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Old December 23, 2010, 02:45 PM   #1
OsOk-308
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Why get a .38 special?

I don't want to start any arguments here, just seriously curious. I had a .357 magnum, and loved it. Shot .357 and .38 special out of it. Liked both, however, financial situations required me to sell it. Now here is my question. If you were going to buy a revolver to shoot .38 special, why not just get a .357 mag? I mean you can shoot .38 and .38+p out of it, and a .357. I mean ammo availability makes sense, because even if you can't find .38 special, you probably could find .357 somewhere. I just think for versatility's sake a .357 is the better choice.

Is there something I'm missing here?
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Old December 23, 2010, 02:49 PM   #2
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smaller, lighter, cheaper ...
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Old December 23, 2010, 02:52 PM   #3
OsOk-308
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But can't you get a .357 mag in the same size and weght? I mean, the new Ruger lcr in .357 isn't large by any means.
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Old December 23, 2010, 02:54 PM   #4
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Little gain to shooting .357's out of a real short barrel except for an increase in noise and flash.

All depends on what you want it to do.

The small framed guns usually wear out much faster if feed a heavy diet of .357's.
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Old December 23, 2010, 02:58 PM   #5
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Aside from snubbies, .38 spec only revolvers aren't terribly common anymore.
There used to be, and I assume that there still are, .38 spec versions of full sized revolvers for primarily target use. I seem to recall there being a Target version of the Python that was .38 spec only, I would guess that other brands have done it at one time or another. Theoretically, shooting 38 special in a .357 mag chamber is slightly less accurate due to the small jump in the chamber. If one is only intent in firing .38 target loads for maximum accuracy, then it would make sense to eleminate the chamber jump as a possible variable.
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:00 PM   #6
vladan
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Quote:
Little gain to shooting .357's out of a real short barrel except for an increase in noise and flash.

All depends on what you want it to do.

The small framed guns usually wear out much faster if feed a heavy diet of .357's.
^^^ that
plus .357 from LCR is not for everyone
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:03 PM   #7
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I tend to buy guns proportional to their power, so I'd want (have) a K-frame in .38, and would want a L or N for .357. I put a cylinderful through a .357 LCR, and decided anyone on the receiving end wouldn't endure much more punishment.
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:05 PM   #8
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Using the specific example of the LCR........Turn the question on it's head a bit.......

I have an LCR in .38. I bought it when they first came out before the .357 was available.

It's roughly 14 ounces. It's about as light as I'd want to go in a .38 and shooting heavy .38+P's in it is interesting.

The LCR in .357 is roughly 17 ounces. I would not want to shoot .357's out of it personally. If I bought one I'd likely just run .38's in it exclusively.

Some guns just aren't as much fun in .357 as they are in .38 and why go heavier to get .357 capability if you aren't going to use it?
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Last edited by rantingredneck; December 23, 2010 at 05:21 PM. Reason: correcting a fat fingered typo....
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:13 PM   #9
Jim March
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Let's take the LCR as a good example.

If you pick it in 38, you get two advantages over the 357: a few ounces less weight, and you can spit 38s more accurately and a hair faster than the 357 can spit 'em.

If you pick it in 357, and then find the recoil is just too gnarly so you switch down to 38+P, you'd have been better off with the 38 version - and you paid $50 more MSRP for the privilege.

Now, if you're smart, you'll buy the 357 version and then score one of the very light 357 loads that are now available that are little more than very warm 38+P. The best example is Speer's "short barrel special" 357 135gr load. Cor-Bon's 125gr DPX is hotter but still mild by 357 standards.

But you don't really need to do that. The best 38+P loads are very efficient in terms of wounding ability for the raw horsepower on tap.
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:16 PM   #10
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Quote:
Now, if you're smart, you'll buy the 357 version and then score one of the very light 357 loads that are now available that are little more than very warm 38+P. The best example is Speer's "short barrel special" 357 135gr load. Cor-Bon's 125gr DPX is hotter but still mild by 357 standards.
Jim, I carry the Speer Short Barrel .357 in my 24 oz. SP101. I'm not sure I'd even want to shoot much of that one in the LCR .357.
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:28 PM   #11
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Nope, you answered your own question. For the sake of an argument 357 gives you 2 guns in one, best of both worlds just like 44 spl and 44 mag. IMO its the only way to go.
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:31 PM   #12
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Why get a .38 special?

Simple, because they work for me.
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:38 PM   #13
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Because variety is the spice of life

I have several guns that I can use if ammo redundancy is an issue. However, I just like the way .38 special's look and shoot when it comes to the snubbie format. I have a big ol' honkin' Blackhawk to shoot .357 out of.

I have a light little .38 LCR that goes right in my pocket without a bit of fuss. Load it with some LSWC, and I'm good to go.
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Old December 23, 2010, 03:40 PM   #14
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My pocket gun is a .38 s&w mod. 60. I love this little gun. On anything larger than a J frame I don't see any reason for it not to be a .357, but as far as small snubbies I dont even shoot .357 for fun. Because it's not. I may be a sissy but it's just to much for me.

Last edited by Jamas; December 23, 2010 at 03:45 PM.
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Old December 23, 2010, 04:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Little gain to shooting .357's out of a real short barrel except for an increase in noise and flash.
I don't understand that logic.
If a 357 "becomes" a 38 special out of a really short barrel then what does a 38 special become... a 22?
A 357 still offers allot more umph out of a short barrel than a 38 special out of the same short barrel.
Example: Buffalo Bore 38 spl. 125gr. JHP does 1019fps from a 3" barrel.
Buffalo Bore 357 mag. 125gr. JHP does 1476fps from a 3" barrel.

They also offer a reduced power 357 mag. 125gr. JHP that does 1109fps from a 2" barrel.
Their 38 spl 125gr. JHP from the same 2" barrel does 921fps.

Going to a 38+P helps but the 357 is still superior in any barrel length.

Jim
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Old December 23, 2010, 04:39 PM   #16
OsOk-308
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Quote:
Nope, you answered your own question. For the sake of an argument 357 gives you 2 guns in one, best of both worlds just like 44 spl and 44 mag. IMO its the only way to go.
I agree. I think the accuracy thing is only huge if you're going to shoot competition.

For SD, if you're shooting within 10 yards, how off can that .38 coming out of a .357 be? I mean it doesn't seem like you have enough room to make that difference.
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Old December 23, 2010, 06:11 PM   #17
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Quote:
Why get a .38 special?
Because a 32 Special is a bit small and the 357 Magnum might be too much of a good thing.

Further, I agree with RickB, the K-framed S&W is perfectly suited to the 38 Special. All my 357s are built on the N-frame, as originally intended. Old fashion? You bet...because it still works!

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Old December 23, 2010, 07:21 PM   #18
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Weight and price are the biggest issues that I see. Look, for example, at the S&W J-Frames. The models 637, 638, and 642 are all lightweight aluminum frames in .38 only and all sell for $400-500 new. If you want a lightweight S&W J-Frame in .357 Magnum, you have to get a scandium frame like the 360 or 340, both of which sell for $850-1000 new.

Also, .38 Special only guns are often a bit lighter than their .357 Magnum equivalents. If we look again at S&W, the Model 10's most comparable .357 counterpart is the M13. The M13, however, was only ever offered with a heavy barrel (heavier) while the M10 was, for many years, available with a tapered barrel (lighter). Similarly, the M19 only came with a heavy barrel while the M15 came with a tapered one.

Finally, some guns just aren't available in .357 Magnum. If you want a new S&W K-Frame, you've got to buy a .38 because S&W discontinued the last K-Frame Magnum (the M66) in 2005. Likewise, if you want a lightweight K-Frame, you're stuck with .38 as the only two lightweight K-Frames S&W has ever made (M12 and 315 Night Guard) are not chambered for .357. Another example is a Colt D-Frame. The only D-Frame ever made in .357 was the Magnum Carry, and that model is quite expensive ($1000+) and slightly less common than hen's teeth since it was only made for one year.
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Old December 23, 2010, 08:50 PM   #19
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Such a wonderful round and yet the young generation is so unfamiliar that they are wondering why anyone would want a 38 Special.

How sad, how sad. Surely I have lived too long…

A 38 Special is still hanging on the pocket pistol arena. I have shot 357 snubbies and the recoil and blast are too much for me. The 38 Special provides the most power you can control in the smallest useful package, at least in my opinion.



The beat up, security guard M10 is wonderfully accurate. It is the only revolver that I have consistently hit my 50 yard 12” gong target double action with all six rounds. Single action is crisp. I can shoot this without developing any sort of flinch.



The 38 Special was and is a very accurate round, some of the finest revolvers ever made chambered it, and it is seldom that I don’t start off a shooting session with a 38 Special. To get the hand/eye coordination working again.
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Old December 23, 2010, 09:03 PM   #20
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If you are buying a range gun, I agree that it only makes sense to buy a .357. However, as a self defense gun, a .38 snubnose is damn near the perfect CCW carry piece.
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Old December 23, 2010, 09:53 PM   #21
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I own several .357 mag revolvers, and use subsonic .38 specials in them for SD ammo. The 38 special still has its place among all the more modern cartridges.
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Old December 23, 2010, 09:53 PM   #22
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I would never carry a pistol with less than a 3" barrel. The true snub's are useless to me. A Tazer would seem to be a better option. Shooting .357's out of a true snub is worthless.

Last edited by JohnKSa; December 23, 2010 at 10:10 PM. Reason: Edited for content.
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Old December 23, 2010, 10:07 PM   #23
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Perhaps it's a matter of different strokes...
I no longer own any type of J-frame, and I no longer own a .38 SPL revolver.

I am very happy with my two 4" K-frame .357s (M19 and M66). I can shoot .38 or .357 out of them, and do so (about 50-50, exclusively 158 gr except when carrying, which is infrequent). Once I use up all the .38 and .357 factory ammo I have stored up, I will reload using .357 cases only, regardless of the power level of the load. I am saving my .38 cases--I gave a bunch to my bud last year and have a bunch more to give him when he visits in January.

IMHO, the N-frame shines in calibers that start with a 4. Mine are .41 and .45LC, and I shoot and carry them far more frequently than the K-frames. I have a .45 LC M25 on my hip as I type this.

Quote:
Shooting .357's out of a true snub is worthless.
Absolutely inaccurate, and refuted earlier in this thread.
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Old December 23, 2010, 10:07 PM   #24
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Why get .357 to shoot .38 spl through?

Well here's why I did it. When I decided I wanted a wheel gun for .38 spl rounds, I looked and felt all the models I could get my hands on.

I just couldn't find one that really fit my hands. They just didn't feel good to me. Then one day I found the Ruger SP 101 snub (3" barrel I think) in .357 and everything clicked. Well I looked all over for that gun in .38 spl and couldn't find one without ordering a new one.

A friend of mine had one in .357 that he had shot very little and wanted a fair price for it. Voila, that's my how & why.

Now, I shot 1 cylinder of .357 through it and I will probably never do it again. I feel much more comfortable and accurate carrying my SP 101 loaded with Hornady critical defense +P .38 spl. I know I can put 2 center mass @ 7yds with that gun and load and my ears don't want to bleed from the blast.

I also know I can't hit a coyote 1/4 times @ 50 yds with the same gun & loads.......
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Old December 23, 2010, 10:43 PM   #25
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My little wife now wants only full house .357's in her S&W 60 Pro. She practices with wad cutters at the range and final's out now with my full house reloads in 125 and 158gr mags. OOO and I also took a deer with her pistol this year in Okiehoma. Better than Bow Hunting.

She has been averaging 600 wad cutters a month and 300 mags since purchase. The first 10 mags hurt her. But she has proven to be a very fast study. She is 54 years old. Has arthritis, cervical tortacolis, she is epileptic and becoming a wonderful shooter. I can't wait to get the trigger job done on her 60 pro. And get her to start barrier shooting and moving.

You can find two videos here with her and her pistol. Her first day at the range. And she has come a long way since then.

http://www.youtube.com/user/psyshack.../1/3WfOOQJoqm8
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