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Discussion Starter #1


Test Gun: S&W M442
Barrel length: 1 7/8 inches.
Ammunition: Winchester .38 Spl 158gr LSWCHP.
Test media: 10% Clear Ballistics Gel.
Distance: 10 feet.
Chronograph: Caldwell Ballistic Precision Chronograph G2.
Five shot velocity average: 778fps
Gel Temperature 74 degrees.

I didn’t realize it but its been almost two years since I did a .38 Spl. test. While digging through some stuff today I came across a box of some Winchester 158gr LSWCHP’s that I’ve for a few years now. It’s been some time since I have carried a snub nose but when I did it was with this load(AKA the FBI load). I have owned this M442 for about 25 or so years and put thousands of rounds through it. But when I picked up my first sub-compact 9mm that all change and it’s been at least 6 years since I have carried one.

If the truth is known I could never shoot well but sometimes it was necessary to have something a little smaller than my normal carry pice, a Glock 19. I guess what I’m trying to say is there is a reason the 5-yard group below sucks.

I got a five-shot average velocity of 778fps with a high of 786 and a low of 774fps.



The first round into the bare gel had a velocity of 775fps and penetrated to 20.5 inches. The expansion was .39 inches and recovered weight was 157.9 grains. Round two also penetrated to 20.5 inches and expanded to .38 inches with a recovered weight of 156.7 grains. Its velocity was 768fps.



Through the covered gel, both rounds were clogged with the clothing and passed through both gel blocks and were found laying on the floor. The recovered weights were 157.6 and 157.7 grains. The velocity of the two rounds was 757 and 775fps. There was no expansion of either round.

 

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Thanks for more testing.

Some older snubbie carriers adhere to the FBI load. But this test like others shows that newer designs/loads like the HST or Golden Saber are far superior.
 

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Thanks for more testing.

Some older snubbie carriers adhere to the FBI load. But this test like others shows that newer designs/loads like the HST or Golden Saber are far superior.IN GEL
Fixed it for you. How many living creatures have you killed with a 38 special? I ask because I have killed many and with all kinds of ammo. As a result of that experience I carry solid hardcast full wadcutters in my 2" snub. Those pretty little gel flowers are great if you have the perfect shot that does not hit any bone. Try them through an arm bone and several layers of clothes and then hit a rib,if they even get through that arm bone. You will likely get 2 inches of chest penetration if your dang lucky. Now if you want to get that barrel out to 4 or better I would take the LSWCHC+P all day long, just not that crappy anemic Winchester brand.
 

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Thanks for the test. I always glean info from your testing. I carry Federal 158 LSWCHP +P .38 Special in my LCR and 642. I have no delusions of them expanding from my 2” barrels. I figure it will at least act like a LSWC though. After I retire in 2 years, 9 months 19 days and 9 hours (active LEO), I will just carry my regular LSWC 158 handloads in them.

I do have some solace in the fact that my current carry load appears to be a good penetrator. I place more importance on penetration than I do expansion, although when possible ..... I like both ! But, I just haven’t found anything in the 158 grain flavor, that’ll do that from a 2” .38 Special.

Now 2” .357 Magnum’s are a different story !
 

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It is pretty typical for FedRemchester 158 gr +P loads out a snub 2inch to equal velocity of a non+P load from a 4 inch, or roughly 755 fps (200 fpe).
 

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Fixed it for you. How many living creatures have you killed with a 38 special? I ask because I have killed many and with all kinds of ammo. As a result of that experience I carry solid hardcast full wadcutters in my 2" snub. Those pretty little gel flowers are great if you have the perfect shot that does not hit any bone. Try them through an arm bone and several layers of clothes and then hit a rib,if they even get through that arm bone. You will likely get 2 inches of chest penetration if your dang lucky. Now if you want to get that barrel out to 4 or better I would take the LSWCHC+P all day long, just not that crappy anemic Winchester brand.
You are probably wasting bandwidth...unless people have shot animals...they don't understand the effectiveness of bone cutting, straight penetrating (non-deflecting) flatnose cast bullets. I, like you, have seen the evidence in flesh and bones. And, for me, there is another really huge upside to flatnose cast bullets...they perform the same way every time..unlike ANY jacketed hollow point of any caliber that I have ever tested.
 

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Thanks for more testing.

Some older snubbie carriers adhere to the FBI load. But this test like others shows that newer designs/loads like the HST or Golden Saber are far superior.
The FBI load was actually designed to be fired from a 4" BBL. The thing you have to be careful with when selecting low energy rounds is that if the bullet expands too much it retards penetration. That is one of the reasons that rounds like the Glaser Safety Slug are seen as gimmicks and not taken seriously by the people who have BTDT.
 

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755 fps seems pretty weak for a +P round.

I like Buffalo Bore's version of the FBI load at close to 1000fps from a snub.
 

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That is why I prefer magnums.
That would be the way to go, but I’ll be the first to admit, I ain’t got the sand for a real maggie in a j frame.

What I have found is that 38spl loads like the Remington GS in the 125 weights are a good compromise for me in velocity, penetration and expansion from the j’s.

I also like the Treasury Load....but it can be a might hard on the lightweight J’s with extended use.

As suggested above, if using lead bullets in the 158’s, I’m happy with a plain ol lswc.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I don’t know how many times someone said ” try it with a 4 inch, a 4 inch, a 4 inch” Ok, here it is out of a 4-inch S&W 686 .357. Two round in bare and two in the clothed gel.

The first round in the bare gel had a velocity of 830fps and penetrated to 17.5 inches. The recovered diameter was .47 inches and the recovered weight was 157.1 grains. Round two’s velocity was 824fps and penetrated to 17.25 inches. The recovered weight was 156.4 inches and expansion was also .47 inches.



Through the heavy clothing, the first round’s velocity was 812fps and it penetrated to 18 inches a recovered weight of 156.8 grains. Round two’s velocity was 778fps and it’s penetration was 26 inches and weighed 157 grains. Neither bullet showed any expansion.

 
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