JSP vs JHP
ck: Deputy is right about hollowpoints not always opening up from the barrel of a snubbie, as they often don't get to the velocity level needed for that. Also, whether it is a hp or a soft nose I really don't think you're getting your money's worth from a 125 grain 38 that clocks less than or right around a thousand '/sec. You could do better with a 9mm and almost as good with a 380.
One of the most reliable rounds ever to come out a 38 snubbie is the old standard velocity 158 grain semiwadcutter. The semiwadcutter bullet will not fill up with clothing and fail to expand, will not expand on heavy clothing and fail to penetrate sufficiently. It just drives into the target.
Lots of folks look for the magic load that will take the 38 Special from a 68-70% one shot fight stopper to a 100 percenter - might not happen even with the jhps or jsps. Under all conditions, heavy clothing, no clothing, etc., you want the bullet to drive through to the vitals or break bone to take the opponent down. Two or three loads do that from a 38 - the 158 grain semiwadcutter at standard factory pressures/velocities, the 168 grain semiwadcutter at the same or slightly less velocity, and the 200 grain round nose/semiwadcutter at about 770'/sec.
Now, you say 'Gee, that's really a slow moving brick'. Yep, shor is. My lawyer and I ran some penetration tests on the 200 grain SWC at 770 (factory load) and found that it penetrated better than any of the other 38 loads.
You mentioned that you were concerned about over penetration and innocent victims. You are one right thinkin' dude Mister and I appreciate your concern but, I don't think that becomes an issue with even the heavy 38 loads.
Your Taurus is a well built and accurate revolver. Even the 200 grainers are only at factory pressure levels and very easy to shoot. That milk jug at 50 yds is too large a target for those loads, you might have to move the coke bottle out to that distance. This load will also handle any 4 footed nuisances you have to deal with, very effectively.
If you or someone you know reloads, try some of those heavier bullets and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. This is one of my favorite topics and I hope this helps. Mikey.