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Old January 16, 2014, 05:40 PM   #1
David spargenator
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38 special for self defense

Today, I got a new 357 snub nose. I shot some 38's out of it today, and despite what everyone else says. I think it'd be a good round for self defense. It's got a pretty good little pop to it, and it penetrates just fine. I think the 357 is better but the 38 will do the job. These weren't even +p either. I shot a tree point blank and it went a good few inches into the wood. Anyone wanna share your thoughts? Do you think it's good for self defense?
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Old January 16, 2014, 05:48 PM   #2
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The Iron Rule of Self Defense is Only The Hits Count, and a hit with a Minor Caliber hurts a lot more than a miss with a Major. Charlie Askins was pretty deadly with a 38 Special, so was Jim Cirillo, to name two of the best known.
If you can keep cool while under stress and practice, practice, practice, I'd say you are well armed.
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Old January 16, 2014, 05:50 PM   #3
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I don't know what's available commercially, but these reloads cycle thru my Colt Cobra in a non +P manner.

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Old January 16, 2014, 05:52 PM   #4
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The 38 Special is a good pistol caliber for self defense in places like your bedroom, because the muzzle blast will usually not make your eardrums bleed like a 357 magnum will; if you're not wearing hearing protection.
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Old January 16, 2014, 05:53 PM   #5
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speaking of Jim Cirillo.

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Old January 16, 2014, 06:01 PM   #6
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The .38 Special was the revolver of choice for most all of the police & military forces for over possible 75 years or more (my guess without googling & well within my generation of years).

Colt and S&W offered them for generations. The Pre-War Colt had dates as early as 1943, & I would guess well before then.

Seventy-Guess years ago shows its ability unless we are speaking of a well fortified individual.
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Old January 16, 2014, 06:23 PM   #7
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I hope it's good for self-defense. I've been carrying one for over 30 years and it's my go-to caliber for concealed carry.
Quote:
and despite what everyone else says
Pay no attention to the nay-sayers. With good ammunition, the .38 special is a very good defense round. The ammunition available has gotten much better over the past 10 years, bullets are better, and more companies are making ammo that is optimized for the short barrels often found on the .38 special.
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Old January 16, 2014, 06:33 PM   #8
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Been carrying a 38 for 20 years. It works enough for me. Especially when stoked with the old FBI load, 158gr LHP +P.

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Old January 16, 2014, 06:34 PM   #9
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.38 will do the job if you get it where it needs to go. I personally just dont like shooting them out of .357's, and prefer to keep things caliber specific.

If youre sloppy on your hygiene, and allow those .38 "rings" to build up in the in the .357 cylinders, youre going to have issues, if and when you want to stuff .357's in there.

Another issue I seem to always have too, for some reason, when I shoot hard cast .38 LSWC's, or lead bullets in general out of my .357's, they seem to want to lead the barrel, forcing cone, chambers and face of the cylinders in my guns, and my lead .38's are not loaded hot. Trying to de-lead the guns all the time, gets old in a hurry.

What kind of snubby is it? The J frames (especially the Airweights, but even the steel versions), etc, can be a chore and a challenge to shoot, even in .38. Its kind of a Catch 22 type thing sometimes. You need to practice with loads close to what you intend to carry to get and stay good, but because of the critter youre shooting, practice is usually painful, sometimes to the point of being brutal, and you end up dreading practice, and dont.
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Old January 16, 2014, 07:06 PM   #10
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Modern ammo is a lot different than what was available 15 or 20 years ago. Choose the load carefully and place your shots well and you can manage pretty well with a .38 Special.

I live in T-Shirt And Shorts Land, and the choices for concealed carry are pretty limited by the climate. A J-frame hammerless S&W fits in a pocket very inconspicuously, and with regular practice and Hogue grips, it shoots well enough!
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Old January 16, 2014, 07:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
and despite what everyone else says
The .38 is a fine self defense round and just because its old that doesn't mean that it isn't effective.
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Old January 16, 2014, 07:13 PM   #12
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I carry a .38.... excellent round!
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Old January 16, 2014, 07:52 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David spargenator
...despite what everyone else says
Who says that it's not a good self defense round? There is enough case capacity in .38spl to load it to .357 mag pressures and beyond. The +P and +P+ loadings are very potent, and even standard loads exceed 9mm ballistics.

Like mentioned above, it was the standard police round for generations. I can't get a CCW yet, but when I do, I would feel very well armed with a .38 snubnose 5 shot revolver.
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Old January 16, 2014, 08:10 PM   #14
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Quote:
... even standard loads exceed 9mm ballistics...
Strictly speaking, this is factually untrue, when comparing roughly analogous rounds.

In Hornady's "Critical Defense" line for instance, the standard-pressure 38 Special 110gr rounds clocks out at 1010fps and generates 249ftlbs, while the standard-pressure 9mm Luger 115gr clocks at 1140fps and generates 332ftbs. Even the 38 Special +P 110gr Critical Defense cartridge comes in at 1090fps and 290ftlbs.

That holds true over many different manufacturers lines.

Nonetheless, .38spl is not a "weak round", and it well capable of getting the job done.
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Old January 16, 2014, 08:18 PM   #15
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I've carried a .38 Special as an LEO since the late 70s. I still carry a J Frame S&W most of the time.
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Old January 16, 2014, 08:28 PM   #16
AK103K
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Quote:
I would feel very well armed with a .38 snubnose 5 shot revolver.
If it was all I had, I would be happy, but only until I could get something more realistic. While I still have a couple of 5 shot .38 snubbies, these days, they are mostly relegated to "back up to the back up" status.

As far as comparing them to 9mm, I dont think thats really a correct comparison, especially when fired from a 2" snubbie. +P+ 9mm is basically coming into the 357SIG/357mag power levels, I dont remember seeing any of the .38's doing that.

I replaced my back up 2" 642's with 3.5" Glock 26's (basically the same size package) loaded with Winchester 127 grain +P+ Ranger T's. I can shoot those 26's a LOT easier, a LOT more comfortably, especially over extended shooting sessions, and with better results, and I have at least twice, to over three times (even six times) the on board ammo, depending on what mag I choose to use.

Snubbies are still fun though, and I still shoot them a couple of times a month. With the Airweights, about a box of 50 is all I want to bother with anymore these days, and my hand hates me for a couple of days afterwards. Now my Model 19 .357 K frame snubby, is a totally different critter. Its very pleasant to shoot, and a lot more fun.
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Old January 16, 2014, 08:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
38 special for self defense

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Today, I got a new 357 snub nose. I shot some 38's out of it today, and despite what everyone else says. I think it'd be a good round for self defense. It's got a pretty good little pop to it, and it penetrates just fine. I think the 357 is better but the 38 will do the job. These weren't even +p either. I shot a tree point blank and it went a good few inches into the wood. Anyone wanna share your thoughts? Do you think it's good for self defense?
My thoughts are.... I agree...
Now... go practice and get good with it...
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Old January 16, 2014, 08:59 PM   #18
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38 Special +P is about the same as a 9mm
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Old January 16, 2014, 09:00 PM   #19
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Quote:
despite what everyone else says. I think it'd be a good round for self defense.
I'm not "everyone else." I think 38 Special is a sufficiently effective round. Shot placement is everything.

I currently don't use 38 Spl for SD - just by happenstance. But I have. And I may again - without hesitation.

38 Special has a long history of sufficient effectiveness.
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Old January 16, 2014, 09:15 PM   #20
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Quote:
38 Special +P is about the same as a 9mm.
IMO, I have more confidence in high-end 38+P rounds (like Speer's 135g GDHP SB ammo) than most 9mm's.

We can talk about stopping power, muzzle energy, etc. But one thing that is often overlooked is bullet profile. The 38 Special - being a revolver cartridge - doesn't have to compromise its terminal performance design for reliable feeding. I believe that the profiles of 9mm's are a huge compromise toward reliable feeding. Again, just my opinion. I'm not citing any study here. I'm just looking at bullets themselves, and seeing what is obvious to me.

Again however: Shot placement trumps all.
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Old January 16, 2014, 09:22 PM   #21
David spargenator
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Wow, I didn't realize so many people agreed that 38 special is an effective round. It's a low velocity round but in my personal shooting I've done with it. I've found that it's penetration and power is good enough to get the job done.
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Old January 16, 2014, 09:24 PM   #22
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My 38 carry load is a 125 JHP at a clocked 1,150 FPS (4" barrel, about 1,100 from a 2"). I feel comfortable with it.

The 38 +P is a 125 at 925. I believe the standard 9mm loads will outperform this one and the LEO 9mm loads will significantly out pace it.
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Old January 16, 2014, 10:10 PM   #23
David spargenator
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Ya 9 mm deffinitly has more power. But I was impressed at how 38 performed for such a slow round
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Old January 16, 2014, 10:35 PM   #24
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.38 Spl is a perfectly acceptable round for SD. If you do your part, it will do its part. No, it doesn't have the same ballistics as a .357Mag or a 10mm, but that doesn't mean that it's a wimpy round.

If you're interested in how it stacks up against some other calibers when fired through a snubnose: Ballistics by the Inch
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Old January 16, 2014, 10:41 PM   #25
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I may have missed it, but when did people become so tough that nothing less than .50 BMG will so for self defense? It seems to me that a lot of the "caliber X is worthless and you need..." stuff is coming from range heroes who just like making a lot of noise.

Jim
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