38 +P recoil in LW j-frame?


Ivan B
May 7, 2007, 01:54 PM
I really want to get a 12 ounce S&W j-frame. I live far enough from “civilization” that it is not possible to rent one or borrow one for a “test drive”. I would like to get a comparison of the recoil of the 38 +P’s to something I am familiar with. I am not a masochist so I am not even considering using 357 loads. I have experience with 45 ACP 3 inch 1911’s; a 32 ounce steel frame (fun to shoot) and a 25 ounce aluminum frame (not fun to shoot). So if I constructed my arbitrary “fun to shoot” scale:

0 357 magnum in 12 oz. revolver

3 3 inch, 45 ACP in 25 ounce alloy frame auto

7 3 inch, 45 ACP in 32 ounce steel frame auto

10 your favourite 22 LR pistol

Where would you rank 38 +p’s from a 12 oz. revolver in this scale?

Larry in New Mexico

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May 7, 2007, 02:36 PM

Out of a 12 oz gun, .38 +P's are not 'fun to shoot'; but they are not Punishing to shoot, either, after you get accustomed to the gun.

Honestly, I don't find my 340pd all that much fun to shoot even with light loads (though I did run through several hundred of them trying to master hip/point-shooting with it, with some success). It's a limited gun with a limited but very important purpose; it's (nearly) always there. So I don't practice with it for fun, but for proficiency; and it's never the only gun I take to the range, 'cause going to the range has GOT to be fun!

May 7, 2007, 03:44 PM
If you wish to learn a great deal about J Frames, visit the 642 Club thread. You will find everything you wish to know including recoil with various rounds.

I have a 642-2 S&W snubbie and can range out 100 rounds of 125 gr Remington Green Box USP JHP for fun in an hour or less. I don't find them that bad at all.

About the same energy level of my sub compact 9mm polymer Kahr PM9 with +P 147 gr JHP.

Both are short barrel, one 2 inch one 3. Both weigh 16 oz and both require short grip with little finger under.

Unless you have physical issues like arthritis or fused joints, pins, or an low pain threshold a snubbie with +P is a joy to behold. You can always practice with standards or 50/50.

May 7, 2007, 04:18 PM
Although recoil is subjective, I don't find it to be too bad when it comes to my M&P 340 (13.3 oz). I just took a trip to the range today and put 50 rounds through it with my self-defense load (10 rounds of 135 grain Speer GD .38+P) and some plinking stuff (Remington UMC .38) and I'm no worse for the wear. I love my P226 in 9mm but it's almost boring shooting it after putting rounds through the M&P.

May 7, 2007, 05:07 PM
I was expecting the worst when I first fired my 642 but it wasn't that bad as it's made out to be. Oh, it's not a range gun by any means but if you practice your grip you can fire it pretty fast and accuratly. I have a couple of other .357 revovlers though, if you are only used to semi's then it might be a surprize. You can get used to it though. I'm just an old lady and if I can do it anyone can.

May 7, 2007, 07:03 PM
Based on your scale, I would give it a 4.

May 7, 2007, 08:18 PM
Hmm, if I equate my 28 oz P220 to your "3" ranking, I'd have to put .38 +P 135gr Gold Dots out of my 13.6oz (ahrends grips) M&P340 at a 1.5. I haven't and will not shoot .357s out of it.

I could be a wimp though... ANY load out of my 642 or M&P340 is on a scale of light sting.. to .. hurt for me. That includes full wadcutters.


May 7, 2007, 08:31 PM
Why spend almost double the price of a 642 Airweight for a .357 Airweight if you're intending to shoot .38 Spl +P and not the magnum loads? I also went through this same exercise about six months ago and decidedly asked myself "Who am I kidding? How am I going to hold onto a 340PD with .357 loads and be reasonably accurate with follow-up shots?" Plus you can't just shoot any ammo you please in the 340PD. It can't be less than 120gr. and although not critical, it tells me that there's a small trade-off because of the reduced frame and cylinder weight.

The scant weight difference wasn't worth the tremendous price difference in my opinion. My 642 is manageable, light, concealable and I believe plenty powerful enough to do the job it was intended to do. Self-defense. And I concur with what others have said that it's not a fun gun for the range but practice is still essential and tolerable.

Ala Dan
May 7, 2007, 08:52 PM
I can't stand to shoot the 125 grain JHP +P stuff out of a 12 or 15 oz
weapon; as the gun snaps furiously, twisting in my surgically repaired
hand. The Federal low recoil 110 grain ammo is a lot more pleasant for
me too shoot~! :scrutiny: ;) :D

May 7, 2007, 08:59 PM
I shot a bunch Ultramax 158gr SWC's in my Model 642 last week.

They're rated 800fps. Don't know what length barrel.

Not pleasant to shoot at all.

I finished off the session with 5 125gr Buffalo Bore. They were more potent, but not as much more as I was expecting.

I could have purchased by 340PD, but I just can't see spending twice as much when I have no intention of ever shooting 357's.

I could be tempted by a Model 342PD though...


May 7, 2007, 10:43 PM
+1 what ChristopherG said.

I carry the Buffalo Bore 125gr. +p load in my 340PD right now.

deputy tom
May 8, 2007, 06:51 PM
I shoot 158 gr. +P LSWCHP's out of my 642 regularly with not too much discomfort.Today I shot 125 gr. .357 mags. from my 640 and remember why I traded the last one away.Darn,that smarted.YMMV.tom.

May 8, 2007, 06:58 PM
I too shoot the 158 grain out of my 642 and have little or no issues with recoil. As DAdams says, "About the same energy level of my sub compact 9mm"Imine is a Glock 26.

shoot 158, 125/135 and 110's and see what you like best.

May 8, 2007, 07:01 PM
NO .38 Special+P round is any big deal to shoot in ANY of the snubby revolvers, including the 12 oz. S&W 340PDs.
Somewhere 4-6 on your arbitrary scale, I'd say.

OTOH, NONE of the .357 Magnum rounds are any fun to shoot in these lightweight guns.

The Lone Haranguer
May 8, 2007, 07:22 PM
Using your scale and index, I'll give it a 2.5, owing to the revolver's smaller grip.

May 8, 2007, 07:54 PM
I've got it, and recoil on the .357 magnums is pretty brutal. However, this gun is super easy to conceal and is so light you almost don't know it's there. If you can manage the recoil it's a perfect conceal carry gun. I'm heading to the range this week with mine to run a variety of .38 special +P through it to see what I like.

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