.357 Magnum: 158s for two-legged defense?


May 15, 2007, 03:37 AM
Does anyone have any ballistic data which shows why 125s are preferred over the 158s for defense against two-legged criminals?

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May 15, 2007, 04:41 AM
The 125's will travel at 1450 fps where as the 158's will travel at 1235 fps. I don't think who ever get hit will care which one they are hit with. For some reason the 125 gr are more popular for SD.

I like the 158 gr rounds because my fixed sights are factory set for those rounds.

May 15, 2007, 05:11 AM
Check into Evan Marshall's books and data he has researched numerous actual shootings with all available calibers his books are well worth the read and cost to add to your library.

May 15, 2007, 05:35 AM
I do prefer 158gr HP because they give more penetration, less muzzle blast and less muzzle flash.

125 gr HP are rated about 95% pf one-shot-stop in EvanMarshall book, and 158 gr HP are rated about 85% . But this numbers are to be considered with relativity, IMHO.

May 15, 2007, 09:16 AM
Exactly what dao said.

Provided the 158gr. bullets are Gold Dots, I would choose them over 125gr. bullets any day--not that I feel unarmed with 125's, cause I dont.

May 15, 2007, 09:34 AM
I, for one, don't like 125s, even if they do have a little better terminal ballistics. Like the other poster said, my SP101 sights are calibrated for 158s. 125s shoot considerably low - enough so that I wouldn't feel comfortable carrying them (they're low enough that a deadly heart shot turns into a not-deadly gut shot).

May 16, 2007, 12:09 PM
I went looking for information on terminal ballistics of the 125-grain .357 Mag loads and found there's not much out there. I did find some gel tests, all of which showed underpenetration of the round. It's possible a lot of the hooplah about the 125-grainers was generated by secondary effects of the projectile: flash, bang, and temporary cavity. Given that the 125-grainers don't properly seal the cylinder gap (http://www.gunblast.com/Butch_MagnumLoads.htm) when fired and the 158-grainers show excellent penetration and expansion, I'm going to stick with a 158-grain SJHP for self-defense in .357 Magnum.

When I get a .357 Mag, that is.

May 16, 2007, 12:52 PM
I also use the 158's as they shoot to POA from my fixed sights in the only .357 that I ever carry.

May 16, 2007, 01:09 PM
In my own (very non-scientific) testing, I have seen the 158 Gold Dot penetrate more than I would like for self-defense compared to the 125. I would likely use a 158 Gold Dot for hunting our small Florida deer, instead.

I was concerned about the overpenetration of the 158 and possible underpenetration of the 125, but I don't worry about the 125 anymore. If I feel it may be a problem, I also have no reservations about using the 145 grain Winchester Silvertip.

May 16, 2007, 01:54 PM
So much comes down to preference. I use pretty hot 110gr "treasury" loads in my .357 for SD. Personally I feel like 158gr bullets are more for actual hunting than SD but hell they'll certainly do the job!

May 16, 2007, 08:30 PM
I prefer the 125gr Black Hills load out of my snub because the recoil is noticibly less than the 158gr I tried. This lets me get back on target for follow up shots quicker.


May 16, 2007, 09:11 PM
I use Hornady 158 XTPs, for now. I simply don't like the recoil of the 125 grain loads and most guns seem to be regulated to 158s.

May 16, 2007, 09:15 PM
I prefer the 158s due to the recoil--to my hands, the 158s are NOT as snappy as the 125s. YMMV

May 16, 2007, 10:59 PM
what about premature erosion of the forcing cone and cylinder face when you only use those 125 grain projectiles? Id rather use the "big slow 158 grain" slug that will penetrate and not the high velocity slug that will damage my poor little gun and possibly not do the job the job the first shot.

May 16, 2007, 11:34 PM
just checked at chearper then dirt and found something strange. If you think 158 grain lead slugs arent good enough, you can get yourself 85 grain bullets with a mv of 1700 feet. Even sell 65 grain slugs moving 1600 feet per second.

Seven For Sure
May 17, 2007, 11:34 AM
DT makes a 158 Gold Dot @ 1400 from a 4". Those will do the job. I prefer 158's. They are what I practice with (Blazer) and carry (DT).

May 17, 2007, 11:49 AM
I shoot the blazer, hollow points. Any reason you don't carry the blazers?

(Know it's unusal to range-shoot hollows, but I want to practice with exactly what I carry).

May 17, 2007, 04:06 PM
Thanks for the replies. I prefer reloading the 158s over the 125s since the 158s take less powder. So I was curious if I could just carry with the 158s then. Seems like the only concern on here so far is that the 158s are more prone to overpenetrate, but in many scenarios I can imagine that the 125s would overpenetrate as well.

Do you think the DT 158s are too hot? The ME listed is 688 ft/lbs. Couldn't that in itself overpenetrate?

I'm not worried about hitting innocent bystanders because in most self-defense situations, you and the criminal are not surrounded by people. What I am worried about is if the bullet just passes through the perp and doesn't deposit enough kinetic energy.

Seven For Sure
May 17, 2007, 04:17 PM
Many times but not always, the faster you push a hollowpoint the less it will penetrate. It will open faster, larger and more reliably in most cases.

The reason I don't carry the Blazer 158's is the bullet design. True it's a hollowpoint but the Gold Dot is a much better bullet and it's bonded.

Jim March
May 17, 2007, 04:32 PM
Buffalo Bore and Doubletap are both claiming to launch Gold Dot 125gr "high speed" variant JHPs at 1,600fps from 4" barrels.

I used one of these (Doubletap) to shatter a bowling ball, so they're definitely "hot".

The "hollowpoint" cavity is little more than a dimple. Seriously, it ain't much. I have no doubt it's adequate at the speeds Speer designed that load for (1,400fps on up).


I had a chance to look at some Speer-brand 158gr JHPs. The "hollowpoint" was the same shallow dimple.

In a slug doing 1,200-1,250ish...hmmm...man, I'd like to see JUST a tad more, y'know? Under perfect conditions I'm sure they'd be fine...but what about a light barrier shot? Heavy clothes?

I dunno. Looks kinda marginal.

The ballistics data says it doesn't expand very fat. Goes deep though.

I dunno. I suspect the right answer is in the 140-145gr range for human targets. Or there's the Cor-Bon 125gr DPX - all-copper so it's the SIZE of a 135gr slug, more stable in flight than JHP 125s. Cor-bon loads the DPX at 1,200ish, not as fast but expands very reliably.

Speer's 135gr "357" short barrel is now known to be loaded VERY light, still subsonic in a 2" barrel. Makes sense as it's a HUGE hollowpoint design, same slug as the 38+P.

May 17, 2007, 04:57 PM
I intend to do some testing of the 135 gr Short Barrel load next week in water medium. I don't have a 2 inch .357, but we'll see if they start to come apart when being pushed from a 4 or 6 inch barrel.

May 17, 2007, 11:56 PM

Double Tap Ammo actually uses Speer bullets, so you encountered the same bullet with different factory powder loadings.

I don't really like the 140s because they are a pain to find reload data for, and I want to reload equivalent practice rounds.

Vanilla, think you can post the results on this message board?

May 18, 2007, 04:22 AM
I recommend using doubletapammo.

.357 Magnum 200gr WFNGC Hardcast


May 18, 2007, 09:56 PM
Aren't you afraid ammo that hot is just going to pass right through, envonge?

May 18, 2007, 10:21 PM
The 125s have the advantage of penetrating fewer walls if you live in the city.

The reduced muzzle blast of the 158s is a point in their favor in the country.

May 18, 2007, 11:36 PM
The 125s have the advantage of penetrating fewer walls if you live in the city.

Yep, they only go through 1.24 houses instead of 2.29. Anything worth using on a human is going to penetrate walls. Several.

May 18, 2007, 11:51 PM
Anything worth using on a human is going to penetrate walls.

Drywall + styrofoam "walls", yes... some people still remember the Three Little Pigs (i.e. have a house as safe as a mud hut in 3000 BC Ur).

Anyway, "only" going through one styrofoam house is less likely to hit the wrong person than going through 2.29.

May 19, 2007, 12:07 AM
some people still remember the Three Little Pigs

Along with the Civil War. :evil: A real brick house might change things. Maybe we should have a Bricks 'o' Truth shootout?

Anyway, "only" going through one styrofoam house is less likely to hit the wrong person than going through 2.29.

True. Still, kind of like a bomb that promises to only hit the wrong target once in a while. Better but not quite good.

May 19, 2007, 04:19 AM
I'm not really worried about going through houses; what I'm worried about is a DT round being so powerful that it just passes right through the perp without leaving much kinetic energy.

May 19, 2007, 10:37 PM
what, you mean you dont use buffalo bore 180gr hard casts as your sstandard load?? and you call yourselves men :D

seriously, thats what i have in my backup HD gun. a winchester model 94 16"

yea i know, wrong forum

May 19, 2007, 11:28 PM
IMO unless your dealing with bigfoot most all .357 magnum rounds will stop the threat. Remember you are supposed to stop shooting when the threat stops, well at least thats what the law says. IMO if bad guy is falling or stumbling forward ( read: still moving at all) he's a threat.

May 24, 2007, 07:58 PM
You might look at:


May 24, 2007, 08:50 PM
I like this from the FBI notes on the 10 mm (PDF link) (http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/fbi_10mm_notes.pdf):

The fear of over-penetration is a misconception, which was created back when law enforcement was trying to overcome misinformed public resistance to the use of hollowpoint ammunition. In the process, we began to believe it ourselves. First, our lawyers are unaware of any sucessful legal action resulting from the injury of a bystander due to a round over-penetrating the subject. We are aware of numerous incidents of Agents/officers being killed because their round did not penetrate enough (Grogan and Dove, for example). Further, if you examine shooting statistics you will see that officers hit the subject somewhere around 20-30% of the time. Thus 70-80% of shots fired never hit their intended target, and nobody ever worries about them - only the ones that might "over-penetrate" the bad guy. Third, as our testing shows, even the most frangible bullets designed specifically for shallow penetration will plug up when striking wood or wallboard and then penetrate like full metal jacket ammunition. We are aware of successful legal actions where an innocent party has been struck by a shot passing through a wall, but as we have proven, ALL of them will do that.

In other words, penetration is something to think about, but the difference between two different loadings of the same chambering are relatively trivial compared to the difference between hitting and missing the target. Not that anyone who posts on an Internet gun board ever misses. :rolleyes:

May 24, 2007, 11:09 PM
When I carried a .357, I used the 158s; it's good for both two- and four-legged animals.

May 26, 2007, 12:52 PM
I'm quoting Massad Ayoob in an article he wrote about optimum self defense rounds, in this case the 125 gr. .357 mag:

"The Indianapolis Police Department reported that in more than 200 shootings there was never an effective return of fire by a perpetrator after taking a solid hit with one. Kentucky State Troopers had so many one-shot stops with it, even with occasional non-centered hits, that they referred to the 125 grain magnum as the "magic bullet". Texas state troopers said they missed the "lightning bolt effect" of these rounds after going to 45's."

Ayoob goes on the quote Ed Sanow who calls the 125 the "king of the streets" as he says lighter magnum rounds often don't go deep enough, while heavier magnum rounds spend too much of their energy exiting the body (he includes 41 and 44 mag. rounds here). But the 125 "dumps all it's energy in a massively wide path between the front and the back of the offender's torso.

Ayoob also quotes Ray Chapman who says that the price of this awesome stopping power is "nasty recoil, muzzle flash and deafening blast of the .357 magnum cartridge."

The 125 is the documented best, but I don't and won't use it because of those reasons. If I ever had to use it indoors, especially a hallway, or inside of a car, I would be lip reading and learning sign language forever after.

May 26, 2007, 07:46 PM
I don't use a .357 for SD much, but if I had to, I would probably choose the W-W Silvertip 145 grain bullet.

It will hit about 1275 out of a 4" barrel, and breaks 1300 out of all my 6" guns. Not as hot as some .357 loads, but it is a good combination of power, expansion, penetration, moderate flash and recoil.

May 27, 2007, 01:10 AM
I use WW silvertip HPs in every centerfire pistol I own. Thousands of rounds and never had a failure of any sort...I trust them implicitly. I can't say that about any other round I've tried.

May 30, 2007, 07:25 PM
L-frame, that's kind of why I don't want to use the 125s, either. Too much accelerated wear on the gun for practice and too much noise.

I might switch over to a .45 ACP for a CCW unless I go with a 10mm. I haven't really decided yet. Ballistically, I prefer both the .357 Magnum and the 10mm to the .45 ACP.

May 31, 2007, 12:07 AM
I have 2 .357s. A Ruger Security Six with a 4" and a Ruger Blackhawk with a
6 1/2". I have Winchester 110gr SJHP personal defense rounds in them at home, but use Blazer 158 HP or Magtech 158 LRN .38spl for plinking. I haven't done any ballstic testing, but accuracy seems to be nominal at 25yds with all 3 loads. Until I can find something better, I plan to use 158 HP for deer hunting this season with my Blackhawk. I hope this at least gives food for thought.Anyway, I ( or anyone else I would think ) would not want to be hit with any of these rounds.

May 31, 2007, 04:09 AM
I carried 110gr SJHP's for work and found I could shoot them much better than the more commonly seen 158gr cartridges I bought when I couldn't find them. I don't mind the flash and BOOM the 110's and 125's have nearly as bad as the recoil from the 158gr cartridges. We went and shot up a huge deer once that had been hit by a car and the wounds seemed very similar from what we could see. ALL of them went though, if they didn't hit a large bone anways, so I would want better control over a slightly bigger wound.

May 31, 2007, 10:56 AM
I am considering replacing my 45 auto with a three inch barrel .357 revolver. In all my other pistols and revolvers, I use Corbon DPX exclusively for self defense. Since we are talking bullets here...what are your observations/opinions regarding the 125 gr. Corbon DPX .357 round?


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