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.38 special ammunition for a snubbie

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Nemesis Lead, Aug 10, 2013.

  1. Nemesis Lead

    Nemesis Lead

    Mar 3, 2007

    What self-defense ammunition would you recommend for a .38 special snubbie (i.e., Ruger LCR)? Why?

    I am normally a fan of Federal HST, but am wondering if I should use something specially designed for short barrels.

    Note--the revolver can handle .38 Special +P but not .357 magnum.
  2. DustyJacket

    DustyJacket Directiv 10-289

    Oct 16, 2008
    Missouri, East of KC
    You won't be going supersonic, so a Lead Semi Wadcutter will be as effective as any hollowpoint.

    I like the 158gr LSWC load.
    My old departments liked the 110gr JHP +P load.

  3. PhantomF4E


    Aug 24, 2010
    South Florida
    Can you shoot +P well ? Short barrel ammo is just a different flavor. You want what you can put on target quickly & repeatedly with that particular firearm combined with your shooting skill. A snubby is a short range gun for close quarter work. You don't need super performance long range .38 whiz-bang precision ammo. Any decent factory hollow point ammo is going to perform well enough for what the snubby was designed for . I use plain Jane Golden Sabers in mine .
  4. eb07

    eb07 Sharkin'

    Feb 19, 2010
    Third Rock From the Sun
    135 grain +p Speer gold dot for short barrel.
  5. PhantomF4E


    Aug 24, 2010
    South Florida
    And this too. There is a reason 158gn lead is still around ! Ain't fancy. Doesn't make for good watercooler what you loading talk . But ask any LEO who ever packed a wheelgun and they will tell you , no one every said "thank you Sir can I have another " after a trigger pull :)
  6. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    I would add HP (hollowpoint) to that but yah that is my choice. It doesn't depend on velocity, its performance is not as affected by heavy clothing as some ultra light hps.

    In short. it's too dumb to fail
  7. cowboywannabe

    cowboywannabe you savvy?

    Jan 26, 2001
    Remington 158gr. LHP +p.
  8. barth

    barth six barrels

    Oct 7, 2011
    The Free Zone
    Speer GDHP Short Barrel 135 Gr 38 +P
    Final Answer
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2013
  9. Merkavaboy

    Merkavaboy Code-7A KUZ769

    Lead SWC is no better than FMJ or LRN: Small pucker wounds, narrow wound channels and excessive penetration is what you'll wind up with. Nearly any modern designed JHP would be better than any solid non-HP bullet.
  10. Merkavaboy

    Merkavaboy Code-7A KUZ769

    Wow! Really? :upeyes:
  11. nikerret

    nikerret Mr. Awesome

    Mar 29, 2005
    I currently carry a semi-jacketed hollow point 135 gr +P by Remington. I am working on a load for the 140gr Hornady FTX (which is made for the 357 magnum). If I can find a box for a good price, I'll carry these:

    or the Winchester PDX1.
  12. Ljutic


    Jun 8, 2011
    The good news is there are a few good options available. I've just scratched the surface of what's available, but there are several test results available for your review here.

    I work in 38 tests as often as I can since they are often neglected by other folks that test.
  13. Cpl_Siggy


    Oct 20, 2011
  14. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    Apparently you do not understand the principle of the meplat and the profile of the SWC. Pity, most experts do.

    I will even go further and opine from my experimenting around that a good example might well be the .40 S&W hardball VS the standard .45 acp hardball.

    Even though the .40 is of smaller diameter and less weight, when driven at the same velocities the flat point .40s tissue damage won't be significantly less if at all than the round nosed .45

    You might ask some of the reloaders who actually shoot game with the .45 acp why so many of them cast SWC bullets rather than RNs if the RNs work just as well. Seems the same principles would apply across calibers.

    Then there is the rather sharp uptick in the effectiveness noted in the police loadings of the .41 magnum when they simple switched from the old round nosed profile lead bullet to a SWC profile.

    But of course you must already know this so that makes your statement all the more curious.
  15. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    I'd go with the Speer 135+P Gold Dot Short Barrel. I really don't believe the old heavy bullets work very well in a snubby. Maybe a 4 or 5", sure.

    A Special Note on Snub-Nose .38 Revolvers with 2" or 3" Barrels: The Cor-Bon .38 Special +P 125 grain JHP and 158 grain LSWCHP FBI load are not the best choice for 2" or 3" barrel revolvers. The short barrel does not provide enough velocity to ensure reliable expansion with these loads, and the unpleasant and hard-to-control recoil hurts snub-nose accuracy (as well as your hand).
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  16. cbird77


    Dec 20, 2012
    The Woodlands
    After much research this is what I have been using.
  17. Merkavaboy

    Merkavaboy Code-7A KUZ769

    First off, the topic of discussion is the 38 Spl cartridge, not the 41 Mag or any other caliber.

    Secondly, we have decades upon decades of shooting data that proves just how poorly FMJ/solid non-HP handgun bullets, in all service calibers, perform. This includes SWC and even WC bullets in the 38Spl caliber. Tissue damage in human beings caused by non-expanding JSP, SWC and WC bullets when compared to FMJ/RN bullets is so minimal as to be a non-issue. They are poor stoppers. Period.

    Thirdly, choice of handgun bullets when hunting animals have absolutely no correlation to choosing bullets for LE duty or personal SD use. When hunting game, a heavy solid bullet is most desirable for punching thru thick hide and skin, punching thru thick muscle, gristle and bone and then passing thru to create a blood trail to follow, if necessary. This is the complete OPPOSITE when choosing a SD load that needs to expand, crush and rip tissue while doing its best to immediately incapacitate the attacker with the LEAST POSSIBILITY of that bullet exiting the attacker and going on to kill or maim some innocent person.

    If you still have a problem comprehending why solid bullets, even SWC's, are such poor performers and poor stoppers of human attackers (and not game animals), please feel free to post a question for Mas in the GATE Self-Defense forum. I'm sure he'll do a better job at explaining this subject to you.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013
  18. countrygun


    Mar 9, 2012
    If you have problems understanding that in any caliber the performance of a flat point bullet differs from a round nosed bullet in tissue and insist upon trying to fool people

    "Lead SWC is no better than FMJ or LRN"

    because you actually believe it, then you are too far out of touch with reality to bother with.

    A lot of study went into this in the 60's and 70's by all kinds of LE agencies. Before ballistic gel was around, thousands of wet newspapers and tons of wet sand and other things were shot with SWC lead and RNL. Based on the results, and on street results and autopsies almost every single LEA since the mid 60's that still issued .38 revolvers and lead bullets went to a SWC profile or a SWCHP. Now did they all do that because they weren't as smart as you?
  19. ksmedman


    Nov 24, 2011
    In the middle
    I carry a S&W 638 on occasion, and it's usually loaded with the Speer 135gr +P.
    A good 158gr load would also be a good choice, I'm not all that convinced of the advantage of +P in a <2" barrel.

    That said, one of these days I'm going to try Buffalo Bore's standard pressure 110gr, supposedly it'll push 1000 fps.
    Lehigh Defense has some nasty stuff too.
    Lot's of choices nowadays...

    Oh, and contrary to some beliefs, a short barreled revolver can be shot well at distance too. I can keep mine on a paper plate at ~25 yards in DA. SA probably further, just have to know how your load hits. Lighter bullets tend to shoot lower than heavy, though it seems contrary.
    Many revolver sights are indexed for recoil, and lighter bullets leave the barrel sooner in the recoil curve.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2013