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s&w j frame poa/poi ammo choices

Discussion in 'GATE Self-Defense Forum' started by hmbleservant, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. hmbleservant


    Aug 13, 2010
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    Hello Mas,
    I am looking at getting a 38 SPL 638 for a back up gun. part of the reason I am looking at this gun is because I am also a hunter and I would like to be able to have a gun with me that I could use for an accurate single shot. my concern is that the sights are fixed and permanent and I would like to be able to match point of aim with point of impact...preferably with a good carry load. I know you have experience with the j frame and ammo selection. Can you assure me that if i buy this gun that there is a good carry load that will shoot to point of aim or is that not possible to predict for some reason? Is it practical for me to expect this gun to shoot very close to poa? am i setting myself up for dissapointment by choosing a fixed sight weapon for aiming very small?

    Thank you for your time and advise.

  2. Mas Ayoob

    Mas Ayoob KoolAidAntidote Moderator

    Nov 6, 2005
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    Alas,hmblservant, I can't assure you that ANY gun will hit point of aim/point of impact with any load when it comes out of the box...and neither can the manufacturers. I have multiple J-frame S&Ws that will shoot spot on to the sights with any load. Different bullet weight/velocity combinations can cause remarkably distinct variations in POA/POI with fixed sight .38s, particularly the short barrel ones like yours. I remember once being issued (!!BRIEFLY!!) a Chief Special that when aimed from bench rest at the center of a silhouette target at 25 yards, shot a very tight group...which clustered at the wrist of the target whose center chest I was aiming at. A VERY rare S&W anomaly...but proof that "you need to know where the gun you're carrying shoots."

    With a fixed sight gun, you just gotta see where it shoots with your favorite load, and then decide how much accuracy you're willing to trade for bullet performance, and vice versa. One of my favorite Berettas is a fixed sight 92 which happens to group better with 115 grain Federal 9BP and 9BPLE ammunition than it does with my current favorite 9mm load from the ballistic perspective, the Winchester Ranger-T 127 grain +P+. The standard velocity 9 BP has one of the best long-term track records out there in its category, and the 9BPLE 115 grain +P+ has an even better reputation for so-called "stopping power." Even though I prefer the Winchester 127 grain for the latter function, when I carry that particular Beretta, I carry it loaded with Federal. Your priorities may be different from mine, and that's OK.

    You mention the hunting use element. About the only use I can see for a snubnose .38 in the hunting field is a humane coup de grace on a downed, mortally wounded game animal, and that sort of shot is normally delivered at a distance so close that point of aim/point of impact probably won't matter much.