Are .357 and .38 really the same size?


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Spyvie
January 9, 2008, 11:26 PM
Since a .38 and a .357 are supposedly the same size, and can be fired out of the same .357 chamber and barrel, why the difference in the numbers? Are they really the same diameter? .357” is definitely smaller than .38”.

What about .44 and .45, the difference here is smaller than the difference above. Why can't you shoot .44s out of a .45 barrel, or vice-versa, provided the chambers would accept the cartridges? (I don't intend to try this, I'm just wondering)

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Brian Williams
January 10, 2008, 12:07 AM
Yes and No, the 357 is dimensionally the same as the 38, except that the 357 is .135" longer. a 38 spec uses a .358 diameter bullet.

NO .44 and .45 are not the same
44= .429
45 = .451, .454 and sometimes even .458

kludge
January 10, 2008, 12:10 AM
.357 Magnum is a derivative of the .38 Special. The bullets are .357" for both. The case of the .357 Magnum is 1/8" longer to prevent the round from being chambers in the .38 Special gun (preventing a Ka-Boom). You can shoot .38 Specials out of a .357 Magnum gun, but the not the othere way around.

Similarly the .44 Magnum was a lengthened .44 Special and uses a .429" bullet while the .45 Colt and .45 ACP use a .452" bullet (or thereabout), so there is a significant difference in bullet size there.

You can however shoot .44 Specials out of a .44 Magnum.

Spyvie
January 10, 2008, 12:27 AM
So .38 and .44 aren't really accurate descriptions, they're just names I guess.

JohnMcD348
January 10, 2008, 12:34 AM
I read an article along time ago about that and it was basically speculated that the .38/.357 issue was more of a marketing thing. When teh .38 caliber was introduced, they people in charge felt that (38) sounded better than 357 or 36 special. 38 kinda rolled off the tongue. When the larger "Magnum" caliber was introduced to give the .38 more punch it seemed to sound right to call it by it's proper caliber and add the word MAGNUM to it.

Basically, just a marketing thing.

1911Tuner
January 10, 2008, 12:34 AM
The .357 Magnum cartridge resulted from the .38-44 cartridge, which was a .38 Special loaded to pressures that would damage the standard .38 Special revolvers of the day. So...the large-framed Colt and Smith & Wesson
revolvers that were normally chambered for the .44 Special cartridge were used. A ".38 Special on a .44 frame." Hence the caliber designation. .38-44

The ammunition that was packaged and headstamped .38-44 let the holder know that it was intended only for the ."38-44" revolvers and not to be fired in lighter framed guns. I have some of the old .38-44 ammo, and...trust me...it's hot.

Dimensionally, it was exactly the same as the .38 Special, and the problems started soon after with people firing the round in K-frame Smiths and Colt .38 revolvers. The case was lengthened to prevent the .38 Special chambers from accepting it, and the ".38 on a .44 Frame" revolvers were renamed "357 Magnum" and the rest is history. Smith & Wesson now refers to these large-framed revolvers as "N" frames.

Incidentally, the term .357 Magnum" is a Smith & Wesson trademark, and the other revolvers that take the cartridge...whether .357 or .41 or .44 Magnum...
have the caliber roll-marked on the barrel. Colt's Python is not a .357 Magnum. It's a Colt revolver that's chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, and says so on the barrel. ".357 Magnum Ctg."

The .44 Magnum had no intermediate step between it and the .44 Special cartridge. The .41 Magnum has no .41 Special. It was a "magnum" from go street. The closest thing it had to a special counterpart was the early
"Police" loading that consisted of a 210-grain lead Keith-style SWC loaded to
an advertised 970 fps. Dimensionally, the police loading was identical to the
full-powered "magnum" offering.

The Lone Haranguer
January 10, 2008, 01:02 AM
So .38 and .44 aren't really accurate descriptions, they're just names I guess.

With American cartridge/caliber designations? Yep. ;)

MrTuffPaws
January 10, 2008, 01:14 AM
38s were named for the case size. 357mag for the bullet size.

1911Tuner
January 10, 2008, 01:20 AM
So .38 and .44 aren't really accurate descriptions, they're just names I guess.

Except for the .41 Magnum. It's a true .41 caliber.

Backing up a few decades, we had some true .38s as well. It's gettin' late, so I'll let some of the other historians fill in the blanks...and there are many blanks...and it can get confusing...but it's interesting.

One last thing. The .223 Remington cartridge fires a .224 diameter bullet.
So does the .222 and .222 magnum, while the good ol' .22 rimfire bullet is .221 diameter...as is the .22 Hornet's slug.

Ain't this fun? :D

Gator
January 10, 2008, 02:22 AM
The .38 Special got the "38" from the cartridge's early black powder loading which used a heel based bullet the same diameter as the case (like a .22 LR). When they changed to the smaller bullet they didn't change the name. Its the same story with the .44s. The original .44 American also used a heel based bullet.

mikec
January 10, 2008, 04:53 AM
Both the .38 and .357 use .357" jacketed bullets, .358" lead bullets.


The bullet for a .32ACP round is either .308" or .309", not .320".

1911Tuner
January 10, 2008, 09:21 AM
The bullet for a .32ACP round is either .308" or .309", not .320".

Close. It's .312

Thanks Gator and Mr.Tuff. Good info on heel-based bullets.

To further confuse the issue...

The "Big .45" rifle calibers like the .45-70 and .45-90 are closer to .46 caliber with nominal bore/bullet diameters of .458 inch. The .458 Win Mag and the .460 Weatherby fit this category.

Also, standard .22 rimfire and .22 Magnum...or .22 WMRF...share the same bullet diameter, but not the same case diameter. The .22 Short/Long/LongRifle rounds are heel-based, while the .22 Magnum isn't. So, one should never fire standard .22 rimfire ammunition in a .22 Magnum chamber.

SDC
January 10, 2008, 10:51 AM
When S&W was looking to introduce the 357 Magnum as a commercial round in their revolvers, they wanted some sort of advertising "hook" to get it to stick in potential buyers' minds; they COULD have just explained that the 357 is a supercharged version of the 38 Special, but by calling it the "357 Magnum", they gave it its own "mystique" (the same thing Ricardo Montalban did for "fine Corinthian leather"; there's no such thing as "fine Corinthian leather", but it sticks in your mind as a potential buyer). So, they went with the true bullet diameter, and added "Magnum" (which is a double-sized wine bottle) to get the name of the new factory round.

1911Tuner
January 10, 2008, 11:27 AM
SDC...Yep. And thus the "Magnum" craze was born. Pretty soon, anybody who designed a high-performance cartridge and a gun to take it, used the term to let the potential customer know that they would get a little something "more" by buying it. Magnum...from the Latin...essentially meaning "A little more" or "A little extra." In the gun culture, it's widely accepted that a "magnum" cartridge is loaded to fairly adventurous pressures and velocities.

mikec
January 10, 2008, 02:00 PM
Close. It's .312


Lyman 47th Reloading Handbook, copyright 1992, seventh printing 2000, lists a grove diameter of .309".

Yes it is an older book, but since I don't reload at this time it works for me as a reference.

Vern Humphrey
January 10, 2008, 03:51 PM
To understand why the .38 and .357 are the same size, we have to go back to the Civil War. Revolvers in those day were almost all what today we call "cap and ball" -- designed to be loaded with loose powder, a separate projectile and ignited by a percussion cap.

To make such a revolver, you drill the chambers from the front, leaving a wall in the back of each chamber. Smaller threaded holes are drilled for the nipples.

To load such a revolver, point it straight up, pour a charge of powder into one chamber, then seat a ball in the mouth of the chamber and ram it home. The ball must be a tight fit. A proper "fit" would actually leave a thin ring of lead shaved off the ball, and most revolvers had a compound lever rammer mounted under the barrel to give the shooter the necessary power to ram such a ball home. When all the chambers were loaded, grease was smeared in the mouths of the chamber (lead bullets must be lubricated, especially when shot in rifled barrels.) Putting caps on the nipples left the gun ready for action.

Note what this all tells us -- in a cap and ball revolver, the chamber, ball and barrel had to be the same diameter!

At the end of the war, it was obvious the metallic cartridge was the wave of the future. Now, how do we make a revolver for mettalic cartridges?

The simplest way was to modify the old cap-and-ball revolver. Simply drill the chambers all the way through, hinge the right recoil shield to make a loading gate, and reshape the hammer nose to ignite the primer.

But we have a problem. In a metallic cartridge the bullet goes inside the case, and the case goes inside the chamber. The bullet is too small for the barrel and will not shoot accurately!

So bullets were made more or less in the modern "bullet shape" but with the back end of the bullet reduced in diameter. That back end was called the "heel" and it fit inside the case and was crimped. The rest of the bullet was left at bore diameter.

But what about the grease? It was smeared on the outside of the bullet. And it rubbed off if you carried cartridges in your pocket, collected sand and grit in a cartridge belt and so on. Not a satisfactory situation.

The solution was to make the entire bullet the size of the heel. The grease was in grease grooves, and the bullet was seated deeper, so the grease grooves were inside the case. Such ammunition was called "inside lubricated" and is the style still used for lead handgun bullets today.

But now the bullet is too small for the bore!! What can we do about that?

Well, we can make the case larger -- which means making the chamber larger, and that means making the cylinder larger, and on and on. Or we can make the barrel smaller.

If we make the barrel smaller, we can make the new bullets out of soft lead with hollow bases and they will still shoot fairly well in older revolvers with the larger bores.

And that's what they did, and why the new ammunition was still called ".38" caliber, when it was actually smaller by twice the thickness of the case walls -- in the case of the .38 Colt, it became .357 in diameter.

When Smith and Wesson "stretched" the .38 Special (which was a stretched version of the .38 Long Colt, which was a stretched version of the .38 Short Colt) and loaded it to higher pressures, Douglas Wesson, the president of Smith and Wesson, decided to give it a catchy name -- ".357 Magnum."

1911Tuner
January 10, 2008, 03:56 PM
Lyman 47th Realoading Handbook, copyright 1992, seventh printing 2000, lists a grove diameter of .309".

Ah...Interesting. All the data I've seen give a nominal bullet diameter of .312 inch. Wonder if that was figured for a soft lead bullet for use in a .309 bore.

mnw42
January 10, 2008, 04:06 PM
Just to make things more confusing the .38 ACP, .38 Super, and (I think) .380 are all .356. 9mms are generally.355

1911Tuner
January 10, 2008, 04:14 PM
Mikec...It's the .32 ACP that lists a nominal .312 diameter. Maybe that's where the confusion is.

Just to make things more confusing the .38 ACP, .38 Super, and (I think) .380 are all .356. 9mms are generally.355

Yep...and IIRC, the 9mm Steyr...or is it the Makarov...fires a .356 diameter bullet...or is it .354? It's confusing...

Gettin' back to Vern's post...The .41 Long Colt wasn't a .41 at all. I believe that one was .405 diameter. Again...It's hard to remember all this.

The .44 Rimfire that so many superposed two-shoot deringers were chambered for was a heel-based bullet that was...correct me if I'm wrong...
.445 diameter, which would make it a 44.5 caliber bullet...or was that the .44 Henry?

See how it gets? Headache, anyone?

Sistema1927
January 10, 2008, 04:15 PM
Welcome to the wonderful wacky world of ballistics terminology!

Deanimator
January 10, 2008, 04:33 PM
So .38 and .44 aren't really accurate descriptions, they're just names I guess.
Cartridge names are frequently totally arbitrary, like .38-40 Winchester, which is .40 NOT .38.

Buy yourself a copy of "Cartridges of the World". It'll explain all of these things to you.

Silvanus
January 10, 2008, 04:55 PM
European/metric designations are usually not exactly right too. 8x57/8mm Mauser as well as the 8x33/8mm Mauser kurz for example are 7.92mm;) And like somebody mentioned already, 9mm Makarov and 9mm Para/Luger are not the same either...

RyanM
January 10, 2008, 07:26 PM
If a cartridge is called a ".38," you can be absolutely sure that the figure 0.38" has absolutely nothing to do with it.

.380 ACP, .38 Auto, and .38 Super are all .356".
.38 SPL is .357".
.38 S&W, and the various .38 Colts are .360".
.38-40 is .400".

And the old .36 muzzleloading revolvers were about .370" or so.

Vern Humphrey
January 10, 2008, 07:31 PM
38 S&W, and the various .38 Colts are .360".
The various .38 Colts are .357 (revolver cartridges, that is.) Smith and Wesson "stretched" the .38 Long Colt to produce the .38 Special, and stretched the .38 Special to produce the .357 Magnum (and in conjuction with Winchester, loaded it to higher pressure.)

RyanM
January 10, 2008, 10:37 PM
Well, poop. I thought the Colts were all something along the lines of... what was it, the "Colt Police Positive" or something like that? Basically identical to .38 S&W, only given another name because they didn't want to have to put S&W on their guns.

Vern Humphrey
January 11, 2008, 10:10 AM
There was a lot of swapping in those dayss. Smith and Wesson took the .38 Long Colt and stretched it to produce the .38 Smith and Wesson Special. When it proved to be popular, Colt offered revolvers chambered for the .38 Colt Special -- which, surprise, surprise, is identical to the .38 Smith and Wesson Special.

rnr4me
January 11, 2008, 04:44 PM
And then there is the .357 Maximum. Basically an enlongated .357 Mag. It had some issues w/ burning the forcing cone and back straps on revolvers, so it never really caught on. It's still shot by the single shot pistol crowd.

Deanimator
January 11, 2008, 05:45 PM
"Colt Police Positive"
That's a MODEL name, like "Offical Police" and "Detective Special", all of which were at various times, chambered for the .38 Special cartridge.

Blakenzy
January 11, 2008, 06:06 PM
So... seeing that originally the .357mag was of the same case length as a .38spl... if one were inclined to do so today, you could load a .38special to .357magnum performance???

rcmodel
January 11, 2008, 06:11 PM
No, not exactly.

The .38 Special case can be hot loaded in a .357 Mag gun to about halfway between .38 +P and .357 Mag performance levels.

When push comes to shove, the extra case capacity of the .357 Mag allows the use of more, slower burning, powder.

And that results in being able to reach higher velocity with the same weight bullets in the magnum case.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

Vern Humphrey
January 11, 2008, 06:16 PM
seeing that originally the .357mag was of the same case length as a .38spl... if one were inclined to do so today, you could load a .38special to .357magnum performance???
The cartridge you're thinking of is the .38/44, not the .357 Magnum. The .38/44 was close to .357 ballistics, though.

If you are shooting it in a .357 revolver, you can load a .38 Special considerably hotter than usual -- some handloaders say if you load to the same overall lenght, you can load the .38 Special to duplicate .357 ballistics. Their reasoning is that the cartridge doesn't know how long it is -- it only knows how much space is below the base of the bullet. And .38s and .357s loaded to the same OAL will have the same space below the base of the bullet.

However, brass in cartridges intended for low-pressure loads is often softer than brass intended for high-pressure loads. So the case is the weak link in this experiment.

Personally, I see no reason to overload .38 Special cases -- in fact, I go the other way and load and shoot thousands of very light .38 Specials every year for target practice, plinking and small game hunting.

macadore
January 11, 2008, 06:20 PM
So .38 and .44 aren't really accurate descriptions, they're just names I guess.

Yep, they’re just names. The 44 Magnum is a .429. Hence the S&W Model 29. I believe the 444 Marlin also shoots a .429.

Vern Humphrey
January 11, 2008, 06:25 PM
I believe the 444 Marlin also shoots a .429.
Which is why it has had such lack-luster success. It was loaded with .44 Magnum bullets, but overpowered them. Had early .444 ammo been offered with bullets designed for its velocity capabilities, it would probably have sold much better.

rcmodel
January 11, 2008, 07:42 PM
Hence the S&W Model 29I don't believe bullet diameter had anything to do with naming the Model 29. It just happened to be the next number to come up.

The Model 27 was the .357 Magnum.
The Model 28 was an econemy model .357 Magnum, (The Highway Patrolman)
The Model 29 was the .44 Magnum.
The Model 30 was the .32 Hand Ejector.

Carried further:
The Model 41 was a .22 Target pistol.
The .41 Magnum was the Model 57.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

buck460XVR
January 11, 2008, 08:01 PM
So .38 and .44 aren't really accurate descriptions, they're just names I guess.

as accurate as the .410 ga. shotgun........:D

1911Tuner
January 11, 2008, 11:11 PM
as accurate as the .410 bore shotgun

Fixed it for ya. ;)

Nobody has brought up the 8X57 Mauser yet.

Early on, the "8mm German Mauser" rifles fired a .318 diameter bullet, with later ones going to .323 inch. Outwardly, the two cartridges were identical, and would freely interchange...until the trigger gets pulled. If the smaller bullet is fired in the larger bores...innacuracy is the result. If it goes the other way...ka-blooey events are a distinct probability.

stevereno1
January 11, 2008, 11:26 PM
9mm is real close to them as well.

buck460XVR
January 12, 2008, 12:55 AM
as accurate as the .410 bore shotgun


Fixed it for ya.

thanks 1911Tuner, but I meant to say .410 ga. It's one of those things that makes me chuckle at the guns/ammo counter......... "hey buddy, you got any 410 gauge shells?" :banghead::banghead::banghead:

Stevie-Ray
January 12, 2008, 02:22 AM
Personally, I see no reason to overload .38 Special cases -- in fact, I go the other way and load and shoot thousands of very light .38 Specials every year for target practice, plinking and small game huntingAnd chamber erosion is a real possibility when hot .38 Special loads are fired in .357 Mag revolvers. Best to use what the gun is designed for.

1911Tuner
January 12, 2008, 09:27 AM
thanks 1911Tuner, but I meant to say .410 ga. It's one of those things that makes me chuckle at the guns/ammo counter.........

Oh yeah. I guess it's one of those Clip/Magazine things. If a shotgun was truly "410 Gauge" the bore would be like...about the size of #4 buckshot. :D

jwr_747
January 12, 2008, 07:12 PM
softer brass in 38 as opposed to 357,don't know about that,but do know that while Elmer Keith was working on the .357 concept,he shot a ton of ammo equal to .357 spec's using 38 brass and bullets seated not to deep. jwr

rcmodel
January 12, 2008, 07:40 PM
The whole concept of loading .357 Mag pressure loads in .38 Spl. cases just seems so wrong!
Oh, I know you can do it, but it's just wrong!

I don't want any ammo in my house that will damage a fine old gun if a round of it gets in the wrong gun sometime in the future. (even after I'm gone.)

For the same reason, I load .44 Specials in .44 Special brass & .44 Mag in .44 Mag brass.

I even sold a Ruger .45 Colt I bought to hot-load .45 Colt, because I didn't want any of my "Ruger loads" getting in the same room with my old Colt SAA's.

And I don't care how carefully you mark it, with Mr. Murphy's law in effect, it's bound to happen sooner, or later.

http://i81.photobucket.com/albums/j219/rcmodel/KTOG/1224.gif
rcmodel

Vern Humphrey
January 12, 2008, 07:56 PM
softer brass in 38 as opposed to 357,don't know about that,but do know that while Elmer Keith was working on the .357 concept,he shot a ton of ammo equal to .357 spec's using 38 brass and bullets seated not to deep.
I'm a great fan of Elmer Keith, but he did most of his work in the days before electronic pressure-measuring equipment was available to the common man, and he blew up more than one handgun with his loads. In fact, that's why he abandond the .45 Colt and went to .44 Special -- to get thicker cylinder walls because he had blown up a couple of .45s.

Guitargod1985
January 13, 2008, 06:19 PM
If a shotgun was truly "410 Gauge" the bore would be like...about the size of #4 buckshot.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the gague number representative of how many bore-diameter balls of lead are needed to equal one pound? If so, I would think that a ".410 gague" shotgun bore would be much larger than even a 10 ga.

I understand what you mean, though, about it being a .410 and not a ".410 gague."

EDIT: Oh, you meant 410 without the decimal. My mistake :o

1911Tuner
January 13, 2008, 06:47 PM
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the gague number representative of how many bore-diameter balls of lead are needed to equal one pound? If so, I would think that a ".410 gague" shotgun bore would be much larger than even a 10 ga.

You're absolutely correct, sir! Due to the southern enunciation ..."Four Hunnert'n'Ten Gauge" I completely omitted the decimal point.

Yeah. That'd be a big shotgun, for sure. :D

brentwal
January 13, 2008, 07:01 PM
The .38 Special got the "38" from the cartridge's early black powder loading which used a heel based bullet the same diameter as the case (like a .22 LR). When they changed to the smaller bullet they didn't change the name. Its the same story with the .44s. The original .44 American also used a heel based bullet.



Correct


We have a winner

Vern Humphrey
January 13, 2008, 07:02 PM
Gauge size is based on a lead ball that would just fit in the bore, and the number of such balls that would make a pound. A 16 gauge would take a lead ball weighing an ounce.

A true ".410 gauge" would take a lead ball weighting 2.44 lbs. That's waaay bigger than a 10 gauge -- or even a 4 gauge.

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