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Old 05-26-2010, 02:31 PM
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Default 38 Special+P vs. .357 Magnum from 2.5 or 3" Barrel

How much advantage do you really get out of the magnum at that short of a barrel length?
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Old 05-26-2010, 02:53 PM
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Enormous difference in velocity is likely. My 3" 65-5 throws 158-gr .38 Special +P factory loads at just under 900 fps. It throws 158-gr .357 Magnum factory loads at around 1200 fps. Handloading can increase both numbers, but the proportion remains about the same.

Now, ask yourself this: what difference does that additional velocity make in a defensive shooting of an aggressor? Maybe not so much. Further, what additional overpenetration dangers are associated with that additional velocity? How much quicker is my follow-up shot with the slower load than with the faster one?

Lots to consider, frankly. I love my .38 Specials, but - all things being equal - I'd rather they were all chambered in .357 Magnum just for the additional versatility that chambering possesses. Which round is better for your purposes depends on what you're doing. When I hike up Bear Canyon with my 65-5, I stoke it with 180-gr hardcast handloads that do 1230 fps from the gun. When I carry it in town, there's no way I'm carrying those . . . .
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:24 PM
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I pretty much agree with everything you said.

I guess I have been trying to find the best "hybrid" load for carrying in a 2.5 or 3" K frame that would deal with most animals I'm likely to encounter in the NC woods as well as the potential human agressor as well. I'd like something that could theoretically stop a black bear or wild boar, although a snake or coyote is far more likely to be the threat.

If I were carrying strictly for the woods, I'd choose a 180-GR Hardcast 357. Strictly for the city, a 125GR if I were carrying 357, although I'd probably be comfortable with 38SP+P.

To fulfill both situations when a reload is not possible, I guess I have kind of settled on 158GR 357 Hardcast loads. The problem is I feel the 158GR Hardcasts will overpenetrate in the city, but 158GR Hollowpoints will underpenetrate in the woods. Part of me feels that the likelihood of encountering a larger animal where the hardcasts would be necessary is probably low enough that 158GR 357 hollowpoints would be a better choice.
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Old 05-26-2010, 03:56 PM
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What frame size? In a K, or L size followup shots will be quick. In a J frame, especially the 11-15 oz models, they will be a LOT slower.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:05 PM
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Aaron, I'd encourage you to bear in mind that it only takes ten seconds to change a load out of your revolver. I feel it's not worth the risks to try to make one load do all things.
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Old 05-26-2010, 05:48 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erich View Post
Aaron, I'd encourage you to bear in mind that it only takes ten seconds to change a load out of your revolver. I feel it's not worth the risks to try to make one load do all things.
I agree. That's sage advice.

As far as penetration goes, whether it was premium .38+P, or .357 from snub barrels, both should stop in roughly 12 - 14 inches in gel. Where I've seen overpenetration is with .38s failing to expand. That hasn't been an issue when I've tested .357s. Perhaps Erich has seen something different come from the morgue?

I think the power of the .357 could give it an edge against bone. We all don't agree on this here, but I believe that muzzle energy can be a factor in stopping power with more powerful service calibers, and the .357, even from a snub, definately qualifies. If I only have five or six shots, I want them to hit as hard as possible.

All that said, I don't think that either cartridge is the right answer for everyone. You'll have to asses your ability and decide for yourself.
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Old 05-26-2010, 06:24 PM
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I'll take 135 grain Gold Dot +P .38 Specials any day over .357 Mags in short barreled Revolvers. I like fast follow up shots.
Too, I like to see at night after I fire my first round.

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Old 05-26-2010, 11:36 PM
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The 125gr .357 Magnum SJHP is a load that will always be a load to measure others by. Granted, most of the street results were out of four inch barrels.

Back when I had a 2.5" Model 66 and a 3" Model 65, the 125gr magnum load was all I ever carried.

I have no desire to shoot a .357 Magnum J frame. I think that's a case of trying to make a good gun into something it isn't.
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Old 05-27-2010, 01:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aterry33 View Post
I guess I have been trying to find the best "hybrid" load for carrying in a 2.5 or 3" K frame that would deal with most animals I'm likely to encounter in the NC woods as well as the potential human agressor as well. I'd like something that could theoretically stop a black bear or wild boar, although a snake or coyote is far more likely to be the threat.

If I were carrying strictly for the woods, I'd choose a 180-GR Hardcast 357. Strictly for the city, a 125GR if I were carrying 357, although I'd probably be comfortable with 38SP+P.
May I suggest changing your carry ammo for where you are carrying... When in the woods carry the hardcast 180's and when home load the 158gr HP SD ammo.

For woods carry I use either a 4" S&W M686 loaded with hardcast ammo or a Ruger SA Vaquero in .45 Colt. For Varmints I also carry a J frame loaded with "snake shot" just in case I need that ammo. I see no problem carrying both...
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Old 05-28-2010, 09:36 PM
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One round I like in short barreled .357s' is the Remington Golden Saber. It's loaded to the same specs as their old medium velocity 125gr mag and pretty well splits the difference between the 38+P and full house 357s'.
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Old 04-07-2014, 10:50 PM
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Older post but good information. I have ordered some RGS in 125. I have +p as my practice load for my CA mag pug target. I did not want to have a heavy 357 load because this gun is suppose to be made for the lighter grain bullets. I will see if it is shooting low with the lighter 357 bullets and may try for the +p in 158gr to correct that. I would use the 357 as a carry for deer hunting with a shotgun.
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Old 04-07-2014, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rule 303 View Post
I'll take 135 grain Gold Dot +P .38 Specials any day over .357 Mags in short barreled Revolvers. I like fast follow up shots.
Too, I like to see at night after I fire my first round.

Rule 303
The flash is definitely a consideration for me. At 76 eyes are very slow to adjust after a brilliant fireball. I'm trying Buffalo Bore in my .38 Special J-frame EDC because the flash is reported by users to be significantly less than what I've carried for years.

I can no longer shoot .357 due to hand problems, but when I did I was always concerned I might be blinded in a night shooting defensive situation, with pupils dilated by adrenalin.
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:17 AM
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While I am not a 357 Mag kind of guy, I have a bunch of friends that are.
I do think that the 357's ability to use all the 38 Special loads make it a good choice for a lot of people.

My favorite revolver is a 44 Mag. I carry different loads for the city, vs the country. And different loads for the country, depending on "where" in the country I am...

I have spent a lot of time hunting in black bear and brown bear country.
There, I have carried my 240gr HARD cast full power 44 Mag loads, Federal 300gr Cast Core or Garrett's 44 Mag loads.

On my deer lease, where there are no bears, but big hogs, my field load is a 240 gr Hard Cast bullet over 9.2gr of Unique...

In the city, I carry factory 44 Mag loads designed for personal protection, such as the Speer 200gr Short barreled load, the Corbon 165 gr 44 Mag load, or the Remington 240gr Scalloped Jacketed HP load, the Federal 240gr Hydra Shock, etc.

In other words I taylor my carry ammo to the Job at hand.

So in a 357 Mag I would do the following.

In the field I would carry a hard cast 158gr SWC, or the Federal Cast Core, or similar Buffalo Bore or Cor Bon ammo.

In the City I would carry a 357 Mag 125gr load, or if the recoil was more than I liked, I would carry a 38 Special +P or +P+ load in the 125 to 127 gr weight, or the 38 Special 158gr +P lead SWC HP, which has done very good in actual shootings I am aware of...

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Old 04-08-2014, 12:31 AM
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True story. Once Upon a Time, I went to Nome Alaska, for two months.
I did a Grizzly bear hunt for about 25 days and spent the rest of the time in Nome.

I took my 44 Mag Mountain Gun. I took several rounds of Speer CCI shotshells for ptarmigan, several rounds of Garrett 44 Mag ammo and 6 rounds of Speer 200 gr short barreled loads.

When in Nome I had the Speer 200gr ammo in my gun.

I figured after the first 6 rounds fired, anybody that was still alive, would be hiding behind something. I would be reloading with the Garretts...

However, I discovered that the people of Nome, especially the Native Alaskans, what lower 48ers call Eskimos, were most friendly, and most fun to be around.

This was one of the most fun hunts/trips I have ever been on.

So the only shots I fired were at ptarmigian...
And with the rifle 2 red fox.

PS. I had a 38 Special S&W Bodyguard in my front pocket 100% of the time as well....

Doesn't Everybody???


PSS. I stopped off on the way home and spent 3 weeks in Anchorage with a buddy. I have been to Alaska several times, I like it.
Everybody I have met there have been Good People...
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Old 04-08-2014, 12:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aterry33 View Post
How much advantage do you really get out of the magnum at that short of a barrel length?
Amazing how OP can ask a simple, straight forward question and the thread gets hi-jacked to a dissertation on the benefits of specific types of ammunition! Unbelievable, but typical. Why can't anyone simply answer the question?

aterry,

just in case you see this post, erich is absolutely correct. .357 Magnum will always beat .38 +P in any barrel length. Here is an example in barrels approximately 2":

1) Federal and Winchester FBI Load, .38 LSWCHP +P. Chronographed at 821 FPS from 2 different 2" M&P revolvers.

2) A full power .357 Magnum handload. 15.2 Gr/2400, 158 Gr. LSWCGC. Chronographed at 1157 FPS from 2 1/8" 640-1.

3) A full power .357 Magnum handload. 15.3 Gr/2400, 158 Gr. XTP-HP. Chronographed at 1067 FPS from 2 1/8" 640-1.

Do not believe anyone who says a .38+P and .357 Magnum are virtually the same from a short barrel.

If I had a 3" .357 I would have given you that comparison too, but I don't.
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Old 04-08-2014, 01:42 AM
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.38 Snub Vs. .357 Snub

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Old 04-08-2014, 01:14 PM
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The final test should be going into a small dark room some where with no direct lights near by and firing three rounds of 38 and magnum short barrel loads........ with out ear protection.

That should help you figure out what load you might use..........

In the old days ( Zane Gray )the cowboys closed their eyes when shooting Indians at night..............
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Old 04-11-2014, 02:49 AM
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Fired some Golden Sabre 125 today. The flash in a lit range was impressive. It would definately be blinding at night. It was right on target at 7yards while my 38 special 130 ammo shot high enough to hit the carrier one time. this was out of a mag pug target 4 in barrel.
I ordered some pistol revolver ammo recently thinking it was 38 special +p. It was actually 38 super +p. It chambers and ejects ok from my revolver. I realize that the smaller rim makes it a poor choice but I own a box of it now. I have read that some people have been shooting this out of a 357 with no problems. My gun shop experts have cautioned me that the extra 1500 pressure may be pushing it. They would only use if no other ammo were available. Many people have commented on other sites that it will not load, has no rim, it has tapered case. Wrong at least in my gun. Has anyone actually shot this and in what revolver. The 38 super guns start at a couple of thousand dollars. I know I am not the only one to have ordered this by mistake. Any personal experience would be usefull. I plan to sell this on gunbroker if I hear of real gun damage. It would be of use to someone with a gun in an area that prohibits military ammo usage.

I found an answer to my question at this location for shooting 38 super out of a revolver.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=335267

I will be trading or selling this ammunition before taking chances shooting it out of a 357 revolver.
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Old 04-11-2014, 06:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erich View Post
Enormous difference in velocity is likely. My 3" 65-5 throws 158-gr .38 Special +P factory loads at just under 900 fps. It throws 158-gr .357 Magnum factory loads at around 1200 fps. Handloading can increase both numbers, but the proportion remains about the same.

Now, ask yourself this: what difference does that additional velocity make in a defensive shooting of an aggressor? Maybe not so much. Further, what additional overpenetration dangers are associated with that additional velocity? How much quicker is my follow-up shot with the slower load than with the faster one?

Lots to consider, frankly. I love my .38 Specials, but - all things being equal - I'd rather they were all chambered in .357 Magnum just for the additional versatility that chambering possesses. Which round is better for your purposes depends on what you're doing. When I hike up Bear Canyon with my 65-5, I stoke it with 180-gr hardcast handloads that do 1230 fps from the gun. When I carry it in town, there's no way I'm carrying those . . . .
Erich,

Your results with ammo from "The Big 3 ammo Co's" is spot-on with my testings, and that's why I have upgraded my ammo selections.

I've tested Buffalo Bore 158 gr. HEAVY 38 Special +P's out of my 3" M65 and have consistently gotten velocities of 1140 - 1150 fps. A 158 gr. .357 from the same gun will produce velocities of 1180 - 1190 or so like you state with a large muzzle flash, more violent recoil and lots of noise but the actual ballistics are quite similar from these two different cartridges.

Now just to clarify, I was using .357 Mag's from either Winchester, Remington or Federal, against Buffalo Bore .38's. Now BB makes really hot .357's and I have tested a few of those and while their recoil is pretty stiff, theirs does give a larger velocity difference.

When in Black Bear Country I do carry my M65 stoked with BB 180 grain hard cast SWC solid .357 Mag.s that produce around 1300 fps - which is quite a serious load from a 3" tube and a 180 grain bullet. If I were purposely setting out to hunt Bear with a Handgun, I would definitely take a 44 Magnum or better, but my M65 is light enough and convenient enough to carry that it is always with me while in the woods.

It is of my personal opinion that if carrying MOST BRANDS of.357 Magnums they offer little real advantage until you go over a 4" barreled gun, unless of course you are using the BB's or hand loads. I do believe that the .357 Mag. comes into its own with a 5" - 6" tube and for defensive purposed against two legged animals the BB 38 Special's or Speer GD's are about the best one can get considering ALL ASPECTS.

From what I have seen using my Chronograph, the "Big 3 ammo Co's" have watered down the modern day .357's too. The only way to get the velocities equivalent to the older Mag's is to hand load or use something like BB ammo.

You should (if you have not already) try a box of the BB 180 grain Hard Cast HEAVY .357's from your M65 which you might like for walking in the woods. I know sometimes my posts sound like an advertisement for Buffalo Bore and I am in NO WAY affiliated with them, I am just thrilled that at least this Company actually ships ammo that does exactly what they say it will and that's a first according to my actual Chronograph tests.

Regards,
chief38

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Old 04-11-2014, 08:05 AM
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Years ago when I posted that post you quoted, I only was talking factory stuff because the original poster was asking a question that made me pretty certain he was not a handloader. You're kind to tell me about Sundles' loads (which I've been shooting occasionally since he started his company), but I handload for myself all the time - hotter than BB. Speer #8, baby!

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Old 04-11-2014, 11:45 AM
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I have a bunch of .357 revolvers but admit to shooting hand loaded 38 Specials from them 80% of the time when target Shooting or Plinking. I do hand load .357's too, but keep them around 1250 - 1300 with 158's from a 6" bbl. Only go through a hundred or so a year.

Years ago I was not into the BB like I am now and I use his stuff for personal SD and protection against wild game while in the woods.

My point was that in a gun with a barrel of 3" or less unless you are hand loading or using BB ammo in .357 most people are probably better off using BB HEAVY 158 gr. 38 Special +P's as I have found that in short barreled guns they are basically equivalent to the current crop of .357 ammo from the Big 3 - give or take a few fps. (in 158 gr. weight of course) without the noise, recoil and flash.
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Old 04-14-2014, 12:36 AM
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Groo here
I was going to leave this one alone but can't..
First, You Will Not be blinded by the flash from a handgun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We trained to use the flash to find other targets,,,,,,,..........
Two Eric is more often right than wrong..
Three The modern HP's act like hunting bullets [ classic teardrop ]
Great for hunting , for SD ????????????????
As Keith said , the nose does all the work, flat nose have more slap.
To stop an attacker we need to #1 damage or destroy the computer
a small armored target.
#2 cut off the power Aka blood pressure drop from bleeding [ Shock, takes 10 to 30 sec or more]
Or 3# overload the system with input Aka pain..
Pain comes from nerves, most nerves in skin, then mussel , organ, fat and bone.
Many bullets work opposite .
The 357 125gr with much lead at the nose will deform the fastest.
damaging more nerves causing more slap [ pain]
The input causing the computer to think about something other than us.
Aka Stop.
The slower opening bullets may cause more bleeding but less pain.
The target Dies faster but after it has beat the XXXX out of us.
Some rounds so not have the size or speed or weight to make much pain so the bleeding will half to do. [ like a .22/.25/.32/etc.

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Old 04-24-2014, 09:02 AM
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http://hipowersandhandguns.com/38vs357snub.htm

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Old 04-24-2014, 12:11 PM
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First, You Will Not be blinded by the flash from a handgun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We trained to use the flash to find other targets,,,,,,,..........
I'm not clear on how one trains not to be briefly blinded by the hellacious muzzle and cylinder-gap fireball of a full-house .357 Magnum fired in darkness, especially from a short barrel. I'd be interested to know, because when I referred to that problem in another thread months ago an LEO described concern about being partially blinded by the flash from 9mm service pistols in night training.

I can't shoot magnum loads anymore due to arthritis; but when I did, shooting them in low light worried me about how it would be in full darkness. I'm more concerned now that my eyes are nearer eighty than seventy years of age and adjust much more slowly. Maybe it's just a young man thing...
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Old 04-24-2014, 02:20 PM
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Groo here
There in lies the key, your eyes don't adj.
The flash ,like a flashbulb, is too fast .
Your gun blocks the most intense part of the flash, at the muzzle,
something the target will see.
You get the "fringe".
The effect can been seen by shooting a camera flash at night.
The area will be lighted up for a short time ,you will "see" the area
and any targets as a quick flash- remember where they are and shoot there.
The flash from a gun will be longer lasting and easier to use.
The blinding most think of happens when you look AT the the flash.
That means from in front not when you look PAST the flash as when
you are behind.
Take your camera or real bright light out some night and try it.
We have all had pitchers taken so we know about the in front part.
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Old 04-27-2014, 07:29 AM
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...Besides which, when I draw my 3" GP100 for SD at night, the flashlight next to it will be in my left hand.
Right now, it is loaded with 125gn Critical Defense, which does 1350fps out of the 3" barrel, and which I find easy shooting.
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Old 04-27-2014, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
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...Besides which, when I draw my 3" GP100 for SD at night, the flashlight next to it will be in my left hand.
Right now, it is loaded with 125gn Critical Defense, which does 1350fps out of the 3" barrel, and which I find easy shooting.
Is that velocity that you have chronoed?
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Old 04-27-2014, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nevada Ed View Post
The final test should be going into a small dark room some where with no direct lights near by and firing three rounds of 38 and magnum short barrel loads........ with out ear protection.

That should help you figure out what load you might use..........

In the old days ( Zane Gray )the cowboys closed their eyes when shooting Indians at night..............
Surely you jest.
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Old 04-28-2014, 10:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LOBO View Post
Is that velocity that you have chronoed?
Yes, it is.
Check out TNoutdoors test:
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Old 04-28-2014, 11:26 PM
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This is just an awesome thread
I was just about to start something similar
Ive just recently started carrying a 66-1,2 1/2
And was looking for an all around load for it
I too am in NC....western mountains...where we see bear quite regularly
never an issue yet
I carry daily everywhere I go
And Yes...I do hike the woods quite a bit
I guess Im more concerned about the human stopping power more that anything else
Im looking at 158 gr flat nose jacketed soft point
Thoughts on this pick??

Last edited by kuda427; 04-28-2014 at 11:36 PM.
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Old 04-29-2014, 07:15 AM
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When I took my son to the circus (YEARS ago) I carried my 92F with a mag full of 115gr +P+ JHPs and I had a spare mag of FMJ, just in case I encountered a non human threat (yes I was a bit paranoid with my toddler son around a bunch of "trained" wild animals) I figures the 115 gr HPs wouldn't do much more that tick off a large animal, not that the FMJ would do much better, but at least they would penetrate better.
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357 magnum, cartridge, colt, j frame, k frame, m686, model 65, model 66, model 686, remington, ruger, snubnose, vaquero

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Ammo Thread, 38 Special+P vs. .357 Magnum from 2.5 or 3" Barrel in Ammunition-Gunsmithing; How much advantage do you really get out of the magnum at that short of a barrel length?...
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38 special vs .357 mag ballistics This thread Refback 09-05-2014 08:23 AM
Smith & Wesson Forum This thread Refback 04-08-2014 07:14 AM
357 magnum 2.5 barrel This thread Refback 05-06-2013 09:48 PM

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