Practice rounds vs. the real McCoy


September 20, 2011, 01:30 PM
Example... practicing with .32 Long/Short/HR instead of .327 mag... .38 spcl instead of .357.... .44 spcl instead of .44 mag.

Does it really help? Common attributes around here to proper SD are accurate F/U shots, but I'm not sure if I can perform the same with full house loads after practicing with lower powered rounds. I know my arthritic wrist appreciates standard .38 loads during a day at the range, but am I really preparing myself for reality when I load up for SD?

Sorry if this has been covered... did a search before posting.

I really enjoy the input I get from you folks!

If you enjoyed reading about "Practice rounds vs. the real McCoy" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!
September 20, 2011, 01:49 PM
I don't know how others feel about it, but my .357 gets carried with .38 Special unless I am hiking or hunting. We have bears and lions here, and that is what that gun is primarily for.

At the range, it gets very few .357 rounds fired through it in comparison to how many .38 Specials it gets. It is a pure pleasure to shoot .38s through. I can't say I really mind shooting the .357 rounds through it, but I haven't shot more than a couple of cylinders in a session with it, either. I have a bit of old Arthur in the wrist, too, so I just take a measured approach to things, and I only carry .357 in a situation where I might actually need that much power. .38 Specials are plenty good to me.

Loyalist Dave
September 20, 2011, 02:11 PM
Depends on how far apart are your SD rounds from the target rounds, doesn't it? My opinion is that it is far better for me to practice with an inexpensive target round, a lot, getting used to trigger pull, and aquiring the sights for the first shot, and also practicing point shooting for an up close first shot, than shooting less due to more expensive ammo and heavier recoil (thus causing quicker fatigue) to reduce my practice. Since all of my SD revolvers are snubbies, I use .38 spl for target, and .38+P for SD, and although the recoil is heavier, it's not that much heavier. Perhaps if I was using CorBon .357 loads it would be a big difference.


September 20, 2011, 02:31 PM
I'm very one sided on this topic. I load, shoot, and carry full house .357's in my snub's. I to have wrist problems, probably the result of 3 or 4 decades of shooting big bore magnums. But my opinion, is that I want to get the most fire power I can from my S.D. rounds. Not exactly the best choice by popular opinion, but it is how I do it.

September 20, 2011, 03:18 PM
Any practice with ammo you can afford, and are able to shoot, is better then no practice with ammo you can't.


357 Terms
September 20, 2011, 03:21 PM
Practice with what you use. Although my plinking rounds are mid power reloads that are still close enough to my carry ammo for me to get good practice. Dry-firing helps with trigger control also, but getting use to recoil is important.

September 20, 2011, 03:51 PM
Practicing with lower-powered loads helps develop trigger control and consistency. Ultimately, yes, it's best to practice with what you carry as often as you can, but practicing with lighter loads has its place.

I carry handloads, so it's not really any more expensive for me to practice with what I carry. Even if I am shooting lighter cowboy loads at the range though, I find that any amount of trigger time I can get is beneficial.

September 20, 2011, 03:57 PM
Any shooting is better than no shooting at all when it comes to developing and maintaining skills.

September 20, 2011, 04:47 PM
Especially if you have an arthritic wrist, like the OP said he had in his first post!

He won't even feel the heavy load recoil when push comes to shove in a real life SD shooting I betcha!


September 20, 2011, 06:06 PM
I'm with Gamestalker.

I'm going to start reloading so there will be no reason for me to ever shoot .38's unless i'm teaching someone else to shoot.

Shadow 7D
September 20, 2011, 06:42 PM
Two sides of this
One, better to shoot more rounds than less
Two, worse to train yourself with "Powder Puff" loads then wonder why you can't hit squat when the time comes with full bore loads...

Many police agencies have two types ammo coming from the same contract
cheaper FMJ 'Practice round' and Premium SD rounds, that have been matched to be Ballistically the same.

Scipio Africanus
September 20, 2011, 10:43 PM
Lower power rounds are great for training. However, your point of aim/impact should be the same with your low power as with your SD rounds. When it is go time, I doubt you will notice the recoil/blast difference.

September 20, 2011, 11:27 PM
When it is go time, I doubt you will notice the recoil/blast difference.
Probably so... hope I never have to find out!

Thanks again for the input !

September 21, 2011, 12:04 PM
Any practice with lower powered loads should help, since what you are training is your body's ability to perform a follow up shot with as little "think" time as possible. You're body will learn the muscle memory faster with more repetition, which the practice loads allow. Throw in a few SD rounds every other trip at the beginning of the session rather than the end and see where there is room for improvement.

September 21, 2011, 12:26 PM
Tar Devil,

Is there something that prevents you from practicing with both?

The old adage is "Practice with the rounds you intend to carry" and that is excellent advice. But the point of it is to make sure that the shooter and the gun can function with the ammo you have chosen and can shoot it well at speed and without malfunctions. The point of it is also to practice and that does not exclude practice with other rounds. In fact the latter is to be encouraged.

Many shooters plan on carrying a store bought premium self defense load in their carry guns. These can be expensive. If a fella shoots only those there shooting may be limited by finances. No good comes of that.


September 21, 2011, 06:35 PM
Is there something that prevents you from practicing with both?

As I mentioned in my opening post, the wrist is rather arthritic - and I do love to shoot a lot - I just can't spend a day launching .357's or +P rounds.j

I think TriTone makes a good point... shoot some SD loads before the wrist gets sore to work on bad habits, then enjoy the milder stuff.

September 21, 2011, 06:52 PM
Give me 38's in a 357 -especially a small one - any day. HD gun is a 357 with +ps in it - at HD distance, I do not need blast and flash inside from a 357

September 21, 2011, 06:59 PM
What's wrong with a 38 Special?

I've carried them many, many times.

September 21, 2011, 07:03 PM
Carrying, I alternate between an M642 and an M60Jmag. When I go to the range and I'm shooting a .357, I will shoot around 200 rounds of .38Spl and then the last four or so cylinders are full-house 158 grain JHP .357 mag. When carrying the M642 and the Jmag around town, I have .38Spl loaded up. If carrying in the field, I routinely have the .357 loaded up with the full-house rounds. We have mtn lions, bears, and two-legged varmints in the hills around here.

The Lone Haranguer
September 21, 2011, 07:18 PM
This is similar in concept to a .22 conversion unit for a centerfire autoloading pistol. It is better than no practice, but will not help you to deal with recoil control for fast followup shots (if this is the intended use of the gun).

Steve C
September 22, 2011, 02:00 PM
Shooting is about trigger control, follow through and aim. Recoil is just something that happens after the shot is loosed. Recovering from recoil be it a .22 or .44 mag is more about developing the habit of bringing the gun back on target before looking at the shot results rather than overcoming the recoil itself. Heavier recoil will slow your follow up shots just because it moves the gun more and it takes more time to bring it back on target however practicing with defense loads exclusively is not more productive than using lighter target loads.

If things go bad and you have to shoot someone in self defense I seriously doubt you'll even notice the recoil since your mind will be narrowly focused on your attacker and staying alive.

Red Cent
September 22, 2011, 07:33 PM
I strongly believe in low recoil loads while practicing. You do as you practice.

I also agree with the thoght that when it starts, it won't matter.

Have you noticed in competition how the buzzer cures arthritis, headaches, sore nuscles, and a bad night. Does me. And I think that same auto pilot wiil kick in.

If you enjoyed reading about "Practice rounds vs. the real McCoy" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!