Defensive loads for a j-frame [Archive] - Glock Talk

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Illini38
03-11-2012, 13:33
Mas,

First and foremost let me thank you for your many years of contributions to firearms publications and education.

My question today revolves around (pun intended) 38 special loadings for my j-frame snubbies. I frequently pocket carry an M&P 340 or a 649 Bodyguard (older model chambered in 38 rather than .357). I have read many of your earlier articles documenting your preference for the "FBI Load," 158 grain Remington 38P and your newer preference the 135 grain GDSB by Durham. I for one think either are excellent loads and also keep a few 125 grain Nyclads and some 125 grain gold dots in case we run into another ammo shortage.

Mas, my question is this: based on what you know, what is the advantage of the GDSB 135 grain load over the old standby FBI load? Is there a performance edge other than the issue in the featherweight snubs of potential for the bullet to pull loose from the casing? I noticed when I tested some Remi 158's in my M&P 340 that the fifth round had started to pull forward a bit. Also how would a medium power Magnum load like a .357 DPX or a Golden Saber compare to a 38P from my M&P 340?

Also don't let my username fool you. Although I grew up in Illinois, I got smarter and moved down to Georgia, so this is a very pertinent CCW issue for me.

Thanks and best regards,
Byron

Mas Ayoob
03-11-2012, 19:25
Glad you found a free state that accepts refugees! :supergrin:

My preference for the Speer 135 grain +P load over my former favorite (and still #2 choice) FBI load (158 grain LSWCHP +P) for .38 Special snubs comes from the following, not necessarily in order of priority.

1. Excellent track record with NYPD and other large depts.

2. Superior accuracy in my experience to LHP +P .38 out of snubs in particular.

3. Palpably lighter recoil.

4. As you've noted, in very light revolvers (such as S&W 342, one of the guns in my own "carry rotation" for backup, or the 340 PD), I've seen the lead bullet loads "prairie dog" forward sufficiently to protrude from the front of the cylinder and bind the gun. You saw it in your heavier 340 M&P. The longer cylinder plus the greater weight of the 340 M&P over the 340 PD has, in my experience, kept it from moving far enough forward to lock up THAT gun, but it's still unsettling. The much tighter crimp on the Gold Dot jacketed bullet seems to always keep this from happening, in my experience.

The milder .357 loads with jacketed bullets are very promising in the little guns, but still much snappier in terms of controllability than the 135 grain Speer Gold Dot .38 Special +P. For me, the latter is an ideal balance of downrange performance with in-hand controllability. Of course, YMMV.

Best,
Mas

Illini38
03-12-2012, 15:56
Mas, Thank you very much for the response. What you said on the jacketed loads makes sense. Also appreciate your insight into why you continue to carry the 38P instead of magnum loads in your j-frames. At the end of the day ability to control the weapon, and place accurate initial and follow up shots at adequate speed is critical should you ever need to use the gun in your defense.

Illini38
03-12-2012, 16:06
Also, I will add that i used to own a bobbed hammer 337 (same Airlite TI series as your 342). I didn't even attempt to fire more than one unjacketed LHP load from a cylinder based on your other comments. I recently sold that one to a buddy though to get the M&P 340. Was hoping the LHP would be an option for it, but the bullet moving forward at the range was unsettling enough that I think I'd avoid it for carry. Agree with your take on the longer cylinder in the 357 making a jam less likely though. Have observed no problem with the LHP load in my all steel 649.

Illini38
03-12-2012, 19:04
Mas,

One other question for you on 38+P loads. Have you heard of any shootings with the 130 grain Winchester PDX1? If so, how did the round perform? The Gold Dot clearly beat the PDX1 in the race for great jacketed snub load, but at least to my untrained eye the PDX1 appears to be a similar bullet design.

PS I might see you and Herman down at Mag-40 in Live Oak if you do a fall session. Not too long of a drive from Atlanta. :D

Thanks again for your thoughts and best wishes,
Byron