Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

9mm vs .38

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by SniperStraz, Dec 24, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. SniperStraz

    SniperStraz Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Messages:
    853
    I was told by someone recently that the 9mm round is infact more powerful than a .38 in a 2'' snub nose. Is this true?! He said that in terms of shear fire power the 9mm wins. Can anyone give me more info? Thanx in advance.
     
  2. GRIZ22

    GRIZ22 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2006
    Messages:
    5,202
    147 gr Federal Subsonic 9MM in my Glock 26 gives about the same velocity as 147 gr Federal +P+ 38s in a 2 3/4" Speed Six. The 9mm has an edge in velocity over the 38. This breaks the 1000 fps figure most say you need for reliable expansion. If you look at the actual shootout stats they are both about the same as far as I'm concerned.
     
  3. hagar

    hagar member

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2004
    Messages:
    374
    Location:
    Columbia, SC
    You would be better off comparing the 38 special to a .380 auto. That is more of an even match.
     
  4. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,617
    Location:
    Alabama
    I think it depends on which 9mm loading or which .38 Special loading you're referring to. To say one is in generally more powerful or effective than the other would be hard to do. Some .38 Specials, notably the 158 grain +P "FBI" load have a proven positive track record. Some 9mm loads, I daresay, come fairly close to duplicating the ballistics of a few .357 Magnum rounds.
    Both rounds have really high potential. But, being handgun cartridges, both are underpowered in comparison to a long gun round.
     
  5. TOADMAN

    TOADMAN Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Messages:
    524
    Location:
    Daytona Beach
    I'll guess that the popular premium 9mm self defense ammo - on the average - has greater muzzle velocity - than the popular premium 38 spl self defense ammo.
     
  6. Jim March

    Jim March Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    8,732
    Location:
    SF Bay Area
    Toadman and the rest speak true, but I think there's more going on than just raw energy numbers.

    The 9mm projectiles have to be shaped as a compromize to ensure feeding. 38/357 projectiles don't. So in 38+P we see nose shapes that are completely incompatible with autoloaders, including the likely four best rounds:

    * Remington 158gr +P plain lead hollowpoint in a Keith semi-wadcutter profile.

    * Speer's 135gr JHP.

    * Winchester's 130gr "Supreme" that appears to be an ancestor of the Speer 135.

    * Buffalo Bore's hotter variant of the Remmie load above.

    Let me repeat: these are the best 38+Ps, and none would work worth a damn in 9mm due to feed reliability issues.

    In addition the BuffBore load breaks 1,000fps with a 158gr slug from a 2" barrel, putting it ballistically DEEP into 9mm territory and bordering on 9mm+P, at least from a short barrel.

    Nose shapes affect expansion reliability as much as velocity, and in nose shapes the 38+P (and 357 in some cases) trounces the 9mm.
     
  7. TOADMAN

    TOADMAN Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2005
    Messages:
    524
    Location:
    Daytona Beach
    For self defense, I use both the 9mm+P and 38spl+P...No worries..
     
  8. formerflyer

    formerflyer Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2004
    Messages:
    61
    Jim's point above about bullet profiles is well taken.

    I always equated standard .38 loads out of snub nosed revolvers as roughly equal to .380 ACP, +P or +P+ .38 loads out of a snub as as very similar to standard 9mm, and +P or +P+ .38 loads out of a 4" gun as roughly equal to +P 9mm.

    The auto has more ammo on board, is less prone to malfunction from abuse and reloads faster. The revolver can select more tailored bullets for different tasks and is less prone to malfunction from neglect.
     
  9. Confederate

    Confederate Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    Messages:
    3,198
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Yeah, if you go by velocity and bullet weight, the 9mm outclasses the .38. And I can say that Federal 115gr JHPs are a time proven round that, if used exclusively in 9mm pistols, would change that round's reputation overnight. I would especially like to see it used in military pistols and believe that not doing so puts our men needlessly in harm's way.

    That said, the configuration of .38 bullets also has to be taken into account. All said, I think the .38 bullets are probably more conducive to reliable expansion than most 9mm bullets. Certainly the high-capacity aspect of the 9mm makes it the preferred way to go. Still, shot by shot, I might prefer a hot .38 round.

    One problem with the 9mm was the poor pistols that initially were made for it. The Smith & Wesson 39/59 was an unmitigated disaster. It was only when the military began getting serious about it did we start to see super reliable automatics come into being, the first of which was the Beretta 92. Then, on its heels, the Smith & Wesson 459, 559, and 659. From then on, things just kept getting better. Now, almost anyone can afford an ultra reliable 9mm, one that will feed bullets of any shape and configuration.

    The ability to rapid fire these guns and to load 14-20 rounds into a magazine is a remarkable achievement. And 1911 pistols still have not equalled the reliability out of the box, yet they frequently command a much higher price. Why? Who knows?

    The .38 revolver is still a very decent way to go. Packing them in a good, solid .357 is even better.

    EQG_WSA9mm_1.jpg
    Reliability is just one aspect of what makes
    a good military pistol. What one shoots out of it
    is another matter. The 9mm ball ammo is
    horribly deficient. Most soldiers would prefer
    to use their rifles.
     
  10. brett30030

    brett30030 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    351
    Location:
    Buford, Georgia
    I am no ballistics guru. But i would like to see reference data to support the .38 snub = .380acp. And also data to support that autos are more reliable than revolvers. I own and shoot handguns in every caliber mentioned so far. :what:

    Since this is a revolver forum topic, i assumed the question was in reference to one of the revolvers out there that are capable of using 9mm ammo. I may be reading more into it, but since it does not reference a difference between the platform other than 2" snubby, it seems that the question is framed around the weapon being the same (except round), and only the caliber different.:confused:
     
  11. SniperStraz

    SniperStraz Member

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2006
    Messages:
    853
    The comparison

    was supposed to be b/w a 2'' snubby in 9mm and a 2'' snubby in .38 and or .357

    Thanx for the responses, keep 'em comin' please.
     
  12. Searcher1911

    Searcher1911 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Messages:
    14
    This is the same basic argument that was the rage of the gun magazines 30 years ago when the 38 was still a common police pistol. Now, the magazines all want to compare the 9MM and the 45ACP. I guess a good solid hit with any of them beats a near miss by the others. But, still, I think that: 1) for bullseye accuracy and user friendliness, the 38 Spl in a good revolver is the ticket; 2) for cheap shooting and mild recoil a good 9MM auto is great; 3) for ease of reloading and all around defense for an experienced shooter a 45ACP is the standard. I guess I like them all, some just more than others!
     
  13. georgeduz

    georgeduz Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    287
    Location:
    peoples republic of nj
    the 140gr bullets work great in 38spl,i like it better than the 9mm.but i go with 4 to 6 inch barrell
     
  14. Glamdring

    Glamdring Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    916
    Location:
    MN
    A Glock 26 is about same size & wt as a steel frame J frame. But the 9mm has a longer barrel for same OAL. Also doesn't have a B/C gap to lose pressure.

    I prefer 38+P myself but if your going on pure numbers, both MV and number of rounds, the small 9mm's have the advantage.

    Other point to consider is if you go with scandium/titanium you can have two 38+P loaded revolvers for about the same wt as one loaded Glock 26.

    Edited to add: Either on will work, and work very well. If you use the best loads. I would go with the one you can shoot better, for most people that will be the 9mm IMO.
     
  15. gandog56

    gandog56 Member

    Joined:
    Apr 5, 2006
    Messages:
    782
    Location:
    Mobile, AL.
    I shoot the best with my revolver. Beats the heck out of most of my semi-autos.
     
  16. McCall911

    McCall911 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2004
    Messages:
    1,617
    Location:
    Alabama
    Oops, I guess I overlooked that. Sorry.
    But what I said about the 9mm vs. .38 Special still stands. They'll just have a little lower velocity out of a 2" barrel, vs a 4" barrel.
    Anyway, not being a big snubnose revolver fan, I wasn't aware that there were any 9mm snubbies! Learn somethin new every day!
     
  17. Alan Fud

    Alan Fud Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    1,444
    Location:
    Sol-III
    Wouldn't that be true of any handgun?
     
  18. Confederate

    Confederate Member

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2005
    Messages:
    3,198
    Location:
    Arlington, VA
    Yes, but the 9mm got its bad reputation from ball ammo. The .38 Spc. was judged on a police comparison basis, which kept up with jacketed hollow points. The result is that the 9mm kept its horrible reputation while the .38 Spc. recovered.

    It wasn't fair. I think the .38 will be more accurate than the 9mm, all things being equal.
     
  19. Ichiro

    Ichiro Member

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2005
    Messages:
    286
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Just need someone with a 2" snubby in 9mm and .38, and a chrono, to chime in here.

    I would guess the 9mm is a more powerful round, but that the best rounds are comparable in performance.
     
  20. isp2605

    isp2605 Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2004
    Messages:
    1,333
    Please, "unmitigated disaster" is your opinion. I carried a 39 for several years as my duty gun and it was 100% reliable and very accurate, almost keeping up with my M-52. I carried S&W autos for over 26 yrs, 20 of those years as my issued duty gun. I carried them for 10 yrs while on SWAT, while running drug task forces, on patrol and while in investigations. I've run thousands of rds of +P and +P+ thru each of them without any problems.
    The differences between the 1st and 2nd gen S&W are minor with the most noticeable difference being the firing pin block. The grips and most everything else between the 1st and 2nd gen autos were the same.
    We were the first agency to issue the 39 starting in 1968 and stayed with it until 1981 when we went to 2nd gen S&W autos and then went to the 3rd gen when they came out. We issued the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen 9mm autos for over 32 yrs. Many of the modifications made between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd gen S&W autos were the results of recommendations made by our range officers.
    Also, your time line on the military going to the 92 and the 459 coming out is a bit off. The 2nd gen S&W came out about 1980. The military didn't go to the M-9 until 1985.
     
  21. LightningJoe

    LightningJoe Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2005
    Messages:
    796
    Location:
    The good part of Dallas (i.e. not Dallas)
    The 9mm out of the snub-nose might have less manageable recoil than the typical .38 Special defense load. As for the Buffalo Bore 20A20 super-hot LSWCHP, I wonder.
     
  22. Headless

    Headless Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2006
    Messages:
    636
    Interesting conversation; pitting BOTH from a 2" snub makes it quite interesting.

    My 659 never had a single misfire, misfeed, failure to fire, failure to eject...not a damn thing, across more than 10,000 rounds and 500+ at a time without cleanings...
    Until last ****ing weekend when i tried some UMC green box +P JHP's out of it...in 200 rounds flat i had TWO failure to ejects and the damn gun was so nasty from those filthy rounds that the slide didn't felt sticky when it tried to close :rolleyes:

    IMO, worry less about the caliber and more about the reliability of the rounds in your gun.
     
  23. Glamdring

    Glamdring Member

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2003
    Messages:
    916
    Location:
    MN
    Sorry missed the part about both being from snub revolver. 9x19 will still have better MV than 38+P.

    As soon as my buddy S & W 24 gets his Taurus snub 9mm out of lay away will run it and my 38 over a chrono.

    You can also check out Complete Book of Handgun, think was 3rd edition Author was Chuck Karwan he has a whole chapter on that very topic (ie snub 9mm vs 38).
     
  24. Phil DeGraves

    Phil DeGraves Member

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2006
    Messages:
    1,531
    "One problem with the 9mm was the poor pistols that initially were made for it. The Smith & Wesson 39/59 was an unmitigated disaster."

    You are wrong there Confederate. The 9mm has been around since 1908 and was chambered in the Luger, BHP, P38 Walther, Radom, Astra 600, Lahti, etc, etc, etc. long before S&W chambered their pistols for it. Obviously, you have never owned one of those m39s or 59s. I have had several and they were very good if not great guns. Illinois SP was the first LE Agency to use them very soon after they were released.

    As far as 38 vs. 9mm, the 38 has the edge in bullet weight and shape and the 9mm has the edge in velocity. Six of one, half a dozen of another. Neither is worth a darn if you can't hit what you aim at; both are fine if you can.
     
  25. Jeff F

    Jeff F Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,507
    Location:
    Silver Springs NV
    The 9mm is a high pressure round and the .38 spl is not. I have a blackhawk convertible .357 with the extra 9mm cylinder and 9mm ball kicked harder and was more snappier in recoil and louder report then .38 spl 158 gr swc.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page