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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I am trying to pick the best performing load to use in a S&W 642 j-frame revolver. This is to be carried as a backup. I am more or less convinced the load has to be something in 158 gr +P (the recoil is fine). That leaves me with only a few choices, which I have finally narrowed down to:

http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd/product.asp?sku=66333
R38S12, Remington .38 +P 158gr LSWCHP

or

http://www.cheaperthandirt.com/ctd/product.asp?sku=66452
R38S14, Remington .38 +P 158gr LSWC (no hollow point)

The 642 has about 2" of barrel, so I am not expecting much--if any--expansion. Maybe I should stick with the LSWC, at least it has a flat nose. Of course, if this were a 3" or 4" barrel, I'd surely get the hollow point. Any suggestions are welcome.

And a second question, the 642 is rated for +P, but will it hold up if I fire 500 or 1000 +P rounds through it? It's not a steel frame, after all.

Thanks.
 

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Why does it have to be a 158 gr?
I would go with the HP. It is the same bullet as the SWC if it doesn't expand and if it does, you are ahead of the game.

Of course, nothing will mean more than actually being able to shoot your gun well. I would practice with non +P rounds to save your frame. It should hold up fine witrh 500-1000 rounds of +P, from what I have read.

Between us, I hear God carries a LW J frame in his pocket.
:cool:
 

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Hi Colden;
Strictly, the barrel on your 642 is 1 7/8".

I've shot lots of 158gr+P out of mine with no problem whatsoever.

My 642 with aluminum alloy frame is more comfortable to shoot than my lighter "Scandium" 340PD, and only just a bit heavier in the pocket.

IME, all the major commercial 158gr+P loads perform similarly as regards accuracy-precision in my 642, irrespective of manufacturer (Federal, Winchester, Remington) or bullet style (solid vs. JHP).
Mine happens to be loaded with Winchester 158gr+P in LSWCHP configuration, since I consider that expansion, if it actually occurs, can't be bad, and if it doesn't occur, I'm no worse off than if I used a LSWC bullet.

The only further point worth mentioning is that you should actually try these various loads in your own particular gun if you haven't already done so. Many of these little J-frame revolvers seem to "prefer" one load over others, but if you get equivalent accuracy and precision from LSWC and LSWCHP (or the Federal Nyclad 158gr+P HP, now out of production), might as well carry the hollow point version IMNSHO.

Best.
 

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From a test in Handguns magazine. From a 2 inch snubby through FBI spec heavy clothes into gelatin:

Win 158 +P LSWCHP 18.1 inches/.40 caliber
Fed 158 +P Nyclad 20.1/.36

Win 130 +P SXT 15.4/.54
Rem 125 +P GS 12.1/.55
Speer 125 +P GD 12.7/.60

IIRC, Speer has a new 135g +P GD .38 load that is better than all the above from 2 in guns; none of the above expand through 4 layers of denim, it does.
 

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brokenarrow posted some good data. The Speer 125grn +P load (model 23720 (20 round box) or 53720 (50 round box)) was designed specifically to perform in 2" guns.
 

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TennVOL said:
I carry 158gr +P LSWCHP in my 642 along with a speedstrip of Corbon 125gr +P JHP
I always thought they should call those slow strips. :D
 

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Yeah right. Their only saving grace is that they keep the ammo together.

Definition of an optimist: Someone who carries a J frame and 2 reloads:)

Think you will get to fumble a reload into a revolver from a speed strip in the middle of a gunfight? Better solve the problem with the rounds in the gun which shouldn't be that difficult unless you are attacked by a large group of BG's one at a time, like in the movies.:rolleyes:

Gunfight=3 feet, 3 rds, 3 seconds.

That leaves you 2 rounds to cover the perp down or watch for buddies.
 

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No one said it was a lightning fast reload, but whos to say you arent going to need a reload :) and I'd rather have a speedstrip to keep all the rounds together. Carry what works for you, speedstrips work for me. Besides I only carry the .38 during the day at work where theres a low chance of needing it, the other times I'm packing a 1911 :).

I'd rather have the .38 and the slowstrips than nothing at all :)
 

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Yes, anything that goes bang is better than fingernails.

However, others who have done the reseach have told us that there has been one non-LEO/military reload done in a gunfight that they can substantiate. One. Ever.

You just don't reload during a gunfight. You finish the fight with the rounds in the gun. Gunfights don't last long enough to have a reload. One person or both is down, bleeding or running or a combination of these by the time the gun runs dry.

If it makes you feel better to carry rounds in a speed strip, go for it. Just don't kid yourself you will use them in a gunfight.
 

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So therefore by your recommendations everyone who carries another reload (spare mag, speedstrip, etc) is just carrying around weight? I will continue to carry around my speedstrip, but thanks for your advice. Like I said it works for me, and besides you might need a reload, theres a first time for everything :)
 

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TennVOL said:
So therefore by your recommendations everyone who carries another reload (spare mag, speedstrip, etc) is just carrying around weight? I will continue to carry around my speedstrip, but thanks for your advice.
That is correct and you are welcome.

If it has never been used in a gunfight, why do you think you will be the one that uses it?
You can use it to reload your gun after the fight but the rounds will not be used.

If you don't believe me, show me where a reload was used in a gunfight by a citizen.
 

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No one said I would be the first one to use it. I thought this thread was about what loads to carry in a .38. And like I said 158gr +P LSWCHP and 125gr +P Corbon :)
 

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I may be the odd man out but I just carry 158g lead SWCs in my J-frame. They punch nice round holes and will probably penetrate as well as anything else. Besides, of everything I have tried, my little J-frame tends to like these loads as well, or better, than anything else I've tried.

I also use the "speed strips" for the extra ammo. I, too, can't seem to learn how to use them for fast reloads but I use them mainly to keep the ammo quiet in my pocket. I never cared much for the round speed-loaders since I have never came across a situation where I fired all 5-6 rounds in a revolver and needed a quick reload. Usually, I just fire 1-3 times and just need to reload those empty chambers. I'm not talking about combat here, just critter gitt'n.
 

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Hmmm... only one non LE/military reload? Ever?

Didn't that guy in Phoenix empty his Glock w hicap mag? IIRC, he might have reloaded too?

I can think of several where folks have emptied their guns. The only reason they did not reload was cuzz they didn't have a reload... ;)
 
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