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Old April 16, 2007, 03:58 PM   #1
Southern Shooter
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9mm Revolver VS. .38 Special Recoil and P.D. Effectiveness

My wife has a 5-shot 2" 9mm revolver that weighs about 22 onces empty. It has been a faithful gun in terms of firing everytime, clean extractions, and accuracy at self-defense ranges. However, even with standard 9mm loads it kicks too much for my wife to handle well.

I have a 5-shot 2" ultra-lite/stainless steel .38 Special that weighs in at 17 onces empty. I thought about giving her this revolver for self-defense but was concerned that it weighing so little would kick just as hard. So, I thought about loading it with 110 grain +P SJHP. I would assume this would be better than a .380 round but still question if this would be an effective self-defense round even with fair shot placement.

Any opinions based on solid data? Any balistics/performance data that can be provided would be appreciated.

Thanks
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Old April 16, 2007, 04:12 PM   #2
CarbineCaleb
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I agree that the even lighter gun in .38+P won't be any better in terms of controllability. A 3-4" barreled revolver weighing 32-40 oz and shooting .38+P will be a lot more manageable.

Try something like a S&W Model 10, 64, 619, 620, or 686... for example, there is a 3" model 686P that comes with a compact round butt rubber grip and weighs 36.8oz, and will hold 7 shots to boot; the 3" model 64 also comes with such a grip and weighs 33oz. These may seem big compared to the 17oz-er, but they're lighter than the 1911s so many like to carry.

Here's the 3" 686P - it's not something to slip into a pocket, but is not big for a belt gun:
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Old April 16, 2007, 04:20 PM   #3
fisherman66
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E = 1/2 (Wg / 32) (Wb x MV + 4700 x Wp / 7000 x Wg)squared

Where E = recoil Energy in ft. lbs., Wg = Weight of gun in pounds, Wb = Weight of bullet in grains, M = Muzzle, V = Velocity in feet-per-second, Wp = Weight of powder in grains

9x19 (124 at 1125)
.38 Spec. (125 at 850)

Excel is causing my computer to freeze up. You can cut and paste the formula into a cell with "Wg", "Wb" and "Wp" as independent cells. Fill in those variable cells and presto.

Without using excel I'd guesstimate the 38 special would give you a recoil reduction of 20 to 30% even with the reduction of weight. That should provide enough comfort to practice. She could then carry 38 special +p for defensive purposes. There are recoil gloves that could help her train.
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Old April 16, 2007, 04:26 PM   #4
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I don't think you are going to see any significant improvement between teh 2 guns you mention.

If it is NOT for ccw then as others have mentioned get her a standard service sized (6 or 7 shot) steel frame gun, will be very shootable... smith has a ton to chose from or the Ruger GP 100 is good.

If it's CCW you all are after i'd say get a steel framed 5 shot snubbie... smith makes some that are midweight or the ruger SP101 which is the heaviest of the snubbies, they are not unreasonable to carry, maybe with time and experince you might work upto using the light guns again, however keep in mind it takes a buch ot time to master shooting snubbies well, the ultra-light weight guns just make it harder. The steel guns with good grips they are very controllable, however they still will be a handful with high end loads, personally I'd use the speer 135 JHP load designed for snubbies... it maximizes performance out of these guns and is reasonable to shoot.
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Old April 16, 2007, 04:26 PM   #5
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Perceived recoil may not differ much as the snap might be more exaggerated by the reduction in weight.

good rubber grips might help...

So many variables around the math...
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Old April 16, 2007, 05:36 PM   #6
Shadi Khalil
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For me a .38 snub is far more controlable than a .9mm out of anything. There is a snap about the .9mm that seems to offened some shooters. The soft push of the .38 out of any 15oz+ j-frame should be far more agreeable to said women folk.
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Old April 16, 2007, 06:01 PM   #7
James K
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I sure am puzzled. If I understand correctly, some folks think a 125 grain bullet at, say, 1100 fps out of, say, a 26 oz. revolver has less (or more) recoil and less (or more) effectiveness if the case is marked 9mm than if the case is marked .38 Special.

Time to report for a refresher course in Physics 101.

Jim
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Old April 17, 2007, 03:56 PM   #8
Rimrod
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Invest in a cheap Lee reloading outfit and load the 9mm down to where she can handle it.
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Old April 18, 2007, 06:10 PM   #9
Sriracha
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Jim Keenan wrote: " I sure am puzzled. If I understand correctly, some folks think a 125 grain bullet at, say, 1100 fps out of, say, a 26 oz. revolver has less (or more) recoil and less (or more) effectiveness if the case is marked 9mm than if the case is marked .38 Special.
Time to report for a refresher course in Physics 101."


Jim, those folks may not necessarily be incorrect about recoil. It depends on how recoil is defined (and I am not certain of the definition myself). Is it the momentum or force or energy imparted on the shooter? Anybody have an authoritative source with a definition?

However, let's consider whether it makes sense that someone shooting 9mm and .38 of equal masses and velocities could feel a difference in their hand.

For sure, equal masses at equal velocities will have equal momentum. And of course the momentum imparted on the bullet is equal to the momentum imparted to the shooter's hand/body/earth. So the final momentum that those two bullets put on you are going to be equal. However, the rate of changeof momentum (force) could be different.

So, it's entirely possible that someone would feel more sting shooting 9mm even if it has the same pistol weight, bullet momentum and muzzle energy as a .38. If the 9mm bullet accelerates to 1100 fps before the .38 does, then shooter would feel a larger force or a sharper impulse.

-Sr.
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Old April 18, 2007, 06:17 PM   #10
Mark B
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Perhaps a different grip like a Hogue or Pachmeyer would help her with percieved recoil? I personally prefer Hogue.
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Old April 18, 2007, 06:21 PM   #11
BerettaBuckeye
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Quote:
good rubber grips might help...
Good advice. I think if I were in your position I would buy a few sets of different grips ( stocks ) for the guns you already own and try that before doing anything else. Of course I don't know what grips she has now but we all know that a change of grips can sometimes change the whole personality of a revolver . Good luck
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Old April 18, 2007, 06:34 PM   #12
Nigelcorn
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Sriricha, are you suggesting that there is still acceleration after the bullet has already left the barrel?
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Old April 18, 2007, 06:53 PM   #13
Sriracha
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Nigelcorn,
Not at all. I am referring to the acceleration before the bullet leaves the barrel. For example, consider two guns with 4" barrels. In one case, the bullet reaches 90% of its muzzle velocity in 2" of travel. In the second case, a bullet of the same weight reaches 90% of the same muzzle velocity after 3".

Clearly, the two guns would feel different to the shooter, even though the muzzle velocity, momentum, and energy values are same.

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Old April 29, 2007, 07:33 PM   #14
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Option: Get her a .32 H&R Mag. With factory ammo the ballistics are, more or less, equal to the .38. Recoil is about nill. Reloaders get amazing power from this little gem. If you go with a Ruger SP101 you will get a six shots instead of five. Ruger, S&W and Taurus either currently make or have recently made guns chambered for the .32 Mag. New and used guns are easy to find.

I have never, and I mean NEVER, talked to anyone that owned a .32 Mag or seen a post from the owner of a .32 mag that disliked the round. One great, underrated caliber.

LK
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