Rugers are legion, and the medium-size wheelguns are in the mid-30s when you tote up the ounces. If you can handle the extra hassle of the muzzle blast, the performance bonus is worth it. Unless you absolutely need that level of performance (and I can’t imagine how to require it, and not move up in gun size), then live with it.

The next step up in weight was Black Hills Blue, reloads using 125-grain JHPs.

None expanded, nor would I expect them to.

Generally around 125 to 130 grains, they are compromise loads. Just remember we can't get something for nothing.

While the performance of the .38 measures up to our 9mm expectations, the hue and cry goes up: "It doesn't hold enough ammo."

When it comes to the categories of no-drama and easy-to-reload, there is no caliber that even pretends to contend with the .38 Special.

Just be sure they understand they must make use of the tack-driving accuracy that wadcutters offer. A master gunsmith, Patrick is also Handguns Editor for Guns & Ammo magazine. There are some loads that feature weights less than full but not all the way to light. How compact/concealed must you be?

A high speed would be something like the Super Vel Super Snubbie load, which features a 90-grain bullet at over 1,200 real fps out of a snubbie, and recoil to go with it. They took the old reversed hollow-base wadcutter, put a jacket on it, tuned the jacket for consistent expansion, and then loaded it to normal .38 Special performance, not wadcutter performance. A long time ago, a cop friend told me to carry it with Speer Gold Dot HP 135 gr ammo.

It has recoil, but more than manageable, as my winter carry gun is a 1911 in 45 acp, and I regularly shoot everything from .357 to 41 Mag, 44 Mag, & 45 Colt. They are easy to shoot, but they will not deliver performance like the stouter loads. Remington's newest defense load is now available commercially.

Is this a main gun or a backup? You can have jacketed hollow points, all-lead or lead hollow points.

Smith & Wesson .38 Special $415.56 And as a final bonus, when it comes to reloading, the .38 Special is king. However, a quick flip through my chrono logbook shows me that 115 is not a laser beam bullet out of a compact 9mm that you'd expect.

Subscriber Services. It was an all-stainless S&W Model 60, a police trade-in backup gun. If you walk into a gun shop and its sells ammo, it will have .38 Special ammo of some kind on the shelf. Short-barreled revolvers are harder to shoot, kick more and deliver less performance than those that are bigger. They are easy to shoot, but they will not deliver performance like the stouter loads. An ultra-compact 9mm pistol with skimpy grips is not easy to shoot.

So, you have to determine how much recoil, blast and difficulty in shooting you are willing to put up with to get the performance you desire. Get the latest news and reviews from I can see some doubters in the crowd. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam.

Actually, none has ever expanded, and it was notable to recover neither the Blazer nor the Cor-Bons.

Revolvers can be amazingly accurate, and a quality DA revolver delivers all of that. Is the ubiquitous .38 Special revolver passé in today's semi-auto world? As a starting point, knock 100 fps off of the book value of a load if you are using a snubbie.

One 115-grain load—a 115-grain +P+—topped 1,200 fps but that was absolutely no fun to shoot.

Submit Products for Review; Ammo Tests; Wednesday, March 26, 2014. Primary law enforcement service cartridge from 1920s to 1990s. The SIG SAUER P365 (model # 365-9-BXR3) may just be the subcompact 9mm against which all... Do you remember the first time you fired a gun?

Hornady Critical Defense 38 Special 110 Grain - Clothing and Clear Gel Tests As a follow up to our test of the +P version of this load last week, this week we look at Hornady Critical Defense 38 Special 110 grain FTX in standard pressure format.

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SIG Academy's Hana Bilodeau joins Rich and Jim to discuss the essential skills all handgunners should master. I shot Cor-Bon 147-grain full metal jacket, Blazer 158-grain lead round nose and Hornady 158-grain XTP.

The heavyweights top out at the normal for .38 Special weight, 158 grains. As a house gun or a nightstand gun, a "too big to carry" .38 can be a useful tool and a comforting one, too. Six major concealed carry insurance programs are now available to the millions of Americans who carry concealed. The velocity was modest and recoil was likewise. There has been an error with your Email Subscription.

This is practice ammo, but some might use the load as carry ammo. Snubbies knock off around 100 fps of muzzle velocity. You do, however have a few choices to make, choices that will determine your path in life. On a recent test with a three-inch 9mm, I tested seven different 115-grain bullet loads, only one of which exceeded 1,100 fps. But no expansion means extra penetration. More if it is lightweight bullet. I now have a M637 Airweight. Get the 74th edition of the World's Greatest Gun Book.

Federal took a different approach. It offers barrier perforation, but doesn’t have to expand to stop in the FBI distance.

A lightweight .38 Special ammo choice that won’t punish you would be the Hornady Critical Defense, or Critical Defense Lite.

This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets. Reloading: Powder Comparison .44 Special Loads, The New Speer Gold Dot G2 Duty Handgun Load. The .38 was invented in the late 19th century, given up for dead in the latter half of the 20th, and resurrected by the time the 21st rolled around. Out of a three-inch barreled 9mm, 115s typically go the same speed that 110s do out of a snubbie revolver: just over 1,000 fps. The standard-pressure FTX expanded and penetrated, although not to FBI satisfaction. You get what you pay for, and you pay for what you get.

Wadcutters are an anomaly.

Poly-case ammunition and copper solids offer excellent penetration. Even at the modest velocities they muster, they will consistently exit the back of a gelatin block, even an 18-inch rifle block. A .38 with a barrel of four inches or longer can serve well as a house gun. The next step up in weight was Speer Gold Dots, 135 grains and +P pressure.

The performance of the Honey Badger, a solid copper, fluted bullet at less than robust recoil, seems to have been made for the .38 Special. M36. By the time you accelerate a 158-grain bullet to expansion velocities, we've used up all the easy-to-carry goodwill that a compact handgun provides. Thank you! There are a lot of .38 Special revolvers that are now considered "too big" to carry, despite having been carried in decades past. These are 110-grain bullets and they do not get to 1,000 fps out of a 2-inch barrel.


While the .38 Special Gold Dots would fail the FBI barrier tests—and I do not know of any .38 Special load that passes those—it exceeds the FBI minimum 12 inches in bare gel. And if you think center-punching a miscreant through the sternum with a 158-grain lead round nose is an inconsequential wound, you've been watching too many vampire movies. But the .38 Special?

First off, no .380 load in existence uses a bullet of 110 grains. It just doesn’t perform well in barrier testing. The FBI load in .38 Special, 158-grain, lead semi-wadcutter, at +P pressures, worked then and works now. The +P load expanded more and penetrated more. Disclosure: These links are affiliate links.

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