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.357 question

4489 Views 31 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  OD*
I'm taking my wife shooting this weekend and a buddy wants me to take along his .357. It hasn't been used in awhile and he may even be interested in selling. Now for the question. What's a good load for my wife to use? She is pretty timid about recoil.

I've heard that I can use .38 in a .375. can this be done?


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yes shoot 38 sp in it still might recoil to much for her its not bad but if recoil timid i would try if myself first

.357 Magnum was invented by I believe it was Doug Wesson in about 1935. The name of the cartridge comes from the fact that Wesson was also a wine coinnessuer. A Magnum bottle is a bottle which is slightly extended.

The catridge was an effort to improve on the .38 Special. At first they simply made a heavier revolver and loaded the .38 Special a lot hotter. The problem was though, predictably, a bunch of goofballs wanted to use the new hot ammunition and loaded these super hot new catridges into their old guns and got a nice kaboom.

It was decided that the cartridge had to be elongated to visually and physically distinguish it from .38 Special. Notice if you put a .357 Magnum catridge in the cylinder of a .38 Special revolver, you can't close the cylinder. The name comes from the fact that the actual caliber of the bullet is .357 of an inch. ".38" is just a naming convention the origin of which I do not know.

Thus a .357 Magnum is just a lengthened .38 Special that's been loaded hotter. So yes, you can fire .38 Special in a .357 Magnum chambered revolver just not the other way around.

Now we're getting into why I love revolvers so much. A quality .357 Magnum revolver gives its user many options in ammunition. If this is a heavy steel gun, just about any .38 Special should have very mild recoil.

What helps tremendously are the right grips. Wood grips are lovely and all, but soft tacky rubber Hogue grips are what a "combat" revolver really needs in my experience. That's what works for me though. People who are uncomfortable shooting revolvers are most often the same people using wooden grips. I personally find wheelguns offer their owners a lot more options when it comes to grips personally. Wood grips do look nice and may feel real good to hold, but my personal experience is that they slip. Rubber also "gives" a little bit and won't fatigue your hand.

I do know pretty much any .38 Special load fired out of my 686 is very soft on recoil and I can't imagine anyone would not be able to handle it. The only thing that makes this revolver intimidating to some people is that it's a pretty big and heavy gun if you have small wrists and small hands. That's why many shooters prefer the K frame models.

Most cheap 110 grain .38 Special cartridges like those from Winchester's White Box offerings should be pretty mild. The "idea" practice round for me is a 158 grain load. I personally can't feel a difference.

Edit: Also, if she's flinchy, avoid the Magnums like the plague. There's not a lot of .357 cartridges that don't spit fire. It also helps to have them shoot in broad daylight. Have her shoot at dusk where she can see the light show and I promise you she'll drop the gun.

.38 Special out of a 4" or longer barrel is not to be discounted. My mother's designated gun is actually a .357 Magnum revolver loaded with some 158 grain semiwadcutters. She has pretty bad athritis of the fingers and is thus genuinely recoil sensitive and not just flinchy. She can fire the entire cylinder if she has to, but extended shooting would be too painful. But I figure if she can handle it, just about anyone should be okay.
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LP - as Bud says yeah - 38 spl will go just fine and probably be much kinder. You don't mention the gun's physical characteristics but if 4" or longer then I doubt 38 spl will bother her at all.

Main thing to remember - as the 38 spl case is 1/10" shorter than the mag case - a lot of 38 spl thruput will leave slight rings in the chambers. If reverting to .357 useage after - these need cleaned out - just a good bronze brush treatment after shooting - or if stubborn, put brush in cordless drill and let it spin some.

If it may be for sale - perhaps you can get dibs on it.
Thanks for all the great info and bit of history guys!

I'll let you know how I make out and I'll include a pic of the gun if I can :)

I honestly tell people who aren't sure about this whole handgun thing or just want one handgun for everything to get a used 4" barrel .357 Magnum revolver. It's not ideal for every task a handgun may be asked to perform, but it can improvise pretty darn well in any capacity.
True enough Euc - very true.

This why I think that a solid .357 in 4" is all but a must. Even if folks are not 'Smithophiles' or cannot afford too much - there is a lot to be said for a 4" GP-100 - solid as a rock and well liked my oh so many. :smile:
Yeah I try to steer people towards Ruger and Smith... Colt would be okay too if you could find one but most people can't really afford a Python.

Honestly the 686 and GP100 have a lot more in common that most people think. I want a GP100 just because I'm a revolver freak, but I like the early versions of the 686 better for subjective things like "feel".

If I had to buy a new one and used wasn't an option, I'd go for the Ruger. If I was on a budget, I'm telling ya that $300 586 I just got, that's a hell of a good buy. I could use that for my only handgun from now on and most likely never have a problem.

My first handgun I bought on my own was my 686-2 and for a long time, about a year, it was my only handgun and I honestly believe that one time having it saved me from a bad situation. It was all I could afford at the time but it still serves me well.
Only Colt I ever had was a Trooper Mk III in .22 - very nice gun but I never became a fan of Colt revo's to be honest and sure would NOT pay the outlandish prices I see for Pythons etc.

Anyways - cyl release button works ''backwards'' :biggrin:

GP-100 will serve very nicely - for almost everyone - hardly ever heard a bad word said on them.
I'd start her with .38 wadcutters. They'll have very little recoil in a full sized .357 magnum. I agree with Euc, it's a very versatile handgun.
nothing wrong with a good 4" barrelled wheel gun. I learned how well they work years ago training for LE. Gave me much more respect for the shorter barrelled handguns.
Just be sure to scrub the living heck out of your cylinder after shooting 38's. I think the recoil is very light with my Gp-100.

I carry a Stainless 4" GP-100 at work. I'm limited to only 9mm FMJ, or .38spl lead heads. Most BG's don't know that "the big shiny" gun on my hip is loaded with lil .38's.
Like my dad said when he played with it "Kinda heavy ain't it? If ya run out of ammo, ya can just pistol-whip em :wink: ".
Mom, has a 357 and carries and shoots 38's. No problem.
The steel or SS .357 is by far the most versatile of all guns if you buy factory ammo. +1 on light wadcutters +1 on scrub the cyls

ps: when nobody's looking, you can try Federal Premium 180 grain cast cores if you ever need to brain a moose :)
2 of the lightest recoiling 38's
i've shot were the american eagle
and winchester white box.Both are
standard pressure and use the 130
grain fmj bullets.
i have a few 357 revolvers. a snub nose with a 2 inch barrel that i never use 357's in. recoil is a pain literally. as for my 6in 686 i can shoot 357's all day and it doesn't bother me. i recommend to start her with 38 spec and if she wants to try a few 357 do it toward the end of your range trip. if all you have is a snubby i do not recommend 357's from a ladies point of view. hope this helps.
Yooo-hoooo! Betty!!!!

cin357 said:
if all you have is a snubby i do not recommend 357's from a ladies point of view. hope this helps.
That's an incredibly sexist comment. I know a LOT of ladies, my wife and 24 yr old daughter included, who would give that statement the hammering it deserves. Wait until Betty sees it! My neighbor's daughter...born a "preemie" has the build of a pencil....ultra thin arms and legs (a lot of babies born prematurely are like this) and she was a bullseye shooter with a 44 magnum at 25 yards when she was TWELVE. When she was 16, she dropped a 400 pound HOG in the Florida sawmps with the same 44 on a running shot. That pig fed 30 of her friends and neighbors for her sweet sixteen party.

Please pay our female shooters the respect they deserve. Anybody can be taught to handle any level recoil if they have the desire and a competent instructor.
The .357 is a grand ol' cartridge, that everyone should own.


To give credit, where credit is due, the .357 Magnum was a collaboration effort by Philip B. Sharpe & Colonel D. B. Wesson (Vice President of Smith & Wesson).
Ex - if my memory serves right - cin357 IS a lady member!!
Same sex sexism is worse....

P95Carry said:
Ex - if my memory serves right - cin357 IS a lady member!!
That's worse...she only reinforces a negative and INCORRECT stereotype! If there might be some female NOVICE shooter browsing here, and she sees this from another more experienced female shooter, she might be dissuaded from a very potentially rewarding and empowering experience. Remember (I know I don't need to tell YOU this, P95) anybody can do anything in the gun world with the proper desire and competent instruction.
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