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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All:

New to this forum and have learned quite a bit of info.

I'd like to go back a bit in time to when I first developed an interest in snubnose revolvers. Used to run around some crummy areas of Chicago and always had a 36 to carry.

At the suggeation of a friend who was a cop, I carried a 200 gr RNL homemade .38 SPCL round. We'd load these with 3.8 gr of Unique. After 40 years, I still do. Use a 195 gr RNL Lyman#358430.

We tested some of these by shooting boards and phone books. It always wound up that the bullet would end up tumbling after about 3-4" of penetration. Bullets would never exit from 7" of pine or two Chicago phone books.

Remember, this was before everybody thought faster and lighter is better than bigger and slower.

Has anybody else used or tested tis round?

This only worked when fired from a short barrel. 4" barrel would not result in tumbling.

Please pass on your comments.


· Premium Member
3,910 Posts
Hello and welcome to the site. No, sir, I've not done any work with handgun bullets that were expected to tumble. Checking an old Lyman manual, it shows a 195-gr. cast bullet from a 6" bbl getting 572 ft/sec from 3.0 grains Unique to 4.1 grains max for 772 ft/sec, again from a 6" bbl. Obviously, the Model 36 will have less velocity. Only and estimate to be sure, but I am guessing that 3.8 grains with that bullet should hit around 600 ft/sec or so from the snub.

A factory load that was similar was Winchester's "Super Police" .38 Special that used a 200-gr. Lubaloy RN bullet. I never chronographed any of this discontinued load, but shooting some from a 4" revolver resulted in good accuracy but poor penetration on even vehicle sheet metal doors. I have no personal experience how it has worked or not worked from a snub against "soft targets". I have read that it was not impressive, but again I do not have any first-hand information.

It seems reasonable that IF the bullet does tumble in soft targets, that its wounding effect would be enhanced but by how much I simply do not know.

I think that were I going to use a solid bullet handload for serious purposes I'd go with a hard cast SWC or full cast WC in the 150 to 160-gr. weight range loaded to higher velocities.

Best and welcome to the site.

· Registered
361 Posts
I once took a whitetail deer with a long-barreled S&W Model 14 loaded with a 200 grain Remington round nosed lead component bullet over a maximum charge of 2400 as listed in the Lyman 42nd edition guide for that 195 grain cast bullet. The bullet was dead soft. It took the buck down effectively at close range and didn't exit. It was found on the off side of the deer with a big smear of lead about the size of a quarter on one side. It retained over 80% of its weight.

From the 8-3/8 barrel it chronographed around 925 fps which would be more than could be achieved from a snub.

On another non-test I fired one of these loads through a 4-inch barrel at some gallon milk jugs filled with water. I'd intended to catch the bullet so placed 5 or 6 jugs in a row. It penetrated all the jugs and I heard it thwack into a tree in the scrub behind the jugs. Seems like my handloading notes say that it traveled around 830 fps from the 4-inch barrel.

I'd bought up all the Remington 200 grain .38 bullets that Alpine Range had in stock on a close out years ago and played with them. They were interesting but I couldn't really see any particular value in the extra-heavy-for-cartridge slug. The .38 Special seemed to work about as well with 158 grain SWC's loaded to +P velocities. Took a doe a few years back with that concoction from my 4-inch Model 10. The bullet exited, the deer floundered about 40 yards in a semi-circle, fell on her back and expired.

I'd have to agree with Stephan and go with a 158 grain SWC in the .38 Special. They core things out really well. No way would I rely on any bullet to tumble to attain effectiveness.

Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Guys:

This load was a duplicate to the "Super Police" and was intended for up-close shooting from the 2" barrel.

The "SP" wasn't a very good load for general service, but was supposed to be excellent for the Snubnose. It's nice because of the low flash and recoil and is easy to handle from an Airweight.

I don't like the +P or .357M for a snubnose; too difficult to control and recover.

What would it take to do some testing?



· Registered
2,064 Posts

First howdy sir and welcome to the site. We look forward to you sharing your thoughts with us as we simply enjoy sharing our experience with firearms, ammo and other related topics.

I found your post interesting. I understand what you mean by heavy and slow. I am a big fan of the 45 Colt round, and that is exactly the virtues I see it has always offered it users. A large chunk of lead moving downrange at a very controllable velocity. I own several SAA clones and while they could easily handle a bit stouter load, I am very happy with shooting something at the old "standard" level.

As far as loading the heavier bullets in .38 spc, I have never done that myself, nor do I know anyone who has. Well now I do, since you have been loading them for about 40 years or so.

The heaviest bullet I have ever loaded for a .38 spc was a 158 gr projectile, usually either WC, SCW, SWCHP or JHP designs. When I started using a speed loader routinely, I switched from the WC bullets over to the SWC to be able to practice more realistically with the speed loaders.

I had several cops I worked with who asked me to work up a house load they could put it their wife's night stand revolver. They wanted something reliable, but did not want to use HPs which were fairly stout 30 some years ago anyway. They also felt the average .38 spc SWC-HP was too hot for their wives to shoot well.

I am working strictly from memory here, as my early reloading records were destroyed in Hurricane Andrew in 1992. But it seems like I worked up a 158 gr SWC using 3.2 or 3.4 grains of Bullseye.

I just checked a couple of reloading manuals as I wanted to be certain these were safe loads. One manual specifically listed in a non +P, standard velocity section a starting charge of 3.1 grains of Bullseye at 752 fps, with a max charge of 3.5 grains for 814 fps. This data was obtained using a 6" model 14.

As has been debated recently, some of us older folks seem to feel reloading manuals and factory ammo have both become a bit tamer in recent years too. This manual listed 3.5 as the max, while I seem to recall 3.4 was near the starting load level 30 some odd years ago too.

You are making your own bullets so their availability is not an issue as it might otherwise be. But I too tend to think using a 158 SWC or SWCHP would make a very acceptable personal defense load for your snub gun too. I recall taking several of these wives out to let them shoot their intended house loads. None of the wives felt the loads were too hot for them to shoot comfortably in rapid fire, and they got surprisingly good accuracy from these loads as well.

Again from memory, I recall all of these house guns as being model 36s, model 10s, model 12s, or model 15s - but all with the snub barrels. They all seemed to handle these "house rounds" well. Fortunately, none of these ladies ever had to determine how effective a stopper these loads were, so I can not offer any real performance information.

As far as testing in concerned, both Mr. Camp and Mr. Old Grandpa (the moderator for this room) and other members, have done some fairly extensive bullet testing over the years. I tend to consider Mr. OG to be our resident wet pack "expert", as he has done a lot of that type of ammo testing.

I am not sure what type of testing you are considering. But if it involved wet packs, I am sure that OG or some other members can offer you some suggestions on how to conduct that type of load testing. If you do conduct some tests of your load, please post your results here for our members to see.


· Registered
720 Posts
also, welcome from me. To do some testing that you asked about, here is what I recommend...
1. save enough newpapers to make a dry stack about 9", discard the slick advertisements. Then soak in a tub 24 -48 hours, place in a box and you're ready to do a "wetpack" test. This link shows some info..

2. If you own a chronograph or can buy one, some velocity tests would also be good.

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