October 1999

.38 Special Defense Loads: We Like Cor-Bon, Remington

In a test of ten revolver ammunitions, we found the Cor-Bon 125-grain JHP (+P) and Remington 125-grain Semi-JKTD HP (+P) provided the best mixture of performance and penetration.

[IMGCAP(1)] The .38 Special has been the most popular revolver caliber almost since Smith & Wesson introduced it in 1902. Starting as a black-powder cartridge, which accounts for the too long case, it was switched to smokeless as new powders came on the market. In the 1930s, bigger, stronger guns lead to higher-pressure loads, and you couldn’t be sure of which pressure-rated load you were buying until 1974, when SAAMI instituted the (+P) higher rating. The current SAAMI maximum pressures for the round are: standard .38 Special, 17,000 psi; .38 (+P), 18,500 psi; and .357 Magnum, 35,000 psi.

(+P) revolvers aren’t necessarily bigger today, just stronger. Even the lightweight pocket guns can...

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