.357 or .38 special for central defense - which is better? (ANSWERED) (2023)

.357 or .38 special for central defense - which is better? (ANSWERED) (1)

Photoby Sean /CC POR

AndWhen choosing your home defense weapon, the first thing to think about is what caliber of ammunition you want to use. There are multiple firearm options, so how do you decide? Popular options include .357 Magnums and .38 Specials, which interestingly can be fired from the same weapon in many cases. So what is the difference? And which is better for home defense?

The main difference between .357 and .38 Specials is case size (you can fit more propellant in .357), which directly correlates to velocity and recoil. These two variables determine the largest differences between the two rounds. And the cost, although that only matters for your pocket and not when someone is going to stick a knife in your stomach!

Speed ​​first. Between the .357 and .38 Specials, the .38 Specials have a lower velocity (this oversimplifies things, but generally 800 fps on .38 Specials and 1200+ fps on .357 Magnums). Now you are probably thinking: “Don't I want a higher speed? That's more stopping power!”

Normally you would be right. But consider the practicality of a faster turn at close range. Yes, we all want to stop an intruder in this scenario. However, when using higher velocity ammunition, there is an inherent risk that if it misses or if the bullet is powerful enough to penetrate the place it was fired at, it will do more damage than it was intended to. The .38 Special is powerful enough to stop an intruder, and the .357 is more likely to cause excessive, unintended damage.

There's also the added issue of ammunition, which on the surface favors the .357. Because .38 Specials are relatively slow rounds, .38 hollow point self-defense rounds often do not expand when fired from short barrels. That's why countless professional firearms instructors like Darryl Bolke prefer the humble 148-grain .38 wadcutter special in their CCW 2-inch revolvers: they know that any high-tech hollow point is dead when it comes to the expansion department, for so they decide to opt for penetration. instead.

Clear Impact Gun: 38 Special Wadcutter

However, the .357 Magnum does not have this problem. If you hit someone in the middle with a .357 Magnum, your hollow point will expand and the culprit will likely go down. The supersonic speed of the .357 almost guarantees expansion in hollow points. However, this speed has a drawback. . .

We should consider the recoil of a firearm in the same way as velocity. Every force creates an equal and opposite force, and bullets are no exception. So in the case of a .357, your increased velocity comes from a much larger explosion (go to the range and fire both and you'll see), resulting in more recoil on the person firing the gun (there's a brief physics lesson you probably didn't expect) and a bright fireball that could temporarily blind you. The bang, for lack of a better word, will be much louder (in fact, .357s will cause permanent hearing damage if fired indoors without hearing protection).

That being said, no matter how skilled you are as a marksman, recoil when firing a cartridge will have some impact on your aim. Anyone with experience shooting pistols can attest to how much more difficult it is to maintain accuracy with a pistol compared to a rifle, even in calm conditions, and more recoil from more powerful ammunition than necessary doesn't help (remember to remember modesty again .38 watt cutter). This is especially relevant if you are a smaller or less physically strong person (or have members of your household who fit into these categories who may also need to use the firearm) - recoil is definitely something to consider.

The final consideration is ammo availability. This is another case where we see a noticeable difference between .357 and .38 Specials. In general, .38 Specials are much cheaper and easier to get than .357s, and pistols that use .38 Specials tend to be cheaper as well, other things being equal (for example, the price of a .38 ruger specialLCRagainst a .357 Magnum Ruger LCR).

If you only want to use that particular pistol and ammo combination for home defense, it may not affect you as much as if you were also shooting that pistol for recreation, where it will burn up a lot more ammo quickly (but if you use a weapon for self defense, best to practice with it!). Still, ammunition price and availability are issues to consider, especially when the country experiences occasional ammunition shortages. . . like right now!

Of course, it's always a good idea to keep a box of spare ammunition in a safe place, especially if you have a preference for the brand or type of bullet used. But just in case, .38 Specials are easier to acquire and, in many cases, much cheaper. They also have more variety, like the special .38 Wadcutters that many people (including me) are in love with (no expansion at all, but boy do they penetrate - and with such slight recoil).

However, at the end of the day, remember that both .38 Specials and .357 are high performance bullets and require a bit more caution when used indoors. While the use of .38 Specials versus .357s reduces the risk of additional property damage, it does not eliminate it. The .38 Special is still a pretty powerful cartridge with great stopping power (did anyone see the autopsy report on Lee Harvey Oswald when Jack Ruby shot him? He used the older, old-school cartridge: a .38 Special 158 - Korn Roundnose - and destroyed half of Oswald's organs). This force, of course, will exceed the stopping power of your drywall.

Just be careful and understand what you're working with before you have to shoot in a high-pressure environment. Take the .38 Special to the shooting range and get used to how it feels to shoot one and see how your target looks after you've fired a few rounds. If you are new to .38 Specials, this will be a great help in understanding the tool you are working with. Hop off the .357 for a hike and a chance to encounter a grizzly bear.

Finally, if you're still not sure which gauge to use, consider buying one.Firearmwhich can fire both rounds. .357 caliber revolvers are great for desert firearms just after sundown - shooting .357 magnums is like using a hand cannon, then you can fill your revolver's barrel with .38 specials for defense local. It's easy to have the best of both worlds when you're looking for a ranged and home defense all-in-one firearm or, as mentioned, a great gun.backpackerWeapon when you're in the woods and you run into bigger problems than a two-legged villain.

Ballistic Gel Test Results: .38 Spl and .357 Mag

  • .357 or .38 special for central defense - which is better? (ANSWERED) (2)

    Erica Lien

    Erica Lien grew up shooting soda cans with a BB gun and turned to more serious firearms as a teenager. She has since been a member ofANRand became something of an expert in weapons. She is proud to say that she has fired over 100 different types of firearms in her life, from classic black powder to AR-15, and she is well versed in self defense. She balances her love of guns with hiking, writing, and traveling. You can follow her adventures on her Instagram at@despierto__unangst.

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  • .357 or .38 special for central defense - which is better? (ANSWERED) (3)

    boyd smith

    owner ofrecargaraddict.com, Boyd Smith is a huge firearms enthusiast and although he owns Glocks, he prefers rotary wheel ones. His favorite weapons are Smith & Wesson.642Performance Center to use and a Ruger GP100 in the nightstand biometric safe (has kids). He loads both revolvers with the old-school 148-grain Federal Gold Medal .38 Wadcutter. It's okay if you think he's a coward.email to him.

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