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Old 05-31-2018, 01:40 AM
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Default Best Standard Pressure .38

I have a M60 from 1983. I understand I probably could get by with +P ammo for self defense. I would not be shooting 100’s of rounds through the gun, but I would love just to have the best standard pressure .38 (I think). I have been using Speer Gold Dots for short barrels in my M642.

Probably been covered and may be opening a can of worms, but in your opinion what is the BEST .38 standard pressure ammo for self defense?

Thanks.

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Old 05-31-2018, 02:14 AM
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What are you defending yourself from?
2 legged predators, i run critical defense. 125g if i remember correctly
Expands great in my testing out of the short barrels.
I would say many would also give thumbs up to wadcutters.
Make sure you test them for reliability and penetration in wet media
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Old 05-31-2018, 02:16 AM
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Thereís no debate. Itís buffalo boreís standard pressure SWC-HP 158 grain load. Iíve chronoed it myself. It averages 995 fps from my 4 inch model 10 and 887 fps from my 2 inch Charter Arms undercover. Thatís 347 foot pounds and 278 foot pounds respectively. Thereís nothing else that even comes close in a standard pressure load.
I have run them through water jugs and they expand perfectly.


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Old 05-31-2018, 02:17 AM
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Without a doubt, the best standard pressure 38 spl for self defense would be Buffalo Bore's 158 grain standard pressure LSWCHP, but you can also use the +p version for self-defense and occasional target practice in your older steel J-frame (the recoil is stout but definitely manageable). I also like Underwood ammo in general, but in 38 spl, Buffalo Bore reigns supreme. BB publishes impressive real world velocities while managing to keep the pressure within spec apparently using powders not available to the general public. It is pricey ammo, but well worth the expense IMO.

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Old 05-31-2018, 02:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlson1 View Post
I have a M60 from 1983. I understand I probably could get by with +P ammo for self defense. I would not be shooting 100’s of rounds through the gun, but I would love just to have the best standard pressure .38 (I think). I have been using Speer Gold Dots for short barrels in my M642.

Probably been covered and may be opening a can of worms, but in your opinion what is the BEST .38 standard pressure ammo for self defense?

Thanks.
Stay with Gold Dot 135 grain for most business, 158 grain lead SWC-HP Plus P for deeper penetration, like on bears or wolves.

The only std. pressure load I'd suggest is Buffalo Bore's FULL CHARGE wadcutter. Not Plus P, but loaded to normal velocity, not a Mid Range wadcutter.

NO defense ammo is routine range ammo in J-frame and other small .38's.

Federal used to make a Chief Special load with 125 grain Nyclad HP bullet at about 860 FPS. I never saw any real shooting results, but it performed well in test media. I don't think it's still made, but it should be.

Last edited by Texas Star; 05-31-2018 at 03:06 AM.
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Old 05-31-2018, 03:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Radny97 View Post
Thereís no debate. Itís buffalo boreís standard pressure SWC-HP 158 grain load. Iíve chronoed it myself. It averages 995 fps from my 4 inch model 10 and 887 fps from my 2 inch Charter Arms undercover. Thatís 347 foot pounds and 278 foot pounds respectively. Thereís nothing else that even comes close in a standard pressure load.
I have run them through water jugs and they expand perfectly.


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Yeah, I forgot that they claim std. pressure for that one. If true, it's definitely a nasty round at moderate pressure.
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Old 05-31-2018, 09:52 AM
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Not much difference between BB standard pressure and say, Remington 158gr LSWCHP +P. For carry, the latter is my choice.
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Old 05-31-2018, 11:29 AM
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I use the BB SWC-HP that others have mentioned. I also have some BB 125 JHP standard pressure that should be at least as good as the 135 gold dots +P. In fact, I think BB sources bullets from Speer.
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Old 05-31-2018, 11:39 AM
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"I love the Barnes 110 Tac-XP loaded to standard pressure--it is my favorite load for J-frames." - Dr. Gary Roberts(DocGKR)

That quote was from 2013, but I imagine he tested it very thoroughly. It appears the only company currently loading it in standard pressure is Buffalo Bore. 38 Special STANDARD PRESSURE LEAD FREE BARNES Pistol & Handgun Ammunition

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Old 05-31-2018, 12:27 PM
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First, try several 158 gr. standard pressure loads. With rare exception, these will shoot closer to point of aim than lighter higher velocity loads. Stick with what you can shoot well and you've found the best load. It's far more important to consistently hit your target than concern yourself with how many jugs of water or inches of jello a bullet will penetrate.

Second, while not really necessary, you might want to try some 158 grain +P loads. If you can shoot these better than standard pressure loads, you again have found a good load for your situation, but keep in mind how long it takes to recover from recoil with ammo that kicks more. It's also important to remember that actual "field" differences between standard pressure loads and +P may be less than many realize.

Shooting up close, even with a Chief will only tell you that you have a high skill level and that mediocre ammo is accurate. Learn to shoot at 25 yds. and you'll see big differences in ammo accuracy and your level of skill. Serious practice on a regular basis at 25 yds. will make one a better shooter. Don't buy into the "gunfights occur up close" excuse.
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Old 05-31-2018, 12:57 PM
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Recoil is not an issue. The issue I have is the M60 is “not rated” for +p ammo so I am in the market for standard pressure ammo.
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:35 PM
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I like the defence ammo from Hornady. That's what I use in all my .38 Spl's, 380 ACP's, and 9mm's. Not saying it's the best in every area, but it generally expands reliably and penetrates deeply, and that's important to me.

Plus, I've been using Hornady XTP bullets in muzzleloaders and handguns for 20 years for deer hunting, and know their excellent real world killing power.
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Old 05-31-2018, 01:52 PM
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Carlson1, All the ones you have mentioned and any others in this thread are fine. In my over 40 years of experience I have seen decisive results from backup J-frames using standard target wadcutters and standard 158 grainers,(these were by far the most popular/widely used), and various others. They all work if you properly hit the target which is far more important than your choice of ammo. For my pocket carry gun,649-2, I use the 158 standard since I seem to get the best deal on these at my local ammo supplier. I shoot about 100 per month to stay in practice, and no longer reload---just got too old and lazy.
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Old 05-31-2018, 06:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carlson1 View Post
Recoil is not an issue. The issue I have is the M60 is “not rated” for +p ammo so I am in the market for standard pressure ammo.
These babies get carried quite a bit... Both of them, strong side front pocket and strong side hip or back pocket. One is loaded with the Buffalo Bore, 150 grain full wad cutters, normal pressure. The other with Buffalo Bore's 158 grain LSWC-HP, standard pressure as well. Both of these loads perform well thru denim covered gel. I've also carried the LSWC-HP 158grain +P as well in the blued M36... Split time was a bit more than the two aforementioned but it's a serious load for a serious problem. Nobody is going to take two of those to the navel or pelvis and be a problem anymore. If you look at the Buffalo Bore +P version link below OP... you'll notice the first revolver tested was in a 2" barreled M60. If Tim Sundles says you can safely shoot a round in a particular gun... then I trust him. He wouldn't post advertised velocity in a gun/model it wasn't safe to shoot out of. I've had numerous conversations with Tim and he knows his guns and loads. I now stick to the non plus P loads but I have a stock of the +P's and won't hesitate to carry them in a pinch. All 3 of his loads... you'd be hard pressed to find anything that performs much better.
Heavy .38 Special +P Pistol & Handgun Ammunition
Pics of "J's"

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Old 05-31-2018, 07:13 PM
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Hornady has a “Custom” variety loading with a very nice 158 grain stx hp -standard pressure plain brass case, nothing fancy but is a good round and not overly expensive(about$19) so you can practice with what you carry.
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Old 05-31-2018, 07:31 PM
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Hornady has a ďCustomĒ variety loading with a very nice 158 grain stx hp -standard pressure plain brass case, nothing fancy but is a good round and not overly expensive(about$19) so you can practice with what you carry.

That is what I was looking for. Something I can practice with and carry. Thanks.

I did order some of the Buffalo Bore ammo to turnout.
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Old 05-31-2018, 08:21 PM
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Super Vel if you can find them 38 special JHP or std. HP
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Old 06-01-2018, 12:33 AM
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Not much difference between BB standard pressure and say, Remington 158gr LSWCHP +P. For carry, the latter is my choice.


Except in price. The Remingtonís cost a lot less.
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Old 06-01-2018, 01:11 AM
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Nothing from Buffalo Bore will expand. They use hard lead, and its not expanding from a 2 inch barrel. I don't know why folks keep recommending it. REALLY expensive way to shoot a .355 projectile that doesn't expand.

I'd run some of those stout wadcutters or Critical Denfese. I usually hate Ciritical Defense, but it will be ok if you MUST have non +p ammo.

A 158 grain lead semi wadcutter is decent enough as well. If its starts tumbling, the wound track aint too bad, plus the 20 plus inches of penetration means two holes in the bad guy.

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Old 06-01-2018, 01:36 AM
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Hamhands is right. Bubbatime, sorry but i have run B.B. loads through water jugs and they do expand.


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Old 06-01-2018, 01:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rockquarry View Post

Shooting up close, even with a Chief will only tell you that you have a high skill level and that mediocre ammo is accurate. Learn to shoot at 25 yds. and you'll see big differences in ammo accuracy and your level of skill. Serious practice on a regular basis at 25 yds. will make one a better shooter. Don't buy into the "gunfights occur up close" excuse.


A Chief Special IS an up close weapon. Thereís no practical reason to practice with one regularly at 25 yards.

Too much practice like that with your carry gun is liable to make you too slow and deliberate for real SD shooting. Hitting with a 2Ē J-frame @25 requires near perfect sight picture and let-off, something you donít need will not have time for when SHTF.

Unless youíre testing from a machine rest, a 2Ē J-frame at 25 will be a test of the shooter, not the ammo.

Up close isnít an excuse, itís reality. Learning to identify threats, draw and put shots quickly on a close-range threat, shooting while moving, one handed while fending an attacker off with the other hand, these are practical SD skills.

This is coming from someone who shot precision for decades before getting a carry permit and trying any form defensive shooting. It definitely helped to have good shooting skills, but the techniques that work on long-range paper or steel will get you killed. And I think itís reasonable to say 25-yards is long range for a 2Ē J-frame (yes, I know, Bob Munden could break balloons at 200 yards with a Chief Special.)

If you absolutely must be able to hit people at 25 yards with your carry gun, get a bigger gun with better sights, a good lawyer, and good life insurance. Youíre either going to get killed standing there trying to return fire at that distance, or have some serious explaining as to how someone that far away posed a threat.
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Old 06-01-2018, 07:08 AM
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Jtcarm is spot on with the Chief's Special being a "bad breath distance" carry piece. 10 yards is the max I practice with it. I practice drawing, putting the front sight in the center of the silhouette, (just above where the navel would be), and fire until cylinder is dry. That's how I train with mine and 7 to 10 yards is about the right distance to do such with an M36/M60. YMMV...

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Old 06-01-2018, 08:16 AM
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Regular practice at 25 yards improves one's shooting skills for all distances including up close.

Some gunfighting / courtroom theorists seem to be on a perpetual search for comments that will stir their wrath, but the points mentioned are hardly worth arguing.
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:31 AM
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Have read through plenty of parking lot encounters where distances are 15-20 yards. Prepare for as much as you can and know your limitations.
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Old 06-01-2018, 08:51 AM
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I'm also a fan of shooting at 50 feet and 25 yard distances. I like to test the accuracy of guns as well as my abilities. I never understood people posting photos of groups shot at 10 yards and bragging about how well their gun shoots.
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Old 06-01-2018, 09:00 AM
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Have read through plenty of parking lot encounters where distances are 15-20 yards. Prepare for as much as you can and know your limitations.
Plenty? I've never been able to find more than a handful of incidents(out of thousands) involving civilians occuring at those ranges and nearly all were cases of choosing to act/engage rather than being forced into it and absolutely necessary.
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Old 06-01-2018, 09:22 AM
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You can practice with just about any reasonable load, even wadcutters, then once in a while run a cylinder full of your carry ammo. I, like you, had been carrying the Speer 135 gr. JHP short barrel ammo. I have been drawn to the dark side lately and all of my carry ammo (9mm, .38 SPL and .357 Mag.) has been Underwood brand of the Xtreme Defender or Xtreme Penetrator variety.
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Old 06-01-2018, 07:30 PM
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Plenty? I've never been able to find more than a handful of incidents(out of thousands) involving civilians occuring at those ranges and nearly all were cases of choosing to act/engage rather than being forced into it and absolutely necessary.
No offense intended but you either can or you canít. If you donít train for it, you arenít going to to be up for it and failure has large consequences. Distances can open up especially in places like parking lots. You will perform how you train.
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Old 06-01-2018, 09:19 PM
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No offense intended but you either can or you canít. If you donít train for it, you arenít going to to be up for it and failure has large consequences. Distances can open up especially in places like parking lots. You will perform how you train.
I don't really understand your comment. My previous statement was simply about the likelihood of needing to engage at those distances. You said you have read through plenty of examples. What's your sources? Can you produce them?

I've seen footage and read through compiled stats of thousands of real-world civilian defense scenarios over the past few years and have only come across a handful of armed civilian incidents that occurred at the ranges you mentioned. And most of time when they did engagement wasn't absolutely necessary. Because of that, I have never spent much time working at those distances since there is relatively little need for it and much more important things to work on.
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Old 06-01-2018, 09:34 PM
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My Buffalo Bore came today. I have no ideal how they will work in a SD situation, but I am going to the range to see if they function reliable. I am going to look for some of the 158 grn in Hornady.
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Old 06-01-2018, 09:37 PM
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Much like your experience, mine is based on reading various sources over many years. My recounting is no more substantive than yours. I will not rely on any firearm I canít hit with at 20-25 yards. I practice from the holster and I like using a shot timer to measure my progress. I donít count on what happens ďmost of the timeĒ to dictate my training. You are welcome to do whatever you wish.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:01 PM
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I donít count on what happens ďmost of the timeĒ to dictate my training.
Well, it should. It makes absolutely no sense to allocate an equal or significant amount of training time and energy to what is unlikely to occur when you should be spending most of your time preparing for the most probable scenarios.
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Old 06-01-2018, 10:30 PM
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I carry the B Bore standard pressure LSWCHP in my 36....it shoots fine. Gave me moderate expansion in gallon water jugs.

Their 125grn SJHP standard p 38 was accurate but didn't expand in water jugs....and the bullet wasn't a Gold Dot. Looked like the same bullet in Win White box ammo. (Not a jab...I like white box just fine)

Interested to hear how the all copper rounds work out. Anything from B Bore is going to be good stuff and should do anything other .38spl ammo can do.


Find an accurate round for YOUR gun and carry with confidence.
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Old 06-01-2018, 11:11 PM
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I know I'm stirring the pot here, but I don't believe for a second that BB has special, secret powders that are not available to anyone else. Large commercial loaders do buy "non-canister grade" powders because they buy bulk, but these powders are rejects that do not meet spec for "canister grade" powder. The commercial loader (with pressure testing equipment, and no, not just looking at the fired primers and sticky extraction) can afford to develop loads for a given batch of out-of-spec powder.

If there were a powder type that could do what no other powder could do, the manufacturer would be sitting on a gold mine and would be incredibly foolish not to advertise, manufacture and sell as much of it as they possibly could. Just think; no competitors!

Alas, in the real world of being bound by reality and the laws of physics, no such powder exists. Sorry.
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Old 06-01-2018, 11:36 PM
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Remington 158gr SWC standard velocity in my 2" M60. I'm not convinced that expanded handgun bullets accomplish anything other than decreased penetration.
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Old 06-02-2018, 12:28 AM
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Sorry but those who say J frame revolver are only for up close distances are only making excuses for poor trigger control and not enough practice. Snub nose revolvers are no less accurate than other barrel lengths they are just more difficult to shoot well. Practice and then practice some more. Then go train for SD.
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Old 06-02-2018, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Mister X View Post
Well, it should. It makes absolutely no sense to allocate an equal or significant amount of training time and energy to what is unlikely to occur when you should be spending most of your time preparing for the most probable scenarios.
Never had a malfunction with my carry pistols, but I practice clearance drills.

Body armor is rare but I have Mozambique drills in my rotation.

Local breakfast place always has patrol officers but I am still packing this morning.

Never seen someone needing CPR but took classes on that and basic trauma first aid.

You are preparing for a simple mugging and there is plenty in the news to show other scenarios are also possible.

Heaven help innocent bystanders downrange when you find out you need a shot longer than the textbook 3-7 yards.
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Old 06-02-2018, 08:59 AM
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I really think all these theories on how to train should have their own thread. As to whether or not to use +P in my S&W model 60, I think that mine will hold up to occasional use. My hand might not agree!
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Old 06-03-2018, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by jtcarm View Post
A Chief Special IS an up close weapon. There’s no practical reason to practice with one regularly at 25 yards.

Too much practice like that with your carry gun is liable to make you too slow and deliberate for real SD shooting. Hitting with a 2” J-frame @25 requires near perfect sight picture and let-off, something you don’t need will not have time for when SHTF.

Unless you’re testing from a machine rest, a 2” J-frame at 25 will be a test of the shooter, not the ammo.

Up close isn’t an excuse, it’s reality. Learning to identify threats, draw and put shots quickly on a close-range threat, shooting while moving, one handed while fending an attacker off with the other hand, these are practical SD skills.

This is coming from someone who shot precision for decades before getting a carry permit and trying any form defensive shooting. It definitely helped to have good shooting skills, but the techniques that work on long-range paper or steel will get you killed. And I think it’s reasonable to say 25-yards is long range for a 2” J-frame (yes, I know, Bob Munden could break balloons at 200 yards with a Chief Special.)

If you absolutely must be able to hit people at 25 yards with your carry gun, get a bigger gun with better sights, a good lawyer, and good life insurance. You’re either going to get killed standing there trying to return fire at that distance, or have some serious explaining as to how someone that far away posed a threat.
40 years ago we qualified at 25 yards with all sidearms we carried. Practicing with a M40 and M36 made me a much better shot with the M64.

We were taught to shoot deliberately, so as to hit the target. Good sight picture, good trigger control will put those rounds on target at 5, 10, 15, 20 or 25 yards.

While most civilian SD situations do take place at short distances, it is good to have the skills to reach out and touch Mr. Psycopath who missed that memo. If someone is shooting at you from 25 yards, they pose a threat, choices such as engage or don't are always good.

Just my experience from over 20 years on the street and multiple deadly force encounters.
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Old 06-06-2018, 09:33 PM
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Buffalo Bore Standard pressure 158 gr LSWHP-GC item.... 20C/20 158gr Soft Cast LSWHP-GC Nothing comes close!
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Old 06-07-2018, 10:36 PM
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125 gr Nyclad "Chiefs Special" SWC hollow cavities, provided you are lucky enough to find some! Buffalo Bore? They seem great but are not for a pauper like yours truly! 158 gr lead SWC? Yes!..... and practice, practice, practice! I have a Model 36, a Model 38, and a 1938 vintage Colt DS. No +p for these! BTW, who remembers the original Hydra-shok Scorpion round?
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Old 06-08-2018, 01:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 0311INF View Post
Not much difference between BB standard pressure and say, Remington 158gr LSWCHP +P. For carry, the latter is my choice.
I carried the Remington load for years. Still have a few rounds; but when I was about to buy more I began seeing reports that the "new and improved" rendition was somewhat watered down from the good older stuff I had used. This was chronographed comparison data.

I now carry the standard pressure Buffalo Bore 158 gr. LSWCHP-GC (gas check). It clocks virtually identically the older Remington FBI load, and is advertised as safe to use in any revolver in good working order. Also produces less flash.

For a while, years ago, I carried 125 gr. Golden Saber +P, but decided I wanted a heavier bullet.
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