.38 special for Self Defense??

Diver43Diver43 Senior MemberPosts: 8,662 Senior Member
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/communities/entertainment/post/2012/02/seinfeld-actor-shoots-himself-in-the-head-calls-911/1
Logistics cannot win a war, but its absence or inadequacy can cause defeat. FM100-5
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Replies

  • Make_My_DayMake_My_Day Senior Member Posts: 7,147 Senior Member
    .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.
    JOE MCCARTHY WAS RIGHT:
    THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE NEW COMMUNISTS!
  • gunrunner428gunrunner428 Senior Member Posts: 1,018 Senior Member
    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.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    .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.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Against roving hoarders of pop bottles, yes, it is more than enough....... :jester:
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • knitepoetknitepoet Senior Member Posts: 18,845 Senior Member
    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.
    Seven Habits of Highly Effective Pirates, Rule #37: There is no “overkill”. There is only “open fire” and “I need to reload”.


  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    Against roving hoarders of pop bottles, yes, it is more than enough....... :jester:

    Better than a 9mm anyday!
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • mkk41mkk41 Banned Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    Better than a 9mm anyday!

    So , a .38 Special +P 125gr JHP @ 950fps is better than a 9mm 124gr JHP @1150fps? :uhm:
    "There are no victims , only volunteers!"
  • Make_My_DayMake_My_Day Senior Member Posts: 7,147 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    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.
    JOE MCCARTHY WAS RIGHT:
    THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE NEW COMMUNISTS!
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    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.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Jack BurtonJack Burton Member Posts: 379 Member
    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).
    Came for the fishing, stayed for the guns.
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    mkk41 wrote: »
    So , a .38 Special +P 125gr JHP @ 950fps is better than a 9mm 124gr JHP @1150fps? :uhm:

    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 :fan:

    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.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    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.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    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 :guns::popcorn::popcorn::popcorn::popcorn::popcorn::popcorn:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    .45 Colt, S&W M25

    Who else would experience feeding problems with a revolver ??? :jester: joke, doan have a cow now !
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    .45 Colt, S&W M25

    Who else would experience feeding problems with a revolver ??? :jester: 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. :jester:

    Always test your load with any gun you plan to rely on to save your hide.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • NomadacNomadac Senior Member Posts: 890 Senior Member
    Diver43 wrote: »
    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.
  • tjsvet50tjsvet50 Member Posts: 147 Member
    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.
  • NNNN Senior Member Posts: 23,967 Senior Member
    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.
    A Veteran is someone that served in the Military, it does not matter where they served.
  • mkk41mkk41 Banned Posts: 1,932 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »

    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.
    "There are no victims , only volunteers!"
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    mkk41 wrote: »
    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) :tooth:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    cpj wrote: »
    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:jester:

    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:guns:
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    tjsvet50 wrote: »
    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. :popcorn::popcorn:

    It all good though :group::group:, 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.
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • cappy54cappy54 Member Posts: 269 Member
    Ron many have survived .45 acp multiple hits, nothing new bad placement
  • cappy54cappy54 Member Posts: 269 Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    Against roving hoarders of pop bottles, yes, it is more than enough....... :jester:

    I Dont wanna be shot with one, where's teh stats ask all the dead bad guys.
  • Make_My_DayMake_My_Day Senior Member Posts: 7,147 Senior Member
    Big Chief wrote: »
    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.
    JOE MCCARTHY WAS RIGHT:
    THE DEMOCRATS ARE THE NEW COMMUNISTS!
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    cappy54 wrote: »
    I Dont wanna be shot with one, where's teh stats ask all the dead bad guys.

    I was trying to be funny. :jester: means joke time.
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • Big ChiefBig Chief Senior Member Posts: 32,995 Senior Member
    This thread is almost as fun as a .270 one..................
    It's only true if it's on this forum where opinions are facts and facts are opinions
    Words of wisdom from Big Chief: Flush twice, it's a long way to the Mess Hall
    I'd rather have my sister work in a whorehouse than own another Taurus!
  • BigslugBigslug Senior Member Posts: 7,040 Senior Member
    Nomadac wrote: »
    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.:drool:

    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?

    "Nothing is safe from stupid." - Zee
  • DoctorWhoDoctorWho Senior Member Posts: 9,496 Senior Member
    Even with good marksmanship, it is possible for a psycho to absorb 18 rounds of .38 special 158 RNL -AP (read anemic - power), after you are out of ammo, and the bad guy still keeps on coming, then finally dropping.
    Colt Officer's model revolver, 5 inch barrel hi viz sights.

    A 1911 with it's single column / 7 round cap / is easier / faster to reload, less fumble prone, and 230 grain FMJ Mil loads are better proven performers compared to those days .38 special RNL AP....
    "There is some evil in all of us, Doctor, even you, the Valeyard is an amalgamation of the darker sides of your nature, somewhere between your twelfth and final incarnation, and I may say, you do not improve with age. Founding member of the G&A forum since 1996
  • cappy54cappy54 Member Posts: 269 Member
    DoctorWho wrote: »
    I was trying to be funny. :jester: means joke time.


    boy oh boy i feel dumb i guess you were duh :bang::bang:
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