View Full Version : Will .38 Special +P LSWCHP (F.B.I. Load) penetrate windshields?

March 20, 2006, 09:47 PM
What are the chances that the above said round will penetrate a car windshield?

March 20, 2006, 10:10 PM
Not that great for .38 spcl +p. Higher velocity magnum pistol and rifle from about 5.56 up penetrate; 7.62 NATO will keep going right out the back window.

There are some very interesting videos out there that demonstrate the penetration power of everything from .22 to 12 gauge 00 Buckshot. Cinderblock walls are not even safe...

March 20, 2006, 10:24 PM
I think this calls for a field trip to the local junkyard.

I have wondered myself which bullets would penetrate vehicles assuming I was being fired upon in a parkinglot. I've seriously thought about carrying speedloaders with different stuff (HP, FMJ, Lead) to cover any and all situations!

Doug are you planning on shooting the driver instead of the tires now?

March 20, 2006, 10:36 PM
Doug are you planning on shooting the driver instead of the tires now?

I like to know I have a few options ;)

Hypothetical situation, a guy is trying to run you down in an enclosed area, you can't jump out of the way. You have backed up as far as you can go with only a few obsticals that ultimately be plowed over with quite a lot of damage to the guys car and effort on his part. I pull my .38 revolver. Will +P LSWCHP (the round I usually carry) penetrate his windshields to take him out?
I have heard that Corbon .38 Special +P JHP 110 grains are guaranteed to penetrate windshields and car doors.
I have heard stories from Chic Gaylords Handgunners Guide 1960 that standard .38 LRN fired from a service revolver with a 4 inch barrel will penetrate auto bodies (doors) and hit felons you are shooting at.

The story goes (as I remember reading it) is that a secret service man and his partner were in a gun battle with a gang of counterfeiters. The bad guys were shooting at them from an automobile. The secret service agent was using a 2 inch snub nose .38 revolver (presumably using standard LRN). He realized that his rounds were not penetrating the auto body and hitting the man he was shooting at. His partner, on the other hand, was armed with a service revolver (a 4 inch .38 special revolver) and his rounds (presumably .38 LRN too) were able to penetrate the car and kill the target.

This agent, who at the time of discussing this with Mr. Gaylord was assigned to the White House, changed to a .375 magnum as his carry weapon to ensure the security of the president.

Another thought, if a .38 Special LRN fired from a 4 inch barrel could manage to do that then, I imagine that a +P round (with the right bullet) could do the same today. Remember cars back in the 50s were A LOT sturdier than cars made today (remember Doc Emmette Brown's comments in Back to the Future II when Marty suggested landing the 1985 Delorian on Biff's 1948 Chevy? "He'd rip through us like we were tin foil!")

Also, I am talking about glass windshields, not metal car doors. If a regular .38 LRN or FMJ can tear right through a 2 x 4 block of wood and beyond, then I imagine it could penetrate a car windshield. Just look what pebbles flicked by cars in front or passing by you can do with all the nicks an cracks they put in it.

I really would love to take a trip to the junkyard and find a range where it is acceptable to bring junk to shoot at out there. :) I'd like to be able to test all my .38 rounds and other guns.

March 20, 2006, 10:56 PM
Well, I've always considered auto glass to be potentially tricky, unpredictable, hard-on-bullets stuff when it comes to a barrier medium, especially windshield auto glass ...

It's generally one of the barrier mediums used in testing various defensive ammunition intended for L/E sales, though, and auto glass panes are used in most gel testing conducted during the different ammunition manufacturer's mobile gel demos.

Of course, .38 Special ammunition isn't often demontrated at these things, since .38 revolvers aren't really on the cutting edge of L/E usage nowadays ... ;) The only time I've seen .38 revolver ammunition tested was when the factory rep asked if anyone wanted to see anything tested other than what we'd done for pistols, and a few different snub nose loads were suddenly produced (the J-frame is enjoying a surge in popularity among cops, again, it seems :) ).

I have some Winchester factory literature from their L/E Handgun Duty Ammo Barrier Test Data, and it reflects:

Fired from a S&W 2" M60, the X38SPD 158gr LHP +P did an average of 7.1" gel penetration after defeating auto glass, expanding to .63" & weighing 131gr

March 21, 2006, 01:38 AM
Don't know and don't think their is a universal answer. Not only is the glass tough to get through on a windshield allot depends on the angle of the windsheild and the angle at which the bullet strikes the winshield. And BTW agencies (such as the F.B.I.) which have a good chance of having to deal with windshelds and doors issue heavier, bonded rounds in .223 because even they will penetrate a windshield but fragment after getting through leaving little chance of much wounding effect with typical .223 loads. Also a windshield can defect some 7.62 rounds even though they will penetrate them and still have enough energy to kill what they hit. In other words you may not hit the target you intend to if a precise shot is called for. Again proper bullet selection. Also according to Jim Cirillo who has done lots of work with the .38 special the best rounds for penetration when striking angular surfaces are wadcutters. He had alot of the 158gr. LRN bullets fail to penetrate noggins in actual shootings. He tested jhp's also. Although good or body shots still not great for the head. The wadcutters edge seems to grab angular surfaces better. But the jhp's we have today especially the bonded type do a much better job on penetration.

March 21, 2006, 07:06 AM
I haven't had an oppertunity to do a controlled shoot on a car in about a dozen years, but I can tell you that laminated auto glass as found in windshields and back windows is pretty tough stuff. The tempered glass on the side windows is pretty easy to punch through.

I've skipped lots of RN bullets off angled windshields and rear windows when experimenting. You can see the bullets go right straight up in the air. Often times a HP bullet will dig in if the angle isn't too acute, and it will penetrate, but you'll get separation of the jacket from the core, depending upon the construction of the bullet. I have NOT been able to do this with any of the modern bonded pistol bullets, however.

I do remember that SWC and SWC-HP bullets from a revolver USUALLY penetrated when we did test shots . . .

March 21, 2006, 08:25 AM
TRy Corbon's DPX all copper HP ,they do very well on cars....Did anyone see the mose in MA that penetrated the windshield of a car and ended up inside the car ???

March 21, 2006, 09:18 AM
It will penetrate at normal angles at least. We never shot at sever angles. From a 5'8" man it will penetrate everytime. Again we never tested severe angles.

March 21, 2006, 10:56 AM
In the 70's I was working as a "campus security officer" on a small college campus. We were licensed and armed so the local PD Officers routinely checked on us and on rare occasions called for us as support. I became good friends with many of them. Regulations required all officers to carry their "issued" 4" S&W Model 10's with issued +P ammunition. One of the PD officers was parked several buildings down from a local pawnshop. He was completing a traffic citation. One of the local "brainiac's" pulled an armed robbery of the pawnshop. As he runs out of the shop, he spots the PD cruiser. If would have run the opposite direction, the officer would have never seen him. That was too smart, instead he fires three shots from a .357 Mag. through the windshield of the cruiser. Fortunately he was poor shot. All shots missed the officer. The officer immediately returned fire from inside the cruiser. Two of his three shots stopped in the windshield. The shot that penetrated the windshield was enough to put the robber flight. Two other PD units caught the guy on the edge of campus. The next morning the officer in the cruiser purchased a S&W Combat Magnum and began carrying it with .357's on duty. With in several months departmental policy changed to authorize the carry of magnums. I understand that years later, the PD switched to 9MM Glocks and then to .40S&W Glocks. They have returned to a ban of privately owned weapons on the job. Several variables here, the age of the ammo, the care of the ammo (this was still the era of shinny cases in leather loops), the bullets angle of attack against the glass, but I'm not betting on a .38 for a "social" situation.

March 21, 2006, 01:23 PM
hmm. For the most part I am getting that they usually will with some important exceptions regarding the angle.

That is an interesting story. That either says a heck of a lot about police cruiser windows or not very much about the ammo or gun he was carrying.

Now that I think of it, this discussion can very likely benefit people who carry guns while driving (CHLers and travelers). Someone tries to carjack you or come up to your car...will your rounds go through the glass and get them?

have wondered myself which bullets would penetrate vehicles assuming I was being fired upon in a parkinglot. I've seriously thought about carrying speedloaders with different stuff (HP, FMJ, Lead) to cover any and all situations

I typically carry 4 speedloaders. I have .38+P 158gr LSWCHP in two of them (plus what is already loaded in the gun), one loaded with 110 gr Corbons and one loaded with 135 gr (I think) Golden Sabers.

March 21, 2006, 08:47 PM
If a regular 158 LRN will penetrate at 750fps, why wouldn't a 900 fps LSWC-HP of the same weight do so too?

I'm going to have to find a junker and try out some loads now.

I'm in the camp of carying mixed speedloaders of ammo. I carry LSWC-HP +P in Safarilands. CCI shotshells in speed strips. Magnum rounds in HKS speedloaders (145 or 158 JHP).

I know the 357 magnums will penetrate the windshield glass unless they hit at a severe angle.

March 22, 2006, 10:34 AM
Doug.38 PR

I believe it is a function of several variables. First: Ammunition; .38 +P's, but I'm not sure of the bullet type. Ours were round nose straight lead (cheapest the company could buy), but the PD may have carried a better quality round. Also, as mentioned, the ammunition may not have been stored in optimum conditions. Second: the angle of attack of the bullet. Think back to the 70's, ah well just look at a picture of a 1970's full size sedan (Ford or Chevy). The windshields are severely angled. Shots fired from the inside probably struck the glass at a 35-50 degree angle, optimum conditions for a glancing ricochet. Third: Combat Stress. The officer went from routine paperwork to "under fire". Guarantied to stress the most hardened and proficient officers. Have you ever fired from the interior of a vehicle? The muzzle blast is vicious. If it had been me, I would have no idea where the slugs were headed. Just get some lead down range to keep their heads down till I can get mine together.

PS: If anybody gets the bright idea to try practice firing from the inside of a vehicle, EAR PLUGS, EAR MUFFS, & SAFETY GLASSES. Yes, I did do some rather foolish things in my younger days.

Older, probably not any wiser, but older