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Old May 31, 2011, 04:16 PM   #1
WolfMacabre
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.357's and .38 Specials

Hi All,

So I have some questions about .357's and .38 specials. First of all, can the two be swapped out in any gun? or is it only if its 1 size the other will fit but not the other way around? I have a Rossi revolver that takes .38 Specials +p, could I put .357's in that? I have a S&W 686 that I know can take either, I was wondering if the same applied to my Rossi.

I was also wondering if I can put either in the Rossi, which would be better as a concealed self defense bullet? Is one more powerful put harder to get shots off? Less powerful but not very effective? The Rossi only has a 2" barrel as well, so I know aiming is already a bit difficult.

For the S&W, which size bullet would be better for home defense? I keep this one locked in the bedroom, just wondering which is the more ideal shot for home defense. This one has a 6" barrell.

Thanks for your replies!
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Old May 31, 2011, 04:18 PM   #2
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A 357 Magnum revolver will handle any 38Spl load. But not the reverse.
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Old May 31, 2011, 04:19 PM   #3
Boberama
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NO.

YOu can put .38 Specials or .38 +Ps in your gun.

You cannot put a .357 Magnum in your gun.

.38 Special > also works in .38 Special +P > also Works in .357 Magnum > also works in .357 Maximum > also works in .357 SuperMag
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Old May 31, 2011, 04:21 PM   #4
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You should try out which one you are more comfortable with in your 686.

The 357 is more powerful (much more) but this may or may not translate into better "stopping power".

It also has more noise and muzzle flash.

A .38 +P from a 6" barrel has little recoil and flash, and is about as powerful as a 9mm from a 4" barrel.
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Old May 31, 2011, 04:22 PM   #5
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A .357 Magnum cartridge is essentially a .38 Special "long",,,
It's not called that, I just use the word to illustrate my point.

You may shoot .38 specials in a .357 Magnum revolver,,,
You can not shoot .357's in a .38 Special revolver.

The .357 Magnum cartridge is longer than a .38 Special cartridge,,,
It simply will not fit into a .38 Special cylinder.

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Old May 31, 2011, 04:30 PM   #6
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Do NOT shoot .357s in your .38 Rossi.

As posted above, you CAN shoot 38s out of a 357 revolver. But you CANNOT shoot 357s out of a 38 revolver. You should check the manual or the Rossi website to see if the revolver in question will handle 38 +Ps as well.
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Old May 31, 2011, 04:33 PM   #7
Doc Intrepid
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WolfMacabre
"...For the S&W, which size bullet would be better for home defense? I keep this one locked in the bedroom, just wondering which is the more ideal shot for home defense. This one has a 6" barrell."
You will get answers on both sides, and each will have their own rationale.

Here's my opinion: I'd suggest the use of .38 Special in your revolver in your bedroom. Here's why. Fired in a dark bedroom, in the dead of night, the blast and flash of a .357 magnum round (or rounds) going off can be extremely disorienting. The muzzle flash can be blinding in the dark (even to the shooter), the blast will have your ears ringing in a small enclosed space like a bedroom, and you may have issues trying to align your sights for follow-on shots. There are commercial ammunition manufacturers who offer .357 ammunition with less dramatic consequences, but your average .357 round going off in a small confined space can be impressive.

While .38 Special rounds will also have flash/blast impacts, they will be somewhat less, and that difference can make all the difference in the world. At distances such as those inside your bedroom, or down your hallway, the .38 Special is going to work very effectively for Home Defense.

Your mileage may vary.

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Old May 31, 2011, 05:16 PM   #8
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Agree with the Doc. I have lots of gun and ammo choices but my night stand gun is a Dan Wesson revolver loaded with 38 spcl. More than powerful enough for in house shooting and who needs the extra thump in your hand or the blast in your ears if you have just woken up from a thump at dark thirty in the morning. I personally use LSWC 158 gr bullets with a standard load. +P pr magnum power not required inside my bedroom and If I leave the bedroom I have a shotgun in my hands.

The biggest thing for me is accuracy and quick repeat shots without beating myself up. Boogerman won't notice the difference.
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Old May 31, 2011, 06:22 PM   #9
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Buy different types of expanding ammo. Which ever you shoot most accurately and comfortably is what you should use.
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Old May 31, 2011, 06:39 PM   #10
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IMHO, for home defense when you have a concern about shooting through a wall I use and recommend the 38 special +P 158Gr swhp.
As others have posted NO .357 Magnum ammo in a revolver chambered for the 38 special cartage.
38 special MAX allowable pressure 21,000 PSI.
.357 Magnum MAX allowable pressure 35,000 PSI.
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Old May 31, 2011, 08:30 PM   #11
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I would definitely use the 686 for home defense and with the most powerful ammunition that you can shoot well. Shots on target are the only ones that count. 357's center mass are better than 38's center mass but 38's center mass are much better than 357's that miss. Personally, I keep 357 magnum 125 grain hollowpoints in my GP100. Having seen the effect of different rounds on animals, I absolutely do believe there is a difference in "stopping power". I do however agree that other than a cns hit, normal defensive handgun calibers do not have enough power to incapasitate a person quickly enough with one shot that they would be phsyically unable to continue to fight long enough to harm you which means you have to be able to make follow up shots quickly and accurately.
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Old May 31, 2011, 09:45 PM   #12
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I have a S&W 357 k-frame revolver that I use for home defense. Even though the 357 round is more powerful, I keep it stoked with 38+P FBI loads. As others have mentioned, firing a 357 indoors with unprotected ears would be deafening. The FBI load has a good, long record of service and I feel confident that those rounds would serve well if the need ever arises.
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:05 PM   #13
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What's the difference with the FBI Loads? and where can you get them at, any where that sells ammunition?
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:09 PM   #14
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I also use .38 spl +P instead of .357 magnum shells in my bedside gun, a SW Model 65.
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:15 PM   #15
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What's the difference with the FBI Loads? and where can you get them at, any where that sells ammunition?
The FBI load was a Remington 158 gr. Lead Semi-Wadcutter Hollow Point (LSWHP) in .38 spl +P. Sometimes non-Remington rounds are referred to as being an FBI load but this is technically not correct and differences in the hardness of the lead bullet can make a difference in performance. The late Mr. Camp wrote an excellent article about the round -- http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/3...r%20LSWCHP.htm
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:15 PM   #16
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There's a pic of a box of Remington "FBI Loads" in the the article KyJim linked to above... Nearly all gun stores will have them or you can order them online and have them delivered.
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:16 PM   #17
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Do NOT shoot .357s in your .38 Rossi.

As posted above, you CAN shoot 38s out of a 357 revolver. But you CANNOT shoot 357s out of a 38 revolver. You should check the manual or the Rossi website to see if the revolver in question will handle 38 +Ps as well.
You couldn't shoot them if you wanted to. The .357 cartridge case is .137 longer than the .38 Special. Not because the extra case capacity is needed to increase the pressure to .357 Mag. levels, but so you can't insert a .357 into a .38 Special and blow it to pieces. While the overall cylinder lengths may be the same between .38 and .357, the .357 Mag. chamber is cut deeper inside the cylinder to accomodate it. It won't fit in the smaller chamber of the .38 Special.

And yes, check with the manufacturer to see if it will handle +P's. A steady diet wouldn't be recommended in any event, but it would likely handle limited amounts and allow you to carry +P SD ammo.
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:24 PM   #18
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What's the difference with the FBI Loads? and where can you get them at, any where that sells ammunition?
Buffalo Bore. Check their site.

The +P is hot stuff they designed for .357's with short ejector rods. The non Plus P Buffalo Bore is as hot as the old +P FBI load, 158gr. LSWCHP +P. In fact, my chrono clocks it a bit faster. The +P is supposedly safe, but recoil is substantial. Buffalo Bore is able to achieve great velocities by using a special power AND a gas check.

Why not go with CorBon DPX OR Speers 135+P designed for short bbls. and be done with it? I like the DPX, myself. It's +P, but recoil is very manageable.
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Old May 31, 2011, 10:49 PM   #19
Don Glock
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like others said, don't try shooting 357magnum out of a .38


however, you can shoot .38's in a 357magum pistol all day long.
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Old June 1, 2011, 04:16 PM   #20
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In order from shortest to longest: .38 Long Colt, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, .357 Maximum. Any of the shorter cartridges can be used in a gun chambered for a longer one, but not vice versa. Most .38 Special revolvers have shoulders cut into the chambers that will prevent a .357 Magnum or .357 Maximum case from being inserted all the way, but there are some older revolvers and some of dubious quality that may chamber a longer cartridge than what they are supposed to. I very much doubt that you would be able to fit a .357 Magnum cartridge all the way into the chamber of your Rossi.

As to a choice of ammo for your 686, it's really a rather personal decision. .38 Special or .38 Special +P (the same physical dimension as standard .38 Spl ammo but loaded to slightly higher pressure) will have significantly less recoil, less flash, and less noise than .357 Magnum ammo would. .357 Magnum ammo is, on the other hand, much more powerful than .38 Special or .38 +P. Out of a 6" barrel, you will probably get around 1000fps velocity with a 158grn .38+P and 1300fps or more with a .357 Magnum of the same weight.

Personally, I'd prefer the Magnum ammunition out of a revolver like your 686. While the recoil would be heavier than that of .38 ammo, the 686 is a pretty big gun and has plenty of weight to help dampen recoil (I have no problem with the recoil of a .357 Magnum from my S&W M66 which is considerably lighter than your 686). Also, while a .357 Magnum will easily penetrate the interior walls of most homes, a .38 Special or just about any other centerfire handgun will also penetrate drywall with ease. The 6" barrel of your revolver will also help to lessen the flash and noise considerably (the shorter the barrel, the more pronounced flash and blast are).
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Old June 1, 2011, 05:21 PM   #21
Daryl
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Seriously, there's no need for giant, bolt red lettering.

You can't chamber a .357 cartridge in a .38 special chamber. The .357 case is too long to chamber completely, so you can't close the cylinder/action of the .38 special handgun with a .357 mag cartridge in it.

This was done intentionally to prevent such things from happening, since it would very likely blow up most handguns chambered for .38 special.

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Old June 1, 2011, 08:13 PM   #22
Nnobby45
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Quote:
like others said, don't try shooting 357magnum out of a .38


however, you can shoot .38's in a 357magum pistol all day long.
Well, look. I'm not trying to be picky, but perhaps some of us are missing an important distinction.

.357 Mag.s cannot be fired in a gun chambered for the .38 Special.

They're too long and don't fit.

Now, I can't say I disagree with those who advise not to try it, but when you chamber the rounds and find you can't close the cylinder 'cause the dang cases are too long, things will be put in their proper perspective.
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Old June 1, 2011, 08:18 PM   #23
Webleymkv
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Quote:
Seriously, there's no need for giant, bolt red lettering.

You can't chamber a .357 cartridge in a .38 special chamber. The .357 case is too long to chamber completely, so you can't close the cylinder/action of the .38 special handgun with a .357 mag cartridge in it.

This was done intentionally to prevent such things from happening, since it would very likely blow up most handguns chambered for .38 special.
In a gun of newer vintage and of good quality, you're correct. However, there are many older guns and guns of suspect, at best, quality that may chamber longer cartridges than what they can safely handle. A good example of this is the Colt M1892 New Army revolver. This gun is chambered for .38 Long Colt and, unlike many later revolvers, does not have the customary shoulders in chamber but is instead simply bored straight through. As such, a .38 Special, and possibly even a .357 Magnum cartridge would chamber in a Colt M1892 even though it would be extremely dangerous to try firing one so-loaded. The issue wasn't present when this particular revolver was designed because 1892 was before the introduction of the .38 Special or .357 Magnum cartridges.
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Old June 1, 2011, 09:01 PM   #24
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Nnobby45, also bear in mind that some reloaded .38Special cartridges could very easily be loaded to .357 levels. Most reloaders I know won't do this, so they can't screw up and put one into an older .38 revolver.

It's possible to do it because the .38Special case was developed in black powder days, so it has excess case capacity. The .357Magnum brass is longer not because more capacity is required, but to prevent putting .357 cartridges into a .38 (most TFLers know that, but this last bit of info is for the new guys, and the OP).

OP, you asked which bullet works better. The factory cartridges are of different lengths, and loaded to different pressures, but the .357 and .38 use the same bullets. (The .38Special was never actually a .38 caliber, it's .357, and I don't know why they named it a .38.)
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Old June 1, 2011, 09:36 PM   #25
Don Glock
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Quote:
They're too long and don't fit.

Now, I can't say I disagree with those who advise not to try it, but when you chamber the rounds and find you can't close the cylinder 'cause the dang cases are too long, things will be put in their proper perspective

negatory

certain 357mag loads will fit in some .38's.
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