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357 magnum... Best self defense loads for a 6 inch barrel

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by defjon, Feb 22, 2021.

  1. defjon

    defjon Member

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    Just as the title says, anyone have any data or experience I could reference as far as the longer barrel self defense rounds and results?

    Luckygunner has some good 38/357 ballistic gel results, but only test a 2 and 4 inch barrel.

    From this and other data, you can extrapolate that not always does the longer barrel improve on terminal results.

    Sometimes, a round was design with special powders and projectiles to burn/open up quickly and thus perform best from a shorter tube. From a longer barrel these rounds often seem to open up way too early and suffer in the penetration department.

    My first foray into longer barrels and self defense, as I've long favored 3 the shorter barrels for handiness. Now appreciating 6 or 7 + inch revolvers I'm wondering if some of the choice self defense rounds for use against human attackers may not be ideal from the longer barrel.

    My thinking currently is going with buffalo bore heavy 38 +p 158 gr lswchp. Those seem pretty good, and from a 6 inch magnum the recoil that's nasty in an airweight shouldn't be bad at all in the larger frame, heavier platform.

    I am open to 357 or 38 rounds, but indoors the noise on the magnums is a consideration (and I think there are some great 38 rounds!).

    Thanks in advance, just haven't found much in the way of ballistic testing online with the longer barreled 38s/357s.
     
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  2. THEWELSHM

    THEWELSHM Member

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    357 125 grain is ballistically a major round, 158 is more moderate, especially for K frames. And any 38 will, go out of a 357; don’t let carbon build up..

    Thewelshm
     
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  3. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I'd suspect the Hornady Critical Defense 125gr FTX would perform well out of a 6" barrel. It might even break 1450fps.
     
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  4. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    I like your Buffalo Bore suggestion. They are potent, will expand and probably be pleasant to shoot. That being said I would stick to 158 grain bullets in the .357 out of a six inch barrel. I would find one loaded on the light side, 1100-1200 FPS would be ideal.
     
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  5. jamesinalaska

    jamesinalaska Member

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    With barrels at 4" and longer, I found H110 to be a most excellent powder. 15 gr. Powder with 148 semi-wad cutters were shootable all day long in my old Colt MKIII, and perfect on any sharp toothed critter I found around the hen house. My 5" GP100 could do anything with 16.2 grains of powder and 158gr. Jacketed soft points. This was the load I carried in the woods and never worried about being undergunned.

    16.2 grs of H110 is over some book listings and will show signs of over pressure if the bullet is seated too deep or if a magnum primer is used. And this is definately not for the little 5-shot revolvers as that load in a thin cylimder will likely wreck the gun and possibly the shooter, so be sensible about it. But in a heavy gun, no 10mm will match that loading.
     
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  6. JERRY

    JERRY Member

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    the [.357mag] Remington 125gr. SJHP green box ammo is pretty darn good from a 4" revolver.

    a [.38spl +p] 158gr. LHP would be pretty good as well from a 6" revolver
     
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  7. NeroM

    NeroM Member

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    For my Vaquero 357, 5.5" - load a 38 SPL p+ head stamp case with 6 gr of Silohoutte and 145 gr TCFP (OTB) bullet. Get approx 950 fps- seems to be a good balance of penetration, wound cavity and noise level (indoor or outdoor). Plus consistent and accurate (in Vaquero and M10).
     
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  8. GeoDudeFlorida

    GeoDudeFlorida Member

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    The old FBI load - a 158gr LSWC HP pushing around 1000fps from a 6” barrel - will easily do the job of delivering a solid stop. Step up to a 180 or 200 grain “hunting profile” bullet at those velocities and you risk over penetrating with potentially catastrophic results. Any mid-range plates or pins load for the .357 will probably suffice - 148gr wadcutter, 140gr flat point - as long as they are slowed down to under 900fps. Otherwise you have to be very aware of what’s behind the bad guy.
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2021
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  9. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    Unless you're planning to carry it in a rural area where there are few people, don't use 158gr hollow points, they will overpenetrate. For home defense or any carry role, 125gr is the way to go and pretty much anything will work in a 6 inch barrel.
     
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  10. P5 Guy

    P5 Guy Member

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    [​IMG]

    I worked up an accuracy load for this S&W 681 using 158gr Nosler JHP over a over mid level charge of H110 in Federal brass ignited with a Winchester's small magnum pistol primer. Notice the fixed sights, this being my target (pun alert) for accurate load development.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
  11. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    My catch all defense round for 357 is 158 gr Speer Gold Dots.
     
  12. Pat Riot
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    Pat Riot Contributing Member

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    You don’t mention what gun you plan to use. If you haven’t purchased one yet and are looking for a used gun please remember that older S&W model 19s used to have cracked forcing cone issues due to magnum loads with light bullets. Light as in 125 grains. 158 grains is supposedly better.
     
  13. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    Interesting. I use them for rifle loads because based on the gel tests I've seen in handguns (lucky gunner) they don't seem to expand at typical handgun velocities.
     
  14. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    Hmmm. I had not seen that, so I dug up the info. You are right, they didn't expand much at all. Looks like the clothing maybe plugged them up. I mostly only carry 357s in the woods anymore so that isn't likely to be an issue, but maybe a little more velocity is a good idea as you suggest. I'll relegate them to my Henry, and carry the Barnes VORTEX 140 gr ammo I have on hand. They seem to have done better.
     
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  15. TTv2

    TTv2 Member

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    158's will expand if you drive them fast enough, which means stick them in barrels that are at least 4 inches. The Speer's failed to expand in LG's tests because they plugged with fabric.

    I don't care for them in handguns because they over penetrate. From a rifle, they're great.
     
  16. Monster Zero

    Monster Zero Member

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    I like the way you think re the BB 158gr LSWCHP. That's my carry load in my SP101. I think it would be downright fun in a 6" revolver of any kind, and plenty effective in it's range.
     
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  17. derek45

    derek45 Member

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    22gr w296/H110
    125gr rem SJHP
    1639 fps

    140grXTP
    19.6gr w296/H110
    1442fps ave.

    sxpoT1D.jpg
     
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  18. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    Avoid buffalo bore. Underwood has same stuff cheaper. When they have it in stock.
     
  19. NeroM

    NeroM Member

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    Agree- Underwood is cheaper, get what you pay for.
    Buffalo Bore is more consistent and generally a better load,
    Just depends upon your need.
     
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  20. Meeks36

    Meeks36 Member

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    Have any evidence to back this up? Just curious is all.
     
  21. NeroM

    NeroM Member

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    Personal experience with each makers' 180 gr cast load. I rarely purchase any factory loads, a couple years ago had the need for a heavy hunting load in 357. Was at my secondary home, had gun- no hunting loads. LGS had on the shelf one box of the 180 gr load from each. Got both boxes. Off hunting with Ruger Vaquero, it was a wild hog chase - didn't harvest anything. Back home base a few weeks later- decided to check these two loads against my hunting handload of 180 gr CPC bullet over 15.0 gr LiL-Gun. This load Chrony's at 1400 fps in the vaquero, 1600 in a 10" Contender and 1800 fps from a Henry SS. 1400 is the published velocity for both Buffalo Bore and Underwood ammo. Shot both loads over Chrony, clocked a consistent 1405 fps with BB load, got about 1325 with UW and greater shot to shot variation. Not saying UW is a poor load. Have 38 SPL penetrators in my partner's purse snubby and some in a 1911- both loads Chrony below published values. BB loads in my experience - are better. Yes, more expensive too. Each person's judgement as to the value of each load.
     
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  22. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    125 grain SJHPs were the gold standard for 4" and 6" barrels when I was with the SO
    Not good on the ears when fired indoors though,
    The old .38 Spl 158 HPSWC +p will mushroom nicely out of a long barrel, but not so much out of a snub
     
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  23. John Joseph

    John Joseph Member

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    Of course the problem is going to be finding where these loads are for sale!
     
  24. NeroM

    NeroM Member

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    BuffaloBore appears to have this in stock ?
    38 SPL P+, 158 gr- swchp ?
     
  25. Armorer 101

    Armorer 101 Member

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    The 357 Mag is a real defense handgun and the 125 JHP or JFP is the bullet of choice for close defense. Derek gave you a load.
    A caution, the light 357 mags will shoot heavy loads but a constant diet may send them in to be rebuilt. A Python can be a real problem to get rebuilt today. A Taurus just looks like a Smith, however, inside it is not the same.

    This is one of my 357 carry guns on the farm, a 6” 5T M-19 in a Mountain Rose Flap holster for tractor use. I use a very hard cast RCBS SWC 162gr over a stout load of H-110. Some shots on the farm are past being close.

    A55E5C5F-BCBF-4681-9EB8-F336802FF190.jpeg
     
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