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Best bullet weight for a 6" .357 magnum

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by brockgl, Sep 16, 2008.

  1. brockgl

    brockgl Well-Known Member

    I've seen a lot of debate over certain bullet weights for .357 magnum round. I've seen people say some weights are better for short barrels, and I've seen some people say some weights will damage the forcing cone more. I have a Smith & Wesson 686 with 6" barrel. What .357 magnum rounds should I use for defense as well as target use? Also, does .38 special make a difference as well?

  2. jcjacobvt

    jcjacobvt Well-Known Member

    One bullet does it all.

    158 Grain Jacketed hollow point.

    Works for both a .357 mag round and .38 special...
  3. Schmidlin

    Schmidlin Well-Known Member

    agree with that suggestion. Good all around round.
  4. kmrcstintn

    kmrcstintn Well-Known Member

    I'll be the splinter on this one...depends upon your usage; against a 2 legged nasty critter, I would opt for a 125gr or 158gr sjhp; for deer hunting, I would opt for a 158gr jsp or an all leadhead like 158gr lswc or 180gr Federal CastCore; for woods walking defense in black bear areas, I would opt for a 180gr Federal CastCore; for a HD load, I would opt for a Remington 158gr lswchp in .38 spl +p;

    the beauty of a .357 magnum is its versatility; just keep the cylinders clean after firing a bunch of .38 spl's & remove lead & powder residue from the forcing cone & the innerds and it keeps running; while .44 mag and larger revolvers are often intimidating or just uncomfortable to fire, having an all steel framed revol chambered in .357 mag with a 4" or 6" barrel makes shooting magnum loads tolerable & almost enjoyable
  5. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    I like Speer 140s for carry and 158 SWCs or 180 XTPs for hunting and outdoor use. Everyone has their own idea of perfection, of course. :D I shoot a lot of .38s from my .357s at the range. I scrub 'em after every range trip, never allow fouling to build up.
  6. blfuller

    blfuller Well-Known Member

    You could also try various bullet weights/brands and see which one is the most accurate and stick with that.
  7. jimbob86

    jimbob86 Well-Known Member

    I like 158gr JHPs for everything but punchin' paper with the kids...... then it's 125gr plated .38 specials....
  8. machinisttx

    machinisttx Well-Known Member

    158 grain cast SWC
  9. freakshow10mm

    freakshow10mm member

    I like heavy bullets, 180-215gr.
  10. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Well-Known Member

    I love the Speer 158 gold dots for carry in the woods and for SD.

    And I don't really care what I put downrange for practice, so long as it goes boom.
  11. wep45

    wep45 Well-Known Member

    hey, brockgl

    I have a S&W 686-4pp .357 magnum with a 6" barrel. You won't have to worry about hurting this wheel gun with hotter loads. It's tough, but easy to handle and lots of fun.

    For target practice at the range, i'll shoot .38 special rounds (what ever type is the least expensive) Afterwards I always make sure I clean "my little friend" up real good, inside and out.

    For home defense, I got .357 magnum Glaser Silver Slugs on hand, to feed to hungry interlopers who encroach into my territory. :evil:
  12. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    I like a 180gr LRNFPGC. It is a nice strong bullet with a big Meplat and a nice round nose to slide into the charge holes easy. The gas check lets me load it up with 15 grs of Lil' Gun and it shoots real nice in all my revolvers and my Marlin 1894C.
  13. Robusto

    Robusto Well-Known Member

    prob 158's

    158's are great for all around use. But best will depend on your gun. My Python prefers 180's, but they do have a faster twist bbl.
  14. 9mmepiphany

    9mmepiphany Moderator

    i've found the most accurate round in my .357 mags to be the Speer 140gr JHP
  15. batmann

    batmann Well-Known Member

    Try DoubleTap 158gr HP, great load.
  16. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Well-Known Member

    my 6'' 686 prefers 158 grainers. I prefer JSPs for hunting deer and GDs, XTPs and JHPs for smaller game, two legged critters and bowling pins. Lil' Gun for huntin' loads and Unique for plinkin'.
  17. S&Wfan

    S&Wfan Well-Known Member

    Hi, your 686 is plenty stout for any load you prefer.

    Try a bunch of stuff and shoot what your gun "likes" best, accuracy-wise.

    That being said, your shooting situation will also dictate what to use.

    For home, indoor self-defense in a city setting, I'd want a bullet that wouldn't zip through three walls and take out the wife or a kid. I'd want a round that would not over-penetrate. Frankly, I'd also make that round one of the fine .38 Special loads for this very reason.

    For car defense I'd want a bullet that would penetrate like heck in case I had to use it against an attacker shooting at me from a car!

    For hunting, I'd want a big azzz (heavy) 180 grain bullet with lots of knock down power that's designed for hunting.

    For paper punching you can't beat the single hole potential of the wonderful 148 grain Wadcutter bullets, in either .38 special or .357.

    I'd also recommend taking up handloading to save tons of money, and to save all your spent brass. My target loads are light kicking and easy on the guns . . . and super accurate. You'll be amazed at how soon you'll save enough money reloading . . . to buy another gun!!!

    Question? What do I keep loaded as a great all-around .357 load in my .357s? The legendary 125 grain Federal HydraShock that has the best one shot stop statistics of any handgun round, in any caliber, in years of documented gun fight data.

    BTW, I recommend using only store-bought branded ammo for self-defense purposes, to prevent some attorney from accusing you of "spiking" your handloads to cause his client more suffering. Any of the preferred loads used by law enforcement personnel will thus suffice, but I prefer Federal in my revolvers due to Federal primers being the most reliable in revolvers.

    Hope this helps,

  18. StrawHat

    StrawHat Well-Known Member

    I find that all the 357s I own like the Lyman 358156 bullet or the 358439 bullet over a good dose of 2400. In my guns they are as accurate as the 148gr HBWC from a 38 Special.

    Good Luck
  19. MCgunner

    MCgunner Well-Known Member

    Ditto, that's why I carry it. Good defense load, not heavy enough nor well enough constructed for hunting, but laser accurate for defense. The Lee 158 gas check mold is pretty accurate, too, at max velocities and the 180 XTP is pretty awesome accurate. These are my three faves and mostly for accuracy.

    I've shot a few hogs with that 140 in the trap. You should see the exit wound, pretty impressive.
  20. jaholder1971

    jaholder1971 Well-Known Member

    158's and 180's really come into their own in a 6" barrel.

    lighter bullets (110 and 125) really start to come apart quick and while lead SWC's are driven faster in a 6" I don't think they gain much with velocity as they cut the same sized hole no matter the speed and once your target is perforated, it's done it's job.

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