.357 mag self defense ammo


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firemanstrickland
January 31, 2011, 11:00 PM
hello all,
I have recently purchased a .357 snubbie, i need some input on self defense ammo. I am a big fan of speer gold dot, but I have never shot .357, i need some input on brand and grain. thanks for the help.

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Dirty Bob
January 31, 2011, 11:10 PM
Because their short barrels do not offer the .357 Mag enough burning length, I think of .357 snubbies as "heavy duty .38s" that can fire a .357 if necessary.

You didn't tell us which .357 snubby you have. If it's one of the very light revolvers, you wouldn't be able to get me to shoot it with .357 Magnum. The Ruger SP101 snubby, however, is shootable with .357, but it's not a lot of fun.

I prefer .38+P in short-barreled revolvers, and a .357-rated revolver should be able to handle a lot of shooting with .38+P. Recoil is much lower than .357, giving you much shorter recovery time between shots, and a much reduced muzzle flash and blast -- not an inconsequential factor in low light conditions. The selection now available in .38+P is better than ever, with some loads even designed for short barrels!

IMHO, .38+P has great potential as a self-defense cartridge in short-barreled revolvers. I hope you give it a try.

All my best,
Dirty Bob

Barkoff
January 31, 2011, 11:18 PM
Read up on this stuff, it's what I'm running for home protection.

http://www.buffalobore.com/index.php?l=product_list&c=21


Tactical Short Barrel Lower Recoil Low Flash 357 Magnum Ammo - 158 gr. Jacketed Hollow Point (1,100fps/M.E. 424 ft. lbs.) - 20 Round Box

Typical full power 357 magnum loads offer several tactical problems for use in self defense and duty applications, especially when used in the shorter/lighter revolvers that are typical of concealed, defensive and duty carry. First, the muzzle flash can be blinding, especially from short barrels. Second, felt recoil can be a life-threatening drawback if fast follow-up shots are required. Third, the level of report can be deafening and cause permanent hearing loss, especially if fired indoors.

All three Buffalo Bore Tactical Short Barrel loads address the above problems and make the 357 magnum ideal for concealed, defensive and duty carry in smaller revolvers.

Muzzle flash: These exciting new 357 magnum loads utilize a flash suppressed powder that will not blind you, should you need to drop the hammer in a low light situation. It is estimated that over 90% of all defensive civilian shootings in the U.S. happen in low light-that is when the criminal element is at work. Wouldn't it be horrible if you fired at an assailant, in the dark, to protect your family, only to find that you missed the bad guy and you are now blind due to your own muzzle flash? This is a scenario that has happened many times in the real world with the 357 magnum. Through the use of our non-canister, flash suppressed powder, the tactical problem of blinding muzzle flash is now greatly reduced with Buffalo Bore's new Tactical Short Barrel loads!

firemanstrickland
January 31, 2011, 11:23 PM
its a taurus model 605

Walkalong
January 31, 2011, 11:40 PM
I like the Speer short barrel 135 Gr reduced velocity .357 load (http://www.midwayusa.com/viewProduct/default.aspx?productNumber=121256). I have no interest in shooting full bore .357 stuff in a snubbie, no interest at all. Although this load is kind of tame, it will do the job every time with good hits. Plenty of +P .38 Spl carried all the time. No difference. Both will work.

ColtPythonElite
February 1, 2011, 12:09 AM
I carry Federal 125 gr. JHP in my SP101 and regularly shoot mid to full power 125 gr. JHP handloads out of it....I ran 100+ thru it a couple of days ago just to get out of the house.

mr.trooper
February 1, 2011, 12:24 AM
Its a 357 - anything but FMJ will do you fine. You're over-thinking the issue.

au01st
February 1, 2011, 12:26 AM
I went and shot my 3" .357 on Saturday (Rossi brand, basically the same as the 605). The magnum loads were quite heavy on the recoil, but I would definitely keep those in it if I was hunting or hiking.

I also shot some 38+P and had no issues hitting a coke can at 20 yards. My dad said I'm a crack shot since that's only my second time shooting a snubnose revolver (the other was his S&W 642) and he can't hit a 10" plate at 20 yards with it...

Planning to keep the gold dots in it for back up, and maybe a magnum round as the 6th shot should I need it.

psyshack
February 1, 2011, 03:25 AM
.357 mag as a load is worthless out of anything under 3" barrel IMHO. I haven't a clue why folks like true snubs so much. IE,,, I prefer a 3" hot loaded 9mm auto. :)

My wifes pistol is a S&W 60-Pro. The wife had some major issues shooting full house .357's out of it until she learned to shoot. But cut the barrel down under 3" and she wonders why.

If your going to snub it out with a .38 anything. Best you can do is load it +P with a very fast powder.

Cosmoline
February 1, 2011, 03:33 AM
.357 mag as a load is worthless out of anything under 3" barrel IMHO.

Where are you getting that idea? While .357 from a snub barrel doesn't have the velocity of a .357 out of a long barreled revolver or carbine, it does have considerably more velocity than a .38 Special.

If you have a snub of sufficient mass and high quality design such as an SP-101, shooting magnums is not only possible but practical. Fun, too. Taurus says their 605 is stainless with a weight of about 24 oz. This is sufficient, with recoil-reducing grips, to permit extensive use and practice with full powered .357 magnums. If you have a proper stance you should have no troubles. The troubles come when folks try to fire .357's out of ultra-light revolvers. You want at least 24-26 oz minimum, and if you use hard grips you probably will want 30 oz.

As far as ammo choice, there's a great deal of high quality expanding ammo for .357's out there. I would use hollow points, not just soft points, to aid expansion.

psyshack
February 1, 2011, 05:10 AM
Cos

There is no way in hell or gods green earth one can justify shooting full house mag's out of a barrel less than 3". Thus why worry about a mag load. If your smart the load is a tuned 38 +p.

Stainz
February 1, 2011, 06:49 AM
My choice for self protection, kept in speedloaders and moonclips for all of my .38 & .357M revolvers in the safe, is the same as I use for my 642 CCW and dedicated house guns - Remington R38S12 +P 158gr LHPSWC. They list for ~$35/50, so they are reasonable enough in cost to practice with, too. Their lead is a bit softer than Federal's version, so they open up well in gelatin at the lower velocities attained from the 642's 1 7/8" barrel (~840+fps). They were referred to as 'the old FBI load', and have a great track record. Georgia Arms loads a similar, but harder, bullet in their ammo line, which behaves similarly ballistically - and at around a third of the cost. That's even more frugal practice!

Stainz

Paladin38-40
February 1, 2011, 08:03 AM
A .38 +P out of a long barrel is just as good as a .357 magnum fired out of a short barrel? Truth or oft repeated gun shop lore?

A .38 +P fired from a 6" barrel only produces 74% of the velocity of a 2.5" barrel .357 magnum. From a 4" barrel the .38 +P produces 71% of the velocity of a 2.5" .357 magnum. The .357 magnum never loses. With equal bullet weights the velocity advantage will be 300 - 400 fps.

The above is paraphrased from pages 106 - 107 of Handgun Stopping Power by Marshall and Sanow.

I have chronographed loads myself and been suprised at the results.

That said, I can not imagine cranking off a .357 magnum in an enclosed space with no ear plugs. So I save .357 magnums for the range or boondocks.

If you have access to a chronograph you can have a lot of fun testing loads and comparing to what you hear or what the loading manual says.

warnerwh
February 1, 2011, 08:24 AM
Paladin: I'm glad you said that. It always bothers me that so many people are not educated and continue to give that kind of information.

Slow burning powders will also give the highest velocity in a short barrel. This is proven. Fast powders for short barrels is also a myth.

The .357 is MUCH more powerful than a .38 +p in equal barrel lengths. It's like a
Volkswagen against a Corvette.

Before anyone flames me please do some research.

lizziedog1
February 1, 2011, 08:51 AM
I thought that shooting reloaded ammo for self-defense was not a good idea. I recently took my CCW course. The instructor also warned against this practice. Even if you don't get into criminal trouble, the civil court might see things differently.

I have heard this for many, many years. It might just be an old wife's tale. But to be safe, might SD loads are all factory loads.

pacpiper
February 1, 2011, 09:02 AM
Sorry to jack the OP but I had the same questions.

I'm glad I took the time to read this thread since it gave some great info. since I've been thinking about the ammo. currently in my 2 1/8" .357.

I never really thought about all the negatives from unloading a full power .357 load inside. It makes perfect sense to tame it down without sacrificing stopping power so I thank everyone for the info.

bikerdoc
February 1, 2011, 09:05 AM
Firemanstrickland,

I got a Taurus 605 in 3 inch, I can handle 357 in it, in a snubby stick with 38 Plus P.

Just my .02

dnovo
February 1, 2011, 09:18 AM
I agree with Barkoff, the Buffalo Bore loads designed for snubbies are excellent. Dave

lobo9er
February 1, 2011, 09:18 AM
For 357 defense ammo I use
Federal Premium 357 Barnes Expanders
Hornady 158 grain xtp
if its gonna be 38 +p, hornady critical defense

Stainz
February 1, 2011, 10:42 AM
Paladin, you may want to check your data - that second paragraph implies that a +P from a 4" is the same 74% Mv of a 2.5" .357M as a 6".

My views come from the practical needs of a civilian in defending his person, whether at home, on the street, or in the Alabama boonies. One should always use 'enough' for protection. Too much, I feel, is actually worse than not enough as you can endanger others - and you just don't have that 'right'. Recall the developmental criteria the .357 Magnum was designed for - to pierce the steel car doors of the day while shooting at fleeing felons - a LEO use. Sure, civilians could use it - it was demonstrated to be a great large game getter. You can also make the stand that today's .357M's are closer in energy to the .38-200's, too - you might be right. Still, for a mere civilian, they are a bit much - like a .44 Magnum to a .44 Special - or a .454 Casull to a .45 Colt. When 'home invaders' start wearing body armor, I reserve the right to rethink this!

BTW, I chrono-ed the softer Remington +P R38S12 158gr LHPSWC's at:

1 7/8" - 2" .38's (442/642 - 2" 10) -- 822-860 fps
3" 65 -- 912 fps
5" h-l 686+ -- 990 fps
6" 66 -- 997 fps

The GA Arms practice rounds I use were within a few fps from the 2" 10 and 6" 66 - very good to practice with - and carry the Remingtons. A 2L pop bottle full of water - at 12-15yd - produces quite a geyser when hit by a 642 launched Remington R38S12. I no longer fear marauding pop bottles full of water. YMMV. I feel safe. Of course, I also have 200gr .44 Special Gold Dots for my .44's - and 250gr Gold Dots for my .45 Colts. The .38/.357M's are my front line, however.

Stainz

lobo9er
February 1, 2011, 11:44 AM
When 'home invaders' start wearing body armor, I reserve the right to rethink this!



who said they dont?

springfield30-06
February 1, 2011, 12:09 PM
You didn't tell us which .357 snubby you have. If it's one of the very light revolvers, you wouldn't be able to get me to shoot it with .357 Magnum.

If it is one of the light ones like a 360PD with a weight of 11.4 oz. unloaded you may want to think about loading up with .38 specials. Since you have never shot a .357 magnum before you may be in for a big surprise firing it out of this gun. I have shot a 360PD with .357's and it is quite stout, but the weird thing is that it actually helped me with anticipating recoil.... No other guns that I own match the recoil from that revolver, thus made them feel easier to shoot.

goodtime
February 1, 2011, 12:21 PM
These guys did the real world experiment. Very enlightening. Compare 38 spl to 357 mag inch per inch. No comparison in terms of velocity. This raw data does not address other debatable issues, however, including but not limited to: muzzle flash, recoil, bullet type.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/results.html

qcsmitty
February 1, 2011, 12:51 PM
Regarding post #3 by Barkoff:

+1 to this gentleman's input.

With all due respect to the other contributors, There are NO details over-thought when lives are at stake. Muzzle flash, recoil and repeat are real factors. If you are in open space in daylight, there are hundreds of choices. In your home or vehicle especially at night, the small details become significant. The Speer Gold Dot 135gr for short barrel are found at my local dealer (the 38 +p version is virtually the same round at about 50 fps less velocity @ approx 900fps vs 860fps). These are also "sub-sonic" velocities and do not add the supersonic (speed of sound = approx 1120fps) "crack" that can be deafening in tight quarters. For home defense, rounds with a velocity under 1100fps can be preferred for this reason. I keep the 135gr SB Gold Dots in my Ruger SP101 2.25" but will be ordering the Buffalo Bore low flash/low recoil rounds soon. Consider that "faster" rounds (higher velocity) do not always make "better" rounds.
Do check out Buffalo Bore.

Walkalong
February 1, 2011, 03:29 PM
.357 mag as a load is worthless out of anything under 3" barrel IMHO.
Where are you getting that idea? While .357 from a snub barrel doesn't have the velocity of a .357 out of a long barreled revolver or carbine, it does have considerably more velocity than a .38 Special.

I agree with Cosmoline.

I shot some 140 Gr XTP's the other day out of a 6" M-28 and a 2 1/2" 686. I had picked a powder load in the middle of the makers data to start with. I got 1266 FPS from the slow barreled M-28 and 1192 FPS from the 686. Not bad for a midrange 140 Gr load.

The only negative with full load .357 stuff (especially 125 Gr) is recoil, blast, flash, and noise level inside.

The .357 Mag can out do +P .38 Spl in short barrels by quite a bit for velocity and power.

Cosmoline
February 1, 2011, 04:24 PM
One should always use 'enough' for protection.

But how can you know what "enough" is until it's too late? Nothing against .38 Special, but if your life is about to be snuffed out there is no such thing as "too much" this side of a howitzer. You want to end the threat absolutely, and immediately, so you don't die. To deliberately avoid .357 because you think it's "too powerful", which I would assume would rule out anything more potent than .357, is not a sound choice. Life or death is precisely that. And no time for compromise positions.

Of course, there comes a point when the weight of the handgun is so small that magnums are too difficult to use. That's where the .38 Special or 9mm comes into play. But increasing the weight of the handgun is probably the better choice if possible.

Too much, I feel, is actually worse than not enough as you can endanger others

You mean overpenetration? Any round powerful enough to kill, down to .25 ACP, will cut through most interior walls. You reduce the risk to others by stopping the threat with as few shots as possible and by not missing. That means one shot of .30'06 HP less of a risk to others than ten shots of 9x19. Every shot of ANY caliber is a roll of the dice. You want fewer rolls.

royal barnes
February 1, 2011, 10:31 PM
I carry a Smith M&P 340 loaded with Remington Golden Saber 125's. I practice with any number of .38 loads but the magnum rounds are for defense. The Remington load is a mid range one but still generates more velocity and foot pounds of energy than any .38 +p out of the same length barrel. The recoil is manageable and accuracy for quick follow up shots is very good. Much is made of the recoil, muzzle flash and noise of a magnum load especially when fired in close confines. My experience, and that of numerous officers I have interviewed who were involved in shootings, is that you don't hear the round go off, you don't feel the recoil and you don't know how many times you fired in real life. Accurate follow up shots are not hindered by these factors. I have never seen the muzzle flash in a real shooting situation or a training scenario. Temporary hearing impairment may happen but I have never seen any data that the number of rounds fired in the average shooting incident leads to permanent hearing loss. If .38+p's are what you can shoot accurately and feel the most comfortable with then, by all means, carry them. Magnum rounds from a snubby in the right hands are better.

Craigman
February 2, 2011, 12:36 AM
I had some old Smith &Wesson 125gn .357mag JHP that Chrony'd 1250fps out of my 2.25" SP101 (set up prob 15-20feet away) Still have half a box and feel completely comfortable carrying it

Diamondback
February 2, 2011, 02:00 AM
...lots of stuff works; for self-defense work I particularly like Remington 125 gr. Golden Saber BJHP, Winchester 145 gr. Silvertip HP, and for reduced recoil a good .38 Special +p158 gr. Lead HP (FBI load) like Remington or Buffalo Bore.

- regards

Dee
February 2, 2011, 10:40 AM
How about Remington 125 gr JHP's? I picked up a box of 100 for about $45.00 at Walmart, hope to try them out soon.

Lovesbeer99
February 2, 2011, 12:45 PM
I have to chime in. I tested rounds from an SP101 at 25 yards on 2 phone books that were tied together and soaked in water overnight. Kind of like the FBI used to do years ago. I used 110gr semi JHP for each load.

The 38 was unimpressive with no expansion.
The 38+P showed more penetration but didn't make it past the 1st book. The round was recovered and did expand a little.
The .357 blew a whole through both books the size of a fist and the bullet was not recovered. But as you turned the page of the books you can see how the bullet got bigger as it went through.
By the way, the 9mm did expand a little and went right threw both books but expansive was very little.


The .357 was way more powerful then the other loads. Learning how to manage the power takes some skill and practice but it's not impossible by any means. I plan to test this again but next time I'll take photos of the results.

au01st
February 2, 2011, 01:20 PM
Love to see those pics if you get some next time!

OpelBlitz
February 3, 2011, 09:20 PM
Love to see those pics if you get some next time!

Check out http://www.brassfetcher.com for some ballistics testing.

Strykervet
February 3, 2011, 10:59 PM
I understand that a snub nose revolver is best utilized with a lighter weight bullet and as much power as you can handle. The lighter bullets should still expand with reduced velocity.

For the penetration crowd, I understand that heavy wadcutters over a generous shot of powder does the trick best.

gamestalker
February 3, 2011, 11:38 PM
Well I know I'm going to get a lot of criticisim on this, but here I go. I load the 125 gr. Gold Dot or the 125 gr. XTPHP, both perform excellent. I use 20 grains of W296 or H110 with a good firm crimp. I'm getting velcoities through my chronograph from my 2 1/8" S&W and my Taurus snubby of average 1450s. I like these self defense loads and have practiced with them a lot. Do they produce a good deal of recoil? Of course. Is it painful to shoot? I don't have a problem, and I'm a 5' 5" 125 lb. man who knows how to hold my weapon, even one handed. I have an opinion about self defense in that, I don't want to have any problem stopping the perpetrator. If all I get is a leg shot, I want it to do excessive defensive damage to the extent that, the perp. will be stopped. I've tested these loads and lots of others, and have decided the 125s are the most effective because they will get the velocity needed to expand quickly, despite the anticipated critics who will respond to my opinion.

XTrooper
February 4, 2011, 06:42 AM
".357 mag as a load is worthless out of anything under 3" barrel IMHO."

I've been hearing statements like this for decades, mostly from people whose personal limitations or lack of resolve prohibit them from effectively handling .357 Magnum loads from their snubbies. However, the facts prove otherwise.

.357 Magnum loads ALWAYS provide a minimum of 200 fps to as much as 400+ fps greater muzzle velocities over their .38 Special +P counterparts when fired from 2"-3" barrel revolvers.

firemanstrickland
February 5, 2011, 12:07 PM
thanks for all the input and sides of the argument guys. I don't claim to be a gun smith but i do not see how it is physically possible for a .38+p to ever be stronger than a .357 mag, thats just my opinion.

The_Shootist
February 5, 2011, 01:45 PM
Consider the Blazer 158 gr JHP in .357. Seems to have a decent HP and (at least in my 3" bbl SP101) isn't so fierce that good follow-ups couldn't be made.

Cheap to practice with too! :D

OldCavSoldier
February 5, 2011, 04:17 PM
158 gr JHP pushed by 7.3 gr of Unique is quite the trick out of my 3-inch and 2 1/8 inch snubbies. Of course, if you miss your target with the bullet, the flame will BBQ it......

OldCavSoldier
February 5, 2011, 04:22 PM
I carry a Smith M&P 340 loaded with Remington Golden Saber 125's. I practice with any number of .38 loads but the magnum rounds are for defense. The Remington load is a mid range one but still generates more velocity and foot pounds of energy than any .38 +p out of the same length barrel. The recoil is manageable and accuracy for quick follow up shots is very good. Much is made of the recoil, muzzle flash and noise of a magnum load especially when fired in close confines. My experience, and that of numerous officers I have interviewed who were involved in shootings, is that you don't hear the round go off, you don't feel the recoil and you don't know how many times you fired in real life. Accurate follow up shots are not hindered by these factors. I have never seen the muzzle flash in a real shooting situation or a training scenario. Temporary hearing impairment may happen but I have never seen any data that the number of rounds fired in the average shooting incident leads to permanent hearing loss. If .38+p's are what you can shoot accurately and feel the most comfortable with then, by all means, carry them. Magnum rounds from a snubby in the right hands are better.
You number one, GI!!

joneb
February 5, 2011, 04:41 PM
.357 mag as a load is worthless out of anything under 3" barrel IMHO.
:what: I couldn't disagree more.
I load a 158 and 180gr XTP's with max charges of Accurate #9, these things are rockin out a 2.75" Ruger Sec. Six.

Dr_B
February 6, 2011, 01:18 AM
The Hornady defense loads or Speer gold dots are fine for carry use. I practice mostly with .38's but include a few .357 FMJs as well. Just don't carry lead ball or FMJ for self defense.

Long barrels aren't necessary. They would allow for higher velocity and more foot-lbs but accuracy isn't really affected if you watch your grip and sight picture.

Barkoff
February 6, 2011, 01:48 AM
Here is a little more input, opinions appreciated regarding Hornady.

I shot the Buffalo Bore Low velocity, low recoil, low flash today, and then some "Critical Defense" by Hornady. The Hornady actually has less flash than the BB, they both felt pretty stout out of a 2.50 in barrel, but not too bad. But that being said, I have heard some negatives in regards to these Hornady rounds, lot's of reports of misfires and other quality issues...anyone else hearing this?

Afterward I shot some full power Buffalo Bore..boy howdy! Quite a difference from a 6" to a 2.50".

On a side note, I also shot a few snake loads out of my Model 66 2.50 (thinking this to be a new pack gun) and it printed a lot better than the 6". At about eight feet it gave me a tight softball size pattern. I think the shot is spinning a lot faster out of the 6".

_N4Z_
February 6, 2011, 11:35 AM
I don't claim to be a gun smith but i do not see how it is physically possible for a .38+p to ever be stronger than a .357 mag, thats just my opinion.

Has nothing to do with being a gunsmith.. :confused:

It's physics. In simple terms, the .357 moves the slug (mass) at greater velocity, which translates to more potential damage on the recieving end. A .38, neither standard or +p, is rated to push a slug as fast as the .357.

royal barnes
February 6, 2011, 04:07 PM
A friend just gave me a partial box of Winchester 357 145 grain Silvertip to try in my M&P 340. I shot 5 and will admit, "I am a woos!!!". It just hurt. I didn't even want to drop the hammer on the last couple of rounds. I think I'll just stick with the Remington Golden Sabers I have been shooting or maybe try xtrooper's 110 grain recommendation. :)

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