.357 Magnum self defence ammo - unfullfilled potential? - THR

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Old October 16, 2014, 12:40 PM   #1
Join Date: March 20, 2011
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.357 Magnum self defence ammo - unfullfilled potential?

In short: IMO there is a lot of unfullfilled potential in heavy .357 Magnum bullets - manufacturers treat the heavier bullets as "hunting only" while properly designed heavy bullets can be great for SD.

Nowadays pretty much all self-defence .357 Magnum lodas are v. high velocity bullets weighting 140gr or less.
While the high velocity guarantees reliable expansion and gives them plenty of energy with manageable recoil, the downsides are difficult to accept for some:
- extremely loud/earsplitting report
- potential for blinding muzzle flash
- low penetration (12,5" isn't really that much).

The muzzle flash and report are apparently a bit less of a problem with heavier bullets. So 158-180 gr seems like a good idea for a modern SD load. They still have enough speed tor reliably expand to huge diameter and thanks to their v. high momentum, they can still penetrate fairly deep - for sure (simple physics) deeper than 147gr 9mm bullet at its typical velocity, assuming equal expansion.

Buffalo Bore f.e. has a 158gr "short barrel" round using unknown bullet, but the idea behind it is: heavier bullet + less velocity = still lots of energy, good penetration and less report/flash.
It may be a really good SD round, but it's expensive and I haven't really seen proper gelatin + clothing tests.

There was also this round:

Look at this expansion! All that denim wasn't a problem. Penetration is just perfect for SD. Looks like a great round, doesn't it? And it's cheap!

There are a few other 158gr offerings on the market, the problem is - most of those are hunting bullets or bullets behaving like hunting bullets - XTP, Gold Dots both have unimpressive expansion out of revolver barrels (around .55 of an inch diameter) with... tons of unneeded penetration.

Why are ammo manufacturers pretty much ignoring the unfullfilled potential of heavy bullets in .357 Magnum?
It's not like 180 gr self defence ammo can't be made.

180 gr black talon bullet not only expanded like a good .45 ACP +P modern SD load, didn't display any kind of excessive penetration, and, for .357 Magnum that is, wasn't that bad for shooter's hearing.

Here you can see the results of gelatine tests when fired out of short barrel. Pretty impressive, right?

So the question is:
Why are 180gr .357 Magnum SD rounds gone?
Why are 158 gr SJHPs (apparently the only wide-expanding 158gr .357 Magnum bullet out there) from Remington gone?

Was there something wrong with 180gr Black Talon, other than the name?
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Old October 16, 2014, 12:49 PM   #2
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Well for one, the 125 grain full power .357 magnum loads have one HECK of a rap sheet. I won't go into all the details and theories, but suffice it to say that is probably one of the most proven and effective loads in this caliber there are. It just plain WORKS, and it works very, VERY well.

Now there are some good heavier bullet defense loads out there. I use Winchester Silver Tip 145 grain .357 magnums in my Ruger for HD work. These were used by law enforcement for some time with good results. It's a less load and flashy load than the 125 grain blasters, without excess recoil. It's performance is about like the very best modern .40 S&W 155 grain hollow points, with maybe more energy. Nice rounds, but they aren't made anymore either from what I know. Haven't seen them in a while. Luckily I have two boxes of 50!

In short, .357 is loud PERIOD. The heavier bullets may be less so, but at the end of the day .357 125 grain loads are the kind for self defense work in this caliber and will be for some time. They are highly effective.
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Old October 16, 2014, 01:41 PM   #3
Vern Humphrey
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The way I look at it, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The 125 grain bullet in the .357 has such a good record in SD roles that there's no point in going to a heavier bullet in this cartridge.
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Old October 16, 2014, 02:10 PM   #4
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Remington, Winchester, and Federal all have 158 gr jhp's. Remington has a 180.
How do you know the XTP has "tons of unneeded penetration?"
If the major companies don't make it, it's because they don't think it would sell.
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Old October 16, 2014, 02:47 PM   #5
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Buffalo Bore has 180 gr hardcast in 357 Mag. That's what I carry. You could always roll your own. There are 230 gr wadcutters in 38/357. I've read that with the right powder, you can get upwards of 1,200 fps. Don't know about what barrel length. I am guessing 6", however, that equates to over 700 ft lbs.
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Old October 16, 2014, 04:27 PM   #6
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None of these come anywhere close to the Black Talon.

Remington used to make a 158gr SJHP that expanded to around 0.67 inch when fired from 4" barrel - see the video.
But it's discontinued.
Their 180gr doesn't expand nearly as well, since it's more hunting oriented, and that's the problem - there are NO 180gr bullets designed for SD, while there are obvious advantages to heavy bullets in .357 Magnum.
Look again at these Black Talon tests - great expansion AND high penetration. 125 grainers have great trouble achieving both since 125gr bullet simply lacks momentum.

180gr@1100fps has as much momentum as 125gr bullet@1656 fps.
The former is a mild load from 4" barrel.
The latter... well...

Now, on XTPs and Gold dots vs old Remington SJHP:
First, remmy 158gr SJHP: 1158 fps out of 3" barrel, 13,25" penetration, 0.652" average expansion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJk_YHO6hDk - 158gr XTP bullet, Underwood super-hot ammo fired from 4" barrel, 1490 fps, 0,58-0,7" expansion, 14,1" penetration 10% weight lost. So basically no advantage over Remington's SJHP at several times the price and much more recoil/report/flash.
Now I would LOVE to see 158gr XTP tested at lower velocities, but I guess nobody performed such tests or I'm not searching hard enough.

Now Gold Dot:
Double tap Ammo, 158gr Gold dot bullet, 1304 fps, 24" penetration, 0,449 to 0,534 expansion

If you ask me, all of these perform noticeably worse than Black Talon, and out of these 3 old Remington SJHP 158gr bullet seems to be the best.

Not at all. Great bullet will be great bullet, no matter how old it is. Apparently Remington's design works. Just like Remington's 38 special +P SWCHP 158gr - all lead yet expands reliably after penetrating denim thanks to soft lead.

Now 180 gr bullets - 180gr XTP at 1080 fps (sounds nice, huh?)

Almost no expansion, 22+ inch penetration. So it's out of question.

180 gr Remington SJHP - 1193 fps, .534-.557 expansion, 18" penetration - so expansion is limited, penetration is good, but when compared to Remington's own discontinued 158gr SJHP - nothing impressive.

Black Talon:
1092 ft/sec, penetrated to 13.9" and was recovered at 0.632"
And again that's out of 2,5" barrel, so better expansion OR penetration can be expected when fired from a full-sized revolver.

What I would like to see:

180gr bullet, around 1120-1160fps muzzle velocity out of 4" barrel, 0,61-0,65" expansion, 14-17" penetration - as much expansion as 125gr bullets, with more penetration, less report, less flash. It can be done. Quite easily in fact since at least one of those has ALREADY designed the perfect bullet for the job.

Last edited by Krator; October 16, 2014 at 04:44 PM.
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Old October 16, 2014, 04:32 PM   #7
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Game vs human beings......

There are several top .357magnum rounds out there for defense. Not hunting game or "dangerous game" .
If your goal is to tote a .357magnum revolver for personal security or home protection, you can buy 125gr JHPs from several makers: Remington, Hornady, DPX/Corbon, Winchester, ATK/Federal.
In magnum calibers, a frangible or pre-fragmented load like a MagSafe or Glaser Safety Slug can do very well too.
In the 1990s, I used MagSafe SWAT +P+ .38spl in my Ruger SP101 snub.

www.sgammo.com www.shopcorbon.com www.brownells.com www.magsafeonline.com www.gilbertsguns.com
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Old October 16, 2014, 05:03 PM   #8
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I think reading the opening post more carefully (I think you missed most of it) would help you understand my point.

125gr loads are:
- either not any better than 9mm (so no real point in carrying big heavy revolver in .357)
- LOUD as hell with a good possibility of a blinding flash.

and the penetration is rather mediocre even with hot loads and I don't agree with the general sentiment that "12 inches is enough" - there's a lot of scenarios when it actually isn't.

Rather mild 180gr Black Talon load from the link achieves MORE than hot 125gr, with much less report, no muzzle flash etc.
So, why go 125gr when 180gr can do the same, only with less damage to your ears?
If you go around in muffs, then good for you. I don't.

Simply looking at the numbers, 180gr SD load like Black Talon makes a lot of sense. Old 158gr Remington also made a lot of sense, too bad it got discontinued.

Dear Highroaders, do you know of any tests of Buffalo Bore's 158gr short barrel ammunition? It sounds interesting, some people have claime that they're using Remington's "cheap" SJHP bullet - I would be fine with it, the price is rather scary, though.
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Old October 16, 2014, 05:07 PM   #9
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The black talon has been gone for 15 or 20 years, AFAIK. There must not have been much call for it in the meantime.
I thought the Remington 158 was just renamed as another line. I guess it's gone.
There are still the 158 grain Federal power shock and hydra shock, CCI blazer jhp, Winchester jhp, and Hornady xtp loaded by Hornady and Fiocchi.
None of these come anywhere close to the Black Talon?
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Old October 16, 2014, 05:30 PM   #10
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Well, maybe they do.
The problem is - most of those were not tested.
And since Gold Dots in 158gr don't even reliably expand, and Gold Dots are premium ammo by "reliable" manufacturer, I don't really trust untested 158gr bullets, that most likely are designed for hunting.
XTP is most likely a decent bullet, but again - it's virtually untested (underwood ammo is launched at 125gr speeds, so not really good for comparison with f.e. Remington's SJHP)

The fact that Black Talon is gone is a matter of ignorance among general public I guess. The load had such an impressive performance and so many advantages it simply amazes me it's gone...

...same with Remington's 158gr SJHP.

I guess general public just wants 125gr and don't even consider anything else. If they are happy good for them. But bad for their ears in case they ever fire their revolvers in SD scenario and bad for the market.
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Old October 16, 2014, 09:41 PM   #11
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the governemnt had something to do with black talon dissapearing..

the problem is this.

the light and fast is best method has been touted on us for years. its one of the reasons that the 9MM was so easy to adopt. sure a hair smaller, but you had the same 110-125 grain bullet weight and the same velocity as what you had in your service barrelled 357 but lesss blast and flash.
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Old October 17, 2014, 12:14 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bezoar View Post
the governemnt had something to do with black talon dissapearing..
Eh, only sorta. The press was jumping on the black talon after some train shooting by a nutcase with Ruger 9mm loaded with Black Talons. Winchester "pulled" them to avoid them being used as an excuse for a bullet ban as momentum was building. I recall some Surgeons complaining about the possibility of sharp edges penetrating their gloves during surgery with Hep/Aids infected patients.

Of course they continued to sell them to LEO just without the black coating, under the Ranger/Talon/"T" name but they were, and are still are, readily available to anyone if your real interested. Most LE agencies who could easily buy them then or now have moved on to other rounds. I do think they dropped the 357 not long after the first big event as LE just did not use may 357's by that point. Even those left with revolvers were carrying 38 special mostly. If a Department was "progressive" enough to carry a "Magnum" they had already gone to semi-autos by that point.

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Old October 17, 2014, 02:11 AM   #13
Steve C
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Remington used to make a 158gr SJHP that expanded to around 0.67 inch when fired from 4" barrel - see the video.
But it's discontinued.
Don't understand the past tense as Remington still is cataloging both 158gr JSP and JHP .357 mag ammo in their "Express" line. Midway shows the same ammo in the HTP lne though its out of stock.

All the .357 mag ammo is effective in all loadings but the 125gr full power jhp's have the best street record of any ammo with only a few recent loads beginning to approach it. As Verne wrote, "...if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

The truth is all the "boutique" ammo from Buffalo Bore, Underwood and others will likely never be used in enough investigated and recorded shootings to ever develop the earned reputation of the Remington or Federal 125's since they are not widely used by law enforcement and LEO's don't use revolvers much any more.
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Old October 17, 2014, 02:16 AM   #14
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I'm telling you again, their. HTP 158gr sjhp is gone and what's left are aenemic target loads.
158gr sjhp was a part of htp line. It was old but still extremely effective. Remington still offfers 125 and 180gr htp sjhp.

And also if you have a better solution, why use the worse one? No point. 180gr Black Talon is simply a better choice. And yes, this thread is here to arouse some interest in heavy SD bullets.

If there's market for 125gr sd ammo then there is a market for the better/safer for ears solution. People are using 38 specials in .357 for home defense because of the report and flash thus they are basically using round comparable with a hot .380 energy wise. 180gr bullets would give magnum a comparable to 40 s&w performance without any disadvantages. And .40 is a very good sd ammo woth the right bullet.

Last edited by Krator; October 17, 2014 at 02:29 AM.
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Old October 17, 2014, 04:14 AM   #15
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Has anyone tried 158gr Speer Gold Dots out of a 357 mag? I see SGAmmo has some in stock.
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Old October 17, 2014, 05:10 AM   #16
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Check youtube. They fail to expand in almost every single test unless going extremely fast.

Last edited by Krator; October 17, 2014 at 05:42 AM.
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Old October 17, 2014, 09:19 AM   #17
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Hi Krator,

What is the source of the information about the .357 Mag 158 gr SJHP being actually discontinued?

Midway shows them on back order with delivery expected in early-December. The Remington Ammo website is a basket case right now with .357 loads listed as 9mm, etc. If you call Remington, make sure to speak to a supervisor, as the phone answering person often just quotes the website without having are real knowledge of the topic. I just went through this with Ruger and Redhawk series of revolvers, which moved production facilties and were "out of print" for a while. Ruger took them off the website, and many people were convinced they were gone forever.


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Old October 17, 2014, 09:22 AM   #18
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I think I saw such info at some online gun stores saw there isn't any in midway, checked the website and the conclusion seemed quite obvious. If it's not discontinued then I'm quite happy.
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Old October 17, 2014, 09:28 AM   #19
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Remington began replacing their scalloped-jacket bullets some time ago under the concept of "newer is better" (my translation of "newer technology"). The bullets they are replacing them with are similar to a Sierra. They are still called SJHP; but it's semi-jacket, not scallop-jacket. (Source - Remington Rep at Ft. Worth gun show in 2012.)
Actually, it's our fault. The scalloped-jacket bullets simply weren't selling as they were seen as old-fashioned and/or outdated. The gun writers didn't help. The truth is exactly the opposite. The jacket design and large amount of exposed lead almost guaranteed expansion over a wide range of velocities. Their only drawback was seating them without deforming the nose.
New vs. Old:
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Old October 17, 2014, 12:15 PM   #20
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Wish there were more people interested in heavy .357 Magnum bullets.
Maybe that would actually convince guys at f.e. Winchester to release a new heavy SD round in this caliber - they already have a design that works.
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Old October 17, 2014, 12:48 PM   #21
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the Hornady 148 grain swaged hollow base wadcutter loaded backwards at around 900 fps is the answer for people like the op who are obsessing over some long discontinued bullet that didn't do anything a 125 grain jfp can't do...
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Old October 17, 2014, 01:11 PM   #22
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For carry...your taking an airweight j frame or even a snub k frame and loading magnum class rounds into it that produce only marginally better numbers than the same but "weaker" in 38spl and sacrificing noise, flash, recoil, and built in flinch due to those 3. No thanks. 38spl for me, or even better 6 shots instead of five in hot 32swl, warm 32 mag, or normal 327 fed.
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Old October 17, 2014, 02:54 PM   #23
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I asked a similar question and placed my vote to test heavy .357 loads in gel from a carry sized revolver. No further answers or tests since then. What little testing I saw of the Barnes vortex all copper 140gr factory load was enough for me to buy a box.
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Old October 17, 2014, 03:14 PM   #24
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@WestKentucky well there are also all kinds of bigger revolvers used for hd. And some people are actually carrying k and l frames.
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Old October 17, 2014, 10:45 PM   #25
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years ago guns and ammo i believe it was, did a test on short barrelled revolvers and expansion and penetration.
the results were minimal expansion but massive penetration.
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