Thursday, January 24, 2013

Remington 38 Special +P 158 Grain LHP Clear Gel Test

If this ammunition looks familiar to you, then you may remember that I previously tested it in 2012 using two layers of denim and SIM-TEST media.  I will compare the results of the two tests later in the blog, but if you want to go read the first test, you can find it HERE

As far as ammunition goes, the 158 grain lead semi-wadcutter hollow point load has been around for decades and still maintains a dedicated following that will use nothing else but this load in their snub nose revolvers.  The combination of soft lead construction, heavy weight, and good velocity has earned this load a solid reputation for expansion and penetration when launched from the very short snub nose revolver barrels.

Test Pistol Specs:
Ruger LCR 1.875" Barrel

Testing Protocol:
My testing process is pretty simple.  I take one shot at the end of a Clear Ballistics Gel block.  I take the shot from 8 feet away and impact velocity is measured less than 2 inches away from the block.  Clear Ballistics Gel is calibrated to 10% ballistics gel density.  I shoot the block at the range and then bring it home to analyze the block and recover the bullet.  Immediately prior to shooting the block, I take a 5 shot velocity test over a ProChrono Digital chronograph.

Test Results:
The test results are summarized in the data sheet below along with a close up shot of the recovered bullet.

Video documentation of the entire test from range through bullet recovery is available below.  The high definition video is best viewed on YouTube, but you can also view it here.

My Thoughts on This Load:
As we saw in the first test, this load has no problem expanding in ballistics testing media.  The relatively slow velocity and soft lead construction of the bullet are a fantastic combination for full expansion.  Weight retention was excellent with the lead bullet losing less than 1 grain of total weight as it expanded and progressed down the wound channel.  If there is any pause for concern, it comes from the penetration observed in this test.  Even if we discount the bullet rebound back down the wound channel, we didn't make 12 inches of penetration in this test.

Let's review how this load performed in our previous test.  In the data sheet below we can see that the 5 shot velocity average was very close with the two tests.  Unfortunately the velocity variance increases when comparing the actual test shots.  I find it difficult to believe that a 24 fps velocity difference could result in such large differences in expansion and penetration, but that's what we see in the observed data and recovered bullets.  Just as a note, I used the same box of ammunition for both tests.  

Regardless of the differing results between the two tests, I am still impressed with the performance of this load from a short barrel revolver.  While it may not penetrate to 12 inches in every test, it does appear to be capable expander.
When running this clear gel test, I also tested the relatively new (when compared to this load) Speer Gold Dot 135 Grain Short Barrel 38 +P in the same gel block.  My rational for running the two tests, in the same gel block, was to stick or switch to the load that performed best.  You can view the Speer Gold Dot test HERE.  

The good news is we have choices.  All four .38 Special ammunition tests done so far have all ended with expanded bullets of various diameters with differing penetration depths.  Feel free to click on the Ammo Tests tab at the top of the page to read through the tests and decide which 38 Special +P load performs best for your needs.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Expansion is nice but I often "feel" like it comes at the cost of penetration and gel test no matter how great they are just seem to fall short of clothes, skin, meat, bone, body weight, body movement, arms, etc. why is why I prefer FMJ just out of "feeling" more secure with it.