Fiocchi .38spl 125gr XTP 4″ BBL Gel Test Review

We shoot Fiocchi .38spl 125gr XTP ammunition from a Smith & Wesson Model 13-2 with a 4″ barrel into Clearballistics ballistic gel to measure velocity, penetration, expansion/fragmentation, and retained weight.

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Guns in this video:
S&W Model 13-2

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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.


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  • Dougscamo

    “What do you guys think?”….I think it is crap ammo….but that’s just me…. 🙂

    • Stuki Moi

      125@950fps from a 4 inch 38 is pretty much standard fare. Nothing crap about it. This is largely how xtp is supposed to perform. It has the thinnest, flimsiest “petals,” so it opens up at almost any velocity. But then, the petals just break off, leaving a full wadcutter profile, or a bit more, behind. So you get good, generally fairly straight line, penetration, even if bone is encountered at a bit of an angle. If that kind of performance is not acceptable, it’s not as if there aren’t more expandy bullet designs out there, including Hornady’s own FTX/Critical Defense.

      • Dougscamo

        IF you had to carry a .38 for self-defense, which I did for years, would you carry this? If not, there are cheaper rounds out there for plinking….

        • Stuki Moi

          If you live in Cali, carry for defense is often limited to carry on the trail. Where XTPs are a nice compromise between deeper penetration for bigger critters, and expansion for rabid smaller ones (or possible 2 leggeds). They have a reputation very reliable penetration, even against something like a bear skull engaged at a sharp angle; specifically because they don’t mushroom into something flat and shapeless, but instead retains good sectional density even in expanded fashion.

          They wouldn’t be my first choice for urban carry, which I assume is what you are talking about. There are plenty of more optimized bullets for that use case.

          • Dougscamo

            Fortunately, I do not live in CA and don’t live in an urban area. Since we don’t have mountain lions and I don’t worry too much about bears (though we are covered up in the damn things), my greatest concern is the 2-legged varmints….
            On a side note, I used to shoot .44, 240 grain XTP in .50 cal. sabots out of my muzzleloader right at 2000 fps (through a chronograph). Behaved almost like solids….switched to another Hornady bullet for expansion….

  • Mr. Katt

    And this is somehow a better defensive load than the traditional 158gr LSWC-HP +P how ?

    Maybe I’m too jaded by bling and gun rag experts (not referring to TFB, but to those on magazine racks in the grocery store). Seems more and more of these so-called ‘specialty’ loads aren’t much of an improvement over the LSWC-HP +P or even a standard 148 grain full wadcutter – especially out of a snub gun.

  • ironked

    Really, “crap ammo”? Hornady loads and makes the XTP available to anyone. They are not known for bad, ineffective products. Fiocchi can be a little hit or miss, but on the whole make decent stuff. I think in many cases bullet failure has more to do with the application than to the actual bullet. No saying what that ammo is going into. In 9mm, .357mag or .40 applications it seems to expand fine. Just not the right bullet for low velocity or lightly loaded rounds like .38spc or .380. That’s sort of why Speer came up with their short barrel designs to compensate. If anything buying ammo is a crap shoot. If it weren’t for the video resources we have today, We’d have to make a lot more guesses and test everything, including collecting expended slugs, to figure out what works best in each of our guns.

  • Swarf

    Here’s a vote for the carbine. I love seeing the difference between pistol and carbine length barrels.

    I have an 1894 in 38/357, so I may have a few selfish reasons for my vote, but it would still be cool to see just how fast the XTP needs to get going to expand.

    • Stuki Moi

      I’d like to see the carbine tested as well.

    • Sebastacat

      I’d love to see a test with 38 special and 357 magnum with 16″, 18″, 20″ and 24″ lever action rifles. I’m especially curious to know if 24″ is too long. Is the powder is all spent and the bullet is actually being slowed down by the extra barrel length?

  • Geoff Timm

    As the good old boys always knew, cross reference Chic Gaylords book and articles in the old Guns and Hunting Magazine, the .38 Special needs a six inch barrel and the 200 gr Super Police load to be effective. Geoff Who notes the gell was not shattered and scattered.

  • VeriAeq

    Seen the opposite results with some bullets not designed for magnum velocities, they tend to break apart.

  • Stuki Moi

    What I think, is that you’ve got one heck of a beautiful gun, there…….

  • Mrl

    I always wondered if a 3″ .38 spl./.357 was better at velocity, penetration, and expansion then the 2″ models. Don’t know where +P fits in here or if it matters.