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What is more powerful? .38 or 9mm?

Discussion in 'Handguns: General Discussion' started by sniknah, Jun 24, 2011.

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  1. sniknah

    sniknah Member

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    This probably a dumb question, but always been curious. thanks
     
  2. jad0110

    jad0110 Member

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    On paper, your average 9mm holds a slight edge over your average .38 special. But I've never been much for kenetic energy, particularly at anemic handgun levels. With quality loadings, either will do the job just fine with proper placement in that good examples of both offer plenty of penetration with the good possibility of expansion.

    Pick your favorite and don't worry about it. I rely heavily on .38 special for SD, though I may add a 9 at some point.

    Honestly, this is more of an auto or revolver question ... and as usual personal preference rules here.
     
  3. Jeff F

    Jeff F Member

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    I have shot a Black-hawk convertible and the 9mm's had a bit more bark and recoiled a little harder then standard .38 Spl 158 grain swc rounds. Never tried .38+ rounds. I know the 9mm runs higher pressure then .38 Spl.
     
  4. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    Strictly from the muzzle energy of close to like bullet weights, the 9mm is. A 125 grain Remington Golden Sabre out of a .38 has 268 ft-lbs of ME. A 124 grain 9mm Golden Sabre has 349 ft-lbs. That's entirely due to the much higher MV. 957 fps for the .38, 1125 for the 9mm. Only 55 ft-lbs difference at 50 yards. 37 at 100.
    Apples and oranges just the same.
     
  5. elano

    elano Member

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    9mm.

    I enjoy shooting 38 more though.
     
  6. suemarkp

    suemarkp Member

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    Also depends on what weight bullets you want to launch. The 9mm fades quickly at 150 grain weight because its case is so short. The 38 special is commonly loaded with 158 grain bullets and can easily do 180grain.

    But 38 special is a slow cartridge. It has more powder capacity over 9mm (giving it greater velocity potential), but runs at about half the pressure (a big disadvantage for velocity).
     
  7. baylorattorney

    baylorattorney Member

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    38 or 38 special?? There is a difference u know. IMO 38 special has more power than 9 mm which has more power than 38.
     
  8. Tomcat47

    Tomcat47 Member

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    ^^ Balistically Incorrect ^^ just sayin......:scrutiny:

    Unless You Are Refferring to 38 Super....which can edge over 9mm in MV and does edge over 9mm in ME.

    .38 Comparisons
    Cartridge Bullet weight Muzzle velocity Muzzle energy Max pressure
    .38 Short Colt 135 gr (8.7 g) 777 ft/s (237 m/s) 181 ft·lbf (245 J) 7,500 CUP
    .38 Long Colt 150 gr (9.7 g) 777 ft/s (237 m/s) 201 ft·lbf (273 J) 12,000 CUP
    .38 S&W 158 gr (10.2 g) 767 ft/s (234 m/s) 206 ft·lbf (279 J) 14,500 PSI
    .38 S&W Sp. 158 gr (10.2 g) 940 ft/s (290 m/s) 310 ft·lbf (420 J) 17,000 PSI
    .38 Special +P 158 gr (10.2 g) 1,000 ft/s (300 m/s) 351 ft·lbf (476 J) 20,000 PSI
    .38 Special +P+ 110 gr (7.1 g) 1,100 ft/s (340 m/s) 295 ft·lbf (400 J) 20,000 PSI
    .380 ACP 100 gr (6.5 g) 895 ft/s (273 m/s) 178 ft·lbf (241 J) 21,500 PSI
    9x19mm Parabellum 115 gr (7.5 g) 1,300 ft/s (400 m/s) 420 ft·lbf (570 J) 39,200 PSI
    9x19mm Parabellum 124 gr (8.0 g) 1,180 ft/s (360 m/s) 383 ft·lbf (520 J) 39,200 PSI
    9x18mm Makarov 95 gr (6.2 g) 1,050 ft/s (320 m/s) 231 ft·lbf (313 J) 23,206 PSI
    .38 Super 130 grains (8.4 g) 1,275 ft/s (389 m/s) 468 ft·lbf (634 J) 36,500 PSI
    .357 Magnum 158 grains (10.2 g) 1,349 ft/s (411 m/s) 639 ft·lbf (866 J) 35,000 PSI
    .357 SIG 125 grains (8.1 g) 1,350 ft/s (410 m/s) 506 ft·lbf (686 J) 40,000 PSI
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2011
  9. Strykervet

    Strykervet member

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    What he said. On the other hand, 9mm+P is more powerful than .38+P, a better comparison. In general, 9mm is usually a little more powerful.
     
  10. PabloJ

    PabloJ Member

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    The only advantage to 9x19 is high capacity of some pistol magazines. This is of no con
    sequence to private citizen. In every other respect the .38spl is a superior cartridge.;)
     
  11. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Member

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    Depends
    What do you like more
    Wheel guns
    or
    Autos
     
  12. 357 Terms

    357 Terms Member

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    Not a dumb question at all. Both are very effective. Enhanced bullet design has helped both in every regard, with that i would take the 9.
     
  13. tipoc

    tipoc Member

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    In general the 9mm is a more powerful round than the .38 Spl when it comes to commercial ammo. But there are some loads for the 38 Spl. which are more powerful than some loads for the 9mm.

    The commercial standard load for the .38 Spl has a 158 gr. bullet going between 750-800 fps from a 4" barrel. Most commercial +P loads go about 900 fps from the same barrel length and bullet weight. The limitation for the .38 Spl. in commercial loads is the 20,000 cup pressure and the desire of commercial ammo manufacturers not to get too close to the max pressure. Handloaders can get more than this from the .38 Spl. though.

    When you do compare similar weight bullets for both you do clearly see the edge for the 9mm.

    If you drop by here you can compare some of the commercial loads for the 9mm and 38 Spl. looks at the technical specs and compare...

    9mm
    http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/Bro...3&categoryId=7508&categoryString=653***691***

    38 Spl.
    http://www.midwayusa.com/browse/Bro...3&categoryId=7509&categoryString=653***691***

    tipoc
     
  14. Jim K

    Jim K Member

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    On average, about the same or close enough that someone on the receiving end is not going to care much.

    The advantage of the revolver load is that it is much more flexible than the auto load, which must operate within the parameters of the pistol. Factory pistol loads, of course, must be made to operate within the parameters of many pistols, so there is a fairly narrow range of pressure, velocity, energy that will function reliably and not cause damage to the gun. Revolvers are much more forgiving.

    Jim
     
  15. Justin123

    Justin123 Member

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    Also something to take into consideration is the type of bullet used. I carry 148g semi wadcutters in my .38spcl I think that shape would do more damage than a 9mm FMJ
     
  16. SaxonPig

    SaxonPig Member

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    Similar. If limited to readily available factory ammo the 9mm has the edge. With specialty ammo or reloading the 38 catches up.

    My 9mm carry load is Winchester 115 JHPs at 1200 FPS. My 38 carry load is a 125 JHP at a clocked 1150. Pretty much a push.
     
  17. wow6599

    wow6599 Member

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    I was just checking out Buffalo Bore (to lazy to go through my reloading data) on their 38 and 9 loads. Seems at the muzzle 9mm is quite a bit "stronger". But what do I know.......just posting numbers from their site.


    Heavy .38 Special +P Ammo - 125 gr. L.V. Jacketed Hollow Point (1,050fps/M.E. 306 ft. lbs.)

    9mm Luger +P+ Pistol and Handgun Ammo - (+P+) 124 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point (1,300 fps/M.E. 461 ft. lbs.) - 20 Round Box
     
  18. Remo223

    Remo223 member

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    look up SAAMI pressures for each caliber. That will make it VERY clear which is more powerful and why. 9mm is the clear winner. Still not convinced? Look up muzzle velocities and muzzle energies. There's no argument.

    btw, I am a revolver fan and shoot 38special.
     
  19. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Member

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    Police LRN & military FMJ have both put a whole lot of people in the ground. Don't worry, be happy.
     
  20. Lawdawg45

    Lawdawg45 Member

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    There are no dumb questions about handguns;)

    With the advancement of ammo these days the lines have been blurred somewhat, and there is some common ground between the two. The same debate rages on with the 9mm and the .40, but there are several brands of ammo (Corbon, Speer, Hornaday, Buffalo Bore) that make a 9mm round that is comparable to the .40. If you're going with the .380 (I also have an LCP) go with the hottest JHP you can find.

    LD45
     
  21. CDW4ME

    CDW4ME Member

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    9mm wins over 38 in pocket pistol KE

    I had a Mag-Na-Ported S&W 638: Win. 130 gr. PDX +P @ 848 fps = 207# KE
    I have a Kel-Tec PF9: Federal 124 gr. Hydra-Shok (standard load) @ 1,013 fps = 282# KE

    Yea, the 38 in that example was Mag-Na-Ported, but I used a +P load in it to offset the velocity loss due to porting.
    The 9mm in that example was using a standard load and still had more KE.

    9mm is more powerful.

    I had a Kahr PM9 and it averaged 1,215 fps / 377# KE with 115 gr. +P Cor-Bon. The PM9 is a pocket pistol the size of a 38 snub, no snub 38 is going to produce 377# of KE with 38+P loads.
     
  22. Tomcat47

    Tomcat47 Member

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    Exactly!

    Me Too!.....Oops... :rolleyes: .... I carry a 9mm Revolver! :D

    Add Note: Above 9mm in Revolver....I am looking at .327 Fed Mag which equals .40 S&W and is Knocking on back door of .45 ACP in terms of energy.

    But I am very pleased with 9mm revolver, and the wife carries .38 UltraLite
     

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    Last edited: Jun 25, 2011
  23. Onward Allusion

    Onward Allusion Member

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    Wow. I thought this argument was settled back in the early 90's... 9mm cartridge all the way is more powerful from every perspective.
     
  24. Water-Man

    Water-Man Member

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    If you do this to that, or if you do that to this blah blah blah.....
    The 9mm is more powerful!
     
  25. bcp280z

    bcp280z Member

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    It jogs my brain, how the 38 and the 45 colt are bigger cartridges, yet weaker to the 9mm and 45acp.

    Don't mean to hijack but perhaps here is a better question, which has better expansion on average with HP's?
     
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