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38 Special as a Defense Weapon?

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by realitycheck390, Feb 7, 2010.

  1. realitycheck390

    realitycheck390

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    Just wondering what you all thought about the 38 special as a self defense weapon?
    Thanks
     
  2. MrVvrroomm

    MrVvrroomm

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    It's what I carry almost every day. There have been a lot of bad guys taken out with .38 special.
     

  3. Brucev

    Brucev

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    It's been getting the job done for almost 100 years. A nice well-balanced fixed sighted snub-nosed K frame S&W loaded with soft 158 gr. SWCHP is an excellent choice for SD/HD. It is highly shootable by persons who are not highly skilled or greatly experienced in handling handguns, easily reloaded using speed-loaders and virtually idiot proof under stress. It does not have the appeal of 9mm, .40, .45 rounds because it is considered to plebian, but it extremely effective when used in a typical confrontation. For those who anticipate the most extreme sorts of encounters, nothing will suffice short of the latest semi-auto bullet slinger featured on the front cover of HotGunsAreUs. From a 4" service revolver, the .38 in an appropriate loading will give more than enough power, penetration and bullet weight for SD/HD use. Are there better choices available? Yes. Tactically, etc., is the revolver (6, 7, 8 shot) the optimum SD/HD weapon? No. But in the hands of even a moderately trained person, the .38 Special is more than equal to the requirements of SD/HD. Sincerely. Brucev.
     
  4. realitycheck390

    realitycheck390

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    I like that. :cool:
     
  5. texmex

    texmex

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    The 38 Special is a viable self defense weapon. The FBI used it for years loaded with 158 gr, +P lead semi-wadcutter hollow points with excellent results. The main limitation to a comparatively less powerful round is either lack of expansion or lack of penetration. There must be enough penetration to reach the vital organs. Too much expansion may lead to a lack of penetration. No expansion makes a smaller wound channel. Expansion is pretty much irrelevant if something vital is penetrated such as the brain or spinal cord. Modern bonded core hollow points and bullets like the DPX hopefully have improved the chances of both penetration and expansion. Their expansion enlarges the wound channel and the little cutting edges formed during expansion could conceivably cause more damage than a smooth surface such as a full metal jacket or round nose lead. The 38 Special has always been considered an inherently accurate cartridge which hopefully leads to good shot placement. A +P cartridge with good bullet design complemented by good marksmanship should allow this cartridge to perform adequately. The key ingredient is practice, practice, practice.
     
  6. realitycheck390

    realitycheck390

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    Currently I'm looking at the Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P short barrel ammo. I really like gold dot's hopefully this will be adequate like you say.
     
  7. MrVvrroomm

    MrVvrroomm

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    They will do the job nicely.
     
  8. MTS532

    MTS532

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    Hard to argue with that. With the better loads, the .38 is still a good choice for self defense. It's got a long history of taking bad guys out of the fight, as long as the good guy does his part. No fuss, no drama and no glitzy magazine ads touting the newest bullet designs driven at hyper velocities. Easy to train with and easy to teach. I like that.

    The history of the pedestrian .38 SPL is more evidence that shot placement and penetration are the keys to physical incapacitation.
     
  9. texmex

    texmex

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    Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P short barrel ammo is what I keep in my S&W 642 and my Ruger LCR. The 642 is the off duty weapon I'm carrying while off on vacation. I think it is as good a choice as any.
     
  10. fredj338

    fredj338

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    Exactly what I recommend new shooters looking for a HD weapon. Buy A good 4" medium frame 357mag, fill it w/ 158gr+PLSWCHP & you are well armed for most HD situations. AS a BUG, it's almost fool proof & will fire from contact, in a pocket or from any possible grip postion. I like the 135grGDH{+P but it does shoot low form most fixed sighted guns.
     
  11. coal

    coal

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    It's good enough. I'd be just as fine with 5rds .38 as 5rds 9mm in theory. But, in application, my 9mms hold more than 5rds, my .38spl does not. Given what I have, my preference in order:
    1) 7 rds 12-guage
    2) 11rds .45acp
    3) 16rds 9mm
    4) 5rds .38spl
    5) sharp stick
     
  12. Mongosafari

    Mongosafari El diablo verde

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    A lot of us stake our lives and family safety on a 38 Special.

    [​IMG]

    If I'm near home then I might use another force option: 308, 223, 12 GA......

    It's kind of hard going to a restaurant with an M1A slung across my back.
     
  13. Ak.Hiker

    Ak.Hiker

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    I like the 38 Special. I have plenty of other guns but when I travel my favorite to take on trips is the Colt Detective Special loaded with either the Federal 158 grain LSWHP +P or the Speer 135 grain +P Gold Dot.
     
  14. carbofan21

    carbofan21

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    that looks like one of the new 642's with the 2.5" barrel. how do you like it, and how does it shoot compared to a standard 642?
     
  15. mitchshrader

    mitchshrader Deceased

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    I'm buying (have bought) my daughter a model 36-1 3" barrel, at her request. I've got one she had her eye on, so I hastily located an alternative. And another young lady of my acquaintance got her 2nd deer with a .38 158gr RNL out of a '94 carbine this past year.

    The deer votes in favor of .38s.
     
  16. MSgt Dotson

    MSgt Dotson

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    The .38 Spec is to defensive handgun rounds as the .30-30 is to deer hunting...; not super powerful, but, gets the job done with shot placement.
     
  17. Brucev

    Brucev

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    I'll go one step further... not only is the .38 Special for SD/HD like the .30-30 for deer hunting, but the vast majority of SD/HD incidents are very much like the normative distances and deer encountered in deer hunting. The vast majority of deer are not +200 lb. monsters but mere 120-130 lb. buck or does that die readily when shot in the heart/lungs with a moderately powerful round such as the .30-30 Winchester. Shot with a .30-06 or some belted magnum, they are not killed deader. They are just killed. The overwhelming vast majority of such deer are killed at ranges seldom over 100 yds. At that distance, even the less than benchrest quality accuracy of a lever-action rifle is more than capable of putting rounds well inside of the kill zone of a run of the mill deer. The .30-30 is not glamorous. It just works very very well. And when it comes to killing deer, that's what you want a deer rifle to do.

    The same is true of the .38 Special and the revolvers in which it is chambered. The vast majority of SD/HD incidents do not involve a mob of assailants all firing various high-capacity pistols/rifles/shotguns which they hold sideways while flashing gang signs with their other hand. Such scenarios sell magazines but they are the exception. The vast majority of criminal assailants are not heavily muscled 250 lb. weight lifters wearing body armor but run of the mill normal adult males who may weigh as little as 120 lbs. or as much as 225 lbs. but who will be wearing standard street clothing rather than body armor and who will fall down and even die when nothing more high-tech than a .38 bullet from even a lowly .38 Special fired from even a plebian fixed/adjustable sighted short/medium/long barreled blued/stainless square butted/round butted revolver chambered for 5/6/7/8 rounds. It may not be glamorous, but it works very very well. And when it comes to dealing with a criminal in a SD/HD incident, that is what you want a SD/HD handgun to do. JMHO. Sincerely. Brucev.
     
  18. glocksterr

    glocksterr DirtyGlockHippy

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    i disagree...

    :whistling:
























































































    just off the top of my head say 3 attackers, 2 armed in a home invasion...


    just sayin'

    :dunno:
     
  19. vafish

    vafish

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    Good analogy.

    And the .38 special was designed in 1899, so it has been getting the job done for 111 years.

    .38 special is not my first choice for self defense, but I would feel just fine carrying it and have carried one in the past.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
  20. MTS532

    MTS532

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    Anyone can create a situation in which your primary self defense weapon is inadequate.

    But a lot of people just want something small and concealable to slip into their pocket while they go about their business.

    In this role, I don't think you can beat a small framed .38 Spl for reliability.

    True, you may not be able to take on a dozen gangbangers from the local 'MS-13' chapter, but against one or two determined attackers, the guy who carries a small .38 snubbie and is well trained in its use is more than a match for most situations that may arise around town.

    For decades, police and even military pilots carried a plain ol' .38 Spl. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't, just like any other self defense handgun.