357 Loads- Fact or Fiction?


May 4, 2007, 05:27 PM
Question to all of you experienced 357 people out there,

As a new CCW carrier, I have a number of 357 loads to choose from. From a number of forums, I have heard that the traditional 125 grain hollow point available from many manufacturers at 1450 ft per second (under-charged 357 125 grain loads we will not discuss), is an underpenetrator, and one should go with a heavier load as it is not a good idea if said assailant is heavily clothed.

At the same time, others contend that the 357 125 grain is the standard upon which good rounds are based. Combat distances (at least in my case as a CCW holder) will most likely be between 5-10 feet.

So guys, what do you use and why? Are stories of underpenetration true? Stories of one load or the other working or why you made your choice are encouraged.

Detroit Student

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May 4, 2007, 06:11 PM
If you can effectively carry and conceal a .357 your are in good shape. If you can accurately hit targets with full blown 125 grain .357 hollow points you are in good shape. If you can control this weapon and make quick follow up shots you are in good shape. If you have all of this you are as well armed as any man. I have never heard about 125 grainers under penetrating. On the contrary, 158 grainers have been known to over penetrate. LOL Bill

May 4, 2007, 06:12 PM
It has worked well in the past, so should work well in the future. There are darn few possible loads for the .357 that won't do it. I'm a .45 guy, but have owned and shot a lot of .357. It is a fine cartridge for target, hunting, or self defense.

May 4, 2007, 07:03 PM
You do know that 1450 fps is generated in a 4" barrel and most CCW revolvers have shorter barrels meaning that round will be slower.

May 4, 2007, 07:11 PM
Any of the 125 grain loads should work OK. I'd go with the Speer Gold dot since those bullets are known for holding together very well and still expanding when fired through clothing. Avoid the Federal Hydra-shock as they are known to not expand reliably when shot through clothing.

The 145grain Winchester silvertip is probably another good low-tech choice.

The 158grain Speer gold dot is a hunting load. Expect lots of penetration!

I carry the Winchester 180gr. Partition Gold. The testing on this round shows big expantion, good penetration and reliable function through clothing. I find it to be more shootable than the full power 125grain loads. The recoil seems to be more of a hard shove then the sharp slap from the 125's. That said it's still a full power load and is hard to deal with in fly-weight revolvers.

The new one to watch is Federal's 140 grain all copper Barnes-X bullet. It might be the ultimate .357 mag PD round.

May 4, 2007, 07:14 PM
You may wish to check the ballistic gel tests at THR member JE223's website, www.brassfetcher.com . That should give you plenty to chew on so to speak.

May 4, 2007, 07:19 PM
Not one chance in 1000 you;ll ever need to use it, but if you did not one chance in 1000 it would make a bit of difference whether the bullet is 125 HP's or 158 wad cutter. I wouldn't want either being shot my way.
My 357 when I load it for protection is loaded with 125 HP's because of personal testing I have done, and what I have read.

May 4, 2007, 07:21 PM
Just out of curiousity, what gun did you end up buying?

May 4, 2007, 07:31 PM
I tried some Remington 125's out of my snubby Colt Magnum Carry... while they chrono'ed around 1250 consistantly they are handful to shoot.. stinging fingers, loud report, but no signs of overpressure or anything. The Ruger Sp101 has an even smaller grip and I felt I had even less control with it.

In a 4 inch revolver I'm sure you could expect as much as 200fps more, definitely so in a 5 or 6.

But considering 125 @ 1250 is very similar to many 9mm loads, I'd rather shoot the heavier 158gr bullet at somewhere over 1000 fps in a snubby. In a full sized revolver the 125 shines, but in a snubby controllability is right on the edge, for me, with the 125's.

May 4, 2007, 08:06 PM
Ballistic gel tests are fun but prove little.

May 4, 2007, 08:51 PM
Ballistic gel tests are fun but prove little.
Well then what superior alternative would you suggest folks use for load development, testing, and comparison? Until something better comes about I'll look at ballistic gel tests to compare performance.

Jim March
May 4, 2007, 09:11 PM
Both Doubletap and Buffalo Bore load the Speer Gold Dot 125gr high-speed projectile (fairly small hollowpoint cavity, bordering on "dimple" as 1,600fps loads from a 4" barrel. These are "very authoritative". Not recommended from a snub but...if you and your gun can cope, these are probably among the very best handgun self defense rounds out there, regardless of caliber.

I split a bowling ball in half with one recently (from a 4.68" barrel Ruger New Vaq) and sent sizable bits of the concrete(?) core about 30+ feet. Great fun. The guy I was with said he'd never seen a handgun round do that.

Gold Dot slugs resist coming apart because the outer copper layer is really a heavy electroplate over the lead core. Jacket/core separation CAN happen but it's not common with this design, so Gold Dots in general are good candidates for being "overdriven" past design spec.

Buffbore's version has been clocked at 1,476fps from an S&W 3" barrel:


These loads ain't easy to control. To make them comfy with my Ruger I had to shave down the black plastic checkering on the bottom 1/3rd of each panel and round the bottoms of the panels so that it slid smooth past my pinkie - I shoot SA revolvers with a "pinkie under" hold. With the stock grips and this Doubletap load, it was right at the edge of tolerable. With the grip mods, 100+ in a session would be no problem. And this is a fairly heavy gun, about similar in weight/heft to a 6" barrel S&W K-Frame 357.

May 4, 2007, 09:16 PM
I don't have much faith in the 125 hi vel style loads in .357 Magnum. Modern bullets can be designed to expand without that level of velocity, and with the cranked up 125's you run the real risk of underpenetration or light bullets deflecting away from the COM organs. "Overpenetration" is much ado about nothing. You WANT your bullet to make a hole in front and one in back, and you want it to expand and use up most of its energy along the way. A bullet, like the light .357's, designed to penetrate only a few inches and then stop, is a poor choice.

Plus, the fact is that a lot of American men are twice or three times the size of the average man thirty or fifty years ago. Are you going to use a 125 grain bullet against a 300 or 400 lb. foe? That's asking a lot from such a small round.

May 4, 2007, 10:29 PM
If you can deal with the recoil and noise of a full power .357 in 125 gr., remington, federal, whatever, you have one of the most effective handgun rounds against humans ever, period. And that is not from ballistics tests, jello, etc.

Jim March
May 4, 2007, 10:47 PM
The full-house 125s in 357 are one of the few loads that both Fackler and Sanow/Marshal agree on. As long as they hold together anyways. And the Gold Dots are superb for staying in one piece.

The Remington 125 got such a great rep not because it's an advanced projectile design, but because Remmie loaded it with some heat on it. A Gold Dot loaded to that level or beyond will do just fine and both Buffbore and Doubletap deliver.

I did find that group sizes were opening up with the Doubletap version in range testing on paper, BUT that was before I improved my grips for controllability. At the informal outdoor shooting I did more recently with that load, I wasn't able to pin down group size but the DTs did seem to be generally going where they needed to go. I do wonder if Tim's load in the Buffbore version isn't maybe a bit more accurate. I'd also like to compare the night flash properties between the two eventually.

May 5, 2007, 12:28 AM
DetroitStudent, You don't say what length barrel you have. If 2" or less, go with Speer GDHP SHORT BARREL (SB). 3" go with it too, or any other choice. 4" or more choose whatever you like, but probably not the SB stuff.

May 5, 2007, 01:37 AM
the gun in question is a 3" sp101.

I have no recoil problems- as this will be a self defense gun I am anticipating confrontations only out to 15 feet or so.

Brass Fetcher
May 5, 2007, 02:18 AM
Believe me... they exist. :neener: Ahhhh. I just couldn't help it.

.357Magnum is a good caliber... a good -pistol- caliber. For that reason, it is not the same as a rifle or shotgun, which also have failures to rapidly incapacitate a target.

May 5, 2007, 02:20 AM
Interesting comments. Despite what is or isn't intuitive, the 125gr 357 does not have a reputation of underpenetrating. If anything, the opposite is true. I'm not one to put a lot of faith in gelatin tests, but looking at the penetration of the 125gr gold dot (not event the hi-vel BB load), it looks pretty impressive, much more than many other well known man or beast killers. Combined with its stellar reputation, I wouldn't worry to much about 125gr 357 @ 1400+fps.

May 5, 2007, 08:09 AM
Research by Evan Marshall on actual shooting has proven the 125 grain .357 to be a very effective stopper, with something like 96% one shot stops.

May 5, 2007, 12:28 PM
Well, despite the fact that there are a handful of folks on this forum who seem to delight in disagreeing me and dismissing what I say I will offer my opinion, anyway.

1) I am unaware of anyone claiming the 125 grain .357 Magnum load lacks penetration. What is it you are trying to penetrate? If it's a human body you should have no trouble at all reaching what needs reaching inside the torso with this load.

2) Is that 1450 FPS you mentioned actually attained by the mainstream ammo companies? It's my understanding that the loads have been reduced over the years to where 1250 FPS is pretty much the norm. I must confess that I don't use factory .357 Magnum ammo and I have never tested it for myself.

3) All of the studies that I have seen published list the 125 JHP in .357 Magnum as the top performer or very nearly the best.

In my opinion any JHP load from the .357 Magnum will do for self-defense. Masaad Ayoob has noted that sometimes JHPs will plug when passing through winter clothing turning the bullet into a solid with no expansion but a heavy coat will not stop a .357 slug.

May 5, 2007, 01:03 PM

The 125 gr. .357's coming out of a 4 in. tube at 1450 can still be had from companies like Federal and Remington, and Corbon. Then if you want to go hotter than that you've got Buffalo Bore, etc. There have been a large number of rounds introduced recently in the 1200 fps range for the proliferation of people enamored with the reputation of the .357. But when they actually fire a hot 125 round they realized that there's not a snowball's chance in hell that they would ever fire one again. And yes, those 125's do catch your attention. I'd never, ever shoot that round indoors without ear protection, and the Good Lord help me if I ever had to light a hot magnum round off in a hallway.

Jim March
May 5, 2007, 01:10 PM
Saxon: on point two, the answer is "yes". The Remmie and Cor-Bon 125s are hitting that regularly from 4" barrels. The Doubletap and Buffalo Bore versions are getting there with TWO inch barrels...and hitting 1,600 from 4".

Cor-Bon did download the recipe some for their 125gr all-copper DPX, but It's still a pretty good load. They still offer a regular JHP 125 at a listed 1,400fps from a 4" and it sometimes does better depending on barrel (late model S&W and Rugers shoot faster than earlier S&Ws).

Charles S
May 5, 2007, 01:54 PM
I'd never, ever shoot that round indoors without ear protection, and the Good Lord help me if I ever had to light a hot magnum round off in a hallway.

After shooting some of the Federal 125s that would do an honest 1400 in a 4 inch barrel at an indoor range several years ago I have to agree 100%. Ear muffs were not enough. I ended up using ear plugs and phones to finish the range session. If it were a self defense must....but otherwise....I really like the low pressure rounds like the 45 ACP for indoor self defense.

Ben Shepherd
May 5, 2007, 02:29 PM
You'll find that the SP101s sights will match up POI/POA pretty well with full snort 158 grain stuff.

I carry a 158 gold dot handload in mine. Works well, and I have complete confidence in them.

Another suggestion, if I may:

Get some houge mono grips for that little beast. I've tried both the wood and rubber versions. I carry it with the rubber ones. Even though, unlike the wood versions, they do have a slight tendency to snag on a shirt tail or other clothing, when you grab onto it, you OWN it.

That grip allows all 3 of my other fingers around the grip, instead of one under it. It also fills out the upper portion of my hand much better. This has doubled the amount of control I have, and cut accurate shot split times in half VS. a factory grip.

You've picked a good gun. My little sp is over 70,000 rounds now, and works flawlessly.

May 5, 2007, 07:23 PM
No practical experience here, so take this with a grain of salt, BUT...

as soon as I can locate or order some, I will carry the Buffalobore heavy .38 special +P 158 gr short barrel low flash LSWCHP in MY 3" SP101--1143fps and 458 ft-lbs out of a 3" barrel


May 5, 2007, 09:04 PM
as far as buffalo bore 125 gr. tested and rated 1800 fps.. from a 3in brl you lose around 200 fps -- but the 158 gr. you only loose 75 fps, and 180 looses 100 fps out of the 3 in brl.

May 5, 2007, 11:50 PM
Whatever round you choose for your ruger or any other gun for that matter, make sure you can control the recoil for follow up shots if needed. All of the .357 125 grain kicked like a mule from my 2.5" k frame and lit up the darkness, and the muzzle blast was pure hell. That is one potent load for sure.

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