Review: Matt's Bullets Comfort Plinker .38 Special Ammo

posted on September 21, 2020

If you have a lightweight .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver, you know that shooting full-power ammunition can sometimes be unpleasant or downright painful.

I know this all too well. I have two Smith & Wesson J-frame revolvers with lightweight scandium/aluminum frames chambered in .357 Magnum. Firing a full-powered .357 Magnum in these gun is a new experience in pain. Even standard .38 Special ammo can be painful because the guns are so light.

Lightweight guns are awesome for carrying, and many manufacturers offer lightweight .38 Special and .357 Magnum revolvers, for example, Charter Arms, Ruger, Smith & Wesson and Taurus.

I have an 11.8-ounce Smith & Wesson model 340PD chambered in .357 Magnum. Even light .38 Special loads, including target wadcutters, are painful. I’ve even tried .38 Short Colt ammunition. It has two-thirds the recoil of a .38 Special wadcutter, but is still painful to shoot in the 340PD. The gun is just too light. I turned to developing my own special low-recoil handloads for this gun that are very pleasant to shoot.

There is now a factory-loaded, ultralight .38 Special round that makes shooting even the lightest gun a pure pleasure. Matt’s Bullets, which has sold cast bullets for years, has recently started loading ammunition, and one of the company's products is an extra-low-recoil round they call "comfort plinkers." They are aptly named. Keep in mind that this is light practice ammo and is not intended for self defense.

The 110-grain bullet is a copper-plated flat-nose. Matt’s Bullets uses previously-fired cases to reduce cost.

Matt’s Ammunition uses a 110-grain copper-plated bullet. A light bullet with low speed is perfect for low recoil. What sort of speed are we talking about?

First, let’s look at the usual .38 Special ballistics. The following are Remington’s ballistics and all are from a 4.0-inch barrel. A standard .38 Special shoots a 158-grain bullet at 755 fps, a 130-grain bullet at 800 fps, and a 110-grain bullet at 950 fps. A light 148-grain wadcutter runs at 710 fps. The wadcutter has the lowest recoil and many people shoot it for that reason in addition to it being very accurate.  

Now for Matt’s Ammunition. I chronographed it through two guns, my Smith & Wesson Model 340PD with a 1.875-inch barrel, and a Smith & Wesson Model 67 38 Special with a 4.0-inch barrel. They averaged 522 fps from the 1.875-inch barrel. Through the 4.0-inch barrel they averaged 576 fps. You’ll notice that they are much slower than the usual .38 Special loads.

How much recoil does Matt’s .38 Special ammo have? Let’s do some numbers.

To calculate recoil, you need the bullet weight and speed, the weight of the powder charge and the gun’s weight. My Model 67 weighs 36 ounces. A Remington 148-grain wadcutter has 2.8 grains of powder and runs at 724 fps in my Model 67. That generates 1.71 foot-pounds of recoil. There are 3.0 grains of powder in Matt’s loads (the average of two pulled rounds). Matt’s low-recoil rounds produce 0.61 foot-pounds of recoil, which is just 36 percent of what the Remington wadcutter load produces. Wow! One third of the recoil of a target wadcutter! That is very low recoil. 

Very light revolvers like the 11.8-ounce S&W 340PD (rear) and the 14.9-ounce S&W 360 (front) can be very unpleasant to shoot with even mild wadcutter loads.

Now for the Model 340PD. The Remington 148-grain wadcutter clocks at 640 fps in the 340PD. That generates 4.08 foot-pounds of recoil in this ultralight gun. Matt’s low recoil round produces 1.54 foot-pounds of recoil in the 340PD for just 38 percent of the recoil produced by the wadcutter. That’s even less recoil than a 148-grain wadcutter in my Model 67. 

Most everyone would agree that the wadcutter load in the Model 67 is very pleasant to shoot. The same can be said of the Matt’s Bullets extra-low-recoil load in my Model 340PD. It really is delightful. It takes the bite out of shooting light guns. 

Is it accurate? I shot it from my Model 67 for accuracy at 25 yards. Five-shot groups averaged 3.14 inches. So, yes, it is accurate for nearly any purpose.

Now everyone can enjoy the benefit of extra-low-recoil rounds that were previously only available to those who handloaded their own ammunition. This is the perfect practice round for lightweight revolvers, and will make a range session something to look forward to rather than something to fear. In a heavier gun, they are the ultimate powder-puff load.

The price is $25.99 for 50 rounds. Check them out at Matt’s Bullets or call 870-856-6788.


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