Best .38 Special & .357 Magnum Ammo to POWER Your Revolver (2019)

Last Updated: by Aiden Williams

Revolvers might look and feel old to some but, to me, they will remain an awesome piece of weapon. They have been my choice of weapon for self-defense and target practice. Not only are they light, but they are quite easy to handle as well.

However, when it came to ammo, I was stuck between the .38 Special and the .357 Magnum ammo. To resolve the matter for once and for all, I have compiled my favorite revolver ammo that has stood the test of time. Ready to find the best .38 special ammo and the best .357 magnum ammo? Keep reading ahead!

My Top Choice

For my revolver, I prefer the Federal American Eagle .357 Magnum due to its affordable price and high-quality performance. In all my years of training, I have had the fewest misfires with this ammo. The ammo is heavyweight, however, it doesn’t affect the accuracy at the least. When I’m heading out to train at the range and need a bulk pack of ammo, it’s my first choice.

At a Glance: Our 6 Best .38 Special & .357 Magnum Ammo

Difference Between .38 Special and .357 Magnum

The major difference between the two is the case. Although they both have the same bullet diameter of .357, however, the .357 magnum ammo has a longer case.

While this might not make for a major difference, it can affect the type of revolver you’re using. If a revolver is chambered for a .357, then you can safely use it with a .38 Special ammo. However, the reverse is not true.

Thus, if your weapon is chambered for .357 Magnum, it can fire both the rounds. The .357 might be too long for a .38 chambered revolver. As a result, you might face difficulties in locking the chamber.

Watch a head-to-head comparison here:

 

Typical Design Characteristics of .38 and .357 Ammo

Types of Jackets

You might have seen the abbreviations ‘SJ’ or ‘FJM’ on ammo boxes. However, you might have been confused over what they meant. They basically refer to the type of jacket.

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ): A full metal jacket encases all the sides of the lead core in the center. However, it does not coat the bottom.

Total Metal Jacket (TMJ): The metallic jacket surrounds the sides as well as the bottom of the bullet. They use high velocities as well as large amounts of powder.

Semi-Jacketed (SJ): The metallic jacket surrounds the shaft of the bullet but not the tip.

Types of Nose

Another factor you might find abbreviated on the ammo box is the nose type. This mainly refers to the top of the bullet. These types are:

Lead Round Nose (LRN): These bullets contain a smooth curved surface at the top.

Lead Flat Nose (LFN): These are also known as the Cowboy Action Load. They are flat at the top and help deliver a more powerful impact.

Types of Point

Although there are many types of points in the industry, the two most common ones are:

Hollow Pointed (HP): These have a tip that is hollow. Upon impact, it tends to expand so as to create a larger wound. This also delivers excellent stopping power.

Soft Pointed (SP): These bullets include a jacket that does not cover the tip of the bullet. They too expand, but the rate of expansion is much larger. As a result, the bullet penetrates deeply but never exits.

To learn about all the different types of ammo, watch:

On Bullet Weight and Why It Matters in Revolvers

Whether you’re using the revolver for self-defense or training, the bullet weight is an important factor you need to consider. The weight of the projectile heavily affects the speed. Here’s how:

Heavy Bullets

Heavier bullets tend to have a slower velocity. In addition, they drop to the ground faster due to their pulling them downwards. Furthermore, wind impact tends to be lesser on them. Also, they perform well when working with short-range targets. This is why folks who want to use ammo for self-defense mainly opt for heavier bullets.

It further reduces the risk of over penetration or collateral damage. However, it does have its drawbacks. Generally, heavier bullets result in a harder recoil.

Light Bullets

Lighter bullets tend to travel faster and do not face too much bullet drop. This makes them the perfect candidate for long range shooting. Moreover, they have lesser mass which often results in overpenetration. Thus, you’d be better off without a lighter bullet in the face of any threats as you might run the risk of collateral damage.

Which one should you choose? The answer mainly depends on the purpose you intend to use it for. Lighter bullets are perfect for training or target practice as they feature a light recoil. On the other hand, heavier bullets are more suited to self-defense situations.

To know more:


Top 6 Best .38 Special or .357 Magnum Ammo

Federal American Eagle .357 Magnum 158 gr. Pistol Ammo: Best Overall Ammo

Federal American Eagle .357 Magnum 158 gr.The .357 Magnum by the Federal American Eagle is worthy of high praise. One of the best sellers in the market, it is quite ideal for plinking, shooting, and target practice.

Key Features

  • Full Metal jacketed rounds
  • 158 gr. bullet weight
  • Full power loads
  • Available in a pack of 50 rounds

What Other Users are Saying

Since the Federal rounds include brass construction, users found them to be highly durable and non-corrosive. In fact, most users agreed that they could face the brunt of the worst weather conditions. Moreover, the boxer primer makes it easier for users to reload and reuse these cartridges.

The Full Metal Jacket bullets are available in a bulk pack of 50 rounds which is quite sufficient for training at the range. What’s more, the full-power loads ensure your bullets penetrate through your targets with ease. Moreover, the soft points help in increasing the velocity while reducing any collateral damage. All in all, users found that the feed was quite reliable with fewer misfires than usual.

Watch how it performs in a real-life test:

 

Pros

  • Durable and non-corrosive metal jackets
  • High muzzle velocity for deeper penetration capabilities
  • Easy and reliable feed
  • The primer can be reused and reloaded about 5 times
  • Perfect for range shooting as it is available in a bulk pack

Cons

  • Heavy recoil.
  • Tends to get dirty inside the barrel

Wrap-Up

Overall, the American Eagle .357 Magnum is perfect for range practice. Moreover, it is quite accurate and reliable despite being mid-range priced. From a reliable piece like the Chiappa Rhino, this ammo can really shine.

Overall Rating: 4.9

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Winchester USA Value Pack .38 Special 130-Gr. Handgun Ammunition: Best Value for Money

Winchester USA Value Pack .38 Special 130-Gr.When it comes to the best 38 special ammo, the Winchester USA Value Pack is the best choice for you. Available in a pack of 100, not only is it affordable, but it is quite accurate as well.

Key Features

  • Full Metal Jacket rounds
  • Brass casing with a boxer primer
  • 1230 gr. bullet weight
  • Available in a bulk pack of 100

What Other Users Are Saying

Users of the Winchester love the affordable price the pack comes in. However, this doesn’t mean that the ammo isn’t high quality. In fact, the ammo is quite reliable and accurate. Furthermore, the bulk pack of 100 rounds means you can use them for training for hours on end without worrying about the ammo running out.

Moreover, the bullets are Full Metal Jacket design which means that they can be used in all sorts of revolvers. They are perfect for shooting at the range as they do not expand. In addition, the boxer primer features a brass construction which is non-corrosive. Lastly, the primer is quite easy to reload or reuse.

Watch an unboxing:

 

Pros

  • Comes in a bulk pack which makes it perfect for range shooting and target practice
  • Durable and non-corrosive brass coating
  • Full penetration capabilities
  • Accurate and reliable with few misfires
  • The primer can be easily reused or reloaded

Cons

  • Dirty shots
  • The gun requires frequent cleaning and maintenance

Wrap-Up

All in all, the Winchester USA Value Pack is the best affordable solution to all your shooting needs. With pure power and increased numbers at your side, you can tackle all kinds of targets at the range for days on end.

Overall Rating: 4.8

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PMC Bronze .38 Special Handgun Ammunition

PMC Bronze .38 Special Handgun AmmunitionOne of the best .38 special ammo on the market, the PMC Bronze Handgun ammo is available in a pack of 50 rounds. With a smooth, reliable feeding, it is bound to be just what a good revolver such as the EAA Windicator needs.

Key Features:

  • Full Metal Jacket bullets.
  • Non-expanding and deeply penetrating rounds
  • 132 gr. bullet weight
  • Lead core and a brass jacket

What Other Users Are Saying

The rounds feature non-expanding bullets which are perfect for plinking and target shooting. In addition, the lead core grants the cartridge its weight. As a result, the rounds penetrate deeply inside the target. Also, they are available in a pack of 50 rounds which is quite sufficient if you’re training.

Of course, some users noted that the heavy bullet leads to heavier recoil. However, the smooth and reliable feeding the ammo provides almost makes up for it. The main reason for the high-quality is the extensive testing and inspection the rounds go through. Consequently, this leads to greater reliability and uniformity.

Want to find out how it performs in a range test? Watch:

 

Pros

  • Perfect for plinking or practicing
  • Heavier bullet leads to deeper penetration and more power
  • Tested and inspected rigorously for high-quality assurance
  • Reliable and smooth feeding
  • Non-corrosive and long-lasting bullets

Cons

  • Heavy recoil due to the heavyweight
  • Tends to get the barrel dirty

Wrap-Up

The PMC Bronze Handgun Ammo is the best to power up your revolver! You can use it to train or practice at the range without worrying about any jamming or misfires.

Overall Rating: 4.7

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Winchester USA .357 Magnum Handgun Ammunition

Winchester USA .357 Magnum Handgun AmmunitionIn case you’re looking for revolver ammo for self-defense or conceal and carry purposes, then the .357 Magnum by Winchester is perfect.

Key Features

  • Heavyweight 110 gr. bullet weight
  • Jacketed Hollow Point cartridges
  • Consistent accuracy and reliable feeding
  • Pack of 50 rounds

What Other Users Are Saying

Most users enjoyed using the Winchester as it had almost no misfires. It is quite affordable as well which further increases its value in the market. Moreover, the jacketed hollow point bullets ensure vast expansion and deep penetration. However, the bullet doesn’t penetrate all the way through. Instead, it stops inside the target to deliver maximum damage.

In addition, controlled penetration ensures no collateral damage occurs. Apart from that, users quite liked that the bullets were clean. They did not foul the barrels. As a result, users did not find themselves cleaning or maintaining their guns too often. The box of 50 rounds is more than enough to last you for years as you’ll rarely ever use the bullets.

Learn more about the night vision properties:

 

Pros

  • Increased stopping power and deep penetration
  • Vast expansion ensures larger wounds and quicker incapacitation
  • Non-corrosive bullets that last a long time
  • Does not foul the barrel and reduces the need to clean the gun frequently
  • Reloadable boxer primer

Cons

  • Heavy recoil that might result in inaccurate shots if you’re not used to it.

Wrap-Up

So, if you’re looking to protect yourself from any threats, the Winchester is the most reliable option. Its explosive expansion power and non-fouling capabilities ensure that the gun never jams up when you need it the most.

Overall Rating: 4.6

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Remington UMC .38 Special Pistol Ammunition

Remington UMC .38 Special Pistol AmmunitionWith 140 years of design and manufacturing experience, the Remington UMC .38 Pistol ammo is perfect for shooting and target practice at the range. They are the perfect blend of performance and value.

Key Features

  • Full jacketed metal rounds
  • Reloadable brass boxer primer
  • 150-grain bullet weight as well as a muzzle velocity of 950 fps.
  • Non-corrosive brass casing

What Other Users Are Saying

Most users found the Remington to be well-suited for revolvers. The Full Metal Jacket rounds include a brass jacket that lends non-corrosive properties to the cartridges. Thus, users found that the Remington not only withstood the test of time, but also moist weather.

Apart from that, the 130 gr. weight provides deep penetration capabilities so the bullet passes through your targets. However, the heavier weight and the lower speed does reduce accuracy. The boxer primer is reloadable so you won’t have to waste money on buying other primers. Also, the 50-round pack is perfect for shooting and training.

For more information:

 

Pros

  • A non-corrosive jacket that lasts a long time
  • Heavyweight increases the penetration capabilities
  • Available in a bulk pack of 50 rounds
  • Reloadable and reusable primers
  • Reliable and smooth feed

Cons

  • Heavier recoil
  • Less target accuracy due to the lower speed

Wrap-Up

In summary, the Remington UMC .38 special is highly recommended for beginners and those looking for durable bullets. It is definitely a force to be reckoned with inside the range.

Overall Rating: 4.6

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Hornady Critical Defense .357 Magnum Handgun Ammo

Hornady Critical Defense .357 Magnum Handgun AmmoIf you’re looking for hard-hitting power to stop all kinds of threats in their tracks, then the Hornady Critical Defense might serve you the best.

Key Features

  • A pack of 25 Flexible Tip Expanding (FTX) Bullets
  • Polymer tip and nickel cases
  • 1500 fps muzzle velocity while the bullet weight is about 125 gr.
  • Reloadable brass boxer primer

What Other Users Are Saying

The Hornady ammo delivers premium performance in the face of the worst threats. The soft polymer tip allows the hollow bullet to expand explosively while preventing any clogging inside the gun. Furthermore, it prevents the bullet from tangling or prematurely expanding when in contact with fabrics.

Moreover, the low flash propellants inside the casing allow for maximum velocity and superior energy. Apart from that, the minimal flash point reduces recoil and protects any night vision. In addition, the nickel casing ensures that the rounds remain free from corrosion or rusting. Also, the bullets are cannelured and crimped to reduce and avoid any setback.

Watch a gel test:

 

Pros

  • The explosive expansion that leaves larger wounds
  • Low flash points that allow for maximum velocity
  • Supports night vision
  • Reduced recoil and setback
  • Does not tangle with any clothes or fabrics such as denim

Cons

  • Hard to feed into the revolver
  • Reloading might be a little difficult

Wrap-Up

All in all, the Hornady Critical Defense .357 ammo is perfect for self-defense uses. It boasts of ultimate stopping power as well as an explosive expansion that will leave any adversary running.

Overall Rating: 4.4

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Other Great .38 Special and .357 Magnum Ammo


Conclusion

Well, there you have it! I hope most of you will agree with my choices. All the best .38 and .357 ammo is perfect to power up your revolver. However, one truly stands out in my eyes. The Federal American Eagle .357 Magnum ammo is well suited for training or target practice.

The brass construction ensures that the bullet will last you for a long time. I have found them to be highly durable. However, that’s not all! The soft tip helps grant it higher muzzle velocities and a larger energy outburst!

 

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