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Personally I like the federal HST +p .38 130 grain ... Even though it's plus p it shoots like a lite recoiling waddcutter in my 11 oz Smith 342 Ti ( titanium cylinder) .38 special ... Federal achieves plus p velocities and pressures.. by seating the huge hollowpoint Deep in the case WITHOUT adding more powder .... The result is a + p round that penetrates 13 in denim covered ballistic gel.. and fully expands.... The recoil in a all steel 21-oz snub ..feels like recoil of a .22 magnum .. instead of a+ p38
 

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I carry the XTP in my 637. I don't worry about penetration, expansion, and all that stuff. I just picked something heavy and went with it.

It's easy to overthink and over analyze this stuff.
I’d take the XTP. It is a tougher bullet design and does much better in organic tissue than superficial gel tests would lead you to believe.
Even though the 158 grain XTP . Does not expand in gel out of a snub ... It's still a humongous heavy bullet... And if it tumbles watch out! .. going to do some major damage
 

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I carry the XTP in my 637. I don't worry about penetration, expansion, and all that stuff. I just picked something heavy and went with it.

It's easy to overthink and over analyze this stuff.
It didn't expand much in the gel test but it did get great penetration! .. that's a big piece of lead hitting someone I wouldn't worry about expansion... And if that baby tumbles watch out that's going to do some major damage!
 

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Have long enjoyed owning and using the .38 Special cartridge in revolvers snub and (mostly) otherwise. I won't have a thing to do with any lightweight bullet in the .38 Special for any purpose. I like bullet weight so 158 grains of slug makes me happy in .38 Special. I don't place much stock in jacketed bullets in non-magnum revolvers, seeing jackets as being superfluous unless one is terribly concerned with leading.

I would have assumed that expansion would be pretty well nil from that load if used in a snub, and not much better from my personally favored 4-inch barrelled service revolvers. I can't say how it'd behave in organic tissue. Gman's likely had personal experience with the bullet style. It's been so long since I shot any critters with a jacketed .38 Special load of any sort. With good hits they go down fine with any 158 grain load at about 850 fps including the good ol' lead semi-wadcutters I like to use. I figure any expansion at all is gravy as are the better 158 grain +P loadings. Gravy's nice sometimes, but not required.
I heard from Lucky Gunner one of videos....heavy flat faced waddcutters make a great defensive round ..I'm having a hard time finding wad-cutters in my area because I love them at the range cutting those nice round holes.... Wouldn't mind using them for self-defense either!
Personally I like the federal HST +p .38 130 grain ... Even though it's plus p it shoots like a lite recoiling waddcutter in my 11 oz Smith 342 Ti ( titanium cylinder) .38 special ... Federal achieves plus p velocities and pressures.. by seating the huge hollowpoint Deep in the case WITHOUT adding more powder .... The result is a + p round that penetrates 13 in denim covered ballistic gel.. and fully expands.... The recoil in a all steel 21-oz snub ..feels like recoil of a .22 magnum .. instead of a+ p38
 

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I tend to like heavy for caliber rounds, myself. But in a snub, a jacketed round that isn't +P makes me think, "no expansion." I carry a snub daily and the two rounds I prefer are Speer 135gr +P short barrel Gold Dots and Buffalo Bore FBI loads. That's just me, though.

A std pressure 158gr XTP is no slouch and would no doubt get the job done if properly placed. It just wouldn't be my choice.
 

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I'm not a big fan of expansion when it comes to a 38 sp. snubby given its velocity challenged nature, the expansion limits penetration. The 148 gr wadcutter probably works better than most in 38 followed by the 158 SWC. My snubby is a 357 and is pushing 140 gr. loads at 1100 FPS but many find that level of performance creates objectionable recoil.
 
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Expansion out of a snubby is pretty much a pipe dream, but the 158 grains will still do some credible damage. Not much for light bullets, no mass = no penetration.
 

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My preferred snubby round is the Buffalo Bore 150 grain hardcast wadcutters in standard pressure. Buffalo bore "standard" pressure is right at the SAAMI line so it actually beats most other manufacturers on powder charge for standard pressure. The only reason to shoot +P in a snubby is to try and get a bullet that was designed for higher velocities to expand...some of the time at least.
I would be fine with the 158 grain +P "FBI" load too which is what I load in my 4" guns.
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I choose a load that shoots POA/POI. If the XTP does that - then good to go.
 
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