.38 special revolver for self defense

.38 special revolver for self defense

This is a discussion on .38 special revolver for self defense within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I guess I’m looking for affirmation from those with greater experience than me. I have been carrying a concealed weapon for about 2 years now. ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array Taurus85UL's Avatar
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    .38 special revolver for self defense

    I guess I’m looking for affirmation from those with greater experience than me. I have been carrying a concealed weapon for about 2 years now. I am by no means a weapons guru. My first CCW was a S&W Bodyguard .380. It was a nice little gun and easy to carry. I became uncomfortable with it because of some of the ill-reports about .380 ammo performance and some problems I had with FTF and FTE. The little laser sight was a pain to engage and breaking down a little semi-auto for cleaning was a pain in the rear. So I traded it off for a Taurus Model 85 snub nose .38. I have read that .38 special is an adequate self defense round and I like that I don’t have malfunctions with a revolver. It is much easier to clean after a practice session. I read so much on these forums about guys carrying nothing less than a 9mm and usually a high capacity 9mm for self defense. Not to mention the .40’s and .45’s some brag are the least caliber to go with. I don’t live in ‘gang’ territory and I’m not going off to war, not today anyway. I live in a small town in Mississippi. My wife and I are near 60 years old and we have both opted for a .38 revolver. I bought her a Ruger LCR. She does not CCW yet but has it available to her in the home and car for ‘just in case’. The question being; have I lulled her and myself into a false sense of security in my choice of .38 revolver for us both? Any thoughts from those with experience would ease my mind and keep me off the web sites wondering if I need a 9mm.
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  2. #2
    Member Array mck1975's Avatar
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    My CCW instructor and a LEO friend suggested the .38sp revolver for my wife's carry pistol and for me that was good enough advise.
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  3. #3
    Ex Member Array Bullet1234's Avatar
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    You will be OK with the 38 special,,,, for many years it
    was the go to round for many police departments as duty
    weapons.
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    Snubnose 38s have been getting the job done for many decades. They are a fine choice. Easy to load, simple to operate, and effective round. If capacity is a concern, get an 8 shot revolver for home and back it up with your snubs.
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  5. #5
    VIP Member Array jbum's Avatar
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    The .38 wheel gun will server you well. My wife loves her LCR and I don't worry one bit about her protecting herself with it.

  6. #6
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    If a .38 Special is somehow inadequate than no 9mm gun and load will suit. You're going to have to go to larger bullet diameter and heavier bullet weight to best the .38 Special. The 9mm cartridge is fully adequate. What it is not though, is meaningfully superior to the .38 Special despite what may be read. The person who claims the 9mm is better is willfully limiting the .38 Special to feeble loadings and tiny short-barreled revolvers. There are some factory loads available for the .38 Special that I'd prefer over any "super-expando-matic" 9mm load. We won't even get into handloading capabilities and the .38 Special.

    I like the .38 Special and carry .38 Special revolvers most of the time, even though similar revolvers chambered for .357 Magnum are on hand. I'm personally not so keen on full-powered magnum cartridges for self-defense purposes. Non-magnum straight-walled revolver cartridges will do just fine as will similar cartridges for the semi-auto pistols.
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  7. #7
    VIP Member Array Harryball's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Taurus85UL View Post
    I guess I’m looking for affirmation from those with greater experience than me. I have been carrying a concealed weapon for about 2 years now. I am by no means a weapons guru. My first CCW was a S&W Bodyguard .380. It was a nice little gun and easy to carry. I became uncomfortable with it because of some of the ill-reports about .380 ammo performance and some problems I had with FTF and FTE. The little laser sight was a pain to engage and breaking down a little semi-auto for cleaning was a pain in the rear. So I traded it off for a Taurus Model 85 snub nose .38. I have read that .38 special is an adequate self defense round and I like that I don’t have malfunctions with a revolver. It is much easier to clean after a practice session. I read so much on these forums about guys carrying nothing less than a 9mm and usually a high capacity 9mm for self defense. Not to mention the .40’s and .45’s some brag are the least caliber to go with. I don’t live in ‘gang’ territory and I’m not going off to war, not today anyway. I live in a small town in Mississippi. My wife and I are near 60 years old and we have both opted for a .38 revolver. I bought her a Ruger LCR. She does not CCW yet but has it available to her in the home and car for ‘just in case’. The question being; have I lulled her and myself into a false sense of security in my choice of .38 revolver for us both? Any thoughts from those with experience would ease my mind and keep me off the web sites wondering if I need a 9mm.
    The revolver is not a bad choice, but it is not the best IMO. Caliber aside, I think that the lack of capacity would be my concern in SD and HD. Overall it is your judgement on the context in which you live if it will be enough...
    StormRhydr and walker2713 like this.
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    New Member Array chuckp's Avatar
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    I am by no means an expert but have done a fair amount of studying. The best round for YOU and YOUR WIFE is the round you can fire consistently into your target. I've often heard "2 in the chest and 1 in the head." What good is the larger round if you cannot hit the broad side of a barn?

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    Nothing wrong with a .38, goes bang every time. Like Harry said, lack of capacity is the only drawback but that can be overcome somewhat with speed strips or loaders.

    The most important thing is to carry.
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    As is the key to ANY gun. The more important aspect is shot placement and to get proficient enough to provide good shot placement you need to practice, practice, practice and, if at all possible, get training. The caliber doesn't matter if you can't hit that at which you aim.
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    VIP Member Array tdave's Avatar
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    I am not a "Gun Guru" but I have followed the topic for quite a while. All calibers succeed, all calibers fail. If you were to get a larger caliber and or more expensive platform you might have greater impact per round, but is your training commitment up to more expensive ammunition, more complicated manual of arms and failure to function drills? If you kept the revolver platform and went with a .357 magnum you would keep the same manual of arms at the cost of increased recoil, muzzle blast and noise. You could defray some cost by practicing with .38 specials but you have to practice with magnums too. Also are you considering the increased penetration? Also your wife do you want her to be able to use your platform in an emergency? What is her commitment to training? I realize I'm answering your question with questions but they are questions only you have the answer to

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    Ex Member Array Chessman's Avatar
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    Above is the SW 10-5 all original made some time ago. It is my only loaded handgun in the house aside from an assault rifle. It is loaded with .38 Special Wadcutters from Winchester (148gr). I figure it is enough as a handgun in the home.

    I don't carry it because it is a bit larger having the 4" barrel. I carry the Walther PP series (my choice from my signature line below) instead of any other gun if I feel I want to carry concealed.
    However, in the revolver the .38 Special is quite fine to deal with anything from the Miami FBI debacle to Newhall HP who had .357s in 28 SW.

    There is no need for power especially when thinking power is better. Those who need power to feel safe are missing the point. A .38 Special is powerful enough if you know how to shoot it. So is a .32. Like the one I cherish below in .32 New Police (.32 SW Long) in the Colt Cobra (mine was made in 1966):



    I generally do not trust semi auto pistols but I have a slew of them and I've fired them to rely upon them. No jams in any of my semi autos of all calibers that I own today but it took me a lot longer to find a reliable semi auto (aside from the Walther PP or PPK or PPK/S in .32) that worked EVERY TIME over years of use.

    The revolver is simple just rotates and locks for the next round. The auto depends on a recoil spring along with a lot of other things. You don't want to spend money on a semi auto unless it is above the rest and that means Browning Hi Power or M9 Beretta or SIG P210 or CZ-75 or the world of 1911s some of which work and most do not.



    The above Colt 1911 is a Colt WWI Reproduction and it works all the time. I've had slews of 1911s and most of them failed. I think the design and the luck to find a working 1911 is priceless. I found mine in COLT and the gun it replicates sells for 3K or more in today's gun shops original and all beat up with ugly scars.

    I like my reproduction Colt WWI more than any other 1911 I've owned. The point is you get lucky with a gun used or new and then you bond with it despite what others say. You love it and feel it is a part of your self and you feel comfortable, safe, and familiar with that gun.

    Baer and Wilson and Kimber and Springfield and Remington and all copiers of 1911 they make made their points and I just went Colt and found it back in WWI. For concealed carry I found it from WWII in the .32 PPK.

  13. #13
    Member Array Taurus85UL's Avatar
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    I agree whole heartedly with the training aspect. We shoot about once a month at a man sized target in the back yard about once a month. I, in addition, have recieved instructor training so I could get my "enhanced" CCW in Mississippi. I try to pass along any training I have recieved to my wife. I personally don't want her to shoot at me....She usually hits that man sized target 9 out of 10 shots,
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  14. #14
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    First rule of gunfighting is "have a gun." You are already light years ahead of the people who have no awareness of their surroundings and who take no active responsibility for their own safety.

    A 5-shot .38 snub is a fine defensive weapon, within its limits. You can't use it for head shots at 50 yards, you won't hold off a whole tribe of Moros, and you won't anchor a brown bear with it. But you've improved your odds of survival immeasurably over the unarmed, and you have a tool with which to cut a lane of safety on your path away from danger. Load it with good ammo, carry spare ammo, and practice with it.

    There may be better guns out there than Taurus, but I've got a pair of their snubs (an all-steel M85, and an 851 Ultra-Lite) which have done yeoman's duty over the past 20 years. If yours is as rugged and reliable as mine are, you're well-armed.
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    I am going to repeat what some of the others have already said: 1) that shot placement is more important than caliber size and 2) that to get terrific shot placement you need to practice, practice and practice. In order to practice that much you must feel comfortable holding and shooting the gun. So if the 38 revolver suits your hand without hurting it, then that is the gun and caliber for you.

    I have read stories where people have died from a single 22 because of the shot placement and other stories where people have survived being shot multiple times with the heavy calibers (40, 44 and 45) because the shot placement was off.

    Personally I really like the 38 cartridge: it is sweet to shoot that caliber.
    Philly Boy likes this.


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