Using .38 special in .357 mag revolver

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

  1. RunningOnMT

    RunningOnMT New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2008
    Messages:
    4,720
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    2,955
    Location:
    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!

    http://forums.cabelas.com/archive/index.php/t-528.html

    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

    Joined:
    May 26, 2007
    Messages:
    2,955
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
  4. pinecone70

    pinecone70 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Messages:
    4,729
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2009
    Messages:
    189
    Location:
    Oklahoma.
    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 Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,526
    Location:
    Ohio
    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 New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Messages:
    388
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    4,423
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Oct 24, 2007
    Messages:
    3,147
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Messages:
    909
    Location:
    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

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2005
    Messages:
    1,293
    Location:
    Somewhere in the Twilight Zone.
    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

    Joined:
    Apr 28, 2008
    Messages:
    3,828
    Location:
    Kentucky
    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 :)

    ~john
  13. carver

    carver Moderator

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2008
    Messages:
    15,986
    Location:
    DAV, Deep in the Pineywoods of East Texas, just we
    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

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2008
    Messages:
    577
    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

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2011
    Messages:
    1
    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.
  16. Alpo

    Alpo Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2007
    Messages:
    11,200
    Location:
    NW Florida
    You don't get chamber erosion. This is a hold-over from back in the days of black powder and corrosive primers. Non-corrosive primers and propellants have been in use for decades, and it just does not happen anymore.

    What you can get, especially if you shoot lead 38s, is a buildup of lead shavings and bullet lube at the mouth of the 38 case, which can cause hard chambering and even harder ejecting of the 357s.

    I say CAN cause the hard chambering. I have shot massive amounts of 38s in my 357s, and have never seen such a buildup, and have no problems with shooting 357s afterwards. I have, however, two 32 H&R magnum revolvers that I shoot lead 32 S&W Longs in. After several hundred rounds of the 32 S&WLs, I bought a box of 32 H&Rs and fired a cylinderfull. Loading was no problem, but ejecting was a massive pain. I had to actually push the ejector rod up to the edge of the table and lean my weight on it to push the empties out. Pushing with my thumb accomplished nothing. But once I put S&WLs back in it, they ejected easily.

    I can only presume that there is a lead/lube buildup in my chambers.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2011
  17. mikld

    mikld Active Member

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2009
    Messages:
    849
    Location:
    Oregon
    I have the same experience. Since I clean my guns after a range session there is not enough carbon build up to make any difference when shooting .357 ammo after even a couple hundred .38 reloads...
  18. gdmoody

    gdmoody Moderator Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    10,639
    Location:
    Northeast Georgia
    A few months ago I bought a Dan Wesson from a fellow who shot nothing but .38s in it. I has a very nice ring inside of each cylinder of carbon/lead/whatever build-up. Every time I go shoot it, I think about stopping at the store to buy some brass .38 brushes to clean the rings out. Every time I head home from the range, I forget about it. One of these days while I am actually at the gun store or wal-mart I will think about it and buy what I need.

    What I am saying is that a ring WILL build up over time!!
  19. Josh Smith

    Josh Smith Member

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Messages:
    69
    Location:
    Wabash IN
    Hello,

    I believe the .38spl problem to be more related to lead bullets and subsequent lead buildup in the chambers than powder fouling or chamber ringing. Just think how quickly the revolver would be trashed by .357 rounds if the metal were that poor.

    On the other hand, I've seen .22 shorts lead up .22LR chambers very quickly and cause problems.

    Just keep an eye on it, but as was said, it really should be fine.

    Regards,

    Josh
Similar Threads
Forum Title Date
The Ammo & Reloading Forum 7.62X54R using Speer Hot-Cor Brit 303 (.311) 150gr SP Jul 19, 2014
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Trimming Brass using Lee Tools Jun 25, 2014
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Using Lee 3 die set for 223 Apr 18, 2014
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Using an RCBS powder measure with a Dillon 550? Apr 9, 2014
The Ammo & Reloading Forum Using 10 year old ammo Apr 2, 2014

Share This Page