defensive loads for the .38cal snub revolver..

This is a discussion on defensive loads for the .38cal snub revolver.. within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; for those that carry .38cal snubs,(S&W 642/442,LCR) what is your preferred carry load?...

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Thread: defensive loads for the .38cal snub revolver..

  1. #1
    Senior Member Array crue2009's Avatar
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    defensive loads for the .38cal snub revolver..

    for those that carry .38cal snubs,(S&W 642/442,LCR) what is your preferred carry load?

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    Mine is presently stoked with Gold Dot 38 spl+p 135 gr GDHP.

    But honestly, I'd feel just fine with a sturdy-load and LSWC. It's just easier to find the Gold Dot off the shelf.
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    My snubs are typically loaded with 158 gr +P LSWCHP. The spare ammo I carry in speed strips and speedloaders is the Gold Dot +P short barrel stuff... since the noses of the all-lead bullets deform easily when carried in the pocket.
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    I have to say something here so I can get flamed but why does anyone want to shoot +p ammo. It stretches the frame and erodes the barrel faster.

    If you want more then why don’t you move up to a 357 mag ?

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    RKM
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    Quote Originally Posted by WHEC724 View Post
    Mine is presently stoked with Gold Dot 38 spl+p 135 gr GDHP.

    But honestly, I'd feel just fine with a sturdy-load and LSWC. It's just easier to find the Gold Dot off the shelf.
    Same here. Gold Dot 135gr +P. I too would otherwise carry a 158gr LSWC.

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    RKM
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    Quote Originally Posted by barstoolguru View Post
    I have to say something here so I can get flamed but why does anyone want to shoot +p ammo. It stretches the frame and erodes the barrel faster.

    If you want more then why don’t you move up to a 357 mag ?
    I don't shoot +P through my J-frame at the range other than to test ammo POI. Other wise it's all standard pressure .38SPL. Besides a 357 mag j-frame is not easy to control.

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    VIP Member Array tkruf's Avatar
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    Gold Dot's, Remington Golden Sabre. I don't even remember what grain they are. Standard hollow point defense rounds is what I usually buy.
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    Senior Member Array AZ Desertrat's Avatar
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    Usually Hornady Critical Defense 110gr.....but I also like Win. Ranger in any bullet wt.
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    VIP Member Array dawei's Avatar
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    I carry the following load in ALL of my 38 Special revolvers. It provides the velocity and knockdown power of a +P load; without the recoil and muzzle blast.
    •
    Standard Pressure Short Barrel Low Flash 158gr LSWCHOGC .38 Special Ammunition
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    Quote Originally Posted by barstoolguru View Post
    I have to say something here so I can get flamed but why does anyone want to shoot +p ammo. It stretches the frame and erodes the barrel faster.

    If you want more then why don’t you move up to a 357 mag ?
    No flames, just facts.

    .38 +P in most steel-framed guns made since the late-60s are fine, and won't stretch anything more than your budget. The early M36/Chiefs Specials and the pre-Third Series Detective Specials were prone to frame stretching with a steady diet of +P loads, but newer guns designed to handle the 10% higher pressures of the +P.

    Stepping up to the .357 mag in a J-frame gun nearly doubles the forces acting on cylinder and frame, and even with the best materials the frame size is so diminutive that the gun is effectively stressed more highly than the .38-sized J frame shooting +Ps. Putting it differently, a .357 J-frame shooting .357 magnums operates with less margin than the .38 J-frame shooting +Ps.

    Barrel/forcing cone erosion is rarely a problem with any modern gun shooting factory ammo. Yep, the full-house .357s will them out wear sooner than the .38s, but it'll take thousands of rounds to achieve measurable wear.

    +P actually makes a great deal of sense in a snub. Far less recoil, flash and blast compared to the magnum.
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    So many choices... right now mine is loaded with Winchester PDX 130 great +p.
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    Distinguished Member Array Brady's Avatar
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    Yep, Gold Dots for me, lead plain 38's in the shared snubby.
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    I keep both Winchester and Remington 158 grain +P lead semi-wadcutters on hand for self-defense use while also using a handload with a stiff charge of Unique under a 158 grain lead SWC without (wait for it)...even a hollow point! I realize that is sacrilege to admit to not using a hollow point but there it is.

    No frame-stretching observed in 30 years of shooting J-Frame Smith & Wessons with any of the above. Haven't owned a 1966 Colt Detective Special quite so long but it too has seen use with +P ammunition with no observable ill effects. The revolver-damaging and wearing effects of .38 +P ammunition are grossly overrated. It does provide for a little more velocity. It is a "tempest in a teapot" and no high pressure load. Well, perhaps Buffalo Bore's rendition is pretty salty.

    The +P 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter ammunition is used in all .38 Special revolvers around here that are chosen for self-protection, both 2-inch and 4-inch barrels. The load long ago solved any problems with worrying which ammunition to carry. It's worked in barrels short or long and on critters large and small. I'm content.
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    Laz
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    Gasmitty - it is true that more modern guns are designed to handle the extra 10% (and maybe more) but the Speer technical manual on the 135 grain load states it's maximum average pressure is 21,500 psi, which is nearly 26.5% over the 17,000 maximum psi of a standard pressure load. Speer emailed me and said the pressure is more like 20,000 psi which is still 17.65% over standard pressure. SAAMI limit for plus p has evolved which suggests to me the load should be used in more recent guns designed for it and not older guns designed to shoot standard pressure even when plus p was within +10% at 18,500 psi. Even Speer used a steel-framed model 640 for testing.

    It's a great load best suited for weapons designed for it.

  16. #15
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    Yes, but Laz, SAAMI has fiddled with what they publish as standard pressure loadings for the .38 Special and .38 Special +P on several occasion over the years, both up and down.
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