Six of one half dozen of the other. The base of the bullets that the gas is pushing against are almost the same size.
The industry standard for the .38 special +P is 20,000 psi
The industry standard for the 9mm+P is 38,500 psi.
If the choice is limited to similar bullet designs and weights I will go with the 9mm.
If it is anything goes in the caliber for the 9mm I like the 115 to 127 grain offerings. In the .38 I go 125 to 158.
I carry both and am just as confident in their performance as I am with my .45acp. As long as I do my part any one of them will get the job done.
From documentation on the study from FBI 10mm Notes SSA
Urey W. Patrick, Firearms Training Unit FBI Academy, Quantico, VA
"The 9mm is no more effective than the .38 Special, which should
not be surprising since they are the same caliber bullets (.35 caliber)
at the same range of velocities and bullet weights"
"Are you saying the 9mm is no good?
No. We are saying it is as good as the .38 Special, which has served us
for a long time. It has severe limitations, which we are not willing to accept.
It is woefully inadequate for shooting at people in cars, for example,
and over half of our shootings involve vehicles. It is a marginally adequate
wounding agent. We have had a number of 9mm shootings over the past couple
of years, and if you define a good shooting as one in which the subject stops
whatever he was doing when he gets shot, we have yet to have a good one,
and we are hitting our adversaries multiple times. We have shot half a dozen dogs
in the past year and have not killed one yet, although we have run up a significant
veterinary bill. The 9mm with proper ammunition is not a bad round."
'It is just nowhere near as effective as the 10mm and .45 offerings, and
the disparity between it and the larger calibers has remained a constant throughout
all the testing we have done over the past two years."
"Since the .45 tested so well, why not adopt it instead of a new gun/caliber?
First, the 10mm tested better, albeit marginally better, than the .45 and we were
committed to adopt the best round. Nevertheless, the
10mm has far superior accuracy, allows for slightly higher capacity
than similar sized .45 weapons, is a new cartridge with room for further
improvement whereas the .45 has been around for 80 years and is as good
as it is ever going to be, and the recoil of the 10mm is softer than that
of a comparably sized .45"
My way of thinking ,,,, they did not SAY THE 9MM, 38SPL, OR 45ACP
WERE BAD ,,,,, THEY just PREFERRED THE 10MM and the possibility of
more development of the 10mm.
.38 vs 9mm - 5 rounds of each, no more. Which would you choose, .38 or 9mm? Not an option here for 10mm or .45. They are not part of the question. Lets keep it concerning the .38 and 9mm only please.
There's not enough difference to matter... to me it would be more about the gun style I want to carry at that point rather than the bullet itself.
Many moons ago, when I first jumped into serious shooting and loading, I devoured ballistics charts. Would read them all the time. Read about cartridges I had no intention of owning. In other words, I had no life. What I did discover was that the majority of rifle catridges had a very similar ballistic signature, energy notwithstanding (due to weight). While this may really stir the pot, and while I may be wrong, I believe that either of my 9s, either of my 357s (SIG and magnum), my 40 or my 45 will not show a big difference in performance, assuming accuracy with premium bullets.
I vote 9mm, as it can be found anywhere, is inexpensive, and can be loaded fairly heavy (in my opinion) for case capacity. But I do like my J-frame 60. I feed it 38s.
I have carried both, and still do, depending on circumstances. In heavier loads, either one will do an excellent job as long as I do my part.
The question here is a problem because 9mm and .38 spl are not choices you make in isolation. In general, these rounds divide the two platforms - semi-auto and revolver.
If you are going with a revolver, 9mm isn't an option. If you're carrying an autoloader, then .38 spl isn't on your shopping list.
The two rounds have similar characteristics and represent the mid-range ammunition available. Let's look at what "mid-range" means in this context:
Small cartridges, like .25, .32, and .380 allow for very small guns - mouseguns - that you can tuck in a pocket. Their recoil can still be brisk, and their penetration and expansion are unreliable. Capacity of the firearm will usually be low, but the tradeoff is concealability.
Mid-range cartridges like the 9mm and .38 spl allow for FBI-approved levels of penetration, offer consistent expansion, and have manageable recoil and follow-up.
Large caliber choices like .357 and .45 put the emphasis on power. The drawback is the size and weight of the firearm that handles these rounds.
So you can see that the mid-range option tries to split the difference between power and ease of carry. You don't get the maximum of either, but you minimize the disadvantages of both extremes. So that leads to consideration of capacity vs reliability.
Your question, then, really isn't about caliber but about the tradeoff between firepower and confidence.
Not necessarily. Remember a couple of revolvers have been offered in 9mm, the Ruger SP101 being one of them at one time. The Coonan 1911 shoots .357 (probably not .38 tho. I'm not sure if there has been a semi-auto ever produced that fires the .38 special).
My question was not about a tradeoff between firepower and confidence. It was about how confident you feel with the .38 and the 9mm. Between the two, which one do you have more confidence in doing the job better?
To me, to answer my own question, they are both fairly equal in firepower, maybe a little edge to the 9mm if you give a rats tail about statics. Charts I've looked at show the 9mm with higher ft/lb of energy than the .38 special.
The Smith & Wesson Model 52 immediately comes to mind. It was an automatic pistol chambered for the .38 Special. It was especially intended for bulls-eye competition and would only feed ammunition loaded with flush-mounted wadcutter loads.
Colt did produce a few 1911-based .38 Special wadcutter pistols in their National Match line. These are much more scarce than the Smith & Wesson Model 52 which is none to common itself.
Link: Collector's Firearms
Neither of these specialty .38 Special automatics would be seriously considered for personal self defense though one would work in a pinch.
YOUR PERSONAL PREFERENCE,,,, for the record
I have both,,,, my personal preference is the 38spl
mainly because I am old school ,,,,, and I have NEVER
HAD A JAM with a wheelie.
Mm-hm. Careful readers will note the words "in general" in the post and be mollified accordingly.Quote:
I feel strongly both ways. Really, I like both. I carry a .38 most of the time, but the big 9 is home and ready. I am looking for a smaller 9 but probably will still carry .38. And if I ever get a deal on a quality 9mm revolver, I'll grab that fast too. I do like the availablity of 9mm ammo, but plan to be loading my own by year's end.
I'll play and I'll base my answer on comparable size "pocket" guns with appropriate approximately equivalent ammunition.
I had a Kahr PM9 that I probably should have kept, still have a ported S&W 442.
Average velocity for 5 shots chronographed out of each:
Kahr PM9: Winchester Ranger T 124 gr. +P @ 1,094 fps / 329# KE
S&W 442: Winchester PDX 130 gr. +P @ 848 fps / 207# KE
The 9mm +P is packing about 27% more energy in this little example; dang it, I should have kapt that Kahr PM9. :blackeye:
I like the heavier bullets available in the .38 spcl