Need ammo advice for old Colt Detective .38 special
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Thread: Need ammo advice for old Colt Detective .38 special

  1. #1
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    Default Need ammo advice for old Colt Detective .38 special

    I inherited an old 1960's era Colt detective .38 special. It has plastic colt grips and is very lightweight. What types of quality hollow point ammunition that will get the job done would you recommend? I was told not to shoot +P ammo. Please help with experienced advice.

  2. #2
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    You stated that it's very light weight.
    Make sure the frame is actually steel and not aluminum.
    It's not unusual to see Colt "D" frame revolvers that have barrels off other models.
    As example a Detective Special barrel used to replace a Cobra or Agent aluminum framed barrel.

    These Colt small frame revolvers were set up in the factory for the 158 grain bullet. Lighter bullets may not shoot to point of aim but will still work very well.
    A small amount of +P ammo will not destroy the gun. Many people shoot standard .38 Special ammo for practice and load up with +P ammo for actual carry.
    You just don't want to shoot a lot of the +P.

    Basically, I'd shop for any standard .38 Special premium defense type non-+P ammo made by an American company.
    A popular type is the non-+P 125 grain jacketed, hollow point. Most ammo companies make this load.

    A really good one is the Buffalo Bore Company non-+P 158 grain, lead, semi-wadcutter, hollow point.
    This is a non-+P version of the original +P load that ended the police problems with failures to stop with the old 158 grain round nose lead that became known as a "widow maker" for the failures.
    In the full +P load the street cops called it the ".38 SPLAT" for the sound it supposedly made when it hit.
    This load was known as the FBI, Federal, LAPD, New Orleans, St Louis, etc load, depending on where you lived.
    Even in a non-+P it's still an effective defense load.

    The bullet is made of a special very soft lead and has a gas check on the back to prevent leading.

    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/45...oint-box-of-20

    So, either a 125 grain jacketed hollow point by Federal, Winchester, Remington etc, or the Buffalo Bore 158 LSWHP.

  3. #3
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    I should have looked at it before posting. It is a Cobra #9370 LW and it seems like aluminum.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails image_1497835316246.jpg  


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  5. #4
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    I like lead .38 hollow based WAD cutters cuts a nice sharp hole and expands because of the soft lead and I think the 38 special 158 gr. lead hollow point the old FBI or Chicago load would be ok to carry even in +p just practice with non +p ammo.

  6. #5
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    Wad cutters.

  7. #6
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    I would stay away from plus P ammo altogether. As stated above, 158 grain round nose or semi-wadcutter will shoot to point of aim. Wadcutters are definitely another option.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Thagomizer View Post
    I would stay away from plus P ammo altogether. As stated above, 158 grain round nose or semi-wadcutter will shoot to point of aim. Wadcutters are definitely another option.
    +P won't "blow it up", but it WILL put more wear on the gun (locking mechanism) if fired regularly, thus, while the "best advice" for the gun is to just stay away from +P's altogether, a not-unsafe realistic carry practice is to practice with standard ammo and carry +P (for what little +P .38 Special will get you).

    Proof loads are MAP+30%. (17kpsi + 5,100psi), The gun must be un-damaged by the proof load.
    .38 Special +P is only MAP+10% (17kpsi +1,700psi).
    I don't always venture out into the sub-freezing darkness, but when I do, it is hunting season, and I carry a Browning. Stay hungry my friends.

  9. #8
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    I can only relate what happened to me. Once upon a time, I owned a used S&W model 12-an airweight K-frame, 2 inch revolver. I loaded a cylinder full of S&W plus P ammo ( remember the S&W blue box ammo?) Anyway on the 4th shot, the gun sounded and acted strangely. I looked down to see the cylinder gap was about an eighth of an inch! Further examination showed that the frame just under the barrel threads was split and the barrel had jumped ahead one set of threads.
    Was this a fluke? Maybe. I have no idea what was shot in the gun before I owned it.
    The sequel of the story was that I was so sick at being so stupid, that I gave the gun to my cousin for parts. He promptly sent it to the factory for an estimate on repair costs-you guessed it-they warrantied it and fixed it for nothing. Then I really felt stupid! Anyway, shoot what you like-I know what I would do.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by rpf2697 View Post
    I should have looked at it before posting. It is a Cobra #9370 LW and it seems like aluminum.
    Stick to standard velocity factory ammo for your pistol and it will be fine.
    Jim

  11. #10
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    Do NOT shoot +P ammo in these old aluminum frame revolvers period. Use standard velocity loads. Would recommend nothing heavier than 125 gr.

    The frame will crack . Have seen it more than once.

    From pic posted it looks to be in nice shape. You may want to reconsider carrying it a whole lot since the price on all Colt "snake guns" has really gotten up there.

  12. #11
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    Thank you all for fantastic advice!

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