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Old 07-30-2009, 02:02 PM
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Default 38 spl- Will a 125gr hornady xtp expand?

I mostly shoot rainier 140gr bullets out of my 4" model 15. I loaded up a few 125gr hornady xtp just to see how they shot and they seemed to shoot quite nicely. Do you think these bullets will expand at 38 spl velocities? (I am getting 914 fps on the chrony)

I think the 135 speer would be a better choice for expansion, but I can't seem to find any in stock anywhere.

I am looking for a farm carry load. Groundhogs and Coyote being the targets.
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Old 07-30-2009, 05:13 PM
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Hornady says that the 125gr XTPHP needs an impact velocity between 800 to 1600 fps for best performance according to the information sheet thats generally included in the box. Your load looks like it should work out ot reasonable pistol ranges.

Personally however I like to drive any JHP to at least 1,000 fps at the muzzle to ensure expansion. I load a +P level .38 spl with 125gr bullets on top of 6.0 grs of Unique and get right around 1,050 fps from my 4" revolvers.

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Old 07-30-2009, 06:31 PM
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I carry the Hornady 125gr XTP in my model 38 Airweight Bodyguard, simply because damn near every defensive/carry round I looked at was +P. I wanna keep my little humpback for the rest of my life, so I don't feed it anything in +P.

Lotsa folks recommend the 158gr LSWCHP. Maybe I should give 'em a try.
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:02 PM
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Any .357 diameter bullet has an issue: it can be used in both .38 Special and .357 Magnum. If they stay together at magnum velocities, expansion at .38 Special velocities is a **** shoot. There are bullets made specifically for use at .38 velocities, but finding those can be interesting.

Try this-fill up a number (5 or 6) 1 gallon milk jugs (rinse them well after they're empty, otherwise the mold flying around is nasty!) with water and line them up touching each other on a level surface so you can shoot into them at about 15 feet. You should be able to recover the bullet to evaluate expansion. Estimate penetration by measuring how far the bullet went in water (6 inches per jug) and dividing by 1.55 to convert to tissue. The whole procedure is somewhat more complicated to get an accurate penetration distance, but this is a usable quick & dirty.

[IIRC, if the bullet cracks the back of the water jug its found in, the bullet gets credit for full penetration of the jug. If it penetrates the jug its found in and cracks the front of the next jug, add 3" to the full penetration of the jug found in.]
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Old 07-30-2009, 07:21 PM
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In Handloader #217 Brian Pearce wrote a good reloading article on the .38. In it, he says that at 1,000 fps or more, the 125 grain Gold Dot and the XTP expanded fine, but at 900 fps or less, expansion was a sometimes thing.
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Old 07-30-2009, 08:59 PM
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If you can't get it past 900fps, I'd recommend the Speer Gold Dot low velocity bullet.
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Old 07-30-2009, 09:19 PM
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But, how much penetration can you expect with lots of expansion, low velocity and pretty low bullet weight? I don't share the current fascination with expanding bullets. Maybe they'll expand, maybe they won't. Maybe they'll penetrate, maybe not. Maybe they'll hold together, maybe fragment. Whole lot of "maybes". I load about 95% lead non-expanding bullets, and the rest are jsp's. None will expand, all will penetrate. I'm comfortable with that.
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pinkymingeo View Post
But, how much penetration can you expect with lots of expansion, low velocity and pretty low bullet weight? I don't share the current fascination with expanding bullets. Maybe they'll expand, maybe they won't. Maybe they'll penetrate, maybe not. Maybe they'll hold together, maybe fragment. Whole lot of "maybes". I load about 95% lead non-expanding bullets, and the rest are jsp's. None will expand, all will penetrate. I'm comfortable with that.
I agree with you. When I choose a self defense round, reliability first, accuracy second, penetration third, energy fourth, expansion last. but then again, I'm shooting a 45, so I'm starting out with a noted advantage over a 38 Special.

I remember when Corbon started, they chose the Hornady bullet BECAUSE it penetrated deep before expanding, and they could push it hard. The newer bonded bullets hold together better after expansion.

My opinion is that the XTP bullet won't do much expanding at 900 or less. If you want an expanding bullet at low velocities, the Gold Dot Short Barrel (or low velocity) is going to give better results.
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Old 07-31-2009, 08:57 AM
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Charts aren't always accurate, I know 180 g XTP's won't expand in water at all at ~1200 FPS
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Old 08-01-2009, 12:14 AM
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Old time Texas Ranger, being interviewed by a reporter, was asked "Why do you carry a .45?". The answer, "Because they don't make a .46!"

Relying upon small diameter bullets to make large holes is always iffy. With a .45 caliber there is no doubt, there will be a large hole.
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Old 08-01-2009, 10:24 PM
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Some months ago I fired several different bullets into gallon milk jugs. The Speer GDs all made beautiful mushrooms and stopped in the 3rd jug (9mm out of a Glock 19, .45 out of a Glock 30.) The .357 out of my SP101(snubby) must have expanded pretty violently in the first jug because it splattered my shooting bag, glasses and clothes. It still went into the 3rd jug. However, I was very disappointed that the Hornady 125 gr XTP out of my wifes little Smith 642 (.38 spec) didn't expand at all and went into the 5th jug. I picked that round for her because at 7 yards it left 1 hole for 5 rounds with a laser sight. I guess that round would be better left to a 4" or better barrel.
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Old 04-23-2013, 10:48 PM
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I think the 125-140 grain give the best combination of expansion and penetration at .38 +P velocities. I'm sure a 158 grain bullet would 'do the job' but can't quite reach the expansion velocities. I'm not saying it wouldn't be effective because they will likely penetrate to beat the band. 110 grain bullets may be a little light, but at the higher velocities they would penetrate and expand with no problem. I'm kind of amazed at what a small, fast bullet can do. I don't think I'd be charging my victim after getting hit by any .38 +P round.
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Old 04-24-2013, 09:53 AM
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The powder you use can make a difference in velocity. Looking at the velocities listed for the max loads for Hodgdon's powders, I see a fair amount of difference. From 934 for HP-38 to 1068 for Winchester Autocomp. I have been using Universal. I notice a velocity of 1019 at max for it.
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Old 04-24-2013, 12:12 PM
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Here is chart of Hornady's recommendations for velocity -- FWIW.


I only use the 158 XTP/FP for rifle loads and they expand very well.
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357 magnum, 642, airweight, bodyguard, glock, hornady, model 15, snubby

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