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Old March 20, 2013, 10:11 AM   #1
Skans
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Question on short-barrel .357's

Does anyone know the approximate muzzle velocity of a 2" .357, such as the S&W Titanium 327 (8-shot revolver). In other words, due to such a short barrel, is there really going to be that much difference in muzzle velocity of a standard .357 and a standard .38 special round.

It seems to me that much of the powder and energy of a .357 would simply be wasted in such a short barrel set-up. Am I way off base on this???
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:13 AM   #2
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Ballistic by the Inch: .357 Mag
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:37 AM   #3
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Thanks! That's exactly what I was looking for. Interesting, you still pick up on average about 150+ FPS with .357 over .38 special, even with a 2" barrel.
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:40 AM   #4
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I noticed that, too. I've also noticed that .357s are (for me) a whole lot less fun to shoot at the range than .38s.
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:42 AM   #5
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Magnum ammo will be significantly more powerful than .38 Special even out of a short barrel. I did a lot of reading before selecting the barrel length for my SP101, and depending on who was telling it and the ammo used, the .357 lost 70-100 FPS between a 2.25" and 3.06" barrel.

In short, a .357 will have significantly more oomph than a .38 out of the same length barrel. This holds true even if there is no barrel and you were to fire the bullets side-by-side out of a chamber alone.

But more barrel length will help the velocity of either a great deal.

Offered for what it's worth from a master armchair ballistics researcher.
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:58 AM   #6
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I realize that .357 is always going to have more punch even in a very short barrel, but my thinking was that there is a lot of waste out of 2" barrels, perhaps enough waste to discourage me from not considering a 2" .357. Yes, lots of waste, but still significantly more punch than .38 special.
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Old March 20, 2013, 12:38 PM   #7
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My experience shows a significant difference between 357 magnum and 38 special loads from snubbies. I see about 400 fps difference between the 2, for me that definitely makes it worthwhile. I have seen people shot with 38's and 357's from snubbies. If you can effectively use 357's then use those.
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Old March 20, 2013, 01:00 PM   #8
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Wondering how long .357 supersonic lasts out of the 5 inch bbl. Do you think we get 50 yards before it drops to sub sonic?
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Old March 20, 2013, 04:47 PM   #9
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You have to really LOVE .357 Magnum to shoot it from a snubby. Especially at night, even with relatively flash-retardant power.
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Old March 20, 2013, 05:27 PM   #10
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Please note

When you're reading bbti graphs account for this

in every case with the T/C Encore the length of the barrel was measured from the end of the barrel back to the breech face. This is how semi-auto pistols are measured, but revolvers are measured as the length of the barrel in front of the cylinder gap. Take this into consideration when comparing calibers using our numbers.





I have a S&W 327 NG and its a blast to shoot. Magnum loads are by far more fun than .38spl.
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Old March 20, 2013, 09:12 PM   #11
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Wondering how long .357 supersonic lasts out of the 5 inch bbl. Do you think we get 50 yards before it drops to sub sonic?
Probably 100-150 yards depending on where it starts with your gun in your conditions. It is very load dependent as there are so many mid level loads, my guess is for full power loads.
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Old March 20, 2013, 09:37 PM   #12
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Here are some actual Chrono results from 1 7/8" S&W M340

185 LFNGC, Beartooth, WW cases, Fed 200 Mag primers, 14.7, Lil'Gun, 1006.5 fps

180 LWFN LBT, Fed Fact, Fed cases, Fed primers, .357 Mag, Fed Fact, 905 fps

158 LSWC, Rim Rock, Starline cases, CCI Std primers, 12.7, H-2400, 967 fps
158 CSWC, Add, Mixed cases, Std primers, 13.5, H-2400, 1074.5 fps
158 JHP - XTP, Horn, Mixed cases, Std primers, 13.5, H-2400, 1009 fps
158 LRNFP, Meister, Mixed cases, Fed 100 primers, 9.6, Blue Dot, 1019.5 fps
158 JHP, Remington, Mixed cases, Fed 100 primers, 9.6, Blue Dot, 945.5 fps

130 Hydra-Shok, Fed Fact, Fed cases, Fed primers, .357 Mag, Am Eagle, 1159 fps

158 LSWHP, Rem Fact +P, RP cases, RP primers, .38 Spec, Rem Fact, 752.5 fps

130 Fed Am Eagle, Fed Fact, Fed cases, Fed primers, .38 Spec, Am Eagle, 680 fps

Last edited by Paul105; March 20, 2013 at 09:47 PM.
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:26 PM   #13
Jeff #111
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Yes but from the purely pointless viewpoint a snubby .357 magnum is cool. Every revolver collection should have one. How's that for contributing absolutely nothing? Personally I own a Colt Lawman Mk III snubby.
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Old March 20, 2013, 10:51 PM   #14
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Skeeter Skelton was quite enamored of the 2.5' S&W M-19 when it first appeared, but then said he got tired of the muzzle blast and flash and realized a 4" was just as easy to conceal. I have the 2" barrels for my Dan Wesson when I feel the urge.
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Old March 21, 2013, 06:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
It seems to me that much of the powder and energy of a .357 would simply be wasted in such a short barrel set-up. Am I way off base on this???
Not off base, but load selection can have big an effect here, for example I use a very fast burning powder and magnum primers in my .357 snubbie loads.
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Old March 21, 2013, 07:46 AM   #16
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Quote:
When you're reading bbti graphs account for this

in every case with the T/C Encore the length of the barrel was measured from the end of the barrel back to the breech face. This is how semi-auto pistols are measured, but revolvers are measured as the length of the barrel in front of the cylinder gap. Take this into consideration when comparing calibers using our numbers.

The Ballistics by the Inch website shows data two ways. From the same barrel as it is cut down, and from actual revolvers with different barrel lengths.
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Old March 21, 2013, 08:36 AM   #17
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I use a very fast burning powder and magnum primers in my .357 snubbie loads.
I would think you would want to be careful with a combination like that. But, if you've been using it with no harm so far........
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Old March 21, 2013, 10:16 AM   #18
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I don't find the recoil of 357 that bad out of either a Ruger sp101 or a Colt Lawman snub.
Shoot a can with both a 357 and a 38 and you will know whats what. The 357 makes it jump several feet more.
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Old March 21, 2013, 08:35 PM   #19
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Originally, the .357 was supposed to produce about twice the velocity of the .38 special. Not enough difference to put up with the extra flash and noise in my 2" SP101.
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Old March 22, 2013, 11:39 PM   #20
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Originally, the .357 was supposed to produce about twice the velocity of the .38 special. Not enough difference to put up with the extra flash and noise in my 2" SP101.
It does give you 400-500 more fps with any given bullet weight. Whether or not that is worth it to you depends on your needs. For me it is absolutely worth it.
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Old March 22, 2013, 11:49 PM   #21
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Wondering how long .357 supersonic lasts out of the 5 inch bbl. Do you think we get 50 yards before it drops to sub sonic?
If you know the ballistic coefficient of the bullet, and the muzzle velocity, is that enough to at least calculate a rough estimate of how long it'll stay supersonic? I don't do any long-range shooting, but I've always assumed that's one of the pieces of information that ballistic calculators would give you.
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Old March 23, 2013, 05:05 AM   #22
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Post #2

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Question answered!
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Old March 23, 2013, 09:45 AM   #23
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I use a very fast burning powder and magnum primers in my .357 snubbie loads.
The same powders will yield the highest velocities regardless of barrel length. That is, slow burning powders like H110/296 and Lil Gun.
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Old March 24, 2013, 12:44 AM   #24
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That's the trick: fast burning powders. But no matter how you slice it, even a snubby .357 is going to out perform any .38Spl. They will out perform due to the sheer pressure increase. With snubbies, the trick is to develop that pressure quickly - i.e. fast burning powders.

My short barrel load is a Speer GDHP SB 135g (#4414), with 7.5g Unique (which is in compliance with Speer Manual #14). It's probably pushing a little over 1000fps with a 2.5" barrel. That's more punch than a .38 is going to deliver. This round has nightstand duty at my house; in a 686 w/ 4" barrel. I believe Speer makes this round as loaded "short barrel" ammunition. If you don't load, this would be the round I would recommend.

With a snubbie, going with a slower powder may - may - give you a few more fps, but it will come at the expense of a great deal more muzzle flash and noise. Just not worth it. Loading for short barrels requires an attitude of restraint; and understanding that the data in your manuals are almost always for longer barrels (Speer #14 has short barrel data - which is highly invaluable). You need to know which powders are faster than others, and "visualize" how those velocity figures will distort with less barrel length. With a short barrel, the velocity figures aren't going to reduce in a linear fashion. The faster powders will see less of a velocity penalty, and the slower ones more.
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Old March 24, 2013, 03:30 AM   #25
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My Ruger LCR .357 - average of 5 shots

Speer 125 grain Gold Dot .357 magnum = 1210 fps - 409 ft/lbs ME
Speer 125 grain Gold Dot .38 Special +P = 869 fps - 211 ft/lbs ME

Remington Express 125 grain SJHP .357 magnum - 1245 fps - 432 ft/lbs ME
Remington UMC 125 grain SJHP .38 Special +P - 910 fps - 231 ft/lbs ME

Just slightly less than twice the muzzle energy for the .357 magnum over the .38 Special +p.

Is there a lot of flash and blast with the .357 magum in the < 2" barrel? - Heck yes

Does my hand hurt after 5 rounds of either of the .357 magnum loads above? - Heck yes

Do I carry the .357 magnum in the LCR - Heck yes
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