I use Remington Golden Sabers for my .38 SD carry rounds. Not having won the lottery, it's not a round that I practice with frequently for my range time. Ideally I would practice all the time with my same carry round.
Now, I can buy 38 Special +P UMC Jacketed Hollow Point 125 Grain 945 fps for about 15 bucks for a box of 50. The Golden Sabers run about 24 bucks for a box of 25. That's about 3X cost. The Golden Sabers are about 975 fps. Yes, different bullet design, and different terminal ballistics, but for practice the rounds are pretty much the same for point of impact from what I have seen at the range.
My question is are the terminal ballistics of the "designer" rounds that much better than the old fashioned stuff? The old FBI loads are about as low tech as you can get but they have a proven track record. And I've probably shot 1500+ of these UMC's and not one has failed to go bang. So, I have to ask - are the "designer" rounds really worth the 3X in price?
Seriously, I'm feeling a bit ignorant, because the conventional wisdom is to carry with the fancy and practice with the cheap. But does the performance of these bullets really warrant 3x cost, or are we just buying these because if our life depends on it, we want something with the best terminal ballistics? The only reasons I can think of:
1) better terminal ballistics;
2) lower "flash" (maybe) to decrease blindness in dark settings.
Is that it? I'm not taking issue with the conventional wisdom, I just want to make sure I understand all factors.