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357 magnum self defense rounds?

This is a discussion on 357 magnum self defense rounds? within the Reloading forums, part of the Firearm Forum category; Is a 158 gr lead round nose or wad cutter the best bullet for close encounters with the bad guy kind? Do the 125 gr ...

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Old January 1st, 2011, 08:09 PM   #1
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357 magnum self defense rounds?

Is a 158 gr lead round nose or wad cutter the best bullet for close encounters with the bad guy kind?
Do the 125 gr and other hollow points reliably expand in human tissue? i have heard expansion is not as reliable as the manufacturers indicate.
It would seem a heavy all-lead bullet at ranges under 15 yds would be more effective? than hollow points, maybe not?

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Old January 1st, 2011, 08:29 PM   #2
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Obviously, we all hope we never actually have to find this out first-hand.

That said, the "gold standard" as measured in ballistic gelatin is the 125gr JHP in .357 Magnum, though a 158gr LFN or LSWC should also do the job really well. In that case, you'd probably want soft-ish lead so that it will actually mushroom.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 08:37 PM   #3
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If we look at the data from IOWEGAN's bullet momentum chart
357 Mag, 125 gr @ 1450 fps, Momentum = 25.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 584 ft lbs
357 Mag, 140 gr @ 1360 fps, Momentum = 27.2 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 575 ft lbs
357 Mag, 158 gr @ 1235 fps, Momentum = 27.9 lb-f/s - Muzzle Energy = 535 ft lbs
we find that all three are - well - within the recommended range (minimum of 20 maximum of 30).

With that in mind, I seriously doubt there would be an appreciable difference (the BG will know he "dun wrong", and can easily see why).

Which is another way of saying that the 'ultimate" bullet performance is not as important in rounds of ample magnitude, and probably is important only to the manufacturer for sales.
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Old January 1st, 2011, 08:42 PM   #4
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I don't believe the 125 JHP of any flavor's had issues with expansion in .357 velocities. In fact the 125 grain JHP's tend to have the better reputation for success in defensive shootings. At one time the dominant duty loads were the Federal 125 JHP with the Remington 125 semijacketed hollowpoint a close second. Both bullets had a lot of exposed lead that fragmented when it expanded, creating a lot of secondary wounding.

I know that Topeka P.D. used the Federal load as their duty load until they went to Smith 5906's in the early 90's. In the Model 19's, 66's and 65's they were carried it in it punched the clocks on a number of bad guys, far better than the 9's they replaced them with!

The Federal load can still be found under the Personal Protection (20 round boxes), though I don't know if it uses the same type of bullet. The Remington load is easier to find and cheaper, as they're now sold in 100 round bargain boxes and can be found at most Walmarts.

Lead round nose has a pretty pathetic reputation as a manstopper, especially once you take into consideration that the handgun isn't the best manstopper in the first place. Zero expansion, plenty of penetration and little tissue damage, visualize an icepick through and through.

Wadcutters and semiwadcutters work a little better, as the bullet's ogive will actually cut tissue, depending on design. Still, overpenetration and tissue damage is minimal.

Last edited by jholder; January 1st, 2011 at 08:44 PM.
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