Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

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AndyC
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Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#1

Post by AndyC » Sun Oct 21, 2018 10:21 am

Interesting article:
There’s a notion that in order to take advantage of high-velocity revolver loads, such as .38 Special +P or .357 Magnum, you must have a long barrel. The thought behind this is that the additional powder required to reach higher velocities requires more barrel length for the powder to completely burn. All things being equal, you would need more barrel length to burn more powder. However, some powders burn faster than others. This allows ammunition manufacturers and handloaders to level the barrel-length playing field.
https://www.shootingillustrated.com/art ... 57-magnum/
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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#2

Post by Sidro » Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:45 am

Good reading AndyC on comparisons. Here is another article comparing .38 Special and .357 magnum out of 2" and 4" bbls.
https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolv ... tics-test/

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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#3

Post by Charles L. Cotton » Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:44 pm

Sidro wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:45 am
Good reading AndyC on comparisons. Here is another article comparing .38 Special and .357 magnum out of 2" and 4" bbls.
https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolv ... tics-test/
There are some very interesting results in this testing. Thanks for posting.

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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#4

Post by Charles L. Cotton » Mon Oct 22, 2018 1:45 pm

38 Special and .357 Mag. snub guns.

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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#5

Post by 74novaman » Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:08 pm

It’s interesting info, but I think it gets a little into the realm of “missing the forest for the trees”.

.357 is a better performer on a chronograph and in ballistic gel than a .38, even in short barrels. That’s good to know.

But how many of us can shoot a .357 as quickly and (more importantly) as accurately as a similar sized .38?

Personally, as long as the ammo I’m using reaches the FBI recommended 12” penetration minimum, I’d be inclined to choose something that recoils less and I can make faster, more accurate hits with. Especially since we’re talking handgun rounds since all handguns are less than ideal man stoppers from the get go. It’s the same reason I tend to favor my 9mm guns in semi over my .45s for carry, as much as I love my .357s and .45s.
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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#6

Post by Oldgringo » Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:24 pm

Are either of these cartridges long range sniper ammo? IOW, what difference does it make at 7 yards?


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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#7

Post by WTR » Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:54 pm

Oldgringo wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:24 pm
Are either of these cartridges long range sniper ammo? IOW, what difference does it make at 7 yards?
Velocity, penetration and wound channel makes a big difference.

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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#8

Post by Oldgringo » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:08 pm

Okay then. If given a choice, I prefer to be shot, center of mass, with a .38 Special.


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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#9

Post by WTR » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:29 pm

Oldgringo wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:08 pm
Okay then. If given a choice, I prefer to be shot, center of mass, with a .38 Special.
Smart choice.

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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#10

Post by SQLGeek » Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:47 pm

Lucky Gunner has done some very detailed testing on a wide variety of loads in .38 and .357 in both 2" and 4" barrels. There are some good loads out there compatible with 2" barrels.

Here it is:

https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolv ... tics-test/
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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#11

Post by AndyC » Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:56 pm

74novaman wrote:
Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:08 pm
It’s interesting info, but I think it gets a little into the realm of “missing the forest for the trees”.

.357 is a better performer on a chronograph and in ballistic gel than a .38, even in short barrels. That’s good to know.
No, that's not the point - the article is more a case of comparing the longer barrels to the snubbies (in those same calibers) - how loads can be, and are, tailored using different powders so that velocity isn't lost in the shorter barrels and hence their effectiveness.

A particular hollow-point bullet is (or should be) engineered to expand at a certain velocity - below that it won't expand fully and above that velocity may expand too early, inhibiting penetration. Some perfect examples of the latter can be seen in SQLGeek's LuckyGunner article - compare the same bullet's expansion and penetration in the 2" versus 4"; many times the bullet shot through a 4" has LESS penetration than the 2" as a result of that bullet having a higher velocity than it was designed for, expanding fast and hence coming to a halt sooner:

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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#12

Post by SQLGeek » Sat Nov 03, 2018 1:52 am

Sidro wrote:
Mon Oct 22, 2018 5:45 am
Good reading AndyC on comparisons. Here is another article comparing .38 Special and .357 magnum out of 2" and 4" bbls.
https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolv ... tics-test/
Doh. I completely missed you had posted this. Sorry about repeating it.
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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#13

Post by 74novaman » Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:38 am

AndyC wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:56 pm

No, that's not the point - the article is more a case of comparing the longer barrels to the snubbies (in those same calibers) - how loads can be, and are, tailored using different powders so that velocity isn't lost in the shorter barrels and hence their effectiveness.
Then your thread title is a little misleading. ;-)

It is nice to see specific loads tested in snub length barrels.
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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#14

Post by The Annoyed Man » Sat Nov 03, 2018 2:16 pm

Not being one who requires a low-recoil cartridge, while I can certainly understand wanting to shoot +P .38 in a .38 Special revolver, I don’t understand shooting any kind of .38 from a .357 if recoil management is not an issue. Self-defense being the objective, it simply makes sense to carry the most powerful cartridge one can stand to shoot reasonably well. So for .357 magnum chambered pistols, I can see shooting .38 special for sheer enjoyment of target shooting, but it makes no sense ....FOR ME... for self defense. That said, if I had nothing else, I’d be OK using it.

I’ve informally tested several loads in my M&P340 .357. By “informally tested”, I mean I shot some rounds of several different loads to see which was the most powerful load that I could still stand to shoot in that 13 oz gun. I relied heavily, but with a gimlet eye, on the claims of manufacturers. I settled on Hornady’s 125 grain FTX Critical Defense .357 magnum load. That decision was based in part on a phone call to Hornady, asking if they had ballistic information for snubnose revolvers, since that wasn’t on the website. They told me over the phone that they had obtained 1200 fps and 400 ft lbs with that load in snubnose revolvers. AFTER that phone call, they included that information on the page for that load for a time. But in later website updates, the snubnose information disappeared. But if 1500 fps is right for an 8” barrel as claimed by Hornady, a 300 fps loss for a 2” barrel would represent a loss of 50 fps per inch of length lost.....which sounds about right.

I have NOT tested the actual velocity myself, out of my own pistol (I do not own the type of chronograph it would take), nor have I done my own penetration tests. What I HAVE done is shoot several cyclinders full of that cartridge to see if I could handle shooting it. I can. What I CAN’T handle is full house 158 grain .357 loads in it. I already own a MagnetoSpeed chrono that is designed for longer barrels, but it won’t work with a snubnose because it attaches directly to the barrel. So someday I’ll borrow or buy a “screen-type” chrono and do more detailed testing. But until then, I’m fairly confident to rely on data others have collected.

I have not bothered testing other loads of similar bullet weight that claim similar velocities. Having found one that works, I intend to stick with it.
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Re: Snubbie Ballistics: .38 Special vs. .357 Magnum

#15

Post by AndyC » Sun Nov 04, 2018 2:14 pm

74novaman wrote:
Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:38 am
AndyC wrote:
Fri Nov 02, 2018 5:56 pm

No, that's not the point - the article is more a case of comparing the longer barrels to the snubbies (in those same calibers) - how loads can be, and are, tailored using different powders so that velocity isn't lost in the shorter barrels and hence their effectiveness.
Then your thread title is a little misleading. ;-)

It is nice to see specific loads tested in snub length barrels.
I agree, but I merely quoted the title of the article - I would have written it as "357 and 38", not "357 versus 38". With that said, I agree with your other points in your post :)
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