Defense ammo for j frame 38 cal revolvers

Defense ammo for j frame 38 cal revolvers

This is a discussion on Defense ammo for j frame 38 cal revolvers within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Just purchased a S&W 442. Looking for the best defense ammo. Any suggestions?...

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  1. #1
    Member Array fffabiano's Avatar
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    Defense ammo for j frame 38 cal revolvers

    Just purchased a S&W 442. Looking for the best defense ammo. Any suggestions?


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array GhostMaker's Avatar
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    In the 38 Special caliber, particularly in snubbies, I carry a Remington 158 grain Lead-Semi-Wad-Cutter- Hollow Point +P. It's an old school load that is still around because it works and works well. Without the hard brass jacket it expands even at the low velocities that snubs generate and drives deep enough to strike vitals.
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    I like Gold dot +P for short barrels

    Speer Ammo - Ballistics Tables
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    Hard to say what's "best", but just about any +P load of 125 grains or more will be adequate. All the majors (Federal, Hornady, Rem, Speer, Win, etc.) put out some good defensive .38 stuff.

    A number of us here are fond of the dated but nonetheless effective 158 gr lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint +P - the so-called "FBI load." If the HP expands, great, and if it only deforms a bit you've still got 158 grains of bullet working for you.

    I'd buy a box of each flavor you can find and see what works the best for you, in terms of accuracy and manageable recoil. Availability may be more of a driver than anything else right now.
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    Ghost uses a tried an true load, my snubs are ported so I use buffalo bore low flash for short barrels 158 gr or 357 low flash

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    For a 38 the load Ghost uses is about the best.
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    Member Array fffabiano's Avatar
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    I was told that although a 442 is a "snubbie, it is an airweight-can it handle 158gr or should I be looking less weight?

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    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    My first choice is LSWCHP 158 g. If am shooting jacketed hollow point bullets in a snub nose I stay away from 158 g. I would look for some hollow base wad cutters for practice. Low recoil and very accurate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by pgrass101 View Post
    I like Gold dot +P for short barrels

    Speer Ammo - Ballistics Tables
    Another vote for same.
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    I prefer more penetration, at least 15 inches, due to the fact that an attackers hands/arms will likely need to be penetrated before even reaching the torso. Just got some Doubletap 158 gr + P wadcutters for my LCR.
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    Member Array Ivan's Avatar
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    Buffalo Bore has some great loads for .38 Special. They are definitely worth a look. They also seem to be more available than some other brands right now. The ammo shelves in a couple LGS I frequent are still pretty bare.
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    VIP Member Array zacii's Avatar
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    I found the traditional FBI load a little much for me, so I roll with this.

    I do carry some Federal 125 grain JHP +P for reloads, though. The all lead bullets would get deformed/marred too easily riding in a pocket all the time.
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    I run 135 grain +P Gold Dots in my 442.

    I have no doubts as to the performance. They will do well.

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    Count me as another fan of the 158gr LSWCHP.
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    Here's a Model 642, the stainless steel version of the same configuration as the Model 442. It only ever sees a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter. It's handled 158 grain loads to the tune of about 1200 of them since 1998 (that's just a semi-educated guess on round count). Standard velocity handloads for range time and +P for defensive carry. Mrs. bmc has pretty well adopted this revolver.
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