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I'm looking for opinions on what others think is the best .38 spl +P factory self-defense ammo. My concealed carry gun currently is the Model 642 S&W.
 

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Barenjager said:
Awful hard to go wrong with the Speer 135 Gr +P Gold Dot "Short Barrel Load".

Roe
If I still carried my model 60, that's what I would have in it...
 

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Barenjager said:
Awful hard to go wrong with the Speer 135 Gr +P Gold Dot "Short Barrel Load".

Roe
Based on recommendatons from, Barenjager, Dawei, and others, the Speer 135 Gr +P Gold Dot "Short Barrel Load' is exactly what I load to my S&W 642! ;) :)

CJ
 

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That Speer load is a good one, but I carry the Federal 158 LHP +P. This is the legendary Chicago police load and was the first to get the .38 off it's knees. It has been used in actual fights for many years. It clocks 800-850 in short guns, is easy on the little guns, hits close to the sights. It stops the BGs 65-70% of the time with one good hit. I like to rely on proven loads for saving those that need saving. This was my back-up combo for many years on the job. Remington and Winchester also market this load. 8)
 

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I actually carry GD short barrels in my 4" .45 and GD's in my .380 (all .380's are 'short barrels' ;D )

High performance ammo can differ from firearm to firearm... try the Gold Dots in your pistol and see how they shoot. If your pistol doesn't like them, maybe try the Golden Sabers or HydraShoks or something.

I used to shoot the Winchester Silvertips in my 60 before I discovered Gold Dots, at that time, they were the best shooting round I had tried, but at 110grns, a little light. I didn't know at that time my pistol was rated for +P's or I would have used the 125grn +P load.
 

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This is pretty good ammo as well...

http://www.hornady.com/store/38-Special-P-110-gr-Critical-Defense/

The Hornady CDP factory ammo in a .38 Spcl +P with a 110 gr FTX round supposedly generates over 1,050 fps from a 2" barreled revolver. At least that is what was reported in this article: http://www.hornady.com/assets/files/Critical Defense-Personal Defense Breakthrough.pdf

All I know for sure is, they have a pretty good muzzle blast from my 3" revolver, shot to point of aim at 15 yards, and raised holy crap with a milk jug full of water. At the price they are getting for them, I will take their word on the velocity, rather than running a bunch of them over the chrono.
 

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I'm limited to standard-P most of the time in my older Colt DS, but I like Buffalo Bore's offerings, in either 125gr. JHP or 158gr. LSWC-GC.

FWIW, the "real world" velocity/energy stats on their +P version of the latter are rather impressive.

From BB's website:
Item 20A: 158gr., very soft cast, semi wad cutter, (Keith) hollow cavity, with a gas check. This bullet will mushroom violently on impact and will penetrate roughly 14 inches in human flesh. Again, this bullet is gas checked and will not lead your barrel.

S&W mod. 60, 2 inch- 1040 fps (379 ft. lbs.)
S&W mod. 66, 2.5 inch- 1059 fps (393 ft. lbs.)
Ruger SP101, 3 inch- 1143 fps (458 ft. lbs.)
S&W Mt. Gun, 4 inch- 1162 fps (474 ft. lbs.)
+1 for:
High performance ammo can differ from firearm to firearm... try the Gold Dots in your pistol and see how they shoot.
It took a lot of trial and error for me to discover what my Colt liked best (125gr. JHPs).
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone for all the reply's. Looks like I will be heading to my local ammo supplier this week sometime to pick of a variety. Thanks again! ;D
 

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Really can't go wrong with Gold Dot short barrel flavors.

The FBI load would be a decent choice, but modern JHP's make up the difference. Just about any of the choices the other posters listed would do a decent job of it.
 

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Gold Dots. Choose your flavor and caliber, they will do the job, and are more accurate than any other load in nearly ANY gun I own, rifle or pistol. I carry them on duty, and issue them to my troops. Some of them may prefer other loads, but those guys are my only backup, and I insist they carry the best I can give them. Yes, they're THAT good. If I ever find anything better, I'll be happy to tell you all about it.

 

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piguy said:
That Speer load is a good one, but I carry the Federal 158 LHP +P. This is the legendary Chicago police load and was the first to get the .38 off it's knees. It has been used in actual fights for many years. It clocks 800-850 in short guns, is easy on the little guns, hits close to the sights. It stops the BGs 65-70% of the time with one good hit. I like to rely on proven loads for saving those that need saving. This was my back-up combo for many years on the job. Remington and Winchester also market this load. 8)
Back when the game was "One Shot Stopping Percentage", everyone was focusing on .357 Magnum and .45 ACP, with the premium rounds then around claimed to be around 90+%.

Then someone said "Let's only count the rounds that actually HIT with the first round!" and, lo and behold, it is the very 158gr LHP +P mentioned above that became the best "one shot stop", someplace around 78% IIRC.

Jon
 

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IN1894SS said:
Marshall's one shot stop has been pretty well debunked. 135 Gold Dot's are a very fine choice.
It is also uses data that was PUBLISHED about 20 years ago. Which means the raw data was actually older by up to another decade or so.

In the past 20-30 years there has been HUGE advances in metalurgy, bullet design and construction. The 158LSWC +P is good, but modern defensive JHP's easily make up the difference or surpass it.
 

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DDS444 said:
I'm looking for opinions on what others think is the best .38 spl +P factory self-defense ammo. My concealed carry gun currently is the Model 642 S&W.
I have been carrying and shooting 38 Special snubnose revolvers for 40 years. During all that time I have probably shot every 38 Special load known to man. I have thus learned a few things and will share this information with you. That doesn't make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination; it does however show I have some experience. Anyway here goes................
• It is not so much what you shoot; rather it is how you shoot. Bullets do not win gunfights! Mindset, tactics, and training win gun fights - PERIOD.
• Having the latest, greatest 38 Special +P or +P+ load in your gun isn't worth spit if you can not place bullets on target accurately, and repeatedly. Accuracy comes with practice, speed will come as your accuracy improves. Being fast is fine but more importantly YOU MUST BE ACCURATE! The following quote is attributed to the late, great, Bill Jordan; "Speed is fine, but accuracy is final"; I choose to always remember that.
• You are far better served using meek & mild standard pressure FMJ, if they are accurate; than any whiz bang +P Gold Dot®, Critical Defense™, DPX™, etc. JHP, or LSWCHP. Am I advocating FMJ ammo over standard pressure, or +P hollow points? Of course not! What I am saying is; ONLY HITS COUNT! Because of that shoot what is most accurate in your gun; not what I, friends, or so called "experts" say to shoot.
• We are all different in what we perceive recoil to be. I may use a particular round, in the same exact gun as you have; and feel it is fine. OTOH you may feel its' recoil to be very harsh. Or, I could feel the recoil is terrible, yet you feel it is non existent.
• As a general rule I can tell you that accurate hits, with hollow point ammo; is far better than using FMJ. Additionally there are two schools of thought as to type of defensive ammo to use. Basically it comes down to "Light & Fast" (think Corbon® 110gr DPX™ [#DPX38110-20], or Hornady® Critical Defense™ 110g JHP [#90310]); or "Slow & Heavy", (think Remington® 158gr LSWCHPGC [#R38S12]). Some rounds try to bridge the gap with "Mid Weight" bullets (Think Winchester® 130gr PDX+P [#S38PDB], and Speer® Short Barrel 135gr GDHP+P). For me I prefer the "Slow & Heavy" type of ammo. That DOES NOT mean the "Light & Fast" folks are wrong. We just use what performs best in our individual handguns.
ALL fixed sight 38 Special revolvers are regulated to shoot POA with 158gr ammunition. That is a primary reason I choose to use 158gr ammo in my 38's.
• I use the Buffalo Bore® Standard Pressure 158gr LSWCHPGC (20C/20)in my 15oz aluminum frame Ultra-Lite® Taurus®. I DO NOT shoot +P ammo in this gun because recoil is way too harsh. I can only get 3 well aimed shots off with +P ammo in the same amount of time I can place 5 shots of standard pressure ammo on target. One exception to my adherence to the Slow & Heavy school of thought is if the standard pressure BB ammo is unavailable. I then choose to carry the Federal® Standard Pressure 125gr Nyclad™ HP (#P38M). This is a very mild load to shoot and very accurate in my aluminum framed 38s. My wife, 62, has arthritis in her hands and can't handle the recoil of a lot of current 38 Special defensive loads. She carries the Nyclad™s in her steel frame snubnose and can shoot a box of 50 w/o any problems. She does not care to shoot my Airweight® or Ultra-Lite guns at all.
• In my steel frame 38's I use the #20A/20 Buffalo Bore® 158gr LSWCHPGC+P load.

IMHO shooting +P loads in your Airweight® will not be a pleasant experience. Before you start blasting away with 38 Special+P in your 15oz gun you might to give the Federal® Nyclad™s and the Buffalo Bore (#20C/20) standard pressure loads a try. This Buffalo Bore® standard pressure load out performs just about any +P load out there.
 

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Thanks for all the info fellas. ;D When I first took the gun to the range I shot just plain vanilla 158gr HSM standard pressure loads to see how it shot. These had a semi-wad cutter bullet. I was actually surprised with the accuracy of the gun, cause I figured it would take a lot more than 50 rounds to be anywhere near good with it. By the time I was finished I was shooting 2 inch groups at 10 yards which I thought was respectable for a 1 7/8 barrel. So there must be something to what you said Dawei about fixed sight snub .38s being point of aim with 158gr. loads. It did kick quite a bit more than anything else I have, at least to me. Maybe it was just a different kind of recoil coupled with the smaller grip. I shoot my 629 with out any fuss, so I figured that it wouldn't be that bad.. ::)lol Anyway, I will just have to go and try out a few different loadings and see what the gun likes. Does the lighter bullet in a +P recoil similar to a standard pressure .38 with 158gr. bullets?
 

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Remington 158 grain LHP +P. Carried it for 20 years in my backup S&W M49; it's accurate, controllable, relatively low muzzle flash. The only person I saw who was shot by the round was a suicide; the bullet penetrated the upper palate, brain, and exited the skull to stick in drywall with the base exposed.
 

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DDS444 said:
Thanks for all the info fellas. ;D When I first took the gun to the range I shot just plain vanilla 158gr HSM standard pressure loads to see how it shot. These had a semi-wad cutter bullet. I was actually surprised with the accuracy of the gun, cause I figured it would take a lot more than 50 rounds to be anywhere near good with it. By the time I was finished I was shooting 2 inch groups at 10 yards which I thought was respectable for a 1 7/8 barrel. So there must be something to what you said Dawei about fixed sight snub .38s being point of aim with 158gr. loads. It did kick quite a bit more than anything else I have, at least to me. Maybe it was just a different kind of recoil coupled with the smaller grip. I shoot my 629 with out any fuss, so I figured that it wouldn't be that bad.. ::)lol Anyway, I will just have to go and try out a few different loadings and see what the gun likes. Does the lighter bullet in a +P recoil similar to a standard pressure .38 with 158gr. bullets?
That is a fair assumption.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks dawei. :) :)
 

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Hello,

I never owned your model of gun.

I have owned the S&W Model 60, the S&W Model 686 is still here, a couple of Ruger Blackhawks - still here, used my late husband's classic Dan Wesson, etc. This is what I used to use the most for Plus P. All of them were good guns.

Federal Premium, 38Special Plus P, 129Grain, Hydro-Shok (Not shock.), JHP.

I still have some of this Plus P ammunition left. My more expensive and better self defense ammunition was in hollow points.

(In my Ruger Blackhawk in 45Colt, I used something called flying ashtrays in SPEER (?) - 45Colt. I am not positive on that load - grain and my late husband bought them for me many, many moons ago.)

I have more of the plain '38Special' not Plus P NOW to use in the guns that I gave to MM. Federal American Eagle, red box, 130 grain, FMJ, some Winchester white box which is already packed away for the move to the new house and there might still be some of the 'FBI loads' in 158grain. MM reloads and he has 38Special and 357Magnum. I do not know his 'loads' verbatim but I have shot some of them a few years ago.

Best wishes to you!

Catherine
 
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