Creedmoor Ammunition announced a new handgun load for the .38 Special. The new +P load uses Hornady’s existing 125 grain XTP bullet driven to 1,050 fps at the muzzle. That works out to be 306 ft-lbs of energy for those interested.
Don’t expect that velocity out of your handgun, though. The numbers are generated when using a 7.1″ unvented barrel. Drop down to a 1.875″ snubbie and you can only hope to break 900 fps at the barrel.
For example, I recently ran some Winchester Kinetic HE through both a Ruger LCR and a Smith & Wesson 642. While the ammo was fine, the 110 grain bullet was only making between 778 – 854 fps at the chronograph. From the test barrel, the ammo is rated at 950 fps. I would not be surprised to see similar drops from this load as well.
From a self-defense perspective, I like to see adequate penetration and good expansion to help ensure rapid blood loss in the attacker. The XTP bullet has been around for decades, and from what I’ve seen, it’s expansion is heavily dependent on velocity. It seemed to be a hollow point design that was biased toward penetration, perhaps in an effort to meet the (then new) FBI testing protocols. (Take a look at Tom R’s testing of the XTP in .380 here.)
The XTP bullet is a popular choice for many ammo manufacturers who are not developing their own bullets, but I suspect that its popularity is driven more by availability than performance. While the XTP bullet is a fine bullet, I don’t think it is an ideal choice for self-defense in the relatively low velocity .38 Special (plus or no plus P) round. Of course, your take may be different. Feel free to comment on this below.
The price on this ammo is listed as $12.25 for a box of 25 rounds. Volume purchasing can drop the price.