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Old July 3, 2012, 12:04 PM   #51
Deputy276
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I'll tell you something a .38 Specail AND a .357 Magnum can't do...become as good as a.44 Special.

Why subject yourself to excessive recoil of +P and .357 Mag when you can get a .44 Special that is comfortable to shoot and more efffective? I remember when the popular thing to do was to take a Model 28 S&W and have it converted to .44 Special.
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Old July 3, 2012, 12:09 PM   #52
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Bad bullet not bad cartridge

The failures of the 38 Special to stop assailants was the fault of the 158 gr round nose bullet. In the days of low performance projectiles, the only remedy was to increase bullet diameter with a larger caliber or to increase expansion with a higher velocity. Thus 357s and 45 ACPs were found to be better stoppers.

With modern bullets, calibers like 38 special are capable of inflicting quickly incapacitating wounds and have the advantage of easier carry. If a gun is easier to carry, it is more likely to be carried. If it is easier and cheaper to shoot, it will be more fun to practice with.

Although I don't own a 38, I would feel adequately protected with any good 5 shot revolver. i currently carry a Kel-Tec P11 and am thinking of trading it off for a revolver as I have never had a revolver fail with factory ammo. Even the ultra reliable Glock 22 I carried on duty before I retired failed to feed a few times with factory ammo. Now that I am a civilian again, I am extremely unlikely to encounter a situation needing more than 5 shots to resolve.
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Old July 3, 2012, 12:34 PM   #53
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Again...why use a .38 snub that HAS to expand to be effective, when you can use a .44 Special that is already effective without expansion, and is just as small to carry?
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Old July 3, 2012, 12:37 PM   #54
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Why subject yourself to excessive recoil of +P and .357 Mag when you can get a .44 Special that is comfortable to shoot and more efffective?
I don't perceive the recoil of .357 Magnum to be excessive in the least. In fact, recoil from a Model 28 with .357's feels roughly equivalent to recoil from a Beretta 92 to me. The .38 +P loads are downright mild in comparison.

The only time I'd consider .357 to be excessive would be out of a small-frame snubnose, in which case .44 Special would be pretty brutal as well.
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Old July 3, 2012, 12:37 PM   #55
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Coming into this discussion late, no doubt this has been mentioned, but...

The .38 special was good enough in the day when the bad guys were not carrying semi-auto handguns or semi-auto rifles, chambered in calibers that can cut through cars like a hot knife through butter.

Times change. Guns must as well.

Respectfully offered, as always, FWIW, and YMMV.
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Old July 3, 2012, 02:15 PM   #56
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Let me start by saying that I am not an expert in ballistics. Not by a long shot. Yes, the .357, the .44 Mag, and others start with a larger bore diameter and, consequently, tend to make bigger holes in BGs, provided that you can hit your target. Bigger holes are better than smaller holes. That said, the .38spl has a place.

All handguns are a compromise between power, capacity, weight, and (where CC is an issue) concealability. As I've heard it said, "if I'd known I was going to a gunfight, I would've taken a rifle." Those of us who are unwilling or unable to carry, during the course of our everyday lives, pistols large enough to chamber Big Calibers have to find our compromise elsewhere. Don't get me wrong. I like the Big Calibers. If the opportunity presents itself to carry a larger caliber pistol, I'm perfectly happy to do so. But I don't really want to carry an extra 3 lbs of gear for a 15-minute run to the grocery store. I want something that I can shove in a pocket, and be on my way. Further, I cannot carry in court, and I spend a fair amount of time there. That means that a pocket pistol is simply much, much easier for me to deal with in my daily routine.

A few months back, I shot an LCR in both .357 Mag and .38 Spl. I think the .38 was +P, but I can't swear to that. I'll be the first to admit that my grouping at ~10 yards left lots to be desired with the .357. Switching to the .38 +P made a HUGE difference in the size of my groups. Could I learn to shoot a .357 snubby? Sure, if I had the time and the finances. Unfortunately, both are in short supply in my life these days. I'm confident that I could hit my target with a .38 in a snubnose revolver. I'm significantly less confident that I can do the same with .357 in the same snubnose. As I've often seen posted here, "a hit with a .22 beats a miss with a .45."
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Old July 3, 2012, 02:33 PM   #57
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deputy276
Again...why use a .38 snub that HAS to expand to be effective, when you can use a .44 Special that is already effective without expansion, and is just as small to carry?
Because I've yet to find a .44 Special that can be dropped in a front pants pocket. Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of the .44 Special and especially like Skeeter's Load, but the size of the revolver itself makes all the difference sometimes.

If I'm woods cruising, likely as not I'll have a .44 magnum strapped, generally with Skeeter's Load in the cylinder. It's good for 95% of what I intend to do with a handgun. If I'm wandering the street, or lounging in my easy chair, the J-Frame will be in my pants pocket.
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Old July 3, 2012, 02:46 PM   #58
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There are clearly some big bore believers here. I went through that phase, too, with two .44 special S&W revolvers. Truth be told, they really weren't any bigger than the Model 27s and Model 28 that I had. So I guess you have a point. Later I got a Model 29 and played around with that for a while. I presently am living without any revolvers.
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Old July 3, 2012, 03:11 PM   #59
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.38 is my new favorite cartridge. It will do everything I need it to do, until I run into something it can't do. Of course, that's true about any handgun and most rifles. The .38 is cheap to shoot, I shoot it well, and it's a pleasure to shoot. There isn't a lot of recoil, the firearms of good make are accurate, and the brass doesn't go flying everywhere. I wouldn't trade my .38s for any other cartridge. However, I do have other calibers, such as .45 and .22. I really don't feel any better off with a .45, as I've shot the .38 so much more.
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Old July 3, 2012, 05:21 PM   #60
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"In fact, recoil from a Model 28 with .357's feels roughly equivalent to recoil from a Beretta 92 to me. The .38 +P loads are downright mild in comparison."

Yes, and the 28 is just SOOOOO wonderful to carry around all day.

"Yes, the .357, the .44 Mag, and others start with a larger bore diameter and..."

Wrong. Last time I checked my math .357 was SMALLER than the .38.

"Because I've yet to find a .44 Special that can be dropped in a front pants pocket."

Let me introduce you to the Charter Arms Bulldog:



Same size as a Colt Detective special or S&W Model 60. But in .44 Special. As long as you don't get stoopid and try and use hot loads (no reason to use +P or hot loads in ANYTHING any more, thanks to modern bullet technology), it will last a lifetime. And it has a lifetime guarantee and excellent customer service too.
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Old July 3, 2012, 06:12 PM   #61
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I must be doing some thing wrong? I load 38 sp and 357 mag with the same bullet. As far as I know the 38 S&W uses a .36 bullet but the 357 and 38 sp use the same 357 bullet (loaded to different levels) but the same bullet. Just like a 22LR the 38 SP (with the right bullet) is way better than a lot of people give it credit for.

Yes the 357, 41 and 44 magnums are more powerful than a 38sp but the 38 sp is easier to to shoot well for most people. If you are in big bare country the 44 mag may be lacking in power. Personally I could live the rest of my life with just a 22LR and a 38SP or 45 Colt. Having owned and shot magnum hand guns and some in rifle calibers, if I need more than a 38 or 45 then the 12ga comes into play.
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Old July 3, 2012, 06:50 PM   #62
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Quote:
Didn't a ,38 end the Miami shootout?
Yes the 38 did finally ended the gun fight. Platt and Matix. were wounded several times wilh a 9mm and a shot gun but a six 38 +P LSWCHP 158 gr from a model 10 4 inch from agent Edmundo Mireles, Jr finally finished the job.
But as the FBI learned its better to more than just handguns to a shoot out. Afterall, the handgun is not the best choice for a gun fight with several attackers.
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Old July 3, 2012, 07:00 PM   #63
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this is not actually true so please be reasonable

Quote:
Again...why use a .38 snub that HAS to expand to be effective, when you can use a .44 Special that is already effective without expansion, and is just as small to carry?
you can have a small weapon and can have lightweight weapons(which are less accurate when they are lightweight with larger caliber bullets), but a 38 is Extremely snug....almost as snug as it looks in those 1980's cop shows(or 1990's for that matter.

I notice the difference by carrying my snubby 357s(own two of them). 44s are even bigger and bulkier(the cylinder as an example) plus usually heavier. I almost bought a 44 super redhawk alaskan one time, but they were gonna be out of stock for a long time(might have been discontinued?).....the 38 is very snug and that has to be a positive on the negative/positive worksheet before buying a SD firearm.
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Old July 3, 2012, 07:23 PM   #64
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Has anyone here actually had a failure to stop with a .38 special?
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Old July 3, 2012, 08:26 PM   #65
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Deputy276
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spats McGee
"Yes, the .357, the .44 Mag, and others start with a larger bore diameter and..."
Wrong. Last time I checked my math .357 was SMALLER than the .38.
Yeah, I guess I got in a hurry when I wrote that part. What, exactly, are the respective diameters of .38Spl and .357 Mag?
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Old July 3, 2012, 08:49 PM   #66
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Both have a diameter of .357.

I believe the .38spl title dates back to when rounds were named based on diameter of the casing.
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Old July 3, 2012, 08:51 PM   #67
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.357 and .357 not necessarily in that order.
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Old July 3, 2012, 09:31 PM   #68
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I to believe the .38 spl is a very good weapon. A .38 spl can and will stop a man and it can do it with standard military full medal jacketed rounds. I was unlucky enough to be part of a shoot out with the Viet Cong troops trying to blow up one of our C-130 aircraft. The enemy were killed with 2 shots each to center mass. the distance was about 20 yards. The VC were armed with an AK and M-2 carbine. The S&W combat masterpeace was standard issue to aircrew and mobility teams in Vietnam along with M16s. I carry a S&W model 642 or a Model 60 with 3 " barrel daily.
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Old July 3, 2012, 09:37 PM   #69
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The late Jim Cirillo could testify to what the 38 Special could do.
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Old July 3, 2012, 10:05 PM   #70
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"The fact is, the .38 special was a relatively powerful cartridge."

I guess you could say that when you compare it to cartridges like the .38 S&W or .32 Long. But it depends on how you define "powerful".

You may find this interesting. It gives a frame of reference as far as the power of the .38 special. I worked for a drug store chain back in the early '80s. One of our district managers who I worked with at the time found himself in one of our stores when a guy came in to steal some drugs carrying a .38 special. Everyone not behind the pharmacy counter was ordered to lie on their faces, so "R" (we'll call him that) did so in line with company policy. During the robbery, the guy decided he should shoot "R". Luckily his aim was off and "R" survived. He was hit in the shoulder as he lay face-down. The bullet passed through his shoulder, bounced off the tile floor, re-entered his shoulder, traveled along his humerus and exited at the elbow. When I saw him I just had to ask what it felt like. He told me it felt like being hit full force with a baseball bat.

I remember that every time I hear how "underpowered" the .38 special is.
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Old July 3, 2012, 10:22 PM   #71
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IMHO...
The .38 Spl is a competent cartridge. The j- and k- frames are excellent revolvers.

The issue is capacity. In this day and age, multiple adveraries may be the rule instead of the exception, and 5 or 6 rounds "may" or "may not' be adequate.

Only you can make that determination.
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Old July 3, 2012, 10:45 PM   #72
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I've never been in a gunfight or even threatened with a firearm, but I look at it this way...if I'm faced with multiple armed adversaries it doesn't matter what sidearm I have, I'm screwed. But that's just me
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Old July 3, 2012, 11:43 PM   #73
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Good discussion (mostly).

For what its worth, some of you might enjoy this. I've been following this YouTuber for a while, and I find his tests and reviews to be very well done, especially when it comes to relative comparisons.

Here's what he found with the Rem Golden Saber 38+P JHP: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nRe6BzIqu6U

Relatively speaking, that is one seriously deadly round.
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Old July 4, 2012, 08:44 AM   #74
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I've been following tnoutdoors9 on Youtube as well, and he has some very good home ammo tests. The newer ones using the simulation ballistic gel with 4 layers of denim should give you a very good idea of what to expect.
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Old July 4, 2012, 09:43 AM   #75
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Just curious, but if the .38 Special IS so special, WHY have the vast majority of police departments left not only the .38 Sprcial, but the 9MM (which is also .38 caliber) for the .40 S&W?

And why do people keep referencing the .44 Magnum when I am talking about the .44 Special? They are two completely different cartridges. The .44 magnum is basically a hunting caliber, although it will also chamber the .44 Special.

As to +P and magnum loads...I wouldn't use a caliber if that's what's required to make them effective.
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