals have been killed by the 158 grain LRN. Back in the day, before a lot was known about bullet performance. People bought a box of .38 Special LRN, loaded their revolvers and shot what they needed to. If one shot didn't do it, they shot it again.

None of the above is meant to recommend the LRN*. Only to add emphasis to the fact, that the SWC(semi-wadcutter) is a significant step up in wounding effectiveness over the LRN. So it stands to reason that a well placed SWC would work, on the bases of those facts alone.

*new emphasis added
Which is why I've never reccomended it, mentioned it? on ocassion, reccommended it? Not on TFL or anywhere else.

While I agree that LRN has the least wounding potential of all the .38 projectiles, personal observation and logic tell me its not as ineffective as you think it is. If you want to believe that a .357 caliber round nose bullet, moving at 700+ fps passing through someone's teeth and out the back of their skull, or going through their sternum and into, or through their spine, wouldn't be potentially effective in stopping them, thats your perogative.

Now again, one more time, I have never recommended LRN for defense, not now and not in the past 25+ years. There are much better choices, but that doesn't alter history and the truth about uninformed people loading their SD handguns with LRN and successfully defending themselves with it, including physically stopping someone/or some dangerous animal.
__________________
"No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms."- Thomas Jefferson
ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ
(>_<)
nate45 is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 02:28 PM   #21
Old Grump
Member in memoriam
 
Join Date: April 9, 2009
Location: Blue River Wisconsin, in
Posts: 3,144
A lot of the criticism of the LRN bullet were deserved but it wasn't the bullet per se that was the problem. Weak loads, poorly regulated guns, poor marksmanship and the dress of most people back then consisted of heavy layers of clothing. 38 was used because like the 9 today it was cheap ammo and the guns were plentiful and cheap to buy in bulk. Besides without knowing where the 50% number came from I bet it was referring to fight stopper, not kills.

No mention of number of rounds this chart is bases on but still interesting numbers.

As for me I have used LRN in a carry gun but now that I have a choice I make mine LSWC and make it larger than a 22.

It is also why when there is a bump in the night at dark thirty I answer the call with a flash light and a shotgun.
__________________
Good intentions will always be pleaded for any assumption of power. The Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions. There are men in all ages who mean to govern will, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.
--Daniel Webster--
Old Grump is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 04:04 PM   #22
L_Killkenny
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 2, 2007
Location: Iowa
Posts: 2,676
Back when SWC's were really the only alternative to jacketed or bare RN than they were the way to go. That hasn't changed and if you're shooting cast lead then SWC's are still it. But if you think they're gonna be as good as today's HP's you'd be smokin something. I'm not one that believe small differences in bullet design or a little more umph here or there is gonna make wholesale changes in effectiveness but old school SWC's vs. today's SD/hunting cartridges? No brainer.
L_Killkenny is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 04:33 PM   #23
Seven High
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 11, 2004
Posts: 475
To satisfy yourself about the effectiveness of the swc round take it hunting for deer size game. I predict that you will find them effective.
Seven High is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 04:57 PM   #24
spacecoast
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 14, 2009
Location: Sunshine and Keystone States
Posts: 4,119
Old Grump -

No disrespect intended at all, but that chart doesn't impart much useful information (as is the case with a lot of statistics). A naive person looking at it would conclude that a .22 is better than average and more effective than a .44mag at causing a fatality.
spacecoast is offline  
Old December 4, 2012, 05:17 PM   #25
Super Sneaky Steve
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 9, 2011
Posts: 740
Hey Nate45, that Nosler bullet looks a little light on the crimp.
__________________
anti-state, anti-war, pro-market
Super Sneaky Steve is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:25 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.15274 seconds with 9 queries