"Is the bullet or the powder engineered differently for the Gold Dot short barrel? Just curious. I really like the Cor Bons, but they are so expensive. I like the Remington 158gr. lead HP's, but I wonder about the recoil. I have a 2" Model 10, so it's a little beefier than a J-frame."
As I understand it, the bullet in the 135-gr. is designed to expand at typical snub velocities. In other words, it is tailored to both expand and penetrate reliably at actual speeds attained in the short-bbl revolvers. It appears that the same bullet is used in their 357 Magnum Short Bbl load as its velocity is but a hundred-feet-per-second more than the 38 Special 135-gr. load.
From what I've seen, the 158-gr. LSWCHP +P (Remington) does between 12 and 13" in ballistic gelatin. The 135-gr. Gold Dot, around 10 to 11", and the DPX about 12". Humans are not homogeneous and while gelatin is probably the "gold standard" for bullet performance comparisons
, I personally do not believe that it is the be-all/end-all in trying to predict actual handgun effectiveness.
Though I am a strong supporter of the DPX in several calibers, in .38 Special my preference is still for the "old techology" LSWCHP +P from Remington....or Federal. In a 3" or longer bbl, any of the three work fine; in fact the Winchester may
hold together a bit better from a 3 or 4" bbl. From the snubs, the LSWCHP +P has a fairly good "history"; I'm personally aware of two incidents in which it did what it was supposed to do. One shot required in one shooting and two in the other. The DPX and the Gold Dot do better in ballistic gelatin than the LSWCHP after passing through the dread "4-layers of denim" test. I think
they will eventually prove themselves worthy of being toward the top of the ".38 Snub Serious Ammo List" but find myself still hesitant to leave the older Remington load.
Frankly, I do not think that you will find any of these loads to be excessive whatsoever from an all-steel Model 10 snub. I use the Remington in the J-frame Airweights and while not a "delight" to shoot, neither do I find it either uncontrollable or unbearable to shoot....but I do practice with the snub perhaps more than some; who can say? Felt recoil is subjective.
If interested, here's a comparison of the DPX, Gold Dot, and the LSWCHP:
This one is on "Making the J-frame Snub Work" but might be of interest for consideration in using your K-frame, which should be quite a bit easier:
Best and good luck in your search.