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9mm vs 38 Special which is more powerful

This is a discussion on 9mm vs 38 Special which is more powerful within the XDTalk Chatter Box forums, part of the XD Talk category; Hi, Is a 38 Special more powerful than 9mm?...

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Old 05-30-2009, 09:59 PM   #1
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9mm vs 38 Special which is more powerful

Hi, Is a 38 Special more powerful than 9mm?
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:17 PM   #2
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:17 PM   #3
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Ive wondered just where the 38 stood also I would think there is allot of powder in that round
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:26 PM   #4
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9mm has more powerful offerings, you can get 38+P ammo that is close. As far as powder its not just the amount a round holds there are powder types that burn quicker and some that burn at a slower rate. Lots of variables when comparing the 2
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:34 PM   #5
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Nope, 9mm has quite a bit more power. Depending on the load, it can range between 300 and 330 ft. lbs. at the muzzle. The standard 38 spl. loaded with a 130 grain bullet comes in at 200 ft.lbs. and the 38 spl. +P only yields about 248 ft.lbs.. Note, all of these specifications come from factory loads using a 4 inch barrel, a short barreled snubbie shooting 38 spl. will a good bit weaker.

BTW, the 357 Magnum can range from 550 to 700 ft.lbs. Depending on the load and the barrel length it's shot out of. Fired from a 6 inch barrel, the 357 Magnum can make the 45 ACP seem weak.

Sounds like your trying to decide on a new handgun. If it's for carry, I would recomend the 9mm, the +P version of the 9mm is a real burner, however the +P can be quite snappy.

If you looking for a range, or house gun, get a 357 Magnum revolver in a 4 or 6 inch barrel. Loaded with the Magnums they are about the most powerful handgun round that can be shot fairly well by most shooters. Loaded with 38 spl. they are the finest training gun you can find, recoil is quite mild in a heavy frame and learning how to master a heavy DA trigger really improves trigger control and accuracy. In addition, wheel guns give you a break from having hot cases bouncing off your head and chasing brass.
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Old 05-30-2009, 10:50 PM   #6
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Power and foot pounds don'e meain anything. As long as the bulllet penetrates at least 12" and expands the foot pounds have no meaning. The more expansion and penetration the better.
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Old 05-31-2009, 06:59 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by agalindo View Post
Power and foot pounds don'e meain anything. As long as the bulllet penetrates at least 12" and expands the foot pounds have no meaning. The more expansion and penetration the better.
It takes velocity to provide expansion and mass to provide penetration. Muzzle energy is a simple calculation using the formula 1/2 X (Mass X Velocity squared) so it's a perfectly valid standard to use.

The 38 spl. is lacking in power to provide both mass and velocity. IMO you need a minimum of 950 fps for reliable expansion and at least 130 grains for penetration and the 38 won't hit that level of energy unless it's out of a 6 inch or longer barrel. However, if you put 2 or 3 into the head or heart, the 38 spl. will do the job even if your shooting hardball out of a short barreled BUG. As much as I enjoy shooting 38's at the range, it's not a caliber that I would choose for primary self defense, for that 9mm +P is vastly superior.
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scooter123 View Post
It takes velocity to provide expansion and mass to provide penetration. Muzzle energy is a simple calculation using the formula 1/2 X (Mass X Velocity squared) so it's a perfectly valid standard to use.

The 38 spl. is lacking in power to provide both mass and velocity. IMO you need a minimum of 950 fps for reliable expansion and at least 130 grains for penetration and the 38 won't hit that level of energy unless it's out of a 6 inch or longer barrel. However, if you put 2 or 3 into the head or heart, the 38 spl. will do the job even if your shooting hardball out of a short barreled BUG. As much as I enjoy shooting 38's at the range, it's not a caliber that I would choose for primary self defense, for that 9mm +P is vastly superior.
One upon a time, yes--you needed the higher velocities to get reliable expansion.

With modern bullet designs, not so much. They are engineered to open up at lower velocities.
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:25 AM   #9
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Double tape ammo
115gr @ 1415fps / 511ft. lbs
over double power of 38special

yes i know number dont mean everything. but 9mm is a fast good penetrating round.
as far as what i have read 9mm has like a 93% one round stopping ability 38 special has like 65 %
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Old 05-31-2009, 07:33 AM   #10
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All I know is the my .38 holds 5 rounds, my 9mm 15. so right out of the gate I figure about 3 times better.
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