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Thread: Best Defensive Ammo for .38 Spec. in J-frames

  1. #1

    Best Defensive Ammo for .38 Spec. in J-frames

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    Okay guys, what is the best defensive ammo in .38 Special for snub nose revolvers? No Plus P, they're all older J-frame Smiths. All comments and info is appreciated.

  2. #2
    google "FBI load"

    Warning, the following link is +P

  3. #3

  4. #4
    These are great.

    That being said I'm still a huge fan of the old school Federal Nyclads
    I believe in free men, free markets, the rule of law under the Founder's Republic and that the Constitution extends to everyone regardless of race, creed, color or religion. I most especially believe in the right of the people to keep and bear arms as the ultimate guarantor of liberty. - Mike Vanderboegh

  5. #5
    That Speer 135gr Gold Dots are definitely top rated, but it's a +P.
    The Nyclads have always been good too, but I thought they were discontinued years ago. Did they re-introduce them? They were available in +P and non +P. They also originally used to offer one in 158gr semi-wadcutter HP, which I liked. I remember, way back when, the original formulation wouldn't retain rifling marks. Oops!
    If you handload, another classic was to load 148gr hollow based wadcutters reversed so the hollow skirt faced out. These were loaded to target velocities, so low pressure. They had a good street rep, but I wonder how they would test to modern penetration guidelines. Even full wadcutters were considered viable low pressure rounds for older guns.

  6. #6
    Not Subscribed Senior Member
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    Mar 2008
    Pilot Mountain
    Federal P38HS2 PerDef 38 SPL 125gr NY HP(Per 20) for my Colt Agent (aluminum frame).
    Do a Google Search for online sales. Hope this helps
    Bitterly Clinging!

  7. #7
    Cross posted, but that's probably going to happen for a while:

    Quote Originally Posted by tactical.45 View Post
    Thanks, but keep in mind that I can't use Plus P ammo, I'm using older J-frames that aren't Plus P rated.
    Your gun will handle +P in an emergency, which is when you are likely to need it. Just don't shoot it as your regular range load.

    I have an older J-frame snubbie that is not rated for +P. My carry load is the Speer 135gr +P Gold Dot Short Barrel. Note that the penetration and expansion are nearly perfect (at least according to the FBI and Wound Ballistics Association tests). Speer has done a great job tailoring loads for short barreled pistols. Five rounds of +P fired in an extreme situation are not going to break the gun. The difference between standard .38 special and +P is about 9%., nothing that is going to cause any damage in a working firearm. At the range I use standard .38 Special ammo. Practice with the standard pressure ammo and carry the best defensive ammo you can find.
    Chad Ward
    An Edge in the Kitchen
    William Morrow Cookbooks

  8. #8
    Here's an interesting comparison to the Buffalo Bore 158gr SWCHP. Note that the Buffalo Bore 158gr is rated (and tests) at 850 fps, providing 253 foot pounds of energy and is NOT +P, at least not on the packaging. The Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel is 860 fps for a 135gr bullet, giving 221 foot pounds of energy but is listed as +P on the box.

    The Buffalo Bore penetrates 19" in the SimTest media and barely expands. The Gold Dot Short Barrel penetrates to 12.5" and expands to .544. Your choice depends on what you are looking for.

    If you can find old-stock, standard pressure Federal Nyclad, that was also a viable carry load for a snubbie. It averaged 750-800fps and 8-10" of penetration in bare ballistic gelatin but 18" when shot through clothing. <shrug> I have a box of 50 if you want to buy it.

    Remember that +P is a post 1972 phenomenon. Prior to that, standard pressure loads were higher. The +P designation came about when manufacturers lowered their standard pressures. If your older J-frames are pre-1972, what is today a +P round is what they were designed to shoot.
    Chad Ward
    An Edge in the Kitchen
    William Morrow Cookbooks

  9. #9
    That Buffalo Bore 158gr SWCHP is a remake of the old NY(?) load that had a good street rep out of 2" guns.I think Winchester and Federal made them.
    I agree that generally +P will not blow up your gun, but loosen it over time. So, an occasional +P is not a bad thing. So, the idea of practice with standard pressure and carry of +P is OK.

  10. #10
    I noticed in my new spring Cabelas catalog, that Hornady has two loads in the 110 gr category, one is a regular and the other is a +P load, this is in the Critical Defense type ammo. So getting a good non +P load should not be difficult.

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