A big thanks to blog reader Dan M. for supplying the ammunition for this test and being so patient waiting on the results. Back in December 2013, Dan sent me the white box of ammunition for testing. In April 2014, I ordered the entire line of Doubletap DT Defense .38 Special +P for testing and realized the LV load that Dan supplied had been replaced with the load tested here. I asked Dan if he would mind if I tested the current production load in place of the discontinued LV load and he graciously agreed. Doubletap Ammunition no longer lists the LV load on their website so I'm assuming it was renamed when Doubletap launched their DT Defense line of ammunition.
Doubletap Ammunition established their brand back in 2002 when they started manufacturing full power 10mm ammunition when most of the industry was watering down the performance potential of the 10mm. As the business grew, Doubletap continued to add to their ammunition portfolio and now manufactures a full range of rifle and pistol cartridges as well as brass and hardcast lead bullets. All Doubletap ammunition is made in the USA at their Utah facility. I've personally found Doubletap ammunition to be impeccably crafted and free of defects occasionally found in mass production ammunition.
Step 1) Measure and record temperature and relative humidity.
Step 2) Run a 2 shot velocity average over a ProChrono Digital Chronograph at a distance of 10 feet.
Step 3) Run various terminal test shots, with and without simulated clothing barriers, into a block of Clear Ballistics Gel that is calibrated to 10% Ordnance Gel density. Shot distance is 10 feet.
Step 4) Run a 600 fps calibration test bb shot into the Clear Ballistics gel block and record penetration depth to verify density.
Video Documentation of the Entire Test from Range to Bullet Recovery:
My Thoughts on This Load:
I was really curious to see if this load would live up to the 1100 fps velocity expectation from our 1.875" test barrel. While we did have one shot that approached 1000 fps, the majority fell in the 900 to 950 fps range. That simply wasn't enough velocity to allow the 125 grain Gold Dot bullet to expand after clearing the 4 layers of heavy denim. While the denim test shot wasn't recovered, the Schwartz modeled penetration exceeded 25 inches.
On the positive side, the bare gel and light clothing test shots performed well. Both shots expanded and stopped within the desired 12 to 18 inch penetration range. This might be a good load for your snubbie for Summer carry when heavy clothing barriers are less likely to be encountered.
Doubletap uses low flash powder in this loading. Since I test during the day during high sun, I have no way of validating this. I did want to mention it in case it is an important feature in your ammunition selection criteria.
Pick or Pan:
The terminal performance of this load was on par with the majority of .38 Special +P 125 grain loads previously tested for the blog. Unfortunately failure to expand during the heavy denim test is a fairly common result with this caliber when fired from very short barrels. I'm looking for one load that I can carry all year, so I'm going to pass on this one.
Disclaimer....This test should not be considered an endorsement or recommendation for the product(s) tested. All tests represent actual performance in ballistics testing media. Terminal performance in all other media will show different results. It is up to each individual to make their own personal decision on 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 or +P+ should only be used in firearms that have been certified by the manufacturer as safe for the additional pressures generated by these ammunition types.