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Old July 8, 2013, 10:25 PM   #1
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Probably a terrible idea, but I am curious... mixing .38/.357

I am pretty new to shooting in general, but a curious sort of fellow, so I think of strange things.

Most (all??) .357 mag revolvers will also fire a .38 special.

A .38 special has lower recoil, allowing for quicker, more accurate follow up shots.
A .357 mag has more power, allowing for more effective shots when you hit.

Lets say you have a 6 shot revolver for self-defense purposes.

Any possibility you would load alternating rounds, .38/.357, with the first round being a .38 followed by a .357?

This would allow for the superior stopping power of the .357 while maintaining some of the advantages of the .38's lower recoil for second shots.

And yes, I know that I am incredibly inexperienced and this is probably a terrible idea for very good reasons, but curious as to what those reasons are.

Thanks for entertaining my idea.
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Old July 8, 2013, 10:31 PM   #2
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Pick one round - train with it.

If .357 is a little too much, try some of the .38 +P stuff.
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Old July 8, 2013, 10:46 PM   #3
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The 357 isn't that physically bone jarring. It's more than the 38. But it's certainly managable. There are small kids and old geezers who fire them (and larger) all the time.

I would tend to carry one or the other, not both. And base my decision on sound (magnums are LOUD), over penetration, is 38 enough stopping power etc., rather than "too hot to handle".

You'll get used to the magnum if that's what you want to shoot.

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Old July 8, 2013, 10:53 PM   #4
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That's a really bad idea. One of the advantages of lower recoiling rounds is follow up shots (how long it takes you to get back on target in between shots). By mixing different recoiling rounds you are messing with your natural rhythm. The .357 magnum will have slower follow up shots where the .38 will be faster back on target. Stick to one.
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Old July 9, 2013, 01:03 PM   #5
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This reminds me of the gun store owner that recommended I load my shotgun in such a way that the first round is birdshot, then the following rounds alternate buck and slug, for bear protection. The thought was that you can "scare" the bear away with the bird shot, and use the buck and slugs if he doesn't stop.

I asked him why. He said it's so you don't kill the bear unneeded.

Well...that's such a stupid way to load a shotgun. Pick a round and stick with it. And the round you choose (for bear, anyway) should be a slug. That first shot might be the only one you get off, so you want it to count.

As far as alternating .38 and .357...bad idea. Pick a round and shoot it. .357 isn't as bad as most people make it out to be (in most revolvers), but .38 +P is a more than sufficient defensive round, if you're worried about recoil.
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Old July 9, 2013, 01:25 PM   #6
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Not to mention, if you are involved in a SD or HD shooting, you then have to explain the "logic" behind your mixed ammo to the police, the prosecutor and, quite possibly, a jury (or even two).

Pick a load. Use only that load. And know exactly why you chose it in the first place, because there WILL be a test if you ever use that firearm against another human being.
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Old July 9, 2013, 03:15 PM   #7
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When I started in law enforcement 5 years ago, more experienced officers told me to alternate slug/buckshot in my shotgun, like the bear reference above, but could never give me a reason why. I've only carried slugs, and only 2 3/4 at that, in any shotgun I've carried. My reasoning being that I'm responsible for everything leaving the barrel.

All that said, I can see where the OP is coming from, meaning first shot lighter recoil for the quicker follow up with the magnum round. But I agree with everyone stating stick with one. With enough training, you'll have a quick enough follow up, and less questions to potentially answer.
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Old July 9, 2013, 03:24 PM   #8
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Seems a like skizo to me. I would just stick to one or the other.

I have alternated shot guns(buck shot/slug) for bears. The though behind it was uncertain range and possible difficult shot. I would rather hit a bear with a slug but maybe he is running or at a farther range where a slug hit might not be that dependable.

Last edited by deepcreek; July 9, 2013 at 05:05 PM. Reason: typo
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Old July 9, 2013, 04:26 PM   #9
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I vaguly recall there's reason for alternating slug/shot in shotguns, but I don't know what they are.

I would think alternating .38s and .357 for a new shooter as a reciepe for devoloping a flinch. Since I see no practical aplication for doing this, well, pick one and leave it at that.
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Old July 9, 2013, 06:12 PM   #10
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A lot of trouble.
I disagree that the .357 is not bad on recoil. Depending on the gun it may not be in a heavy gun, but a light or J-Frame .357 with max loads is unpleasant to shoot. For that reason you might want to use max .38 Spl loads in a .357.

A J frame size .357 does offer the flexibility to choose what is best for you.

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Old July 9, 2013, 06:23 PM   #11
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Some loading schemes make sense to me like ball then hollowpoint for barrier penetration, but even that is a reach.

This scheme would leave me struggling on follow up shots as fast shooting is about a rithym. Shooting all one power level allows you to know instinctively when your front sight will come out of recoil and cross the target. The mixed loading would require I stop and get a full sight picture for every shot.
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Old July 9, 2013, 06:28 PM   #12
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Trying to come up with a formula is really over intellectualizing the whole thing. Decide on a Self Defense platform, train and stick with it.
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Old July 10, 2013, 01:26 PM   #13
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As predicted, a universally bad idea, but the reasons why were interesting.

I have heard of a lot of different combination loads for HD shotguns. Birdshot first (to make sure you hit someone) followed by combinations of 00, slugs, to all sorts of "exotic" loads like flechettes and bean bags and fireballs. Some of those ideas may have merit, but for the revolver seems like no mixing = best plan.
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Old July 10, 2013, 02:27 PM   #14
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I have yet to see a modern instructor recommend mixed loads.

It used to be called a Dutch load. Dutch police loaded a revolver with something like (might have the exact ordering wrong) - first a blank, then tear gas, then a couple of cork bullets and finally a standard round.

Also, it is unlikely you could keep the alternation in mind. Folks in FOF say they shot 3 rounds and video shows they emptied gun.
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Old July 11, 2013, 05:34 PM   #15
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Only time I've seen this done was to overcome flinch. A guy I knew was flinching badly with .357s and to combat it, he would load 5 .38s and 1 .357 and spin the cylinder before closing it. He never knew where the .357 was, but having 5 mild .38s was easier on his nerves. He did it for several range visits and finally overcame his magnum flinch. But, he was not carrying the gun at the time.

I'd never do something like this with a carry gun.
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Old July 12, 2013, 07:30 AM   #16
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if your afraid of recoil from full flavored .357 magnum rounds, please look at the gun your using. if your using a 20 ounce or less revolver, you wont have as much fun even with 38 +p then if you simply switched to a heavier gun that was designed to deal with full recoil. say 32 ounces.
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Old July 12, 2013, 07:53 AM   #17
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I'm almost embarrassed to relate this but here goes. I was a pilot in the USAF. The commander of one squadron I was in ordered that we load our S&W .38 Combat Masterpieces with one chamber under the hammer empty (like the old single actions) AND the next chamber to come up empty to prevent a discharge if we accidentally pulled the trigger. So that would leave us with four chambers loaded.

Most of us ignored the command.
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Old July 12, 2013, 04:49 PM   #18
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Jim, I doubt anyone here would blame you. :O that's just insane.
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Old July 13, 2013, 09:48 PM   #19
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Well, this might ruffle a few feathers, but here goes....

In my humble opinion, the .38 special aint that special.
It's just not that powerful of a round.

Even .38+P isn't that powerful.
Especially when compared to 9mm Para, .40S&W, .357 Sig, .45ACP, 10mm, and .357 magnum.

But if you're a little timid about shooting full power .357 magnum loads, you can always shoot .357 magnum ammo that is rather down loaded.

For example:
Blazer offers 158g .357 magnum semi-jacketed hollow-point ammo that is roughly the equivalent to 9mm+P, producing around 460 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy.
This is a far cry from the Speer 125g Gold Dot ammo which produces around 580 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy.
But still better than just about any .38+P ammo.

To give you a reference, the Speer 125g .38+P ammo produces only around 250 ft. lbs. of muzzle energy, and it is one of the better .38+P self defense loads.

All of this is data from 4" barrel revolvers.
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Old July 15, 2013, 06:29 AM   #20
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Welcome to the forum. My question to you is what kind of a revolver are you using? Not to start an argument with anyone but the ability to mix rounds is just one of many advantages of using a revolver. A firearm like a car or a wife is a very personal choice. The one you choose has to meet your needs, not a consensus. If you feel the need to mix .38's and .357's go ahead. Just because someone else dont believe they could master the mix dont mean that you cant. Each of us knows whats best for ourself. While advice is great... at the end of the day we have to live with our choices.
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Old July 15, 2013, 03:49 PM   #21
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Never would I mix my loads for every day street carry. The exception to that would be when I am carrying in the woods. I keep a round of snake shot for the first cylinder due to cotton mounts around the creeks, rivers, and ponds. I also keep a few extra snake shot rounds in an ammo wallet incase there are others. The other threats are usualy hogs, or dogs. I keep the other 5 cylinders loaded with standard rounds for the hogs. I have a can of pepper spray for the dogs.

I know a couple of retired LEO's that say back in the day they were given .38 Special for the range. .357 Mag for the streets. If they shot up the .357 Mag on the range they had to buy more for carry. They were required by the department to carry the .357 Mag ammo. This was in the very early 1980's.
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Old July 16, 2013, 01:02 PM   #22
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Don't carry for defense

but do have a .357 I practice with .38 cause they're cheaper. Also easier when introducing new shooters.
I do recall the reasoning raised above for "candy caning" a shotgun load for self defense. Presented in an article by a store owner who'd been involved in a robbery. You don't get much chance to aim your first shot so 9 pellets gives you greater odds of a hit than one projectile when you just have time to point and shoot. After that the encounter often moves to cover so you get to aim and the added penetration allows shooting through walls and such.
Wish I could find the story. He ended up paralyzing the crook who then tried to sue him.
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Old July 16, 2013, 02:27 PM   #23
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9 pellets gives you greater odds of a hit than one projectile when you just have time to point and shoot
At typical SD distances, shotgun pellets just don't open up all that much - even with short, unchoked barrels.
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Old July 16, 2013, 02:53 PM   #24
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It's a bad idea. Differing amounts of recoil is going to make for some awkward follow up shots, probably worse accuracy and speed than if you just loaded .357 mag even if it's a little "much" for the shooter.

I've thought about having magazines with alternating HP and FMJ rounds, loaded with the same weight to the same velocity. To potentially have a more versatile HD weapon but it's often a bad idea to mix any kind of ammo, unless you absolutely need to.
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Old July 17, 2013, 07:29 AM   #25
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This thought has also crossed my mind at some point. Along with the problems listed above, there is also no solid way of knowing which of the six bullets are which if alternated, especially if you were in a hurry or stressful situation. A wheel full of .38 for the first 5 rounds and having a .357 as the last and sixth shot sounds kind of enticing, but there really is no practical reason for this. Even if practiced in this particular sequence, a set-up like this would likely have a hard time earning any merit.
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