GUNS Magazine June 2013 Digital Edition - Page 20

SPONSORED BY WWW.BROWNELLS.COM handGun ammo pT. ii loads For sHort-barrel reVolVers, Hunting and sPeCialty ammo. dave anderson and make the revolver a bit slower in recoil recovery and shot-to-shot time. I think the 125- to 135-grain loads provide a bit better balance, but really don’t have a problem with 150- or 158-grain bullets. LIGHT BULLETS For a bit less recoil, most of the companies listed have 110-grain loads. Hornady has two 110-grain FTX Critical Defense loads, one standard pressure and the other +P. In a 2-inch barrel the +P load will reach close to 1,000 fps, the standard load around 900 fps. Buffalo Bore also has two levels of 110-grain loads for .38 Special, both using Barnes lead-free bullets. A +P load chronographs a little more than 1,100 fps. The standard pressure load with the same bullet delivers around 950 to 980 fps. These velocities are from 2-inch barrels. Hornady recently announced a standard-pressure 90-grain FTX Critical Defense “Lite” load rated at 1,200 fps from a 4-inch barrel. I haven’t yet seen 2-inch barrel data but a reasonable estimate would be 1,075 to 1,100 fps. When we get down to 90-grain bullets we’re into .380 ACP country. There are premium .380 loads from the companies listed, with bullet weights from 80 to 90 grains and muzzle velocities around 950 to 1,000 fps from typical .380 pistols with 3- to 3-1/2-inch barrels. I’m a bit lukewarm about the .380 as a defensive round, though I realize others may draw the line differently. I hear people say, a hot .380 load is pretty close to your .38 Special snubbie which you think is just great. Well, it isn’t that close, and I don’t think a .38 snubbie is all that great, except as a backup. The 125-grain +P .38 Special from a snubbie is as fast or faster than a hot .380 load, and with a 50-percent heavier bullet. T he classic .38 Special “snubbie” revolver has been popular for concealed carry for decades, and is probably more popular now than ever. A good defensive load is a balancing act between bullet weight, reasonable velocity from a short barrel, controllable recoil, and gun durability. Any of the premium defense loads listed, using .38 Special 125-grain JHP +P loads will work; provided, of course, your revolver is approved for +P ammunition and you can handle the recoil (which personally I don’t find too bad). Velocities will run around 900 to 1,000 fps, depending on the specific load. More specifically, the Speer .38 Special 135-grain Gold Dot +P at around 900 fps is promoted as a short-barrel load. In my experience it gives excellent accuracy and expands fairly well in paraffin blocks. Winchester has a 130-grain +P PDX1 load at about 900 fps from a 2-inch barrel with a large hollowpoint and six segments for expansion even at moderate velocity. I wouldn’t try to talk anyone out of using heavier bullet loads such as 158-grain standard or +P JHPs, or lead HPs. They do recoil a bit more A new load in Hornady’s highly regarded Critical Defense lineup is the “Lite” .38 Special load with 90-grain bullet for reduced recoil. The pink theme seems to suggest Hornady wants to appeal to women shooters, however, less recoil and faster recoil recovery in lightweight revolvers should appeal to men as well. HUNTING AMMO For big-game hunting, .41 and .44 Magnum full-power loads are minimum in my view (talking true handgun rounds, not rifle rounds adapted to specialty handguns). I include fullpower heavy-bullet loads for cartridges such as .44 Special and .45 Colt. Handgunners such as Elmer Keith demonstrated decades ago, the way to kill big game with a handgun is to punch a large-diameter hole in one side and out the other. 20 W W W. G U N S M AG A Z I N E . C O M • J U N E 2 0 1 3

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