View Full Version : Rethinking caliber-- for mom.

May 24, 2011, 08:54 PM
Hi all. I have been reading about stopping power, how adrenaline works in a gun fight, and how in a real life gunfight one may only be 1/2 as good as on the range. Many would be far less.

My mom keeps a loaded .38 by her side at night. She is a CC girl and somewhat confident at the range, but that is about it. I am wondering if she should step up to a .357 for pure stopping power considering how hard it would be to muster a clean shot in a real life scenario anyway? If one could only get off a shaky shot with a .38 with all other things being equal wouldn't a .357 be a better choice? I am sure with enough training she could be taught to handle one of those. Heck, in a real firefight are you going to even notice the recoil of a gun? If that can be overcome, then my thinking is to step her up. I know shot placement trumps all, but in reality the chance of good shot placement in a home invasion situation could be hard to get.

There are lots of break in's in her neighborhood so the possibility is, God forbid, there. Thanks everyone.

May 24, 2011, 09:03 PM
If mom is comfortable shooting .38's without complaint, I don't see why she couldn't get something like a Ruger SP101 .357, and practice with .38 ammo, with a few rounds of .357 every once in a while for familiarity (more for the big bloom of fire than the recoil). When I had one, I found the recoil to be easy to manage, and like you said, if she has to use it, she probably won't feel the difference. Which .38 does she shoot? There are good loadings for SD out there.

May 24, 2011, 09:08 PM
I am wondering if she should ..........

I think you should ask her what she thinks should do.

Personally... if my mom was decent with the 38... I'd leave it alone and offer to go shooting with her.

May 24, 2011, 09:12 PM
38 has killed more than a couple bad guys. It lacks killing power only on the internet. 357 inside a house for an older woman would be completely disorienting for her.

May 24, 2011, 09:27 PM
1988 Taurus Model M85 SS snubbie. Pretty nice little revolver actually. Rated for +P's?

May 24, 2011, 09:34 PM
Yeah, you might be overthinkin' it a bit... I'd stick with the .38... Maybe try out a +P loading if y'all haven't done that... I'll vote for .357 magnum being probably a bit over the top for her scenario... But you get an A+ for being concerned about her and tryin' to do the right thing!

May 24, 2011, 09:43 PM
Yes I did verify that it can shoot +P. Might just research the best loads for it and go with that and more training. Gun range up the street has "ladies night" on Mondays that gives a lot of training etc. Plus she knows one of the guys up there that gives her and her girlfriend extra help. Yep, 67 and still a charmer!

May 24, 2011, 10:57 PM
Speer Gold Dot 38 Special Short Barrel 135gr. +P HP ... one of the best .38 loads you can buy.

38 special Gold Dot short barrel 135gr +P HP (http://www.ammunitiontogo.com/product_info.php/pName/20rds-38-special-speer-gold-dot-short-barrel-135gr-p-hp-ammo)

And I too would stick with the 38 ... just get her shooting it.

May 25, 2011, 04:08 AM
I'm stunned to see that so many people still believe the concept of "stopping power". Consider the factors why an opponent would cease an attack: too much pain or physical incapability.

Since the diameter of the bullet is the same and the penetration of both more then enough is to reach vital organs, a body shot would cause the same pain. Now consider that if his liver is hit, he might die, but that doesn't stop him from being a threat. Same with the hart, if the opponent were shot in the heart or the aorta, we could consider that the ideal body shot (and probably beyond the 100% certain hit capabilities of your mother?). In fact, the opponent has enough energy reaching his muscles and brain to keep going for over 15 seconds (some medical examiners said 20, I just take a safe zone here). If the opponent is mentally and physically strong, chances are that he doesn't succumb to the pain or the mentally "I got shot... wth??" effect. Or consider a skunk who's so doped up that he wouldn't feel pain. Yes he will die, but that's a cold comfort het he plunges his knife into you.

According to the FBI report on stopping power, which I believe every defensive shooter should have read (you can find it here: http://www.firearmstactical.com/hwfe.htm ), the only case in which immediate incapacitation is certain to occur, is when you hit the central nervous system. Considering your mother doesn't have the accuracy for fast shots to the cerebellum, I would say multiple shots to the body are the next best thing. Now, I don't know about you guys, but I've never met someone who could shoot 357's faster then 38's. More tissue damage => more blood loss and more pain => higher CHANCE of the opponent giving up to pain and FASTER inability to move due to blood loss, though this will still take some time.

May 25, 2011, 07:41 AM
Ok, maximizing the .38 it shall be! Thank you so much guys!

Deja vu
May 25, 2011, 08:10 AM
I agree with many of the other people here. Let her stay with what she is comfortable with.

May 25, 2011, 08:33 AM
Even my .357 Magnums are loaded with .38 Spl for home defense. Do you really want her to be incapcitated by the noise, flash and blast of her own firearm? It is punishing outdoors. I can't imagine it indoors.

May 25, 2011, 01:45 PM
Don't overgun her. If she can shoot a .38 Spl that is fine, but if necessary to go to a .22 go that way.

Last Sunday a friend, who was not dressed in a coat, was carrying a P3AT in his front pocket. Another friend, who is a firearms instructor, always makes a point of discovering if we are carrying. He told me to tell T that the mouse gun in his pocket was not enough.
Then he proceeded to tell me about a woman who stopped a rapist by shooting him several times with a .22. I think the BG died later.
I asked him if that did not conflict with his statement that the .380 wouldn't do the job.

It is better to shoot a BG with a .22 than to flinch and miss with a .38 Spl.


Glenn E. Meyer
May 25, 2011, 04:25 PM
Find a good tactical class and send her to it. Much more useful than debating stopping power of a good 38 vs 357. Have her practice.

I'm waiting for the first guy to suggest you get her a pistol grip 12 gauge with magnum loads.

Good comments on stopping power, folks.

Bubba in c.a.
May 25, 2011, 05:25 PM
Life is full of trade offs. Of course 357 has more stopping power than 38, but if the 38 fits her hand and she is happy with it, there is no problem. Hitting the perp quickly and reliably is every bit as important as stopping power, especially when we are talking about handguns which can't compare to buckshot anyway. Encourage her to try a plus p, but even if she stays with plain 38, get a good defense ammo.
My backup gun in one house is 44 sp. I like that bullet. In the other house, my backup gun is 38, not rated for plus p. Not my first choice, but with good ammo I'm not too worried. Currently it has Hornaday Critical defense which shoots good, is nickel plated, and looks like a good round.

May 29, 2011, 10:26 AM
You might want to consider the .327 magnum revolver... Just a thought! I have a bud who is retired NAS and that's what he decided for his "bride"...

May 29, 2011, 11:24 AM
I would leave well enough alone. My mom ( 60+ and only a casual shooter ) has a 4".38 that I gave her and with +p Gold Dots neither of us feels she needs more gun. If she shoots it well, enjoys it and has confidence in it why mess with it?

Rifleman 173
May 30, 2011, 07:29 AM
Shot placement is much more important than caliber. If she can accurately hit the target the way she should, a .38 will do the job and be very darned effective about it too. What she needs is more practice time and training at some nearby ranges. She should be able to hit the target with confidence. To switch from a .38 caliber to a .357 really isn't doing all that much for her. Having her develop her shooting techniques though will do something for her. She should get to the point that she can learn to do the Mozambique shooting system with confidence for close range encounters because it is so effective at stopping hostile attacks.

May 30, 2011, 09:15 AM
stopping power versus familiarity.

Familiarity trumps every time. I would rather see her shooting a .22 revolver than a raging bull in 454 casul! She will be more accurate and reliable with the pistol she has been shooting regularly. Therefore her "little" .38 will have more stopping power.

Just my .02c

May 30, 2011, 09:17 AM
Unless Mom shoots, and likes a .357 forget it.