What is a good 38 SP bullet for target practice? Defense.
Is that two questions or one? Is your revolver rated for +p ? Is it one of the old fixed sight colts or smiths?
The old K frame S&Ws with fixed sights were regulated for 158 grain bullets so they tend to shoot them best. Your mileage may vary.
In general, since I do not cast my own, I use lead semi-hard cast 158 grain semi-wad cutters from a variety of sources for all my older guns for most practice with any 38 spl. I've gotten great results from Penn Bullets
, and with bullets from PRECISION CAST in Lebanon, PA. You can get them at both Encks & Shyda's. Being SWC, they work well on small game and varmints. That's why I don't bother with round nose designs, but if your only shooting paper, they would work just as good.
I've also used 140 grain double base wad cutters with success for target practice.
I tend to mostly Hodgdon Tite-Group powder for these target loads.
For defense loads in my J-frame 442 (snubbie) and other +p capable 38s, I carry Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel Ammunition 38 Special +P 135 Grain Jacketed Hollow Point. It's a handful from a snubbie, but I don't shoot it all the time!