choosing a .357 magnum


January 3, 2003, 01:45 AM
I seek your advice:

what make and model of .357 mag do you recommend for my wife? She's petite, has small hands, and has sweaty palms. She also has little grip strength.

Thank you all,

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Jim March
January 3, 2003, 02:29 AM
I'm not sure a 357 is the answer.

I think you need to get her to a range and try several pieces as rentals. If her grip strength is really bad, the best option might be a nice 5" barrel target 22 slidegun like a Browning Buckmark or Ruger Mk2 (avoid the 22/45 variant, grip is too big). Load these with 11 rounds of 22LR CCI Stingers plus a couple extra mags and if she's had some practice and can keep her head, she can give creeps a real run for their money.

If she can get through daily life, she can handle one of those. She'll also be able to put in tons o' practice dirt cheap with no pain.

If she can shoot something bigger, like a single-stack 9mm or a 38snubbie, cool. But if not, a good 5" barrel 22 isn't something to sneer at.

January 3, 2003, 02:38 AM
A round butted K frame or a Ruger Sp-100 with the longer barrel. I think a .357 is a good choice. Use wadcutters for practice and then leave them in for self defense. Wadcutters are THE most effective .38spl ammo on homo sapiens.She could handle them,with practice, out of SP-100 3.25" and you always have .357 option for experienced burly shooters.;)

January 3, 2003, 02:54 AM
Wadcutters are THE most effective .38spl ammo on homo sapiens.

What do you base that statement on? Most sources says a +P 158gr LSWC-HP is the most effective 38 Special round. Can you point to any incidents where a full wadcutter was even used against a person, or is this just urban myth?

YY does it have to be a 357 Magnum? A SP101 with a 4" barrel in 32 H&R Mag might make a better choice.

Jim March
January 3, 2003, 03:58 AM
Make sure she can handle a DA trigger at all. I've seen smaller women who flat-out can't.

If she can, then yes, something like a round-butt K-frame might work. She still won't be able to shoot Magnums in it, but there's a number of 38+Ps worth talking about.

But you're going to have to try this stuff out. I *hope* she can handle a DA trigger and 38+P at a minimum.

January 3, 2003, 04:15 AM
I'm with Jim March. I question the grip strength-is this something temporary, will improve with excercise?

I too agree SHE has to try and be comfortable, not only with the grip, length of pull, trigger...if she doesn't like she won't shoot-bottom line.

Single action 22 does not require the DA , good suggestion by Jim.

I have used t teach the 22/45
browning buckmark
standard mkII plain jane with non bull bbl

If grip is aproblem stay away from tip up models, DA first shot, and not enough sight radius.

Kahr carrier
January 3, 2003, 04:42 AM
S&W Model 60 or Ruger SP101.:)

January 3, 2003, 08:23 AM
your advisers here absolutely do know what they are talking about. I took a very athletic woman shooting a few years ago and she could not cycle the double action of my model 60. Strong and muscular but no hand strength. On the other hand, most women can shoot a J frame or ruger sp101 just fine. I had one show up for concealed handgun training with a taurus- wood grips. she liked the factory grips on my sp101 so well that she did the shooting demonstration with it - loaded with .38s.

There are so many conflicting theories about "stopping power" that I would advised just ignoring them. I would think a .38 load from a major company would be more comfortable than a magnum round- The ruger is rather gentle with +p loads but, with a lighter snub, a standard pressure might be better.

Jim March
January 3, 2003, 12:45 PM
I have a friend right now that wants to arm his girlfriend. Now, she's no anti, but she has physical issues and small, weak, arthritic hands. His view is "Ah, the 9mm is a mousegun, she needs to try a 45acp" and I'm lookin' at him like he's nuts. She *might* be able to shoot a Browning Buckmark...the slide is easier to deal with on that than a Ruger Mk2.

The very first post in this thread reminded me of those two. The reality is, 11 rapid-fired 22LRs will basically equal a barrel of 00 buck 12ga. And the stopping power of the top 2 or 3 22LRs (versus "just any ol' 22 at K-Mart") is not to be discounted from a 4" or 5" tube.

In 22LR, you want Remington Yellowjackets if they'll feed, CCI's fastest load (Stingers, I think?) otherwise.

January 3, 2003, 01:35 PM
Thank you all for your sound advice.

Jim, I'll have my wife run through some .22LR rounds out of a 5" barrel ruger maybe. The range people will let me know if the ammo fits. I want to fit her with larger caliber as long as she has the shot placement and can operate the gun under stress. The most basic test for under stress is to make her sprint, do jumping jacks, and then shoot.

Gordon, you read my mind. I wanted the magnum option for selfish reasons.:neener: I will take care to make sure my wife has good gun control :cool: with the largest caliber for her.

Let me reiterate the hand grip issue. A semi-auto just won't do because my wife cannot rake the slide of most semi's at the sporting goods store. Plus we both sweat on our palms so I emphasized on finding a grip that fits well.

I took a couple to the range for their first time recently. Started them on .22 revolvers before moving on to 9 mm. Kept the target at 5 yards until they couldn't wait to shoot at 25 yards. They had a great time. This is really a good introduction to firearms. Their own enthusiasm will take them to larger calibers. I kept showing them my .40 G27. :)

January 3, 2003, 01:48 PM
I've heard that Rugers and Dan Wessons have a wider variety of small grip size options because they have a "post" (is that the right word?) coming out of the frame to the grip rather than a bigger frame handle like S&Ws.

If this is for carry, get a small gun like the SP101. It's for home defense, a larger GP100 with smaller grips might be easier for her to shoot more often at the range since the weight of the gun will absorb some of the kick.

Jim March
January 3, 2003, 11:26 PM
YY: first, on a Ruger design semi-auto 22, the amount of "slide" that goes back and forth is fairly small, therefore it needs a hefty spring.

The Buckmark has a much bigger slide, and therefore since it's mass is higher, it uses a much lighter recoil spring (in other words, recoil is being controlled more by the slide mass than the spring). S&W also used to make a full-size "target" 22 semi and it's slide spring was so light, you could rack it by sweeping the slide on your pants leg. The Buckmark isn't quite like that but it's close, you'll find it is VERY easy for those with weak hands to operate. The Buckmark has a grip size somewhere in between the classic Ruger Mark2 and the Ruger 22/45 variant (22 caliber, but with a grip shape and controls that are roughly 1911 size for use as a "trainer").

Upshot: if DA trigger pulls turn out to be a problem, try and rent a Browning Buckmark and see how she does. If the range doesn't have it for rent, they WILL have a Ruger - have her try that, and if it's OK 'cept for the racking then back in the shop have her rack a Buckmark (and see if it fits her hands).

If she CAN handle a DA trigger, then a heavier gun like the GP100 will handle recoil better. 38s in a GP100 will feel pretty mild; 38+P will be a bit more but probably still within controllability.

GP100s come with two different factory grips, a bigger one and a smaller one. The smaller is standard on *fixed sight* GP100s, while the bigger grip is found on adjustable-sight guns. But swapping is only about a $30 thing, if you want to get an adjustable-sight gun and swap to the smaller grip. The smaller grip is about the size of the SP101 grip, maybe a hair bigger but not much. However, "trigger reach" on a GP100 small-grip gun will be just a bit longer than on an SP101 due to the larger frame size so if you're going to do the GP100 small-grip thing, it's critical that you have her actually test that combo for fit, even if it means searching for a factory fixed-sight gun at multiple shops (since they're not quite as popular).

Good luck. I really hope a DA wheelie does work for you both, but don't try and MAKE it work if it really can't, OK?

'Cuz priority one is that she be able to defend herself...and a Buckmark or whatever can do that.

January 3, 2003, 11:39 PM
My wife loves her Taurus Tracker 627SS4, the grips are kinda small for me (and weird, ribbed rubber things)... but if she has a problem with sweaty hands, the ribs allow for excellent air flow.

This is the only DA revolver that my wife really likes shooting, I think something to do with the distance between the trigger shoe and back of the grip. She doesn't like my GP100 much.

January 4, 2003, 12:13 AM
For anybody who wants to argue that in a short barrel .38 standard velocity wadcutters are THE BEST antipersonnel choice be my guest at the "Terminal effects" forum of Tactical you'll have lots of doctors and forensic scientists to talk to.:D

January 4, 2003, 12:47 AM
I had a Gp-100 tht my wife wouldnt even try shooting. Too big in her hand. On the othr hand, Ive taken other women to the range and they were just fine with it.

If this is her first gun, Id consider introducing her to something far more manageable. NAA .380 Guardian for instance or Beretta in .25, or whatever really.... (there are lots) Point being .357 out of a smaller revolver is a handful.


P.S. Ummmm, unless of course she intends to shoot .38's...

January 4, 2003, 12:58 AM
For anybody who wants to argue that in a short barrel .38 standard velocity wadcutters are THE BEST antipersonnel choice be my guest at the "Terminal effects" forum of Tactical you'll have lots of doctors and forensic scientists to talk to

Sure, whats the url - doesnt work, neither does Do these scientists have any credientals, do they have any real world shootings with wadcutters or are they all theory? There must be some reason law enforcement didn't use wadcutters (when they still used revolvers) even though they're so effective.

Jim March
January 4, 2003, 03:26 AM
John, most wadcutters are loaded at target velocities, about 700fps from a snubbie tops. If they were loaded hotter, up around 1,000fps, maybe. Shot out of a 6"+ tube so you get a bit more oomph, perhaps, though they wouldn't be my first pick!

Out of a snubbie? Out of the question. Fuggedubaudit.

They do NOT have any sort of "killer rep" from any authoritative source that I've ever come across.

Now, back in the 60s before we had modern hollowpoints, some loonies were loading 'em backwards over fairly hefty charges, running about 1,000fps from a 4" tube. Right, THOSE worked OK, although your average 158+P LSWC-HP is still better by most accounts.

DVC labs did some tests recently on various loads from a 2" 38. The loads were selected by a gunwriter (I forget which magazine, I was waiting for my roomie to finish up at a Fry's Electronics) who failed to include a 158+P LSWC-HP selection, which was a horrendous mistake in my opinion (but hardly DVC's fault). One load that did surprisingly well on both clothed and bare gelatin was the Winchester Supreme 130grain +P JHP. I already knew this thing has a really gaping huge JHP cavity so it wasn't too terribly surprising. And while they did OK, it was clear they hadn't quite opened to their full potential so they'd do fine out of a 4" or even 6" barrel.

I'd take those or the classic 158 before any wadcutter, backwards or otherwise.

January 4, 2003, 05:22 AM
Might consider one of the Beretta autos with the 'tip-up' barrel.

No slide to rack, easy 'loaded/unloaded' viewing, decent size (and caliber -- 102g Golden Saber).

January 4, 2003, 07:21 AM
The wifey started out with a S&W 686, moved to a Taurus Tracker and now likes the Taurus 605 the best. She didnt like the 617 cause the grip was just a little bit different.

Best thing to do is take her shopping with you and let her pick it out.

She likes the 605 the best.

January 4, 2003, 12:17 PM
WWW. seems to work for me This is Mad Dogs forum and he has got THE doctors here. Apparently 700fps wadcutter has enough penetration and better crush permanent cavity and they have lots of documented real data too.

January 4, 2003, 01:37 PM is the link I think you're going for. I assume this: is the thread you're refering to? This thread has one person, DocGKR - a dentist according to his bio - claiming that the 148gr wadcutter is best with nothing to back up his assertion except some vague references to tests but no results of the tests, no links to the tests and no real world examples.

He claims that the 148gr wadcutter is better because it has a larger frontal area than a 158gr. It's all of 1/10 of an inch larger and that's only if you make the assumption that the shoulder of a SWC doesn't do any damage and that a hollowpoint doesn't expand (something that can't be counted on I admit).

700 fps is enough to cause a fatal wound, so is 300 fps that doesn't mean it's better. There's nothing in that thread other than one mans opinion that 148 wadcutters are "the best".

I'm with Jim, I'll take a Corbon +P JHP or classic FBI load over 148 wadcutters anyday.

January 4, 2003, 07:28 PM
I remember two different ladies with individual concerns.

The first lady can work the double action of an old Speed Six to good effect when it is loaded with wadcutters. Not with +P's, and certainly not with magnums. Autos are not an option.

The second lady does well shooting her Detective Special loaded with 158 gr LSWC HP's, shooting single action. She does poorly with double action. Autos are not an option.

Both of these are "nice old Ladies" in their fifties who do not wish harm upon anyone, will not willingly be a victim inside their own homes, and are responsible people in both thought and deed in all aspects of their lives.

Both Ladies had to make choices with their own personal concerns in mind. 38 wadcutters and single action might work for them.

January 4, 2003, 09:56 PM
I own a model 85 Taurus (38 special snubby), a model 60LS (LadySmith .357 snubby), and a .32 Beretta tomcat (with a swing up barrel tip).
I am a 49 year old female with some arthritis in my hands---enough so that it affects my abilty to jack a slide effectively. I think my favorite of the 3 guns is the .357 because I really like the grip. It is a wooden grip, however, and your wife might have difficulty with it with sweaty palms.

Renting a variety of guns at a range is an excellent suggestion. My .357 was a Christmas present. I had rented a similar one at the range to see if I could handle the recoil and muzzle flash.

Good luck and safe shooting to you both!

January 5, 2003, 12:10 AM
Check out the Taurus Tracker. The rubber grips with wierd ribby things are hard to explain but amazing in practice. I think the porting improves shootability too, but I have not tried it in the dark and it might present a problem in that situation. I love my 4" stainless. I am a 5'8 woman with medium size hands.

January 5, 2003, 12:35 AM
what make and model of .357 mag do you recommend for my wife? She's petite, has small hands, and has sweaty palms. She also has little grip strength.

A .357 Magnum is going to have too much bite. Recovery time between shots will be slow, especially if shot in dark.

My advise is to go with a standard .38 Special revolver. The .38 is easy to shoot, thus the shots will come fast and accurrate. A well placed .38 caliber 158gr LSWC will do the job.

The Colt Police Positive is great for people with small hands.
Colt Police Positive

January 5, 2003, 01:51 AM
I forgot the police positive/diamondback but then again you did say .357 mag? Regarding the standard velocity wad cutter I suggest you do a search on that forum "terminal effects" before blowing it off so lightly. I was a supervel man 30 years ago, then a 158lswchp+P man, then a "treasury load" man, then a Nyclad man , all the while only really trusting a 173 grain Keith at 900fps in specials or 1300 in .357 . But after reading much forensic study I can see where the 148grain Wadcutter at 700fps(in snubs) would WORK especially for those who want to rapidly deliver accurate full caliber hits. Uh why don't you just give some of those MD's(not dentists) and forensic phds your learned .02 cents.:D

January 5, 2003, 03:28 AM
There's no need to continue this since you're obviously convinced that a target load is the best defence load in the 38 Special regardless of what everyone outside of "The Tactical Forum" says.

January 5, 2003, 12:38 PM
I did put in my favorites: handloads .com ,as like I said I only trust 170 grain keiths at 900 in .38 spl. (a 3/8" hole clean thru anything):D

January 5, 2003, 04:22 PM
Thanks Gordon. :)

I'd like that load too, unfortunately the 173gr Keiths won't chamber in my M85 Taurus. <sigh>. Fits great in the 357's though.

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