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Snidely,
4" is the standard barrel for revolvers for ballistic purposes, so ammo makers should be building for that. 3" is just a little short of that mark, and I hope to get the best of both worlds; +P performance, and still carry-able.

Of course I may end up with a gun that does nothing well (hey, that's what they say about me at work).

Joe



As is so often the case in barrels as short as 3", sometimes even 4", +P ammo may give only a few fps more than the standard velocity offerings. Unless the barrel is more than 3" I'll give up 25+ fps increase just to avoid the blast.
 

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If you're bound and determined to get the most bang for your buck - just buy a short-barreled Magnum, like a S&W Model 19 or 66, and eliminate all doubt.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Hanshi,
You may be right. If i reload my own defensive ammo (a questionable practice) I can be sure to use fast powder and fix that problem. Otherwise, it's a personal choice.

Dogface (hope your wife doesn't call you that),
In my feeble opinion, the magnums are the worst of both worlds; heavy, lots of noise and flame. At least for compact carry revolvers. But to each his own. This is America (at least for now).

Joe
 

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Snidely,
4" is the standard barrel for revolvers for ballistic purposes, so ammo makers should be building for that. 3" is just a little short of that mark, and I hope to get the best of both worlds; +P performance, and still carry-able.

Of course I may end up with a gun that does nothing well (hey, that's what they say about me at work).

Joe
The old "FBI Load" was a 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point .38 Special +P and the issue revolver was a 3" S&W Model 13. It seemed to work for them for years but bullet technology wasn't nearly as advanced as it is now plus the Model 13 was chambered for the .357 Magnum. You also have to keep in mind the Feebs developed a very specific list of criteria the ammo they would buy had to meet...tissue penetration...weight retention...expansion...barrier penetration. The US Secret Service used to issue the "Treasury Load"...a 110 grain JHP +P+. One would think a common round would make for cheaper costs...but each agency has different perceived or real criteria and what best fits those criteria.

Between brands today there is very little difference between loadings for the most part...they all have their proprietary technology bullet they advertise as the be all and end all...you have to do your job of defining the criteria that matters most to you and the scenarios you envision as most probably then seek out the load that has proven performance that best matches that criteria.
 
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Discussion Starter #25
Snidely,
The +P+ Treasury load might be a little stout for a D frame. As for the FBI, I think their guns were medium frame, a step up from 5 shots, so +P wouldn't be a problem.

I agree that in the end I just have to find a load that works for me. After all, this isn't rocket science.
Joe
 

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Use a +P+ round in a Colt D-frame at your own risk...not that I'm believing you will...I was just saying the difference is what different law enforcement agencies use based upon their own perceived criteria. If you would have a copy of Jerry Kunhausen's book on Colt revolvers there are photos of what a +P+ can do to an aluminum Colt D-frame...not pretty.
 
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Perhaps I should outline my parameters; for 2" guns I'm standard velocity all the way. But I'm looking for a 3" barrel D frame. The slightly longer barrel should sufficiently take advantage of +P ammo.

Sound good?
I would look at the new three inch King cobra in .357 magnum. It is pretty much d frame size. Also I believe either the DS-II or SF-VI or both were available with a 3 inch barrel. Any of those 3 are what I'd want for shooting +p ammo.
 

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Discussion Starter #28
Arrowhead,
Yep, I'm looking at all those. My cursed state (Mass.) prohibits the new Colts, but I've got a friendly dealer that'll transfer any of the old ones, so I'm looking at those. I will say, the older D frames are pricey w the 3" barrel.
Joe
 

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In the "for what it's worth" department, about 10 years ago I acquired a 1921 vintage Colt Police Positive Special in .38 Special for $60 at the Dallas Market Hall gun show. Its finish was degraded and its action needed "help." I rehab'ed the action as a personal learning experience and it's mechanically fine now. Exterior surfaces remain impaired.

As a test I fired some Winchester +P 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter ammunition through it, several cylinders-full, and the revolver appeared no worse for the wear.

With the early style narrow grip frame it wasn't the most pleasant recoiling .38 Special revolver I ever shot, but the little Colt did not come "unhinged." I filed the +P experiment away under the heading: "As an emergency expedient only."

Old Colt is good stuff.
 

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The little steel framed guns, especially the Colt DS will hold up pretty well if the +P diet isn't the usual load fired in it. Don't worry if it's a once-in-a-while session.
 

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Shooting a little +P ammo in most any Colt "D" frame isn't going to blow it up, but it will accelerate wear.

Things are different with the +P+.
There's no standard for +P+, it's loaded to whatever spec the buyer wants.
That can range from a hot +P to low Magnum levels.

Shooting +P+ in a Colt "D" frame is asking for a blown up gun and is likely in an aluminum framed model.
 

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Good info here.............I just acquired a Model match 38 special. It is a fine shooter and I feel the 38 regular rounds are sufficient for my use. Not sure why I would want anything heavier?
I shoot about 50% 38 plus P out of my medium fame Colts ( E frame) as I shoot out to 100 yards. These are cast bullet handloads. These Colts show no adverse effect from that. Of course the larger target stocks of an Officers Model Match absorb the recoil very well.
In my older D frames, I have fired both factory and hand load plus P, but in reality less than a box a year mainly due to recoil. In my alloy frame D frames, maybe just a couple of cylinders a year. The wrap around stocks of the 1972 or later detective special really help with the recoil of the plusP 38.
 
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