Smith & Wesson 642 - What's the best range & Self Defense Ammo?

This is a discussion on Smith & Wesson 642 - What's the best range & Self Defense Ammo? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Looking for sound advise on what ammo to use at the range and for self defense. I have been given permission by my boss to ...

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Thread: Smith & Wesson 642 - What's the best range & Self Defense Ammo?

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    Member Array deaconswife's Avatar
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    Smith & Wesson 642 - What's the best range & Self Defense Ammo?

    Looking for sound advise on what ammo to use at the range and for self defense.

    I have been given permission by my boss to cc. I work in an office sitting at a desk much of the time, but do walk around the facilities throughout the day for various reasons. I want something that will do the job if needed without worrying if it will pack the punch needed. Any ideas?
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    The one here is loaded with +P 158 lead semi-wadcutter hollow points or their handloaded equivalent. All .38 Special revolvers "taken seriously" around here, no matter the barrel length, are so loaded.


    It has developed in recent years that my wife has been carrying this revolver a lot.
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    “No possible rapidity of fire can atone for habitual carelessness of aim with the first shot.”

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    VIP Member Array WrongRecroom's Avatar
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    For my 638 I used either white box 38 or remigtion 38 both seem to fire just find . I normal like either hornady critical defensive or pdx1 rounds for carry. I believe speer makes a round made for short barrel guns and is low flash. Both CD and pdx1 are as well.

    Also federal and hordnay make low recoil ammo if that is a issue

    Most any modern hollow point round will do the job just fine . Just fire a few box to get the feel for it and make sure there is no issues ( rare but you never know).

    Also depening on the round you may want to look at better grips help a lot esp with small guns . I have pacymare on mine helps a lot with grip and control also the much larger Houge are good for the range and reduced recoil to nothing . You will know after you shoot it .

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    VIP Member Array Cuda66's Avatar
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    For range use, a straight wadcutter is a lot of fun.

    And my snub .38 is loaded (like bmcgilvray's) with 158gr+P LSWCHP's.
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    Member Array OlCop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuda66 View Post
    For range use, a straight wadcutter is a lot of fun.

    And my snub .38 is loaded (like bmcgilvray's) with 158gr+P LSWCHP's.
    +1 158gr+P LSWCHP AKA U.S. Treasury Load. For low flash the Speer 135 gr.+p GDHPSB

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    Member Array NRA1945's Avatar
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    Any decent brand using Hornady's 158 gr. XTP bullet (including Hornady itself) is a good choice for self defense. Although the +P loads mentioned are effective, keep in mind they can be a handful in a small lightweight revolver. You may be able to shoot better with a standard pressure load, and that is the most important thing.

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    Senior Member Array flintlock62's Avatar
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    I have shot wad cutters seated backwards out of a 357 with a gas check. I don't remember the charge, but I used Alcan 10, which tells you how long ago that was. I can tell you this, don't attempt shooting a load like that into a gallon jug of water within 20 yards! My first shot was at 10 yards. None of the 10 jugs had an exit hole. The good thing is, it was a on a hot day. I even had a rainbow once!


    Quote Originally Posted by Cuda66 View Post
    For range use, a straight wadcutter is a lot of fun.

    And my snub .38 is loaded (like bmcgilvray's) with 158gr+P LSWCHP's.
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    Ex Member Array all357mag's Avatar
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    Keep everything at 158gr. The weight the cartridge was designed for. Use lead RN, SWC, WC for range, HP for self defense.

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    Senior Member Array flintlock62's Avatar
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    100% agree. My most accurate shots were with 158 gr. The ROT matches the bullet length in that caliber.


    Quote Originally Posted by all357mag View Post
    Keep everything at 158gr. The weight the cartridge was designed for. Use lead RN, SWC, WC for range, HP for self defense.

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    VIP Member Array Stevew's Avatar
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    For range work I like 148 wad cutters. Low recoil and very accurate. If that was what my gun was loaded with at the time I would feel confident in a self defense situation.

    For carry I like 158g lead semi wad cutter hollow points. They have a proven track record. When you push velocity with this round the recoil is very noticeable.

    My second choice for a snubby is 125g JHP.

    I do not use 158g JHP in a snub nose revolver.
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    VIP Member Array Easy8's Avatar
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    Load my own for range work, been using cb bullets 158gr LRN with 4.2 gr unique for cc I carry standard pressure buffalo bore 158gr lswc low flash low recoil great round

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    Senior Member Array flintlock62's Avatar
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    A wad cutter will cut a hole into flesh, instead of ripping it. A ripped hole will close somewhat, and a cut hole won't, at least not as much. Even if it doesn't expand, the subject will (should) bleed out more quickly.

    One of the reasons a wad cutter is so accurate is the relatively soft lead, and the large hollow base which forms the best gas seal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stevew View Post
    For range work I like 148 wad cutters. Low recoil and very accurate. If that was what my gun was loaded with at the time I would feel confident in a self defense situation.

    For carry I like 158g lead semi wad cutter hollow points. They have a proven track record. When you push velocity with this round the recoil is very noticeable.

    My second choice for a snubby is 125g JHP.

    I do not use 158g JHP in a snub nose revolver.

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    Gramps loads my .38 range rounds. Some are wadcutters. I think they are fun to shoot at the range because they make such NICE NEAT holes! For SD I use branded "self defense" +P in my j frame and .357 in my heavy model 686. I don't have a choice or preference in SD rounds because Gramps came equipped with boxes and boxes of them. AND I hope, really hope, to never have to use them. (Although I have shot a speed loader or two full during competition shoots by mistake: they make a lot of noise!)
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    Member Array Sea Wolf's Avatar
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    For the range I like precision one 125 grain fmj or jsp. This round is lightly loaded and will keep your hand from stinging after 20-25 rounds of practice. For SD I like the Gold Dot 135 grain +p. I use both rounds in a 642 and a ruger lcr.
    SW
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    I stopped differentiating between range and carry ammo. The points of impact were off by too much during instinctive shooting. I now practice with my carry ammo.
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