9mm vs 38 Special which is more powerful

Discussion in 'XDTalk Chatter Box' started by pcdigiman, May 30, 2009.

  1. pcdigiman

    pcdigiman XDTalk 100 Member

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    Hi, Is a 38 Special more powerful than 9mm?
     
  2. ADA

    ADA XDTalk 3K Member

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    [​IMG]
     
  3. 1852legend

    1852legend XDTalk 1K Member

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    Ive wondered just where the 38 stood also I would think there is allot of powder in that round
     
  4. Doughboy Racing

    Doughboy Racing XDTalk 100 Member

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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
     
  5. scooter123

    scooter123 XDTalk 1K Member

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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.
     
  6. agalindo

    agalindo XDTalk 15K Member Founding Member

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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.
     
  7. scooter123

    scooter123 XDTalk 1K Member

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    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.
     
  8. Cuda66

    Cuda66 XDTalk 10K Member

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    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.
     
  9. SRD

    SRD XDTalk 5K Member

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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 %
     
    Last edited: May 31, 2009
  10. Froggy13

    Froggy13 XDTalk 500 Member

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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.
     
  11. SRD

    SRD XDTalk 5K Member

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    i carry a 38special but a 9mm is better in every way. but i love my jframe it will stay my carry piece.
     
  12. LEVE

    LEVE XDTalk 100 Member

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    IMHO, it either one is good... it's the grouping that counts!
     
  13. FunkyD

    FunkyD XDTalk 1K Member

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    The reason a 38 is a fairly long cartridge is that it was a blackpowder cartridge and was originally filled with the stuff. When smokeless powder came along, it only needed about 1/4~1/3 the original powder volume to produce the same energy.

    Of course, someone got the idea to fill a 38 case to the brim with smokeless powder and thus the 357 was born.

    A 9mm is roughly 2/3 more powerful than the 38, but as stated, either one is a reasonably effective round.
     
  14. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd XDTalk 1K Member

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    You can't make someone or something "more dead" or "more stopped." So yea, a 9mm has more energy, but it doesn't automatically make it better for all uses.
     
  15. TX-Kevin

    TX-Kevin XDTalk 3K Member

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    +1 to the mathematician!!
     

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