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Thread: 38 Special Bear Load

  1. #61
    Boolit Grand Master


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    Quote Originally Posted by DougGuy View Post
    I won't even carry a .3 something for defense on the street let alone dangerous wildlife in a location far from any hope of first responders arriving in time to save my old butt.

    I favor a Kahr CW45, with Speer Gold Dot 230gr jhp ammo which penetrated a good 9" into Carolina red clay and exhibited textbook perfect expansion. This gun is not much more in weight and size than most 380s. It packs all day every day without complaint. There isn't a 38 on the planet that will match boolit/bullet performance that I am aware of.
    Kahr's are underated guns for some reason. I love mine for carry or just messing around with. Best DAO trigger I've come across.
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  2. #62
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    I am petty sure his .38 BEAR loads are going to be better than my .22 BEAR loads!

  3. #63
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    I have had numerous up close encounters with black bears. Mostly in hunting blinds, but not always. Each time was with the same result, I yelled at them and they took off like a scalded cat. They generally want to avoid humans, at least around here anyway. If all I had was a 38 Special or 9mm, I'd certainly use it if I had to. It's better than throwing rocks or poking them with a sharp stick.

  4. #64
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    Remember the Red Ryder bee bee gun? You'll shoot your eyes out. That is the answer..... shoot the bears eyes out and if he isn't running at you like a freight train ya might have a chance.

  5. #65
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    Dvdmacdaddys question makes sense to me , if I am not hunting and am carrying for defense against man or beast I would try to pick the best bullet and load for the CC gun I choose for the most difficult critter to put down that I might encounter , if I knew I was going to need it or the odds were high of a dangerous situation I would have a long gun .
    When we take the grandkids hiking in Co. I normally carry a 3.8" 45acp loaded with 250 grain flat point bullets .And to tell the truth elk have made me more nervous on some of the trails than anything else , restricted trails , elk and caves , within 20 yards at times and us trying to keep 6 young kids calm and under control wild animals are predictable until they are not. The only bears we run into are around the cabins at night .
    I don't pocket carry so I don't carry a short 38s .
    I am going to cary any way might as well cary a load geared toward the heaviest threat .

  6. #66
    Boolit Master bigboredad's Avatar
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    Since you have a Sig 45 I would look at the 45 slc from double tap. I'm sure cigs are rated for 45+p and changing to a 18-20 pound recoil spring and a flat bottom firing pin stop to slow the slide down. You could basically double your firepower with a 10rnd mag and increase your stopping power as well. Better yet sell your Ruger and purchase a 460 Rowland kit from Clark custom guns or Johnny Rowland for $295 and you'd be way better prepared. Just a thought you have options and time before spring to make a decision and get some practice. Good luck with your decision

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  7. #67
    Boolit Master
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    You seem to understand the limitations of a 38. If you want to push things, I would stick with the Ruger, even if it is a tad larger. If you want to use a small gun, you need to make the best of your choice. A heavy cast boolit is reasonable. You do want as much velocity as reasonably achievable. To get this you want the longest COL that still lets you crimp for 100% reliability with no risk of creep.

    EDIT: After double checking some stuff, I backed off my recommendation just a tad. I have seen good info saying that the Ruger SP-101 in 38 SP is just as strong as the same gun in 357 Mag. Some SP-101 guns in 38 SP have shorter cylinders (depending on when made). 4227 can probably be loaded to 100% load density (LD) with your bullet. For this type of application, I prefer going for just under 100% LD (say 1/16" air gap) instead of giving a charge weight due to all of the variables that affect available space. The further out you can seat your bullet, the more space you will have for powder.

    Again, make sure you have a good crimp. Test it by backing off a little on the crimp and firing all but one round. If there is any creep at all, add a little more crimp. After you get to "no creep" add some more crimp for margin.

    EDIT: I really do not like loading ammo to pressures more than the SAAMI rating for the headstamp. If I wanted to push 38SP loads based on a specific gun, I would prefer getting some 357 mag cases and trim them down to 38 SP length.
    Last edited by P Flados; 12-29-2019 at 02:46 PM.

  8. #68
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    Ya’ll are being a bit over dramatic, I feel well prepared with even a .25 or .22. I figure anything big enough to slow down my fishing buddy is good enough.

  9. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kraschenbirn View Post
    The OP's SP101 chambered for .38 Spl. is the same frame and cylinder as the .357 Mag. version so it will easily digest 'hot' .38s without issue. Several years ago, I acquired a 3" .38 and did a bit of research when I noticed they were no longer listed in the Ruger catalogue. According to my source, the .38s were produced, primarily, for sale to LE agencies (like NYC) that limited their officers to 'standard caliber' weapons...i.e. .38 Spl and 9mm...and were discontinued as more departments switched over to high-capacity autos.

    Bill
    IF Dvdmacdaddy's revolver is indeed of equal strength to the .357 Magnum, then to answer his question I would think that the old Elmer Keith .38/44 load would be about the best one to give a guy a chance against a bear using this weapon.

  10. #70

    38 Special Bear Load

    Quote Originally Posted by W.R.Buchanan View Post
    Wow this thread keeps going faster and faster, and we are having a good time belittling the OP (DVDMac) who works in the West Texas Oil Fields and puts up with worse everyday before lunch.
    I work for a public school, if I worked in the oil fields this thread wouldn’t have happened. I’d just go buy me a Ruger Redhawk 44mag and not even think twice about it.

    I take defensive handgun classes 3-4 times a year and shoot IDPA locally 3-4 times a month. I practice a few times a month (dry fire and live fire) rotating through my carry guns/positions/holsters/clothing. I like to stay sharp and prepared.

    I took the SP101 on trade for a person that owed me money. I have always loved the look and feel of the SP101, so it was a win for me.

    I am researching the Keith 38/44 load data, going to try some suggestions for loads in this thread and revived a few PMs with load suggestions. Hopefully will have some time in the next few days to hit the reloading room.
    Last edited by Dvdmacdaddy; 12-29-2019 at 12:43 AM.

  11. #71
    Boolit Grand Master Outpost75's Avatar
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    Ruger SP101 chambered in .38 Special is fully capable of handling the Keith style .38-44 Heavy Duty loads which were developed around the S&W N-frame revolvers. I shot the early .38 Special SP101 revolver rather extensively when they first came out. Using a heavy Keith-type bullet similar to the #358429, Accurate 36-168H or 36-175H a charge of 12.5 grains of Alliant #2400 is a serious load which would do the work. IMHO the 13.5 grain charge so often quoted from Keith IS excessive, but will probably not going to damage this particular stout little gun. I just don't see the need, if extraction is the least bit sticky.
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  12. #72
    Boolit Buddy ACC's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dvdmacdaddy View Post
    I recently acquired a Ruger SP101 2.25" barrel and S&W 638 1 7/8 barrel. I have an old Lee 358-158-SWC mold number 90324. I am looking to develop a "BEAR" load for when we go hiking in the mountains.

    The boolits are cast from Lyman #2, are .360 diameter and 164gr. If I seat to the crimp groove the OAL is 1.405in. I HiTek Coated them then sized .358.

    According to Hodgon's site the 158gr LSWC with a OAL of 1.475in.

    Powders on hand and listed data are 700-x (3-3.4gr), Titegroup (3.2-3.8gr), Universal (3.5-4.5gr), Clays (2.8-3.1gr), and IMR4227 (9-10gr).

    I use Titegroup in my 9mm cast loads and have had good results.

    I have ladder loads for TG from 2.8gr to 3.8gr in .2gr increments. Hodgdon goes as high as 4.3gr for a 158gr XTP for +P. To me 3.8gr seems like a pretty HOT load. I haven't had a chance to go to the range to test these loads.

    Buffalo Bore lists their 158gr LWSC Hard Cast +P at 1027fps out of a S&W 642 1 7/8 barrel and 1043 out of a 2.5in barrel S&W.

    Here is what the boolit looks like and seated.
    FYI that bullet cast with 1:16 metal will weigh about 166 grains.

    ACC

  13. #73
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    A family member was out hiking, this particular time (despite being in what I consider a high meth-idiot area) they chose not to carry.

    A rather ill-tempered, rather large Black Bear boar took offense to them, for some reason, and chased them up a rock wall (I call it "treed" even though no tree was involved - Same difference...) Bear couldn't quite get at them, but, they couldn't escape either.

    After a time, this idiot of a family member figured out that they could dig a couple rocks off that rock wall and bang them together and the boar decided they didn't LIKE that sound, it sounded too much like gunfire - and left.

    Yeah, killings by bears are rare etc. etc. - If you'd experienced that, though, I doubt any sane person here wouldn't want to choose the best load, just in CASE, and would then carry it like it was part of them.

    They'd be carrying ANYWAYS, they just want to increase their chances, in case this rare thing happens.

    Is that REALLY any sort of valid reason to attack their position repeatedly? (IMO, no)

    BUT "They're using a .38 Special, they should be using a bigger gun!"? News flash - not everyone can afford a new gun on every whim. I have carried a SBH in 44 Rem Mag, 7.5" barrel flavor But I bought that some time ago, and family member "helped themelves" some time ago. I was making pretty good money back then. I'm worse off than most teachers, sadly, now, though.

    I don't want CB to be a place where someone thinking their position is "right over all other peoples'" feels they can berate others for circumstances that may not entirely be up to them, or which could be due to feeling a duty to help others, etc.

    I figured I'd mention this once, if it gets worse I may do the same.

    The other thing about a round optimized for Bear in a .38 - It sure won't have penetration issues with your local methhead, cougar, or other predator.

    And I find that assuming the # of bear attacks to be that low is true only if we "know" that other miscellaneous times people go missing, aren't due to that.

    I was in a Search and Rescue group for many years; It is HARD to find an aircraft crash site in the woods here in WA State. Hard enough that, despite our looking hard with ground teams and air crews, it's fairly often a hunter or hiker who "gets lost" several years later, that finds the crash site and calls it in. (Once in a while, someone isn't nice and grabs the credit cards and sees if they can buy things with them; That's NASTY ahd very hard on the family.)

    Now, if pieces of a lost aircraft scattered over 100 yards of forest can be that hard to find, just how easy do you think it is to find some poor person's remains, who a wild animal killed? Trust me, that's a lot harder.

    I cannot "prove" it but I suspect that there are a few more Black Bear kills than documented. Just my suspicion.

    Also I remember back in the 70s-80s a Railroad Ballast inspector, walking the rails, came upon a live Grizzly back in Pennsylvania; IIRC they killed it by throwing pieces of railroad ballast. (Give that guy a job in Major League Baseball!) Griz is a whole 'nother sort of animal entirely; I've been around those, just never had any problems with them.

  14. #74
    Quote Originally Posted by Mr_Sheesh View Post
    A family member was out hiking, this particular time (despite being in what I consider a high meth-idiot area) they chose not to carry.

    A rather ill-tempered, rather large Black Bear boar took offense to them, for some reason, and chased them up a rock wall (I call it "treed" even though no tree was involved - Same difference...) Bear couldn't quite get at them, but, they couldn't escape either.

    After a time, this idiot of a family member figured out that they could dig a couple rocks off that rock wall and bang them together and the boar decided they didn't LIKE that sound, it sounded too much like gunfire - and left.

    Yeah, killings by bears are rare etc. etc. - If you'd experienced that, though, I doubt any sane person here wouldn't want to choose the best load, just in CASE, and would then carry it like it was part of them.

    They'd be carrying ANYWAYS, they just want to increase their chances, in case this rare thing happens.

    Is that REALLY any sort of valid reason to attack their position repeatedly? (IMO, no)

    BUT "They're using a .38 Special, they should be using a bigger gun!"? News flash - not everyone can afford a new gun on every whim. I have carried a SBH in 44 Rem Mag, 7.5" barrel flavor But I bought that some time ago, and family member "helped themelves" some time ago. I was making pretty good money back then. I'm worse off than most teachers, sadly, now, though.

    I don't want CB to be a place where someone thinking their position is "right over all other peoples'" feels they can berate others for circumstances that may not entirely be up to them, or which could be due to feeling a duty to help others, etc.

    I figured I'd mention this once, if it gets worse I may do the same.

    The other thing about a round optimized for Bear in a .38 - It sure won't have penetration issues with your local methhead, cougar, or other predator.

    And I find that assuming the # of bear attacks to be that low is true only if we "know" that other miscellaneous times people go missing, aren't due to that.

    I was in a Search and Rescue group for many years; It is HARD to find an aircraft crash site in the woods here in WA State. Hard enough that, despite our looking hard with ground teams and air crews, it's fairly often a hunter or hiker who "gets lost" several years later, that finds the crash site and calls it in. (Once in a while, someone isn't nice and grabs the credit cards and sees if they can buy things with them; That's NASTY ahd very hard on the family.)

    Now, if pieces of a lost aircraft scattered over 100 yards of forest can be that hard to find, just how easy do you think it is to find some poor person's remains, who a wild animal killed? Trust me, that's a lot harder.

    I cannot "prove" it but I suspect that there are a few more Black Bear kills than documented. Just my suspicion.

    Also I remember back in the 70s-80s a Railroad Ballast inspector, walking the rails, came upon a live Grizzly back in Pennsylvania; IIRC they killed it by throwing pieces of railroad ballast. (Give that guy a job in Major League Baseball!) Griz is a whole 'nother sort of animal entirely; I've been around those, just never had any problems with them.
    Yes thank you! Well rounded response

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  15. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Outpost75 View Post
    Ruger SP101 chambered in .38 Special is fully capable of handling the Keith style .38-44 Heavy Duty loads which were developed around the S&W N-frame revolvers. I shot the early .38 Special SP101 revolver rather extensively when they first came out. Using a heavy Keith-type bullet similar to the #358429, Accurate 36-168H or 36-175H a charge of 12.5 grains of Alliant #2400 is a serious load which would do the work. IMHO the 13.5 grain charge so often quoted from Keith IS excessive, but will probably not going to damage this particular stout little gun. I just don't see the need, if extraction is the least bit sticky.
    Two questions:

    1. How bad did it hurt to shoot that revolver with those loads??
    2. Are the Speed and Service Sixes also that strong?
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  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Dobbs View Post
    Two questions:

    1. How bad did it hurt to shoot that revolver with those loads??
    2. Are the Speed and Service Sixes also that strong?
    !; Less so than the same revolver made in 357 Magnum. Besides, the 38/44 level loads are not going to be an every day plinking load.....if used in such an emergencies as being discussed I doubt the recoil, if felt at all, will be an issue.

    2; Yes, the Ruger Speed and Security Sixes are just as strong, both the 38 SPLs and the 357 magnums, as the SP101s. As with the SP101 the Sixes chambered in 38 SPL only have a different chamber. The rest of the revolver {steel, strength, heat treat, etc.] is the same as the 357 magnum Sixes. BTW I shoot the same level 357 magnum loads in my Security Six as I've shot in many BHs. Such loads would soon rattle a M19 K-frame apart which is why S&W came out with the L-frame. The Sixes, SP101s and L-Frames are all comparable in strength regardless whether chambered in 38 SPL or 357 magnum. If they all can handle 357 Magnum loads then they can certainly handle 38/44 level loads.
    Larry Gibson

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  17. #77
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    ...I remember back in the 70s-80s a Railroad Ballast inspector, walking the rails, came upon a live Grizzly back in Pennsylvania
    Um, am I missing something here? There are no grizzly bears in Pennsylvania.

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  18. #78
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    Maybe psychologically you would feel safe, and if the bear was starting to pull the meat off your bones, you could kill him with a shot or more to the head, but who wants things to come to that? Better over gunned than under, if there is a risk.

  19. #79
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    When encountering a bear----- don't look them in the eye. They hate that.
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    However; it's less painful, and cheaper to learn from the mistakes of others.

    Old age and treachery will always overcome youth, and skill.

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  20. #80
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    After perusing the thread, one gets the impression that since he included a SP101 in the discussion the idea of using such a gun in 38 Special for black bear defense was not as bad an idea as many have made it out to be.

    Certainly such a gun can throw a heavy enough bullet at high enough speed to penetrate well, and hit ability issues aside, that is a lot of what helps in such a situation.

    Such an occurrence is a low likelihood event, but the firearm proposed (38 101) probably didn’t deserve the degree of reaction it got.

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