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Hi Gunnies,


I've owned a Charter Arms Undercover for 25-30 years now. I've always wondered about using .38 Spl +P ammo. I've never really found a definitive answer.

I went to the Charter Arm site and this:

"Q. Can I shoot +P in my .38 revolver?
A.Charter .38's are among the smallest revolvers in this caliber. Yes they can handle +P but we do not recommend it for the following reasons:

+P ammo requires a four-inch minimum barrel to burn the extra powder. Therefore, in a two-inch barrel the extra powder is burned after the bullet leaves the barrel creating more recoil and making it harder to come back to target.

We recommend a standard velocity load and practice with round nose lead rounds which are the least expensive. When you load for protection, use a jacketed or hollow point in the same grain you practice with."


Soooooo, I guess I'm not sure if the +P applies to my 30 year old Undercover or not......???

I'd also like to know from you guys what you think about +P out of a two inch barrel..... Is the extra powder being burned "after" the bullet is long gone??

Thanks......:wave:
 

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It sounds like +P is a waist of energy in a 2" snub nose.

I have read about rounds that are specifically made for snub nose revolvers.
 

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It is my understanding that a steady diet of +P ammo will "stretch" the frame on the older guns. I keep +P in mine when I carry but I practice with light hand loads.
 
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Hi Fastdraw;

The +P ammunition does give increased velocities, even from 2-inch barrels, but the longer barrel lengths do make more efficient use of it.

Over the years I have chronographed a number of .38 Special loads in most barrel lengths from 2-inch to 8 3/8-inch. Here are typical examples pulled from my notes, showing both a handload and a factory load. Revolvers used were a 2-inch Smith & Wesson Chief's Special and a 4-inch Smith & Wesson Model 10.

Handload using 158 grain cast lead semi-wadcutter and Unique powder.

4.8 grains Unique: 2-inch velocity, 806 fps, 4-inch 858 fps
5.4 grains Unique: 2-inch velocity, 847 fps, 4-inch 935 fps



Comparison of .38 Special factory loads: Winchester lead 158 grain standard velocity ammunition and Winchester lead 158 grain +P ammunition.

158 grain standard : 2-inch velocity 683 fps, 4-inch velocity 741 fps
158 grain +P: 2-inch velocity 830 fps, 4-inch velocity 962 fps

Generally the 2-inch snub barrel will show some velocity increase with high performance ammunition over similar standard velocity ammunition. The amount of increase varies widely. The longer barrels do make the most efficient use of the +P loads.



To illustrate long barrel performance, here are the same two handloads and Winchester loads fired from an 8 3/8-inch Smith & Wesson Model 14 K-38 Masterpiece.

4.8 grains Unique: 920 fps
5.4 grains Unique: 1007 fps

Standard velocity 158 grain: 787 fps
+P 158 grain: 1051 fps

I have not fired any of the so-called "short barrel" loads over the chronograph but I am sure that they would also offer increased velocities from longer barrels over short barrels. "Short barrel" terminology is a cool marketing ploy.

While I wouldn't feel inadequately armed to carry a snub .38 Special loaded with standard velocity semi-wadcutters I do choose the +P 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter ammunition or its handloaded equivalent for use in all my .38 Special self defense revolvers, regardless of barrel length.
 
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It is my understanding that a steady diet of +P ammo will "stretch" the frame on the older guns. I keep +P in mine when I carry but I practice with light hand loads.
^^that's what I do with my 1962 S&W 49.^^
 

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I keep +P in mine when I carry but I practice with light hand loads.
Ditto... This is what I do with all my 5-shot aluminum framed revolvers, regardless who makes them...
 

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Ditto here also.....carry plusP in my S&W 638 but practice with standard 38s. Some good info in post above...thanks!
 

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I asked Charter customer service the same question. Got the answer pretty much as other's have said.
 

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I would not shoot +P ammo in a 30 year old Charter Arms with the info received in this thread.
 

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I was always told it was because the revolvers were aluminum frame thats why
you didn't use +plus in them as they would not stand up to a heavy diet of them.
 

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i carry +p+ hydro shok in a old s&w model 60. at the range and q-days i shoot 148 gr wad cutters. i don't think it will hurt your gun if you got to shoot some when it hits the fan. but i would not shoot a lot of them. the older guns were not made for them.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks guys for some excellent replies. I do appreciate it.:congrats:

My everyday carry guns have been Glocks for over a decade now..... and I'm happy with them. From time to time though I get an urge to carry something else. Sometimes I might carry my Ruger P90 or my SP101, both great guns!! On occasion I might carry a S&W 686.

I haven't carried the lightweight Charter Arms in many years now...... I've sort of the urge to work try it for a while.

Thanks again.....:wave::wave:
 

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Hi Gunnies,


I've owned a Charter Arms Undercover for 25-30 years now. I've always wondered about using .38 Spl +P ammo. I've never really found a definitive answer.

I went to the Charter Arm site and this:

"Q. Can I shoot +P in my .38 revolver?
A.Charter .38's are among the smallest revolvers in this caliber. Yes they can handle +P but we do not recommend it for the following reasons:

+P ammo requires a four-inch minimum barrel to burn the extra powder. Therefore, in a two-inch barrel the extra powder is burned after the bullet leaves the barrel creating more recoil and making it harder to come back to target.

We recommend a standard velocity load and practice with round nose lead rounds which are the least expensive. When you load for protection, use a jacketed or hollow point in the same grain you practice with."


Soooooo, I guess I'm not sure if the +P applies to my 30 year old Undercover or not......???

I'd also like to know from you guys what you think about +P out of a two inch barrel..... Is the extra powder being burned "after" the bullet is long gone??

Thanks......👋
 

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Total BS. +p will yield a higher velocity in a 2” barrel. I have a chronograph. I am 100% positive. Old dumb myth that has been debunked countless times. Same used to be said about .357 Magnum out of a short snub barrel. “.38 Special will go the same velocity as a .357 out a 2” barrel” is abjectly false.
 

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Total BS. +p will yield a higher velocity in a 2” barrel. I have a chronograph. I am 100% positive. Old dumb myth that has been debunked countless times. Same used to be said about .357 Magnum out of a short snub barrel. “.38 Special will go the same velocity as a .357 out a 2” barrel” is abjectly false.
To support this idea, some of you will be familiar with Grant Cunningham. He is a prolific author and podcaster on topics related to defensive shooting and preparedness, a shooting trainer and a high-end gunsmith. He debunks the idea that +P's are useless since they’re not a huge increase in power. He says they don’t have to deliver a huge increase in power.

The idea behind the +P is to add just enough energy to reliably deliver an expanded bullet deep enough to do its job. It doesn’t have to be a lot of extra energy - it just has to be enough. So as long as you can shoot multiple shots with it just as quickly and accurately as you can non +P, and most people can, then you should take all the power you can get for the gun you carry. +P offers some more power without a lot of added recoil.

If the manufacturer says the gun can handle +P, then it should be able to, if only for defensive carry. If you want an extra "edge" in velocity without a huge increase in recoil, +P will give you that. I shoot regular pressure ammo in my snubs for practice, but carry +P. The difference in bullet drop is going to be negligible from a snub, at the ranges you will likely be using a snub. They are not target guns.
 

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Total BS. +p will yield a higher velocity in a 2” barrel. I have a chronograph. I am 100% positive. Old dumb myth that has been debunked countless times. Same used to be said about .357 Magnum out of a short snub barrel. “.38 Special will go the same velocity as a .357 out a 2” barrel” is abjectly false.
After 10 years and three months, I'm not sure if the OP is still looking for an answer.

Anyway, welcome to Defensive Carry. At least you're reading old posts to get a sense of the community, I'll give you that.
 

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A breath of fresh air though, even if it is a very old "gun" thread.

I did what he is asking back in the early 80's with a brand new steel pinned S&W model 36 in 3". I shot target loads at the range and +P for carry. Only enough +Ps were fired to keep fresh in my mind where their poi was. When I traded it off in the early 90's, the gap between the frame and yoke had stretched and was noticeable. It still functioned just fine.

I recently bought a 40 year old stainless steel undercover on GB. It too has stretched in that area, enough so that the cylinder now misses the little stop pressed into the frame to keep the cylinder from sliding back past the frame opening until the ejector star catches it. The wear seems to center on where the cylinder rotates on the yoke inducing some wobble. Not as much as some videos show, but more then there should be. So now, unless I put the washers under that little post to catch the cylinder, the cylinder slides back about 1/4" too far. CA dealt with this problem by adding an O ring to catch the cylinder from sliding as things loosen up.

I don't think it takes all that many +P rounds to loosen up some of these older snubs. I've yet to shoot this SS Undercover - maybe this week. I can always pawn it for just about what I have in it and buy something else. Maybe I'll try a 642 "again" if I can find one with a straight barrel that works as designed this time. I just can't seem to warm up to the LCR's all that much.

pix880174201.jpg
 

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A 10 year old thread but it is about guns - so I'm in! I use +P in snubs ( all of mine but one are rated for it ). But I only use carry ammo that shoots to the sights out to about 15 yards, whether it be +P or standard pressure. I don't want to be armed with a gun that won't do that. My opinion is that the snub can be effective with either type of ammo. I load up with ammo that shoots to the sights and work at making good hits.
 
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