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CAMCHAMPION1988 10-10-2011 03:28 AM

.38special is more powerful than 9MM right?
I was reading a thread a while back how someone said a 9MM is more powerful than a .38special round is that true? The case length on a .38sp is 29.3mm which means more powder in the shell than the 9MM shell Case Length which is 19.15mm. The .38special shell holds more powder whether they are both FMJ or HP rounds and the weight/gr of the two i you got to factor those in.

I usually shoot .38sp out of my S&W .357magnum and 9MM out of my Glock 17 or other 9MM'S I feel a difference between the two.

I thought the .38sp was a more powerful round than the 9MM???
I always factor in who has more Powder backing them the diameter is almost the same.


Scratchammo 10-10-2011 03:57 AM

A 9mm fires at 35,000 psi while a .38 only fires at 20,000 psi.

BillM 10-10-2011 04:17 AM

In terms of stopping power, 9mm wins:

Handgun Cartridge Power Chart - Condensed Version

I shoot USPSA, and we use "Power factor" to determine relative
power. Not totally scientific, but it's a way to somewhat compare.

FPSx bullet weight in grains, divided by 1000. So a 125 gr bullet at
1000fps= 125 PF.

Again, the 9mm--in factory loads---wins.

Lindenwood 10-10-2011 04:45 AM

Yeah, 9mm in factory loads definitely wins. Though, some crazy guy named Keith kept filling the .38sp with more and more powder and eventually called it the .357 Magnum :P . But yeah, for it to still be anything close to .38sp standard specs it won't outdo a 9mm loaded similarly.

Hell, Buffalo Bore puts out a 147gr 9mm load that does 1150+fps, and actually makes Major class, heh.

armsmaster270 10-10-2011 04:48 AM

Case size has nothing to do with it a target load of bullseye powder is not deep when it covers the bottom of the shellcase. Due to modern powders some of them don't fill the case like the older powders Hence the .45 GAP which glock came out with to replace the .45ACP. How is that working for you Gaston Glock.

Soliferrum 10-10-2011 03:11 PM

yea im not following this, please go into further depth. to me, and its not opinion its just something by my reasoning, the .38 special would hurt more. but i guess that varies between raw power, and stopping power. because penetration does not equal stopping power.

oh and whats wrong with the GAP? seriously, the more im here the more i find people with inside knowledge im trying to compile a book of.

c3shooter 10-10-2011 04:24 PM

The .38 Special was originally a black powder cartridge. It is fired from a revolver, and you lose some energy from the cylinder gap. There is a smidgen difference in bullet diameter between 9mm Parabellum and .38 Special (.356 and .357) but the 9 has more velocity.

.45 GAP? Nothing wrong with it- it is just an answer in search of a question. BTW, in the 1930s, Remington loaded a special 45 ACP round for the Thompson. Same cartridge case, longer bullet to keep it out of pistols. Rated at 1050 ft lbs, penetration 5 inches of white pine at 500 yards.

It ain't the vloume of the cartridge case, it is what you put in it, and what you put it in.

g17frantz 10-10-2011 08:05 PM


Originally Posted by Lindenwood

Hell, Buffalo Bore puts out a 147gr 9mm load that does 1150+fps, and actually makes Major class, heh.

That's my carry round in my g17. Its a wicked round for sure. 1175 fps and muzzle energy of 451 ft. Lbs. Shot a honeydew with one....devastating. The nose of the bullet is sick looking.

EagleSix 10-10-2011 09:37 PM


Originally Posted by c3shooter (Post 598137)
The .38 Special was originally a black powder cartridge. ~~

In case you missed the point c3 was making, let me follow-up on this. Fast burning black powder takes up more volume than a comparison of fast burning modern smokeless powder such as BullsEye. 38 Special, being originally designed for black powder needed the entire case for the powder charge intended to achieve a certain bullet velocity and that black powder charge created a certain amount of chamber pressure. When black powder was replaced with smokeless powders, the charge volume was greatly reduced to keep the chamber pressure safe for all those 38 Special guns designed for the relatively low chamber pressures of the 38 Special. That is in part why there is lots of room (volume) left over in the 38 Special case when you use a modern fast burning smokeless pistol powder. Load some up with black powder and you will need all the case space you can get! I don't know if you needed all this, but hopefully it helps....

Some folks think the 38 Special in some loads (velocity and bullet weight and design), make for better defense than some 9mm's, that they may be correct. I would think there are some better bullet weight, design, velocity combination available in 9mm that will out perform almost all the 38 Special loads available, but more than the loadings is the type gun each caliber is usually fired from which may be more desirable for a defense/offense handgun......the ole argument.....Pistol -vs- Revolver!!!


orangello 10-10-2011 10:03 PM

Shake a .38 special cartridge lengthwise.

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