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.38 Spl vs .357 for home defense

Discussion in 'Shooting Related Threads' started by FIB, Jun 29, 2011.

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  1. FIB

    FIB Member

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    I have a thread on TS about which model .357 is better/best for the money but after stopping by a few gun shops I did notice there are a lot of nice quality Smith .38's that can be bought for MUCH less than a nice Smith .357. I know a .357 is more versatile being able to shoot both .38's and .357's but with today better loads (+p and others)is a .38 just as "good" as a .357 for home/personal defense? Regards, Randy Price
     
  2. Unknown1

    Unknown1 Well-Known Member

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  3. wolfram

    wolfram Well-Known Member

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    Neither is as effective as a shotgun nor as easy to use. So if you are strictly considering this for home defense, a pistol shouldn't be your first choice.

    A +P+ .38 special won't run with the full house .357s but you don't want to shoot the full house .357s in anything but full sized guns either. Muzzle blast and recoil are both severe with the .357 using the smaller pistols you would normally asscoiate with CCW guns. In this regard the .38 special is probably a better choice.

    When it comes to actual effect on the bad guy, shot placement is everything - you gotta put the rounds where they count no matter what you are shooting. So if you do decide to buy a .38 or .357 make sure you also commit to buying an equal dollar amount of ammo for starters and practice practice practice. The .38 special standard vel will be the round you will want for this activity.
     
  4. vpr80

    vpr80 Active Member

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    I concur. Unless you spend the time to become extremely proficient with the gun, a shotgun is a much better choice for HD. A small revolver in the dark under stress is just not going to work well. And the difference between a 38 and a 357 will not matter when you hit the wall, unless the 357 goes through the wall and hits a relative. With very high power rounds, you also need to keep in mind of what happens when you miss.
     
  5. sliverbulletexpress

    sliverbulletexpress TS Member

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    Most people shoot 38 special in their 357's anyway. Nothing wrong with a 38 special for protection and you don't need plus p but you do have to hit what you need to.
     
  6. Tom Strunk

    Tom Strunk Well-Known Member

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    I agree with the above posts, for home defense there is nothing better than a shotgun. I have a Remington riot shotgun loaded with 1 1/4 of 2's near my bed. There was a hunting incedent a little over a year ago in Montana where a bird hunter with a semi-auto 20 guage shotgun killed a Grizzly when it attacked him, he was shooting 6's. It took three shots but it did the job.

    I use a Ruger 357 5 shot for defense when working my dogs, they can be loaded with the 38 snake loads. I have a few other pistols also, a HK USP 40 (15 rounds) and a Glock 27 in 40. Each has it's use.

    I live out in the high country of Arizona. There are mountain lions and bears here as well as many other critters. I have to be prepared for the worst but hope for the best. Never had to use any of the guns yet for home defense.

    When we bought this place my wife was here but I was out of state and my neighbor heard our car alarm. He took his bright spotlight and shined it over to my property and saw a mountain lion on top of my wifes's Honda van. He moved away when he set off the alarm. Another time there was a black bear on the road in front of my property, but the dogs ran it off.

    If you really want home defense buy the shotgun.


    Tom Strunk
     
  7. William Perry

    William Perry Member

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    I like the .38, loaded with bird shot. The bullets will go through drywall, which if you live alone out in the stix is ok, but if you have others in the house, live in a multi-family, you may injure the wrong persons. Don't forget the flashlight - a Surefire or similar.
     
  8. wm rike

    wm rike Member

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    A shotgun may indeed be the ideal home defense weapon, but I disagree with the use of #2 shot. It can result in too much drywall and even structural damage. It's bad enough you might have to buy new carpet. Stick with a light load of 8s. It will deliver the same net effect from across the room.
     
  9. sernv99

    sernv99 Active Member

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    Eddie is on the money with his post....for those that don't think 38 loads won't deter someone: go find someone to shoot you with .38 defense loads in the flesh. I'm sure you won't want to stick around to get a 2nd shot. It's not hard to get a head shot.... It's not like you are shooting at someone 50 yards away....too many people get carried away with having to have multiple hi-cap mags loaded with 20 rounds just to confront, in most cases, one single intruder. Where is Jerbear? He is an advocate of this LMAO
     
  10. Don Steele

    Don Steele Well-Known Member

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    A .38 is plenty....but a shotgun is BETTER.
    Why bet your life on a good second choice...???
     
  11. GW22

    GW22 Active Member

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    A good .38 DA Revolver with dedicated home defense ammo is an excellent choice. It also won't render you deaf after the first shot (and blind if fired in the dark) like a .357 will.

    -Gary
     
  12. dave-320c

    dave-320c Well-Known Member

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    Best Defense in my humble opinion is a little yappy mutt and a shotgun with 7.5 or 8's.

    Dave
     
  13. dave-320c

    dave-320c Well-Known Member

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    Best Defense in my humble opinion is a little yappy mutt and a shotgun with 7.5 or 8's.

    Dave
     
  14. dave-320c

    dave-320c Well-Known Member

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    Best Defense in my humble opinion is a little yappy mutt and a shotgun with 7.5 or 8's.

    Dave
     
  15. tumbleweed

    tumbleweed Member

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    Birdshot is for birds and targets. If you are going to use a shotgun in a personal defense situation it's best to use #1 buck or larger.
     
  16. noknock1

    noknock1 Active Member

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    Depends on length of your barrel. If you are shooting a 2 1/2" or 3" barrel then check a chronograph and see the minimal velocity difference between a 357 mag and a 38 SPL + P. If you are using a 6" barrel and do gain an extra 175 FPS give or take 50 FPS, so what? Either bullet for self defense range of 21 FEET or less is going to expand and work fine.

    Good chance both will over penetrate so if that is a concern, then go with wad cutters.

    I have heard from some very reliable sources that a 686 with a 6" barrel and 38 +P 135 grain speer will completely pass through the chest cavity of a doe at approximately 15 yds leaving a golf ball size exit wound thus dropping the doe in her tracks.

    What will that load do to a human chest cavity at 5 yds?

    How would the 357 perform any better than that? The 357 mag advantage is not realized until there is some actual real distance to the target.

    IMO and experience, 30 yds or less there is no real difference.

    With +P velocities and modern bullet construction, it is a different ball game than 25-80 or so years ago when a .38 special with a lead, non-bonded type bullet that didn't expand really, etc... was just that...

    Plenty of game laws need to be updated as the +P rounds with modern bullets are just as efficient as the early .357 magnums were with antiquated bullet design!

    #4 buck is what my home shotguns are loaded with.... that is my first choice....
     
  17. Shooting Coach

    Shooting Coach Well-Known Member

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    Go ahead and buy that almost-new Smith 38 for little or nothing. It will do well for personal protection. Use quality High Velocity defense loads. The 357's best feature is that is can shoot 38's. However, it is a witch to clean when 38's are shot in it.

    A shotgun is great if you have the time to get to it. The handgun is great for that unexpected emergency. The handgun will also give you time to get to the shotgun, loaded with BUCKSHOT, if needed.

    Forget bird loads for a definitive stop on a motivated or impaired attacker(s).

    I always recommend Reduced Recoil 00 BUCK, fired from a 12 ga pump, for the authoritative stop you expect from a shotgun. Don't forget, the shotgun with Buck is out of gas at 25 yards. You want to stop the attacker RIGHT NOW if you have to neutralize a lethal threat to save your life or the life of a loved one.
     
  18. deercreek

    deercreek Well-Known Member

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    My bedside gun (on each side) is a S&W Model 64 in 38 special with a 4" bbl. This is a no frills gun with fixed sights that I can drill the target with up to 25 yds very effectively. I have 135 grain +P's in them. As far as the 357 round....it is a great round. Lots of flash and muzzle blast too. But...you must be able to control your firearm and shoot it accurately....you must be able to shoot one handed, with the weak hand too AND BE ABLE TO SHOOT WOUNDED if needed. I have several choices with a 357, but choose not to go that way for the reasons mentioned above. I have "bagged" plenty of dead bodies that were shot and killed with less than 38 +P's. Just last summer I was on a scene with three deaths---all done with a 380 acp in a junk gun with ball ammo. I have seen several 9mm's in the chest that finished that person off too. Have you ever seen a "chest cracked" and puulled out clots the size of softballs---that even works with 22's and 380's. Bottom line is shot placement. I chased many deer with fellow hunters that all used the Weatherby Mags and could not handle them......most of their deer were either finished off or tagged with my "wimpy" 243.
     
  19. bluedevil

    bluedevil Active Member

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    Elmer Keith and Skeeter Skelton are your friends(read their stuff). I load 200gr Keith styles with stiff load of Unique. I have complete confidence in them in the house, shotgun is too long if you have to move through rooms, rifle too much penetration so my .38's are just fine. Fire a hot, light weight .357 inside your house or your car, the flash and noise will disable you if you are not used to it. Big, flat points, at 900fps are extremely reliable and if you need more than 6 speed loaders are fast to employ. Just my opinion, of course.
     
  20. Brian in Oregon

    Brian in Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Well now that the armchair commandos have condemned handguns for home defense, let's go over a few things...

    Barrel length is an issue with the 38 Special and the .357 Magnum. Magnums have recoil, blast and flash all out of proportion to the velocity increase over standard loads in short barrels. While there is an increase for velocity in a 2" barrel, it's not all that much of an increase.

    On the other hand, most 38 Special loads are a bit on the weak side.

    What I'd suggest is unless you're going to carry the gun in the woods and use it for animal defense, save some money and get a 39 Special that's rated for +P ammunition. These are roughly a third to halfway between a standard 38 Special and a 357 Magnum. The +P was created at the request of the Treasury Department many years ago because of the above issues I cite with 357 Magnum ammo in short barrels. When the Treasury did issue .357 revolvers, they went with 3" barrels on some orders to help burn more of the powder in the barrel.

    Now, if you're looking at a 4" barrel, the above doesn't apply. The 357 works quite well in a 4" barrel.

    Myself, if I was on a budget and wanted a 4" handgun, I'd get a good, used S&W Model 13 fixed sight, Model 19 adj sight, or their stainless counterparts, the 65 or 66.

    Ruger Security Sixes and GP100s are tough, rugged, and heavier than they need be.

    I don't care for Colts. When they work, they're wonderful. But they're much more intricate than the S&Ws or Rugers, and in my opinion (from experience) don't hold up as well.

    I do not agree with the suggestion with birdshot loads (actually they're sold as snakeshot rounds) in a .38 or .357. Unless your intent is to blind someone, all you'll do is piss them off.

    And I don't know why we ALWAYS get someone saying, hey, well, how about YOU volunteer to get shot with (inert caliber de jour here). Aside from being asinine from the standpoint of safety, this really proves nothing. It doesn't take into account perps high as a kite. (PCP was nicknamed at one time the Superman drug because people high on it were almost invulnerable to gunshot wounds before they bled out. In fact, an officer I once served with emptied his 357 into such a perps belly and still wound up with broken bones and ribs before the perp passed out and died from loss of blood.) Using this kind of logic, any takers to test a .14 Jones? No? Well, by their logic that proves it is a viable home defense cartridge.

    Shotguns. Yeah, they're home defense artillery. From a pure power standpoint, they beat all the non-magnums and give most magnums a run for their money. But the question was not which is best, shotgun or handgun, but rather comparing the difference between the 38 and 357. It's also awkward to answer the front door at night with a shotgun behind your back. And shotguns do need practice. You better learn how to carry one so a perp won't try to wrest it out of your hands. If your shot missed and he has a good grip on the forend, it can be hard to pump the next round. Not common, but it has happened.

    One other thing. If you have the budget, see about getting a handgun with at least one tritium dot on it. I suppose a laser will work just fine, but not my cup of tea. I don't like backlighting dust to give my position away. My home defense pistol has 3-dot tritium sights.
     
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