Snubby .357 -Pointless?


August 8, 2006, 02:13 PM
I have heard it said that a snub-nosed (2" barrel) .357 Magnum is relatively pointless because there is so much unburned powder expelled from the barrel when fired that it essentially has no more stopping power than a standard .38special.

Is this science fact?

I'm fond of the .357 snubby as back-up to a .357 full sized to ensure 100% ammo interchangability even though I usually carry .38+Ps --I don't wanna get stuck with nothing but a box of .357 and only have a .38 snubby available! But back to the matter at hand: do .357s through a snubby have any benefit at all over regular .38spls or .38spl+Ps?


P.S.- I realize I should have put this in the Revolver thread and I apologize (I'm new to this). Is there any way to move the Thread? Thanks.

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August 8, 2006, 02:24 PM
A standard 357 magnum load from a revolver with a barrel of ANY length will have more velocity than a standard 38 Special load from a revolver with a barrel of ANY length. A 2 inch 357 will outrun a 6 inch 38.

That said, there's a caveat. Expanding bullets tend to expand properly in the velocity range for which they were designed. In other words, a bullet that works well from a six inch barrel may not do so well from a 2 inch barrel.

The bottom line is that while a 357 will always outrun a 38, it pays to research loads and bullets and match them to barrel length whether they be 357s or 38s.

PS. You indicate the snubby is a BUG for a service sized 357. In that case the question should be how controllable is the snubby. If you're happy with that point then run with it.

Old Fuff
August 8, 2006, 02:39 PM
I have heard it said that a snub-nosed (2" barrel) .357 Magnum is relatively pointless because there is so much unburned powder expelled from the barrel when fired that it essentially has no more stopping power than a standard .38special.

Not so. It is true that you'll get better velocity out of a longer barrel because it will burn more of the powder in the bore. But it is also true that a .38 Special (standard or Plus-P) will also lose some velocity as the barrel gets shorter.

More important in my view is that the recoil of the .357 Magnum in a very small snubby with a short handle makes it hard to control for a second, and subsequent shots. The key to stopping an encounter is bullet placement, and not so much "bullet power" (if I may call it that). If you can fire fast, controled accurate shots with .357 Magnum cartridges by all means do so. If you can't then use Plus-P .38's or lighter.

My smaller snubbies are .38 Special or less. My larger one is a .44 Special. :evil:

August 8, 2006, 02:50 PM
The .357Mag bullet will be moving faster than an identical bullet out of a .38spl round (even when fired from the same gun- assuming you use the .38spl in the .357, if you do it the other way around, please post the video for our amusement).

That said, I am not personally convinced that the extra velocity that you will get will be a world of difference. Figuring that the recoil will be greater, and before you even figure that the gun itself will be quite a bit more expensive, I'll stick with .38spl.

bigger jon
August 8, 2006, 02:52 PM
I did some work cronographing the differances between the 6in and the 2in in 38spc loaded with different bullets and powders the 2in was almost always 100 to 150+or- slower than the 6in? that was it i was expecting a bigger differance but the crony dosen`t lie.
1,range load 121tcl, 4,gr unique

2,125gr jhp, 8.3gr,acc#5 +P

3,115fmj, 8gr,acc#5 +P
k-38, 961.fps--------m36,800.9fps

4,115fmj,6,gr win,231 +P

5, 121tcl, 5.4gr win 231, +P
k-38,950.1-------m36, 735.6fps

6, federal nyclad 158gr hp, +P
k-38,852.8-------m36, 721.5
I konw you were interested in info on the 357 but this should give you a idea of what to expect,

August 8, 2006, 02:53 PM
Yes, and there's muzzle blast to consider. No one should ever fire a .357 snubby inside a car or coat pocket. At point blank range, the blast itself is a weapon and is much harder on the ears than other rounds. Now that's obvious. What isn't so obvious is that guns like a 2 3/4-inch Security-Six can hit man-size targets fairly consistently at 100 yards by many people. Anyone who says that snub-nosed pistols are only good at tabletop distances is flat out wrong.

Massad Ayoob used to say that the 4-inch .357 with a 125 gr. JHP is the most potent man-stopping round from a combat piece. Sure it will have slightly more impact from a 6- or 8-inch, but there's too much weight out front for good instinctive shooting. One reason I still like revolvers more than autos is that revolvers, to me, just seem to point better.

In chronographing bullets, there are all sorts of things that factor in. Ideally, the barrel should be sawed off in increments, but that's impractical for most. Factors include: 1) barrels themselves, 2) cylinder gaps, 3) cylinder throats; and 4) barrel throat. All things being equal, the .357 should win most contests, but if someone found a real slow-burning powder, they might actually see an increase in a 6-inch .38. Most modern loads should be optimized for the .357, however.

Just what 2-inch barreled revolver are you thinking about getting?

August 8, 2006, 03:06 PM
I currently carry a 1911 .45 for my fugitive recovery duties, but I will be customizing it and making it more of a project piece. I have a Colt Python 4" .357 Magnum lined up to replace it as my duty weapon, therefore I plan on getting a Colt Lawman Mk III snub nosed to compliment it and carry instead of the Python on many --if not most-- occasions.

As a recovery agent I have never had to fire my weapon in the line of duty and I hope I never do. And by the time I need to pull my weapon --on the rare occasion that that happens-- I am within a few feet of my fugitive. Therefore concealment is my highest priority.

I guess that makes the 4" Python the back-up to the 2" Lawman? Oh, and thanks for the tips, guys. I'm incredibly grateful for such learning opportunities.


August 8, 2006, 03:07 PM
With only 5 shots, I'll take the more powerful .357 mag. I figure if I'm carrying a snub, I'm already at a disadvantage with small capacity. No sense in going light on power too.

Indoors the noise will be deafening, but with the element of surprise, that is another advantage.

Joe Mamma
August 8, 2006, 03:28 PM
"I have heard it said that a snub-nosed (2" barrel) .357 Magnum is relatively pointless because there is so much unburned powder expelled from the barrel when fired that it essentially has no more stopping power than a standard .38special.

Is this science fact?"

My chrono tests have shown that this is absolutely not true. I'll take a 2 inch .357 over a "full length" .38 Special any day.

Joe Mamma

Ala Dan
August 8, 2006, 03:38 PM
Well, I own a 2.5" Smith & Wesson model 66-4 .357 magnum. Guess what?
It was just recently rotated into my battery of home D' weapons~!:cool: :D

August 8, 2006, 03:50 PM
There was a good thread on this recently. Might have been Stephen Camp, if not I apologise. It was well written as his always are.

Bottom line was that a 357 starts out so much faster than a 38, that even with the modest losses (and they were on the order of 100-150 fps) there is no comparison between the two.

I think if you fire both 357 and 38/38+p out of an Airweight snubby, your hand will tell you how much force is being delivered to the bullet and how much is being "wasted" as powder burning outside the barrel. :uhoh:

Hint: do the 38 first. After the 357 you will never want to look at the stupid thing again. And yes, that is the voice of experience talking...

August 8, 2006, 04:01 PM
I have fired a buddy's scandium frame S&W .357 snub nosed on many occasions. The thing weighs so little a breeze can carry that puppy across the parking lot if you aren't careful!

He didn't shoot it much, just kept it as an SHTF pistol. When we went to the range he shot it twice and the rubber grip took skin off his hand from the recoil. When it goes off you can feel the organs in your chest move. The other people at the range thought we were shooting off a cannon.

Call me a masochist, but I shot the living hell out of the thing and loved it. I went through a box of .357 Magnum and wanted more. --The recoil is not a concern to me. In my younger days I carried a .50 Desert Eagle for self defense (now something I just look back and wonder why), but weight and recoil are things I have learned to handle.

I'm 5'9" and 150lbs and I can shoot hand-cannons --accurately-- all day. Friends nearly double my size and a few feet to my height can't handle it half as well. I call it a gift. I guess we are all endowned specially in one way or another... and that is my one and only :banghead:

Add in the adrenaline of any encounter where I actually need to fire the snubby .357 along with the fact I won't be having a superlightweight Scandium anytime in the future means I'll be peachy mother-f&@#in'-keen.

As far as it being too much recoil for me personally, thanks for the concern, but this isn't this cowboy's first rodeo.

August 8, 2006, 05:24 PM
Even the hottest +P 38spl JHP load I can find is still 100fps slower than the wimpiest 357 JHP I can find.

Picture this...

I hand a buddy my 12oz SW scandium 357mag...

First 4 rounds are 38 +P, 5th is 165gr 357mag Golden Saber. BANG BANG BANG, pretty cool he says, BANG BOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!! He says :eek: :eek:

I say :D

August 8, 2006, 05:31 PM
HighVelocity wrote:

"First 4 rounds are 38 +P, 5th is 165gr 357mag Golden Saber. BANG BANG BANG, pretty cool he says, BANG BOOOOOOOOMMMMM!!!!!!! "

:D I gotta remember to try that sometime!


August 8, 2006, 06:35 PM
I hear a lot of the stories at gun stores and ranges about this or that concernng certain calibers and guns. Mostly BS by people that should know better. The only problem with a snub .357 is that a lot of people don't/can't shoot them well but that's also true for .38Sp snubs. The .357 is always going to be much more powerful but the flash and blast in a small short barrel gun can be a challenge even to veteran shooters.

August 8, 2006, 07:30 PM
I own a six shot small frame .357, it didn't shoot .38's worth a damn. Didn't kick much.

However with full house .357 125 gr Remington bullets yikes!

Much prefer a 158 gr Hyrda Shock. It's still a stout recoil, but it's not trying to leap out of my fist.

August 8, 2006, 09:07 PM
There's a broad area of "happy medium" usage with .357 Magnum "snubbies" and loads. It doesn't have to be uncomfortable.

The .357 Magnum cartridge can certainly be significantly more powerful than the .38 Special+P, even when shot in a "snubby", yet still be easy enough to control.

I like Buffalo Bore's 158gr JHC .357 Magnum in my 2.25" barrel Ruger SP101s.

August 8, 2006, 10:00 PM
Go to HiPowersandhandguns, Stephan A. Camp chronied both. In fact there is about a 200(+) fps difference.
And if you are on the buisness end of either, a snubby is very pointed - blunt appearance to the contrary.

August 8, 2006, 10:51 PM
Speer has expanded there short barrel product line, which includes the .357 mag. The 135 grn. Gold Dot from a 2" vented barrel moves out @ 1000 fps , this should stay sub-sonic from a 2 1/2" non-vented barrel :) the m-E = 300 ft/lbs @ 1000 fps

shooting on a shoestring
August 8, 2006, 11:11 PM
I've used a .38 Mod 60 (1.875 inch barrel) ccw for years stoked with 148 gr wadcutters cast from wheelweights, pushed by 6.0 grains Unique - result 870 to 900 fps.

I recently moved to a SP101 .357(2.25 inch barrel). I decided to use 158 gr JHP and worked up max loads with Unique, Blue Dot, 2400, Lil'Gun and W296. The Blue Dot won the best velocity and I use it for my carry loads at 1140 fps. The Lil'Gun and W296 came in right at 1100 to 1120.

The 158 JHP/Blue Dot load in my 6 inch Mod 19 cranks out 1250 fps.

There is a big difference in the recoil of the Mod 60/148/900 fps and the SP101/158/1140 fps. I have done considerable range exercise to get my accuracy with short .357 up to near that of the short .38 spl. I am close enough to "there" - 7 yards/5 shots/3 seconds/4 inches. I like the increased velocity with the SP101 and I am confident the 158 Gold Dots will expand nicely at 1140 fps. That's what's in my belt right now.

I also firmly believe that if I can't win a gunfight in 3 seconds, I'm the loser. Or as my Dad puts it - "If you can't hit it in 5 shots you can't hit it."

August 8, 2006, 11:17 PM
On principle, I don't put much faith in Marshall's one-shot stop percentages. Having a bit of shooting experience with the 125-grain .357 magnum, however, I tend to believe that 97% of confrontations could be stopped with this round. I just can't see a human not being stopped by a COM shot with this round. And I have no problem believing that the vast majority of would-be predators would beat a hasty retreat after even hearing this round fired. I may be wrong, but there would be 4-5 more of the same round left to remove any doubt.

If I were good enough and confident enough with my SP-101 to make the first round hit, I'd consider loading with this beastly round. It hurts to shoot after a cylinder full, but the gun will be empty then anyway.

August 8, 2006, 11:33 PM
"The 135 grn. Gold Dot from a 2" vented barrel moves out @ 1000 fps , this should stay sub-sonic from a 2 1/2" non-vented barrel the m-E = 300 ft/lbs @ 1000 fps"

All revolvers are vented (well maybe except the Nagant) but not all are ported.

August 8, 2006, 11:44 PM
This is an ongoing debate that will never have an "all or none" outcome...

1) .357 magnum loads will run faster even out of shorter barrels than .38 spl or .38 spl +p loads

2) the most personal choice is whether you want to deal with the increased muzzle flash (that can cause night blindness), the increased muzzle jump (which can hinder your followup shots), and the increased auditory boom (which can cause you hearing damage and temporarily disorient you in an enclosed environment)

3) there are newer loads that can "curb" the beast a bit, but you still sacrifice some terminal velocity and

Remington Golden Sabre 125gr .357 magnum is factory tested to do a reduced 1220fps from a ?4" barrel? (if I recall correctly) and will most likely be somewhere between 1000 and 1100 fps from a snubby barrel...

the new one that is getting alot of attention...Speer Gold Dot 135gr .357 magnum "short barrel load" is factory tested at a low 990 fps from a snub barrel...that is in practice a hot .38 +p load in longer brass...

4) the minumim barrel length that I use for magnums is 3"; the smallest gun that I will magnums in is a Ruger SP101 with 3 1/16" barrel; anything shorter in length and definitely lighter in weight gets .38 spl or .38 spl +p

5) summary: load terminal performance vs ability to shoot that load effectively if ever called on to do it

August 8, 2006, 11:52 PM
Steelhead please explain ?

August 9, 2006, 12:11 AM
Steelhead please explain ?

I believe he's referring to the gap between the forcing cone and the cylinder face allowing pressure to escape ahead of the muzzle. Hence "vented". Ported means there are holes or ports actually cut in the barrel or a ported compensator is attached to the end of the barrel.

August 9, 2006, 12:29 AM
Not all revolver ballistics given by Ammo Manufactures state V barrel :confused:

August 9, 2006, 12:47 AM
Whoops page 2

August 9, 2006, 01:10 AM
"Not all revolver ballistics given by Ammo Manufactures state V barrel"

Now you got it. You need to read the fine print:D . When they publish veloc. #'s - they are often done from a fully sealed barrel and therefore will give a higher velocity than seen in the "real" world. Vented tests will give a closer actual number but you still then need to pay attention to barrel length. Think of it as the numbers provided by the EPA for MPG ratings.

August 9, 2006, 01:53 AM
So now the wind begins to blow ;) Thanks

August 9, 2006, 11:03 AM

You might want to consider the Winchester .357mag 180gr Nosler Partition Gold HP for the snubbie. In my experience, it is a whole lot less dramatic* than 125gr & even 158gr .357mag social loads.

Yeah, it was designed for hunting, but it did not lose much muzzle velocity out of my 2" snubby (1000fps) vs the Winchester 8" vented test bbl (1180fps). They must be using a moderately fast powder.

Expansion plus near-certain adequate penetration.

Good luck & stay safe.

* Muzzle blast & recoil. The muzzle blast was significantly reduced & the recoil somewhat reduced.

Essex County
August 9, 2006, 02:53 PM
It's how well you shoot the gun. At defenisve ranges I want something I can shoot well. Put away your chronograhs and calculators. If you are a macho Drug Store wannabe Cowboy please ignore this advice....Essex

August 9, 2006, 03:58 PM
Essex County has hit the nail on the head.

August 9, 2006, 04:45 PM
+1 for Essex. How well you shoot the gun and, more importantly, how well you negotiate the encounter mentally are damn near 100% of the equation. I know we all know this already but sometimes these pedantic debates over 1-- or 200fps make it seem like we have forgotten! Regards to all.

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