Best .38 special ammo for a S&W J-frame CCW?

Best .38 special ammo for a S&W J-frame CCW?

This is a discussion on Best .38 special ammo for a S&W J-frame CCW? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; All opinions are welcome so please excercise the right....

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Thread: Best .38 special ammo for a S&W J-frame CCW?

  1. #1
    Member Array Trebla's Avatar
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    Best .38 special ammo for a S&W J-frame CCW?

    All opinions are welcome so please excercise the right.


  2. #2
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    Array P95Carry's Avatar
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    I favor CorBon if +P is OK - used to have the 110 grain offering in my SP-101. Otherwise I'll stay with std 38 spl Gold Dots, tho right now forget the bullet weight options - too long ago!

    Side note - There is IIRC a Rem loading which is cast bullets - with 158 SWC's which I think are HP too - really can't quite remember, but the 158 weight does tend to give and help maintain POI on snubs and that bullet seems a good performer.

    I wish I could remember Steve Camp's site URL - he has done a lot of experimenting with 38's and 9mm's - well .45's too. Mine of useful info. Someone will remember hopefully.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Dang - just had to go check - should have remembered - here ya go -

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/

    `
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  3. #3
    1951 - 2011
    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Hello. In .38 Special, I do prefer +P ammunition. Right now, I prefer the Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P.

    My reasons are here:

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/3...r%20LSWCHP.htm

    If interested, here is a related topic in .38 Special:

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/3...on%20tests.htm

    Best.

  4. #4
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    Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P.
    Ahhh that's it Steve - thank you.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  5. #5
    Member Array Trebla's Avatar
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    Steve: Chuck Hawk says that you shouldn't fire more than 100 rds. of +P .38 ammo out of the aluminium j-frames because it will do damage to them. He said if your using an airweight j-frame you should use standard .38 special ammo only amd leave the +P ammo for steel frames. What's your opinion on that?

    www.chuckhawks.com/ammo_by_anonymous.htm

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Speer Gold Dots 38 Special +P 135 grain Short barrel load.

  7. #7
    Member Array Trebla's Avatar
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    Euclidean: what kind of model j-frame are those Speer Gold Dots coming out of?

  8. #8
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    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Hello, Trebla. I don't know. I cannot speak to "Anonymous's" experiences and opinions as expressed on Mr. Hawks' site. The article does appear somewhat dated as Nyclads are no longer available to the general public and S&W does now rate its J-frames for +P. I can only speak for my own revolvers, but they've certainly had more than that. In the older Airweights which are not rated for +P, I have limited the amount to enough perhaps 50 rnds per year.


    Both of these are Airweights. The 642 at the top of the picture is not rated for +P and is the traditional J-frame. On its barrel is stamped "38 Special CTG". The newer 642 shown below is on the slightly "stretched" frame that was adopted when S&W began offering J-frames in .357 magnum. It's barrel is stamped "38 S&W SPL +P"

    As is the case with 9mm, there is +P and there is +P. I still have some of the old .38 Special Corbon 115-gr. +P+, which I'm told is actually +P. I don't know, but I do know that it's "hot".


    I am a bit hesitant to shoot this in less than a steel frame J and prefer the K-frame or a Ruger SP101. The velocity shown on the chronograph readout is from the 1 7/8" bbl of the 642 pictured. I have concerns about the thin forcing cone with this round. I figure that if the full-bore .357 magnum 125-gr. JHP can hurt the thicker K-frame, then a fast 115-gr. JHP might do the same with the thinner J-frame.

    There is no doubt in my mind that the +P loads will wear out a J-frame quicker than standard pressure. I don't know if it will do this to a particular revolver by cracking the frame, splitting the forcing cone, or just gradually stretching the frame.

    I agree that most practice can be done with standard pressure loads, but will still carry +P 158-gr. LSWCHP +P for serious purposes. I just cannot forget visiting with a young man who had been shot, but was sitting on a curb and holding his head in his hands. I called an ambulance while trying to find out who shot him. He looked sick but was helped to the ambulance where he died 4 mins later enroute to the hospital. He had been shot through the heart with the standard pressure 148-gr. wadcutter.

    I have little doubt that the steel J-frames will take a pounding longer than the Airweights, but I'm not sure I'm convinced that 100 shots of +P will trash one of the latter.

    Just because I have not seen it doesn't mean that it hasn't happened, so I would suggest going with what you feel is prudent. For me, that remains the Remington load mentioned before.

    Best.

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trebla
    Euclidean: what kind of model j-frame are those Speer Gold Dots coming out of?
    I'd check with Speer but supposedly their data comes from a 2" barrel, as these loads were designed for snubnoses.

    Supposedly, once again going on heresy, the regular Gold Dots are supposed to do better in expansion tests once you go to a 3"+ bbl.

    I have lost the URL but there was an enterprising fellow who shot quite a bit of the normal 125 grain Gold Dots through his 642-1 and found that far more often than not, the bullet expanded.

    I would actually use Mr. Camp's load of choice in other guns or else a standard pressure version of it.

  10. #10
    1951 - 2011
    Array Stephen A. Camp's Avatar
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    Hello, sir. I've looked and looked, but can find no standard pressure version of the LSWCHP. The SWC's can be found, but not with the hollow point. I'll bet that if someone came out with a simple lead hollow point (no jacket) at maybe 135 or 140 grains that could hit 800 ft/sec or so at standard pressure, it would sell. It might penetrate a bit deeper than the standard pressure 110 and 125-gr. JHP's, but offer less recoil than the 158-gr's at the same speed while operating below +P levels.


    These are the standard velocity 125-gr. Nyclad hollow points and they average 832 ft/sec from one of my 642's and 886 ft/sec from my old 042. They expand nicely, but generally penetrate about 8 to 9" in 10% ballistic gelatin. I've not visited with anyone who has used them against a human being and about the biggest thing I've shot with them has been the dreaded "Texas Saber Toothed Armadillo." For an unobstructed frontal shot, they're probably fine, but like most of the expanding .380's, I have concerns if they're required to punch an arm before entering the torso. I think that perhaps a plain ol' soft lead bullet that mimics their appearance, but weighs around 140 grains might just be the right combination of weight and velocity to get at least 12" deep. As best I recall, the 158-gr. LSWCHP+P does 14 to 16", depending upon whose tests are being read.

    It might be that pure lead is too soft at 140-grains. In other words, it might be that if a bit of antimony was added to slightly retard expansion, adequate penetration could be attained to make folks on all sides of the expansion vs penetration issue happy. I don't know, but I'd like to see it tried.

    Best.

  11. #11
    Member Array chiefs-special-guy's Avatar
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    all this is good advice.
    now for some dubious advice...
    I use 110 grain winchester silvertips in my chief. the idea is to make the bullet light enough to generate sufficient velocity so maybe you get some expansion.this is a standard pressure load, and it seems merciful to the gun (mine is an OLD steel one). i have never shot anyone with it (I am grateful to say) but it does interesting things to inanimate targets. Unlike Mr Camp I have not studied this, nor do I have any credentials whatsoever.Rather, I use it on police recommendation. Low recoil, so I can shoot all 5 rounds in about 1.5 seconds onto the target, no problem.And I am not much of a handgun shot.
    God Bless
    Six for sure...Uh, I mean Five. Five for sure..

  12. #12
    Member Array Trebla's Avatar
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    Steve: Well I guess I will use some of the +P ammo for range practice but mainly use standard pressure loads. But I will definitely keep +P ammo when carrying. I take my hat off to you cause your info is always well researched and factual. THANKS!.

  13. #13
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen A. Camp
    I'll bet that if someone came out with a simple lead hollow point (no jacket) at maybe 135 or 140 grains that could hit 800 ft/sec or so at standard pressure, it would sell.
    Oh boy I agree with ya there. I've been looking for a good commerically available standard pressure defensive load, and have determined the only way I'd ever find the load I described would be to make it myself.

  14. #14
    VIP Member Array TWO GUNS's Avatar
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    I like the 110 Gr Cor Bon ammo for my Light weight S&W J-Frame.
    Have Fun and Shoot Straight !!

  15. #15
    Senior Member Array KC135's Avatar
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    Cor Bon DPX 110gr +P is in all of my J frame revolvers.

    Two are airweight, and one is steel.

    Was involved in some of the testing using a 642. It has much less recoil than the 158gr lead JHP. Looks good in jello with 4 layers of denim.

    For info look in 'test Bed' at www.stoppingpower.net
    Keep the shotgun handy!!

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