The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > Hogan's Alley > Tactics and Training

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old June 20, 2005, 06:18 PM   #1
Junior member
Join Date: January 18, 2005
Posts: 3,298
why did police depts require .38 Special over .357

Why did certain police departments require .38 ammo over .357. Most have told me due to overpenetration? (Some have told me that is just bunk that old police instructors used to spout)

Personally, I'd prefer .38 because .357 is so LOUD I can empty 3 boxes of .38s at the range easy. But a half a box of .357s wear me out from just the muzzel flash (and my M28 is a 6 inch barrel) not to mention the noise (and I'm wearing ear protection) Recoil also would be a problem. Why wouldn't .38 or .38+P be sufficient? I'd hate to go into a house and fire off a .357 at a criminal. Screetching pain for my eardrums.
Doug.38PR is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 06:57 PM   #2
Senior Member
Join Date: May 26, 2000
Location: Hastings, Nebrasksa - the Hear
Posts: 2,131
Control, too.

Back when I was a humble but lovable Border 'Troll, we could carry a 'concealed weapon' of our own purchase. However, if the revolver (all there was in those days) was a .357 Magnum, we were required to carry .38 Special ammunition in it. The staff officer at HQ who wrote that particular bit of sillyness was a man who didn't like guns, couldn't shoot well and didn't believe anyone could properly control a 2.5" barrelled Model 19 with magnum loads. No matter how you qualified.

From the same genius who banned speedloaders and required snap-off loops for spare ammunition.
There ain't no free lunch, except Jesus.

Check out updated journal at
Archie is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 06:59 PM   #3
Senior Member
Join Date: June 11, 2005
Location: eastern Kansas
Posts: 603
Fear of change, ignorance and cost factors had a lot to do with it. Then the average officer had problems qualifying with magnums. Qualification shoots were routinuely done with wadcutters. My first department allowed us to carry .357s, but the personnel manual told us we would be disciplined or terminated if we used anything better than +P .38s. Some departments insisted on staying with those godawful, bottom heavy factory grips that once came on Smith and Wessons. One's hand would ride completely up the topstrap around round three or four with .357s.

I suspect the reason why departments finally embraced autoloaders is that qualification scores with the 9mm were usually higher. The cost of 9mm ammo dropped as it became more plentiful.
somerled is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 07:16 PM   #4
Brian D.
Senior Member
Join Date: August 6, 2002
Location: SW Ohio
Posts: 230
Here in the Cincy area, I remember a lot of uproar from ignorant rabble rousers---ahem, I meant to type in "concerned citizens"--about the pigs--sorry, that's what they said--using those no good, minority-killing magnums in their guns.

I realize that may sound inflammatory, but this rhetoric wasn't coming from me, just relating the biased stories the media carried at that time.
"...give me a Rohrbaugh." --Jeff OTMG, 6/22/04. Hmm, that's probably the only way I'd get one, at least until CDNN has a closeout sale like on those Autauga .32s..
Brian D. is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 07:21 PM   #5
Senior Member
Join Date: March 14, 2005
Location: Washougal, Washington. YEHAW!
Posts: 1,872
Magnum sounds scary. Hollywood.
Romans 12:21

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

More CZ M52 info than you can shake a stick at!
jonathon is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 08:55 PM   #6
Senior Member
Join Date: May 28, 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 6,231
Not to mention with what a good rabble rousing attorney could probably do with it in court.......
Have a nice day at the range

NRA Life Member
Eghad is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 09:24 PM   #7
Senior Member
Join Date: August 20, 2004
Location: Evanston,WY
Posts: 898
based on my 0 LEO experiance and just guessing, i would say it was so they could control the weapon better for follow up shots. keep in mind, there are many people who become LEO's, but have little to no interest in firearms, for various reasons. for example, i am in the U.S. military, yet have NEVER fired or even carried a gun (in the commision of my duty or as training) in 4+ years. I do it of my own interest and enjoyment (read: obsession ).
Q: How can I reduce the amount of mail I receive from the NRA?
A: Simply email us at [email protected] or dial 800-NRA-3888 and request to be placed on the "Do Not Promote" list.
jrfoxx is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 09:35 PM   #8
Senior Member
Join Date: May 28, 2005
Location: Texas
Posts: 6,231
same here....

most military folks are only required to qualify once a year...heck I was in a TDA unit that wasnt even authorized weapons and you had to beg borrow and steal a slot with a unit to keep your qualifications current. I shot a lot on my own and had the chance to shoot on a military team and get to use some nifty weapons and free military ammo. But most of it was done on my own time and money.

shooting isnt cheap.....
Have a nice day at the range

NRA Life Member
Eghad is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 09:36 PM   #9
Join Date: February 24, 2005
Location: Mankato, MN
Posts: 41
.38+P vs. .357 magnum

The "real" reason lies behind the depth of penetration of the .357 magnum over the .38+P...LEO's follow the gov't testing of the bullets looking for a magic depth of 12 inches in the 8 test conducted by the FBI. .357 over penetrates frequently, causing a fear of collateral damage. Most state laws cause a LEO to be responsible for EVERY bullet fired, even those that may pass through a bad guy.
JR3149 is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 10:57 PM   #10
Long Path
Senior Member
Join Date: May 31, 1999
Location: N. Texas
Posts: 5,896
...for all the reasons above, and this simple reason: scores were universally better with the +P .38s than the .357 magnums. Sounds like a silly trade off if the magnums were still qualifying, but then again, there might be something to making the officer shoot better. [shrug] Life is imperfect.
"Welcome to The Firing Line, a virtual community dedicated to the discussion and advancement of responsible firearms ownership."T.F.L. Policy Page
Will you, too, be one who stands in the gap? ____________
Long Path is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 11:03 PM   #11
Lawyer Daggit
Senior Member
Join Date: December 5, 2004
Posts: 1,181
I once expressed a view to a salesman who was selling Glock 9mm Pistols to the Aust Federal Police that the AFP would have been better served by switching from a .38 special to a stainless steel .357 magnum. He agreed with me.

He expressed the view that one reason why the AFP would never do so however was concern about the .357's Magnum name conjuring up images of Dirty Harry in the eyes of the ignorant.
Lawyer Daggit is offline  
Old June 20, 2005, 11:09 PM   #12
Capt. Charlie
Join Date: March 24, 2005
Location: Steubenville, OH
Posts: 4,419

Just wondering something. How long ago were you with the Border Patrol? Reason I'm asking is that maybe you knew a friend of mine who was a real legend with the BP, Jack Fields? This was maybe in the late 50's early 60's. He passed away several years ago.
TFL Members are ambassadors to the world for firearm owners. What kind of ambassador does your post make you?

I train in earnest, to do the things that I pray in earnest, I'll never have to do.

--Capt. Charlie
Capt. Charlie is offline  
Old June 21, 2005, 12:06 AM   #13
Senior Member
Join Date: November 18, 2004
Posts: 1,446
For the same reason it was well into the 90's before the NYPD was able to carry hollowpoints. It took many years of internal struggle untill the PD would allow officers to carry flat point SWC lead loads. Infact I have an older remington catalogue that list the 158 SWC as the NYPD Load. People who often make it their business to be indignant about that which they know nothing about.
guntotin_fool is offline  
Old June 21, 2005, 01:52 AM   #14
Junior Member
Join Date: February 23, 2005
Location: Glendora, California
Posts: 11
I was lucky

The department I worked for as a reserve for 20+ years originally carried S&W or Colt 357 mag 4 or 6 inch revolvers with 125 gr hollow point rounds. About 10 years after I hired on we went to H&K P7 M13 pistols in 9mm. Several years later we went to Glock 45 cal. Our chief wanted the bad guy out of commission asap and cared more about his officers than bad press about using the 357 mag. We qualified every month with 38 cal ammo (budget restrictions) and at least once a year with 357 mag. That was usually a night shoot.
"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored". Aldous Huxley, Novelist (1894-1963).
captainsdad2 is offline  
Old June 21, 2005, 06:00 AM   #15
Senior Member
Join Date: September 15, 2004
Location: Madison, Wisconsin
Posts: 644
Most cops just couldn't hit very well with a .357 Magnum. Too much recoil and muzzle blast. .38s were a better choice.

For the same reason, the "average" cop or shooter should probably use a 9mm or .40 cal auto loader. .45 is a good round with a proven record, but it takes some degree of regular practice to develop and maintain proficiency.

And in the late 1970s there was a lot of concern about over-penetration and the "magnum" designation did scare some people.
You can only learn from experience if you pay attention!
Jeff22 is offline  
Old June 22, 2005, 02:06 PM   #16
Senior Member
Join Date: August 20, 1999
Location: Occupied Virginia
Posts: 2,777
. . . . and, when for many decades, the "FBI load" was .38 Special +P 158 grain LSWCHPs, the rationale that the Bureau uses them was always available.
Μολών λαβέ!
RWK is offline  
Old June 22, 2005, 06:35 PM   #17
Junior member
Join Date: February 18, 2005
Location: Comanche Co. Texas
Posts: 737
Border Patrol

Buck Newsom worked out of the Marfa, TX Border Patrol Office and visited my folks at the Ranch regularly, he was a good Officer and when we had wets he nabbed them. We always invited him in for coffee or breakfast and after long minutes of pleasantries he asked, "Got any wets"? We never lied to him nor him to us......A fine man and Officer.
cuate is offline  

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:15 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2016 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent:
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.14833 seconds with 7 queries