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357 vs 38 vs 44

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by The Exile, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. The Exile

    The Exile Member

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    I don't know much about revolvers, can anyone give me some comparisons for these 3 (i assume the most common loadings) compared to auto loaders? Would 38 be comperable to 9mm or something? Maybe 357 is comparable to 40 cal?
     
  2. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    It depends on what you mean by 'comparable', but the easiest thing is comparing power. Also, which 44? 44 Special or 44 Magnum?

    A good to to compare is to download a catalog and compare actual ballistics the rounds produce. Check out Winchester here;

    http://catalogs.winchester.com/consumer/

    Download their catalog and check the handgun tables on pages 26 through 28.
     
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  3. Overkill870

    Overkill870 Member

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    Comparable? Yes.

    No. 357 magnum is on another level. It is similar to 10mm.

    Further comparisons...

    44 special is similar to 45 ACP.

    44 magnum is comparable too....I don't know, a 20 gauge slug? Lol
     
  4. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    357mag is pretty similar to 357sig
    38spcl is pretty similar to 9mm
    44spcl is pretty similar to 45acp

    I'm painting in pretty broad brush strokes of course.
     
  5. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    As you will see in ballistics tables, the 9mm Luger is much more powerful than the 38 Special. The 38 Special produces about 200 ft lbs of muzzle energy, and the 9mm produces about 350 ft lbs of muzzle energy. The 357 Magnum produces about 550 ft lbs of muzzle energy. These values are all based on velocities from 4" barrels.

    Of course, this depends on which ammo you compare, but's it's fair to say that the 9mm is about 1/2 way between the 38 Special and 357 Magnum.
     
  6. Mycin

    Mycin Member

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    Good stuff above related to power/energy comparisons.

    As for bullet diameters, which might also be of interest, 9mm, 380ACP, 38spcl, 357mag and 357sig all have about the same diameter bullet. (.355 - .357 inches).

    The 44 (Special and Magnum) bullets are .429" in diameter, so they fall about halfway between the 40 S&W (.400") and 45 ACP (.451) in terms of diameter.

    The 45 Colt revolver bullet is about the same diameter as 45ACP.

    For a given bullet diameter, revolvers are often loaded with heavier bullets than is practical in autos. For example, it's unusual to see 9mm loaded with bullets heavier than 147gr, while it's very common to load 158gr bullets in 38 special, and 180-200gr in 357 magnum. Roughly speaking, this is due to the longer revolver cases' greater volume allowing the heavier bullets to get moving without pressures peaking as quickly as in the shorter auto cases.
     
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  7. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Member

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    Grain for grain and same barrel length with maximum working pressure.

    38 Special is faster than the 9mm with a lower pressure.

    As far as I understand 45 Colt and 45 ACP use the same bullets.
     
  8. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    This does not compute. A 125 grain 38 Special runs about 850 fps from a 4" barrel (non +P) and a +P runs about 945 fps. A 124 grain 9mm runs about 1140 fps from a 4" barrel (non +P) and a +P runs about 1200 fps. Based on Winchester published ballistics.
     
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  9. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    The .38 Special case has much more powder capacity than a 9x19 and therefore can hold heavier bullets and drive them to higher velocities. While the heaviest bullet typically loaded in 9x19 is 147 grains, .38 Special cases commonly hold 158-grain bullets and 180-grain bullets. The .38 Special was originally a black-powder cartridge, which explains its large capacity. Early .38 Specials loaded with smokeless powder were limited to low pressures by turn-of-the-century metallurgy. On modern pressure testing equipment, this was equivalent to about 17,000 psi. By 1930 or so, many people were loading .38 Special to much higher pressures. S&W was selling guns for the high-pressure ammo, and there was factory ammo that was probably somewhere around 25,000 psi. Elmer Keith was shooting loads over 40,000 psi. These loads with large masses of bulky slow powders (it was Alliant 2400 in those days) would far exceed the ballistics of modern 9x19mm Parabellum and higher pressure NATO or +P loads. They were more closely comparable to what's now called .38 Super +P or .357 Sig. Not all .38 Special guns could survive with the pressure these loads produced. S&W produced two models based on their large (N) frame from 1930 into the late 60's, and Colt single actions were also capable of holding up to them. With the introduction of the .357 Magnum in 1935, hot loads with the .38 Special case had less attraction. Instead, .38 Special retained favor because it could be shot out of smaller K frame revolvers and it's low pressure and mild recoil made it pleasant to shoot recreationally, and easier to control in police qualifications or combat. Nevertheless, .38 Special gained a reputation for poor effectiveness. This was in large part due to lead round-nosed bullets. Several developments came out of this at different periods. At one point, S&W introduced the massively popular Model 19 -- a (smaller) K-frame .357 Magnum. The Ruger Blackhawk also popularized the .357 Magnum with outdoorsmen in a more affordable revolver. Those guns really increased the popularity of the Magnum but many people still preferred the .38 Special because not only was it easier to carry, it was easier to shoot. Another effort to improve the .38 Special was to increase pressure to 18,500 CUP (today measured as 20,000 psi) and this is given the +P designation. Also, semi-wadcutter bullets and later, jacketed hollowpoints were found to be more effective than round-nosed lead.

    Today, the .38 Special +P is limited to 20,000 psi by SAAMI specification. With a 4" barrel, it can propel a 125-grain bullet about 990 fps. This is not quite the velocity of 9x19mm with that bullet weight because 9x19 allows for 35,000 psi. However, .38 Special +P is overwhelmingly popular in guns with little 2" or shorter barrels and that further reduces its velocity substantially (by more than 100 fps with that bullet weight). From these pocket revolvers, it is rare to meet popular standards for penetration and expansion. Some people accept a compromise. They might choose to shoot non-expanding full wadcutters for penetration or accept unreliable expansion and/or penetration.

    Factory-loaded .357 can be too stout for comfortable shooting from a pocket revolver. That's why .38 Special +P remains popular. However, you can buy or load your own .357 Magnum that's somewhere between .38 Special +P and the hottest .357's. One way to explain it is like this. The difference between the lightest load in a .357 case and the hottest load in .357 Magnum, is far more than the difference between .380 ACP and .45 ACP. With a .357-rated gun, you can load anywhere in between.

    A lot of people that have shot a LCR in 9x19mm have found that 9mm is a pretty stout, high-pressure load when it's not dampened by a reciprocating slide. You can load .357 to have similar or slightly better ballistics than 9x19 -- obtaining an unquestionably effective defensive round with no more recoil than necessary. I recommend a >30 oz. revolver to shoot it. I think this is where the .357 makes the most sense in a defensive revolver: with a load like 158 grain going about 1050 to 1100 fps. This is where we can reliably attain maximum expansion and more than enough penetration. This is distinguishably more than 9mm and with a heavy steel revolver, it shoots very soft compared to a polymer 9. It's still 350 or 400 fps less than the full potential of .357 Magnum from a handgun. Those highest-end loads, maximized by long barrels are more suited to hunting or silhouette competition than defensive use.

    .38 Special +P makes some sort of sense from those little pocket revolvers, but the gun has this compromise in performance from the low-pressure cartridge, the short barrel as well as a short sight radius and usually poor sights and heavy trigger. It's a lot of compromises.
     
  10. Koroner

    Koroner Member

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    Uh,.. The Exile, what is the gun FOR??
     
  11. film495

    film495 Member

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    .38 is about as less powerful than 9mm as a .357 is more than 9mm - generally speaking. All dependent on what cartridge and barrel, but all things being generally relative, I think that is a fair comparison. If you're not familiar with revolvers - an interesting note is that you can fire .38 special rounds in a .357 revolver, but not the other way around.
     
  12. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Member

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    This is not Max for the 38.
     
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  13. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Member

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    BRAND: UNDERWOOD AMMO

    SKU: 128

    TECHNICAL INFORMATION
    • Caliber: 38 Special
    • Bullet Weight: 125 Grains
    • Bullet Style: Speer Bonded Jacketed Hollow Point
    • Case Type: Ducta-Bright 7a Nickel Plated Brass
    BALLISTICS INFORMATION
    • Muzzle Velocity: 1250 fps
    • Muzzle Energy: 434 ft lbs

    Email from Underwood:

    Yes, all of our .38Spl standard and +P loads are within SAAMI specs for pressure and length.

    We use a 4" barrel in .38Spl to measure velocity, with the exception of the 158gr Kieth-type where we use a 6".
     
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  14. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Member

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    +P+
    BRAND: UNDERWOOD AMMO

    SKU: 132

    TECHNICAL INFORMATION
    • Caliber: 9mm Luger
    • Bullet Weight: 124 Grains
    • Bullet Style: Speer Bonded Jacketed Hollow Point
    • Case Type: Ducta-Bright 7a Nickel Plated Brass
    BALLISTICS INFORMATION
    • Muzzle Velocity: 1300 fps
    • Muzzle Energy: 465 ft lbs




    +P
    BRAND: UNDERWOOD AMMO

    SKU: 137

    TECHNICAL INFORMATION
    • Caliber: 9mm Luger
    • Bullet Weight: 124 Grains
    • Bullet Style: Speer Bonded Jacketed Hollow Point
    • Case Type: Ducta-Bright 7a Nickel Plated Brass
    BALLISTICS INFORMATION
    • Muzzle Velocity: 1225 fps
    • Muzzle Energy: 413 ft lbs



    Non + P
    BRAND: UNDERWOOD AMMO

    SKU: 114

    TECHNICAL INFORMATION
    • Caliber: 9mm Luger
    • Bullet Weight: 124 Grains
    • Bullet Style: Nosler Jacketed Hollow Point
    • Case Type: Ducta-Bright 7a Nickel Plated Brass
    BALLISTICS INFORMATION
    • Muzzle Velocity: 1150 fps
    • Muzzle Energy: 364 ft lbs
     
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  15. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    There is no reason to believe Underwood or Buffalo Bore statements relating to SAAMI specifications. They are not members of SAAMI and I cannot think of a reason they could not make any statement they want without the approval of SAAMI. These are the members of SAAMI: https://saami.org/membership/member-companies/

    There is also rarely a similarity between any manufacturer's velocity claims and real-world performance. Whether it's Winchester or Underwood, they have often published velocity figures without reference to a barrel length or an indication of whether it was a revolver barrel with a cylinder to barrel gap or a sealed test barrel.

    This does bring up an academic point. If we were to test .38 Special in a sealed barrel without a gap, like on a Desert Eagle or Coonan pistol, we would probably see the performance is much closer to 9x19mm. But in real-world circumstances, the .38 is almost always shot out of a revolver barrel with a gap and it's also probably shot out of a shorter barrel than a 9x19 is typically shot from. With those parameters it is not as fast for the same bullet weight.

    I would not characterize the 9x19 as halfway between 38 and 357. In real-world guns, on my chronograph and not some data sheet or ammo box print, I typically shoot a 125 grain .38 at 950 fps. A 125 grain .357 goes 1700 fps. A .357 Sig is about half-way between those at 1325 fps.
     
  16. Daveboone

    Daveboone Member

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    This is always a heck of a hog wallow to explain to new shooters/ handgunners….as someone else mentioned, .380, .38 special, .357 magnum and 9mm all shoot basically the same caliber bullet....BUT>>>
    purpose, purpose, purpose! the .380 is a much lighter grain bullet designed for a much more compact round, purpose designed for a compact automatic with a hardball round (though hollow point, etc. are now available). The 9mm also design purposed with a hardball round, usually 115 grain to 124 grain hardball round in also, an automatic. The .38 special starts with a projectice of 125 grains up to 158 grain...less velocity but more weight. Then the .357: a stretched .38 case much beefed up. In the same boat, the 44 magnum is a stretched .44 special case.
    The most important thing for a new shooter is to identify what the purpose is, then start narrowing it down. Certainly (in my opinion) the very wide assortment of loads from very light target wadcutters in .38 special to full blown heavy magnum hunting loads in the .357 make it probably the most versatile first handgun for many...and many folks would justly say a .22 handgun is the best for a starter for ease of handling, expense, availability of ammo, light recoil and low muzzle blast.
     
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  17. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Winchester lists the barrel length of their tests in the catalog link I posted. The 38 and 357 are from a 4" vented barrel. The 9mm is from a 4" barrel.
     
  18. Blue Brick

    Blue Brick Member

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    https://www.thehighroad.org/index.p...-and-357-magnum-in-snub-nose-revolver.671206/

     
  19. Jessesky

    Jessesky Member

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    Underwood 357 SIG : 125gr @1475 fps
    Underwood 375 Mag: 125gr @1700fps

    Buffalo Bore 357 SIG: 125gr @1425fps
    Buffalo Bore 357 Mag:125gr @1700fps

    357mag, and 357sig are about as far apart as a 40s&w is a 10mm
     
  20. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    Define a general purpose, then narrow down a cartridge and a platform that houses it to shoot it from. Sometimes it's easier to go that route.
     
  21. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    Instead of driving yourself crazy with all the hypothetical "numbers", Id suggest finding yourself a good, 4" 357, and spend some time with it and figure things out for yourself. S&W or Ruger, are probably your best bet, but what ever floats your boat.

    You can shoot both 38's and 357's out of it, so you get to fiddle with two of the three calibers with one gun. I dont usually swap back and forth like that, but in this case, it will allow you to try both. Just make sure you clean the chambers out well after shooting a lot of 38's.

    44's are good too, but a bit narrower in scope and use, and require more from the shooter, especially with full power loads and shooting them in a manner other than fooling around target shooting, or one-sided hunting.

    I have all three, and if I could only have one, it would be a 357. 2"-4" K/L frame S&W to be specific.
     
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  22. Random 8

    Random 8 Member

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    .38...Mild and inexpensive to shoot. With top shelf defensive loads it's approaching 9mm from longer barrels, with the ability to sling heavier bullets. .38+p...fully equals 9mm with bullets to 124 grains, exceeds 9mm capability with heavier bullets. .357...exceeds 9mm loads across the board by roughly 20%. Suitable for lighter big game in the heavier bullet weights. .44 magnum...Heavy hunting caliber. Suitable for large big game, generally too powerful for self defense use except for bears and such.
     
  23. The Exile

    The Exile Member

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    Just trying to expand my knowledge, not in the market for a wheel gun currently but if I ever was it'd just be to complete my collection rather than for some practical purpose. For defensive purposes I'm a big believer that the order of importance is 1. big enough bullets 2. magazine capacity 3. biggerest bullets
     
  24. rdnktrkr

    rdnktrkr Member

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    I was at a LGS and noticed 44spec brass was more expensive than 44mag, maybe just a pricing error, I load 38sp and 357mag using the same bullets just different primers and amounts of powder, my loading is about 10% more for 357mag than a hot 38sp, I also load a light 38sp load that seams to get shot the most. You can load a 357mag to 38sp specs and a 44mag to 44sp specs but not vice versa. I think magnums need the longer barrels to burn all the powder whereas a snub nose 38 is good to go.
    I've always heard a +p 9mm betters a 38sp but I shoot a 38sp single action revolvers better than 9mm semis
     
  25. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Originally, 45 Colt groove diameter was .454 - .455. After WWII 45 Colt groove diameter was standardized at .451, the same as .45 ACP. So generally speaking today, if loading with jacketed bullets one chooses .451 for both cartridges, if loading with lead, one chooses .452 for both 45 Colt and 45 ACP. Generally speaking, 45 Colt bullets are available in two diameters; .452 and .454. However I always use .452. The larger bullets are theoretically for older Colts with the slightly larger barrel groove diameter.
     
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