9mm vs .38


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SniperStraz
December 24, 2006, 07:25 PM
I was told by someone recently that the 9mm round is infact more powerful than a .38 in a 2'' snub nose. Is this true?! He said that in terms of shear fire power the 9mm wins. Can anyone give me more info? Thanx in advance.

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GRIZ22
December 24, 2006, 07:34 PM
147 gr Federal Subsonic 9MM in my Glock 26 gives about the same velocity as 147 gr Federal +P+ 38s in a 2 3/4" Speed Six. The 9mm has an edge in velocity over the 38. This breaks the 1000 fps figure most say you need for reliable expansion. If you look at the actual shootout stats they are both about the same as far as I'm concerned.

hagar
December 24, 2006, 07:49 PM
You would be better off comparing the 38 special to a .380 auto. That is more of an even match.

McCall911
December 24, 2006, 08:09 PM
I think it depends on which 9mm loading or which .38 Special loading you're referring to. To say one is in generally more powerful or effective than the other would be hard to do. Some .38 Specials, notably the 158 grain +P "FBI" load have a proven positive track record. Some 9mm loads, I daresay, come fairly close to duplicating the ballistics of a few .357 Magnum rounds.
Both rounds have really high potential. But, being handgun cartridges, both are underpowered in comparison to a long gun round.

TOADMAN
December 24, 2006, 09:12 PM
I'll guess that the popular premium 9mm self defense ammo - on the average - has greater muzzle velocity - than the popular premium 38 spl self defense ammo.

Jim March
December 25, 2006, 12:35 AM
Toadman and the rest speak true, but I think there's more going on than just raw energy numbers.

The 9mm projectiles have to be shaped as a compromize to ensure feeding. 38/357 projectiles don't. So in 38+P we see nose shapes that are completely incompatible with autoloaders, including the likely four best rounds:

* Remington 158gr +P plain lead hollowpoint in a Keith semi-wadcutter profile.

* Speer's 135gr JHP.

* Winchester's 130gr "Supreme" that appears to be an ancestor of the Speer 135.

* Buffalo Bore's hotter variant of the Remmie load above.

Let me repeat: these are the best 38+Ps, and none would work worth a damn in 9mm due to feed reliability issues.

In addition the BuffBore load breaks 1,000fps with a 158gr slug from a 2" barrel, putting it ballistically DEEP into 9mm territory and bordering on 9mm+P, at least from a short barrel.

Nose shapes affect expansion reliability as much as velocity, and in nose shapes the 38+P (and 357 in some cases) trounces the 9mm.

TOADMAN
December 25, 2006, 02:34 PM
For self defense, I use both the 9mm+P and 38spl+P...No worries..

formerflyer
December 25, 2006, 08:52 PM
Jim's point above about bullet profiles is well taken.

I always equated standard .38 loads out of snub nosed revolvers as roughly equal to .380 ACP, +P or +P+ .38 loads out of a snub as as very similar to standard 9mm, and +P or +P+ .38 loads out of a 4" gun as roughly equal to +P 9mm.

The auto has more ammo on board, is less prone to malfunction from abuse and reloads faster. The revolver can select more tailored bullets for different tasks and is less prone to malfunction from neglect.

Confederate
December 25, 2006, 09:40 PM
Yeah, if you go by velocity and bullet weight, the 9mm outclasses the .38. And I can say that Federal 115gr JHPs are a time proven round that, if used exclusively in 9mm pistols, would change that round's reputation overnight. I would especially like to see it used in military pistols and believe that not doing so puts our men needlessly in harm's way.

That said, the configuration of .38 bullets also has to be taken into account. All said, I think the .38 bullets are probably more conducive to reliable expansion than most 9mm bullets. Certainly the high-capacity aspect of the 9mm makes it the preferred way to go. Still, shot by shot, I might prefer a hot .38 round.

One problem with the 9mm was the poor pistols that initially were made for it. The Smith & Wesson 39/59 was an unmitigated disaster. It was only when the military began getting serious about it did we start to see super reliable automatics come into being, the first of which was the Beretta 92. Then, on its heels, the Smith & Wesson 459, 559, and 659. From then on, things just kept getting better. Now, almost anyone can afford an ultra reliable 9mm, one that will feed bullets of any shape and configuration.

The ability to rapid fire these guns and to load 14-20 rounds into a magazine is a remarkable achievement. And 1911 pistols still have not equalled the reliability out of the box, yet they frequently command a much higher price. Why? Who knows?

The .38 revolver is still a very decent way to go. Packing them in a good, solid .357 is even better.

http://images.military.com/EQGpics/EQG_WSA9mm_1.jpg
Reliability is just one aspect of what makes
a good military pistol. What one shoots out of it
is another matter. The 9mm ball ammo is
horribly deficient. Most soldiers would prefer
to use their rifles.

brett30030
December 25, 2006, 10:21 PM
I am no ballistics guru. But i would like to see reference data to support the .38 snub = .380acp. And also data to support that autos are more reliable than revolvers. I own and shoot handguns in every caliber mentioned so far. :what:

Since this is a revolver forum topic, i assumed the question was in reference to one of the revolvers out there that are capable of using 9mm ammo. I may be reading more into it, but since it does not reference a difference between the platform other than 2" snubby, it seems that the question is framed around the weapon being the same (except round), and only the caliber different.:confused:

SniperStraz
December 25, 2006, 10:26 PM
was supposed to be b/w a 2'' snubby in 9mm and a 2'' snubby in .38 and or .357

Thanx for the responses, keep 'em comin' please.

Searcher1911
December 25, 2006, 11:23 PM
This is the same basic argument that was the rage of the gun magazines 30 years ago when the 38 was still a common police pistol. Now, the magazines all want to compare the 9MM and the 45ACP. I guess a good solid hit with any of them beats a near miss by the others. But, still, I think that: 1) for bullseye accuracy and user friendliness, the 38 Spl in a good revolver is the ticket; 2) for cheap shooting and mild recoil a good 9MM auto is great; 3) for ease of reloading and all around defense for an experienced shooter a 45ACP is the standard. I guess I like them all, some just more than others!

georgeduz
December 25, 2006, 11:34 PM
the 140gr bullets work great in 38spl,i like it better than the 9mm.but i go with 4 to 6 inch barrell

Glamdring
December 26, 2006, 03:17 AM
A Glock 26 is about same size & wt as a steel frame J frame. But the 9mm has a longer barrel for same OAL. Also doesn't have a B/C gap to lose pressure.

I prefer 38+P myself but if your going on pure numbers, both MV and number of rounds, the small 9mm's have the advantage.

Other point to consider is if you go with scandium/titanium you can have two 38+P loaded revolvers for about the same wt as one loaded Glock 26.

Edited to add: Either on will work, and work very well. If you use the best loads. I would go with the one you can shoot better, for most people that will be the 9mm IMO.

gandog56
December 26, 2006, 05:26 PM
I shoot the best with my revolver. Beats the heck out of most of my semi-autos.

McCall911
December 26, 2006, 09:16 PM
The comparison was supposed to be b/w a 2'' snubby in 9mm and a 2'' snubby in .38 and or .357

Oops, I guess I overlooked that. Sorry.
But what I said about the 9mm vs. .38 Special still stands. They'll just have a little lower velocity out of a 2" barrel, vs a 4" barrel.
Anyway, not being a big snubnose revolver fan, I wasn't aware that there were any 9mm snubbies! Learn somethin new every day!

Alan Fud
December 26, 2006, 09:55 PM
The 9mm ball ammo is
horribly deficient. Most soldiers would prefer
to use their rifles. Wouldn't that be true of any handgun?

Confederate
December 26, 2006, 11:00 PM
Yes, but the 9mm got its bad reputation from ball ammo. The .38 Spc. was judged on a police comparison basis, which kept up with jacketed hollow points. The result is that the 9mm kept its horrible reputation while the .38 Spc. recovered.

It wasn't fair. I think the .38 will be more accurate than the 9mm, all things being equal.

Ichiro
December 26, 2006, 11:01 PM
Just need someone with a 2" snubby in 9mm and .38, and a chrono, to chime in here.

I would guess the 9mm is a more powerful round, but that the best rounds are comparable in performance.

isp2605
December 26, 2006, 11:23 PM
The Smith & Wesson 39/59 was an unmitigated disaster. It was only when the military began getting serious about it did we start to see super reliable automatics come into being, the first of which was the Beretta 92. Then, on its heels, the Smith & Wesson 459, 559, and 659. From then on, things just kept getting better.
Please, "unmitigated disaster" is your opinion. I carried a 39 for several years as my duty gun and it was 100% reliable and very accurate, almost keeping up with my M-52. I carried S&W autos for over 26 yrs, 20 of those years as my issued duty gun. I carried them for 10 yrs while on SWAT, while running drug task forces, on patrol and while in investigations. I've run thousands of rds of +P and +P+ thru each of them without any problems.
The differences between the 1st and 2nd gen S&W are minor with the most noticeable difference being the firing pin block. The grips and most everything else between the 1st and 2nd gen autos were the same.
We were the first agency to issue the 39 starting in 1968 and stayed with it until 1981 when we went to 2nd gen S&W autos and then went to the 3rd gen when they came out. We issued the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen 9mm autos for over 32 yrs. Many of the modifications made between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen S&W autos were the results of recommendations made by our range officers.
Also, your time line on the military going to the 92 and the 459 coming out is a bit off. The 2nd gen S&W came out about 1980. The military didn't go to the M-9 until 1985.

LightningJoe
December 27, 2006, 01:42 AM
The 9mm out of the snub-nose might have less manageable recoil than the typical .38 Special defense load. As for the Buffalo Bore 20A20 super-hot LSWCHP, I wonder.

Headless
December 27, 2006, 02:40 AM
Interesting conversation; pitting BOTH from a 2" snub makes it quite interesting.

My 659 never had a single misfire, misfeed, failure to fire, failure to eject...not a damn thing, across more than 10,000 rounds and 500+ at a time without cleanings...
Until last ****ing weekend when i tried some UMC green box +P JHP's out of it...in 200 rounds flat i had TWO failure to ejects and the damn gun was so nasty from those filthy rounds that the slide didn't felt sticky when it tried to close :rolleyes:

IMO, worry less about the caliber and more about the reliability of the rounds in your gun.

Glamdring
December 27, 2006, 03:08 AM
Sorry missed the part about both being from snub revolver. 9x19 will still have better MV than 38+P.

As soon as my buddy S & W 24 gets his Taurus snub 9mm out of lay away will run it and my 38 over a chrono.

You can also check out Complete Book of Handgun, think was 3rd edition Author was Chuck Karwan he has a whole chapter on that very topic (ie snub 9mm vs 38).

Phil DeGraves
December 27, 2006, 04:37 PM
"One problem with the 9mm was the poor pistols that initially were made for it. The Smith & Wesson 39/59 was an unmitigated disaster."

You are wrong there Confederate. The 9mm has been around since 1908 and was chambered in the Luger, BHP, P38 Walther, Radom, Astra 600, Lahti, etc, etc, etc. long before S&W chambered their pistols for it. Obviously, you have never owned one of those m39s or 59s. I have had several and they were very good if not great guns. Illinois SP was the first LE Agency to use them very soon after they were released.

As far as 38 vs. 9mm, the 38 has the edge in bullet weight and shape and the 9mm has the edge in velocity. Six of one, half a dozen of another. Neither is worth a darn if you can't hit what you aim at; both are fine if you can.

Jeff F
December 27, 2006, 09:44 PM
The 9mm is a high pressure round and the .38 spl is not. I have a blackhawk convertible .357 with the extra 9mm cylinder and 9mm ball kicked harder and was more snappier in recoil and louder report then .38 spl 158 gr swc.

isp2605
December 27, 2006, 11:36 PM
Illinois SP was the first LE Agency to use them very soon after they were released.

The ISP first issued the 39 in 1968.
The 39 was actually first built in 1953 for the military tests to replace the 1911. They made it out to the public in 1954.

Phil DeGraves
December 28, 2006, 09:12 AM
I stand corrected. Thank you.

Phil DeGraves
December 28, 2006, 09:14 AM
"The Model 39 was ahead of its time. It sold slowly--only 426 units in 1957. When it was adopted as official sidearm of the Illinois State Police in 1968, it was the first 9mm double-action auto ever used by any U.S. state agency."

isp2605
December 28, 2006, 09:32 AM
When the 39 was released to the US public it just sat there. Americans weren't ready to warm to the 9mm quite yet. Up until then about the only 9mm guns being sold were BHPs, P-38s, and the few Lugers. There just wasn't the defensive ammo for it back then like there is today. FMJ ammo was about it. There was some SP stuff but it usually performed like FMJ, seldom getting any expansion. The good thing was surplus 9mm ammo was really cheap. After the ISP went to the 39, followed soon after by Salt Lake City PD, the 39 began to move a bit better.

The Real Hawkeye
December 28, 2006, 09:59 AM
There was some SP stuff but it usually performed like FMJHave to disagree with you there. Back in the early 1980s, I did some tests on the soft point jacketed 9mm ammo that was available. In wet newspaper, they expanded to about .41 caliber, weight retention was almost 100%, penetration was almost as deep as FMJ, and the tip was such that it would have made a nasty wound channel; much nastier than a FMJ 9mm.

Brian Williams
December 28, 2006, 10:08 AM
I have a S&W 642 with a 940 9mm cylinder installed. 9mm is much more than 38 out of it, I do not have a Chrono but The noise and recoil of a 9mm are much more sharp than standard 38 or 38+p.

The true arms race in a 9mm snub is the speed of reloading. With the difference in bullet shapes and loads they all can be just about the same defensively, the speed of 5 9mm in moonclips for a unload/reload makes for a few seconds of time.
I would like to see what a load of 135gr LSWCHP would do in a 9mm case for a snubbie, The mold would cost a bit, but it would shine for a Taurus 905, Ruger Sp101, S&W 940.

The Real Hawkeye
December 28, 2006, 10:13 AM
The 135 gr SWC HP load in a 9mm meant for a revolver would be awesomely effective, I'm sure. 9mm velocity matched to the maw of a bullet like that would be very destructive to tissue.

isp2605
December 28, 2006, 10:15 AM
Back in the early 1980s, I did some tests on the soft point jacketed 9mm ammo that was available.
Not talking about the ammo in the 1980s. I'm referring to the SP stuff in when we started carrying the 9mm in 1968 and early 70s. That stuff rarely expanded. In the mid/late 70s we went to W-W 125 gr SP that gave a bit of expansion, best I recall it was in the .41 area like you mentioned. Altho, going from .355 to .41 is not what anyone would call great expansion in today's terms. It did penetrate very deep due to the very limited expansion. The major advantage to the rd was it's RN shape which meant if was a very reliable feeder.
In about 1978-79 we went to Federal 95 gr SP that really expanded altho I don't recall now what kind of numbers we got. It clocked at 1400 fps out of my 39. The only results I saw personally with that rd was on road hit deer. Recovered bullets were the classic mushroom shape. I've probably still got some recovered ones around here someplace if I knew where to look for them. Where that rd had problems tho was going against barriers like cars. It was too lightly constructed and came apart.
Again, until the 9mm was more widely accepted by LEOs, which started in the mid 70s, did there come about an improvement in bullet design and performance. Prior to that the available rds gave little better performance than FMJ.

The Real Hawkeye
December 28, 2006, 10:23 AM
Where that rd had problems tho was going against barriers like cars.Well, inside of a car is actually a very safe place to be if someone is shooting a handgun at you. Front windshields are great at deflecting, and the first round will hardly ever hit what you're aiming at, and then with low velocity slivers. Doors are good stoppers too. All kids of steel in there. Being good at penetrating cars is asking a lot of any handgun caliber that you'd ordinarily carry for gunfighting purposes.

isp2605
December 28, 2006, 10:49 AM
Well, inside of a car is actually a very safe place to be if someone is shooting a handgun at you. Front windshields are great at deflecting, and the first round will hardly ever hit what you're aiming at, and then with low velocity slivers. Doors are good stoppers too. All kids of steel in there. Being good at penetrating cars is asking a lot of any handgun caliber that you'd ordinarily carry for gunfighting purposes.
I wouldn't call being inside a car "a very safe place to be if someone is shooting a handgun at you." Cars are terrible cover. They offer a lot better concealment than dependable cover. Car metal is very thin. What stops the rds are all the parts like window motors, bracing, etc. Depending on a window motor and a cross bracing is pretty risky business. A car is better than nothing but none of them are armored vehicles.
I've witnessed and investigated numerous shootings where rds went right on thru the windshields, car doors, and car bodies to inflict serious injuries and fatal damage. I've also done considerable testing of vehicle penetration of the various service ammo.
The Fed 95 gr rd that I was referring to just didn't hold up against barriers. Since a lot of our work involved stopping cars we needed a better rd that would hold together thru metal and glass. The Fed 95 gr just wasn't up to that task.
A few examples:
A good friend was struck twice from a BG shooting a BHP loaded with Fed 115 BPLE. He was approaching the front right fender when the BG fired a total of 3 rds at him. The first one went thru the front windshield and struck my friend alongside his head, knocking him down. He regained his feet and as he was bringing up his 870 he was hit by another rd fired thru the front windshield which struck him in the wrist and traveled up his forearm, exiting at the elbow. At that same incident another agent fired 8 rds thru the back window with a 439 loaded with Fed 115 BP. All rds penetrated thru the back window, some also went thru the center door post, some struck the head rest, and 2 went on out thru the front windshield.
Another Troop at another stop was fired upon from a BG crouched behind an open car door. We were carrying Fed 115 gr BP or BPLE at the time, don't recall now. Troop hit 3 rds in the door, all 3 rds completely penetrating the door. One of those rds hit the BG near the knee, traveled up the outside of his leg causing what looked like a knife cut, reentered near his upper thigh, exited thru the meat of his butt, and lodged in his wallet, perfectly expanded. 3 other rds hit the windshield right where it meets the dash. Those rds penetrated the windshield but were stopped by the dash. Another rd hit the headlight (the BG's car was facing the Troop). The rd went thru the headlight, thru the metal bracket holding the light, thru the top of the inner fender well liner and stopped when it hit the inner fender.
Another shooting I did the Troop returned fire thru the back window of truck using W-W 115 gr JHP+P+. That rd went thru the back window, thru the headrest, and struck the BG in the back of the head.
Did another shooting when we were carrying W-W +P+, 2 rds went thru the driver's door, completely thru the passenger door, and on to parts unknown.
Did another shooting where victim was shot in the left side of her head behind the ear with a .357 loaded with 125 gr Rem SJHP. Rd completely penetrated her head and exited at an angle thru the front windshield.

The Real Hawkeye
December 28, 2006, 10:58 AM
I overstated it. I just meant that it's asking alot of a handgun round to reliably hit someone inside with enough force to put them out of action. Not really a "safe place." Shouldn't have said that. Once the front windshield is shattered by the first shot, it is not much of a shield against handgun bullets, especially not at close range. The doors do have a lot of metal in them from the motors and whatnot, but if you miss all that, there's just sheet metal, which, as you said, isn't much at stopping bullets.

klingy
December 28, 2006, 02:14 PM
Here's what I've got over the years of chronographing. Under the description of the particular loading are, respectively, the average velocity, the standard deviation, the power factor and the resultant muzzle energy.

Smith & Wesson
642 Airweight
.38 Special
1.875

Federal
125 gr.
Nyclad +P
JHP
870
23
109
210

Speer
125 gr.
Gold Dot +P
JHP
857
17
107
204

Federal
158 gr.
Nyclad +P
SWCHP
771
13
123
208

Smith & Wesson
940
9 mm
1.875

Cor-Bon
115 gr.
+P
JHP
1211
20
139
375

Remington
115 gr.
+P
JHP
1156
21
133
342

Remington
124 gr.
Golden Saber
BJHP
985
32
122
267

Remington
124 gr.
Golden Saber +P
BJHP
1064
15
132
312

Smith & Wesson
640
.357 Magnum
2.125

Federal
125 gr.
.38 Special +P
JHP
858
15
107
204

Remington
125 gr.
.38 Special +P
SJHP
885
26
111
218

Speer
125 gr.
.38 Special +P
GDJHP
855
39
107
203

Remington
125 gr.
Golden Saber (medium velocity load)
BJHP
1089
29
136
330

Pro-Load
125 gr.
JHP
Tactical Lite (medium velocity load)
1124
12
141
351

Phil DeGraves
December 28, 2006, 02:22 PM
"In wet newspaper, they expanded to about .41 caliber, weight retention was almost 100%, penetration was almost as deep as FMJ, and the tip was such that it would have made a nasty wound channel; much nastier than a FMJ 9mm."

I used to have some Speer 125 grn RN JSP rounds that performed well in duxseal and wet phone books, but when I tried it in ballistic gelatin, it just blew through it like FMJ. I'd have to agree with ISP2605 on this.

As far as cars being good cover, as has been stated, not for long. With the window rolled down, car doors are okay for a couple of rounds, then stuff just starts getting through.

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