.38 personal defense or .357?

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by jughead666, May 24, 2010.

  1. jughead666

    jughead666 New Member

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    I own a Ruger SP101 2 1/4inch .357 revolver. Im not sure if i should run .357 JHP or .38 Sp JHP for personal defense. I heard good things about speer ammunition but im not sure what to look for. Any Ideas to help me out. This gun is a house gun at night and a conceal by day, Im accurate up to 25yrds with .357 up to about 75 rds DA pull. Im thinking .357 at day and .38 by night. Any new thoughts? thanks
    Last edited: May 25, 2010
  2. sports-shooter

    sports-shooter Member

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    My philosophy has always been to 'shoot the most powerful round that you are comfortable with.'

    If you can't be comfortable with a particular round, you will most likely not practice much with it, and you will not be very proficient with it. When the time comes for you to use it, you will be at a great disadvantage.
  3. 2gr8dgs

    2gr8dgs Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    If your not comfortable shooting 357 in your snub nose, Speer has developed a 38 spc +p cartridge specifically for short bbl revolvers.
    It is the 135gr GDHP (gold dot hollow point) my 50 rnd box catalogue # is 53921. I checked out some of the reviews of this cartridge, & it made a believer out of me.
  4. Craig

    Craig New Member

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    With any full power .357 load, like Remington's 125gr SJHP, recoil and muzzle blast will be very noticeable, to say the least. Additionally, any muzzle velocity figures you see quoted will be for longer (4" or 6") barrels, and the .357 magnum is a cartridge that loses velocity rather quickly as the barrel gets shorter. If you are considering a full-charge load, shoot a few rounds of it at night so you'll know what to expect. Most people (whether they will admit it or not) do not shoot well with full-power 357s in a snub nosed revolver.

    My preferred load for short-barreled 357s and +P rated 38s is the proven 38 Special +P 158gr LHP (lead hollow point, also called "lead semi-wadcutter hollow point"). This is the old "Chicago load" or "FBI load," as it was used for years by these agencies with much success. With no jacket, the all-lead bullet easily expands at velocities much lower than full-power 357s. The 158gr bullet is heavy enough to ensure penetration. Jim Cirillo killed quite a few armed robbers with this load out of a S&W model 10.

    If you decide on any 38 load, make sure your 357 revolver will shoot it accurately. With a little longer jump from the brass to the forcing cone, some revolvers will be very inaccurate with some 38s. I mention this because most people are reluctant to practice with any of their expensive self-defense loads. While in an ideal world, we would practice with our carry load, it's simply not economically feasible for most people. So, I have no problem shooting practice ammo most of the time, but make sure you test your self-defense load as well.

    Craig
  5. Old506

    Old506 Member

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    I use .38's because a few defense pistols are shared with my wife and she doesn't like full house .357's.
  6. taylor

    taylor Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    What is its purpose? If its a bedside arm, do you really want to come out of a sound sleep and fire off a full *** magnum in a tiny room? the flash would be blinding, you would probably suffer permanent hearing damage,and the round will through the fibreboard wall and probably kill your 3 year old in the next room.
    If its a homegun and you've wisely decided to go with a .38 you can buy low flash/low recoil .38+ ammo from Buffalo ammo? (I think) that was designed for such situations. Where you have a powerful expanding round driven by a low flash propellent with minimum recoil.
    I read probably one of the only interviews with Wild Bill Hickock. An English writer caught up to him and asked him a few things about shooting. He knew the limitations of his revolver, he chose a .36 Colt Navy long after cartridge revolvers were invented. He could have chose a.45 colt or 44-40 , with shorter barrels but he stuck by 8'bbl Colt percussion. So he was betting his life big firepower wasn't nescessary. Now get this he said his point of aim was the lower guts, about 2" below where your navel is. The writer asked why not aim for the heart, he replied it was covered with strong muscle and hard bone, but down lower it was soft and unprotected and there are nerve endings that control coordination and muscle control! a shot in the lower guts will take even the strongest man out of action, and at my mercy.
    I was astounded as I've always target aimed for a head or vital shot and here was a confirmed gunfighter, recorded over 20 kills saying something different. And it makes sense as thats your most delicate area below the navel.
    Theres a video on Youtube of a robbery and the female casheir pulls a .38 and lets one go into the guys guts, he hits the ground loses control of his gun and is in agony, just like in the interview I'll try and link it up.
  7. jib

    jib Active Member

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    If you shoot 38spl in a 357 mag. be sure to clean the chambers thoroughly, crud will build up where the chamber necks down.
    Shooting a full power 357 mag. from a short barrel in a confined area will likely result in permanent hearing lose.
    http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=21
  8. rsmccsman

    rsmccsman Go Blazers! Gold Supporter

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    +1 my wife is an excellent shot and I load +P .38 spl into her .357 snub because it will speed her follow up shots by not punishing her hands.
  9. taylor

    taylor Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I guess like everything it all depends on the situation. And where you live. I'd rather take a chance of dropping a burglar with a gut shot in California and trying to control the situation (and using a more vital area placed shot if need be) then getting tied up in the legal system down there trying to prove you had no choice than to kill the SOB.
    Plus I don't really want to kill anyone anyways, I believe if you can take him down with a gut shot from a .38, you have time to gain control of the situation.
    But from a LEO or a Front line military point of view I want as much power as possible in my hand. Like a .357 desert eagle but I'd settle for a G21.
  10. jordanvraptor

    jordanvraptor Well-Known Member

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    I'm not saying I agree with this theory but I read it a while back in Combat Handguns. A undercover unit of a police dept was looking around for a gun with which to arm their undercover officers. The criteria was stopping power, concealable, and not a "cop gun". They chose the Ruger SP-101 in .357. They said they actually wanted it in .357 because of the flash and blast of the short barrel. The reasoning being that if the officer had to shoot it would likely be at close range and the blast and flash would disorient the bad guys like a flash bang. The officer, knowing about it and having trained with the revolver would be less affected by the blast. That was the theory, still not sure if I agree with it but I thought I would pass this story along. :)
  11. Cougfan2

    Cougfan2 Well-Known Member

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    I carry +P .38 spl in my SP101. I find I can get a second shot off a little quicker, not by much, but in a bad situation it might make a difference.
  12. soberups

    soberups Well-Known Member

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    Two hits with a .38+p is better than one hit with a .357

    Muzzle flash, blast and recoil of a full Magnum load out of a 2" snub is brutal, making fast and accurate followup shots very difficult.

    Best advice is to practice with both loads and be rigourously honest with yourself about your abilities with each cartridge. Dont let your ego make the decision for you, let your results make the decision for you.

    I'm a big guy with big hands and strong arms. Recoil doesnt bother me. But when I use my .357 snub for concealed carry....its loaded with .38+p's.
  13. jib

    jib Active Member

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    I did not know that, could you share the data or experience for this statement.
    thanks
  14. soberups

    soberups Well-Known Member

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    Two hits with a .38+p is better than one hit with a .357

    Its common sense.

    Both cartridges shoot an identical bullet. From a 2" snub, the Magnum is going to have a 200-300 fps advantage in velocity over the .38+p load.

    That is a relatively small difference when you are talking about a 158 gr JHP. And that difference comes at a price; the ability to make accurate followup shots.

    Personally speaking, I would much rather have one .357 diameter wound in my chest instead of two.
  15. jib

    jib Active Member

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    I'm not sure of that. Here is RK Campbell's opinion on stopping power;
    http://www.gunblast.com/RKCampbell_StoppingPower.htm
    I found it interesting.
    I disagree,
    A 158gr bullet with a velocity of 850 fps has 254 ft-lbs of energy, the same bullet at 1,100 fps E= 425 ft-lbs.
    I feel that placing a single round in the right place is easier and more important than getting two less powerful rounds somewhere on the target, with only five shots you have 2 1/2 double taps.
    shoot every shot as if it was your last, unless you have have a Glock with a 30rnd. mag :D
  16. soberups

    soberups Well-Known Member

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    ......
  17. soberups

    soberups Well-Known Member

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    Assuming a frontal torso shot, both bullets will make an entry and an exit wound. The extra 175 ft lbs of energy in the Magnum round will be expended itself upon whatever is behind the target. It may also result in greater expansion depending upon the design of the bullet used, although the difference is probably marginal and less than the additional damage that can be inflicted with a second well-aimed shot from the .38+P.

    You are correct that placing a single round in the right place is important. And I'm not doubting for a minute that the .357 Magnum is, overall, a superior self-defense cartridge to the .38+p. My only point is that, in an airweight snub revolver, the .357 Magnum has excessive recoil and muzzle blast that hampers the ability to make multiple aimed shots and in these types of guns the .38+P is usually the better choice for carry.
  18. jib

    jib Active Member

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    Who said anything about a air weight ? I'd be flinching with target loads :)
    And assuming the bullet does not hit a arm first.
    The 125gr jhp has a good track with the .357 mag. good energy dump on the target with adequate penetration and massive tissue damage, almost ideal... but they are loud as ****, firing one these in a enclosed area will cause permanent hearing lose.
    One of my carry guns is a S&W 36 1.875" loaded with 148gr BBLWC charged with 3.5gr of Bullseye. My outback gun is a Ruger Security Six 2.75" loaded with 180gr Hornady XTP/FP charged with 12.6gr of AA#9 and F-200 primers.
    As for the OP,
    I hand load my ammunition so I can afford to shoot, for protection I use the ammo I practice with.
  19. Konad

    Konad Member

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    A snubnose .357 is my daily carry piece and this is my biggest fear..
  20. jib

    jib Active Member

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