When I had a J-frame .357 (the 60-15), I carried 130-gr Personal Defense Hydra-Shock .357s in it. They didn't kick much and they were low flash, but gave good velocity (not extreme, but good). But, I also felt fine carrying 158-gr LSWCHP .38 +Ps in it, too. (I carried the .38s in speedloaders, because I'd generally carry another J-frame, a .38, alongside the .357.)
Now NM has changed its carry laws (disallowing second guns), and I've sold off the .357. I carry .357s in my short-barreled (3") 65-5 (145-gr STHPs, the slight increase in recoil is mitigated by the heavier K-frame gun and the more generous gripframe), but .38s in the two J-frames I have left.
I find the .357 too much of a good thing in the small guns, with the posible exception of a mid-range load such as the Remington GS in one of the heavier Rugers. The magnums are no fun to practice with in the Smiths, and I feel better about shot placement and follow up with the +P 38 special. The +P 158 grain LHPs are bad enough in the lightweight J frames.
I'll take .38 specials in J-frames and .357 magnums in K-frames in spite of the fact that S&W makes .357 S/S J-frames. I don't think you can wring out the potential of the .357 load in a short 2" barrel J-frame and lose too much in the controlled shooting department.
I like +P's in mine. In the bedroom I like Snake Shot. If they get that far I will put one in their crotch and one in their face. Then the Cops can pick up what is left of them and they can live in prison without a face and parts. I do not like home invaders and think it should be a highly dangerous business with very great risks. If there were more people like me, they would learn another trade.
I tried .357 in a short barreled J frame on a rental gun and really didn't like it. At all.
While I have no doubt it is the better tool, my ability to do anything with it in a small gun is nil. Then again I do not shoot small guns very well. I much prefer full sized.
The K frame is big enough that with a 3" or longer barrel I could handle the .357 just fine. I've a Rossi 971 I've shot hundreds upon hundreds if not thousands of rounds of .357 Magnum out of. It's a K frame clone with a 4" bbl and it handles it just fine.
I find I need more gun to use the more effective cartridge personally.
The two wheelguns I carry would be a BUG, which is now my recently acquired Colt DS, and sometimes on a whim I CCW my GP100, which I want to try the Corbon DPX 125 grain load in.
I'm not saying a .357 mag snubnose is a bad idea or a waste of time. Heck, if I lived in bear country I'd probably invest in one.
On the street, for CCW, I carry a M-36 with 125 gr. JHP +P .38 spl. I do not feel the need for more power in a small gun. (It raps my shooting hand pretty good ! : ) I even carry this load in my M-67, that I use for woods carry, for walking (hiking) in my area's mountains.
I only shoot .357 in my M-66 2 1/2", once in a while. I want to keep it, and a M-10 2" in great condition, so they stay in the safe....mostly!!! : I really don't need alot of power, and prefer shooting .357 mag/ in a K frame. Bob
I did not vote simply because, beleive it or not, I have not made up my mind...and if I did something would change it tomorrow :-[
Right now I carry Federal 130 HS or Federal 140 classic in my 2" 640 (but I will stick in 125s if that is all I have).
That does not mean I think the .38 +P is not worth having and I am not adverse at all to sticking an M37 loaded with .38s in my pocket.
Recent back yard testing showed the new Speer 135 to be pretty comparable to a 3" M-13 loaded with 125 gr. Remington Magnums. I would certainly consider carry that or the Cor-Bon DPX +P .38. The new .357 DPX looks to be a short barreled load so I would like to try those too.
This is one place for sure that each person has to choose his own salvation by fireing his gun with the vairious loads to see what suits him.
J-frames are one reason that the "5-5-5 Drill" is not the "5-6-5 Drill"