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I'm looking at getting either a S&W 642 which uses 38 or 38+p or a S&W 340 pd which uses 357. Is the stopping power that much different? The 340 is more expensive. Is it worth the extra money for the 357? Any help or suggestions would be great. Thanks Jason
I would suggest the 340. You can still shoot the 38 special and the 38+p out of it. My wife has a .357 and most of the ammo we use in it is 38. I take it out in the woods with me and load it with .357. I really like the versatility (if that's the right word) of different ammo in one gun.


Here's a link I just found for handgun ballistic info
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It really depends on what you plan to do with the gun. I have been a fan of the 38/357 for all of my shooting life and have literally put MANY K's of rounds of 158 gr LSWC .38 Specials through the many .357 Mag guns I have owned, and still do in the only .357 gun I currently own, a 16" Winchester "Trapper" rifle. While some may argue the .38/357 may be our most versatile round - it can be loaded inexpensively in .38 Special capable of incredible accuracy on up to pushing 2K FPS in the .357 with the right bullet/powder combination. I am currently practicing with my Trapper with 17 gr of 296 and 158 gr Speer Gold hunting bullets for black bear hunting this fall - Understand I will be limiting my shots to 100 yards or less but I can consistently hit a beer can at 300 yards, "open Irons" with this load. Part of this is the new Speer bullet which looks like a Hydro-Shock with unique segments in it to promote mushrooming at low velocity but this load hits hard and is one of the most accurate .357 bullets I have ever shot! I would not overlook a 125 - 150 yard shot at a deer with this load. Bottom line - if the 340 is not that much more get it and shoot .38 Special for the fun and accuracy and you can up to .357 if the need calls for it.
I'm a recently new 357 (Ruger GP100) owner. I must agree that the variety of rounds both available at retail as well as reloading recipes is a huge appeal. Since I didn't plan to conceal my wheel gun, I wanted something durable, accurate and that could handle some of the hotter loads in 357mag.

The biggest argument I hear for a 38spl specific gun vs. 357mag is weight/portability. I think that argument is a bit outdated. Not to argue ballistics, but there are many modern, smaller platform pistols with the roughly equivalent "pow" *** 38spl.

My father in-law was in law enforcement in the early 1980s when cops carried revolvers. He carried a snubbie 38spl, just because it was considerably lighter than 357mag frames in that day. Keep in mind they didn't have all the variety of polymer semis that cops have today - so that was just a means of packing light.

If you are happy with the size and weight of a 38spl frame, a tad extra weight that allows you to shoot 357mag is practical to have.
it's been a while since i've studied it, but IIRC, golden sabres in .38 perform better than most .357 loads. if nothing else, they're just very good performers in that caliber (not so great in other loads)- and since .38s are shorter, lighters, and more concealable, it's .38 for me.
Ruger is coming out with an LCR in .357 magnum. If you dont want to wait to see what they will cost then I would say get the .38 and load +p in it. I have a 642 and it is controllable but annoying. I HAD a model 60 in .357 and got rid of it due to the punishment. If I am not using .357 then why carry around extra weight in the M60. If you get the scandium, I would get it Magnaported to help with recoil. If money is not a factor it is what I would do.
Out of a snub nose, the velocity difference between 38+p and 357 is pretty minimal.

The noise, muzzle blast and flash difference are pretty large.


The .38+P is the optimum round for the snubnose platform. Anything beyond that and you are just making a big nioisy fireball of unburned powder. If you spend the extra $$$ on the 340, you will probably wind up loading it with .38+P's anyway, so whay waste the money? If you were getting a steel-framed gun with a 3" or longer barrel the .357 would certainly be the better choice, but not for an airweight snub.
.357's in a snubby are just plain MEAN to shoot.I feel well armed with plus p's in my the **** out of no gun at all.
years ago I had one of the 1st steel framed .357 snubs and it would hurt yoiur hand to rapid fire 5 rounds with full house loads.My snubby now is an airweight,no way would I want an airweight loaded with .357's. OUCH
Some of you guys are just pussys! I carry a S.W.mod 60 J frame in 357mag. It is a stainless snub. Surgical accuracy to 25 yards, the option of mag loads if I feel the need, 38+p when I want them. Sure, the stainless is somewhat heavier, however, it does dampen the felt recoil of either round. The nice thing about this revolver is that it is much more concealable than my 1911's or XD45's. Fits nicely into Smart Carry and no printing.
Greydog.:s0155: A good short read on this debate. I have a 640 in 357. I find myself carrying my Airweight 637 more often than the 640. There are modern self defense cartridges out there specifically designed for the snub nose 38spc. I like the speer GDHP 135gr+p. A hard core self defence load out of a snub nose 357 is still significantly more powerful, IMO. It's also my opinion that NO lightweight snub nose loaded with +p or hotter is a good choice for a beginner, just my $.02
I vote for the option of a pistol shooting both 357 and 38.practice with the 38 which is cost effective.

In a full-sized or steel-framed gun, yes. In an airweight snub with a 1 7/8" barrel, no.

Airweight snubs like the 442/642 or the LCR are not "plinking" guns or "range" guns or "target practice" guns. The are pocket self-defense guns, with minimal sights. Many of them are hammerless DAO.

They arent "fun" to shoot, and they arent particulary accurate beyond the 7-10 yard range that they were designed for. Guns like these are a tool with a specific purpose. They will not typically be shot a great deal, therefore the cost or relative availability of ammo should not be a factor in deciding whether or not to purchase one.

I own a S&W M66-3 with a 2 3/4" barrel and adjustable sights. Its a heavy, steel-framed .357 and I like the fact that I can choose between various types of ammo for different purposes....everything from hot 158 gr Magnum loads for trail use down to el cheapo .38 wadcutters for plinking. Its a fun gun to shoot and it fills many roles.

I also own a Ruger LCR in .38+p. Its not a fun gun to shoot, and it fills but one serve as a lightweight, deep concealment carry piece that can launch five .38+P 125 gr JHP's at an attacker. The recoil from these rounds is manageable at best, and pretty much at the limit of what can be handled with any degree of accuracy.

The recoil of a Magnum round from a gun of this size and weight would be uncontrollable and would make accurate followup shots impossible. Its not about ego, or "not liking" the recoil, or whether or not the recoil "hurts my hand". In a self-defense situation, such issues are irrelevant. Its about whether or not I can employ the weapon in a manner that will save my life and when it comes to airweights the best choice is to check one's ego at the door and use the right tool for the job.
I also looked into this a while ago. I don't recall where I read it, but I found that you will get a little more velocity out of a .357 magnum in a snub nose compared to a .38. The difference was not that much, wish I could recall the numbers.
I chose to get a 327 performance center 8 shot .357 with 2" barrel. It's 21oz. The 340pd is around 13oz. The 327 hurts to shoot and is only fun in that its novel. I've shot a co-workers 340 with .357 mag loads and it literally ripped the skin on my hand and made me bleed on his gun.
I am now in the market for a .38 and might sell my 327. I'd go 38 unless you are going to get a heavy steel frame or a long barrel.

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