+P and pressure

+P and pressure

This is a discussion on +P and pressure within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Is there any difference in pressure between 135gr +P and the 158gr +P 38 special. Will the lighter bullet be better for my non +P ...

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Thread: +P and pressure

  1. #1
    Member Array rmeron's Avatar
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    +P and pressure

    Is there any difference in pressure between 135gr +P and the 158gr +P 38 special.
    Will the lighter bullet be better for my non +P mdl 36??


  2. #2
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    Hard to answer without specific manufacturer information. Both should be at or below 18,500 psi:

    SAAMI pressures

    I personally would not fire any +P ammunition in a non-rated revolver, but others are of the opinion, "Hey, it's your life--what is damaging a firearm to that?" You must choose.

    I would carry this, FWIW, in a non-+P revolver:
    Remington Express® Handgun Ammunition

    Product R38S6

    Good luck with whatever you decide.
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  3. #3
    Member Array Archie's Avatar
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    Falcon 1 has it right. Allow me to confirm and possibly re-state:

    "Standard" pressure is (in the United States) the SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturing Institute) determined MAXIMUM pressure for ammunition in a particular cartridge. So in reality, a 'standard' pressure round is no greater than that level, not always right at that level.

    "+P" is a somewhat higher level of pressure for use in stronger (whatever that means) guns above the standard level. However, the '+P' rate is also determined on a case by case basis, not a percentage across the board. (Just like 'standard' pressure.) So a '+P' round is no more than that level. Not all ammunition of a given caliber, even by the same manufacturer, are loaded to the same pressure.

    Does that makes sense?
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    Member Array johnsonabq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmeron View Post
    Is there any difference in pressure between 135gr +P and the 158gr +P 38 special.
    Will the lighter bullet be better for my non +P mdl 36??
    IMHO I would worry about using +P ammo in a gun not rated for it.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member Array ASSA9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnsonabq View Post
    IMHO I would worry about using +P ammo in a gun not rated for it.
    I agree with you
    I just bought a Springfield EMP and will not be carrying +p
    in it because it was not set up at the factory to run
    at that high of a cycle speed.
    If it says no +p ,don't shoot +p in it.
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    Member Array gumaro's Avatar
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    I wouldn't use any +P ammo in any firearm not rated for it. You should look for a good non +P hollow point for your .38spl. I don't have any info on that caliber, but maybe you should post a question to see what others recommend for a good personal defense non +P .38spl round.

  7. #7
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    Between the 135 grain +P loading and the 158 grain +P loading there is no way to predict which would be be "better" for your Model 36. The heavier bullet weight does not necessarily translate to higher pressure and more stress.

    I do use +P ammunition in all my .38 Special revolvers that are employed for self-defense, including some Colt and Smith & Wesson models that are not "rated" for +P. I like the 158 grain +P lead semi-wadcutter load above all others. In +P guise it offers a small performance gain over similar standard velocity ammunition. The +P .38 Special ammunition is a "tempest in a teapot" though with regards to gun-destroying pressures. It simply isn't there. I've shot enough from my guns for familiarization and for verifying sights with such loads. I have no interest in shooting massive quantities of +P ammunition in any gun. It costs too much money for one thing.

    While I'm not concerned with the use of +P ammunition in my guns I would also still feel very well armed with a revolver loaded with the standard velocity Remington 158 grain SWC load, product number R38S6, that Falcon1 suggests. Such a load offers good penetration and the sharp shoulder of the semi-wadcutter cuts a hole.

    Here's a fellow's opinion, taken from another forum. I pretty much agree with his assessment.
    Smith and Wesson Forums • View topic - FAQ - My +P study.
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  8. #8
    Senior Member Array ASSA9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Here's a fellow's opinion, taken from another forum. I pretty much agree with his assessment.
    Smith and Wesson Forums • View topic - FAQ - My +P study.
    Thank you for that link
    A very interesting read
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    Book: "Quite specific. It is, however, somewhat fuzzier on the subject of kneecaps."

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array sgtD's Avatar
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    I don't fire +p in non-+p guns myself.

    That being said, as to your original pressure question : the pressure should be within the SAAMI range for +p regardless of the bullet weight. A properly loaded 158 gr +p and 125gr +p should have close to the same pressure. If it's marked +p, then it is over the SAAMI specs for standard .38spl, regardless of bullet weight.
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    Senior Member Array digitalexplr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rmeron View Post
    Is there any difference in pressure between 135gr +P and the 158gr +P 38 special.
    Will the lighter bullet be better for my non +P mdl 36??
    There should no significant difference in the pressure in the two rounds. +p pressure is not not dependent on the bullet weight. There will be a ballistic difference due to the difference in weight. The 135gr should have a higher muzzel velocity than the 158 simply because it is lighter and being pushed with the same pressure. The 135 will probably have a bit less recoil for the same reason.

    Do keep in mind that shooting +p's does put more wear and tear on your weapon regardless of whether it is rated for +p or not.

    Personally I'm not a big fan of +p rounds. The added recoil makes it a tad harder to get back on target. I'd rather be able to put 2 or 3 stand pressure rounds into a BG than one +p. But that's just me.

    You model 36 should handle +p's fine. Just a matter of how much fun it is going to be shooting them in it.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Array jem102's Avatar
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    Federal offers the 125 NYCLAD in standard pressure. Great round for the 2-4" barrel.

  12. #12
    VIP Member Array dawei's Avatar
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    Wink Use these STANDARD PRESSURE loads in your 38!

    Quote Originally Posted by rmeron View Post
    Is there any difference in pressure between 135gr +P and the 158gr +P 38 special.
    Will the lighter bullet be better for my non +P mdl 36??
    Well what I have found in almost four decades of shooting the 38 Special is.............

    +P, and +P+ ammunition offer no real advantage in snub nose (1⅞-2½" barrel) guns. W/+P ammunition you get a 50% (or more) increase in muzzle blast and recoil W/O any substantial increase in energy into the target/perp. W/+P ammunition in a snubby you have a far longer "Return to Battery"; that is recovery from recoil, sights back on target, hammer back to point of "break" on the sear. The sole exception to this would be the Speer® Short Barrel™ 135gr Gold Dot™ Hollow Point; a load SPECIFICALLY DEVELOPED for snub nose guns. (That doesn't mean you should use it in a standard pressure gun however!) ALL 38 Special revolvers are sighted to POA w/158gr bullets. Considering that fact, and, that you have a standard pressure gun, I would recommend THIS. That is the load I carry and use in by 38 Special snubby. Another alternative, previously mentioned, is THIS ALSO. My wife uses this load in her 38 Special.

    I realize that what I've stated DOES NOT MATCH CONVENTIONAL WISDOM. If you will try these two loads however, I am confident you will be VERY PLEASED!

  13. #13
    Senior Member Array dripster's Avatar
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    Ok I have a S&W model 36 2" (chief's detective special) in 38 special. Now the barrel doesn't say 38 spcl +p on it but someone told it can take +p but only for self defense situations, not suggested to be used for range practice. Does anyone have any insight?
    One more step and it's on!

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