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Old 11-12-2004, 08:07 AM   #1
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.38spl vs. 9mm Para

Hello all,

I debated as to whether to put this here, or in Caliber Discussion. I figured you who reload might know a bit more about pressures and such, and therefore am posting here.

Anyway... the question: Why is the .38spl anemic when compared to the 9mm Para? Is it because ammo manufacturers don't want older guns exploding?

I would figure, that with the case capacity allowing a .38spl to be turned into a .38/44 back in the day, heavier loadings, even if not .357mag levels, would be available today.

So my question, I suppose, is this: Why is a short case, such as the 9mm Para, loaded to higher speeds than the .38spl? I realize there's a small (.002") difference in bullet diameter, but I wouldn't think it would make that much difference...

Thanks all,

Josh <><
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Old 11-12-2004, 08:36 AM   #2
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.38spl vs. 9mm Para

I believe a lot of it has to do with America's litigious society. SAAMI is clearly concerned with high pressure loads finding their way into an original S&W Hand Ejector of 1899 or some cheapo knockoff of questionable metallurgy. The 9x19, for the most part, has only been chambered in guns of at least decent quality. Most are top drawer designs manufactured with quality materials. Then there is the issue of many tens of thousands (millions ?) aluminum frame .38's not +P rated.

I've personally handloaded .38's that were fully the equal of commercial .357's in several bullet weights and not had a problem in K-frame or larger guns. The old .38-44 loads of the pre-.357 Magnum era did the same thing. But that was then and this is now, as the saying goes. If the ammo manufacturers sold stuff that hot today, I guarantee there would be lawsuits galore when pinhead shooters used it it an old and/or weaker firearm.
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Old 11-13-2004, 04:47 PM   #3
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.38spl vs. 9mm Para

The .38 special case has plenty of room to pack in enough powder to out run the 9mm. I do it often running high speed loads to make power floor in .38 special cases for IDPA. Thing is I'm shooting these loads in .357 mag. chambered guns. There are a lot of .38's out there that could come apart at the seams if fired with a load at high enough pressure to catch the 9mm. Big advantage to the .38 is that it can handle heavier bullets for deeper penetration.
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Old 11-22-2004, 02:59 PM   #4
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.38spl vs. 9mm Para

The key to the difference is that even the +P+ loads in .38 Spl generate lower peak pressure than the regular 9mm loads.

Will modern revolvers take the abuse...I think so but of course I would never suggest anyone do it on my advice.

Up to now my standard .38 carry loads push 145 Silver Tips to about 1100 and a 158 SWCHP at 1050 from a 2" (actually 1 7/8") J-frame. While I don't carry them 1250 with a 125 JHP is no problem either.

I have shot several hundreds of the latter load through my J-frames without ill effect but again, I have no doubt that it is more stressing on the gun than +P loads and would not list my load for fear someone might change something and get even higher pressure.

As Bill indicates, these are near .357 levels and no doubt they are near .357 pressure.

BTW, when S&W brought out a J-Frame in .357 I bought one and that is what I carry now....I normally load it with .357s. Interestingly enough, my 940 will launch a Win +P+ 127gr 9mm almost as fast as the Remington 125 JHP in .357.... I'd hate to live on the difference.



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