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.38 Special+P vs. .357 Magnum

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by jkulysses, Apr 8, 2010.

  1. jkulysses

    jkulysses Well-Known Member

    Is the .38+P sufficient in a 2" revolver for self defense concealed carry or should I just put the .357 Mags in there? I tried searching but wasn't having much luck. I'm picking up my new revolver tomorrow and not sure which rounds to pick up for when I actually carry it. I got a few boxes of regular .38 Special just so I can get used to the gun but haven't bought any actual self defense rounds yet.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2010
  2. Gryffydd

    Gryffydd Well-Known Member

    If the gun takes both, buy and try both. If you the 357 rounds work for you--recoil isn't too bad and you can still make followup shots quickly, might as well carry them. You may find the experience is less than pleasant though. Not to mention issues with too much muzzle flash and eardrum busting loudness. There are a lot of good reasons to carry .38s for defense even if the revolver can shoot 357s. But to answer your first question, yes, .38+P is definitely sufficient.
  3. 243winxb

    243winxb Well-Known Member

    For defense, bullet design is very important. Federal Hydra-Shok JHP work well. .38+P is sufficient in a 2" revolver for self defense concealed carry. Recovery time from recoil is important. Depending on the weight of your firearm, you might not evey like the +P. My 10 oz. gun is a handfull.
  4. jkulysses

    jkulysses Well-Known Member

    It's fairly heavy so shouldn't be as bad. It's like 26 oz which is right up there with the Ruger sp101 lol.
  5. hydraulicman

    hydraulicman Well-Known Member

    my ruger sp101 roars with .357 mags

    I load 38s for self defense because i can shoot them better with my weak hand if need be

    351 WINCHESTER Well-Known Member

    Years ago I tried to master a 2 1/2" model 66 with remington 125 full house loads. The gun crapped out on me around 350 rounds and no I never mastered it. Way too much recoil and muzzle blast.

    Now, if someone was on top of me betting the hell out of me a .357 would be a very good thing to have.
  7. Steve C

    Steve C Well-Known Member

    A snub nose revolver is a compromise where you give up power for portability. There is significant velocity loss of about 150 to 200 fps from a 4" barrel when you drop to a 2" barrel. You can buy some pretty hot .38 spl loads from Buffalo bore that will approach what you would probably get from a mid range .357 mag and and make up most if not all the 2" difference. They definitely have more pop to them than the .38 +P offerings from the major manufacturers.

    The more powerful and theoretically more effective ammo is going to produce more recoil, flash and muzzle blast that is amplified in a short barrel pistol. As Gryffydd posted, its best to try some different rounds out to see if you can tolerate this and want to shoot them.

    In selecting .357 magnum ammo the 125gr Remington Golden Sabers may be a good option as they are loaded to a mid level velocity of around 1,220 fps from a 4" barrel while the typical full power 125gr mag is loaded to 1,450 fps.

    Ammo is probably over thought for civilian self defense, its psychologically about what gives confidence to the person carrying it. Ammo selection is much more important to those in Law enforcement who run towards danger. Even a mild wad cutter load or the often maligned 158gr LRN will work for self defense under most circumstances. Now that is the logical rational mind talking, because I don't pay much attention to it and still want the most effective ammo I can carry.

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    I find that it is more important to have an accurate and controllable load, i.e., one that you can 'rapid-fire' the cylinder-full and still be COM within 21 feet, than it is to have a 'Bazooka' that is deafening, has about a 12" group at 21 feet and takes a second or two to get situated back on target with the thing due to all the recoil, muzzle flash, etc.

    Besides, the calmer loads will make your gun last longer -- especially over severely, extremely POWERFUL loads that seem impressive! A steady diet of those and you can loosen up a gun in no time!:eek:

    BADUNAME37 Well-Known Member

    bump - double post - please delete
  10. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Well stated post and I agree as long as the .38 Special +P ammo you are using will perform well from a short barrel. (like the FBI Load, 135gr Speer short barrel ammo and a few others)
  11. Old Shooter

    Old Shooter Well-Known Member

    Yes, 38 Special +P will work fine for your 2" revolver for self defense loads.

    .357 will work just as well with a lot more flash, bang and boom without much if any improvement in performance at self defense ranges.

    Try both. My choice is the .38 Special 158 gr SJHP but others prefer the .357. with 125 gr JHP.

    I can rapid fire the 38's with good recovery and on target accuracy, I can't do that with the hot 357's.

    Your results may be different.
  12. joneb

    joneb Well-Known Member

  13. TonyT

    TonyT Well-Known Member

    I stick with 38 Special loads in my snub nosed revolvers. The report of 357 Magnums in those short barreled guns is more than I can tolerate and I am unable to adequately control those light revolvers with 357 Mag ammo.
  14. RebelRabbi

    RebelRabbi Well-Known Member

  15. angel1216

    angel1216 Well-Known Member

    both are proven to be effective! you can't go wrong with the gold dot short barrel. 38+P or 357.
  16. T.A.Sharps

    T.A.Sharps Well-Known Member

    Everything stated above is accurate...

    ...but as this is a CCW question, there could be a Legal hassle using a .38spl in a .357, or using a magnum cartridge at all.

    Generally it is a good idea to use the round the gun was made for. And to stay away from magnum rounds. For no good reason, just that it would be something to give a prosecutor an inch of meat to bite on too.
  17. Hondo 60

    Hondo 60 Well-Known Member


    Huh? Sorry but I don't follow your answer. If the gun in question is a 357 magnum, how can you...

    Maybe I'm just thick. but that doesn't make sense to me. (Not trying to flame, just trying to understand)
  18. AKElroy

    AKElroy Well-Known Member

    Do you have any evidence to sight for this claim? I am aware of exactly ZERO such prosecutions, and studying this topic is pretty much my only hobby. Using .38 spl loads in lighter .357 chambered guns is an extremely common and prudent practice. How it could paint one as bloodthirsty escapes me.
  19. Hey_Allen

    Hey_Allen Well-Known Member

    .38 special is also listed as an approved cartridge by the manufacturers of the said .357 caliber guns, to the best of my knowledge.

    Personal preference, I carry .38 special in my SP-101, rather than .357 mag, for the same reason as many above.
    With .38 special, I can control it and keep it on target.
    When I have the .357 mag rounds going downrange, it's definitely a good bit more difficult to keep on target, and I'd hate to hear it without plugs in!

    Personal ammo preference, Hornady Critical Defense, and Winchester PDX1. Whatever floats your boat, though.
  20. OYE

    OYE Well-Known Member

    357 Magnum Velocity Variation in Different Guns-different barrel lengths.
    Speer Manual # 12 has an interesting article on Page 435 by that title. They tested 27 different .357 handguns with the same load in 3 different bullet weights. Worth a read.
    Example: 158 grain spread in the 6 in. barrel models was 1002 to 1284 fps
    Example: 158 grain spread in the 2.5 in. models was 989 to 1034 fps ( Whoa !!!!!!)

    Wouldn't want to get hit with a +P or a 357. Doesn't seem consistent with being alive.

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