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Old 12-07-2011, 10:24   #1
cleanneon98
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38special vs 357 magnum

I've got a Ruger GP-100 4" barrel that I love dearly. It's a .357 magnum so I can also shoot 38 specials (I'm sure you knew that). My question is as follows.

With the many different brands and grains of ammo, if you were to compare lets say a 158gr 38 special to a 158gr 357 magnum, what would be the practical difference, if the bullet was the same?

I shoot 130gr FMJ 38 specials and 158gr JSP 357 magnums out of it, and there's a noticable difference in kick, but how would the two rounds compare at an even grain count?
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Old 12-07-2011, 14:16   #2
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About 350/400fps diff, 38's are creampuffs 357's are alot more powerful.
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Old 12-07-2011, 14:48   #3
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Velocity, energy & bullet performance. It's pretty tough to get a 158gr JHP to expand @ 38sp or even 38sp+P vel. Not an issue w/ the higher horsepower 357mag. That would be the same for all bullet wts BTW, just the heavies for sure are not doing much @ 38sp vel bunch punching caliber holes. The 158grLSWCHP+P is the exception in 38sp.
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Old 12-07-2011, 17:02   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cleanneon98 View Post
I've got a Ruger GP-100 4" barrel that I love dearly. It's a .357 magnum so I can also shoot 38 specials (I'm sure you knew that). My question is as follows.

With the many different brands and grains of ammo, if you were to compare lets say a 158gr 38 special to a 158gr 357 magnum, what would be the practical difference, if the bullet was the same?

I shoot 130gr FMJ 38 specials and 158gr JSP 357 magnums out of it, and there's a noticable difference in kick, but how would the two rounds compare at an even grain count?
The .357 will be significantly more powerful.

If you were to load .38 defensively make it a Buffalo Bore 158gr LSWCHC +P. Or the old standby Gold Dot 135gr +P, at least.
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Old 12-07-2011, 17:10   #5
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I've got the same pistol, and I shoot alot of .38's for practice and wouldn't hesitate to use the .38's for self defense in a pinch but I certainly prefer the .357 rounds for an emergency... The .357 125 grainers have a nice reputation for stopping bad people, and is what is in my pistol 100% of the time when it's in "standby" mode.. ...
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Old 12-08-2011, 11:35   #6
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Is it true that for defense you want a lower grain so the bullet is a little slower and therefore would penetrate less? I see defensive loads sold in anything from 95gr to 147gr for my 9mm as an example
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:13   #7
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38 Special Gold Dots perform very well.
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Old 12-08-2011, 12:21   #8
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Maximum effort (SAAMI) from both rounds in given bbl lengths/bullet weights will favor .357mag by 200-400fps.

Ex: (from Buffalo Bore)

4" revolver;

std pressure .38sp 125gr- 1100fps

+P pressure .38sp 125gr- 1250+ fps

.357mag 125gr- 1600fps


158gr

4" revolver

std pressure .38sp-980fps

+P pressure .38sp- 1175fps

.357mag-1485fps


I quote Buffalo Bore because it's the hottest ammo in either round and actually meets the advertised velocities, unlike much of the watered down Remfedchester stuff.

At best, .38sp matches 9mmx19 in given pressures, sometimes exceeds with heavy bullets, .357mag is well beyond both.
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Old 12-08-2011, 13:34   #9
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Is it true that for defense you want a lower grain so the bullet is a little slower and therefore would penetrate less? I see defensive loads sold in anything from 95gr to 147gr for my 9mm as an example
Nope.

Lighter bullets are generally loaded faster than their heavier counterparts.

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Old 12-08-2011, 14:03   #10
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Is it true that for defense you want a lower grain so the bullet is a little slower and therefore would penetrate less? I see defensive loads sold in anything from 95gr to 147gr for my 9mm as an example
Lighter bullets go faster.

Heavier bullets penetrate more.

As general rules.

A lighter bullet, esp in JHP, will open up more. That increase in surface area, combined with lower momentum, is why it will generally penetrate less.
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Old 12-08-2011, 14:29   #11
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Nope.

Lighter bullets are generally loaded faster than their heavier counterparts.
And as Warp notes, less mass reduces penetration momentum. A double edged sword for sure, but generally, yes, a lighter bullet penetrates less than a heavier bullet. Bullet design is always the key though.
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Old 12-08-2011, 21:36   #12
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So whats the benefit of a faster heavier bullet if it will penetrate more? Sorry if this is noobish lol
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Old 12-08-2011, 21:45   #13
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So whats the benefit of a faster heavier bullet if it will penetrate more? Sorry if this is noobish lol
Better penetration.

I know I'm not alone in thinking that reliability and accuracy come first, penetration comes second, and everything else is really just minutia. Sure, a little expansion would be a nice thing, but if I can put it where it needs to go and I'm certain it has enough steam on it to get to the vitals, be it a game animal or a self defense situation, I'm a happy guy.

The risk of overpenetration, in my opinion, is pretty slim. Possible, yes. Handgun rounds are pretty unreliable stoppers as is. It just isn't going to have a lot of pepper behind it if you're putting it through 6 or more inches of flesh and bone.
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Old 12-08-2011, 23:40   #14
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Better penetration.

I know I'm not alone in thinking that reliability and accuracy come first, penetration comes second, and everything else is really just minutia. Sure, a little expansion would be a nice thing, but if I can put it where it needs to go and I'm certain it has enough steam on it to get to the vitals, be it a game animal or a self defense situation, I'm a happy guy.

The risk of overpenetration, in my opinion, is pretty slim. Possible, yes. Handgun rounds are pretty unreliable stoppers as is. It just isn't going to have a lot of pepper behind it if you're putting it through 6 or more inches of flesh and bone.
Plus missed shots are a LOT more of a liability than over penetration
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Old 12-09-2011, 09:28   #15
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Plus missed shots are a LOT more of a liability than over penetration
Well said.
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:31   #16
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"what would be the practical difference, if the bullet was the same?"

You will notice much more noise, a bigger light show, and more recoil therefore slower time back to target from a properly loaded magnum.
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Old 12-09-2011, 11:40   #17
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"what would be the practical difference, if the bullet was the same?"

You will notice much more noise, a bigger light show, and more recoil therefore slower time back to target from a properly loaded magnum.
...and a greater impact on the target.
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