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"Old" Newbie question -- .357 ammo

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Fritz der Kat, Jan 2, 2008.

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  1. Fritz der Kat

    Fritz der Kat Member

    Jan 1, 2008
    Here's one for the ages:

    I recently bought a Rossi EMF "cowboy carbine" chambered in .38/.357. I did so largely because I wanted a repeating rifle, other than semi-auto, that is hard hitting at shorter distances and one that would complement my handgun, a S&W Model 60, three-inch barrel, also chambered in .357. In effect, I was hoping I'd need only one kind of ammunition.


    i've been researching various sites, have found all kinds of information, but none of it definitive, far as I am concerned.

    Yes, the 125-grainers, usually JHP or SJHP, as manufactured by the leading producers--Federal, Remington and Winchester--are generally touted as the route to take for the handgun--proven "man stoppers," etc.

    But then when it comes to the carbine, I see recommendations that run all the way from NOT using the 125-grain, especially in hollow point, because of the possibility they will disintegrate coming out of a rifle barrel at highly increased FPS; to 140-grain, which I find to be offered almost nowhere by the popular manufacturers; to the classic 158-grain and even beyond (180 grains, even 200!) for cleanly downing mid-sized game, etc.

    For the handgun, shooting at targets and measuring relative accuracy, recoil and such, I've always found the 125-grain to work well. In experimenting with 158 grains, however, I've found the kick to be...considerable. In using.38 Special at 158 grains, the "FBI load," there's a great deal of fouling.

    So, questions abound:

    1. What happens were I to use the 125's in my carbine?

    2. What is the ideal load for a carbine?

    3. Is there a suitable compromise load for both handgun and carbine?

    4. Is JHP preferable to SJHP?

    5. What about soft points? What about ball?

    6. Where does .38+P come into the mix? I find the Remington 125's in this caliber to work quite nicely for both handgun and rifle. But how much, if any, am I giving away by using .38+P in terms of relative stopping power?

    Finally, for your information, I am not a hunter, and somehow do not foresee myself foraging for survival by shooting a deer. All my guns (I also have an old 16 gauge pump by WesternField) are primarily for self- and home defense. The main reason I bought the carbine is in the event that the bottom falls out of society, marauders are running through my backyard, etc.

    Anybody's help here will be greatly appreciated.
  2. MAKster

    MAKster Member

    Jul 8, 2006
    I have the Navy Arms version also made by Rossi. The increased barrel length of the carbines allows the 158 grain loads to reach the same velocity of the 125 grains out of a revolver. If you are hunting you want to use the 158 soft point. In a home defense situation the 125s might be better because the 158s will seriously penetrate walls. While the 125s out of a carbine will expand more than the would out of a revolver they are not going to tear apart in flight.
  3. DragonFire

    DragonFire Member

    May 26, 2004
    For any "fact" you can find on the web, you can find another "fact" that will contridict it. You basically have to decide which source you trust the most, and go from there.

    I'm sorry I can't answer any of your questions directly, but I will offer some advise.

    I seriously doubt that you'll find one load that will work best in both your handgun and the rifle. You may find one that works okay (maybe even well) in both, but it won't be the best you can find for either.

    No matter what load you decide on, or just want to consider, I'd suggest trying some in YOUR gun(s) to see how the perform. You may see that what
    works great in someone's else gun doesn't work well in yours, and visa versa.

    .38+P loads will have less velocity, and less recoil. But, this would lessen the advantages of the using a rifle. +P's make for good practice ammo and decent carry ammo in handguns (especially the super-light weights). There's significant differences in the ballistics in the +P's and true magnum loads.

    While you may not hunt, rounds that work well for hunting, ususally are pretty good choices for self-defense.

    I would suggest that instead of trying to find one load that will work well in both firearms, and are a good choice for both practice and self-defense, I would suggest maybe three loads: one for SD in the rifle, one for SD in the handgun, and one for practice. Many .357 shooters practice mostly with .38 specials, and carry magnum loads.
  4. jrfoxx

    jrfoxx Member

    Sep 23, 2004
    The only one of your questions I feel I know enough to be comfortable responding to is the first one.I would be REALLY surprised if the increase in velocity in a carbine over a revolver barrel would be nearly enough to cause the bullet to basically turn into a shallow penetrating frangible.I relly think you'd have to be pushing the bullet significantly faster than what you'll get out of a factory load, regardless of barrel length.It MIGHT be possible if you handload hot enough, but even then, I think the load would have to be well above safe SAAMI pressures to do it.Could be wrong though, but thats my take on it.Your much more likely concern would be getting lucking in finding a load that performs and hits to POA equally well in both guns.I'd wager you'll find a load (might even be the same bullet type and weight, by different manufactures) that works great in the revolver, but not as good POI wise in the rifle, and vice-versa.Depending on how picky you want to be with POA/POI, you may find one thats acceptable in both, but if you want both to perform to thier best accuracy wise, iy will probly be a different load for each.All depends on what you'll accept, and on luck, and your 2 particular guns.Always possible you'll get lucky.
  5. bogie

    bogie Member

    Jan 2, 2003
    St. Louis, in the Don't Show Me state

    Screw practicality! Have some fun!

    Case fulla slow powder, with a 125 or lighter bullet on top. For max effect, shoot at dusk or dawn. Do not use if your beard or hair are pretty bushy.
  6. ceetee

    ceetee Member

    Sep 7, 2003
    I have to go with what Dragonfire says. Find a decent self-defense load that groups well with both rifle and pistol. If the best load you find groups better with the rifle and not as well with the pistol, that's okay, simply because you'll probably be taking longer shots with the rifle than the pistol, and you'll not mind losing a bit of accuracy that way.

    Either way, try to find a single load that groups well for self-defense, and another load (lower recoil, less expensive bullets, save some money) for target practice. No matter what the bullet weight, as long as the bullet construction is modern, and meant for self-defense, you'll not be undergunned. Remember that a good hit with a lighter bullet is infinitely better than a solid miss with your "ideal" bullet.

    If you do choose to hunt, I'd choose your ammo based on what you plan on hunting, and what groups the best with your carbine.
  7. RoadkingLarry

    RoadkingLarry Member

    Jun 14, 2007
    NE Oklahoma
    As a happy owner of a Marlin 1894C in .38/357 I can give you a few ideas. If you don't reload your best bet is to get a variety of ammo and get thee to the range (which is never a bad idea) and shoot different loads and see what the results are. Chances are you will find a load that will be satisfactory in both pistol and carbine but maybe not perfect in either. IMO for self defense distnaces with a carbine a bullet eavier than the 125gr HP maybe in order, my preference would be a 158gr soft point.

    My "fun" load for my 1894C is .38 spec. 5 gr unique under a 158 gr cast lead round nose flat point (cowboy bullet), also good for short range pest control.
  8. Fritz der Kat

    Fritz der Kat Member

    Jan 1, 2008
    A couple of comments and another question.

    First of all, thanks for the input. This is adding up to the kind of info I've been looking for. It would appear that my quest for one ammo for both rifle and revolver is likely not the way to go--except in a pinch, of course.

    I am not concerned about bullets disintegrating upon "leaving the barrel," but rather, based on other info I have read, that lighter loads fired from the carbine might "splash" or break up upon hitting the target.

    Second, yes, I'm talking about factory ammo; I am not a reloader.

    Third, I am well aware that shot placement is first in order of priority. At 65 years old, alas, my eyes are not what the used to be (15/20 or was it 20/15? I could see at 20 feet what most folks can only see clearly at 15). Somehow, I cannot envision myself shooting at anything over 100 yards, more likely 75 or 50--this, of course, with the rifle.

    As for the next question, whereas I understand that shooting .38 Special for target and practice is preferred and practical, does this have any effect on sighting in the rifle? In other words, were I to sight it in using, say, 158 grain Magnum, what would be the result in accuracy when I substitute .38 Special? Or vice-versa, for that matter.
  9. Markbo

    Markbo member

    Nov 20, 2007
    Yes it could. Just like your revolver, your carbine is likely to shoot to a different point of impact with different loads. Buy whatever you can lay your hands on and get to the range. If you are lucky you will find one load that will shoot OK in both of them. Sight in for that load and be done with it.

    The alternative is to carry two different loads, one for revolver and one for carbine, but that kind of defeats the purpose. Insofar as recoil, I don't think the .357 recoils all that badly, but if you do then ask yourself... which one are you going to shoot more?

    I know I shoot handguns a heckuva lot more rounds than a rifle, so if you can find a couple that shoot well in your revolver, try them out in the carbine and see what happens. I wouldn't give two minutes worry over the magical vaporizing hollow point. You will get significant velocity increase, but then again 125gr load is not a good medium to large game bullet anyway. If you stick with that weight keep it to small to medium game and vermin. If you want to hunt deer you need to find 158-180gr loads that will shoot well in both and learn how to manage the recoil.

    With the price of ammo nowdays, it's never to late to start reloading! :D
  10. tkcomer

    tkcomer Member

    Sep 24, 2006
    Maysville, Kentucky
    I have the Rossi/Puma in 357. Those 125grn JHPs aren't going to vaporize out of that gun when you fire them. If that's want you want to use, use them. Just practice with what you want to use. If you want to use cheaper ammo to practice with, use that. In home defense ranges, point of impact will not vary that much between rounds. At 25 yards, you might see a 4” spread between all the different loads of 38/357 offerings. Not much to worry about in a home defense scenario. Some of that will be what the gun likes vs what it doesn't like. For me, I reload and shoot the cheap stuff. A lot of it. I love the gun. But for home defense, the gun is loaded with Winchester 145grn Silvertips. The main thing is, shoot the gun and get used to it. Have fun doing it.
  11. oldgold

    oldgold Member

    Mar 31, 2004
    Were I in you shoes, I would load up some with the 140gr. Hornaday or Sierra bullets and a slower end pistol powder. Seems a shame to loose the potential of bigger bullets in the rifle, but 140gr is not so heavy as to make the revolver unpleasant. JMHO.
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