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38 special vs. 44 special

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Revolver Ocelot, Apr 24, 2008.

?

which do you think is better?

Poll closed May 1, 2008.
  1. .38 special

    65 vote(s)
    28.9%
  2. .44 special

    110 vote(s)
    48.9%
  3. neither, give me my 1911

    50 vote(s)
    22.2%
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  1. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Member

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    I voted for .38spl even though I will admit that the .44spl is probably a more effective round given same shot placement and all else being equal. I'd pick it for either SD or "combat" over the .44. This is why.

    For SD/CCW, it's darn easy to conceal a 642/442/638/637...any j frame, than it is to carry a .44spl. Even something like the CA Bulldog, or the S&W 696 have medium sized frames. The tiny J frames are just that much smaller, and easier to carry (therefore more likely to be on me when I need it!)

    On the other hand, there is "combat." The most capacity I can think of in a .44mag/spl revolver is 6 rounds. However S&W's 627, and Taurus' 608 are 8-shot guns. Forgetting their capacity to load .357mag, let's only look at .38 since that is the topic. The .38spl is going to have almost no recoil in those large frames so follow up shots will be easy, and for the same sized frame that would give me 6 shots of .44spl, I can get 8 shots of Buffalo Bore's 158gr. SWCHP that leave a 4"bbl pulling 1162 fps.

    Is the .44spl more effective? probably.
    But to me, that difference is counterbalanced by the concealability/weight of a .38spl for CCW, and the capacity of the large framed .357/.38 guns for combat.

    All this is also compounded by the fact that since I am not a reloader I have to consider that I can shoot nearly 2 boxes of .38 for every one box of .44. That means better shot-placement on my part which as far as I'm concerned, is going to make the difference in the fight a whole hell of a lot more than the .072 caliber difference between the two.
     
  2. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

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    That's what I figured. :cool:
    If you'd given the choice of .357 Mag, the little bar next to the .44 Spl would have been much shorter IMO.

    :D
     
  3. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    I think you forgot another option, I mean I got two hands
    P4260104.gif
     
  4. Revolver Ocelot

    Revolver Ocelot Member

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    thats a very strong point you have there.
     
  5. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Member

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    That also solves the capacity issue I mentioned above.

    Mavracer wins!!!
     
  6. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    Both! The .38 is cheaper and faster to shoot (notice 7 shots) The .44 has more smack and is slower to shoot.

    P1010500.gif
     
  7. Revolver Ocelot

    Revolver Ocelot Member

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    what models are those gordon?
     
  8. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    Yeah, like I said, I wouldn't buy a big N frame in .44 when I have a little SP101 in .357 Magnum, much easier to carry and with more "stopping power" than PigPin's .45. :D And, it don't jam on hollowpoints.
     
  9. Harley Quinn

    Harley Quinn Member

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    I have noticed a return to the 44 spl. seems like the Charter arms 44 is one that is around more and more. Not a bad ankle gun. I know a guy who uses it as his back up. Likes it, ammo is scarce compared to other stuff. But he is happy with it. :uhoh:

    Regards
     
  10. bruss01

    bruss01 Member

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    I have a Bulldog .44 and I can honestly say that despite having 14 various handguns in our home, when I've truly felt that I NEEDED a gun, the Bulldog was always what I reached for.

    It's very light and concealable, with a potent manstopping round on tap. It fits my hand and aims well. I could sit here for an hour and critique it on all kinds of technical grounds, and my criticisms of it would be valid - but I won't. The truth is, despite it's many shortcomings, I do have confidence in it to get the job done. The money I saved on the gun (it cost me $250 new about 4 years ago) I have easily spent on ammo. I'm partial to the Speer 200 gr HP's and I have about 1000 of them waiting to be reloaded, so I'm set there.

    Even though I "know" that .38 special has served a lot of people very well, I just don't have the level of confidence in that round that I have in the beefy .44 special. I do like this round, and the Bulldog, despite it's many shortcomings, has been there when I needed it. That's a combination that I have grown very fond of.
     
  11. Gordon
    • Contributing Member

    Gordon Contributing Member

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    Those are 18oz unloaded Scandium 296 (.44spl) and 242 (38+p) guns thatt are based on the S&W L frame. They have no locks. I preferfer to carry them hooked into pants top with the attached clips to save holster weight and bulk. They are the only guns I carry in that style.
     
  12. Viking6

    Viking6 Member

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    I voted for .44 special; have a Charter 2000 Pug but generally carry a S&W 637 for ease of carry
     
  13. Dave Baird

    Dave Baird Member

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    This has been a very informative and supportive thread for a fella that just purchased a vintage Charter Arms 1st variation 3" Bulldog .44.:) I have carried many calibers over the years, even in my short stint in law enforcement, including the .357 125gr. JHP. Yesterday, I took my new purchase to the range for the first time and WOW :what: ! It's a cannon!:D I find the .44 200gr. JHP just a little harder to handle than the .357, but pretty close. If my Bulldog was as heavy as the S&W 587 I used, the recoil would have been about the same, in my opinion.

    As far as stopping power, I prefer a larger bullet so I voted forthe .44. We have talked about this before, but I envision a large low power cartridge great for self defense. For offensive work, say in the military, I would opt for something with more penetration like the .357 or even the 7.62x25 Tok.

    JMHO! Dave
     
  14. Revolver Ocelot

    Revolver Ocelot Member

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    I agree 110%, the people of the highroad have collectively more information pertaining to firearms then can be found anywhere else on the web.
     
  15. Evyl Robot

    Evyl Robot Member

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    Can I say that I love both? .44 Spl is about 1/3 CUP as .44 Mag, as I recall. Anybody reload and split the difference? I think that would be one BA round. Still VERY controllable, but more speed than factory specials. I love my M&P, and I love shooting .38 Spl from the wife's N-frame, and my L-comp. :D Granted, I like Magnum loads, but as far as Specials are concerned, this is like apples and oranges.

    This is what I'm talking about. Defense? .38, because it's more concealable. Combat? .44, because it's bigger and heavier. Granted, .38 Special was good enough for law enforcement for how many decades? Still, I like full-sized bullets like .44's.

    Last time I bought ammo, "nearly" was not part of this sentance. I would substitute that for "at least." It's breaking my heart not to be shooting the big-bore as much as I would like, but I suppose that it's more important to eat than to shoot. Unless, I'm shooting at what I'm going to eat...
     
  16. Wildfire

    Wildfire Member

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    Still .38.

    Hey again:
    I read most all of these and must agree with all of these. But , I had a Bull Dog and will admit it felt great and made me feel very safe. But then I got the silly idea of firing it. 240 grainers coming out of that thing are absolutly no fun at all and to be right up front I would have had a hard time getting off a "good" second shot. Even the smaller .38s will jump around some but nowhere near what that crazy Bull Dog would. It was a good gun but is long gone. I carry a Kimber Ultra carry . Have for 10 years now. I love it.
    Good luck.
     
  17. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    I carry a 296 (See Gordon's picture.) with Speer 200gr Gold Dots (Georgia Arms) some days, a 642 with Remington R38S12 +P 158gr LHPSWC (aka the 'FBI' load) the rest of the time. As shown below in Mikas' pocket holsters, the 296 fits ~75% of my britches front pocket, while the 642 so holstered will fit everything. Both say 'Howdy!' when shot from those AirLite/AirWeight revolvers.

    Now, the only .44 Special round available locally from something other than a gunstore is the Blazer Al-cased 200gr GDJHP (Academy Sports/Outdoors), and they are off my 296's Ti cylinder's diet after one split in my 696. Those hotter than usual .38's are around - and not a bad choice for a man-stopper. I'd opt for either an 8-shooter 627 Pro or 7-shot 620, 4"-ers in SS both, as a better combat gun, of course. Effective, available, and easily obtained decent ammo. I may not always have my basement ammo factory!

    Of course, for any likely 'combat' I may need as a civilian, these should suffice:

    IMG_0206.jpg

    Stainz
     
  18. TonyB

    TonyB Member

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    GET A GLOCK....SOMEONE HAD TO SAY IT.
    seriously.....I carry a 38 90% of the time,but also have a Bulldog that a carry too....I like them both....now if I KNEW I was gonna have to shoot a bad guy..the 44spl.....but the 642 is lighter and smaller.
    Of course in reality if I KNEW i was gonna have to shoot a BG..I'd stay home.
    So can I vote twice?Like I'm from Chicago??:uhoh:
     
    harvester likes this.
  19. Tropical Buzz

    Tropical Buzz Member

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    How much does it really matter?

    From Brass Fetcher:

    44 SPECIAL

    Cartridge : CCI Blazer 200 grain Gold Dot hollowpoint (part # 03556)

    Firearm : 44 Magnum revolver with 4.0" barrel.

    Bullet impacted at 905 ± 0.500 ft/sec. Expanded diameter was 0.671 ± 0.0005".
    Bullet penetrated to 13.75 ± 0.031". Pictured at far left in photo
    .


    .38 SPECIAL

    Firearm : .357 Magnum revolver with 4.0" barrel length

    Shot 1 : Remington 158gr +P LHP ("FBI load" Part #R38S12) impacted at 932 ft/sec and penetrated to 15.6". Bullet was recovered at 0.636".


    Cartridges - Various .38 Special from a 4" revolver

    Firearm - Smith and Wesson revolver with 4" barrel length

    Block calibration - All depths corrected (From 10.3cm @ 605 ft/sec)

    Shot 1 - Buffalo Bore 125gr +P (Part # 20B). Impacted the block at 1287 ft/sec, penetrated to 15.8" and was recovered at 0.593" average diameter...


    Various other .38spl rounds were tested - some penetrated more and expanded less. Performance looks pretty close to me.
    Both .38spl rounds penetrated deeper than the .44.

    The .44 has more kinetic energy, you say?
    Well, no handgun has enough energy to even push a man backwards, let alone knock him down; and forget about hydrostatic shock. So, other than bragging rights, what does it really matter?

    The .44 makes a bigger hole, you shout?
    The difference in out of the box bullet diameter between .38 (.357") and .44" is .083" folks! That's EIGHT HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH!! The expanded .44 at .671" is .035" bigger than the expanded .38 FBI round and .078" bigger than the Buffalo Bore 125gr. round. LESS THAN EIGHT HUNDREDTHS OF AN INCH!
    How much more tissue is being destroyed? How much faster will blood loss occur? Very, very little; and variables like actual location of the wound and physiological differences from one shootee to the next reduce these differences to effectively zero.

    Am I saying that the .38 is better? Not at all. What I am saying is that when you look at the terminal performance, one will kill a BG just as dead as the other. The effective bullet size (caliber) difference is way less than most think and kinetic energy is not a huge factor.

    With handguns, it seems that once you surpass a certain, basic performance threshold (.380?), what really matters is how well a particular platform works for you (configuration, concealability, recoil levels), how well you choose your ammo for that caliber and how well you ultimately use the gun.

    Just for fun, here are some figures for the venerable .45ACP from a 5" barrel. Penetration is generally less with equal or slightly greater expansion. Looks like the ol' .38spl can hold it's own here too!:D

    Cartridge : Various .45ACP JHPs

    Firearm : Recoil-operated handgun with 5.0" barrel length

    Shot 1 : Federal Personal Defense Hydra-Shok, 230 grain JHP, 13.3" penetration, 0.711" average diameter.

    Shot 2 : Speer GoldDot, 200 grain +P JHP, 14.0" penetration, 0.675" average diameter.

    Shot 3 : Speer GoldDot, 230 grain JHP, 12.9" penetration, 0.704" average diameter

    Shot 4 : Hornady XTP, 230 grain +P JHP, 12.6" penetration, 0.770" average diameter
     
  20. mavracer

    mavracer Member

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    so I was right!!!!
     
  21. Revolver Ocelot

    Revolver Ocelot Member

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    I guess you could say that, but then again I'd imagine shooting both would be better then just the one....to bad we don't have a 3rd hand to hold the 1911 :scrutiny:
     
  22. Revolver Ocelot

    Revolver Ocelot Member

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    just curious everybody, if I were to go in search of a 44 special for ccw would I be better off picking up a 296 or one of the current production 396 night guards, or is there something better I should look into?
     
  23. AStone

    AStone Member

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    Question: 38 special vs. 44 special?

    [​IMG]

    Also, note the time stamp.
     
  24. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    The 11% greater wound channel area of the 200gr GD .44 Special simply implies more rapid blood, etc, loss - while the greater kinetic energy helps break/sever bones. Of course, the greater penetration of the 'FBI' .38 Spcl load means a higher likelihood for an exit wound - and another hole. My money is still on the .38 Special... but I'll still carry that 296 .44 Special with the 200gr GDs when I can. I am one of the few who in the last 101 years still like the .44 Special, despite it's less than stellar capabilities.

    I still say that the new 627 Pro, a 4" 8-shooter, would be a great sidearm. As to relative sizes of it vs a 686, compare them closely. There really isn't that much difference - especially with Ahrends stocks on both. For home use, etc, those FBI loads are fine. If you expect body armor or fleeing felons hiding behind metal car doors, use .357Ms for what J. Edgar wanted them for!

    Stainz
     
  25. AStone

    AStone Member

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    So now, I have to wait until 3:57 am
    to make the next trump. :rolleyes:

    Naw, not worth it.

    I'm going to bed.

    <yawns>

    I'll sleep with a .38 spl,
    and comfortably so. ;)

    Nem
     
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