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Ammo choice...180 gr vs. 200 gr .357 Magnum?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Southern Shooter, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. Southern Shooter

    Southern Shooter Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    My son and I are going to be spending some backpacking time in the lower Rocky Mountains this summer. For the ease of convenience we are leaving the long-barreled .357s back at the house in Louisiana. However, we do want something for self-defense on the trail and at camp and have decided to take our 2.75" barreled Speed-Sixes .357 Magnums. We want to stoke them up as much as possible...yes...we know these are not cannons in this caliber and barrel length and are marginal against some mountain creatures. However, with some wisdom and limiting shots to close range ( 20 yards or less ) I think we should fair well.

    We have been doing some ammo research and are leaning towards some hardcast rounds. Right now, Double Tap ammo has our attention. If we go with this ammo which of the two listed below would ya'll choose and why?

    Caliber: 357 Magnum
    Bullet: 180gr. Wide Flat Nose Gas Check Hardcast
    Velocity: 1300fps / 4" Ruger GP-100
    1420fps / 6"bbl S&W 686
    Muzzle Energy: 676 ft. lbs.


    Caliber: 357 Magnum
    Bullet: 200gr. Wide Flat Nose Gas Check Hardcast
    Velocity: 1200fps / 4" Ruger GP-100
    1315fps / 6"bbl S&W 686
    Muzzle Energy: 640 ft. lbs.

    Last edited: Feb 26, 2008
  2. critter

    critter Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    southeast AR
    I can't help you much in making that choice. It looks to me, however, that you have done your research well and have a couple of really good choices. I think your bullet choice is really good-the hard cast, gas check, flat nose ones will PENETRATE almost forever. For your choice, I, too, like HEAVY bullets. I have never used anything bigger than the 180's though.

    Be sure to shoot them to see where the point of impact is cause it may be different with heavy bullets (different than what you may otherwise be using).

    Either one will make you guys well armed. Good luck.
  3. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 22, 2002
    Kampong Cham, Cambodia
    I am going to be using 180s, I have shot a bunch of 180 gr XTPs and I am going to cast some of my own 180gr wide flat point gas checks, and those over 15 grs of Lil' gun ought to do the trick for me here in eastern Pennsylvania.
  4. jameslovesjammie

    jameslovesjammie Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Excellent choices! Glad you narrowed it down to cast bullets.

    I really like 180's in .357. That is what I'd opt for, and will be carrying this fall during deer season. I also shoot the XTP's, but am switching over to WFN's. I also got a 173 gr. Keith to try.

    I am converting to shooting everything lead. The 3 different jacketed are the last boxes I have. When they're gone, they're gone. Here's what's on my bench right now in .357/.358:

    Left to right:

    173 gr. Keith
    180 gr. WFN (you can't tell in the picture, but it has a MONSTER meplat. Almost caliber!)
    158 gr. RN
    148 gr. HBWC
    148 gr. DEWC
    140 gr. RNFP
    125 gr. RNFP
    180 gr. Hornday XTP
    158 gr. Sierra JHC
    125 gr. Sierra SP

  5. Southern Shooter

    Southern Shooter Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    Federal Premium Vitalshok 180 gr. Hardcast....weak??

    You know it is a shame. Originally, I was looking at some of this Federal ammo while at my local gun shop. It is sold at several stores in town so it is easy to purchase. But, in comparison it is very weak. And, after taxes cost more than a $1 per shell. Look at the info below. Why don't they make it stouter so we don't have to mail order other brands?

    Caliber: 357 Magnum
    Bullet: 180 gr. CastCore

    Velocity: 1240 fps / 10" bbl
    Muzzle Energy: 615 ft. lbs.

    Velocity: 1130 fps / 6"bbl
    Muzzle Energy: 510 ft. lbs.

    Which, if my numbers are correct, translates into an even more puny performance from my 2.75" barreled Ruger Speed-Six:

    Velocity: 980 fps
    Muzzle Energy: 384 ft. lbs.

    I hope that my numbers are not correct...anybody else calculate them differently?

  6. Seafarer12

    Seafarer12 Participating Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Austin, TX
    I put a vote in for Buffalo Bore heavy .357 loads. Their hard cast 180gr is pretty stout.

    1. 3 inch S&W J frame

    a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard cast LFN = 1302 fps
    b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC (jacketed hollow cavity) = 1299 fps
    c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 1398 fps
    d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 1476 fps
  7. MCgunner

    MCgunner Senior Elder

    Dec 3, 2005
    The end of the road between Sodom and Gomorrah Tex
    I'd go with Buffalo Bore or handload equivalent (okay, well, I DO go with the handload equivalent) in 180 grains. Here, you're talkin' 1306 fps, 662 ft lbs from a 2.3" Ruger SP101, 1400 fps/785 ft lbs from a 6.5" Blackhawk, both my guns over my chronograph temps in the high 80s. My personal load uses a 180 grain Hornady XTP over 13.8 grains of AA#9. Work up to it, it's hot.

    My general utility load is milder, an old stand by. I cast a 158 grain gas checked bullet from a Lee mold (large meplat) over 14.5 grains 2400. I get 450 ft lbs or so from the SP101 and 760 ft lbs from the 6.5" Blackhawk, 1200 ft lbs (approx) from my 20" Rossi 92. I've killed three deer with the load, 1 from the Rossi about 80 yards, the other two from the Blackhawk at 30-50 yards. I get 600 ft lbs from my 4" Taurus M66 with this load and it's easy on K frame guns and accurate. It makes for a decent carry load for back packing.
  8. Southern Shooter

    Southern Shooter Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    FPS difference per inch???

    Here, you're talkin' 1306 fps, 662 ft lbs from a 2.3" Ruger SP101, 1400 fps/785 ft lbs from a 6.5" Blackhawk

    When I ask about the difference in fps as related to barrel length I usually am instructed to subtract 50 fps per loss of barrel inch. I noticed here that did not apply here with your numbers. Does that have something to do with the bullet weight?

    If I use the figure of 22.38 fps loss per inch difference then my 2.75" Speed-Six would generate about 1,050 fps in velocity and 441 fpe using the Federal ammo I mentioned. Still not up to par with the Buffalo Bore and Double Tap, but a significant jump.

    By the way, outside of a more velocity and energy from the Buffalo Bore, are their other reasons ya'll would prefer it over Double Tap?

  9. batmann

    batmann Active Member

    Jul 22, 2007
    I have shot a lot of Double Tap 158 gr and a few 180 gr out of my 50th Ruger Blackhawk in .357. They are very stout loads and I think they as good or better than BB and they cost less.
    A 180 gr .357 in either make should take care of your needs.
  10. pinkymingeo

    pinkymingeo Active Member

    May 31, 2007
    Get yourself a chronograph. I'd be very surprised if you do better than 900fps from a 2 3/4 barrel, and that would be a bonafide wrist-wrencher. I don't know what you intend to shoot at. All that load will do to a Grizzly is make him mad, and it's way more than you need for most other purposes.
  11. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Elder

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    Like Brian, I have been testing a 180gr Hornady XTP over 15gr of Lil'gun and it's a great load IMO. If you don't reload and are going to buy a heavy .357 Magnum round I would go with the180gr Hard Cast DoubleTap round. Since both the DoubleTap and Buffalo Bore rounds are so close in velocity I would buy DoubleTap on price alone. I would stick with the 180gr bullet because of the velocity that possible and because IMO shooting a 200gr bullet from such a short barrel revolver would be punishing for both you and the revolver.
  12. JNewell

    JNewell Senior Member

    Oct 1, 2003
    Land of the Bean & the Cod
    I have fired quite a bit of the Federal 180gr load out of a 2.75" SS and a 2.5" 66. Even that load is a real thumper with factory grips. BTW, the 66 developed substantial endplay as a result of these loads. The SS is still holding up fine.
  13. S&Wfan

    S&Wfan Participating Member

    Dec 17, 2005
    Yep, great choice with the 180 gn. hard cast lead flat nose! That's your best choice in those wheelguns for your purposes.

    I hunt deer with a S&W M29-5 in .44 magnum and have used hardcast lead flatnose bullets now for many years, after giving up on the touted hollowpoints (after shooting a big doe at 10 FEET with a Hornady 240 XTP factory load) and not even getting a blood trail. Another hunter harvested that doe the next week in a food plot and my mushroomed bullet fell out. Until he skinned it, he had no idea that deer had ever been shot, the way it was walking and all! One of those freak things.

    For me, I want a bullet that will penetrate and not stop when in the deep woods and thus I no longer use hollowpoints.

    With my load today (300 grain Castcore Federal) I don't lose deer and they rarely run at all. I imagine you'll have similar results with the 180gn in your .357. In case of a bear attack that bullet SHOULD push on through and hit something that will put your BROWN bear down. Even with lower velocities in the short tubed wheelguns that wide flat nose will punch on through and keep you protected well.

    Hope you have a great time!

  14. Brett Byers AKA Slow

    Brett Byers AKA Slow New Member

    May 30, 2007
    I prefer 180 grain Cast, XTP, Partition Gold (Winchester). Hard Cast for Boar and JHP for deer
  15. Gordon

    Gordon Mentor

    Dec 26, 2002
    central Kali.
    Well I shot a TON of Keith 173 grain bullets out of a 4" M-27 and a 2.5" Model 66 starting in the mid 70's. I did use 14.5 grain of 2400 BUT you better not make any mistakes and watch the primers (type and cratering ect.)and what cases you use as that load is hot! I got 1280 fps out of a 4" barrel and 1100 from the 2.5" . Cast hard they will go thru a deer like butter and also 400 pound hogs! I shot a couple black bears that ran into me in the 70's and 80's and with multiple hits it worked OK. That said the old Corbon 200 grain hard cast was even hotter and nastier.
    Nowadays I use the 180 Win Partition Gold.1000+ fps in the 2.5" and 1100+ in the 4". This eliminates the big bugaboo of those heavy cast bullet loads in guns that have lots of muzzle flip-bullet creep! Nothing like a tied up gun when you need a 2nd shot! The 173 Keith wasn't bad as it had well designed crimp grooves which stopped it IF properly crimped . The other designs are iffy at best.
  16. Swamp Rat

    Swamp Rat New Member

    Apr 10, 2003
    Occupied Georgia, CSA
    What is the make on the 180WFN??

    The thing to keep in mind with cast bullets is the widest meplate possable will deliver the most leathality, I am waiting fro Ranch Dog to finish he R&D on his new 190gr WFNGC which is also a tumble lube
  17. AStone

    AStone Senior Elder

    Aug 5, 2005
    Far N, E coast
    I'm a biologist, backpacker and mountaineer who walked for decades in the San Juans of southern Colorado.

    Never once did I see (or hear or read of) griz (Brown bear) or sign of them.

    They are probably extinct there. You'll find them in Idaho, but not Colorado.

    Black bear won't stand up against your .357 mag, even if they attack,
    which is extremely rare unless you're foolish enough to keep food in your tent at night
    or get between them and their cubs (very unlikely).

    I now live in Oregon, and even here (no griz), I'm perfectly comfortable with .357 mag in the outback.
    I carry it for 2-legged predators, not bear. I'm FAR more concerned with nutzoid humans in the outback than bears.
  18. Jake H

    Jake H New Member

    Oct 10, 2006
    Amen to that. My best friend's dad has told us stories of backpacking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness here in Montana about 25 years ago. "The Bob" is renowned for its remoteness and for its grizzly bear population, and I believe it is the largest area of wilderness in the contiguous 48.

    Anyways, he said there were many times when he was within 10 feet of full grown grizzly bears. They never once charged or threatened him in anyway. They are just as scared of us as we are of them. He just said "hey bear" and stood his ground. He never carried a gun. In fact I don't think he has ever owned a gun.

    If you are really worried about bears get yourself a canister of bear spray. I know it doesn't sound as cool but it's probably more effective than a .357 Mag will be.
  19. Colt46

    Colt46 Active Member

    Jan 29, 2003
    For dangerous big game

    I'd go heavier. Make sure you buy enough boxes to get an idea of what kind of recoil to expect when cranking them off in those short barrels though.
  20. mtmuley

    mtmuley New Member

    Feb 22, 2008
    JakeH, The Bitteroot-Selway is the largest wilderness area, and I guess the "hey bear" method was tested by Timothy Treadwell. It don't work. mtmuley

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