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Defense ammo for S&W snubbie

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I have a 642 I may end up keeping. What is a better defense ammo, Hornady 158 grain XTP .38 special or Remington Golden Saber 125 grain +P ? I can get either one.

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Michael J. Spangler

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from all of the reading iv'e done it doesn't seem like the +p of even a 357 is worth much in that short of a barrel energy wise.
you have to take in to consideration the penetration and expansion but this page give some good insight in to the every aspect.

it really makes you rethink the snubby revolver.
http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/38special.html

compare the 9mm barrel length for a similar sized gun (3" instead of the 2" of a revolver) and see what a huge benefit that lack of cylinder gap and little extra velocity lends to a similar weight and diameter bullet.

after reading a bit on there i decided if i'm going to carry a snubby (which i'm sure i will in the near future) then it's going to be loaded with a heavy weight bullet. i would want penetration. the 38 in a sub 2" barrel shouldn't have issues with over penetration at all.

always take in to consideration the design of the bullet too. it it's not a "short barrel" bullet and it's loaded in a +P round. it's probably designed to expand when run at speeds that you would normally get out of a 4" to 6" barrel and it's expansion might be sub par at a lower velocity.

i would love to buy some dual bond 454 casull ammo, pull the bullets and load into a 45 auto rim, but they're designed to expand at a much higher velocity and will probably act like ball ammo at that point.

in short i would go for a heavier bullet to ensure penetration. a standard pressure load, or one specifically designed for a short barrel knowing that the bullet has a better chance of being designed for expansion at lower velocity. for what it's worth my friend did a lot of research on snubby ammo and found that one of the top performers in every test he could find was a standard velocity hornady 38 special

is there a reason you're stuck on these two choices? just availability? i haven't bought ammo in years. i've loaded all my own and i have enough defense ammo to last me so i haven't noticed how the store shelves are on 38 ammo lately. i would think this would be a good choice. added benefit of a sharp shoulder cutting a more permanent wound cavity vs a round nose (or a plugged up hollow point that didn't expand) the soft alloy will lend itself to nice expansion no need to worry about it shattering due to low velocity and soft alloy allowing it to deform without shearing off the nose.

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_detail&p=110
there are some good videos on youtube with this round. even the +P should give a decent representation of what it will do, because of the lack of difference in velocity between the rounds in a 2" gun

good luck! hope i helped. go heavy!
 
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The two choices I mention are availability. These are the only two I've seen in stores I've been in. It seems .38 special is harder to find than 9mm at the moment.

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Nick Fury

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+1 for Buffalo Bore ammo.
-1 for hollow points in a 2" barrel.

I have been reloading various calibers with Buffalo Bore ballistic specs in mind. They are on to something in regards to the defensive or hunting round.
Hollow points would not expand out of my 2" barrel or get above 900fps.
Go with the heaviest bullet in a given caliber for best penetration. Light and fast is energy wasted. See BrassFetcher on YouTube for visual proof.
Smaller calibers preserve penetration energy better in solid bullets but most factory ammo is at lower target velocities.

I would stake my life on the above information but as always mileage may vary...
 

Nick Fury

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I look forward to playing with short barrel Gold Dots when I can find some bullets for sale...

I do wonder however if that expansion would end up being beneficial?

If you watch ALL the BrassFetcher jello vids you will see several that expand too much or too early and lose a lot of penetration.

One thing about I've found about defense ammo: Just because they sell it doesn't mean it's any good...
 

whacko

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I go with the heavier is better theory. If you can find 158 grain hollow points that is what I would use. I carry Hornady 158 grn hollows in my ruger sp101 in .357 mag and 135 grn cor bon .38 +p in the 642. Have not found anything heavier yet for the .38 but if I can find it I'll buy it.
 
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