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Old 05-29-2018, 05:38 PM   #1
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Attn: Colt revolver experts


I've found a "near mint" 1922 COLT'S POLICE POSITIVE SPECIAL in .38SPL, that was seldom fired & at a DIRT CHEAP price (for what it is).
(The PO said that it was her father's when he was a Constable in Bell County in the 1920s to early 1940s. - She said that his job was solely serving civil papers for the county & she doesn't think that he ever shot it off the range. - I got it with a "full coverage" holster, that's worn-out from being carried.)

It's NOT so collectable that I am afraid to shoot it, so I'm wondering WHICH .38SPL round that would work OK & NOT cause problems with the nearly century old little D-frame Colt.
(Inasmuch as I'm now having "some issues" with my hand-strength at times, I may load the Colt & carry it concealed.)

Your suggestions on suitable SELF-DEFENSE ammo for the revolver are solicited.

NOTE: I find it "interesting" how many S&W & Colt's "small frame" revolvers were purchased, loaded & "put in a bedside drawer" or carried but seldom if ever fired. = My lady's Mother bought a Colt's Cobra in 1951 (Her boss said, "Mildred, take the money out of petty cash & go buy yourself a pistol. You are to make the night deposits each evening after work."), loaded the Cobra, carried it (inside one of JJ's socks) in the car every weekday, until she retired in 1986 BUT never fired it a single time.
(Mildred DISPISED & FEARED guns of all sorts. - She was "NOT pleased" when her "lovely & religious" daughter "got mixed-up with a cop"!!)
My lady & I found the unfired Colt when we cleaned-out Mildred's house, after her passing, along with the entire box of ammo that she bought in 1951.
(YES, my lady shoots "Mama's gun" regularly now & does WELL with it, too.)
I know of several other similar small revolvers that were never (or very seldom) fired & "for sale" with the factory box.

yours, sw

Last edited by stand watie; 05-29-2018 at 06:52 PM. Reason: clarity
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Old 05-29-2018, 06:30 PM   #2
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I'd stuff it with 148 grain wadcutters and not worry about it.

True story: Back when I was a USAF instructor, for a while the 130-grain FMJ M41 ammo was in short supply for some reason, and we had to train the troops with "locally procured" W-W 148gr wadcutters bought by the case. Even though implicitly forbidden to do so, I'd usually load my "escort" carry M15 with the things instead of the issue M41 as soon as anyone wasn't looking. I considered them much more effective if it came to it.
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Old 05-29-2018, 07:25 PM   #3
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Back when all I could get was round nosed lead bullets I'd load them butt/flat side out and the round nose in the case. When HPs became common from the store I switched. When I finally started handloading I bought a Herter's swaging die and made my own half jacket SWHPs in 155 grain. Now I've said the heck with it and buy the best HPs I can in .38SPC, .357 and .45ACP.

I'm starting to get a little hand trouble and have thought about going back to wheel guns. I never felt handicapped back when I was in my 30s carrying a SAA loaded with 5 beans in the wheel.
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Old 05-29-2018, 08:06 PM   #4
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Snake45; sgmkersh,

THANKS Gents for the kind suggestions. = NOT very dissimilar from my musings since last Sunday PM, when I found the Colt.

What I've been wondering is IF a 190 grain LSWC at about 650-700FPS out of the 4" barrel would be OK in the D-frame. = I can easily get those CB off the WWW or at the SA gun show.
(I would think that such a heavy for caliber CB would be quite effective as a SD round.)

yours, sw
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Old 05-29-2018, 09:57 PM   #5
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The .38 Special was a poor performer on human targets because the 158 lead round nose was just a poor performer. It's very similar in wound profile as the original 115 FMJ 9mm round; another round that was underwhelming for defense.

I would stick with standard pressure loads. Yeah, you can get away with practicing with standard pressure and loading with +P for self defense. These days, it's difficult to find decent defense ammo in standard pressure .38 special, so unless you buy online, you may be forced to buy some +P for defense.

If you're lucky and have a store near you that sells 148gr wadcutter ammo, then you can use that for practice and self defense (as Snake recommends). The hollow base WC's are not very good for penetration, but the cast waducutters penetrate pretty well.

Buffalo Bore is filling some holes in the market for self defense ammunition and offer some very good loads for standard pressure .38 special. So if you're buying online, this would be my first stop.

+P's are always "safe" to shoot, but they are a little abusive to an old small frame revolver.
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Old 05-30-2018, 10:18 AM   #6
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I could recommend the Federal Nyclad "Chief's Special" round, if you can find it. It was designed as a defensive or Police load in the time when such standard pressure .38s were standard issue for many Police Officers in the US.

Pocket Guns and Gear: Federal Premium 38 Special Nyclad HP Complete Test
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Old 05-30-2018, 05:19 PM   #7
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Colt set their .38 Special revolvers up to use the 158 grain lead bullet loads.
Back then the standard .38 Special was the 158 round nose lead and that's what Colt's sights were regulated to use.

Today, for defense, I'd just pick any standard load in a premium defense ammo that's loaded to the original velocity specs for .38 Special.
NO +P or other hot ammo.
It doesn't matter if you use lead or jacketed bullets.

For practice I'd use any standard velocity lead bullet load.
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Old 05-31-2018, 02:58 PM   #8
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yours, sw
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