Using .38 special in .357 mag revolver

Discussion in 'The Ammo & Reloading Forum' started by RunningOnMT, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

    Nov 19, 2008
    Akron, Ohio
    This question occured to me while reading comments in another thread but I didn't want to hijack the thread. I have seen several posts mention firing .38 spl ammo in .357 mag revolvers. While I know it can be done, I have been told by a couple gun smiths and dealers that this is not a good practice unless you are going to be using .38 spl exclusively in that gun. I know little about the technical aspect besides what I have been told but these people said .38's will wear a groove (?) in the chamber after time that will cause a problem with future use of .357 ammo. They said if you want to shoot .38's buy a .38 but if you want a .357 only use .357 cartridges. Have I been told wrong?
  2. graehaven

    graehaven Well-Known Member

    May 26, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Here's what I found someone say as a recommendation on another forum:

    Roger, you will also notice that the .38 Specials are a lot easier on your revolver, not just your wrist. I suspect most people with .357s spend most of their time shooting .38s and if you shoot .38 +Ps you'll be closer to .357 performance while still be easier on the gun. You might want to keep an eye on cylinder chambers though if you shoot a lot of .38s. The shorter case might mean a little build up from time to time that could make loading .357s a bit sticky. I will generally shoot a couple of cylinders of .38s and then one of .357s and this seems to prevent this problem. Good cleaning helps too. Both rounds are also great with cast bullets. Just keep the velocities down a bit in .357 to help keep barrels clean. Mind you, I've shot a lot of Lyman No. 2 alloy (quenched in cold water) in my .357s at around 1100 fps and no leading yet. I think the .38 Special (particularly in +P form) has unfortunately become one of the more under rated rounds in these times of high pressure, super fast cartridges. Enjoy!

    I JUST bought a Taurus .357 Titanium on Saturday, and ran a box of .38s through it yesterday. When I carry it, I plan to use .38+P defense ammo in it, rather than .357 rounds.

    With the way firearms are manufactured today with such quality materials and tolerances, I doubt it would be much of an issue. Although, someone here might think/know differently. I'll be looking forward to seeing some expert responses on it. :D

  3. graehaven

    graehaven Well-Known Member

    May 26, 2007
    Rochester, NY
  4. pinecone70

    pinecone70 Active Member

    Jul 30, 2008
    Minnesota Gal!
    My new Ruger actually does better with .38s than it does with .357 magnums. I don't really know why, but with the magnum rounds giving me sore hands, I think I'll be mostly using .38 specials. It's not a defense gun anyway.
  5. bestseller92

    bestseller92 New Member

    Mar 21, 2009
    I've shot TONS of .38s through my various .357s with ZERO problems. You MIGHT have to clean your chambers if you get sticky chambering/extraction with .357s after using .38s. Big deal. But I've rarely even found that to be the case. Again, there is nothing wrong with shooting .38s in a .357 Magnum.

    Yes, in my experienced opinion, you have been "told wrong".
    Last edited: Apr 1, 2009
  6. Insulation Tim

    Insulation Tim Well-Known Member

    Oct 29, 2008
    Good to know as I just purchased a new Taurus 5 shot .357 mag revolver but intened on shooting .38's in it.
  7. questor

    questor Member

    Feb 28, 2009
    Slickville, Pa
    One day at the range, I shot a box of .38's and then was unable to load .357 rounds. Fortunately a very savvy shooter said "you need a chamber brush, not a bore brush to clean the chamber." Bought a chamber brush and all that crap was cleaned.

    the moral of the story, use a chamber brush after you shoot .38's
  8. howlnmad

    howlnmad Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2008
    Harriman, Tn
    :cool:With proper cleaning this won't be a problem. You do clean regularly, don't you? Shoot the 38's, save money and the pain, just thoroughly clean the firearm.
  9. Bindernut

    Bindernut Well-Known Member

    Oct 24, 2007
    ND, USA
    Yup, the biggest problem I've had with shooting .38Spcl in my .357s is the buildup in the front of the chambers (either lead or powder fouling) that will cause sticky or even impossible chambering of .357 brass.

    And if you don't have a .38 chamber brush handy, then grab a .40/10mm or .41/.44 bore brush and use it to clean those chambers out.
  10. Dirtypacman

    Dirtypacman New Member

    Mar 3, 2008
    Merrimac Valley, MA
    I also load my own and shoot 38 out of my 357. Regular cleaning is all that is needed to keep it in good working condition for either.
  11. BobMcG

    BobMcG Well-Known Member Supporting Member

    I've shot thousands of .38s in .357s without seeing any cylinders getting "scored" by the shorter cartridge, despite having been told it "could" happen.
  12. johnlives4christ

    johnlives4christ Former Guest

    Apr 28, 2008
    normally when i shoot 38s out of my 357 i dont have much problem with sticky chambers as i will only shoot 4 or 5 cylinder loads full then run 357 through it... i'd rather shoot 357 but whenever i get a deal on 38's i cant pass it up :)

  13. carver

    carver Moderator Supporting Member

    I shot my SP 101 with .38 wadcutters for a long time, as I really don't like the recoil form the .357 ammo. One day I decided to load up some home made .357 rounds, and discovered that they didn't want to go into the chambers! After a closer investigation, I discovered that a deposit had been made in each chamber from the powder. It was burnt in well, and it was thick. I used a wooden dowel with 0000 steal wool in a hand drill to work it out. I will no longer shoot .38's in any .357 chamber without a thorough cleaning afterwards, and I try not to shoot them at all. I have several .38's that will work just fine for wadcutters.
  14. thomas44

    thomas44 New Member

    Mar 16, 2008
    I usually shoot .357 magnums anyway, but to clean my revolver chambers I use one of those nylon brushes that usually come with a semi-auto pistol these days. It's oversized and puts enough pressure on the chamber walls to clean them really well. Works great !
  15. ezstreit

    ezstreit New Member

    Oct 29, 2011
    Having just bought my first 357 6 in bbl COLT for deer hunting the cost of ammo in 2011 saving $ by using 38 spl for practice in 357 sounds good. But should fire the 357 ammo to be used for hunting also so as to adjust sights. I had read that the problem was chamber erosion (grove) in front of the shorter 38 would cause the 357 case to bulge into the grove making extraction of the 357 case more difficult. Logic seems that this would occur but comments above indicate not a big deal.
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