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View Full Version : can someone explain why .357 and .38 bullets can be shot from same gun?


Falstaff
04-18-2010, 4:45 PM
I know that most .357's can safely shoot .38 specials. What i dont understand is how a gun chambered for .357 can shoot a much bigger bullet, the .38 special. Is it shaving the extra lead off as it hits the barrel? or is the
.023 caliber difference just not enough to matter?

Always wondered about this.

rgs1975
04-18-2010, 4:53 PM
Same size bullet.

sargenv
04-18-2010, 4:54 PM
The 38 special uses the same .358 cal bullet as the 357 magnum. The marketing people at the time could have called the .357 magnum the 38 magnum, but chose to use the .357 since it sounded better likely. The main difference in the case of 38 special to .357 magnum is the case length. The .38 special is nominally .100" shorter than the .357 Magnum so that you can't use the higher pressure .357 mag case in revolvers rated only for 38 special pressures. They use the same bullet diam (.357"-.358") and the case length and powder charge are obviously different.

5shot
04-18-2010, 4:55 PM
Simple, .38 specials use the same .357" diameter bullets that .357 mags use. They are not true .380" bullets, like the old .38 S&W caliber.

Voo
04-18-2010, 4:56 PM
heh.. You're looking at it incorrectly.. kinda like how 2x4's aren't really 2 inches by 4 inches..

bullet calibers RARELY indicate (if ever) the actual true dimension of the bullet..

Its been forever since i've bothered with wheelguns, but i believe the actual physical dimensions for .38 and .357 bullets are .356 to .358 of an inch

I hope that helps..

Argonaut
04-18-2010, 4:59 PM
The reason the 38 was called that is because the 36 caliber revolvers made around the Civil War had a poor reputation for man stopping. So, when they came out with the 38 cartridge guns, some salesman named them 38's so they would sell better. They have always been (with some obscure exceptions) .357 or 36 caliber.

bohoki
04-18-2010, 4:59 PM
same reason you can fire a 22 short in a 22 lr

i think they are called 38s because back in the old days they used 38 cap and ball and they used a 38 sized ball but in loading it the ball is shaved down to like .36

why didnt they call the 38 spl a 36 special i guess cause higher numbers sound better

just look at the 44 magnum its about the biggest liar ever

Argonaut
04-18-2010, 5:05 PM
Simple, .38 specials use the same .357" diameter bullets that .357 mags use. They are not true .380" bullets, like the old .38 S&W caliber.

38S&W uses a .361" bullet......not a 38 either. There were some true 38 caliber black powder cartridges in rifles.

Fjold
04-18-2010, 5:10 PM
The 38 special was originally designed to fit the converted 36 caliber muzzle loading pistol that had a land diameter of 36 caliber and a groove diameter of .374. (here was where the 38 came from). The first 38 specials used a "heeled" bullet (like a 22 rimfire) where the base of the bullet was .357 (to fit in the brass case) and the bullet diameter forward of the case was .374.

Later guns were made with the .357 bore and the entire bullets were made at .357 diameter.

bombadillo
04-18-2010, 5:13 PM
Its kind of like calling nato rounds .224 caliber. Just the way it is.

Call_me_Tom
04-18-2010, 5:30 PM
The easiest way to explain it is that they are about the same diameter but of different lengths with the 357 being longer. Below is a pic of 9mm vs 38spl vs 357mag.

Interestingly, some 38/357's can shoot 9mm with the addition of moon clips. Since all three rounds are close to the same diameter but of different lengths.

(2) 9mm, (2) 38spl, (2) 357mag
http://i17.photobucket.com/albums/b63/krazyk1371/2badcd91.jpg

kurac
04-18-2010, 5:31 PM
a .38 special is not .380" but rather .356-.357", I guess the name is a little misleading, kind of like the 44 special and 44 Magnum, they fire .429-.431" diameter projectiles.

At least a 45 is really a 45!

Falstaff
04-18-2010, 5:36 PM
Ahh, now I get it. Thanks gentlemen, learn something new everyday.

So .44 mag's arent really .44" either?

Tacom
04-18-2010, 5:47 PM
heh.. You're looking at it incorrectly.. kinda like how 2x4's aren't really 2 inches by 4 inches..


You just blew my mind

MFortie
04-18-2010, 6:23 PM
So, know one really knows the difference? :rolleyes:

Look down a barrel. You'll see the spiral grooves. .38 Special is measured from the bottom of the groove across to the bottom of the opposite groove. The 'top' of the groove is called the "land"; .357 Mag is measured from land to opposite land. The bullets are the same diameter. :p

Fjold
04-18-2010, 6:59 PM
a .38 special is not .380" but rather .356-.357", I guess the name is a little misleading, kind of like the 44 special and 44 Magnum, they fire .429-.431" diameter projectiles.

At least a 45 is really a 45!

The 45 ACP is .452, the 45 long colt is .454

rgs1975
04-18-2010, 7:05 PM
The 45 ACP is .452, the 45 long colt is .454

The .45ACP bullets I use for reloading are .451 (230 grain FMJ's).

Cokebottle
04-18-2010, 7:16 PM
One thing to keep in mind when switching between .38 and .357...

If you are in the habit of keeping the gun loaded with .357 for home defense, but use .38 at the range, be sure to clean the chambers before putting .357 back in.

The .38, being a bit shorter, will leave deposits at the edge of the brass.
The .357 brass will stick.
It will load and fire just fine, but when it fires, the brass will expand into the deposits and lock in, making it difficult to extract the spent casings.

Rover
04-18-2010, 7:17 PM
So .44 mag's arent really .44" either?

.44 mag/special is a .429 or .430 diameter bullet.

You can shoot .38 special out of a .357, and .44 special out of a .44mag, but not the other way around.

kurac
04-18-2010, 7:18 PM
The 45 ACP is .452, the 45 long colt is .454

even better!

its nice to get more than you pay for.

lazs
04-19-2010, 9:54 AM
fjold gets it. Heel type bullets are gone now except in 22 but there were a number of them around at the turn of the century. Black powder cap and ball revolver conversions were the reason.. just as a converted "44" cap and ball is really a 45.

Fishslayer
04-19-2010, 1:58 PM
I know that most .357's can safely shoot .38 specials.

Actually, any .357 Magnum can safely shoot .38 SP & +P

The Magnum case was designed longer so it couldn't be chambered in a .38 Special gun.

Always wondered about this.

Me too. I've just recently learned about the connection to the black powder days.

Parajeff71
04-19-2010, 2:14 PM
One thing to keep in mind when switching between .38 and .357...

If you are in the habit of keeping the gun loaded with .357 for home defense, but use .38 at the range, be sure to clean the chambers before putting .357 back in.

The .38, being a bit shorter, will leave deposits at the edge of the brass.
The .357 brass will stick.
It will load and fire just fine, but when it fires, the brass will expand into the deposits and lock in, making it difficult to extract the spent casings.

Hehe. Found this out the hard way. I purchased a used Ruger GP100 and was very pissed off when I couldn't even get the .357 Mag rounds all the way into the chamber. I went off on the seller, (prematurely), then he preceeded to apologize for forgetting to ream out the chambers before selling. Apparently, all he ever shot was .38. I felt really bad. Live and learn.

rgs1975
04-19-2010, 2:42 PM
Hehe. Found this out the hard way. I purchased a used Ruger GP100 and was very pissed off when I couldn't even get the .357 Mag rounds all the way into the chamber. I went off on the seller, (prematurely), then he preceeded to apologize for forgetting to ream out the chambers before selling. Apparently, all he ever shot was .38. I felt really bad. Live and learn.

This will happen on .44Mag guns using .44Spl and .32Mag guns using .32Long , .22Mag guns using .22Long or Short, etc...

orangeusa
04-19-2010, 3:13 PM
This will happen on .44Mag guns using .44Spl and .32Mag guns using .32Long , .22Mag guns using .22Long or Short, etc...

Confused about .22Mag. On SA revolvers.... Then why does Ruger spend money to give you two cylinders?
QUESTION: Can you buy a 22Mag rifle (they aren't common, but available) and shoot 22LR's if cleaned properly? Sorry - but this one has me confused...

Back to OP: And, I too was amazed by the old black powder rounds vs. newer rounds actual bullet sizes vs. "advertized" when I went through the Ruger SA Handbook....

Is this like when car companies used to advertize horsepower at the crank vs. rear wheel - "more bang for your buck?"..

ke6guj
04-19-2010, 5:35 PM
This will happen on .44Mag guns using .44Spl and .32Mag guns using .32Long , .22Mag guns using .22Long or Short, etc...maybe you meant, .22LR guns using .22long, .22short, .22CB, or .22BBB.

you can fire .22WRF (Winchester Rimfire) ammo in a .22mag firearm.


Confused about .22Mag. On SA revolvers.... Then why does Ruger spend money to give you two cylinders?
QUESTION: Can you buy a 22Mag rifle (they aren't common, but available) and shoot 22LR's if cleaned properly? Sorry - but this one has me confused...
no, you should not fire .22lrs in a .22mag rifle. The chamber on a .22mag rifle is larger in diameter than .22lr since a .22mag uses conventional bullets instead of heeled bullets.