When you get into the mid-range calibers with short barrels, bullet type becomes very critical. Anything .380 ACP and up I use an expanding bullet design, under .380 ACP I'll carry expanding bullets for summer and FMJ for winter use. Many of the standard hollow points do not expand reliably even in full sized pistols and are even worse in the smaller guns. With the great increase in the use of smaller guns by CCW holders, the ammo companies have increased development in bullets that work at lower velocities. Some of the bullets that have good reputations for doing so are the Hornady XTP, Winchester STX/Ranger, the Federal Personal Defense line, Corbon's personal protection series, and probably a few others I can't think of right now. The specialty rounds such as those by Glaser and Magsafe would also bear looking in to except that they are rather expensive for the reliability testing one should do prior to carrying them.
I believe in using a personal defense designed expanding type bullet in any gun as at their worst they will be lttle or no different than an FMJ and any expansion that occurs has got to be better than none. Short barreled guns are more ammo sensitive and one must thoroughly try out the gun with the ammo being proposed. In the typical self defense situation the range will be short and the bullet does not have to travel though obstacles such as glass, car doors, and arms therefore reducing the requirements a bullet needs to achieve. Some small guns do not like lighter than normal bullets or bullet profiles while others do not care. Case in point, my old widebody 1911 with 3.5" barrel did not like the Federal Personal Defense loads even though they were meant to be used in these types of guns. Very occasionally, 185 gr bullets would hang up while I never had a problem with 230 gr bullets of any design or type. The latter is what I carried in that gun. On the other hand, my 9mm Kel-Tec P-11 is loaded with 95 gr soft points and they feed in that gun very well and the bullet expands and penetrates deep enough on deer out to 15 yards if shot behind the foreleg.
Revolvers give more options as nonjacketed lead hollow point bullets are available. In any barel length, the 38 Spl +P lead hollow point semiwadcutter design seems to have a penchant to expand and would probably be best for this caliber. I prefer a little lighter bullet and have been hoarding my supply of 125 gr Federal Nyclad bullets in case I ever decide to carry a .38 snubby again.