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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know there are a lot of knowledgeable people on this board when it comes to handgun ballistics, and I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this matter. Out of a short barrel revolver, say a 2" Colt Detective Special, does the 38+P lose much to the 357 out of an equally short barrel? I know it wouldn't be much contest in a 6" barrel, but I'm wondering how much effect the short barrel has. Thanks in advance. James Fawcett
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I know there are a lot of knowledgeable people on this board when it comes to handgun ballistics, and I'd be interested to hear your opinions on this matter. Out of a short barrel revolver, say a 2" Colt Detective Special, does the 38+P lose much to the 357 out of an equally short barrel? I know it wouldn't be much contest in a 6" barrel, but I'm wondering how much effect the short barrel has. Thanks in advance. James Fawcett
 

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The 357, when fired from a 2" barrel, does not have much over a well designed 38 +P load, which is designed to be fired in shorter barrels. You will get "dragon's breath", a HUGE muzzle flash, and a lot of noise from the magnum, and not much else.

In my area, the word "MAGNUM", when used in conjunction with a defensive shooting, is a bad thing in civil court!

Bullet placement is a lot more important in shooting situations than bullet size or speed.
 

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The 357, when fired from a 2" barrel, does not have much over a well designed 38 +P load, which is designed to be fired in shorter barrels. You will get "dragon's breath", a HUGE muzzle flash, and a lot of noise from the magnum, and not much else.

In my area, the word "MAGNUM", when used in conjunction with a defensive shooting, is a bad thing in civil court!

Bullet placement is a lot more important in shooting situations than bullet size or speed.
 

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I agree with Sir Coach re the short barrel comparison. I've always told friends that the really big advantage to the .357 mag for self defense is that if you happen to miss with the bullet, at least you'll BBQ the miscreant. With more seriosity, however, the .357 mag holds the top slot for one-shot stops in a several year ago poll of law enforcement shootings; even over the .45 ACP.....breakemall....Bob Dodd
 

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I agree with Sir Coach re the short barrel comparison. I've always told friends that the really big advantage to the .357 mag for self defense is that if you happen to miss with the bullet, at least you'll BBQ the miscreant. With more seriosity, however, the .357 mag holds the top slot for one-shot stops in a several year ago poll of law enforcement shootings; even over the .45 ACP.....breakemall....Bob Dodd
 

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The loss of Kinetic energy on impact of the most of the .38 + P loads makes it the best choice over the .357 Mag ... The mag will do some major damage and probably exit the body where as most of the +p loads are designed to not exit the body even though they still do ... I carry .38 Spc. SPD +P's in all of my .38's and .357's ... WPT ... (YAC) ...
 

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The loss of Kinetic energy on impact of the most of the .38 + P loads makes it the best choice over the .357 Mag ... The mag will do some major damage and probably exit the body where as most of the +p loads are designed to not exit the body even though they still do ... I carry .38 Spc. SPD +P's in all of my .38's and .357's ... WPT ... (YAC) ...
 

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Shooting Coach stated:

"Bullet placement is a lot more important in shooting situations than bullet size or speed."

So a well placed .22 is better than a "not so well" placed .38? Most people would disagree due to penetration differences and cavitation created by the round.

Hawk,
 

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In my 2 1/2" K frame S&W revolver I carry the Winchester .38 special 158g lead HP +P load, the old FBI load, and in my J frame 1 7/8" revolver, I carry the new Speer 135g HP that Speer designed to expand from a 1 7/8" barrel. Firing a full house .357, especially a 125g HP, from my K frame has just too much recoil for accurate shooting for me.

The 125g HP .357 made its reputation as a great man stopper from 4" barrel length and I do not believe it provides much edge from a short barrel.
 

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the "only" load for the .357 Magnum uses 19.6 grains of 296 and a 140 grain bullet. From an old Speer book I think. One doesn't need to be terrible accurate especially at night as the flash will blind everyone in sight.

Get some fast powder and a chrono and you will find that you can get as much from a .38 in a 2 inch barrel as you need, and have a controlable handgun in the process.
 

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Remember please, that in a self defense handgun, factory loads should only be used. Reloads have the potential for a legal problem if you ever have to use one and discuss the circumstances in court.
 

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James: I think the ammo companies can answer this for you (Rem, Win, Speer, Fed, Hornady) as there is snubby-designed ammo out there. Back in the '80's I did a lot of chrono experimenting with this question, but it was all with handloads, and I tailored my loads to the short barrels (.38, .357 & .44,) so it won't answer this question. I think, only my opinion, that if you use snubby-designed ammo, you'll find the same advantage to the .357 as in ammo designed for longer barrels: bigger case, more powder, more power. This'd be an interesting experiment to try, but my answer to your question would be yes, with proper ammo the .38+P will lose as much in a snubby as will a .357, or put another way, will have the same disadvantage. I'd think that it'd be possible to carry a snubby .357, with non-optimal ammo, that had less power than a snubby .38+P that carried optimal ammo (by optimal I don't mean gimmicky bullets, I mean standard JHP's but with barrel-length-tailored powders.) Phil E
 

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My .02 cents here.... I carry a J frame, and, you know how it is, " I Hope they are right that it will do what I need it to do..."... Well, late last year I had the nasty duty of identifying someone near to me murdered with 1 shot to the head. Standard 38 spl, plain JHP, not +P. Massive, Massive dammage. Standard 38 WILL do the job. After seeing that, I really didn't see the need for +P.
 

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This thread started out with the .38+P vs the.357 magnum. I agree that shot placement is everything. I would rather shoot a human threat in the eye with a .22 than a center mass shot with a .38. However, when this discussion turned to "home defense", a handgun of any caliber would surely not be my weapon of choice. The 12 gauge shotgun loaded with 3 dram 7 1/2 would be my 1st choice for a confrontation within an average home. Agreed that if we discuss only handguns with very short barrels and I had to choose between a .38 +P and a .357 ; my vote would go with the .38 +P. Ed
 

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Which choke would you use for that shotgun esoxhunter? Full or modified and would you say pull out of habit before shooting?
 

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Chokes are irrelevant; considering the short distances inside the home. I taught defensive/combat training for law enforcement for 20 years. There isn't a more potent weapon made that can rival a shotgun at close ranges. No I would not call 'pull"; as using deadly force is a very serious undertaking and cannot be taken lightly. It's comments such as yours made in jest or whatever your reasoning for thinking that use of force is in any way a jocular situation; that gives the anti-gunners the"ammunition" they need. What I would do is let the subject know that I have a weapon and that he/she had better vacate the premises. The best case scenario is to exit the area if possible. If that is impossible you need to be prepared. That doesn't mean making a plan at that very moment. It means you should have "crisis rehearsed" this many times; in case a confrontation developed. By the way Lumper; aren't you one of the "leftists" that inhabit this forum?? If not, you sound like one. Ed
 

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All in all the .357 will outdo the .38 special. The + P ammo really enhances the .38. Some old timers used to load inverted wad cutters in the .38 for a really close range roud. It makes a real mess. The + P ammo is loaded pretty hot and has been known to do damage to older, cheaply made .38 revolvers. Always be sure the gun uis rated for the + P ammo! At close range the .38 with + P ammo is a pretty decent defense round. In a snubby the recoil from a .357 can be hard to manage.
 
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