Thursday, August 31, 2006

Starting New Project Street Gun

Starting New Project Street Gun - (see links below - added 9-4-06)

A Critical Look at the Springfield Mil-Spec

By Stephen Camp

It is a safe bet to say that 1911 pattern pistols are extremely popular with American shooters. There are many reasons for this and 1911 type pistols are sold in various price ranges. Enter customized pistols or truly custom 1911's built from the frame and slide up and costs can soar. One can spend from a few hundred dollars to about as much as he can afford for this classic pattern pistol.

The focus of this article is the somewhat spartan Springfield Armory Mil-Spec in .45 ACP. The Mil-Spec is a "no frills" 1911 A1 type forty-five. It does not have an internal firing pin safety ala Colt Series 80 pistols or the Kimber II guns. Its titanium firing pin has passed the drop tests mandated by some states. No longer news, the front grip strap on more recent SA 1911 pistols is rounded.

The Mil-Spec .45 ACP can be had in the following variations.

Parkerized (Product Number: PB9108L)

Stainless (Product Number: PB9151L)

Bi Tone (Product Number: PB9104L)

OD Green (Product Number: PB9609L)

For this report, a parkerized version was used.

This Mil-Spec is as it came from the box with the exception of a drop-in Pachmayer grip safety. There will be more discussion of this in the text. The Mil-Spec has a lowered ejection port with the "scallop" at the rear and fixed sights that are easy to see at speed.

As can be seen on the box, another version of the Mil-Spec is available. Now called the "GI .45 1911-A1" by Springfield Armory, it has small fixed sights and the traditional non-lowered ejection port. These can be had for about a hundred dollars less than the Mil-Spec and the main differences between the guns have been mentioned. I prefer the larger sights. The GI .45 as shown here is designated by product number PW9108L. The Mil-Spec and the GI .45 come with spur hammers and the more narrow GI type grip safeties. The Mil-Spec has slide serrations angling slightly forward while the GI gun's are vertical. If the sights on the Mil-Spec are not satisfactory and a change is planned, the WWII Mil-Spec aka "GI .45 1911-A1" might be the way to go as these run about a hundred bucks less. The one shown ejects reliably without dented cases with its smaller, non-lowered ejection port.


Barrel Length: 5"

Pitch: 1:16 with left hand twist

Weight: 35.6 ounces

LOA: 8.625"

Trigger: short, serrated

Trigger Pull: 5-6 lbs.

Hammer: Spur

Grip Safety: Standard GI

Stocks: Black checkered plastic

Thumb Safety: Single side, not extended typical GI

Mainspring Housing: Arched, grooved and with "safety" lock

Recoil Spring & Guide Rod: Standard GI

Barrel Bushing: Solid

Magazine Well Beveled: Yes

Loaded Chamber Indicator: Yes. It is a small slot in the top of the barrel hood.

Forward Slide Serrations: (Mercifully) none

Throated for JHP: Yes

Sights: Fixed 3-dot style (Rear sight dovetailed with front sight staked)

Firing Pin: Small diameter as for 9mm/.38 Super and made of titanium

The barrel on my pistol is stainless steel with an average barrel OD of 0.570" until you get to 0.60" from the muzzle. At that point, the OD is slightly greater, measuring 0.578". This allows for tighter lock up in battery and generally provides greater mechanical accuracy assuming that the bushing is tight.

Here you can see the stainless steel barrel in the Mil-Spec from SA. Note the "loaded indicator" slot in the barrel hood. Chambered cartridges are easy to see. I can live with or without it but it has caused no problems. Initially I had thought that this was a one-piece barrel, but barely visible about midway between the "O" in "Auto" and the end of the chamber area of this barrel you can see the hairline where the two pieces are joined. I have heard of one or two of these barrels coming apart, but have never seen it. I suspect those instances were flukes. Browning Hi Power barrels have been two-piece for decades as are current aftermarket match barrels for them from BarSto. I believe it to be plenty durable and have no intentions of changing it.

The SA Mil-Spec front sight is not serrated and is staked to the slide. This is a slight change from earlier versions of the gun that had a post front sight. While I prefer the post for sight pictures, they can be a problem if the pistol is carried in the waistband without a holster. In a proper holster that clears the sight, I've found posts to be no problem. For a carry gun this gently sloping front sight is probably a better choice.

The rear sight is plain but in conjunction with the front sight provides an extremely nice sight picture. The front sight measures 0.12" while the notch in the rear sight is 0.11". This combination allows for plenty of light with the pistol's sight radius of 6.25".

Slide-to-frame fit on this gun is very good, better than expected, in fact. There is very little lateral play and none vertically. Likewise, the barrel fits the slide tightly. In battery there is no detectable movement. The bushing is snug, but can be removed without a bushing wrench. The bushing-to-slide fit is quite satisfactory, but it is not flush fitting or as nicely done as would be the case with one hand-fitted to this individual slide. It is plenty good for my purposes and never noticed by many.

Springfield Armory rates the trigger at 5 to 6 pounds. While I didn't measure it, mine is heavier than that and I'd estimate it at about 8 pounds initially. It has lightened up to a bit less after shooting. It does not break as cleanly as a 1911 having a proper trigger job, but is usable. (More on this later.)

Some tool marks are evident inside the gun, but nothing excessive and nothing that cannot be cleaned up if desired by the owner. Slide-to-frame fit at the rear of the gun is not perfectly blended as in the case of a custom gun, but neither is it "bad" or excessive. The degree to which the slide is not flush with the rear of the slide is minute and while not "acceptable" on a custom 1911, it really doesn't affect reliability for a "street gun". Most folks never notice it unless extreme; in this instance it is not.

Shooting: This pistol has had approximately 600 rounds fired through it without cleaning. Ammunition included Sellier & Bellot 230-gr. FMJ, Remington 185-gr. MC Flat Nose, Winchester USA 230-gr. FMJ, and various factory JHP's and handloads. Distances were 10, 15, and 25 yards.

During one session in which 300 rounds were fired, the web between my thumb and trigger finger got pretty chewed up, as has been my plight with GI grip safeties for decades. My problem with the SA was that the edges of the GI grip safety were sharp, real sharp, and cut two parallel lines along my hand. Combine that with the tip of the hammer nipping like a piranha in a feeding frenzy and it became more than evident that a change was in order. It is for that reason that I removed the grip safety before any further shooting and replaced it with a "drop in" from Pachmayr. It worked properly and being the shorter version of the two sold by this company, it worked fine with the spur hammer. Another approach might be to gently bevel and round the offended edges of the GI grip safety and bob the hammer spur approximately 3/16th to 1/4". (For many this is never an issue, but for me the traditional grip safety and spur hammer have always been a significant problem.)

10 Yards: This was done standing w/two-hand hold from a Weaver stance and simply consisted of controlled pairs along with a few failure to stop drills involving head shots.

Starting at a low ready each set of controlled pairs was fired in a bit under a second. There are some shots farther out than I like and part of that is due to the somewhat heavier trigger pull and the fact that while no longer being "bitten" by the gun, the scabs were wearing off and discomfort growing with each shot. None the less, results were encouraging.

15 Yards: These groups were fired standing and in slow-fire using a two-hand hold.

The Mil-Spec is plenty accurate for my purposes and I have no intentions of changing the barrel, bushing, or sights.

25 Yards: At this distance, I fired sitting and with my wrists braced. Two hands were used and shots were fired with no effort at speed. I simply wanted to see how the gun grouped at this distance.

This group was fired using a Precision 200-gr. CSWC loaded over 5.0-gr. of Bullseye powder. It averages around 860 ft/sec from most 5" 1911 pistols. Due to rain, I did no chronograph work, but will in the future. Other Springfield Armory 1911's have normally provided no surprises in velocity in my experiences with them.

Federal 230-gr. HydraShok remains popular with a great number of 1911 shooters so I fired a few groups with it at 25 yards from a rest. The ammunition used was the early truncated cone version of the load that was changed to have a more rounded ogive for better feeding. This load usually clocks about 870 ft/sec from a 5" gun.

Groups shown are the best fired, but those that were not so nice were due to me, not the gun, as I knew before looking when a shot was going to be bad. The "piranha" had taken its toll.

Observations: The gun is a keeper and one that will have different "guts" in the near future. I've not yet decided whether to retain the arched mainspring housing or go with a flat one, but I noticed no real difference in shooting. I will probably go with a long trigger. I will use a spur hammer (bobbed) as I would kind of like to have a 1911 with one since all of my others have ring hammers. The SA hammer could be used but I simply don't care for the half-cock "shelf" vs. the more traditional notch. With the SA hammer in the half-cock position, a press of the trigger will drop it. With the lightweight titanium firing pin, primers were not dented and barely marked, but not each and every time. I simply prefer the hammer not to fall from the half-cock position should the trigger be pressed.

Trigger pull will wind up being about 5 pounds and will break cleanly. The standard thumb safety that came on the gun is satisfactory as I do not shoot high thumb.

I was most pleasantly surprised that the POA vs. POI was dead bang "on" for me. Sometimes this relationship in fixed sight pistols is rather casual, but I'm more than happy with the sights on this pistol as they are and do not intend to change them.

Here are some of the rounds that were fired in the SA Mil-Spec that differ from 230-gr. ball. From left to right: 200-gr. Precision CSWC/5.0-gr. Bullseye, Speer 230-gr. Gold Dot/6.3-gr. Unique, Hornady 230-gr. FMJFP/6.3-gr. Unique, Remington 230-gr. Golden Saber/6.3-gr. Unique, Federal 230-gr.HydraShok (old style), Federal 230-gr. Classic JHP, and Remington 185-gr. MC-Flat Nose.

The Mil-Spec was used with several different magazines. Some are shown here with the ammunition fired using each. From top to bottom: Springfield OEM 7-round magazine, Randall 7-shot with Tripp Cobra Mag follower and spring, and an 8-shot McCormick PowerMag. The gun was also fired using Mec-Gar 7 and 8-shot magazines, Wilson 7-shot mags, and some 7-shot Colt magazines.

With just over 600 rounds fired, this Mil-Spec has had exactly zero malfunctions. Feeding and extraction have been smooth and positive. (I'd checked the extractor and it seemed to be tensioned properly. I left it alone.) The slide stop never failed to lock back after the last shot was fired and it never locked the slide back with rounds still remaining in the magazine. It did this with all magazines tried.

None of the magazines fit too tightly in the magazine well and all dropped freely when released.

Ejected cases do strike the slide, but recovered cases showed no dents.

The ejector is pinned in place and measures 0.99" from the top of the rear to the front upper tip. A solid steel pin is used. All ammunition used was easily cycled and ejected by hand without hang ups and none of the primers were marked by the tip of the ejector.

With the full-power mainspring, the titanium firing pin had no problems with primers not being set off. I have not yet decided whether or not to change this. So far it has not been an issue.

Depending on where one looks, this version of the Mil-Spec can be found at around $500 or a bit less and I believe it is money well spent if a person's looking for either a base gun for further enhancement or to use as is. I'm satisfied with the parkerized finish as I prefer dark guns, but the pistol can be had in stainless steel construction and other finishes are certainly available.

My plans for this particular Mil-Spec are for it to become a trusted carry gun. I have a Norinco that meets such duties now and while in the same general price range with its minor upgrades, they are getting hard to come by. The Mil-Spec is not and neither does it cost so much that it is out of too many folks' financial reach. While I cannot say that each and every Mil-Spec will function as flawlessly as this one, I do believe that they can with very little effort. This one worked perfectly with or without shock buffs in place.

The SA Mil-Spec can be a very good carry gun and one that doesn't break the bank if dinged up a bit as is normally the case when a pistol is carried daily. Should a person have to use it against another human being, the time that it is in evidence might be a bit less traumatic than were it a 1911 costing several times as much. Do not misconstrue my last sentence. There is absolutely nothing wrong with carrying an expensive sidearm for the very important business of protecting one's hide, but for many of us, this pistol is capable of being a most satisfactory defense gun.

This Springfield Armory "low end" 1911 is neither my favorite nor best looking 1911, but it is proving to be one that I enjoy, will use, and more importantly, trust. Many of us have some really nice custom and customized 1911's...and I fall into that group. At the same time I really like "using guns" that perform well and this gun is proving itself to be perfect for such perceived needs. When I eventually get through with the changes necessary to suit me, it will still look very much like an out of the box Mil-Spec but I suspect that it will perform at a level that belies its "basic" look.


Mr. Stephen Camp and I are going to start taking names of very intertested sincere people for our fifth Project Street Gun Class. You can email me at or you can call me at 281 565 6977.


Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Corbon .45 ACP 185-gr. DPX from SIG-Sauer P220 & 5" 1911

By Stephen Camp

Speaking of their newest ammunition line, Mr. Mike Shovel of Corbon advised, "All calibers in DPX will penetrate 12 to 16" in denim-covered ballistic gelatin." He went on to state that this line of ammunition is designed to meet the FBI protocols for bullet performance and said that DPX also works very well after encountering barriers other than denim. The few test results that I'd seen on this new load fall midway between the penetration depths mentioned by Mr. Shovel when fired into gelatin covered with 4-layers of denim.

I asked what the velocity threshold was to start expansion. He stated that in .45 ACP, it is 800 ft/sec. Mr. Shovel went on to say that the Corbon .45 DPX round works fine in the short barrel forty-five's as well.

The .45 ACP DPX load uses a 185-gr. copper Barnes X-bullet and the cartridge is loaded to 1.23" LOA. The hollow point measures 0.225" wide by 0.37" deep and the wall thickness at the front of the hollow measured 0.02" thick.

The .45 ACP Corbon DPX round is fairly "traditional" in appearance but uses a homogeneous bullet made from a copper alloy. The load is rated +P and is so noted on the case head stamp. The load is nominally rated at 1075 ft/sec. With no jacket and no lead, fragmentation does not occur.

The shortest barrel .45 ACP pistols I own have 4 1/4" barrels. I opted to use a pistol having such a barrel length instead of the very common 5" 1911 pattern pistol for informal expansion testing. The handgun chosen was a SIG-Sauer P220.

Two pistols were used to evaluate the .45 DPX load. On the left is a SIG-Sauer P220 w/4.25" barrel. Next to it is a Kimber Classic Custom with the usual 5" factory barrel. The P220 was fired using factory 7-round magazines. The Kimber used Wilson 7-round magazines, a McCormick 8-shot PowerMag, and a Colt 7-shot magazine using Virgil Tripp's Cobra Mag upgrade kit. The P220 was used for expansion testing.

Fired into water from the SIG-Sauer P220, this 185-gr. DPX expanded to 0.81" x 0.83" x 0.55" tall. The recovered bullet weighed 184.3 grains. Note how "long" the expanded bullet remains; it doesn't flatten out as much as conventional JHP's known to be aggressive expanders. Corbon has long manufactured ammunition to very high velocities for respective calibers. Their 165-gr. PowRball +P is such a round. Weighing 20 grains less than the DPX. It is advertised at a considerably higher 1225 ft/sec.

Here we see the expanded .45 DPX compared to the expanded PowRball after both were fired into water from a SIG-Sauer P220. The side view graphically shows how the DPX retains a longer expanded bullet that is more likely to penetrate than the PowRball "pancake". The PowRball expanded to 0.80" and with the jacket fragments weighed 161 grains. (PowRball averaged 1189 ft/sec from the P220.)

Here is the expanded DPX (middle) compared to some conventional .45 ACP JHP's. Clockwise from the top left we have Federal 230-gr. Hydrashok, Remington 230-gr. Golden Saber, Federal Classic 230-gr. JHP, and Winchester (law enforcement only) Ranger 230-gr. RA45T.

Two expanded Corbon 185-gr. DPX bullets flank Winchester's excellent 230-gr. RA45T, which evolved from the original Black Talon of the same weight. Where the heavier bullet has more weight to aid in obtaining sufficient penetration, the DPX has length and spaces between the rigid copper petals. I suspect that damage from either is both significant and similar in "soft targets".

Shooting was done at 15 and 25 yards with the DPX ammunition. All shooting was slow-fire and single-action only while using a rest. Felt recoil was very similar to Corbon's conventional 185-gr. JHP +P, which uses the Sierra Power Jacket Hollow Point bullet.

These 15-yard groups were fired while sitting and using a two-hand hold. The ammunition proved quite good for its intended purpose. POA was the center of the gray bullseye.

A great number of .45 fans routinely use 230-gr. ball for practice as it almost always has the same POI vs. POA as the 230-gr. JHP ammo most carry. I thought it might be useful to know where the Corbon 185-gr. DPX strikes the target from a gun with its sights regulated for standard velocity 230-gr. ammunition. The Kimber was used for this at 25 yards.

Winchester USA 230-gr. FMJ was fired as the "control" load to compare the DPX load's POI for the same POA in a gun set for standard pressure 230-gr. ammunition. Ten shots were fired with each load. The lines through holes mark the Winchester's impacts. The lighter and faster 185-gr. DPX strikes slightly lower at this distance. Whether or not it matters depends upon the degree of precision the shooter finds necessary. For most of us, there is not enough divergence in points of impact to matter.

As distance increases, so can differences in points of impact. At 25 yards, I fired a group using the SIG-Sauer P220.

POA was the center of the bullseye. Shooting was done slowly, seated, and using a two-hand hold. My wrists were braced. Is there enough difference in the POI with the DPX at 25 yards to matter? It depends on what the ammunition and pistol is being used for. If the intended target is a couple of inches in size, it is two much. For center chest hits on a moving human aggressor, probably not.

The ammunition was chronographed from both pistols. Each set of figures is based on 10 shots fired approximately 10 feet from the chronograph screens. Figures are in ft/sec.

Corbon 185-gr. DPX +P Chronograph Data:


Low Velocity

High Velocity

Ave. Velocity

Extreme Spread

Std. Deviation

SIG-Sauer P220






Kimber Classic






The DPX proved itself consistent and accurate on targets and over the chronograph.

DPX feed smoothly in both guns and there were exactly zero failures to feed, extract, or eject. The slides on both pistols locked back upon firing the last shot. Cycling the same round from a full magazine 3 times in each pistol resulted in no measurable bullet set back; there was absolutely no hesitation in this ammunition chambering.

These Corbon DPX cases were fired in the Kimber (left) and SIG-Sauer (right). Neither shows the classic signs of excessive pressure, but one can see very minor primer flow beginning on the primer fired in the Kimber. Neither case exhibits flattened primers. The telltale firing pin "wipe" is present on the primer fired in the SIG-Sauer. This is typical and to be expected. The SIG-Sauer pistols purposely have a bit slower firing pin retraction to help thwart debris from entering the firing pin channel.

I was pleased with the performance of this ammunition. It proved reliable in expansion and accuracy was more than adequate. Over the chronograph, DPX displayed good uniformity and the ammunition performed to nearly the same extreme spreads in two entirely different 45-caliber handguns. Standard deviations were the same.

You can see that the expansion of these seven 185-gr. DPX +P bullets is pretty consistent. These were fired into water from the SIG-Sauer P220 and impacted at an average velocity of 1062 ft/sec.

Did this ammunition meet my expectations? Yes. I noted that while the 4 1/4" barrel on the P220 averaged velocities barely under the advertised 1075 ft/sec, 5" average velocity from the Kimber slightly exceeded it.

If you prefer "light and fast" in the .45 ACP but have had concerns over penetration, I suggest that you give Corbon 185-gr. DPX a look. I've not yet shot any animals with it, but it appears to provide accuracy, consistency, and more penetration than most other 185-gr. expanding ammunition.


Monday, August 28, 2006

Corbon .38 Special 110-gr. DPX Ammunition

Tested in 3 Different Barrel Lengths

By Stephen Camp

In recent years, a hue and cry for expanding ammunition that doesn't fragment and penetrates at least 12" in 10% ballistic gelatin has been the new beat to which high-performance ammo makers have been marching.

From Remington, we see the Golden Saber while Speer has the bonded Gold Dot line of hollow points. Winchester's law enforcement Ranger SXT line represents yet another entry as does Federal's new bonded version of the old Hydrashok.

Corbon, a maker of fast, aggressive expanding ammunition, continues with the type loads that made it famous, but has also been exploring other possibilities. First came their PowRball, a +P round in several calibers that expands massively and penetrates a bit more than the Sierra Power Jacket Hollow Points used in their traditional defensive line of ammunition. Corbon has the manufacturing rights to a relatively new bullet. It is a copper hollow point "X bullet" made by Barnes. Corbon calls this new load "DPX" for Deep Penetrating X (bullet). I have seen the X bullet used with great success in rifle calibers.

The copper bullet used in the DPX ammo is homogeneous; in other words there is no jacket to possibly separate from the core. Copper is more malleable than typical gilding metal and less likely to break off during expansion. The copper content on the very well respected Winchester Ranger line of JHP's has a higher copper content than normal for jacketed hollow points.

Corbon offers the DPX for the .38 Special. What' more is that it is offered in a standard pressure load! The bullet has a longish profile and weighs 110 grains.

This is the 110-gr. DPX standard pressure load. It is advertised at 1200 ft/sec. A crimp is evident on the case mouth and there were no bullets that worked loose from recoil during firing.

Examining the .38 DPX cartridge, I noticed that the virgin cases are from Remington and are so head stamped.

The Corbon DPX .38 Special cases are from Remington. The hollow point is massive and approximately 0.135" wide and 0.335" deep. The cartridge is longer than most 110-gr. JHP's. Copper is not as dense/heavy as lead so the bullet must be longer for the same weight.

Corbon wisely chose to offer a .38 Special round in standard pressure. Lots of +P ammunition exists for the caliber, but in light guns, some people just don't care for the snappier recoil. Others don't wish to use high-pressure ammunition in their standard-pressure-rated revolvers.

It's probably a safe bet that the majority of .38 Special revolvers being used for defense are snubs in the role of either primary or secondary weapons. For that reason, I used a 1 7/8" S&W for checking velocities, expansion, and accuracy. I then recalled that more than a few folks have mentioned liking their 3" .38's and .357's, so they might be interested in how this load might perform from their guns. Since 4" guns do defense duty in more than a few households, testing really needed to be included for that barrel length, too!

Corbon's 110-gr. DPX was fired from three Smith & Wesson .38 Special revolvers. The snub was a Model 638. The 3" used was a Model 64 and a 4" Model 10 rounded out the trio.

These three S&W's were used to test the 110-gr. DPX.

Ten shots were fired approximately ten feet from the chronograph screen for the average velocities provided in the following table. Velocities, extreme spreads, and standard deviations are in feet per second.

Corbon .38 Special Chronograph Data:


Bbl. (in.):




Extreme Spread:

Std. Deviation:

S&W M638

1 7/8






S&W M64














It is interesting to note that in these particular revolvers, the ammunition performed most consistently in the shortest barrel! Notice also that the velocity differences (average as well as high and low) are practically identical for the 3 and 4" guns. None hit the 1200 ft/sec mark, but out of the longer barrels, they were in the ballpark.

No apparent signs of excessive pressure can be seen on this fired case or primer. I could literally shake the empties from any of the revolvers without using the extractor rod.

Most defensive scenarios for private citizens are measured in feet or inches rather than yards. Nevertheless, I decided to shoot a slow-fire, double-action group at 10 yards with the Model 638.

This group fired with the snub consists of two cylinder's worth of ammunition or ten shots. Notice that at both 7 and 9 O' clock the bullets hit the target at an angle. I fired another group of five shots using a Model 642 and this did not occur.

Six shots were fired single-action at 15 yards using the 3" Model 64. There was no evidence of key holing and the group is more than satisfactory in size for self-protection needs. Most of us cannot shoot groups of this size at speed and under stress. Groups fired with the 4" Model 10 were practically identical. I did not shoot this ammunition farther than 15 yards today.

Recoil felt considerably less than with my usual carry load, Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P. Out of the same gun, the 110-gr. DPX shows to average between 6 and 7% less; it felt like the recoil was considerably less than the figures indicate. Someone sensitive to recoil might very well appreciate this load.

On the left is the front view of the Remington 158-gr. LSWCHP +P compared to the 110-gr. DPX. The former is my usual "carry load" in the snubs, but recoil is sharp and many do not find it pleasant. Felt recoil is subjective but to me, the DPX felt recoil is much less than the 6% reduction it shows on paper.

Recoil from the Airweight J-frame was the "greatest" of the three, but it was not bad at all. I think even a new shooter would have no problem with it. Out of the heavier all-steel guns, it was pleasant.

Corbon advertises that the DPX should meet or exceed the 12" depth desired by many when fired into ballistic gelatin whether bare or passing through 4 layers of denim. I fired several of the rounds from each gun into water.

Here's what I got:

Most of the rounds looked like the "best examples" shown on the left. The single "worst example" is shown at the bottom right. It partially expanded and its recovered dimensions are 0.48 x 0.44". Most of the time recovered bullets averaged 0.67" across and were very uniform. They were also about 0.51" tall. The bullets lost essentially no weight. I didn't pull the bullets and weigh them before firing, but the recovered weights were never lower than 108 grains. Most were right at 109.

The two sideways hits on the J-frame's target were disappointing, but may be peculiar to that particular revolver. It did not happen at all with a different snub I happened to have in my pocket nor was it seen from either the 3 or 4" guns.

I see this standard pressure load as an option for those wanting a lower recoiling lightweight snub defensive load that offers both expansion and penetration. With Federal's 125-gr. standard pressure Nyclad hollow point no longer being available to the general public, DPX might be a viable option. It does offer a few more inches of penetration than the 8 to 10" generally reported from those doing ballistic gelatin tests.

This Federal 125-gr. standard velocity Nyclad hollow point was fired into water from a 4" barrel at an average velocity of 938 ft/sec. Its recovered diameter is 0.42 x 0.49 x 0.54" tall.

Here is the expanded 125-gr. Nyclad hollow point fired from a 4" barrel flanked by an expanded DPX (left) and the "worst" one in today's test (right). The two DPX loads were fired from a 1 7/8" barrel.

I am not privy to the engineering details at Corbon concerning the DPX, but I think if the bullet can be made a tiny bit shorter, the key holing problem will disappear. It is not an issue at all in barrels longer than 1 7/8".

The expanded petals are tough and have sharp edges but soft enough not to be brittle. The longer overall length of the bullet contributes to its ability to penetrate deeper than if it flattened out more. So does having the gaps between the petals. This lessens the "parachute" effect of the solid wide mushroom, but still damages tissue effectively.

The pointed profile of the Corbon DPX made the use of a speed loader a snap. Under stress, finding the relatively large revolver chambers should be easier for shaking fingers with the smaller diameter meplat of this bullet.

Whether by choice, official mandate, or other circumstances, the snub .38 is sometimes the choice for defending life or property. Is it the best? No, probably not, but it has the advantage of being there when needed due to its compact size and light weight.

If you or someone you know uses the .38 for "serious" purposes but have issues with recoil, this load might be worth a hard look. If you cannot or will not use +P in your revolver, this might be worth a try. Will it be replacing my usual +P carry load in my snub? The jury is out on that one. I want to see problems with stabilization have eliminated in the ammo or know that they were specific to my revolver. In a 3 or 4" barrel, I'd have no qualms about using this ammunition right now.