Sunday, July 22, 2012

Speer Gold Dot 38 Special +P 125 Grain GDHP Terminal Test

This test was another one that was way overdue.  The Speer Gold Dot 38 Special +P 125 Grain GDHP is another 38 Special loading with a good reputation around the internet.  Speer specifications list this round at 945 fps velocity from a 4 inch test barrel.  I found the recoil of these loads to be quite a handful in a light-weight .38 revolver such as the S&W Bodyguard .38 and Ruger LCR .38 Special +P, which added some hands on credibility to their velocity claims.   

This test is actually a companion piece to the previous test on Remington Express 158 Grain LSWCHP +P that I published last month.  That test can be found HERE. The reason I say it is a companion test is because both test shots were placed into the same SIM-TEST ballistics test media block.  That's important if you want to compare the results of the tests because the gel density will be the same for both shots.

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a SIM-TEST block that is loosely draped with 2 layers of medium weight denim.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured 4 inches away from the SIM-TEST block.  My SIM-TEST blocks are now closely calibrated to ballistics gel density.  I shoot the blocks at the range and then bring them home and recover the bullets.  The video below documents the test from range to bullet recovery.

The recovered round was weighed and measured.  I've also included the calculated the ft/lbs. of energy of the test shot.  All the data is displayed in the sheet below.

Final Wrap-Up & My Thoughts
I had always wondered how this 125 Grain +P loading would perform from a short barreled snub nose revolver.  I was actually very surprised by the 900 fps velocity of the test shot.  Since we were using a barrel more than 2 inches shorter than Speer's 4" test barrel, I expected a greater drop in velocity.  Over the last 7 weeks since I did the test, I lost the 5 round velocity test string video.  I know I did the test, but I simply can't find the video documentation of the test.  My apologies for that.

Overall, I was quite pleased with the test results.  Even short barrel velocity was sufficient to fully expand the bullet AND also allow it to penetrate to a full 12 inches after passing through two layers of denim.  That's really good performance when you consider the short barrel length of the test pistol. 

Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision about which specific ammunition to use for their needs. It's also critically important to test any ammo in YOUR SPECIFIC FIREARM before relying on it for any purpose.  Ammunition labeled as +P should not be used in any firearm unless the firearm manufacturer specifically states you are permitted to do so.


  1. Good test. I wonder why I should bother to purchase the hard to find, and expensive, "short barrel" version of this round when results are this good?

    1. That's a great question. Several folks want me to test the 135 grain SB version of this load so I recently added a box to an order. So, at some point we'll get to see the difference.

  2. Shot these at the range the other day with my Taurus 85 ul. At 10 ft these are nothing less than excellent. They hit poa on all 5 shots. I actually prefer the 125's over the 135 short barrel. But they both work