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My first wheelgun! Now I need ammo advice!

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by Kruejl, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. Kruejl

    Kruejl Hillsboro Moderator of the Coriolis effect Staff Member Gold Supporter Silver Supporter

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    So I finally entered the world of revolvers. After having owned and fired MANY semi-autos over the years, I had an opportunity to pick up a revolver from my dad for a great price. While it wouldn't have been my first choice, I was glad to get it for what I paid.

    It's a Smith 638 Airweight with the built in CT laser grips. I'm planning on putting it into the carry rotation. I'd like some recommendations for defensive ammo with recoil that is manageable for the frame size. Please note I am NOT recoil sensitive but I also like a fast follow up. Thanks for any input.

    FullSizeRender (2).jpg
     
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  2. SynapticSilence

    SynapticSilence Battle Ground, WA Well-Known Member

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    The 638 is a great choice. I had one, sold it, and regretted it ever since. Although it's +P rated, I'd recommend a round I use in my older no-dash S&W Chief's Special (Model 36), the original J-Frame. It's the Buffalo Bore (get ready for a long mouthful) Standard Pressure Short Barrel Low Flash Heavy .38 Special 158 gr. Soft Lead SWC-HC. It produces 850 fps out of a 2-inch barrel with a bullet heavy enough to be a real stopper. Recoil is quite manageable which is something to consider given the +P loads can really be snappy and painful out of an airweight J-Frame. It's designed for short barrels with a powder load to get the bullet moving at the maximum velocity in these kind of revolvers, plush it's low-flash so you don't get the normal "ball of fire" effect from all the unspent powder. In my mind it's a combination of positives that are unparalleled even by the Hornady, Speer, and other more highly touted alternatives. Just my two cents, but it makes me feel much more competently armed on the occasions when I carry the Model 36. Click here to see the Buffalo Bore website for more info. Good luck with that. You'll really enjoy it, I think. The shrouded cockable hammer makes the 638 the best of all worlds when it comes to the airweight versions, IMHO.
     
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  3. ma96782

    ma96782 Vancouver, WA Well-Known Member

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    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
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  4. Revolvers

    Revolvers Eastside of Seattle Member

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    Consider the "xtreme penetrator" bullet designed by Lehigh Defense. For lower powered handguns like the 38 special or 380 this bullet design seems to take care of business. There are utube videos on Lehigh's website which sure seem to prove their point.

    I carry Underwood Ammo's load of the xtreme penetrator in my 38 and 380. For my larger calibers I have traditional hollow points.
     
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  5. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I use Winchester 110 grain Silvertips. Mostly because I bought a bunch a few years ago, and they shoot well in my 3" J frame and my 4" M-66 .357.
    I know that technology has passed them by, but they work well for me.
    Real nice revolver Kruejl! I predict you'll like it!:)
     
  6. Lance Jacobs

    Lance Jacobs South Willamette Valley Oregon Well-Known Member

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    A number of companies make the tried and true FBI .38 Special load:


    maxresdefault.jpg

    IMG_4841_zps55eb0d33.jpg

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    If you want something more modern, I would recommend either Remington's Golden Saber:

    GS38SB-2.jpg
    Or Federal's Tactical Hydra Shok:

    IMG_9119.jpg

    Federal's Nyclad load is still being offered in their Personal Defense line, if you want to give it a try:

    maxresdefault.jpg


    It looks like Nick likes the Golden Sabers in his .38. You cannot miss them with their distinctive golden color:

    Houge (https://www.northwestfirearms.com/media/houge.658/)

    .
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2016
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  7. 2gr8dgs

    2gr8dgs oregon Active Member

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    I highly recommend the Speer Gold Dot Short BBL 135gr +p. part# 23921
     
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  8. evltwn

    evltwn Gold Hill Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    All good choices...I have two j frames and are part of my normal edc rotation. Enjoy...snubbies require a little different grip, and personally, I have to practice more to ring the plates consistantly.
    They have a special place in my heart...gotta shoot now...!
     
  9. ThemGunsThough

    ThemGunsThough RIP City! Well-Known Member

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    Almost picked one up without the laser at nw armory a few days ago. There's just something about SW revolvers...
     
  10. PaulB47

    PaulB47 Hillsboro Well-Known Member

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    I am doubtful about expansion in most hollowpoints, out of snubbies. At least the 158gr lead loads will penetrate... Also that +P+ stuff is probably pretty abusive in that gun.
     
  11. ikemay

    ikemay WA Well-Known Member

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    I carry the Speer Gold Dot 135 grain +P for short barrels. I also like the Buffalo Bore 158 grain standard pressure soft lead SWC-HC item number 20C. I like them both, more point of aim with the Buffalo Bore than the Speer. Buffalo Bore is a bit snappier than the Speer as well. I also shoot the Golden Sabers 125 grain +P and like them as well. They do not shoot as accurately for me as the other two do. Obviously you would want to try a few out prior to carrying.

    I have shot these rounds in:
    Ruger LCR .357
    Ruger SP101 2 1/4 inch (wifes gun) and 3 inch barrels
    S&W 642 (wifes gun)

    I have read that the new version of Remington's 158 grain 38+P is made with harder lead and clocks a little slower than the original so it may not perform as you would expect. Might have seen that at Pocket Guns and Gear in the ammo review section. Seems the earlier tests were really nice, not so with the 2014 tests. Other people have chronographed them and found the new ones a little slow.

    Best of luck,
    Mike

    Note: I have shot and really liked the 125 grain Nyclads standard pressure .38, but have not been able to source them. I only have 15 rounds left. But if they are being manufactured again I will pick them up for sure.
     
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  12. pdxjazz

    pdxjazz Portland Active Member

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    In a .380 or .38 special, and maybe a .45 ACP (woods) that would indeed be an excellent choice.
     
  13. boogerhook

    boogerhook Seattle Well-Known Member

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  14. Kruejl

    Kruejl Hillsboro Moderator of the Coriolis effect Staff Member Gold Supporter Silver Supporter

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    I actually picked up a box of those today. I've run some regular FMJ's through it along with some low recoil SD rounds that my dad gave me. I admit, I'm not nearly as good with it as I am with my Glocks, but the simplistic design of revolvers fits nicely in my system!
     
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  15. boogerhook

    boogerhook Seattle Well-Known Member

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    well with that sight radius and a 1 7/8th inch barrel, plus a long trigger pull, you will not get near a Glock performance, but you will gain other advantages