158g or 125g bullet for 1 7/8" barrel J Frame?

This is a discussion on 158g or 125g bullet for 1 7/8" barrel J Frame? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Did a little wheeling and dealing today and ended up bringing home a S&W 438 that I'm trying very hard to develop at least a ...

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Thread: 158g or 125g bullet for 1 7/8" barrel J Frame?

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    Senior Member Array Dadsnugun's Avatar
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    158g or 125g bullet for 1 7/8" barrel J Frame?

    Did a little wheeling and dealing today and ended up bringing home a S&W 438 that I'm trying very hard to develop at least a modicum of appreciation for.....that's not entirely true...it's very light and conceals quite easily and the dadgum hump on it's back should discourage snags and such in pockets...guess I'll just have to call it "Quasimodo" and get over it.

    My question is, with such a short barrel, would it be better to stick with my favorite 158g bullet in 38SP, or drop down to 125g or so in the attempt to put up a little higher fps out of it? My inclination is to stick to the heavier bullet, as that's just what I like, but I've never owned a gun with such a short barrel (excepting the derringer...gone now). Any ideas?

    ETA-I'm very tired and going to bed now, so I'll check back in the AM...toodles...
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    VIP Member Array Crowman's Avatar
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    As with many topics on this forum you will get a gazillion different opinions. There are pros and cons to each ammo you state. This no different than asking which handgun/revolver is the best to carry or which holster. In the end you will have to decide which way you want to go.
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    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    I have a couple of the hump back beauties. I refer to them as camels. I personally like the 158 gr flavor, but that's just me. I tend to go with the heaviest bullet available. Put the shot where it needs to be and it won't matter much.
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    CorBon DPX +P .38 Special. Lowest recoil of the viable self-defense rounds for the light-weight snub-nosed revolver.

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    My understanding is that 125gr +P SWC come with FBI recommendation.
    I shot a couple hundred on each day of a two-day snubby course at Tactical Defense Institute from my S&W 438 aka "Bodyguard" with factory laser. It was all the fun I could handle and would not concern myself with heavier.
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    Quote Originally Posted by BugDude View Post
    I have a couple of the hump back beauties. I refer to them as camels. I personally like the 158 gr flavor, but that's just me. I tend to go with the heaviest bullet available. Put the shot where it needs to be and it won't matter much.
    Nice collection, myself I would like to add a “lemon squeezer” or I forget the model number but one with a shrouded hammer that can be thumb cocked to my collection.
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    Ditto on BugDude... I'd stick to the 158s. I prefer the old "FBI" load, the lead SWC-HP in +P denomination.

    I'm partial to the humpbacks as well... I doubt there's a snub that leaves a pocket faster.
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    Member Array Hamour's Avatar
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    The 158 hpt of soft lead is hard to beat for any .38 special revolver used for defense.

    I personally cast my hollow points for the .38 special using pure lead and 2.5% tin, this bullet works and expands at 800 fps or better.

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    VIP Member Array wmhawth's Avatar
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    I have the 438 too. I carry the 158 grain LSWC loads in it as I do in all my 38 Spls. I've practiced with 130 grain FMJs as well. The 438 just isn't fun to shoot but it is hard to beat for concealment and carry comfort. I've got an old weightlifting glove that I slip on for fun with this thing at the range.
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    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamour View Post
    The 158 hpt of soft lead is hard to beat for any .38 special revolver used for defense.

    I personally cast my hollow points for the .38 special using pure lead and 2.5% tin, this bullet works and expands at 800 fps or better.

    I agree. Plus you have the added benfit of inexspensive practice rounds.
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    I like the 158's. I also practice with the 130 ball ammo.

    I carry the ported version nowadays a lot.

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    VIP Member Array 357and40's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pistology View Post
    My understanding is that 125gr +P SWC come with FBI recommendation.
    I shot a couple hundred on each day of a two-day snubby course at Tactical Defense Institute from my S&W 438 aka "Bodyguard" with factory laser. It was all the fun I could handle and would not concern myself with heavier.
    FBI endorses Winchester PDX1 (their 38 comes in 130gr+P).
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    VIP Member Array glockman10mm's Avatar
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    I could care less what the FBI endorses. I have a developed an almost foreign concept of thinking for myself. And my thinking leads me to believe there is no better than a 158 weight lswc driven at 800 fps or better.
    Ignorance is a long way from stupid, but left unchecked, can get there real fast.

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    Senior Member Array Dadsnugun's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the comments, I may take it out and put a few rounds through it today if I can get the dang pickup running again (whole 'nother left-over from yesterday). I've got a few boxes of 158 LFPRN loaded to standard pressure laying around here and maybe a box of +P 125's too in plated HP. I like the ease of carry of this gun, but haven't quite gotten past the "feels like a toy" aspect, it's my first alloy gun too.

    Nice guns BugDude and wmhawth I particularly like the wooden grips, mine came with "composite".

    I also very much like the bullets put up by Hamour, I need to get set up to cast my own, maybe I'll prowl some yard/estate sales this year and hope to get lucky with some equipment.
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    158 grain bullets for me. Especially in short-barreled snubs.
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