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Old April 16, 2019, 09:35 PM   #51
ratshooter
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From the OPs first post.

Quote:
I'm not talking about the older guns that predated their magnum counterparts, I mean today, why make a .38 spl only gun?
I wish more 38 Special only guns were offered. About the only new made besides snubbies are the 38s from Taurus and some of the crazy expensive new made S&W guns. Then I guess you can add in the Rossi's and RIA versions with a 4" barrel.

I think the 38 has a great balance of power and shootability. Better than a 357 from a similar weight gun. Reload for it and it will do for small game with round ball loads and reach lower end 357 loads. Brass is still easy to come by. You can buy big sacks of it off gunbroker. The 38 will do all its work with a plain, ordinary lead bullet. No jacketed bullets needed. So that makes it cheap to shoot.

The debate over the merits of the 38 was going on in the early 1980s when I started shooting and rolling my own loads. Its a round about anyone can learn to shoot. And its been shown that a 38 round fired in a 38 only gun gets a little velocity boost over the same round fired in a 357 chamber. Not much but some.

I have owned a few of the Taurus models 82s from the 1980s and early 1990s, the ones that came with the wood grips and they were very good, accurate guns that seemed to be just about on par with the S&W model 10 revolvers. I wish I still had them. I can't comment on the newer Taurus made fixed sight 38s. I haven't handled or shot one.

https://www.taurususa.com/firearms/revolvers/82/

I checked the Rossi website and they do not show any revolvers??? I guess since Taurus took them over they have been dropped.
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Old April 16, 2019, 09:58 PM   #52
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let me repackage this for those that still don't understand.... if gas mileage et cetera et cetera was the same why buy a 6 cyl. car when you can buy the 8 cyl.?
Because the 8 cyl is still going to cost a hell of lot more , just like the 357 in Smith 340 is several hundred more than the 38 Special Model 642.
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Old April 16, 2019, 10:03 PM   #53
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I'll take a little .380 semi auto with seven to eight rounds over a five to six rounder .38 any day of the week.
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Old April 17, 2019, 06:03 AM   #54
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I'd take the one that could haul 1,700 lbs. and only haul 1,200 lbs. regularly but still have the ability to do more when I want. why would I limit myself?

does the LCR 357 cost 40-50 percent more than the LCR 38?
The difference is not that extreme but the LCR 38 is still lighter (more efficient) than the LCR 357. The difference in cost becomes more extreme as they get even lighter in the Smith versions. Your argument hinges on the "if all else is equal then you might as well buy the .357 version" BUT all else is NOT equal.

A) Weight. The .357 version is often heavier than the .38 version. Ruger model 5401 (LCR 38 1.87" barrel) is 13.5 ounces. The Ruger model 5450 (LCR 357 1.87" barrel) is 17.1 ounces. For the record that 3.6 ounces works out to nearly 27% heavier.

B) Cost. GunsAmerica lists the model 5401 (new) pretty consistently in the low $400 range with one abnormal new version listing for $350. The model 5450 is pretty consistently listed above $500. In the Smith version the 360J can be had (by one seller) in the .38 for $429 with the 360 in 357 ranging from $565 (one seller) and up dramatically. 40% was probably hyperbole but the lower end of the range is a 25% cost difference

C) Some people have noted that accuracy suffers when firing .38 from a .357 cylinder. Take it or leave it, not sure.

So your entire argument hinges on the idea of "if all else is equal why bother buying (or producing) the .38" when, in fact, all else is NOT equal. So its not really a problem of "those who don't understand" its that the entirety of your argument hinges on the false premise of "all else being equal"

Personally I am not carrying more weight just on the off chance I want to shoot a round I don't and once you get into the 16 ounce+ territory the micro-9s come into the equation (a P938 is listed at 16 ounces though I am not sure if that is with or without magazine). I am also not paying a premium for the ability to fire a round I have no desire to out of a gun of that weight. In this case either weight - I have no desire to fire a .357 out of anything less than the noticeably heavier SP101 and even that is all I want.

If I buy a snub nose revolver today its between the LCR .38 (13.5 ounces, near $400) and the 360J (11.4 ounces $430). Where is the .357 variant that comes in near the same weight AND the same price by one of those companies?
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Old April 17, 2019, 06:28 AM   #55
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So, now we're down to analogy wars. The truth be told, this same sort of debate was going on decades ago regarding the .45 Colt, and it is still going strong. I expect nothing less of the .38 Special.

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Old April 17, 2019, 07:26 AM   #56
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Quote:
So, now we're down to analogy wars.
A .38 Special is like a BLT without the B.

Edit: No, it isn't. You can add B to a LT and make it a BLT, but a .38 will never be a .357.
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Old April 17, 2019, 08:14 AM   #57
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Quote:
A .38 Special is like a BLT without the B.

Edit: No, it isn't. You can add B to a LT and make it a BLT, but a .38 will never be a .357.
I'd call it more like a BT vs a BLT. Who really cares about the lettuce? Or maybe its a BL rather than a BLT.... Regardless the difference is definitely not the bacon
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Old April 17, 2019, 11:03 AM   #58
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Quote:
Your argument hinges on the "if all else is equal then you might as well buy the .357 version" BUT all else is NOT equal.
No, all else is not equal, in the examples chosen. It COULD be if you chose different examples.
I will admit its tough to find examples where all else is equal, if you stick to small, snub nose revolvers. One of the reasons is that the two cartridges are not equal. The .357 is not "just a hot .38 with a longer case". It is, a hot .38 with a longer case, but hot in this case means about DOUBLE the working pressure.

That makes a bit of a difference in gun design, materials and construction. Those two pocket guns that LOOK about identical, one .38 and one .357 can have different alloys and different heat treating used. This also affects the cost.

It's more than remotely possible that they charge more for .357s because they cost more to make, despite seeming the same to the naked eye.

You may note that if you look at bigger guns than bellyguns, they aren't making .38Spl only Ruger Blackhawks or S&W N frames. Why not?

Because no one wants to buy them.

For an even more "fair" comparison, lets take a Contender and a barrel in .38SPL and another (same dimensions) in .357 Magnum. Size and weight of the gun would be essentially identical, and so would cost. SO, you could get an "all else being equal" .38 Special and .357 Magnum, but you won't get that comparing current market offerings of snub nose revolvers.

They aren't identical and they aren't meant to be.
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Old April 17, 2019, 11:39 AM   #59
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44 AMP you bring up some interesting points. In the larger guns it is much more likely everything is going to be equal or closer to equal and the differences do seem to be most highlighted in the J-frame / LCR size guns. As you note as things become closer and closer to equal the .38 does indeed fall out of favor.

Probably don't have to be as careful making an N frame or Blackhawk to withstand .357 pressures as you do a J-frame. Little more material to work with there likely makes manufacturing easier and warranty repairs less.

From what I have read about scandium .357s and trips back to Smith it seems there has to be a substantial build in for the cost of warranty repairs.
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Old April 17, 2019, 12:49 PM   #60
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The Scandium alloy guns are also harder to machine and the raw material is more expensive. Also, the Scandium guns are really cool, right until the hammer falls on the first round... Having fired .357 Magnum from a Ruger LCR (KLCR properly I think), it really isn't something I'm excited at the prospect of doing again.

The .357 Magnum guns aren't more expensive just because the manufacturers can charge more. They require different materials, different heat treatment and in small frames are right on the edge of durable design. A .38 Special can be made less expensively and lighter in a similar format. For most people this is a better use option.

Now in larger frame guns, you'll find the .357 Magnum is much more popular than the .38 Special only offerings. This is because all of the mitigating factors are less relevant in a 40-oz pistol versus a 12-oz one. Take a look at how used S&W K-frame .357s tend to command a significant premium over the .38 Special models. This is because consumer demand is higher for the Magnum guns.

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Old April 17, 2019, 05:38 PM   #61
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ok, so from all this I'm getting that some folks buy a 38 over its 357 counterpart because for some 2-3 ounces is huge; but for most its the cost of the gun itself. mind you (and some still don't get this) this is not about the cartridge but the guns, one being restricted and the other versatile.
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Old April 17, 2019, 05:51 PM   #62
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Imo, the biggest reason to buy a .357 is it's better for resale since "it's so versatile."
Not so suggest many take advantage of the versatility, but it does help when selling, especially when revolvers aren't very popular compared to semi-autos.

I think (no stats) that most revolver sales fall into two categories; 1) snubs for SD, 2) the big hand cannon for moose, UFO's, etc.
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Old April 17, 2019, 06:01 PM   #63
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About the only 38 Special guns that are new made are snubby revolvers. Or you can buy the very expensive S&W model 10s or Taurus made guns both with 4" barrels.

For some you can't give them a gun made by Taurus and others who want a S&W they would rather have the older guns they consider to be of better quality without the MIM parts.

But there is still a demand for a 38 in other than short barreled configuration. If you don't beleive it just go to gunbroker and look at the prices of model 10s, model 15s and model 14 target guns with 6" barrels. All in 38 special only.

I would like a good clean model 10 but I don't want the heavy barrel version and don't want to pay $400+ for a gun that used to be priced less than $200 a few years ago. Even a new Taurus 38 is over $400.
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Old April 17, 2019, 06:13 PM   #64
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Quote:
ok, so from all this I'm getting that some folks buy a 38 over its 357 counterpart because for some 2-3 ounces is huge; but for most its the cost of the gun itself. mind you (and some still don't get this) this is not about the cartridge but the guns, one being restricted and the other versatile.
Versatility in a single cartridge / gun is over rated. I’m not restricted to owning one. If I want more power than a 38 I’m going to a G29 10MM. If I want even more power the 41 or 44 magnum in an appropriately sized gun.
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Old April 17, 2019, 06:37 PM   #65
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Originally Posted by Lohman446 View Post
Versatility in a single cartridge / gun is over rated. I’m not restricted to owning one. If I want more power than a 38 I’m going to a G29 10MM. If I want even more power the 41 or 44 magnum in an appropriately sized gun.
so if you're buying more guns, the extra cost of the 357 isn't an issue for you.
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Old April 17, 2019, 08:45 PM   #66
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Didn’t argue it was an issue for me. Argued it made a base premise of your argument (all things being equal) false
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Old April 18, 2019, 12:14 PM   #67
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But there is still a demand for a 38 in other than short barreled configuration. If you don't beleive it just go to gunbroker and look at the prices of model 10s, model 15s and model 14 target guns with 6" barrels. All in 38 special only.
I think the demand is for those guns, because of what they are, not because they are .38 Specials. People aren't buying that gun because its a .38, they are buying a S&W 10, 15, 14, etc., and it happens to be a .38 Spl.
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Old April 18, 2019, 12:40 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
I think the demand is for those guns, because of what they are, not because they are .38 Specials. People aren't buying that gun because its a .38, they are buying a S&W 10, 15, 14, etc., and it happens to be a .38 Spl.
That's not how I'd put it. Some folks are in fact looking for a 38 Special revolver. There aren't that many new ones available from S&W, and the new ones usually have a barrel sleeve and key lock, features that some folks don't like. S&W's current lineup is rather limited.

Also, some of those older models don't have modern versions, like a 2" model 10 or 12, and a 6" or 8-3/8" model 14. And some models are classics, like the 4" model 15. The only way to get one is to find a used one.

Last edited by 74A95; April 18, 2019 at 12:47 PM.
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Old April 18, 2019, 12:44 PM   #69
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Quote:
I think the demand is for those guns, because of what they are, not because they are .38 Specials. People aren't buying that gun because its a .38, they are buying a S&W 10, 15, 14, etc., and it happens to be a .38 Spl.
Maybe you're right. Maybe its just me. But I look at those guns all the time and have several on my watch list on GB right now. I just can't afford a new gun right now.

But I am a straight up fan of the 38 Special and I look at and shop for those guns because of the round they fire. I feel the same way about the 32 long and 32 mag. I have several thousand once fired 38 cases and a couple of thousand rounds loaded for 38. I have the most bullet molds and bullets cast up and ready to load for the 38.

I bid on model 14's ever so often when I see one I like and think is worth the price and it always gets bid high enough I stop bidding on it. So I am not the only one who likes them. I will eventually find one I can justify the price on and buy it. Just like I did with the S&W model 631 I wanted for so many years but wouldn't pay the $900+ most were asking. I finally found one for $675 shipped on the S&W forum.
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Old April 18, 2019, 01:22 PM   #70
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I think we are talking about the same thing:

For the same price, I would select a 4” gp 100 in .357 magnum over the same gun chambered .38 special.

In the 3” lightweight LCRX, the only reason I would pay $100 more for the .357 magnum version would be in expectation that the resale value would be higher as the general bubba has no idea how wicked .357 magnum recoil would be in a 14oz revolver, or maybe some argument that I already had a bucket of nice .357 magnum brass. Me... I would buy that gun with the expectation of it becoming something like a favorite pocket knife and reselling it would not be in the equation. I wouldn’t shed a tear for .38 special only.

Taking it down to a 2” barrel, I’d save the $100 because... just because. Come on.. it’s a huge fireball. But bubba at the gun shop is going to buy the micro cannon, take it to the quarry and hurt his paw shooting at the old rusty refrigerator, spook himself, brag to his friends about it, and when the swelling and his ego die down, he’ll trade it for a 9mm Glock at a huge loss. I bet gun stores see this every day.

Some of us love the history and traditions of a cartridge and many people talk much but shoot little.

I can recall a winter shooting indoors, using my .22. I was shooting 10 meter air pistol targets at 15 yards. That was about the best I could come up with for the 15 yard indoor range.

A nice fella was shooting his .40 caliber at the nra human target at 5 yards. He kept a few in the body but was having fun shaking the rafters and flinching. He tapped me on the shoulder.

“Hey.. if you need a target, I can give you a few”
“Oh thanks, I am shooting at a target. I have a couple taped to the cardboard hanger”
He peers down the lane. “What? Where?”
So I hit the switch and pull back the targets. I was in practice then, so all 10 were in the black. It’s about the size of a tea saucer. “See?” I tug one off and hand it to him.
He just holds it, looking at the target.
“Did you just shoot that? Way down there?”
“Yah”
“You could shoot someone in the face all day with that little thing!”
My target gun is a little TT Olympia with a red dot on it.
“Or a squirrel.”
“But but but.... most of the holes are touching!”
“You should come to pistol league at the outdoor range. It’s fun. We shoot at bigger targets but at 50 yards.”
“But but but... that’s just because it’s a .22...”

Tape up new targets, spin em back down range. Punch a big ragged hole with 5 .45acp wadcutters.

“It will really improve your shooting”

Back when I was 35 years old, I was a pretty good shot. I can still do okay... but I used to be pretty good and practiced two or three days a week. I am getting back to it but I can really tell my eyes got old.

That guy bought a Glock .40 and was having fun, but I contend it was too much gun for where he was at.

.357 in a belly gun is too much gun for anyone. Even those that can control it will be faster and better with a reduced load that produces far less recoil and muzzle blast without reducing power factor much at all. The extra powder is just making extra thunder and lightning for a pill going practically the same velocity in .38.

But... I hate how our sport has gone... it’s all about the marketing now.

Perfect example... 32 Long. Lead round nose. Police carried those back in the day. “Underpowered”? Don’t do something stupid like stand in front of one. It’s a cartridge with a rich history, like the .38.

.357 magnum. Other than Skeeter, who carries a .357? If you are old you’ll say “Dick Tracey”. Cool.

Last edited by stinkeypete; April 18, 2019 at 01:33 PM.
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Old April 18, 2019, 01:31 PM   #71
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Originally Posted by 44 AMP View Post
People aren't buying that gun because its a .38, they are buying a S&W 10, 15, 14, etc., and it happens to be a .38 Spl.
That just doesn't make sense. The model number DEFINES the caliber in which it's chambered.
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Old April 18, 2019, 01:34 PM   #72
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Hahaha! Like a Glock 22?
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Old April 18, 2019, 01:35 PM   #73
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The answer to the OP's original question can be gleaned from simply looking at the .38 Special revolvers currently made and the prices being asked for them.

In Ruger's line, the only .38 Special-only gun currently cataloged is the LCR. While the LCR is available in .357 Magnum, the .38 Special version is both roughly 10% lighter and, more importantly, substantially less expensive (MSRP is $90 less for the .38-only version). Of all Ruger's other DA revolvers, which all have steel frames, no .38 Special-only version is cataloged.

S&W makes a wider variety of revolvers than Ruger, but we can still explain some of the reason for .38-only revolvers. The most popular revolvers S&W makes are their J-Frame snubs and the .38-only airweights are the best sellers. While S&W does make .357 Magnum revolvers as light, or lighter than the .38 airweights, they all use scandium or titanium alloy and are much, much more expensive (up to double the price of a .38 airweight). The only steel-frame .38 J-Frame cataloged is the Model 36 which is part of the Classic Line and is marketed as much to collectors as to those looking for a defensive revolver (the older M36 was only ever offered in .38 Special).

Unlike Ruger, S&W does still offer a few of their larger steel-frame guns in .38 Special only. These include the stainless Models 64 and 67 and the blued or nickel Model 10. I suspect that the M64 and M67 are still offered to cater to Prisons, Private Security Firms, and the few small police agencies that still want their officers to carry a revolver, but are uncomfortable with the more powerful .357 Magnum cartridge. The Model 10 is, like the M36, part of the classic series and offered for the same reasons.

So, for the private individual looking for a medium-frame revolver, there really isn't much reason to buy a new one in .38 Special unless it's for the nostalgia of a classic model. If you're looking for a small-frame revolver, however, a .38 can be had substantially lighter and/or cheaper than a comparable .357. If you're looking at used guns, a .38 can often be had for much less than a comparable .357 Magnum and there are certain models and configurations available in .38 that may have never been offered in .357.
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Old April 18, 2019, 02:36 PM   #74
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So you've decided there is no purpose to a 38 revolver. Cool. Forgive me if I ignore your opinion.
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Old April 18, 2019, 03:07 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by stinkeypete View Post

.357 in a belly gun is too much gun for anyone. Even those that can control it will be faster and better with a reduced load that produces far less recoil and muzzle blast without reducing power factor much at all. The extra powder is just making extra thunder and lightning for a pill going practically the same velocity in .38.

That is false.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27wDLjY5JSs
http://snubnose.info/docs/38-snub_vs_357-snub.htm
https://www.shootingillustrated.com/...vs-357-magnum/
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