.38/.357 Revolver?

Question:A very helpful answer to one of my previous questions re: recommended firearm for home defense/target shooting recommended a .38/.357 revolver. Being a novice, I hadn't heard of this firearm before.

Does anyone have any first hand reviews of this model, recommendations, price, and pros/cons?

Thanks so much.


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It is not too complicated. I'll try to explain. All .357 Magnum revolvers will also shoot the shorter (same diameter) .38 Special ammunition.

Many people will buy the .357 Magnum revolver and never even load .357 Mag ammo because of the bigger "bark" and recoil of the magnum ammo.

All major revolver manufacturers offer .357 Magnum revolvers. I own a Ruger .357 Mag. stainless steel Security Six with adjustable sights. This model is no longer made, but Ruger still offers quality .357 Mag. revolvers short & long barrel (mine is the 2 & 3/4" barrel and a 'night-stand gun').

I also own a Smith & Wesson Model 28 4" barrel .357 Magnum. Again, no longer made but you might consider the S & W Model 686 in .357 Mag. I also own two Colt Pythons in .357 Mag., a stainless steel 4" barrel and a royal blue 6" barrel model. Pythons are nearly 'price prohibited.' My very first Python cost a mint at $150. in the Sixties. My second one was a 'steal' in the Eighties for $460. My newest two were a cool thousand for the 4" and nearly $1,300. for the 6" model.

A few years ago some people conducted some kind of scientific study to determine an incapacitation index for handgun ammo. The .357 Magnum 125 grain hollowpoint out of a 4" barrel revolver won hands down. It beat the great .45acp auto, the .44 Magnum and even my personal favorite (for duty use) the .10mm.

If I could only have one handgun for whatever reason and as an all purpose revolver, I would not feel under-armed with a good quality .357 Magnum revolver with at least a 4" barrel. Another bonus with the .357 Mag, it'll shoot .38 Special ammo which is not only inexpensive, it can be found worldwide.

Final note: The relatively new .357 Sig round will not work in the .357 Mag. revolver and the .38 Special will not work in the .357 Sig. The Sig round is strictly an auto-loader round. It is a bottle-necked cartridge designed with the intention of duplicating the .357 Magnum round and adopted by the Texas Highway Patrol for the same reason. They wanted the reliability and stopping power of their old S & W Model 28 .357 Mag. 4" revolver in a modern, auto-loading format. (I also own a .357 Sig, a Glock Model 31, and have to say that at least on paper the Sig does approach or duplicates the specs of the old .357 Mag. 4" inch revolver). A cautionary note: Once I went to a police supply to purchase .357 Sig ammo for my brand-new Glock. The clerk 'sold' me two boxes of .357 Mag. ammo by mistake. The difference in the box size is so different that I should have noticed right away, but... I was distracted admiring the little blonde store manager/owner that I didn't even notice until the next day when I went out to shoot my Glock. I could have kept the magnum ammo (as I've always kept at least one .357 Mag. revolver around), but the little blonde was only too happy to exchange the ammo for the correct caliber. I buy ammo there all the time now! Happy ending.

Hope this helped.


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Hi there I think that there is some confusion.. those are two very different sidearms.. one is a .38 the other a .357 magnum. The .38 is a larger round but with a much smaller charge of gunpowder and consiquently a smaller kick.

Good luck

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You can also buy specialized .38's for a .357 which is probably what that's refering to. Not a bad idea over all, though personally I prefer strictly using .357 myself. It kicks alot more, but it's what you really want for stopping power.

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a .357 is good weapon. i killed a deer once with my brothers .357.
you can also shoot a 38 round in a .357. it lowers the kick when just shooting for fun. also the price is cheaper for the .38. the price for the .357 is higher than the .38.

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.38 Special and .357 Magnum refer to ammunition types, not models. The thing to remember is that a .357 revolver can shoot .38 special ammunition, but a .38 special revolver can only shoot .38.

To check on particular models, visit some of the manufacturers websites.

And you might want to find an NRA instructor in your area. A few hours of classes will tell you a lot more than you can learn on Answers.


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A .357 revolver will shoot the .38 special. The .38 special has less powder and has a slightly shorter case than the .357 mag and will fit. The .38 will NOT handle the .357 mag as it is too long and the pressure is more than a .38 revolver will handle safely.
This is a link to the S&W medium frame revolvers. Check the model as some are .38, .22, and some are set to handle the .38 and the .357. The +P after the .38 designates "high pressure" and is a hotter load than a standard .38 special.


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Ruger GP 100 .357 magnum. A .357 magnum will shoot a .357 magnum round which has a significant kick to for a novice or smaller individual. It also shoots a smaller .38 special round. Much less kick but not near as powerful a bullet. For home defense though, either is a fine choice. Just make sure you practice with it because if you miss it doesn`t matter how big or powerful your gun is. The revolver was probably recomended because the ease of use campaired to an automatic.

Sorry, didn`t see the small handgun part. I`d go with a Ruger SP 101. Smaller frame, one less bullet, same great quality.

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Listen to LevyRat and Icrashalot's info...they are right on.

Speaking of the diameter of a bullet, a .38 is really .357 Inch diameter.

The reason a .38 Special is a .38 Spl and a .357 Magnum is a 357 Magnum is because of the charge and case differences.

A .357 Magnum revolver will also fire a .38 Special cartridge. It will safely fire either. You can practice with .38 Spl in a .357 revolver and then shoot .357's for defense.

DO NOT EVER try to fire a .357 in a .38 Special pistol. The .357 has a much greater pressure and the .38 Spl made pistol may not be able to handle the load. A .38 Spl pistol will only fire a .38 Special.

Smith & Wesson is a good choice, and if you can find old Colt's they are too.

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As you know by now, a .357 will shoot .38's, but not vice-versa. I owned a medium-frame, double-action S&W .357 many years ago, and I loved it. I always shot .38's for plinking paper and cans, but I kept .357 hollow points on hand for home defense. I personally never found the recoil of either round to be anything uncomfortable.

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mostly good answers above ...
go with the .357, if the .38 loading is what feels good than you can stick with that, but you will have the option of useing magnum loads if you want. where if you get a .38 and want something with more power your screwwed.
I would look for a smith&wesson...model 13 md 19 etc. the smith's can be had very reasonalbly priced on the used market, if you do decide on just a .38 the s&w model 10 is very good and police trade ins are around $200-250.

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the .38 and .357 are two different rounds. The .38 is the .38 Special and the .357 is the .357 magnum. You can shoot .38 in a .357, but cannot shoot .357 in a .38 special.

Getting to the question of what firearm to look at. I really like the Ruger series. For a 'home' gun and one for hunting hiking a GP 100 is very nice. I would opt for the 4 inch for general use and a 6 inch if I was using it for hunting. If you want a CCW then the SP -101 is nice in either a 2 or 3 inch barrel (I've had both and actually like the 3 inch better.) The .38/357 is a good match you can download to .38 for practice and even for self-defense the .38 special +p rounds are effective. Recoil is less for those who are sensitive to it. For hunting the Winchester 180 grain partition round is nice.

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A .357 will take 38's. I have two .357 handguns, One is a Sig, but that takes ONLY sig.357 bullets and it's hard to find.

My S&W however, takes either 38 or .357 ammo. I use the 38 as it's easier on the recoil. AND yes, it is an excellent gun. Revolvers are easier as they rarely jam, however there is no safety. You should shop around, but PLEASE take a course in your area, you local gun club should be more then willing to teach you proper firearm handling and they should have a variety of firearms for you to try. You want one that is comfy in your hand. It should feel like it is an extension of your hand.

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As you already know, there was no model listed. But as far a recommendations - S&W 340PD. Somewhat costly, but what price can you put on your saftey and peace of mind. My wife was the first to carry it. It is a hammerless revolver - impossible to mis-fire. The only way this can fire is by pulling the trigger. It has a relatively light trigger pull, it extremely small and light (easy to conceal), and very reliable. Shoot the .38sp for target and .357mag hollow points for protection. Good luck

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