.357 Magnum or .38spl?

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by Mikeyboy » Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:22 am

gunsandrockets wrote:
Figs and Bacon wrote:I recently traded my Buckmark for a short-barrelled Ruger SP101. I'm wondering what the advice is for ammo that I should use for self-defense? I know that .357 has more power (and I can play Dirty Harry!) but its recoil is also pretty strong. Would .38+p be a better alternative? What say you, ZS?
The best I can do is relate my own experience with a Taurus .357 magnum snubbie.

I chronograph tested a variety of .357 magnum loads, most importantly with a large variety of bullet weights from 110 grains up to 158 grains, including one troublesome box of Corbon 125 grain hollowpoints. The short story is, the maximum velocity out of that 2-1/4 inch tube didn't vary much no matter what load I fired, approx. 1100 fps maximum. So in essence the difference in energy provided by the different loads was wholly dependent on bullet weight, the heavier the bullet the more energy, maxing out at 400 fpe with the 158 grain load.

Now mind you that is more punch than even a +p .38 special can dish out with a much longer barrel. But the price paid is very stiff recoil and enormous muzzle blast. The recoil was so stiff it broke my two-handed weaver grip with every shot. It was actually faster to fire the revolver one-handed because I didn't have to pause to reacquire my grip.

If I had to do it over again, I never would have bought a .357 magnum pistol with such a short barrel. (in those days the SP-101 was pretty new and wasn't even offered yet in a 3 inch or 4 inch barrel like it is today) And back then we didn't have the valuable resource, ballistics by the inch, which reports very detailed ballistic information. http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/

The .357 magnum is very dependent upon a long barrel and tight cylinder gap to deliver its famed performance. 4 inch barrel absolutely the minimum, otherwise don't even bother. And my own preference is for at least a 6 inch barrel.
Sort of agree with the exception of the end comment.

I think of .22magnum verses .22lr with this debate. Out of a two inch barrel, you get tons of blast, and flash but not a significant amount of performance when compared to +P .38 rounds of the same weight. a .357 may squeeze out a bit more speed, but its usually 150fps or less. From a 4" barrel or longer, its a different story. If it was the SP101 with the 3" barrel it might be worth it, but with the 2" barrel, I wouldn't worry too much about .357 unless you like the BOOM factor.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/calibers.html

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by BadLands_Shooter » Fri Dec 19, 2014 9:18 pm

Ammo versatility is awesome with a .357 Mag. I'm just praying there will be enough .38 laying around when SHTF for my Model 10.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by roscoe » Sun Dec 28, 2014 4:54 am

What length barrel? With a 3" barrel, .357 is still getting plenty of benefit from the additional powder. Note that the SP101 is the smallest .357 many would consider for the heavy 200 grain hardcast woods loads from DoubleTap or Buffalo Bore. But put Hogue grips to move your middle finger away from the trigger guard, or it will take a beating. I personally think the SP101 is one of the most versatile firearms out there - it is concealable for city carry (where .38 is probably sufficient), but still effective for heavy loads in the woods. If you had to have only one firearm, this would be a reasonable choice.

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by Slugg » Wed Dec 31, 2014 12:34 am

The Ruger Sp101 is great for a daily carry. When I picked up my SP101 I bought 4 or 5 boxes of defense ammo in both .38spl and .357mag. I just started low and increased the weight and speeds until I felt it was too much. I settled with .357 mag. I think I started out with Remington Golden Sabers and then later became fond of Hornady critical defense. Now I'm carrying Golden Sabers again because it gives me more hits on target in quick reaction shooting scenarios.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by Shotgunner1992 » Wed Dec 31, 2014 2:04 am

Coming from a former Correctional Officer that was trained on revolvers in .357 but shot .38spl +p for qual, i'd rather have the .38spl.

The recoil is lower, but still hits just enough to not notice MUCH of a difference. We had GP100s for qual and some old 10-5 S&Ws, both did fine with the Gold Saber JHP we were qualing with.

I personally own a Speed Six in .357 and I've only shot .357 out of it once and will never do it again. .357 fatigued the shit out of my hands and I had some nice pachmayr Grippers on it. .38 and .38+p i could shoot all day. Put half a box of .357 through it and said enough and went back to shooting my AR15 and 1911.

My .45ACP wasn't as bad as the .357 MAG.......

Just about to sell my Ruger too, just got a S&W Model 10 in a 5in Barrel .38spl from the early 1900s. Gonna be fun, love classic revolvers.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by jor-el » Wed Dec 31, 2014 8:25 pm

Shotgunner1992 wrote:Coming from a former Correctional Officer that was trained on revolvers in .357 but shot .38spl +p for qual, i'd rather have the .38spl.

The recoil is lower, but still hits just enough to not notice MUCH of a difference. We had GP100s for qual and some old 10-5 S&Ws, both did fine with the Gold Saber JHP we were qualing with.

I personally own a Speed Six in .357 and I've only shot .357 out of it once and will never do it again. .357 fatigued the shit out of my hands and I had some nice pachmayr Grippers on it. .38 and .38+p i could shoot all day. Put half a box of .357 through it and said enough and went back to shooting my AR15 and 1911.

My .45ACP wasn't as bad as the .357 MAG.......

Just about to sell my Ruger too, just got a S&W Model 10 in a 5in Barrel .38spl from the early 1900s. Gonna be fun, love classic revolvers.
Not that big of a surprise. .357 has a lot of energy to generate the high velocities the round works best at.
.45 ACP isn't running at nearly the high pressures of a .357 and in a 1911 or other automatic action the cartridge is using some of the energy to operate the slide and pick up a round from the magazine. Try picking up a 1917 or 25-2 to see the .45 in a revolver.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by 400 Grains » Sun Jan 04, 2015 1:33 am

jor-el wrote:
Shotgunner1992 wrote:Coming from a former Correctional Officer that was trained on revolvers in .357 but shot .38spl +p for qual, i'd rather have the .38spl.

The recoil is lower, but still hits just enough to not notice MUCH of a difference. We had GP100s for qual and some old 10-5 S&Ws, both did fine with the Gold Saber JHP we were qualing with.

I personally own a Speed Six in .357 and I've only shot .357 out of it once and will never do it again. .357 fatigued the shit out of my hands and I had some nice pachmayr Grippers on it. .38 and .38+p i could shoot all day. Put half a box of .357 through it and said enough and went back to shooting my AR15 and 1911.

My .45ACP wasn't as bad as the .357 MAG.......

Just about to sell my Ruger too, just got a S&W Model 10 in a 5in Barrel .38spl from the early 1900s. Gonna be fun, love classic revolvers.
Not that big of a surprise. .357 has a lot of energy to generate the high velocities the round works best at.
.45 ACP isn't running at nearly the high pressures of a .357 and in a 1911 or other automatic action the cartridge is using some of the energy to operate the slide and pick up a round from the magazine. Try picking up a 1917 or 25-2 to see the .45 in a revolver.
Still kicking myself for not getting a Brazilian 1917 for a song decades ago.
You mean when they were $89.00?

Yeah, I bought several of them, until I got a cherry one.

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by jor-el » Sun Jan 04, 2015 2:19 pm

400 Grains wrote:
jor-el wrote:
Shotgunner1992 wrote:Coming from a former Correctional Officer that was trained on revolvers in .357 but shot .38spl +p for qual, i'd rather have the .38spl.

The recoil is lower, but still hits just enough to not notice MUCH of a difference. We had GP100s for qual and some old 10-5 S&Ws, both did fine with the Gold Saber JHP we were qualing with.

I personally own a Speed Six in .357 and I've only shot .357 out of it once and will never do it again. .357 fatigued the shit out of my hands and I had some nice pachmayr Grippers on it. .38 and .38+p i could shoot all day. Put half a box of .357 through it and said enough and went back to shooting my AR15 and 1911.

My .45ACP wasn't as bad as the .357 MAG.......

Just about to sell my Ruger too, just got a S&W Model 10 in a 5in Barrel .38spl from the early 1900s. Gonna be fun, love classic revolvers.
Not that big of a surprise. .357 has a lot of energy to generate the high velocities the round works best at.
.45 ACP isn't running at nearly the high pressures of a .357 and in a 1911 or other automatic action the cartridge is using some of the energy to operate the slide and pick up a round from the magazine. Try picking up a 1917 or 25-2 to see the .45 in a revolver.
Still kicking myself for not getting a Brazilian 1917 for a song decades ago.
You mean when they were $89.00?

Yeah, I bought several of them, until I got a cherry one.
Back when there was a Sile Guns in Chinatown, Dino (now of Majestic Arms) was offering me one for a bit less than that. Even if I didn't like it, I could have held it and sold it like now. Just look what they ask for one these days.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by tonydedo25 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 1:58 pm

There's nothing gun guys love to argue more than the caliber debate.

All the bullshit aside, the bottom line is that modern defensive handgun rounds are held to the same ballistics standards, and perform more or less the same. 9mm, 45ACP, .38 special, .357mag, 40S&W will all get the job done. The odds of a situation in which a shot with the smaller caliber is ineffective when an identical shot with a larger caliber would have been effective are so astronomical they're not even worth contemplating.

In other words, size doesn't matter.

Hits, on the other hand, always matter. If you think there is a chance your accuracy is affected by the caliber, use the smaller caliber.

Practice also matters. If the larger, more expensive caliber keeps you from shooting as much as you would with the smaller, cheaper caliber, use the smaller caliber.

Remember, skills are more important than equipment, and tactics are more important than skills.

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:56 pm

tonydedo25 wrote:There's nothing gun guys love to argue more than the caliber debate.

All the bullshit aside, the bottom line is that modern defensive handgun rounds are held to the same ballistics standards, and perform more or less the same. 9mm, 45ACP, .38 special, .357mag, 40S&W will all get the job done. The odds of a situation in which a shot with the smaller caliber is ineffective when an identical shot with a larger caliber would have been effective are so astronomical they're not even worth contemplating.

In other words, size doesn't matter.

Hits, on the other hand, always matter. If you think there is a chance your accuracy is affected by the caliber, use the smaller caliber.

Practice also matters. If the larger, more expensive caliber keeps you from shooting as much as you would with the smaller, cheaper caliber, use the smaller caliber.

Remember, skills are more important than equipment, and tactics are more important than skills.
Did you read the thread at all?
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by AS556 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 5:01 pm

Doctorr Fabulous wrote:110gs HST and and 110gr Critical Defense .38spl loads barely meet FBI protocols from a two-inch snubby. PDX and Gold Dot laods, IIRC, also meet the twelve-inch depth standard while expanding. None of the above will exceed the minimum standards by much, but all should be fairly light-recoiling.

No such thing as HST in .38 Spl AFAIK, got a link?

OP, .38+P for self defense in a snubby would be my choice. My K frame is a .38 only, I've used Critical Defense 110gr, Golden Saber, Buffalo Bore loaded with Gold Dots, Hydrashoks and generic WWB SJHPs, all in the 120ish weight range and +P. Mine has a 3" barrel.

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by Doctorr Fabulous » Wed Jan 28, 2015 6:04 pm

AS556 wrote:
Doctorr Fabulous wrote:110gs HST and and 110gr Critical Defense .38spl loads barely meet FBI protocols from a two-inch snubby. PDX and Gold Dot laods, IIRC, also meet the twelve-inch depth standard while expanding. None of the above will exceed the minimum standards by much, but all should be fairly light-recoiling.

No such thing as HST in .38 Spl AFAIK, got a link?

OP, .38+P for self defense in a snubby would be my choice. My K frame is a .38 only, I've used Critical Defense 110gr, Golden Saber, Buffalo Bore loaded with Gold Dots, Hydrashoks and generic WWB SJHPs, all in the 120ish weight range and +P. Mine has a 3" barrel.

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My bad, 110gr Hydra-shok, not HST.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by minengr » Thu Jan 29, 2015 2:35 am

FWIW, I have the 38 spl only version of the sp 101 and I don't feel under gunned. I went with it because I literally can't shoot a snub 357 well enough to save my life. Ok, maybe it's not that bad.

I've shot a few different +p loads and I didn't find any of them unpleasant. And I'm pretty recoil sensitive with handguns. I'm unsure what the latest and greatest round may be, but I'm fairly certain any will serve you just fine.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by Rocketalk » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:23 am

Personal choice, but I use both .38 spl and .357 mag in my 4" GP100. .38 at the range and .357 mag in my nightstand and carrying. I prefer the feel of the .357, especially with recoil managed by the barrel length. Both pack enough of a wallop, and, as previous posters said, .38 is a bit more manageable in the moment. That being said, if it's stubby, I would stick to the .38
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by arentol » Sun Feb 15, 2015 3:28 am

Let me start by reminding you that if we are talking about self-defense ammo, then we are talking about your LIFE in a life or death situation. Your priorities in choosing ammo should be:

Keeping yourself alive.
Minimizing risk of other innocents dying.
Keeping yourself uninjured.
Minimizing risk of other innocents being injured.

Your priorities should not be:

Ensuring your wrists don't hurt due to a little recoil.
Ensuring that your fifth shot will come quickly and right on target when your target is unlikely to ever be standing around waiting for you to get off 5 shots.
Ensuring you don't get temporary ringing in your ears.
Ensuring your ammo doesn't cost too much.
Settling for inferior ammo so you can practice with that exact ammo all the time because it is cheap.

The most effective way to achieve the above priorities is to stop the attacker as quickly as possible. The longer the attacker is functional the greater odds they cause harm, as they have more time to fire bullets or to swing a weapon. Also, the practical reality that if you are drawing and shooting your firearm it is very likely the attacker is within 0-15 feet of you with a gun, knife, or similarly deadly weapon. It is not only possible, but reasonably likely, that you won't have the opportunity to take a second aimed shot, either because you have been seriously wounded or because you are being grappled by the attacker and so need to take a point-blank shot. So worrying about the speed of aimed follow-up shots should be a relatively low priority, and if the difference is less than half a second, then it isn't really worth worrying about at all.

Therefore I would focus on carrying what is most likely to stop an attacker at short range with the first shot. Out of a 2.25" barrel .38spl gives you muzzle energy in the 150-200 range, while .357mag falls in the 280-400 range. (I have to interject one point here... Just ignore the people that talk about there only being a 100fps difference between .38spl and .357magnum from a 2.25" barrel. That may be true, but at low velocities every 100fps really really matters. And of course with heavier projectiles it also makes that much more difference). There is really no comparison, the .357mag ammo is going to give you a better chance of stopping your attacker with that first shot. Of course not blinding yourself if you have too shoot it at night would be nice as well, but fortunately there is a convenient solution for that issue....

So with all the above in mind, my suggestion is to definitely carry .357 magnum, and to specifically carry Buffalo Bore Tactical Short Barrel Lower Recoil Low Flash 357 Magnum Pistol and Handgun Ammo in 158gr JHP. From the SP101 it should hit around 1060-1070fps muzzle velocity, or about 400ft/lbs muzzle energy. It has reduced recoil, reduced flash, and way more power than .38spcl. Also, the 158 grain bullet should penetrate nicely without over-penetrating, assuming you hit the torso. If you prefer a lighter bullet though, they also have 140gr and 125gr options as well. You can find all of them here:

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l ... _list&c=21

The price is a tad high, but certainly not excessively so, and of course we are talking about short-range self-defense ammo so you shouldn't be going through it particularly quickly... One box of 20 would last me 3 years (and each successive box 4 years), as I shoot my actual carry ammo just one time a year.

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by woodsghost » Sun Feb 15, 2015 9:10 am

At this point in my life, I am not confident in a pistol "stopping" an attacker with "one" shot. Everything I have seen in studies of police/self-defense shootings says it takes multiple rounds to truly "stop" an attacker. Unless you are talking about a "psychological stop." In that case, a .22 will do the trick. It is psychological, not physiological.

Every critter I have shot with a pistol has convinced me there is no "stopping" with "one shot" unless I get a CNS hit. Hitting a critter with one shot often leaves them with a few seconds or even a minuet where they are more than capable of all sorts of action. From the police/self-defense accounts, it appears criminals experience the same.

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by arentol » Sun Feb 15, 2015 12:32 pm

I agree there is no reason to be confident that any pistol will stop an attacker in one shot. The only adequate research I have seen on this revealed two things.... First, that most handgun 1-shot stops are psychological, not physiological, and two that a bigger and more powerful cartridge does indeed have a measurable affect, if not an extremely large one, on 1-shot stops.

Regardless, I am talking about maximizing survivability in that kind of situation, and settling for a lesser round when a better round that resolves your primary complaints with most similar rounds is avaliable is silly.

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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by woodsghost » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:26 am

For ballistics of .357 vs. .38, both out of a snub nosed revolver:




Conclusion? Get a Glock 19 and some +P defensive ammo. Which is not a fair comparison as the barrel lengths are different between a G19 and a M&P 340.

Further write-up here: http://www.brassfetcher.com/357%20Magnu ... Magnum.htm

Bottom line: I stick by what I said earlier in the thread.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by Rocketalk » Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:17 pm

woodsghost wrote:At this point in my life, I am not confident in a pistol "stopping" an attacker with "one" shot. Everything I have seen in studies of police/self-defense shootings says it takes multiple rounds to truly "stop" an attacker. Unless you are talking about a "psychological stop." In that case, a .22 will do the trick. It is psychological, not physiological.

Every critter I have shot with a pistol has convinced me there is no "stopping" with "one shot" unless I get a CNS hit. Hitting a critter with one shot often leaves them with a few seconds or even a minuet where they are more than capable of all sorts of action. From the police/self-defense accounts, it appears criminals experience the same.

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Seconded. Police forces all across the country do drills and simulations and training the same way; draw weapon, fire three shots, holster weapon. Reassess situation. In fact, there have been numerous instances where this sort of drilling has indirectly resulted in the deaths of law enforcement officers; because the assailant doesn't go down in three shots and the officer still, due to force of habit, holsters his weapon. Usually in these cases, the attacker is hopped up on some sort of sensory-reducing substance such that they don't feel the hits.

It is dangerous to believe that one shot will down an attacker, regardless of the caliber. Even if you're carrying a S&W 500 (bad idea), don't assume they're subdued and lower it.
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Re: .357 Magnum or .38spl?

Post by procyon » Wed Feb 18, 2015 1:15 am

Rocketalk wrote:Seconded.
Thirded. As if it is needed.

I have had plenty of critters on my farm soak up rounds from either my .38 or .357. The only difference I have noticed is, essentially nothing. The animals are generally wandering about for comparable amounts of time. Which is why I don't bother carrying the .357 much anymore. It just wasn't doing anything that the .38 wasn't in 'stopping' raccoons/skunks/opossums/etc.
The only thing that makes much difference is how quickly and accurately I put several more rounds into the critter. Coons with 3 or 4 holes in them wander significantly less distance than ones with a single hole (38 or 357). I am not an amazing pistol shot, and I know that when it comes to getting more lead into a target - the .357 is not helping me.

I have also told my family that as far as any incident where they need to shoot at someone to defend themselves - the only reason to not empty the weapon into the target was - you know a second target needs to be engaged. The faster my wife (or god forbid, one of the kids) can put rounds into a target, the sooner it will go down and the better chance she has of scoring a hit on the CNS before something bad happens to her (or anyone else, other than the target).

I also know that if it ever came down to it, even the 10 y/o has put in time behind the .38 revolver and could use it. But even her 14 y/o brother has a hard time managing the .357. So for my household, the .38 can be used by anyone. The .357 isn't really an option for some of those living under my roof.

So all other things being equal, if I have a choice and we are talking rounds out of a handgun - I long ago decided that I do a much better job stopping targets with a .38 than I do a .357. And so does the rest of my family.
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