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Thread: Airlite backup: .38 vs. .22 Magnum

  1. #11
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    Feb 2016
    Southwest Pennsylvania
    Quote Originally Posted by JCN View Post
    Everything is a trade off.

    Attachment 70499

    For size comparison. 340PD, 2” NAA black widow, P32AT.

    I’d personally probably go to the P32 if I wanted low recoil and more rounds in a smaller package, but if you’re married to revolvers in that role that’s a limiting factor.

    The 2” black widow is very easy to carry and doesn’t look like a gun. It has a real grip and real sights and the 2” barrel in WMR is actually decent enough you can get the Gold Dots to expand.

    See my gel test bullet extraction below:

    Attachment 70501

    Shorter than 2” barrel has spotty expansion for the ammo, but with those wimpy rounds you’re just punching holes anyway.

    The single action of the black widow can be an issue, but if you’re talking about a “notagun” role it might suffice. I sometimes pocket carry a 1” NAA PUG as a noisemaker.

    I did test to see if I could shoot the NAAs faster and came up with Cowboy stylez.

    I am a big fan of the P-32, and carried one as a NPE gun for a few years. However, it is worth mentioning that these guns must be tested when loaded 7+1 to assure reliability. In my experience, the factory 9 lb. recoil spring is not strong enough to reliably overcome any rim interactions when fully loaded, resulting in first shot jams. Wolff 11 lb. springs are strong enough to overcome this issue.

    Avoid doing the "fluff and buff" advocated on other sites, and stick with the polymer guide rod.

    Adding a Crimson Trace LaserGuard seriously enhances the ease of accurate shooting.

    For the North American Arms revolvers, I find that the "boot" grip provides just enough grip for good recoil control while still being more concealable than a small semiauto. Some users report good results with the slip-on rubber grips. Before truly small semiautos in .32 and larger caliber became common, people I respected carried these tiny revolvers in their pocket as backup or NPE guns, so I did the same until I bought my P-32.

  2. #12
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    Southwest Pennsylvania
    Quote Originally Posted by Navin Johnson View Post
    One could argue 5 full 38 wadcutters might be better than 7 22's.
    Behindblueis has pointed out the ability of .38 to break bones. I would also take 5 of .38 over 7 of .22.

  3. #13
    Site Supporter jandbj's Avatar
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    Sep 2012
    Quote Originally Posted by LtDave View Post
    I think the .22 Magnum is good enough. I prefer .22 Magnum over .22 LR for self defense purposes because in my experience .22 Magnum is of higher quality and has fewer failures to fire that plague .22LR. Extra velocity in a short barreled .22 Mag isn't a factor in my decision. .22 Mag also offers bullets that are better (Gold Dots and Critical Defense are good examples) than you're going to get in a .22 LR.

    Keep in mind that the rimfire S&W J frames will have heavier trigger pulls than centerfires. This is required for reliable ignition. My 43C has a noticeably nicer trigger than my 351c.
    Mine too. Contemplating dropping the 351c off to Mike LaRocca or Karl Sokol for a trigger job.

  4. #14
    Member JHC's Avatar
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    Feb 2011
    North Georgia
    .22 magnum beats the .22 LR out of snubs like 9mm + P does to 9mm standard pressure. We load the 351 with 40 grain solids from CCI

    Details here from Lucky Gunner.

    As a man sows, so shall he reap.

  5. #15

    5 rounds of .38 or 7 rounds of 22 mag?

    Previous Discussion on this topic:

    My thoughts FWIW: .38 Spl will reliably break bones, .22 WMR won't, so I carry an LCR .357 with barrier blind GD 135 .38 Spl +P and not my .22LR or .22WMR LCR's for a winter jacket pocket gun. If .38 Spl +P recoil is an issue, wadcutters are an option.

    If you decide to go with .22 WMR, ammo choice to get decent penetration from 1.8'' barrel seems somewhat limited.

    ETA: I haven't researched it a lot or done verification, but I've seen many say that in a snubby, there is no advantage of a .22WMR over .22LR in terms of terminal ballistics, and a disadvantage in cost and blast/flash.
    Last edited by SiriusBlunder; 04-22-2021 at 04:00 PM.

  6. #16
    IS WHAT PLANTS CRAVE BehindBlueI's's Avatar
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    Mar 2015
    Nothing I've seen since the last thread (that DMWINCLE posted) has changed my mind. I'll just recycle a bit of content here, but it's a good thread on it's own and I'd recommend reading through it:

    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    ...Unless physically incapable, carry something that will consistently and reliably break an adult's bones, which in my observations puts the floor at .380.
    Quote Originally Posted by BehindBlueI's View Post
    Let me flip the question. Rimfire advocates keep asking "when did terminal ballistics matter..." in both threads, this one and the 2011 one. Fine. When did capacity matter in the same situation? When did 5 rounds of .38 fail to work when an additional few rounds of rimfire would have saved the day?

    Most random attacker, the vast majority in fact, are not dedicated to the assault. Stipulated. Then what does an extra 3, or 50, rounds get you? They ran at the first sign of the draw, they ran at the first sound of gunfire, they ran at the first injury. I've often said that based on my stats you can win about 1/3 of these encounters with a starter pistol.

    The problem is the dedicated attacker or the attacker who *can't* flee. He's cornered in the business, etc. and has to shoot his way out. He's high and doesn't realize what's going on and just continues his actions (people have been shot and INGORED THE SHOOTER TO CONTINUE THEIR "MISSION", particularly the violently mentally ill) Maybe you're such a fantastic shooter that you can, on demand and under fight or flight response, ear canal/eye socket shot the bad guy. But most of us aren't, and most of the people who read this aren't, and most of the people we recommend guns to aren't. Hence I want a gun that can break bones because I get that I might not have a head shot available even if I can make those shots on demand. I might have to shoot someone in the back and their spine or back of the skull is my best target while they are murdering someone else. I might have to shoot at a shin from under a car or a forearm that's sticking around a corner because that's all the target I have of someone actively murdering others or trying to murder me. Center mass is center of whatever the target is. Neither a .38 nor a .22 is likely to kill via an extremity injury, but which degrades the opponent's ability to fight more, a small hole through the meat, or a small hole through the meat and a broken bone?

    How many bad guys flee but fire a shot or two as they leave? I'm not in front of my stats, but more than zero. From memory, maybe 15%-ish. Want to roll the dice? You put them to flight, it's un-aimed fire and you're *probably* not going to get hit. How much degradation of their ability to fire those shots would you like if your life and/or the people you are protecting's life is up to the random chance of where those bullets go.

    It's in the "better than nothing" and "more likely to work then not" camp if you are not the target of a dedicated attacker. However the supposed benefit of extra capacity is much less likely to be useful in a real world fight then the ability to degrade an opponent via crippling injury that a .38/.380 + can provide.

    The .22 is for people who are physically incapable of shooting larger calibers. Severe arthritis has set in and it's painful and flinch inducing to shoot something else. Tendons are damaged and the hand is impaired to the point recoil is physically damaging to the shooter. Etc.
    Important rule change regarding political discussion here:

    Quote Originally Posted by UNM1136 View Post
    Maybe with talented students I would lube up with baby oil and then go at it.

  7. #17
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    Nov 2012
    Erie County, NY
    Ha, I am one of the chosen with SW models in 32 HR mag and 327 Fed Mag. A 432 and a 632. Lately, I've been have some back issues (sigh) so violating all my principles of carrying a semi and extra mag, the 432 has moved into EDC and a speed loader. The Glock will reemerge soon.

    Luckily I have stash of rounds as I doubt they will produce more of this ammo in my life time. Anyone seen the new Federal or Buffalo Bore rounds around?

  8. #18
    My 2 cents, owning and carrying a 351c, is that it is a great NPE gun, and I have had zero misfires with it in about 700 rounds of Federal FMJ, recoil tolerable a lot longer than even light wadcutters out of my 442.
    I have much more confidence in the bullet construction of my carry Gold Dots to hold together and penetrate, even if not expand.
    Sights are superior over the 442, and the trigger is heavier, but I really do not note it as being that much worse than my stock 442. But I like NY triggers in my Glocks, so maybe I'm not the one to ask on trigger quality.
    Ejection is crap. The long straight cases do not always want to drop clear, and the factory grips will occasionally interfere as well. Reloads are not a thing that happens quickly.
    After about 50 rounds chambers will get gunky enough to keep rounds from dropping in smoothly, but it is still the cleanest shooting rimfire I have ever shot.
    Carry wise, I forget sometimes that I am carrying it. It is crazy light, and a basic Galco Stow-n-go appendix carried it disappears even in light gym clothes. Fully loaded it doesn't seem much heavier than empty, unlike the .38, which when loaded feels like it doubles the weight. I can carry the 351 with clothes I cannot carry any other of my guns in.

    But if I were to do it again, I probably would get the 43c, just for ammo cost and availability. But it is not a big enough factor for me to replace it.

  9. #19
    Hobbyist JAD's Avatar
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    Jul 2011
    Kansas City
    I generally support the position of doc Roberts:

    380 is inadequate to the task of self defense. .38 special is barely acceptable as a BUG or NPE. Anything smaller is a poor choice, particularly if a weapon chambered in .38 having the same (exact) form factor is available.

    .32 and .22 don’t have a seat at the table.

  10. #20
    Member gato naranja's Avatar
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    Dec 2018
    Flyover country... and never too far from the food bowl.
    This puts me in mind of an old article about the .410 being useful for two kinds of people: those with very low recoil tolerance and those who are genuine experts with the shotgun.

    Someone I shoot with who has used both .38 Spl and .22 Mag on various critters over a number of years - and whose ballistic opinions I pay attention to - does not use the .22 Magnum in a CCW role because he considers it to be too dependent on perfect shot placement.

    My own more limited use of .22 Magnum would buttress his conclusion.

    I think that if I end my shooting days so stove-up that I can't even tolerate .38 wadcutters, I will probably skip the .22 Mag and take the plunge straight to .22 LR, trading the lower power for higher capacity.

    (un VIEJO gato naranja... and still skeptical about humans)

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