We test a lot of self-defense ammo. It’s a great excuse to go to the range and do silly things.
What’s not silly is the inconsistency of .38 Special ammunition to expand reliably – especially when fired from short barrel revolvers that are so popular for concealed carry. Expensive ammo that should expand properly doesn’t always. Part of the reason for that is reduced velocity when said ammo is used in a very short barreled revolver.
Speer has figured out that gajillions of people now carry snubnose revolvers like Smith & Wesson’s and Ruger LCR’s. And they have made special cartridge designs specifically for the characteristics of these guns. Simply put, the Short Barrel (labeled SB on the Speer ammo boxes) loads are designed to expand at lower speeds than “standard” projectiles.
They do. The bullets in this photo were all shot from a Ruger LCR, through 4 layers of light canvas, and into a container of wetpack. By the way, the Ruger LCR has a 1.875 inch barrel – that certainly qualifies as a short barrel revolver!
Just remember, expansion and penetration depth are forever balancing forces. As tempting as it might be, don’t load your full size gun with Short Barrel loads. They will work, but they will also expand too much and penetration will suffer. And your bullets may come apart. Use standard Speer Gold Dot loads in guns with barrels longer than 3 inches and the Short Barrel loads in guns with barrels less than 3 inches.
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