.38 spl or .38 +P for last-ditch Home Defense situation for anti-gun wife?

This is a discussion on .38 spl or .38 +P for last-ditch Home Defense situation for anti-gun wife? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have a somewhat unique situation and I want to ask you more experienced shooters for some advice. I have a anti-gun wife (tho she ...

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Thread: .38 spl or .38 +P for last-ditch Home Defense situation for anti-gun wife?

  1. #1
    Member Array wondering's Avatar
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    .38 spl or .38 +P for last-ditch Home Defense situation for anti-gun wife?

    I have a somewhat unique situation and I want to ask you more experienced shooters for some advice.

    I have a anti-gun wife (tho she is opening up and becoming more comfortable with me carrying) and I recently purchased a SP101 3" in .357 as I HD pistol that I carry some as well. I envision it being used in a HD situation where I'm not at home or incapacitated and she must use a pistol to protect ehrself or our child. I'm working on getting her to a range to shoot, but she is very reluctant. She knows where the SP101 is and how to access it and to point and pull the trigger. Right now I keep .38 spl in the revolver while it is at home (as I don't want .357 rounds flying through the walls of my house in a HD situation) and when I carry it I load it with .357 JHP.

    My question is this. Considering that she is a non-gun person and I want the SP101 to have as much punch as possible if she must use the revolver...should I keep it loaded with .38 spl loads to try and help her manage recoil in a stressful situation or should I load it with .38 spl +P to try and give her more punch to take down the BG with 5 shots or less? In other words, is there typically enough difference in recoil between the two?

    Also, which specific manufacturers/loads would you recommend looking at?

    Thanks in advance.

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  3. #2
    Member Array grbr's Avatar
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    I'd go with the .38 standard pressure. Not because of recoil but because of flash. Muzzle flash can be quite disorienting to the uninitiated (and even the initiated), especially in low light. Minimizing it would really help.

    Of course, there's only 5 rounds, and nothing wrong with loading the first 4 as .38 and the last one as a seriously hopped up heavy .357 load. It would be her last shot anyway, may as well make it a thumper.
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    Have her practice with 38 special. Keep the gun loaded with 357 mag for defense. In a true defense situation, a person will not notice the difference. 38 special will punch through walls with almost as much ease as 357 mag.
    awoodpd13 and AmmoFan01 like this.

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    Member Array NightOwl76's Avatar
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    I hate to say this, as I'm in a very similar situation, but some scenarios are just not worth the energy to plan for. If you need her to shoot the gun because one or more bad guys have already taken you out, and she's facing that situation in the middle of a violent home invasion, with no prior training, and without a prior resolution to defend herself with arms if necessary, it really doesn't matter which rounds you loaded. There's no happy ending to that story.

    Let *her* decide what she wants in the gun, after *she* has made the decision that she's willing to use force to defend herself, your child, and you. Until then, I think counting on her to help fight in a HD situation may be overly optimistic. You may be better off counting on her to do other tasks, such as finding cover for herself and your child and calling the cops.
    FireNerd, phreddy, tdave and 2 others like this.

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    VIP Member Array JoJoGunn's Avatar
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    Really, the .38spl cartridge in itself is good for self defense. Using +P or the recoil heavy .357 magnum could be intimidating for a person not well acquainted with shooting a handgun and might not be good to start with.

    My wife has the Ruger LCR in .357 magnum. She wanted that for the capacity to shoot not only the .357, but the lighter 38spl and also the +P ammo if needed.
    When she shoots the revolver, normally she uses standard 38spl but does shoot a couple .357 rounds just to be familiar with the heavier recoil. The .357 magnum rounds are what she has when she carries the handgun.

    In a self-defense situation, it really would not matter much. The .357 magnum might have some more knock down/threat stopping power, but so does the 38spl.

    My suggestion is for her to shoot just the regular stuff but use the "personal defense" hollow point ammo.
    "A Smith & Wesson always beats 4 aces!"

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    I think the most important thing is for you get her to the range, even if it requires you to do something undesirable with or for her in exchange. Start her out with light loaded .38 specials to build confidence and work up from there. You don't have to tell her you are progressively increasing the loads until you reach the point you can tell it is becoming difficult for the new shooter. I did this with my wife and it worked very well. I now keep the revolver loaded with +P. Also, please review ease of your access to the firearm and the safe storage from a curious child which will become more resourceful over the years.
    U.S. Navy vet
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    Member Array FireNerd's Avatar
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    I'm sorry, and I am genuinely not trying to be rude.

    What you are describing is someone that has no business handling a loaded firearm unsupervised. What you are describing is the recipe for a tragedy--someone that doesn't want to do any of the work to ensure safe handling or target acquisition, safe gun storage, etc...

    I am further along with my wife, we shoot regularly together now and she has expressed interes in getting her ccw--I can relate to your situation. At the risk of being flamed--don't allow her (don't allow any untrained person!). To handle your loaded weapons. If she doesn't know what it does and what it is and isn't capable of, she has no business having access to it.

    As I said, I am genuinely concerned about your situation, and not trying to be rude.
    They think they don't need firearms because they never have needed them.

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    VIP Member Array tdave's Avatar
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    Once she is better trained her handling of the weapon should not be complicated by mixed loading. Keep it all standard or all +P but don't mix it up just my two cents.

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    Member Array grbr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NightOwl76 View Post
    I hate to say this, as I'm in a very similar situation, but some scenarios are just not worth the energy to plan for. If you need her to shoot the gun because one or more bad guys have already taken you out, and she's facing that situation in the middle of a violent home invasion, with no prior training, and without a prior resolution to defend herself with arms if necessary, it really doesn't matter which rounds you loaded. There's no happy ending to that story.
    I agree with the concept that some scenarios are not worth planning for...but not that this is one of them. Is your wife never home when you're not there? Seems like a pretty common situation to me.

    In fact, I know of a real world example that is ridiculously similar to this, where a woman that was not gun savvy was home alone, and her husband had shown her where he kept a loaded .357 and told her all it takes is pulling the trigger, and a guy broke in and was chasing her around the house, she managed to get to the .357 and hide (in the attic if I remember right). Guy busted in and was crawling toward her with a crow bar in hand, and she emptied the gun into him.

    The concept that a break in might happen when only your wife is home is just as likely as one happening when you are at home. I completely and utterly fail to see how that's unlikely to the point of not being worth planning for, or how her having access to a .357 would change nothing.



    Quote Originally Posted by FireNerd View Post
    I'm sorry, and I am genuinely not trying to be rude.

    What you are describing is someone that has no business handling a loaded firearm unsupervised. What you are describing is the recipe for a tragedy--someone that doesn't want to do any of the work to ensure safe handling or target acquisition, safe gun storage, etc...
    I very much disagree with this. I think where your thinking is going wrong is that we are not talking about her carrying this thing while knowing nothing about it...we're talking about a last ditch contingency of it just being in a location known to her for that moment where she needs it right then. In the moment where her life is in danger, which is more safe: there being a revolver in the bedroom that her husband has told her where it is, that it's loaded, and that it only takes pulling the trigger to fire...or her having nothing around other than a kitchen knife?

    I agree that it would be far best to get her trained. But if she does not want to train, having a simple wheel gun in a place where she can find it for the moment that she realizes the hard way that "it can happen to me"...it's not a bad backup plan.

  11. #10
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    If you wife is as new to guns as you say, you would be better off starting her with a .22lr. With new shooters, you can induce flinching or scare them off completely with too much gun. Anything that can substantiate her fear will work agaisnt you including noise and recoil. That doesn;t mean you will fail by starting her off with 38 special, just that you have a better chance of success using the lightest load you can.
    fredg53 and ShooterGranny like this.

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    You know your wife better than any one. Would she listen to the local police if they had a course or lecture on women and self defense? Great book by Gila Hayes concealed carry for women. Starting slow with a plan on what to do with a check list for her to follow while learning what to do. Eventually she will suggest putting the gun on the list of things to do.

    I don't think I have taken exception with comments by firenerd but I am not on board with his advice today.

    Go slow and build a team where she is an important part with things to do in a bad situation. Good Luck

    Respectfully,
    Bill
    marcclarke likes this.

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    Senior Member Array flintlock62's Avatar
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    I agree with the standard 38 round. A newbie, and a woman, especially if she's small framed needs to learn on a gun that has less recoil. There's actually nothing wrong with the 38 special for home defense either.

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    VIP Member Array maxwell97's Avatar
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    I believe Federal and Hornady make low-recoil defense rounds. I'm sure of Federal, actually, just remembered I have a box of low-recoil Hydra Shok. How effective they are, I can't say, but it sure beats a knife.
    "Yet this government never of itself furthered any enterprise, but by the alacrity with which it got out of the way... The character inherent in the American people has done all that has been accomplished; and it would have done somewhat more, if the government had not sometimes got in its way."

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    VIP Member Array 40Bob's Avatar
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    taser? They make a civilian model that gives em a 30 second ride, while they are on that...RUN.....
    OD* likes this.
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    Member Array UrsusMedius's Avatar
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    My situation is similar to the OP, except that the Mrs is no longer anti-gun; she reads the news and even though she wasn't happy about it at first, she recognized the need for a way to defend our home. Once she got past that hurdle, I chose a S&W 640 to use as the "house gun"; I picked a revolver for simplicity of operation and the all-steel .357 because when loaded with .38+p the recoil is very easy to handle.

    I taught her the operation of the gun, safe handling, and showed her how to load/unload and dry fire (all with snap caps). We also went over and practiced the stronghold defense, picking her last-stand location and what to do and say in a home invasion situation, but I did not leave her with a loaded gun in the house until she went with me to the range at least one time to experience aiming and firing the gun. Once she did that I felt OK to leave it in the house loaded. (At 5 yards, she got 15 out of 25 shots in the paper, and I called that pretty good for someone that has never fired any kind of gun in her life! This is with a 2 1/8" barrel .38 snubby!).

    Now she *wants* to go to the range with me, and want to try out some other guns as well. She even regrets that due to her poor eyesight she can't apply for a CPL. (She's legally blind, but can see well enough out to about 20 feet. I also now make it a habit to shout, "Teresa! I'm home!" very loudly when I walk in the door :) )
    --If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

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