357's or 38 SPL?


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vito
December 25, 2006, 06:34 PM
At the range I use 38 special ammo when firing my S&W 640, but when thinking of self defense, I load it with 357 mag hollow points. With this 2" barrel revolver, is there much difference in the two rounds for close-in self defense?

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Vern Humphrey
December 25, 2006, 06:54 PM
The best advice is "ask the gun." Try it with the defense loads you expect to use, and see where it shoots. If there is a big difference in point of impact, sight the gun for the defense loads, then adjust your targets for the .38 Specials -- for example, if the .38 Specials shoot much lower than magnum loads, paste a "shoot-n-see" sticker where you expect them to hit when you aim for center of mass on a silhouette target.

Having said this, however, let me point out that long ago police departments abandoned the use of .38 Specials for practice and went to service loads for practice and training.

My own preference is to use the service or defense load (or a comparable handload) for practice. If .357s are too hot for that, either stick with .38 Specials for defense, or go to a bigger, more comfortable gun.

Baba Louie
December 25, 2006, 07:02 PM
To me the question is how fast can I get a "good" second shot off using either round? In my 586 6" (which I wouldn't use for self defense) I can manage w/ the higher power loading. In my 60 I stick with +P .38's...

As always, YMMV

ronto
December 25, 2006, 07:23 PM
I prefer not to practice with 38's. The best way to go is to practice with what you plan to use for SD or at least a similar 357 load...Don't need any surprises when it really counts. I remember reading somewhere that 2 CHP officers lost their lives because they practiced with 38's and their duty load was 357. The weapon performs completely differently with 38's than with 357's.

Confederate
December 25, 2006, 07:38 PM
I'd say it depends on where you are. Out camping or on the trail, I'd prefer a .357 with a 125gr or 158gr JHP. The report will create noise and flame from a short barrel, and if you can place your shots right, the magnum will still give you a powerful punch.

In the home, a .38+P with 110gr JHP would be my choice. Others may know of a better choice.

Vern Humphrey
December 25, 2006, 07:52 PM
I prefer not to practice with 38's. The best way to go is to practice with what you plan to use for SD or at least a similar 357 load...Don't need any surprises when it really counts.

Good, solid advice. I would, however add this -- if practice with full charge .357s is painful or unpleasant, one of two things will happen. You will either develop bad habits (flinching, jerking, etc.) or you won't practice much. Either result could be fatal if you actually have to use that gun for self-defense.

I recommend, therefore that persons with snubbie .357s try full charge loads, and if they aren't comfortable with them, scale back to .38 Specials, or move up to a larger, more controllable gun.

If you just have to practice with .38s and carry .357s, then recognize that's not an optimum solution.

Bri-Dog
December 29, 2006, 02:05 AM
Buffalo Bore puts out some really powerful loads for caliber.

Item No. 20A/20 158 gr. L.S.W.C.H.P.--G.C. (1,000fps/M.E. 351 ft.lbs.)

Item No. 20B/20 125 gr. L.V. Speer Uni Core (1,050fps/M.E. 306 ft.lbs.)

The Uni-Core is what Speer markets as their "Gold Dot" loads. Same bullet with a lot more power behind it. These stats were from a 2" S&W J frame.

You get close to .357 power with .38(+P) recoil. Not a bad combo

michael_aos
December 29, 2006, 02:20 AM
I get 1018fps with the 158gr BB in my 3" Model 64.

1115fps with my 4" Model 67.

Mike

joneb
December 29, 2006, 02:44 AM
Vito, you've had some good advise, now for my 2 cents :eek: Being able to hit what you're shootin at, is #1, these short barreled wonders are a challenge to shoot, magnums make it more so. Shot placement should be paramount.

Corndogg
January 2, 2007, 12:26 PM
a weird random hypothetical question...

in a .357 revolver that can shoot both .357 and .38:

- is it possible to load both in 1 load? doesnt sound like this would be recommended, but is it possible? any negative effects to the gun?

- are there any times where this would be beneficial? like 1st shot is a .357 and the rest .38s, or only your last shot is a .357 etc?

i realize both shoot quite differently, and in a SD situation you cant rely on remembering whats loaded where and thus need a consistent load, not to mention the sighting would be different, but like i said its a hypothetical! thoughts?

Vern Humphrey
January 2, 2007, 12:46 PM
in a .357 revolver that can shoot both .357 and .38:

- is it possible to load both in 1 load? doesnt sound like this would be recommended, but is it possible? any negative effects to the gun?

It is possible and there are no negative effects to the gun.

However, you should always clean a .357 thoroughly after a prolonged session shooting .38 Specials, since fouling builds up at the chamber throat and may make it difficult to chamber .357s.

And, of course, the two loads would shoot to different points of impact.

- are there any times where this would be beneficial? like 1st shot is a .357 and the rest .38s, or only your last shot is a .357 etc?

No. If there were, someone would have done it long before now.

Sleeping Dog
January 2, 2007, 02:13 PM
are there any times where this would be beneficial?
Mixing the load might illustrate a tendency to flinch. You can catch yourself over-flinching shooting a .38sp and not knowing if it's .357.

As far as getting the chamber dirty: I have a bunch of .357 brass that's been reloaded to .38sp spec. It keeps the chamber from accumulating carbon (or whatever it is) in that last 1/10 inch. It's good for plinking.

gandog56
January 2, 2007, 03:52 PM
I do practice with 38 special DEWC's in my .357. I find that there is no difference in the point of impact at 25 feet between these and my full strength .357 homeloads. Now I am using a Taurus 66 with a six inch barrel, but this is not my gun that resides on my bedstand at night. That is my Dan Wesson Razerback that just replaced my Springfield Armory 1911A1 GI. And living in Illinois with their no CCW whatsoever, I don't know if snubby revolvers would be different. Anyway I don't know if it's a longer barrel or what that makes the POI the same between the 2 cartridges. Maybe I just got lucky that I hit a couple of recipes for my homeloads to be so.

Starter52
January 2, 2007, 04:35 PM
For those shooters who worry that a .38+P "won't stop 'em" I recommend you load three chambers with .38+P and the rest with your favorite .357 load. This way you'll have the best of both worlds.

It's not likely you'll need more than 3 shots, but if you do, any POI difference won't matter at self-defense distances.

Me, I'm happy with a full cylinder of the Remington .38 LSWCHP +P load.

GunNut
January 2, 2007, 06:13 PM
I've always used Winchester 140gr Silvertips for my .357mag defensive load.

I found it quite controllable in the S&W 640-1 that I let slip away.

Steve

Cosmoline
January 2, 2007, 06:23 PM
I don't know where people get the idea that when it hits the fan their aim will suddenly be steady, their flinch will vanish and the targets will be easy to see and hit. If these things were true, then it would be fine to practice for defensive shooting by using light target loads. For most of us, though, when we're facing imminent peril blood pressure goes up, hands start to sweat and shake, and if anything the flinch gets worse (though we may not NOTICE it). Take your CCW piece small game hunting. Try hitting a squirrel after having run 100 yards. Even that much increase in heart rate is enough to seriously degrade your ability to shoot.

While I don't think you need to shoot hundreds of rounds of premium HP .357 in practice, I do think it's a stupid idea to rely on practice with .38's to prepare you for shooting hot rod magnums in self defense. You may get lucky, but chances are you're going to be shooting in poor lighting conditions around cover and concealment, with a great deal of confusion and chaos plus no ear protection. You can't replicate this on the range, obviously, but the LEAST you can do is practice with full power magnums. I use the FMJ Fiochi loads, which are only a few dollars mroe than .38's and don't lead the barrel.

I would disagree about asking the gun--ask YOURSELF. Try firing off 200 rounds of magnum in quick order and see how you tolerate it. If you're able to cope with the recoil without problem, then continue using magnums for practice and defense. If you hate it and get a bad flinch, then by all means use .38 specials for defense and practice. But don't assume practicing with the specials will prepare you for shooting with the magnums.

Sistema1927
January 2, 2007, 07:27 PM
I would disagree about asking the gun--ask YOURSELF. Try firing off 200 rounds of magnum in quick order and see how you tolerate it.

That certainly replicates real world defensive situations :confused:

If I thought that I would need 200 rounds to end the threat I wouldn't use a snubby .357.

miko
January 2, 2007, 07:37 PM
If you are shooting a snub in self-defence, the bad guy(s) you are shooting will most likely be very close. You want your first (and every shot) to be as effective as possible.

357 produces about 40% more energy from a snub than 38 Sp +P.

miko

RoyJackson
January 2, 2007, 09:29 PM
As Miko wrote in his post, a real world SD situation is going to be in close range...probably less then 10 feet. Much more range then that, you're going to have a difficult time justifying use of a gun, at least in PA (which is pretty gun friendly). Altough I agree with Miko's thought processes, I disagree with the need for .357 Magnums at such a short range.

That said, I can handle .38 +P in a light weight snubbie...in fact, I'm pretty accurate at 6' to 10'. I'm also quite confidant an assailant would be downed in a gun fight at that range using .38's. (or I would be down).

I carry a 13 oz Taurus 85. It's light weight and easy carry makes it a gun I'll put in my pocket at any time. I feel quite confident in this gun and my capabilities with this little revolver. I do prefer to carry a G19 or MK9...but that light weight little snubbbie is just so easy to carry...everywhere!

There ya go...one man's opinion...

Cosmoline
January 3, 2007, 02:30 AM
That certainly replicates real world defensive situations :scrutiny:

The point is you must be totally comfortable with the power of the round you intend to use for SD. TOTALLY FRICKING COMFORTABLE. There can be no hesitation and no reluctance. You'll have enough problems as it is. You don't need to add to your problems by using rounds with much more recoil than the ones you're used to shooting in your handgun. Your own comfort level and familiarity with the handgun and round combination are orders of magnitude more important than squeezing some more ft. lbs. out of the thing or putting in a fancier bullet. If you feel most comfortable with .38's and the magnums make you hate life, by all means go with the .38's.

RustyShackelford
January 3, 2007, 02:32 AM
If you have a small frame .38spl/.357magnum I'd use a factory load like the great Speer Gold Dot 135gr +P .38spl or the Corbon +P+ 110gr JHP .38spl. .357magnums are good but unless you want to spend the time/$$$ to shoot well I'd stick to these .38spl +P or +P+ rounds.

If you really need a .357magnum go with a well made/factory 125gr JHP or maybe the 110gr JHP .357mag loads(these are designed for small frame revolvers ;) ).

Rusty

Alan Fud
January 4, 2007, 11:18 PM
I'd use a factory load like the great Speer Gold Dot 135gr +P .38spl Where do you get these? I've heard them recommended more than once but none of the stores around me (even the huge Cabela's) carries them.

Alan Fud
January 4, 2007, 11:20 PM
For those shooters who worry that a .38+P "won't stop 'em" I recommend you load three chambers with .38+P and the rest with your favorite .357 load. This way you'll have the best of both worlds.I like this idea. Thanks.

Sistema1927
January 4, 2007, 11:49 PM
Cosmoline:
The point is you must be totally comfortable with the power of the round you intend to use for SD. TOTALLY FRICKING COMFORTABLE.

You won't feel "TOTALLY FRICKING COMFORTABLE" firing 200 rounds in "quick order" from any lightweight self-defense revolver. You aren't going to do this in real life, and you don't need to train this way.

200 rounds of this ammo in 5-10 round increments over several weeks? Yeah, I will buy that, but not 200 rounds in "quick order". When the "fit hits the shan" you are going to fire 5, maybe 10, possibly 15 rounds max. You need to be "TOTALLY FRICKING COMFORTABLE" with that scenario, not 200 rounds.

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