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Old September 26, 2005, 05:55 PM   #1
mrtom
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Revolver Question

Don't have a lot of firearm experience, please help, talking strictly stub nose revolvers, man at gun shop told me that when comparing 38 vs 357 cal. of the same minimum barrel length there is very little difference because the 357 will waste much of it's powder when fired due to short length of barrel, is this true ? ......................................................Thanx mrtom
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Old September 26, 2005, 06:24 PM   #2
timothy75
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Sort of. You wont get maximum efficiency out of it but probably wont with anything under six'' anyway. I'd still rather have a 357 in 125gr over a 38 in 125 anyday.
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Old September 26, 2005, 06:41 PM   #3
Ronny
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I don't believe that statement is entirely accurate.To answer your question, gunpowder burn rates, though they do vary, all burn blindingly fast. Rest assured that all of it is burned by the time that slug starts moving down the barrel -- doesn't matter if it's a .22 or a .50cal.

Now when you get into terminal ballistics between .38 vs .357, you'll find that the .357 has a better "one shot stop" street record, specifically with the .357 Magnum. I'm going to try and avoid starting a caliber war here, but to sum it up, the .357Mag is more powerful than a .38. That's not to say that the .38 is weak. Many people load up their .357 magnums with .38+p ammo for easier recoil control and less muzzle flash. .38Special ammunition is ballistically very similar to 9mm Luger ammunition, if that means anything to you.

A .357 slug coming out of a snubbie is ballistically more lethal than a .38 slug coming out of a snubbie, but either one will kill. Just pick the one you can handle best.
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Old September 26, 2005, 06:56 PM   #4
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Ronny,
It is NOT just when the gunpowder burns that velocity peaks but when the gases stop expanding. The gases DON'T stop expanding (pushing on the bullet to accelerate it faster) until well down the barrel. The ubiquitous .22 LR maxes out velocity in about 16-18 inches of barrel. A 4" gun barrel normally yields more velocity than the same cartridge in a 2" barrel, likewise a 6" barrel normally more than 4" barrel, etc. until the gases stop expanding and pushing hard enough on the bullet base to continue acceleration. The limit in barrel length required for the max velocity depends on the caliber, barrel length, case capacity, and pressure level of load among other factors.

Good shooting and be safe.
LB

ps: Gun powders don't always burn completely in short barrels either. Why do you suppose unburned powder granules are shot out of the barrel with loads using "slow" powders in short barrels?
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Old September 26, 2005, 07:01 PM   #5
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I'd say off hand that the guy at the gun shop probably had a glut of .38 specials he needed to unload, . . . or he figured you for a newbie and got a chuckle out of your inexperience.

Either way, . . . I'd find another gun shop, . . . as he clearly does not know whereof he speaks. True, . . . in a snubbie, . . . you will not develop the max velocity, . . . but you can rest assured as Ronny said, . . . the .357 will certainly whack the target a lot harder.

If you want to prove this, . . . go to a range, . . . rent a short barreled .357 and load it up .38, .357, .38, .357, etc, . . . it won't take you long at all to tell which one is which.

But again, . . . as it is often stressed, . . . caliber always has to take a rear seat to bullet placement. A well placed .22 will do more to stop a bg than 6 near misses with a S&W .500.

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Old September 26, 2005, 07:12 PM   #6
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MrTom

As the owner of a .357 snub, I can tell you it aint a lot of fun to shoot. Hand held rocket launcher comes to mind. To shoot this caliber you need a gun with some heft to it. You can do it, it's just not fun. I can also tell you that a 38spl revolver will shoot 38spl ammunition better and more accurately than a .357 can. The travel distance from the chamber to the barrel is less. Of course it depends on the gun, but that's what I've seen. So if you can get a deal on a 38, don't overlook it because you think it's a sissy gun.
Why don't you go to range, or with a friend, and shoot some .357 and some 38 and see what you prefer. For me, shooting the 38+p is routine shooting. Shooting .357 is an "event". Being comforable with ones chosen caliber is very important. I'm sure most here would agree.
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Old September 26, 2005, 10:24 PM   #7
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LHB1,

16-18 inches of barrel? We are referring to a .38 vs .357 out of a 2'' pistol barrel. Another 2'' of barrel won't make much of a difference in muzzle velocity for a pistol, and a .357 slug is in no way made less potent in short barrel revolvers.

As for powder burn, the powder in that cartridge is burned up the moment it is ignited and creates a pulse of expanding gas -- not a stream of gas or a wave of gas, a single pulse which doesn't get any stronger. That pulse of gas (no longer burning gunpowder) pushes the bullet through the barrel and exits with it. A longer barrel doesn't increase the amount of pressure, though it allows the bullet to accelerate under that pressure for a little longer. Thus there is an optimal length of barrel depending on caliber under which the bullet receives optimum work from the expanding gases of the propellant before friction with the barrel actually does negative work and slows down the bullet before it reaches the end of the muzzle.

And, no, the gases don't stop expanding until they reach the same pressure of our atmosphere (e.g. not until long after that bullet as left the barrel because the gases aren't exposed to the atmosphere until they leave the barrel).

BTW, what is the difference in muzzle velocity out of a 2'' barrel and a 4'' barrel for a .357 magnum? 10 feet per second? There isn't a whole lot of difference. Chrono it yourself and see.
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Old September 27, 2005, 12:53 PM   #8
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Ronny,
I think we are saying the same thing in different words re expanding gas and accelerating bullets down barrel. We also agree that .357 would yield more power than .38 in same length barrel, even a snubby. The only thing I'm not too sure about is exactly when the powder is fully consumed. Some loads with very slow burning powder will eject unburned powder granules from the muzzle, clearly showing that not all powder is consumed instantly in the case before bullet begins movement.

Good shooting and be safe.
LB
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Old September 27, 2005, 02:38 PM   #9
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Quote:
what is the difference in muzzle velocity out of a 2'' barrel and a 4'' barrel for a .357 magnum? 10 feet per second?
'pends on the load. In my guns, and typical experiences as far as I've read, the same load is likely to be 30-50fps per inch--or 60-100 for 2"--faster in a 4" gun than a 2". Short barrel 357 does outdo 38, though not as much as long-barreled 357 outdoes 38. The crucial consideration, though, is that .38 snub velocities are just at--or below--the bottom end of what bullet makers need to make an expanding bullet function reliably. Using a 357 snub--though it is, indeed, a beast to shoot--puts you over the threshold into the ballistic territory where you don't have to question too much whether your bullet is going to work as intended. All you have to focus on is putting it in the right place.
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Old September 27, 2005, 04:02 PM   #10
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Powders do burn at various rates and the slower burning powders will take longer to achieve peak pressures. Remember pressure has to build to reach it's peak and this can be seen if plotted on a linear scale. So a slow burning powder in a short barrel won't have time to reach it's peak pressure resulting in lower velocities and the great fireball when the burning gases exits the muzzle. This fireball is also burning powder and sometimes all this powder does not get a chance to completely burn. Loads developed for the shorter barrels use a faster burning powder. Burn some gunpowder and you will see that it doesn't all go up at once, but actually takes some time to be completely consumed.
The .38spl is not at the bottom of an expansion rate for bullet makers. Remember the same bullet is used in both the .38spl and the .357 mag. If the bullet is made to expand to quickly then the velocity of the .357 mag can cause the bullet to blow up on contact. Remember that a bullet does not have to have a jacket. A fairly soft lead bullet expands nicely at low velocities and have always performed excellently in short barreled .38spl revolvers. The same bullet can violently expand in a .357 mag and have limited penetration. The new Gold Dot bullet is an example of a thin jacketed bullet designed to expand at .38 spl velocities in short barrels. This bullet is not used in .357 mag loads.
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Old September 27, 2005, 04:30 PM   #11
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I agree with you completely LHB1. The .357 mag doesnt usually reach its full potential until about 18 inches of barrel, but that's obviously not really practical.

Jkwas, why don't you like to shoot the .357 snubbie? I'm only 16, but my father has a Smith & Wesson model 66. I love shooting that thing! Even with the 2.5 inch barrel it's more accurate then I will probably ever be. I think the recoil of the .357 with hydrashocks or some other nice warm loads is great fun! He let his friend shoot it once about 2 months ago. His friend tried holding it like he does with his Beretta, about 12 inches from his face. The hammer nearly tagged him in the forehead. Hehe! It's a gun you like to have a firm grip on.

I would love the chance to try out a .44 mag. THAT would be fun!
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Old September 27, 2005, 07:23 PM   #12
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Quote:
Some loads with very slow burning powder will eject unburned powder granules from the muzzle, clearly showing that not all powder is consumed instantly in the case before bullet begins movement.
Very true. Does't have to be slow either. .308 needs 18", 50BMG needs 27". Just imagine a 50BMG snub nose.
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Old September 27, 2005, 07:49 PM   #13
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I don't want to imagine a .50 BMG snub nose. I am afraid if I do, someone will make it, and in Scandium to boot. Then people will want to know what grips to buy to reduce recoil, what porting works best, etc., etc.

For a rule of thumb, add/subtract 50 fps for every inch of barrel. IMHO, .38 Special is quite enough in most snubbies.

As someone mentioned on another forum, the gun shops are full of slightly used .357 S&W snubby lightweights, with a box of 47 rounds included.

Jim
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Old September 27, 2005, 09:51 PM   #14
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The fireball at the muzzle is definitely the combustion of incompletely burned gunpowder - otherwise there wouldn't be any fireball (air alone doesn't burn). Yes there is a big fireball with a .357 snubby, and yes this does mean that a good bit of the cartridge potential is lost as muzzle blast.

However, if you look at the velocity figures, while a 2" .357 won't do what a 8" .357 will do (off by about 25% I'd say offhand), on the other hand, it still does a good sight better than a 2" .38 +P will do.

Of course, you can't just focus on velocity when choosing a best defense gun. So I'd also consider your ability to control the gun while shooting quickly. There is no way to max out ballistic impact and simultaneously max out speed and accuracy of delivery. It's a compromise between these competing objectives. Everyone has a different idea of where the best point on the curve lies - no "right" answers.
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Old September 27, 2005, 10:12 PM   #15
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Simply put, a full-power or standard Magnum load out of a 2" barrel is similar to a +p 9mm load out of a 4" or service size 9mm pistol. The question isn't whether or not there is a difference in terminal performance but a matter of controlling the weapon. A snubby revolver is really hard to tame with standard Magnum loads. Either light Magnum or .38spl +p loads should be used to tame recoil and brutal muzzle flash. The vast majority of SD shootings happen in low-light situations.
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Old September 27, 2005, 10:27 PM   #16
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cje1980, do you have any proof backing that up. I dont buy it that a .357 mag out of a 2" snubbie is in fact similar to a 9mm anything. I can only say that I can simply feel the power difference (.357 mag much greater) than any 9mm I have fired period.
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Old September 27, 2005, 10:51 PM   #17
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.357 @ 1&7/8" = 9mm+P @ 4"???

I think cje1980 is right. Here is a link to tests of various ammo in various short barreled revolvers (1&7/8" - 3") by a S&W forum user with a chronograph. You'll see the numbers for 125 grain loads in .357 are just about what they are for 9mm +P in 125gr at 4" (124gr @1180fps). In fact, some of the snubby performances are closer to the standard 9mm (124 gr @1125 fps).

http://smith-wessonforum.com/groupee...17&f=695107034
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Old September 28, 2005, 03:34 AM   #18
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You are going to hear this sooner or later, so why not sooner. The recoil from a .357 will be much greater than a .38 spc of same barrel length. You can overcome that, for the most part, by practicing with .38s in your .357 and loading it with the magnums for carry.

But one more thing...the .357, in addition to added recoil, has a lot of muzzle flip (understatement), and noise, and flash, compared to the .38. Something to consider if your plan is to defend yourself in close quarters. Someone mentioned on this forum discharging the magnum inside a car without ear protection at night to get a feel for what he could expect under actual conditions. I'm not saying I recommend you do that, but it does make you consider the subject more thoroughly. Btw, I believe the guy who did that claimed to be essentially deaf and blind for several minutes afterwards. It always comes down to the same question doesnt it?

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Old September 28, 2005, 09:45 PM   #19
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In "olden" days, .357 revolvers often, maybe mostly, had cylinders slightly longer than .38 cylinders, so the jump to the forcing cone was greater for a .38 fired in a .357 than a .38 fired in a .38. For a number of years that has not been the case with most, if not all, revolvers. Smith and Wesson went to the same length cylinder for .38s and .357 a number of years ago and Rugers are the same length also (though they offer few dedicated .38s). Perhaps there is some velocity/accuracy loss due to the little bit of "freebore" when a .38 is fired in a cylinder cut for .357 (I don't know) but accuracy loss due to the jump from cylinder to forcing cone is not an issue on recent revolvers. At least, I don't think so.
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Old September 29, 2005, 08:02 AM   #20
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Quote:
accuracy loss due to the jump from cylinder to forcing cone is not an issue on recent revolvers
That has certainly been the consensus in previous board discussions on this question (and is born out in my own experience).
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Old September 29, 2005, 09:21 AM   #21
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I have seen this statement and am mystified. How much accuracy are you going to lose on a 2" revolver? How much velocity? Does it really make much of a difference?
Honestly in looking at it, I cannot see why someone would want a .357 snub. They are more expensive than the .38 versions, are harder to shoot, less accurate, and probably not as durable. The experience with snub .38s is probably close to a hundred years. The experience with the Colt "Dick" is 75 years, the S&W Centennial models 50 years. That is a long time. And those guns have proven their value over and over. If I were looking to upgrade snub performance I would be looking for a .44spc.
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Old September 29, 2005, 10:37 AM   #22
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.38/.380/9mm instead of .357 for HD?

This thread has me thinking maybe for the purpose of a car gun or home defense gun a .357 just has too much muzzle flash & report.

I was looking at a .357 SP101 Ruger in 3" for the above purpose, but maybe I'd be better off (should I ever actually *need* it) with the .38 Spl version? Then we won't all be deaf afterwards too. Also easier to clean the cylinder out since I'd be shooting .38s out of a .357-length cylinder 90% of the time anyway.

Or, since semiautos tend to be quieter than revolvers, what about a compact 9mm or .380 for the purpose of car gun/HD? Better still than the .38 snub?
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Old September 29, 2005, 10:55 AM   #23
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"This thread has me thinking maybe for the purpose of a car gun or home defense gun a .357 just has too much muzzle flash & report."

Those are 2 of the 3 reasons I keep .38 spl +p loaded in my 686 for HD instead of full blown .357 Mag. The other being less tendency to shoot all the way through. Not only shooting all the way through a perp, but since I live in a fairly densely populated suburban area I am concerned with shooting all the way through my house into one of the neighbors' houses.

I figure that if I get a good solid hit, the perp won't know the difference whether it was a .38 +p or a .357 Mag that hit him.
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Old September 29, 2005, 11:57 AM   #24
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I own a 357 snub

It was my first handgun. I don't regret it, but had I to do it over, I would get a 38spl+p. That's what I shoot out of it anyway. Accuracy is good to about 40ft. Way more than what you would use a "belly gun" for anyway. Cylinder length does come into play however. Longer slugs travel better than shorter slugs. They tend to mimic the length of the 357 round. The shorter slugs sometimes get distorted on their way to the forcing cone. I've read in past threads that cylinders do not lock up upon firing, and that the bullet lines up the cylinder to the forcing cone. Except for the colt that is.
Realistically, 38spl+p is max practical caliber for a snub.
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Old September 29, 2005, 12:19 PM   #25
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