J-frame weight/recoil

J-frame weight/recoil

This is a discussion on J-frame weight/recoil within the Defensive Carry Guns forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; I'm dying to buy a revolver. I "think" I want a .357 but I don't have enough experience to know how much the frame weight ...

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  1. #1
    Member Array Yarg28's Avatar
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    J-frame weight/recoil

    I'm dying to buy a revolver. I "think" I want a .357 but I don't have enough experience to know how much the frame weight will impact the recoil. Obviously, lighter has more recoil. But are we talking 25% more? 50% more?

    I can't afford to be buying several revolvers to figure it out.

    Thanks for the help
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  2. #2
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Yes, recoil feels different to me.

    Guessing: I'd say that with the S&W 442 Airweight .38 @ 15oz compared to the Ruger SP-101 2.2" bbl .357 @ 25oz, the two I probably have the most experience with, I'd say the 442 kicks at least 50% more, possibly twice as much, similar .38sp loads. In .357mag, where the SP-101 is still usable after 10rds, the 442's lightweight .357 counterparts slam my hand so badly I'm not capable of aimed fire by 10rds. (Note: the 442 is .38, not .357; this comparo in .357 done with a couple other lightweight j-frames in .357, though I don't recall the exact models.)

    Much will depend on your sensitivity to recoil, your strength, the given grip you acquire for the gun. I've had a S&W 442 Airweight .38, but have shot about a dozen other similarly-small revolvers, most of which were in the 20-27oz range, some of which were of the 3" bbl variety (instead of the typical ~1.8"). While bore axis in relation to the hand can make some difference, to me it's mostly due to the weight and barrel length that affects recoil the most. I've shot a few mid-sized revolvers in the 30-40oz range, as well, and of course all of those have far less recoil than any of these others.
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    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
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  3. #3
    Ex Member Array Gearhead's Avatar
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    I have, on more than one occasion, put 100 consecutive rounds through my S&W 442 .38 spcl, with no discomfort.

    I put 5 rounds of .357 thru my buddies 351PD, and I was done. I can only describe the experience as brutal. It was like having an M-80 go off in my hand. 5 times.

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    Whew. Here we go. I'll give you the Smith Run down.

    Scandium J-frames: J frame "magnum" frame made of scandium. 11.5 ounces. Can shoot .357's. Lots of fun for mere mortals that love pain.

    Airweight j-frame: .38 Only, aluminum frame. 15.5 ounces. A little sporty with .38 +p's but not bad.

    J-frame ".38 frame": Model 36, model 60 no dash, 60-3, 60-7: 19.5 ounces - Tames .38 +p's.

    J-Frame "Magnum" frame: Model 60-9, 60-14, 640-1, etc. Current offerings w/lock, except for 640 Pro. 22.5 Ounces. For me, still pretty sporty with full house .357's. Makes me flinch. I can't shoot them accurately as I can with .38's.

    Short version: Shooting .357's out of the 11.5 oz. guns is very painful, not something I want to do, and makes me develop a serious trigger flinch. Shooting out of the steel j-frames, which weight 2x the scandiums, is not bad for a few cylinders, but it's not something I do at the range very often. I find myself developing a flinch there too. I just go .38's and call it good.
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    VIP Member Array Easy8's Avatar
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    I carry a SP 101 snub or a S&W Mod 60 snub they are steel an I have no prob with .357 with either but choose to mostly carry .38 158 gr soft cast LSWHP from Buffalo Bore when I choose .357 I use their 125 JHP even with a short barrel 1225 FPS I also like the S&W 642 with the 158 gr any of these will serve you well. Lots of folks love the LCR I just have not used them so cant give a fair assesment. Good luck
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gearhead View Post
    I have, on more than one occasion, put 100 consecutive rounds through my S&W 442 .38 spcl, with no discomfort.

    I put 5 rounds of .357 thru my buddies 351PD, and I was done. I can only describe the experience as brutal. It was like having an M-80 go off in my hand. 5 times.
    That's probably the best way of characterizing it.
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    -PEF, a Framer with a Steelie...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    1. All guns are always loaded.
    2. Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3. Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
    4. Be sure of your target and what is beyond it.

  7. #7
    Member Array Yarg28's Avatar
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    All good info. Thanks guys.

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    VIP Member Array Snub44's Avatar
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    ...got a friend who shoots the 351PD and almost cries to shoot it...can't be good for the hands to do that...worst I've shot is the S&W M12 aluminum alloy .38 2"...6 rounds and I dumped the gun...
    ...since then, I shoot steel or stainless only snubs or 4"...the 649 bodyguard handles the FBI load (+P) well...the SS SP101 is a pussycat...but it's 25 oz empty...what would we expect...

    ...I never did like shooting .357...out of 4" or snubs...I don't anymore...it's all the 158gr LSWCHP+P .38Spl by Remington...enough power to be potent...easy on my hands...

    ...J in steel or stainless is not that heavy...well worth the extra weight at the range...
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    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarg28 View Post
    I'm dying to buy a revolver. I "think" I want a .357 ... I can't afford to be buying several revolvers to figure it out.
    Of all the .357 smaller (or, small-ish) revolvers out there, particularly if you're going to be doing IWB or OWB carry, I would suggest the Ruger SP-101 in 3" bbl. It's not going to work well for pocket carry, unless you've got larger "cargo" style pockets shaped the right way, and even then it'll slap against your body at each stride when you walk. But if carried in a holster along the belt line, it's a wonderful choice. Tames .38's easily, and handles .357's for most folks without too much pain and suffering. In the 3" variety, can make a noticeable difference (at least for me) over the 2.2" length.

    Tip: And if you're going to find yourself shooting sessions of ~30rds+ on these "j-frame" sized revolvers, you can always don a pair of "workout" type gloves (or cycling gloves) of the fingerless variety. They've got padding in the area of the ball of the hand that can help tame the heavy slap of full-house loads. On these smaller guns, it can make the difference between enjoying the session and not, between developing a flinch and not.
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    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
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    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
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  10. #10
    Distinguished Member Array 1911er's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yarg28 View Post
    I "think" I want a .357 but I don't have enough experience to know how much the frame weight will impact the recoil.
    Call the gun ranges in your area and see if they have rentals. Try before you buy. Don't use light loads - get some good ammo with nice numbers. For example, you'll probably want no more than 250 ft-lbs out the snubbie. Go to 400# and it may not be pleasant. Go to 600# .357s and it will be a turn off.

    You can buy an used .38SPL for $300, but the same model in used .357 usually goes for over $600. $900, new. $1200 and up for pristine vintage.

    I'm dying to buy a revolver.
    Rent and fire them at the local range/shoppe and satiate the fire. See which ones have the smoother action, the Colts, the S&Ws, the Rugers, Charter Arms, Taurus, Rossi, etc.

    Don't make any rash decisions. Do your research, see what parts are available. For example, you may not like serrated target triggers. If you can't buy a smooth trigger for it you will have to take a Dremmel to it, after you remove it from the frame. See how much it would cost for a trigger job. See which ones have spring kits available. If used, see what parts are available (springs, firing springs, cylinder shims, triggers, sights, barrels, cylinders, etc.) Find out how to test for lockup, etc.

    Chances are that if you get a .357 you will probably end up firing .38s out of it 95% to 99% of the time. Every single time you clean it you will hate the cylinder burn marks. There's a cleaning cloth for that... See which one is easier to clean at the cone. See which ones you can easily change the sights on. Etc.

    There's a reason why there are so many .357 SP101s for sale on Armslist - reality sets in after ownership. And GP100s typically go for $600.

    You and I both know that lighter revolvers will have more recoil. But do you want to tote a 40 oz. GP100 around all day? So the .357 become a HD weapon. But you wouldn't want to fire one inside your bedroom or living room in the middle of the night.

    Figure that a .357 should optimally have a 6" barrel and the .38SPL a 4" barrel. That means that when down sizing you probably wouldn't want a .357 with less than a 4" barrel and the .38SPl a 3" barrel. Shorter than 3" and the ejector rod will probably short stroke, making emptying the shells harder.

    Why do you "think" you want a .357?

    I tend to think that there's little use for a .357 in the real world, meaning CC.

    If you go to the gun shows and mainly see S&W .38SPLs with those hideous Hogue rubber grips, what would you need for a .357? Figure that you're going to go through at least 3 more grips before you find one that you can live with.

    Who knows, you may even like a .22 Mag 7 or 6 shot revolver... Or a .44SPL C.A. Or a .38SPL SP101. Or a .327. But I wouldn't suggest a .357 (or .44SPL. or .44Mag) as your first revolver. Price the gun, price the ammo, price the grips, price the parts.

    Get the .327 before the .357.

    And before you hit the range, hit Utube and look for the range reports, actual shooting videos so that you can get some idea of the recoil.
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  11. #11
    VIP Member Array ccw9mm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1911er View Post
    There's a reason why there are so many .357 SP101s for sale on Armslist - reality sets in after ownership.
    Reality?
    Your best weapon is your brain. Don't leave home without it.
    Thoughts: Justifiable self defense (A.O.J.).
    Explain: How does disarming victims reduce the number of victims?
    Reason over Force: The Gun is Civilization (Marko Kloos).
    NRA, SAF, GOA, OFF, ACLDN.

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    Distinguished Member Array 1911er's Avatar
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    Reality always sets in after any purchase. Second doubting is normal. And many probably walk away saying that the .357 recoils too much for their liking. They probably rationalize it by selling the SP101 for $550 and buying a used S&W for $300. For many the S&W has a better trigger. Add the feel of the grips, the harsher trigger and the increased recoil and many end up selling their Rugers. (On the other hand I know someone with a .38SPL SP101 (not the .357 model) and he says he will never sell it. Yes, he's fired the .357 SP101. He just prefers the only-38SPL model.)

    Shooting The RUGER SP101 - YouTube
    1:03 - 1:07

    Now, if only I could afford a 351PD...

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    VIP Member Array Snub44's Avatar
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    ...by comparison, the full-sized 1911 weighs one oz. less than a 40 oz GP100...add 8 or 9 rounds of ammo vs 6 rds of .357...they're probably within 3 oz of each other ... either is an excellent belt holster gun...neither is a pocket gun...
    ...I paid $500 for my DAO SP101 used...same price S&W 36 and 60 and 642 are going for here...the snub supply has pretty much dried up...Charter's around $400 if you go that route...I won't recommend them...prices are pretty much stable for the last year here...in the used market...I ignore the new guns...
    ...+P .38 ammo's potent...but I'd stick to the steel/stainless framed guns with it...I carry the SP101 daily for a BUG IWB, and it doesn't bother me at all...I like the weight...
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    VIP Member Array BugDude's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gearhead View Post
    I have, on more than one occasion, put 100 consecutive rounds through my S&W 442 .38 spcl, with no discomfort.

    I put 5 rounds of .357 thru my buddies 351PD, and I was done. I can only describe the experience as brutal. It was like having an M-80 go off in my hand. 5 times.
    Quote Originally Posted by PEF View Post
    Whew. Here we go. I'll give you the Smith Run down.

    Scandium J-frames: J frame "magnum" frame made of scandium. 11.5 ounces. Can shoot .357's. Lots of fun for mere mortals that love pain.

    Airweight j-frame: .38 Only, aluminum frame. 15.5 ounces. A little sporty with .38 +p's but not bad.

    J-frame ".38 frame": Model 36, model 60 no dash, 60-3, 60-7: 19.5 ounces - Tames .38 +p's.

    J-Frame "Magnum" frame: Model 60-9, 60-14, 640-1, etc. Current offerings w/lock, except for 640 Pro. 22.5 Ounces. For me, still pretty sporty with full house .357's. Makes me flinch. I can't shoot them accurately as I can with .38's.

    Short version: Shooting .357's out of the 11.5 oz. guns is very painful, not something I want to do, and makes me develop a serious trigger flinch. Shooting out of the steel j-frames, which weight 2x the scandiums, is not bad for a few cylinders, but it's not something I do at the range very often. I find myself developing a flinch there too. I just go .38's and call it good.

    Good run downs above. My Ruger SP101 .357 2.25" bbl is a little bigger and heavier than the Smiths. It's not painful to shoot, but you gotta hang on tight and it gets your attention to the point you can feel the percussion in your nose. With 38s it is smooth. I imagine the 3" bbl would be a little better. The SP101 is not a pocket gun like the S&W 442 .38 spcl. I love my 442 and I don't find it harsh or hard to shoot after a Wolff shooters pack spring set. The SP101 is easily carried IWB or OWB with a decent belt and holster.

    So it depends on if you want a small light revolver or something a little heftier to handle 357. The 442 is a very versatile carry piece.
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  15. #15
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    Here's one more set of data points...

    My lightweight Taurus clone of a Bodyguard (shrouded hammer model) is 16 oz dry, and sports OEM rubber grips. I'm not particularly sensitive to recoil, but after a box of practice loads (factory 130 gr FMJs @ 725 ft/sec, or my 148 gr wadcutter reloads at 760 ft/sec) and maybe a cylinder-full of 158 gr +P carry loads, picking up a 1911 in .45 is positively relaxing. The lightweight J-frame snubs are not plinking pistols!

    Likewise, my warm-ish SWC reloads (158 gr @ 900+ ft/sec) are on a par with the 1911 when shot from a 36-oz S&W M64 (stainless version of a Model 10) and I could shoot a couple hundred of these before getting fatigued.

    So yes, weight makes a big difference in perceived recoil. My suggestion is that if you go the lightweight route, then stick with .38. If you can tolerate the 8 additional ounces of a steel snub, you can choose one in .357 and then you can get good with .38 and work your way up to .357.
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