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 Post subject: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:02 pm 
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Two recent events lately have made me decide to look for a subcompact or pocket pistol for TX Trinity. Both events have proven the "If it is too big to carry then you won't carry it all the time" axiom to be true as she left her full size 9mm in the car to run into the grocery store on the way home from work in one instance. Both instances did not require a firearm luckily, and I'd like to leave it at that, but the "what ifs" began to rear their ugly heads. She has been shooting for a while, and although not an "operator", she is competent and has a "texas country girl" attitude. By that I mean she will pull a gun and use it if she has too.

Our household firearms (and those she has the most experience with) are as follows:

Me: KT P3AT (my pocket pistol, soon to be traded in for a PF9 to keep ammo commonality), Sig SP2022 9mm (CCW and my go to pistol) and a Walther P22 (range gun, not carried).

Her: Taurus Tracker .357 Mag with a 6.5" ported barrel, Taurus 24/7 9mm 4" model. (Don't get me started on her love of Taurus products).

I mention these because she can handle the recoil of most pistols with the exception of some of the larger magnums and probably 10mm, but the P3AT is uncomfortable for her and she won't carry it/doesn't like it. Gun Nut has agreed to modify her favorite purses, or perhaps a new purse to essentially integrate a holster into it for her desired pistol. A purse should be big enough for even a 1911 right? Not the ones she likes to carry. They could easily carry a small .38 snubby or a subcompact 9mm along with her other essentials. The design we are kicking around will negate any issues caused by loose items floating around in the purse that could cause an usafe situation or hamper draw. Weight is not the issue so much as overall size. I am undecided on a revolver or auto, that will be her choice and depend upon the individual pistol. The snubby will likely be of the enclosed hammer design and I am leaning towards that as she can shoot it through her purse more reliably than an auto. I have also settled on .38 spl and 9mm to keep our purchase of ammo simplified as we already stock both. I think a snubby in .357 would be too much recoil for her. 9mm vs. 380 because she already keeps an extra supply of 9mm in her GHB for her 24/7. Also there is a capacity issue, most 9mm autos are 6+ rounds in a readily changed magazine vs. a revolver requiring a slower reload and less initial capactiy (usually around 5 rounds). I have kicked around the .327 Magnum as well, but I'd prefer not to add another caliber to purchase as stated earlier. If however someone has a good arguement that the .327 is vastly superior to either of these in a short barreled AVAILABLE AFFORDABLE firearm (<$400), then that opens the thread up a little.

My question is this: Between a .38 Special and 9mm, which is the better option for short barreled pocket pistols? I am not looking for pistol recommendations (other than whether the .327 jumps into the fray), just ammo recommendations based on performance to compare .38 spl and 9mm to help aid in her decision.

For example, do 115gr SD rounds produce better terminal ballistics in short barreled 9mm's than say , 124gr or 147gr?

How does the best 9mm load in short barreled autos (3" or so) compare to the best .38 loads in snubby revolvers (2"+)?

I know I can look at ballistics all day long, but I've always found those to be marginally useful at best. Any insight or experiences would be appreciated. I tend to lean towards my initial impressions of the two rounds which is that they are roughly equivalent and not worth splitting hairs.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:19 pm 
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iirc, i have read something to the fact that in a 2" j-frame vs a glock 26, similar size guns commpnly carried, the 9mm even beat out the 357mag as the short barrel and cylinder gap greatly reduces the effectiveness of the round. dont take that for gospel but the argument has been around for awhile. this was also with similar loads as well, 124gr +p vs 125gr magnum loads. the magnum will still get the edge if using heavy bullets like the common 158gr.


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:20 pm 
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Here is a link to a site that tests various loads in different length barrels.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/results.html

A 125 gr Cor Bon achieves 911 FPS out of a J frame while a Federal hydro shock 124 gr achieves 1091 FPS from a 3 inch barrel auto.

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Last edited by raptor on Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:20 pm 
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I carry a g26 everywhere. I carry the gold dot +p short barrel rounds.

I'm no ballistics expert but I don't feel under gunned

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:25 pm 
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The age old debate.

The .38 wheelgun (also .357 downloaded with .38's) is great for pocket or purse carry.
If the hammer is shrouded, you can fire through the pocket or purse, expensive but well worth it at times.
With good ammo, there's little difference between the two chamberings (9mm vs. .38) except capacity.
The wheelgun is able to be fired with limp wrists, a poor grip, upside down and however you can operate the trigger and will still fire all 5/6.
Personally I carry a snubby .38 in my back pocket when I work, as a backup gun. No matter which hand I use, how hard I shove it into someones gut, it's gonna go bang.

The small Glocks/Kahr's/etc are good but will jam when fired in a tight place, where the case can't exit the gun or the slide is stopped from fully retracting.

Personally I find the small wheelgun easier to handle in deep concealment.

Go over to www.snubtraining.com and look at some of Michael DeBethencourt's stuff, he's one of the premier snubby instructors out there. Look for him on youtube also.

However, if she finds a good small auto that she likes, make sure it's reliable, unlike the wheelguns, when you downsize you often sacrifice reliability.

Over at "Hi-Powers and Handguns" he goes into the snubby and compact auto's in some detail and provides chronograph data, just look around.

Good luck.


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:28 pm 
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In all honesty, I would take your wife out to the local gun store and let her see what she likes/wants. Judging from what she picks out, she might have a personal preference that becomes noticeable (even if she doesn't know that she does).

Personally, I like J-frames as, like you mentioned, they can be shot from inside or against clothing and I typically find them to be more reliable than small autos. That's not to say there aren't some great small .380s and 9mm's out there, with even more sure to come after SHOT.


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 8:44 pm 
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I would advise a small 5 shot .38,don't know the person in question but "most" women are not gun people and will not PM (clean/lube) like guys do and a revolver does not mind lint etc. Revolvers are much easier to operate also (some of those little autos have a really stout recoil spring!) Most of the small autos I have owned (kahr/keltec/AMT etc) were not 100% reliable so for a hideout wpn I go with a S&W J frame loaded with 158gr LSWC-HP (+P). Jacketed bullets give up too much velocity in the .38 SPL. JMHO


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:11 pm 
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The issue of losing velocity out of the smaller 2-3" barreled Gun's is not as much of a problem nowadays. With several of the best SD ammo producers making ammo specifically for short barreled firearms. I think it's more an issue of personal preference. I'd suggest you let the wife pick what she feel more confident with. Since she is already familiar with firearms take her to the gun shop and let her handle/shoot a couple different model's. There are tuns of quality snubbies one the market as well as a few auto's in that size range. Good luck


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:23 pm 
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I am very vocal in my opposition against .38 snubbies for new shooters. These guns have a very short sight radius, a lot of muzzle flash and noise as well as a prodigious amount of recoil. All of these things combined make it quite uncontrollable for someone in a life and death struggle.
A lot of the new compact and subcompact 9s offer a great bit more barrel length, sight radius and controllability in a similar sized, and frequently flatter package.

Reloading a five shot snubnose is not easy, especially if you are unsuccessful in ejecting the empties and one gets under the extractors. You can carry and use whatever you want, but as a long time user of both, I would push newbies over to the autoloader side.

This is funny coming from me, a 30 year wheelgun user, but times are changing and autoloaders are now reliable enough that concerns about functioning are no longer valid on a maintained weapon.


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:02 pm 
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Not a .38 shooter but am a big fan of my g26. Its my IWB buddy that goes everywhere that I do except bed. (That is my reserved special time with one sexy 1911.)

Reading the OP thought reminded me of this article. Worth a read as is the rest of his page. http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/9mm% ... pecial.htm

Also :
http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/38sp ... 380acp.htm
Enjoy the read.


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:37 pm 
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I've got both a G19 and an SP101. I shoot and carry them both.

I think the above advice about taking her to the gun shop and letting her pick out what she wants to carry is wise.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 10:52 pm 
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Thanks for the articles at "Hipowers and handguns". That is the info she needed to compare the trade offs between the two cartridges before going to the range to check out some guns.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Sun Jan 16, 2011 11:04 pm 
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The whole caliber debate tends to just go in circles based on what different individuals enjoy shooting. I'd say let her choose what she feels most comfortable handling and using. As far as her carrying her weapon in her purse, I can't say I think that's a good idea. If she's going to carry she should be carrying on her person, not in a handbag that will be the first target to grab should any BG's accost her.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 12:50 am 
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test weapon for reliability-
Beyond that SHOT PLACEMENT
and lots of practice.
not so much the crate as the pilot....

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:21 am 
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She will be keeping one in the chamber on the auto, cocked and locked? and even tho she'll only have 4 shots in the revolver cuz as we allll know never load the chamber under the firing pin, the auto's safety could get disengaged and would be more likly to have an accidental discharge then a double action revolver with 1 chamer empty. If the auto won't be cocked and locked and have one ready to go when really needed then the revolver will be way faster to be ready to go.


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:31 am 
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Quote:
even tho she'll only have 4 shots in the revolver cuz as we allll know never load the chamber under the firing pin,


We do? Why? I don't know this!?! Was there a meeting?

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 1:41 am 
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throwback wrote:
Quote:
even tho she'll only have 4 shots in the revolver cuz as we allll know never load the chamber under the firing pin,


We do? Why? I don't know this!?! Was there a meeting?



You missed the meeting?!?


As to the why, it's not as big of an issue with double actions then it is on single actions, but with single actions almost any hammer bounce could cause a discharge if there were a round in that chamber


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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:10 am 
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Only applies to older SA revolvers. Most if not all make use of a transfer bar nowadays and are just fine to carry fully loaded. Modern double actions have either a transfer bar (Ruger) or a hammer block (S&W) which prevent hammer/firing pin contact with the primer until the trigger is pulled. To discharge the guns with these features would need a blow sufficient to collapse the frame. Strangely enough, the "empty chamber" thing has persisted.


Guns and Ammo wrote:
Read more: http://www.gunsandammo.com/content/load ... z1BH26uGfN

In the early 1970s Ruger introduced the New Model Blackhawk, which addressed the problem of carrying five in a six-shooter. In loading the New Model, opening the loading gate frees the cylinder. The New Model was fitted with a transfer bar, a barrier between the hammer and the firing pin. When the hammer falls, the transfer bar strikes the firing pin, discharging the revolver. When the hammer is down, the transfer bar moves out of the way, preventing the firing pin from being engaged.

Ruger's transfer-bar system has been around for 35 years, and some younger shooters may not be aware that the older revolvers don't work the same. Ashley Emerson relayed a story of a friend who was hunting with an old, three-screw-style Ruger single action with all six chambers loaded. The fellow fumbled the Ruger; the revolver fell out of the holster and landed on the hammer, causing a discharge that killed him. Whether or not he was aware of the empty-under-the-hammer issue isn't clear.

While the old Colt and Ruger single-action revolvers are excellent guns, they need to be handled properly so you don't shoot your foot off.


-----------------------------------------------

xLionx wrote:
throwback wrote:
Quote:
even tho she'll only have 4 shots in the revolver cuz as we allll know never load the chamber under the firing pin,


We do? Why? I don't know this!?! Was there a meeting?



You missed the meeting?!?


As to the why, it's not as big of an issue with double actions then it is on single actions, but with single actions almost any hammer bounce could cause a discharge if there were a round in that chamber

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:23 am 
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Caenus, I have also struggled over this same subject with my Wife. I strongly recomend iwb carry over purse no matter the caliber.
If you want to know why, next time you are walking through the mall or supermarket parking lot, grab her purse
(strongly with the intent of taking it like a feind) when she isn't paying attention.
*Warning* Wives HATE situational awareness drills. :twisted:
So you should probably do this after asking her if she is armed.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:44 am 
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I guess I am lucky, my girlfriend can't wait to get a Glock 23 for carry this summer :mrgreen:

On topic though, I think a 9mm sub-compact or pocket pistol would be preferable to a .38 revolver, but you absolutely must use the best hollow points you can get in either! Due to other recent events, I have become convinced that 9mm FMJ is good for nothing but paper punching, practice ammo, and submachine guns.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 2:57 am 
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AKFTW wrote:
I have become convinced that 9mm FMJ is good for nothing but paper punching, practice ammo, and submachine guns.

I wish that were true, but in real life 9mm FMJ proved to be quite leathal. :(

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:00 am 
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In any caliber get quality ammo that is appropriate for the need.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 4:02 am 
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I would like to approach this from another direction. How does she carry the gun? The Taurus 24/7 is not that big of a gun. Perhaps a different method of carry would result in her carrying it more.

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 Post subject: Re: 38 Special vs. 9mm
PostPosted: Mon Jan 17, 2011 7:46 am 
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I have j-frame revolvers and small autos, and I've found that the small revolvers for whatever reason fill my hand, exit the holster quicker and point more naturally for me. I didn't know that until I shot both handguns quite a bit. I've also found the sights, while difficult to line up quickly for aimed fire, are quite sufficient for 25-30 yard shots, which seems fine for a gun intended for close range/point shooting. So I prefer the J-frame purely because of it's ergonomics, and despite any capacity or ballistic superiority of compact semis. But that's just me. I have a friend who shoots a g26. I can't stand the way it feels, it doesn't point right for me - inexplicably, since g19 or g30 feel fine - and he can't stand my J-frame, makes a face whenever he shoots it.

So I have to second other posters who've suggested letting the wife try various compact guns, and pick the one she seems to shoot the best. Then think about the best performing ammo you can get with that platform.

As for her deciding to not carry when it's inconvenient, I really don't think you can affect her choice much by getting a more convenient firearm. That has to be her call, and while I lament her decision to leave a gun sitting in a car, you can't make the decision fir her.

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