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Old October 20, 2012, 01:55 PM   #78
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Join Date: July 20, 2005
Location: Indiana
Posts: 10,167
Originally posted by Hal
To compare penetration figures using a heavier bullet for one and a light bullet for another isn't exactly fair.

How does the .38sp LSWCHP 158 gr. +P for instance stack up to the .158 gr. .357?
The Federal 158gr +P NyClad penetrated 13.1" and expanded to .232 square inches (avg. diameter .544") so while it gives slightly more expansion (due to its much
more malleable construction no doubt) it still gives a bit less penetration. However, comparing that loading to the 158gr Gold Dot still isn't quite fair because their bullet constructions are quite different. The reason that I chose the comparisons that I did is because the Gold Dot and Black Talon loadings were the only ones Brassfetcher tested from a <3" barrel, because they had similar bullet construction to the .38 Loadings that I referenced (Winchester's SXT is a descendant of the Black Talon), and because both the Speer Gold Dot and Winchester SXT are considered "modern" bullets.

Now, if we include 3" barrels in our definition of "short barrel" then we've got a bit more data to draw from. From 3" barrels, we've got the following:

.357 Magnum
Cor-Bon 125gr JHP- 1303fps, 10.7" penetration, .260 sq in. expansion (avg. diameter .576")
Federal 130gr Hydra-Shok- 1276fps, 10.9" penetration, .397 sq. in. expansion (avg. diameter .711")
Federal 158gr Hydra-Shok- 1017fps, 16.0" penetration, .109 sq. in expansion (.373" avg. diameter)

Originally posted by seeker_two
Webleymkv: I second Hal's response and will also add....What would be the practical difference in these rounds in a BG at close range? Any of those would cause significant tissue damage to vital organs.
Well, for one thing the 9.8" of penetration displayed by the Winchester SXT .38 Spl loading is low enough that I would not trust it for self-defense as it does not meet, or even come particularly close, to the 12" minimum reccomended by the FBI.

Secondly, even between the Speer Gold Dots which did penetrate adequately in both calibers, the extra penetration of the .357 Magnum version would be advantageous if one were concerned about unusually large individuals (I, in fact am and that is one of the primary reasons that I choose to carry guns cahmbered for powerful cartridges like .357 Magnum, 10mm Auto, and .44 Magnum).

I'm not trying to say that a .38 Special is an inadequate self-defense cartridge because that's not the case, but a .357 Magnum does offer certain advantages though they're not without cost like recoil and blast.

But which rounds would allow you follow-up shots? And which rounds would you practice with more often to ensure you can hit your targets without flinching or dreading the next trigger pull?
Well, I can't speak for anyone else, but I only carry guns and ammunition which I can shoot at least reasonably well. Yes, the recoil of a small-framed, lightweight revolver in .357 Magnum is quite heavy and is more than I am willing to endure for an extended range session (though other people can and do tolerate it better than I), but from an all-steel revolver like a S&W Model 60, Ruger SP101, S&W K-Frame, or Ruger Security Six, a 50-round session with .357 Magnums is not particularly painful or unpleasant for me.

Likewise, I've never found follow-up shots to be that much of an issue with a .357 Magnum revolver. Honestly, I think that the DA trigger and its reset probably slow me down more than the recoil of the .357 Magnum cartridge does, but that's not such a bad thing as it forces me to slow down just enough to get my sights re-aligned (I have to consciously force myself to slow down with the short, light, triggers of my semi-autos lest my accuracy go to pot).

I've always subscribed to the school of thought that you should choose the most powerful cartridge that you can handle in whatever type of gun you've chosen. For me, in a small to medium frame revolver, that's the .357 Magnum but for others, it may be diffferent.

Sound and fury isn't what stops the BG's....otherwise, we'd all carry .500S&W blanks. Accurate hits are what count....and more people are accurate with .38SPL snubs than with .357MAG snubs.....
Most people are more accurate still with a .22 Short, but you won't see very many people saying that it's a wise choice in a self-defense cartridge. Choosing a cartridge is a balancing act between terminal effects and ease of shooting and where exactly that balance lies varies from person to person. Just because you cannot shoot a .357 snub quickly and accurately enough to feel comfortable carrying it doesn't mean that I can't either.
Smith, and Wesson, and Me. -H. Callahan
Well waddaya know, one buwwet weft! -E. Fudd
All bad precedents begin as justifiable measures. -J. Caesar

Last edited by Webleymkv; October 20, 2012 at 02:01 PM.
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