.38 is for show and .357 is for go...


January 3, 2003, 11:16 PM
This is what a guy working in a gun shop once told me after I told him I was shooting .38 through my SP101. Cslinger and I had this discussion many times since and we decided that if I feel more comfortable with .38 (plain or +P) and shoot it at the range, I should carry it. It is worse to carry something I am not used to shooting.

I know that this is an old and beaten up topic but what do you think?

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January 3, 2003, 11:22 PM
The fellow who taught my NRA gun class said he carried a .38 with +P semi wadcutter and he felt that it was totally adequate for anything that came his way.

I shot .357 in SP101 only once- it was a bit much so I load it with .38 +P hollowpoints.

January 3, 2003, 11:30 PM
Even though I own a S&W 686, I'd take a .38 spl. over nothing at all in a SHTF situation..

January 3, 2003, 11:31 PM
The so-called "FBI Load" in .38 Special (a 158gr. lead semi-wadcutter hollowpoint loaded to +P velocities) has a very good "street" stopping record indeed, up around 80% from 4" barrels and in the high 60% range from snubbies (the same as .45 ACP ball ammunition, as a matter of interest). I carry this load in my .38 Special snubbies for social use, and am very confident that if I put it in the right place, it will do the job. I would definitely be more comfortable with .357 Magnum 125gr. hollowpoints, as these give me better than 50% greater energy to get the job done on someone who may be hopped-up on some illegal narcotic: but they're the devil to control in a lightweight snubby. I carry them in my SP101, but in my ligher Taurus and S&W's, the .38 Special load gets the nod. If that's what you can control in rapid, accurate fire, don't hesitate to use it.

Greg L
January 3, 2003, 11:35 PM
Lots of SP101 mention here :)

In mine when I carry it, it is full bore .357 loads. When my wife carries it it is at .38 loads. When I point out to her that if the S ever did HTF that she probably wouldn't notice the bigger load, she points out that that is what she practiced with and is what she is comfortable with.

Either way, a good solid hit COM will slow most people down.


January 3, 2003, 11:40 PM
I have no problem carrying .38 +P rounds for defense, especially in a small-frame revolver.

I carry my 640 with 158gr +P's or 147gr +P+ Hydrashoks quite frequently.

January 3, 2003, 11:45 PM
I don't carry as I can't here legally here in the PRK, but my M28 is loaded with 158gr LSWCHP +P's and my M36 and 2" M&P are loaded with Federal 124gr Nyclads.

I don't feel undergunned at all, I know I can hit what I aim at, I know my wife can handle any of the 3 if she had to, and I know that I'm not going to go blind, deaf, and dumb shooting the +P's down my narrow little hallway at 2AM.

I'll choose comfort and confidence over caliber.


Neal Bloom
January 3, 2003, 11:49 PM
Nothing wrong with 38's. In a snubby full power 357's are a little much for my wife but with 38's she is amazingly accurate. I load up 38 loads in a 357 case for practice.

January 3, 2003, 11:54 PM
I have +P's in my nightstand snubby, I figure the noise and blast is a bit less than .357.. but has enough power to get the job done.

Standing Wolf
January 4, 2003, 12:10 AM
Most of my .38 caliber rounds are very light .38 special target loads in .357 magnum cases. If I ever need to shoot my way out of life-threatening ugliness, I want every possible advantage, so that's what I carry—and I make sure to practice with full house .357 magnum rounds, as well.

January 4, 2003, 01:09 AM
Preacherman, where did you get the 60% and 80% numbers at?

January 4, 2003, 01:48 AM
My wife uses the 38's in her sp101 and I don't blame her a bit.The only time it gets loaded with 357's is when I take it hunting as a back up.

January 4, 2003, 01:57 AM
If needed, I would much prefer a hand full of .38 special than a hand full of air.

Shoot what you are comfortable with. One .38 hit is way better than five or six .357 misses.

Mike Irwin
January 4, 2003, 02:14 AM
I've been carrying a .38 Spl. for go for the majority of the time I've been carrying a handgun, which is getting closer and closer to 20 years.

I've also carried or carry .357 Mag., 9mm, .22 Long Rifle, and .41 Magnum.

Jim March
January 4, 2003, 03:13 AM
Count me as another who believes a very good 38+P load is far from useless :).

In the SP101, there's a school of thought that if all you're comfy with in training is 38+P, fine. Except load it with four, and set up a full-house crack'o'doom 357 firebreather as the last round (which is the one under the hammer while it's being carried).

That way, the gun will "tell you when it's out of ammo" (by trying to rip your hand off) and that last shot will cause serious problems for whoever has elected to recieve. True, you won't have fast shot recovery but who gives a dang, the gun is now DRY :D.

Time to come up with a plan "B", pronto.

Anyways. Food for thought. In this scenario, you need not ever practice with the monster load, in fact it may be better if you never shoot one of the dang things or you'll be too scared :what:.

January 4, 2003, 03:21 AM
I too believe in a good 38 spl+P round. If thats too much for shooter/platform use 38 spl in a good configuration. Consistent hits count. Survival is goal.

ed dixon
January 4, 2003, 04:10 AM
I'm fairly "beefy" but I was shocked when I first fired 158gr. high-velocity factory magnums out of my .357 snubby. Grenade goes off in hand, blowback bites face, target "ducks" at least half the time. Have shot more .38 specials out of it since then, but still intend to try a variety of magnum rounds to see what's not too hot to handle.

Jim March
January 4, 2003, 05:09 AM
The original 357 called for a 158grainer doing 1,550 or so from a 6". Very few modern loads match this; the Georgia Arms Gamestopper and some of the Cor-Bon hunters come close.

It's marginal in a 4" barrel K-frame. Very marginal. You really need a GP100 4"+, L-frame 586/686, Ruger SA or bigger.

If you shoot that sort of thing out of a steel snubbie, you're nuts :what:. *Maybe* a 3" SP101 if you're one tough SOB, lighter than that and ain't nobody on earth is gonna control the results.

In effect the snubbie 357s aren't "really" 357s, they can't handle the full range of what the caliber can do. Don't think it's you, it's the dang gun :).

January 4, 2003, 05:28 AM
DVC = Accuracy, Power, Speed

Use a cartridge you can hit with quickly.
Then worry about its 'blastiness'.

A decent load in a 38 Special is nothing to sneer at [and I've never heard (of) a bad guy saying "That little thing won't hurt"].

Kahr carrier
January 4, 2003, 07:51 AM
I like the 125 grain Federal 357 rounds myself.;)

Detachment Charlie
January 4, 2003, 11:08 AM
I carry either a .45 ACP or .38 Spl. and feel well-equipped with either. Hey, they're better than a sharp stick.

January 4, 2003, 11:22 AM
I walked into a small pawn shop and asked the owner if he had any snubbies in 357. After showing me lots of snubs in 38, he proceeded to show me a bulldog in 44 special say, and I quote, "you need this so you can shoot a man's arm off."

Needless to say I left immediately.

January 4, 2003, 04:10 PM
I think your carry load should be the most potent ammo you are comfortable with. Thirty-eight special loads such as the non +p Federal Nyclad 125 gr. lead hollowpoint, and the best +P 125 gr. JHP's and 158 gr. lead hollowpoint's are pretty darn good in my opinion.

If you are carrying .38 special +P 158's then you might want to try some Winchester .357 magnum 110 gr. JHP's. I think they may be a better choice and don't recoil anymore.

January 4, 2003, 06:18 PM
carry .38 +P, it'll do the job if you do yours. i feel totally comfortable with these. i don't care for the .357

January 5, 2003, 12:48 AM
Anyone who thinks the .380 or .38 Special is useless is invited to point to a part of their body where they wouldn't mind being shot with one.Heh. Yup. I've settled a few debates about this v. that caliber with a simple suggestion: you take your caliber, I'll take mine, and we'll shoot each other and see which hurts more- I get to shoot first.

No takers.

.38 spl works just fine. .357 is better if you can control it...but even if you can, followups will almost certainly be faster with the milder round. Trade-off.


January 5, 2003, 06:12 AM
Standard .38 Special rounds will do the job with proper bullet placement.

The .357 Magnum is too much for a snubbie. Flash & Blast will affect accuracy and make for slow recover time between shots, especially if shot in the dark.

A .38 Special loaded with standard 258gr LRN can be shot fast and accurrate. Stopping power? Two in the chest and one in the head makes for plenty of stopping power.

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