ammodotcom 13 Sep 2022

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38 Special vs 357: Is 357 Too Powerful for Concealed Carry?

In General

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If you quickly glance at 38 Special and 357 Magnum ammo, you might not notice any differences and think they were the same round. Although they are almost identical in their case dimensions, the 38 Special and 357 Magnum are extremely different.

Both revolver rounds are superb choices for concealed carry and self-defense, as they were used by multiple law enforcement agencies well into the 1990s and have proven their efficacy on the streets time and time again.

The 38 Special and 357 Magnum both came into existence under the same pretenses - Necessity. At the time, 38 Long Colt was ineffective at stopping Pilipino Morro warriors and could not penetrate their hardened wooden shields. The 38 Special was developed to take extra powder and punch through barriers more effectively.

Fast forward to the Prohibition Era and the 357 Magnum was made to defeat early body armor and punch through the car doors of the time.

The 357 Magnum packs quite a punch that can be hard to handle in a lightweight snubnose revolver. Some shooters describe the recoil in these firearms as painful which can limit your practice. However, 38 Special +P is an excellent alternative to 357 in these revolvers.

Although each cartridge has its place, the 38 Special lends itself to concealed carry as the lower recoil helps when using a small revolver while the 357 Mag is a great option for home defense when handgun weight is less of an issue.


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