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  #1  
Old 06-22-2011, 12:46 AM
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Default .38 Special Defense Load

Please provide your recommendation(s) for a .38 S&W Special Factory loaded self defense round. It's for a 1960s Model 37 so I believe +P loads are out.
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Old 06-22-2011, 01:32 AM
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Federal 125gr Nyclad. It's a standard pressure load, so it shouldn't be a problem in your 37. It also has a good track record in actual shootings.

ETA: This is what I currently carry in my 642.

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Old 06-22-2011, 01:45 AM
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I also like Federal standard pressure Nyclad ammo. It's a good clean accurate ammo IMO with a proven street record.
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Old 06-22-2011, 02:32 AM
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Federal 125gr Nyclad's here too, in a 442.
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Old 06-22-2011, 09:46 AM
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Ditto all the above. Works well in my old 36.
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Old 06-23-2011, 12:53 AM
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The Nyclad 125gr hollow points are my go-to load when standard pressure rounds are required.
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Old 06-23-2011, 03:35 AM
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The Federal Nyclad 125gr.

...It's what I carry in my Model 38 as well.
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Old 06-23-2011, 04:00 PM
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Do you want a stnd. pressure load that will beat the pants off the Nyclad?

Try this: Standard Pressure Short Barrel Low Flash Heavy .38 Special Pistol & Handgun Ammunition
It's loaded with the 125 gr. Gold Dot and it beats Speer's own +P load!

These are all I ever carry....
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Old 06-23-2011, 04:55 PM
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I have a late 50s Model 37, as well. It stays loaded with Speer 135gr. +P Gold Dots. I don't shoot many of them, so I'm not worried about wear on the gun. If I were worried about +Ps, I'd probably go with the Nyclads mentioned above, or would load a "combat wadcutter" handload and run it about 800 fps. Too bad the Safe Stop standard pressure load is no longer made.
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Old 06-23-2011, 09:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeeziks View Post
Do you want a stnd. pressure load that will beat the pants off the Nyclad?

Try this: Standard Pressure Short Barrel Low Flash Heavy .38 Special Pistol & Handgun Ammunition
It's loaded with the 125 gr. Gold Dot and it beats Speer's own +P load!

These are all I ever carry....
I've said it before and I'll say it again. Even though Buffalo Bore makes good ammo it's extremely expensive. There is other ammo out there with a proven street record that will do a good job at half the price. At a $1.30 each it's very hard to practice with your carry ammo unless you are much better off than I am. The BB ammo is $27/20 rounds and the last time I bought Federal Nyclad ammo it was $27/50 rounds. Current 20 round box price is $19.95. HERE
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Old 06-23-2011, 11:50 PM
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I've said it before and I'll say it again. Even though Buffalo Bore makes good ammo it's extremely expensive. There is other ammo out there with a proven street record that will do a good job at half the price. At a $1.30 each it's very hard to practice with your carry ammo unless you are much better off than I am. The BB ammo is $27/20 rounds and the last time I bought Federal Nyclad ammo it was $27/50 rounds. Current 20 round box price is $19.95. HERE
I'm sorry but I'm not gonna carry a load that I don't have confidence in just to save a couple bucks.
Besides...how can you spend it if you're dead?
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Old 06-24-2011, 12:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeeziks View Post
Do you want a stnd. pressure load that will beat the pants off the Nyclad?

Try this: Standard Pressure Short Barrel Low Flash Heavy .38 Special Pistol & Handgun Ammunition
It's loaded with the 125 gr. Gold Dot and it beats Speer's own +P load!

These are all I ever carry....

It'll also beat the skin off your hands. That stuff is hot! It may be standard pressure but it shoots and recoils like +P.
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:08 AM
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It'll also beat the skin off your hands. That stuff is hot! It may be standard pressure but it shoots and recoils like +P.
You mean to tell me you paid all that money for the BB load...took it to the range and fired it...the recoil was too much for you, so you scrapped the remaining rounds and went back to the Nyclads?

Let me tell ya' something about those Nyclads.... They are extremely weak (830 fps. - 191 ft. lbs.) and I assume that's out of a 4" barrel. Just imagine what they do out of a snubby.
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Old 06-24-2011, 01:18 AM
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Keep trying to tell everyone from real life experience the 125 gr Nyclad stinks in real life shoot.....
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Old 06-24-2011, 04:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeeziks View Post
I'm sorry but I'm not gonna carry a load that I don't have confidence in just to save a couple bucks.
Besides...how can you spend it if you're dead?
You will notice in my post I mentioned the Nyclad ammo has a street proven record. I wasn't telling you to use an inferior produce. That round was used for a long time by law enforcement with terminal effect.

IMO there are far too many shooters out there that are convinced that more velocity is always better, I'm not one of them. Super high velocity doesn't prove it's good ammo.
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Old 06-24-2011, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeeziks View Post
You mean to tell me you paid all that money for the BB load...took it to the range and fired it...the recoil was too much for you, so you scrapped the remaining rounds and went back to the Nyclads?

Let me tell ya' something about those Nyclads.... They are extremely weak (830 fps. - 191 ft. lbs.) and I assume that's out of a 4" barrel. Just imagine what they do out of a snubby.
I just think it's fair to let people know that Buffalo Bore makes excellent ammo and they make standard pressure .38 Special ammo that is excellent but it kicks like a mule. Lot's of people would be upset if I advised them to spend that much money on standard pressure ammo that shot like +P ammo (and it does).

We all have to decide what we are going to use to save our own hide.
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Old 06-24-2011, 10:32 PM
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I just think it's fair to let people know that Buffalo Bore makes excellent ammo and they make standard pressure .38 Special ammo that is excellent but it kicks like a mule.
Tim Sundles already does let his customers know that it kicks as much as most +P loads. But who is gonna care how much it kicks when some drugged-up piece of scum is trying to kill them?
Quote:
Lot's of people would be upset if I advised them to spend that much money on standard pressure ammo that shot like +P ammo (and it does).
Cost and kick go out the window when selecting SD ammo. We are relying on our choice of ammo to stop the threat as quickly as possible.

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We all have to decide what we are going to use to save our own hide.
Refer to my last comment....
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Old 06-24-2011, 11:58 PM
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I'm not here to get in an argument Skeeziks. Just trying to be helpful.
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Old 06-25-2011, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skeeziks View Post
But who is gonna care how much it kicks when some drugged-up piece of scum is trying to kill them?
They aren't even going to notice the recoil IF they ever have to use it in self defense. But some people actually want to practice some with their carry ammo. If they find it has too much recoil they're going to start flinching or stop practicing with it.
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Old 06-25-2011, 12:19 AM
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Quote:
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But who is gonna care how much it kicks when some drugged-up piece of scum is trying to kill them?
Felt recoil may not be a concern during an actual SD shooting, but speed of follow-up shots can be.

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We are relying on our choice of ammo to stop the threat as quickly as possible.
I prefer to rely on my ability to get quick, accurate hits to stop the threat as quickly as possible. In my 642 I can do that with Nyclads or Speer SB-GDHP, both rounds with a good track record in actual shootings. I can't do that with BB ammo. I reserve BB ammo for my steel K-frames.

Everything we do when we select a handgun/ammo combination is a compromise in one way or another; it's up to each person to find what works best for him/her.
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Old 06-25-2011, 12:48 AM
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I use either the Nyclad 125gr or the Buffalo Bore Standard Pressure 158gr, whatever shoots better in the weapon. I'd really like to hear some horror stories of the Nyclad round sucking in real life. That hasn't been the word or info that I've been hearing or reading. Please enlighten us!
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Old 06-25-2011, 03:59 AM
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CDawg
I will enlighten you 2 center mass hits didn't put my offender down.
They didn't open up like everyone thinks a handgun bullet has to.
they dumped all their energy to early and didn't get to the vitals and knuckle head lived to stand trial.

End of story can't go into any more detail.

according to the ME (Medical Examiner) I would have been better off with a heavy bullet.

That is why I have fallen into the full wadcutter camp and I currently carry
Jim Cirillo's "Safe Stop" round or Buffalo boars full wadcutter load.
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Old 06-25-2011, 05:30 AM
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I personally carry the FBI Load made by Remington in my SD revolver.(Part # R38S12) I like the additional bullet weight. I didn't mention that load because the OP asked about standard pressure ammo.
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Old 06-25-2011, 02:48 PM
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Quote:
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CDawg
I will enlighten you 2 center mass hits didn't put my offender down.
They didn't open up like everyone thinks a handgun bullet has to.
they dumped all their energy to early and didn't get to the vitals and knuckle head lived to stand trial.

End of story can't go into any more detail.

according to the ME (Medical Examiner) I would have been better off with a heavy bullet.

That is why I have fallen into the full wadcutter camp and I currently carry
Jim Cirillo's "Safe Stop" round or Buffalo boars full wadcutter load.
Thanks! I appreciate you sharing your personal experience.
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Old 06-25-2011, 02:52 PM
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+1 on the Federal Nyclad. My avatar is my speedloader of Nyclad.
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Old 06-25-2011, 05:27 PM
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I'll stick with Nyclads in my Airweight revolvers. There are instances of multiple hits with all calibers failing to stop bad guys. There are instances of one-shot stops with .25ACPs. No point in worrying on what might happen because anything can happen. Use what you and your gun shoot well.
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Old 06-25-2011, 06:01 PM
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There's a variety of experience out there. 25 years ago I carried the old Nyclad 125s in airweights and either the Nyclad 158gr +Ps (both were true semi-wadcutters, not the current shape) or the Federal 110 +P+ Treasury load in steel frame snubs because they had good reputations. If any of them had failed me the way Pete's Nyclads failed him I would have never carried them again and advised others to do likewise.

Most have to rely on gelatin tests and published accounts of real-world performance. I am currently carrying Hornady Critical Defense 110 gr +P in a 642 because it has good initial test results and shoots well in that specific revolver. Could it fail me? Sure. Will I live in fear of that? No.
If credible accounts of failure on the street start to surface will I switch? So fast it will make your head spin.

Still, a hit with a less than optimum caliber or load is still better than a miss with the best ammo on the market (whatever than may be).
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Old 06-25-2011, 09:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ArchAngelCD View Post
I personally carry the FBI Load made by Remington in my SD revolver.(Part # R38S12) I like the additional bullet weight. I didn't mention that load because the OP asked about standard pressure ammo.
This one or a Unique fueled handloaded equivalent, traveling about 925-950 fps from a 4-inch revolver, is my choice and I happily made my peace with it long ago. Saves on dithering over one's choice of the latest fancy "premium self-defense ammo of the week" and all the marketing hype associated with it. The "FBI load" or similarly prepared handload is always correct when using .38 Special revolvers for self defense. I particularly like the idea of using it in snubs.

For me, the 158 grain semi-wadcutter fired from the .38 Special revolver has worked great on Texas critters including deer. I'm not even too concerned if it comes equipped with a hollow point or not. I've got a box of Remington +P 158 grain SWC that came without the hollow point feature and think it's fine.
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Old 06-25-2011, 09:48 PM
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I'm not here to get in an argument Skeeziks. Just trying to be helpful.
Same here....
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Old 06-25-2011, 11:30 PM
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I just bought some Hornady Critical Defense 110gr .38 loads for the wife's model 36. Any info on this load?
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:17 AM
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Carry a model 36 stoked with big greens 125 grain brass bullet and its a plus + load. Golden sabre is the name. Bought 3 boxes some yesrs back and shoot off my carry ammo about every 6 months. Probably nothing wrong with the ammo thats been in the revolver but feel better with fresh loads in the revolver. Frank
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Old 06-26-2011, 03:53 AM
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I agree not here for an argument either!!!!
I just feel and hear from others I run with that have been involved in the same situations, the old Wadcutter, SWC and SWCHP work the best. They are old and tried and true.
I wouldn't want to be shot with any thing 22,25 or even the 125 Nyclad.

Pete

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Old 06-26-2011, 03:32 PM
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I just bought some Hornady Critical Defense 110gr .38 loads for the wife's model 36. Any info on this load?
I've tried quite a bit of both loads (standard pressure and +P) and didn't find it accurate. I seem to recall it was a bit dirty too (leaving unburned powder under the ejector star).
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Old 06-26-2011, 03:42 PM
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You guys are making me nervous. No one has yet to mention my Federal Hydra-Shok 110's... Is there something I should know???

I also load my own with a 158 gr plated swaged HP bullet loaded to the top of the standard pressure loading charts. They kick some but it's a heavy bullet. I figure if it opens up then yay, if not, hey... It's still a heavy bullet punching into the target.
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Old 06-26-2011, 04:10 PM
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I remember when the Nyclads first came out there was some discussion that the nylon coating on the bullet was resistant to taking a ballistic signature. Don't know if it's true, but it is an interesting attribute.

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Old 06-26-2011, 04:34 PM
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One of best rounds in the 38 Special or 357 Magnum short barrel is the 38 Special +P Golden Saber. A Sheriff who tested this in Ballistic
Gelatin obtained penetration results of 10 to 10 inches with expansion to between .55 and .60 inches. He immediately switched his preferred loads to the Golden Sabers. The 38 Golden Saber has a thinner jacket and softer core resulting in excellent performance.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:00 PM
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I have 3 speed loaders for my M36 3". One has Federal Personal Defense Low Recoil HPs, one has 158gr wadcutter HPs and the third has Glazer Silver Dots. I usually don't load it with Glazers unless I'm going somewhere crowded with people.
The rounds to avoid are the cheap target loads in FMJ.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:56 PM
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Hi,
I commented on a similiar thread about a fellow whos wife is recoil sensitive and won't shoot +P. The wife was shooting a 4 inch revolver.
My answer was a 125 gr nyclad. All though we are commenting on a short barrel revolver, my answer is the same. Reason is recoil and ease of shooting. Shot placement is still important and shooting a short barrel revolver is hard enough even with standard pressue 38 specials. I have a old model 36 1 7/8 barrel. I have only used the nyclad round when I shoot the revolver. Too me the recoil is managable and accuracy is decent. Now in my 4 inch revolvers I use the FBI round by Remington or Buffalo Bore. But both of these rounds are too harsh for me in my all model 36.
Here is a question? Has anybody tried the Winchester 130 gr +P PDX round?. The FBI has tested this round with good results.

Regards,
Howard
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Old 06-27-2011, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
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You guys are making me nervous. No one has yet to mention my Federal Hydra-Shok 110's... Is there something I should know???
All of them I have shot in my Airweights have been extremely accurate and very light recoil. As far as penetration and expansion, don't have any information on that.
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Old 06-27-2011, 01:53 PM
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Greetings, All,

This has been an interesting, and informative thread, and I thank one and all who contributed to it.

All other things aside, I like carrying 158gr bullets in my .38 Special, and .357 ammunition. I've always found that every .38 snub revolver I've found, and most of my .357's, shoot almost exactly to POA with that bullet weight. Since I believe that shot placement is the most important factor in stopping an aggressor, beyond all other considerations, I have chosen the loads that give that POA accuracy. I also hope and pray that, IF the time ever comes when I need to actually shoot someone in self-defense (which I TRULY hope never happens!), shot placement with a good 158 grain slug will carry the day and save my life or the lives others!!

All of my S&W, and many of my Ruger firearms in these calibers simply seem to thrive and shoot their best with 158 grain bullets. So, for me anyway, I'll not be switching to anything else, as everything else I've tried does not shoot as well as my old tried and true favorites. I have settled on WW 158gr lead SWCHP +P ammunition, or the non +P version of that same setup. Both shoot very well in my guns, and both have proved satisfactory enough to keep me using them. For what it's worth..... Take care, and God Bless!

Every Good Wish,
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Old 06-27-2011, 07:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doc Mark View Post
Greetings, All,

This has been an interesting, and informative thread, and I thank one and all who contributed to it.

All other things aside, I like carrying 158gr bullets in my .38 Special, and .357 ammunition. I've always found that every .38 snub revolver I've found, and most of my .357's, shoot almost exactly to POA with that bullet weight. Since I believe that shot placement is the most important factor in stopping an aggressor, beyond all other considerations, I have chosen the loads that give that POA accuracy. I also hope and pray that, IF the time ever comes when I need to actually shoot someone in self-defense (which I TRULY hope never happens!), shot placement with a good 158 grain slug will carry the day and save my life or the lives others!!

All of my S&W, and many of my Ruger firearms in these calibers simply seem to thrive and shoot their best with 158 grain bullets. So, for me anyway, I'll not be switching to anything else, as everything else I've tried does not shoot as well as my old tried and true favorites. I have settled on WW 158gr lead SWCHP +P ammunition, or the non +P version of that same setup. Both shoot very well in my guns, and both have proved satisfactory enough to keep me using them. For what it's worth..... Take care, and God Bless!

Every Good Wish,
Doc
Doc I agree with you. My model 10 4 inch is loaded with LSWCHP 158 gr +P either by Buffalo Bore or Remington. In my 357 magnums I use 158 gr in either Federal or Black Hills. I have had good luck with CCI Blazer 158 gr hollow points. This is a good practice and is easy on my four K frame magnums. I mentioned in my post above about the 125 gr nyclad by Federal. The only time I have ever used this round is in my model 36. Snubs are so hard to control and hit a target with accuracy that the only round I have any luck with is the nyclad. The information in this thread is informative.
Regards,
Howard
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Old 06-27-2011, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
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CDawg
I will enlighten you 2 center mass hits didn't put my offender down.
They didn't open up like everyone thinks a handgun bullet has to.
they dumped all their energy to early and didn't get to the vitals and knuckle head lived to stand trial.

End of story can't go into any more detail.

according to the ME (Medical Examiner) I would have been better off with a heavy bullet.

That is why I have fallen into the full wadcutter camp and I currently carry
Jim Cirillo's "Safe Stop" round or Buffalo boars full wadcutter load.
Why just two shots? If you're justified in shooting in the first place then you're justified in dumping a whole cylinder-full or mag-full of rounds into the attacker until he is incapacitated.

The problem with listening to the opinions of a Coroner/ME is that they see bullets post-mortem. They have no idea what those bullets are or are not doing during the nanoseconds that those bullets are impacting their target and what that target is or is not doing seconds and minutes after those bullets impact.

There are many cases of people taking multiple hits from big heavy handgun bullets and even multiple hits from rifle rounds and not being immediately incapacitated. Switching to a heavier full caliber meplat bullet is no guarantee that they work any better than modern designed expanding SD loads.

As you noted, bullets recovered from human beings don't necessarily equate to picture-perfect expanded bullets pulled from ballistic gel. This is why I don't place any faith in either the FBI ballistics protocol nor what the defunct IWBA tells people to use. Presently all my carry guns are in 9MM and I use a load that has over four decades of street proven effectiveness; a load that both the FBI and IWBA people refuse to even acknowledge as being a viable SD and LE load.
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Old 06-27-2011, 11:38 PM
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I tried Nyclad standard pressure 125s into milk jugs
from a 4" K38....I would never carry them for anything
other than small game. The Nyclads consistently exploded
one milk jug and the bullet would be lying on the ground
behind. One milk jug is not much water to go through. Expansion
was good.

Avoid the standard pressure Hydra Shok 110 like the plague.

Per the OP's question:
Standard Pressure go with 148 wadcutters or 158 SWC.
+P: your gun will handle a few of these go with the FBI load.
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  #44  
Old 06-28-2011, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by CTG_COLLECTOR View Post
Why just two shots? If you're justified in shooting in the first place then you're justified in dumping a whole cylinder-full or mag-full of rounds into the attacker until he is incapacitated.

The problem with listening to the opinions of a Coroner/ME is that they see bullets post-mortem. They have no idea what those bullets are or are not doing during the nanoseconds that those bullets are impacting their target and what that target is or is not doing seconds and minutes after those bullets impact.

There are many cases of people taking multiple hits from big heavy handgun bullets and even multiple hits from rifle rounds and not being immediately incapacitated. Switching to a heavier full caliber meplat bullet is no guarantee that they work any better than modern designed expanding SD loads.

As you noted, bullets recovered from human beings don't necessarily equate to picture-perfect expanded bullets pulled from ballistic gel. This is why I don't place any faith in either the FBI ballistics protocol nor what the defunct IWBA tells people to use. Presently all my carry guns are in 9MM and I use a load that has over four decades of street proven effectiveness; a load that both the FBI and IWBA people refuse to even acknowledge as being a viable SD and LE load.

And what would that load be?
By any chance the federal 115 bl!
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Old 06-28-2011, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by CTG_COLLECTOR View Post
Presently all my carry guns are in 9MM and I use a load that has over four decades of street proven effectiveness; a load that both the FBI and IWBA people refuse to even acknowledge as being a viable SD and LE load.

I'm sure happy with the Federal 9BPLE. Lots of real life examples of success with the load and very inexpesive compared to some of the other top line ammo.
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Old 06-28-2011, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by glock_556 View Post
I just bought some Hornady Critical Defense 110gr .38 loads for the wife's model 36. Any info on this load?
After a lot of reading online and in a few books, this is what I went with for my 442 and the wife's 642. We both shoot accurately with it, the recoil is very manageable and the ballistics for them look good.
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Old 06-28-2011, 08:10 PM
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After a lot of reading online and in a few books, this is what I went with for my 442 and the wife's 642. We both shoot accurately with it, the recoil is very manageable and the ballistics for them look good.

FYI...

FirearmsTactical.com: TacticalBriefs, April 2006
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Old 06-28-2011, 09:37 PM
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I'm sure happy with the Federal 9BPLE. Lots of real life examples of success with the load and very inexpesive compared to some of the other top line ammo.
BINGO! We have a winner!
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Old 06-29-2011, 04:37 AM
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BINGO! We have a winner!
Well we agree on this one!!!!!

Pete
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Old 06-29-2011, 12:01 PM
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Wouldn't this be true of any hollow point that is meant to expand on impact? If it could penetrate glass or sheet metal without expanding and stopping, it seems it would penetrate a person without any expansion also and just go through.
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