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:scratch: i have heard a lot of people shoot wad cutter ammo out of their snub nose revolvers in .38 special. the rationale is that hollow point ammo may not expand well, or at all, due to lower velocities out of snub nose revolvers. i read somewhere that corbon makes a lightweight .38 round (dpx?...100 or 110 gr) that is acutally frangible...this is suppose to ensure there is no exiting of bullet due to non expansion.
does anyone have any comments on this or recommendations?
 

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I'd be comfortable with the wadcutters, myself, and one way you can search for more valid reasoning for that is to do a search for Gary Roberts and his writings on the issue. He had posted at least some stuff on the issue on the Tactical Forums, and I think I've seen it elsewhere.
 

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I'm currently carrying 125g Gold Dots. However, they have a 135g load out that is designed specially for short barrel guns. I plan to switch to that load next time I buy .38 ammo.
 

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When I started my police career over thirty years ago now, wadcutters were a viable and rational alternative, but in this day and age, there are much better choices available.

I'd suggest the Speer 135 gr. Gold Dot load specifically designed for snub-nose revolvers.
 

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Gdhp

Thumbs up for the Speer Gold Dot 135 gr. SB load. Specifically made for the snubbies. The wadcutter load was very popular in the days before modern HP's came on the market.
 

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gunsablazin said:
Thumbs up for the Speer Gold Dot 135 gr. SB load. Specifically made for the snubbies. The wadcutter load was very popular in the days before modern HP's came on the market.
Ditto. Also, Federal makes a light Personal Defense load I have used. I still have a stockpile of the old Federal Nyclad Chief's Special standard loads I use in alloy frames. If your snubbie is +P rated, you can always fall back on the Win/Rem/Fed 158gr SWCHP +P.
 

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I liked the Nyclad 158grHP when Federal was making it.

I now use Gold Dot "short barrel" 135gr+P JHP or Remington 158gr+P LSWCHP or Buffalo Bore 158gr+P LSWCHP. That's it.
 

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I stay away from the +P stuff so I have limited myself to 148gr wadcutters or 158gr semi WC's,

BUT I did recently see a Hornady XTP? loaded to standard velocities and I plan on picking up a couple boxes.

I haven't too much other NON +P stuff around....

If you need +P you need a bigger gun IMNSHO.......
 

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As I recall I just loaded some 38 for my wifes pistol.. I used 158gr Nosler JHP backed with some Winchester Powder.. I dont recall the charge without looking.. When we test fired it it seemed pretty potent for a 38 and patterend great!! My FIL used some of the same Noslers for his 357Mag. The 357Mag were awesome!
 

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Hi,

First I will say that there is nothing wrong with wadcutters in a snub .38, mild recoil and they shoot like lasers. They really cut clean nasty holes both on paper and thin skined 2 legged upright bad guys. I have a friend that was medical examiner in Chicago and he said that wadcutters really do make a nasty mess of things, to be short he said that the wadcutter was more lethel than ball ammo, seems that after penetrating deeply the head will fragmentise and just really give a bad guy one really bad case of heartburn. I trust his judgement as he has seen it all from the inside out.

Secondly, I do know that the +P & +P+ ammo is just way too much for a snub nose as you will not get complete powder burn, I also IMO think that that stuff is just more bang and noise than all its cracked up to be. IMO I would rather have extremely accurate well placed shots than more OOOMPH. Try to put some really hot stuff through your gun and see how viscious the recoil really is.

I do not know too much about the Speer gold dots other than what I read here. I currently load 158 gr. LSWC in my S&W 442. I never ever use reloads as a defensive round. I will say that I am going to look into the ammo made for short barreled .38's. in a .357 I will say that the old 110 grainers were absolutely devastating, but not for the short barrels either. I have experimented with many handloads and have found that I was experiencing jacket seperation at around 1300 fps so as a rule I currently load all my lead at just under 1000 fps for this reason and for the leading factor. Something you may want to try to see for yourself, try shooting various loadings and head varriations into wet phone books, its a real eye opener. I have found that alot of JHP and HP heads open up way to quick with less penetration and I mean say from a heavy biker style leather jacket. The wadcutters have more penetration in this factor, but again this is my findings and only my opinions.

As a side note, I know many that stagger their rounds HP, wadcytter, HP wadcutter, HP


Roy
 

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I carry the Speer short barrel load in my SW 442 backup gun at work. Off duty it's the standard pressure Buffalo Bore 158 grainers for my Colt DS (35 years old) or my SW 36 (30 years old).
 

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I use the .38 Spcl. +P Speer Gold Dot 135 gr. JHP in
my S&W Model 60-15 3" Bbl. Len .357 Mag.
I read a test/review and they clocked it out of
a 2" snubbie @ 865 fps & out of a 4" Bbl. K frame
about 935 fps so my 3" otter be close to 900 fps.
With the SS frame cylinder & Bbl. at 24 oz it is
a firm but controllable for followups.

What is the velocity of the two other rounds mentioned
more than once:

Remington 158 gr. SWCHP +P
Buffalo Bore 157 gr. SWC

I have 500 158 gr. SWC Leadhead bullets
and Starline .357 Mag. brass & would like to load it
to something similiar as a alt. round for the
Model 60 as well as practice with a 686P
Note - the Speer 135 gr. JHP +P
is spendy - I got 20 for $13 but that was
in Lewiston probably within a mile of where
where CCI/Speer makes the stuff.
 

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Candidate Load for a Snubbie

I forgot to mention I got a box of 50 from R.A.R.*
.38 Special Hornady 125 gr.XTP JHP @ 1,000 FPS

FYI the Speer Gold Dot 135 gr. JHP opening much
wider than the XTP which is designed for a deeper
start to expansion.

R.A>R. Reeds Ammunition & Research
Oklahoma CIty OK The .38 Spcl I mentioned
above was $ 19.64 R.A.R. also has .400
CorBon cheaper than CorBon with better bullets. IMO
 

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I suppose I really should replace the old Hydroshocks in my snubbies... Got several boxes of them though. No longer .38 much. Maybe backwards seated wadcutters... Low recoil on a grip two fingers in size is another reason the wadcutter ammo is popular. A full house load just spins out of the hand while wadcutter ammo just sits there and allows quick second and third shots. Low flash is also a plus. A dim orange glow vs. a sudden flare of white light. Accuracy and control become much more important in a dark alley at 2AM than does expansion and lots of noise/flare.
 

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My 640 & 649 dote on full-power 158 gr .357 Hydrashocks. Cor-bon get honorable mention, but I don't like lightweight bullets, especially in winter when everyone is bundled up.
 

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Rather than turn to target loads, a better idea would be to commit to the training required to become proficient with full house loads and the superior terminal ballistics they provide. I don't see the logic in replacing defensive loads with light-recoiling target loads (wadcutters) simply because they're easier to shoot accurately. .22 LR, .32 ACP, and .380 pistols are easier to shoot too, but that doesn't mean we should all switch to them. The problem is that none of these cartridges, including .38 Special wadcutters, can be counted on to provide adequate penetration unless shooting conditions are perfect. Confront a target with heavy clothing and/or a situation where the bullet must first pass through a car door, an arm, a shoulder, any sort of barrier, and all bets are off for a positive outcome.

If your snubbie .38 Special is spinning out of your hand or you otherwise can't control it with fullhouse loads, you need more range time and/or different grips. With practice, almost anyone can become proficient in shooting .38 Special and even magnum caliber full house loads from their snubbies. That said, I wouldn't recommend an all-titanium .41 Mag snubbie. I owned one of these manufactured by Taurus and, though I did become proficient with it, it literally brought tears to my eyes when I shot it. :bawling: It was definitely not the revolver for a "fun day at the range." :D
 

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A snub nose is not a front line weapon. If you enter a confrontation thinking it is, then you have probably already lost the confrontation as other errors will probably show themselves during the course of the confrontation. There is literally no point or purpose in stuffing a light weight snubbie with full house ammo. Save that for the primary weapon, which if you are smart is a good 10 gauge pump, or a SWAT team. All the ballistic oomph in the world means nothing if you miss a vital spot. Putting bigger grips on a mini gun is equally bad, as doing so misses the whole purpose of having a mini, concealment. Adding an inch or two to the package size with bigger grips so you can better control the Zowie ammo also increases what must now be concealed. If you don't care that they see it, then why don't you just wear a full size weapon? Note also that any muzzle flash that shows itself is prima evidence that powder is burning outside the barrel, i.e., wasted energy being used to light up the night, but doing nothing to help you win (besides furnishing the opponent an aiming point). If you are planning on a confrontation, then (ignoring the 'why were you there' question for right now as the lawyers and prosecutors will cover that ground for us) you have a bigger weapon, not just hotter ammo. Quite simply there is NO handgun ammo (short of the monster calibers) that gives 100% stops every time. There are people out there who have survived hits from .50 (and 12.7mm) machine gun fire. When we talk about shooting through cars doors or barricades we are leaving the scenario of what is a snubbie for. It is not a hunting pistol. It is a second 'last ditch' weapon fired during a grapple with the opponent who is trying to kill you. Historically the most effective use of them as a fight stopper involves placing the muzzle against the opponent's belly before pulling the trigger. [Now you know how the term 'belly gun' crept into the lexicon.] Between the eyes works well also. Full house 1500 feet per second ammo offers absolutely no advantage over 600 feet per second in those two scenarios beyond needlessly making the second one a little harder. Snubbies are not intended to hit an opponent at 30 yards. Most of us, in most plausible scenarios would have a legal problem doing that as the court will want to know why we didn't simply leave.
 

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You completely ignore the fact that there are people who do carry a snub-nosed revolver. While this isn't the best choice, you certainly haven't lost the battle before it's begun simply because you're carrying one as proven time and again by police officers from another era.

Be that as it may, my point was and is this, if you do choose to carry a snubbie, you should make the extra effort to become proficient with it using the most effective ammunition available or carry something else. This way, you won't miss that "vital spot" and won't be relying on ballistically inferior target ammo. Wadcutters just aren't the answer.

Now regarding the rest of the rant about 10 GA pumps, SWAT teams, giant grips, wrong assumptions about what I know about belly guns, surviving .50 BMG hits, etc I'll leave for others to comment on.
 

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No. I did carry one, for decades, usually as a second gun for the specific emergency circumstances I wrote of. A full size service weapon usually covered the other circumstances. Yes, I cheated and experimented for something better occasionally. PPK, Jennings, Beretta 1934, Mustang, M1903, (even a Detonics MK VI one year) etc., etc. Tore up a lot of jacket liners keeping them concealed. Kept coming back to the small revolver as it gave the most for the weight. Having qualified modified PPC with several of those things, on several occasions, I suspect I was reasonably proficient. Never though did I mistake them for being something they weren't. A snubbie (or pocket auto) is, a defensive tool of last resort. Please don't let the salesman convince you it is more than that.

FTR, when an agency I worked for went to Sig 228s in 9mm is about when I mostly desk drawed the things. A nice mid sized gun (and the 40 version is just as good). It should be noted I consider the mid sized weapon to be a different animal. A 3 inch model 10 is quite a step up from a 5 shot Chiefs Special or Bodyguard. So too is a short model 19, but that also is a mid size. IMO, you should carry full house ammo in a mid size, but not in a mini like a J frame or a Colt DS.

In that 'long ago' era you speak of, most police officers were given a longer barreled weapon for primary carry. The off-duty weapon or second gun (a subject of controversy in many jurisdictions these days) may indeed have been a snubbie, but trust me, no one intentionally planned in the morning when they woke up to get into a shooting with an armed adversary while armed only with the snub nosed revolver sometime later that afternoon. [Not if they were sane.] If you were a plainclothes officer serving warrants, you may have actually had a only snub nosed revolver with you, but you also had 3 or 4 (or more) other armed people with you too. Sometimes someone brought along a pump shotgun (or more, depending on what town you were in) too. If you were off duty you also avoided those establishments and places where problems often happened.

Yes, anemic performance of the generic .38 LRN ammo was a problem. That doesn't mean stuffing hotter ammo into the little things was a better solution. It was tried. Hot .38 ammo has been around since the 1930s. (38/44, etc.) Using wadcutters instead for lower recoil, but faster second shots is a really old trick dating back to the 50s or 60s, if not earlier. Old Colts don't like hotter ammo. Neither do CAs and similar. Quite simply, IMO+Ex, given the ranges of most confrontations, assuming reasonable skill and tactics on your part, the wadcutter bullet (reversed is okay too) is the most effective in a snubbie. I do however respect your right to disagree.
 

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I usually use +P Federal Nyclads in in my S&W .38 only "J" frames. In my carry weapons, both my S&W 340PD and S&W M&P 340 I use Winchester .357 Magnum 145 grain Silverytips. Both seem to exopand very well from a 1 7/8 inch barrel.

BTW, Nyclads are no longer being manufactured. I hoarded several boxes years ago.

Dennis
 
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