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Old September 30, 2012, 01:39 PM   #25
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Join Date: December 11, 2001
Location: Maryland
Posts: 1,539
Yes, back to the original thread. I write this for the OP and again out of concern for the OP:

The OP is considering a .357 Magnum for home and carry defense.
It is not clear if the OP is strong and very well-practiced using this round.
I shoot .357 mag and .38 special ( not +) in my Python. I do not feel sufficiently capable of .357 for self defense situations and I probably never will be up to it (I'm over 60 and not that quick or strong, and not of great eyesight).

But I have read so many remarks against .357 for self defense that it struck me as a bold choice for the OP's first defense weapon even if the OP is quick, strong and can see. And from what I have read, its a bad choice for anyone.

Here are two quotes from just one source:

"The sound of a .357 going off is really tremendously loud, even when wearing ear protection. Setting off a .357 indoors without ear protection would most certainly do damage to ones hearing which could be permanent."

"A normal 158g .357 hollow point can penetrate about a yard in ballistic gelatin." So I guess it will pass through a human (yes of course you have to be aware of what's behind - but a lapse of awareness can happen.

"Control is a concern with the .357 Magnum... Follow-up shots could be difficult or at least slower as the shooter struggles to regain control of the gun after the recoil."

Just saying. Sounds to me like a bad choice for a first defense weapon. Of course, it can be loaded with .38 special hollow points.
While I do use .38+P in my .357mag revolvers for CCW or home defense, there is quite a bit here that needs a response. If you said that .38+P was a better round for self-defense, I'd probably agree with you. However, saying that .357mag is a bad choice, I have to disagree.

Sure, the sound levels of the .357mag indoors can cause hearing damage. However, any handgun shot indoors is sufficiently loud to cause permanent hearing damage. .357mag is among the loudest self defense calibers, and this is among the reasons I choose .38+P, don't believe for a second that this issue is limited to .357mag (and if I'm in a self-defense situation, risking some hearing damage is secondary to having "enough gun").

Control and follow-up shots in a small framed revolver is one of the reasons I go .38 in most of my J-frame sized revolvers (the smallest I'd go in a .357mag that I plan to shoot magnums out of is my 26oz Rossi 461 which is sized about halfway between a J-frame and K-frame). However, out of a medium framed revolver, I'd have few concerns with follow-up shot speed with moderately loaded .357mag rounds (i.e. most rounds made for the range and self-defense), though I would generally avoid hunting rounds.

As for over penetration potential, that is there with any round. I saw a ballistic test on YouTube where a FMJ and flat nose .380ACP exited the ballistic gelatin. One reason I do go with .38+P for home defense is over penetration potential, however, with careful ammo selection I wouldn't worry too much about it.

If you look at the chart of FBI test results at the link, you'll see in unclothed gelatin, most of the tested loads were in the 15-16" range, and clothed most ranged from 12-20". When you consider that the FBI considers the minimum acceptable penetration to be 12", if you consider the possibility that you'll need a side shot, and you consider the chances you may hit bone which can stop a bullet or change its direction, I wouldn't worry about most of these rounds over penetrating (in the clothed gelatin tests, the only tested load that would concern me is the 158gr HydraShok). Further, with .38spl and +P you need to carefully select your ammo for another reason- the potential for under penetration, and if you use a 2" barrel snub, the possibility that the hollowpoint won't expand.

While, all that said above is about the .357mag round, the fact that you are talking about .357mag handguns makes me disagree even more strongly. The fact that a .357mag can shoot .38spl makes a medium frame .357mag revolver just about the perfect gun for someone to start on. That way, they can shoot everything from low recoiling .38spl wadcutters and other target rounds at the range while learning, through full power 180gr+ .357mag hunting rounds once they are used to it should they need them. A K-frame might be a bit uncomfortable with the hunting rounds, but once the owner has some experience, they can handle .357mag rounds made for defensive use quite well.

Finally, you mention strength several times in your posts, but I don't understand why. Strength has virtually nothing to do with ability to handle recoil.
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