The Bullet Expansion Thread
This is a discussion on The Bullet Expansion Thread within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Is A Bullet Jacket Always Needed For the Self-Defense Load?
The bullet jacket has become the basis for all self-defence bullet designs in this day ...
May 29th, 2012 03:46 PM
Is A Bullet Jacket Always Needed For the Self-Defense Load?
The bullet jacket has become the basis for all self-defence bullet designs in this day and age. Only the hoary ol' "FBI Load" .38 Special sticks around with its lead 158 grain semi-wadcutter bullet, generally (but not always) served up with the requisite hollow point. The "FBI Load" hangs on primarily because there is still a generation of shooters who value this particular loading. It is still a good one too. Why a jacketed bullet is required for .38 Special snub loadings of modest velocity I can't fathom except that all have come to expect jackets on their self-defense bullets. Perhaps fears of leading when using the .38 Special loads in practice makes the manufacturers produce jacketed loads for .38 Special and other non-magnum revolvers. Expansion can be depended on to occur without assistance from bullet jackets.
A self-defense load for a revolver could feature soft lead and a number of different designs for bullet noses. Lead bullets can give really great expansion and don't need a jacket when driven at modest to moderate velocities.
With automatic pistols there could be a problem with lead bullet loads functioning well in all the different pistol designs. My personal automatic pistols haven't had trouble feeding well-crafted lead bullet handloads. Well-crafted meaning with due attention paid to dimensional specifications when producing the load and not necessarily to the quality of the bullet itself. I've loaded some pretty cheapo cast bullets and made a few myself that gave good function in semi-auto pistols for plinking or basic range work. There are other folks here on the Forum who do so as well. Buffalo Bore seems to be willing to depend on lead bullets a little more than most other companies who market self-defense ammunition.
Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society "Get heeled! No really"
“No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”
Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893
June 7th, 2012 05:00 PM
I'll admit that years ago I assumed that newer was better, ergo JHP's were modern & good, lead bullets were antiquated and best suited for shooting tin cans. (remember them--tin, I mean?) Of course, I also was interested primarily in hi-capacity military designs: pistols, rifles, SMG's, etc. The main exception I recall was my first 357 Magnum, because it was a Magnum, but I found it atrocious with 158g LSWC's due to lead/gas spitting out of the barrel-cylinder gap. That was before I knew about things like timing, and I shouldn't have been surprised when that Mod. 66 locked up (was OK after factory repair).Still, that horrible spitting--which I attributed to the lead bullet--stuck with me like a bogeyman.
My other main experience with lead bullets was .22's, which I blazed away by the thousands as a kid. Seemed dirtier than copper-coated bullets and such, as did various boxes of lead bullet target stuff I shot over the years.
Then, I started to come around as revolvers began to interest me more, and by that point the "FBI Load" was long-since established as a "go-to" load for .38's. I bought a 637 and 642 in 2005, and was surprised that they were unpleasantly flashy and sharp-recoiling, even with "low recoil" SD jacketed bullets of 110 and 125g weight. Maybe I slept through that part of high school physics!!! Anyway, I was beginning to notice that lead bullets didn't seem as hard on the shooter as jacketed ones.
The clincher was when I re-read Thompson-LaGarde and the "Pig Board II" stuff on the Internet (perhaps not fully reliable--noted). T-L clearly made the point that soft lead had wounding characteristics that made up in some ways for their generally lower velocities: specifically, their tendence to crush, smash and splinter bone rather than drill a hole through it. Also, lead bullets were heavier than their jacketed counterparts, at similar pressure levels, and this extra weight gave some great terminal performance, too, aka penetration in soft targets, all at modest felt recoil vs. higher-vel jacketed stuff.
So, my revolvers normally are loaded with lead bullets, although I currently carry a 135g GDHP jacketed handload in my 4" 33-1 in caliber 38 S&W. (I'd prefer a 140g LHP if I could get one, to make a mini-FBI Load. BTW, the 2" Mod 32-1 I carry as a backup is loaded with lead 200g or 148g WC at 810 fps. The Gold Dot gives me one of two guns with some capability vs. barriers.)
Although I've gotten my RIA Model 1911 to eat everything I feed it, I broke it in with hundreds of my own truncated cone 238g as-cast bullets (Lee .452-230-TC/TL). I can rely on this bullet more than I feel I can on the smaller quantities of JHPs I can feed the gun, plus that heavy, blunt slug is attractively capable at about 800 fps. I've tried to get interested in Hornady Critical Defense and also their 200g XTPs, but want a heavier bullet and don't want to push the 230 XTP at 900 to ensure expansion. I'm about to load up a big batch of the heavy lead bullets and that will become my defensive load for that gun.
So, lead works for me as a "slow/heavy" guy. Plus, my handloaded lead stuff seems no dirtier than jacketed, as I can pay attention to groove diameter & lubrication and avoid "one-size-fits-all" problems with some factory ammo.
June 7th, 2012 06:20 PM
As long as the bullet is properly placed and has the oomph to get to where it needs to go it'll do it's job regardless of it's composition. However a bullet design that adds expansion to it's ability will do the job better.
"There is a secret pride in every human heart that revolts at tyranny. You may order and drive an individual, but you cannot make him respect you." William Hazlitt (1778 - 1830)
Best Choices for Self Defense Ammunition
June 10th, 2012 12:02 PM
See some relevant recollections in post #5 at Real World feedback, please-- (^_^)
Also a brand-new test by a forum member at Remington 38 Special +P 158 Grain LSWCHP Test
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