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Old 02-04-2013, 12:50 PM
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Default 200 gr. .38 Special loads

Anyone remember the old 200 grain W-W .38 Spl loads? The blunt nosed bullet looked vaguely like a thumb. Definitely not for 2" bbls, I recall 572 fps in one test. Now out of print, but are there any factory equivalents today?
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Old 02-04-2013, 01:33 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

I believe there is an earlier thread on this- you might want to do a search. I too have been fascinated with these loads for many years, have read all the negative comments- probably true- but ALWAYS buy these 200 grainers whenever they sometimes show up at gun shows, unless ridiculously priced. Buy the Remington version also. They were written up extensively in General Hatcher's book, "Textbook of Pistols and Revolvers"- 1935.
Great nostalgia!
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Old 02-04-2013, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaaskop49 View Post
Anyone remember the old 200 grain W-W .38 Spl loads? The blunt nosed bullet looked vaguely like a thumb. Definitely not for 2" bbls, I recall 572 fps in one test. Now out of print, but are there any factory equivalents today?
I also recall that article from the Law Enforcement Handgun Digest by Grennell and Williams, ca. 1974. You are correct on the velocity from the 2" barrel. The authors also found that a point blank shot from that barrel length would not penetrate side window auto glass and would only put a shallow gouge in the body work.
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Old 02-04-2013, 05:43 PM
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I would have to look up my data but 600 fps out of a 2" sounds about right. I bought a couple of boxes that I chronoed for interest.
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Old 02-05-2013, 09:02 AM
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In my "Day" this load was called "Super Police".
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Old 02-05-2013, 12:54 PM
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Thanks to all for your interest and the trip down 'Memory Lane!' You've read the same articles I have. Will look for a box on the collector's ammo tables at shows. Yes, jimmyj, it was called the Super Police and a 200-grainer also loaded in the shorter .38 S&W case. Supposedly a good stopper in the 1930s. VL
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Old 02-13-2013, 11:47 AM
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Back in the Black powder days, a BIGGER bullet was BEST...........for those long kentucky rifles, and that train of thought carried over.
Many thought the 200gr lead bullet was the cream of the crop back in the day, before the invention of smokeless powders and higher velositys started to rear its ugly head.

One reason the old Colt Peacemaker was a prize for anyone that had one.......though it was a .45 cal.

High vel copper bullets did not happen til around 1935......when S&W came up with the .357 magnum.

Midway has a 200gr lead with a GC, I have not checked other dealers, since I don't think the GC is going to be needed in a revolver.

Last edited by Nevada Ed; 02-13-2013 at 11:51 AM.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:16 PM
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Blue Bunny Ammo was selling those for awhile, but have since stopped.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:33 PM
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The low velocity of a 200gr bullet out of a snubnose is the reason for the rounds effectiveness. Meaning, the rifling twist won't fully stabilize the long projectile so it will tumble when it hits the target. And that will hurt.
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shocker View Post
The low velocity of a 200gr bullet out of a snubnose is the reason for the rounds effectiveness. Meaning, the rifling twist won't fully stabilize the long projectile so it will tumble when it hits the target. And that will hurt.
Interesting theories. Any experimental data to support them?
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Old 02-13-2013, 12:57 PM
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I found that tidbit searching under 38 special in wikipedia. The load in question was the 38/200 used by the British.

"In tests performed on cadavers and live animals, it was found that the lead bullet, being overly long and heavy for its calibre, become unstable after penetrating the target, somewhat increasing target effect. The relatively low velocity allowed all of the energy of the cartridge to be spent inside the human target, rather than penetrating completely. This was deemed satisfactory and the design for the .38/200 cartridge was accepted as the "380/200 Cartridge, Revolver Mk I".

Last edited by shocker; 02-13-2013 at 01:00 PM.
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:41 PM
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I have always heard a lot of police lore about this bullet. It was supposedly a good stopper as long as it did not have to penetrate objects such as car bodies. A couple of years ago I was given a partial box of the old Winchester 200 grain lubaloy Super Police load. I fired them out of 4 inch model 19; they grouped well but about 5 inches high at 25 yards. I wished I did some penetration tests or at least chronographed the load.

Last edited by John P.; 02-13-2013 at 06:47 PM.
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Old 02-13-2013, 02:49 PM
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Again, thanks all for your kind replies to my question. Hope I can be of help to you one day. VL
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Old 02-14-2013, 04:11 PM
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Does any one know the history of the 200 gr 38 Special loadings such as when they first appeared and when they disappeared? On paper the load looks like an effective short range stopper. But as far a I can tell it ceased being offered after WW II, which says something about its practical effectiveness.

The only loading I have seen is Western's, which is the top left box pictured below.




Another, even more interesting to me, loading is the 38 S&W Super Police 200 gr loading pictured below. Like the 38 Sp Super Police box above, it is a Pre WW II box. Interesting also, the caliber,"38 S&W", is not called out at all on the box. Only "Super Police." This indicates to me that this loading predated the 38 Sp loading and the 38 Sp loading was maybe added to serve the 38 S&W users who were chaging over to 38 Sp guns and preferred the 200 gr bullet. At any rate, The 200 gr 38 S&W cases are Head Stamped as such. No, I have not tried these in my Terrier.


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Old 02-14-2013, 04:34 PM
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I'm sure that it was offered well after WWII. I remember buying a box, not an old box as I recall, around 1966.
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Old 02-14-2013, 06:03 PM
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Back in the roaring 20's and Lawless 30's the top gun of the day was the 38 Super Auto with its high volosity and was carried by many bad guys and law officers but the standard for most LE was the little 38 special with its all lead bullet that would put men down but was not capable of penetrating auto bodys.

The 38-44 was the first 38 to break 1150 fps but they found out that copper jackets were needed to penetrate car bodys
and S&W went back to the drawing boards,til 1935.
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Old 02-15-2013, 11:47 AM
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BRush: I bought a box of the Western 200 gr. .38Sp ammo in 1973, modern manufacture. Thanks for your help! Kaaskop
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Old 02-16-2013, 10:03 PM
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I have a full box of Peters brand .38 Special 200 grain loads. The end flap is marked 38 Special 200 Grain Lead Index 3841. The box has the "Warning Keep Out of Reach of Children" marking so I guess it's post-1962. It is brass cased, headstamp is R-P over 38 SPL with a lead round nose bullet and they are in a styrofoam tray. It would be difficult to know that it was not a standard 158 gr LRN if the package was not marked.
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Old 02-17-2013, 02:34 PM
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Majority opinion on this round- speaking only of the Super Police version- was that it wouldn't penetrate car bodies, was too slow, was unstable in flight, and gave poor terminal ballistics no better than 158 grain RNL. However, that instability in flight, especially in a snub, might cause it to tumble upon striking flesh.

I'd really like to know the probabilities of that happening, because if it was 70% or higher, being hit with a long, tumbling 200 grain slug in the Super Police configuration, might equal or exceed the best results from modern hollow points regarding stopping power. This might be just the round for J-frames. Have any serious studies ever been made that a tumbling slug of this weight and configuration might produce superb one-stop shots?
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Old 02-17-2013, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaaskop49 View Post
Anyone remember the old 200 grain W-W .38 Spl loads? The blunt nosed bullet looked vaguely like a thumb. Definitely not for 2" bbls, I recall 572 fps in one test. Now out of print, but are there any factory equivalents today?
Ah, the old "Super Police" load as it was called. Back in the day, ammo companies named their loads as a short hand way of getting the customer to remember the ballistics. It is confusing to us today unless you read up on the actual bullet weights and velocities.

That load was pretty feeble on the "receiving end," and although feeble, it was not really listed for use in the K frames, but it was authorized for use in the .38/44 revolvers (the heavier bullet made pressures higher). S&W used to say what loads were ok in particular models by using the load's name.

For example, K frames tended to be ok with 38 S&W Special and 38 S&W Special Mid-Range. The first was the standard old 158 grain load, while the second was the 148 grain wadcutter target load.

N frame 38s often listed acceptable loads as 38 S&W Special Hi-Speed, 38 S&W Special Super Police, 38 S&W Special and 38 S&W Special Mid-Range. The Hi-Speed load was the .38/44. The Super Police was the aforementioned feeble 200 grain loading.

N frame .357s listed all the same loads as the N frame 38s, but the first round listed was .357 Magnum, followed by the N frame list of 38s.

There were changes to the list over the years. For example, S&W at one point advertised its K frames as ok with the .38/44. Colt said its Police Positive and Detective Specials were ok with that load, so I am not sure how much was just S&W trying to compete for LE contract business, but later S&W stopped listing the .38.44 as ok with the K frame.

S&W also sold K frame 38 Specials to government agencies knowing they would be shot with low end .357 Magnum loads loaded into 38 Special cases on special contracts so agencies did not have to defend against idiots saying they were using Magnums. The so-called "Treasury Load" comes to mind. Essentially a 110 grain JHP .357 Magnum loaded into a 38 Special case.

That was not really a recent trend either as the original FBI purchase of Colt Police Positives instead of 1911 .45s was conditioned on the revolvers using the .38/44 Hi-Speed, but with the Keith sharp shoulder semi-wadcutter instead of the round nose. You can view the documents over at Larry Wack's excellent site: Historical G-Men.

Home - Dusty Roads Of An FBI Era

The documents on the weapons orders and the memo justifying the 38s based on the .38/44 with the Keith bullet are here:



(note the 1125 fps velocity of the 158 grain 38 Special Keith Semi-Wadcutter they adopted)



And, here is the Colt literature provided to the FBI at the time of the weapons order in 1933. Page 9 shows the loads authorized for use in the Police Positive.


Last edited by shawn mccarver; 02-17-2013 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 02-17-2013, 04:56 PM
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kaaskop49, thanks for starting this thread. I've learned a bunch from
it, and now have a clue to why the .38/200 isn't readily available.
I'm guessing that in a 2" barrel, to get any real working velocity,
it would have to be loaded pretty hot.
Thanks to the rest who've provided facts and insights.
TACC1
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Old 02-17-2013, 08:52 PM
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My uncle was a federal agent and in the late 60's early 70's I remember him showing me his issued ammo for his S&W M60 which was the 38 special 200gr. Super Police bullet. He told me that he did shoot a suspect twice with that round and it was very effective in stopping the suspect. I dont know any of the details of the shooting, but I am sure that shot placement is most important.
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:31 AM
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I've gotta challenge that comment about the 200 grain being unstable in flight, at least in non-snubbies. I fired quite a bit of handloaded (and some factory) 200 grain ammo back in the late 1960s at ranges up to 50 yards and found no sign of bullet instability in flight. [Uh, having typed this, I just recalled most of mine were loaded in .357 cases and those clocked 850 fps. I have no clue whatever what the .38 loads clocked. All velocities from 6 inch barrels.]

However, the stability was quite marginal. I clearly recall shooting a quart oil can (cardboard body, metal ends for those who've never seen one) filled with water at 50 yards. The bullet exit on the side of the can definately showed tumbling and the reaction to the bullet was much greater than that displayed by lighter, faster bullets.
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Old 02-22-2013, 12:06 PM
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WRMoore- I brought up the question of this round's instability in flight. You point out your results with a four-inch barrel, that stability was marginal. Agreed. Does it then follow that INSTABILITY in a SNUB is a given, or what percentage of shots are unstable from the short barrel? If the percentage is 70% or greater, then the 200 Super Police as a snub load might compare well if not better than the current snub loads.

Test run in gelatin might answer the question. Has anybody run such tests, and if so, what were the results as to crush cavity, stretch cavity, or any measure of stopping power generally accepted today?
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Old 02-22-2013, 05:22 PM
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Instability in a short barrel is not a given. All things equal, the bullet exiting the 2" barrel is as stable as if it came from an 8" barrel. Terminal stability is a different issue and is based mostly on bullet construction. The main reason that the ammo companies tried to load heavy for caliber bullets in the old days is that they didn't have the jacket metallurgy technology that we do today. Most of the ballistic science in those day was subjective at best. For example, the tests to find a replacement for the 38 Colt military round involved shooting cows at the Chicago stock yards and observing how long it took for them to die and how much discomfort the cow exhibited. Sometimes they got it right, like with the 45acp, but most of the time it turned into junk science. Heavy for caliber bullets for self defense fell out of favor because of the advancement of the jacketed hollow point design. The bullet companies have been able to design bullets that expand over a huge range of velocities and impact mediums. This is what drives defensive ammo design now. But the primary idea that we must remember is that the only constant in stopping dynamics is shot placement. Shot placement trumps everything in factoring stopping power.
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:22 AM
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Good morning everybody,

I remember very well that when I started my "handgunner career" in 1977 my dealer recommended the 200 grs police load as an ideal load for self defence in my Chiefs Special (mod.36) with three inch tube.
And I remember thisload to be a perfect "finisher" when it came to injured game (to-be road kills) up to 75 kg wild boars.
May be that nowadays the high-tech bullets do the same job with less weight - I am an oldt-timer and would very much prefer an industrial made 200grs. load for my .357/.38Special sixguns here in Germany.
I am not a reloader - but - anyway - I couldn't even find a 200 grs bullet in the catalogues.

Greetings from Germany
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:35 AM
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I recall an article in Guns Magazine back in the 1960s by Chic Gaylord. He recommended a 200 gr Super Police only in 5" or longer barrels.
Geoff
Who notes back then .38 Special revolvers were the most common police firearm.
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Old 03-17-2013, 07:51 AM
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Like Erich says, king, queen & on the head of a pin.......
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:52 AM
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I had a Lyman 358430 bullet mould and it dropped 200 grain round nose bullets. I loaded them in .357 brass. I used powder ranging from Universal to H110/W296 in speed and seated a bit over standard max length. I canít remember the max loads. These were plenty accurate out to at least 50 yards and pretty snappy with max loads. 25 yard groups were in the 1.5 to 2 inch range. I eventually got rid of the mould but it was fun to experiment with the bullets. Shot pretty well out of a Marlin 1894 too.
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Old 03-17-2013, 11:18 AM
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I used to load 220 gr cast bullets in 38 spl for bowling pins. Stability was never a problem in my guns, and at a whopping 700 fps, the pins were very impressed with the load, even peripheral hits sent them flying.
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Old 03-17-2013, 12:55 PM
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I posted this a few days ago.

I ordered some 38/200 S&W ammo from The Old Western
Scronger. It indicated it was on back order so I figured it
could take quite awhile to receive it. Lo and behold four
days later it arrived. I couldn't believe it came so quick.
The point is if you have to go on back order you may get
lucky and receive it much quicker than you think. Also

This is not old ammo but made for them new. If you search these
boards a guy named Louisanna Man did some testing on this
ammo and posted it.

Last edited by DaGOOSExyz; 03-17-2013 at 01:01 PM.
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Old 03-17-2013, 01:38 PM
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A friend has a M&P in 38 S&W, so we loaded the usual wadcutters and 158 gr. with the larger-diameter bullets, then got curious after reading about the Brit 38-200, aka "380/200 Revolver Mk I." So we loaded some up, after finding .360"/200 gr. bullets from Western Bullets.

They shot so well I decided to get a couple of bullets from them for my 38 Special. Got Lyman #358430 & Saeco #351, and loaded them at a mild 750 fps. The Saeco is a little longer, so must be loaded deeper in the case.

I must say, they're a hoot, accurate, and do great damage to various wood-based products. I'm not so sure the Lyman wouldn't make a great home defense load.
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Old 03-17-2013, 04:28 PM
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Quote:
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I used to load 220 gr cast bullets in 38 spl for bowling pins. Stability was never a problem in my guns, and at a whopping 700 fps, the pins were very impressed with the load, even peripheral hits sent them flying.
Hum... I'll admit that at the present I may not be thinking all that clearly since I don't feel very well. But, a 220 gr. cast bullet at 700 fps from a .38 Special does sound interesting.
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Old 03-17-2013, 05:00 PM
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It's amazing what a little extra bullet momentum will do.
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Old 03-17-2013, 09:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaaskop49 View Post
Thanks to all for your interest and the trip down 'Memory Lane!' You've read the same articles I have. Will look for a box on the collector's ammo tables at shows. Yes, jimmyj, it was called the Super Police and a 200-grainer also loaded in the shorter .38 S&W case. Supposedly a good stopper in the 1930s. VL
Speaking of a 200gr bullet in a 38 S&W case, I currently load 38/200 loads for my Enfield No2 revolver. It's fun to shoot something that was created so many years ago and almost forgotten today.

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