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Disadvantage of .38 in a .357

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by 2WheelsGood, Feb 22, 2011.

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  1. 2WheelsGood

    2WheelsGood Member

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    I'm new to the world of revolvers, so this may seem like a silly question. Is there a disadvantage to using .38 ammo in a gun that was designed for .357 as opposed to a gun designed specifically for .38?

    I notice that many revolver models come in .357 Magnum versions and .38 Special versions (SP101, LCR, etc.). So if there's nothing wrong with using .38 ammo in a .357, why do they even bother making .38-only versions?
     
  2. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    It will build up crud in the 1/8" or so in front of the case where the .357 case goes. It needs to be kept reasonably clean and checked before firing .357s. It will have to be cleaned up good from time to time.

    Other than that, no negatives. :)
     
  3. Flint Ridge

    Flint Ridge Member

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    You will also miss out on a lot of recoil, noise and weird looks from the early rounds when they presume you blew up your gun. You will also be forced to shoot it a lot more.

    95% of my work is with the .38 special and then some .357 for fun - but for me it is not a house round.
     
  4. Frozen North

    Frozen North Member

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    38 special revolvers are built much lighter. They are often more easily concealed and less brick like in your pocket. Less pressure with 38 = less metal in .38 revolvers.
     
  5. 2WheelsGood

    2WheelsGood Member

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    Not always true, and largely why I'm asking. A Ruger SP101 is the same weight for a .38 and a .357, so why would you ever buy the .38 version? I mean, even if you never planned on shooting .357, why limit yourself? It just seemed like there must be a good reason. I can see Walkalong's point, but that still doesn't seem like a good enough reason to choose a .38.
     
  6. Jeff H

    Jeff H Member

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    The LCRs aren't the same guns. The 357 is beefier. The SP may be the same gun but you have no idea if the 357 version was heat treated to a higher degree to withstand the pressure.

    Walkalong explained the only real down side and to answer your question a little more bluntly: if you are willing to do a little extra cleaning, then there is no reason not to buy the 357 version. If you are interested in these light guns, you'll probably be shooting mostly 38spec anyway. I don't think 357 in the LCR sounds like a lot of fun.
     
  7. DickM

    DickM Member

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    There are some who assert that the longer bullet jump (distance from the ogive of the bullet to where it engages the forcing cone and rifling) when a .38 is fired in a .357 chamber degrades accuracy. I can't say I've noticed that to be the case in any of my .357s, but 99% of the time I'm firing handloads made up to duplicate .38 Special in .357 cases, specifically to avoid the crud buildup that Walkalong mentioned (which is real, even though some claim it doesn't happen).
     
  8. dogngun

    dogngun Member

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    I have been shooting Specials in Magnum revolvers for maybe 40 years

    .38's in .357's as well as .44 Spls in .44 mags..To me this versatility is part of the reason I like the magnum revolvers. I carry specials in my magnum revolvers and use the magnum rounds for special occasions- hiking or hunting, or traveling. I would not use magnum rounds in a house gun or in a gun I carry when just going about my normal business. The .357 Mag was developed for police use in the 1930's because it would shoot through car bodies reliably and give LEO's of the time some means to combat the car bandit gangs of that period. So I generally save the mag loads for when I really want to shoot through cars, which is not frequently.

    But I want the strength of the magnum revolvers and I like the ability to choose which round to use.
    Just my opinion, but that's what you asked.

    mark
     
  9. sagebrushjim

    sagebrushjim Member

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    dogngun hit the nail on the head..... my reasoning also .....:)
     
  10. BossHogg

    BossHogg Member

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    If I buy a 357 it's going to be a heavy gun so I can actuality enjoy shooting the 357. The 357 in light guns are no joy to shoot for me. Light weight 38 spl are great to shoot and carry. The 38 versions are usally cheaper than the 357's even more so in the used market.

    I love it when people say buy a light weight 357 because you get 2 guns in one, and shoot 2 rounds of 357 and switch to 38 's and never fire another round of 357.
     
  11. 2WheelsGood

    2WheelsGood Member

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    And that's what I was thinking, but then it seems silly to buy--or even make--a version of the same gun in a .38 only. So I figured there must be a good reason. Apparently not. What DickM said about bullet jump is what I was thinking may be the case.
     
  12. bayhawk2

    bayhawk2 Member

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    The Ruger LCR is a perfect example of your question.
    It originally came in .38 SPL. (only).Then for unknown reasons,
    Ruger came out with the same weapon that shoots .357 Magnum.
    Since it shoots .357 Mag.,it will also,(as in many .357 mags)shoot
    .38 spl.Thing is they are basically the same price.Now many stores
    are stuck with the .38 spl. only weapons.You can find the
    .38 Spl. version almost anywhere,but the .357/.38 version is
    selling so fast,that it is hard to find.bayhawk
     
  13. 2WheelsGood

    2WheelsGood Member

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    In the case of the LCR, though, they are slightly different. Steel instead of aluminum, and 4 ounces heavier. You're right, the LCR is a good example. But what makes a lot less sense to me is something like the SP101 that's been around for a long time, still available in both versions, and the weight is the same for both. I guess it's possible there is some other difference I don't know about. Well, I think it's a few bucks less for the .38 version.
     
  14. CajunBass

    CajunBass Member

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    Because their marketing research and no doubt sales figures tell them there is a market for both.
     
  15. bayhawk2

    bayhawk2 Member

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    2 wheels-I see what you mean.The SP-101 comes in
    38 Spl.,and .357 Mag./.38SPL.
    I would guess as to the replies,that the .38 Spl.
    version,vs. the .357/.38 is a(distance)bullet travel to the
    barrel chamber thing.I would think pressues and
    accuracy would be of some significants if you are
    looking at the .38 ballistics in the two.
    P.S. That was a good question.It may change my decision
    on what Ruger LCR to buy.bayhawk
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2011
  16. bayhawk2

    bayhawk2 Member

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    C.B.-If ballistics are a factor in the two .38 rounds,
    then that would certainly make sense.
     
  17. Old Ranger

    Old Ranger Member

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    A steady diet of .38 spl in a .357 cylinder can erode the chambers. Cleaning helps, but a LOT of shooting can do some harm.
     
  18. DickM

    DickM Member

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    I've heard this before, but I don't see how it can be true. Nobody claims that shooting .357s in a .357 will cause erosion, and it's the same steel, just 1/8" different in location.
     
  19. Uteridge

    Uteridge Member

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    Shooting .38's in a .357 will not erode the chamber unless you refuse to clean your firearm. It happens the same way that you will get pitting in the barrel if you shoot it forever and never clean it. If you take care of your revolver there is no reason to avoid shooting .38's in a .357 unless you have extra cash in your pocket when you buy ammo and you need to lighten your wallet by buying more expensive .357 rounds.

    The plus side of shooting .38's is you can practice more often (cheaper ammo) and you are less likely to develop the j-frame flinch that you can observe every time you go to the range and see someone shooting a small revolver with .357's. If you are a new shooter then you are much better served by shooting .38's for practice.
     
  20. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Jeff Cooper said the disadvantage of being able to shoot .38 Special in a .357 Magnum revolver was that it led to practicing with the cheap comfortable stuff and being shocked by blast and recoil when you had to defend yourself with full charge ammunition.
     
  21. zxcvbob

    zxcvbob Member

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    I practice a lot with light-to-medium 38 Specials, a little with .357 Magnums, and I use .38 Special +P's for HD (I practice with those some too, but not much.)
     
  22. 2WheelsGood

    2WheelsGood Member

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    There's definitely some wisdom to that, but it's true with all guns that you should practice at least some with your chosen SD ammo.
     
  23. Lucky Derby

    Lucky Derby Member

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    AFAIK the SP101 has not been available in .38 Special only in a long time. It was first offered in .38 and later became available in .357.
    Often a .38 version of a gun is slightly smaller and lighter than the .357 counterpart. Think S&W M15 .38 and M19 .357.
    Also quite often a .38 can be had cheaper than the .357 version, although that makes no sense from the manufacturer's standpoint, it does from the buyer's standpoint.
    Sometimes the .38 version is for a specific contract with a LEA or private security company who do not want their officers to be able to load .357 ammo against policy. The GP100 and 681 .38s fall into this category.
     
  24. chriske

    chriske Member

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    No disadvantage at all that I could detect after doing it (shooting 38's in 357 M cylinders) for 20 years now.
     
  25. 2WheelsGood

    2WheelsGood Member

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    Both versions are currently listed on the Ruger web site. And there is a "buy now" button. http://www.ruger.com/products/sp101/models.html
     
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