38 special and 9 mm

38 special and 9 mm

This is a discussion on 38 special and 9 mm within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I have a question for my far more knowledgable associates on this board. Although books frequently equate the 9 mm and 38 special as defensive ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array chiefs-special-guy's Avatar
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    38 special and 9 mm

    I have a question for my far more knowledgable associates on this board. Although books frequently equate the 9 mm and 38 special as defensive rounds, it appears to me that, taking the broad sweep of what is available, the 9 mm is ordinarily a more powerful round at a comparable caliber and weight. Now, looking at the loaded rounds, I cannot see why this should be so. Even the +p 38 sp stuff is fairly anemic, in comparison. It can't be just because of older 38 sp revolvers, since the 9mm is an ancient round itself. Case capacity would not seem to explain it, at least to me. This has been puzzling me. I am actually a big fan of 38 special, which can be unbelievably accurate. What is "the scoop"?? If this has been covered, I apologize and will gladly follow any citations provided.
    Thanks.
    rb
    Six for sure...Uh, I mean Five. Five for sure..


  2. #2
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    9mm is loaded to higher pressures than .38 for sammi spec ammo , case capacity has nothing to do with it 9mm benifits from the higher pressures to the point that 9mm +P and +P+ is more fairly compaired to .357 because its closer in pressure ( assuming i understood your question right )

  3. #3
    Member Array Erich's Avatar
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    Redneck Repairs is exactly right. The ever-genteel Mr. Camp has a nice new article on a related subject:

    http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/9...%20Special.htm

  4. #4
    Senior Member Array BlueLion's Avatar
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    I also carry a SW Model 37 rated at +P. I stoke it with Speer high pressure rounds and forget it. I don't get caught up in the caliber wars. I do have a 1911 and can carry it. However, the 38 is so versatile, I carry it daily with no problem. I can pocket carry, holster carry, I stuff it in my map pocket in my Parka. No problem, because if approached by your average BG I don't think he will find my 38 funny one bit.
    Listen, Think and React.....Nuff Said.....

  5. #5
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    I have not felt disadvantage by having 38+P on board but follow the 9mm route pretty much because of capacity.

    Put to the test I am not sure which would come out on top - if I had to find out - other than the usual aspect regarding shot placement would be essentially paramount.

    Erich - thx a lot for the link to Steve's page - as ever he writes up in much detail and is very objective in his findings.

    I do agree, well for me anyways carrying large and heavy - that my +P 9mm is way more controllable, even leaving aside my capacity advantage.

    Steve shows us easily, how looking at 125's for example - the 9's are up there better for fps - which in theory at least should equate to extra ft lbs.
    Chris - P95
    NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.

    "To own a gun and assume that you are armed
    is like owning a piano and assuming that you are a musician!."


    http://www.rkba-2a.com/ - a portal for 2A links, articles and some videos.

  6. #6
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    imho if i want to practice , fondle , clean , and enjoy a pistol ill go 9 , if i want to load the dammed thing and forget it till i need it , ill go .38 to me its apples and oranges both good just different

  7. #7
    VIP Member Array Euclidean's Avatar
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    I think at least some of it has to do with tradition, and the traditional roles of 9mm and .38 Special.

    Out of my superlight alloy snubnose, I don't want a super high pressure load. The standard +P is as hot as I want it in that firing platform.

    I know when they first tried to improve .38 Special, they wound up loading it much much hotter. People put it in their old .38s that weren't rated for the new load and gots lots of kabooms. Odds are pretty good they don't want to go down that road again.

    It's the same reason I can't find a factory .44 Special load that's as hot as I'd like it to be, although the Gold Dots are a nice consolation.

  8. #8
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    Yea for the younguns read some elmer keith on the limitations of some " old fashoned" cartrages LOL any way for SD its all moot since no responsable person ( imho) would carry reloads lol

  9. #9
    VIP Member Array Bud White's Avatar
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    its all shot placment and personal preferance ... if you shoot well enough you can get the job done with a 22...

  10. #10
    Member Array chiefs-special-guy's Avatar
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    I thank you all for your help. I conclude that the higher pressure of 9 mm vs. 38 sp is primarily a sort of historical accident. the 38 sp + loads are only marginally more powerful because they will be used in light, alloy framed s&w revolvers, etc. much more potent 38 sp is not made because we have the 357, which is certainly powerful enough for the purpose. sound right?
    rb
    Six for sure...Uh, I mean Five. Five for sure..

  11. #11
    VIP Member Array Redneck Repairs's Avatar
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    .357 will certinly do the job out of a snubby , with the crevat that you can actualy handle it , no one i know considers the scadnium or howeaver that lightweight is speeled a fun gun to shoot with full house loads lol and a miss does no good

  12. #12
    Senior Member Array SOLOLUCKY's Avatar
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    i will say this as we did it saturday, we used factory ammo, 38 and 9mm, among others but for this the comparison is 38 vs 9mm.
    when fired from 10 yards at a 70's vintage Ford tailgate the 38 would not penetrate, NOT penetrate, not even 1 side.
    the 9mm went thru the tailgate, both sides.
    both were tested with JHP's and ball ammo.
    i was surprised myself cuz i carry a taurus model 85 in 38 spcl. when not carrying my 1911.

    these were not +p's or anything. just regular ammo but it did show me that i could be kinda safe in my older truck if being shot at with a 38 and not so safe if being shot at with a 9mm.
    R1

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    Lets keep it that way.

  13. #13
    Member Array d2thomas's Avatar
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    All I have to say is this - Combat Handguns Magazine refers to the two all around best self defensive calibers as being 38 special [for a wheel gun] and 9mm [for an autopistol].

    They are both more than ok in my book!
    S&W 5906
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