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  #1  
Old 09-19-2011, 05:17 AM
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Default Best .357 Bullet for Hunting/Woods

I was wondering what kind of bullets are best for hunting or defending yourself in the woods. I know a JHP is great for a two legged threat, but what about animals with thick hides? Are Jacketed Soft Points betterfor penetration? Maybe FMJs? Or Lead RN? Let me know guys, I know I'm already looking in the 158grain to 180grain range.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:05 AM
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I like the 180 grain Hornady XTP. They get excellent penetration and are heavy enough to get a "Whack" for bone breaking and depth. I get them from RAM Precision, 50 rd box for $30. Can't beat it.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:27 AM
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There's also the Buffalo Bore .357 180 grain hard cast.
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Old 09-19-2011, 07:55 AM
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Default 158

While I prefer a lighter bullet for defense, the heavier bullets are what I load for taking a 357 to the woods. The old standard was the 158gr LHP or SWC and I still find this particular bullet weight, or something close to it, a good choice.
It is interesting to note that the gas check is the way to go when loading lead bullets for this caliber. There are SWC and SWC HP available.
Once upon a time, when the only 357 guns available were stury N-frames, Ruger Blackhawks, and big Colts, the cartrige was loaded pretty hot. The advent of the modern, lighter magnums has affected maximum recommended loading data appropriately. Match your woods rounds not only to the chore, but to the particular firearm as well.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:16 AM
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I use Federal's 158 grain Hydra-Shok, but have some Remington 165 grain loads I've hoarded in case I visit bear country and don't own a .44 Magnum at the time.

The weight difference is slight, but the Remingtons were designed as a hunting load and are more strongly constructed.

I know of one grizzly killed by a game warden in, I believe, Montana. Maybe Wyoming. He had a Model 66, four-inch barrel, and used the 158 grain issued load, but the outdoor editor who witnessed the shooting didn't specify the exact ammo.

A Federal spokesman told me that the Hydra-Shok is an excellent deer load, if you feel a .357 is suitable for deer. He had seen several deer shot with it.

The late writer Larry Koller killed a deer with a Colt Dimondback using a 125 grain .38 handload. Almost any .357 factory load will beat that.

Last edited by Texas Star; 09-19-2011 at 10:19 AM.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:32 AM
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Buffalo bore hard cast gas checked 180's, I've shot wild pigs in the head with these and they dropped like Thors hammer hit them. Out of a Dan Wesson 6 inch or 4 5/8 Blackhawk.

I'm of the opinion that any hollow point (regardless of maker) won't get the job done in a timely manner. You may have to adjust your sights for elevation so make sure you practice with any change in bullet weights.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:42 AM
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I used to hunt hog in FL. 180 grain hard cast or JSP always worked. I found that 158 gr hollow points sometimes failed to penetrate heaver bones, especially at an angle.

Check you local hunting regs too. Some states do not allow FMJ - even if you say it is for "protection", if you get caught during hunting season you'll have some 'splainin' to do
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:09 AM
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I use the 180 grain Buffalo Bore when out & about in the woods.
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:43 AM
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You are at the foot of the Sierras, so I presume we are talking black bears and/or perhaps hogs? (I got attacked by a deer once, in my local mountains (San Bernardinos). Luckily, I was in full motocross gear including helmet, so it was indeed a fair fight!)

Required reading (JJHack posts): Model 29 Mountain - Topic

A 180 gr cast is fine for 'hunting', where you are going to stalk your unsuspecting prey up close and pick your shot placement carefully, but in reality all it does is punch a tiny little hole that is about as effective as an arrow, unless you get a good CNS shot or happen to hit major circulatory system components. The animal will take a while to die, and hopefully you will have a blood trail to follow to the carcass....

'Defensive' shooting on dangerous game is however a completely different matter! Shot placement will be whatever you can get in your sights quickly and under stress, so your chances of a good CNS or circulatory system shot will be more luck than anything else. Here, you want to be able to break bones if possible, but you also want to do lots of tissue damage as well. I like Hornady 158 gr XTP, but only if the barrel is at least 4" long. These are tough bullets and will penetrate well, but they will also expand and do extensive tissue damage and therefore create blood pressure loss.

Got to say that for years I carried a .357 in black bear country, and felt reasonably well armed. But recently, reason prevailed and I came to my senses and switched to .44! Lots of great, light guns these days! I carry the 329NG for hiking/backpacking, and the Ruger Alaskan when car camping where weight isn't an issue. If you feel you need a 4" barrel, then the 329PD should fit the bill if you want to travel light.

The .357 is still my 1st choice down in the lowlands, where cats are the largest threat. (Had to deal with a nasty bobcat once, and that was NOT a fair fight!)

Last edited by off road; 09-20-2011 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 09-19-2011, 08:46 PM
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I agree with offroad on the 158 grain XTP's. They are a good choice for deer, at least here in the Ozark Mountains where the average shot for deer is 30 yards. Some are much closer. When I'm just out bumming around in the woods I carry a little 37 38 special with 158 grain LRN. There have recently been a lot of mountain lion sightings around here so the .357 might take it's place.
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Old 09-19-2011, 09:36 PM
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i like & use 158 hornady xtp's. work very well on coyotes anyway. hth.
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Old 09-19-2011, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by What the View Post
Buffalo bore hard cast gas checked 180's, I've shot wild pigs in the head with these and they dropped like Thors hammer hit them. Out of a Dan Wesson 6 inch or 4 5/8 Blackhawk.

I'm of the opinion that any hollow point (regardless of maker) won't get the job done in a timely manner. You may have to adjust your sights for elevation so make sure you practice with any change in bullet weights.
What the, I completely agree with you. JHPs don't do the job. You need to shoot a heavy, hardcast bullet that can penetrate well and break bone..........
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Old 09-19-2011, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DeadWhiteGoose View Post
I was wondering what kind of bullets are best for hunting or defending yourself in the woods. I know a JHP is great for a two legged threat, but what about animals with thick hides? Are Jacketed Soft Points betterfor penetration? Maybe FMJs? Or Lead RN? Let me know guys, I know I'm already looking in the 158grain to 180grain range.
The two best 357 Magnum loads for "Critter Defense" are..................
Buffalo Bore® 180 gr. Hard Cast LFN-GC (1,400fps/783ftlbs ME) (#19A/20)
HSM 180gr RNFP-GC (1489fps/889ftlbs ME) (#HSM-357-18-N)

These are the loads I carry when in the forests of the Pacific Northwest in my 4" 686.
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Old 09-22-2011, 10:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badge 851 View Post
The two best 357 Magnum loads for "Critter Defense" are..................
Buffalo Bore® 180 gr. Hard Cast LFN-GC (1,400fps/783ftlbs ME) (#19A/20)
HSM 180gr RNFP-GC (1489fps/889ftlbs ME) (#HSM-357-18-N)

These are the loads I carry when in the forests of the Pacific Northwest in my 4" 686.
Are there any published reloading data for that kind of load using a 4" 686?
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Old 09-22-2011, 11:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lazy View Post
Are there any published reloading data for that kind of load using a 4" 686?
The information I presented was from the manufacturer's website. The Hodgdon® web site offers the following reloading data............

POWDER BL DIA COL GRN FPS CUP
H4227 .357" 1.575" 12.7 1185 36,900 CUP
H4227 .357" 1.575" 13.7 1325 40,900 CUP

H110 .357" 1.575" 13.0 1324 36,800 CUP
H110 .357" 1.575" 13.5 1381 36,800 CUP
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Old 09-22-2011, 11:35 AM
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I like 158grain jacketed soft points for deer. Anything that can bite back, I carry my .45 colt or .44 mag with 300 grain hardcast ir heavy jacketed flying 1000 to 1100 fps, either factory or handloads.
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Old 09-22-2011, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badge 851 View Post
The information I presented was from the manufacturer's website. The Hodgdon® web site offers the following reloading data............

POWDER BL DIA COL GRN FPS CUP
H4227 .357" 1.575" 12.7 1185 36,900 CUP
H4227 .357" 1.575" 13.7 1325 40,900 CUP

H110 .357" 1.575" 13.0 1324 36,800 CUP
H110 .357" 1.575" 13.5 1381 36,800 CUP
Thanks.
I see plenty of data all the time, butt nothing that states its from a 4" barrel.
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Old 09-22-2011, 02:01 PM
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I hunt in Germany; you cannot hunt with handguns, however, you are allowed to carry a handgun to dispatch game. With that comes the possibility of wounded wild boar, which are known to severly injure or even kill hunters. The preferred .357 load is a 158 gr. semi jacketed soft point. You can't get too many flavors of that load here, but in the US you've got lots to chose from. It is also the preferred load for rifles in .357 for hunting in the US, although many prefer 180 gr. For a 4" revolver 158 is the preferred here. I carry Fiocchi's 158 gr. SJSP by recommendation of the hunting crowd that have actually used it.
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Old 09-24-2011, 11:18 AM
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Default Best .357 Bullet for Hunting/Woods

Just purchased a used, like new S&W model 686 5" brl 7 shot and plan on letting a friend take it to Alaska as a side arm. Thanks for your imput concerning ammo. Any other info you might pass on will be appreciated.

Thanks,

Howard K.
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Old 10-01-2011, 09:42 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by badguybuster View Post
I like the 180 grain Hornady XTP. They get excellent penetration and are heavy enough to get a "Whack" for bone breaking and depth. I get them from RAM Precision, 50 rd box for $30. Can't beat it.
This.


I load 180g XTP's over 13.5g H-110 for my dad and his 4" 686.
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Old 10-03-2011, 11:31 AM
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Do you hand load? If you do, you should be looking at the Keith 173 grain bullet. 14.0 to 14.5 grains of 2400 is my personal top end load, but some people go a little bit higher. Of course you want to start lower and work your way up.
A lot of people will say "it's just a heavy SWC" and to a point that is correct. But it is arguably the best SWC ever made. A typical 158 grain SWC has a center of gravity in the base of the bullet, but in the Keith it is up in the nose, weight forward. This gives you consistant, long range accuracy like no 158 grain I ever shot will give you.
If you ever try some of these bullets, you will be pleasantly surprised by them.
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Old 10-03-2011, 12:41 PM
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A friend has taken several deer with a plain 158gr JSP American Eagle factory load. The Federal 180gr WFP Cast-Core looks good too.
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:52 PM
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i stick with a 158 jsp and a max charge of 2400
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Old 10-08-2011, 11:33 AM
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I reload the Nosler 180 partition in my 357 for deer, etc.

Nosler quit making the bullet for some reason. It is a great bullet but expensive.
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:26 AM
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I have used 140 gr. JHP and 158 JSP with conventional cup and core construction fired from a 4" barrel model 19 on mule deer bucks at ranges of about 50 yd. Both were one shot kills with the buck running less than 25 yd. when hit. I now consider the .357 magnum (from a 4" barrel) inadequate for mule deer at any range greater than 50 yd.

I generally prefer 158 gr. JSP to any JHP or hardcast on game larger than a coyote. When fired from a 4" barrel, a typical JSP will be traveling too slowly at impact to get much expansion. The expansion I have seen has been minimal with little or no mushrooming (expanded diameter from .40 to .45) This is near perfect performance IMO, since greater expansion would probably limit penetration. These minimally expanded JSP often penetrate nearly as well as hard cast, but I have no doubt that a properly designed hard cast will penetrate deeper than any expanding bullet.

Speer advises in their most recent manual that Speer JSP require an impact velocity greater than 1300 fps to achieve optimal mushroom type expansion. They recommend JSP over JHP in carbines for greater penetration.

Hornady XTP bullets are HP, but they usually hold together and penetrate as well as JSP produced by some other companies.

I consider a .357 with 4" barrel inadequate or barely adequate for black bear except in an emergency. Yes, I know that it has killed many black bear over the years, it's all about shot placement, a .22 LR will kill with proper shot placement, etc., etc. But there are many better choices which will give you a greater margin of safety.

Last edited by zorba; 10-13-2011 at 12:33 AM. Reason: Fix grammatical errors.
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Old 10-13-2011, 12:57 PM
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It seems a 158gr SJSP like the Federal AE load would work well. It should penetrate deeper than a JHP and still give some expansion.
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Old 10-14-2011, 02:23 AM
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Since this is the ammo section and not the reloading section I'm going to guess you don't reload so here are a few good choices for factory. (IMO of course)

Grizzly Ammo My first choice!

Double Tap

Federal Ammo

Buffalo Bore

I'm sure there are others but the above are a good mix of choices and all considered quality ammo.
(I like Grizzly Ammo and Cast Performance bullets best!)
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:02 AM
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Default Rim Rock

I recently bought some very nice gas-checks from Rim Rock Bullets out of Montana. Truly a premium product.
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