View Full Version : "To P or not to +P..that's the question

September 1, 2002, 07:43 PM
S&W M/P 4" .38 Special, ID'd online by serial # by S&W as 1956 or 1957 manufacture.


I've gotten pro and con answers to this question: Is it O.K. to fire a +P in this revolver OCCASIONALLY.....not as a 'steady diet'?

I've been told by some that it can take an occasional .38 Special +P...others have said to NEVER fire a +P cartridge in this oldie but goody. I figure I can get a definitive answer from this group!


Steve Pirosh(aka: hansolo)

Jim Watson
September 1, 2002, 08:49 PM
IF you are using it for self defense, it ought to stand up to enough +P for familiarization and zero. The 158 grain lead hollowpoint +P is probably the least stressful and the most effective.

If you are not going to use it for self defense, if it is for target shooting, plinking, or as a friend says of his Luger, for "ceremonial occasions", why shoot +P at all?

September 1, 2002, 09:36 PM
Thanks for responding. It is my #1 line of defense at home. I also take it to the range now & then for target practice. I suppose that, at the close range it would be used in a home confrontation, I'd get by fine with Cor-Bon or Hydra-Shoks(which I keep it loaded with).

I just would like to know if the firing of a +P load would greatly accelerate the demise of this handgun!:cool:


James K
September 1, 2002, 10:00 PM
High pressure (+P) loads may accelerate the demise of that Model 10, but it will take a while. There are all kinds of good defense loads available that are within standard pressure levels if you don't reload and many more if you do.

But I agree that a few round of +P now and then should not hurt; the gun is not going to blow up, but no one can say there will be no harm or that extensive +P use will not harm the gun.

So, carry +P if you want, and shoot enough to know what the gun will do in terms of accuracy as well as recoil and noise, but do most of your shooting with standard loads.


Greg L
September 1, 2002, 10:03 PM
(Slow night around the "L" household so pardon me for butting in somewhere where I usually don't check in...)

Do you practice with +p loads? If so then I might limit them to a few dozen rounds/year. If the only time that you run them through your pistol is in a SD situation, then I wouldn't be worried about them unless you have to change your ammo out several times/year. If that is the case I would suggest that either you move or upgrade to crew served weapons for home defense.

The pistol is built to take it unless you are excessive about it.


September 1, 2002, 10:42 PM
Bear in mind that +P denotes PEAK pressure up to 10 percent above SAAMI specs for that cartridge.

And +P+ (not a SAAMI term) denotes an indeterminate higher PEAK pressure.

Neither +P nor +P+ have any direct bearing on bullet energy or performance.

Easy to have a bullet and case combo that gives poor bullet performance at extremely high PEAK pressure with one powder and outstanding performance at standard PEAK pressure with a different powder.

+P and +P+ are indicators of how much stress is placed on the gun, they are NOT indicators of how hard the bullet is being pushed.

Shop your ammo by performance. Velocity, wt, expansion, accuracy, consistancy etc.


September 2, 2002, 12:05 AM
As always, I learn a lot on these forums! As I see it, why should I use +P if there is a good selection of defense loads at standard pressure? I wrongly assumed that the +P and +P+ loads would have more stopping power...if not, what's the point?

Thanks for all opinions!

September 2, 2002, 08:10 PM
You can use +P loads for defense and for familiarization. Do not use them as routine practice in this gun. The 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint +P round was the FBI load for many years. This was also the load chosen by more police departments than you could shake a stick at!!! I would recommend this load for defense in 38 Special, it is a little faster than the standard pressure loads and has a good track record.