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Thread: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

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    Member N320AW's Avatar
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    38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Anyone have any opinions (?) Silly question around here!
    How would you compare the following loads for SD in the 38 Special?

    125 Grain lead @ 1000 FPS, or;

    158 Grain lead @ 850 FPS?

    Now, before someone elevates this question into outer-space . . . you know something akin to E=mc2 . . .I'm just trying to figure out which bullet/velocity/weight would get more attention from the recipient?

    In fact, after said recipient receives such, which bullet would render the subject LESS ATTENTIVE to his surroundings?

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    Senior Member TSchub's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Hmmm........ I load mine with 110 gr Hornady critical defense rounds. Haven't passed any out, so I don't know how attentive they remain. YMMV.

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    Senior Member Tugar's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    I'd go with the 125's. By sheer numbers, the 125 is going to have about 24 ft-lb's more energy than the slightly slower 158. Probably not going to make a huge difference, but I'll take every edge I can get. I personally stock my M28 with Federal's 129 grain Hydrashok +P as the wife is a bit recoil sensitive. So 129 grains at 950fps, which is marginally better than the 158, but I trust the Hydrashok design.
    Last edited by Tugar; 11-20-2011 at 05:47 AM.
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    The best-placed one that forcefully contacts the Tootsie Roll center of the Tootsie Pop. Bullet design (controlled expansion, penetration, etc) will probably have more to do with it than anything else.

    Finding duty-style +P ammo is much easier in the 125-grain realm, although there are several 158-grain loads that are perfectly sufficient. I wouldn't feel better or worse-equipped with either ***Waffle mode off***

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    Senior Member Tugar's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Something to think about is barrel length. The snubs loose more velocity so that is something to take into consideration.
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tugar View Post
    Something to think about is barrel length. The snubs loose more velocity so that is something to take into consideration.
    And just to be contrary, many of today's loads in .38 Spl are specifically tailored to get listed velocities from the short barrels...


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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Give me mass every time - especially out of shorter barrels.
    WWJMBD?

    Ok, so .277 is the number of The Beast. This makes The Beast. . .what. . .a chihuahua?

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    Senior Member Jeeper's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bigslug View Post
    Give me mass every time - especially out of shorter barrels.
    +1

    Luis

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    Senior Member DanChamberlain's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    I use 130 grain truncated cone bullets. Jacketed flat points.

    Dan
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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    So many good choices these days. I like the old standby, a 158 grain SWCHP like made by Speer outta very soft cold swaged lead.

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    Senior Member breamfisher's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Depends. What kind of bullets am I firing? Energy, mass, and velocity alone are not good metrics of the effectiveness of the bullet. Also, where is the target being hit? Either projectile, regardless of design, will render the target non-attentive if directed into the brain stem. However, for a thoracic shot, if the 125 gr. is a round-nosed solid and the 158 is a semi-wadcutter or hollowpoint (or vice-versa) then you'll have performance differences that are separate of only bullet weight and impact velocity.
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    Senior Member NN's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    I guess it depends some on the SD situation and if you mean up close and personal where accuracy is secondary to a hit somewhere center of mass or a hit at POA is more important.

    I find the 125 gr .38 spl do not have the accuracy I want, somewhere center mass yes; POA on a practice tgt ---no.

    I get more satisfying practice results with 130 or heavier with 148 having been best for me.

    You will have to try whatever you chose, so let that make your decision-----if I had gotten better accuracy I would have no worries using 125's.

    I often see 125 HP's on sale and wounder if it is the accuracy issue.
    Last edited by NN; 11-20-2011 at 12:44 PM.
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    I think 158 is definitely the way to go, unless you've got severe issues with recoil. I load the "FBI" style load in my .38's--I like the version Buffalo Bore makes with the 158 grain LSWCHP at close to 1000fps. It's a handful in airweight snub, but I've got a lot of confidence in the load. I've heard the Gold Dot short barrel load is issued by serveral LE agencies, but since I've got 4inch and snub guns, I just go with the Buffalo Bore.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    125 gr hollow points cause they will get the job done and not as much muzzle jump which means better follow up shots.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Use whatever you're most comfortable with. deadeye's got the right idea, though, at least for me.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by deadeye View Post
    125 gr hollow points cause they will get the job done and not as much muzzle jump which means better follow up shots.
    Well maybe. In my opinion the difference in recoil is a non-issue as neither one has much recoil.

    In a SD situation (which, according to statistics) is going to be less than 10 feet, I doubt that any "follow-up shots" are particularly critical. In other words: Aim and shoot!

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by N320AW View Post
    Well maybe. In my opinion the difference in recoil is a non-issue as neither one has much recoil.

    In a SD situation (which, according to statistics) is going to be less than 10 feet, I doubt that any "follow-up shots" are particularly critical. In other words: Aim and shoot!
    You never know. Feel comfortable and your reactions will be maximized for efficiency. How about two attackers? Or more. Be prepared for different scenarios.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by TSchub View Post
    Hmmm........ I load mine with 110 gr Hornady critical defense rounds. Haven't passed any out, so I don't know how attentive they remain. YMMV.
    This is my HD load as well, dispensed with a 6" Dan Wesson, so velocity and recoil are less of an issue for me. I keep six more in the speedloader ready to go.
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by N320AW View Post
    Anyone have any opinions (?) Silly question around here!
    How would you compare the following loads for SD in the 38 Special?

    125 Grain lead @ 1000 FPS, or;

    158 Grain lead @ 850 FPS?

    Now, before someone elevates this question into outer-space . . . you know something akin to E=mc2 . . .I'm just trying to figure out which bullet/velocity/weight would get more attention from the recipient?

    In fact, after said recipient receives such, which bullet would render the subject LESS ATTENTIVE to his surroundings?
    You left out bullet configuration, afterall, it's the bullet that does the work. So what kind of lead bullets are we comparing? (HP, RNL,TC, SWC, SWCHP, FWC?)

    If it's up to me to choose then I'd go for a 158 gr. wadcutter @ 850 fps and let that sucker tumble.
    Last edited by Spk; 11-21-2011 at 06:03 PM.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spk View Post
    You left out bullet configuration, afterall, it's the bullet that does the work. So what kind of lead bullets are we comparing? (HP, RNL,TC, SWC, SWCHP, FWC?)

    If it's up to me to choose then I'd go for a 158 gr. wadcutter @ 850 fps and let that sucker tumble.
    As many here know, I don't mind a little diverse opinion.

    Yep, the 148 grain WC has the BC of a pancake. Also, given such, it's penetration is not condusive to deep oil drilling. I'm still a bit reserved about the WC bullets for SD.

    A bit less frontal area and we may have a winner!

    Oh. by the way. When I think of lead bullets, I always use Keith SWC's or truncated cone style.
    Last edited by N320AW; 11-21-2011 at 11:17 PM.

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    Senior Member Nomadac's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    My Colt Det. Sp. is loaded with Federal Nyclad 158 gr. +P HP rounds, that work fine for me.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    I've always wondered about those Nyclads. They were available way back when and now lately.

    I would like to see some penetration/expansion tests on them. Know of any?

    BTW . . . what exactly was their purpose in the scheme of things?

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by N320AW View Post

    BTW . . . what exactly was their purpose in the scheme of things?
    To be able to shoot SOFT (pure) lead bullets without leading the barrel, or releasing lead vapor into the air at indoor ranges.
    These are some of the OLD S&W "Chief's Special" 125 SWCHPs, I bought loose a number of years ago. The expanded one was shot into wet newsprint @ ~800 fps
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    Senior Member breamfisher's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by N320AW View Post
    Yep, the 148 grain WC has the BC of a pancake. Also, given such, it's penetration is not condusive to deep oil drilling. I'm still a bit reserved about the WC bullets for SD.
    Penetration is usually influenced by SD or Sectional Density. BC is the Ballistic Coefficient, which determines how well the bullet cuts through the air and retains velocity. SD is determined as the weight in pounds divided by the diameter in inches, squared. It is irrespective of bullet profile.

    Most hunting loads for modern hunting revolvers use a Wide Flat Nose profile, which have an almost wadcutter profile. They penetrate quite well, but they are generally made of a harder alloy and driven at higher pressures. Keith devised the wadcutter to get a heavier bullet (with a consequently higher sectional density) that would fit into a revolver without infringing too much on the powder capacity.
    A 125 gr. .38 has an SD of 0.139
    148: 0.165
    158: 0.176
    180: 0.201
    200: 0.223

    As you can see, the difference in SD between the 148 gr. wadcutter and the 158 gr. whatever differs by only 0.011. That's an increase of only 6.67%, while going form a 158 gr. slug to a 180 gr. is a 14.20% increase.
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    I believe if you google "stopping power statistics" you'll find sites that have statistics of police/civilian shootings showing the 125 gn JHP to be the best in both 38 Special and 357.
    For what it's worth.
    I'd be happy with anything in that weight range, not a big fan of anything lighter.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by breamfisher View Post
    Penetration is usually influenced by SD or Sectional Density. BC is the Ballistic Coefficient, which determines how well the bullet cuts through the air and retains velocity. SD is determined as the weight in pounds divided by the diameter in inches, squared. It is irrespective of bullet profile.
    I beg to differ. You left out "everything else being equal." Yes, the SD is irrespective of bullet profile, however the penetration is NOT. Also, although the penetration is influenced by SD, that is not the sole criteria. Velocity plays a very important role where penetration is concerned.

    For instance it could be correctly stated that a hollow-point bullet will expand faster than the same bullet impacting at a lower velocity. In fact, the higher velocity bullet may have less penetration than the slower one due to quicker expansion. However, if one were to take two FMJ bullets, one being a WC and the other a pointed type (even a RN) the WC bullet would exhibit less penetration everything else being equal.

    Additionally, Keith did not advocate the WC bullet. His design was the SWC. He knew that this style of bullet, having a somewhat pointed nose (wide meplat) along with a wide front driving band would not only give this projectile superior penetration over a plain WC, but would also cut a square hole on impact lacerating more tissue.

    His reason for designing such a bullet was for big game hunting, not self-defence.
    Last edited by N320AW; 11-24-2011 at 01:38 AM.

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Quote Originally Posted by N320AW View Post
    I beg to differ. You left out "everything else being equal." Yes, the SD is irrespective of bullet profile, however the penetration is NOT. Also, although the penetration is influenced by SD, that is not the sole criteria. Velocity plays a very important role where penetration is concerned.

    For instance it could be correctly stated that a hollow-point bullet will expand faster than the same bullet impacting at a lower velocity. In fact, the higher velocity bullet may have less penetration than the slower one due to quicker expansion. However, if one were to take two FMJ bullets, one being a WC and the other a pointed type (even a RN) the WC bullet would exhibit less penetration everything else being equal.

    Additionally, Keith did not advocate the WC bullet. His design was the SWC. He knew that this style of bullet, having a somewhat pointed nose (wide meplat) along with a wide front driving band would not only give this projectile superior penetration over a plain WC, but would also cut a square hole on impact lacerating more tissue.

    His reason for designing such a bullet was for big game hunting, not self-defence.
    That last part really sums up Keith, I don't know of too many stories of Keith and his mighty 38 Special loads.

    On the other hand, I think he'd be happy to use these in his poodle shooter.

    http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php...t_detail&p=291



    158 gr. Hard Cast Keith @ 1,250 fps
    (1027 fps -- S&W Mod 642 (pre dash), 1 & 7/8 inch barrel, 38 SPL)

    Might not "feel" really good in a light weight snubby though.

    Should work as a self-defense load.

    Disclaimer:
    All other things being equal

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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    "That last part really sums up Keith, I don't know of too many stories of Keith and his mighty 38 Special loads.

    On the other hand, I think he'd be happy to use these in his poodle shooter."

    I thought "poodle shooter" was what Col. Cooper called the mighty M-16 ?

    And all things considered, size, weight, cost of the gun and specialty ammo,
    Why a snubby revolver and not lets say a Glock 19 ?

    Performance and overall cost of ammo, and total amount of rounds carried, ease of re-loads etc..... seems a better more practical choice.
    Seems to be a point of diminishing returns to ramp up the performance of a snubby .38 special that may make it hard to handle and still retains is other features such as slower re-loads etc....
    When something more practical is available.
    Last edited by DoctorWho; 12-05-2011 at 12:37 AM.

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    Senior Member Nomadac's Avatar
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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?


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    Re: 38 Special: 125 or 158 Grain For SD?

    Man, I think you guys are over thinking this. Just buy a 45. E=MC2 is for rockets

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