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.357 mag self defense ammo

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by firemanstrickland, Jan 31, 2011.

  1. firemanstrickland

    firemanstrickland Well-Known Member

    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.
  2. Dirty Bob

    Dirty Bob Well-Known Member

    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
  3. Barkoff

    Barkoff Active Member

    Read up on this stuff, it's what I'm running for home protection.


    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!
  4. firemanstrickland

    firemanstrickland Well-Known Member

    its a taurus model 605
  5. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

    I like the Speer short barrel 135 Gr reduced velocity .357 load. 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.
  6. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Well-Known Member

    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.
  7. mr.trooper

    mr.trooper Well-Known Member

    Its a 357 - anything but FMJ will do you fine. You're over-thinking the issue.
  8. au01st

    au01st Well-Known Member

    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.
  9. psyshack

    psyshack Well-Known Member

    .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.
  10. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    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.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  11. psyshack

    psyshack Well-Known Member


    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.
  12. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    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!

  13. Paladin38-40

    Paladin38-40 Well-Known Member


    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.
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2011
  14. warnerwh

    warnerwh Well-Known Member

    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.
  15. lizziedog1

    lizziedog1 Well-Known Member

    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.
  16. pacpiper

    pacpiper Active Member

    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.
  17. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator


    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
  18. dnovo

    dnovo Well-Known Member

    I agree with Barkoff, the Buffalo Bore loads designed for snubbies are excellent. Dave
  19. lobo9er

    lobo9er Well-Known Member

    For 357 defense ammo I use
    Federal Premium 357 Barnes Expanders
    Hornady 158 grain xtp
    if its gonna be 38 +p, hornady critical defense
  20. Stainz

    Stainz Well-Known Member

    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.


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