.38/.357 Mag for self-defense

Discussion in 'Revolver Handguns' started by Fritzderkat, Feb 25, 2011.

  1. Fritzderkat

    Fritzderkat New Member

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    Fresh to the forum, I have an old question (likely for many of you) regarding which load is preferable for self-defense for a S&W Model 60, 3-inch barrel, chambered in .38/.357 Mag. I've owned this revolver for several years, previously owned a Ruger SP-101, and am well practiced if not hugely proficient when at the range and firing at distances from 7, 15 and 20 feet to 25 yards. I've fired all available calibers and can manage the .357's adequately; that is, until repeated firing starts notching a bloodied notch in the web between my thumb and index finger on the right hand. This has led me to wearing a weight-lifter's-style glove, which effectively takes care of that. My main question, however: What do most of your prefer as a common self-defense load? I understand that if out in the wilds, the .357 may be preferable, but in suburban and urban areas, might most of you favor the .38+P? To me, the advantages in recoil and follow-up shots is obvious; I'm wondering if the stopping power I would sacrifice is sufficient enough to make me lean more toward the .357. I appreciate your opinions and responses. Thanks.

    Fritzderkat
     
  2. gadrooning

    gadrooning New Member

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    This of course is a personal choice. But for me I am comfortable carrying a 38 +p revolver. I personally carry an S&W airweight during the summer. In the winter I will carry a 45 because of the extra layers of clothing. I feel the 38 might be a little under powered going through a thick jacket, sweater, and shirt, well coming from a snubby anyways. If I was carrying a model 60, I think I would opt for the lighter grain hollow point 357 mag over any 38+p.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011

  3. stalkingbear

    stalkingbear Well-Known Member

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    If I was in your shoes I'd check out a good 110-125 gr .357 load, use it for defense, and practice with .38s.
     
  4. BlackWidow

    BlackWidow New Member

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    In a real situation, a hot .357 round wouldn't beat up your hand too badly, but you need to think about how it might affect your accuracy or ability to deliver quick follow-up shots.

    If you can control the gun better using .38 +P, then that's what I'd use.
     
  5. orangello

    orangello New Member

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    Have you considered some of those squishy rubber grips to help on the recoil?

    I only really use my revolver for target shooting, but it sits with some Blazer .357 JHP's in the safe at home.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  6. oldcoptn46

    oldcoptn46 Member Supporter

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    I carry a S&W Model 65-3 (round butt, 3in.) sometimes, I keep Hornady Critical Defense 357 MAG 125gr in it. I guess the +P would be okay but I think the 357s will stop the fight quicker.
     
  7. blitzen25cat

    blitzen25cat New Member

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    The 38+p with 125 gr.jhp should be sufficient for self defense as shot placement is key. I practice with and carry a Colt Detective special with Pachmayer grips and feel confident if a problem should arise. Just practice and stay proficient. What ever works best.
     
  8. HKSlinger

    HKSlinger Member

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    All I can do is speak for myself when I say, I have a .357mag. because I feel comfortable with the ability's of the cartridge. Being able to run .38spl. through it is incidental. I wouldn't feel as well armed among the wolves with a .38 as I would with the mag..
     
  9. freefall

    freefall New Member

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    I like a 110 gr HP in my SP101. It shoots to point of aim, the 125s shoot a little high. In .357. I like the chamber to be full of cartridge case.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2011
  10. Fritzderkat

    Fritzderkat New Member

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    Thanks for the input. The diversity of opinion is about what I expected. Keep 'em coming, if you like.

    I've found Rem Golden Sabers in .357 and .38-P (125 grain hollow points) both to be accurate at the distances I've been shooting.
     
  11. wmille01

    wmille01 New Member

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    I have a .357 mag taurus model 66 but I shoot .38 specials out out of it. No problem, when I carry it depends out in the woods I load it with .357 mag HP but in the city or driving it's .38 spec.
     
  12. Posit

    Posit New Member

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    I have the same pistol (model 60-15); appreciate your issue. I put pachmyr grips on, makes the recoil a lot less destructive to my hands; they're also a little larger, provide a better grip and distributes the recoil better. I usually practice with .38s, but load 110g or 125g .357s if I think I might need it in a self defense situation. I never load with anything heavier than 140g - then only if I'm hog hunting.
     
  13. Thebiker

    Thebiker New Member

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    I carry Remington Golden Sabers 125gr as my defensive rounds in my SP101. I have found them to be accurate at the range and I don't worry about seasonal clothing layering with them in the wheel.
     
  14. SACamp

    SACamp New Member

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    Hello. In a more petite revolver such as yours, perhaps one of the mid-range .357 loads would fill the bill as it would offer more "power" than the .38 Special but being somewhat attenuated compared to a full-throtal magnum.

    Just a suggestion for your consideration...

    If interested, this link might be of some use:

    Can Less be More

    If you opt for a .38 Special load, here are some observations for you to do with as you see fit:

    38 Special Ammo Tests

    (Note: The DPX load in this article was of early manufacture and standard pressure. Its velocity vs. bullet length was such that the bullet didn't always stabilize from a 1 7/8" snub barrel. It always worked fine from 3" barrels in my experiences with it. Today's DPX is +P and faster and seems to work fine in all barrel lengths.)

    .38 Special LSWCHP +P

    Best to you and yours.
     
  15. Fritzderkat

    Fritzderkat New Member

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    To SACamp:

    Magnificent. A wealth of pertinent information. Much obliged.

    BTW, my choice of a "petite" revolver has much to do with my size--5-8 and 160 pounds--as anything else. Were I to want a 686 with a six-inch barrel (which I would), I'm a little short on one end to be lugging it around in a shoulder rig. And as for concealability, that sucker would be hanging down below the edge of my riding vest.

    :)
     
  16. SACamp

    SACamp New Member

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    Hello. Yes, I believe that while we are all alike, we are also uniquely individual and need to do what works best for us.

    Glad that the articles were of interest.

    Best.
     
  17. Overkill0084

    Overkill0084 Active Member

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    Some things to consider:
    With full power .357 loads the muzzle/cylinder gap flash will be...exciting, from a short barrel. It was pretty entertaining from my 8" Colt the other day w/ Winchester 110gr Personal Protection loads. If you're good with it, fine.
    Everyone will be deaf as well. .357s are notorious for their distinctive high frequency blast.
    Between the flash & the noise, follow up shots may not be as fast as with a less intense load.

    I don't have a dog in this fight though. My snubbie is a .38 special only. FWIW, I don't feel defenseless.
     
  18. Thebiker

    Thebiker New Member

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    I'll grant that a full power magnum load can be exciting, but primarily only at the range. If (God forbid) you have to use it on a BG, your adrenaline is already pumping and that properly placed first round can be a heck of a conversation ender. With my Gold Sabres I don't care if the BG is wearing a leather jacket. But then, I will go for overkill rather than underkill every time. The sooner a problem is eliminated, the better for honest citizen. JMHO.
     
  19. Fritzderkat

    Fritzderkat New Member

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    BTW, I just received a DeSantis holster I bought through the Smith & Wesson store, made specifically for the Model 60, three-inch barrel. Very nice. I had a good one for several years but managed to lose it last summer, went for an Uncle Mike's in the interim but didn't like it much--fabric and plastic, didn't want to hug the belt or hip the way I prefer.
     
  20. pioneer461

    pioneer461 New Member

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    If you should ever need to shoot in self defense, you will receive a massive adrenalin dump, which has amazing effects on the human body. You will neither hear the shot, nor feel the recoil. In most cases, it will be over before you fully realize what is going on. Practice with .38 spl, but for defense, load the hard stuff.