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I've been looking at ammunition in both .38 and .357 and reading different threads and online articles on what to use for target shooting. Most of the suggestions are all over the place, although it seems to be a common suggestion that for .38 and .357 target shooting just get the cheapest stuff available. That's easy enough but my question is what type of bullet? Do I get wad cutters, semi-wad cutters, full metal jacket, jacket with hollow point or...?

I'm not really looking for accuracy at this point, mostly just getting familiar with shooting both my S&W .38 Special and the Ruger .357 I should be getting by this weekend. I've not done a lot of rifle shooting in years and pistol shooting in even a longer time, so I want to work on getting use to shooting again and worry about accuracy (as long as I can hit the target) later.

I've read that wad cutters are good for leaving a nice clean hole and that is what I'm thinking of getting. I'll probably shoot at one of the indoor ranges at first, just because it's more convenient and I know you either have to shoot their ammo or pay a few per box, but for the first 100 rounds or so I'd rather take my own ammo to shoot and pay the fee per box.

There are so many choices out there and until I get more familiar with what I like to shoot in my guns, I'm open for some suggestions... other wise I'll probably just go eeny meeny miny moe and grab something. :)

Besides, my wife wants to get back into shooting as well and I have to learn all of this so I can look like I know what I'm doing. LOL!


Full metal jackets are generally the most used factory ammo.

But yea, if you see a sale on something then go for it.

Use shoot n see type targets if your worried about not being able to see the holes.
Joe, yea, I got about 75 of the Splatterburst targets that show another color when they hit. I'll use these when I shoot outdoors. The dad of one of the people that work for me at my day job has a big place not far from Hillsboro where he and some other people we know go and shoot. I'm going to go with them next time he goes and I'll use the targets then. The group also leased several acres of state land that has it's own gravel pit type area and they go shooting out there as well. It's not that close though, it's down the Albany area and they usually camp over night when they go. It was real cheap to lease though and they don't have to worry as much about someone getting through their gate and trashing it. It won't slow down the determined rouge shooters, but it should prevent them from hauling in TV's, couches and large items like that.

Mike, most of the places will let you shoot new ammunition but charge $5 or so a box. I want to run a box or two of known stuff through my guns first, so I'm willing to pay the fee. If I find a place that I have shot a couple of times and like, I won't mind using their ammo.

Thanks for the tip on the ammo.


Basically, use whatever you can find. ;)

Full wadcutters are definitely good target rounds, but aren't that common. Most of what you'll see in stores are FMJ or JHP/SJHP.

I personally prefer SWC because they cut clean holes in targets, but the wide meplat also works well for hunting or defensive use. Not quite as good as JHP or JSP for those uses, but definitely useable.
You will need to decide what is most important to you. For target practice, price is paramount for many people. Others are looking for a practice round that most closely relates to their carry round...but usually in a non hollow point because hollow points are generally a lot more expensive.

For me, price is usually my first priority but within the boundaries of a full power, factory round. I don't like reduced power, reloads, or steel case. But that's me.

For newer shooters I usually recommend price being your guiding factor. The more you can shoot at this point, the better.
My ruger sp101 in .357 with a 3" barrel shoots Aguila wadcutters with a half jacket in 158gr nicely. These manufacturers seem to kick more Blazer, magtech, and selloir bellot (close enough on the spelling). They're all 158gr wadcutter half jacket except the Blazer which is hollow point. Magtech and Blazer are dirty, with magtech being the dirtiest. Selloir bellot is also pretty accurate and packs a good punch, it's quite snappy. Blazer seems to have the most punch, but I can't hit squat with it. Tho I should probably practice more with the blazer, it just seems to drift a lot more than the other brands (same with 9mm).
I usually shoot at clays or a do-all-outdoors self healing target ball about 20 yards out. I would just start buying boxes and figure it out. Get whatever you can find in 50 round boxes, that will indicate that it is "target ammo"... honestly I see these rounds having no problem in a defense situation.

All four of these brands can be had in 50rnd boxes for $20-$25, with Aguila right around $24 at sportsmans wharehouse.

Hope that helps!

PS: you shouldn't have any issue identifying hits in a dirt berm with these rounds as they all send up a plume of dust about 1'-2' high... just saying!
Lot's of good info above. I reload my own mostly for 38 but went looking for some "standard" 158gr Semi wadcutters and had a very hard time finding them. Nearly everything was 130 full metal jacket. Stores advised that some of the indoor ranges only allow completely jacketed ammo to be brought in. I have only been to a few indoor ranges in OR so I'm not sure how common this is but you might want to check where you are planning to go first.

If you can find true wadcutters, they are typically loaded very light compared to other loads and can be great for newer shooters; not sure how much you bride has shot in the past. This is what I load for my 38's the most.

When I shot 38 Special a lot, I loved 148gr HBWC for punching those clean holes.
And they're super accurate because of all the land contact.
As stated above, they are not common in stores, I reloaded my own.

For my 9mm activities, Blazer Brass is usually the cheapest and it's accurate out of my Glocks.
So Blazer Brass in 38 Special might be an option for you.
And you're left with useful brass cases to reload or to trade.

Pro Tip:
If you are shooting both 38 Special and 357 Magnum out of the same revolver, shoot all your 357 first.
Should you forget, you'll find out why.
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The two indoor ranges that I go to disallow steel and aluminum cased to be fired in their ranges. Also 62gr LAP ammo is not allowed either at both ranges since it destroys their up their backstops. Both ranges that I go to you need to take the magazines out of your range bags and they run a magnet over them as well. I have quit loading my magazines at home now and so I just take the ammo boxes out. It takes a bit longer to load my magazines but I have a StripLULA and a the UpLULA for pistol magazines.

But I agree cheaper is better as long as it cycles in you gun(s).
Buy whatever is on sale. Revolvers shouldn't be picky about ammo, but there can be some accuracy differences between factory ammo.
I have a case of Tula 158gr fmj (steel cased but non corrosive primers) that I'd be willing to split. I'd also trade for some .38spl if you end up w a surplus.

The Tula is truncated cone so it's GTG in a tube magazine lever action also.
Hi Mike97124

I reload .38 special with 158gr Lead Semi Wad Cutters, and a comfortable TiteGroup load in my S&W Models 10 and 19. Really fun and of course gets you used to the gun. As noted, shoot any .357 first in the multi caliber gun you have... I got my brass by shooting American Eagle 158gr Lead Round Nose which is really almost identical in power.

So if you want to experiment with loads etc. here's my shameless plug about WHERE to shoot! (Moderator, I hope this isn't out of bounds!)

Newberg Rifle and Pistol Club! You can get there from Hillsboro in about 25 minutes....

This is a public, small indoor range up on Chehelem Mountain. It's a 503(c) club, staffed by volunteers, and operates for pistol shooting on Monday, Thursday, Friday nights and 1 weekend afternoon (the day alternates . Saturday 1 week, Sunday the next). They set the firing line at 7 yards for pistols and there are 9 lanes. I've never had to wait to shoot... You are allowed to bring in any paper type target, I like shoot n see which I paste to the paper targets. No charge for paper targets ... You can shoot pistol calibers up to .45, you can shoot any type of bullet except tracer rounds. Brass, Aluminum or Steel casings all just fine. They do not sell ammo, so you MUST bring your own, and there is no surcharge Reloads A-OK. Annual Dues are only $50, and $3 per range visit .... Check out

For a single visit, to shoot without joining, it's $10, subsequent visits if you don't join are $20. If you shoot more than 3 times a year, membership makes sense!

I just became a Range Safety Officer there, it's a great public service venue, providing a safe place to shoot for enjoyment and training.

Maybe see you there!

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The two indoor ranges that I go to disallow steel and aluminum cased to be fired in their ranges.
I belonged to a range like that here in P-land. You could buy their ammo (usually Blazer brass) or pay $5 per box to shoot your own. Their prices were usually cheaper than bringing your own +$5, but not always.

One time, after policing my empties (which included 100 aluminum Blazer shells that I'd brought in) I was informed that they preferred that we only use brass cased ammo because they sell the brass to a reloading outfit...

(scratchy record noises)
Wait... whut?

Didn't I just pay you an extra $5 per box to shoot the junk that I brought in? I also bought a couple hundred from you.

I'm all for making your money where you can... owning and maintaining an indoor range in Portland can't be easy. But I also don't feel the obligation to incur additional expense when I'm a paid-up member, paying for my range time, throwing a 5 buck per box vig on top of my already paid-for ammo, buying 4 or 5 (slightly) overpriced boxes of their ammo, AND giving them a few hundred brass empties to resell at 100% profit.

Their "preference" was duly noted and given the deference it deserved.
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Well, in a FOR PROFIT world, those kind of things do creep up. Remember pillows on airplanes? 2 Free Bags ... PEANUTS?! The bean (or peanut?) counters are heroes now.

NRPC does sell collected brass to help fund the club operations, the dues and range fees are such a bargain we are all OK with it.

BUT ... shooters are allowed to collect brass, as long as it's approximately what they shot. For revolvers it's a no brainer, just put your spent casings back in the box! For Semi-Autos, since the range does not have a divider between lanes, all brass gets swept to a small pile, which you can pick through to gather up some brass if you so desire! It may not all be yours, but if you have the ability to reload range brass, it's permitted.

It's a very user friendly venue, not profit oriented and our mission statement is providing a safe and friendly environment for shooting enthusiasts.

Half of the fun of shooting for me is the reloading aspect, and being able to test various loads and bullets at the NRPC has been a big asset.

Sorry this is OT ... back to the thread topic!

Tula 38spl was dificult to extract from my Ruger, i had to punch out several cases and the extractor would not operate properly with most rounds. Avoid Tula, shoot brass!
Tula 38spl was dificult to extract from my Ruger, i had to punch out several cases and the extractor would not operate properly with most rounds. Avoid Tula, shoot brass!

I won't even run Tula in my SKS - dirtiest stuff out there and the least accurate from my experience.
Tula 38spl was dificult to extract from my Ruger, i had to punch out several cases and the extractor would not operate properly with most rounds. Avoid Tula, shoot brass!
I wouldn't let my worst enemy run Tula
It's Putin trickery I tell ya !

Unamerican unless you're a poor dirt shooter.
Then you get a temporary pass.

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