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Old December 31, 2008, 12:28 PM   #1
FES
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38 Special vs 38 Special +P

What is the difference between 38 and 38+P? how do 38+P compare to 357 mag?

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Old December 31, 2008, 12:34 PM   #2
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plus P has a higher established pressure ceiling for the industry to not exceed versus the regular 38. The regular loads are safe in old guns like prewar stuff and the plus is fine in modern 38's as many use the same frames and are about identical to the magnums, like with K frames. The difference between regular and hi test 38 is less than the difference between any plus P load and factory magnums, I think. Pressures for the mags are usually a great deal higher. Plus P accelerates wear on any gun, the smaller the frame, usually, the more potential wear and tear. For just practice and plinking the regular 38 is most pleasant to shoot of all of them.
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Old December 31, 2008, 12:45 PM   #3
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.38 special ammo will have the least amout of muzzle energy, .357 magnum the greatest amount and the .38 +P ammo will be some where in the middle of the other two

it depends on what you intend to use the ammo for. small barrel handguns will be easier to shoot using .38 special ammo, less recoil
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Old December 31, 2008, 12:51 PM   #4
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I'll use Winchester's factory data for similar bullet weights for an easy comparison.

.38Spl 130gr "USA" FMJ practice load: 800 fps, 185 ft-lb
.38Spl+P 125gr "USA" JHP defensive load: 945 fps, 248 ft-lb
.357Mag 125gr Super-X defensive load: 1450 fps, 583 ft-lb

IMHO in terms of muzzle flash and recoil, on a scale of 1 to 10, if a .38Spl "mouse phart" target handload is a "1" and a factory .357Mag 125gr defensive load is a "10", a standard .38Spl FMJ practice load is about a "4" and a hot .38Spl+P defense load is about a "6".
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Old December 31, 2008, 12:54 PM   #5
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carguychris - Is that data all from 4" barrels?
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Old December 31, 2008, 12:55 PM   #6
carguychris
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Quote:
it depends on what you intend to use the ammo for. small barrel handguns will be easier to shoot using .38 special ammo, less recoil
+1. In many shooter's opinions- including this one- going from .38Spl+P to .357Mag, the recoil in a lightweight pocket revolver crosses the line from "brisk but controllable" to "OOOWWW!!! Here, you can have it back, one cylinder is enough for me."
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Old December 31, 2008, 12:56 PM   #7
carguychris
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Quote:
carguychris - Is that data all from 4" barrels?
The Winchester website doesn't say.
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Old December 31, 2008, 04:20 PM   #8
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+P designates that the round may be loaded up to 10% over SAAMI standard pressure for .38 Special. Standard .38 Special has a maximum pressure of 17,000 PSI, .38 +P is 20,000 PSI, and .357 Magnum is 35,000. Rounds are typically loaded to +P pressure to achieve higher veolicty, but the higer velocity isn't guaranteed by the +P designation only the extra pressure. .357 Magnum loadings are typically much stouter than .38 +P but there are exceptions when one takes into account light .357's such as Winchester's 110grn JHP or Remington's Golden Saber and hot .38 +P like Corbon's discontinued 115grn JHP.
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