38 sp+p in 4" barrel

This is a discussion on 38 sp+p in 4" barrel within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; For HD purposes. What would be your top 3 suggestions? I was going to purchase 3 different brands and test for accuracy. My initial thoughts ...

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Thread: 38 sp+p in 4" barrel

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    Member Array Stufftoad's Avatar
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    38 sp+p in 4" barrel

    For HD purposes.
    What would be your top 3 suggestions?
    I was going to purchase 3 different brands and test for accuracy.
    My initial thoughts are
    buffalo bore 38+p 158gr LSWCHP
    Speer Gold Dot 125gr
    Remington Home Defense JHP(I forget what grain it is)

    I have 1000 rounds of range ammo in 158 grain however it's not +p.
    Thoughts?

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  3. #2
    Member Array redmc's Avatar
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    I don't load +p but I stay with 158 gr. cast swc or 160 gr. swchp The book says 982 fps and I load .3 grs.less. I have many options but liks the heavy bullets, I assume any factory home defene ammo woud be sufficent enough. Not a fan of lighter bullets for .38 spl

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    Senior Member Array flintlock62's Avatar
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    The Remington Home Defense is a newer version of the Golden Saber, which is a good round. The Gold Dots I know are good rounds with reliable expansion. I can't say anything about the Buffalo Bore, because I've never used them.
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    The 4 inch barrel is the way to go with the 38 spl,,,
    then you get a better result than from a short barrel
    J frame often 2 or less inches.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stufftoad View Post
    For HD purposes.
    What would be your top 3 suggestions?
    I was going to purchase 3 different brands and test for accuracy.
    My initial thoughts are
    buffalo bore 38+p 158gr LSWCHP
    Speer Gold Dot 125gr
    Remington Home Defense JHP(I forget what grain it is)

    I have 1000 rounds of range ammo in 158 grain however it's not +p.
    Thoughts?
    Any one will do....I usually go with heavier loads.
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    It's difficult to build a handload with a 158 grain bullet that will equal the velocity that Buffalo Bore does with their +P 158 grain load which proved to be around 1150 from my 4-inch Smith & Wesson Model 10.

    I'm happy with lead semi-wadcutters in the .38 Special for self-defense use. They don't even have to be screaming hot. Anything over 850 fps is good and the name brand +P 158 grain loads will do that.
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    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    My only rule with 38spl is when using heavy bullets go with lead. It's hard to push a 158g jacketed bullet fast enough for reliable expansion and keep it safe for most 38s. The price difference between 158g LSWCHP and 125g JHP is too great and the performance difference to small to justify the jacketed bullets.
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    None of the ones you mentioned would be a bad choice. I personally like the Gold Dot 125 +P and the Federal 125 +P. I'm a little leary of some of the Remington 125 +P. I have seen some that did not have good crimps and moved under recoil causing the cylinder to bind. (This was in lightweight j frames, not sure if that would have happened in a k frame.) The Federals and Speers tend to have a better factory crimp, IME. Good luck!
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    VIP Member Array Kilowatt3's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    ...I'm happy with lead semi-wadcutters in the .38 Special for self-defense use. They don't even have to be screaming hot. Anything over 850 fps is good and the name brand +P 158 grain loads will do that.
    Bryan,

    In your opinion, does a SWC offer any advantage over a plain ol' WC of the same weight, loaded to the same velocity?
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    If you listen to many on this and other forums, it almost seems like they would prefer a .25acp round for defense. The venerable .38spl gets no love and is the cartridge everyone loves to hate on. You would think by reading it would be more beneficial to turn the revolver around and pistol whip someone rather than use it as intended for self defense. The +p .38spl remains a great self defense round, either in HP or LSWC, and even out of 2" snubbie barrels with ammo designed for the gun like the 135gr +p Gold Dots or the +p 158gr LSWCHP.

    Any good +p self defense ammo or LSWC out of a 4" barrel will certainly do the work.
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    VIP Member Array Bad Bob's Avatar
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    Of the 3 you listed I would definitely go with the 158 grain +P LSWCHP.

    Bryan,

    In your opinion, does a SWC offer any advantage over a plain ol' WC of the same weight, loaded to the same velocity?
    Not Bryan,

    However, are you thinking of the Buffalo Bore WC or the old lead target wad-cutter?

    I am not a fan of the target wadcutter @ those low velocities for SD. I have seen to many people shot with them and still walking around complaining to use them. The BB cast WC @ 1000 fps should be a pretty decent round though I have no experience with them.
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    Member Array SDGlock23's Avatar
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    When I had an SP101 3", the Buffalo Bore 158gr +P LSWHP averaged right around 1,100 fps. Factory 158gr .357 Mag was averaging around 1150 fps, so yeah it packs a punch for a .38.

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    Member Array thedogfather's Avatar
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    I've read on this board and others that Buffalo Bore .38 Spl +P is a very effective round. In general, I would lean towards a heavier bullet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 40Bob View Post
    Of the 3 you listed I would definitely go with the 158 grain +P LSWCHP.



    Not Bryan,

    However, are you thinking of the Buffalo Bore WC or the old lead target wad-cutter?

    I am not a fan of the target wadcutter @ those low velocities for SD. I have seen to many people shot with them and still walking around complaining to use them. The BB cast WC @ 1000 fps should be a pretty decent round though I have no experience with them.

    I'm not keen on the target wadcutter load in the .38 Special either. One reads about about the target wadcutters' effectiveness as low-recoiling load but I've have noticed that factory or factor equivalent hollow-base wadcutter handloads sometimes show a surprising lack of penetration, oddly enough being infrequently stopped in tin cans or after scant penetration in wet phone books.

    Read of an assailant taking a target wadcutter load in the heel of the hand and it stopping without penetrating through to the wrist. Don't know of the accuracy of this account but was suppose to have occurred in a police station, the desk clerk defending himself after being attacked. Don't know the revolver involved which may have been a snub.

    They are pokey loads, going 650-720 fps.

    Now solid-base full wadcutters are another story entirely. These may be jazzed up to "Buffalo Bore" range of velocities with excellent results. Mostly a handloading proposition as far as I know. I'm on a private forum where a couple of members swear by the heavily handloaded solid-base wadcutter for the .38 Special.

    Don't make the mistake of running hollow-base wadcutters at any velocity at all when handloading them. Anything over published handloading data could cause the skirts of the hollow-base bullet to separate and stick in a barrel. Said to be a quite common occurrence when running these types of bullets too hot. I never had this happen to me but I never tried overdoing hollow-base wadcutter loads.

    It's doubtful that an assailant could tell the difference in a good ol' scorching hot solid-base wadcutter load and a similar semi-wadcutter load. Varmints and critters don't fair well against such bullets. Both chop holes and will cut wads in meat as readily as in paper. With good hits, either would ruin one's day.

    Two light hollow-base wadcutter handloads chrongraphed here, along with a heavier semi-wadcutter handload.
    Three .38 Special Handloads

    A Remington factory 148 grain hollow-base wadcutter factory load was included in this batch of testing.
    Some .38 Special Velocity Tests
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    Distinguished Member Array Brady's Avatar
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    Learned something new... no hollow based bullets. That way there's never a question. Thanks, good to know as I start out reloading.
    Any good quality name brand ammo would do for me. I like bullets heavier than 125 and keep Silvertips in my revolvers most of the time (may switch to Gold Dots for winter) with the exception of the LCR which carries Buffalo Bore 38Sp non +P, so my daughter can grab it anytime she needs. Though more important is shot placement. If you don't get the bullet where it needs to be it won't do much.
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