When is a barrel too short for a .357 magnum?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jski, Sep 1, 2018.

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  1. jski

    jski Member

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    I was watching this video which raises an interesting question: When is a barrel too short for a .357 magnum?

     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
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  2. paulsj

    paulsj member

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    That guy is absolutely top notch. Thank you.
    In .357 Magnum revolver 1" reduction in barrel length will reduce muzzle velocity by 75fps to 100fps. That should help address your question.
     
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  3. edwardware

    edwardware Member

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    When you're seeing case mouth splits, because the case mouths are sticking out past the muzzle. It's hard on brass, and makes ejection hard too.

    The benefit is you can see that it's loaded, and so can the person you're pointing it at. :)
     
  4. LoonWulf
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    LoonWulf Contributing Member

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    Neat video thanks!
    This peeked my curiosity. Not being a handgun guy and all, ive always just ASSUMED a .357 would always be significantly more powerful than a 9.
    This prompted me to run the number is QL and see what IT thought of the data.
    All settings are stock, besides upping the pressure to max for the cartridge

    Loads are from best powder suggested

    .357
    125 XTP
    2.5" 1087fps
    3" 1231fps
    3.5" 1353fps
    4" 1465fps

    9mm+p
    124XTP
    2.5" 1124fps
    3" 1195fps
    3.5" 1250fps
    4" 1295fps
     
  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    It depends on the goals. The traditional 357 mag loads that were common during the 357's height of popularity as a LE round was a 125 gr bullet exited a 4" barrel at 1300-1350 fps. When the better 9mm +p loads came on the scene they were attaining 1250-1300 fps from 4.5"-5" barrels. And since revolvers have a cylinder a 5" semi-auto 9mm was a more compact gun. When 3" 357 revolver barrels were compared to 4" 9mm barrels shooting +p loads 9mm was winning. This was a big part of why LE dropped 357 mag and made the move to 9mm.

    To be fair, there are some modern 357 loads that will beat those 1980's loads. Yes, you can now load a 357 in a 2" barrel and slightly beat 9mm from a 4" barrel. But with what I consider excessive amounts of recoil and blast. And it was those 1980's loads that proved to be so effective and are the loads that 357 built it's reputation on. A 124 gr 9mm bullet within 50 fps of those loads, and sometimes exceeding it will do exactly the same thing.

    I see the 357's usefulness from a 6" or longer barrel used for hunting or target shooting. With that barrel length, and shooting bullets heavier than possible in 9mm 357 does move into a separate category. But for personal defense I see no advantage from 357 over 9mm with barrels any shorter than 6".
     
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  6. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    MAC's comparison was flawed. He used weak 357 ammo for his test. It shows that he doesn't know ammo very well. Too bad. People will believe his results, but using the wrong ammo gives the wrong impression of what a 357 does in a short barrel.

    A full power 357 125 grain load (Remington 125 SJHP) clocks at 1255 fps from my 2" Colt Magnum Carry barrel (and 1465 fps from my 4" S&W 686 - right in line with the advertised 1450 fps from a 4" barrel). Buffalo Bore 125 Gold Dot hollow point clocks at 1328 fps from that same 2" Colt gun. Selecting the right ammo matters. MAC screwed up.
     
  7. JohnKSa

    JohnKSa Moderator Staff Member

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    When the question is about barrel length and velocity for pistol cartridges, Ballistics By The Inch is hard to beat for answers.

    http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html
    http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/38special.html
    http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/9luger.html

    Keep in mind that the length data uses barrel lengths that are apples to apples comparisons. All the length data is based on test barrels measured including the chamber as is standard for semi-auto pistols.

    The data from firearms is based on conventional barrel length measurements for the type of gun involved.
     
  8. 357 Terms

    357 Terms Member

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    I never understood why they did that, test a revolver caliber as if it were a autoloader caliber, and then show it as accurate data.

    The "data" they show as a 2" 357 barrel would actually be .41" from a revolver.

    Why?
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
  9. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    Thanks! That's some great insight.

    I'd be interested in seeing the comparison for heavier bullets.
     
  10. Barry loyd

    Barry loyd Member

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    . This is a much better comparison of 9mm vs .357 mag.
     
  11. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    If one rachets up to a round like the 357 was originally designed for and compare the 357 shades the 9mm in similar barrels and with a heavier bullet see Buffallo Bore Short barrel low flash 357 vs 9mm out doorsman and you'll see that

    Course if you look at the 38 outdoorsman you'll see that it's not far behind the 357 low flash from buffalo bore.

    Me (with my agency's policy on no round in the chamber) I'd take a 6 shot 357 or 38 any day of the week
     
  12. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    I actually stumbled across that video the other day, and I really liked his format. I was trying to figure out what kind of performance I would get out of 147gr jhp 9mm from a 5.5" Convertible Blackhawk. I know the heavy 9mm 147 has the potential to choke up an autoloader, but I thought loading up something as close to subsonic as possible yet would still hit the target pretty hard would be nice for when the concussive blast of the .357 would be overkill. No need to worry about the 147gr 9mm not cycling the BH;)
     
  13. 460Shooter

    460Shooter Member

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    I'm planning to work up some 158 grain loads using H110. I have a 3" SP101 and a 3" 686+ to test them in. A 2" Kimber K6S may be in my future also. I'll take velocity data and share.

    What seems to be being missed here is that the 357 can be loaded with bullets up to 200 grains. Heavier bullets typically lose less velocity out of short barrels than lighter bullets because the heavier the bullet, the longer the delay in that bullet overcoming inertia and neck tension, which results in a more complete powder burn. At least that's what MCgunner told me a few years ago, and his velocity data seemed to indicate he was correct.

    So to answer the OPs question, when is a barrel too short for 357 magnum? My answer is it depends.

    If you load your own and choose an appropriate bullet weight you can have a very effective and arguably more powerful 357 cartridge all the way down to a two inch barrel based on the numbers I've seen in the past. If you look purely at velocity the 9mm may surpass the 357 in really short barrels.

    Sorry, that thread was like 5 years ago so I doubt I'd find it. So I don't have real evidence to back that up.

    To me it's kind of like saying a Honda Civic may be quicker off the line than my full size pickup, but once my truck gets moving it's going to blow past that Honda. It's not a perfect analogy but it kind of makes my point.

    Bullet weight matters. Powder charge matters. Bullet material matters.

    If you're just going to use crappy underpowered factory ammo in a short barreled gun, a small 9mm may serve you better.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
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  14. No Quarter

    No Quarter Member

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    https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/revolver-ballistics-test/

    2" .357 does just fine... As does .38 special in some instances. Some calibers just "work". I am comfortable with my K6s. I have a G43, but it has not been flawless and I shoot the revolver faster and more accurately. Remington Golden Sabres in 357 mag works great. 147 grain Federal HST in my g43 has had a bobble or three . I trend towards revolvers for confident carry.
     
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  15. amd6547

    amd6547 Member

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    Critical Defense 125gn does 1350fps in my 3" GP100.
     
  16. tbob38

    tbob38 Member

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    Exactly right. I am a patron of MAC and really like most of the videos they put out. Tim blew it in this particular case.
     
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  17. Alaskan Ironworker

    Alaskan Ironworker Member

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    180 grain hsm “bear load” .357 pushes right at 1100 fps in my taurus 605 snubbie. But i dont recommend it unless a bear is on top of you. It smacks your hand pretty good.
     
  18. jski

    jski Member

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    I was wondering if it were just a case of a too slow burning powder?

    Would something like Hodgdon’s H110 account for this? Would something like Ramshot’s True Blue be much better?
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2018
  19. Alaskan Ironworker

    Alaskan Ironworker Member

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    That seems to be the popular opinion amongst reloaders jski. Heavy bullet, heavy crimp, and h110/w296/lilgun is what to use for the most performance out of a short barrel.
     
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  20. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    “Agency’s policy of no round in the chamber?”

    Yikes! How much training on,”wait a second mr felon, stand by while I two-hand jack a round in the chamber and prepare to defend myself while youre beating me with that tire iron” does your executive staff allow for their people to take?

    I’m sorry to read about LE executives today with such little trust in the abilities of their people :(.

    Good luck, and stay safe!
     
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  21. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I asked myself this question some years ago. The answer I came to was this:

    A 3" barrel is my own personal minimum for .357 mag.

    Whilst that may be too simplistic for some, I feel that based on the information I could find, even 3" is a compromise and returns quickly diminish as the barrel length decreases from there.
     
  22. Sarge7402

    Sarge7402 Member

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    Thanks

    Seems we switched from 38's to 40's and kept the same standard.

    But hey we only deal with 33K plus felons in the commonwealth
     
  23. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart member

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    All these post have convinced me that for EDC in a small revolver, the 9mm is the way to go. Not only the ballistics, but NOISE,FLASH, and uncontrollably. Thanks MAC for a great informative video. Can't say enough for my LCR9mm. Have shot the LCR357 and want to part of it. 38 Plus P makes no sense when you can do a better job with 9mm. And cheaper to run.

    Here is a great review of both the 38 and 9mm in LCR. And he also prefers that over the 357. I like the Ballistics, and like the fact that I can shoot the 9mm with a few hundred rounds down range without my hand falling off.

    http://mousegunaddict.blogspot.com/search?q=lcr+9mm
     
  24. paul105

    paul105 Member

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    Here are some chrono results with different loads, bullets, guns:

    Same Load (185gr BTB LFNGC 14.7gr Lil'Gun), Different Guns/Bbl Lengths

    Beartooth 185gr LFNGC (yes 185gr not 158gr)
    New WW Cases
    Fed 200 Mag
    14.7gr Lil'Gun
    1.595 OAL
    Chron 4 Paces fr Muzzle
    Temp 75 Deg

    Marlin 18" ------------- 1,713 fps
    Ruger BH 6.5" ------- 1,388 fps
    Ruger SP101 3+" --- 1,161 fps
    S&W M60 3" -------- 1,175 fps
    S&W M360 Ti 1 7/8" 1,023 fps
    S&W M340 Ti 1 7/8" 1,007 fps
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Same Load (9.6gr Blue Dot), 158gr Lead & 158gr Jacketed , Different Guns/Barrel Lengths

    Marlin 18" ,158 gr LRNFP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1482.5 fps
    Marlin 18" ,158 gr RJHP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1405.5 fps
    Ruger BH 6.5" ,158 gr LRNFP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1272.5 fps
    Ruger BH 6.5" ,158 gr RJHP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1225 fps
    Ruger SP101 3" ,158 gr LRNFP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1171
    S&W M60 3" ,158 gr LRNFP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1166
    Ruger SP101 3" ,158 gr RJHP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1139.5 fps
    S&W M60 3" ,158 gr RJHP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1129 fps
    S&W M360 Ti 1.9" ,158 gr LRNFP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 1019.5 fps
    S&W M360 Ti 1.9" ,158 gr RJHP, 9.6gr Blue Dot, 945.5 fps
    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Same Gun 1 7/8" S&W M360 PD, Different Loads/Bullet Weights

    130 Hydra-Shok, Fed Fact, Fed cases, Fed primers, .357 Mag, Fed Fact, 1159 fps
    158 CSWC, Add, Mixed cases, Std primers, 13.5, H-2400, 1075 fps
    158 JHP - XTP, Horn, Mixed cases, Std primers, 13.5, H-2400, 1009 fps
    158 LSWC, Rim Rock, Starline cases, CCI Std primers, 12.7, H-2400, 967 fps
    185 LFNGC, Beartooth, WW cases, Fed 200 Mag primers, 14.7, Lil'Gun, 1023 fps
    180 LWFN LBT, Fed Fact, Fed cases, Fed primers, .357 Mag, Fed Fact, 905 fps
    158 LSWHP, Rem Fact +P, RP cases, RP primers, .38 Spec, Rem Fact, 753 fps
    130 Fed Am Eagle, Fed Fact, Fed cases, Fed primers, .38 Spec, Am Eagle, 680 fps
    158 LRNFP, Meister, Mixed cases, Fed 100 primers, 9.6, Blue Dot, 1020 fps
    158 JHP, Remington, Mixed cases, Fed 100 primers, 9.6, Blue Dot, 946 fps

    FWIW,

    Paul
     
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  25. Don Dayacetah

    Don Dayacetah Member

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    Seems like the comparison leans in the direction of 9mm, from the outset. Let's shoot some 158 grain 9mm loads, so we
    can compare it to the more normal 357 weight loads. Oh, can't find any 9mm 158 grain loads? Well, then.
     
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