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why are guns in .38 Special still being made & offered as much as they are?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by borrowedtime69, Jan 19, 2022.

  1. borrowedtime69

    borrowedtime69 Member

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    so, seeing as how you can shoot .38 out of a .357, im curious as to why there are still plenty of offerings for new manufacture of handguns in .38 still being made & bought? is it sort of like a revolver in .22LR with a .22WMR cylinder, that one caliber shoots better out of of the gun than the other?

    not sure why someone would choose to be locked into one caliber rather than buying one gun that can fire 2 different loads? it would also make sense that the "resalability" of a .357 would be much greater?

    im not hacking on the .38 or the choice, im just curious as to how the gun market works with a quirk like that purely for discussion. Thank you!
     
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  2. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I assume it's some combination of two primary reasons: one, a lot of people have no desire to ever shoot the Magnum, and two, .38s are quite often smaller and lighter than .357s, making for better carry.

    There are exceptions to the latter rule, of course, but by the time a .357 is as small and light as possible, only a lunatic still wants to shoot Magnums through it!
     
  3. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Not everyone wants a 357. That in itself is enough reason.

    38 guns cost less than 357 guns.

    A 38 Special is not limited to one caliber. They will also shoot 38 Long Colt and 38 Short Colt.
     
  4. Ohen Cepel

    Ohen Cepel Member

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    To add to the above, competition shooters with a revolver want a 38 if that is what they are shooting. No need for that cylinder jump and additional weight that the .357 would give them.
     
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  5. ontarget

    ontarget Member

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    I shoot 357s in my guns that are chambered for it. Same with my 38s.
    A jack of all trades is rarely a master of any.
    I prefer the size of a K frame for the range and a J frame for carry.
    I have L frame 357 if I feel the urge for more horsepower.
     
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  6. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    I don't know if any security agencies still use revolvers, but some limited carry to .38Spl., not .357.

    Before we went to semi's, my LE agency limited us to .38Spl. revolvers, only.

    I handload for my .357 K frame Model 65 using only .357 cases, but that's only because I'm too lazy to adjust the dies. lol
     
  7. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    Most of the revolvers I've seen out there are 38/357, outside of snubs.
     
  8. AzShooter1

    AzShooter1 Member

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    My favorite revolver is an old Model 10 S&W in .38. Over the years I've built a number of competition guns on the Model 10 frame and never needed a .357.

    Bullet jump was one of the reasons. .38s were and are more accurate out of my guns. YMMV.

    .357 ammo is also a lot more expensive than .38s. It is hard finding carry ammo in non-magnum loadings but there is a bunch out there. Model 10 1.jpg
     
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  9. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    Smaller, lighter guns, lower cost factory ammo. If you take a petite, non-gun enthusiast to the range and they touch off a full power .357 in a medium or light frame gun, they are generally not going to want one to carry and choose the Special instead (was the case with my wife at least :))
     
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  10. mcb

    mcb Member

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    A S&W 340 in 357 Magnum is $936 (MSRP)
    A S&W 442 in 38 Special is $532 (MSRP)

    That's alot of practice ammo if you're only going to shoot 38 Special.
     
    Hasaf, chicharrones, damoc and 8 others like this.
  11. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Administrator Staff Member

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    The OAL length difference between .38 Spl and .357Mag is only 0.04".

    It is true that the case length differs significantly--by 0.135", but the actual OAL length difference, including the bullet, is pretty small. The .357Mag just has the bullets seated more deeply into the case. Basically they didn't need the cartridge to be longer when they made the .357Mag, there was already PLENTY of room for powder. They just made the case longer to prevent it from being chambered in a .38Spl revolver.

    It is true that a .38Spl revolver can be made much lighter and much less sturdy since it has to withstand much less pressure and recoil than would be expected of the heavier caliber, but the OAL cartridge length difference, in and of itself, contributes almost nothing to the size of the cylinder--and for the same reason very little to cylinder jump either.
     
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  12. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Besides all these… many folks just like shooting .38 Special out of guns chambered in .38 Special. :)

    I have several .38 Special revolvers, barrels run from 1 7/8” up to 8 3/8”. Each one is fun in its own way. :thumbup:

    Stay safe.
     
  13. film495

    film495 Member

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    .357 costs more, so - if you're not really going to be shooting .357 ... you're spending $$ on something you're not going to use, and for a lot of people, that is wasting money, and I like to play a dollar saved is a dollar earned.
     
    armydog likes this.
  14. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Because we want them and reengineering some models just wouldn't be cost effective.
     
  15. unclenunzie

    unclenunzie Contributing Member

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    You can compare similar offerings from a sample maker and get part of your answer. Ruger makes the LCR in 38 and in 357. The 38 is lighter by about 4 ounces and lists for a lower price. Some will opt for the 38 model which costs less to buy and less to feed, and be lighter to carry. Others will pick the 357 because the 357 is more versatile and provides more recoil absorbing weight when shooting 38.

    It's good to have choices. I chose both :)
     
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  16. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I believe statement was referring to the unsupported jump from the case mouth into the cylinder throat, which is significantly greater when firing a .38 Special in a .357 Mag chamber. This allows blow-by and typically reduces performance over a .38 only gun.
     
  17. Seedy Character

    Seedy Character Member

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    A lot of "new" shooters / buyers KNOW ..38 Spl and .357 MAGNUM. They care scared of the MAGNUM. They don't know they could shoot .38s in the .357.

    My brother, not a gun guy, was asking me about a getting a .38.
    I found a S&W 686 4" on Armslist. Send him the link. He calls, he wanted a .38, .357 cost too much and his wife probably shoot it. Told him to shoot .38s in it. He bought it, they both like how it shoots.
    I have him 6 rounds of .357. Told him to carry loaded with them. If needed, he won't notice the difference.
     
    Blue Jays likes this.
  18. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Administrator Staff Member

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    Since the OAL difference of the two cartridges is only 0.04", the difference in the bullet jump distance is also only 0.04", assuming both cartridges are loaded close to OAL.

    It is true that the bullet base will leave the case mouth sooner in a .38Spl due to the shorter case, but assuming that the freebore and leade are dimensioned properly in the gun, there shouldn't be a lot of blow-by. SAAMI specs the freebore at 0.358", so with bullets of proper diameter, the fit should be quite good. I don't think I would call a half of a thousandth on either side of the bullet "unsupported".

    There's the temptation to assume that the .38Spl bullet is traveling down this long length of .357Mag chamber with nothing to support it, but remember that the two bullets start out in almost exactly the same position. Both of them are already into the freebore by almost exactly the same amount before firing.
     
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  19. sota

    sota Member

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    This.
    My S&W 442 is already hateful to shoot with +p 125gr, I can only imagine how much worse hot loaded .357 would be out of something that size and weight.
     
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  20. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    The ~.135" length of .380" diameter unused .357 Mag chamber is the concern. A .357" bullet will have blow-by and instability in that situation. A 125 gr XTP is the same whether loaded in a .38 Special case or a .357 Mag case, and it will have to navigate the .357 Mag chamber if fired from a .38.
     
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  21. Tallball

    Tallball Member

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    Several of my 38 snubs and service revolvers aren't sturdy enough for shooting much 357 ammo. That's totally okay. They're sturdy enough to shoot plenty of 38 special. I don't want them to be thicker and sturdier. I like them the way they are, lighter and better balanced than most 357's. The fact that they're also cheaper is icing on the cake.

    I'm not recoil sensitive, but even if this thing could somehow shoot 357 ammo, I wouldn't want to do it. It's cheaper and easier just to smack my hand with a piece of wood.

     
  22. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator Staff Member

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    Because the.38 Spl is an awesome caliber, and a lot of people have no interest in shooting .357 Mag?
     
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  23. 35 Whelen

    35 Whelen Contributing Member

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    I own four .357 revolvers and four .38 Special's. I live in a rural area and due to the prevalence of coyotes, stray dogs, skunks, etc., I rarely go outside that I'm not wearing a revolver and if I'm going to town, I normally have one on as well. I'd say 95% of the time it's one of my 4" K-Frame .38 Special's. For the things that need to be done, a .38 with handloads running a cast 158 gr. SWCHP 1000 fps or so will do anything that needs to be done, and I find it highly unlikely that anyone/anything on the receiving end is going to know the difference.
    Revolvers in .357 are normally heavier than those chambered in .38, and for no real advantage. I view this pretty much in the same lense as those who buy big bulky .44 Magnum's then shoot .44 Special loads through them. Why not just buy a .44 Special?

    cBlxp4Vh.jpg

    35W
     
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  24. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Member

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    Howdy

    I have not counted recently, but I own far more 38s than I do 357s. Besides that, I really don't like the report of a 357, so most of the time I shoot 38s in my 357s anyway. Other than a K frame 357 Mag like the S&W Model 19, most 357 revolvers are bigger and heavier than a 38. I don't much like the extra weight if I don't need it.

    I also own far more 44 Specials than 44 Magnums.

    Same reason. A 44 Special revolver is usually lighter in weight than a 44 Mag.
     
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  25. .38 Special

    .38 Special Member

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    I've shot the 340PD with full house Magnum rounds and want nothing further to do with the damn thing. I regularly shoot a 4" 500 S&W and find that recoil more controllable and less physically damaging. As Mike Venturino put it, "The 340PD is a fine .38 Special".
     
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