This is a discussion on .38spl.+P...357mag. same grain..Why? within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; This isn't to start any debate about which is better, enough is enough of that. I would simply like to ask this question.. being that ...
This isn't to start any debate about which is better, enough is enough of that. I would simply like to ask this question.. being that the recoil is so much more dramatic with the .357 compared to the .38spl. +P, one would think that there would be a dramatic difference in the ballistics, but there really isn't. (4" barrel & both 125gr. jhp) Considering the velocities, expansion and penetration being so close in comparison, what exactly is it that makes the .357 the better of the two, scoring higher in the One Shot Stop percentage chart? Thanks.
My own personal chrono of both .38Spl +P and .357 Mag loads in snubs indicates the .357 gets as much as 300 fps more with essentially the same weight bullet.
I consider that significant, and evidently so do the dead BG.
It's all about the energy dump. A 38spl +p has 158 grains, moves 1000 fps, and has 351 ft lbs of energy. A 357 mag has 158 grains, moves 1349 fps (349fps faster), and has 639 ft lbs of energy (288 ft lbs more, which is an 82% increase).
edit...these stats are using a 6" barrel revolver.
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Whether one thinks the additional recoil of the .357 is worth it or not is an individual choice. I usually carry, when I carry a revolver, a Smith 642 instead of my 640 .357 because of the additional weight. But if I really thought I would have to shoot I would carry the .357 as I believe that long experience by LE has demonstrated it is much superior in effectiveness.
A few years ago, and it may been Marshall's questionable data, the .357 had the highest one shot stops of any cartridge. That is the reason for the .357 Sig.
But I'll take all I can get.
Bart, the more I've learned about ballistics, the more I've learned that ballistic gelatin is simply a medium to compare ammunition. I think a much better indicator for performance would be any sort of barrier either in front of, or within the ballistic gelatin.
If the .38 penetrates, and expands the same as the .357 after exiting through the barrier, then I don't see why the .357 would out-perform the .38. My gut feeling is that the .38 would not be able to perform the same feat as the .357.
The conversation sort of twists itself into the fact that there are two ways for a bullet to do it's business. Slow and heavy, or fast and light... Then you get into the heavy and fast calibers, but those tend to be only good for recoil junkies.
To further back up my point as far as barrier penetration (which includes bones in my book!) the ol' .38 158g loads were a success; the .45 230g have always been a success; then the popular .357 in 125g, of course.... The prominent "man-stoppers" have always been the penetrators; and I don't mean through ballistics, I mean through barriers.
The fact is, all major calibers are great defensive choices. The great improvement over the years has been bullet design. Ammunition manufacturers now can design a bullet to mushroom, but still not fragment, and also penetrate to whatever depth they are aiming for.
At the end of the day, it all goes back to having a reliable firearm that you can shoot accurately. Tactics overcome weapon choice 9/10.
What you say makes good sense. You brought up another point too, one that I get a lot of flack about. You mentioned the ol' .38 158gr. being a success, good for barrier penetration. And like you said, which includes bone in your book. Well, it includes bone in my book too. I haven't found anyone to agree with me, and maybe you won't either, but because your the only one to mention the .38 158gr. in any positive light, I would appreciate your input . Here goes..I believe that the .38spl. FMJ 158gr. is a good round for self defense. Especially for it's ability to penetrate at or around 17 inches, enough to tear through muscle and bone to reach vital organs. And I don't believe it will over penetrate and exit the body, a .357 158gr. FMJ maybe, but not a .38spl. This .38spl. penetrates the same 17 inches from both a 2" or 4" barrel. Shooting this round from a .357 revolver, the recoil would be so slight that accuracy and follow up shots increase tremendously. Am I as crazy as they say, or not? I'm ready
The bore diameter and effective ballistic coefficients set the usable minimum and maximum bullets weights.
In most cases a 9 mm/.357 bore works well with bullets from 125-160 grains, about 200 grains is the heaviest bullet used in a .38 by the British during WWI IIRC.
Energy goes up with the square of the velocity, increase velocity 10% and energy goes up 21%, and velocities that are supersonic make bigger shockwaves. In air you hear the shockwave and in water/flesh the water acts as a solid and contributes to the wound cavity.
In lower pressure guns, like a .38 Special, chamber pressure limits don't allow high velocity without reduced bullet weight. A .357 can have twice the pressure safely and so can use a heavier bullet.
Heavier bullets retain more energy at longer ranges and can do more tissue-bone damage.
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If you're carrying a light weight snubbie, the .38 +P makes a lot of sense. Less flash, recoil, and noise than a full-house .357 Mag. You don't get much additional benefit out of the short barrel by going up to the .357. If anything, the increased muzzle flip with the .357 means slower follow-up shots (I do not plan on a one-shot stop with anything short of a buckshot-firing 12 gauge shotgun, and even then I am prepared for a follow-up shot...).
However, some will claim the psychological impact of the noise/flash of the .357 was one of it's assets - sort of a mini flash-bang grenade. Of course, it impacts you as the shooter as well as the target!
If you're carrying a full-size duty revolver, then .357 is a good choice.
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Usual carry - Ruger SP101 .357 DAO snub + LCR .38
Bart, what does the bullet manufacturer of your particular 38spl, 158g FMJ state that the intended purpose of the round is? Energy determines a bullets ability to do work. The 357 mag can deliver as much as 3 times the energy as 38 spl. If your mind is made up that a 38 spl FMJ bullet is the ultimate SD round, no matter what bullet manufacture's and ballistic research data show, by all means use it.
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It really depends on the data sets you're looking at. A light .357 might recoil more than a .38 special without a huge increase in performance, so it really comes down to how they're loaded.
One approach might be to compare from the same manufacturer. Ballistics by the Inch has 125 grain Cor Bon JHP in both .38 special and .357...so if we accept that Cor Bon has loaded them to optimize for each caliber and compare the results, it ranges from a whopping 78% increase in velocity for an 18" barrel (for levergun lovers out there), about 69% increase for a 6" barrel, and 47% increase in a 3" barrel (which I looked at recently for my new SP101).
As for saying which is a 'better round', there are too many variables, similar to which is the 'better gun'. It depends on how an individual can use it...in one class I had, a gentleman had severe wrist and hand problems and could only comfortably shoot a .22. For him, the .22 was a better round than a .357 magnum since he could hit what he was aiming at and perform followup shots, while the .357 would have probably missed the target and taken his hand or firearm out of commission.