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

Is a 357 mag snub worth it?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by strat81, Dec 15, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. strat81

    strat81 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Messages:
    3,912
    Location:
    Nebraska
    I tried a search and did not find an answer...

    Is a 357 mag snub worth it for CCW? I'm referring to smaller, J-frame type revolvers loaded with 357 magnum ammo. So many threads mention how a magnum cartridge needs a longer barrel to achieve it's full potential and that 357 snubs kick like a mule and make a whole lot of noise and fireballs. For concealed carry purposes is .38 special +P adequate?

    Please note, I am only questioning the value of a 357 in snub-nosed (>3" barrel) weapons. I fully realize and respect how capable it is when fired from a longer-barreled gun.
     
  2. up_onus

    up_onus Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Messages:
    316
    Location:
    Reno
    I own a .357 Smith-Wesson Airweight.
    The question really is.... Do you want a range gun? Or a CCW gun.
    Bad range gun- Not pleasent to shoot.
    Good CCW gun, Its so small and light, you wont mind carrying it at all.
    I have read much on this topic, and since a vast majority of "gunfights" happen within 7 yards, and less than 3 shots fired....AND! since I will HOPEFULLY and PROBABLY never use the thing, seems a good tradeoff.
     
  3. Ben Shepherd

    Ben Shepherd Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,755
    Location:
    Utah
    Practice is the key.

    I've carried a 2 1/4" Sp101 now for 7 years. The little thing has fired over 70,000 rounds.

    Worth it? I think so. Others may not. How much recoil tolerance do you have?

    If a 9mm in a full size semi auto bothers you, then a 357 snubbie isn't a good idea. If you favorite thing is blowing over barn walls with a 454 then the little snubbie isn't bad at all.
     
  4. benelli12

    benelli12 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Messages:
    258
    Location:
    Kansas City, Missouri
    if anybody has some ballistics where <3" 357s were used with various loadings, and see how much velocity is lost, that would be helpful.
    I am also curious about getting a 357 snubbie.
     
  5. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    23,648
    Location:
    Los Anchorage
    I've come to the conclusion that the smallest practical .357 Magnum is the SP101. The J frame smiths, esp. the ultralights and titanium models, are sold on the theory that you can practice with .38 Special and just load magnums for defense. The idea is that you won't notice recoil in times of stress. This notion is dangerous hogwash. Not only does flinch remain during periods of intense emotion, it gets worse. And your overall accuracy gets MUCH worse. Think about it for a second. Your heart rate skyrockets, your hands shake and sweat, and your instinct is to get out of there, esp if you're getting shot at. You need EVERY POSSIBLE EDGE in such a situation. So you certainly do NOT want a hard-to-aim sidearm that punches you with every shot.

    To replicate some of these elements, go to a patch of squirrel hunting ground and run around until you're bruised, winded and sweaty. Then try to hit Mr. Squirrel with your sidearm as it would be loaded for CCW.

    I would get an SP-101 at the minimum and practice long and hard with .357's. Fiocchi sells some FMJ loads that are nice and stiff. Do it until it's totally natural. DO NOT practice with pea loads and expect to be able to operate with full power self defense magnums when it hits the fan.
     
  6. P. Plainsman

    P. Plainsman Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2004
    Messages:
    1,125
    Location:
    Red America
    I tend to agree. It's certainly the smallest .357 I can imagine purchasing and packing.
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    23,908
    Location:
    Arizona
    A good defensive handgun is one that:

    1. You can hit what you're shooting at. I don't mean the whole silhouette, or the whole center of mass, but the places within where the vital organs are. Making a hit that doesn't instantly disable an attacker can get you killed, and a draw between shooters doesn't count.

    2. You can make rapid, accurate repeat shots with.

    3 You can make accurate hits out to at least 15 yards. 25 yards is better, and 50 to 100 yards is not impossible.

    4. Can be fired in low light without negative effects on your vison.

    Now if you can do this with a lightweight, small .357 Magnum with a 2" or under barrel you're good to go. :uhoh:
     
  8. up_onus

    up_onus Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2006
    Messages:
    316
    Location:
    Reno
    What Cosmoline seems to forget is that MOST defensive ammo is "reduced recoil"...
    What do you think that means????
    Secondly, you do have to practice with what you are going to shoot....OF COURSE, thats like running out and practicing with your BB gun and sayin your ready...:scrutiny:

    Old Fluff - How long have you carried??? And since you have been carrying... how many 25 yard shots have you taken on a MOVING PERSON. Sometimes people fail to realize STATISTICS are KING. Roll all day with your 2.5lb gun, more power to you! Mine weighs less than a pound, and is so small it fits in my LIGHT JACKET POCKET!
     
  9. Ben Shepherd

    Ben Shepherd Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2004
    Messages:
    4,755
    Location:
    Utah
    Many many threads on short barreled 357 ballistics. If you use the search function you'll be reading for hours.

    Roughly 50fps lost per inch of barrel.

    Old Fuff-
    I can. But practice rules. Practice is the be-all, end all with a snubbie, IMO. My sp101 has fired 10s of thousands of rounds over the last seven years. I've wore out 3 sets of rubber houge mono-grips on the little girl.
     
  10. birddog

    birddog Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2003
    Messages:
    1,049
    Location:
    Western NY state
    One of my carry guns that finds its way into the regular rotation is my Taurus 651B....It's small, easily conceable and packs 5 rounds of .357. Is it a pleasure to shoot at the range? No, not really. I have some light .357 target loads that aren't painful to shoot but the carry rounds I use ARE. However, I have no doubt that if I needed it it would perform flawlessly in the type of situation where I felt the need to clear leather.

    I consider it one of my top 3 CCW's.
     
  11. Checkman

    Checkman member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2003
    Messages:
    1,884
    Location:
    Idaho
    The S&W Model 19/66 with the 2.5" barrel just looks cool. So does the Colt Python with the 2" barrel and the S&W Model 13 with the 3" barrel. Forget being practical - it's all about the looks.;)
     
  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    23,908
    Location:
    Arizona
    Ben Shepherd:

    I agree with your observations about the value of practice, but I don't consider Ruger's excellent SP-101 to be either "small" or "lightweight" when you compare it to the competition from Smith & Wesson and Taurus. Colt has withdrawn from the market, and I don't see anything else that's worth spit.

    I also question if the aditional FPS that a .357 Magnum offers over a Plus-P .38 Special when both are fired through a 2" barrel and used within 15 yards is meaningful in the real world. If Magnum performance is really that important, get a revolver with a longer barrel and get enough to make it worthwhile. Or follow my example and use a .44 Special, where the bullet is already big when it leave the bore.

    So called "high performance" ammunition is hyped way too much - unless precise hits are made. Witness the recent incident in New York City where one party absorbed 11 hits, and is still with us and getting better. :uhoh:
     
  13. miko

    miko Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Messages:
    495
    So you are saying, we should only carry rifles or carbines?

    The pocket pistol is not intended to make 100, 50, 25 or even 15 yard shots. It is intended for under 10-yard shots, where the miss is not as likely but the stopping power is essential.

    357 from a snub may be a lousy performer but it still is 30-50% more powerful than 38 +P.

    The most important quality of my 340 is it's always with me. Even when I have another gun on me or few - say a 3" 66 underarm and P2000 in a pancake holster behind my hip and maybe a 3" model 60 in the small of my back and 4" 686 in my shoulderbag - not a realistic situation but humor me - there will still be the 340 in my khaki pants pocket.

    Shooting 357 from it smarts a whole lot. Still, if I am more afraid to take a shot than I am afraid of a bad guy, then maybe I should not take that shot.

    miko
     
  14. brett30030

    brett30030 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    351
    Location:
    Buford, Georgia
    Thats funny, but i like the one about the priest, the rabbi, and the baptist minister better.....:neener:
     
  15. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Messages:
    25,086
    Location:
    The end of the road between Sodom and Gomorrah Tex
    I posted some chronograph data yesterday concerning 3", 4", 61/2" guns. I saw about 100 ft lbs drop from 4" to 3" and I'd expect a little more drop than that from the 2", say about 380-400 ft lbs for a really hot load. Again, I don't have a 2" gun to fire over the chrony, so I'm extrapolating here from my other guns.

    Okay, you have equal bullets here with the 9mm. You can shoot a 9mm +P in a gun smaller than the J frame and get just as much energy/velocity with equal bullet weights as the .357, plus the 9mm is much more efficient in the short barrel producing less flash/bang and more controllable recoil. My 3" Kel Tec P11 makes 410 ft lbs with a 115 grain hot load. I don't think a 2" .357 could top that with a 125 grain bullet. There are also good 124 grain +P loads for the 9 if you prefer a little more bullet weight that will do the same energy levels.

    In my revolver, I'm plenty happy with .38+P 158 grain, the FBI load AKA "treasury load". It puts up about 270 ft lbs, but more importantly has a good track record in actual service. I don't see why I'd want to put up with the flash/bang of the magnum in such a short tube when the .38 is plenty good enough. I have been carrying my new-to-me medium frame 3" .357 IWB (how I'd carry a SP101 and with the 3" tube), but for pocket carry, I'll stick with the UltraLite .38 using +Ps, thanks, or carry my 9mm. I don't consider the .357 the best deal in small, pocket size J frames. Sure, they'll work, but if I had one I'd load it with +Ps and be happy.
     
  16. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    18,513
    Location:
    Deep in the Ozarks
    In the case of the Ruger SP 101, yes. I prefer the 3" barrel version. In my experience, anything smaller and lighter is downright painful to shoot with full charge .357s.

    Now there are those who say, "When the chips are down, you won't notice the recoil." And that's true. But you will notice the recoil when practicing. And that generally results in two bad things -- either you won't practice enough, or you will develop bad habits when shooting. This is borne out by the fact that all my friends who have these light-weight snubbies (the SP 101 excepted as I said) and actually practice seriously with them wind up shooting .38 Special ammo in them.

    Now there may be people who put thousands of rounds through those scandium wonders without every flinching or jerking -- but I don't personally know any.

    As for the performance of .357s in a short barrel, yes -- they will generate less velocity and energy than in a longer barrel. But that doesn't mean that .38 Specials will surpass them in the same barrel length -- or even come very close to the .357's performance.
     
  17. ronto

    ronto Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2006
    Messages:
    639
    Location:
    Smack Dab in the Middle of Nowhere.
    A Ruger .357 DAO 2 1/4" SP101 IWB with 5 rounds of Speer GDHP Short Barrel is enough for any civilian SD situation...It's worth it to me.
     
  18. strat81

    strat81 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Messages:
    3,912
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Good replies so far, thanks guys. Some comments:

    up_onus: CCW guns and range guns are not mutually exclusive, as I am sure you know. If I take a 357 to the range and only fire half a box of ammo because it kills my hand, I don't consider that much practice. Also, my definition of defense ammo differs from yours... when I think defense ammo, I think full-pony loads: +P, +P+ etc. I can appreciate the size of a J-Frame, and the mass of an Airweight/Ultralite, but if the gun is useless in my hands, I may as well carry rocks.

    Ben Shepherd: How may of those 70,000 rounds were 38 and how many were 357? If they were all 357, I don't want to shake your hand because you'd probably crush mine. :)

    Checkman: I agree, Colt Pythons look sweet. Maybe I need to start a bling gun collection. It would not be complete without Pythons (one of each, please), 1911, Hi-Power, and a Desert Eagle - all nice and shiny. I can mount them on the wall with a Flava-Flav clock. :D

    Vern Humphrey: Your comments about practice are my biggest concerns. I don't expect 38s (+p or not) to rival a 357, but the trade-off would be reduced accuracy from increased recoil.

    As nice as the SP101 is (or so I've heard), I'd rather not step up to a (marginally) larger weapon. If I did, I'd probably get a steel-frame auto like a CZ 2075 RAMI.



    Maybe some more info is required: I'm considering a revo for ankle-carry and it will probably be a lightweight model. I know ankle-carry is pretty much the worst way to carry, but my dress code at work eliminates most other forms and I sit 90% of the day anyway. I may carry my nightstand auto on my hip if I'm wearing jeans or something outside of work.
     
  19. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2006
    Messages:
    22,131
    Location:
    Northeast PA, USA
    You're right that a short barrel limits the effectiveness of the .357 round but Speer makes a 135 gr Short Barrel round for the .357 Mag in thier Gold Dot line. A magnum sbub nose is not pleasnat to shoot in a ultra light frame. If you buy a .357 I suggest you buy a SS Model like the S&W 640 or 649. You might want to change the stock Uncle Mike's boot grips for something a little better like Pachmayr Compac grips or something from Hogue.

    BTW, S&W's J frame Mag's are not their Airweight line, thay are the AirLite line.

    Airweight = 15 oz = .38 Spl & .38 Spl +P
    AirLite = 12 oz = .357 Mag, .38 Spl & .38 Spl +p
     
  20. strat81

    strat81 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2006
    Messages:
    3,912
    Location:
    Nebraska
    Airweight, airlite, airframe, nightlight... Whatever! :D
     
  21. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    23,908
    Location:
    Arizona
    I don’t think that anyone with any experience would claim that the Plus-P .38 Special’s performance is on par with the .357 Magnums’ regardless of barrel length. The question should be, “is the performance difference in lightweight snubbies compelling enough to offset some negatives it may cause?” Now if you’re a slave to velocity and energy tables it probably is, but there are other issues to look at.

    Under the most accepted rules of engagement a person is not allowed to use deadly force, except to resist a lethal attack. If you are the good guy that means the “other” party gets in the first blow, stab, shot or whatever. You are placed in the position of being reactive, and under the circumstances any delay might be fatal. Obviously the accurate placement of the first shot is critical, and if that doesn’t instantly disable the attacker the accuracy of your following shots might determine if you live or die. Never in any encounter, does a fast miss count.

    If you are using .357 Magnum cartridges in a very light, small revolver the unavoidable recoil is going to effect your shot-to-shot recovery and the ability to keep making fast, but accurate shots. For some this may be more so then others, but I haven’t yet met anyone who can shoot a small revolver faster and with equal accurately when using .357 Magnum cartridges then they can with the chambers loaded with .38 Special’s. As you move to a heavier gun the ease of control gets better, and this is well proven by those that who chose the Ruger SP-101, which shouldn’t be questioned as the leader of the pack when it comes to downsized .357’s. If you stick to the hotter cartridge, but substitute an ultra-light J-frame Smith & Wesson or equivalent Taurus, what were acceptable results on the target may no longer be so. If you loose the ability to precisely place bullets the additional velocity of the Magnum, regardless of what it is, may be relatively worthless.
     
  22. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    23,908
    Location:
    Arizona
    brett30030:

    It wouldn't be funny if your neck depended on it... ;)

    The idea that a snub-nosed revolver isn't effective beyond card table distances is a myth, and has often been proven so. But it is widely believed by those that can't hit the broad side of a barn if they're inside and the doors closed. :D
     
  23. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2002
    Messages:
    23,648
    Location:
    Los Anchorage
    Most SP and defensive ammo for the .357 is *NOT* reduced recoil. I don't know where you got that idea. In fact, most of it is as cranked up as possible.

    I seriously encourage everyone to go do some close range (inside 25 yards) small game hunting in rough conditions with your CCW piece. If you can get good enough to hit a moving, chittering squirrel with your sidearm you should be good to go. But it ain't easy! Also, keep in mind that you're not likely to get a nice square shot at a stationary target. It's going to happen fast and you may only have part of a COM to hit--perhaps not much larger than a small animal.
     
  24. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2005
    Messages:
    25,086
    Location:
    The end of the road between Sodom and Gomorrah Tex
    And, you said nothing of a night encounter and the added flash/bang indoors and or in the dark of a .357. The fireball of a hot load in a short barrel has to be seen to be believed. Even the special short barrel loads, which optimize bullet expansion at lower velocities AND minimize flash/bang, aren't very nice to the eyes and ears. To me, moving to the .357 requires a 3" or longer barrel. Even then, the hot stuff can singe your eyebrows.
     
  25. brett30030

    brett30030 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2006
    Messages:
    351
    Location:
    Buford, Georgia
    I would be very interested in seeing information to back-up the often use of snub-nose .357 used for either defense or offense at 25-100 yards.:confused: Given your resume, you should be able to provide a wealth of evidence to make me eat a murder of crows!
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2006
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page