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Old January 16, 2014, 10:47 PM   #26
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my preferred SD round .....38 special DEWC...
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Old January 16, 2014, 11:45 PM   #27
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This discussion happens on a fairly regular basis.

The consensus always seems to be that .38 special is good enough.
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Old January 17, 2014, 01:16 AM   #28
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well it seems that since the general public became aware of the followign fact, that any cartridge under a certain muzzle energy or velocity was considered wimpy...

the fact being that various legal and illegal medicines like opiates, meth, etc can make a 98 pound "barney fife" type person as hard to stop in a fist fight as a 260 pound "otis" type individual.

also note, that the holly "minimume" of self defence the .380 and 9mm were until the 50 considered to be for women and petite men. But the real man carried a .38 special or bigger
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Old January 17, 2014, 02:57 AM   #29
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I'm just looking at bullets themselves, and seeing what is obvious to me
The 38Spl does have heavier options in bullet weight than the 9mm. 158gn is real common, 147 is about as high as 9mm goes.

I just loaded some 38 and 9mm. For the 38 I used 125 HDY XTP. For the 9mm I used 124 HDY XTP In those particular bullets they are about physically the same.
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Old January 17, 2014, 09:31 AM   #30
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If I didn't think that the .38 was good for self defense I wouldn't have carried one for the last 30 years.
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Old January 17, 2014, 03:14 PM   #31
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The concensus is that a .38 is perfectly viable self defense round. I agree with that.

I would only like to add that you will be much better prepared to use it as such if you make the investment in ammo and training to become proficient with it.

.38 snubbies are great little guns, but only if you can use them well. Buy yourself a thousand rounds of ammo and shoot it. When it's gone you'll be a better shooter and you'll know for certain whether your revolver is up to the task and worth carrying.

Then buy more ammo and keep practicing.

Good luck.
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Old January 17, 2014, 03:23 PM   #32
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Ye Olde 38WC Target load is a good self defense round. What it lacks in velocity it makes up for with accuracy, low recoil and the shape of its bullet.
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Old January 17, 2014, 08:40 PM   #33
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I agree with all the above positive statements about the 38 special.
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Old January 17, 2014, 11:00 PM   #34
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Funny thing in my career..all 45ACP shootings guy lived...stopped quickly and lived. The 38 +P lead hollow point...stopped forever. I have carried a 38 snub for years off duty and retired and it beats the pants off of the CCW du jour of LCPs and other tiny autos. Some might say the snub is as big as a G26 and you may as well carry a baby Glock. That's true in a holster but try stuffing one loaded in your pants...I'd rather not myself. 638 and two speed strips of 158 +P LHP for me.
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Old January 18, 2014, 01:09 AM   #35
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I think people have a tendency to try to justify their choice of caliber with facts. But the facts are all over the place, so if you pick and choose you can get the backing you desire.

Compared to rifles and shotguns, hand guns all fall into the minor leagues. Except in movies, all popular SD calibers, (38spl,9mm,40S&W, 45acp), are close to each other in performance. Whatever you shoot the best is what you should carry. When you get into the magnum rounds like 357, 41 or 44, you should be aware of over penetration. If your bullet goes through your target and hits something or someone else, you may have serious problems. On the streets I carry 38 SPL +p, 9mm or 40S&W. In the woods 357, or 44 mag. If I could only have one gun, it would be a 357 mag with 38spl+p for the streets, and 357 for the woods.

Last edited by DannyB1954; January 18, 2014 at 01:24 AM.
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Old January 18, 2014, 06:52 AM   #36
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I carry a compact .45, I like it. My wife carries a 357 snubby loaded hot, she likes it. But from time to time, especially if we're taking out new shooters, I'll load up a batch of warm 125gr 38 sp rounds. I have to say, we both can make two very accurate shots to center-center mass very quickly. Easy to shoot and more than enough snap on the serious end. I've been tempted to change from time to time.
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Old January 18, 2014, 10:29 AM   #37
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I am just fine with either 38spl or 38spl +P factory ammo for self defense. I guess it's always possible you might run into superman some day and wish you have a 44 mag snubbie or feel you need 15 rounds of 9mm. Frankly I am comfortable with a 22LR revolver simply because I suspect I'll never fire a defensive shot in my entire life and the only use for the gun is to carry around and make you feel good and punch a few holes in tin cans and targets.
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Old January 18, 2014, 11:16 AM   #38
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The .38 Special got a bad reputation for stopping fights due to the insistence of many police departments on loading them with 158gr standard pressure LRN bullets. These loadings are really only good for range work as their shape and construction causes them to create narrow "ice pick" through-and-through wounds. When loaded with a good expanding bullet like Speer 135gr +P Short Barrel Gold Dot or Remington 158gr +P LSWCHP, a .38 Special is a fine defensive cartridge which compares favorably to a standard pressure 9mm loaded with quality JHP's.
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Old January 18, 2014, 11:39 AM   #39
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I think a +P 38 is adequate in most cases, but weak in others. In my case, in a cold northern climate, extra layers of clothing and heavy coats are worn. I prefer a magnum 357 or 44 during winters.
In the summer, during shorts & tee-shirt season, I'd carry a snubbie with a +P 38 ok.
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Old January 18, 2014, 12:30 PM   #40
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I carry a Glock 26 because it has more than double the capacity. (+2 mag extensions) However, I carried a 3" .38spl for a while and felt protected. I carried a variety of rounds.

One of my favorite standard pressure rounds.
Buffalo Bore 158gr LSWC-HC

One of my favorite +p loads.
Remington Golden Saber 125gr
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Last edited by MikeNice81; January 18, 2014 at 12:44 PM.
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Old January 18, 2014, 01:40 PM   #41
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Have shot a lot of .38 special over the last forty years and have never considered it to be a weak round. I trust it for self defense.
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Old January 18, 2014, 03:04 PM   #42
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+P ammunition is not necessary in a .38 Special. Heavy clothing is a non-issue in 99% of circumstances.
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Old January 18, 2014, 03:54 PM   #43
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I prefer 45acp for a defensive round, but I've carried a 22 before too. So I think I'd feel confident with 38spl for SD. The three I have are too large for CCW though
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Old January 18, 2014, 08:35 PM   #44
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I like the 38 special cartridge and have carried it for SD in the past. These days I prefer my SD weapon to have more cartridges available. I carry a Glock 26.
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Old January 18, 2014, 09:02 PM   #45
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I keep a 38 spl in the safe on the nightstand. The same people who say a 38spl isn't enough gun are the ones that say a 30/30 won't kill a deer. The 30/30 has been taking whitetail deer for many years.
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Old January 19, 2014, 02:50 AM   #46
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I bet my life on a "souped up" 3" 649 S&W (custom mods) it is chambered in .357... My SD load is created to hit POA at 50'. 925-950 fps (.38spl velocities) 158 gr 1/2 jacket SWC (Keith) bullet. And, I have the T-shirt, trophy and ring that proves it works.

Realistically... .380- .45 acp all work about equal as SD loads. About 40-50 % lethal and about the same as "one-shot" stops.

My pistol of choice for open carry is a 5" 1911 45 but it is just not convenient all the time. So, my 649 is my next on the list.

I am very old school (and old) so set in my ways. And, a .45 acp and a .357/.38 make me feel all warm and fuzzy.
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Old January 19, 2014, 09:16 AM   #47
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.38 Special

This thing feels so good in the hand, has a very comfortable recoil and quick re-acquisition of target. I think I could get six in a bad guy quicker and more accurately than with my 357.
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Old January 19, 2014, 09:31 AM   #48
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Quote: "I may have missed it, but when did people become so tough that nothing less than .50 BMG will so for self defense? It seems to me that a lot of the "caliber X is worthless and you need..." stuff is coming from range heroes who just like making a lot of noise."

Well said, JamesK.
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Old January 19, 2014, 12:16 PM   #49
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The .38 might be more dependent on premium ammo than most

Choose your bullet carefully and you won't be undergunned . You could say that for every caliber out there.
For lightweight guns the .38 is easier to train and master than the .357
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Old January 19, 2014, 02:11 PM   #50
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38 special for self defense

Seems to me that some guys tend to overthink this "which caliber/load/bullet is best" issue. The 38spl is a fine choice for defensive purposes and will serve well if employed properly.

Remember, Dirty Harry is just a movie.
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