Best .38 Home Defense Ammunition

Discussion in 'Ammunition & Reloading' started by BeatlesSteve, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    I bought a Ruger SP101 .38 special today, what is the best ammunition for it with regards to home defense?

    Is the best ammunition normally the most powerful for a particular firearm?
     
  2. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Never shot a 38 but I would look at this:

    Federal Premium - Handgun Details

    You should carry hollowpoint (HP or JHP) ammunition in a defensive handgun. HP ammo has superior stopping power over full metal jacket (FMJ or Ball) or round-nose lead, and stopping power is what you're looking for!
     

  3. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    Does the higher grain size mean a more powerful or better bullet?

    What you sent is a 110 grain bullet but I have seen 158 grain bullets, Is the 158 grain more powerful or have more stopping power?
     
  4. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    You need to compare different cartridges, there is a lot of physics that make up the best selection.

    What you want is maximum energy release.

    Go here and read the thread and if you need more info (or a translation) post back here and I'll help. [​IMG]

    http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/f30/newb-question-11148/#post73701
     
  5. BILLYBOB44

    BILLYBOB44 New Member

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    More power by bullet weight?

    Hay Steve, back at you- A heavier listed (on the box) bullet weight, does not amount to more stopping power. The grain weight only refers to the weight of the projectile that is going down the barrel. Most of the new defense loads use a lighter than max grain bullet driven at a lot faster speed (FPS), for more actual energy. An old guy named Hatcher did a study years ago, and found that a .357-125gr.JHP bullet had just about the same "Killing" power as a .45acp-230gr.FMJ bullet, when shot at "Test" sheep. Cane is ++ on his advise to you-there are a lot of factors involved. Find the load charts listed on the Net, and you'll see what we mean. Very good:D question, though
     
  6. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Here's an explanation of weight vs muzzle velocity with respect to energy release;

    http://www.firearmstalk.com/forums/...r-1911-460-rowland-build-off-10752/#post75149

    And PLEASE, before you go shooting any +P loads, call Ruger and ask them (not the guy you bought the gun from!) if +P (factory hot loads) are safe to use in your specific model! Their answer will tell you a lot about the quality of your gun!

    DO NOT USE +P AMMO UNTIL YOU CALL RUGER!


    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  7. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    If Ruger tells me that I can't use +P ammo but the guy at the gun shop told me that I could then I should be able to get a refund, shouldn't I?
     
  8. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Ruger is a very reputable firearms manufacture and my bet is the response will be the same as most of this level of producers provide, "You should have no problem using +P ammo but we recommend you not use a steady diet of +P. Keep in mind with any use of increased performance ammo you will produce accelerated wear to your firearm."

    Call them and see what they say. If their answer is NO, ask them why their dealers are saying the opposite and I did not get the firearm I was sold!

    Let them figure out how to keep you as a loyal customer! [​IMG]
     
  9. BILLYBOB44

    BILLYBOB44 New Member

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    Hold on !!

    Make the phone call, that Cane suggested FIRST before you make NEGATIVE assumptions. I think that you will probably be POSITIVELY surprised!:p:confused:
     
  10. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    Interesting, I didn't know performance ammo accelerates wear on the fire arm. Through my research though I did read numerous articles that said not to use the performance ammo at the range, only load it in the gun when it is put away in case it needs to be used.

    I wasn't aware that it accelerates the wear, I thought they were making that point due to a cost issue since the performance ammo is much more expensive.
     
  11. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    Not sure if you saw it but this is the response that I posted in the introduction thread regarding why I bought the .38 versus the .357:

    I was looking for the .357 but they didn't have a used .357 at the gun shop that I went to. I really like the .38 though, being my first hand gun purchase I was probably a bit hasty. I fired it and really like it a lot.

    My main concern is that a .38 special has enough power for home defense. I know I wouldn't have to ask that question if I would have waited for a .357. I am guessing though if I get the right ammunition for the .38 then it will be plenty of firepower.
     
  12. BILLYBOB44

    BILLYBOB44 New Member

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    I missed it.

    I'll have to go back and read the 38/357 thread, I missed it. Keep in mind that a .38 Special can be a good defense weapon. I know in the 60-70's it was the #1 revolver carried by most big city cops. Check the stats, there has been a lot of kills made with a .38 Spl.:D
     
  13. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    Can you please explain why the +P bullets accelerate the wear of a firearm?
     
  14. stick_man

    stick_man New Member

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    Sp101

    Just checking on Ruger's website, the only SP101 chambered ONLY for the .38Special is listed as ".38 Special +P". If that is the case with yours, chances are that it is so stamped on the barrel. The only other calibers they are showing are the new 327 Fed Magnum and the 357 Magnum.

    Given how they are promoting the SP101, I would be surprised if it was NOT chambered for the "+P" load. Despite that, if it does not clearly indicate on the barrel that it is chambered for either the ".38 Special +P" or the .357 Remington Magnum (.357 Magnum), you should definitely call Ruger before trying the +P loads in it.

    Whenever buying a gun (handgun or long gun), ALWAYS check the markings on the barrel for caliber. It is not a foolproof indication of correct caliber, but is always a good start.
     
  15. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    Thank you for your response, I have sent Ruger a response via email inquiring about the +P issue.

    I am still up in the air as to which +P bullets are most effective for home defense, but it appears that it is personal preference. It doesn't seem like there is 1 brand or grain size that is head & shoulders above the rest.
     
  16. stick_man

    stick_man New Member

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    The +P indicates higher chamber pressure, hotter loads. The higher pressure increases the stress on the metals. Also, some guns are susceptible to the topstrap fatigue from high pressure loads as the hot gases escape from the cylinder gap, in effect creating somewhat of a cutting torch on the strap immediately above it.
     
  17. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    Plus P Ammo

    Most shooters see +P and instantly think more power. Although it may be true the +P rating actually stands for "plus pressure" or "increased pressure."

    Pressure is what propels the bullet down the barrel. This pressure is regulated by an industry organization known as SAAMI (Sporting Arms and Ammunition Manufacturer's Association).

    A cartridge that has been around for a long time, is actually capable of being loaded to higher pressures than SAAMI has established. For example let's consider your .38 Special, a cartridge more than 100 years old. Many currently produced guns in this chambering can handle higher pressures but SAAMI can’t change the set standard because of the older guns in circulation. These older guns can't handle the increase safely.

    In this case SAAMI has established a second standard that is refer to as "+P." These are now considered two separate cartridges and must be marked with the +P on the headstamp. The standard .38 Special will read ".38 Special" or ".38 Sp." and the higher pressure rated cartridge is marked with a +P added to its name.

    The cartridges SAAMI has established a second, higher pressure, +P version, include the .38 Special, 9mm Luger, .38ACP, and .45ACP. All are old rounds that were created before WWI. Modern counterparts are referred to as .38 Special +P, 9mm +P, .38 Super +P, and .45ACP +P.

    The .40S&W doesn’t have a +P counterpart because it was designed in the 1990s, and all guns made for them are capable of firing the established pressure.

    The two disadvantages of the +P cartridge are, more recoil and it will be harder on the gun. Even if the gun is rated appropriate for +P ammo, it will wear out faster. The pressure of firing the gun is what wears it out, therefore the higher the pressure the more wear.

    Most of us use the +P ammo for personal defense and standard load ammo for practice. After carrying for a while we usually expend the vintage carry ammo and reload with fresh. This gives us the occasional practice with +P ammo that keeps us aware of how it feels to shoot.

    Revolvers have less to worry about because they're intrinsically stronger than autos. By design, some gas bleeds out of the gap between the cylinder and forcing cone. When I fire my Magna-ported Ruger NM Blackhawk in low light conditions it looks like a Pink Floyd concert! [​IMG]
     
  18. canebrake

    canebrake New Member

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    You still need to call Ruger and confirm your model is suitable for +P ammo!
     
  19. BeatlesSteve

    BeatlesSteve New Member

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    Thanks a lot for your response & explaining this. It totally make sense, increased pressure creates more wear & tear on the firearm.

    My next point was that shouldn't I fire a couple of +P rounds at the range just so I know how the gun will react if I need to use it for home defense?