Best .357 S.D. ammo?


January 15, 2003, 01:20 PM
What is the best .357 magnum ammo for self defense?
(2-1/2" - 4" barrel)

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January 15, 2003, 01:26 PM
I think it has been estabished by tests AND 15 years of street use that the 125grain JHP rounds by Fed and Rem and Win. (ranger) are THE prefered anti personnel load. They open up just fine thru clothes or not in those barrel lengths. They have lots of blast but flash has been reduced in later years.:D

January 15, 2003, 01:58 PM
I think the best 357 defense load is one of the few things most shooters would agree on. :)

As long as the blast and recoil aren't a problem for you I agree with Gordon, the 125gr JHP is the way to go.

January 15, 2003, 01:59 PM
On the Other Hand:

The origin of the 125 gr. load was to make a more controllable .357 round for those who couldn't reliably control it at designed velocities in the original weight for the caliber, which was 158 gr. Bringing the bullet weight down made it possible to achieve reliable bullet expansion with less recoil.

BUT, bullet technology has advanced since then, and it is quite possible to achieve reliable expansion with a full 158 gr. bullet at controllable speeds--say, the 1230 or so f.p.s. advertized by the major manufacturers for their 158 gr. loads. Given a choice in a gun of reasonable weight (over 20 ounces, and preferably closer to 30), I'd take a 158 gr. Speer Gold Dot or a 145 gr. Winchester Silvertip over anything in 125 grs. With the reliable expansion you'll get at 1235 or 1325 fps, overpenetration is not a concern; and, I have yet to meet (or hear of) a .357 that isn't more accurate with a 158 than a 125 gr. bullet.


January 15, 2003, 02:08 PM
I don't know how well it actually works, expansion wise, but the Speer Gold Dot 158Gr are the most accurate SD load in my Sheriffs Model 357 Vaquero. Seem to have some spread with the 125 & 110 Gr rounds of various make.

(I know....I know ".....Using a Vaquero as a self-defense weapon ? ? ? " Well, it's the only 357 I have.

January 15, 2003, 07:17 PM
I tested about $150 worth of 357 ammo in my 686 about a year ago. It was an interesting experience. I went through the Silver tip Winchester's, Hydra Shok's, Goled Saber's, Gold Dot's, and Cor-Bon ammo. I had one hell or a time testing the ammo. I ended up with the 125 gr rounds because I found them easier to control. I currently load the 125 gr Gold Dot's in my 4" S&W 686. It spends most of it's time in the night stand.

I think spending some time and money to find what works for you is the key. IMHO

January 15, 2003, 09:37 PM
I have heard some say that the 158 gr. lead semi-wadcutter can be an effective SD round in this caliber, especially in the shorter barrels. I have shot them and sure wouldn't want to be hit ANYWHERE with one.

Jim March
January 15, 2003, 10:12 PM
Ledbetter, the 158 lead semi wadcutter hollowpoint is a 38+P; it's not bad, and it's what you use if you can't deal with 357 recoil, but any decent 357 load will leave it in the dust in terms of both energy and effectiveness.

You can't drive a soft lead round at speeds of 1,100fps or more unless you're ready to deal with horrific barrel leading. Hardcasts are OK up to 1,600+ but they won't expand if you were to cast one as a hollowpoint for some dumb reason.

Back to the original question: I too think the Speer Gold Dot 158grain slug moving between 1,200 and 1,300 is possibly the best answer out there. ProLoad's version of this is what I'd start with.

January 16, 2003, 01:02 AM
I agree with Gordon. The 125gr JHP is the way to go. Although I would recommend either the Federal or Remington loads.;)

January 16, 2003, 03:40 AM
Personally I find the 125gr's on the loud side. TOO LOUD. I like either the downloaded 125gr. Golden Sabers or Remingtons 165gr. Core Lokt bullets.

Lone Star
January 16, 2003, 07:08 AM
As a security officer protecting a private estate in a large city's most affluent area, I carry Hydra-Shok 158 grainers. I want the quick expansion of this design coupled with penetration for thugs in cars and for the BIG dogs that some residents occasionally let get out of their yards. You could almost put a saddle on some of those Dobermans and Rottweilers, and I don't fancy being bitten by one! There are also gray fox, raccoons, and opossums in the woods behind the estate, and I want to be able to quickly kill a rabid one of these, if need be. So far, I've just enjoyed watching them, although one male fox was pushing his luck, telling me that it was HIS neighborhood, not mine. I think it was a territorial thing, not rabies. Just didn't go too near, and he seemed to sense that he'd better not overstep himself by too much.

I carried Speer Gold Dot for awhile, but the bullet jackets turned very dull in color (I think they're copper, not gilding metal) and I didn't like that. I believe that Gold Dot holds together very well in tissue.

As for the lead SWC, it has been loaded in .357, but not as a hollowpoint. It was the ORIGINAL .357 ammo. Chick Gaylord, in his, "Handgunner's Guide" noted that a cop in Rochester, NY shot a holdup man several times with that load, and the bullets just went whistling through without expanding or quickly dropping the guy. That cop went to a Colt SAA .45! (That would have been about 1960; I doubt that Rochester cops can carry single-action .45's today!)

Elmer Keith gave lead-tin formulas for moulding his HP bullets to get expansion without excessive leading, and the Lyman 358156 has a gascheck base to avoid fusing the base of the bullet and getting heavy leading. Skeeter Skelton loaded it to about 1200 FPS, and had much success with it on game to the size of deer.

Indoors, I load the .38 lead SWC-HP or 125-130 grain JHP .38 rounds.

Lone Star

January 16, 2003, 02:00 PM
Most any 125gr or heavier load is just fine in a .357. Not a lot of argument there, as you've noted
Having shot a lot of different critters over a 30+ years with the .357 and carrying one for 20+yrs in L.E. career, I've got a couple of preferences.
My "truck" gun is a ex l.e. SecuritySix Ruger stainless that I picked up in 2000 for a whopping $125.00 from a dealer no less!
It is heavier but stronger than the Smiths I prefer, but I won't treat my Smiths as bad as I will this one. (I love it too, though-just tuff-luv!)
I've witnessed the brilliant football sized flash from the 125's enough to know that it ain't the best for use in darkness. That said, I'll vote for the 145 Winchester SilverTip as my preference. They exhibit only slightly more flash than a .38 wadcutter at night.
The only critters I've shot with it were a couple of stray pit-bulls that took umbrance to my presence on a clear-cut where they were feasting on the remains of a fawn deer. I stumbled up on them investigating a baited area for doves in late Sept. of '90. I hit and dropped them both in their tracks with single shots. I found the bullet from one lying on the ground where one bit it out from under his left rear ham. The bullet hit him in the right side of the chest on a frontal shot. Recovered bullet weighed 117gr and was classic mushroom. The other completely penetrated 80+ lb dog and left 25-50cent piece size exit wound- much like the 158 GoldDots and XTP's do. Accuracy is usually 1.5" @25yds or better too. 125's usually don't exit on anything heavier than 75lbs from my experience shooting deer. 180's penetrate well but don't have the shocking power of 125-145gr bullets.
Just my experience.
I've got several boxes of them left after my agency switched over (or stepped down?) to G-22 in .40. So, I just carry what I've got.
My favorite all around load except for Self-Defense, is a 150gr HP-cast SWC over 6.7gr of Universal. It chrono's at 1,300fps and shoots about 2" @25yds so it's adequately accurate. Performance is excellent on deer to 75yds.
Now, If I can only locate that pack of pigs I've been hunting !!

January 18, 2003, 09:58 AM
Cor-bon's 357's tend to have less muzzle flash than most and they come in 110,125 and 140gr.the golden sabres are not bad for a reduced velocity load.In fact i can't think of a really bad defense load for the 357 loaded with some type of hollow point.

January 18, 2003, 11:22 AM
It is interesting how many people are grouping all jacketed hollow points of a certain weight together. There are differences between the different brands, and these differences are brought out by testing. Gold Dots and Ranger bullets seem to be at top in most areas though.

charlie echo
February 18, 2012, 11:04 AM
If 158 grain lead HP are "good" in 38 Special, then would 158 grain lead HP in 357 magnum loads be more effective?

February 18, 2012, 12:43 PM
Talk about threadomancy. A 9 year old thread!

charlie echo, that logic does not follow. "If some lubrication on a gun is good, more must be better, right?"

When the velocity is upped to .357 levels with soft 158 lead hollowpoints, they will leave a bore looking like a sewer pipe, and will probably have less than ideal results on target. Bullets have an operating window for velocity, and they need to be kept in that window.

February 18, 2012, 01:52 PM
Not necessarily. Bore leading occurs worse with hard cast/undersized lead alloy bullets than with soft lead bullets.
Proper lubrication eliminates leading issues with soft lead.
If you have a stainless gun, lead fouling is more quickly and easily removed than gilding metal jacket fouling.
equal parts white vinegar and househole hydrogen peroxide will remove lead fouling in about 5 minutes with almost no work involved.
Lead removal screens pull out the lead fouling with one or two pulls.
I'll take lead fouling over cuprous alloy fouling any day.

charlie echo
February 18, 2012, 02:53 PM
Then 158 grain JHP 357s should be fine vs. "two legged" and vs. frontal skull shots of "four legged" in urban settings?

February 19, 2012, 08:45 AM
Silly questions but,is their really any "bad" ammo for HD in .357 flavor?

February 19, 2012, 01:57 PM
What is the best .357 magnum ammo for self defense?
(2-1/2" - 4" barrel)
Quality .38+P would be far better choice. There are three crucial advantages: less recoil, muzzle blast, less flash resulting in better firearm control.

February 19, 2012, 03:17 PM
Evan Marshal has done more testing with test medium and actual street shootings than anyone I have herd of. I25 JHP was # One Stopper. Back in the day Remington, Winchester, and Federal Classic were the best. Today his # One pick is Corbon DPX in all calibers. Most Top ammo makers 125g. JHP 357 are good. I will go with whatever Evan suggests.

February 19, 2012, 04:09 PM
Barnes DPX bullets do always seem to perform well.

February 19, 2012, 05:15 PM
Remington 125 grain SJHP. The scalloped jacket hollow point expands/almost fragments well on two legged bad guys, and you can get it in the 100 round value packs at Wal-Mart :).

Just my .02,

357 Terms
February 19, 2012, 06:03 PM
I use Barnes 125grn and 140grn XPB's in my handloads ( the same bullet Cor-Bon uses in the DPX line )
They work great!

Although i didn't use them in 2003 :D

February 19, 2012, 08:59 PM
I like Winchester 140gr jhp Silvertips or Buffalo Bore 180gr hardcast
gascheck semi-wadcutter.

March 11, 2012, 06:57 PM
I like the Car Bon .357 mag DPX 125 gr. This is the Barnes Bullet. Excellent velocity and expansion, consistently. Buffalo Barnes (Buffalo Bore ammo) also uses the Barnes all copper bullet. Plenty of velocity with those too.

March 11, 2012, 07:19 PM
I keep Remington Golden Sabre in 125 grain in my speed six ! Low recoil , low muzzle flash , plenty of pop ! Kevin

March 11, 2012, 08:09 PM
Silly questions but,is their really any "bad" ammo for HD in .357 flavor?

not really. the few fmj loadings wouldn't be ideal, in either 38 nor 357. depending on your gun, it may not like light bullets all that much. shoot the heviest bullet you can with some lead up front (take your pick, flat or hollow) and enjoy.

i own four revolvers and a rifle chambered in 357 or 38, but i only own 38 or 357 ammo in one weight. 158 grain.

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