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Thread: Anybody shooting .38special...what defensive loads?

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    Member arizonaguide's Avatar
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    Default Anybody shooting .38special...what defensive loads?

    Okay, you folks have got me thinking.
    I am considering a change from my current BuffaloBore .38specials, and I'm wondering if you might have a suggestion about a defensive ammo?

    After much discussion on the .380 thread...you've got me thinking about a change. Maybe the Remingtons Golden Sabers or Winchesters. Something in a 158grain...or a wadcutter?

    What say you?

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    Member gunbugs's Avatar
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    Remington makes a nice 125gr. +P load in 38spl. Part#L38S2 Semi jacketed hollow point. Inexpensive enough to practice with the same load you carry. Should be very effective in the short barreled revolvers favored by many.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    I liked the 125gr GS +P in my M67. I also found the same load shot really good from my SP101 and Vaquero for something with less oomph than a full bore .357 load.

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    HBWC seated backwards.....

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    back in the day was Winchester silvertips and now days is Reminton goldern saber 125.grain hollow points i carry for my little pocket bug revolver..

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    The HBWC seated backwards is an oldie but a goodie. Very cheap to load and shoot. Cheap makes for lots of practice which is always a good thing.
    I have always believed that how well you shoot is more important than what you shoot. Even the lowly 22 works pretty good on head shots. If someone is pumped up on drugs, body shots even with a shotgun sometimes don't work. A hole of most any size in the computer usually shuts things down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wildalaska View Post
    HBWC seated backwards.....
    That IS a respected load...but don't have the reloading equip to do it.
    Regular wadcutters are as close as I can get...and I have 2000+rounds of them.
    I think I'm getting away from the Buffalo Bores though.
    Maybe I will just stick with the old wadcutters.
    It's mainly a "Safeway parkinglot" contact-type range self-defense gun...and maybe down the hallway at home until I can get to the shotty. And a bit of outdoors animal protection/snake charmer on Wildlife Photo trips to No.AZ.

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    you mean you do not shop at Bashas or frys there in AZ ..shame on you and Eddie Basha is a local hometown super market there in Az area..

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    LMAO! Safeway is closer, and I've grown up on Safeway since shopping the corner of (lucky) 13th and Gamble in Anchorage in the '60's, and they used to give me free cookies at the Bakery Department! (yes, I CAN be bought...at a price).

    We do shop at Fry's also, as a second choice.
    I NEVER let the wife go alone...and ALWAYS carry the snubby.
    And, to my understanding we just passed legislation that a CCpermit is now unnecessary in Arizona. Although I have mine anyway.
    Arizona just ain't gonna take it anymore!

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    The only thing wrong with factory loaded wad cutters is they are loaded pretty light. Still would be pretty effective at 5 or 10 feet.

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    Default Winchester Supreme Elite Bonded PDX1

    This is what I bought for my wife to use in her Ruger LCR. Really no more recoil then the non+p rounds she was shooting.





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    I don't use a 38 anymore but back in the day the FBI load (158 SWCHP +P) was hard to beat. I don't think much has really changed in 25 years to make this any less effective. At 38 special velocities, especially from a 2 inch barrel I don't believe any of the new wonder bullets would be any more if as effective.

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    You do have a good point Jack. Any recommendations on a GOOD FBI load other than BuffBore. I like the 158SWCHP. (+P) and I can shoot higher pressures out of my Smitty...but I've kinda lost faith in Buffalo Bores.
    And a defensive pistol is something (like a bear gun) that a person has to have 100% trust in.

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    Default .38/200

    The Brits apparently had a lot of sucess with the old .38 S&W with a 200 gr RN bullets - the ".38/200" load. Guess they had to discourage a lot of the inhabitants of their colonies around the world at one time.

    I remember years ago one of the plain clothes detectives in the local PD down south(lower 48) shot a guy attacking him in the head with a old HiVel load. The bullet exploded on his skull and only stunted him. When the detective came into work the next morning he had a box of gift wrapped box of AP loads on his desk.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack49 View Post
    I don't use a 38 anymore but back in the day the FBI load (158 SWCHP +P) was hard to beat. I don't think much has really changed in 25 years to make this any less effective. At 38 special velocities, especially from a 2 inch barrel I don't believe any of the new wonder bullets would be any more if as effective.
    I did a fair amount of research on this when I got my .357 and found basically two options.
    - The old "FBI Load" as described above
    - Modern 110 - 135 +P loads such as the Speer Gold Dot in 125

    The FBI load certainly has a solid reputation. However, it seems that it doesn't perform great out of very short barrels. The modern lighter loads seem to do just fine in ballistics tests and real world data, especially from shorter barrels. They can also have lighter recoil.

    So I'd say, if you're using a snubbie, definitely go for the modern loads (something like a Speer Gold Dot) to guarantee reliable expansion with less recoil. If you're using something with a larger barrel, whichever you prefer. At that point, price might be the biggest factor; I'd prefer to standardize on a cheaper ammo that can be practiced with more often than to select a more expensive one that means less practice.

    Honestly, either one will likely do the job as well as the other. The difference in the ammo is much less significant than your accuracy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunbugs View Post
    Remington makes a nice 125gr. +P load in 38spl. Part#L38S2 Semi jacketed hollow point. Inexpensive enough to practice with the same load you carry. Should be very effective in the short barreled revolvers favored by many.
    This is what I keep in my 649 for indoor and urban purposes. No need to load the .357 palm smackers until I'm in the woods.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nittanytbone View Post
    So I'd say, if you're using a snubbie, definitely go for the modern loads (something like a Speer Gold Dot) to guarantee reliable expansion with less recoil. If you're using something with a larger barrel, whichever you prefer. At that point, price might be the biggest factor; I'd prefer to standardize on a cheaper ammo that can be practiced with more often than to select a more expensive one that means less practice.

    Honestly, either one will likely do the job as well as the other. The difference in the ammo is much less significant than your accuracy.
    You are right about the accuracy, and I practice a bunch as well as having gone through Advanced Tactical classes with the Snubby, so it's familier to me even under pressure.

    No worries about practice ammo as I've still got 2000+ rounds of wadcutter left to play with (already shot up 3000+ in practice/drills as well as probably another couple thousand of roundnose in tactical classes).

    I just want to get away from the Buffalo Bore ammo, and I DO have some 135grain Gold Dots that may be better (made for snubby's)...but I was curious if there was something MUCH better, or if anyone was shooting the FBI loads from another manufacturer. I also carry it for wildlife protection (Arizona) so it COULD be used against a couger or even a Black bear as a last resort (I also carry spray) and yes I want to upgrade to a 3" barrel .357...but in the meantime...a GOOD .38special load is highly desireable.

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by arizonaguide View Post
    You do have a good point Jack. Any recommendations on a GOOD FBI load other than BuffBore. I like the 158SWCHP. (+P) and I can shoot higher pressures out of my Smitty...but I've kinda lost faith in Buffalo Bores.
    And a defensive pistol is something (like a bear gun) that a person has to have 100% trust in.

    The current Winchester white box +P 158 SWCHP loading is essentially the FBI load. It's what I used to use years ago. I'm assuming it's the same as it was.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by nittanytbone View Post
    I did a fair amount of research on this when I got my .357 and found basically two options.
    - The old "FBI Load" as described above
    - Modern 110 - 135 +P loads such as the Speer Gold Dot in 125

    The FBI load certainly has a solid reputation. However, it seems that it doesn't perform great out of very short barrels. The modern lighter loads seem to do just fine in ballistics tests and real world data, especially from shorter barrels. They can also have lighter recoil.

    So I'd say, if you're using a snubbie, definitely go for the modern loads (something like a Speer Gold Dot) to guarantee reliable expansion with less recoil. If you're using something with a larger barrel, whichever you prefer. At that point, price might be the biggest factor; I'd prefer to standardize on a cheaper ammo that can be practiced with more often than to select a more expensive one that means less practice.

    Honestly, either one will likely do the job as well as the other. The difference in the ammo is much less significant than your accuracy.
    I'm not sure which would perform better out of a snub. To me it's a toss up. But cheap 158 swc 38 special practice ammo that shoots to the same basic point of aim as the carry load tips it in favor of the 158 in my book. As you said accuracy is the key and practice is the way to get accuracy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jack49 View Post
    The current Winchester white box +P 158 SWCHP loading is essentially the FBI load. It's what I used to use years ago. I'm assuming it's the same as it was.
    Price is right on those too. I think I'll give those a try. Never had any bad experiences with white boxes. Worth a shot...(or 100). I think my "practice" wadcutters are like 140gr, but close enough to be okay with 158's as carry rounds.
    And white box is cheap enough to throw a couple hundred "test" rounds downrange. I'll site the laser in with whatever I end up carrying anyway at 10yards...so accuracy is great no matter which...for snubby ranges. The S&W442 has good inherent accuracy. LOVE that thing...but do need to upgrade to a 3" in .357 (S&W640). And momma will get the .38!

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