A .357 Magnum will shoot .38 Special Ammo


Little revolver trivia. This might be common knowledge to a lot of you pros out there, but I’ll guess there are some who don’t know this. The wonders of bullet circumference make it possible for a .357 Magnum revolver to shoot .38 special rounds.

Ah the Memories

When I was a teenager, I went to an uncle’s farm to shoot skeet. One of the men there also brought a .357 Magnum snubbie. Being a complete novice, that was the first handgun I ever shot.

I knew back then that the .357 was supposed to be a pretty hot round. The guy that brought it must have noticed my apprehension because he told me that we were shooting the less powerful .38 special instead.

“How can you do that?” I wondered. Well, it turns out that the two rounds have the exact same diameter.

By the Numbers

Even though the numbers don’t sound like it, they are both measured at 0.357 inch. So the .38 is the liar! It’s the magnum that has the correct name.

The .38 bullet also has to travel a little further in the longer .357 chamber before it enters the barrel.

A word of caution here, don’t do it the other way around. I don’t think a .357 round would even fit in a revolver made for .38 special, but if it did, you’d destroy the gun. Probably hurt yourself too. The pressure that the .357 puts on it’s chamber is too much for the diminutive .38.


There are some pros to this. One is the cost. .38 specials are a lot cheaper than a .357 round. This is especially true if you load your own ammo.

Versatility is also something to consider. If you own a .357 magnum revolver, you have the ability to train with the cheaper round. You can then use the more expensive stuff for defense.

My dad has a Ruger Blackhawk single action .357 magnum. He loads his own .38 specials (cowboy loads) and then shoots them because they’re cheaper and a little more fun to shoot.

…Knowing is half the Battle

So now you know. I hope this random piece of revolver trivia helps you in your quest for  knowledge in the greater firearms world. My work here is done.

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