.357 mag and the 110 grainer


October 19, 2009, 05:23 PM
My grandparents recently asked me to find some .357 ammo for them. The only thing I came across was a box of 110 grain Winchester USA "Personal Protection" cartridges. To me .357 reaches perfection at 125 grains, so I was hesitant to buy this, but it was the only thing I could find within about an 85 mile radius so I got it.

Are there any drawbacks to using the 110 grain load for personal protection?

I figure that it is a low recoil load, because the velocity listed for it on winchesters website is significantly lower than usual .357 loads. I suspect it also penetrates less, which is probably better because of its intended purpose. Being that they are old and frail I suppose it may be a good load for them due to decreased recoil. However, are there any mechanical issues that can arise from using a light bullet load?

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October 19, 2009, 05:51 PM
YES. The 110 JHPs tend to come apart in heavy clothing, plus they're very hard on guns. Even 125s are hard on guns, but the lighter the bullet in magnum loads, the greater the pressure and gas cutting.

They're okay if they're all you can get, but I'd be tempted to plug the hollow points. You don't want them fragmenting too soon.

The 125gr JHP is the perfect load, or as close as you can get to it.

October 19, 2009, 06:07 PM
They certainly aren't ideal, but if that's all you have to work with then it's better than nothing.

Like confederate said, they'll have poor penetration and will probably fragment.
The light bullet loads tend to cause gas cutting at the top strap and forcing cone erosion. However, it doesn't soound like they shoot much, so I wouldn't worry about any damage in just a box or two. You'd have to shoot a couple hundred rounds to have any damage.

Did you look for any 38 Special?
Some good 38 Special +P would do nicely in a 357.

Take a look at Double Tap's website.
My carry load in my J frame is Double Tap's 125gr 38 + P Gold Dot. It gives you the same ballistics as Speer's Short Barrel 357mag (which is a very weak 357 load).
It's easy to buy from their website and prices are good, about $35/box of 50 plus $8-10 shipping. Buy more ammo while you're at it to offset the shipping costs.
if you think about it, a 20 round box of premium stuff will cost you $17-20 anyway, but with the Double Taps you get 50 rounds.

October 19, 2009, 06:39 PM
Take a look at the velocities of the specific ammo you are considering.

Some of the 110 grains are loaded to slower velocity than the 125 grain ammo.

October 19, 2009, 06:47 PM
You don't want them fragmenting too soon.

Which is precisely why...

Some of the 110 grains are loaded to slower velocity than the 125 grain ammo

Far too much worry over velocity with a bullet/gun combination intended to be used at arm's length. A hundred feet per second give or take means very little in such circumstances if anything at all.

The greater concerns are:

Will it penetrate deeply enough?


Can you put it where it needs to go?

The major drawbacks with the .357 for home defense is its muzzle flash in low-light...where the HD sidearm is most likely to be used...and that gawdawful noise in a confined space. Blind and deaf is not a good thing when the wolves are at the door.

October 19, 2009, 08:07 PM
I ran half a box of Winchester 110 gr. magnums through a Security-Six last summer. The 110s definitely kick less than the 125 gr. magnum load.

I would not recommend the 110 gr. magnum load. I agree with Fumbler. A .38+P load would be my choice for older folks. Even with its heavier bullet, .38+P is a kinder load to shoot.

October 19, 2009, 11:09 PM
I used to carry 110 grain REMINGTON and FEDERAL .357 magnums in my agency issued S&W model 13's.

The few times that I know of it being used, it was a one shot fight and the bad guy went down.

In my experience, the 125 grain JHP is the superior round, but is a liability due to the flash, noise and recoil if you are not law enforcement, military or a very experienced shooter.
The U.S.Border Patrol used the 125 grainers for many years and swore by it. They got use them a lot and had few failures to stop when using it.

The 110 grain load provides very good 9m.m. +P performance with heavy .38 Special recoil. I enjoy shooting the 110 grain WINCHESTER load, but find the 125 grainers to be real work.

At my agency, we were once shipped a load of 125 grain ammo (several thousand rounds)and it damaged several guns by fracturing the forcing cone.
I was issued several boxes of the 125 grain just get rid of it by our firearms officers. However, I only used it in my personally owned S&W 681 which uses the much stronger L-frame.

The recoil and flash are much lower in the 110 grain loads as a result of the lighter bullet at lower velocity. I rate the recoil as no worse than 158 +P .38 Special ammo.

This is based on my personal experience with both rounds.

Steve C
October 20, 2009, 12:35 AM
The 110gr JHP's work fine as defensive ammo. Maybe not as devastating as a 125gr full power but better than any .38 spl or solid bullet. All the bad guys in the last 30 years who have been stopped or killed by 110gr bullets out of the .357 mag that only penetrate 10" must not have known that any bullet that doesn't penetrate at least the FBI required 12" is about as effective as a rubber band.
Yoo tube water test 110gr .357 Win. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PCtY2nQfhC8)

Gary A
October 20, 2009, 12:46 AM
I can't prove it, but personally I believe the 110 grain loads at a nominal velocity of 1295 fps are easier, not harder on guns than either a 125 grain load @ 1450 fps or a 110 grain load at 1500+ fps. Corbon makes, or used to make at least, a 110 grain loaded to some 1500 fps or more and I suspect it would indeed be hard on forcing cones, etc. I know from conversations with someone both at Winchester and Corbon years ago that common 110 loads are not loaded to as high a pressure as the full-power 125 grain loads and they give performance closer to a standard pressure 115 grain 9mm from from a 3.5 to 4 inch barrel. I've not heard people complain that standard pressure 115 grain 9mm loads are hard on S&W model 940s or Ruger SP101s or the more recent Taurus 905. Many of them do tend to be loud and have quite a bit of muzzle flash but I agree with the comment that their recoil is similar to a .38 special 158 grain plus P load. They are much easier to shoot than full power 125s or 158s. Like others here, though, I would tend more in favor of .38 special 158 LSWCHP+Ps simply due to the all lead, heavier bullet with its subsonic ballistics.

October 20, 2009, 08:37 AM
However, are there any mechanical issues that can arise from using a light bullet load?

This may not be mechanical, but light bullets like 125 or 110 grains, are much shorter than 158 grains projectiles and have been known to cause forcing cone erosion. Because they need so much more slow burning powder to propel at the higher velocities required, ammo with light bullets also cause flamecutting of the topstrap above the barrel/cylinder gap occurs (but it is self-limiting and more of a cosmetic than functional issue).

Considering your grandparents will probably never fire their gun, or very little if at all, the above consequences of shooting light bullets will never be realized.

As an aside, perhaps .38 special LSWC +P is better suited to their needs.

October 20, 2009, 01:54 PM
Did you look for any 38 Special?
Some good 38 Special +P would do nicely in a 357.

Ditto. I think this is a far better option (especially for elderly folks) to use for home defense. I'd be scared to shoot a full blown magnum indoors without hearing protection. Get a couple of boxes of 158g LSWCHP +P or even some 125g JHP+P and they will be well armed.

October 20, 2009, 02:00 PM
^^ What he said.

October 21, 2009, 12:35 PM
I also believe that .38+P is a better choice. But, gramps was dead set on .357. He probably will hardly shoot any, if at all of that ammo. He is using it in a full sized S&W with a 6" barrel (I forgot the model name) so I bet it will handle it just fine. I just wanted to make sure I didn't buy him something that would either damage his gun and/or fail ballistically. From the above advice, and that cool video, it seems it will do neither. Thanks guys.

October 21, 2009, 04:23 PM
Mas Ayoob has recommended the Winchester White Box 110 grain .357 Mag. as an economical self defense load. But if, as you say, they are "old and frail", the .38 loads might be wiser choice for them.

October 21, 2009, 06:04 PM
It all depends on the individual loads. The "magic" of the 125gr JHP .357 mag round disappears as the velocity drops to +P levels (it's still good, just not as). Likewise, premature fragmentation and gas cutting with the 110gr JHP vanishes as velocity drops. Some police agencies used the 110 +P loads because they were still hot, just not too hot. That said, many knowledgable people like the 147gr +P SWCs.

October 22, 2009, 12:42 PM
But what 125 .357 load drops down to +P .38s? Even the "mild" Golden Saber and Corbon loads are still stepping faster than a .38 out of a snubby.

I agree on .38s being the better choice for the OP but 110s are fine. The Secret Service used to carry 110 grain +P+ .38s--which were basically the same thing--with no complaints.

October 23, 2009, 01:07 AM
I have a simple way to solve this, try the 110 grain JHP .357 load and the 158 grain +P .38 Special load. I think you will be suprised at how mild the 110 grain .357 is compared to the 158 grain +P.

The last time I shot my 6 inch 686, I found the +P 158 grain .38 Special to kick just as much or more than the 110 grainer.

Try it, you may like it.

Just my experience.


October 23, 2009, 04:10 AM
I know you said you can't find anything else around you but you can probably find what you need online. I would suggest buying Speer 135gr Short Barrel .357 Magnum (http://www.speer-ammo.com/products/short_brl.aspx) ammo. It is loaded lighter, more in line with a very stout .38 Special +P and it's low flash. Your Grandfather will get what he wants, a .357 Magnum round which is marked .357 Magnum but it will be much easier on him if he needs to use them.

Gary A
October 23, 2009, 08:52 AM
Rough and dirty, I know it's not the exact formula divided by 7000, but 110 x1295 is 142450 (20.35) and 158 x 890 is 140620 (20.09). Not far apart.

Old John
October 23, 2009, 10:27 AM
I'm 69 & pushing 70 yrs. old. I've been shooting & carrying the 110gr. WWB's in a couple of .357 SP101's and a 3" GP100 .357, for a few years.
I like them much better than 125 gr. loads. I'm back on target and I get that 2nd shot off a lot quicker with the 110's. They haven't hurt any of my guns.

I live out in the country.Truthfully, about only thing I've killed is a big copperhead snake. That little 110 gr. blew the snake clean in two. I've also killed a few racoons & possums with 110 gr. WWB's in my Winchester model 94 Trapper. They're really good stoppers on small game. Good enough for me.

October 23, 2009, 11:53 AM
I would not shoot the 110 grain rounds. I feel it would be better to get some 38s +P LSWCHP "FBI" load. Buffalo Bore has them and you can get some from Midway USA online. It they really want 357s you can buy at Ammunition to go some Remington Golden Sabers 125g. You can google either Midway USA or Ammunition to go and get to their website.


October 23, 2009, 03:32 PM
Old John, I do especially appreciate your perspective, thank you for sharing that.

It does seem like a good, low recoil, load for the .357. To bad it was 29.95 for a box of 50, ouch. Gander mountain keeps good stock, but I'm not a fan of their prices.

October 23, 2009, 04:37 PM
But if, as you say, they are "old and frail", the .38 loads might be wiser choice for them.

There is a very good argument for .38spl around the house, regardless of age/frailty. I agree with others that favor it over .357 for HD.

October 23, 2009, 11:02 PM
Again, penetration (or lack thereof) is the main problem with the 110gr JHP .357. If you live in Florida where people don't wear a lot of clothing, you might be okay, or if you get less hot loads. You just don't want the bullets fragmenting prematurely. If the bullet can get in past the clothing, it should do just fine.

Back in the 1980s, Massad Ayoob and others were trying to keep the fact that 125gr JHPs could penetrate many poplular bullet-resistant vests used by law enforcement agencies quiet. But what's the weight difference between 125 and 110? Only 15 grains. Yet the 125gr JHP doesn't overpenetrate in human flesh at all. It was just a fast, stable round that tends to stay in the human body and yet could punch through older vests. Like it or not, it's the 125gr JHP .357 is the "perfect storm" of handgun rounds (as perfect as any handgun bullet can be), and no one really knows why.

October 24, 2009, 12:45 AM

The problem with the 125 grainers is the recoil and blast. The REMINGTON 125 grain Semi-Jacketed Hollow Points I was issued let loose with a nearly foot long flame each time I fired them from my 4 inch 681. It was witnessed by the firearms officers of my agency who were laughing as I was shooting at 1100 hours on an August day.

To me, the recoil of this load is MUCH GREATER than the 110 grain JHP. That is why I recommend the 110 grain load to people who will not be practicing regularly like the police.

As GARY A pointed out, the recoil of the 110 grain .357 is about the same as the 158 grain .38 Special +P. Since the 110 grain rarely, if ever over penetrates, I think it is a better load than the 158 grain .38 Special for home defense.


October 24, 2009, 08:09 AM
The problem with the 125 grainers is the recoil and blast

Aye. There's the rub. Fire one of the full house 125 JHP offerings without hearing protection...then imagine lighting one of those things off inside a small room...in the dark or low light. It's like setting off a flashbang stun grenade.

Remington once offered an attenuated 125 grain JHP round, loaded to an advertised 1280 fps from a 4-inch barrel. The loading was accurate, penetrated and expanded well in several different test media...including gelatin...and compared to the OMG! loadings...were downright pleasant to shoot. I don't know if it's still available, though. It wasn't very popular with the "Gotta have the biggest/baddest one I can find" set...but it probably made the best compromise. Another very good one that has been discontinued was Federal's 158 grain SWCJHP Nyclad load. If you can find either of those...grab'em.

October 24, 2009, 08:21 AM
I'm starting to wonder about the wisdom of these so called protection loads. I've never been a believer in a light bullet for protection but that seems to be about all you can buy anymore.

Myself, I'd rather have a heavier bullet then the light one. Yet you don't see heavy bullets for personal protection by many ammo companies.

October 24, 2009, 08:27 AM
Yet you don't see heavy bullets for personal protection by many ammo companies.

Probably because of the overpenetration concerns, since a vast majority of the ammunition will be used in home defense guns. The "problem" is overblown, IMO...because the argument centers mostly around shooting through and through the bad guy and heading off to parts unknown...assuming that nobody will actually miss the aforementioned bad guy...in which case it won't matter much if it's a light hollowpoint or a heavy solid. Hollowpoints tend to collapse inward in the hard stuff rather than expand or fragment unless they're specifically designed to come apart when they...hit the wall.

October 24, 2009, 05:17 PM
Why not shop around online?
I usually look locally but if I can't find it... Midway, Sportsman's Guide, AIM surplus, Natchez, whoever has what I want gets my money.

Also, if you want a decent compromise load, you might check out the Speer 135 grain short barrel load. They are pretty controllable and don't have much blast but still keep enough of a .357 to make it worthwhile. IIRC, Buffalo Bore also makes some "reduced" loads.
I'd say if you have a box of the 110 grain loads use them for now and don't worry too much, but shop around a bit for something better.

FWIW, 110 grain loads used to be available when I got my first .357 for $11 for 50 rounds! I shot a 686 out of time with those things. If they were still that price I'd be going through two boxes of them a week!

October 25, 2009, 01:24 PM
While the 125gr loading has a very good record of one shot stops, it might be because so many police agencies use them. I haven't shot anyone with them personally, so I can't say it's the "perfect" round. I do know that they are very hard on forcing cones, as has been pointed out here, already.

I prefer Hornady's 140gr XTP for defensive use in .357 magnum revolvers. I haven't shot anyone with this load either, but I feel it has superior penetration and expansion, especially in the winter time when the bad guys have heavy clothing over their bod. Even in a home invasion situation, the bad guy probably has on heavy clothing before he enters your home. The blast and flash is not nearly as great as the lighter loadings, and I really think the .357 was originally intended for the heavier bullets.

I save the 125gr bullets for .38 spl loadings. 110gr loads? I have no idea what they are good for. Super Vel used them very early on, and they were very hot. I don't know what the velocity was (I didn't have a chronograph in those days) but you sure didn't want to touch them off without hearing protection.

October 25, 2009, 01:26 PM
I keep WWB 110 grain in my .357. It will do the trick.

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