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Dear Experts: are all .357 magnum revolvers able to shoot .38 special ammo?

This is a discussion on Dear Experts: are all .357 magnum revolvers able to shoot .38 special ammo? within the Non-XD Handguns forums, part of the Other Handgun Talk category; My brother-in-law purchased a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver from a friend several years ago, and he only has personal defense ammo for it. His ...

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Old 05-11-2009, 02:41 PM   #1
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Question Dear Experts: are all .357 magnum revolvers able to shoot .38 special ammo?

My brother-in-law purchased a Smith & Wesson .357 revolver from a friend several years ago, and he only has personal defense ammo for it. His wife wants to learn to shoot, and I promised to take her to the range with me. She wants to bring that gun, which is fine, of course, but I need to find some target ammo for it. I asked my brother-in-law if it shot .38 special rounds, and he said he didn't know if it could, he'd never tried. I thought that most folks shot .38 special target ammo in their .357 magnums because (1) it was cheaper, and (2) there was less recoil on the gun from that caliber. I also understand that you should not use .38 special "+P" unless the gun is somewhat new (made within the past 20 years) because the higher pressure can damage an older gun. Your thoughts and opinions are appreciated!

By the way -- I'm not going to start her off on that gun, I will definitely let her work her way up to it, and only until she's shot everything I have!
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:43 PM   #2
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you can shoot 38spl in a 357 but you cant shoot 357 in a 38spl
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:50 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AKSpraya View Post
you can shoot 38spl in a 357 but you cant shoot 357 in a 38spl
This. ^^^


Edited to add: You asked about +P .38 ammo. The .357 round is much higher powered than the +P .38s, so shoot the +P stuff without worry.

Last edited by XMM; 05-11-2009 at 03:05 PM.
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:53 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by XMM View Post
This. ^^^
True...
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Old 05-11-2009, 02:57 PM   #5
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I also understand that you should not use .38 special "+P" unless the gun is somewhat new (made within the past 20 years) because the higher pressure can damage an older gun.

You're right - the higher pressure in the compressed loads can do very bad things to a revolver not made for it (and the soft squishy thing holding it). That mostly applies to the older .38 caliber revolvers and revolvers with aluminum frames and cylinders. The pressure developed in a .357 Magnum is about twice that of a .38 +P load, so her .357 should be able to shoot .38 special, .38 spec +P, and .357 just fine.
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:15 PM   #6
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Getting some good info here!

I do appreciate the advice -- now all I gotta do is find some .38 practice ammo somewhere! That will be the REAL test!
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:17 PM   #7
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^Yeah. Good luck findin ammo.
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:29 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by veejay View Post
The pressure developed in a .357 Magnum is about twice that of a .38 +P load, so her .357 should be able to shoot .38 special, .38 spec +P, and .357 just fine.
.38 Special SAAMI Spec is 17,000 PSI

.38 Special +P SAAMI Spec is 18,500 PSI

.357 Magnum SAAMI Spec is 35,000 PSI


If it will contain a .357 mag it will contain a .38 Special +P easily.
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Old 05-11-2009, 03:44 PM   #9
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if you shoot 38s then try to shoot 357s, the space in the chamber area could be gunked up and dirty and now allow the 357s to seat all the way, if that occurs no biggie just clean out the cylinder.
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Old 05-11-2009, 10:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vafish View Post
.38 Special SAAMI Spec is 17,000 PSI

.38 Special +P SAAMI Spec is 18,500 PSI

.357 Magnum SAAMI Spec is 35,000 PSI


If it will contain a .357 mag it will contain a .38 Special +P easily.
Are the SAAMI specs available online? Sorry if it's a silly question, I'm just getting back into shooting after 20 years off.

I tried the SAAMI site but it looks like you need to purchase the specs.

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