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Hello.

Consider a mid-size .357 magnum revolver. It doesn't necessarily have to be a snub, but let's keep the barrel between 2 and 4", typical of a revolver carried for self-protection.


The 2 1/2" Model 19 might be a choice...


...as might the 4" version, or a 3" M65 or M13. You get the idea: No J-frame or small "pocket" magnums but nothing quite the size of an S&W L-frame or Ruger GP-100.

In the mid-size revolver, the full-house .357 can be used in a number of weights and velocities. The trade off for the extra power is recoil management for subsequent shots.

What do you think? Is the .357's potency worth mastering in rapid fire or is a person better off using hot .38's as they have reasonable potency and are easier to control?

In the larger guns, the magnums get considerably easier to handle; in the small, just the opposite. This is why the mid-size revolver was chosen.

The question can be argued either way to be sure and it goes without saying that if a person cannot handle the magnum, they're better off than with the .38, but assuming that an individual is willing to practice if necessary to handle the magnum, which of the given options do you see as best?

Thanks in advance for your thought and responses.

Best.
 

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Steve and all,

I rarely carry a revolver for self-defense. When I do it's a slicked up M-19 2 1/2". It handles well and shooting full house 125 grainers is no problem. That said, I could be very happy with a .38 Spec. 158 gr. LSWCHP +P.
Shoot what your shoot best...
Wes
 

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Am preferring the mid range 357 loads, as they are also used for a M60 3 in. Muzzle blast, concussion and recoil recovery play a big part in choice. Am saving the full bore loads for N-frame or M586 with the 6 in barrel.
 

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I sometimes carry a 2 1/2" M66-1, and on those occasions I load it with Remington 125-grain JHP magnums. I can't see the point of loading backwards from what the gun is capable of. If I'm planning to carry +P .38s, I have several guns that will handle it, but they aren't magnums.
 

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Hi Steve,

I find a middle-of-the-road .357 load such as the Remington Golden Sabre to be more reasonable if the weapon is likely to be fired indoors by me (or fired by the wife anywhere). The full house 125 grainers are just a bit too much for me if I need good control and rapid follow-up, especially without hearing protection or in the dark.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hello and thank you all for your answers. My own choice is to practice with the K-frame and magnums until they can be handled effectively. I do not use 125-gr. JHP's anymore since S&W is no longer producing blued M19 barrels. Right now my Model 19 is loaded with factory Winchester 145-gr. STHP.

Best.
 

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My SP 101 is loaded with either the FBI load (most of the time) or the Remington GS 125 gr rd in .357. I simply think controllability is better in a small/mid-size .357 ( at least it is for me
) with hot 38's or medium power .357's. Actually I personally lean heavily toward the FBI load - for a civilian self-defense situation it should be all you need.

But when I carry my 686+ - its loaded with the Winchester .357 145 gr Silver Tip load. Thats quite an accurate and controllable load in an L frame Smith like the 686. Its stout, but not unpleasant to practice with.
 

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Actually I personally lean heavily toward the FBI load - for a civilian self-defense situation it should be all you need.
I'm not sure I understand this statement. Is there some difference in the purpose of the ammunition when used by a civilian, or are civilians just likely to shoot a different species of perpetrator?


Also, by FBI load, are you referring to the 158 LSWCHP +P or to something else?
 
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I have no problem with full house 125-gr .357 in any K-frame or larger revolver, but don't even like .38 spl +P in steel J-frames.
 

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CorBon 125 gr. in a 2 1/2" M19. It started life in the 70's as a 4" but had a split forcing cone and had to replace the barrel. Standard grip panels from a M10 and a T-grip filler. Conceals easily in an El Paso Saddlery holster. Its accurate and easy to control with loads designed to stop BAD behavior RIGHT NOW.
 

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Once again I did not vote because I might change my mind depending on which mid sized revolver;

To my mind (and no argument if you don't agree), this would include S&W K, S&W L, Colt I (Python/Trooper) and Rugers - both GP100 and Security Six.

In the K-frames and the Security Six it would be a tough decision. Probably the .38+P or the PMC 150gr .357 JHP which is not really all that hot and acts like a +P+ .38.

In the L frames, GP100 and Python I would be pretty comfortable with the magnums (145 in my case but I certainly don't scoff at the 125). The only drawback there might be flash and blast, I can handle the recoil of the factory stuff.

Onward,
Jim
 

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Leland, I meant by "civilian" self-defense scenario's in which its an attempted mugging/convenience store robbery you blunder into with 1-2 opponents. The SP 101 isn't a primary gun I would carry into the storming of a crack house. Or if involved in a full scale shoot-out with multiple opponents through barriers like car doors etc like LEO's are more likely to encounter.

But for frontal confrontations at 3-7 yds if you had to shoot (and my understanding is that such confrontations are 99% resolved by just the display that you are armed and determined) then a frontal shot with the FBI / Treasury load has as much chance of disabling your opponents as any other round providing you do your part.

Nod, but yes the "FBI" round I refer to is the 158 gr .38 spl LWCHP +P type. Its a good round - I find it accurate in my SP 101 (and indeed my 686+), recoil is not too bad and would allow for reasonably accurate follow-ups.
 
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A concealed handgun must first be comforting, then comfortable. Where recoil is concerned, you should be looking for the maximum amount of power you can effectively bring to a fight. Obviously this can be taken too far as a .44 magnum is a poor choice for a fighting arm due to excessive penetration. So, if you can effectively handle full house .357's, then they're fine. The .357 is a powerful handgun cartridge, few would argue, but along with that "fight stopping" power come some liabilities. Recoil, noise and a HUGE muzzle flash. Set one off and everyone in the near vicinity is deaf and blind. The .38 Special "FBI" (158gr SWCHP) may be a better load when everything is considered.

GunGeek
 

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Gungeek brings up a good point in repeating Clint Smith's dictum that a defesne handgun should be comforting not comfortable.

I am of two minds though, when it comes to chosing loads (not sizes of guns). Heck, I may be of even more "minds" but lets not get into multiple personalities :)

One perspective is that you only have so many rounds so carry the most powerful you can. There is certianly logic in this.

However there is an equal logic to another side. It is a little more involved with mulitipe points:

1. No handgun, including the .44 magnum will drop determined attackers with a heart or lung shot in less than 2 to 3 seconds, and in fact 5-10 is more the norm. Whether the newer wave of super handguns will or not is still to be determined.

2. Only a CNS hit (one that actually disrupts the CNS) can be relied upon for an instant stop and if that is hit then a .22 is the equal of a .44

3. 2 hits with a .38 that expands to .65 caliber is certainly the equal and maybe superior to one hit with a magnum that expands to .65 caliber if the CNS is not hit (and all rounds are placed with equal precision).

4. A hit to the upper heart with a .38 beats a hit to the fat roll with a .357.

Given the above (and probably some things I have overlooked), there are those who are indeed better off with a more manageable load if they are unable to master the magnums.

Does this mean there is a standard answer...NO!!! Each person has to work out their own salvation.

In my own case, on a good day, I can shoot 5 rounds of 125gr .357s in a hand sized group at 5 yards (the old Ed McGivern test) in 1.1 seconds form a K-frame 4" gun. It takes me .9 with .38 loads. So that one is difficult to call - I would probably opt for the .357. But a nagging doubt is that I have shot a lot of stuff with a .357 magnum that was unimpressed!

The reason I carry an auto is that I can do 7-8 shots with my .45 in that time and the groups are smaller... there is no question for me there (on top of that more game has fallen with one shot from my .45 than my .357 so I don't really have any more conficence in the magnum load). Plus I can top it off quickly without taking it out of action plus it is more reliable (meaning my particular weapons not some general auto vs revolver thing).

Of course, having just laid all that out, today I am starting to carry a 2.75" .44 mangum revolver as my backup gun for the boonies (I work in the boonies) :-/

Most of us carry whatever we feel like, not what makes sense (then of course we try to justify it ;))

Perplexed in Falls of Rough.
Jim
 

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I carry 158 gr .357 mag rounds in my Model 13, which is a favorite carry gun. Fixed-sight Smiths were zeroed for the 158 gr. rounds at, IIRC, 15 yards. Just what I want. So that's what I stick with. The difference in "stopping power" between the 158 and 125 gr. loads is negligible IMO -- here's one of the situations in which shot placement really does make the difference.

I confess, there is a secondary, sentimental reason. 158 grs is what Phil Sharpe used in his experimentation with the development of the .357. Besides my factory JHP loads, all of my cast lead handloads use this same weight, whether SWC or round-nose.
 

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My midsize revolver is a Model 13 three inch heavy barrel RB. The so called FBI model. I prefer the 158 gr +P LSWCHP .38 Spl "FBI" load in this revolver. I've shot a few boxes of the Remington reduced velocity 125 gr Golden Saber .357 Mag in the M13. Recoil is sharper than the .38 +P but not objectionable. Still, I prefer the heavier soft swaged lead HP of the .38 Spl.

I have a Model 549 9mm three inch RB M&P. I use the same holster for it as the M13. My prefered load for it is the Corbon +P 124 gr JHP. It performs almost identical to the Rem 125 gr GS .357 Mag load. Only drawback is that there are no Safariland speedloaders for the 547.


Roadster
 

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I actually voted for my oldest son who had the pick of all my handguns. He chose a .357magnum revolver, Taurus 605. And he keeps the Win 147gr JHP rounds in it.
At the range he has no problem keeping all shots in the black whether firing it SA or rapid fire DA. Said if he ever needed a gun for self defense he wanted the biggest, badest one.
He also chose it since he could use 38's in it if he wanted to.
Well, he's a lot younger and tougher than me, so I'm glad he chose that one.
og
 
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Corbon +P 124 gr JHP in a 4" bbl Python. My biggest "shot recovery" problem is muzzle flash and I always figure that most of these situations will be in low light. As mentioned earlier, the full .357 loads are kinda' bright!
 

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My 4" 686, is loaded with .357 Mag. 147Gr, Winchester STHP.
In the woods - 158Gr. Hirtenberger .357Mag SJFN or Lapua Zenith 158Gr.SJFN
 
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