38 special performance thru water

38 special performance thru water

This is a discussion on 38 special performance thru water within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I am posting this after reading the "Was there a conspiracy post" concerning the 38 Special in these forums. (which is now closed). I came ...

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Thread: 38 special performance thru water

  1. #1
    VIP Member Array TedBeau's Avatar
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    Sep 2008
    Bay City

    38 special performance thru water

    I am posting this after reading the "Was there a conspiracy post" concerning the 38 Special in these forums. (which is now closed).

    I came across this web site with test results for 38 spl ammo in water:
    .38 Special Snubnose Ballistics

    and another one:

    .38 Special Snubby Ammo, Black Talon Revisited, Ed Sanow and Guns & Ammo Intentionally Misrepresent Facts

    where the author claims that one 1/2 gallon carton of water equals 2.5 inches into ballistic gel. He said that a 38 should penetrate into about (8) 1/2 gallon milk jugs of water which would equal 20 inches of gel.

    I have just recently gotten my first hand gun, a Charter Arms Undercover 2" barrel 38. The gun was purchased by my fiance's father new in 1979 along with 50 rounds of Winchester 158 grain round nose ammo. We found the gun and ammo while cleaning out his house after he passed away. All the ammo was still in the box, hence the gun had never been fired! It may never have even been loaded!

    Anyways I purchased the gun from his estate and took it out to try.
    After reading the above link about penetration into water I decided to shoot into (5) one gallon plastic milk jugs, lined up.
    I figured the bullet should have stopped in the third or fourth jug.
    Well it passed thru all 5 jugs, which was at least 36-40 inches. This is way more than the penetrations shown on the above referenced web page.

    Is it possible the 30 year old ammo is that much more powerfull?

  2. #2
    Senior Moderator
    Array bmcgilvray's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Hi Ted;

    I once shot a hand loaded 200 grain Remington lead round nosed bullet from a 4-inch .38 Special through six one gallon milk jugs. I'd intended to recover the bullet but...

    I don't think that ammunition is more powerful unless it is +P which was just coming on the scene in the late 1970s. From a 2-inch barrel I'd be surprised if it was making more than 800fps.

    I used to think that the Winchester lead bullets were harder than Remington or Federal bullets but I don't know that for a fact. Perhaps the bullets were a little "tougher". Perhaps the velocity was low enough to limit bullet upset and expansion yet adequate to drive the bullet through those jugs point on and stabilized. If it had tumbled it likely wouldn't have made it through the five jugs. The 158 grain round nose bullet offers quite a lot of penetration in my experience.

  3. #3
    New Member Array unclesam099's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Kennett Square, PA
    You are using round nose bullets, so it will penetrate further no matter how old. The bullet isn't meant to expand and impart all of its energy into its target as a hollowpoint is. That is just one reason to carry hollowpoints - to allow the bullet to effectively put its energy into the target (and not just blow right thru).

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