I fired my J frame today at the local range. Mixed in with some old reloads were some factory +P rounds. Talk about recoil! Whoever thinks a +P JHP .38 will not stop a bad guy is WRONG! My hand still hurts. Other than that, I spent a nice afternoon shooting with my son.
The Airweight J-frames can be a handful with the +P ammo. I especially dislike using the 158 gr +P stuff. The lighter bullet ammo seems to have less felt recoil--125 gr JHP and the 135 gr Speer Gold Dot HP, for example.
There's a few good standard pressure .38 Special loads out there. Federal's 125 gr Nyclad HP "Chief's Special" load mild on recoil but has a good reputation for stopping bad guys. Hornady's "Critical Defense" ammo in non-+P .38 Special is also popular. You may want to give them a try.