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Old February 23, 2023, 01:25 AM   #1
Metal god
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Best 38spl +p self defense ammo ?

Looking for a good quality SD 38spl +p ammo for a snub nose 38 . I have some good ideas about other cartridges but have very little experience with 38spl .

Id like what you think is good and why .
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Old February 23, 2023, 08:30 AM   #2
105kw
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The Winchester 158gr Semi Wadcutter HP +P, is a good load.
So is Speer 135gr Gold Dot +P
Both work well in Snub nose revolver.
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Old February 23, 2023, 09:06 AM   #3
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Full wadcutters in snubs are all the rage now because HP ammo doesn't reliably expand from short barrel revolvers.

The Gold Dot mentioned above is supposedly the most reliable. I carry Georgia Arms "Ultimate Defense" .38 Spl wadcutters in my snub and Gold Dots for reloads.

https://revolverguy.com/georgia-arms...spl-wadcutter/

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Old February 23, 2023, 01:43 PM   #4
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My daughter carries Hornady Critical Defense 110 grain +P’s in a S&W snub. Back in the 70’s, guys who carried 38 snubs for back up guns, used hollow based wadcutters loaded backwards, so the hollow base faced forward. Of course, everyone says today to not use hand loads for defense, for reliability reasons.
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Old February 23, 2023, 03:45 PM   #5
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I'm interested in this thread, as I carry some leftover Triton +P in my S&W Chiefs Special 60-7 in s/s. As there are supposed to be more modern and advanced loads available today it might be time for me to retire those old hotties. In fact, the Tritons might be too hottie, according to some people.
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Old February 23, 2023, 04:49 PM   #6
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I was just looking at some gel test , Fed HST look ok , Underwood with gold dot HP seem really hot at 1k-fps from a 2” barrel . Rem golden saber looked interesting.

Im liking this Fed stuff
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=YgGjNQ_hhIQ

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e_DyuN5ZPpc
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Old February 23, 2023, 05:05 PM   #7
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I use 125 grain +P Golden Sabers. Take a look at gel test results at luckygunner.com. https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/rev...llistics-test/. It gives good results from both 2 inch and four inch barrels. This allows me to use the same ammo in multiple guns. There are a couple of other that also give good results.
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Old February 23, 2023, 07:40 PM   #8
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Back in the cop revolver days the go-to was the .38 Special +P, 158 grain, lead, semi-wadcutter, hollow point.
This was known, according to where you lived as the FBI load, Fed load, Chicago load, St Louis Load, LAPD load, etc and to street cops as the ".38 SPLAT", for the sound it supposedly made when it hit.

It was this load that ended the failures to stop problems with the old standard velocity lead round nose loads.
Until the switch to the 125 grain .357 Magnum, this was it.

Today, the +P loads have been down loaded by manufacturers due to people using them in older small frame revolvers that were never made for use with hotter ammo.

One that is still made to the early spec is the Buffalo Bore load that's made of a soft lead with a gas check to prevent leading and allow driving it that fast.
These are pushing Magnum levels....

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...t_detail&p=108

If you want a purely anti-personnel load that will expand even out of a short barrel, this is hard to beat.
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Old February 25, 2023, 01:19 PM   #9
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I carry 135 gr Gold Dot .38 Spl +P in my Smith M-60, with a 3" bbl. It's a good load, with moderate recoil from my all-steel Smith with good expansion in my water tests. It's advertised at 860 fps from a 2" bbl., but I've never chrono'd it myself.

Quote:
Underwood with gold dot HP seem really hot at 1k-fps from a 2” barrel .
In my tests with my 3" bbl. and a 637 with Smith's 1-7/8" bbl., it's very hard to get over 900 fps with bullets in the 150+ grain weights. I'd have to chrono that claimed 1000 fps load before I'd believe it...and that speed comes with recoil as you well know.

Rod
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Old March 17, 2023, 04:57 PM   #10
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I carry two main rounds in a Smith 640.

Underwood 150 grain hard cast Wadcutter, or Remington's Golden Saber 125grain +P.

https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1001588873
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1020447045?pid=357002

The GS, expands very nicely in .38.
The Underwood doesn't need +P it's a deep penetrator on its own and an easy shooter.

When I'm feeling like I need some punishment...Hornady .357 135 grain Critical Duty.
https://www.midwayusa.com/product/1016138117/
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Old March 17, 2023, 05:36 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dfariswheel View Post
Back in the cop revolver days the go-to was the .38 Special +P, 158 grain, lead, semi-wadcutter, hollow point.
This was known, according to where you lived as the FBI load, Fed load, Chicago load, St Louis Load, LAPD load, etc.

Today, the +P loads have been down loaded by manufacturers due to people using them in older small frame revolvers that were never made for use with hotter ammo.

One that is still made to the early spec is the Buffalo Bore load that's made of a soft lead with a gas check to prevent leading and allow driving it that fast.
These are pushing Magnum levels....

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...t_detail&p=108
What were the old specs for the FBI round, and how do they compare to the current 158 +P ammo available from Remington, Winchester, Federal?
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Old March 17, 2023, 07:47 PM   #12
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135 GDHP SB

Quote:
I carry 135 gr Gold Dot .38 Spl +P
That ^ would be my first (if not, only) choice for 38+P. I chronographed this ammo at 1011 f/s through a 4" bbl (Smith M67); and 955 f/s through a 3" bbl (Smith M686).

I carry a 7-shot L-frame 686 (3"). My ammo is the 357 version of the above-mentioned. It is a "de-tuned" 357 Mag round - very manageable. I chronographed it at 1199 f/s through a 4" (Smith M686); and 1131 f/s through a 3" (Smith M686).
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Old March 17, 2023, 08:29 PM   #13
Dfariswheel
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I don't have any ammo specs, but today's .38 +P loads are typically about what the older original standard .38 Special load was.
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Old March 17, 2023, 10:28 PM   #14
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Any time I've seen test results using actual vintage ammo shot and compared to modern ammo in the same guns, it shows that both are loaded pretty much the same.

As nearly as I can tell, the idea that modern ammo is watered down comes from a combination of things:

1. Confusion about the changeover from CUP to PSI pressure measurements.

2. The fact that SAAMI gradually convinced ammo manufacturers (starting in 1977) to change their velocity measurements for revolver ammunition from being measured in long unvented test barrels to vented test barrels with lengths that corresponded better to the barrel lengths people were actually buying and using.

3. The fact that chronographs became very common and that made it more difficult for ammunition manufacturers to get creative with their velocity specifications.

More information about #2.
This is an interesting catalog from 1977. On page 37, Remington discusses their changeover to using 4" vented test barrels for their revolver data and you can see that in some cases, they publish both data sets for comparison. In some cases, you can see that velocities apparently dropped by 300fps or more simply because they were measured more realistically.
http://cartridgecollectors.org/conte...%20Catalog.pdf
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Old March 18, 2023, 12:17 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dfariswheel View Post
I don't have any ammo specs, but today's .38 +P loads are typically about what the older original standard .38 Special load was.
It's all about the specs. If you can't produce them, there is no reason to believe you.
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Old March 18, 2023, 01:58 AM   #16
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I’m interested in the 135gr gold dots for sure . Still haven’t bought anything yet . Going to a gun show soon and will pick something up then hoping to get the best deal there .
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Old March 18, 2023, 05:14 AM   #17
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I like 148gr wadcutter hollowpoints for CCW, but I keep in mind that lead breaks apart through hard barriers such as cars and auto glass, having little effect on a target that is inside a vehicle. In fact, even jacketed hollow points share this weakness. Plenty of body cam police footage of criminals being shot with hundreds of rounds while they are operating a vehicle and only suffer minor wounds which were probably shrapnel wounds and hardly life threatening. No doubt the lead wadcutter hollow points are 1 or 2 shot man stoppers from a 38 special, but I think the possibility of cowards attacking me from a moving car is very high these days. My carry round of choice for a 38 special are Lehighs Xtreme Defenders either in standard or +p. They are barrier blind and will stop within a juicy body. They don't rely on expansion to stop and perform at any velocity. They are very low recoil and easy to do follow up shots. Reloading is easy because they are shaped like jacketed bullets. Although, they might require several rounds to stop 1 determined threat, like an entire wheel dump, so making your shots count and quick reloads should be practiced. Sometimes I will carry the wadcutters loaded and 2 speedloaders of the Xtreme Defenders as backup. Yup, thats what I have right meow. I also have a pouch of 8 rounds singles of 158gr +p Keith hardcasts for when I'm in the hills, we got bears there. Its a very light setup.
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Old March 18, 2023, 12:44 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44caliberkid View Post
Back in the 70’s, guys who carried 38 snubs for back up guns, used hollow based wadcutters loaded backwards, so the hollow base faced forward. Of course, everyone says today to not use hand loads for defense, for reliability reasons.
I think you meant to say "liability" reasons. Either way I tend to disagree, but that is off topic.

The best .38spl +p is the one that shoots with the most accuracy outta your firearm. Expansion is generally good with any modern JHP meant for SD and the +p will give the velocity needed at SD distance, for them to reliably expand. Folks tend to worry to much about bullet type. Use what you are confident with, and what you are the most proficient with. A half inch more of accuracy will more than make up for a loss of .1" of expansion.
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Old March 18, 2023, 12:50 PM   #19
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Remington 158 gr LSWCHP; HTP; High Terminal Performnce
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Old March 18, 2023, 01:18 PM   #20
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What I think? I have owned 2 different 38spl snubbies over the years. a S&W 638 years back, and more recently a Ruger LCR. I hand loaded for the LCR and did testing in ballistics gel.

My thoughts are these. Use a 110g bullet in either standard or reduced pressure loads. In my testing 125s under expanded in gel, 158s did not expand at all. Either of those can me a liability in a efensive situation as it will still carry a lot of speed and energy out the other side of the target. 110s expanded well and reliably, and left significant wound cavities and had good penetration.

I have shot factory +p and hand loaded to max of standard pressure. In both cases my had was stinging before I finished the first cylinder. While manageable, it made the gun hard to practice with.

Lastly, expect some not insignificant muzzle flash, especially if you are using +p.

If you want to try +p in a 38 snubbie, by all means go for it. If its an all steel gun you may get away with it. but I would recommend you buy and shoot a box before you buy any kind of large quantities to practice with. you may change you mind.
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Old April 16, 2023, 07:41 AM   #21
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130gr HST…

Listed as a +P .. doesn’t feel or sound like it
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Old April 17, 2023, 07:00 PM   #22
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Quote:
Skippy Full wadcutters in snubs are all the rage now because HP ammo doesn't reliably expand from short barrel revolvers.
Huh?
"all the rage now" by who?

Even if the HP doesn't expand.......we know wadcutters are even LESS LIKELY to do so.

In the '70's, it was popular for gun rags to promote 148gr wadcutter loaded backwards to make a giant hollow point. That wasn't any better than those loaded normally.
If that had been a better load, every ammo maker would have jumped on the bandwagon.....they didn't.
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Old April 17, 2023, 07:52 PM   #23
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I've read several recent articles concerning wadcutters for self defense. None say, nor do I, they are the elusive magic bullet, but from a 2" barrel HPs rarely open up. Wadcutters don't either but they punch a more damaging hole than a pointy bullet. And followup shots are quicker.

Here's one; google if you want to see more articles:
https://www.luckygunner.com/lounge/w...-self-defense/

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Old April 17, 2023, 09:42 PM   #24
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This is the one I carry in my .357 LCR

https://www.luckygunner.com/winchest...nse-20#geltest
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Old April 19, 2023, 10:44 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Metal god View Post
Looking for a good quality SD 38spl +p ammo for a snub nose 38 . I have some good ideas about other cartridges but have very little experience with 38spl .

Id like what you think is good and why .
My opinion is the best load is whichever one you can consistently double-tap a tight group center mass up to about seven yards away...
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