Fiocchi .38spl 125gr XTP Snub Nose Gel Test and Review

We shoot Fiocchi .38spl 125gr XTP ammunition from a Smith & Wesson Airweight Model 638 snub nose revolver with a 2″ barrel into Clearballistics ballistic gel to measure velocity, penetration, expansion/fragmentation, and retained weight.

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Transcript ….

[coming soon]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • FT_Ward

    The “deep” penetration would have been a plus. If the bullets had been on target the failure to expand would have been largely if not completely irrelevant to incapacitating a felon. A .36 pistol bullet that misses a vital area but penetrates to the same depth as a .45 bullet is about as likely to end a fight- probably in both cases because the felon gives up rather than becomes incapable of fighting. All things being equal a wider bullet is slightly better but deeper penetration is preferable.

    • No one

      “probably in both cases because the felon gives up rather than becomes incapable of fighting.”

      ……This is a joke right?

      • FT_Ward

        No. Most people who are shot with pistols don’t suffer a wound that instantly incapacitates them. Only a very small % go on to die. Most incapacitation from pistol wounds is due to the victim giving up. It’s psychological incapacitation not passing out from blood loss or from CNS damage that causes most fights to end.

        If you hit a felon in the shoulder, calf or the backside with .45 ACP, 9mm or whatever issue caliber you choose, if he suddenly stops doing what got him shot it’s probably not from blood loss. How he reacts to pain or being shot is something you can’t control. He may give up, run away, do nothing or get angrier.

        If your shots hit the intended area and penetrate to vital organs then whether it’s a .36, .45 or whatever is largely irrelevant. Ditto for a miss.

        • Kelly Jackson

          Do you have a creditable source for ANY of this?

          Because I’m pretty sure that Mike Brown didn’t stop charging Officer Wilson until he took a .40 to the top of the head…

          • Marcus D.

            It really depends on the attacker. Some will keep coming, others will flee at the appearance of a gun, a shot being fired, or being hit. Seven out of eight people shot with handguns survive, which means that there are an awful lot of innocent bystanders getting hit by strays, or getting shot takes the fight outta you (or more likely a combination of the two).

          • FT_Ward

            A single case means nothing. For every case where an attacker fought til his last breath there are scores or perhaps even hundreds where they gave up without much of a fight. You know about the case you gave because it’s unusual not normal.

    • Beju

      While it’s true that overpenetration is preferable to underpenetration (as ShootingtheBull410 said, “overpenetration will get you sued, underpenetration will get you killed”) and most people will give up when confronted with a gun, let alone being shot, there are .38 Spl rounds that meet the FBI specs for 12-18″ of penetration AND expand out of a 2″ barrel.

      • Kelly Jackson

        Did you get your use of force training from an episode of law an order?

  • J-

    Why my favorite is still the Golden Saber 125 +P.

    • Wm Strange

      Take a look at the new Fort Scott ammunition and gel testing with the .38.

  • Dougscamo

    Well, that sucks….

    • No one

      Yeah, I say the same thing whenever I see .38 Special snub noses.

      • Swarf


  • Scott

    Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel +P 135 grain. You’re welcome.

    • Kelly Jackson

      Exactly, the Gold Dot for short barrel is all I run in my defensive guns.

    • Indianasteve

      That does look impressive. And yet, I remember a couple months ago a test of the gold dot 9mm short barrel that had almost no expansion. No point. Just saying.

      • Sam Damiano

        Doesn’t look bad. I have a of those at home for the wife S&W. Depending on bullet construction the bullet for the 9 might be made for a different velocity range by either jacket construction or changes in alloy. Have to check the video out tonight.

  • Stuki Moi

    XTPs are pretty much “designed” to morph into a full wadcutter, and little more, upon impact. Which is not a bad way to go, if what you have is a low velocity, moderate energy firearm. 21″, while not ideal, isn’t that far off 18″ max. Very possibly within margin of error. Of course, if you have a revolver, you may as well shoot a full wadcutter if you can find one. Those won’t feed in autos, though.