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.38 SPL in a .357 revolver?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by LV_Tom, Jul 30, 2011.

  1. LV_Tom

    LV_Tom Member

    I inherited my brothers .357 Dan Wesson revolver. Most of the ammo that came with it is .38 SPL. I've been told that this will work in the .357 and is cheaper than shooting .357 ammo. Is this valid?
  2. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Well-Known Member

  3. LV_Tom

    LV_Tom Member


    It looks like a well manufacture weapon. I haven't fired it as of yet
  4. Josh45

    Josh45 Well-Known Member

    I can tell you that it is. I have a .357 GP100 and fired 45 rounds of .38 SPL without a problem.
  5. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    You can use any .38 Special ammo (including .38 Special +P) in a .357 Magnum revolver but not the other way around.

    Also, like above you can fire any .44 Special ammo in a .44 Magnum and any .45 Colt ammo in a 454 Casull.

    As a matter of fact, you can fire .45 Colt, .45 S&W (aka 45 Schofield) and 454 Casull ammo in the .460 S&W Magnum revolver.
  6. bigggbbruce

    bigggbbruce Member

    I prefer 357 in my 357 cause 38spl just doesn't have the same pop...

    But I load 38spl in 125gr to +P and just a touch hotter (.1 or .2 gr more) and get enough zip to make it better... I like 158gr in 357 but in 38 it just seems weak...

    Heavier bullets use less powder... factory 125 +P are alright as well...
  7. baylorattorney

    baylorattorney Well-Known Member

    What he said +1
  8. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    The only downside is the carbon buildup just in front of the .38 Spl case mouth. If left unchecked it can make chambering .357 difficult and make pressures go up due to the restriction.

    Clean it out every once in a while and no worries. Millions of .38 Spl rounds are shot through .357's, if not billions.

    A search will bring up many discussions here on the subject. :)
  9. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Well-Known Member

    Way back in the 1930s the .357 Magnum was developed as a way to give the .38 Special more power, without blowing up weaker .38 Special guns. They slightly legnthened the .38 case to create the .357. This was not done to increase the powder the case contained, it was to insure that .357 would not be loaded into .38 special chambers. They intended for .38s to be used in .357s as a way to make the guns more versatile.
  10. retDAC

    retDAC Well-Known Member

    There used to be a writer named Russ Gaertener. In one article he mentioned he discovered the hard way shooting a lot of +P .38s in an unplated carbon steel .357 cylinder can literally corrode the small areas of chambers where the case mouths of .357s would normally cover the chamber walls. Seems this was in a Model 27 or 28 Smith. He did not say whether he left it uncleaned and it got damp or if this was merely from firing.

    I can still look it up if anybody cares.
  11. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    Please do look it up. I find it hard to believe that if it were such a problem that so many would fire so many rounds of .38 special out of so many .357's with so little publicized problems if it were even half that much of a problem.
  12. splithoof

    splithoof Well-Known Member

    I have fired thousands of .38 Specials in a S&W 28, and that gun shoots like it was new, just a bit smoother. Same for a 686 and a few carbines.
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Well-Known Member

    Because I like to shoot both .38 Specials and .357 Magnums in my magnum revolvers I carry a simple little fix for the carbon ring "problem." I carry a fired .357 Magnum case with a chamfer in my range bag. If I get a carbon build up in the cylinders all I need to do is insert the case in in each charge hole and it will clean out the carbon ring. If the fouling is extensive all that's required is a slight tap on the case to remove the carbon. Problem solved...
  14. Sunray

    Sunray Well-Known Member

    "...Is this valid?..." Absolutely. However, if you ever decide you want to shoot .357's, you'll have to clean the cylinders first. Shooting .38's in a .357 leaves a lube gunk ring(not carbon). Not a big deal though. A .45 calibre brush cleans it right out with no fuss.
    When you start reloading, you can load .357 cases to .38 velocities with no fuss and it makes the lube gunk ring go away.
  15. LV_Tom

    LV_Tom Member

    Thanks for all of your input.
  16. Waywatcher

    Waywatcher Well-Known Member

    .38 specials are 100% ok to use in a .357 revolver. It is like shooting 2 3/4" shells in a 3" chambered shotgun.

    Over the last year, I have put about 4000 rounds of .38 specials through my GP100. I clean it every 150-200 rounds to prevent build up of carbon in the chambers. I have probably put about 300 magnums interspersed in the last year.
  17. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Well-Known Member

    In one article he mentioned he discovered the hard way shooting a lot of +P .38s in an unplated carbon steel .357 cylinder can literally corrode the small areas of chambers where the case mouths of .357s would normally cover the chamber walls.

    I have fired thousands of rounds of 38 in 357s including many +P and +P+ and never saw this happen. I oversaw several hundred revolvers which were fired the same way and never saw this in any of them, stainless or carbon steel. This is over a period of aboout 35 years.

    If you clean your revolver after you shoot you will have no problems with 357 being chambered. If you are having problems with this you are not cleaning often enough or well enough. I have often fired several hundred 28s in a 357 in one session and never had a problem as I cleaned the gun properly after use.

    I think too much is made of this "carbon ring", "residue" stuff because people don't clean their guns properly and/or often enough.
  18. The Lone Haranguer

    The Lone Haranguer Well-Known Member

    The only thing to watch for is carbon/lead buildup behind the chamber shoulders if you wish to switch to .357 Mag. Normal cylinder cleaning procedures will largely keep this at bay, however. Also, the lower powered round may not shoot to the point of aim, but the sights are adjustable.
  19. retDAC

    retDAC Well-Known Member

    Okay wlewisiii, I looked it up. Just for you!:D Took awhile to find it. :(

    Recall I stated he mentioned this in passing.

    In the Handloader's Digest Ninth Edition, copyright 1981 by DBI Books Inc., in an article titled "The Forty-One: All-Around Magnum", page 128, left hand column, fourth paragraph, starting in the second sentence:

    "... and only the mildest .38 Specials should be fired in .357 chambers. Full .38 loads can erode chamber walls ahead of the case mouth, as I discovered to my sorrow."

    Before anybody says (posts) anything, please keep three points in mind:

    1) I only mentioned this as maybe possible. Should have been specific about that. :uhoh: I and some of my friends have also fired lots of .38 Specials in unplated carbon steel .357 chambers with no noticeable erosion. Weird things do happen sometimes though. Maybe Gaertner had such an experience.

    2) Gaertner wrote this and two other articles I specifically remember. One concerned the conversion of a S&W M28 to .41 Magnum. The other about reaming forcing cones for better accuracy. In each of these he obviously put in a lot of study and showed experience and competence. I can still find those articles also if it matters.

    3) Of course I only know him through his writing. You and I only know each other through our writing. :eek:

    If something well outside the mainstream ever happens to any of you, do you want people to totally dismiss you and imply it's impossible because they haven't experienced it and never heard of it before?

    As Clint Eastwood once said: "Well do ya?" :what:
  20. SleazyRider

    SleazyRider Well-Known Member

    Good point, RetDac, and I'm impressed with your memory!

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