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S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present All NON-PINNED Barrels, the L-Frames, and the New Era Revolvers


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  #1  
Old 10-11-2009, 03:25 PM
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Default 9mm vs .38 in a 2" J frame

So which is more powerful in a two inch J frame or is it a wash??? Does the 9 somehow split the diffeence between the 38 & 357???
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:35 PM
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for what i read is the 9mm is more powerful form what they say its between 38 and 357 i have a 640 38special and a 940-1 the 9mm kicks more
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:47 PM
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I believe the drawback for 9mm is the moonclip. Some folks love 'me, some don't. Otherwise, there is no competition between the two rounds. 9mm wins.
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:54 PM
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Smile 2inch 940 ,my old notes

1998 someone(?) had a chronograph set up at the range, 124+p gold dots 5 shot avg 1,125fps(in my notes,cases sticking after three reloads).W-W 115 silvertips, 1,130 (cases fall out 3rd reload).95gr soft point Radway Green 1,186fps. Federal 124 H.S. 1,020fps and some old(late 70s)W-W 100gr PowerPoint 1,190.(notes say best group at 15yrds) *also on the gold dots some would not seat in cyl, bullet seated to far out.
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Old 10-11-2009, 03:55 PM
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i like moon clips myself i have 3 625s a 610 and a 940-1 and some ruger 9mm revolvers
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Old 10-11-2009, 04:21 PM
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I recently posted chronograph comparisons of .38spl, .38spl +P, 9mm, 9mm +P, 9mm +P+, .38 Super, and 9x23 Winchester using my 9x23 360J, a 637, a Taurus 905, a 9mm Beretta Cougar, a 9mm HK USP, and a .38 Super 1911.
The 9mm slays the .38spl out of a properly chambered snubby (Taurus 905) and still trounces it pretty good out of my rechambered gun, in spite of blow by.

IMO, moonclips are the only way to fly. Way faster than speed loaders and easier to carry.

Here are my comparison results -

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Old 10-11-2009, 09:54 PM
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I own both a Model 60 and 940, each with a 2" barrel. I have done a lot of chrono work lately with both and I believe that the .38 Special has a slight edge due to its ability to handle heavier bullets with sharper shoulders. With heavy charges of SR 4756 powder and 158 gr. cast bullets, you can get an honest 1100 FPS from a 2" barrel. With the 9mm I have handloaded 122 gr. cast bullets to 1220 FPS, but they start to keyhole somewhere around 20 yards. Jacketed bullets produce slightly lower velocities from both revolvers. My favorite load for my 940 shoots a 147 gr. Speer GDHP at 1070 FPS and I never get sticky extraction. I also have a load that will launch the obsolete 124 gr. Pin Grabber bullet at 1160 FPS but despite the wide, jagged formidable looking "hollow point" I have no idea how well this bullet will hold up when it hits meat.

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Old 10-11-2009, 10:05 PM
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WC145 thanks for taking the time to share your results. Very interesting!
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:11 PM
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WC145,

How did you get the gun chambered in 9x23?
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Old 10-11-2009, 11:53 PM
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WC145,

How did you get the gun chambered in 9x23?
Just have your cylinder rechambered.

I have one of my 940s opened up for 38 Super. I also intend to have my 360 opened up to 9x23, just have not gotten around to it.
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Old 10-12-2009, 01:20 AM
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I interpret your question about "powerful" to mean "effective," presumably in defense shooting. Lots of interesting technical stuff here. My response in two words--"shot placement." Good luck.
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jager01
WC145,

How did you get the gun chambered in 9x23?
Just have your cylinder rechambered.

I have one of my 940s opened up for 38 Super. I also intend to have my 360 opened up to 9x23, just have not gotten around to it.
Like colt saa said, you just have the cyinder reamed/rechambered. There are a few companies doing it, Pinnacle High Performance did the work on my gun. The thing to remember about the conversion is that it is a compromise and, as you can see by the chronograph results, the versatility of being able to use multiple calibers in the same weapon comes at a price. Because of the dimensional differences between the cartridges and the size of the chambers they don't necessarily reach their full potential due to loss of pressure. However, my goal was to have a small, light revolver for a BUG that would chamber the same calibers as my duty/carry guns, which I achieved. The bonus of the compromise is that all of the calibers I can shoot out of the gun now outperform the .38spl that it was originally chambered for without the recoil and muzzle blast of the .357mag. And, before anyone brings it up, I've found no appreciable difference in accuracy between the 9mm's and .38's.
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Old 10-12-2009, 07:55 AM
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+1 on shot placement. I bought a new 940 a few years ago that would not eject the moon clips without a hammer and a punch. S&W initially told me I was using the wrong ammo but it happened with every brand. After sending it in a couple of times they gave up and traded me a new .357 640. Great gun.
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Old 10-12-2009, 09:33 AM
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I have both a 940 and a 637 converted to 9mm moonclips. The 637 was done by TK Custom. I made the switch for convienience; I carry a 3913 as a primary ccw and either the 940 or 637 as a back-up. I carry the same ammo in both, currently the Winchester 124 grain PDX.
IMO, there is no difference in percieved recoil between a .38 Special +P and a 9mm +P, although there is a significant pressure difference between the two rounds. I've shot enough rounds through both of the revolvers to know that they will function, POI, etc., but they are definitely "carry a lot-shoot a little."
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Old 10-12-2009, 11:47 AM
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Hey CAJ, you trying to start a fistfight? (Less filling! Tastes great!)

As you can see above, most people who take their answer from calculations just take the ME, and whichever is greater, is obviously better.
Well, not so fast. The empirical evidence (you know, the messy real-wrold shooting stuff) indicates that penetration is more important than ME, and penetration is more directly proportional to momentum than to energy.
(energy being mass times V squared and momentum being mass times V).
Using heavier bullets gives an edge to the .38 using momentum as a metric. The 9mm shines with lighter bullets.

Personally, I use the 135grSB Gold Dot in .38 and the 124gr Gold Dot in 9mm, and just don't see any real difference in effectiveness shooting critters. You pays your money and makes your choices..........
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Old 10-12-2009, 12:16 PM
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There was a three-way comparison of .38 Special, 9x19 and .357 Magnum in short-barrel revolvers a few years back in The American Rifleman. The basic conclusion was that, all things considered (velocity, blast, perceived recoil, etc.), 9x19 was the sweet spot. None of this matters if you can't deliver the shot, though, as has been said above.
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Old 10-12-2009, 02:53 PM
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So the 9xWHATEVERmm conversion increases your ability to chamber different cartridges in the J Frame... but at what cost? The old standby 9mm when handloaded to its true potential won't work without moonclips because you had the cylinder reamed out. Is that really worth it? If it was done right, the .38 Super should work without moonclips, but is that really important? Or look at the 9x23... Does anybody really care about this cartridge anymore? Any of these is lucky to be the equal of the old .38 Special on a good day. Where are you going to find hot .38 Super or ANY 9x23 in an emergency? So you handload, that's good. Because most of these *******ized conversions are brass eaters anyway. Make sure you have lots of brass for when your case heads get warped in the oversize chambers they call home. What more versatility do you need when you have a 9x19 with modern, heavily loaded factory ammunition? And again, NONE of these is the equivalent of heavily handloaded .38 Special. The whole 9xWHATEVERmm vs. .38 Special argument doesn't have much merit when we're considering 2" barreled revolvers, at least in terms of power (which I believe was the original question). The straight wall .38 Special has more case capacity, can fire heavier bullets and be extracted with compete reliability thanks to its rim. A properly loaded 9x19 in a properly made STOCK 940 is almost its equal in power and I believe actually more versatile when moonclips are added to the equation. You can argue that a .38 Super conversion of the 940 is even more versatile, but at the top end of the handload spectrum the compromise will be very compromising indeed.

Dave Sinko
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Old 10-12-2009, 03:10 PM
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No comparison IMO. The higher velocity of the 9mm more than offsets the (usually) heavier bullet from a .38 Special.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sinko View Post
So the 9xWHATEVERmm conversion increases your ability to chamber different cartridges in the J Frame... but at what cost? The old standby 9mm when handloaded to its true potential won't work without moonclips because you had the cylinder reamed out. Is that really worth it? If it was done right, the .38 Super should work without moonclips, but is that really important? Or look at the 9x23... Does anybody really care about this cartridge anymore? Any of these is lucky to be the equal of the old .38 Special on a good day. Where are you going to find hot .38 Super or ANY 9x23 in an emergency? So you handload, that's good. Because most of these *******ized conversions are brass eaters anyway. Make sure you have lots of brass for when your case heads get warped in the oversize chambers they call home. What more versatility do you need when you have a 9x19 with modern, heavily loaded factory ammunition? And again, NONE of these is the equivalent of heavily handloaded .38 Special. The whole 9xWHATEVERmm vs. .38 Special argument doesn't have much merit when we're considering 2" barreled revolvers, at least in terms of power (which I believe was the original question). The straight wall .38 Special has more case capacity, can fire heavier bullets and be extracted with compete reliability thanks to its rim. A properly loaded 9x19 in a properly made STOCK 940 is almost its equal in power and I believe actually more versatile when moonclips are added to the equation. You can argue that a .38 Super conversion of the 940 is even more versatile, but at the top end of the handload spectrum the compromise will be very compromising indeed.

Dave Sinko
Chill out, Dave, take a pill.
It comes down to different strokes for different folks, if you want to shoot .38's have at it. For me, I like versatility and choice. I like a back up loaded with the same ammo as my primary, and my primary varies between 9xWHATEVERmm and .38 Super. AND I like moonclips, they're faster and easier to carry. I don't need to locate .38 Super and 9x23, I have plenty on hand, and they all surpass the old .38spl in terms of MV and ME. So, if you don't like it shoot whatever you want, but for some of us the conversions work, even with the compromises.

Oh, and the cost was $225 from Pinnacle, plus the other work I had done.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:53 PM
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A 9mm in a USA made snubnose revolver is un-American!
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Old 10-12-2009, 08:19 PM
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I had a 1911 Colt in 9X23. Shooting 9X23 out of a J frame must be interesting.
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Old 10-13-2009, 10:56 AM
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OK, I have chilled out...

The 9x23 load with 124 gr. bullet is getting only 1176 FPS, which is almost exactly what I got with the handloaded 9x19. I got to the point where increases in powder charges gave no increase in velocity or difficulty in extraction, so it appears I have reached the point of diminishing returns in the 2" barrel.

I don't think that any increases in length of the 9mm cartridge case will give any appreciable increases in velocity, at least out of the 2" barrel. They would most certainly give lower pressure, but the velocity just isn't there, at least from the velocity figures I have seen so far. It looks as though you can burn only so much powder in a 2" barrel.

By the way, does anybody make a true 2" barrel .357 Magnum?

Dave Sinko
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Old 10-13-2009, 11:13 AM
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"By the way, does anybody make a true 2" barrel .357 Magnum?"

Not sure but I love my 2.5 DW
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Old 10-13-2009, 11:35 AM
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How bout Smith making a 642/442 in 9mm with no lock-and just for grins, make it with a 5 shot cylinder utilizing the 547's extraction method.
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Old 10-13-2009, 12:39 PM
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Now that one I might try! Had a 940 once and it really made me cuss big because of those stupid clips. I know some folks like them, but they ain't my cup of tea.
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Old 10-13-2009, 03:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sinko View Post
OK, I have chilled out...

The 9x23 load with 124 gr. bullet is getting only 1176 FPS, which is almost exactly what I got with the handloaded 9x19. I got to the point where increases in powder charges gave no increase in velocity or difficulty in extraction, so it appears I have reached the point of diminishing returns in the 2" barrel.

I don't think that any increases in length of the 9mm cartridge case will give any appreciable increases in velocity, at least out of the 2" barrel. They would most certainly give lower pressure, but the velocity just isn't there, at least from the velocity figures I have seen so far. It looks as though you can burn only so much powder in a 2" barrel.

By the way, does anybody make a true 2" barrel .357 Magnum?

Dave Sinko
The loss of velocity due to blowby is part of the compromise. I was disappointed with some of the results but at the same time I was quite surprised and impressed at others. The real stand outs for me were the Federal 115gr +P+ at 1174fps and the WWB 115gr FMJ at 1096fps out of the Taurus 905. To me that speaks volumes about the efficiency of the 9mm in properly chambered short barreled revolvers.
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Old 10-13-2009, 06:45 PM
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Anybody who is impressed by the 9x23 should stand in awe of the old .38 Special! After all, what is the 9x23 anyway? Is it not just a tapered rimless .38 Super with a thicker web so that the caseheads don't blow out in an autopistol? The thicker web reduces case capacity that much more, and the J Frame with its offset cylinder stop notches does not require thicker brass to stand the higher pressures. So, we have the .38 Special which towers above the 9x23 with far greater case capacity and the ability to handle heavier bullets. Frankly I'm amazed that so many shooters look down on the .38 Special.

And how can anybody think that moonclips are a disadvantage with the 9mm revolver? Obviously I'm a huge fan of the .38 Special cartridge, but out of a J Frame with a 2" barrel I believe the better choice is the 940 precisely because it uses moonclips. The ballistic advantage of the .38 Special is not all that great out of the short barrel but the quickness and certainty of the moonclip loading and extraction of moonclipped 9mm are the deal breaker for me.

I never owned a 547, but I'm willing to bet that any load which ties up my 940 (inferior brass or too much fast powder) will lock up a 547 just the same.

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Old 10-17-2009, 05:07 PM
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The actual difference in applied effective power may well be in the bullet construction rather than in velocity or muzzle energy, however derived. Since it long settled that a certain amount of penetration is necessary, the bullet type and construction may well determine penetration at a given velocity.
My solution is to have 2 extra 9mm cylinders fitted to 2 different M60s, one a 3 inch HB, the other a 60-4 with adjustable sights. Seems to work OK so far.

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Old 07-25-2019, 11:55 PM
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"The old standby 9mm when handloaded to its true potential won't work without moonclips because you had the cylinder reamed out. Is that really worth it?"

Well, since the moon clips are a huge improvement in speed and convenience over speed strips and speed loaders, yeah - it's worth it.
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Old 07-25-2019, 11:58 PM
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"Anybody who is impressed by the 9x23 should stand in awe of the old .38 Special!"

Are they loaded to the same pressure?
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Old 07-26-2019, 07:59 AM
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An almost ten year old thread, but the OP was online two days ago - you can ask him if his question was answered.
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Old 07-26-2019, 08:48 AM
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Another thread of questionable worth regardless of how old it is. Is the cartridge all that important? Some seem to spend much time and misguided thought obsessing over details, unimportant fine points, and other textbook-type solutions while very likely ignoring shooting skills.

A proficient shooter using a standard pressure roundnose .38 Special load (or anything else) in a snubnose gun is far more practical and daunting in a defensive situation than someone consumed with things that may not really matter all that much.
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Old 07-26-2019, 11:07 AM
JimCunn JimCunn is offline
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Well, not all shooting is defensive in nature, and my three 637-2 J-frames are all 9x19 instead of .38, so caliber is of some interest to me (I have to swap cylinders to shoot .38).

I didn't notice the age of the thread when I responded to it. My apologies for that.

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Old 07-27-2019, 06:48 AM
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Old 07-27-2019, 07:19 AM
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Very interesting. T
1. The OP is very active on the forum. (Caj did you get your question answered?)

2. The question was relevant today, 10 years ago and 25 years ago and 35 years ago and..

3. The controversy is just as real now as then.. Not velocity but effectivness.
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Old 07-27-2019, 07:48 AM
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Love when the Zombie Threads pop up...especially on a topic I like...

Had a 940 for a while but would tie up if using any +P rated ammo...ran 100% with any standard velocity. Sold the gun to a friend and he just ran it with standsard pressure ammo and it has never missed a beat.


Have had three guns done by TK Custom....

S&W 66-2 3"...found a brand new extra cylinder that dropped right in and had the extra cylinder rechambered for .38 Super...and will also take 9mm. Accuracy has been excellent with all rounds but have not had the chance to do any extensive chronograph work....

S&W 60-10 3"....same with this gun as the 66-2....

S&W 649-1....just had the original cylinder reamed out for .38 Super which was a mistake. When using +P .38 Special the cases with expand sometimes making extraction difficult. A few months ago I found a proper replacement cylinder and it is at the smith being fitted now.

Somewhere I have an ON TARGET magazine from last year that has the comparison of three Ruger LCRs in .38 Special, 9mm and .357 Magnum all using SIG 124/125 grain ammo. Don't remember the exact veolocities but the .38 was around 900 and the 9mm 1140 and the .357 1170... There was only 30-40 fps difference between the two. I have two of the LCRs in 9mm and they have been excellent shooters...the clips are also very easy to load and unload with a tool...

Bob
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Old 07-27-2019, 09:25 AM
HOUSTON RICK HOUSTON RICK is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CAJUNLAWYER View Post
So which is more powerful in a two inch J frame or is it a wash??? Does the 9 somehow split the diffeence between the 38 & 357???
Either one can give your bad guy opponent a very, very bad day.
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Old 07-27-2019, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Sinko View Post
OK, I have chilled out...

The 9x23 load with 124 gr. bullet is getting only 1176 FPS, which is almost exactly what I got with the handloaded 9x19. I got to the point where increases in powder charges gave no increase in velocity or difficulty in extraction, so it appears I have reached the point of diminishing returns in the 2" barrel.

I don't think that any increases in length of the 9mm cartridge case will give any appreciable increases in velocity, at least out of the 2" barrel. They would most certainly give lower pressure, but the velocity just isn't there, at least from the velocity figures I have seen so far. It looks as though you can burn only so much powder in a 2" barrel.

By the way, does anybody make a true 2" barrel .357 Magnum?

Dave Sinko
Hornady critical defense use low flash short barrel propellant.they advertise 1200 fts 400 ft-lb with the 125 he flex tip.

Has anyone checked this values in a 60 or other S&W 2 1/8 in barrel?
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Old 07-27-2019, 05:34 PM
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The bad guy won't notice the difference.
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Old 07-27-2019, 07:53 PM
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From what I understand, the .38 has a higher knockdown due to the heavier bullets. But, the 9mm has a bit higher thumping factor due to more velocity.
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Old 07-28-2019, 04:36 AM
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Quote:
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From what I understand, the .38 has a higher knockdown due to the heavier bullets. But, the 9mm has a bit higher thumping factor due to more velocity.
Higher knockdown or higher thumping factor... decisions, decisions.
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Old 07-28-2019, 07:02 AM
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quote
"Somewhere I have an ON TARGET magazine from last year that has the comparison of three Ruger LCRs in .38 Special, 9mm and .357 Magnum all using SIG 124/125 grain ammo. Don't remember the exact veolocities but the .38 was around 900 and the 9mm 1140 and the .357 1170... There was only 30-40 fps difference between the two. I have two of the LCRs in 9mm and they have been excellent shooters...the clips are also very easy to load and unload with a tool..."



Paul Harrell did a similar chrono test. Good video posted up by the OP of this thread. Eye opening for the 9mm nay sayers. With the tested ammo, the 9mm standard is almost 400 fps faster than a .38 Spl +P, out of the snub revolver.

Ruger LCR 38 vs LCR9mm-facts and myths - Ruger Forum

Before going to the dark side with the Sig 938, a first run 571 series 9mm SP101 was my EDC. Still is when a revolver is warranted. The shorter 9mm cartridge is much easier to carry and a reload with the moons is far faster than a speed loader.

10 years ago when this thread posted the playing field may have been closer. With the introduction of superior 9mm ammo like the Federal HST or Gold Dots the 9mm holds an edge.
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Old 07-28-2019, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Col Defender View Post
No comparison IMO. The higher velocity of the 9mm more than offsets the (usually) heavier bullet from a .38 Special.
Elmer Keith might disagree with that .
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Old 07-28-2019, 10:17 AM
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Plus a revolver allows for a much bigger meplat than an auto. You'll get no feeding problems in a revolver.
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Old 07-28-2019, 09:18 PM
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One of the posters is altering his 9mm to shoot .38 Super? A decent quality (strong) .38 Special can safely fire .38 Supers.

Last edited by surfgun; 07-28-2019 at 09:19 PM.
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Old 07-29-2019, 06:44 AM
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Quote:
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One of the posters is altering his 9mm to shoot .38 Super? A decent quality (strong) .38 Special can safely fire .38 Supers.
Did you check SAAMI pressures? I don't believe you did.
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