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Federal’s highly-lauded HST line now offers a .38 Special +P load. The deeply-seated hollow point sure gives it a unique look, but performance should be the exceptional HST norm. Federal Premium Ammunition’s press release and more photos follow . . .

Federal Premium Expands Personal Defense HST Micro Lineup with 38 Special +P Load

ANOKA, Minnesota – May 18, 2017 – Federal Premium Ammunition’s Personal Defense HST Micro loads fuel peak performance from subcompact, concealed-carry handguns. For 2017, the HST Micro line has been expanded to include a 130-grain 38 Special +P load with a deeply seated bullet that eliminates excess air space in the case. This results in the most consistent velocities and terminal performance. Shipments of the new loads are now arriving at dealers.

Like all HST Micro rounds, the new load provides reliable expansion, optimum penetration and superior terminal performance with a bullet weight and propellant optimized for the most efficiency and accuracy in subcompact handguns.

“By combining the HST bullet design with the unique seating depth, we’ve created the most consistent 38 Special personal defense load on the market,” says Federal Premium Handgun Product Lane Director Jason Nash. “We’re proud to give those who carry a 38 Special the most effective possible option for the platform.”

Features & Benefits
• New 38 Special +P load for micro-size concealed carry revolvers
• Deep bullet seating eliminates inconsistent powder burn rates
• Law enforcement proven HST bullet design
• Expanded diameter and weight retention produce the desired penetration for personal defense situations, without over-penetrating
• Clean-burning, low-flash propellants

Part No. / Description / MSRP
P38HST1S / 38 Special +P HST Micro, 130 grain / $30.95

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    • Seth Rich’s murderers didn’t need speed loader. 5 rounds was more than adequate for shooting him in the back.

    • “That can’t be speedloader friendly.”

      Er, why not? Any worse than a non-beveled magwell on an AR being harder to load?

      I would think the shorter OAL might make it easier to maneuver them into the cylinder.

      I must say it’s interesting seeing a JHP loaded like a wadcutter,

      That might prove to be a handy trick for getting an extra round into a levergun…

      • They might not cycle well in a lever gu n. From what I’ve heard the specials can be a problem in .357 magnum levers.

        • I can vouch for this from experience. The second 38 Special round in the tubular magazine catches on the loading mechanism in mine.

        • 38’s don’t cycle well in a lever gun, these would no doubt jam it solid. Switched to a bolt action Ruger 77/357, feeds anything I’ve tried, but I don’t think these would work in any type of feed mechanism.

        • My Rossi ’92 loves 38s. I haven’t tried wad cutters, but JHP, LRN, JFP all run just as good as the magnums.

      • While wAdcutters may work in speedloaders, they do not work well. When I started working as a cop on L.A., we used wadcutters for qualification. Bad with dump pouches, just as bad with speedloaders. Trying to fit the bullets in the cylinder required you to look down and align the speedloaders, taking your eye off the target, not good at all. Why we used 158 hi-speed roundnose.

  1. Unless they can prove remarkably better ballistic performance, I’m sticking with LSWC in my .38.

      • I can’t wait to see the results. Along with a few other popular .38 special rounds. Just for comparison. 🙂 I remember plans to ammo quest a .38 snub nose a year or so back. Did that ever happen? (I haven’t kept up the last year or so….)

      • I cant tell you how the hollow point version works out, but the traditional LSWC bullet is thr best performer for taking game with a pistol that I’ve ever seen.

        • Assuming the lead is of an appropriate hardness for the velocity. You’d want softer lead in a .38 special than a .357 magnum. I’m assuming they mushroom nicely, although if you’ve seen a few recovered from game you’d could say better than me.

          As far as the ho llow point, this is an excerpt from BB’s description; ◼︎ At an impact velocity of 1,900 fps the entire mushroom will turn into shrapnel and send bull et particles all throughout the deer. The shank will remain intact, but will re-mushroom and do horrific damage inside the deer and will probably push through any deer hit broadside.

      • Be carefull with lead +p loads in a lightweight j frame. I got bullet creep that locked up my cylinder on a 442 with one of those loads.

        Same rounds work real well in my k frames.

        • Since these are specifically designed for revolvers like Airweights, I would think they would be well crimped. And what’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like the projectile could walk any further back causing a higher chamber pressure. These could wander well forward and still likely be in spec for OAL…

      • In the way back, in a time when if someone told you that there would come a time when your rifle would need batteries and your pistol would also have a laser attached to it you’d have thought them a bit soft in the head, and when Airweight Chiefs Specials and Agents with hammershrouds and T-Grip inserts were high tech back up pieces, an old friend of mine used to roll ammo for them.

        I no longer recall the powder specs, but I do recall that the bullets began as LSJWCs, which he drilled out into shallow hollow points, and then glued a single .177 BB in the center to the center of. I suppose this was the predecessor to a hydra-shoc bullet, but he called them ‘Golden Gumballls’. They mushroomed so aggressively and so unevenly in wet media that they inevitably tumbled. By the time they did though they were experiencing such extensive jacket separation that they would often begin partially mushrooming again on the side that ended up forward after it began to tumble.
        The BB would end up separated in the target media, the jacket wound up as shrapnel, and the bullets themselves penetrated remarkably deep, considering the gross expansion, tumbling, and highly irregular wound channel.
        They were called ‘gumballs’ because the recovered bullets resembled a wad of chewed bubblegum.
        Yes, we debated what a prosecutor or jury might make of such ammo if used in a DGU, even back then, but there was no mistake that these rounds out performed almost anything commercially available at the time.
        Then again, nyclads were just be comming a thing, and soon Silvertip ammo would change low light fighting with these little revolvers.

        My own mod. 36 has been lost to time, replaced by a succession of increasingly smaller and lighter auto pistols, ironically again an SW now, only in .380 BG flavor now.
        The mod. 64 that was the primary to the 36 is still with me, it’s my back door/kitchen drawer gun now, having also been supplanted by a long list of auto pistols, now a Glock19.

        I suppose I miss the heft and quality and solidity and the romance of the wheel gun in general and the K-frames in particular. To this day, I still wouldn’t ever feel undergunned with my old rig, but gone are the days when someone would say ‘Is that a Combat Masterpiece?’ With the excitement and reverence that might now follow a Glock MOS or Sig P320.

        Maybe I’m melancholy that my speed loaders and dump pouches and creaky old leather are antiques now. That something I used to wear and use, something that my body shaped and, which I realized now with my morning aches, shaped my body is considered obsolete. It’s a realization I think that no matter how useful I still think I am, or how much I like myself, I am slowly becomming obsolete as well. Maybe it’s the realization that these tools and arms really are going to outlast me that pains. Maybe, before it’s over, I too will need batteries to function, but unfortunately there is usually a lot more interest in old guns than in the men who carried them.

    • I have no doubts about the ballistics of this. Minimizing the space between the powder and base of the bullet lowers the standard deviations of velocity and makes the lows and highs much closer together.

    • So far the HST has outperformed almost every other defensive round on the market. Its pretty much a proven round in other calibers, I’m sure they will perform equally well in a .38.

  2. How does the bullet engage the rifling in the barrel? I see its designed for micro snubbies so maybe they figure there’s no point.

      • Corrective Services in some states of Australia still use the S&W model 36 snub nose .38 as ankle carry.

        There training requires you to do quite alot of admim loading, under alot of pressure, with a pockets full of 500 rounds (AKA after being gassed, marching and star jumps in full roit kit ect).

    • I doubt there would be since wadcutters are routinely loaded that way. What can be a problem is lightweight bul lets. If they’re short enough the super hot gasses can blow around the bu llet before it enters the forcing cone and this can lead to cracked forcing cones. If you look at any of the 110gr. .357 magnum factory loads they are always very low pressure loads, I assume because of this.

  3. Well that’s cool. Wife is bound and determined to have a little wheelgun. This looks like a winner…

    • Nothing wrong with little wheel guns.
      Get her one chambered for .357 Magnum. It opens up a world of choices for ammo.

    • Highly recommend the S&W 640 Pro. Spouse appropriated mine a couple of years ago…said that the LCR was good enough for me. Easiest shooting magnums I’ve found for the 640 are PolyCase’s new ARX .357 Magnum rounds in case you’re interested…158’s are NO fun at all. May have to try a box or two of these Federal’s.

  4. Will an ultra-light snubby “pull” out the bullets from the cartridges after firing the first couple of rounds?

    That’s what I want to know.

    • It looks like there’s a deeper than normal roll crimp in front of the bullet instead of engaging the bullet.
      I’m hoping it takes a lot of force to overcome that crimp.

    • It is hard to see any real crimp on the case mouth in the pictures, but I’m assuming the slightly shinier portion of the case right at the mouth in the third picture is from a crimping die. Being a .38 special federal should know enough to avoid the problems lightweight 9mm micro revolvers often with that problem. I look forward to the performance review on these, I have a soft spot wheel guns.

    • It’s certainly possible. The violent recoil of a 640 PD (titanium scandium .357) with full power .357 could potentially change seating depth. As others have said, it can even tie up a cylinder. I worry a bit about my 5th .357 round out of my 640. I believe Buffalo Bore has specifically mentioned that their ammo should get no more than one revolution in a lightweight snubbie .357 so that bullet seat depth is not adversely affected.

      • I have a 340PD (previous generation of the same), and I can tell you from personal experience that it’s not at all theoretical. I load Lehigh Xtreme Penetrator .357 in mine, and while I can go through the entire cylinder without issues, the bullets are visibly misplaced to the point where I doubt it would work for more than a couple shots.

        • I simply avoid +p loads in my 442 airweight. It locked up once on a pulled bullet at the range.

  5. Some cases, such as the .38, the .44 and the .45 colt were designed for black powder, and consequently have far more case capacity than needed for smokeless. I suspect that the only reason the .357, which I understand was designed as a smokeless cartridge, has such an long case is to prevent it from being mixed up with .38. I had occasion to open a .45 colt case and was actually quite surprised how little smokeless powder is in there. It is .7 cc by volume, or 6 or 7 grains weighed powder, with a do not exceed load of less than 10 grains, all in a case that will hold up to 40 grains (by volume) of black.

    • I know this is an old thread, but here goes: the .357 S&W Magnum case is merely a .38 Special S&W case extended in length by 0.125 inches (1/8″). That was to prevent the magnum cartridge from seating ing in the older chambers. The .38 Special was a blackpowder case, and the .357 piggybacked on that design. Smokeless cases that were designed as such from “ground up” such as the 9 mm and the .45 ACP show their origin; they are much shorter and of diminished volume as a consequence.

  6. At first glance it reminded me of the upside down HBWC Bill Jordan and some others made popular “back in the day”. If it is accurate and expands as hoped; could be a fresh breath for the snubbie 5 shot. I have to say it looks like a poster child for the round a fella doesn’t want to cap off. I had always heard the danger of seating a bullet deep too deep to result in overpressure. Hope they know what they’re about…

    • Who, Federal?

      Yeah, I’ve heard of them. I think they’ve been doing this ammo thing for at least a year. Maybe longer.

  7. I’ve carried and trusted the Speer 135grn Gold Dots for years now, but they didn’t fare so well in LuckyGunner’s ammo tests. The HST is a more modern bullet design and I expect good things from it.

    I am intrigued.

  8. It will be hard to get me away from the outstanding Buffalo Bore 158 SWC-HP +P (acronym overload!) that goes into my personal protection revos. Not only do those things make an honest 900+fps out of my two-inch guns, they can turn a four-incher into a light .357. I measured a cylinderful once out of a 586 at near 1100fps.
    Being of an age when Elmer Keith still wrote his inimitable prose and was shooting “Keith” bullets into all manner of living things, the semi-wadcutter has always seemed to me to be the best possible bullet design for the power level of controllable pistols. No skives, no petals, no engineering, just sharp-shouldered bullets that cut maximum diameter holes and yet could still penetrate enough to break stuff deep.
    Now, SWCs are tough on the reloads, but this HST looks well-nigh impossible to get a clean speedloader push with. Even with the SWCs, I often use Gold Dots for the backup reloads. A stall on a reload is very, very bad.
    “Keith” SWCs also have plenty of crimp groove for light guns and I’ve never had one come adrift and tie up a gun, unlike several more modern designs have. Your 13oz. pocket gun is the next best thing to a bullet puller.

  9. I wonder how these will perform in a Ruger SP 101 2.25″ barrel chambered for .357 Magnum? The Ruger SP 101, in my opinion, is not a micro gun. Any thoughts?

  10. To improve reload times with a speed loader or strip, the sharp outermost edge of each chamber within the cylinder can be very carefully, lightly, chamfered by a gunsmith with a tool made for that purpose. This makes a difference in reloading, as the speed loader does not have to be as precisely aligned to work. It shaved reload times, was safe, and reliable. This was a common modification in the days of competitive revolver shooters using 148 gr Wadcutters. The procedure may void factory warranties.


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