.38 Spl. +P 158 gr LSWCHP vs. .357 Magnum 125 gr JHP


October 21, 2006, 09:37 PM
Which is the more effective round?

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October 21, 2006, 09:44 PM
Given equal barrel lenghts I'll say the .357 load .

Old Fuff
October 21, 2006, 10:12 PM
The 158 grain lead load has an excellent reputation for stopping the action. The .357 may do the same, but it also has a reputation for beating up guns. I don't need gas cutting in my topstrap.

October 21, 2006, 11:17 PM
Didn't vote for my own reasons. Carry or have a house gun in .357 magnum that is loaded with the .38 Special 158gr. LSWCHP +P. Do have and have used the 125gr. magnums, but more for outdoor carry. Since the muzzle blast and resultant shock wave can be disorienting inside a building and in small rooms I will not normally use magnums indoors. Then there is the recovery time between shots. Have done much rapid fire with both loads and did much better with the 38s. Accuracy was better too. True, certain techniques help handle the magnum kick, but having less kick is just one more thing not to deal with and still have a decent load for defense that I can shoot well. Don't use the argument that in a gunfight one doesn't notice the muzzle blast. For some, they cannot remember or things happen to quickly. There have been enough documented cases of people remembering the blast and others that don't. I won't take a chance on that when the comes for defense. People flinch because of the noise and anticipated recoil. We all have different thresholds for that type of thing. Even many of us old vets at this shooting business have developed flinch for certain cartridges even after all these years. That is documented in the gun magazines as well as books. Tehnique and experience help us deal with it. Some people never get beyond a certain stage of this. We are human after all. This is not a failing. For those of you who carry magnums everyday and every where, fine. For those who do so in moderation or not at all and are decent shots, fine. Be happy with your choice. Both loads have very good track records in the real defense world. Good luck.

October 22, 2006, 04:11 AM
OK guys, these are different animals-kind of. I use both, in the appropriate weapon and scenario. For years I was required to use the so called "FBI" or "Chicago" load with the 158 gr SWHP+P, so I carried a 38 special(S&W 64 pencil barrel, RB if your interested). Used the same gun on and off duty. When I could carry magnum loads I dusted off my Python (circa 1962) and stuffed it with the 125 gr Jacketed HP. I never felt undergunned with either load or weapon. The only actual handgun shootings I was involved in or witnessed were with the 38, and in each case the BG stopped like right now with a properly placed hit. To be fair I have seen the same thing with 9mm NATO loads from a Beretta, and I have also seen a guy take 4 rounds of 00 buck at point blank range, all in the center of mass and keep going till I used the Ithaca like a club and broke the stock on his head.
There are so many variables that the difference between the 38 and 357 loads mentioned, might as well be the difference between 2 differently placed shots with the same load. Like they say in real estate, location, location, location.

October 22, 2006, 11:38 AM
Depends on the individual guns and being effective for what?

October 22, 2006, 11:51 AM
I have also seen a guy take 4 rounds of 00 buck at point blank range, all in the center of mass and keep going till I used the Ithaca like a club and broke the stock on his head.

Crack cocaine is some amazing stuff. Glad you made it through that one.

158gr LSWCHP in the house. .357 158gr JHP in the field. I agree with Old Fuff,

I don't need gas cutting in my topstrap.

October 22, 2006, 12:12 PM
That always depended on what I was carrying when I carried revolvers. (Or on the rare occasion I swap back.)

A 2.5" or 4" .38 were (are) fed the +P 158gr LSWCHP rounds. (Or GD125HP rounds.)

A 4" .357 was (is) fed the FED125HP rounds.

The later was my favorite carry though and so that's how I voted given the choices.

October 22, 2006, 01:49 PM
The .357 is the obvious choice for a one-shot stop, but it's not always the best for use in a defense situation indoors. Outdoors, on the trail, it's great, but in an apartment building or house, the .38 may be a better choice.

If a homeowner can lock the door, turn on the lights and get behind a bed, he'll be at an advantage over anyone dumb enough to try to get in to that room. Most people, however, will most likely go for a confrontation to keep an intruder from walking off with everything but the kitchen sink.

Each situation is different, though. The magnum has its place, but it was developed for the highway patrol for use against vehicles. For indoors, I like the 110-gr. JHP .38 +P.

P. Plainsman
October 22, 2006, 07:49 PM
Didn't vote; don't feel sufficiently expert.

I stick to the "FBI load" .38+Ps in a normal-sized .357/.38 home defense gun, and usually load CCW snubbies with them. I can shoot this round well. I would prefer not to touch off full-boat 125 gr Magnum rounds indoors, for fear of disorientation as well as hearing my ears ring for the rest of my natural life.

That said, the testimony over the decades, from police, private citizens, and adherents of several different "stopping power" sects, is just so consistent: the full-boat 125 grain .357 Magnum hollowpoint is seriously bad news, hugely destructive, probably the #1 civilian handgun round configuration for defense against human assailants. It's hard to second-guess the man or woman who says, "forget flash, deafening blast, and recoil -- when it's life or death, I want the best first-hit terminal effect, period."

I respect the viewpoint.

October 22, 2006, 10:26 PM
IMHO, no brainer, .357 magnum 125grain JHP was the king of the stoppers when cops wore revolvers. However, that doesn't mean the .38 load is ineffective by any means. It's also a lot easier to shoot indoors and in the dark or out of a light gun like most of us carry CCW. I think it has more uses for the armed civilian and now that cops don't carry M19s anymore, well, the king is beginning to die off I reckon. Its negatives outweigh the fact that it's one of the more effective self defense rounds in history from a handgun.

October 22, 2006, 10:34 PM
If I had a .357 mag snub :( I would hand load the heaviest swc at 1050 ish fps and that would be my carry load.

October 23, 2006, 03:02 AM
Jibjab, Are we talking about the Buffalo Bore load? That is one of only a couple of loads that meet the criterea you just mentioned in 158gr. LSWCHP. Unless one rolls there own. I would not use reloads for defense since in court one needs to give evidence of the ammo to the forensic people to be able to test and then you have to be able to hand over replicable ammo for possible more testing which can give evidence for the shooters side in a trial.

October 23, 2006, 05:35 PM
At one time the .357 JHP rd was one of if not the best manstoppers but it was hard on medium frame guns like the K frame Smiths and others with continous use and also flat intimidated some shooters including more than a few LEOs with the blast and muzzle flash although the actual recoil wasn't all that bad. Although both my Taurus and S&W 66 have had more than a few fired through them with no visible harm, I don't shoot them any more for the same reasons Old Fuff mentioned.
Like others have said, there's nothing at all wrong with the .38 +P LSWCHP. It's got a proven track record.

October 23, 2006, 05:45 PM
I handload my carry ammo. I ain't scared of lawyers. Either a shooting is justified or not, matters not what the shooting is done with IMHO.

Jody Johnson
October 23, 2006, 06:55 PM
I use the 38 LSWHP at home. I used it on duty for a number of years as well. "FBI", "Metro" load ..or whatever designation is used..it's a really good, stand-up round, and is indicative of a good marriage between bullet and load.

I still use the .357/125/HP at times and..as was previously pointed out..certain authorities will state, and present data to justify that it was at one time the most effective "one stop round" available...and that wasn't all that long ago.

It was standard issue for the Texas Highway Patrol for years, with no complaints that I ever heard of. It is further claimed that TX DPS wanted to try to duplicate that round in a semi-auto, which led to the .357 SIG...

October 24, 2006, 12:32 AM
weren't the DPS, before the switch to semi autos, issued M-38 Highway Patrolman? They carried FBI load in those magnum guns? Why issue them large frame magnum guns for a .38 special load?

It seems to me all this concern over firing a .357 magnum indoors would lead you to conclude that the .38 +P LSWCHP would be the choice as you are usually indoors and daily life takes you indoors 75% of the time. (go to work, go eat dinner, drive home.) Even if your work takes you outdoors you are still going to end up indoors at some point or another.

October 25, 2006, 03:35 PM
The 158 gr. LSWCHP (especially in the soft lead of the Winchester) is to my mind the definative in 38sp.+P, now that Jim Cirillo's Safestop is no longer available. It's also known as the "FBI load", or the "Chicago load".
In .357 I can't imagine running anything other than Winchester 145gr.
Silvertips... unless it is a snubbie and felt recoil is an issue.


October 25, 2006, 05:11 PM
The 158 gr. LSWCHP (especially in the soft lead of the Winchester) is to my mind the definative in 38sp.+P

Agreed, however I think the Remington version is even softer lead. I've always debated back in forth about .357 vs .38 for home defense and finally decided on the tried-and-true FBI Load. But in addition to the 158 grn Remington LSWCHP +P (R38S12), I ordered some Federal 125 grn C357B semi jacketed hollowpoints to load up my 686 on those rare occaisions when I carry it.

I ordered both at http://www.outdoormarksman.com/buyammo.php. Shipping initially started around $11.50 for the first box, but only climbed at the rate of about .40 for each additional box. Not bad if you are buying several boxes like I was.

Jody Johnson
October 25, 2006, 05:28 PM

Yeah, the S&W M28 Highway Patrolman was standard issue for years. All the Troopers that I worked with over the years carried, and were issued, mag ammo.

About the only time that I'm carrying the mag round is outdoors, tho'..primarily when we're "in the sticks" in the piney woods of east Texas, where my packin' pistol is a Ruger .357 Blackhawk ( the smaller 50th aniv. model).

Otherwise, around the house, what's accessible to me as a dedicated weapon will be a .38 spl, usually loaded with the 158 LSWHP ( ordinarily the Winchester...the "original" round!).

And...for CCW...when I'm carrying a revolver ( a snubbie )..which is about half of the time...it'll have that same .38 load in it.

I'm "old school" I guess...trained on a wheelgun, and quite comfortable with same. A good .38 M10 was my "partner", everyday, for years. And, in the early 70's, when the "FBI" load came out and WHEN we could get it, twas' used.

Today, tho', we're require to use slide guns...but, still...the old .38 is a heckuva fine round!

October 25, 2006, 09:03 PM
Not at all an expert, but here is the wisdom I have heard:

The .38 is best for in home use because it's less likely to penetrate your drywall and kill your neighbor. Mags are for the field or disabling automobiles.

Though I don't currently own one (I have a 642 stoked wth +p jacketed hollowpoints, if you're interested) I've always thought a .45 ACP revolver was the best for home defense. Unbeatable stopping power; low drywall penetration. But THAT, I realize, is not the question here.


The Lone Haranguer
October 25, 2006, 10:26 PM
The 125-grain full power (there are some medium-velocity loads out there) .357s have an edge in power, all right, but at the cost of thunderous roar, terrific blast and nasty kick, especially from small-frame guns (in my case a Ruger SP101; I also once owned a S&W 640-1). If shooting .357s I much prefer a slightly attenuated load, e.g., the Winchester "white box" 110-grain JHP or the Federal "Personal Defense" 130-grain Hydra-Shok.

October 25, 2006, 10:42 PM
Among the loaded handguns kept at home (locked in the safe when gone, open safe door when I or wife is home) is a S&W Model 686. Although it's chambered for .357 Magnum, I have it loaded with Remington .38-Spl 158-gr LSWC +Ps for defensive use indoors.

I honestly believe that this load may drive deeper than the Remington R357M1 125-gr SJHPs that are fast as heck (1450-fps) but are known to badly fragment.

It's all about reaching the CNS or punching holes in vital organs to put an attacker out of the fight. So I'm OK with a good heavy 158-gr .38 LSWC.

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