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Thread: Question regarding 357 mag and 38 special

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    Question regarding 357 mag and 38 special

    Ok, so I've finally convinced my wife to get a gun, we're going to get CC permits. You'll have to forgive me because the only handgun I own is the Public Defender Judge. all my other guns are rifles or shotguns.

    So anyway, I see several nice 38s and 357s that might fit the bill. So my question is regarding 38 and 357 ammo. I thought I read somewhere that the two can be used interchangeably? What about the 38+P? I guess I want a gun that can shoot the 38, 38+P, and 357mag (so I have a choice).

    Would I choose this one: Taurus International Manufacturing Inc

    or this one: Taurus International Manufacturing Inc
    Taurus Judge Public Defender
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    .357 Magnum revolvers will fire .38 Special in standard and plus P loads. .38 Special chambered revolvers can only handle that cartridge due to the 1/8" +/- shorter chamber. A .38 Special may be rated for standard or +P but verify before you buy. All the Taurus firearms are stated to be rated for +P with the Ultralite models in some dispute on that historically. I would use +P in that one for SD purposes but train with standard loads.

    The .357 will be your most versatile chambering for the ability to train with .38 Special for economy and load up the Magnum rounds if you feel that you need it. .38 Special +P HP defense loads should be enough for any two legged animals that you may encounter.
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    Take 38 Special Plus P out of the equation for a minute
    Here's how I keep 38 and 357 separate. To me - the 38 and 357 are 2 different people.
    38 has a size 11 foot. 357 is like a size 13 foot. If you buy size 13 shoes, Both people can wear them. *both types of ammunition will fit*
    If you buy a size 11 shoe, the size 13 foot cannot fit inside them.

    In real terms, the length of the 38 special case is 1.155 inches. The 357 magnum case is 1.29 inches. If I have a 357 revolver, the chamber is long enough that both cartridges will fit. If I have a 38 special OR a 38 +P revolver... the 357 will NOT fit.
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    There are ALOT of other differences - recoil, muzzle velocity, energy, ballistics, penetration, cost, SAAMI specs, pistol weight, etc. Given your background - it will be essential for you to keep in mind that if you WANT a revolver that can shoot 38, 38+P, and 357mag - you will need to get a 357 revolver. If you get a 38 special revolver, you will not be able to fire 357 ammunition in it - because for starters, the case of the 357 ammo will be too long for the chamber. (like a size 13 foot going into a size 11 shoe)

    You will realize that a person with a size 13 shoe can probably CRAM his foot into a size 11 shoe. If that happens, Mr. Size 13 will be uncomfortable, might get blisters, etc. If you cram 357 ammo into a 38 special, it will produce far worse results, potentially deadly results. Do not do it. Ever. Even if you can.

    So what about 38 Special +P? If you have a 357, you can fire it. If you have a new 38, you can probably fire it. Be sure your pistol is rated for it before firing it. Your owners manual (after you've bought it) or manufacturers sites (before you buy it) can tell you which revolvers are RATED for +P.

    FINALLY - you can (AND I would STRONGLY RECOMMEND) going to a very light 38 special load for beginning. Whatever revolver you have will be much easier to shoot well, and much easier to learn on if you use some lower velocity wadcutters. The reduced recoil will also help you avoid flinching, and developing other difficult habits. My personal favorite is a 148 grain wadcutter that produces around 700 fps muzzle velocity - like this one or this one. Instead of the explosion of a hot 357, or the BANG! of a 38, they produce more of a POOF. (ear protection is still required...)

    Back to "what revolver do you get" - I'd mention that both of the revolvers you pointed out have a capacity of 5 rounds. I'd be happier shooting something like this 617 or much happier this 608 . Opinions vary, but the 617 holds 7 rounds. The 608 holds 8. Both are heavier than what you linked to, both can be fired in single or double action. Having said that - I'd recommend you get NEITHER of them at this point. I'd recommend you spend some time at a gun range that RENTS revolvers... and try several to see which one YOU like better. You might decide that you like one of those two Tauruses - or you might like a Ruger GP100 or a S&W 442, or something else entirely. It is your money - get what YOU want. And when you decide, be sure to drop a note here - with a photo or two. :-)

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    I would lean toward the .357 as you will have option of using .357 if you need it. Why I prefer the .357 in a snubby is that I feel there is a more positive extraction when using the shorter .38 ammunition, though I rarely had any trouble back in the day when I carried my old mdl 85. Either should serve you well, make sure it fits your & your
    lady's hand, then I might suggest starting off with some wadcutter ammo to get the feel of it then work up to your carry load.
    Hope this helps, and good luck to you!
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    You should probably see what your wife likes to shoot, if this gun is actually for her. A lot of people don't like the recoil from a .357 or .38 special. That is why .32 and .380 are still around.

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    If she had her way, she'd shoot a .22 short One of my friends (lady) has a .38 that she's going to let us try out at a nearby range, so that'll be good to actually feel what it can do.
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    I would be surprised if anyone enjoyed shooting .357 through a snubbie. .357 is tolerable through a medium frame revolver but uncomfortable through anything smaller. If this is her first handgun my vote would be for the 38. I am a firm believer in practicing with whatever caliber you carry concealed. Keep in mind that it is going to take a bit of practice before she becomes proficient and she will be much happier practicing with some nice 38 wadcutters as opposed to the full house magnum rounds.
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    All excellant info.. one fact that can make or break the female angle is the recoil. My wife handles the 357 snubby even with her smaller hands. the trick is the GRIPS.. the rubber softer grips absorb and asssit in the gripping the gun. Hard plastic and fancy wood grips will not absorb recoil and they might actually BITE.. With the 357 I can use milder 38 rounds and progress up with +P and critical defense ammo and still feel confident that it will serve the pupose well. Off course a few 357 are nice to just remember the full potential of the weapon. Rent a couple and look for the rubber grips and 38 special rounds and she will enjoy the range time and you will have a shooting partner...
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    The 650 is a good choice for concealed carry. The 617 is a bit larger and heavier but can still be cc'd. If you don't plan to cc, then the 617 would be a better choice. Having said that, it would depend on the main purpose which you would choose. Are you set on a revolver or would you consider a semi-auto? There are plenty of choices for cc that may suit your purpose ad well. The model 709 in 9 mm or the model 111 millennium pro are also worth looking at.
    Last edited by righty; 04-15-2012 at 09:10 PM.
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    Well put jakerson9, you covered all the points I was going to try and cover. If there is a range that rents guns nearby go ahead and rent both the 38 and 357 maybe even in different models. In my experience the ultra lite models can be pretty snappy since they do not have the mass of a steel gun. a 357 may take some getting used to, however my wife actually prefers to shoot my 617 with 357 loads over her M85 standards 38 special loads because the heavier mass seems to recoil less.

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