Brass Fetcher Ballistic Testing
When one thinks of revolvers, 38 Special is sure to spring to mind shortly thereafter. Invented in the late 1800s, it has accounted for innumerable bottles shot, bowling pins knocked over and criminals repulsed. It was so popular in the hands of United States law enforcement that it continued service as a primary weapon until the 1980s and continues on today in the hands of law enforcement and private security throughout the developing world. As in all things in life, there are compromises to be made and the debate over ‘revolver vs. semi-automatic’ handguns for concealed carry usage quickly gets muddied with the discussion of mechanical reliability, terminal performance and magazine capacity. Many people are shocked to learn that I am not a ’gear junkie’ and instead advise great emphasis on training oneself (and getting trained) in the effective usage of firearms for your envisaged end-usage. Only then can we discuss the merits of the technical differences between guns and bullets. And I believe that you must take every technical advantage that you can get. Having said this, I carried a S&W 642 daily (38 Special with 2” barrel length) for many years. Its size makes it almost as handy as a true pocket pistol like the small 32 ACP and 380 ACP handguns currently on the market. The gain you get with the snub-nose is that the 38 Special cartridge is significantly more effective once it hits the target. I carried it because malfunctions are easy to clear—just pull the trigger again. You don't really want to be monkeying around getting a gun ready to fire if the other guy is showing up to fight. Most hostile people don’t stick around when they realize that you have a gun and a notion of shooting it at them.
Even fewer stick around once they hear the gun go off and fewer still will stand and trade shots with you—there’s just nothing in the equation for them to gain and most criminals are opportunists at heart. But the situation is changing in many developed countries. The social fabric of the nations are being torn away by the intentional degradation of the family, traditional values, the reliance on drugs for all social ills and the promotion of degeneracy on television. Probabilities of encountering the fully-motivated fighter, previously a rarity outside of a battlefield environment (facing soldiers of specialized units, no less) are increasing at an unknowable rate. The fully-motivated fighter can now be a drug addict who sees you as the only thing that stands between them and their next high.
They can also be the person who sees your life as having little to no value—and perpetrating physical violence upon you as a form of entertainment for them. In a more extreme example, that of the oft-discussed ‘grid down’ scenario where the power grid in a developed country ceases to function .. the neighbor who used to laugh at you and all of the dehydrated food boxes sitting on your doorstep, will soon be over at your house to get the food by hook or by crook. In the unfortunate choice of ‘you versus them’, make sure that you are preparing to be the winner of such a conflict. For 38 Special snubnose revolvers (those revolvers with a barrel length of 2” or less), I recommend the usage of ammunition that is specifically labeled for use in snubnose revolvers and especially ammunition that I have verified through testing to expand and penetrate to adequate distance (12.0” +) in ballistic gelatin. Among them are the Buffalo Bore 125gr +P Gold Dot (20B), Remington 158gr +P LHP (R38S12) and Speer 135gr +P Short Barrel Gold Dot (23921).
10-percent Ballistic Gelatin Shot
See how well this caliber stacks up against the FBI performance requirement of expansion and 12.0” or deeper penetration depth.
We test a 38 Special snubnose and six different types of ammunition against synthetic bone plate and gelatin.