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Old August 23, 2012, 12:59 PM   #51
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Join Date: July 20, 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 10,167
Since the model 37 is not for use with +P ammo I have looked some more and found a new Smith snub nose 38 that is for +P ammo and its $100.00 more.
Just how important is +P ammo for CC in a snub nose 38 ? I mean a $100.00 is a good chunk of money to me as I am retired.
Is +P ammo that much better or necessary ?
The issue with standard pressure .38 Specials is that it is difficult to get a hollowpoint bullet at high enough velocity to reliably expand while staying under the 17,000psi pressure limit without using a light-for-caliber bullet. Because of this, most standard pressure .38 Special hollowpoint loadings use rather light 110gr bullets which may expand reliably, but have problems of their own. The problem with light-for-caliber bullets is that even though they may expand, they often give undewhelming penetration.

.38 +P, however, has a higher 20,000psi pressure limit which allows the use of heavier 125-158gr bullets that have enough momentum to penetrate adequately at high enough velocity to reliably expand.

In a standard pressure .38 Special, the best choices are probably either Hornady's 110gr Critical Defense or Buffalo Bore's 158gr LSWCHP offering as those seem to be the only two that can both expand reliably and penetrate close to the FBI's 12" minimum. Be aware, however, that the Buffalo Bore loading will likely have very stout recoil in a gun as light as a M37 an will not likely be easy or pleasant to shoot. If those loadings are not available, there's actually a lot to be said for a good old fashioned 148gr HBWC loadings as, while expansion will be minimal, they do penetrate well and recoil very lightly.

In .38 +P, there are several good options. My two favorites are Speer 135gr Short Barrel Gold Dot and Remington 158gr LSWCHP. The Remington is my loading of choice for my all-steel M36, but I might consider the Speer loading for a lightweight snub because its jacketed bullet is less likely to jump crimp under recoil than the swaged lead bullet of the Remington LSWCHP.
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