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Old March 20, 2020, 09:35 PM   #1
Snidely Whiplash
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Old .38 Special Lead Practice Ammo Any Good?

I found five boxes of 25 year old .38 Special lead bullet (non-jacketed) ammunition that was used for range / target practice by a small municipal police department in the 1980’s. Some of the ammunition has flat lead bullets and some is rounded and I’m sure non of it was good for anything more than practice at the time.

I have a newer .38 special (j-frame) but I’m not sure I’m comfortable using this ammunition even to practice with. Is this kind of ammunition good for anything? Should I find someone to give it to that will use it for practice? If it’s no good, how / where would I dispose of it?

I appreciate any advice.
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Old March 20, 2020, 10:02 PM   #2
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Commercial ammunition or "sum dood's" reloads?

If it's a name brand of commercial ammunition, I wouldn't hesitate to shoot it.
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Old March 20, 2020, 10:03 PM   #3
Jim Watson
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Sounds ok to me.
Lead .38s were for practice in 1995, but another 25 years earlier, hollowpoints were just getting established and the old fashioned lead bullets were still on duty many places.
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Old March 20, 2020, 10:23 PM   #4
Snidely Whiplash
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It’s all commercial ammunition. Yellow box with UMC listed as manufacturer.
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Old March 20, 2020, 10:46 PM   #5
rc
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People worry ammo is like food with an expiration date. While it may not be as fresh and consistent as it would have been years ago. I doubt you would know the difference from current factory ammo. Go have fun and save the brass. 38 brass isn't all that common any more and reloaders will be happy to buy it from you for a few dollars a box.
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Old March 21, 2020, 01:01 AM   #6
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bullets

Depending on what kind of "flatnose" bullet you are looking at,....if the projectile is flush with the case mouth, it is called a wadcutter. WC Wadcutters were almost always target and practice ammo. If the nose projects beyond the case mouth, with a bit of a shoulder at the case mouth, and then forward to have a flat tip, it is referred to as a semi-wadcutter. SWC
Round nose were of course referred to as just that. RN

RN's and SWC were used as duty ammo in the .38, maybe as late as the early 1980's, but hollowpoints were gaining notoriety quickly. Seems like NYPD held onto lead RN's for a long time, longer than they should have. If the cases don't show any heavy corrosion, I'd shoot'em. And I don't see any reason why you could not shoot them in your J-frame for practice, they seem ideal for that very purpose.
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Old March 21, 2020, 02:51 AM   #7
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Quote:
It’s all commercial ammunition. Yellow box with UMC listed as manufacturer.
Maybe....

Quote:
.38 Special lead bullet (non-jacketed) ammunition that was used for range / target practice by a small municipal police department in the 1980’s.
Numerous police depts. used reloaded ammo for practice. Sometimes it was done under a commercial contract, and sometimes it was done by trusted individuals, sometimes one of the officers. And police depts. also sold/traded the ammo between each other.

You may have factory made ammo, or you may have reloads possibly even the brass that originally came loaded in that box. Have someone who knows what to look for check the ammo for signs of resizing on the cases.
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Old March 21, 2020, 08:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
Sounds ok to me.
Lead .38s were for practice in 1995, but another 25 years earlier, hollowpoints were just getting established and the old fashioned lead bullets were still on duty many places.
And 25 years later...
Most modern 38 high tech wonder hollow points @ $1.00+ per round are still failing miserably out of snubs when compared to plain old LRN an LWC.
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Old March 21, 2020, 09:02 AM   #9
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OP if indicators are that it is factory made and original, then it is likely perfectly fine.
Worst case, just run it through a tank like the GP100 as you aren't going to hurt it.
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Old March 21, 2020, 11:37 AM   #10
Jim Watson
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Quote:
And 25 years later...
Most modern 38 high tech wonder hollow points @ $1.00+ per round are still failing miserably out of snubs when compared to plain old LRN an LWC.
I recall M. Ayoob's account of NYPD cops fighting the administration for hollow points.
They were denied but were given SWCs instead of RN. He said the major brand factory idea of a SWC was no more effective than RN.
Chicago and then the FBI went to soft lead hollow points which were a definite improvement, and still worth having. A JHP at black powder velocity seldom expands.
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Old March 21, 2020, 04:07 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Watson View Post
I recall M. Ayoob's account of NYPD cops fighting the administration for hollow points.
They were denied but were given SWCs instead of RN. He said the major brand factory idea of a SWC was no more effective than RN.
Chicago and then the FBI went to soft lead hollow points which were a definite improvement, and still worth having. A JHP at black powder velocity seldom expands.
Feelings versus facts
Which is the same reason people will hand over $1-2 per cartridge for the latest wonder round in a fancy box.
Yet at the range their basic shooting technique and skills are el stinko, especially under pressure.
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Old March 22, 2020, 11:05 AM   #12
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25 years is nothing. From your description it is commercial ammo, so unless it looks really nasty for some reason, I'd shoot it up with no hesitation.
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Old March 23, 2020, 07:59 AM   #13
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A first step could be to check the headstamps.
If they're all the same, it.....could....mean they are most likely factory ammo.

If they're mixed then reloads.
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Old March 23, 2020, 01:55 PM   #14
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If it makes it out of the barrel, it's okay.
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Old March 25, 2020, 05:13 PM   #15
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Shoot some and find out. I have ammo around older than that which functions just fine.
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