Federal HST Micro 38 Special Ammo 130 Grain +P JHP

Sensible for a "snubbie"

Okay, the .38 Special may no longer be...

… the dominant law enforcement sidearm it was back in the days when Colt and S&W were locked in mortal combat for the lion’s share of the police market. Yet there’s one area where it’s still a commercial force to be reckoned with: the CCW market. Instead of medium and large-frame revolvers, though, nowadays it’s the ubiquitous short-barreled .38 “snubbie.”

Many experts have recommended the traditional 148-grain wadcutter as a defensive load due to the configuration of the bullet and relatively modest recoil in alloy J-Frame Smiths and other similar guns. Handloaders desiring a bit more steam have even seated those hollow-based wadcutter bullets upside down above a stiffer charge than normally found in factory wadcutter target loads.

A vintage S&W Model 40 is the sort of small frame Federal’s HST Micro .38 Special load was designed for.

Instead of going to all that trouble, a very efficient “store bought” solution is available, one we’ve shot out of several revolvers and have been duly impressed by. Federal Premium HST 130-grain +P JHP has rapidly become a linchpin of the company’s Personal Defense lineup and it’s not hard to see why.

Specifically tailored for short-barreled .38 snubbies, this premium and distinctive load resembles a traditional wadcutter from the side until you look down on the bullet: It’s basically a flush-fit JHP with a mouth so wide it resembles a bucket you could grow vegetables in.

The +P load is manageable and ballistically impressive from this 3” Model 49 Smith.

In shooting this stuff we’ve discovered it groups very well from 2” Smith J-Frames, specifically a 340 PD and a vintage Model 40 (what the grip-safety Centennial became once S&W started numbering their various models instead of using cool-sounding names!). Accuracy results from our Model 40 at a snubbie friendly 50 feet was all we could ask for in group size as well as POA/POI harmony. From the 2” barrel, velocities were just under 800 fps. From a 3” Model 49, those stubby little “buckets” clocked well into the mid-800s. Incidentally, both of these of these figures surpass what a standard wadcutter usually clocks out of a 6” barrel. And the HST 130 was very pleasant and controllable, despite its +P rating.

At 30 feet in double-action mode, the HST Micro delivered.

Although a 20-round box of the stuff isn’t inexpensive (the best we’ve been able to do is about $27 per box at Walmart), it’s very good. One bonus we found is it prints “close enough” to relatively inexpensive 130-grain FMJ practice ammo (which is offered in bulk-pack containers by just about everybody). At least it did in the three or four guns we shot both in. The only caveat would also apply to any full-wadcutter configured ammo: It’s not speedloader friendly, so have the stuff in the gun from the get-go!

Learn more at www.federalpremium.com.

You could launch .357 Magnums out of this ultralightweight S&W M340 PD, but Federal’s Micro HST is far more controllable.