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Old 05-09-2018, 12:48 PM
Eddietruett Eddietruett is offline
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Default FBI Load. What Am I Missing?

This may sound stupid and maybe Im missing something very obvious. Every so often a thread pops up here with someone wanting to duplicate the old FBI Load. Seems one of the main problems is barrel leading. Heres my question. With all the new bullets available either factory loaded or components that are designed for penetration and expansion at short barrel velocities, why would you just not go with one of the newer style jacketed bullets and no leading problems? Most of the test Ive seen with Speer SB, Golden Saber, and others show equal or better performance than the LSWCHP. Please set me straight if Im missing something. I love to learn and maybe I should start experimenting.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:17 PM
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Shooters tend to resist change as much as any Luddite ever born.
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Old 05-09-2018, 01:28 PM
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Well, I go back on forth on that topic. Based on the research I have read, #1 priority is penetration, a close #2 is placement, and expansion is a very distant #3.

The advantage of a lead bullet over jacketed is the lead bullet goes faster than a jacketed bullet with the same powder charge. So a lead bullet is actually more efficient and delivers more power and speed to the target while also deforming more freely than a jacketed bullet if it is made of soft lead. Also, due to the reduced powder charge a lead bullet would have less recoil than a jacketed projectile at the same speed and weight. A gas check eliminates leading, so offers the very best of best worlds. Because the bullet is still travelling at a high speed for the caliber, penetration is a given whether the bullet expands or not.

That said, in theory, if we are to believe the internet experts who tell us modern jacketed bullets vastly superior, then they might be a better solution. IMO, it a bullet expands and penetrates predictably and reliably at slow speeds, it does definitely offer an improvement over older designs. But maximum expansion might also mean reduced penetration - simple physics tells us a slower bullet that has expanded will not penetrate as much as the faster FBI load would.

Looking at the Lucky Gunner testing, I'm not entirely convinced the internet experts are correct, and so am considering using a load that has many years of evidence proving its efficacy.

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Old 05-09-2018, 02:01 PM
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In 22 plus years OTJ, I NEVER saw a .38 Special standard pressure round expand significantly out of 1 7/8" or so of barrel. Now, the most recent case WAS 15 years ago, so while I am open to the SLIGHT possibility something has changed, my snubbies are loaded with Lead Wadcutters (because they are most accurate) and my reload is Lead Semi Wadcutters (because they are very nearly as acuurate and go in faster).
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Old 05-09-2018, 02:03 PM
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Because the 158gr LSWCHP works, even in a 2" snub. If it fails to expand, it's flat meplate is crushing tissue along it's path. It is not the best for barrier penetration & probably the greatest reason for the switch to lighter JHP today. In 38sp+P, even in a 4" bbl you only get about 950fps, leading is not an issue. In a 6" you might break 1000fps, still not a leading issue.
I have a couple 357mag snubs. If I carried either,it would be with some vintage era FBI loads. Easy to shoot & get good hits at speed. The bullet will do just fine as long as you arent shooting thru hard barriers.
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Old 05-09-2018, 02:23 PM
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Default It's a viable choice.....

People have all kinds of ideas about defense rounds. I've had a few of my own. I haven't adopted them, but I've experimented with some.

The heavy SWC load is as viable an option as any. Especially a soft SWCHP. I don't go along with the 'backwards HBWC' that keeps coming up. unless I have something else. I experiment a lot. A ways back I tried a 158 or even a 165 gr. JHP in a 9mm. To make a long story short, I got zero expansion on that one. But if you wanted to hit perps with a heavy slug they would certainly work.

There are different 'philosophies' on SD loads. Light/heavy fast, slow and all different kinds of bullet options.

First these are my priorities....

Placement. It's all up to me. Even my most inaccurate gun is up to hitting center of mass at 7 yards.

Penetration. They have to go deep into the central core of a person to be most effective.

Bullet choice. JPH, Short Barrel, Gold Dot. Lead bullet (Hollow point)? What weight.

Expansion. It's a plus if you can get it.

I could put SWCs in all of my guns, but I don't. Manufacturers have tested factory loads repeatedly. Some of my guns use +P. The model 38 Airweight uses standard loads.

I don't see how a defense load of something by Buffalo Bore or some other premium ammo can be outdone by the 'FBI load'.

I've decided to go with the heavier (>/= 125 grains) bullets in .38, .9mm and .357.

Modern cartridges have been tested and compared out the ying yang.

I use the cartridges that are consistently good performers. Federal HST, Remington Golden Saber, Speer GD, Hornady Critical duty.

If I wanted to duplicate, or at least come close to the old 'FBI load' for .38 I'd put an SWC on top of a powder I can get high velocity with. And then I'd only be able to shoot it in suitable guns. But if my accuracy and follow up shots started dropping off, I'd quit there.
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Old 05-09-2018, 02:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddietruett View Post
This may sound stupid and maybe Im missing something very obvious. Every so often a thread pops up here with someone wanting to duplicate the old FBI Load. Seems one of the main problems is barrel leading. Heres my question. With all the new bullets available either factory loaded or components that are designed for penetration and expansion at short barrel velocities, why would you just not go with one of the newer style jacketed bullets and no leading problems? Most of the test Ive seen with Speer SB, Golden Saber, and others show equal or better performance than the LSWCHP. Please set me straight if Im missing something. I love to learn and maybe I should start experimenting.
The old FBI Load (Lead Hollow Point/Lead Semi Wadcutter Hollow Point) .38 Spl+P 158 gr bullet going at about 920 ft per second has a great reputation that is well earned. It is wise to go with something that has a record.

The fact is (and you can go different websites that demonstrate this) the 158 grain lead hollowpoint bullet in +P expands to a larger diameter and penetrates deeper than other modern hollowpoint .38 Spl. It is a heaver and softer bullet that carries a high velocity (for a bullet of it's weight). Improvements to it in factory ammunition would be Buffalo Bore+P version if it that give you about 1180 ft per second out of a 4 inch barrel.
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Old 05-09-2018, 02:57 PM
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You make many good points, and I thought I'd reply to a couple of them.

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Originally Posted by rwsmith View Post
I don't see how a defense load of something by Buffalo Bore or some other premium ammo can be outdone by the 'FBI load'.
I love Buffalo Bore's business model and their ammo seems top notch even if it's expensive. However, I've had issues with some of my guns not wanting to ignite their bullets, especially their magnums. These guns chew up everything else I feed them with no issues at all. Buffalo Bore is too expensive to gamble with. I've had great results with Underwood, but sadly they don't offer the options or the data that BB does.

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If I wanted to duplicate, or at least come close to the old 'FBI load' for .38 I'd put an SWC on top of a powder I can get high velocity with. And then I'd only be able to shoot it in suitable guns. But if my accuracy and follow up shots started dropping off, I'd quit there.
This is exactly my interest in the FBI load. It's appealing that I can tune it to my tastes, and soft lead should be cheap enough that I can experiment a bit without breaking the bank.

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Old 05-09-2018, 03:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddietruett View Post
This may sound stupid and maybe Im missing something very obvious. Every so often a thread pops up here with someone wanting to duplicate the old FBI Load. Seems one of the main problems is barrel leading. Heres my question. With all the new bullets available either factory loaded or components that are designed for penetration and expansion at short barrel velocities, why would you just not go with one of the newer style jacketed bullets and no leading problems? Most of the test Ive seen with Speer SB, Golden Saber, and others show equal or better performance than the LSWCHP. Please set me straight if Im missing something. I love to learn and maybe I should start experimenting.
My personal carry ammo for my revolvers are Golden Sabre's however to answer the question I think most guys want to duplicate the "F.B.I. load" to get a feel for it. To want to know what it felt like to shoot it and to see results for themselves how it compares to today's ammunition. Yeah sure maybe there's a few that want to be nostalgic about in in their sub nose 38's... That's the fun part of reloading; the experienting.
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Old 05-09-2018, 03:32 PM
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Default I've still got half a box..

I've still got half a box of 158 gr LSWCHP in 9mm. Yeah, they are pretty cheap. It was a little bit of trick making the rounds because the bullets tried to deform. I got it though, with an 'm' die but nothing I shot expanded in wet pulp. I can't remember the velocity but it was over 850. My problem was lack of data for +P loads of 158 gr bullets. I had tried some 165 grain plated bullets that I turned into hollow points, but I had the same problem knowing the top load and they were way too hard to expand.

PS I'll bet Buffalo Bore uses really hard primers to keep from extruding, piercing, cratering or whatever the primer.
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:01 PM
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Shooters tend to resist change as much as any Luddite ever born.
As long as they don't start changing things we are OK with the thought.....
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Old 05-09-2018, 04:17 PM
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Opinions, I have TONS of those.

Two attorneys have independently advised me that if you handload, and keep records, those records could be supeoaned in a defensive shooting situation IF handmade ammo was used.

If I were to use a handload as a defensive round (not going to) I would love to see gel tests on the penetration achieved by those 195/200/230 grain Bowling Pin bullets. Light fast bullets accelerate quickly, but decelerate quickly as well.

I have never had leading issues in .38 Special, I think most leading is caused by poorly fitting bullets and or gas cutting.

Soft lead doesn't expand per se, but it deforms beautifully leaving it's energy in a target.
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Old 05-09-2018, 05:04 PM
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I'm not so sure that leading is generally a problem with FBI loads, and I AM sure that it is not a problem with Nyclad FBI loads, of which I have laid in a small stock. Even if leading DID occur with other FBI loads (Federal 38G?), I'm not so sure that it would be a problem. Many people tell me that if an FBI load ever saved my life, the gun that fired it would be arrested and incarcerated. Any leading would be a problem only if the gun were returned to me, and probably not a major problem, at that.

I understand that there are probably other loads that penetrate adequately, but if they do not include 158gr bullets, they probably do not shoot to POA with most fixed-sight .38Spl revolvers. This IS a problem. Remember shot placement/penetration/pinhead-dancing?

158gr bullets in .36 caliber have a greater sectional density than almost any other handgun bullets. FBI loads are probably right at where those bullets achieve their maximum USABLE penetration, and they still work well in most fixed-sight revolvers.

If you have an adjustable-sight revolver, you have a lot of choices, some of them probably as good as the FBI load. Find out which. Others will probably not be mistaken if they choose what is already known to work well for the caliber.
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Old 05-09-2018, 05:38 PM
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It helps if you understand the world into which the FBI Load was born...

Revolvers were king. And the .38 Special LRN (lead round nose) was the standard round for nearly all police departments - and had been for decades. That despite utterly dismal terminal performance.

Super Vel was just getting started with its lighter-bullets-at-higher-velocity narrative. At the time there was great excitement about the prospect of reliable bullet expansion in two and four-inch revolvers. Alas, what wasn't much appreciated, until much later, is that bullet expansion doesn't do jack for you unless you can first get the bullet deep enough that it matters.

Enter the FBI Load. A soft lead, hollow point, .38 Special at standard weight, driven at much higher pressures and velocities than had ever been seen before. And the middling, medium-caliber revolver round that everyone carried... suddenly began working.

Part of it, as described up-thread here, was that squared-off meplat. A SWC (or full wadcutter) will outperform a round nose every time.

Part of it was the increased velocity, which usually imparted enough bullet penetration.

And part of it was a hollow point that actually worked much of the time.

Add 'em all up and you end up with a .38 Special round that's actually pretty decent. The FBI Load finally did what its .38 Special LRN predecessors could only dream of. And the police officers who used it discovered a new-found confidence in those rounds in the loops of their Sam Browne belts.

The FBI Load got good press. Deservedly.

Alas, the heyday of the defensive revolver was nearing its end. Police departments and civilians both soon turned turned to the Wonder Nine as their weapon of choice.

And today? Well, revolvers have still benefited from the advancements in bullet design and ballistics research - even if it's in a secondary, hand-me-down fashion. We're fortunate to live in a time when there are truly excellent defensive round choices, regardless of one's chosen handgun or caliber.

Me, I usually keep my defensive revolvers loaded up with Speer Gold Dots (despite being an inveterate handloader, count me in the camp that thinks using self-loaded ammunition for defensive use is asking for trouble you don't need). But I'd use the FBI Load in an instant and not feel I'm giving up a lot.

It worked back in the day. And it'll work now, if called upon.

That's why people still find it interesting.

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Old 05-09-2018, 05:41 PM
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Personally I think the "FBI load" back in the early days was the predecessor to the modern 158gr 38 special +P.
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Old 05-09-2018, 06:14 PM
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A hearty attaboy to Regaj. Waaay back in the last century, the "FBI" load and the "Treasury Q loads"* were Thor's Hammer if you were stuck with a .38 and issue ammo. At least compared to 158 grLRN. They were much more effective than previous ammo and lead bullets are/were far more likely to expand at sub sonic/trans sonic velocities.

Right up front we need to recognize that lab testing in various media allows apples to apples comparisons. IT ISN'T A PREDICTOR OF STREET RESULTS! Unlike test media, humans aren't of uniform density. FWIW, I've never been able to line up enough test media to recover an FBI load to check for expansion. I sort of figure if the round goes through the equivalent of 24 inches of tissue, it probably didn't expand.

That doesn't mean that bullet designers have been wasting their time. There are a lot of really good bullets out there, depending upon what you want. However, as some folks have noted, shot placement is primary, sufficient penetration is secondary and everything else is.....well, neat if you can get it. There are probably better choices than the FBI load out there from major manufacturers.....depending upon what you're looking for.

* The FBI load used traditional bullet materials and weights at elevated velocities/pressures. The Treasury loads were aimed at getting .357 Magnum performance while still using .38 Special brass and went beyond what we now term +P. Both originally required hold harmless agreements from issuing agencies until SAAMI agreed that modern steels and designs could safely handle pressures above the original black powder specs. The pressures generated by the "Q" loads still required the hold harmless agreements.

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Old 05-09-2018, 07:17 PM
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Shooters tend to resist change as much as any Luddite ever born.
The poster may have a far more extensive background with cast bullets than I do. If so, perhaps he can furnish an explanation. I think most of us here are willing to learn, particularly from a knowledgeable source.

In contrast to his statement, I've found that cast bullets that fit well and are of the proper hardness for the velocity/ pressure of the load will perform (penetration, expansion, velocity, and accuracy) at least as well as jacketed bullets.

To get jacketed performance from cast bullets requires some experimentation and benchrest work, but not an undue amount. I think most handloaders have a real interest in this sort of thing. That's hardly being close-minded to better handloads.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:19 PM
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The answers so far are pretty much what I expected when I started the post. Didnt think I was missing anything. Bottom line, its a matter of preference and confidence. There is a lot of data and test out there supporting almost every SD round made, but in reality I dont think there is a perfect SD load. Every situation is different and I pray none of us get into any situation to see if what were carrying at the time is the right one. With the given that shot placement being the number one priority, size and clothing of an attacker could make a huge difference in what would the perfect round for an attack stopper. Even with center mass hits, whats struck on the inside could make a major difference. A .22 through the heart would likely be a better stopper than most any bullet missing vitals. Ive come to the conclusion that practice, not only on the first shot but follow ups as well is priority one. Second would be to remain as calm as possible during a SD encounter. I would like to think I could keep calm in a potentially deadly encounter but hope Ill never have the opportunity to know for sure. Thanks for all the info shared.
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Old 05-09-2018, 07:23 PM
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Results of my FBI Loads. Middle bullet fired at 845fps, and bullet on the right fired at 945fps, both fired in my 2.5 inch snubbie.

Don

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Old 05-09-2018, 08:02 PM
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Results of my FBI Loads. Middle bullet fired at 845fps, and bullet on the right fired at 945fps, both fired in my 2.5 inch snubbie.

Don

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Very nice! What bullets are those? Is that a 44 on the left?
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Old 05-09-2018, 08:03 PM
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Very nice! What bullets are those? Is that a 44 on the left?
I'm curious as well!

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Old 05-09-2018, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Eddietruett View Post
The answers so far are pretty much what I expected when I started the post. Didnt think I was missing anything. Bottom line, its a matter of preference and confidence. There is a lot of data and test out there supporting almost every SD round made, but in reality I dont think there is a perfect SD load. Every situation is different and I pray none of us get into any situation to see if what were carrying at the time is the right one. With the given that shot placement being the number one priority, size and clothing of an attacker could make a huge difference in what would the perfect round for an attack stopper. Even with center mass hits, whats struck on the inside could make a major difference. A .22 through the heart would likely be a better stopper than most any bullet missing vitals. Ive come to the conclusion that practice, not only on the first shot but follow ups as well is priority one. Second would be to remain as calm as possible during a SD encounter. I would like to think I could keep calm in a potentially deadly encounter but hope Ill never have the opportunity to know for sure. Thanks for all the info shared.
You're right, but I've read the FBI studies that are available, and ultimately the key to a one stop shot is a hit to the Central Nervous System. In the very famous 1986 Miami FBI shootout, the bad guy took what would eventually be a fatal shot to the heart before he killed two agents and wounded five others. What ended the fight was CNS hits to both bad guys.
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Old 05-09-2018, 08:20 PM
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These are bullets I cast with my MP moulds. The bullet on the left is a .45 caliber clone of the 452423 bullet, which was I believe the 2nd bullet that Elmer Keith designed. It was fired out of my Colt Gold Cup at about 800fps. The alloy used was 97 Pb, 2.5 Sn, and 0.5 Sb.

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Old 05-09-2018, 08:35 PM
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Default Just too many choices.....

....and everybody has a philosophy on 'what should work'.

As pointed out before lack of REAL evidence contributes to the doubt that a certain combination.

We can shoot jello, hams and dead sheep, but without a few thousand real life shootings, with forensic analysis and description of conditions, every thing we do is a
'best guess'.
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:20 PM
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Im totally going on a limb here, but I think leading wasn't really what FBI agents worried about if they had to use their guns. Just a guess. Lol, live now, clean later.

That being said, I would never use reloads for self defense, as what has been stated here. But there's different ammo for different situations. This is personally why I LOVE my 357 over other guns, minus maybe my M1A, but love for the same reason. They can both be loaded down to nothing or hopped up to full on power. In M1A Scout suppressed, have to cycle by hand subs, but suppressed, it puts 300 blk out to shame!

I think back in the day, if using snubs, its assumed your not making 50 yd shots, so slow and soft expanding is ok. In my 357 for home defense I have 38 Special, it'll work for as long as my house is and not deafen me or blind me at night. Probably same thinking with the FBI loads. Again, just guessing. Now if I had a mansion that had a 50 yard hallway? Well. Probably still 38 spl, lol. My EDC is a SIG P238 with a crimson laser, just like a modern 38 spl. Both have fast follow up shots, I'm comfortable using it and can unload in a bulls eye at 15 to 20 yds pretty well. That's all i need for self defense. I also know 2 Ex Military that carry the P238, almost bought a P938 off a buddy (ex green beret) he said he like the 380 more, faster follow ups. If he can't keep a 9mm on fast, doubt I could. It's not always about power in a self defense. Hell, obviously I could use the M1A for house duty, at full power, maybe throw in some API RDX, lol. That would light off after they've gone through the intruder, leaving him with .309 in and .309 out at that close a range, lol, but a gaping hole in the exterior of my house, a long with some blasted windshields on my truck outside...... Perfect example of this is my buddy shooting a pig at about 75 yds with his 50 BMG. Did the pig blow up? Did it dissolve into space? Nope had entrance and exit hole, almost surgical looking. Sailed right through that pig and he had to be chased. Hell, a 300 blk out super, maybe sub would've done more damage!

Point is, these bullets might have been great for what they were intended for, if it was up close and personal, or building. And they'd still be good for house defense, especially somewhere like here in FL, thick clothing isn't usually worn. Now if defending in winter, when people wear leather/denim/layers and such, then no, this would be a horrible load. But I keep 38 spl in, and 357 on my 8 shot moon clips for house duty. Beauty of a revolver. Can't do this with my P238, 10mm 1911, etc. Again, TRR8 is my FAVORITE!!!

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Old 05-09-2018, 09:32 PM
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Perhaps I read it wrong, but as I interpreted the original post, I don't believe the poster was advocating handloaded self-defense ammo. Rather, I think he was interested in duplicating some high-performance loads.
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:48 PM
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I agree, I just kind of put it there as people sometimes see impressive things and try to put it to use. So we all kinda do the "warning label" song, lol.
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:50 PM
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Hell,I may try loading some of these myself, seem like pretty cool loads! I like experimenting with different things. Along the same line, been wanting to try a 525 lyman slug in my 12 gauge backwards, too. NOW THATS A HOLLOW POINT!!! It's the fun of reloading
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Old 05-09-2018, 09:54 PM
shawn mccarver shawn mccarver is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddietruett View Post
This may sound stupid and maybe Im missing something very obvious. Every so often a thread pops up here with someone wanting to duplicate the old FBI Load. Seems one of the main problems is barrel leading. Heres my question. With all the new bullets available either factory loaded or components that are designed for penetration and expansion at short barrel velocities, why would you just not go with one of the newer style jacketed bullets and no leading problems? Most of the test Ive seen with Speer SB, Golden Saber, and others show equal or better performance than the LSWCHP. Please set me straight if Im missing something. I love to learn and maybe I should start experimenting.
You are not missing anything. The FBI load got the job done 40 plus years ago, and will today, but there are choices that perform as well or perhaps better in newer designs, such as the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel load.
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Old 05-10-2018, 02:36 AM
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Default Most police and agents....

...carried 4" barreled .38s. My snubs are going to be a little short in velocity compared to those.
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Old 05-10-2018, 08:33 AM
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Default Learning

I just enjoy learning. You can easily get the "old" velocity standards with out reaching +P pressure, using today's powders. Much of the store bought lead, swc/hp available today is a bit harder than yesterday's, to reduce leading. I prefer a Hornady 140/XTP, but that might change if i ever start pouring my own lead. Either way, it's about education, fun, and history for me. For defense, I use a commercial load.
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Old 05-10-2018, 09:32 AM
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The OLD FBI Load was a very viable one especially out of 2" and 2.5" snubby's and they did not have many negatives like hard recoil, grouping low and excessive noise. In other words - hard to beat!

IMHO the Buffalo Bore #20A beats it well enough for me to endure the hard recoil, but there are many who object to that. The Speer 135 grain GDHP also performs admirably but not that much better than the proven and trusted FBI load of yesterday. DO NOT confuse the more recent FBI loadings from Rem, Win & Fed as they have proven through my Chronograph tests to be watered down substantially!
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Old 05-10-2018, 11:29 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eddietruett View Post
This may sound stupid and maybe Im missing something very obvious. Every so often a thread pops up here with someone wanting to duplicate the old FBI Load. Seems one of the main problems is barrel leading. Heres my question. With all the new bullets available either factory loaded or components that are designed for penetration and expansion at short barrel velocities, why would you just not go with one of the newer style jacketed bullets and no leading problems? Most of the test Ive seen with Speer SB, Golden Saber, and others show equal or better performance than the LSWCHP. Please set me straight if Im missing something. I love to learn and maybe I should start experimenting.
I believe you answered your question within your question.
1. Regarding leading, it is a potential irritant during practice ONLY - that is, many barrels do not lead during practice. If the barrel has lead build-up during practice, it just takes more time to clean that barrel. Having typed that, there are lubricants whose use on barrel's bore may control that problem. Again, were nominal cost barrel lubricants and/or bullet lubricants to not control a leading problem, just mechanically remove leading - via Lewis Lead Remover from Brownell's if needed.

2. The bullet has a lengthy performance history, including differences in that lengthy history among "FBI" loads from different manufacturers. This means that within limits you can tailor the amount of expansion and penetration by brand. So users of FBI loads can select factory ammunition for bullets' performance characteristics - kind've like having the factory handload for you.

3. This is a recent personal report. I bought three cases of Remington "High Terminal Performance" (current nomenclature for "FBI" load in Remington-speak) for 33 per cartridge delivered. This was not a single transaction. It occurred over three transactions. I doubt anyone can buy nickel plated, factory loaded "duty" ammunition that uses exotic or semi-exotic bullets at anything close to that price. If one prefers to practice with duty ammunition, savings become interesting.

Hope this helps.
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Old 05-10-2018, 12:39 PM
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Im an outlyer here: I use handloads for sd and dont want expanding projectiles.

For 38 special, my handload is a 158 gr hard cast bullet at between 800-900 fps out of a 2 barrel.

For 45acp, its a handloaded 200gr hard cast swc at about 1,000 fps.

My choices are based on my experience killing actual living beasties of various sizes.

Assuming you can hit what youre aiming at, Im satisfied that penetration is the primary requirement in handgun ammo.

Expansion in living beasties (as opposed to ballistic gel) at handgun velocities is so uncertain as to be a non issue, except to the extent that expansion ( in the uncertain event expansion actually occurs) works to defeat the primary objective of penetration.

The swc configuration provides a great wound canal and great tissue destruction and the hard cast versions smash bone and penetrate to and through vital structures.

Its fun to look at pictures of expanded bullets and fantasize about the wound they might produce without realizing that the bullet must reach the vital structure and you first have to hit the vital structure.

Remember: ballistic gel isnt flesh and bone.
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Old 05-10-2018, 02:01 PM
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Let me add that there was not a single .38 +P 158 gr LSWCHP 'FBI load'.

Winchester was first with their X38SPD load. It was in use in several police departments before the FBI became interested, including St. Louis, Chicago and Washington DC. However, once the FBI started buying it, it became much more popular.

Remington got on board with their own .38 +P 158 gr LSWCHP load - the R38S12. It was just recently discontinued, which really means it was just renamed as their HTP .38 Special +P. Same round, new cooler sounding name and still at a very good price for a self defense suitable round.

Federal also got involved with their Federal 38G load. It was also a +P 158 gr LSWCHP. However federal had serious issues getting reliable performance as it would at various times either fail to expand or lead barrels excessively. Federal played around with the bullet cavity geometry, the alloy hardness and the lubrication in order to meet the accuracy and terminal performance requirements. A lot of Federal 38G intended for law enforcement use was instead sold through commercial vendors after failing to meet contract acceptance requirements.

-----

Leading was indeed an issue when the qualification course fire required 60 rounds and involved ranges of 50 or 60 yards.

For example the FBI's original Practical Pistol Course developed in the late 1930s involved prone shooting at 60 yards, sitting and barricade positions at 50 yards, kneeling and barricade shooting at 25 yards, off-hand shooting at 15 yards and point shooting using the FBI Crouch at 7 yards.

Their subsequent Tactical Revolver Course required the shooter to run 25 yards and then fire 18 rounds at a 50 yard target (12 strong hand and 6 weak hand), then fire 18 rounds at 25 yards (again 12 strong hand and 6 weak hand), followed by 12 rounds from the 15 yard line, and finally 12 rounds from the 7 yard line.

That's 60 rounds with 18 of them fired at 50 yards and 18 of them fired at 25 yards. Leading and the accuracy problem it caused mattered a great deal if you wanted to qualify.

----

Given the issues with bullet hardness, lubricant, hollow point cavity, etc, the "FBI load" is not one I would ever attempt to hand load for actual self defense purposes, as the bullet specifications are so narrow and critical. And the Remington load is still available, works as well as it ever did, and is reasonably priced (by self defense ammo standards).

I will load 125 gr Hornady XTPs in .357 Magnum for self defense but I pay very close attention to my actual measured velocity in my revolvers, as the performance window is pretty narrow. If the muzzle velocity is too slow, it won't expand fast enough and will actually over penetrate - which is the case with .38 and .38 +P loads. In .357 Magnum you need a muzzle velocity of 1250 fps or above to ensure they expand fast enough to limit penetration to less than 18". That takes some load development to achieve that in a 2.5" or 3" revolver.
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Old 05-10-2018, 05:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chief38 View Post
The OLD FBI Load was a very viable one especially out of 2" and 2.5" snubby's and they did not have many negatives like hard recoil, grouping low and excessive noise. In other words - hard to beat!

IMHO the Buffalo Bore #20A beats it well enough for me to endure the hard recoil, but there are many who object to that. The Speer 135 grain GDHP also performs admirably but not that much better than the proven and trusted FBI load of yesterday. DO NOT confuse the more recent FBI loadings from Rem, Win & Fed as they have proven through my Chronograph tests to be watered down substantially!
Hey chief38 nobody could say it better! What was, WAS and what is, IS! Time moves on and always will. That Speer GDHPSB is filling in the blank more than anyone would have expected! I still have some Rem FBI Loads, but they're bunked away and replaced by the Speer LE Loads.
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Old 05-19-2018, 09:56 AM
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While I cast most of my bullets, in my Model 19 I load Hornady’s 158 grain swaged hollow point in a .357 case with a hefty but not insane load of 2400.
If I were to need it for SD, leading would be my least concern.
Not super-new, but I wouldn’t want to get in front of it.
I have great respect for the .38 Special. But in it I prefer a heavier, slower, non-expanding bullet.
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Old 05-20-2018, 08:14 AM
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The old fbi load is just that, old. Couple that with what's already been pointed out, there's been a bunch of different loads/bullet designs over the decades that all claim to be a "fbi" load or a modern version of it.

Myself, I've always tried to break the "fbi" load down to not only what I'm using it in. What the original specs for that load was. In 1972 the winchester "fbi" load was listed @ 1000+fps from a 4" test bbl. Which put it in the 900fps range from a 2" bbl. Within a couple of years the fbi load was a 950fps/4" bbl load. So I've always tried to do a load for 950fps minimum for any firearm I use 38spl p+/fbi/150+gr bullets in.

Stating the obvious:
It's a heck of a lot easier to get 950fps out of a 6" bbl'd revolver than it is to get 950fps out of a 2" bbl'd revolver.

The shorter the bbl, the more little things make big differences. The op asked about bullets. As a general rule, lead bullets tend to be faster than their jacketed counterparts when both bullets weigh the same/same load.

Not all bullets are created equal:
I see the speer 135gr gd bullet talked about in this thread a lot. While it's a high performance bullet. The design itself has a major flaw, namely low velocities for max pressure/loads when compared to other bullets. Last year I did a little testing with a 2" bbl'd revolver looking for a 150gr to 160gr bullet couple with a load that would 950fps minimum. I ended up testing 10 different bullets and 5 different powders.


Of those 8 bullets pictured, the home swaged jacketed hp (top left) and the 2 bullets (top row far right) performed the best. There was as much as 50fps difference between the bullets using the same load. I also tested a cast 148gr hbwc that was turned backward & had extremely high velocities compared some of the other bullets. The cast 148gr hbwc 3rd bullet from left.


Why did those 4 bullets have higher velocities than the other 6? Because of the ability of those bullets to seal the cylinders/bbl quickly. The jacketed bullet is only 150gr but the long body does an excellent job of sealing/more efficient use of the loads pressure. Same goes for the hbwc & the bullet in the top row that has the large/long bottom drive band. The gas checked bullet performed extremely well also.

With the modern lubes and coated bullets there's no reason to not use a lead bullet for the "fbi" 38spl p+ load. The shorter the bbl, the more the actual bullet design counts. Having a good hp design is a good thing. Having a good hp design and a bullet that seals extremely well achieving higher velocities for a hot load is even better.

Just another opinion.
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Old 05-20-2018, 08:31 AM
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I didn’t read all of the replies so my comments may have already been made... but, as time passes and bullet performance enhances, there is still resistance to change. The FBI is going back to the 9mm based on performance updates - progress maybe? But they do want to stay on the cutting edge of modern ballistics. Now, many still carry a 230 fmj in a .45 which “will tear an arm off” if you believe the hype. Large bullets at moderate speeds or small bullets at high speeds? Rural LEO May have different objectives then city LEO. Stop a man? Stop a car? Shoot through glass? Stop a bear? The main problem is “we” are trying to do all of this with a handgun because a long gun is inconvenient to carry and only comes out of the trunk / rack if time permits.
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Old 05-20-2018, 10:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dr. mordo View Post
You're right, but I've read the FBI studies that are available, and ultimately the key to a one stop shot is a hit to the Central Nervous System. In the very famous 1986 Miami FBI shootout, the bad guy took what would eventually be a fatal shot to the heart before he killed two agents and wounded five others. What ended the fight was CNS hits to both bad guys.
A cns hit is good with any caliber, any bullet. The idea of the HP is to make the bullet bigger to crush more tissue., ending the fight sooner.
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Old 05-20-2018, 11:47 AM
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Some of us just believe that there is nothing better than a big heavy bullet
to do the job, whether it expands , or not.

In one of my water jug test in a J Snub, I had a 125gr Gold Dot
not even start to open up, after passing through 3 water jugs!!

With high-low fps of loads, you never know if you get a low powered load
that might not work as designed.
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