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

Discussion in 'Non-XD Handguns' started by becket, May 11, 2009.

  1. becket

    becket XDTalk 100 Member Founding Member

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    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!;)
     
  2. AKSpraya

    AKSpraya XDTalk 2K Member

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    you can shoot 38spl in a 357 but you cant shoot 357 in a 38spl
     
  3. XMM

    XMM XDTalk 500 Member

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    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: May 11, 2009
  4. ladromar

    ladromar XDTalk 500 Member

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    True...
     
  5. veejay

    veejay XDTalk Newbie

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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.
     
  6. becket

    becket XDTalk 100 Member Founding Member

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    I do appreciate the advice -- now all I gotta do is find some .38 practice ammo somewhere! That will be the REAL test!
     
  7. s&w22aellafrits

    s&w22aellafrits XDTalk 2K Member

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    ^Yeah. Good luck findin ammo.
     
  8. vafish

    vafish XDTalk 1K Member

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    .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.
     
  9. yocan

    yocan XDTalk 10K Member Founding Member

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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.
     
  10. Spike

    Spike XDTalk 500 Member

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    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.

    - Spike
     
  11. scooter123

    scooter123 XDTalk 1K Member

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    You can probably find the SAAMI specs listed on Wikipedia. However, you needn't waste you time, those listed previously are correct.

    BTW, for 38 spl. target ammo you may want to try your local wallyworld. It's not a real popular caliber and last time I was in wallyworld that is about all they had left. Grabbed 4, 100 round boxes of it and regret not taking it all.

    As for the 38 +P ammo, it's actually pretty equivalent to what was once considered standard high velocity ammo for that caliber and almost any quality revolver son't suffer any harm from it's use. However, some recent 38+P has a weak enough crimp on the bullet that when used in a light weight snubby it can cause the bullet to shift forward in the case and cause the cylinder to jam. So, S&W is now recomending that some of their models not be used with 38 +P because of this issue. Other than that, IMO 38 +P is pretty darn tame.

    Finally, standard pressure 38 caliber in a full sized revolver makes for one of the best training combinations that can be found. The recoil is very mild and quite easy to shoot well. However, don't ever make the mistake of stepping a new shooter up to 357 Magnum without a lot of preliminary training for it. The 38 spl. will develop about 200 ft.lbs. in a normal range ammo, the 357 Magnum can produce in excess of 600 ft.lbs. If they show an interest in shooting a 357, step them up gradually with the 9mm, then the 45 ACP, then the 40 S&W, before they light off a 357 Magnum. Otherwise you may be visiting the emergency room to have the hammer spur removed from their forehead.
     
  12. Groo

    Groo XDTalk 10K Member

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    looks like the +p is less than a 10% jump. figuring any gun might see a mildly hot load in its life, I'd say +p is safe.
     
  13. vafish

    vafish XDTalk 1K Member

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    SAAMI doesn't post them on-line, but they are available in several places.

    Here's one:

    Miscellaneous Questions
     
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  14. mme29710

    mme29710 XDTalk 100 Member

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    You could send a note to the MFG. with serial number and ask it will handle +P rounds.
     
  15. Joeywhat

    Joeywhat XDTalk 5K Member

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    If this is a 4"+ bbl medium frame or larger wheel gun, then unless you're using hot 158 grain .357 loads recoil will not be bad at all. Even for a first time shooter (although I'd still start with .38). I've shot small 9mm and even .380 guns that offer MUCH more recoil then a 6" Smith K frame.
     

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