9mm vs. .357 in snubs


December 2, 2004, 01:11 PM
I'm getting back into the small, snub-nosed revolver business, and I think I might want something w/ a little more "authority" than a .38SPL this time.

I'm interested in the .357Mag snubs out there b/c of their interchangability w/ .38SPL (esp. w/ the longer ejector rods), the variety of ammo, and the fact I already load .38/.357. But the new 9mm revolvers are tempting, too. Cheaper (but effective) ammo, moon-clip reloading, and a more powerful, efficient cartridge in a short barrel. In fact, I once traded off a Security-Six 2.5" .357 for a P-95 just b/c I found that CorBon 9mm +P 124gr. HP's matched the same ballistics I was getting from the .357/125's in that short barrel--and get four more shots to boot.

So, in a short-barrel J-frame snubby, which would be the better choice...



...or should I just stick w/ the tried & true .38SPL?

Thanks in advance for the help

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December 2, 2004, 01:23 PM
Effective 9 mm loads are not cheap. Cheap 9 mm loads are generally hard ball which is not high on the list for effectiveness.

I'd go with a 38 or 357 unless I had a specific reason for the 9 mm.

December 2, 2004, 01:31 PM
Can't think of any 9mm load that could outdo a 357 mag for self defense. Also easier to find a concealable platform to launch it from... :evil:

Black Snowman
December 2, 2004, 01:37 PM
357 can be punishing in a snub but since you reload this is a non-issue. You can talyor the rounds to your needs.

However, I really like moon clips. If you're going to down-load the 357s anyway having the faster reloads can be handy and can make carrying spare ammo more compact than a full speedloader. This makes the 9mm more attractive.

I normally recommend the 357, even though I plan on getting a 9mm for myself. I want a snub I can shoot a lot, because their fun, if I'm going to be shooting a lot full power 357 start to hurt too quick but a steady diet of target 9mm shouldn't be bad. More practice, better shot, better shot placement, hopefully making up for any differances in ammo performance.

Brian Williams
December 2, 2004, 03:08 PM
Make mine a S&W 940, but I might make a 942 by getting a 642 and the parts to make it in to a 9mm, the barrel and cylinder From S&W. It will be costly but S&W only made 1 and I have only heard of one other.


December 2, 2004, 06:58 PM
Go with the .357 . you can always buy hks speedloaders for reloads. with simple practice they're quick to reload with. .357's can shoot any and all .38s . plus the .357 is one of the best man stopping handgun rounds out there. recoil is in my opinion way overated , Im 165 pounds soak and wet and feel recoil to be more than manageble with the most potent of loads out of my sp101 2 inch.

December 2, 2004, 07:36 PM
.357, definitetly.

A standard 357 load will most likely beat any 9mm load. As far as shooting it thru a snub, I wouldn't do it for an entire session. Just enough to get used to it, then run .38 for the rest of the training session.

December 3, 2004, 06:16 AM
Thanks for the great info. Please keep it coming... :D

Effective 9 mm loads are not cheap. Cheap 9 mm loads are generally hard ball which is not high on the list for effectiveness.

I was referring more to the cheap practice ammo. 9mm practice ammo runs a bit cheaper here than the same in .357MAG or even .38SPL. However, at my last gun store visit, I did see that most quality 9mm defensive ammo was slightly cheaper than the .38SPL/.357MAG loads, too.

Ammo cost, though attractive, isn't the main driver for me. Effectiveness is. And that's why I'm wondering if the .357MAG's performance in a 2-2.5" snub is worth all the extra "buck & snort" when compared to a 9mm +P in the same platform.

December 3, 2004, 06:38 AM
9mm in moon clips do reload quickly, until one of those clips gets bent, then you are up ?????'s creek! I have a 357 (S&W 640-1) that I carry daily. The odds of being in a defensive situation and needing a quick reload are very, very slim, so I opted for more oomph over quicker reloading capability. If full power 357 proves to be too much for you to handle, there are always the slightly downloaded magnums or 38 Special +P and +P+ ammo.

December 3, 2004, 07:20 AM
Why do you want to carry five rounds of 9mm when you can carry the same number of rounds chambered for a cartridge that was designed to shoot through engine blocks??? :confused:

December 3, 2004, 11:39 AM
I guess it depends on what your priority is. Most .357 snub nose revolvers are "shoot little carry alot" type guns. Or you use down-loaded rounds which defeats the purpose of having a .357.

I bought a Taurus 940, and it's easy of your hands to shoot, and yet I feel that the 9 is still a decent caliber. I carry it when I can't carry anything bigger.

Yeah I guess I'd prefer to a have a .357 if I need to defend myself, but I feel the 9mm is better than a .32 or .380, and I'd rather carry a gun I've shot hundreds or thousands of times, than one I've only put a few dozen rounds through.

December 3, 2004, 02:30 PM
I think the original intent of this post was probably to review the comparative effectiveness of 9mm vs. 357 mag out of short ("snub") barrels of 2-2.5 inches for SD use. Two aspects to be considered: 1) terminal ballistics (what is the velocity at impact, matched with the type of hollow-points available), and 2) shootability (given recoil and flash/blast). There are plenty of good JHP designs in each caliber from which to choose, so not much difference there. Most of the velocity numbers I've seen show the 9mm +P loadings (115-127 grain) as being about 100-150 fps slower than comparable 110-125 gr. 357 loadings out of these short barrels. That probably isn't much of a difference, esp. when considering the second issue of shootability: my limited experience with both is that the 9mm is MUCH easier to handle in rapid DA fire, thus allowing for quicker return to target. I think the short, stubby case of the 9mm probably allows better powder efficiency than the longer 357 case when fired from these shorter barrels. So, my vote for overall effectiveness of caliber for snub revolver SD use would go to the 9mm (the 357 mag would allow for heavier loadings, if desired). Whether a moonclip is better than speedloader is another matter...

Brian Williams
December 3, 2004, 04:58 PM
chambered for a cartridge that was designed to shoot through engine blocks???

Maybe with a 6" or 8 3/8s" barrel but with a 2" snub you will not get that much vel.

Where a 9mm will get almost as much with less muzzle blast and recoil.

December 3, 2004, 10:35 PM
CAUTION: The following post includes loading data beyond currently published maximums for this cartridge. USE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Neither the writer, The High Road, nor the staff of THR assume any liability for any damage or injury resulting from use of this information.

The max load for 158 gr and Power Pistol is:

1) 357 mag, 8 gr, 1.575", 33,800 psi, 1305 fps, 5.6" barrel

But I have been loading for carry, some other calibers with the 158 gr XTP and Power Pistol:
2) .380, 8.5 gr, 1.090" , M1903
3) 9mm, 11 gr, 1.169", P11
4) 9x23, 16 gr, 1.35", Tokarev

As you can see, even 380 can be loaded much hotter than 357 mag.

December 4, 2004, 06:21 AM
I'd go with the .357.
Only the +p+ rounds (which are not readily available unless you're LEO)really come up to the .357 in the LIGHT loads (i.e. 125-gr and under).
However, the heavier, more effective loads like the 158-gr loads, the .357 pulls away. You said you reload, so you can achieve whatever power level you want really.

Then there's versatility. The .357 is going to be more versatile, anything from low level .38s, and shotshells to full-bore .357s. It's good for plinking up through SD.

December 4, 2004, 11:12 AM
357 mag in a wheelie hands down

December 4, 2004, 12:46 PM
"Maybe with a 6" or 8 3/8s" barrel but with a 2" snub you will not get that much vel."

Nope won't even do it with either of those either. We'd heard that old mantra for so long that some of us decided to try it. We ran various .357 loadings and various bullets. Some of the loadings were equal to the original very hot .357 loadings which I won't post here for fear someone will try them in their j frame .357. They were smokers! Guns used were 6" S&W M28 and one of the guys lever action .357 rifle. Can't remember the rifle make. We used it to get the most fps out of a barrel length.
We shot various angles and various locations on theock. None so much as even knocked a chip off an engine block. So much for that myth.

As far as whether 9mm or .357, I guess it would depend on your personal preference. Either will be fine for defensive work.
Personally, if I were buying today and had those 2 in front of me, I'd go with the .357. It would give me the .38 availability. Also, I reload and the .357 is more versatile with the ability to go from heavy 200 gr bullets to light 88 gr (.380 bullets) if you wanted to play. But if I could get a great deal on a 9mm snubbie I could easily be swayed to go 9mm instead.

December 11, 2004, 05:14 PM
Brian Williams - how costly are you looking at for the conversion of a 642 to a 942? I assume this would be done through the S&W custom shop. Definitely sounds intriguing.

I voted for the 9mm, but the only j-frame I own is a .38 special 642. I really like the compact package, the power level, and the light wieght. I would love to have a moonclip 9mm as the fast reloads in a j-frame size gun seem to be a nice combo. .357 doesnt appeal to me in the j-frames though I do like them in larger revolvers.

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