The guys at Lucky Gunner don’t just sell ammo at decent prices; their ammo tests are superb. Here’s the .38 Spec / .357 Mag test, using both 2″ and 4″ barrels(!), and the ability to rank by various factors such as speed and penetration makes the test just gold for guys like me, who want the very best combination of effectiveness, but lack the space or facilities to do the testing for ourselves.
Just looking at this chart for my 2″-barreled S&W 637, and given that I’d like penetration greater than 14″, expansion greater than .38″ and velocity higher than 800 fps, it would appear that these two loads would be my best choices for .38 Spec ammo:
Incidentally, my current carry load is the Hornady FTX, which seems to have better expansion and speed than the Federal. But the Federal ammo seems to have the more consistent penetration (note the tight grouping) — and as a former statistician, I prefer results that are consistent with not too many “fliers”, such as Federal’s heavier load, which is all over the place:
Now, when I finally (eventually?) get my hands on a 4″-barreled S&W Model 65 in .357 Mag, I’ll be looking for penetration > 16″, expansion > .50″ and velocity > 1,300 fps — which means that these two cartridges will be getting my attention, you betcha:
There’s just this caveat, however. As LG themselves note:
“Keep in mind that the loads with the best numbers might not necessarily be the best choice for your defensive revolver once the effects of recoil are taken into account.”
…so any of those options might not be my final decision, of course. That would require… field testing!
I love this stuff. And well done, Lucky Gunner. When I test the ammo, I’ll be getting it from you guys: it seems the right thing to do.