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Old 06-19-2020, 10:47 AM
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Default 357 Defensive Suggestions

I'm wondering if folks here might have suggestions about the state of the art on .357 Mag defensive ammo. I carry a K-frame (3" Model 65), and while I know the conventional wisdom has been that 125 gr. is the way to go, it isn't a joy to the shooter to practice with. I am sensing, however, that there's been updates/improvements in technology re bullet design and recoil for lighter, shorter barrel .357 applications, and so I'm hoping to get some suggestions of rounds to try. (I am aware of the view that too much .357 in a K-frame can be an issue for the gun itself; I can deal with that various ways.)

And yes, I know the answer often is to use 38 spl. or 38 spl.+P. While insight on those would be useful, I'd also appreciate answers on the .357 Mag.

Thanks.
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Old 06-19-2020, 10:50 AM
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Check Lucky Gunner’s Lab section. They have a wide selection of gel test examples.
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Old 06-19-2020, 10:59 AM
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You may want to do a search if you haven't already as this topic has been discussed before.

For .357 Magnum, the Speer SB-GDHP is a good mid-range option. A little stronger than the .38 Special version, but won't beat up you or your gun. There are other mid-range options, but the SB-GDHP is what I've carried in a 3" 65 and had no problems shooting it.

FWIW, when I had a 3" 65, I normally carried it with Buffalo Bore 158gr LSWCHP standard pressure in .38 Special. It's their version of the FBI load, though I did use the SB-GDHP load in both .357 Magnum and .38 Special at times. Remington's .38 Special FBI load would be another option if you'd rather not use BB ammo or find it too expensive.
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Old 06-19-2020, 11:02 AM
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^^^^This makes sense. If a load is unpleasant for practice with, you won't. The practice is more important than the ballistics.
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Old 06-19-2020, 11:03 AM
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Speer Gold Dot 135gr Short Barrel .357 is my choice for my model 65 when I want more than the .38 version of the same load. The short barrel loading avoids some of the blast and recoil of loads made for long barrels, and produces more than enough performance for me.
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:07 PM
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Thanks, all. I've been using the Winchester White Box 110 grain for years, but keep reading that it's bad for the forcing cone or otherwise, so maybe this old dog can learn new tricks when there's new tricks available.
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:13 PM
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Can't go wrong with Buffalo Bore!

Buffalo Bore Ammunition | Strictly Big Bore - Strictly Business
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:14 PM
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Real world experience:

Another cop and I chased an armed robbery suspect for several blocks, through alleys and back yards with him popping caps at us several times. Bozo popped out of an alley about 15 yards away, other officer nailed him with a S&W Model 19 4" .357 loaded with Remington .357 125-grain JHP. Through the shoulder joint (breaking bone), exited on a downward path, struck a concrete curb, passed through a 2X4 porch railing, through the exterior wall of a frame house, through an interior wall, then lodged in a 3rd wall within a few feet of a baby sleeping in a crib.

After that I never carried magnum ammunition on or off duty in an urban setting, always stuck with .38 Special +P (Federal 158-LSWC-HP "FBI load").

Over the past half-century I have shot a lot of .357 magnum ammo, and continue to do so. I have taken several Colorado mule deer (175-275 lbs. live weight) with .357 magnum 158 LSWC and LSWC-HP, all but one completely penetrated the body cavities from side to side (one was found just under the skin on the off-side).

It is my considered opinion that .357 magnum ammunition is seriously overpowered for defensive uses, particularly in revolvers with barrels under 4" length in which there is very little added velocity or energy achieved in spite of excessive recoil, muzzle blast, and muzzle flash that are detrimental to effective shooting. Good .38 Special ammunition is more than sufficient with proper shot placement, and proper shot placement is much more likely without the excesses of magnum ammo.

Now we can sit back and see all the "experts" quote statistics and jello tests.
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:16 PM
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Default 357 Defensive Suggestions

+1 for OKFC05!

Many years ago my FFL and gunsmith started me out on Hornady Critical Defense .357 Magnum FTX 125 grain FTX.

Over the years I have changed my philosophy and preferences for personal carry and home defense from 4" or 6" .44 Magnums (Model 29s) to J or K/L frames, especially "snubbies". Until I can locate a 3" Model 586 or 686 I'm using a 2.5" Model 66. Insofar as the load, the Hornady option has always been a concern, especially after reading through many posts on the two choices in this section of the forum.

Based on other members opinions and recommendations, including my own research, I recently changed my choice to the Speer Gold Dot 135gr Short Barrel .357 Magnum option.

I believe that this is a much better solution for my own potential future requirements. Note - as of today, I have not actually been in a situation in which I actually have had to use either option for PD ammo.

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Old 06-19-2020, 12:22 PM
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Looking at the Buffalo Bore options, they seem to have a variety of "lower recoil/low flash" variants -- 125, 140, and 158 gr. Any thoughts on which of those would fit the bill better? And, I'm definately going to try out the Speer 135 gr as well (as well as some 38 Spl per post above.)
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
Real world experience:

After that I never carried magnum ammunition on or off duty in an urban setting, always stuck with .38 Special +P (Federal 158-LSWC-HP "FBI load").

Now we can sit back and see all the "experts" quote statistics and jello tests.
I started carrying a M49 backup to my issue 357 in '83 or so and immediately replaced the 125 grain 357 JHPs in my looploader (we had to use these until we went to semi-autos) with the +P 158 grain LHP. I had magnums in the cylinder as required, but my reserve ammo fit both sidearms.
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Old 06-19-2020, 12:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LoboGunLeather View Post
Real world experience:

It is my considered opinion that .357 magnum ammunition is seriously overpowered for defensive uses, particularly in revolvers with barrels under 4" length in which there is very little added velocity or energy achieved in spite of excessive recoil, muzzle blast, and muzzle flash that are detrimental to effective shooting. Good .38 Special ammunition is more than sufficient with proper shot placement, and proper shot placement is much more likely without the excesses of magnum ammo.

Now we can sit back and see all the "experts" quote statistics and jello tests.
Best advice so far, but if you have to use a .357 magnum ammo, try several brands and varying weights and bullet styles. A one time expense, but well worth trouble to find out what works best for you, i.e., what you shoot best, what's most accurate, what load strikes point of aim, and which ammo you can quickly recover from recoil for subsequent shots.

Studies, YouTube, jello testing, etc. may not be completely worthless but are very secondary at best. Developing good technique and improving shooting skills are far more important and useful, particularly when using .357 magnum ammo. Don't limit your practice to short distances - you won't benefit much. At 10 or 15 yards, everyone is an expert shooter and even sorry ammo is accurate. Good luck-
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Old 06-19-2020, 01:40 PM
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Thanks. I've actually spent a lot of time (and training) using my K65; but agree that the right course when looking at an ammo change is to sample the waters, and then decide which works best (with the reminder that everything is a compromise).

Appreciate everyone's thoughts and help.
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Old 06-19-2020, 02:13 PM
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After watching 125 gr Federal .357 Magnum batter our issue 681's-and us, for all training/practice/duty use I figured something a tad milder was in order.

I did some testing with same/similar bullets at around 1250 f/s and found much less fuss and bother and pretty much the same results in simulated tissue.

The Gold Dot for full power loads is a dish shaped cavity rather than an actual hollow point. Does very well at around the same velocities, but with much better weight retention than conventional JHPs. I'd expect the Short Barrel load to be a good choice.

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Old 06-19-2020, 02:15 PM
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Honestly, real-world experience from 30 years ago or more doesn't really mean much due to the significant development in bullet design since then. Most of the JHPs up to and including a lot of the 1980s may as well have been FMJs. The lead was thick and so was the jacket material.

But I guess the FBI doesn't know what they're doing because the judge ammo by gel tests.
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Old 06-19-2020, 02:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FiveG View Post
Thanks, all. I've been using the Winchester White Box 110 grain for years, but keep reading that it's bad for the forcing cone or otherwise, so maybe this old dog can learn new tricks when there's new tricks available.
Actually, it's not. The forcing cone issue with lightweight bullets only applies to full-power loads, i.e. 125gr JHP @ 1450fps.

The WWB 110gr SJHP is more of a mid-range (maybe even light) load, @ 1295fps (according to the Winchester website). This puts it in the neighborhood of 9mm 115gr +P/+P+ loads, balistically-speaking.

It was my favorite load to shoot in my 3" 65. Easy to shoot, accurate enough for my needs. The only downside was that it produced a significant muzzle flash. Fun to see at the range, but possibly too much for self defense.

While it wouldn't be my first choice in a defensive load, I wouldn't feel undergunned if that's what I had available.

Also, I could be wrong, but I recall reading somewhere that the US Marshals Service used this load, or something similar, back when they issued the 3" GP100. I'm definitely not 100% certain about that.

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Old 06-19-2020, 02:47 PM
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I carry a S&W Model 60-9, 2 1/2" barrel.
5 rounds of 357 magnum.
Also carry 5 xtra cartridges in a small plastic holder, in my pocket.
The flame out of the barrel is huge.
The noise is LOUD and very noticeable!
This was my "sidearm" in the Mountains when on patrol.
I always relied on my rifle, that I carried everywhere.
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Old 06-19-2020, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
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It was my favorite load to shoot in my 3" 65. Easy to shoot, accurate enough for my needs. The only downside was that it produced a significant muzzle flash. Fun to see at the range, but possibly too much for self defense.
I bought a bunch of it "back in the day" when it was cheap, and still use it. I did some training up at S&W Academy when they used to do civilian courses (sigh!), and one day, used the 110 gr. in a 640 in their completely dark long tunnel. Man, talk about watching a dragon breath fire! It was a hoot.
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Old 06-19-2020, 03:33 PM
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I've been carrying the Buffalo Bore 140gr solid copper "short-barrel, low-recoil/low-flash".

At 1150-1200fps out of 2.5-3" barrels it's authoritative, but not punishing to shoot.

One detail I like about the copper bullets is they don't deform like some of the exposed lead HPs (Remington/Federal 125s) when carried in speed loaders or strips in pockets.

My all-time favorite .357 carry load was the 180gr Black Talon at ~1100fps. It was surprisingly mild to shoot and hit like a ton of bricks. Of course it's long discontinued, and there's no replacement in the Ranger LE line.
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Old 06-19-2020, 03:34 PM
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Quote:
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I bought a bunch of it "back in the day" when it was cheap, and still use it. I did some training up at S&W Academy when they used to do civilian courses (sigh!), and one day, used the 110 gr. in a 640 in their completely dark long tunnel. Man, talk about watching a dragon breath fire! It was a hoot.
At one time, Winchester had a 'low flash' version of that load... don't know if it's still available.
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Old 06-19-2020, 03:42 PM
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When both my late wife & I carried 3" Model 65's we used either the Rem 125 Golden Sabre JHP or the Buffalo Bore 20A 38 +P 158 Lead SWCHP . Both were less than full tilt 357 loads like the Fed 357B .
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Old 06-19-2020, 03:42 PM
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The first hollow points I found when I got my first handgun, a 4" 686, were WWB 110gr. They were light recoiling and OK shooting. Then some forum members recommended the Federal C357B 125gr HP, and they were not especially dramatic to shoot, but they grouped beautifully into one ragged hole to POA, so my search for HD ammo ended right there.
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Old 06-19-2020, 04:12 PM
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Groo here
If you want 38+p ,, Supervel Super Snub 90gr JHP.
Does 1300 from a J-frame.
From a 3in [Mine is a Kimber K6s 3in DASA]
this load is like warp speed......
And only +p 38 pressure.
Use reloads for range and this for carry.
You do not need to shoot much of your carry load at the range.[ just find where it hits] ,,, you need to pratice operation .
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Old 06-20-2020, 07:38 AM
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My experience, never shot anyone, but practiced a lot. 110 grain JHP 357 Magnum ammo is usually not as hot as the full power 125 grain ammo. I have carried and fired a lot of both the 110 and 125 grain loads in a S&W Model 640-1 ( 2-1/8" ), a S&W Model 19 ( 4" ), and a Dan Wesson Model 15-2 ( 4" heavy ventilated shroud ). The 110 grain ammo was a little easier to control, but still produced a lot of blast and flash. Not as much as the full power 125 grain ammo, but it is still very noticeable.

Now that I am older and becoming a little less tolerant of harsh recoil, I looked for something a little more pleasant to shoot. I settled on the Speer 135 grain Gold Dot 38 Special +P Short Barrel ammo. I know the 357 Short Barrel version produces even more velocity, somewhere around 200 fps more, and would probably be the best choice for a 4 inch revolver, but I have a hard time finding it. The +P 38 Special produces far less flash and blast than any of the 110 or full power 125 grain magnum loads, but you can tell by the recoil that it is definitely +P.

The Speer 135 grain Gold Dot 38 Special Short Barrel +P was the last duty ammo used by the NYPD before they eliminated revolvers from their approved carry list. This ammo earned a good reputation with the NYPD.
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Old 06-20-2020, 07:56 AM
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I'm my researching endeavors, I have found that the classic 158gr ftx or jacketed holowpoint works just fine for my needs. I get it from Underwood, its not the best to practice with but it will perform when I need it the most...
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Old 06-20-2020, 08:35 AM
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Quote:
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I know the 357 Short Barrel version produces even more velocity, somewhere around 200 fps more, and would probably be the best choice for a 4 inch revolver, but I have a hard time finding it.
Another advantage of the .38 SB-GDHP over the .357 SB-GDHP is that you can usually find it in 50-round boxes. $35/50 is a better value than $25/20.
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Old 06-20-2020, 08:41 AM
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LOBO's story in #8 post is an excellent example of why .357 magnum is
a wee bit of OVERKILL. I used to carry Remington's 125-Gr. Golden Sabers
(GS357MA) in my model 19 with 4" barrel. I switched to Remington's
125-Gr. Golden Sabers (GS38SB). In other words I switched from .357
to .38 Sp. I doubt the recipient would be able to tell the difference, but
I can.
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Old 06-20-2020, 09:21 AM
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FiveG Check out lucky gunners test for 2" and 4" revolvers .

Better bullets today with whinny's pdx1 defender ammo and barnes xpb is top of the heap and loaded by a couple companies but cost more .

https://www.luckygunner.com/labs/rev...llistics-test/
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Old 06-20-2020, 09:23 AM
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The 125 gr Golden Saber 357 is not obnoxious in a 3" K frame. It has been replaced by Ultimate Defense, better bullet, same velocity.
Something to think about in carry options is these moderate 357 types are only slightly above 9mm +P in power.
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Old 06-20-2020, 09:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Borderboss View Post
Honestly, real-world experience from 30 years ago or more doesn't really mean much due to the significant development in bullet design since then. Most of the JHPs up to and including a lot of the 1980s may as well have been FMJs. The lead was thick and so was the jacket material.

But I guess the FBI doesn't know what they're doing because the judge ammo by gel tests.
Actually, the real world experience I described occurred 44 years ago. While there have certainly been changes in bullet designs since that time I would suggest that many of those changes are better described as marketing tools than advancements. Lead hasn't changed much, other than becoming more difficult and expensive to locate. Jacket materials have run the gamut from copper-nickel alloys to zinc alloys to aluminum alloys over the years, and differences in performance exist but are not always predictable or even explainable.

Gelatin testing is a comparative method, not a definitive testing tool. All that can be accomplished is comparisons of performance between various projectiles on a particular day, under particular conditions of atmospheric densities, temperatures, and humidity, using specific equipment (handguns, gelatin mixtures, testing tools, etc).

The FBI has been involved in these issues as a central source for collection of data and analysis of performance. As such the FBI is probably the best resource for providing comparative analysis, but even the FBI testing results and protocols are always accompanied by lengthy disclaimers and disclosures.

As far as predicting the terminal effectiveness of any handgun, caliber, projectile, or the other varying factors, under any or all potential field conditions, there is no fool-proof method or empirical facts that apply universally. There are only broad and general guidelines based on known and recorded facts and circumstances.

The one thing that has never changed is that shot placement is the single most critical factor. Everything else involved in handgun selection, caliber selection, and ammunition selection amounts to nothing more than a series of compromises. No guarantees, no warranty express or implied.
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Old 06-20-2020, 09:29 AM
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I bought some Remington 38sp +P that looks good.
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Old 06-20-2020, 11:50 PM
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I tend to stay with 158gr bullets to avoid over stressing the forcing cones on my K-frames. I donít want to have to worry about if this weight is safe for caliber in whichever .357 I grab from the safe.

I like either Speer Gold Dot or Hornady Custom XTP rounds.
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Old 06-21-2020, 01:14 AM
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I'd use .38 standard pressure 158 grain SWC, if you don't load. If I had to use my 686 for defense, I'd load that bullet at about 1000 fps, no more. Either loading will do the job. Magnum revolver loads are too much power for self defense.
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Old 06-21-2020, 02:33 AM
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Default Revolver self defense....

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Originally Posted by Univibe View Post
I'd use .38 standard pressure 158 grain SWC, if you don't load. If I had to use my 686 for defense, I'd load that bullet at about 1000 fps, no more. Either loading will do the job. Magnum revolver loads are too much power for self defense.
Chances are in any defense situation where a revolver would be used would be in the house. I don't want out ears blown out. .38 special. Remington Golden Sabers, Federal HSTs, Speer Gold Dots. Both the Sabers and the HSTs test very well. The Gold Dots are very good but aren't quite as consistent.

Hornady XTPs are rated highly, but I prefer the big 'flying ashtray' hollow points with the large cavity.
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Old 06-21-2020, 02:47 AM
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We are both also fans of the Remington Golden Saber 125 grain. Stephen Camp did an evaluation showing the .357 Magnum load at approximately 1200 FPS, not bad recoil and still roughly half way between .38 and .357 velocities.
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Old 06-21-2020, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
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Actually, the real world experience I described occurred 44 years ago. While there have certainly been changes in bullet designs since that time I would suggest that many of those changes are better described as marketing tools than advancements. Lead hasn't changed much, other than becoming more difficult and expensive to locate. Jacket materials have run the gamut from copper-nickel alloys to zinc alloys to aluminum alloys over the years, and differences in performance exist but are not always predictable or even explainable.

Gelatin testing is a comparative method, not a definitive testing tool. All that can be accomplished is comparisons of performance between various projectiles on a particular day, under particular conditions of atmospheric densities, temperatures, and humidity, using specific equipment (handguns, gelatin mixtures, testing tools, etc).

The FBI has been involved in these issues as a central source for collection of data and analysis of performance. As such the FBI is probably the best resource for providing comparative analysis, but even the FBI testing results and protocols are always accompanied by lengthy disclaimers and disclosures.

As far as predicting the terminal effectiveness of any handgun, caliber, projectile, or the other varying factors, under any or all potential field conditions, there is no fool-proof method or empirical facts that apply universally. There are only broad and general guidelines based on known and recorded facts and circumstances.

The one thing that has never changed is that shot placement is the single most critical factor. Everything else involved in handgun selection, caliber selection, and ammunition selection amounts to nothing more than a series of compromises. No guarantees, no warranty express or implied.
Regrettably, many in search of the alleged "current best" will probably choose to ignore this excellent post.
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Old 06-21-2020, 09:53 AM
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Not to forget the highly effective wadcutter. A wide flat point does quite a bit of damage regardless of the number or thickness of garments worn. This fact has also been proven out in many hunting fields on thick skinned game.
Lately I have moved away from all the fast light bullet designs toward Underwood 38spl 150gr hard cast wadcutters that pump out of a short barrel near 1000fps. I have found it to be very accurate in my short barreled Service Six, shooting to point of aim with fixed sights. There is something to be said for controlability over sheer blast power. As I've gotten older I have found that punishing rounds just are not as much fun as they used to be from a rifle or pistol. These Underwood wadcutters do have more punch (on my end) than any of the match target version wadcutters available but are still within my comfort zone. This in my opinion builds confidence in my equipment and my abilities should the need arise.
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Old 06-21-2020, 09:57 PM
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Speer 135 gr GDHP in 357 Magnum would be my recommendation with your 3” barrel length. Yes, 38 Spl +P will also be good, Speer 135 gr GDHP, Winchester PDX 130 gr 38 Spl +P loads.

Hope all is well in Connecticut.
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Old 06-21-2020, 10:14 PM
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After all the years of people asking this question, I have just one answer.....................

With a .357 Magnum revolver....................

just make sure it is....................

Loaded !!


Good Day.
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