Author Topic: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?  (Read 1796 times)

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Offline Masterblaster1

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Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« on: December 27, 2009, 07:46:51 pm »
I am interested in getting a new snubnose revolver for carry. Most likely a charter arms. I thought about the 12 ounce model in .38, but after reading decided that a gun this light would be very hard to control and shoot accurately, not to mention it is a bit low in the stopping power dept. So I am now looking at a .357 or a .44 spl. Which caliber is better for a 2.5 inch barreled gun? I looked at the stopping power shooting statistics and it showed .357 as king but it had far more actual shootings. The main criteria is I want a light gun that is easier to carry than my Ruger p95. I also do not want to go lower than 9mm power levels. I thought revolver because pocket autos tend to be less than reliable, but then I saw  KAHR cw .45!!!!!! AHH too many choices any opinions would be appreciated


Offline trotterlg

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #1 on: December 27, 2009, 09:16:44 pm »
I would worry way more about how easy it is to carry than what it is.  It will do you no good sitting at home, so go for what you will take with you every day.  All the rest just doesn't matter, and if you ever need it, you will be more than happy with whatever is in your pocket.  Accurate?  If you can hit a pie plate at 5 feet it is good.  Larry
A gun is just like a parachute, if you ever really need one, nothing else will do.

Offline Mikey

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2009, 03:37:48 am »
Who said the 38 was on the low end of stopping power, some statistics expert?  A plain jane 38 Spl with a 158 gn semi-wadcutter in a standard pressure loading has been known to shoot through assailants in close quarters confrontations.  Get a S&W 5 shot j-frame, my preference is the M38 with the concealed hammer, a couple of hundred rounds of wadcutter target/practice loads and a couple of boxes of 158 gn swc ammo and you should be set to go.

Check back on your 'statistics' to see when they started being recorded - bet you will find it wasn't all that long ago, probably after the 357 became vogue for police departments, and I doubt police departments began refining the data until later.....

You really do not need a 357 snubbie for personal defense - you do not get full magnum velocities but you sure get the bark and flash (which never stopped anything). 

About 13 oz is the lightest you would want - below that you may have difficulty with bullets 'walking' out of the case due to recoil and the light weight of the revolver - like when S&W first came out with the Titanium snubbies at 12 oz they were afraid the bullets, esp with reloads, would  'walk' and jam the gun - I never saw that happen though.  And most S&W snubbies come with a 1&7/8" bbl. 

If you want at least 9mm stopping power then step up to the 38 Spl; loadings from 158 gn to 200 gn outweigh the 9mm.  And it doesn't matter what you shoot, you gotta hit them in order to get them to stop, or seriously reconsider their chosen profession..............jmtcw.

Offline Brett

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2009, 04:27:51 am »
+1 to what Mikey said.

Another option might be a sub-compact semi-auto in at least 9mm.  If you go that rout put at least a couple hundred rounds of your chosen defense load threw it to make sure it is 100% reliable.  And even then you should practice 'tap-rack-bang' drills using snap caps.  Best way to practice these is to have someone load the magazines for you inserting between 2 - 4 snap caps in each mag. randomly so you don't know when the 'duds' is coming.   
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Offline williamlayton

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2009, 07:05:36 am »
Well, the 9MM, .38 & .357 are the same bullet--also included is the 9X23.
The powder and case make the difference.
I have one of the shrouder hammer, LW S&W's. It resides under the mattress. I don't enjoy shooting it in the .38--it is under the mattress though.
If I had to do it over again, and wanted too carry it, I would get the steel model--for my purpopses weight is not an issue as I won't carry it 8/12 hours a day--in a .38 and do as Mikey suggest's. I would also get the bobbed hammer or at least let a Smith bob the hammer.
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Offline Noreaster

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #5 on: December 28, 2009, 07:47:49 am »
Check out some stats on 357 snubbie performance. I believe the short barrels don't do well with the 357 mag. I'd feel comfortable with a good 38spl load in a J frame. On a side note I just read a range report on 380 performance in the kel tec and Ruger LCP. Not very good speed coming out of those little guns.

Offline SHOOTALL

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #6 on: December 28, 2009, 07:48:06 am »
The 38 and 357 mag loads are loaded for the most part with a bullet that has a shoulder . Auto loads do not in most cases . The shoulder i believe helps the bullet do more damage and yes i realize some 357 mag. bullets don't have the shoulder but in these revolvers in 38 spl. a shoulder can't be a bad thing . The mod 38 airweight is a fine revolver to tote . I carried one for years . I switched to a 340pd and like it. When you talk about the 357 mag. in a 1.8 inch bbl losing power the same is true for the 38 spl. also.
 It seems many opt for the 12 oz 340 and carry 38 +p loads . I carry 125 gr jacketed HP 357 mag. . In the 38 i carried 158 gr SWC HP . The 340 seems lighter . If i were buying one new today it would be the 38 airweight as i like the shoruded hammer . Why ? cost of the weapon really . I can get 2 mod 38's for just a little bit more than the 340 and a second gun is always a good thing . A second gun is a fast reload and a comfort when one is in the shop for repairs .
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Offline rockbilly

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #7 on: December 28, 2009, 07:55:34 am »
A short barreled model 60 in .357 Mag will give you a few more options and the price difference isn't that great.

Offline pmeisel

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #8 on: December 28, 2009, 08:21:01 am »
I think there is a reason why .38 snubnose revolvers were among the most popular carry guns for decades, and I would be happy carrying one.  That said, if you get one in 357 it gives you a little more strength and the option of shooting 357 if you wish....

But if I had to pick just one, right now, it would be a .38..................

Offline Brett

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2009, 12:49:43 pm »
IMO the only thing you gain by moving up to a .357mag. in a 2" or shorter barreled snubby is more noise, more flash, more recoil, and a little bulkier/heavier gun.   The extra powder in the magnum cases doesn't burn until after the bullet has left the barrel so the gain in speed/power is minimal.  
 
Personally I would not even consider the .380acp.   Less power than the standard .38pl (.38spl is the minimum power level I would go for self defense)  and .380 ammo is considerably more expensive and difficult to find. 

Once you get used to carrying a firearm, get proper holsters and learn a few wardrobe tricks, a.38 snubby or compact 9mm is no more trouble to carry and conceal than a .32 or .380 mouse gun. 
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Offline mcwoodduck

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #10 on: December 28, 2009, 01:22:35 pm »
Brett,
I am not so sure about that.
the 380 and the 38 Special are close.  But if you look in the ballistic charts the 38 Special has either a 4" or 6" barrel and the 380 is 3-4"
When I would shoot the steel shoot at my old club.  I would bring my 2" Detective Special, my 6" S&W 686, S&W 4" M28, 4" S&W M10 along with a Sig P230 in 380 on months after I took First place with my Sig P226 or P229 both in 9mm.  I liked to win but did want other to win as well and wanted to get better with the other guns too.
In the 38's or 357's  I would use factory 38 Special 130/ 132 (depending on maker) grain FMJ loads.
In the P230 I would use 95 grain FMJ loads Win White box.  We were not allowed to use Hollow Points in the shoot.
Well the 2" detive special would not move some of the steel swingers that similar hits out of the 4" or 6" guns would and so would the 380's.  If I were going to carry again.  of the two I would go with the P230 for a few reasons over the 2" Det Spl.  Both are about the same over all size.
1) slimmer profile.
2) more rounds  8 Vs 6.
3) More convinced the 380's will do more damage than the 38's in the same bullet designs.
Now change that to my 4" revolvers and I would give the Horse power to them.  even in 38's.
If I were to carry over all.  Depending on climate my P229 would get the nod most of the time these days.

Online Doublebass73

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #11 on: December 28, 2009, 02:03:48 pm »
In the +P range the muzzle energy of the .38 fired from a 2" barrel beats the the .380 fired from a 3.75" barrel. From the Buffalo Bore website:

380 Auto +P Ammo - 100 gr. Hardcast F.N. (1150fps/ M.E. 294 ft. lbs.) fired from a 3.75" Browning double action.

.38 Special +P Ammo - 158 gr. L.S.W.C.H.P. --G.C. (1040 fps/ M.E. 379 ft. lbs.)  fired from a 2" S&W mod. 60.

The difference becomes even greater when the .38 is fired from a 3" barrel - 158 gr. L.S.W.C.H.P. --G.C. Ruger SP101, 3 inch- 1143 fps (458 ft. lbs.)

All that being said the .380 +P is no slouch. I'm certainly not putting it down as a carry choice, I'd carry it if I wasn't into .38 snubbys. The .380 pocket autos are a great choice for an always gun. Just thought I'd point out that there is a difference between the two. The .38 can be loaded hotter than a .380.
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Offline kynardsj

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2009, 02:16:46 pm »
I recently got a Smith Airweight 38 special. Lightweight little 5 shot thing with the hammer shrouded but you can still touch enough of it to cock it and shoot single action. I loaded some 180 grain cast FP's over 4.2 grains of Unique and this little gun loves them. Best I can tell they're running about 800-850 FPS. It's very accurate out to about 10 yards which is plenty distance for badguys.
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Online Doublebass73

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2009, 02:18:14 pm »
Masterblaster,

You might want to go for the Charter Arms in .38 Special. They have a nice grip on them so they probably are easily controllable. I've never shot one but I've handled them and they have a nice comfortable grip on them. I got a Ruger LCR for Christmas and shot it for the first time yesterday. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was to shoot, I'm sure it's due to the big rubber grip because it only weighs 13.5 oz. I shot 100 rounds of standard pressure and 50 rounds of +P and my hand felt fine afterwards. I consider myself a recoil wimp, too. I had a S&W Model 36 that was steel and it recoiled worse than the LCR because it has the factory wooden stocks. The grips make a huge difference. The 12 oz. weight of the Charter makes it very desireable for all day carry. Either that or look for an LCR or S&W Airweight.
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Offline Brett

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2009, 04:03:18 pm »
McWoodduck,  I think you would have found that if you used 158gr semi-wad cutters in your 2" Detective it would have moved the steel plates just as convincingly if not more so than any 98gr .380.   Mass matters more than speed.   just ask any EMT that has seen a head on between a Honda Civic and a Ford F150 or similar truck.  A .380 is better than nothing but you would get better penetration from .22lr with hyper velocity ammo. 
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Offline mcwoodduck

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #15 on: December 28, 2009, 05:10:37 pm »
Brett,
I just thought it was a good example of how the different arrel lenghts increase velocity.
And I did try the 158's out of the Det Spl.  The recoil took up a lot of time and did not swing all the targets either.   The heavier recoil twisted the gun in my hand and made me have to regrip the gun firing it one handed.  Two handed was not bad. The game was a timed event and each miss counted as a 5 second add.  Not dropping a plate even hit counted as a miss.  And while I may get better penitration with the bigger slug it was not doing what the 380 with lighter bullets was doing.
Again the 2" gun would not swing flags or drop some plates that the 4 or 6" guns shooting the same ammo would and the 380 would drop those same plates.
Now they do make some higher end defense ammo for short barreled guns.  Also the question was 357 nor 38's as a snub nose.
But I would not feel under gunned carrying my 380 and if CA ever issues a shall carry law (we will have to worry about poop falling from flying porcine before that happens) I would carry it over a 2" gun.  Not taking away from them.  I still own my Det Spl.  I am not saying it is useless.  i am saying that 380 is not as useless as everyone makes it out to be.  Would I look for a smaller 9mm like a Khar, Glock 26, or Sig P239?  Maybe but I would use it in come steel matches to see that the short barreled 9mm has all the power of a 9mm and does not need the 4-5" barrel to generate velocity like the 38 does.  If I had larger hands and the small autos bit me evey time I shot them....  The Det Spl it would be.  My meduim sized hands would have me going to the 380 that carries more rounds and can be topped off while still having one in the chamber, carries more rounds, and has a slimmer profile.  If I was worried about shooting through a jacket pocket, the gun jamming on my hand, or did not shoot as much as I do.  The 1 7/8" or 2" revolver would get the nod and I would carry heavier rounds in it.

Offline 1sourdough

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #16 on: December 29, 2009, 05:05:32 am »
 I just bought a S&W model 649 2" stainless 38spcl 'Bodyguard' yesterday for $325, +tax & a background check. I have a J frame 357 & don't see the need to pay the extra for that option in the light/short barreled gun.
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Offline gwhilikerz

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #17 on: December 29, 2009, 11:49:59 am »
I carry a Charter Arms 38 special using a hip-grip. I am satisfied with this set-up and it works very well. The recoil, even with the smallish hip-grip is nothing noticeable. The regular grips make any recoil very minor. I shoot 1 box of ammo a month to keep familiar with this little gun. 3 yrs and no problems. I have never felt under gunned.

Offline Old Griz

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #18 on: January 30, 2010, 01:04:20 am »
I'm a big fan of the .44 Special, and the Charter Arms Bulldog really appeals to me. However, I think I'm gonna wait for the Charter Arms .45 ACP. The .40 is supposed to come out first, but I'll wait for the big boy. The ballistics are about the same as the 44 Special, and the ammo is cheaper and easier to find.
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Offline coyotejoe

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #19 on: January 30, 2010, 05:52:31 am »
I'm loading my .44 Bulldog with hard cast full wadcutter bullets of 180-210 grains at about 800 fps. Those loads are quite comfortable to shoot with the old style walnut grips. I chose the full wadcutter design because I doubt hollow points will expand at low velocity. The lighter weight is chosen both to get a bit more speed within acceptable recoil levels and to reduce the chances of recoil pulling a bullet. The old Bulldog has punched 3" groups at 25 yards with these wadcutters.
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Offline S.S.

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Re: Which is better cal for snubnose revolver?
« Reply #20 on: January 30, 2010, 07:56:48 am »
one could afford to practice a lot more with a .38 Spl.
That is the only reason I say .38
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