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357 vs 38 vs 44

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

  1. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    I buy all my brass from Starline.

    Just checked, 44 Special costs $105.50 for 500 pcs, $181.50 for 1000.
    44 Mag costs $105.50 for 500, $183.50 for 1000. So slight savings in quantity with 44 Special, perhaps because it uses slightly less material.

    Midway is charging $49.99 for 100 Starline 44 Specials.
    Midway is charging $49.99 for 100 Starline 44 Mags.

    Any lower pricing at the local level for 44 Mag might reflect a higher demand for 44 Mag.
     
  2. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Don't know where you're getting your numbers for Starline 44 brass at Midway. I see a price of $22.99 for 100.
     
  3. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Oh my goodness. So many variables.

    Note: velocities and energy are at the muzzle. No mention of how long the barrels were.

    I did a quick check of some Winchester white box ammo.

    Disclaimer: these are only, in my experience, the most common loads. Not necessarily SAAMI Max.

    38 Special 158 Grains, 755 fps, 200 foot pounds.

    38 Special Plus P 158 Grains, 890 fps, 278 foot pounds.

    9MM Luger 115 grains, 1190 fps, 362 foot pounds.

    44 Special 240 grains, 750 fps, 300 foot pounds.

    357 Mag and 44 Mag I gave up because there are so many different loads.
     
  4. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Yup.

    Perhaps the first time I have ever made an error.

    It appears the Midway price for 100 pieces of Starline 44 Special and 44 Mag brass is $29.99.
     
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  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Revolver cartridges like 38, 357, and 44 can be loaded to very different power levels. A typical 38 special cartridge is most closely related to a 380 from a semi. But there are loads all over the place, some that are pushing 357 mag performance.

    Take the numbers you see published with a grain of salt too. Most of the published data you see on revolver cartridges is from 7.5" or 8" test barrels. Almost no one carries around an 8" barreled revolver. Lengths of 2.5"-4" are far more common and the real world speeds will be much slower.

    Published data from semi's is usually from 4.5" or 5" barrels. Pretty close to what people actually carry and the published speeds are pretty accurate with what you see in the real world. It should also be noted that a semi with a 4" barrel is about the same size as a revolver with a 2.5" barrel. Semi-auto pistols rely on the cartridges to be within a fairly narrow range of pressures in order for the action to cycle so you don't see huge swings in power levels with semis.

    If you compare 9mm +P 124 gr loads you see speeds right on the heels of typical 357 mag loads when fired from 4" barrels (less than 50 fps). Most 9mm loads will actually beat most 357 mag loads when fired from barrels less than 4". In a nutshell the best 124 gr 9mm loads will do anything a 357 mag will do with 125 gr bullets as long as the barrel is 4" or less. A 40 S&W with 155 or 180 gr bullets will do anything a 357 mag will do with 158 or 180 gr bullets. If you go to a 6" or longer revolver barrel then you see the 357 mag pull away in performance.

    44 special and traditional 45 Colt loads are pretty much equal to 45 ACP. But 45 Colt loads ( in a suitable revolver) can be loaded to exceed 44 mag loads. At least by a bit.

    Shoot those 357 mag loads from a revolver that is the same overall length as the pistol firing 357 sig loads. When you do that the 357 mag will have no more than 50-75 fps more speed. AND, if you can actually get 1700 fps with a long barreled revolver what to you gain. The bullets are designed to expand between about 1000-1400 fps. Shooting them faster just means they blow up on impact and don't penetrate.

    Where those hot loads by Buffalo Bore and others have an advantage is with heavier bullets, not 125's at that speed. The Buffalo Bore 9mm 147 gr loads at about 1100 fps have shown they will penetrate over 5 FEET and have stopped brown bear attacks. The 357 mag 180 gr Buffalo Bore load at about 1300 fps from a 4" barrel should be slightly better.

    The best 40 S&W 200 gr loads are 1100 fps, 1300 fps from 10mm. About the same speeds as you'll get from 200 gr 357 loads.
     
  6. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    Barrel length is everything when it come to revolvers and fancy bullets, It takes velocity to blossom those trick bullets. A +P .38spl in a four or six inch barrels will be far more reliable than in a 1-7/8" snubbie. Without the velocity generated in a longer barrel the other way is to use very lightweight bullets, but that opens up other problems,
    I find that big and slow is the way to go for most of my purposes nowadays (but not back when my duty revolver was a.357 Maggie.) YMMV of course.
     
  7. skeeterfogger

    skeeterfogger Member

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    Try to find a Ruger Single Six 375 with a 9mm cylinder too. That way you can experiment with 38, 38+p, 9mm and 357. Later if you choose you can get a 44 mag and shoot 44 specials too. You will find the consideration ends up the use. 38 is sufficient close in. 38+p extends that a bit. 357 with 158 jsp will be sufficient as 38 and +p but has more range and will perform good for game up to large deer. 44 mag carries effective impact weight out even further and will severely get the attention of pretty much anything in North America. 45 LC is compatible in effect.
    IMO 9mm, 38, 38+p mainly self defense. 45 ACP, 40 and 10mm too.
     
  8. tomrkba

    tomrkba Member

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    38 Special was the 9x19mm of its day. Terminal ballistics were acceptable and the recoil was light. 9x19mm in a Glock 19 or similar fills the same role today. (Underwood's loadings excepted...they are crazy.) .

    357 Magnum, conceptually, was developed for heavy duty use. Obviously, the rest is history.

    44 Special grew out of 44 Russian and was considered anemic for awhile. See Skeeter Skelton's notes on it. They hot rodded it, improved the bullet design and generally made it more effective. Some other folks came along and came up with 44 Magnum to get even heavier loads.

    Skeeter Skelton talks about 357 Magnum and 44 Special:
    http://darkcanyon.net/skeeter_skelton.htm

    So, 38 Special is like 9x19mm conceptually. People like light recoiling cartridges and 9x19mm has been optimized. The great thing about 9mm is that the frame can shrink to a little tiny pocket gun to a full sized double stack STI with 27+1 capacity.

    357 Magnum exceeds both significantly and beats 10mm. It definitely beats 40 S&W and 357 SIG. A direct comparison would be 9x23mm which shoots a 125 grain bullet at 1,450 FPS. 9x25mm Dillon takes velocity to a ridiculous extreme.

    44 Special is much closer to 45 ACP with the capability to exceed 45 ACP with the correct bullet and charge.

    44 Magnum is all by itself, but can be downloaded to 44 Special levels (900 FPS) and hot rodded with 240 grain bullets. It can handle up to 325 grain (or maybe 340) bullets.

    If you have no idea what to get, buy a revolver in 357 Magnum. It's very versatile and you can shoot 38 Special ammunition if you want light recoil. The larger frame 357 Magnum revolvers, such as the Ruger Redhawk and S&W N-Frames (27, 627) soak up the recoil for a more pleasant shooting experience. Many people like the Ruger GP100 and S&W 686. Both offer six and seven shot cylinders. Both frames are good "happy mediums" that carry and shoot well. The N-Frames require a little bit more work to hide and carry.

    If you prefer to go big or go home, get a gun in 44 Magnum. Look at the Ruger Redhawk and the S&W 629. 4" barrels are about right, though some folks like a 5" barrel. 4" guns are easier to carry, so I go with those. I have a 3" 629 and it's nice too. It comes out of the holster faster. The good news is you can shoot 44 Special or Georgia Arms 240 grain FMJ 44 Magnum (1,000 FPS) for very mild shooting. I like Federal American Eagle (AE44A) as a good compromise round since it launches a 240 grain bullet at 1250 FPS. There is some recoil there, but it's manageable and you can still shoot fast with it.

    If I were a cop who had to carry a revolver, I'd carry the S&W 327 TRR8 in 357 Magnum since concealment isn't needed. If I were a detective or similar who had to conceal on a daily basis, I'd choose a S&W 686+ with 3" barrel. Either gun would have Herretts Stocks fine checkered Jordan Trooper grips.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
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  9. The Exile

    The Exile Member

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    This is a great way to explain something I've had a hard time trying to get across to a lot of folks, at least as far as pistols go. I live in a safe neighborhood and I don't use a gun for work but there's just something cool to me about a gun that could be used in some kind of duty scenario; something that you would be content to strap onto your belt if you were some kind of old west deputy with modern tech. Eh, but people start looking at you funny when you say that the wrong way, but I guess I can't blame them.
     
  10. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Original .38 Spl, what oday'st watered down production calls .38 Spl +P was every bit the superior of any 9x19 Luger. Still is, with run of the mill stuff from my understanding. The original .357 Magnum would blow clean through an engine block, from my understanding. The weak stuff today is still the vast superior to any semi suto round, exception being the .50 AE. Or that might be the .50 Beowulf. One of em. Anyways, .44 Spl comes out at or slightly above .45 Automatic. .44 Magnum blows every handgun cartridge I know of except a handloader's .45 Colt, the .480 Ruger, .500 S&W, and one or two others out of the water. I'll suited for defensive use against a human, but good for bear; from my understanding.
     
  11. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    "Try to find a Ruger Single Six 375 with a 9mm cylinder too. That way you can experiment with 38, 38+p, 9mm and 357."


    It's actually a Blackhawk, no offense intended. Coincidentally, I took mine to the range a couple of weeks ago, and my friend brought his 357 LCR.

    I must not have shot them back-to-back before, so I was surprised that the 9mm had noticeably more recoil than the 38 special (both were cheap storebought range ammo). Both calibers were fairly mild in a 6.5" Blackhawk, of course. My friend noticed the recoil difference right away, too. They shot to pretty much the same POA, though. I have no clue about their speed or energy. They both poked holes in paper just fine. :)

    The 357 comparison was fun. Out of the LCR it was controllable by both of us and we could both get reasonable "combat accuracy": a palm-sized group quickly fired from seven yards. I wouldn't call the recoil brutal. I definitely felt it, but it didn't hurt. Still, a few cylinders was plenty enough for me. Both of us are "old guys" and revolver guys. Beginners might enjoy it a lot less. 357 was NBD in the Blackhawk. It obviously had more recoil than the 38 or 9mm, but still NBD. At the short range of seven yards either of us could shoot a group where the holes were all touching or almost touching, but that's kind of a silly distance for a long-barreled heavy revolver with real sights.

    To repeat what others have said, in my largish revolvers, 44 special, 45acp, and "normal" 45 colt all feel the same to me. In my little Charter Arms snubbies, the 44 special and 45acp are noticeably more spicy, but not annoying. Each one feels about the same as the other.

    44 magnum is a whole different ballgame. I shot a cylinder full through a smaller revolver once, and am not interested in doing that again. In my large revolvers (N-frame, SBH, SRH) it has a lot of muzzle rise and some "flash". It doesn't hurt with a big heavy revolver and grips that fit you correctly, but the recoil is amusing. My friend and I might whoop a little sometimes, and my FiL had a (very) rare smile on his face the first time he tried it. I've never shot "hot" 45 colt rounds, but I've heard they can be loaded to "around or nearly" 44 magnum levels if you're using a Blackhawk or Redhawk or something else that's very sturdy.

    If there's no pictures it didn't happen:

    This Blackhawk didn't come with a 9mm cylinder, but I found one on Ebay and it fits. (I've heard that this is not always the case.) It was made in 1973 or so, and was shot a lot before I bought it. It still shoots just fine. It doubtless will outlast me.

    If you want to shoot 44 magnum comfortably, this is a pretty good choice. I got a 9.5" Super Redhawk used for cheap because the LGS couldn't sell it. It's huge.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
  12. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Very little of that is true. Your 'understanding' is mostly mythology or simply wrong, except that the big bores are suitable for defense against bears.

    Do some research on these calibers so you can deal with facts instead of mythology.
     
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  13. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    I have a 6.5" barreled Ruger with 38/357 and 9mm cylinders.

    The average muzzle energy with 5 factory 357 Magnum loads was 651 ft lbs. The least powerful was a Geco 180 grain Hexagon bullet at 541 ft lbs, the most powerful was a Remington 125 grain SJHP at 838 ft lbs.

    The average muzzle energy with 5 factory 38 Special loads was 259 ft lbs. The least powerful was a Federal 148 grain wadcutter bullet at 185 ft lbs, the most powerful was a Winchester +P 125 grain JHP at 321 ft lbs.

    The average muzzle energy with 7 factory 9mm Luger loads was 380 ft lbs. The least powerful was a Browning 147 grain FMJ bullet at 294 ft lbs, the most powerful was a Winchester 124 grain NATO load at 453 ft lbs.
     
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  14. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    Only thing in err was the "engine block" affair. Everything else, is true.
     
  15. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    Technically no, too much room for argument, but you have the right idea about performance being in categories and allowing rough comparisons of recoil levels, the experience of shooting, not so much the pressures, velocities, and bullets' performances. Yes...what gun will you like and choose to shoot, given your premise that ammo is store-bought or comparable ("common loadings")?

    The real issue is from your first sentence. I would offer that 38 and 9mm have the same general shooting impression, but depending on many factors. 40 S&W is a step up from 9mm, but I wouldn't relate it at all to magnum loads in the 357, where more than others it will be important to select a gun with some size and weight to it to make recoil manageable and shooting it seem like fun. I have a micro 40 Kahr PM40, a P40, and a Glock Model 22 (in 40), all shooting very differently, with the smallest gun being a little beast with any serious load. It requires a lot of practice, with the 9mm version a better all around gun. Any smaller ".357 Magnum" is actually a 38 Special capable of firing .357 Magnum. A "real" .357 Magnum is a medium to large frame with some extended barrel length, 4" minimum unless loaded using fast powder, probably a lighter bullet, with milder resulting performance.
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2019
  16. Mike in Western Oregon

    Mike in Western Oregon Member

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    I have nothing to add other than I really appreciate the comments and the civil discourse. On most other sites, this would have degenerated into an unrelated argument about Ford VS Chevy and internet fistacuffs would have broken out. Thanks for keeping this civil. I personally prefer the old standards of 158 grain 38s and .357.
     
  17. Hanshi

    Hanshi Member

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    It really does depend on the load and type of bullet. A good way to compare is with velocity with bullet weight. 9mm bullets are usually lighter than the .38/.357; and the velocity - again depending on load - is roughly similar with the same weight bullets in the 9mm/.38 spl. My .357 loads gives a 160 grn swc about 1450 fps and a JHP 158 grns about 1250 fps. These are just MY handloads. The .41 mag. With a 220 grn swc bullet I get 1420 fps and with a 210 grn JHP it's 1280 fps. The .44 mag. With a 265 grn cast swc my load gives 1200 fps; with a .200 grn JHP about 1510 fps and the 240 grn JHP comes in at 1400 fps. My .45 Colt gives a 260 grn cast swc 1250 fps and my .45 acp load scats a 200 grn lead swc out of the barrel of my 1911 at 820 fps. Factory ammo will give widely different speeds as will handloads used by others.
     
  18. peterk1234

    peterk1234 Member

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    The 357 mag revolver is a special gun, at least for me. You have the option of shooting a fairly powerful round capable of plenty of destruction, or load it with 38 special and have it feel like you are shooting a 22. Then, to add to the fun, the same 357 and 38sp loads can be fired out of a lever action rifle. Now, where this/these rounds really start to shine is when you start to reload. Probably the best bullet to start reloading is the 38sp/357. Your choices of the type of load to develop almost seem endless. And it is fairly safe, especially if you load 38sp and shoot it out of a revolver capable of handling 357mag.

    I think much the same can be said for the 44, but my understanding that it can become quite unpleasant to shoot as 4inch barreled revolver. Discomfort leads to less accuracy. Full disclosure; I never shot one.

    Big, big fan of the 357 mag revolver (and the lever action rifle in the same caliber).


    Pete
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2019
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  19. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Naw, if you shoot 44 Specials, or 44 Magnums loaded to 44 Special levels, a 4-inch 44 Magnum revolver is a real pussycat. Now if you're talking full-house (250gr bullets over about 20 grains of 2400) 44 Magnum loads in a 4-inch revolver, yeah, that will get your attention.:D
    Back when we were shooting IHMSA, my wife literally sent thousands of 220 grain bullets over 22 grs of 2400 downrange from a 10.5" Ruger Super Blackhawk. Nowadays, the arthritis in her right thumb joint reminds her of the thrill of tipping over 10, 200 meter steel rams in a row. She still has one of her Super Blackhawks, but she had a 6" barrel installed on it, and she only runs 44 Special loads these days.:)
     
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  20. RealGun

    RealGun Member

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    44 Special and 44 Magnum are very different experiences. A gun dedicated to 44 Special can be a smaller frame and lighter gun than a 44 Magnum. Unless a 44 Special is alloy and very light, there should be no problem with flinching and intimidation. 44 Special is very routine to reload, but you will find neither components nor boxed ammo at just any gun shop or website like you could expect with 38/357.
     
  21. desmobob

    desmobob Member

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    .452 and .454 bullets will drop straight through the cylinder throats of my 1990s Colt SAA .45. I've never slugged the barrel but I should...
     
  22. desmobob

    desmobob Member

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    I think a 4" adjustable-sight .357 is a great first choice for a shooter wanting their first revolver and is a solid part of any handgun "collection." (For a newbie, a 22LR/22WMR combo single action is a great way to start.)
     
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  23. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Many 2nd Gen Colts (those made from 1956 through 1975) tend to have oversized chamber throats. Indeed, a .452 bullet will drop right through the chambers of my 2nd Gen Colts. I seem to recall their chamber throats are around .455 or so in diameter. This is another reason why some shooters prefer a .454 bullet for 45 Colt. I don't own any 3rd Gen Colts like yours, so I cannot verify if they have oversized chamber throats or not, but I suspect yours does. I have slugged the barrels on most of my 45 Colt chambered revolvers, Colts, Rugers and Uberits. They pretty much all have .451 barrel grooves. Except for one C&B 44 Remington which has tight grooves about .449 if I remember correctly. I use the same .452 bullets when I fire it with a 45 Colt conversion cylinder. Yes, most '44' caliber C&B revolvers are actually 45. That's why they can shoot 45 Colt with a conversion cylinder.

    In a perfect world. chamber throat diameter should be the same, or maybe .001 or so larger than barrel rifling groove diameter. A good indicator of the correct sized bullet for any particular cylinder is to drop a bullet into the chamber, as you probably did. The correct diameter bullet will hang up slightly in the chamber throat. Slight pressure should push it through. If a lot of pressure is needed, the bullet is too large, and if it falls right through, the bullet is too small.

    I have always chosen to load .452 bullets in my 45 Colt cartridges, both with hardcast bullets for smokeless and soft bullets for Black Powder. I could always buy .454 bullets if I wanted to. Back when I was casting my own bullets I could have sized them to .454 if I wanted to. I simply got in the habit of shooting .452 bullets through the oversized chambers of my Colts. Accuracy has always been good enough for my purposes.
     
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  24. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    The .357 mag is one of those calibers everyone should own, in my view. For inside the house, the .38 Spc makes a lot of sense. For camping, hiking, hunting and fishing, and for cross country trips in the car, the .357 is a great choice. It's good for bears and cougars, and for feral dogs.

    The problem with modern .357s is that most modern revolvers are too heavy for carry, having ridiculous underlug barrels that are great for shooting at the range, but bothersome for outdoor use. If I were to buy one, I'd look for a good S&W Model 66 or stainless steel Ruger Security-Six. In the 1980s, gun magazines showed these guns being used outdoors. But these articles stopped (fairly abruptly) when the heavy Ruger GP100s and S&W 686s appeared. In all fairness, I think the 686 is the BEST .357 ever made. It's easily as accurate as the Colt Python, and it has a better action. Ruger, however, never should have abandoned the Security-Six. It was a better gun. The GP100, in my opinion, is a boat anchor! I don't think it's as accurate as the 686 and, like the Security-Six, it favors heavier bullets.

    But I don't think the GP100 is near as good a gun as the 686 or the Security-Six. And the Security-Six is the finest, most durable, gun one can find for outdoor use, and it's a superb house gun. The S&W 65/13 was the gun I recommended to those looking for a good drawer gun. The .357 has the greatest stopping power of any gun then available, and it's still the king, though the 9mm and .38s are nothing to sneeze at. I wouldn't use the .357 for house use, though.




    --
     
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  25. desmobob

    desmobob Member

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    I share Confederate's feelings. I treasure my S&W Model 66-2, but feel guilty when I shoot .357 magnum loads through it (how can you have a .357 mag and not shoot magnum loads, at least a cylinder full on each range trip?). The 686 is a very fine revolver, but not a handy to carry as a 19/66.

    If I had more money to spend, I'd likely buy one of the new Model 66 revolvers.
     
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