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38 Special vs 357 Magnum - Snub Nose

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by marb4, Jan 29, 2019.

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357 Magnum or 38 Special +P From a Snub Nose?

  1. 357 Magnum

    36 vote(s)
    27.3%
  2. 38 Special +P

    96 vote(s)
    72.7%
  1. marb4

    marb4 Member

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    I recently acquired a Kimber K6s snub nose (2 inch) revolver chambered in 357 Magnum. I had the opportunity this weekend to fire a couple of different defensive loads from it into a block of fabric covered (4 layers cotton t-shirt) ballistic gel. I was trying to determine if firing 357 Magnum loads would provide a significant ballistic advantage over 38 Special +P. The two loads fired were Federal 38 Special +P HST 130 grain and Winchester PDX1 357 Magnum 125 grain.

    In the all steel revolver, the PDX1 357 was manageable but definitely stout. The +P 38s felt almost like a 22 in comparison. I shot the 357s ok but grouped the 38s much better.

    In gel, expansion for both rounds was nearly identical as was penetration. (38 +P - 13.5 inches, 357 Mag - 13.75 inches).

    My question is this - With nearly identical expansion and penetration, why would I choose the harder recoiling larger blast 357 over the easier to control 38 for defensive carry?

    I'm not necessarily advocating one round over the other, just genuinely curious.

    38 +P HST on Left -- 357 PDX1 on Right

    d02344e6a259089b8da93468a9ad05fc-full.jpg
     
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  2. George P

    George P Member

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    I wouldn't consider firing a harsher 357 in a small gun
     
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  3. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    "I shot the 357s ok but grouped the 38s much better."

    If the expansion and penetration are about equal, but you shoot the .38's better........I think you answered your question.

    Good luck with the Kimber!
     
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  4. marb4

    marb4 Member

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    Thats a good point.
     
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  5. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Personally I'd be more interested to see what the same 158 gr bullet would do in this scenario given different cartridges.

    Two inches is a short ass barrel for 357.
     
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  6. Drail

    Drail Member

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    OP - as the doctor said in "I Robot" - "now THAT is the right question"..... Two inches is ridiculous for a .357 revolver. I know this because I have owned several over the years. In low light you have no idea if you even hit the target because you are blind. This should be classified as a "flare gun" for search and rescue use..... or as a great fire starter.
     
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  7. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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  8. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    I like .357 snubs for shooting .38 out of because they tend to be heavier and tame the recoil a bit. I only load .357 as a wilderness belly gun of sorts. Lots of snorting and bluster without a huge boost in performance. Now scale up to a 5 or 6" barrel, and that is a different question.
     
  9. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    I won’t even buy a .357 in a J frame sized gun, especially if it’s an air weight type, because I just can’t stand the sharp recoil the small magnums generate. I’m flinching like a three year old getting a booster shot after 3-4 rounds, and to me that isn’t good at all. I do have medium frame magnums with 2”-3” barrels, but their greater weight and grip size makes handling the recoil easier for me.

    All my 2” carry revolvers are .38 Spl +p. I personally find that cartridge has the best balance of power vs recoil in a small ccw revolver.

    Others may not be bugged by the .357 recoil, and there is a versatility factor in a last ditch scenario that I can’t take advantage of as well. (Those aside, I’ll still stick to my .38s and feel good carrying same.)

    Stay safe!
     
  10. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Member

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    Are we intentionally cherry picking loads for a desired result? The .357 PDX load is only rated at 1325fps. I've clocked 125gr handloads at nearly 1500fps out of a friggin' 3" barrel model 60.

    The .357 has double the working pressure, greater powder capacity and the ability to utilize slower powders. Of course it is going to outperform the .38Spl, regardless of barrel length. Whether or not it's pleasant to shoot is an entirely different subject. ;)
     
  11. Arkansas Paul

    Arkansas Paul Member

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    Here's an interesting video on it.
    Paul breaks it down very simply for those not as experienced, so some of it will seem elementary. But it's worth watching I think.

     
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  12. Jack B.

    Jack B. Member

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    I bought a .357 LCR. I reload and wanted loads in between .357 magnum and 38 special +P. I was worried about a 38 special +P pistol might have troubles with hot 38 special +P loads so I bought the .357 magnum LCR so I knew it would be safe to handle hot 38 special +P loads. Worked out great.
     
  13. marb4

    marb4 Member

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    Not cherry picking loads. I just happened to have those two on hand and I found it interesting that at least in gel, their ballistic performance was essentially the same.
     
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  14. RedlegRick

    RedlegRick Member

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    Doesn't a steady diet of .38s in a .357 cause leading/erosion issues in the cylinders? I got rid of a H&R Sportsman because someone shot a bazillion shorts through it and created a permanent ring in each chamber.
     
  15. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Member

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    Leading isn't permanent
     
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  16. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    When I carried a J frame I loaded the first round with a magnum and the other four with 38. I figured the first shot was the most important one, so might as well stack the deck in my favor with the more powerful round.
     
  17. IdaD

    IdaD Member

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    I would want at least a 4" barrel on a 357. In the snub world I'd rather have a 38 +p or 9mm. Of course with the latter in the real world I'd opt to change the format to a semiauto but that's cheating the poll.
     
  18. BlueHeelerFl

    BlueHeelerFl Member

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    I did the opposite. 4 38's and the final round a 357. The first 4 would give me fast follow up shots and control. If you needed it the 357 would give the extra power to hopefully end the fight.

    The final round being a 357 would also give a clear indication that you need to reload
     
  19. mcb

    mcb Member

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    I have found this issue always over blown. I shoot thousands and thousands of hot 38 Short Colt in a 357 Magnum and 40S&w in a 10mm Auto revolver. Sure when I clean it I can see a slight ring where the shorter cases ends. I have shot enough of the short cartridges that the ring is basically permanently etch into the metal but it is simple a lightly etching of the metal and does not seem to effect function at all. I could grab a moonclip of longer rounds drop them into either gun right now and they would go in, fire, and extract just fine. I think this issue is often overblown on the internet. I have never suffered problems from shooting short cartridges in long chambers in a revolver, and I have done quite a bit of it.
     
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  20. Livin_Cincy

    Livin_Cincy Member

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    If you hand load you can have more fun with a 357.

    As noted, you can also load between 38+P & 357 pressures.

    I read and watched a few videos where they stated that the muzzle flash in darkness on a 357 is blinding. They also said the bark & thunder is also going to ring your ears to where you will not have hearing during that defense situation. This is why they said LEO's carried 38's in their new 357's. Now, if you were a LEO on day shift on highway patrol you would not have to worry about the issues.
     
  21. roo_ster

    roo_ster Member

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    To answer your question, given those two loads, run with the .38spl HST.

    That said, .357mag does out perform .38spl +P, even in snubbies. It also has ferocious recoil and blast. Usually the first thing someone does after buying and shooting a .357mag snubby is look for milder .357 magnums or peppy .38spl +P loads.

    And given that you can get some seriously peppy .38spl+P loads from Buffalo Bore and Underwood, I see no need for a .357mag snubby in my arsenal.

    Good luck.
     
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  22. SteadyD

    SteadyD Member

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    If I were inclined to shoot 357 in a snubbie, I wouldn’t go any lighter than the 23 oz Kimber K6s, and I would use the 125 grain Remington Golden Saber 357 Magnum. Of all the Magnums I’ve shot, it had the least recoil.
     
  23. RedlegRick

    RedlegRick Member

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    My old Sportsman didn't work well at all with regular .22lr as a result. I'd get a cylinder or two through it okay, then they started sticking badly. Granted, my old revolver dated to 1936 and probably had thousands of shorts shot through it before it ended up with me, but it was an issue. No return at the lgs here, so I was stuck with it and chose not to throw money at it. But it did seriously affect my gun.
     
  24. mcb

    mcb Member

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    That was probably due to corrosion after being left dirty with corrosive powder and priming compound residue. Modern propellent and primers make that a non-issue.
     
  25. labnoti

    labnoti Member

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    You're only comparing two different loadings of one cartridge that can span a range of muzzle energy, and power factor and use a variety of bullets that is wider and greater than .380ACP to .45ACP and everything in-between, and then nearly double that again. While you can come to your own conclusion which of those two cartridges you'd prefer, it wouldn't have much bearing on the rest of the .38's or .357's.

    If you just acquired the K6, I would suggest that training and practice are more important than high-performance ammunition and that once you've shot it more extensively you could better evaluate a variety of ammo for carry. It certainly makes sense to start with lower recoil ammo and a lot of people find that's the best choice for that size gun. I would suggest upgrading the gun size and weight before a big increase in the ammo energy. The K6 is touted as the smallest, lightest 6-shot .357 there is. That doesn't make it the best candidate to tame the .357 Magnum.
     
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