Ammo Review: SIG SAUER .38 Special +P 125gr Elite V-Crown JHP

SIG SAUER .38 Special 125gr V-Crown +P Review

SIG SAUER, as everyone should know by now, has been and is continuing to release a variety of ammunition types, which include everything from pistol to rifle and practice ball to advanced copper hunting bullets. In this article we will be looking at the excellent .38 Special +P 125gr +P Elite V-Crown.

SIG SAUER .38 Special 125gr V-Crown +P Review

General Background
The SIG V-Crown bullet used in this load is a traditional-style jacketed hollowpoint without a polymer filler in the tip. SIG’s making a complete line of V-Crown ammo that includes 9mm, .45 ACP, .380 ACP, and .45 Colt, among others.

The load itself consists of a 125gr bullet and a nickel-plated case. The ammunition comes in boxes of 20 rounds and retail MSRP is $19.99 on the SIG website as of this writing, although street price for a box is typically a couple of dollars less.

Accuracy and Basic Performance
I tested this load in my classic Smith & Wesson Model 36. The pistol was made in 1975 and features a pinned barrel and fixed firing pin. It’s an amazingly smooth gun that is probably the most accurate small revolver I’ve ever shot.

Some people told me not to fire +P in this gun, but yesteryear’s .38 Special ammo was generally much hotter than we have today and this heavy, steel-framed gun has no issues with +P loads.

SIG SAUER .38 Special 125gr V-Crown +P Review

The accuracy I was able to squeeze out of my Model 36 was excellent. I fired the pistol at a distance of ten yards from a standing position and was able to easily print one-inch groups. Backing off to 25 yards, I was able to keep all my shots on my 10” steel plate by holding at six-o-clock from the little snubby.

In the course of my testing with this cartridge, I experienced no failures to fire. Cases ejected easily and the primers showed no signs of pressure. SIG Rates the round at 900fps. Velocity chronographed at a distance of five feet from the muzzle was 805fps for an average of five shots. That difference isn’t unusual given the Model 36’s two-inch barrel.

Ballistic Performance
I received a 10% FBI gel block from Clear Ballistics for this section of my testing. The SIG load was fired from my Model 36 at a range of ten yards. The bullets fired into bare gel penetrated the gel to an average depth of 15”, but I did have some pass fully through after expanding. I found a number on the ground immediately behind the gel.

The bullets showed no hesitance to go through fabric and leather. In fact, there seemed to be very little deflection when going through the materials. The bullets still reliably expanded, but I noticed some tumbling. Interestingly enough, a significant number still passed completely through the gel and again fell on the ground just behind my testing setup.

SIG SAUER .38 Special 125gr V-Crown +P Review

The penetration this load achieved was reliable and consistent, but I believe that the bullets were probably a bit too hard for their own good. I would love to see the same bullet used in the 365 ammo line used in this load. I think that it would be a perfect balance of speed and expansion.

Wounding Capacity
The wound channels generated by this load were very consistent, deep, and straight. The expansion of soft tissue happened quite quickly in the first three to four inches, but the permanent wound channel wasn’t especially wide over the course of the wound length.

Average permanent cavity width was about .44”. The remaining wound channel wasn’t spectacular, but the penetration was there as well as the expansion.

SIG SAUER .38 Special 125gr V-Crown +P Review

When shooting through fabric and leather, there was no change to the overall performance. Bullets still expanded reliably and penetration was deep. The only major difference was some yaw and tumbling. These occurred with some regularity, but were not consistent. Tumbled bullets were recovered at a depth of 12-15”.

Overall Impressions
This load is accurate, powerful, and reliable. It’s a solid choice for anyone looking for effective personal defense ammo. As a bonus, SIG also makes a matching and less expensive FMJ version of this load to practice with. If a person wanted to go with one brand and style to carry and take to the range, SIG is a great option.

SIG SAUER .38 Special 125gr V-Crown +P Review

I think that SIG would be very successful with a dedicated snub-nose load that’s meant for small guns. This is an ammo that has ample power and penetration, but it may be too stout for some carriers.

I like that it can go through virtually all clothing and still expand, but the deep, driving penetration after expansion is something that people may want to be aware of.

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
This load produced stellar accuracy, particularly from a snubby. It’s easily on par or better than most .38 personal defense ammo out there.

Handling: * * * * *
Recoil was much lower than some .38 +P I’ve used over the years. I hesitate to even call it a +P load as it’s still well within standard .38 velocity and recoil expectations. I had no problem staying on target for follow-ups while firing double-action.

Reliability: * * * * *
Perfect. I experienced no problems of any kind while shooting this load.

Terminal Performance: * * * *
For a carry round, this could’ve expanded a bit more and stopped just a couple of inches shorter in the gel. the occasional over-penetration should be noted. That said, it does have what lots of carry ammo lacks in that it has very reliable and deep penetration after expansion.

Overall: * * * * 
SIG’s 125gr V-Crown +P is a very good, reliable personal defense load. I’ve confidently carried it in several of my J-Frames and I like that it has a practice clone load as well.



  1. avatar Sparky1017 says:

    Awesome review, thanks. Been loading these into my Taurus 85 Ultralite and am now feeling more confident in my choice.

    1. avatar Kahlil says:

      I use this in my .357 mag and .40 carry guns. The .357 and .38 both have same weights but obviously the size of the case means more room for powder, would be cool to fire them side by side and see how drastic the oomph is 🙂

  2. avatar Benzo says:

    I’m curious though, what exactly does “V-Crown” mean?

    1. avatar Kahlil says:

      Its in the product description that was linked to in the article, (halfway down approx)
      Has to do with the way cavity is shaped.

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    .38spl is still a good round to defend with.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    If the rounds dropped on the ground after going thru the gel block they likely would have been stopped by the shirt on the bad guys back after you shot him in the front.

    Life experience with a .38 tells me they tend to penetrate much more than their modest velocity would warrant.

  5. avatar Pg2 says:

    Looks interesting. Hopefully they produce a reliable round for snubby revolvers. Until then buffalo bores 150gr 38 spl wadcutter remains top contender.

  6. avatar former water walker says:

    Nice review but YouTube differs. Most 38 is quite mediocre except for HST. Unless you ask Paul Harrel with his fantastic “meat” tests. He is unimpressed with HST and gives high marks to Sig-in 9 mm anyway…YMMV.

    1. Yeah! That guys got some pretty good vids! Recommend viewing!

    2. avatar Scott says:

      Wrong. Gold Dot Short Barrel (135 grain, .38 special +P) is also a solid performer in testing. Good expansion, penetrates about 13 inches in gelatin after going through 4 layers of denim.

      1. Underwood makes a great +P using the Gold Dot bullet.

  7. avatar Kahlil says:

    I know you said others but should’ve just said .357 SIG, .357 mag, and .40 and rounded off the list.
    The 45 Colt as the .357 mag is a blast to shoot.

  8. avatar Setarip says:

    Pretty sad +P means 800fps with a measly 125gr bullet.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      Out of a barrel that is less than two inches long in a handgun that carries in and can be fired from inside a pocket.

      Had a cousin. Big ugly burly fool. Biker trash. Violent as all hell. Got killed proving you can’t rape a .38. Graves full of dumbasses that thought they were bullet proof.

      1. avatar Setarip says:

        I carry a 642. My point is the standard pressure .38 should be able to push a heavier bullet at the same velocity as this “+p”. Buffalo bore manages 854fps with a 158 grain bullet at standard pressure in a 2 inch model 66.

        1. avatar jwm says:

          I don’t know if I would trust BB’s non +P rating. That ammo seems a bit hot in all its loadings. I do use BB 110 grain copper hollow points in one of my k frames. I live in CA and we can’t use lead ammo when hunting.

  9. avatar TheUnspoken says:

    Sig makes revolver ammo? Next – the Sig revolver!

  10. avatar George from Alaska says:

    Sig Elite 230 grain ball .45 ACP is the only ammo that consistently fails to climb up the feed ramp of two Sig P220’s, a Walther PPQ M2 and a Sig P227. About every 18-20 rounds one seems to get caught on the feed ramps. Maybe not enough taper crimp? I haven’t reloaded for a few years because I’m moving but it never happened with my reloaded 230 FMJ ball ammo.

    1. avatar Michael in AK says:

      that is exactly why I shell
      out big bucks to test carry ammo…and not just a box or two…

  11. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    The actual expansion on these doens’t look huge. Maybe I’m just over analyzing it.

  12. avatar Michael Smith says:

    I fired this ammo out of my Ruger SP 101 at about 50 feet. It shot about 2 inches below POA, but grouped better than any other ammo I’ve used. 4 of 5 rounds touched each other, with one flyer(my fault). I have to go 135 grain or better, to get rounds POA. Barrel was 2 1/4 inch.

  13. avatar James says:

    I bought a box of these to shoot through my SW 442. After firing 4 rounds and checking the 5th round I noticed some separation between the bullet and the case. I will be picking out some different carry ammo. Also I must say I was shooting a box of field and stream 158g basic FMJ rounds and they recoiled like twice as hard as this “+P”. This is the largest difference in recoil I’ve ever experienced between a low and high grain bullet in any cartridge.

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