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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Interest in the 38special revolver has been revived with ultra light weight snubbies rated for +p now available from both Smith&Wesson and Taurus. And especially with better ammo now available the 38 is making a comeback.
The smallest of these is the S&W 342PD, 1 7/8"barrel and only 10.5oz. The frame is the sc/aluminum alloy and cylinder and barrel are titanium. The barrel has a stainless steel insert.
The 342PD is no longer in production and hard to find but a friend found one for $499.
I found a Taurus 85MulTi for sale on an internet site for $314+shipping+FFL fee, total NIB, OTD $364. It has a 2"barrel and weighs 13oz, so it's a little bigger than the S&W, but everything else is the same. Both revolvers fit nicely in the pocket.
S&W also offers a new .357/.38 model 340PD weighing 12oz, but you wouldn't want to shoot .357 out of it, the recoil would be fabulous!! Besides, dealers price it at around $700.
I got my friend to join me at the range for a little wetpack comparison test of the 2 liteweights and included my Taurus 605 2"all stainless (weight 24oz) in the test. This test would see if the little bit shorter barrel of the S&W would be a big factor. Surprisingly, there wasn't that much difference in the 3 revolvers with the ammo I had available for test. My friend liked the lower recoil of the Winchester SilverTip 125gr+p better in his S&W. I prefer the Remington GoldenSaber 125gr+p in my Taurus 85Ti. There is a trade off between velocity, expansion, and penetration, and the test revealed some anomalies no doubt a factor of bullet design. You may prefer penetration and choose the new Speer 135gr+p GoldDot. But I think the Speer is a little too expensive and hard to find and expansion ain't so great. Sorry, I didn't find any of Flyer's favorite Fed HydraShok to test. Maybe later, and CorBon has a new one out too, called DPX with a solid copper bullet.
So much for the introduction, the results are shown in the photo below. Comments are welcome!
(I shot two .357 rounds into the wetpack for "calibration" and the results of one round are shown.)
og......remember, wetpack penetration is only about 2/3 that for gelatin.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
How about accuracy and recoil??

For a quick accuracy test I fired 5 rounds of Win 130gr FMJ at 5 yds., bench rest, SA. Not bad for a 2"barrel and no rear sight, just a groove on top of the frame. The 1 7/8" barrel S&W was not that accurate and it is DA only so the heavier trigger pull makes it harder to hold steady.
Recoil was acceptable for both guns and even some of the ladies might handle it. Not so for the .357, it's loud and kicks pretty good even in the heavy frame 605.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
One more bit of interest.......

One more tidbit of info on the ammo we used. OAL can vary quite a bit and some of the 38special brands should not be used in a .357 revolver. They are just too short and may damage the forcing cone as the bullet has to jump a big gap.

Ammo listed below............OAL............comments

Win38spec 130gr FMJ.......1.531"..........OK

Win38spec 110gr NT.........1.422"...........below SAAMI spec, bullet is tin, not lead, avoid this one

WinClean38spec125gr.......1.4218".........below SAAMI spec, avoid

Rem38spec125gr+pGS........1.530"............OK

Win38spec125gr+pST........1.469"............OK

Speer38spec135gr+pGD......1.438"...........barely long enough, expensive

for comparison, two .357's:

Rem357mag125gr+pGS........1.5625..........OK in 357, won't fit in a 38spec, don't try it in your 38

Win357mag147gr ST............1.5625..........OK in 357, won't fit in a 38spec, don't try it in your 38

It is interesting that cartridge case length for all 38spec rounds is 1.125", bullet size and seating differs.
And all .357 cases are 1.280". Case diameters all meet standard specs.

FWIW,
og...........I'm done!
 

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Great stuff as usual, oldgranpa!
Yup, the .357 is really just a .38 Special on Hyperdrive. The case was simply lengthened prevent accidental chambering in a .38.
I know for sure the .38 Special's making a tremendous comeback in Ohio, at least, with the passage of our CCW. Brand-new Taurus revolvers can be had for under $200 in several places, but the single most popular seems to be the Smith 642 Centennial Airweight.
I really like this revolver, so much that I've assigned it mother-protection duty. That's pretty good performance from some of the newer JHPs; I'm afraid I haven't been keeping up on the .38 or other revolver rounds like I should have. Things have certainly come a long way in a few short years, ammo-wise!
Thanks again for your work!
Flyer
 

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I recently aquired a S&W 642 2" for -woman of the house -protection. My reasoning was- lightweight revolver, no levers,slidelocks, mags, or anything to be -confusing- should the time come to have to use it. Oh, and the Laser Guided part doesn't hurt either...She is happy with it, I like it too but have too many autos to want to carry it ccw for me. Now I want -laser- for my P-11,and SA XP 9 ! That thing will spoil you !! So, yes, I'd say the good old .38 is making a comeback. I hadn't bought a revolver in many years,but, for her it just seemed right to both of us.
>>> Wil <<<
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Best Buy!!

Wil, the S&W 642 is no doubt a "Best Buy" with it's 1 7/8"barrel and 15oz, 38spec+p rated. They are going for around $299 locally. I hear that Taurus has decided to try and compete by dropping prices on their ultralite snubbies as well.
......Now if I can just get my wife to the range........
og
 

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My nephew likes shooting my .357 Beretta Stampede Deluxe with .38 spl.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
38 out of a 357

Buck, I think what you are saying is probably very true with many revolver owners. Just reading around the internet at other sites having revolver forums shows a trend by many to buy a .357mag revolver and use it to shoot 38special. The recoil is even less than with a 38spec only revolver. This seems to be because there is a gap between the .38ammo at the end of the cylinder that cushions some of the pressure using a 357 revolver. I notice that effect with my Taurus 605 .357snub. Rem 38special 125gr+p GoldenSaber seems to have a lot less recoil with the 605 than with a standard model 85 38special.
I wonder if others have noticed this effect.
og
 

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oldgranpa, have you taken a look at Remington 158gr +P LHPSWC? Granted it's a VERY old round, but it has a very good performance record. I really like how it shoots out of my Taurus 85.
 

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Yep, that's the classic "FBI" loading. A semi-wadcutter lead hollowpoint loaded to +P velocities.
That's my favorite round, except I use the Federal version.
Flyer
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
More tests planned......

I plan more tests with the 38 later this year. I have asked my dealer to get me a box of the new CorBon 38spec DPX which is supposed to be better (CorBon always say that) than all the others (Marshall plans some tests on the CB DPX this month). Tests so far are only what my dealer could get from his distributor.
True, Marshall's books and site also recommends the old 158gr load. Have to get my dealer to get a box of that too for comparison later. As you can see from the test, Speer tried to come up with the 135gr+p to fill in the gap between the 158 and 125gr rounds. But my test doesn't show it's a magic bullet at all. I doubt the CorBon will be a magic bullet either.
For now the newer 38spec +p loads available all look pretty good and perform pretty much the same. It's come a long way since the plain 38 non+p bare lead rounds back about 10 yrs ago. I like the jacketed rounds better than bare lead. Easier to clean the bore.
On other sites most reports are that nobody really likes the .357 loads in a liteweight/titanium snubby and use 38 loads instead. I guess I already said that. They choose the .357 liteweight just so they can shoot a .357 in it if needed. All steel snubs are the only way to go with .357 if that's what you want to shoot at the range, but, like my
Taurus 605, they are just too heavy for pocket carry. One report even showed where a liteweight S&W 340PD ?? broke, cracked the frame, after only 100 rounds of .357. So it appears that the ultralites just can't take the recoil of a .357. And then there's the matter of bullet pull, another subject. Thus the revived interest in better 38spec ammo and ultrlite snubbies that can be pocket carried. Not as good as a 9mm which replaced the 38 for LEO's but good enough for civilian use. And with one of the cool HKS model 36 speedloaders, the revolver makes sense. Best place to order one that I found is http://www.pistoleer.com/hks/revolver and just use first class mail delivery, total $10.
Hope to know more later. Right now the snubby I recommend as the best 38special +p rated for pocket carry is the S&W 342PD, 1 7/8" barrel, 10.5oz. I may try to find one and trade the Taurus 85Multi for it, even though the Taurus works fine. The little S&W fits the pocket better and recoil is acceptable.
That's all for now.
og
 
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Years ago I worked part-time in a local gun store. (More to spend my paychecks there than for the money). At the time you could purchase a Taurus blue steel revolver with wood grips for well under 250.00. I believe at the time that it was one of our top 5 sellers. (our other top seller was the new Ruger P95DC with 2 boxes of ammo, cleaning kit and 6 range visits for 295.00). The Taurus revolver was what I reccomended to first time shooters (alot of which were women) and those were first time gun owners. People loved them and as I said earlier we sold a ton of them. I think at the time a big selling point for them was that they were one of the only companies that were offering a lifetime warranty. The popularity of this pistol prompted me to purchase a Smith and Wesson 642-1 airweight bodyguard that I still have. It too rode for many years in an ankle rig as a back-up gun when working. Thanks to OG for confirming with the wet pack test that the REmington GS was still a good choice for carry.
 

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The "FBI" Classic isn't that big of a chore to clean up after. My typical range session with the 38spec consists of 50rds of the lead heavy, followed by 25rds of 130gr FMJ. Lead fouling has been a non-issue so far.
 
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