Best bullet weight for a 6" .357 magnum


September 16, 2008, 09:22 PM
I've seen a lot of debate over certain bullet weights for .357 magnum round. I've seen people say some weights are better for short barrels, and I've seen some people say some weights will damage the forcing cone more. I have a Smith & Wesson 686 with 6" barrel. What .357 magnum rounds should I use for defense as well as target use? Also, does .38 special make a difference as well?


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September 16, 2008, 09:28 PM
One bullet does it all.

158 Grain Jacketed hollow point.

Works for both a .357 mag round and .38 special...

September 16, 2008, 09:37 PM
agree with that suggestion. Good all around round.

September 16, 2008, 09:51 PM
I'll be the splinter on this one...depends upon your usage; against a 2 legged nasty critter, I would opt for a 125gr or 158gr sjhp; for deer hunting, I would opt for a 158gr jsp or an all leadhead like 158gr lswc or 180gr Federal CastCore; for woods walking defense in black bear areas, I would opt for a 180gr Federal CastCore; for a HD load, I would opt for a Remington 158gr lswchp in .38 spl +p;

the beauty of a .357 magnum is its versatility; just keep the cylinders clean after firing a bunch of .38 spl's & remove lead & powder residue from the forcing cone & the innerds and it keeps running; while .44 mag and larger revolvers are often intimidating or just uncomfortable to fire, having an all steel framed revol chambered in .357 mag with a 4" or 6" barrel makes shooting magnum loads tolerable & almost enjoyable

September 16, 2008, 10:04 PM
I like Speer 140s for carry and 158 SWCs or 180 XTPs for hunting and outdoor use. Everyone has their own idea of perfection, of course. :D I shoot a lot of .38s from my .357s at the range. I scrub 'em after every range trip, never allow fouling to build up.

September 16, 2008, 11:26 PM
You could also try various bullet weights/brands and see which one is the most accurate and stick with that.

September 16, 2008, 11:33 PM
I like 158gr JHPs for everything but punchin' paper with the kids...... then it's 125gr plated .38 specials....

September 17, 2008, 01:43 AM
158 grain cast SWC

September 17, 2008, 02:02 AM
I like heavy bullets, 180-215gr.

September 17, 2008, 08:28 AM
I love the Speer 158 gold dots for carry in the woods and for SD.

And I don't really care what I put downrange for practice, so long as it goes boom.

September 17, 2008, 11:07 AM
hey, brockgl

I have a S&W 686-4pp .357 magnum with a 6" barrel. You won't have to worry about hurting this wheel gun with hotter loads. It's tough, but easy to handle and lots of fun.

For target practice at the range, i'll shoot .38 special rounds (what ever type is the least expensive) Afterwards I always make sure I clean "my little friend" up real good, inside and out.

For home defense, I got .357 magnum Glaser Silver Slugs on hand, to feed to hungry interlopers who encroach into my territory. :evil:

Brian Williams
September 17, 2008, 12:35 PM
I like a 180gr LRNFPGC. It is a nice strong bullet with a big Meplat and a nice round nose to slide into the charge holes easy. The gas check lets me load it up with 15 grs of Lil' Gun and it shoots real nice in all my revolvers and my Marlin 1894C.

September 17, 2008, 01:29 PM
158's are great for all around use. But best will depend on your gun. My Python prefers 180's, but they do have a faster twist bbl.

September 17, 2008, 08:34 PM
i've found the most accurate round in my .357 mags to be the Speer 140gr JHP

September 17, 2008, 08:36 PM
Try DoubleTap 158gr HP, great load.

September 17, 2008, 08:49 PM
my 6'' 686 prefers 158 grainers. I prefer JSPs for hunting deer and GDs, XTPs and JHPs for smaller game, two legged critters and bowling pins. Lil' Gun for huntin' loads and Unique for plinkin'.

September 17, 2008, 09:32 PM
Hi, your 686 is plenty stout for any load you prefer.

Try a bunch of stuff and shoot what your gun "likes" best, accuracy-wise.

That being said, your shooting situation will also dictate what to use.

For home, indoor self-defense in a city setting, I'd want a bullet that wouldn't zip through three walls and take out the wife or a kid. I'd want a round that would not over-penetrate. Frankly, I'd also make that round one of the fine .38 Special loads for this very reason.

For car defense I'd want a bullet that would penetrate like heck in case I had to use it against an attacker shooting at me from a car!

For hunting, I'd want a big azzz (heavy) 180 grain bullet with lots of knock down power that's designed for hunting.

For paper punching you can't beat the single hole potential of the wonderful 148 grain Wadcutter bullets, in either .38 special or .357.

I'd also recommend taking up handloading to save tons of money, and to save all your spent brass. My target loads are light kicking and easy on the guns . . . and super accurate. You'll be amazed at how soon you'll save enough money reloading . . . to buy another gun!!!

Question? What do I keep loaded as a great all-around .357 load in my .357s? The legendary 125 grain Federal HydraShock that has the best one shot stop statistics of any handgun round, in any caliber, in years of documented gun fight data.

BTW, I recommend using only store-bought branded ammo for self-defense purposes, to prevent some attorney from accusing you of "spiking" your handloads to cause his client more suffering. Any of the preferred loads used by law enforcement personnel will thus suffice, but I prefer Federal in my revolvers due to Federal primers being the most reliable in revolvers.

Hope this helps,


September 17, 2008, 09:50 PM
I find that all the 357s I own like the Lyman 358156 bullet or the 358439 bullet over a good dose of 2400. In my guns they are as accurate as the 148gr HBWC from a 38 Special.

Good Luck

September 17, 2008, 10:03 PM
i've found the most accurate round in my .357 mags to be the Speer 140gr JHP

Ditto, that's why I carry it. Good defense load, not heavy enough nor well enough constructed for hunting, but laser accurate for defense. The Lee 158 gas check mold is pretty accurate, too, at max velocities and the 180 XTP is pretty awesome accurate. These are my three faves and mostly for accuracy.

I've shot a few hogs with that 140 in the trap. You should see the exit wound, pretty impressive.

September 17, 2008, 11:30 PM
158's and 180's really come into their own in a 6" barrel.

lighter bullets (110 and 125) really start to come apart quick and while lead SWC's are driven faster in a 6" I don't think they gain much with velocity as they cut the same sized hole no matter the speed and once your target is perforated, it's done it's job.

September 18, 2008, 12:16 AM
Both of my Rugers really love 158gr sjhp .357 or 130gr fmj .38. But this year I'm trying the Hornady 140gr flex-tip Leverloution for deer hunting with my 6 1/2" Blackhawk. BTW, the other one is a 4" Security-Six.:D

Snapping Twig
September 18, 2008, 12:39 AM
Depends on what do you intend to do with it.

Like was said, try different things. Light for flash and fury, heavy for penetration, copper for flash and expansion, lead for penetration.

People say you can't shoot a wadcutter fast, but I do it @ 900fps with a cast WC and I don't see any downside. They stabilize and hit hard in a tight pattern for me and I hit the 100 yard gong the same as I do with any other bullet. No key-hole issues so far.

I shoot heavy cast lead, both gas checked and Keith. Lyman #358156 is a 160g gas check SWC design which I use in my "specials" and I do not use the gas check in these specials. I also use this bullet in magnums with the gas check.

Try 5g W231 under this bullet in a magnum case for @ 900fps and low recoil with accuracy.

#358429 casts out to 170g from wheel weights and the design is superior - a real Keith. These hit like the hammer of Thor with enough W296 behind them.

Hot 125g JHP is a bit rough on the forcing cone, so shoot them sparringly. Something to do with a short bullet, slow powder and a sandblasting effect from unburned powder. They ARE impressive however, and fun to shoot. :)

evan price
September 18, 2008, 01:16 AM
158-grains is the best compromise for everything.

September 18, 2008, 06:09 AM
I've a mod. 27 S&W (6") that shoots 180 gr. WFNGC under 2" @ 50 yds. (iron sights). Good Whitetail load.

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