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.38 +P from a snub a waste of time?

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by raindog, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. raindog

    raindog Portland, OR Active Member

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    I know that .38 and .38 +P (and .357 Mag for that matter) all perform better when shot out of a longer barrel. I'm wondering if +P makes enough difference when shot out of a 2" snub to be worthwhile?

    It sure couldn't hurt, so I carry it. But I'm wondering if I'm wasting my time. Most of the ballistics charts I see don't specify the barrel length and I assume they mean full-sized. BBTI unfortunately doesn't list +P.
  2. Ghost_2.0

    Ghost_2.0 Oregon Member

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    Certain Ammunition are manufactured for use in snub barrels (.38+p) to allow adequate penetration and expansion
  3. Mark W.

    Mark W. Silverton, OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    It has been my experiance with my Charter Arms Undercover in .38+P that hot loads do nothing but fly screwy and make a lot of extra noise and flash. Slightly reduced loads where more of the powder is burnt in the barrel tend to be NOTICABLY more accurate. I load all my own ammo so I have done load development tests and the lightest loads always shoot the best from the short barrel.
  4. 2gr8dgs

    2gr8dgs oregon Active Member

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    "Certain Ammunition are manufactured for use in snub barrels (.38+p) to allow adequate penetration and expansion"

    After doing some research, I went with the speer gold dot 135 gr +p designed for short bbls.
    MikeE, Ghost_2.0, wombat and 5 others like this.
  5. wombat

    wombat Kirkland, WA Member

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    +1 with 2gr8 ... though nothing is wrong with the (standard) 155gr semi wadcutter loads either ...

    Ignore the charts, if you're comfortable with shooting whatever the grain/load, you less likely to be flinching or pinching ...
  6. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Ha! Used to have a S&W 66 .357 in a 2". With hot magnum loads you could shoot your dinner and cook it too! Best to determine what your snubby likes and what you shoot well. My late friend carried snub noses (usually two) with mid range 158g wad cutters, but he practiced 3-4 times per week and he was a wizard with them! Practice all the time with what you decide to carry.
  7. mat33

    mat33 Portland, OR Active Member

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    I sure can feel the difference in recoil when shooting +P in a snub, so Newton's Laws would suggest velocities are higher. The best justification for .38 +P, specifically in the snub, is from Massad Ayoob who suggests that standard .38 hollow point loads don't expand reliably out of a 2" barrel.
  8. pioneer461

    pioneer461 Columbia County, Oregon Active Member

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    I carry the new Gold Dot and Hornady "short barrel" +P ammo in my snubbys, both .38 & .357. It is very much worth it to me to get every bit of velocity I can, to get the best performance from my self defense ammo. Maybe it isn't important if you are being attacked by a ballistics chart, but for two legged predators, it is not a waste of time or money.
  9. Modeler

    Modeler Ketchikan, Alaska Soccer Fan

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    I know about Speer's short barrel loads, who else manufactures specifically for snub nose revolvers?
  10. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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  11. longcolt

    longcolt Zephyrhills, FL Active Member

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    I think that bullet technology has improved so much in the last ten years or so you don't really need to use the heavy duty ammo. Unless you are carrying a weapon as max backup in the woods.
    There is a big list of ammo that works just fine in the 38 Special and especially the lightweight frame models for defensive purposes without having to hurt yourself shooting ammo that will take out an engine block.

    Is is possible that we get a little too hung up on horsepower and not technique and accuracy? Then we choose to carry the lightweight 380 caliber handguns cause the others are too big or recoil with gusto!

    Pack a nice lightweight 45 acp if you have a special need for a bigger margin of stopping power. Its a proven manstopper and in a compact version is easy to conceal and the recoil is not difficult to live with.
  12. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Speer snubby load is your best bet, or a disintegrating hyper velocity load

    Mag Safe used to (may still) make a wadcutter disintegrating load for snubbies.. my gal's J frame has two of them staggered in the cylinder. I would not advise them in a speedloader tho, they don't insert easily
  13. SKIPPER99

    SKIPPER99 Peck, Id Member

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    It is my opinion that a well placed shot with a 22 derringer would be by far better than a miss with a 45. the message is pick a weapon and practice, practice, practice.
    aksu747 and (deleted member) like this.
  14. RVTECH

    RVTECH LaPine Well-Known Member

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    Mine too - with different guns but the result is the same. A good .38 Special load that shoots accurately in a .357 revolver is all you need. You can tweak .38 loads for accuracy and get great results. My Taurus 605 is capable of 20 yard one hole groups with 3.5 grains of Bullseye and 125 gr. HSM plated HP bullets.
  15. DeanMk

    DeanMk Poulsbo, Wa. Active Member

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    However, if you handload HB wadcutters backwards they open up magnificently.
    I remember shooting times tried this in an article on the .38 S&W.
    As for the question at hand, I have no first hand experience, but in 1966, the 20th Anniversary edition of Gun Digest was released and they did an article about this very issue.
    In their opinion, while moving from standard, to +P, to magnum, showed improvements in bullet performance, the loss of control such a small gun exhibited, due to the increase in recoil, made the exercise moot.
    Their thinking was that bullet placement with a standard load was of more importance, than sheer power, when applied to "belly guns" (as they called them).
    Further more, around 1905, the Brits did a whole documented study of bullet performance and found that speed was not as important as mass was.
    The large slow moving bullet is a more effective manstopper than the small fast one.
    Probably why the .455 Webley/Eley pushed a 265gr. bullet at a leasurely 625 fps MV.
    If you apply the British findings to current snub guns, Taurus's 445 would seem to be the most effective of these types, since it shoots a more massive projectile than most any other snubby on the market right now.