educate me on the .38/.357

This is a discussion on educate me on the .38/.357 within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; I know very little about the revolver world. My wife is looking for a small home defense gun and im looking for a good carry ...

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    Member Array mbecks21's Avatar
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    educate me on the .38/.357

    I know very little about the revolver world. My wife is looking for a small home defense gun and im looking for a good carry gun. She LOVES revolvers. So a 357 will also shoot 38 special and vice versa? What's a reliable brand? Im looking s&w, ruger, and Taurus. What else should i consider? Opinions please! Thanks guys!

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    Ex Member Array ANGLICO's Avatar
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    Yes. .38 Special +P in a .357 is fine! My wife sports a Tauris M-66 (7 shot) Wheel Gun (and she knows how to use the speed loaders). It was origionally set up as a hunting gun (long barrel...had a scope which we got rid of....... :-)) but is perfect for the night stand.

    As for the specific mass of gun, recoil and workings, you are going to have to take your better half out and experimet with what she really likes.

    There are a lot of short option and small frame options - depending on her preference or hand size, and how much recoil she will be comfortable with.

    Good choice of 'home defense weapon'. Just watch the back stop with the heavy loads. My lady preferrs semi-wad heavy grain.

    Oh - and yes, very cheap to practice with on the range with the .38 loads.

    One (my opinion) is make sure whatever you settle on has a double action trigger pull that she really gets, and likes. Single action is for 'movement to engagement' or when clearing the house. Double is for the snap shot when having to just do it.

    My apologies that 'I am not directly recommending a specific weapon' to you, as that is something she will need to figure out for herself.
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    VIP Member Array aus71383's Avatar
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    I'd go with S&W or Ruger. First pick would be S&W.

    A quick search and some reading will give you the same answers, but....

    A .38 Special cartridge will fit in a .357 Magnum chamber, and it will be safe to shoot. A .357 Magnum cartridge shouldn't fit into a .38 Special chamber, and if it were possible to make it fit, it would not be safe to shoot. The .357 operates at a higher pressure than the .38.

    The bullets they shoot are the same diameter. It makes sense to get a .357 revolver. A nice heavy one will be enjoyable to shoot. A lightweight one will hurt your hands badly and you will keep it loaded with .38s instead.

    For your wife - if you can afford to, let her pick for herself. There may be a range you can go to that has different guns available for rent, or maybe you know someone who has some guns that would be willing to show you the ropes.

    For yourself - it's a personal decision.

    Austin
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    VIP Member Array varob's Avatar
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    No, 38 spec. will not shoot .357. You can only shoot .38 in a .357.

    The .357 is too long to fit in a .38 cylinder.
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    Member Array mbecks21's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reply. I may sound like a DA but i am under the impression that any 357 will also shoot .38. These calibers are night and day. If this is so i am super excited for my next gun! P.s. i own an xd9 and an ar15. Havent shot much more!

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    Senior Member Array BamaT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbecks21 View Post
    I know very little about the revolver world. My wife is looking for a small home defense gun and im looking for a good carry gun. She LOVES revolvers. So a 357 will also shoot 38 special and vice versa? What's a reliable brand? Im looking s&w, ruger, and Taurus. What else should i consider? Opinions please! Thanks guys!
    A .357 gun will shoot .38 special ammo, but a .38 special gun will NOT shoot .357 ammo, nor should you ever try to do so in the unlikely event you were able to chamber .357 ammo in a .38 gun. The .357 case is slightly longer than the .38 to prevent accidental chambering of the much higher pressure .357 ammo in a .38 special gun that was not designed to handle those pressures.

    Some people have had good luck with Taurus guns; I had one about 20 years ago that wouldn't shoot anywhere close to point of aim. Wound up taking it back to dealer that let me swap it for a Smith, and I'll never own another Taurus. Just my opinion, but I highly recommend either Smith or Ruger over the Taurus.

    For carry, I would suggest looking at a Smith 642 or 638, or the Ruger LCR. For a home defense gun, options open up a good bit. I really like the Ruger SP101. If your wife has smaller hands, the SP101 will fit small hands nicely and the heavier weight and rubber handles help with recoil. If you could find a used Smith model 10 or 14, those would make excellent choices and hold 6 rounds versus 5 for the SP101.

    Hope this helps. I'm sure others will chime in shortly with their recommendations and experiences.
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    Revolvers are generally sturdy and reliable. A revolver chambered in .357 Magnum will chamber a .38 Special, but the reverse is NOT true. The .357 case is a bit longer than that of the .38 so one can't accidentally chamber the much more powerful round into a gun not designed for it.

    The "manual of arms" for revolvers is as simple as it gets - load, aim, shoot. No magazines to lose, no external safeties, and a long trigger pull to cock the hammer and fire. On the down side, they have limited capacity - typically just 5 or 6 rounds - and are slower to reload than automatics. But you never have to worry about too weak a load not cycling the action or stovepipe jams. Yes, there are ways to tie up a revolver so it won't shoot, but they're relatively rare.

    You want to be cautious about a "small home defense gun." Small revolvers like the Smith & Wesson J-frames or their Taurus/Rossi counterparts fit the hand easily, but they are actually difficult to shoot well without a lot of practice. Their biggest advantage is that they are generally small and light enough to carry conveniently in a pocket or purse, which goes a long way toward satisfying the first rule of a gunfight - "have a gun." A lot of us who carry full-size guns frequently keep those J-frame snubs handy for when we can't or don't feel like strapping on a bigger gun for that quick trip to the corner market.

    Reliable brands? You do get what you pay for. Smith & Wesson and Ruger are the top of the bunch; Taurus (and Rossi, their 'econo' line) guns are more affordable but quality is more variable than we'd like. I have 2 Taurus snubs that haven't given me a lick of problems, but one is 20 years old and the 'new' one is 10... so I can't speak first-hand about the reliability of current models.

    For a first gun, especially if you want to minimize the investment while you get your feet wet with revolvers, I suggest a used S&W Model 10 or 64 with a 4-inch barrel. This is the standard cop gun of years gone by, and there are still a lot of cop trade-ins available in the $250 range that might show holster wear but have tight actions. The 10 is blued steel, and the 64 is the same gun in stainless. Sights are a front blade and a groove in the top strap - doesn't get any simpler or more rugged, and they work just fine for all but serious target work. These are steel guns around 34 ounces, which makes perceived recoil unobtrusive. My son's 100-pound girlfriend who'd never fired a gun before went from 6 rounds of .22 to 6 rounds of .38 almost without blinking. And when loaded with the hotter +P rounds, it's still not a handful. For carry purposes, the same gun with a 2-inch barrel won't fit into a pocket but it's quite manageable with a good holster and belt.

    In the Ruger line, there's the compact SP101 which is a stainless 5-shooter, and the much larger GP100. The SP101 is a huge favorite among DC members (this forum). It's a rugged as a freight train, but it's a bit much for a pocket pistol. It's available in .38 and .357 (and the somewhat rare .327 Federal) and I believe both are available in 2-inch and 3-inch barrels. The longer barrel adds a snick more weight and lengthens the sight radius.

    If you're new to wheelguns, I really think a .38 is a better choice than a .357, but the choice is ultimately yours. And if you go with a small-frame snub for home (like the S&W J-frame), I'd recommend against the lightweight models, as they really are uncomfortable to practice with. After just a couple dozen target rounds through my 15-ounce snub, my hand is ready for something relaxing, like a .45 automatic!

    I'm sure you'll have lots more questions, so - ask away. We're here to share information.
    Smitty
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    Distinguished Member Array chuckusaret's Avatar
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    I have several S& W J frame revolvers in .38 and .357 but after firing my S&W's my wife chose a LCR-CT .38, she said the grip grave her better control. She can shoot the center out of the targets at 7 to 10 yards.

    I would take her to a range that has guns to rent and let her test fire a few. If the gun is rated +P I would start her off on wadcutters and work up to .38 + P. the felt recoil is quite noticeable on the light small frame revolvers.
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    Member Array mbecks21's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great response gasmitty. Ive learned more from this site than i couldve imagined!

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    38 spl vs 357 Ruger

    Just picked up Rugers in the 38 spl for the wife and 357 for me. Came with Hogue grips. She loves hers and I like my 357 as well. My Ruger .380 is a "snappier" gun but conceals with a wallet holster VERY well. She shot the 357 fine until I inserted the 357 ammo. Shot it once and said no more. Now to find concealable holsters for us both. The search begins. Had an offer to buy a Taurus 357 hammerless, stainless steel that had "never been fired" for $365.00 from a private seller. Liked the looks of the Rugers better and from what I read on this forum as far as a Taurus goes a semi-auto is not all that reliable and a revolver is about 50-50. Just from what I read here and from previous dealings with Ruger decided to go that route. However, Taurus says they have a "life-time warranty even if you aren't the original owner" unlike most of the other manufacturers. Again,please take it easy on me as I got all my info from this site.S&W is a bit out of my money range right now but I do like the nickel plated look on most guns. Good Luck! That's all I got!!
    Last edited by VTX1800; December 30th, 2012 at 01:31 AM. Reason: Omission

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    Senior Member Array zamboni's Avatar
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    The difference in .38 caliber and 357mag has been addressed already so I'll just reflect.

    You can fire a .38 caliber bullet and a 357mag bullet from a 357mag firearm.

    But you can only fire a .38 caliber bullet from a .38 caliber firearm.

    I would suggest looking at Ruger Revolvers. They have a deluge of models to chose from.

    http://www.ruger.com/index.html

    If you can't find a Ruger Revolver to fill your needs then they just plan don't make one that will!

    YMMV

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    Well gassmitty hit it dead on, the difference between 38spl and 357mag is the 357 case is .10 longer in length. And I will agree with the S&W Model 10/15 in 38spl or the S&W Model 19 in 357 Mag both are fine revolvers that may be purchased at reasonable prices. The Model 10/15s are K frames now if you want something smaller a J frame Model 36/60 is a good choice but you are limited to 38spl, which is not a problem since 38+P and 357 out of a 2-2 ½ barrel are comparable. I do not have any experience with the Ruger SP-101 but it is on my wish list and previous experience with Rugers does make it very desirable.
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    Ex Member Array ANGLICO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mbecks21 View Post
    Thanks for the great response gasmitty. Ive learned more from this site than i couldve imagined!
    Welcome Aboard!

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    Hi and welcome to the Forum! Glad to have you!

    The common .357 Magnum revolver will chamber and shoot any factory .38 Special ammunition. The only external dimensional difference in the .357 Magnum and the .38 Special is length of the cartridge case. All other dimensions such as chamber and bore diameter, rim, case head, and case mouth are identical.

    The two cartridges are different in one key respect. The .357 Magnum typically operates at pressures that are twice that of the standard .38 Special. .357 Magnum revolvers are engineered to withstand continued use with cartridges generating this increased pressure. One may not fire .357 Magnum ammunition in a .38 Special and expect any sort of satisfaction, short or long term. In the short term, it is entirely possible that a .38 Special revolver will fail catastrophically when fired with a cartridge generating .357 Magnum pressure levels. Injury to the shooter is also entirely possible in this instance. In the long term, a .38 Special revolver that can withstand such pressure levels can't be depended on to have a long service life, with swollen chambers, stretched frames, cracked or eroded barrel throats, and battered locking points to be expected.

    For these reasons, the .357 Magnum cartridge case was designed to be enough longer than the .38 Special cartridge case that a .38 Special revolver can't accept a .357 Magnum cartridge. It's less about increased case capacity for the propellent powder than it is about a safety margin. In the odd event that a .38 Special may be found that will accept .357 Magnum ammunition, firing of such ammunition is not recommended. Through wear, or more likely, through an in-advised modification one could find a .38 Special revolver that could shoot a .357 Magnum cartridge. In bygone times, the .357 Magnum was in short supply and some gunsmiths did conversion work lengthening customers' .38 Special revolvers' chambers to accept the .357 Magnum cartridge. Sometimes quality brands of revolvers allowed some users to get away with shooting some .357 Magnum cartridges for a time. Any could burst or fail though without warning. Any .38 Special to .357 Magnum conversion revolvers are a recipe for disaster with the possible exception of the big ol' Smith & Wesson Heavy Duty, a revolver that is uncommonly encountered these days.

    You will receive unique answers with every post when inquiring about reliable brands. I'm very enthused about Smith & Wesson and Colt brand revolvers and could spend all day telling why. Others love their Rugers. A few champion Taurus but I've had enough personal experience with observing others' Taurus products and reading of Taurus warranty adjustments to suggest that Taurus products be avoided if possible. The money saved through purchase of a lesser quality product will not be worth the hassle or the possible functional failure just when the revolver is most needed.

    While the small revolvers are extremely popular, be careful of jumping into a small, lightweight revolver for shooting even .38 Special ammunition. They are a handful to the uninitiated. A better experience will be had with a revolver of medium size and the medium-sized revolver can serve admirably for home defense. This especially goes for the .357 Magnum chambered revolver.

    Excellent serviceable examples of Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Ruger revolvers are easy to find as they occupied the holsters of the nations' law enforcement officers for many years, Colt and Smith & Wesson clear back to the early 20th Century. Most will have 4-inch barrels and will be pleasant to fire at the range in practice and well suitable for home defense. I keep handguns of all sorts around here but the choice for home defense is a 4-inch Smith & Wesson Model 10 .38 Special. I don't even bother with the .357 Magnum though some are kept here.

    Colt Official Police .38 Special


    Smith & Wesson Model 10 with traditional tapered 4-inch barrel.


    Personal favorite, the Heavy Barrel variation of the 4-inch Model 10 shown in the photo above.


    The above revolvers may be found with 2-inch barrels, the Smith & Wesson Model 10 snubs being fairly common. Medium-sized snubs, they still offer better control than the small snubs.

    The Smith & Wesson Model 15 offered some target features that elevated it above the Model 10s above. Also once a favorite with law enforcement agencies, it may still be found for reasonable prices.


    Models of Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers of various sizes. The medium-framed Model 19 seen here as a 4-inch nickel revolver, is the size/weight equivalent of the Model 15 shown above. The larger L-Frame Model 586 is show just above the nickel Model 19 and the still larger Model 27 is at top. The stainless steel revolver is a Model 66, a shorter barreled K-Frame revolver, the frame size being the same as the Model 19.


    The larger .357 Magnum models are easier to shoot, the smaller ones are easier to carry. I don't have a .357 Magnum Smith & Wesson revolver built on their J-frame. These tiny 5-shot models are fairly brisk when fired with full-powered .357 Magnum ammunition. Some of them are even provided with very lightweight aluminum alloy frames which would make them brutal to fire with .357 Magnum ammunition. Personally, I think the .357 Magnum's best home is in medium or large frame revolvers.

    The .38 Special was introduced by Smith & Wesson in 1899 in their newly developed K-Frame revolver, still being made to date. The cartridge is flexible and can provide real useful power in its +P loadings.

    The .357 Magnum was introduced by Smith & Wesson in 1935 in their large N-Frame revolver. Later Smith & Wesson engineered the medium-sized K-Frame revolver to chamber the .357 Magnum. Still later even the runt 5-shot J-Frame was engineered to be able to shoot .357 Magnum ammunition. The .357 Magnum can be very potent in some of it's loadings, hard hitting and flat shooting if one feels the need to shoot out to long yardage. Lots of deer have been taken here in Texas over the years with the .357 Magnum.

    Unfortunately, Smith & Wesson has seen fit to discontinue or reduce production of most of their medium and large frame guns in favor of the wildly popular J-Frame snubs. This is a shame as some of the best models have become neglected. Smith & Wesson revolvers now also has a lock device that has given trouble since it's introduction 10 years or so ago. (Has it been that long?) Good examples of used classic Smith & Wesson .357 Magnum revolvers have gotten a bit pricey in recent years due to their continued and even expanding popularity.

    Colt added the .38 Special to its line up within a few years of Smith & Wesson's introduction of the cartridge and a host of different models chambered it. The best choices would be any post-WWII model such as: Detective Special, Police Positive, Diamondback, Official Police, Marshall, or Officer's Model.

    Colt provided .357 Magnum revolvers in various models and sizes including: New Service, 3 5 7, Python, Trooper, Border Patrol, Lawman, and lastly a smaller Magnum Carry model.

    All Colt double-action revolvers are now discontinued but any would be a great choice that would outlast it's new owner if found in reasonable condition and given reasonable care. Colts are also becoming more expensive these days though the common service .38 Special models still represent a bargain.

    Ruger still provides some decent .38 Special and .357 Magnum models in its line-up. The GP 100 is a medium-framed .357 Magnum Model and the SP 101 is a 5-shot, small(ish) frame .357 Magnum model. The GP 100 is easy to shoot well with full-powered loads and the SP 101 is surprisingly controllable with Magnum ammunition.

    Discontinued Ruger double-action revolvers that still represent really good value include the Service Six, Speed Six, and Security Six. When these models were current they could be had in either .357 Magnum or .38 Special only chambering. One will find both caliber variants on the used market. All three of these discontinued models are the same size as the GP 100.

    The .357 Magnum revolver is an awfully flexible all-around great choice for the fellow who only wants to keep a single revolver on hand. Concealed carry, home defense, hunting, target and plinking work can all be accomplished with the .357 Magnum revolver.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

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    Well...looks like eveyone else jumped in with great information while I was beating out a long-winded post.
    Charter Member of the DC .41 LC Society

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    Theodore Roosevelt, The Wilderness Hunter, 1893

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