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Thread: Best commercial 38 special self defense load

  1. #1
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    Default Best commercial 38 special self defense load

    Howdy folks
    My sister recently brought one of those 'pretty' hamerless short barreled 5 shot stainless S&W for self protection. I am going to take her to the range to shoot it some next week. She has a box of Winchester fmj rounds to target shoot with. What are the best self defense loads for the old police round? does hornady make a good sof point bullet "hydroshock?" for hand loading? I would appreciate any good handloads also.
    thanks a lot for any ideas!
    gil

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    Gil

    There are several very good self defense rounds made by different manufacturers. Buy a box of one of the better brand names. They usually come in small boxes of, say, 10 or 20, so they are not real expensive. Don't buy MagSafe since they are meant for autos and aren't as good as the regular self defense loads.

    Have her practice with regular 38 Special ammo, then shoot one cylinder full of the real stuff so she knows what to expect. At the end of each year, have her shoot the remainder and then buy a new box. That way she will always have fresh ammo in her S&W.

    Check out the CCW forum also.

    ray

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    First, is the gun rated for +P ammo? If so any +P JHP in 125gr. should work just fine. The Federal Nyclad is a good round as is the 129gr. Premium Hydra-Shok. The problem is the shorter barrel gives lower velocity than say a 4" and many JHP rounds need more velocity to really open up. The Nyclad is a Hollow Point design without the harder jacket, nylon coated, and expands well at lower velocities. Maybe hard to find though. The 110gr. Federal Premium Personal Defense is another choice and Hydra-Shok design. Not +P rated. If she can handle something with a little more umph, Federal also makes a Nyclad 158gr SWC-HP. Would give better penetration along with expansion.
    To my knowledge, Federal is the only one that makes a Hydro-Shok design bullet. As well as the Nyclad design. Don't know if you can buy the bullets for handloading though as I have never seen them on any of the sites I buy from.
    If a man has nothing greater to believe in than himself, he is a very lonely man.

    I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

    I thought that I heard you laughing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MEJ1990TM View Post
    Well, all right. Maybe just this once.

  4. #4
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    Speer was making some ammo just for short barrels. Very good expansion at low velocities. I like hydroshocks personally because they are more accurate but at self defense distances it doesn't make enough of a difference. You may want to get a trigger job on that to make it a little lighter and smoother. With practice those light weight j-frames are surprisingly accurate. Great carry gun.
    The soothing light at the end of your tunnel is just a freight train coming your way.

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    I purchased a similar revolver (the 638 with the shrouded hammer) and I bought the Winchester PDX1 ammo for the self defense round, mainly just because a) the FBI uses it, and b) it was the only .38spl defense ammo I can find in my area. I use the Golden Sabre for all my autoloaders.

    Howard

    Here was my post on the potential of this revolver:
    http://forums.gunboards.com/showthre...ve-the-S-W-638

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    I chronographed some of Blue Bunny's Golder Shot, a 148gbr inverted plated HBWC at an average of 917fps out of a 2" barrel - this round offers a very good balance as a self defense load, in my opinion. Blue Bunny also offers the traditional "FBI" load of a +P 158gr HPSWC that clocked, out of my guns, a little faster (30-50fps) than the Remington offering.

    http://bluebunnyammo.eastsidegunshop.com/

    I have used Speer's 135gr +P on coyotes in the past and was pleased with its performance.

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    cci nmakes some good +p 38 special. other than that i prefer full metal jacket 130 grain.

    it was good enough for guarding U.S. bases in world war 2



    FIVESHOT

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    Quote Originally Posted by FIVESHOT View Post
    cci nmakes some good +p 38 special. other than that i prefer full metal jacket 130 grain.
    fit was good enough for guarding U.S. bases in world war 2
    I think the FMJ 130 grain load is great--for anyone who's signed the Geneva Convention.

    As mentioned, whether the weapon is rated for +P is a factor--but if Sis is being dragged into an alley by some creep, I doubt if her first concern will be that she might void her warrenty by shooting the creep in question with +P ammunition. I personally carry +P rounds in any .38 Special, including pre-+P era weapons, and weapons wiith alloy frame, but practice with regular loads. Others may feel differently.

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    Quote Originally Posted by El Bibliotecario View Post
    I think the FMJ 130 grain load is great--for anyone who's signed the Geneva Convention.

    As mentioned, whether the weapon is rated for +P is a factor--but if Sis is being dragged into an alley by some creep, I doubt if her first concern will be that she might void her warrenty by shooting the creep in question with +P ammunition. I personally carry +P rounds in any .38 Special, including pre-+P era weapons, and weapons wiith alloy frame, but practice with regular loads. Others may feel differently.
    El Bib, did not mean a question about this, rather if the weapon was rated for +P ammo. If not, you don't want to punish the gun. I agree you can practice, and should, with standard 38 loads in any 38 special and just use +P for that one time you may really need them and it won't punish the gun much. But it is not a round that you want to use frequently in a weapon that is not rated for +P.
    If a man has nothing greater to believe in than himself, he is a very lonely man.

    I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

    I thought that I heard you laughing.
    I thought that I heard you sing.
    I think I thought I saw you cry.
    Quote Originally Posted by MEJ1990TM View Post
    Well, all right. Maybe just this once.

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    If she can handle the snap and recoil of +P loads and get good hits at speed:

    Speer "Gold Dot" short-barrel 38 SPL+P 135gr. GDHP 2391.
    Remington LHP [LSWCHP to be precise] 38 SPL+P 158gr. R38S12

    If she can not:
    1. Hornady "Critical Defense" 38 SPL 110gr. FTX 90310
    2. Federal "Nyclad" 38 SPL 125gr. [just came back out again after several years]

    Practice often. Shoot about fifty *meaningful* rounds per session.
    You might like:
    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/Revolver%20Ad.htm

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by armyrat1970 View Post
    El Bib, did not mean a question about this, rather if the weapon was rated for +P ammo. If not, you don't want to punish the gun. I agree you can practice, and should, with standard 38 loads in any 38 special and just use +P for that one time you may really need them and it won't punish the gun much. But it is not a round that you want to use frequently in a weapon that is not rated for +P.
    Sorry for the misunderstanding. I agree with you about infrequent use only.

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    I love and use in my S&W model 12 ,36,37,642 and Colt Det. Spec,s and Cobra
    Buffalo Bore standard pressure short barrel low flash HVY .38 spec.{non + p} 158 soft lead SWC-HC @850 fps
    p/s this load is very acurate in all the above snubbie's .It's not cheap at about $24.00 a box of 20 but imo it's worth it.
    collector of mil-surp's

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    When the search feature is back up look for the post on this forum where I was asking about low-recoil, low-flash defensive loads in this caliber. Within the actual limits of the snub-nosed revolver I still think a .38 Special wad-cutter in the kiske is better than some high-tech fancy pants hollow point flying into the sky or into the ground. If you can get the person in mind to shoot the more advanced ammo so be it. On the other hand, wadcutter will do quite a bit of damage (albeit nothing like a hollow point) and will almost certainly turn away an attacker IF she can get the bullets onto target.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Jon Littman View Post
    When the search feature is back up look for the post on this forum where I was asking about low-recoil, low-flash defensive loads in this caliber. Within the actual limits of the snub-nosed revolver I still think a .38 Special wad-cutter in the kiske is better than some high-tech fancy pants hollow point flying into the sky or into the ground. If you can get the person in mind to shoot the more advanced ammo so be it. On the other hand, wadcutter will do quite a bit of damage (albeit nothing like a hollow point) and will almost certainly turn away an attacker IF she can get the bullets onto target.
    Well I may be wrong but I thought the 158 38SPL was a round that was used for Law inforcement with good results. Maybe not the best but I would have no problems using it for my home defense. Of course if we know of something better we should use the better cartridge but, if it is all you got, use it. It has been proven to work. Hell. I don't want to be shot with a 25 ACP which many feel is a meek and weak cartridge. I had a cousin that was shot and killed with a 22. Also had a friend that was shot with a 22 and survived with no big problems other than a culostamy. I'm sure I'm not spelling it right but it's nothing I want to go through.
    If a man has nothing greater to believe in than himself, he is a very lonely man.

    I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

    I thought that I heard you laughing.
    I thought that I heard you sing.
    I think I thought I saw you cry.
    Quote Originally Posted by MEJ1990TM View Post
    Well, all right. Maybe just this once.

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    I'm like El Bibliotecario. All my .38 Special guns used for self defense are loaded with +P ammunition. I like the +p 158 grain lead SWC best.

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    Quote Originally Posted by armyrat1970 View Post
    Well I may be wrong but I thought the 158 38SPL was a round that was used for Law inforcement with good results. Maybe not the best but I would have no problems using it for my home defense. Of course if we know of something better we should use the better cartridge but, if it is all you got, use it. It has been proven to work. Hell. I don't want to be shot with a 25 ACP which many feel is a meek and weak cartridge. I had a cousin that was shot and killed with a 22. Also had a friend that was shot with a 22 and survived with no big problems other than a culostamy. I'm sure I'm not spelling it right but it's nothing I want to go through.
    Well, I only mentioned the wadcutter ammo in the event that the person who ends up actually shooting this revolver is blast or recoil shy. It has been my experience that many women will talk a good game but will actually not end up resorting to the use of a firearm due to their fear of recoil or blast. Personally, in my .38 Specials, I use either a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point +P (.38 Special LSWHP+P) or the Speer Gold Dot .38 Special 135gr +P. The first load, called the Metro load in South Florida from its' days as the standard issued ammunition to the Metro-Dade Police Department (also called the FBI Load, etc) has a very long and laudible record of actual use in the field. The second round has begun to also return remarkable results from use in the field. I can attest too that both rounds, particularly the heavier round, produce blast and recoil from light, snub nosed type revolvers. As to the use of lead round nosed ammo I cannot find anyone who would support the use of this choice with so many better options available today.

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    Thanks for all the ideas fellas! We are headed to the range tomorrow or Friday just to familarize her with the pistol. Seems a handy litle piece, stainless steel, no hammer and I consider it safer for her to have in a bedside table than say a 380 or 9x18 automatic. I will research it a little moreas I am not sure of the P rating El B, and yes MJL wadcutter loads is first hing I thought of. When I get back to Alaska I will do some reloading for it.
    thanks again
    gil

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    If this is her first firearm or she is not familiar with the recoil you would do best to follow MJL's advice.

    I think way too much thought is put into special ammo, and not enough though is put into shooting fast and on target, or under stress.

    Buy her a couple boxes of wadcutters, try the FMJ ammo, work her up to whatever SHE feels comfortable with.

    Train her to shoot to stop and to shoot from cover whenever possible.

    Make barriers between her and the aggressor.

    Try to minimize standing isosceles in front of a pie plate at seven yards.

    (Good for an NRA instructor's basic course, bad for practical application.)
    Semper Fi,
    ret_Marine2003

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Jon Littman View Post
    Well, I only mentioned the wadcutter ammo in the event that the person who ends up actually shooting this revolver is blast or recoil shy. It has been my experience that many women will talk a good game but will actually not end up resorting to the use of a firearm due to their fear of recoil or blast. Personally, in my .38 Specials, I use either a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point +P (.38 Special LSWHP+P) or the Speer Gold Dot .38 Special 135gr +P. The first load, called the Metro load in South Florida from its' days as the standard issued ammunition to the Metro-Dade Police Department (also called the FBI Load, etc) has a very long and laudible record of actual use in the field. The second round has begun to also return remarkable results from use in the field. I can attest too that both rounds, particularly the heavier round, produce blast and recoil from light, snub nosed type revolvers. As to the use of lead round nosed ammo I cannot find anyone who would support the use of this choice with so many better options available today.
    Of course I agree with your assumtion but you also have to remember that before any HP bullets were developed the lead RN was a killing bullet. And was used with great effect. It may have taken the perp a little more time to demise but demise he did. I would rather have a HP round in any of my handguns (depending on the cartridge) but will feel comfortable with a LRN. The old war veteran 1911 is always looked at as sporting a 230gr FMJ which is RN and non expandable. Of course we have better bullets to use for it now but the 230gr FMJ was, and still is very deadly. And of course shot placement means a hell of alot.
    Women talking a good game? I will leave that between you and them.
    Last edited by armyrat1970; 01-14-2010 at 07:39 AM.
    If a man has nothing greater to believe in than himself, he is a very lonely man.

    I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

    I thought that I heard you laughing.
    I thought that I heard you sing.
    I think I thought I saw you cry.
    Quote Originally Posted by MEJ1990TM View Post
    Well, all right. Maybe just this once.

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    Quote Originally Posted by armyrat1970 View Post
    Women talking a good game? I will leave that between you and them.

    Understood after LONG experience with the sex.....

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    How does Hornady XTP jacketed hollowpoints stand up? That's what I keep in my pre-model 10 (not +P, wanna be nice to it. There's backups and backups for the backups closeby!). They look mean as hell...

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    Others will correct me if I am wrong but my understanding through much reading and some experience is a hollow point bullet needs at least 1000fps before it will expand reliably. Of course that all depends on the makeup of the bullet itself. Lead, jacketed or say Nyclad. And then penertration depends on many other factors like shooting through heavy clothing or just through a T-shirt. I don't want a bullet that will only penetrate 4" when I can have a bullet that will penetrate 10". Many different things effect the performance of a given bullet. I don't believe there is any one given test or evaluation that can prove to be the right choice in every given situation. I have read of the 45ACP bouncing off of windshields. I have read of State Troopers putting six shots of 357 into a perp before it slowed him down. The Trooper himself was hit a few times when returning fire. And the bad guy pulled a semi 45 Thompson out of the back of his truck.
    The best thing we can do is find a cartridge that we feel comfortable with and practice with it until we know we can place our shots where they will do the most damage. Any caliber handgun you may have on you at the time. The bad thing is that is just our practice and not when actually under fire from a perp that wants to do away with our life. Punching holes through paper is a totally different thing as opposed to being under fire and returning fire to keep yourself alive.
    I have had a few guys tell me they never want to get into a shoot out with me because I shoot well. But if they are popping caps at me at the same time, how will I respond? I can punch holes in paper well enough with every weapon I have. Being under fire, and returning fire, is a totally different thing.
    If a man has nothing greater to believe in than himself, he is a very lonely man.

    I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

    I thought that I heard you laughing.
    I thought that I heard you sing.
    I think I thought I saw you cry.
    Quote Originally Posted by MEJ1990TM View Post
    Well, all right. Maybe just this once.

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    This thread is great as I carry a Taurus UL and just purchased a Model 15 S&W to keep next to the bed for my wife.Both are initially loaded with Nyclad 158 gr,but no one here has mentioned the possibility of a stress related reload, or is 5 or 6 rounds all anyone carries?
    I have competed in IPSC and IDPA both semi and revolver, and I can tell you...you don't want to try to reload LSWC under stress if you don't have to...they hang up badly on the cylinder opening.
    My speed loaders have JHP's of some sort in them.

    I'm gonna scope out theBlue bunny stuff and Buffalo Bore..I want to visit that Shop in Nashville

    My .02..comments welcome

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    In the real world, it is mighty seldom you need to releoad. All will generally be said, done, and over with after a couple are fired. Soldiers are in a different boat, and so are cops, though they (cops) usually shouldn't be.
    Absent comrades (sound of breaking glass)

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    Quote Originally Posted by swabbie View Post
    This thread is great as I carry a Taurus UL and just purchased a Model 15 S&W to keep next to the bed for my wife.Both are initially loaded with Nyclad 158 gr,but no one here has mentioned the possibility of a stress related reload, or is 5 or 6 rounds all anyone carries?
    I have competed in IPSC and IDPA both semi and revolver, and I can tell you...you don't want to try to reload LSWC under stress if you don't have to...they hang up badly on the cylinder opening.
    My speed loaders have JHP's of some sort in them.

    I'm gonna scope out theBlue bunny stuff and Buffalo Bore..I want to visit that Shop in Nashville

    My .02..comments welcome
    In my opinion it's not a bad idea to have a speed loader handy around the house. I also have a 20" Mossberg Special Purpose. I am a firm believer in the fact that it is better to have and not need than to need and not have.
    If a man has nothing greater to believe in than himself, he is a very lonely man.

    I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

    I thought that I heard you laughing.
    I thought that I heard you sing.
    I think I thought I saw you cry.
    Quote Originally Posted by MEJ1990TM View Post
    Well, all right. Maybe just this once.

  26. #26
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    The Taurus Model 85 UL and other Taurus model 85 pistols may be the exception when it comes to speed loaders.

    Taurus, as most of us already know does a good job of taking other manufacturer's designs and mimicking them and offering their product at a lower competitive price. I used to love their stuff when I was in the business, because they sold well.
    I personally carried a model 85 ultra light as my carry weapon since the mid to late 1990's.
    I liked that pistol until they changed the CWP laws in Michigan and I had to take the NRA test.
    My pistol was one of the first models with the trigger lock in the hammer.
    I had kids in my house at the time and thought that would be a useful feature.
    Turns out that there is a flaw in that design that becomes apparent after you shoot a box or two of ammo out of the pistol.
    Taurus used too many different kinds of metal in making the locking pistols and that metal heats up at different speeds affecting the timing of the pistol. When the pistol becomes hot it starts binding and shaving lead.

    Going back to the speed loader subject...
    NONE of the standard round speedloaders worked well with any model 85 that I have sold.
    I learned to use the strip style speed loaders that used to go in my dump pouches.
    If you can find these speed loaders for sale,and own a Taurus model 85, buy them.
    The round loaders will not get you close enough to seat in the cylinder without binding in some way most of the time.
    I eventually became practiced enough where I could drop the ammo directly into the cylinder with 9/10 reliability.
    I doubt I could do it well under stress, and all reloads should be under stress if you want to train yourself to do that effectively should you need to.
    (Time yourself)
    Semper Fi,
    ret_Marine2003

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    Default Be Sure to Hit the intended target . . . Practice is important!

    A guy I know of is a first-time, recent, handgun owner with a 38 snub. He is really gung-ho and buzzed with all the premium hollowpoint +P ammo that's out in the marketplace. But, he does absolutely nothing with regards to putting in ANY practice time with his revolver.

    That would not be so bad if it wasn't for the fact that his gun-handling skills are extremely awkward. An aspect going against him is that he's not the most coordinated when it comes to "hand-to-eye" use with hitting any target he aims at. When he went through CCW certification, he struggled with the firing range shooting qualification aspect of the course . . . and there was no time limit for hitting the targets.

    My point is, the absolutely BEST ammo in the world won't do a person any good unless he/she can hit the intended target . . . and being able to do so under stressful situations.

    So, it is very important to make the time for practice. Even dry-firing the snub, with going through the motions of drawing the snub, taking aim, and pulling the trigger can be of benefit to get the feel of the revolver.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by armyrat1970 View Post
    Others will correct me if I am wrong but my understanding through much reading and some experience is a hollow point bullet needs at least 1000fps before it will expand reliably. Of course that all depends on the makeup of the bullet itself. Lead, jacketed or say Nyclad. And then penertration depends on many other factors like shooting through heavy clothing or just through a T-shirt. I don't want a bullet that will only penetrate 4" when I can have a bullet that will penetrate 10". Many different things effect the performance of a given bullet. I don't believe there is any one given test or evaluation that can prove to be the right choice in every given situation. I have read of the 45ACP bouncing off of windshields. I have read of State Troopers putting six shots of 357 into a perp before it slowed him down. . . .

    Hollow point handgun bullets are always problematic. We don't get to shoot naked perps, so the bullet is subject to the clothing, the number of layers, etc, etc. It may, or may not expand.

    Back in the ancient early 1970s our issued load was the Winchester 158 Lubaloy lead semi wadcutter in the .357 Magnum ( 5" barreled S&W ). More often than not, it would go through the perp, but not after hitting bone, deforming, exiting, and hopefully stopping somewhere without hitting someone else. The advent of Federal's 125 grain JHP in the .357 Magnum changed the dynamic altogether.

    The advantage of a revolver round, like the lead 158 gr SWC-HP, is that the bullet can have significant exposed lead and not worry about feed ramps, magazines, etc. In the .38 Special LSWC-HP, the bullet can be swaged soft enough to expand at lower non +P .38 Special velocities. No, it's not going to fragment all over the place, but it will do what it needs to do.

    For many years the Royal Canadian Mounted Police load for their .38 Revolvers was a 158 grain LSWC-HP loaded to produce at least 1000 fps muzzle velocity from their Model 10 revolvers. It's a stout +P load that Cor-Bon had duplicated a few years back. The RCMP reportedly had good results with it.

    Would be nice if someone would commercially offer the 148 grain lead hollowbase wadcutter, seated upside down, with a nice gas check on the bottom to let it spit out at around 850-900 fps . . .
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    "Would be nice if someone would commercially offer the 148 grain lead hollowbase wadcutter, seated upside down, with a nice gas check on the bottom to let it spit out at around 850-900 fps..."

    I handloaded a box of 50 reversed hollow based wadcutters once (without the gas check) over a hefty charge of Unique. Didn't chronograph it but imagine it clocked 950-1000 fps. It was a bust for effective, dependable expansion in different non-tests I contrived such as both wet and dry Fort Worth phone books, gallon water-filled milk cartons, earth, and a mesquite stump. Accuracy didn't inspire either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by noelekal View Post
    "Would be nice if someone would commercially offer the 148 grain lead hollowbase wadcutter, seated upside down, with a nice gas check on the bottom to let it spit out at around 850-900 fps..."

    I handloaded a box of 50 reversed hollow based wadcutters once (without the gas check) over a hefty charge of Unique. Didn't chronograph it but imagine it clocked 950-1000 fps. It was a bust for effective, dependable expansion in different non-tests I contrived such as both wet and dry Fort Worth phone books, gallon water-filled milk cartons, earth, and a mesquite stump. Accuracy didn't inspire either.
    That is of course one of the upsides of handloading. I handload for 5 different calibers between handgun and rifle. I cast for four of those calibers.
    If a man has nothing greater to believe in than himself, he is a very lonely man.

    I reckon so. I guess we all died a little in that damn war.

    I thought that I heard you laughing.
    I thought that I heard you sing.
    I think I thought I saw you cry.
    Quote Originally Posted by MEJ1990TM View Post
    Well, all right. Maybe just this once.

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