Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Praxis: Snub-nose ballistics.

Charter Arms .38 Special

There was a time in my life when I carried a snub-nose revolver in an ankle holster on my right leg. I started out with a .38 and then went to a gunsmithed Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special with 2 inch barrel and bobbed hammer. I practiced a lot, so I got pretty good with it.

Charter Arms Bulldog in .44 Special.

The .44 was a handful, but I appreciated the extra terminal ballistics. I never had to discharge it, although its quick display got me out of a few situations.

Later in life, after I moved to Alabama, I met a retired Birmingham cop and former BPD armorer named Harry Deal. Harry was the best gunsmith in town and operated out of Plaza Gun Works on U.S. 11. (Sadly, Harry passed away some years ago. A great loss.)

Anyway, one day I was in Harry's shop and we were talking about terminal ballistics of .38 versus .45 and he offered me this little anecdote from his days in the trenches. With the advent of the drug epidemic, the cops who were patrolling Birmingham's projects discovered that their .38 revolvers firing non-jacketed lead bullets just wouldn't stop the new variety of hopped-up assailants they were encountering. Yet the Department refused to move off the .38 Special standard. If you were caught carrying anything bigger, you could be fired.

Hot-loading the .38s was done, but it wasn't enough. So, as Harry told the story, he went down to an industrial supply store and obtained reels of stranded lead wire.

Lead wire.

He then experimented with the right combinations of strands and swaging pressure until he he came up with a round that would fly true, hold together in flight, and turn into instantly mushrooming lead spaghetti on the other end. His load was a great success, but only lasted until the first defense attorney (and then the department higher-ups) learned about it. Harry said he'd almost been fired over the incident, but he still made handloads of the wire strand .38s and sold them to cops "for their off-duty guns" for years afterward until he decided to get out of the handloading business for legal and insurance reasons.

This trip down memory lane was occasioned by Stan's forwarding of this link on snub-nose ballistics.



Anonymous said...

That would definately hurt, I don't care HOW high you are.

B Woodman

jjet said...

CCI Gold Dot 135gr +P. Made especially for snubbies. Low flash. Great penetration. Great expansion.

It's factory ammo, so the attorneys can't get any traction.

YMMV, of course.

Anonymous said...

I knew Harry well. My father and his cousin knew him for years when he reloaded for the local law enforcement out of his garage. I bought one of my first firearms from him with the old classic, "Harry Deal trigger job." It was a old S&W Mod. 586 blued 357 Mag.
I am originally from the Roebuck / Huffman / Pinson area of town (B'Ham east side.) A few years ago I stopped by Plaza Gun Shop to see how he was and they told me that he had passed. I was saddened by the news. He was a good man. Did some really good trigger work.
It is a small world. I used to carry a Charter Arms Stainless 44 Spec Bull Dog (Old Son of Sam mod.) I carried it after listing to a relative and Harry talk about a good , in your face self defense gun.

Dennis308 said...

And for those environmentally friendly rounds one could use copper wire.

But seriously, My first Hide Away Gun was and is a Lil Rossi in
.38/.357 I load Glaser Safety Slugs, not legal in all states but here in Texas OK. I don´t know the Ballistics. But the Safety Slug is a Round filled with a fine bird shot in a Cup of a Jacket with a plastic nose. It more or less penetrates and then disintegrates inside the target/perpetrator. One of the guys in our little gun club was a assistant in the County Morgue before retiring. He says the only time he seen a body come in with a wound from one of these little rounds the Coroner said the subject (a burglar)was dead before he hit the ground. From a chest shot with a .38 spl at 10 ft. by a elderly woman at home alone while her husband was visiting one of their children.

One of these Lead Wire rounds would have a very similar effect I imagine,Deadly.

In today's world of the Criminals Rights I think Harry and any Officer that used one of these rounds on a criminal would find Themselves in Prison and the Alleged Criminal getting a most Generous Settlement from the City.


Allen said...

hmm...copper or steel wire, in a cast soft plastic, wax, or rubber casing, loaded into a .357 case cut back so it will go flush with the end of the cylinder of a .38 (for protection of the soft bullets)...

it would be fast and light, so it would drop off quick, but at short ranges it would probably "work the weave" of modern body armor and go through anything without a trauma plate.

a cross between a "homemade glaser" and the nylon bullet they talked about in "unintended consequences"

Scott J said...

Don't you be talking bad about my snubbies: http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=30775941&l=1f06043a3f&id=1159624218

That's 24 rounds of .357 mag double action at 7 yards and backing up a little after each cylinder full and finishing up at 10 yards.

Anonymous said...

My current car gun is a Taurus .44 Spl. snubbie with handloads. 180 grain Remington semi-jacketed hollowpoints over a starting load of Accurate #5 and a Wolf large pistol primer. Should do quite a number on a would-be carjacker if it should ever (gods forbid) come to that.