.38spl 2" barrel self defense hand loads

Mark W.

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So anyone got any pet hand loads for a .38spl +P revolver with a 2" barrel?

Getting the pistol next week and I been wondering about loads.

I load Pistol with Bullseye, Unique, and Clays

Not looking for factory ammo suggestions unless I can duplicate it hand loading.
 
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Mark W.

Mark W.

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We all know not to carry hand loads for self defense right?
Not illegal of course, just bad in the eyes of a prosecutor.
I may or may not be talking about use when I'm not worried about a prosecutor being a consern.

The Speers are an ideal suggestion because they do make a factory ammo load using that bullet.
 
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We all know not to carry hand loads for self defense right?
Not illegal of course, just bad in the eyes of a prosecutor.
I consider this very bad advice. Even the big "Pusher" of this philosophy can't cite any case where a handload was an issue in a SELF DEFENSE Case. Masaad Ayoob keeps resurrecting the Danial Bias case where self defense wasn't the issue. It was a case of homicide where the defendant was trying to make it a case of suicide.

Even Prosecutors have come on the various forums and stated that the type of ammo would not be considered in their charging decision. Self Defense is Self Defense PERIOD. Nowhere in the law(s) does it say you have to use a certain type of ammo. You can even beat to death your assailant with a rock. It won't matter what sized rock or whether you picked up a "natural rock" or chiseled it out of a quarry yourself. Self Defense is just that and that right is protected by law. The rest is just "book selling BS".

As for answering the OP's question, for reloading the best bullet for the short barrel is a Sierra Gold Dot Hollow Point in a light weight so it has enough speed to cause expansion. A 125-135gr GDHP will be the best for this short barrel. For factory loaded ammo there is a Speer 130 gr SB (Short Barrel) round that is available. Here also are some pic's of this bullet fired through various media

<broken link removed>
 
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Mark W.

Mark W.

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Well I got 100 test rounds of .38Spl to the range today.

The results were so obvious I was shocked.

all loads were 125gr flat nose Berrys Coated lead slugs in Winchester Nickel cases using CCI 500 primers

all were shot at 10yards at Four Corners Rod and Gun clubs Short range

4.4gr Bullseye gave me two groups under 3" and the closest to POA

4.6gr Bullseye gave 5-6" groups leaning to the left side of POA

4.8gr Bullseye gave random hits all heavily to the left some as much as 7" off POA

5.2gr Unique gave 5-6" groups near POA

5.4gr Unique gave random hits leaning towards the left side of the target

5.6gr Unique gave hits HIGH and random not able to hold a group at all

5.8gr Never bothered to even try.

it is very obvious to me that this little 2" barrel does not like to be run fast. Especially if there is going to be unburnt powder coming out the muzzle (which I believe added to the ball going left.

Next time I do a test I'll be looking at Bullseye at 3.8 4.0 4.2 anf 4.4 looking to see if I can find the best load to practice with.

The next weight Slug I'm going to be testing will be a 158gr wad cutter style. I'm going to start it slow and work up.

I can see an advantage for a HOT SD load being used at under 5yards. But those hits 6-7" to the left of POA scared me that is a long ways from Center of MASS. I'd rather hit the center with a lighter load then hit the guy in the arm. OR NOT AT ALL.

I do find the Pistol needs some Cylinder Bore polishing as the brass isn't falling free the way it should. I'll run a couple hundred more rounds through it before I decide if I want to polish them up a little.

AND the best news is the WIFE really enjoyed shooting it. She don't know it but I was kind of thinking of her when I got it any way. I have my Bulldog Pug in .44spl to carry.
 
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The problem with loading light for "accuracy" is that you sacrifice penetration and performance. Let's face it, a 2" barrel will not be winning any "Bullseye Contests" as a rule.

If the weapon is to be carried as a Self Defense weapon some of that accuracy is going to have to be sacrificed. Next time consider testing at a closer distance like 20'. Use the fastest burning powder recommended for the bullet you choose. Look more for the size of the group rather than the position of the group. Group placement is more a function of how the shooter is dealing with the recoil rather than the ammo. Group size is also effected by the shooter but ammo performance is a big part as well. If the "club" where you shoot has a "Machine Rest" available this is a great way to test the ammo without any shooter's input. Also a good idea to check speed with a chronograph. "Feel" goes only so far. The "data" obtained by putting 20-30 rounds over a chronograph will tell the real story.

Here is some data on .38 spl ammo that was tested For/by Firearms Tactical Institute

.38 Special Ammunition Performance Data

Look at the ammo tested in the 2" bbl and how it penetrates almost half the distance as the other rounds.

A 2" bbl'd .38 is used best as Jack Ruby used his to "dispatch" Lee Harvey Oswald. Up close and personal. It's not a gun that one really concerns themselves with group size and Point of Impact.
 
So anyone got any pet hand loads for a .38spl +P revolver with a 2" barrel?

Getting the pistol next week and I been wondering about loads.

I load Pistol with Bullseye, Unique, and Clays

Not looking for factory ammo suggestions unless I can duplicate it hand loading.
I used to load 148 gr hollow base wadcutters inverted (hollow base facing out) over Bullseye or Unique when I had a snubby. I believe I kept the velocity in the 700 to 750 FPS range. I never had the desire to beat up my lightweight Colt with hot loads, and the little snubby was difficult enough to handle without creating more fire and recoil. My loads were comfortable to shoot and (likely) adequate for self defense at close range. Of course, we didn't have many hollow point bullets to choose from then, and those that were available were reputed to need about 1000 FPS to open up properly. Not exactly snubby material in those days. I do still have an old Model 10 M&P and would carry the same load in it today without reservation. Just my 2 cents and worth every penny :)
 
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Mark W.

Mark W.

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The problem with loading light for "accuracy" is that you sacrifice penetration and performance. Let's face it, a 2" barrel will not be winning any "Bullseye Contests" as a rule.

If the weapon is to be carried as a Self Defense weapon some of that accuracy is going to have to be sacrificed. Next time consider testing at a closer distance like 20'. Use the fastest burning powder recommended for the bullet you choose. Look more for the size of the group rather than the position of the group. Group placement is more a function of how the shooter is dealing with the recoil rather than the ammo. Group size is also effected by the shooter but ammo performance is a big part as well. If the "club" where you shoot has a "Machine Rest" available this is a great way to test the ammo without any shooter's input. Also a good idea to check speed with a chronograph. "Feel" goes only so far. The "data" obtained by putting 20-30 rounds over a chronograph will tell the real story.

Here is some data on .38 spl ammo that was tested For/by Firearms Tactical Institute

.38 Special Ammunition Performance Data

Look at the ammo tested in the 2" bbl and how it penetrates almost half the distance as the other rounds.

A 2" bbl'd .38 is used best as Jack Ruby used his to "dispatch" Lee Harvey Oswald. Up close and personal. It's not a gun that one really concerns themselves with group size and Point of Impact.


All good points at the same time if I can hit you in the center of mass 2-3 times with a 125gr slug moving only 750fps you level of threat to me will be reduced to a level I can deal with.

So while some big huge load might be great if all it does is hit the bad guy in the arm cause its coming out of the bore sideways I'd rather be able to hit what I aim at.

And since the #1 rule of a carry weapon is that you must be carrying it for it to work. I'll give up elephant knock down power for it being in my hand when I need it and to be able to hit what I point it at.

In my nothing trumps accuracy and availability.
 

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