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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, I'm purchasing a S&W 642 as a backup/belly gun. While I have pored over the data for just about every .40 and .45 load out there, I don't know nuthin' 'bout no .38s.

As I understand it, there are vast differences in velocity, effectiveness, etc. in the various .38 loads when you drop down to a snubby. The sources I have on hand don't generally break out the data by barrel length, so I'm in a bit of a quandry.

David, Mike, Evan . . . anybody? Whatcha know about .38sp loads from a 2" gun? What works, what expands, what penetrates worth a damn?

Thanks,
Chad
 

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I've been told that 158gr +P LHP is about the best you can get. It's a soft lead bullet going as fast as it can, and although it isn't likely to expand based upon it's pedestrian speed, it has the best penetration. Pretty low tech, but somewhat effective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Interesting. I'd thought about the +P 158gr. SWCHP, but given the short barrel lenght I was worried that I'd only get 700fps.

I was thinking along the lines of the Magsafe .38sp+P MAX (65gr frangible @ 1200-1300fps or so).

But some additional research this morning led me back to the 158gr.+P as being the most effective from a 2" revolver.

Any other thoughts, opinions, wild guesses?

Chad
 

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I don't have any exact expansion and penetration data in front of me for the .38spec., but keep in mind that penetration is the most important consideration. Frangible ammuntion will not penetrate deep enough to reliably reach the vital organs and structures of the body.
 

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I like the Federal 158 gr.+p SWC over the all lead SWCHP +p. The 158 gr. +p LSWCHP doesn't penetrate as much as I would like. This load only penetrated about 4" in Michael Platt.

Natchez Shooter's Supply carries the Federal 38 spl. 158 gr+P SWC.
 

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The above posts seem to lead in the right direction. Evan can chime in with his experience but I think he will tell you that the Win. +P LSWCHP expands about as well as anything in the 2" gun.

I have chronoed various lots and it goes from 750 to 800 in most 2" (actually the S&W is 1 7/8") guns. The Nyclad seems to expand also at least in medium but I have never seen one pulled from a real body.

This may come as a surprise but I have a weakness and that is I really like 2" J-frames. Not that I would carry only that but no matter how many "serious" handguns (if a handgun can be called serious) I have on me, I can always find room for one or two J-frames. Trouble is I don't really like any of the factory loads. Some of the new 125 jhps might expand (the old ones seldom did) but 125 just does not break bone or penetrate enough for me (OK so I am weird :smile: ).

I admit, this is the caliber I handload for (no I don't advise people to do it for several reasons). My current load is a 145 Silver-tip at 1100 fps from my M-36 but I also have a 158 Speer SWCHP at 1060 and 200 LHP at 850 load. The current S.T. is cleaner and smokes less, but I have rolled a lot of woodchucks with the 158 SWCHP (I shot one twice with the Winchester "Treasury" +P+ and I thought he was going to run over me! (neither bullet expanded).

Good luck with your pocket rocket!

Cordially,
Jim Higginbotham
 

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On 2001-08-07 17:38, JM wrote:
I like the Federal 158 gr.+p SWC over the all lead SWCHP +p. The 158 gr. +p LSWCHP doesn't penetrate as much as I would like. This load only penetrated about 4" in Michael Platt.

Natchez Shooter's Supply carries the Federal 38 spl. 158 gr+P SWC.
Who's/was Michael Platt?
 

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Platt was a bank robber in Florida who killed 2 FBI agents and seriously wounded 3 others. He was finally killed by a .38 spl 158 gr p+ LHPSWC.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
On 2001-08-07 21:13, Jim Higginbotham wrote:
This may come as a surprise but I have a weakness and that is I really like 2" J-frames. Not that I would carry only that but no matter how many "serious" handguns (if a handgun can be called serious) I have on me, I can always find room for one or two J-frames.
Dunno why (I've always been a bottom-feeder fan) but I've recently felt the siren song of a j-frame, too. There's just something so basic about them that really appeals to me.

I admit, this is the caliber I handload for (no I don't advise people to do it for several reasons). My current load is a 145 Silver-tip at 1100 fps from my M-36 but I also have a 158 Speer SWCHP at 1060 and 200 LHP at 850 load.
Cordially,
Jim Higginbotham
Damn, Jim, a 145gr Silver Tip at 1100fps from a j-frame :eek:!? Sounds like a monster. What's it like to shoot?

Chad
 

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When I had a 442 I stoked it with federal nyclad 158 grain LHP and 110 gr corbon alternating throughout the cylinder. As for the 342 I think you can stoke the first round to fire as a lead hollowpoint. The concern is the recoil pulling the bullets forward and blocking cylinder rotation; so if its just the first one to fire you should be okay. However, Massad Ayoob recommends against a mixed cylinder I believe as it can cause problems in court and be construed as a "Walter Mitty" issue with a misinformed prosecuting attorney. I have a j-frame myself - an SW 649 with little boot grips on it. I like it a lot, the size is good. I also had a 442 for a time. This is just me and me only, but I consider a j-frame to be a one-bad-guy gun; meaning that if I thought someone was trying to kill me I would probably empty the whole gun into him. Fine, unless there are two guys or more. I still think a glock 26 or a glock 36 are better choices. But with all that said I think it is mindset much more than the gun that will get someone through a life-threatening struggle. If its what you like then have at it. More power to you.
Good shooting, Jake
 

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On 2001-08-08 13:47, Jake Salyards wrote:
This is just me and me only, but I consider a j-frame to be a one-bad-guy gun; meaning that if I thought someone was trying to kill me I would probably empty the whole gun into him. But with all that said I think it is mindset much more than the gun that will get someone through a life-threatening struggle. If its what you like then have at it. More power to you.
Good shooting, Jake
My hero! Mindset, practice and training. The actual gun used, as long as it is reliable and of a heavy enough caliber to get to the vitals, is relatively unimportant.
 

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Damn, Jim, a 145gr Silver Tip at 1100fps from a j-frame !? Sounds like a monster. What's it like to shoot?

Chad
---------------------

Well it is a steel gun so it's not as if I was shooting an air weight. It is not nearly as bad as a +P 125 factory load in a Ti. S&W. It is also about equal to a 127 +P+ Ranger in a 940 for some reason (they clock about 1150 in the 2").

I bought this gun and inherited the 160 gr. [email protected] fps load from a friend back in 1977 or so when I found I could keep it on a 10" plate at 60 yards (later I found I could keep it on an IPSC C-Zone area at 100 yards. In fact I have almost never fired anything but these hot loads through it and it keeps on chuging.

I am trying a Scandium J-frame .357 this week... I expect that to be a lot worse :sad:

BTW, I tried one Lot of Cor-Bon 158 +P+ SWCHPs which went 1005 from a 642...that was interesting :smile: That extra 5 ounces means a little in a J-frame.

Carry on,
Jim
 

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Doh, I almost forgot. A friend of mine tested the Hornady 158gr. XTP in wet newsprint, against the Federal 158gr.LHP, and he prefers the XTP. A bit more penetration, and reliable expansion even out of a snubby.
http://www.midsouthshooterssupply.com
 

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Clay wrote;
A friend of mine tested the Hornady 158gr. XTP in wet newsprint, against the Federal 158gr.LHP, and he prefers the XTP. A bit more penetration, and reliable expansion even out of a snubby.
The XTP is indeed an excellent bullet when used in its design velocities (each one is slightly different but Hornady list them).

I use 140 XTPs before I found a supply of Win. Silver tips and would not feel bad about going back.

Onward,
Jim Higginbotham
 

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lead hp's are the way to go unless you're like Jim and like monster loads in your snub. My Taurus M85 Ultralite likes Federal slightly better than the competition, but it is carried between a Wilson CQB and a Sigma .380, and a Kel Tec P11 is about to replace the .38 snub and eliminate the .380 auto from concealed carry for me.
 
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