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Old 06-30-2017, 07:24 PM
rfssylvan rfssylvan is offline
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Default Best round for sw J frame airweight

Any suggestions for the bullet weight and type for a ccw sw 638 airweight J frame. At the range it seems to shoot fmJ and hollow point fine. I plan to carry strong inside waist band.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:38 PM
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I carry Winchester Ranger #RA38B...bonded 130gr +P in a 642-1.

Gets a thumbs up from Dr. Gary K. Roberts along with a few other rounds:

Quote:
Currently, the Speer Gold Dot 135 gr +P JHP, Winchester 130 gr bonded +P JHP (RA38B), and Barnes 110 gr XPB all copper JHP (for ex. in the Corbon DPX loading) offer the most reliable expansion we have seen from a .38 sp 2” BUG; Hornady 110 gr standard pressure and +P Critical Defense loads also offer good performance out of 2" barrel revolvers.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:42 PM
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I use Remington Golden Sabre
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:46 PM
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I like the standard pressure stuff in the j-frames. I used to carry the Federal Nyclad. Not even sure if they still make it.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:47 PM
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I'm unimpressed by 'expanding' bullets in handguns generally and even more so in snubbies.

I prefer hard cast 158 gr swc bullets in my handloaded ammo at standard pressures in my M38s. An effective alternative is the standard 148 gr wc target load.

Both offer nice sharp cutting shoulders creating great sound canals and are quite effective in sd situations.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:47 PM
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Either a +P JHP or wadcutters for the recoil sensitive. I'm of the opinion bullet weight is not that important at common defense ranges, so long as it shoots close to point of aim.

Last edited by silversnake; 06-30-2017 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:48 PM
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I roll my own...
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Old 06-30-2017, 08:08 PM
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158gr LSWC/LSWCHP moving as fast as you can shoot accurately. If it's +P or not is irrelevant.
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Old 06-30-2017, 08:30 PM
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Buffalo Bore 158 lead SWC HP in either non or +P. The bullet is made out of soft lead and is gas checked. I get well over 1,000 FPS out of my 640 Pro with BB +P offering. So to re-cap, heavy soft hollow point with cutting shoulders moving at over 1000 FPS out of a 2" revolver. I don't trust light bullets that may or may not expand at 2" velocities.
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Old 06-30-2017, 08:32 PM
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Speer Gold Dots
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Old 06-30-2017, 08:48 PM
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Good or bad right or wrong Hornady CD 110g +p out of my 337ti AirLITE that's RIGHT AiR LITE not AirWEIGHT.
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Old 06-30-2017, 08:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mj2008 View Post
Speer Gold Dots
This. The short barrel versions are meant for these guns.
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Old 06-30-2017, 10:14 PM
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I carry 125gr JHP +P in my 360J.
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Old 06-30-2017, 10:43 PM
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Speer gold dot 135gr sb
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Old 06-30-2017, 10:47 PM
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There have been lots of threads on this topic, so I'd suggest doing a search if you haven't already.

My own personal preference is for the Speer 135gr SB-GDHP +P. It performs well in my gun and has established a good track record in actual shootings. Look for the 50-round boxes for the best value. They're produced in cycles so availability can be spotty. It's best to get on the e-mail list for a good online vendor so you can be notified when they're in stock.

A close second would be the FBI load, i.e. 158gr LHP or LSWCHP +P. My preferred version is Buffalo Bore's standard pressure load (it actually has the same velocity as other makers' +P versions). The FBI load, in general, has also established a good track record in actual shootings.

In general, I prefer medium-to-heavy HP bullets. In .38 Special that'd be 125-158gr. Terminal ballistics are an important consideration, but not as important as your ability to get good, quick hits on target.

Just my opinion.
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Old 07-01-2017, 06:34 AM
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I like/use Speer 135gr SB-GDHP +P in my 442. I usually buy them in the 50 rd. box.
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Old 07-01-2017, 11:43 AM
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Dr Gary Roberts seems to be the guy who has done the most extensive testing in the lab and on the street these days, Check out his results and choose one that you think meets your criteria. I have been carrying the Speer 135gr +P for years based on street shooting by LE, but now there is a pretty long list of good choices. Check it out:

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Old 07-01-2017, 12:03 PM
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For my wife she uses the Hornady critical defense lite. Pink label
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Old 07-01-2017, 02:26 PM
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Thanks guys...there are some listed i need to get and take to the range...got to practice with the actual stuff...
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Old 07-01-2017, 03:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray1970 View Post
I like the standard pressure stuff in the j-frames. I used to carry the Federal Nyclad. Not even sure if they still make it.
Nowadays a coated soft lead SWHP is the closest thing.
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Old 07-01-2017, 05:00 PM
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I carry the gold dots, buffalo bore standard or as close as I can get to the 158 gr. FBI load.
I do remember reading here of someone who either did or was quoting someone else ( we know how that goes) who used gold dots out of his snubby in a home invasion and had very negative results.
Like I said, it was at least a second person report so, who knows.
Test and read up on it and make your best choice.
Just shoot straight with whatever.
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Old 07-01-2017, 05:48 PM
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The 125 gr 38 standard pressure buffalo bore load uses a Speer bullet.

It looks the same as the 125 38+p gold dot when looking at both side by side.

It shoots with higher velocity than the 135 gd short barrel.

Haven't seen gel tests, but I consider it a great load for j frames not rated for +p.
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Old 07-02-2017, 07:19 AM
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I have conducted my own extensive test of 16 different loads including
most of those mentioned above. My conclusion is that almost any load
will do the job, if you can do your job.

If you need to shoot, it will in all probability, be from a range of less
than nine feet. I believe that, more important than the load you are
carrying, is your ability to get your gun out quickly and get your front
sight on the center of mass.
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Old 07-02-2017, 03:18 PM
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Have to agree with that last post. I've tried a lot of different high-end loads in my 442....none of them consistently expand in my non-scientific test. (water jugs, foam blocks, cardboard etc.)

Some shoot better than others accuracy wise, but at defense ranges almost all will do. Getting a bullet, any bullet, into an important part of an attacker is the key.

I usually carry Remington swchp....it shoots well and seems to work for those with real world experience. Experience I hope to only read about!

Last edited by Lostaro; 07-02-2017 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 07-02-2017, 05:09 PM
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Ray: I don't think they do. You can occasionally pick some up on Gunbroker. I have a few boxes and plan to keep them.
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Old 07-02-2017, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulWVa View Post
I carry the same gun and shoot it at least once a week. I shoot mainly my own loads for practice. I carry Liberty Civil Defense .38 +P, 50 grn bullets at 1500 fps from a 2" barrel. Low recoil, low carry weight and amazing performance. Check the YouTube videos. You can argue bullets weights but low recoil and carry weight make this stuff different.
How has it performed in real-life situations?
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Old 07-02-2017, 05:38 PM
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158 swc lead or old FBI Remington load in snubbys. Penetration is queen here. Reach the boiler room break bones if needed. Hollow points in lighter weights do not reach vitals. The plain old 158swc at 800 fps will put the bad guy down!
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Old 07-02-2017, 06:01 PM
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Over twenty years as a police officer including several real world incidents with barrels that aspire to be 2 inches long has convinced me that in the real world bullets don't reliably expand from J frames and the like. I like 150 grain flat based wadcutters over 3.2 grains of BE in my steel framed Js. Buffalo Bore sells a standard pressure round that precludes the need to roll-yer-own. In an Al-you-minimum or Scarry-um frame I'd use the 148 grain hollow based wadcutter over 2.8 grains of BE or its commercial twin made by Rem, Fed or Olin er Chestwinster.
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Old 07-02-2017, 06:53 PM
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I have some j frames done by Karl Sokol SW 642 and Two done by Teddy Jacobson SW 442 and 340 PD (both great gunsmiths) Karl told me CCI Gold Dot 38SPL 135 +P short BBL. Teddy loves and said he likes and to use Corbon 38SPL 110 +p DPX he said has good primers for positive ignition. Good luck.
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Old 07-02-2017, 10:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon 1 View Post
I have some j frames done by Karl Sokol SW 642 and Two done by Teddy Jacobson SW 442 and 340 PD (both great gunsmiths) Karl told me CCI Gold Dot 38SPL 135 +P short BBL. Teddy loves and said he likes and to use Corbon 38SPL 110 +p DPX he said has good primers for positive ignition. Good luck.
Karl Sokol worked my 1911 Colt over 10 or 15 years ago
and it has worked flawlessly ever since. 100% reliable.
He is a great gunsmith. I don't know the other one.
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Old 07-02-2017, 10:52 PM
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Hollow base wadcutters at about 700-750 fps.
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Old 07-03-2017, 01:45 PM
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Hornady® Critical Defense® 110gr FTX® (#90310) in my S&W® BG38. My wife carries the Winchester® Defend™ 130gr JHP (#W38SPLD) in her Taurus® Mdl 605SS2. We chose this different ammunition because for each of us these loads were THE MOST ACCURATE in our respective revolvers. Vice-Versa they didn't do well; go figure.
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Old 07-03-2017, 01:50 PM
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Speer GD +P 135 gr for short barrels go in any J fame I carry.
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Old 07-04-2017, 01:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rfssylvan View Post
Thanks guys...there are some listed i need to get and take to the range...got to practice with the actual stuff...
You're on the right track. Try the top five or so and see which one shoots POA/POI for your gun and doesn't have more recoil than can be tolerated.
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Old 07-04-2017, 02:46 PM
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Nearly any modern SD load will do ok if you do your pet. I prefer Federal 158-gr+P SWCLHP, the old FBI load akin to what keeps suggested. I've carried them in my 442 Airweight for a long time.
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Old 07-04-2017, 03:15 PM
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Those are in my 642. I haven't decided if I want to load them in my 36-1 yet. Just because it's not +P rated.

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Speer GD +P 135 gr for short barrels go in any J fame I carry.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:22 PM
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Just another internet story.

I have a 640 pro and a couple other j-frames. My 640 was shooting low with 130 gr ammo (+p and standard). I called S&W customer service and asked which ammo they tested with. The CS guy said they test/calibrate all the J-Frames with Federal 158 gr .38 Special standard pressure ammo. Not sure if it's true, but that's what he said. With 158 gr, my 640 is right on the money.

YMMV.
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Old 07-04-2017, 04:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ziggy2525 View Post
Just another internet story.

I have a 640 pro and a couple other j-frames. My 640 was shooting low with 130 gr ammo (+p and standard). I called S&W customer service and asked which ammo they tested with. The CS guy said they test/calibrate all the J-Frames with Federal 158 gr .38 Special standard pressure ammo. Not sure if it's true, but that's what he said. With 158 gr, my 640 is right on the money.

YMMV.
That very well may be true but it doesn't (necessarily) make it the best round for concealed carry or defensive purposes. It merely means that you may have to make adjustments for POA / POI with other rounds.

As you say, mileage and needs may vary.
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Old 07-05-2017, 04:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blues7 View Post
That very well may be true but it doesn't (necessarily) make it the best round for concealed carry or defensive purposes. It merely means that you may have to make adjustments for POA / POI with other rounds.

As you say, mileage and needs may vary.
Just elaborating. I use a J-Frame as my winter coat pocket gun. I normally carry an lcp in my pants pocket or if I think I need something more, a G26 OWB. The lcp and G26 both shoot POI = POA with no mental adjustment (even the lcp with its small sights). I prefer the 640 to do that too so I can use a simillar sight picture as the other two pistols. If I need the 640 for real and I need to use the sights, i'm going to line them up and shoot. I won't be thinking about adjusting for the drop of a lightweight bullet.

In a couple previous threads, you've mentioned your LEO background and training (l was impressed). What's been your experience with ammo like the GD .38 Special 135gr short barrel ammo in the field. IIRC, there have been a couple other LEO's that post here that were involved in OIS's where lighter weight .38 special JHP's didn't penetrate adequately with multiple layers of clothing (say a couple hoodies), so they wen't back to heavy FMJ. Curious what your experience has been.
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  #40  
Old 07-05-2017, 08:41 AM
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blues7 blues7 is offline
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Originally Posted by Ziggy2525 View Post
In a couple previous threads, you've mentioned your LEO background and training (l was impressed). What's been your experience with ammo like the GD .38 Special 135gr short barrel ammo in the field. IIRC, there have been a couple other LEO's that post here that were involved in OIS's where lighter weight .38 special JHP's didn't penetrate adequately with multiple layers of clothing (say a couple hoodies), so they wen't back to heavy FMJ. Curious what your experience has been.
Thank you for the kind words. I'm kind of low speed, high drag these days as I'm retired. (Though I do go for my LEOSA qual this morning.)

I haven't used GD in the .38 flavor as yet though I have used them pretty extensively over the years in my 9mm Glocks and am also using them in my AR. I like GDs quite a bit.

I am carrying the Winchester Ranger Bonded 130gr +P round as it was readily available when I was looking for a carry round and it was one that, (along with the GD), was highly recommended by Dr. Gary Roberts from extensive research.

I also have the Critical Defense in 110gr. These also were on Dr. Roberts' list but did not offer the same level of expansion / penetration compared to the above.

I am not averse to the +P load so that's what I carry.

As Dr. Roberts often says, pick one of the rounds with proven characteristics, move on and concentrate on training and skill development. Agonizing over the perfect round once you've made a solid choice is wasted effort.

Everyone is entitled to their own choice but I believe that the testing done by Dr. Roberts and his compilation of data from officer involved shootings and medical records is the most extensive and reliable data available.
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  #41  
Old 07-09-2017, 09:02 PM
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A little late to this party, but I have carried 158 gr +P LSWCHP by Federal/ Remington/Winchester in my J Frames for almost 40 years. Great round, shoots close enough to POA. I also reload 158 LSWC and 148 BBWC to moderate 800 fps velocities for practice. These days I carry either a 642 or a 638 daily.
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  #42  
Old 07-09-2017, 09:09 PM
shooter1911 shooter1911 is offline
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Originally Posted by AZretired View Post
A little late to this party, but I have carried 158 gr +P LSWCHP by Federal/ Remington/Winchester in my J Frames for almost 40 years. Great round, shoots close enough to POA. I also reload 158 LSWC and 148 BBWC to moderate 800 fps velocities for practice. These days I carry either a 642 or a 638 daily.
I can't argue with that. The 158gr LSWCHP+P and the Speer 135gr +P have always been great options for the J Frames. I've carried both and wouldn't worry about either one for SD.
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