Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Styx, Nov 10, 2021.
Generally speaking, the Hornady Critical Duty, Speer Gold Dot, and Federal HST bullets are likely to work well in any cartridge they're marketed for. The Lucky Gunner test demonstrates the results of factory ammo with a 2" and 4" barrel and you can see where there might be a concern (if any) due to the short barrel. You'll also see the results of "short barrel" specific factory ammo.
Note that the Barnes 125 and 140 grain TAC-XP or XPB bullets (factory loaded by Barnes, Federal, and Buffalo Bore) perform very well in the 357 test. For whatever reason, they don't perform as well in the tests for 9x19, 40 and 45. Another bullet that tested well was the Remington Golden Saber -- esp. the .38 Special version of this bullet.
It's not my intention to uphold the LG Lab test results as the authority on handgun ammo performance -- it's just that their tests generally reflect what is widely accepted in the market in terms of both performance criteria and which handgun ammo products deliver it. Critical Duty, Gold Dot, HST and the Winchester Ranger stuff are all pretty widely accepted. The Barnes-bullet-based ammo is particular to 357 -- and why we see three major manufacturers loading it (Barnes - formerly Remington -, Federal, and Buffalo Bore).
Check this out:
Shoots nice, very stout without being abusive.
It’s a bad picture but I got .565 expansion and 15” depth out of a 2.5” barrel. (Clear gel/denim)
One benefit of using .38 Special rounds is that the ejector stroke gives better (read more positive) extraction than can be expected with .357 rounds, when and if you need to reload. This comment is from my own experience, BTW.
I carry my handloads using 125 gr Remington SJHPs. Same bullet I use in my .38 Special SD loads. More important to me than ballistics and expansion, is accuracy out those particular weapons I chose for SD. If I was to buy commercial/factory ammo for SD/HD, I would buy several types from reputable manufacturers and shoot them. Most will have similar ballistics and expansion rates.....at least to the point where the difference is moot compared to accuracy and reliability from your firearm.
I agree with the Speer Short Barrel. A round that expands reliably and is easy to handle. Several makers have made “Medium-Magnums” over the years. 125 JHP .357 was always lauded as the ultimate street man stopper. Out of a 4” steel medium frame revolver a great choice, smaller shorter barrel revolvers they become flame throwers and noise makes, not the best for enclosed or dark spaces. For woods carry or hunting 158 grain has always been my choice.
Side Note: The Speer +P .38 Special Short Barrel was designed for my department years ago. I can attest to its real life effectiveness. It was invented after the transition to 9mm but with revolvers of the 2” variety were still in abundance for Detective work and off duty carry. The at the time Federal Nyclad 158 SWC-HP was a great performer out of the 4” revolvers but not so much from the 2” guns.
I have researched the Underwood and Buffalo Bore offerings and have done my own testing. As soon as I can lay in a good supply again, those will be my preferred ammo.
Yes, the recoil and blast is noticeably more harsh than my other EDC choices. I train and practice with the ammo I carry. At least 50% of the rounds I fire on the range are full power carry loads. I reload, so the others are 158gn loads that closely match my carry ammo.
I load my M66-1 (2-1/2" barrel) with 158 grain Hornady XTP's under a full magnum powder load. At the ranges you'd expect such a short barreled gun to be effective, I suppose they should be as good as any. So far, I've never had to prove the theory. I certainly would decline the opportunity to be on the receiving end at 25-30 feet.
Negative for the 125 grain load, is the RECOIL, NOISE, MUZZLE BLAST and FLASH. With some loads, you can see a foot long flame coming out of the muzzle in broad daylight. Recoil is also stronger and sharper.
My agency allowed officers to carry the 125 grain load if they could qualify, otherwise it was the 110 grain which has recoil like a heavy .38 Special load. Also, we had trouble with the 125 grain load cracking the barrel at the forcing cone. This was not a problem with the 110 grain load.
I usually keep my medium size .357 magnums loaded with FEDERAL 130 grain HST jhp .38 Special +P. I think it is as effective a manstopper as the .357 with less recoil, noise and blast. On the other, it is expensive and hard to find. So I usually keep a .110 grain grain jhp 357 load in my heavier guns.
I believe in the theory of Poke a hole. Poke it all the way through. Poke the biggest hole you can.
The .357 came into the world shooting 158 GR Semi wadcutters. With a big flat point.
I’m good with that.
It is a horrible simulant for ballistics gel, and by extension, living tissue.
Therefore, it is a good test of the velocity at which a bullet will NOT expand. It does not test the velocity at which we can expect that a bullet WILL expand. Since we likely will not know the medium into which the bullet will be expanding, that can get very difficult to predict. Having a inexpensive and convenient test to determine the velocity at which we can no longer hope for expansion is not useless.
The IWBA published water test results because they agreed that it was a cost-effective way to test bullet expansion at given velocities. They never intended to pass of the results as a substitute for the gel tests that they themselves single-handedly made popular.
Expansion? Ballistics?? Really??
Are you kidding?
Many of the .357 magnum loads will not work all that well and especially the heavier bullets risk overpenetration. The .357 made its reputation as the best manstopper when REMINGTON introduced the 125 grain sjhp many decades ago. Why was it so good? It expanded really quickly and caused sufficient internal damage to end a threat.
Now we have a lot of choices that will expand, but the REMINGTON load was the first popular choice that I know of.
If you use a non or poorly expanding load, you will have a through and through over penetration. Whatever energy the bullet still has when it leaves a body is both wasted on the intended target and a threat to others, who are perhaps innocent bystanders.
A friend of mine was hired to guard a state office during working hours. He was required to get a .38 Special or .357 magnum and it was left up to him what he carried. Misled by the "DEEPER IS BETTER, PENETRATION IS EVERYTHING" garbage that was floated by the FBI and others, he carried 180 grain hunting bullets. What would have happeded if he had to fire his gun in that office. I do not blame him, as so much misinformation was being published as gospel, it was no surprise what he carried.
My agency found that we did not even need a full foot of penetration in gel. You know what, we had very few complaints about the stopping power of our .357 magnum ammo. This was a big change from when we used .38 Special.
If God Forbid and you have to shoot someone with a 357 mag, do you honestly thing a Federal, Hornady Speer, Remington SD round or any other is gonna make a difference?
Plus there is no way to validate it as gel blocks, wet paper , water jugs are not what is getting shot on a specific day in a certain spot.
It is just internet banter over and over,
Look at the replies and that is just a few!
Yes, I do!
With the .357 magnum, you will get very good performance from any of the makers using 125 grain jhp bullets and 1300 fps or more in velocity, but they are not exactly the same in performance..
However, if you lower the velocity, you usually lower the performance of the round. REMINGTON tried that with several medium velocity loads for the .357 and .44 magnum. They never gained any popularity with law enforcement and would have had less dramatic effect in a fight.
If you switch to a heavy bullet, it will almost always be slower. That effects how the bullet performs, unless it is a premium bullet where the design can dictate performace.
Check out my favorite .38 Special defense load, the FEDERAL HST. It opens up like a hungry shark's mouth, but does not depend on .357 magnum velocities and thus does not have .357 magnum recoil.
If the round is a heavy hunting round, it may just do the same thing as the old .38 Special lead round nose and over penetrate without doing a lot of damage. The heavy bullets are meant for hunting in most cases and that is not the same as self defense.
Along with the gel comparisons, you can look at the experience of actual users. My old agency issued the .357 and went for expansion. We did not have problems with the lightweight rounds which expanded. The previous .38 Special 110 grain +P+ load was literally hit and miss. Sometimes it hit like lightning and sometimes you had a failure to stop, not a good thing.
When I look at the gel tests run by say LUCKY GUNNER, you can see which rounds expand and sure enough, they are the rounds with a proven street performance.
I'm with you on this one. If you want to know how your "self-defense" bullet will "perform," take it hunting. A Long Pig and a Short Pig aren't all that different inside. As for expansion and all that, a flat point causes more trauma and shock than a hollow point. It's been tested by the DOD and their cadres of big brain people if all that paperwork matters. Also been tested in the field on various game animals for a long, long time. If you want to put a big, angry, scared animal down fast, use a bullet with a big, wide, flat nose moving fast enough to punch through a few layers of denim close to the cardiac muscle. The KISS rule has been around a long time with good reason.
Something like that?
It depends on the shooter and the gun.
If your gun is heavy enough and you are able to shoot and pass a qualification drill, with the 125 grain ammo, then that is the one, but if say you are getting on in years like some of us or using a lighter gun, then the milder 110 grain load like the REMINGTON or FEDERAL 110 grain jhp 357 magnum may be a better choice. The 110 grain works especially well in a lighter revolver like my 2.75 inch RUGER Speed SIx or my medium frame guns like a DAN WESSON model 14 or RUGER Security Six..
If you have an even lighter gun like the COLT King Cobra revolvers or the RUGER SP-101, it will really come down to you ability to control the recoil and bring your gun back onto target shot after shot.
I choose control and accuracy over shear power.
In my RUGER GP-100 or S&W 586, both of which have longer barrels and have heavier, stronger frames, plus the 586 has been MAGNA PORTED, I would go with the 125 grain load. I use the REMINGTON 125 grain sjhp. as that was what I was issued when I qualified with my S&W 681.
These loads are violent at both ends with bright flash, loud bang and stronger recoil, but when my agency used them, we had very few failures to stop. Many law enforcement agencies adopted the 125 grain load and had the same good results.
Unless you are going hunting with your .357 or carrying it for large predator defense, I would stay far away from the heavy bullet loads, especially the semi-wadcutter ammo with 158 grain or heavier bullets. They are meant for hunting and offer deep penetration and to cause through and through (a hole going in and another hole going out).
That sounds good until you actually fire one of these HEAVY RECOILING rounds and if you it something, you bullet is likely to completely penetrate a human body. That leaves you LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE for anyone you hit with that over-penetrating bullet.
Also, I know of NO STUDY that has shown that a semi-wadcutter will do more damage than a good hollow point and I cannot remember any law enforcement agency using it for any length of time prior to them switching over to semi-auto's.
One last thing, as I noted, in many of my lighter 357 magnums, I have changed over to the FEDERAL 130 grain HST jhp .38 Special load for the load in my cylinder. It is much easier to control and shoot than just about any .357 magnum load and gives similar performance based on the gel testing. The negative is that the "wadcutter" bullet profile can be a real problem when reloading under stress. I use either DOUBLE TAP 110 grain jhp .38 Special in my speedloaders for that reason.
I don't think any such specific studies exist either but I have found these to be extremely informative, if you are capable of having an open mind, you might read through both studies and consider what they're saying about wave fronts in living tissue and fragmenting versus expanding projectiles. According to their work at West Point, a WFN lead bullet moving fast enough to penetrate to the vitals doesn't have to produce a permanent wound channel to cause trauma and shock. Anyway, if anybody would care to read published, critical research which has actually been through peer review, here you go. Don't blame me if it gores your ox.
"Ballistic pressure wave contributions to rapid incapacitation in the Strasbourg goat tests"
Michael Courtney, PhD, Ballistics Testing Group; Amy Courtney, PhD, Department of Physics, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
Abstract: This article presents empirical models for the relationship between peak ballistic pressure wave magnitude and
incapacitation times in the Strasbourg goat test data. Using a model with the expected limiting behavior at large
and small pressure wave magnitudes, the average incapacitation times are highly correlated (R = 0.91) with
peak pressure wave magnitude. The cumulative incapacitation probability as a function of time reveals both
fast (t < 5 s) and slow (t > 5 s) incapacitation mechanisms. The fast incapacitation mechanism can be
accurately modeled as a function of peak pressure wave magnitude. The slow incapacitation mechanism is
presumably due to blood loss via damaged vascular tissue.
Originally submitted 13 December 2006. Revised version submitted 1 August 2007.
Discussion Section B. Implications for Bullet Design
"The trend in bullet design over the last decade has drifted toward bullets with little fragmentation and a higher percentage of retained mass. Bullets that both fragment and meet minimum penetration requirements create larger pressure wave magnitudes and offer improved incapacitation potential [COC06b]. In addition to moving toward designs which both penetrate and fragment reliably, the incapacitation potential of a bullet can be further improved by delaying expansion and fragmentation to a penetration depth of at least 4”. This would place the peak pressure magnitude closer to vital organs. Optimal use of a bullet’s kinetic energy to produce pressure wave incapacitation suggests a bullet design that penetrates the first 4” or so prior to significant expansion or energy loss, and then rapidly expands and transfers a large percentage of its energy and 40% of its mass at penetration depths between 4-8” before continuing to penetrate to the depth desired for the application."
"Review of criticisms of ballistic pressure wave experiments, the Strasbourg goat tests, and the Marshall and Sanow data"
Michael Courtney, PhD, Ballistics Testing Group; Amy Courtney, PhD Department of Physics, United States Military Academy, West Point, NY
Abstract: This article reviews published criticisms of several ballistic pressure wave experiments authored by Suneson et al., the Marshall and Sanow “one shot stop” data set, and the Strasbourg goat tests. These published criticisms contain numerous logical and rhetorical fallacies, are generally exaggerated, and fail to convincingly support the overly broad conclusions they contain.
Originally submitted 13 December 2006. Revised version submitted 31 July 2007
Separate names with a comma.