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J-Frame vs. K-Frame .357 magnum

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by iyn, Dec 5, 2010.

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  1. iyn

    iyn Member

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    I'm still learning and new to revolvers. I read that S&W designed the "L" Frame because the K-frame, like the Sw 66 could not hold up to shooting the .357 magnum loads. I don't see any .357 Magnum K-Frames but I see .357 magnum J-frames in the current S&W line up.

    So how does the smaller J- Frame hold up to .357 magnum loads? Will the J-Frame hold up to .357 Magnum shooting just as good as the "L" frame?
     
  2. 71Commander

    71Commander Member

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    The J frame will hold up just fine because after your shoot one 357 in it, you'll load up 38+P's from that point forward.:p
     
  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Advances in steel and aluminum alloys has made it possible to build .357 Magnum revolvers on small platforms such a Smith & Wesson's J-frame, and lowering the specifications for maximum cartridge pressure helped too.

    However in .357 the J-frame sized revolvers are not particularly a good choice. If you think otherwise shoot one before you buy.

    If you are still determined to go in this direction, look at Ruger's SP-101.

    A much better choice for general shooting would be an L-series Smith & Wesson, or a Ruger GP-100. Get at least a 4" barrel. Then you won't have to worry about how long the gun will stand up, or how long you will last. :uhoh:
     
  4. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Commander and Fuff are giving you good advice.

    Light, short guns have wicked recoil and are not a good choice for a first revolver.

    In fact, it is not a good choice for me at all even though I am not particularly sensitive to recoil.

    The SP101 that OF mentioned has more heft and is much beloved by their owners (I am not one of them but regularly read their praises and do not recall anyone ever dissing them)
     
  5. harmon rabb

    harmon rabb Member

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    j-frame .357's are no doubt intended to be carried a lot, shot a little (with .357). seriously, have you ever fired a j-frame, even with plain old .38spl? firing .357 out of a j-frame feels approximately like opening your car door, placing your hand in the door frame, then slamming the door as hard as you can. only a masochist would actually put a decent number of .357's through a j-frame.

    if you want the smallest .357 that can actually stand up .357 as long as a k-frame (and that won't be painful to fire), you want a ruger sp101.
     
  6. harmon rabb

    harmon rabb Member

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    the only negative aspect of the SP101 is in fact a positive aspect -- its weight. it is laughably heavy compared to a j-frame or lcr. however, in exchange for that weight, you get a revolver that can not only stand up to the hottest .357 loads, but that is also comfortable to fire said .357 loads out of. the sp101 is actually a fun gun at the range, something which no j-frame is.

    as long as you belt carry, and have a real gun belt, the weight of the sp101 is a non-issue. of course, if you want to pocket carry, well, that's why j-frames and lcr's exist.
     
  7. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    A lot of folks say this when trying to justify the use of .357 ammunition in small/lightweight revolvers. But when observing some of them shoot I notice either a long delay between shots, or fast but badly scattered shots all over the landscape.

    The most powerful of cartridges won't win the day unless the bullet is precisely placed on an attacker, and a delay between follow-up shots can get you killed, especially if you are up against more then one attacker.

    In a non-defensive context none of this matters, but any way you cut it small .357 snubbies aren't exactly fun to shoot.
     
  8. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

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    Old Fuff,

    what I was trying to convey is that I am not particularly sensitive to recoil as I love shooting 44 magnums but I HATE a super light snubby. I don't like to shoot them. Because of that I don't practice with them. I do not shoot them well.

    It was my way to wave him off.

    The lightest snub that I own is a Colt Cobra and the only reason I bought it is because it was cheap. I can't imagine shooting 357s out of a snub of that weight.:what:

    When I was young and dumb I bought a Taurus Titanium Tracker and have NO desire to ever relive that experience.
     
  9. Leaky Waders

    Leaky Waders Member

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    I have a ladysmith and 4 inch 686.

    The main differences to me besides the obvious size and capacity differences (5 shot versus 6 shot) is that the back strap of the ladysmith rests against your palm, while the 686 has the grip enclosing the backstrap.

    I think the grip causes more perceived recoil than the actual weight differences...but that's just my perception. Both perform well at self defense distances with rapid fired shots, and both can be aimed well for slow shots if you were jackrabbit hunting.

    You could swap out the grip of the ladysmith with something that covers the backstrap, but that would be kind of defeating the purpose of its small design.
     
  10. Rodentman

    Rodentman Member

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    I just bought a 396-1 .44sp Mountain Lite .44sp. Weighs 17oz. It's not that bad to shoot but I wouldn't call it a range gun. There's a lot to be said for a bit more heft. I think I'll go to Trail Boss or even .44 Russian in that gun. At least by reloading one can control the loads.
     
  11. John Wayne

    John Wayne Member

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    There is nothing wrong with a J-frame in .357. They are well-built guns and will hold up to shooting as many rounds of .357 Mag as you can stand to fire out of them :)

    The S&W model 60 .357 with 3" barrel is a nice compromise of power, size, and weight. There is little to no point in getting a .357 with a barrel shorter than 3" though, as it will be very uncontrollable and offer slight gains in velocity at the expense of tremendous noise, muzzle blast, muzzle rise, and recoil.

    The K & L frames are very similar to the same size, with the L frame using the same grips, but being beefier in certain areas. K frame .357s will still last you as long as you stay away from 125 gr. and lighter bullets. The only current K frame in production is the model 10 in .38 special though, so if you want a K frame .357 you'll have to find it used.

    If you want to shoot ful-house .357s all day long though, you need a GP-100, L or N frame S&W.
     
  12. rayman

    rayman Member

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    More comfortable & fun to shoot .357 AND .38 out of a larger gun. My model 13 with 4" HB & magnas is work. N frame 627 is smoooooth. 8 shots aren't bad either.
     
  13. roaddog28

    roaddog28 Member

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    Hi,
    Like most of the others have said, I would not recommend shooting any 357 magnums in a J frame. Recoil will be a problem and I doubt you would be very accurate shooting 357s in the J frame. I also agree a 4 inch barrel in a medium to large medium frame revolver is the best choice. If you want to carry sometimes then a 3 inch barrel medium frame revolver would work. Personally for defense ammo I would carry Buffalo Bores 158gr LSWCHP "FBI" 38+P round. I have used this round in two 4 inch revolvers and its a accurate round. Recoil is stiff but a person can get 1100fps and penatration is very good. This round is like shooting a 357 round. Here are some of my suggestions in a 3 inch barrel.
    1. S&W model 13.
    2. S&W model 65.
    3. Ruger Speed Six.
    4. Ruger GP100.
    5. S&W 686 in a 2 1/2 barrel.
    If I were looking I would probably try to find any of the top three. The bottom two are heavier frame revolvers and are good for shooting 357s but are heavy to carry.
    Finally a Ruger SP101 in a 3 1/6 barrel is a consideration but for me I don't like the grip and even though they are heavier than a J frame they still are a handfull shooting 357s.
    Good luck,
    Howard
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010
  14. Marshall

    Marshall Member

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    I have a Model 60 J Frame .357 Mag and a Model 13HB K Frame .357 Mag.

    There's a pretty decent difference in recoil and pleasure when shooting them. I'm average size, 6 feet tall & 215 pounds with strong hands and hunt with .44 Mag Redhawks. The Model 60 J Frame will make you wish you were shooting a .44 Mag Redhawk. Don't get me wrong, it doesn't break your wrist or anything, but it delivers a harsh kick. I mean, you still feel it in your hand after you shoot. I shoot 158gr ammo and the lightest I shoot is the 145gr Win Silvertip. Those Silvertips pack a punch. I will not shoot 125gr ammo out of them. Grips make a difference.

    The K Frame is just fun. L & N Frame, more fun.
     
  15. iyn

    iyn Member

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    Thanks guys.
     
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    I know, but you opened the door so I walked through it. :evil:

    I wouldn't either, but I do have an all-steel/5 shot/.44 Special made on the same platform that's a fixed-sight snubby - and I carry it when I think a .38 won't do.
     
  17. Marvin KNox

    Marvin KNox Member

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    I carry two J frames in .357. My primary is an all steel 640. My back up is a 340. For carry purposes they are just about right.

    I've shot quite a few other .357 magnums over the years. The heavier the gun and the larger the grip on the gun - the more I enjoy shooting it.

    The .38 spl./.357 magnum calibers have a lot going for them. Choose a platform for what you are up to and it's almost always up to the task you ask of it.
     
  18. Olympus

    Olympus Member

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    I'd rather have an older K-frame .357 than a new J-frame .357 any day of the week! My Model 66 has no problems with the .357s. Just avoid the lighter weight bullets. And most of the J-frames are "point & shoot" guns and I like a gun with an adjustable rear sight.

    PC040016.jpg

    PB060019.jpg

    PA300007.jpg
     
  19. Rob1109

    Rob1109 Member

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    I have a 642 that I'm trying real hard to like. With BB +P it is EVIL!
    Regular range ammo is not fun. Great gun, as long as you don't have to shoot it! Can't imagine what a .357 would be like. My SP101 is great for .357.

    Also, I wouldn't mind finding a snub .357 at about 20oz.

    Suggestions? Thanks.....
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2010
  20. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    The .357 J-frames are not going to hold up better than the .357 K-frames, and the changes in pressures were made before the J-frame magnums made the scene (unless they've done it again), but you can't expect a small steel gun to be as robust as a larger steel gun like a K-frame, much less an L-frame.

    I like the OLD 686 4-inchers the best, but the 66s were fine guns, too. The 60s are still essentially .38 revolvers!
     
  21. jhvaughan2

    jhvaughan2 Member

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    Back to the OP's original question. The problem of the K frame vs a J frame is not so much with the frame but with the barrel. The "issue" with K frame .357s was not the frame but the forcing cone of the barrel.

    I do not have pictures handy. In the K frame the forcing cone is forced to be thinner on the bottom. That is where cracks occurred, on some, when "too many" high velocity cartridges were used.

    The J frames do not have the same constriction on the forcing cone as the K's do/did. nor do the L frames.

    But I still bet not to many would want to but enough .357 through a j frame to be "too much" (what ever that number is.)
     
  22. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    It's not that the K-frames won't stand up to full house .357 ammo...it's that the L-Frames will stand up to it longer. Not only do they not have the thin section in the forcing cone, but the frames are stronger as well. They're very close to the Colt Python in size and heft.

    Your perception is about right. A few weeks ago, I fired a Ruger SP-101 for the first time ever...with my go-to handload consisting of 14.5 grains 2400 and a 158-grain cast bullet. It wasn't bad at all, despite its size. In comparison, my 4-inch Model 13 Smith, with factory Magnastocks is singularly unpleasant with the same ammo, and borders on being uncontrollable in rapid fire. If my hands are a bit cold, it's painful...and I don't mind recoil.

    Incidentally, the above data closely approximates the original pre-attenuated .357 ammunition, and is not recommended for regular use in a K-frame sized revolver...and for use in my 681, I prefer to drop the charge weight by a full grain. That load is suitable in N-Frames, New Model Blackhawks, and others in that class. Approach it carefully.
     
  23. Stainz

    Stainz Member

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    It's always best to compare firearms with real info. A 3" SP101, KSP-331X, 27 oz, & MSRP $607 isn't that much larger than the S&W 3" 60, #162430, 24.5 oz, & MSRP $853. They use the same 5-shot speedloaders, too. Both started life as .38's, as well. Now the construction method... the Ruger is cast steel; the S&W is hammer-forged and hardened. The S&W has a fully adjustable rear sight, the Ruger is fixed. The only SP101 with an adjustable sight available now, and it's windage-only, is the .327 Federal model. I've owned - and worked on - many Rugers, but my SP101, a 4" .32 H&RM, was the absolute worst QC new firearm I have ever seen, much less owned.

    The best choice nowadays for a pocket gun, IMHO, is the S&W 442/642 hammerless .38 Spcl +P. New, they had a $50 rebate - and I heard S&W has lowered many prices recently, too. Believe me, a 158gr LHPSWC +P round fired from a 642 is sufficient for protection - and a decent 'bounce' in the hand. I've shot a 340 - the older 12 oz model with the Ti cylinder - with some hot .357M CorBons - and it is the last thing I'd ever want as a PD firearm. Too much recoil - no mass - and nothing to hold on to. If you miss with the first shot, you might have to search for the gun!

    The choice I made for a HD firearm was a bit extravagant - a S&W 2 5/8" PC627 UDR, an 8-shot .357M (See below.). I had the money from the sale of an old friend. Of course, it has gone down from $1,185 to $1,049 MSRP lately - my luck. Note the moonclip full of Remington R38S12 .38 Spcl +P 158gr LHPSWC's - my choice for protection. I reload - so I make plenty of .357M plinkers - wimpy - my choice.

    IMG_4546.jpg

    Now - the K-frame has a small forcing cone edge - thickened in the larger width L-frame's front strap. Either will shoot standard 140-158 gr .357M's fine - the thin fc of the K-frame can erode and crack with continued use of 110-125gr hyper hot .357M's. They never established when - some say <10k, some say 40k rounds - of those lite weight hot loads. As snubnose K-frames are only available on the second hand market nowadays, the shooting history of a used one is a crapshoot. Still - a barrel will fix it - and S&W still has plenty of SS and blued barrels.

    I bought a pair of L-frame .44 Specials, 296 & 696, new on the same day eight years ago - without considering their fc's. Oops! Another dimunitive fc, barely made possible by the thicker front strap of the L-frame. Still, .44 Spcl is a low pressure round - and only minor flame cutting has been noted on the topstrap over the b/c gap - and only in the alloy 296 AirLite Ti. BTW, that Ti cylinder, as delivered with the first 396's, is too tempermental for me - no short cased, ie, .44 Russian, rounds for it, according to S&W. They dropped the Ti cylinder in general - and from the 396 in the last 'Night Guard' variant, thus it's last 24.2 oz weight (The original was 18.0 oz.). It would be fine with .44 Russians or Specials.

    A very S&W-opinionated Stainz
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2010
  24. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    It's my opinion if you really want a J frame size .357 magnum buy one in all Steel like suggested above. The Ruger SP101 is the heaviest closely followed by the S&W M60, M640 and M649. I own a S&W M640 and it's not bad to shoot with .357 Magnum ammo but i really don't like shooting the 12oz S&W Airlite line of J frames!!! The words ".357 Magnum" and "12 ounces" just don't mix well IMO!
     
  25. springfield30-06

    springfield30-06 Member

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