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Just as the title says, I'm looking for standard pressure, low recoil self defense ammunition for a 38 special. Looking at getting a gun for my wife to keep around when I'm not home, and she's not one for recoil...so I'm looking for something that she can comfortably train with and use for self defense. The gun I'm looking at is the Taurus 85, stainless, which weighs 21oz.

My only criteria is I want something that actually expands, because a lot of the low recoil loads won't expand as their velocities aren't high enough for that to happen.

Would a 148/150gr full wadcutter moving around 850-900fps or the standard pressure 158gr lead semi wadcutter hollow point work well for my purposes? I know the 38 special FBI load is the 158gr lswchp in +p, but would I get decent enough performance from the standard pressure loading?

Would one of the lehigh defense rounds, like the xtreme defender from Underwood/Lehigh be a better option?

Thanks
 

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The Buffalo Bore 150 gr hard cast wadcutter load would be my choice. Dont use the factory 148 gr loads wadcutters except for practice. Too slow as they are loaded to about 1/2 pressure of a standard 158 gr load.

Hornady does have a jacketed polymer nosed HP 90 gr load that expands OK if you like an expanding bullet.
 

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View attachment 382612 these right here are decent performers in std velocity.. they are low recoil and allow faster reloads due to bullet profile
I'm running these in my airweight right now. Recoiled like range rounds...still snappy out of an airweight, but not punishing.
 

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I’ve tried the Buffalo Bore wadcutters and they kick pretty hard. Better to go with a standard target wadcutters formless recoil. Of course you get good penetration but no expansion.
 
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IMO, the 148gr WC or 158grLSWC are fine, expansion is nice but a big flat point is almost as good in low vel/energy rounds. You are just punching holes with most handgun calibers.
 

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You're getting a home defense gun for your wife, who's recoil sensitive enough that you're working that into your ammo criteria, and the gun you're getting her is a snubbie? You're starting in the wrong place. Get her a ex-police Smith 10 or 64 with a heavy barrel. It's not a CCW gun, so overall size isn't an issue. The longer barrel will give her more sight radius, and added weight will absorb recoil. It has one more round. Finally, I'd trust Smith over Taurus.

Once you have a gun, buy a few boxes of different types of ammo, and find her recoil threshold.
 

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You're getting a home defense gun for your wife, who's recoil sensitive enough that you're working that into your ammo criteria, and the gun you're getting her is a snubbie? You're starting in the wrong place. Get her a ex-police Smith 10 or 64 with a heavy barrel. It's not a CCW gun, so overall size isn't an issue. The longer barrel will give her more sight radius, and added weight will absorb recoil. It has one more round. Finally, I'd trust Smith over Taurus.

Once you have a gun, buy a few boxes of different types of ammo, and find her recoil threshold.
Agree, missed the gun type, but imo,snubs are for professionals. Smaller guns with short bbls are just harder to shoot well. A ruger 3" sp101 is as short/small a gun I woud recommend to a new shooter.
 

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Your best bet is let her practice with wadcutters and load the hottest +p rounds for actual carry or home defense. If she actually has to use the weapon she will not notice the recoil with all of her adrenaline pumping trough her system. I have seen this time and time again investigating shootings. Many times the shooter does not remember how many rounds were fired or even if the weapon in their hands was fired.
 
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Your best bet is let her practice with wadcutters and load the hottest +p rounds for actual carry or home defense. If she actually has to use the weapon she will not notice the recoil with all of her adrenaline pumping trough her system. I have seen this time and time again investigating shootings. Many times the shooter does not remember how many rounds were fired or even if the weapon in their hands was fired.
But if they can't control the recoil to make good hits the rest of the time, are they, like, going to magically become a more proficient shooter able to make fast accurate hits under stress when they could not otherwise do so?
 
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Find a buddy who reloads...have him/her take a 148gr hollow-base wadcutter and load it backwards over 4.5 grs of Bullseye...that is an old-time trick for SD loads which is very accurate and controllable
 
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