Something old, something blue …
The “Chiefs Special” load is back; Federal’s P38M has returned! Federal’s website is again listing the 125-grain Nyclad standard velocity (non +P) .38 Special ammunition. When Federal stopped producing it several years ago, the Nyclad .38 Special remained available from AMMOMAN.COM long enough for me to cache a couple-thousand rounds. If this new listing for the Nyclad is not a mistake, or some sick joke, I plan to add another thousand rounds of it to the ammo locker. I like this load for use in my S&W 442 and my Colt Agent; both are lightweight alloy-frame snubs.
The Nyclad bullet used in the .38 Special standard velocity cartridge is from a very soft lead (low antimony) and has a yawning hollow point; it is very easy for the low velocity slug to expand in tissue. The bullet’s nylon coating reportedly helps reduce airborne lead, and it helps prevent the soft lead from building up in the revolver barrels. The cartridge’s (relatively) low recoil is very gentle on older alloy-frame revolvers, and (to some degree) gentle on the shooters. If you have a vintage snubnose that is not rate for +P ammo, the P38M may just be perfect for you. Almost all modern .38 caliber lightweight alloy-frame snub revolvers can safely fire +P loads. If the recoil from the +P loads gives you problems, you may also want to try the P38M.
As every shooter knows (or should know), there are no magic bullets. Expect none of the commercially available .38 Special cartridges to provide instant incapacitation of drug-crazed dragons. The Evan Marshall statistics show that from a 2’’ barrel the standard velocity 125 grain Nyclad .38 hollowpoint has a one-shot-stop about 63% of the time. The .38 Special 158-grain roundnose has a one-shot-stop record of only around 49% when fired from a 2’’ barrel. The +P 158-grain lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint is successful from a 2’’ barrel 67% of the time (a load I favor for use in my heavier, steel-frame snubs).
Click here for an October 1999 evaluation of the 125-grain .38 Nyclad, performed by Firearms Tactical Institute.
Click here for The Highroad (forum) discussion regarding the return of the Nyclad.
Click here for everything you ever wanted to know about snubnose revolvers.