Interesting New .38

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Tiro Fijo, Nov 24, 2011.

  1. I simply don't understand how BB can come up with such stuff. I think it is nothing less than amazing. That .38 Special load is about what a .357 Magnum load does. Simply amazing.

  2. Not really, Bruce. It's merely the old Elmer Keith style bullet/loads. Serious hunters who handload for handguns have been using loads like these for nigh onto 50 yrs. The vast majority of shooters today are not handloaders nor hunt with handguns so loads like these appear novel when in reality they are merely "old school." Remember that when these loads were originally concocted in the 1950's that there were no modern HP's as today. Where the hard cast SWC bullet excels is as a penetrator.

    I would ask CM & Fred where this round falls into today as they are serious handgun hunters and I'd wager they would agree that it is a perfect pocket .38 round for say a jogger/biker in cougar country carrying an Airweight or an LCR.
  3. It's an interesting thing, as today most folks think of .38sp as a weak revolver equivilent to 9mmx19.
    For a long time when police relied on the .38sp, it was the opposite, outdoorsmen and gun rag editors often said the .38sp was a better killer of game and more powerful because it offered heavier bullets vs "europellets".
    I think most of that was a function of bullet design more than anything, as 9mm was limited to FMJ and lighter weights whereas .38sp offered heavy blunt Keith style swc's and hp designs.
    A little known fact was .38sp was also loaded beyond 9mm ballistics with .38/44 and High-Speed versions and later more 9mm-like Super-Vel loads with 110gr bullets.
    When the shift away from revolvers came, 9mm became the new LE round and technology was focused on making it work better, while .38sp fell to a backup role in lightweight snubbies and a low recoil alternative to .357mag.
    IMO this is why perceptions changed and .38sp became 'weak'.
    Since the round was mostly associated with snubbie revolvers and the ballistics from 2" barrels, it was loaded and marketed for that realm....most folks don't want the recoil of 158gr/1000fps from a 2" lightweight revolver, so it was loaded below maximum pressures. Most of today's +P loads are barely into the range of what used to be considered 'warm' in the heyday of .38sp.
    I think Buffalo Bore just loads .38sp to honest maximum avg pressures using the best powders- and like it did in the past, it matches 9mm and exceeds it with heavier bullets.

    I love that they make this ammo, as I own both 9mm and .38sp and have no hesitation using either for SD.
    #4 Berto, Nov 24, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2011

  4. Ironically, there was a debate regarding this very matter on the Colt Forum in the past with one fella saying old .38+p was hotter and the other fella, a retiree from two ammo companies, saying HE was full of hot air and that they then as now loaded to pressures & not velocities. :dunno:

    The retiree however did offer one golden nugget of info: the ammo companies then loaded Hercules Infallible powder in the .38 +p as it was the only powder then available that would give +p velocities w/o overpressure. He added that this special powder had the exact same burning qualities as Unique. :whistling:
  5. I'm sure they do (and did) load to pressures, but how long is the pressure bump, and what pressure was considered too much, since the goalpost has been moved a few times from 20K to 17.5K.....:dunno:

  6. Good point. I will add that I have shot over 100 of the BB .38 Special +p 158 gr. LHP's and it's a helluva round, but it didn't fare so well in denim/gel tests for those that care. Nonetheless, I wouldn't want to be shot with it. It's a handful in a small .38.
  7. I've been handloading my own revolver and rifle ammunition since 1979. I've loaded a lot of .38 Special ammunition, some of which I thought was loaded pretty hot. But it is my understanding that using 158 gr. lead bullets, the .38 Special was supposed to run about 890 FPS from a 4" barrel. The BB stuff is many hundreds of feet faster... actually about what I thought one might get from some good .357 Magnum ammunition. I think it's wonderful. I'm just surprised.

  8. 2" Model 60 S&W.
  9. The only denim test I've seen was std pressure BB lhp's, .43 expansion and 19" thru 4 layer denim. Pretty decent IMO when you consider the new Critical defense does the same expansion with a lighter 110gr at far less penetration.
    The +p was tested at brassfetcher with bare jello, .44 exp ,fragmentation and 14+ penetration.
  10. .43-.45" expansion from a service-caliber .35-36" projectile is really weak. If you're looking for more of a hunting load, that's not too bad if you're getting lots of penetration like the Buffalo Bore load does.

    I'm just not convinced that the ability to punch a small hole through someone's shoulder with a shot that enters around their rectum is all that desirable, unless they happen to be standing directly over your head.

    For wildlife it would probably be a great load, I just like a little more than barely any expansion out of my hollowpoint carry loads.

    There are lots of loads that expand better and still penetrate very well, and cougars aren't built all that heavily. I think with a fast, lightly skinned animal like that, you'll get at least enough expansion out of the reasonable expanding loads, and they will cause more tissue damage, which may stop you from getting mauled.
  11. That's a legitimate point, though it merits mentioning the LHP load has a very well documented history of working well in actual fights, and in the case of the bare gel test, included heavy fragmenting before recovering the remainder of the expanded slug.
    .45-.50 exp is about what a +p 124gr Gold Dor 9mm gets in 4 layer denim too.

    In reality, not a lot of difference. YMMV.
    #13 Tiro Fijo, Nov 26, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2011
  13. Sure, I noticed .....

    S&W 442
    Avg velocity - 1055
    ES - 26
    4 layers denim 10% ballistic gel
    14.5" penetration
    Recovered diameter - .63"

    Test weapon was a 4" Model 10.

    Bare Gelatin: 1027fps/.522/10.5"
    FBI Heavy Clothing: 1013fps/.544/9.5"
    4 layer Denim: 999fps/.558/11.5"
    wallboard: 996fps/.546/9.5"
    plywood: 998fps/.398/14.25
    steel: 997fps/.512/10.75"
    auto glass: 1013fps/.544/8.25"

    .38 Special 158 grain Remington LHP, 10/3/89:
    S&W M13, 871 fps
    Bare gel: 15.50", 0.60"
    Clothed gel: 13.80" 0.58"

    So yeah, not much difference. I just like that BB loads them hotter.
  14. Actually, if you look in the post below yours, it shows the 124+p gold dot getting around .60" expansion in heavy clothing. Is it a huge difference? Probably not, but you can count me into the group that thinks a bigger hole never hurts.

    Everything I've read suggests that, in real violent encounters, it's the rounds that penetrate just enough to reach vital organs from most common angles, expand aggresively, then lodge on the far side of the body that have the best chance of quickly incapacitating an attacker. For instance, the 125 grain .357 SJHP, and Federal 9BPLE 9mm, even though they fall just short of the FBI mandated 12" penetration in gelatin, work pretty well on bad guys.

    That's for people. For large pissed off animals, you're going to need a lot more penetration to reach vital organs. However, I have no idea how any handgun round is going to stop a charging grizzly bear or even a large black bear unless you hit him in the brain or spinal cord. Even if you punch several holes through his heart and lungs, he can still keep going long enough to kill you. Wouldn't you have to either take out the central nervous system or break enough bone so that he couldn't support his own weight? Aren't both of those really hard to do on a moving target? So, aren't you really pretty much screwed if a large bear decides to take you out if you've got anything less than a 12 guage with 3" Brenneke slugs and a good shot to the head? Failing that, an RPG might be pretty comforting. I mean, if you've got a 1000 lb Alaskan Brown Bear charging you, nothing you shoot it with is going to force it to stop unless it's shoulder fired or mounted on a turret.
    #15 Andy W, Nov 27, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2011

  15. I don't need a gun when I fish in Alaska!! :supergrin:

  16. You're right re: gold dot 9mm, my data was sourced from Brassfetcher with 4 layer denim. In other tests it performs better. Luger 124gr +P Gold Dot (denim).html

    As for large pissed animals, not much of anything from .38sp/9mmP is going to constitute what IMO is 'adequate' again, big agreement there.:supergrin:
    My contention is simply .38sp=9mmP when .38sp is loaded to its full potential vs 'low recoil' or snubby specific. I think both rounds have proven that they can do the job well against BG's with good loads.
    For this load, I suppose it's intended to bring some "game" to folks who rely on .38sp for hiking /biking where a lightweight snubby might be chosen. (I use one for biking sometimes)

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