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I have a deadly accurate vintage S&W .38 Spl that is scary on target with the right loads, but I'm not entirely convinced that FMJ in 38 Spl is the best load for self-defense
 

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.45ACP hardball out of a standard length barrel has a historically proven 62-65% one shot stop rate. Usually that meant shot dead, or so badly injured the fight wasn't continued with one .45ACP hardball to the chest.

It's reputation as a manstopper was hard earned and is well proven.

While I would prefer and carry modern HP, I wouldn't feel underarmed if limited to that load. Even in a compact platform.

Gray_Rider
Old Secessh
 

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I would have to say the .45 ACP or the .45 Colt. The .357, I think, would blow a very fast hole through somebody unless it struck bone. I think the 9MM is quite sufficient with SD ammunition. With FMJ, I'm not so sure. A friend did shoot an enemy soldier during the Gulf War and he went right down and died, but my friend said he fired a burst of three at about 20 feet from his Beretta.
 

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When I feebly attempt to figure all of the miniscule statistical odds of being involved in some sort of an altercation involving me shooting my firearm at another person in self defense, there are, among others, three ammunition related issues that could cause me concern:

1. Will I hit my target?
2. Will my weapon function reliably?
3. Will the ammunition used stop the threat?

Of those three, #'s 2 and 3 are probably the biggest issues concerning ammunition.

With that, I consider that ball ammunition, while seriously underperforming compared to expanding ammo, still does have some level of success in stopping a threat. Saying that "it's worthless" or some other such thing is just silly. From the soldier to the street thug, thousands of fatalities are cause by being hit my such ammo.

That being the case, I couldn't imagine anything worse than a weapon that malfunctions in a time of need. While out and about, I carry a .380, and since it's a little underpowered anyway, I'll take the reliability and slightly deeper penetration of FMJ.

At home, I keep a loaded magazine of 9mm, .300 AAC Blackout, and plain old .22 long rifle in the kitchen. I use 'em all around the acreage a lot, and just figure I'll use whatever I have handy. If things get nasty, I'll go for the bigger rifle anyway.
 

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The only one I can think of that might be even marginal would be a very fast FN 10mm.
I guess the way I see it, there are so many better options in just about every application, I can't think of why, except, no other choice. FMJ's have so many marginal attributes, they go through flesh in a very streamlined manner (mostly leaving a smaller than caliber hole in their wake). They tend to steer very weird courses. Sometimes that trait can be fortuitous (Jack Ruby comes to mind), sometimes less than desirable. In any case, the shooter has less control over where it is going to end up than just about any other option.
 

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I also agree that fmj might have advantages in mouse rounds up to .380acp. Older slow moving rounds like the .38SW did okay with long heavy for caliber bullets that frequently tumbled in tissue.
 
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