Probaby just a temporary shortage in your area. 110- and 125-grain JHP or JSP are catalogged by a number of makers at such places as Cabela's, Midway, etc.. For home defence, if you chose to go with 38 Spl, you will certainly want +P loadings, probably 110 or 125 grain. Hotted up FMJ is a poor choice for defensive ammo unless you expect your target to be wearing protective clothing. As to bullet weight, you'll have to decide. But yo can get more oomph! from full-house 357 Mag loads than you can with a 38 Special, in any bullet weight. More rioom in the case for powder and all that.Last gun show I went to, I picked up a Charter Arms Bulldog .357 mag, 6" barrel, serial number in the 438XXX range. The first defect that I noticed was that the left grip is cracked a bit, but decently repaired.
Firing .38 spl 158 gr lead semi wadcutters at 50 ft, I get about a 3" group, so far, after having put about 300 rounds through it. With .357, 158 gr LSW, it increases to about 5" and is rather unpleasant to shoot by comparison to the .38 spl.I stopped at about 100 rounds of this loading. I had five rounds of a lighter bullet, I think it was 124 gr FMJ that another shooter at the range offered me in exchange for letting him fire it to get an ideas whether he wanted a longer-barreled weapon himself to replace his S&W with a short barrel. I found the recoil of the 124 gr more manageable and as accurate as the .38 spl.
My biggest problem was that it is almost impossible to use speed loaders because of the shape of the grips. I am not entirely comfortable with the idea of having to singly load even a five-shoot revolver that I intend to use mostly as a home defense weapon.
It would seem, then, that I should be looking at finding or fabricating replacement grips or modifying the issue grips to allow use of the speed loaders. If the gun has any value as a collector's item, now or down the road, modifying the original grips is not a good idea.
I plan to retire in December, so I shall probably have time, if neccessary, to fabricate a set of grips, but it would be easier , if such exist, to buy a set. Any ideas on manufacturers who would have grips to meet this requirement?
I was planning to start reloading in my liesure years, mostly to be able to keep up a good stock of the more exotic ammo that I use, like 6.5 Carcano and 6.5 Japanese. Should I be looking to reload .357 mag as well with a lighter bullet. I have not seen anything other than 158gr loads in any of the shops in my area. Is this the norm or just a temporary glitch in the supply chains? Or would I be best off to just contiune using .38 spl for both training and home defense?
While i roll out some loads with the lighter bullets, I mostly still favor the 158 JSP or JHP loads i got with my first 357 some 45 years ago. Just an old fuddy-duddy i guess, besides being a curmudgeon. For the sake of the budget, you will want to do reloading for practice ammo, at least. And that little 5-shooter will hold up a lot better if you do most of your shooting with mild loads. So will your hands...