While granting that the .357 Magnum will strike the harder blow I don't feel there is quite as much difference in it and the .38 Special in accomplishing the desired effect with good hits as is generally supposed. At least there's not in use on varmints and critters.
I've only got a few .357 Magnum revolvers and only use them on few occasions. Additional to some semi-collectible .38 Special revolvers, I've got a number of neat .38 revolvers to play with or rely on for personal protection. I really like the cartridge in it's own right and it's served me well.
I tend to view the .357 Magnum as a cartridge at its best with a 4-inch or longer barrel and housed in a large-framed revolver. I eschew the vaunted 125 grain or other light bullets that "conventional wisdom" dictates, much preferring 158 grain bullets and heavy handloads in the .357 Magnum. I've got 9mm's if I want to fling light bullets of similar diameter. The .357 is capable of using heavier bullets of 158 grain or more at excellent practical handgun velocities.
Taking things further, and this will fly in the face of everyone else's opinions, but I think the .38 Special is superior to 9mm when used with proper bullets (especially with sharp-shouldered semi-wadcutters) and with "modern" handloading techniques or when served up in some old ( such as the old.38-44 loadings) or new (some +P loads-Buffalo Bore for instance) factory fodder. Sure it's splitting hairs on the relative stopping power between many handgun cartridges and loads but field use of .38 Special and 9mm has placed me firmly in the .38 Special camp. I realize that I'm a nit-wit but there it is, I've said it.
We went with the SP101 2 1/4" in .357. It is generally not very pleasant to shoot .357's out of it, but it is nice to know the option is available.
Get a .357 that way you can carry either load .357 & .38spl .In a very close confrontation the damage is practically the same . the Taurus CIA is a good choice or the hammerless SP101 BY RUGER.
My snubs are all chambered for .357mag but all are generally loaded with 38spl+p. I agree with those who say that .357mag is best served up out of a 4'' or longer barrel. I like to keep my 4'' GP100 loaded with 125gr GDHP and this is the gun I'll take camping or hiking. I'm aware that .357mag is not the ultimate bear stopper but I still feel pretty good with it.
Originally Posted by Joey
Originally Posted by MattLarson
That's what I would do.
I carry my 357 in the mountains too. I don't feel the need for bigger either.
Originally Posted by wmhawth
.357/.38 spl +P/.38 spl
I bought a 2 1/2" Model 19 (K frame) with the thought of using the lower recoil ammo as an option to the .357. The model 19 is a real revolver and it is heavy, compared to the S&W airweights.
I bought my wife a S&W 431PD (.32 H&R Mag) recently and admired the light weight and compactness of it, so much so, that I just ordered a 638 Bodyguard (J frame), which is .38 spl +P. I have enough confidence in my shooting ability to feel comfortable with the caliber, and I realized that I did not enjoy shooting the .357 out of any pistol.
In fact, I shoot .44 special out of my Avatar.
mag44laf - Sounds like you're a prime candidate for the .45 LC or ACP for SD...