Buffalo Bore .38 Special Short-Barrel Ammo

Buffalo BoreBuffalo Bore Short Barrel 38 is loading .38 Special ammo specifically for short-barreled guns.  The load uses a Barnes 110 grain TAC-XP bullet, which is an all-copper bullet.  The ammo uses brass cases and a low-flash powder.

Until recently, snubnose revolver shooters made do with standard ammunition and the knowledge that the ammo would not be as effective as if it was shot out of a longer barrel handgun.  The amount of velocity loss varied with the load and the firearm, but generally, it has been understood that short-barreled guns are less potent than longer ones.

There are probably others out there, but the 135 grain Speer Gold Dot load for the .38 Special was the first short-barrel load to really get traction with the public.  The load uses a medium-to-heavy weight bullet for the cartridge (most bullet weights run 110 grain, 125 grain or 158 grain in .38 Special) and a special powder to maximize velocity out of short-barreled guns.  From what I hear the load has been effective “on the street.”

The load was developed by Speer for the New York City Police Department, and it has been adopted by many other law enforcement agencies as the back-up gun ammo of choice. The “halo effect” of police agency use often drives sales in the commercial market, and I suspect that is one of the reasons the Speer load has been popular.

The Buffalo Bore uses a lighter bullet than the Speer load.  In-house testing by Buffalo Bore shows their load makes for more than 1100 fps out of 2″ Smith & Wesson revolvers (1104 fps with a model 340 and 1119 fps with a model 60).  Moving up to 3″ barreled revolvers moves the velocity north of 1200 fps (1202 with a Ruger SP101 and 1210 with a S&W model 66).

By way of comparison, Ballistics by the Inch tested the Speer load and obtained 897 fps from a Smith & Wesson 642 (1.875″ barrel) and 928 fps from a Colt Detective Special (3″) barrel.  Keep in mind that the Buffalo Bore tests and BBTI tests cannot be directly compared, as they were not controlled environments, etc.  But for the sake of discussion, they are interesting.

The Buffalo Bore load is +P rated, and the company states the bullets are crimped, so shooting out of the ultra-lightweight revolvers should not be a problem.  Buffalo Bore also noted very tight groups with the load (check out their website for more information.)


Buffalo Bore .38 Special Outdoorsman Ammunition

Buffalo Bore 38 Special Outdoorsman AmmunitionBuffalo Bore rolled out a new .38 Special load called the Outdoorsman.  The Outdoorsman is a Keith-style, hard cast lead 158 grain semi-wadcutter bullet loaded to +P pressures.  The load is designed for deep penetration and it should make for an adequate (not superior) round when carried for self defense in the back country.

When trekking in the wilderness, predator animals are a genuine concern.  Penetration to vital areas is much more difficult to achieve with a handgun against a bear than it is against a human.  Therefore, caliber and load choices are different in the woods than in the suburbs.


Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 38

The Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 38 is a new “hammerless” revolver like those found in the Centennial line.  Unlike those guns, the new Bodyguard 38 has a polymer frame and integral laser.  It is one of two new compact handguns called Bodyguard introduced by S&W at the 2010 SHOT Show.

Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 38

First, the basics, it is a five-shot, 38 Special revolver that is rated for +P ammunition.  The hammer is fully concealed, and the gun is double action only.  The gun is black with a grip.  At first glance, it looks a lot like a model 442.  But, this revolver is actually very different.

The Bodyguard 38 is a polymer-framed revolver, the first-ever by Smith & Wesson.  This means that Smith had to go back to the drawing board to design this firearm.  The lower frame (roughly from the rear of the cylinder back), is polymer, while the upper frame (surrounding the cylinder and housing the barrel) is aluminum.  As you might expect, the revolver is very light, weighing only 14.3 ounces.

A significant change on the Bodyguard 38 is the relocation of the cylinder release.  Instead of being mounted on the side of the frame, the release has been moved to the top of the frame, where an exposed hammer would normally be.  Since the cylinder release is along the midline of the revolver, it is now ambidextrous.

Speaking of the cylinder, one of the problems sometimes cited by owners of Smith & Wesson J-frames is the extractor rod is too short to reliably eject fired brass.  This is an annoyance at the range, but a possible deadly problem in a self-defense shooting.  While not full length, the rod on the Bodyguard 38 is noticeably longer to provide a more sure ejection of spent cartridges.

S&W Bodyguard 38

Smith and Wesson lists the barrel length as 1.9″.  Traditionally, S&W has listed the barrel length of their “snubbies” at either 1 7/8″ (1.875″) or 2″.  I assumed that Smith was rounding up the 1.875″, but the company rep insisted the barrel length was exactly 1.9″.

Sights are fixed and black.  The rear notch seems wider than the notch on the 442/642, but that is my impression only.  I didn’t measure them, and the Smith rep was not sure.

Significantly, the Smith and Wesson Bodyguard 38 ships with an integrated laser from Insight Technology.  The red laser mounts high and back on the right side of the frame.  The laser is adjustable for drift and elevation.  Two laser modes are offered: steady and pulse.  To activate the laser, the shooter may turn the unit on by pressing a button on the unit.


Taurus Protector Polymer: a Polymer Revolver


Taurus introduced a polymer revolver in .38 Special at the 2010 SHOT Show.  The “Polymer Protector” is a revolver with a polymer frame and blued steel cylinder and barrel insert.  The new Taurus revolver only weighs 18.2 ounces and is rated for +P ammunition.

Streamlined for concealed carry, the hammer is shrouded, but can still be cocked for a single action shot.  The grips are polymer, but are wood colored, and actually look good in person.

The front sight is a red fiber optic sight, and the rear is a notch.  The barrel is 2.5″ long.


Smith and Wesson 442 and 642 | No Locks!

Two of the most popular Smith and Wesson handguns, the models 442 and 642, have been re-introduced without the infamous internal locks.  These J-frame snubbies are the classic blued and stainless steel .38 Special revolvers with the internal hammers.

Perfect for pocket, ankle, and other forms of concealed carry, these revolvers have been great sellers for Smith and Wesson for many years.  Like all S&W revolvers, in recent times, a consumer could only buy these with the internal lock.  Unfortunately, these locks have had a few problems and consumer confidence in them is very low.  Smith and Wesson have listened to their customers and brought these two classic J-frames back without internal locks.

If you have been wanting one of these sidearms, but have hesitated, wait no longer.

I am a proud owner of the model 642-1 that I bought more than 10 years ago.  It is a great gun!  I have carried it daily in a pocket and on an ankle.  It has always performed perfectly and is very accurate.  I have no doubt these new models will be outstanding revolvers.


Smith & Wesson updated the 442 and 642 line with “Pro Series” models.  The difference:  they do not have locks – the same as these revolvers.  Here is what I wrote on the new Pro revolvers when they were announced in December 2009: