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Pickaroon

What .38 ammo for .....

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.....carry in a S&W Airweight snubnose? Can't be +P. Thanks for any recommendations.

Edited by Pickaroon

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If I couldn't or didn't want to use +p loads, I would go with a lightweight jhp. Something like 110 gr. or maybe lighter. Loads like that might have enough velocity to expand. Some guys go the other way and use 158 gr. cast or similar with a large meplat. 

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1 hour ago, Raoul said:

Why not +p, it should handle it fine.

I thought +P was not recommended for Airweights.

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5 minutes ago, Pickaroon said:

I thought +P was not recommended for Airweights.

What model “airweight” and when was it made?

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1 hour ago, Pickaroon said:

I thought +P was not recommended for Airweights.

If you can look at the barrel, it'll have a "+p" near the 38 spl if it's capable of that.

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I personally loved Federal 125 gr Nyclad HPs, and still carry them in my S&W 442 along with 2 additional speed strips full. I thought this was the best standard pressure defense round going for snubbies. Sadly, Federal dropped them. I snap them up, whenever I can find the odd box, here or there. 
 

Now, I’d probably go with the HST round mentioned above or the Speer Gold Dot. 

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1 hour ago, Pickaroon said:

I thought +P was not recommended for Airweights.

Look at the S & W website.

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3 hours ago, Garufa said:

What model “airweight” and when was it made?

It's a 638-3. And sure enough it does say +P on the barrel! Thanks.

Edited by Pickaroon
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For snubbies, I'm a fan of the old 158 gr LSWCHP load aka the "FBI load".  It can be found in both standard and +P velocities. Nothing fancy, it just plain works. 

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8 hours ago, Grayfox54 said:

For snubbies, I'm a fan of the old 158 gr LSWCHP load aka the "FBI load".  It can be found in both standard and +P velocities. Nothing fancy, it just plain works. 

I agree and I carry non +P, Winchester Super X .38 special semi wadcutters in my .38 special revolvers.  

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My personal choice in my Chiefs Special is two .360 dia round balls over a fast burning powder. Ten holes in five shots.

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12 hours ago, DaveTN said:

Now that we know what the gun is and that it is rated for +P I would change my vote to this...

Federal Hydra Shok +P LE 129 Grain 50 round box P38HS1G

https://www.sgammo.com/product/federal/50-round-box-38-special-p-federal-hydra-shok-le-129-grain-ammo-p38hs1g

It’s tough to find any 50 round boxes locally, they usually carry the 20 round box with crazy pricing. I order mine online from whoever has the best deal at the time.

 

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Those 129 gr Hydro shocks have never expanded in any test I have ever seen.  The HST micro is a good load though. 

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10 hours ago, Patton said:

Those 129 gr Hydro shocks have never expanded in any test I have ever seen.  The HST micro is a good load though. 

I found this initially shocking to read because the Hydra Shok is such a well respected and effective bullet design. Then I checked out the gelatin tests for it and was flabbergasted at how terrible and erratic its performance was in a snub nosed .38. I guess it just goes to show that not every design works in every capacity. 

Edited by Chucktshoes

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I carry Federal Gold Medal Match 148 gr wadcutters in my J-frame size .38’s (LCR currently). These are mild recoiling (so a person may actually practice with them), penetrate adequately, are very reliable, and accurate.

Trusted sources such as Dr. Gary K. Roberts, Claude Werner, and the late Jim Cirillo have recommended this type of round in the .38 snub revolvers, especially the light weight versions.

Expansion out of a snub would come at a price, that’d be muzzle blast and recoil, which would have the effect of greater shot to shot times. And that expansion would be “iffy” at best. Some rounds, such as the Gold Dot design can perform adequately (most of the time), but older designs such as Hydra Shok and Golden Saber perform much better in other calibers and longer barrels. Even the excellent HST design struggles out of snub nose revolvers from what I read.

The sharp ogive of a wadcutter has the potential to cut tissue and vessels vs “pushing” tissue and vessels aside as an unexpanded HP or a FMJ/LRN are prone to do.

Bullets do strange things in human beings. I’ve seen people shot with lots of different rounds and I am a firm believer that placement trumps design.  

I’d prefer to stop the attacker with as few well placed rounds as possible. Wadcutters should help you get those rounds accurately and quickly on target imho.

 

There’s some excellent snubbie revolver info on the Tactical Professor (Claude Werner) link below.

https://www.targetsportsusa.com/federal-gold-medal-38-special-ammo-148-grain-match-wadcutter-gm38a-p-1187.aspx

https://www.amazon.com/Guns-Bullets-Gunfights-Modern-Day-Gunfighter/dp/0873648773

https://tacticalprofessor.wordpress.com/category/revolvers/

Edited by Jamie Jackson

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@Jamie Jackson you mentioned speed thresholds for HP expansion, which reminded me that (at least a couple of years ago) the relatively old and basic Hornady Custom load was expanding more reliably in .380 than some of the newer fancier Critical Defense loads (which were geared more towards 9mm velocities, from what I understand).

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1 hour ago, TomInMN said:

@Jamie Jackson you mentioned speed thresholds for HP expansion, which reminded me that (at least a couple of years ago) the relatively old and basic Hornady Custom load was expanding more reliably in .380 than some of the newer fancier Critical Defense loads (which were geared more towards 9mm velocities, from what I understand).

I've read this as well and see a lot of professionals recommending FMJ ball ammo in .380 as expansion is relatively unlikely and penetration is so critical.

 

I don't know if it's still available or even manufactured, but Federal once produced their NyClad round for .38 spl. As I recall it was pretty much "dead lead" or a very soft coated lead bullet that had a good potential for deformation, especially when striking intermediate structures like bone. 

And there's the "rub" with gelatin tests. Human being are made up of many different tissues of varying densities, degrees of flexibility, and the ability to take a great deal of trauma and still function. Penetration is needed along with accurate delivery to strike to quite small critical areas.

Back in the early 2000's Fizzy Fletcher, in collaboration with  Mr. Cirillo, manufactured a round they sold as Safe Stop for .38 spl snubby revolvers. This was a plated 148 gr wadcutter with a very sharp ogive.

My notes from that time show the Safestop rounds I chronoed at an average of 721 fps, the SD was very low and the rounds incredibly accurate out of my 640 S&W. They had a "snappy" recoil, but very manageable. Alas Fuzzy got elected to some political office and the company went out of business.

FWIW I also see I chronoed some 129 gr Hydrashoks and they were all over the place velocity wise, 700-780 fps. But they fed easily from a speedloader or speedstrip. I keep either Winchester 158 gr LSWC HP or 135 gr GD on my speedstrips these days.

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Well most folks know I am a big fan of Bersa 380 calibers and own several of them. We have had many discussions on the site regarding the stopping power behind a 380. I have spoke with people about this several times and some folks will say use Hornaday Critical Defense hollow points and you will be fine. Others say I should have all my 380's loaded with FMJ ball ammo. After many discussions with folks I decided I would split load my magazines. For every Hornaday round in the Magazine there is a Fiocchi FMJ ball round. Because I wanted to see how the guns reacted to the assorted rounds I went to the range with my Thunder and my model 85 and shot both of them. Both guns handled flawlessly and operated flawlessly so now that is how I am loaded with the ball ammo being the first round for penetration and the second round HHP for impact if it is needed. Opinions are welcome on my decision. Oh to add, I do also have about 8 back up mags for the Thunders and 3 back up mags for the Model 85 and at least one of them on the 85 is all Ball and 3 of the Thunders are al ball. 

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5 hours ago, Jamie Jackson said:

I've read this as well and see a lot of professionals recommending FMJ ball ammo in .380 as expansion is relatively unlikely and penetration is so critical.

 

I don't know if it's still available or even manufactured, but Federal once produced their NyClad round for .38 spl. As I recall it was pretty much "dead lead" or a very soft coated lead bullet that had a good potential for deformation, especially when striking intermediate structures like bone. 

Unfortunately, Federal is no longer making them. I have on box left and that's what I have in my 442.

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5 hours ago, Jamie Jackson said:

I don't know if it's still available or even manufactured, but Federal once produced their NyClad round for .38 spl. As I recall it was pretty much "dead lead" or a very soft coated lead bullet that had a good potential for deformation, especially when striking intermediate structures like bone. 

 

27 minutes ago, Moped said:

Unfortunately, Federal is no longer making them. I have on box left and that's what I have in my 442.

The Nyclad was just to help prevent leading. Cleaning prevents leading.

I mean…it’s a 1 7/8” Airweight; its not like it’s a range gun…. right?

 

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