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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My neighbor and I took our Colt Detective Specials to the range today. These are about 25 or more years old with the shrouded ejector rod.

After a few Winchester white box .38 specials I was going to fire a few 125 gr. +P's threw it.

My neighbor said, "Don't do that! These are not made for +P ammo."

My question is, are these Detective Specials rated for +P? I have never heard any warnings about the S&W Chief Specials. Could the metal on these Colts be different than the S&W's?

The one I have is my wife's gun. What would be a good choice for standard velocity self-defense rounds? Do they make a 158 gr. lead hollow point in .38 special?

Thanks for the help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
...one more thing
Is there any advantage in using .38 +P rounds in a two-inch barrel? Does one get a substantial increase in velocity from the two-inch barrel.

Thanks so much.
 

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My recollection is that the post-1972 Detective Specials (with the shrouded barrels) were rated for 1500 rounds of +P before they were supposed to be checked by a factory armorer. My recollection is that I have read that later, Colt has said "No +Ps at all." ???

I own a 1976 (shrouded barrel) Colt Agent (short-butted, aluminum-framed Detective Special), and I've fired a few +Ps in it to no ill effect. I carry +Ps in it.

However, you should contact Colt if you want the definitive answer to your question, because they're the experts.

RE: are the +Ps worth it? I think so, for the increased likelihood of adequate penetration brought by the higher velocities. On the other hand, some very knowledgeable authorities (e.g., Ammolab's David DiFabio) have recommended carrying non +P wadcutters in a short-barrelled .38, saying that they penetrate adequately, that they don't recoil much at all, and that one is unlikely to get expansion given the velocity of a bullet from a short-barrelled .38 revolver.
 
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With most all-steel, modern guns, the whole +P issue is a bit overblown... +P loads are barely discernible from regular .38 spl. loads... maybe 50 more fps at most??? Years ago (in the 70's) the typical .38 spl loads were a fair bit hotter than they are today. Today's +P ammo is no hotter than the standard .38 spl loading of the 70's.

I have four Detectives of the third and forth issues (shrouded ejectors) and I'm quite confident in carrying +P ammo in them. Colt has stated that +P ammo is safe in them, but advises inspections to make sure that the gun is doing well.



Typically I would shoot regular .38 ammo, but carry +P for defense use. Top choice? Speer's new (and hard to find due to popularity) 135 gr. +P Gold Dot loading. This loading has proven out in tests to penetrate and expand very well at 860 fps, which is what you'll get with a 2" barrel. This load was designed to perform very well from these short barreled revos.

With occasional shooting, the +P is no big deal at all with these guns. +P is generally still pretty mild stuff, really.

With alloy-framed guns, I would stick mostly with standard (non +P loads) for practice and would carry +P for defense. But with modern, quality, all-steel .38 special revolvers, +P really ain't no big deal. A steady diet of +P may accelerate wear somewhat (all mechanical things wear with any use) over standard .38 spl loads, but I think the difference is so little that it isn't of much concern at all to me... the guns will still probably outlast me by far.
 
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If it is all-steel, you're not likely to shoot over 200 +P loads in it to "be prepared" for a "serious social encounter." I wouldn't worry.

An aluminum-alloy revolver should not be shot extensively with +P ammunition. Use it sparingly when needed! A few down the pipe won't kill it, but I wouldn't make a habit of it.

Scott
 

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Thor,

Thanks, I am going to have to get a set. I've got rubber Pachmeyer grips on my DS now, which are functional if not pretty, but those Hogues are spectacular. Great pictures.
 

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Fed my Det. Special a steady diet of +P factory and handloads over the last 10 years....no problems yet, and I bought the gun used! ;)
 
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The DS all steel third edition Colt will handle +Ps but Colt asked that they be limited to 2,500 rds and then a check up for timing and wear on internal parts.

The Agent and Cobra, the alloy framed counterparts to the DS Colt advised against +P use but realized that Cops and others in defensive situations would carry +Ps said limited use with a check up after 1500rds of +P. SAAMI specs on a standard pressure 38Spl is 16,000 PSI the +P is rated 20-22,000 psi. The older DSes, Cobras and AGents with the exposed ejector rods Colt advises NO +Ps in them.

I like the old 38 Splat load. or more commonly known as the FBI Load or the Chicago load.
 
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