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Old 10-14-2009, 08:46 PM
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Default .38 Special ammuntion for apartment dwellers?

This is something that I have never considered until I was asked...


"What is the best .38 Special ammunition that is the least likely to penetrate walls and still be effective?"

Is this like going hunting for a unicorn?!?!
I personally don't think there is such a thing, but I guess I could be wrong.

I had a young man ask me that, and all I could think of is that if it won't penetrate a wall, it certainly won't do much to your assailant.

I was thinking about those frangible rounds that I hear about so much, but they can't actually be worth a hill of beans, can they?

I guess I should try one on a game animal to find out...
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:07 PM
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Make no mistake, Frangible will kill you! While working in a gun store/range in Las Vegas, I personally witnessed two suicides using frangible 38 ammo.

It drove the Coroner crazy because they couldn't find the bullet, during the Autopsy.
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:13 PM
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I would vote for glaser silver safety slugs. These are #6 shot inside a copper jacket with a polymer tip. While penetration still will be an issue, it is less of an issue IMHO than sending bullets through your neighbors living space.

Just my .02.

And you have five or six shots minimum right?
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Old 10-14-2009, 09:25 PM
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Andy, we just discussed this very topic (frangibles at least) in the ammo forum (just do a search). I tell people to use what they would on the street, a good-for-caliber JHP load.
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Old 10-14-2009, 10:44 PM
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They just cost too much and the packaging...well...just don't leave me with a lot of faith in them.

It makes me think "Snake oil!"

I'll just buy a plastic pack and try a couple on the next opossum that wanders into the trash.
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Old 10-14-2009, 11:24 PM
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Remington .38 Special (+P)
158 gr Lead Hollow Point

These were given to me by a San Francisco Airport LEO
That's what they use. Does not over penetrate (people)
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:22 AM
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Most apartments are constructed with sheetrocks on each side of the wall, held there by nails in 2X4s. Outside walls will have fiberglass insulation; inside walls may not.
Years ago, I had the opportunity to shoot the walls in an old house, to learn about bullet penetration. Some of the walls were recent additions, built to segment larger rooms, and used sheetrock.

ANY .38 Special bullet I tried penetrated both layers of sheetrock. I did not have frangible or Glaser bullets to try. But I learned that even the 148 gr. lead wadcutter bullet -- the standard target load -- punched through both sheets of sheetrock.
The 158 gr. lead roundnose had no trouble penetrating both walls.
I also shot my own reloads of a 158 gr. lead semiwadcutter at about 850 feet per second. Punched through like a pencil through Jell-O.
Testing was done using a Ruger Security Six .357 Magnum with 6-inch barrel.
Yep, fired a few .357 loads too. No question -- never going to be stopped by a wall.
The .22 Long Rifle bullet from a 6-inch barrel penetrated both sheets.
I suspect that the .32 Auto and .380, especially with full metal jacketed bullets, would penetrate both sheets as well.
On the rare occasions when the bullet didn't emerge, I dug a peekhole with my knife and learned it had hit an upright 2X4.
But on those occasions when the bullet encountered only both layers of sheetrock, it penetrated them.
I wish I'd had a .25 Auto and other calibers for testing.
But what little testing I did showed me that even the lowly .22 Long Rifle bullet cannot be trusted to stop within a wall.

As for the Remington 158 gr. +P load: I wouldn't suggest it. This is a load purposely made more powerful than a regular load. Hence, it will certainly penetrate both layers of sheetrock easily.
You inquired about a bullet that wouldn't penetrate much; any +P load is not what you want if that's your requirement.

As to your problem: I'd suggest a Glaser bullet. If that's beyond your means, then load your .38 with 148 gr. wadcutters. It may penetrate the wall, but its flatnose will cause it to lose a lot of energy doing so. Consequently, it may not prove as dangerous if it does hit someone on the other side of the wall. At least, not as dangerous as a pointed bullet or one launched at greater velocity.

You may also wish to consider using a shotshell in that revolver, for your first shot. Anyone hit with it will experience excruciating pain. Aim for the body, not the face. If you aim for the face with a shotshell, the prosecutor and jury may hold it against you, especially if the aggressor is blinded.

When I lived in an apartment in Idaho, I created shotshells and multi-ball loads for my Marlin .45-70. Three .457 balls loaded in a case, and emerging at 1,000 fps, could ruin anyone's day.
Today, for home defense, I use my Walther PPK in .380 caliber. Or my Smith & Wesson .38 Special with 4" barrel, loaded with my own loads of a 158 gr. lead semi-wadcutter at about 850 fps.
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Old 10-15-2009, 01:25 AM
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Gatofeo is right, sheetrock isn't much of a bullet stopper. The key to not having rounds wind up in a neighbor's apartment is to do what you can to make the fight as short as possible. Accurate, hardhitting gunfire with a good JHP is the best way to make that happen, not powder puff loads that are more likely to allow an attacker to press on after being shot. Less lead in the air is the best way for the homeowner and neighbors to come out intact.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:06 PM
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Talking Also, sheetrock tends to plug up hollow points

and inhibit expansion, making them function like FMJ. The only suggestion I could make would be a light-for-caliber bullet that should shed velocity rather quickly, but the best option is make sure it penetrates the bad guy first as that will reduce the threat to neighbors.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:37 PM
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Remington 95-grain JHP+p. Great ballistics for their weight, hard-hitting, shallow penetration, safest non-frangible for your purpose. Wouldn't use it as a carry load, however. Out of production, but watch for them at gunshows.
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Old 10-16-2009, 12:21 AM
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I am usually a proponent of heavy bullets, but if you are really concerned
about your bullets in an apartment then you need to worry more about hitting your target. If I was that concerned about overpenetration,
then I would probably load a 125 gr 38+P.
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Old 10-16-2009, 01:39 AM
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Use a good expanding hollow point, such as the Speer 135 gr. +P Short Barrel load, or DPX, and hit your assailant center of mass. If it over penetrates, I doubt it would make it through a wall. The important thing is to hit your assailant center of mass--don't fire if you may miss!
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Old 10-16-2009, 05:20 AM
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Whenever shooting indoors make sure you ALWAYS know what you are shooting at. I saw the news a few days ago-- in Florida this old guy killed his longtime girlfriend (accidently). You can rest assured a commercial .38 is not going to go through sheet rock after you hit THE initial perpetrator/target. After shooting a few dozen rounds with your gun you don't have to line up your shot as much on a target with a foot of radius, and you can also walk around your place in the dark and learn your surroundings better. I found that a .38+P JHP with the cuts on it do the job very well.
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357 magnum, 380, commercial, polymer, ppk, remington, ruger, wadcutter, walther

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