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Thread: Which is bestest, and why come?

  1. #1
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    Default Which is bestest, and why come?

    38 Special Home Defense Load, with JHP bullets.

    110 grain +P (JHP) or 125 grain +P (JHP)

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
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    Member GrizzlyH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    38 Special Home Defense Load, with JHP bullets.

    110 grain +P (JHP) or 125 grain +P (JHP)

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North
    I'll stay with my versatile 44 mag. Fair bear protection with 300+ grain bullets, yet can load 44 specials in it for home defense. All around gun and only need one that way. IMO
    I can do the impossible right away. Be patient, miracles take me a bit longer.

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    Member gunbugs's Avatar
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    I'd probably stick with the 125's as they may penetrate a little better, and the velocity difference out of a short barrel will be negligible.
    "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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    Good question, I haven't done much research on the .38 and that's what my wife carries, so I'll be looking at the responses as well. Thanks for bringing it up Smitty!

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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    How about the ol' standby FBI load? 158gr LSWCHP. +p by todays standards. Standard load "back in the day". Roll your own with Speer boolits or other equivalent SOFT lead SWCHP's and 5+gr Unique or buy factory loads. If I was to choose between the j-words though I'd go with the 125's in my 4" K-Frame for the nightstand. Should have enough velocity to expand. The Det. Special Snub gets the FBI load.

    Here's some interesting ballistics tests.
    http://www.snubnose.info/docs/snubby_ballistics.htm

    http://www.handgunsmag.com/ammunition/pocket_dynomite/

    Excerpt: "As I saw it, the main contest here was between the various 125-grain hollowpoints and the 158-grain lead semiwadcutters. As mentioned, these seem to be the two most popular choices, and much debate has occurred as to which is best."

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    I don't genuinely think there is a nickel's worth of difference between the two in a real life scenario... given my preference between the two I'd go with 125s.

    My preferred .38 load is the FBI 158gr.

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    No expert here, but my vote would also go with the 158gr LSWC. From my experience loading these, they are about as accurate as anything out of most 38/357's with the right load, should penetrate well, and cut a nice clean hole in whatever you shoot them in. Price is right too so more practice shooting with the defense load in your night stand or carry gun. Never read the FBI studies/tests but heard of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Snyd View Post
    How about the ol' standby FBI load? 158gr LSWCHP. +p by todays standards. Standard load "back in the day". Roll your own with Speer boolits or other equivalent SOFT lead SWCHP's and 5+gr Unique or buy factory loads. If I was to choose between the j-words though I'd go with the 125's in my 4" K-Frame for the nightstand. Should have enough velocity to expand. The Det. Special Snub gets the FBI load.

    Here's some interesting ballistics tests.
    http://www.snubnose.info/docs/snubby_ballistics.htm

    http://www.handgunsmag.com/ammunition/pocket_dynomite/

    Excerpt: "As I saw it, the main contest here was between the various 125-grain hollowpoints and the 158-grain lead semiwadcutters. As mentioned, these seem to be the two most popular choices, and much debate has occurred as to which is best."
    When I had 357/38 revolvers I used both the 125 and 158 grain loads in several different guns. You can make arguments for either one. One thing that can be said with reasonable certainty though, is that when this thread has reached maturity the above highlighted quote will likely sum it up.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    38 Special Home Defense Load, with JHP bullets.

    110 grain +P (JHP) or 125 grain +P (JHP)

    Thanks
    Smitty of the North

    Between the two a Hornady Critical Defense 110 grain HP with the filler in the hollow point to prevent expansion on clothing will do the job. A little less recoil. Enough punch.

    To expand the question a little a 148 grain wadcutter pushed by 3.0 to 3.5 grains of WW231 (depends on your accuracy work-up) will cut a nice clean bleeding hole with good penetration. Also is easily handled by people who can't/won't handle more recoil in smaller weapons. Also very accurate. Don't push a WC too fast, especially the hollow base ones.

    Generally a big meplat, with more mass, works better at short ranges. Unless you have a really big house with 50 yard halls.

    Cary

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    Bigger is usually (but not always) better. So I'd pick the 125.

    Quote Originally Posted by carysguns View Post
    Hornady Critical Defense 110 grain HP with the filler in the hollow point to prevent expansion on clothing will do the job. A little less recoil. Enough punch.
    ^^Excellent cartridge. Especially in the winter when people are wearing heavy clothing. I carry 115gr 9mm Critical Defense in the winter. I just wish it came in bigger sizes and/or +P.

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    I'm a little confused about the talk of penetration. Don't I want to encourage expansion, and mitigate penetration? (through interior walls, and beyond the target.) Isn't that a beeg reason for choosing a HP bullet?

    What are the issues? I thought....

    HP for expansion on the target,

    Expansion for less penetration,

    A bullet with enough velocity to expand it.

    Is there something that I'm not considering? .

    Thanks Again.
    Smitty of the North
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    I'm a little confused about the talk of penetration. Don't I want to encourage expansion, and mitigate penetration? (through interior walls, and beyond the target.) Isn't that a beeg reason for choosing a HP bullet?

    What are the issues? I thought....

    HP for expansion on the target,

    Expansion for less penetration,

    A bullet with enough velocity to expand it.

    Is there something that I'm not considering? .

    Thanks Again.
    Smitty of the North
    Smitty, the diminutive .38 Spl is a bit notorious for NOT penetrating, I think that's why the focus in this particular case is on penetration. The goal is to get the bullet to go deep enough to hit the vitals. It's doubtful that you'll see many .38 Spl exit wounds, especially from a snubbie. That's why law enforcement agencies collectively moved on to other, more powerful calibers when they became available.

    Even the .22 mag will penetrate deeper than a .38. It's still a viable defense round though, with the right load and modern bullet construction.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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    With regard to real world performance with the .38 Special, I'd suggest reading some of Jim Cirillo's work. He was on the NYPD "Stakeout Squad" and has likely fired more rounds of .38 at bad guys than any one else putting pen to paper. Most of the western gun writers tended to focus of bigger bores and higher velocities but Jim was constrained by NYPD rules to use a .38 and he couldn't carry a speedloader. A lot of one of his books tends to focus on bullet designs in the .38 Spec.

    Personally, I read one of his books years ago and (more or less) subconciously switched to a .45 auto. Some of the stories he tells will make you wonder how he survived as long as he did.

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    For a defensive handgun load against human targets, expansion is generally desirable. Of course expansion does limit penetration and we don't want penetration so limited that the bullet doesn't make it through the bad guy's shirt. Weight, given all else being equal, including nose shape, generally increases penetration because it adds momentum and generally slows velocity and expansion. Obviously a compromise is needed, we have a very limited cartridge here. We must stay within 38 special pressures, albeit plus "P", but it isn't a 357. I do believe the 125 grain bullet is a very good choice here but barrel length does come into play due to the great velocity difference between 2" barrel and an 8" barrel. I think for snubbies, the 125 grain is about the best. If you have enough barrel to get the heavier bullet to good expansion velocities then a I would suggest the Sierra 150 grain hollow cavity bullet. Speer makes a JHP in 140 grain that I like a lot and load it to about 1000 fps with 7.5 grains of Blue Dot powder (reference Speer manual #13). This is from my 4" barreled K frame S&W. The 125 grain bullets won't gain but about 25 fps on that load. Of course factory loads will be 110, 125, 158 grain for the most part. So........ given that choice I'd choose 125 grain JHP in a +P load. Hornady makes good defensive ammo in 38 special.

    Deer (white tail, black tail) are comparable to a human target. About the same anatomical structure and about the same tenacity for life. Shoot a few dozen with your chosen load and see how that goes. Fortunately deer rarely shoot back.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrizzlyH View Post
    I'll stay with my versatile 44 mag. Fair bear protection with 300+ grain bullets, yet can load 44 specials in it for home defense. All around gun and only need one that way. IMO

    I use the 44 mag with bear loads for outdoor protection and I keep a 9MM in the home for self defense. For home defense the 9MM holds 18 rounds and will stop a man in his tracks.

    Most people do not have the trainng and experience to say they will hit their target on the first few shot when put in this situation where they must shot another human to defend them selves. That is why 18 rounds works better for me. IMO.

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    Mighty Fine, and Thanks to All:

    I knew, there was a lot about this subject I didn't know. I did NOT know all the issues.

    It sounds to me then, like I'm better off with the 125 grainers.

    My CC 38 special has a 3" barrel, and The Lovely Jeannette's 38 Special has a 5" barrel.

    I DON'T LIKE, Snubbies, and if there's anything I hate, it's something I don't like.

    They buck up in my hand. There's too much velocity loss. They don't point worth a sheet, either.

    AND, you can't put a scope on'em very easy. (OK, I'm joking about that last one.) I wouldn't scope a handgun anyhoo.

    Thanks Again.
    Smitty of the North
    Walk Slow, and Drink a Lotta Water.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    Mighty Fine, and Thanks to All:

    I knew, there was a lot about this subject I didn't know. I did NOT know all the issues.

    It sounds to me then, like I'm better off with the 125 grainers.

    My CC 38 special has a 3" barrel, and The Lovely Jeannette's 38 Special has a 5" barrel.

    I DON'T LIKE, Snubbies, and if there's anything I hate, it's something I don't like.

    They buck up in my hand. There's too much velocity loss. They don't point worth a sheet, either.

    AND, you can't put a scope on'em very easy. (OK, I'm joking about that last one.) I wouldn't scope a handgun anyhoo.

    Thanks Again.
    Smitty of the North
    I agree completely Smitty. I've never been a fan of snubbies either. Ruger just might have converted me though with their LCR. I bought one for my wife and it handles like no other snubbie I've ever handled. I bought it for her with weight being the biggest factor. (She won't carry it if it's too heavy or bulky) When the guy at Sportsman's handed me the box, I had to open it to be sure the gun was in it. They are LIGHT! In spite of the weight though, it is entirely manageable in terms of recoil, even with +p loads. And it's surprisingly accurate for a 2" barrel. It's just a pleasure to shoot, and it's the only snubbie I've ever been able to say that about. If you ever make it down to the valley area, let me know. We'll go shooting and you can give it a whirl.

    The other 299,300,000 people can have it.

    Noone has a more intimate understanding of, or deeper appreciation for freedom, than a soldier who has fought for it in a country where it does not exist.

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    My home defense weapon is a m-4 carbine with 210 rds loaded in 30rd mags.

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    Speer makes a .38 Spl load intended to get a little more out of snubbies topped with a 135 gr Speer Gold Dot that you might want to check into.
    I specified Speer Gold Dots for my department as soon as I became the firearms instructor/armorer. None of us have had to use them on anything other than wildlife, but from what we've seen, they've all penetrated deeply enough and still stayed in the target.

    Plus I also like the concept of how the Gold Dot is manufactured which is the jacket is actually electrochemically bonded onto the core. It can never separate.
    Now what ?

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