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38/357 Accuracy

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by GunLvrNLearner, Sep 18, 2008.

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  1. GunLvrNLearner

    GunLvrNLearner Member

    Aug 14, 2008
    Is shooting 38 ammo out of a 357 less accurate than shooting 38 from a 38?

    I've heard it but wasnt sure if it is true

    I ask because if one were to get a 357 but almost always shoot 38 ammo seems like getting a 38 may be the better choice
  2. Matt-J2

    Matt-J2 Member

    Nov 12, 2007
    Appleton, WI
    I know this very issue was discussed in it's own thread a few weeks ago. I wish I knew the exact title to give you, but the search function may be of use. Meanwhile, I'll search as well.
  3. rswartsell

    rswartsell Member

    Mar 4, 2008
    North Carolina
    The answer to your question will obviously depend on the specific ammunition involved and on the specific revolvers. That being said I have heard the reasonable theory that since the .38 spl. case is 1/10 shorter than the magnum, when fired from a .357 cylinder the bullet has further to travel down the wall of the cylinder before meeting the forcing cone and engaging the rifling of the barrel, slightly effecting accuracy.

    This would seem to be the only factor in a very general comparison of the 2 possibilities (.357 cylinder or .38). In my mind the fact that the "interruption" is occurring PRIOR to bullet contact with forcing cone and rifling the detrimental effect is limited.

    I do know that excessive gap between cylinder and barrel assembly will have a detrimental effect on accuracy but that really seems to be a different issue. In such a general comparison I personally don't believe that the .38 has a built in disadvantage in accuracy of any great extent by coming from a .357 cylinder. For practical purposes I would call them equal in accuracy potential.

    My experience in shooting them both through the same gun seems in line with this opinion.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2008
  4. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

    Dec 3, 2005
    The end of the road between Sodom and Gomorrah Tex
    Depends on the gun. I had a Ruger Security Six that wouldn't group .38s into less than 3.5" at 25 off a rest, and that was wadcutters! I'd shoot 1" with a 140 Speer magnum load. I had a M19 Smith that would shoot 2"+ with specials, wadcutters and about an inch and a half with magnums. I got a Rossi M971 that'd shoot 2" groups at 25 with either, pretty decent. Then, I got a Taurus M66. That gun shoots the 140 Speer OR the .38 wadcutter into little sub 1" clusters when I can concentrate enough. The gun is more accurate than me with either load. That's the one I have kept. I have a 3" version of that 66 that is only slightly less accurate. Those Taurus 66s are amazing, most accurate medium frame .357s with either mag OR special that I've ever fired. I also have a 6.5" Blackhawk in .357 that will put .38s into about an inch and a half. Magnums are 1" out of that gun or slightly less. I don't really own that one to shoot .38s from, though. It eats a lot of hot 180 grain XTP hunting loads and my 158 SWC load and darned few .38s. It's a beast, can handle the pounding that would crater a K frame. I hunt some with it and carry it afield on occasion.

    So, in general, I don't think this old axiom is necessarily true. It all just depends on the particular gun, I think. It does require an elevation adjustment to switch from one load to another except in my 3" M66 which, for some od reason, shoots just a hair lower with wadcutters than .357s, not enough to mess with the sights over. I have the sights on that Ruger and my other Taurus marked for .38 or .357 elevation for easy reference with the elevation screw.
  5. easyrider6042004@yahoo.ca

    easyrider6042004@yahoo.ca Member

    Mar 28, 2008
    As other posters have said, yes. I think other factors have a bigger effect on groups. I simply do not shoot that well to see much difference.

    The beauty of a .357 magnum firearm is the fact that you can indeed shoot both 357s and 38s in it.
  6. Hawk

    Hawk Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Grand Prairie, TX
    Colt made a .38 specific target Python and Freedom Arms offers a .38 special cylinder for the .357s. That would lead me to believe that in the rare air breathed by the accuracy specialists there is indeed something lost shooting .38 out of chambers designed for .357s.

    But it's a difference I couldn't appreciate.
  7. WheelgunZealot

    WheelgunZealot Member

    Sep 11, 2008
    If it does make a difference I'm not a good enough shooter to tell.
  8. Zeke/PA

    Zeke/PA Member

    Feb 24, 2005
    Southeastern Pa.
    I shoot quite a few .38 Special reloads thru my 686 and it dosent seem like accuracy is affected.
    However after a range session of shooting commercial hard cast semi- wadcutters, a thorough cleaning session is in order.
  9. AH-1

    AH-1 Member In Memoriam

    Jul 25, 2005
    hmmmm my 6" python 357 sure likes wc's in 38 special brass:).

    50 rd group.


    Last edited: Sep 19, 2008

    MMCSRET Member

    Feb 18, 2008
    North Central Montana, across the Wide Missouri
    I have and shoot several of each and I'm not good enough to tell the difference.
  11. jfh

    jfh Member

    Aug 28, 2003
    Maple Plain, MN
    In the short-barrel revolver reloading project I am working on, I have watched for this question--which, I'll call "which caliber of the two is more accurate."

    The results are entirely unscientific so far, and is limited to reloads built around ballistic criteria for PD loads. But it is my impression that

    1. The 38 Special round--for example, a 158-gr. bullet running at about 800+ fps from a 2" barrel--is more accurate.

    2. The 357 Magnum round is inherently more accurate at higher ballistics--for example, a 158-gr. bullet running at 900 fps (example 1) or 1000 fps (example 2) again, from a 2" barrel.

    As for the question of which cartridge in a 357--AFAICT, it is entirely specific to a given firearm.

    Jim H.
  12. ZeSpectre

    ZeSpectre Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    Deep in the valley
    I go with "depends on the gun and the ammo".

    I have an old Ruger Security Six that is a tack driver with just about anything.

    I have a Ruger Blackhawk that is a tack driver with .357 and just "decent" with .38 special until you get into the heavier bullets.
  13. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    It's hard to tell since .38 Special target rounds are so much easier to shoot than .357 Magnum rounds. I can shoot both well because i shoot a lot but the casual shooter will probably be more accurate with the .38 Special ammo in a .357 Magnum.

    Unless you have 2 cylinders for the same revolver like mentioned above and use a fixed rest to test it's very hard to tell.
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