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Posted: 9/10/2003 6:31:51 AM EDT
So, I'm looking at getting a .38 now. But, it seems you can get .357's that will fire .38's. Is this right? Is it all .357's? Is accuracy the same with both?

Educate the nooblar!
Jim
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 6:56:24 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/10/2003 6:57:11 AM EDT by 9supercomp]
JimTh
All 357 mags can fire 38. The only difference in the rounds is the 357 is a bit longer than the 38 besides the power. Most 38's have a shorter cylinder so you can't load 357's and close it. I work in a shop and recommend people get 357's even if they intend to only shoot 38's out of it. This way they can shoot the 38+P's without any worry about a kaboom.
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 7:19:48 AM EDT
So the only downsides to getting a .357 instead of a .38 would be size, weight and price? Slightly longer gun, slightly heavier gun, slightly more expensive gun?

Jim
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 7:39:57 AM EDT
Hi JimTh,
Everything 9supercomp said is true, but I could add a couple of thoughts. It is unfortunate that S&W has dropped many of their dedicated .38 Spl.s from their product line because the .38 Spl. is a classic cartridge with some merits of it's own that have become lost in the rush for ever more horsepower. Shooting .38's in a .357 can create some (minor, but annoying) problems when it comes time to clean the gun because the shorter .38 case leaves a ring of carbon build up just ahead of the case inside of the cylinder. This can be difficult to get out and can even interfere with chambering the longer .357 case. For this reason, when I shoot my model 686, I always start with .357s and then when I'm done with them switch over to my .38s.
Additionally, because of the longer "bullet jump" from the cylinder into the forcing cone required for the .38 bullet, there is a slight sacrifice in accuracy when shooting .38s in a .357 Mag. gun. The casual shooter will never notice this, but it does exist.
The .357 Magnum is also prone to "Magnumitis". The .357 Mag. cartridge operates at very high pressures for a handgun (over 35,000psi for hot loads). This can and does translate into higher maintanence costs if you shoot your gun a lot. After approx. 1,200 rounds of full power .357 loads my 686 was ready for a trip back to Smith to have the forcing cone refinished and the barrel set back. There is also visible flame cutting at the top strap. The .38 Special cartridge is MUCH kinder to the gun.
Just some thoughts. Good luck with your choice.
Coolio
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 7:43:23 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/10/2003 7:44:37 AM EDT by KeithC]
What 9supercomp said, including the Magnum recommendation. It's nice to have options. Honestly, I didn't know that there *was* much of a price difference anymore and the size difference should be fairly marginal - a little beef in frame and a very slight lengthening of the cylinder.

A word of caution, though. Consistently shooting .38s through a .357 will foul up the cylinders with a lot of carbonized gunk. If you don't scrub it religiously, you'll shortly have a hell of a time trying get to full-length Mag rounds to chamber. I solved my problem by loading .357 cases with charges to match my .38 +P factory loads. Same performance, cheap practice, no chamber gunk.

(Edited to add: And Coolio wins with a 4-second lead!)
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 7:52:20 AM EDT
Thanks guys for helping.
Not thinking to well today.
One note on cleaning the cylinder.
I tried a new product called Slip2000.
They have one to clean comps and gas parts.
It comes in a pint mason jar (large mouth) with 2 choke tube hooks.
You can remove the cylinder and place it in the jar. Let it in there while you clean the rest of the firearm and them take it out to finish cleaning. The residue comes off easier than with any other product I've tried.
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 8:49:06 AM EDT
Aahhh, now that's good info that I will weigh when I make my decision. I just did some looking and it seems that >>typical<< price for a .357 S&W is $450-500, while .38 is in the $350-400 range. So, the price difference is fairly substantial. Prices taken from GunsAmerica btw.
From what I saw, the steel .357 weighs twice as much as the scandium/titanium (~22oz vs. ~10oz). Would that make a big enough difference in recoil to make it tolerable?

Thanks,
Jim
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 10:06:22 AM EDT
Hi JimTh,
Good news and bad news.
The Titanium/Scandium revolvers are truly marvels of engineering. That's the good news.
They're absolutely hideous to shoot. That's the bad news.
Yes, weight is HUGE in handguns. I rented a S&W 342 one day. Put 10 shots trough it and watched a black and blue bruise appear in the web of my right hand. Put two more shots through it and decided to call it a day. This gun is chambered for .38 Special. Trust me, you don't even want to think about a 20 oz. .357 Magnum revolver for your first handgun. The central problem is this. These light weight revolvers are designed for concealed carry, and to be used in a dire emergency. The problem being that handguns require constant practice if you expect to be able to use one for anything. And I can guarantee you that you will hate practicing with these light weights to the point where you simply will not do it.
Shooting handguns is fun, dude. Don't ruin it.
Coolio
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 11:30:14 AM EDT
Coolio,
You pretty much described my experience with a titanium .357. I shot the thing twice and didn't want to handle it again. The owner says "what the hell do I need to practice for? if I ever shoot someone I'll be a foot away from them". As far as I know, he's shot it three times, that's it.
I've shot an airweight .38 special, it wasn't bad at all. But, if the heavier (airweight I guess) .357 isn't going to be any better than the titanium, I'm not going to spend the bucks to get a .357, I'll never shoot .357 in it.
Thanks for the input,
Jim
Link Posted: 9/10/2003 3:49:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By JimTh:
So, I'm looking at getting a .38 now. But, it seems you can get .357's that will fire .38's. Is this right? Is it all .357's? Is accuracy the same with both?

Educate the nooblar!
Jim



While you can shoot 38spl from any 357mag, there are many of us that find those revolvers designed for 38spl to be more accurate and pleasant to shoot than shooting 38 from our 357s. Two guns immediately spring to mind, the Smith K-38 and the Colt Army Special. They just plain shoot better and more accurately than any other revolvers or semi-automatics that I own.

If you can find one of the older Smith K-38s, jump on it. No finer revolver has ever been made.
Link Posted: 9/11/2003 5:39:52 PM EDT
I have to agree with the Scandium .357 problem. Talking one day with a guy at the range about summertime carry guns, he proudly displayed his hammerless scandium .357mag .

I immediately thought recoil! looking at the 1 7/8" bbl. He let me give it a go and I could't hit much of anything and my wrist suffered. I suppose it could serve an up and close carry purpose, but for shooting enjoyment it's a no go a far as I'm concerned.

On the other hand, if you are set on a .38, I find a 2"bbl a very managable recoil. Throw on another inch or two and accuracy is good to go.
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