The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Handguns: General Handgun Forum

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old December 28, 2017, 06:43 PM   #1
Senior Member
Join Date: October 30, 1998
Location: WV
Posts: 162
Loose Rounds, Federal .38spl Nyclad.

In the past, the decision on what ammo to carry was often based on marking hype, magazine articles, or gun store experts. Maybe some people still do. Unfortunately, I’m finding out that some of the advice I received years ago wasn’t so great. Today, the info available to us is much better allowing people to make better choices for their needs.

I recently found a 125gr .38spl +P Nyclad when I was rummaging around in my box of odds and ends ammo. I thought this would be the perfect round following the 9mm Nyclad I shot last week. I was hoping this one would do better but I really didn’t think it would. Turns out I was right.
One round into two 16 inch blocks of Clear Ballistics gel fired from a S&W model 442 Air Weight with a 1 7/8’s barrel. The Bullet hit with a velocity of 844fps and penetrated 17 inches. It stopped with the base forward and did not expand. You may notice the leading edge of the bullet looks like it started to expand but what you’re seeing is the nylon coating separating from the lead.
Another eye-opening and disappointing outcome.

5pins is offline  
Old December 29, 2017, 09:47 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: September 20, 2009
Location: SC Missouri
Posts: 584
I always thought they would do much better than that.

Bob R
Viper225 is offline  
Old December 31, 2017, 05:22 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: October 20, 2012
Posts: 5,060
Aren't these supposed to be a tops load?
Model12Win is offline  
Old December 31, 2017, 05:36 PM   #4
Senior Member
Join Date: December 10, 2014
Location: Texas
Posts: 975
I learned a long time ago: don't count on any hollow point bullet fired from a handgun to expand. Most times it just doesn't happen.

If it does, then consider it an exception and a bonus.
Dufus is offline  
Old January 10, 2018, 04:29 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: April 6, 2006
Location: Texas
Posts: 151
I often wonder if my wife is smarter than I am for carrying Fed Gold Match .38spl 148gr HBWC in her snubby. I carry either Remington's FBI load (+P 158gr LSWCHP) or a spunkier version from Underwood or Buffalo Bore.

Half the tests show the Rem FBI load (best of the FBI loads: Fed, Win, Rem) not expanding from a snubby. And the peppier UW/BB loads have beau coup recoil.
Regards, jfruser
"We have now sunk to a depth at which re-statement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men."----George Orwell
jfruser is offline  
Old January 12, 2018, 02:49 AM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: October 20, 2012
Posts: 5,060
Well at the end of the day, James Bond carried a .25.

A .38'll do.
Model12Win is offline  
Old January 13, 2018, 07:15 PM   #7
Emerson Biggies
Senior Member
Join Date: November 15, 2014
Posts: 142
I've found HP lead and plated HP's seldom expand unless they are going about 1200 fps or faster. Typically 38's don't get pushed that fast. Light 357's would work if pushed to that speed.
Keep your guns clean.... the kids may put them in their mouths!
Emerson Biggies is offline  
Old January 13, 2018, 07:46 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: November 18, 2001
Location: Over the hills and far, far away
Posts: 2,832
Well at the end of the day, James Bond carried a .25.
A .38'll do.
The bad guys were guaranteed to drop when Bond shot them. It was in the script.
DMK is offline  
Old January 14, 2018, 03:19 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: October 22, 2016
Posts: 1,375
Yeah, old technology not performing. I thought they would have done better than not expanding, but nope.

Lucky Gunner's tests of .38 and .357 opened my eyes to the difficulties of .38 Special hollow points out of snub barrels. Most either fail to expand due to the low velocity or fail to penetrate.

The premium Winchester loads did fine, Remington Golden Saber did okay, but I liked Hornady Critical Defense +P the most. While not every shot may not have hit the 12 inch FBI minimums consistently, they always came very close, close enough to call them a success from a 2 inch barrel.

That's for hollow points though, I still think that from a snub revolver, the best defense ammo is that which is designed to do damage from not expanding.

That leaves two loads that I know of and it's either a moderately hot hardcast wadcutter or those bullets with flutes in the nose that are supposed to use the rotation of the bullet to damage tissue.

I don't think one can go wrong with either, but lately I've been leaning towards the lightweight Polycase ammunition because the velocities are so high that they usually cause the bullet to tumble and do more damage than wadcutters or hollow points and because they also have slightly lower recoil.

Also because I'm of the opinion that the "range" ammo Polycase that doesn't have the flutes will do the exact same thing the fluted ammo does, which is tumble a few inches into the body and render the flutes useless. So, if the fluted defense bullets don't do anything because the bullet is tumbling, why pay double the price for them?
Any good revolver > Any good semi auto

Last edited by TruthTellers; January 14, 2018 at 03:34 AM. Reason: Forgot to mention stuff
TruthTellers is offline  
Old January 14, 2018, 08:50 AM   #10
Senior Member
Join Date: June 16, 2008
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 10,916
Speer JHP 38+Ps vs. Winchester 38 (standard) 158 Gr LSWC fired into a wet phone book. Both fired from a Smith 642

Not much difference in penatration.

Just Saying

Kraig Stuart
USAMU Sniper School Oct '78
Distinguished Rifle Badge 1071
kraigwy is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 09:11 PM   #11
Senior Member
Join Date: August 25, 2006
Posts: 837
Looks like that old 158 LSWC is a winner! Very interesting results. I would have bet money on the Speer.
shurshot is offline  
Old January 16, 2018, 09:33 PM   #12
Senior Member
Join Date: September 23, 2013
Location: Alabama
Posts: 1,626
I like the Remington 158gr. +p LHP. they've expanded in the water jug testing I've done from my 2" model 64 and my 642; the latter isn't fun.

the Remington load must use a softer lead than Winchester and Federal.
JERRYS. is offline  
Old Yesterday, 04:20 PM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: August 31, 2002
Location: Deep in the Heart of the Lone Star State (TX)
Posts: 2,020
Soft lead is the way to go in a snub. If you can't get expansion, penetration and deformation will suffice.

Sent from my SM-G892A using Tapatalk
seeker_two is offline  
Old Yesterday, 06:43 PM   #14
Senior Member
Join Date: October 20, 2012
Posts: 5,060
I carry Gold Dot's SHORT BARREL SPEERS in my snub.
Model12Win is offline  
Old Today, 11:27 AM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: November 14, 2017
Location: Finger Lakes Region of NY
Posts: 134
Don't know why you guys are having problems getting hollowpoints to expand when fired out of snubbies. Middle 158gr bullet came out of my 2.5" snubbie at a leisurely 840fps.


NRA Life Member
NRA Certified Metallic Cartridge Reloading Instructor
USSR is offline  
Old Today, 01:11 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: October 20, 2012
Posts: 5,060
Water tests are a horrible medium for expansion results in flesh.
Model12Win is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:46 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2018, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2018 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.07421 seconds with 10 queries