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Defensive ammo in short barrel handguns

Thread: Defensive ammo in short barrel handguns

  1. Carry Doc's Avatar

    Carry Doc said:

    Defensive ammo in short barrel handguns

    My questions are about what is the most effective ammo to carry in 3 short barrel guns which I carry regularly. Not all 3 at once. I am brand new to this site so please excuse me if this has been thoroughly covered already. The guns are: 1. Colt Cobra 38+P 2. Ruger LC9s 3. Sig 238. My concern is how the bullet might perform considering all guns have very short barrels. Over the years, I have seen many articles about bullet performance but most stats seem to be derived using longer barrels. I have read other articles which state that a bullet with a great reputation might perform poorly when shot from a short barrel pistol as it does not attain enough velocity to perform as designed. I am also pondering the question of light bullet with faster speed vs. big and slow. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated and if anyone knows any articles on these questions I would like to reference them. Thank you.
  2. WrongRecroom's Avatar

    WrongRecroom said:
    They make short barrel loads for 38 and 9mm now ..Gold dot and HST and rem and a few others that I belive ( dont quote me ) have a different powder blending or the like or packing to make them burn and work better in short barrle

    Pocket Guns and Gear: Gel Testing Speer 9mm Gold Dot vs. Gold Dot Short Barrel
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  3. Havok's Avatar

    Havok said:
    The ammo that is fastest from one barrel length will also be the fastest out of another barrel length. As for the heavy vs light bullet, I’ll get the popcorn.
    We get the government we deserve.
  4. OldChap's Avatar

    OldChap said:
    Let me talk 9mm first. This is a video made by one of our members here on DC and a very thorough test. I use this in all of our 9's.

    You can buy 50 round boxes here: (their site is down for maintenance at the moment, but search for "federal 9mm hst" and you'll find it) Note that this load is NOT the +P version. He has a test of that as well.

    I carry this in 38 Special. It is perfect for short barrel snubbies:

    You can also get this one at SGAmmo.

    Continued below....
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits."
  5. OldChap's Avatar

    OldChap said:

    And this is currently in our 380's - Precision One XTP's: (again, a good video test)

    I think many of us are more divided on 380 than the others. For instance, I carry back-up mags for the back-up 380 loaded with good quality FMJ loads - in case I don't seem to be getting enough penetration. You'll find those discussions here on DC.

    The others, 9mm and 38 Special, as well as most all of the others, have very good loadings from almost all the major manufacturers. I mostly like HST's for everything except the 380. But you can generally flip a coin and not do badly at all.

    Sorry for the two postings, but you can only put one video in a post. I thought you might like both of these.

    And welcome to DC from the Texas Gulf Coast.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits."
  6. CG11's Avatar

    CG11 said:
    Welcome to the forum, Carry Doc, from California. Your questions are sure to bring authoritative responses and varied opinions. Sift through the responses, but ultimately it is what weighs on your considerations that will answer your question. Glad to have you aboard, sir!
    So who is this Will that everybody fires at, what did he do, and how come he's not dead yet??
  7. Gunnie's Avatar

    Gunnie said:
    My choice for the Cobra would be short barrel Gold Dots which are the ones developed for NY. If those don’t shoot well the old LSWCHP is a good choice that’s available via federal affordably. Both are quite manageable out of snubbies and perform well from them as they were made around those type velocities.

    For 9mm if they shoot well in your gun the 124 +p Speer should perform well out of the LC9s and is a good performing load that’s readily available.

    As for the 380 there are several decent options and quite a few poor ones. I like the critical defense and the XTP.

    The number one consideration for all three is putting accurate shots were they need to go reliably. They also have to reliably operate the weapon and not cause stoppages in the case of the autos.

    ETA: welcome to the forum and hope you find all kinds of good info as many of us have already.
  8. CreedDryrot's Avatar

    CreedDryrot said:
    There are a lot of options out there. For 38spl +P I like Federal HST Micro, which is made for short barrels. In my 442 it shoots softly and accurately. I also like Underwood's Hard Cast Keith round, although I prefer shooting it out of a heavier pistol. While I don't usually suggest youtube videos, there are numerous vids out there with a guy using the same barrel you will, shooting something through a chronograph. That can be very useful in figuring out how powerful that round is in the real world versus the manufacturer's range.
  9. gasmitty's Avatar

    gasmitty said:
    Just a tangential comment regarding spare ammo for the snubs. The loads in my .38 revolvers are the Federal 158 gr LSWC in +P. I always carry a reload or 2, and for the wheelguns it's usually a speed strip and a speedloader. No matter which type, what I found over time was that the soft nose of those LSWCs was getting deformed from banging around in the pocket. Thus the reloads carried now are JHPs which seem impervious to that kind of deformation.

    I was unaware of the Federal "micro" .38 +P loads until this thread. I'll be interested to watch for some professional performance testing on them. However, I'd be reluctant to carry them for reloads since that flat cartridge face will impede getting the rounds into the cylinder quickly. I've tried that with my own wadcutter reloads and it was not a smooth operation!
    Last edited by gasmitty; January 14th, 2019 at 02:14 PM.
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  10. Old Man's Avatar

    Old Man said:
    I'm with the previous posters. In addition to the Ammo Quest videos, Lucky Gunner will also have some opinions based upon testing. Like has been said, You Tube has lots of testing, some almost scientific and others not so much, sort of like "Looky here, I'm going to shoot this junk car!"

    I use Speer Gold Dot 135 grain hollow point +P Short Barrel .38 Special for carry in my snubbies.

    For 9mm I carry Federal 124 grain JHP HST +P.

    For .380 I use Fiocchi Extrema 90 grain XTP hollow points or a 95 - 100 grain FMJ.

    We have much discussion on the forum about the salient points of HP versus FMJ in .380 ACP as we do about which caliber is the best for defensive carry. The points seem to whether the .380 HP will expand adequately with penetration to reach vital organs and nerve centers or one should use FMJ to ensure penetration when using such an "anemic" caliber. The Underwood Extreme Penetrator and others with novel bullet designs have their supporters, too, in .380.
  11. OlCop's Avatar

    OlCop said:
    “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, and I won’t be laid a hand on. I don’t do these things to other people and I require the same from them.” John Wayne - The Shootist

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  12. MPGunther's Avatar

    MPGunther said:
    There are manufactures that make ammunition specifically for short barrel handguns that perform well. YouTube has plenty of comparison videos for you to form an opinion on and people have many of them. The last thing I'm worried about if I'm shot is if the hollow point opened up
  13. smolck's Avatar

    smolck said:
    Two words you need to search on YouTube will tell you all you need to know.......

    and they are: Paul Harrell
    As Benjamin Franklin left the hall in Philadelphia, he was asked, “What kind of government have you given us, Dr. Franklin?” He replied: “A republic, if you can keep it.”
  14. entertainment72's Avatar

    entertainment72 said:
    These are the options I've gone with for short barrels.

    Federal HST for 38 SPL and 9mm.

    Fiocchi Extrema that uses the Hornady XTP bullet for 380. Hornady American Gunner or Custom are extremely similar.
  15. 10thmtn's Avatar

    10thmtn said:
    Hornady’s Critical Defense line is designed to work well in the typically shorter barrels of CCW handguns.

    And to @gasmitty point above, their pointy tips help when reloading a revolver under stress
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