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Thread: .38 special for Self Defense??

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    Senior Member Diver43's Avatar
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    .38 special for Self Defense??

    I heard this on the radio this morning, and didnt quite believe it until reading the article.
    It seems as though this actor is going through some bad times and tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the head with a .38 special. It didnt work and he was able to pick up the phone, call 911, then talk to police as they entered his home. This kind of make me wonder how much of an effect it might have on a pissed off bad guy that wishes to do me or mine harm. On the other hand I know that the .38 special was used for many years with good results.

    The story can be found: http://content.usatoday.com/communit...ad-calls-911/1

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    Senior Member Make_My_Day's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    .38 cal was the mandated duty weapon on my PD for years, until they went with the 9mm auto in the late 80's. That caliber had pretty good stopping power when it was used as a semi-wadcutter or hollowpoint round. The guy in the article probably didn't attempt the shot at the correct place or angle for death.
    These shoulder-mounted copulatory organs are at it again.
    The Democrat Party reminds me of a horde of dung beetles scavenging
    through a load of animal droppings looking for food and shelter.

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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Folks have survived similar attempts with 12-gauge shotguns, with messy but survivable results. Plus, there is a lot of variety in ".38 Special" loadings, and it could be that the round used was a standard target load, or simple lead round-nose.

    A solid-performing +P hollow point would do very nicely for self-defense, not even .45 ACP has 100% one-shot stop statistics. Tailoring a round to the carry weapon - a load built for short-barreled revolvers for instance - would increase my trust in the round to do its job even more.

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Make_My_Day View Post
    .38 cal was the mandated duty weapon on my PD for years, until they went with the 9mm auto in the late 80's. That caliber had pretty good stopping power when it was used as a semi-wadcutter or hollowpoint round. The guy in the article probably didn't attempt the shot at the correct place or angle for death.
    A good .38 spl for SD/HD is a 158 grain SWC-HP cold swaged/soft lead factory bullets.

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    Senior Member DoctorWho's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Against roving hoarders of pop bottles, yes, it is more than enough.......

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    Senior Member knitepoet's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    It took some searching to find any reference to what he shot himself with and all I've been able to come up with is, "a 38 caliber revolver"
    So it possibly was a 38 special, but there are even less powerful "38 caliber" rounds that while less likely, are possibilities as well. Also a lot of it depends on what load/bullet was used.

    Since there apparently wasn't a lot of damage even from the gasses (They do a LOT of damage on gunshots at contact range) I'm thinking a low powered load was used, plus the frontal part of the brain isn't required for survival. Ever hear of a frontal lobotomy? It's a surgical procedure where one or both frontal lobes of the brain are removed.

    Concerning the original question, with proper ammo, I see the 38spcl as a perfectly acceptable round for SD.
    Loaded with non-expanding round nose ammo, I'm not a fan of ANY handgun round.
    Ya do STUPID stuff, ya win STUPID prizes

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorWho View Post
    Against roving hoarders of pop bottles, yes, it is more than enough.......
    Better than a 9mm anyday!

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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Chief View Post
    Better than a 9mm anyday!
    So , a .38 Special +P 125gr JHP @ 950fps is better than a 9mm 124gr JHP @1150fps?

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    Senior Member Make_My_Day's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Chief View Post
    A good .38 spl for SD/HD is a 158 grain SWC-HP cold swaged/soft lead factory bullets.
    That's exactly what we used in those days.
    These shoulder-mounted copulatory organs are at it again.
    The Democrat Party reminds me of a horde of dung beetles scavenging
    through a load of animal droppings looking for food and shelter.

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    Senior Member DoctorWho's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    I was known to toss a S&W M-36 into a cargo pocket, loaded with Musgrave wadcutters a very anemic load, esp out of short barrels.

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    Member Jack Burton's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Also keep in mind the average reporter (aka liberal) when told by police a .380 was used, they'll sometimes report it as .38 caliber so as not to confuse the unwashed masses (AKA their readers).

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by mkk41 View Post
    So , a .38 Special +P 125gr JHP @ 950fps is better than a 9mm 124gr JHP @1150fps?
    No, a 158 grain SWCHP is, the soft lead ones and it was a carry load for many a year in .38s for a lot of people.

    As to the 125s, I dunno except they have a slight edge in bullet diameter and no feeding/jamming issues from a revolver.

    So, I'd take 5 or 6 of my suggested loads from a .38 over a 9 Sillymeter any-day and that's just my personal preference. I'm not a big fan of the 9mm, but if you are using a .38, the 158 SWCHP is they way to.

    I like 115 Remington JHPs outta my Ruger P-89, but it is seldom relied upon for CCW/SD/HD by me and probably about 5th or 6th down the list on a gun I'd grab when the excrement hits the

    I just can't bring myself to have a lot of confidence in it (or any 9mm) even knowing it will fire 15 quick shots of about any 9mm load out there 100% without a hiccup.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorWho View Post
    I was known to toss a S&W M-36 into a cargo pocket, loaded with Musgrave wadcutters a very anemic load, esp out of short barrels.
    I'm talking about Speer 158 grain SWCHP bullets here that are so soft/not hard cast, but cold swagged you can "Scrape Lead" with your fingernail. It's a darn fine load and +P loading make it even better. Each to his own. They make especially good sub-loads from a .357 chambered revolver if you load them @ about 1000 FPS in .357 brass. Of course, lots of shooting will cause leading.

    My all time favorite revolver SD load is the classic Remington .357 magnum 125 grain scalloped/notched JHP and it was hands down the very best for many a year and still stands its ground.

    My favorite "Rural/Highway" load in the .357 magnum is the 158 grain JSP, I think American Eagle still makes that load.
    Last edited by Big Chief; 02-24-2012 at 12:25 AM.

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Make_My_Day View Post
    That's exactly what we used in those days.
    And they worked didn't they?

    I don't feel under-armed with my 5 shot Charter Arms .38 Spl Undercover revolver or a model 10. Fact is, most of us will never need more than a .38 for most situations we encounter in our lifetimes. Sure I'd prefer a .357/.44 Spl or a .45, but I firmly believe a .38 will do, if you do your part and put them in the boilermaker.

    So bring it on, the arguments for what's the best caliber/gun besides a .38 spl
    Last edited by Big Chief; 02-24-2012 at 12:12 AM.

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    Senior Member DoctorWho's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    .45 Colt, S&W M25

    Who else would experience feeding problems with a revolver ??? joke, doan have a cow now !

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorWho View Post
    .45 Colt, S&W M25

    Who else would experience feeding problems with a revolver ??? joke, doan have a cow now !
    Most won't, but I have had bullets "Pull" from my 3" S&W 629 and lock up the cylinder and not from my 6.5" Classic 629 using the same loads. Some inertia thing with recoil, I thunk it was a jamming problem, not feeding.

    Always test your load with any gun you plan to rely on to save your hide.

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    Senior Member Nomadac's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Diver43 View Post
    It seems as though this actor is going through some bad times and tried to kill himself by shooting himself in the head with a .38 special. It didnt work and he was able to pick up the phone, call 911, then talk to police as they entered his home.
    If you recall Gabrielle Giffords was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head while meeting constituents at a grocery store in Tucson. I believe the gunman used a Glock 9mm. I have read and heard of several attempts by individuals to kill themselves with a handgun to the head and survived. I recall when I lived in Ohio,a man tried to kill himself with a 20 ga. shotgun to the head and survived, lost his jaw, but was alive when the Rescue Squad arrived. I had a friend on the Rescue Squad and heard about it from him, said he was a real mess and they didn't understand how he lived.

  18. #18

    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    I have/carry a S&W 49, 5 shot J frame, with shrouded hammer. 2" bbl. I shoot 158 grain SWCHP, or a reversed wadcutter.

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    Senior Member NN's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    I've always had accuracy issues with .38 spl 125 gr +P.

    Today was the first time I noticed tgt ammo bullets pulling with .40 S&W in a revolver. It could have been that the critical duty and corbon power balls I was shooting were causing more recoil than I thought. I had 4 tgt rnds in the clip and had reload two of the slots 3 times with the SD ammo when I noticed the pulling.
    This message has been deleted

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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Chief View Post

    As to the 125s, I dunno except they have a slight edge in bullet diameter
    Hmmm , 38 Special = .357'' , 9mm = .355" , diff of .002"? Yep , that should do it.

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    Senior Member cpj's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by mkk41 View Post
    Hmmm , 38 Special = .357'' , 9mm = .355" , diff of .002"? Yep , that should do it.
    Of course its better. I mean, doesnt half the thickness of a sheet of paper mean anything to you?
    Quote Originally Posted by Zee View Post

    So, run along and gargle antifreeze or something.

    Personal waffle chef to Neduardo at the 2014 SE Shoot

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by mkk41 View Post
    Hmmm , 38 Special = .357'' , 9mm = .355" , diff of .002"? Yep , that should do it.
    Paper ballistics don't always tell the entire story. Actually my suggested load is lead, making it .358 in diameter (nominally)

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    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by cpj View Post
    Of course its better. I mean, doesnt half the thickness of a sheet of paper mean anything to you?
    You Blanking A Tweety Jack................ it does, just ask any machinist

    This is all good, that is, comparing a 9 mm to a .38 Spl not any of the other calibers that outclass it by far as arguments were centered on in years past.

    Point is the .38 Spl with the right load is still a good SD/HD/CCW cartridge that most folks can shoot well from an easy to use revolver.

    Maybe I'm slightly stuck in yesteryear with some of my idys, but it took me 58 years to get this way and I ain't about to change now

  24. #24
    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by tjsvet50 View Post
    I have/carry a S&W 49, 5 shot J frame, with shrouded hammer. 2" bbl. I shoot 158 grain SWCHP, or a reversed wadcutter.
    Some of these "Youngsters" seem to have a hard time understanding some oldies are still goodies and work as well as they always did, even in this computerized whizzbang "Tactical" age we live in.

    It all good though , I enjoy everyone's opinion/viewpoint on guns here on the forum. If we all agreed it would be as boring as watching paint peel off a wall.
    Last edited by Big Chief; 02-24-2012 at 11:40 AM.

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    Member cappy54's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Ron many have survived .45 acp multiple hits, nothing new bad placement

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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by DoctorWho View Post
    Against roving hoarders of pop bottles, yes, it is more than enough.......
    I Dont wanna be shot with one, where's teh stats ask all the dead bad guys.

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    Senior Member Make_My_Day's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Big Chief View Post
    And they worked didn't they? I don't feel under-armed with my 5 shot Charter Arms .38 Spl Undercover revolver or a model 10. Fact is, most of us will never need more than a .38 for most situations we encounter in our lifetimes.
    I think the reasoning for switching to 9mm auto was ammo capacity of the magazine. This was soon after a group of FBI agents were murdered in the street with semi-auto's while trying to reload their 6-banger revolvers. Many PD's around the country no longer wanted to risk having their cops shot up by the bad guys while using speedloaders. I retired just before the department was going to give me a nice Glock or Sig Sauer.
    These shoulder-mounted copulatory organs are at it again.
    The Democrat Party reminds me of a horde of dung beetles scavenging
    through a load of animal droppings looking for food and shelter.

  28. #28
    Senior Member DoctorWho's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by cappy54 View Post
    I Dont wanna be shot with one, where's teh stats ask all the dead bad guys.
    I was trying to be funny. means joke time.

  29. #29
    Senior Member Big Chief's Avatar
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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    This thread is almost as fun as a .270 one..................

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    Re: .38 special for Self Defense??

    Quote Originally Posted by Nomadac View Post
    If you recall Gabrielle Giffords was critically injured by a gunshot wound to the head while meeting constituents at a grocery store in Tucson.
    Members of Congress should not fall into a discussion of head wound effectiveness because the vast majority of them already act like they've been shot in the head.

    You can draw a HUGE number of totally different firearms and loads from the pool of roughly .35 (aka ".38") caliber handguns. These will range from slow, pokey, and nonexpanding, to Uncle Loki's Apocalyptic Whizzbangs (TM) coming out of a .357 Maximum. Assuming the reporter got it right, and we're sticking only with the .38 Special doesn't significantly narrow the field, as over its lengthy history it has been loaded with everything from solid lumps of lead to Glasers and Mag Safes at speeds ranging from gutless to supersonic. And then there's the issue of shot placement. Not everyone knows the "best" way to shoot yourself in the head is through the mouth towards the juncture of spine and brain. Nor can everyone be expected to have the steadiest of nerves when doing the deed.

    Figure any combination of low gas volume, roundnose slug, and poor. . .ummm. . .marksmanship would be survivable.
    WWJMBD?

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