View Full Version : .357 Sig -vs- .38 Super

February 16, 2002, 05:35 PM
How do they compare?

February 16, 2002, 05:52 PM
Simply put the
357 Sig - is for those who can afford to shoot factory ammo.
- fro those who want to convert their 40 Autos to
something different.

38 Super - is for reloaders.
- those who like the 1911
- those who like real high capacity
Properly loaded 38 Super is way ahead of the 357 Sig. Also the Sig round is a pain to reload.

February 16, 2002, 06:00 PM
I find the 357 Sig to be simple to reload. It's just like a little rifle cartridge as far as reloading goes. I don't believe the 38 Super can beat the 357 Sig if there is a reloading contest, at least with 125 grain bullets or lighter.

Reloading the 357 Sig costs me about $3.50 per box of 50, using all excellent components.

You do have a point that the 38 Super has a higher capacity with pre ban mags. Unfortunately, I'm not in law enforcement so I make due with "many" inexpensive $19 Glock magazines :)

February 16, 2002, 06:22 PM
I load 125 gr. FMJ RN units that chronograph 1512-1518 fps in .38 Super.Beat that.

February 16, 2002, 06:40 PM

I agree with all of Skip2 statements except the one about reloading since I reload both 38 Super Comp and 357 SIG. The problem that I see with both rounds is that they occupy a niche in the market and I don’t see it expanding beyond that.

To my knowledge, no LE agency uses 38 Super so your statement left me a little confused, could you please clarify? To date, I have yet to find a problem locating pre-ban (Federal Law) magazines for any gun the only issue I'm aware of is the cost.

The other thing I'll say about 38 Super is that I'm not limited by a certain weight or design of bullet which I am with 357 SIG.

Knowledge is power

February 16, 2002, 10:46 PM
Actually, you can run 1700 fps and higher with a 9x23 Win. This is with Hornady 125gr FP. The difference is using the Winchester case, it is like a .223 cut off. It is much stronger than any other 9x23 Win case that I've seen. It is also made with a thicker web than the 38 Super case.

I've never shot a 357 Sig, so I have no basis for comparison with a 38 Super. I will have to say that the Colt 38 Super that I shot was accurate and dependable. I just got the urge to convert to 9x23 Win after shooting a friends.


February 16, 2002, 11:28 PM
to any firearm.

The biggest single limiting factor in the original version Super 38 is the unsupported area by the feed ramp. It's possible for the brass to fail at that point and erupt. If that happens, one has seriously overloaded the cartridge.

The limits of any firearm is simply how much pressure will the system stand. From the Hodgdon manual, the upper limit for Super 38 is around 36,000. I don't know what the SIG pistol will tolerate. But the fact is, no matter what round you put in a firearm, the maximum operating level is the same.

I used to load for Super a lot. I like it. I use(d) in more or less standard form (130 to 145 grain bullets) for self defense and general shooting. I've never had one in "racegun" format or high capacity. When I had my Supers, I didn't have a chronograph, so I don't know how "fast" they were going. Subjectively, they were smoking.

.357 SIG is a re-visitation of an old round based on .45 ACP necked down to .357 diameter. It was designed as a target round, in that a wadcutter would feed reliably in an autopistol. (Both the Colt National Match and S&W M52 solved the problem of feeding wadcutters reliably.)
The "combat" guys saw it and thought "Horsepower!". But the limits of the 1911 frame, barrel and springs keep the maximum usable pressure the same as the Super 38.
Plus making cases for the .38-45 was time consuming and they got lost way too dang easy. (How come shiney yellow brass disappears in green grass?)

The .357 SIG brass is easier to come by. But it has a small chamber capacity and really doesn't do anything other rounds don't do. But it's bottlenecked and therefore "cool".

Lastly, since I'm a heavy bullet type, .357 SIG just doesn't do much for me.

February 17, 2002, 03:12 AM
The idea behind the 357SIG was to make a semi-auto that could duplicate the performance of a 357 Magnum revolver with a 3 1/2" - 4" barrel. This idea was based on statistics that demonstates the 357 Magnum as being one of the best man-stoppers of all time.

So a Glock 32 should perform the same as any 357 Magnum service revolver while giving you the benefits of a semi-auto. (lighter trigger, more rounds, faster reload.)

February 17, 2002, 05:02 AM
357 Sig - is for those who can afford to shoot factory ammo.

The 357 sig is easy to load and its a lot of fun. The 38 super is ok but if the 9x23 is better as its rimless and more reliable. The 38 super can be loaded close to the 357 sig but in factory loads it does not come close.

February 17, 2002, 05:05 AM
The .357 SIG brass is easier to come by. But it has a small chamber capacity and really doesn't do anything other rounds don't do. But it's bottlenecked and therefore "cool".

Archie its cool because it fits in a 9mm sized gun not just because of a bottle neck. The 38 super requires a 45 frame. If you have to use a big gun get a 45 or a 10mm.

February 17, 2002, 10:45 AM

How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Does this really matter? The reality is that all of the cartridges that you mention here are NICHE players in the US market. So since the initial thread asked how 38 Super and 357 SIG compare can you keep it to those two rounds only.

The real question I would ask Salt is what does he plan on using the round for IPSC competition(Open Class) or self defense.

In keeping with the initial question If the intended usage is self defense I would recommend 357 SIG due to the lower total cost of ownership. Factory 38 Super doesnt generate the velocitys that have been quoted so far. To generate those velocities the interested party would have to reload his own and also make sure that the gun they plan on using has a supported chamber. We wouldnt want them to get 38 Super Face.

February 17, 2002, 05:20 PM
re: 38 Super at 1512-1518

I'm assuming you got the above velocity with a 5" barrel? From a shorter 4.5" barrel, I've pushed 357 Sig 125 bullets to 1490 fps. With a 5" barrel or a Glock 35 with a 5.3" barrel, I could exceed that 1518, and still remain within SAAMI specs of less than 40,000 psi. I know of one person who has pushed 357 Sig to over 45,000 psi with no ill effects, although it is not recommended, and in fact it was an accident. He was quite surprised because the fired cases looked perfectly normal.

re: hi cap 38 Super magazines

Actually I was not implying that Leo's use the 38 Super. I was just saying that one reason the 38 Super is popular in IPSC is because of the preban hi caps. I can't get preban hi caps for my 357 Sig pistol and the only hi caps available are for LEO's.

As mentioned above, the 357 Sig can easily fit in small pocket rockets and still be manageable. The 38 Super and 9 x 23 are nice calibers ( 9 x 23 has a lot stronger case), but they need a large framed pistol.

One of the reasons the 357 Sig is what some call a niche market, is because of the heavily biased IPSC rules regarding bullets less than 10mm/.40 caliber. True, they now have a production class to address this issue a little bit. But 357 Sig cannot excel in IPSC with the current rules, and they know it.

If you could count the 10s of thousands of aftermarket 357 Sig barrels along with the factory 357 Sig pistols, I believe a lot of people would be amazed how many 357 Sig's are out there and being seriously used and used for fun.

February 18, 2002, 05:54 AM
Pete as you know any 40 high cap mag will work as a 357 sig mag. I have had no problems with 22 mags in a 31. As for speed records I have gotten 1600 fps with a 125 grain sierra jhp using a a max load of power pistol and winchester primers. The catch was that was in my 6 inch Glock 24 with a KKM barrel.

February 18, 2002, 09:42 PM
Yep, I knew that. I was just getting nit picky and talking about mags with 357 Sig stamped on them. The hi cap .40 mags work great, especially with the newer followers available.