Liberty Ammunition’s Lead-Free Civil Defense Ammo Adds 38 Special


Liberty Ammunition’s Lead-Free Civil Defense Ammo Adds 38 Special

Defending life and liberty is essential to any and all people, and when a nation has at least some freedom to offer its citizens, that includes the ability to carry firearms and to use them in defense of life and property.

Firearms are made more effective for any given task by selecting the proper ammunition for the job at hand. Bullets best suited for target work do not necessarily perform best when used against living foes. The search for the best defensive ammo has been going on for as long as guns have existed, and it isn’t likely to end soon.

But the folks at Liberty Ammunition have something they believe can help satisfy your search for the perfect defensive round. They call it their Civil Defense line, and they think it’s something special.

Made in Bradenton, Florida, USA, Civil Defense ammo is made of quality components. Both the brass cases and solid copper bullets are nickel-plated. They say, “Every round exceeds match-grade quality in performance.” They also say it “features approximately twice the velocity, three times the terminal effect, and less felt recoil.”

How can they do that? Let’s take a look.

First, the velocity. For instance, Liberty claims that the new 38 Special round with 50-grain bullet “achieved velocities greater than 1,500 fps. This velocity is nearly double that of standard ammo.” And they’re correct that standard loads with 158-grain bullets are loaded to an average of 800 fps muzzle velocity. There are some fast ones out there, though – and with heavier bullets. Cor-Bon’s +P 80-grain Safety Slug is rated at 1600 fps, and a “non-plus-p” version clocks 1500 fps. But as a rule, it’s tough to find a 38 Special round as fast as Liberty’s.

The bullet. One way to increase velocity is to decrease bullet weight, and Liberty has done that, rather dramatically. 80 grains is very light for a 38 bullet, but Liberty has cut that down to an extremely light 50 grains. The 38 Special’s “standard” bullet weight is 158 grains, and these new bullets are less than 1/3 of that. For further comparison, a standard round-nose 22 bullet in a long rifle rimfire round weighs in at 40 grains! So these bullets are extremely light for the caliber.

Being all-copper, they are naturally lead-free. To me, that only matters if a shooting range disallows lead bullets – and at roughly $1.75 per round these are far too expensive to shoot at the range very much – but if being lead-free is important to you, there it is.

The light bullet has an extremely deep hollow cavity and is designed to fragment in soft tissue. This allows it to create multiple wound channels and thus cause more injury to an opponent – in theory. Liberty claims  this bullet provides “three times the terminal effects of traditional, lead-based ammo in comparable calibers,” but I wonder about penetration. In other words, will these light, fragmenting bullets find their way through heavy clothing or a heavily-built foe? Unfortunately, I can’t answer that one.

Making the bullet this light allows the weight of a loaded gun to be lighter, and if that’s important to you then there ya go. You’re not likely to find any 38 Special ammo that weighs less, and they say that all of their “Civil Defense ammo is approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the weight, depending on caliber, of traditional ammunition…”

Yet another side effect of a light bullet is lighter recoil. With less mass being pushed out of the barrel, shooters will experience less recoil.


  • Cartridge: 38 Special
  • Description: Copper, Monolithic, Hollow-Point, Fragmenting, Lead-Free, Personal Defense Round
  • Weight: 50 grains
  • Velocity: >1,500 fps
  • Kinetic Energy: >250 FPE
  • Accuracy: <2” @ 50 m
  • Terminal Effect: > 2.5” W x 12” D
  • MSRP (20 rd box): $34.99


Avatar Author ID 61 - 1092925777

Editor & Contributing Writer Russ Chastain is a lifelong hunter and shooter who has spent his life learning about hunting, shooting, guns, ammunition, gunsmithing, reloading, and bullet casting. He started toting his own gun in the woods at age nine and he's pursued deer with rifles since 1982, so his hunting knowledge has been growing for more than three and a half decades. His desire and ability to share this knowledge with others has also grown, and Russ has been professionally writing and editing original hunting & shooting content since 1998. Russ Chastain has a passion for sharing accurate, honest, interesting hunting & shooting knowledge and stories with people of all skill levels.

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