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Old August 13, 2010, 11:41 AM   #1
Super-Dave
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.357 magnum 125 grain vs 158

Why is the 125 grain considered more effective for self defense than the 158 grain?

Did the 158 grain not reliably mushroom?
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Old August 13, 2010, 11:46 AM   #2
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For .357 magnum, a 125 gr. bullet at 1600 fps carries ~5% more kinetic energy than a 158 gr. bullet at 1400 fps and might be slightly easier to open, although there's plenty of force to open either. It's likely splitting hairs, either is more than enough for SD. For practice, the lighter bullet also is reported to cause more top strap erosion than the heavier one.

For .38 special, I prefer the heavier bullet, they lose less velocity in the shorter barreled snubs than the lighter bullets do.

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Old August 13, 2010, 11:56 AM   #3
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The 158gr. can over-penetrate a human torso.
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Old August 13, 2010, 03:41 PM   #4
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The 125grn semi-jacketed loadings from Remington and Federal scored the highest (96%) in the Marshall-Sanow study and that is likely where much of their legendary reputation comes from. If you look at the paper ballistics, you will see that the typical 125grn loading at 1400-1500fps will have a slight kinetice energy advantage (usually about 50 ft. lbs.) over the typical 158grn loading at 1200-1300fps.

In the real world, the 125grn loadings seem to expand more aggressively while the 158grn loadings seem to penetrate more deeply. Both have plenty of velocity to ensure reliable expansion with a properly designed bullet. I can tell you from my own testing that both Remington's 158grn SJHP and Winchester's 145grn Silvertip will expand quite well in both wetpack and even dry paper.

Really, I agree with spacecoast that it's splitting hairs. I, personally, prefer the 158grn loadings because I find their blast to be less offensive and because they are much kinder to the forcing cone of my S&W K-Frame. I'm not particularly worried about overpenetration because nearly every major caliber handgun can overpenetrate under the right circumstances.
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Old August 13, 2010, 04:28 PM   #5
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I find it negligent to be dismissive of the over-penetration qualities of the 158gr. bullet. Research will prove this out. None of the major defensive calibers penetrate as much. It is usually recommended for large game because of this. Better to use 125gr. or even 140-146gr. for self defense.
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Old August 13, 2010, 05:07 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Super-Dave
Why is the 125 grain considered more effective for self defense than the 158 grain?

Did the 158 grain not reliably mushroom?
It is possible that given the state of bullet technology, back when the .357 Magnum was the predominate LE cartridge; that some 158 grain projectiles did not expand as well. Today the difference in expansion between the 158 and 125 grain projectiles of any of the makers is probably close to nil.


Lets look at some testing from the past.

.357 Magnum Ammunition Performance Data

.357 Magnum 125 grain Federal JHP, tested 7/27/90 by the FBI

Test Gun: S&W Model 13 3" barrel

Velocity: 1265 fps

Clothed Gelatin Penetration: 11.75 in Expansion: .51"


.357 Magnum 158 grain Federal JHP, tested 2/28/91 by the FBI


Test Gun: S&W M19 4" barrel

Velocity: 1200 fps

Clothed Gelatin Penetration: 15.90" Expansion: .64"


Even with a 4 inch barrel for the 125 and 3 inch for the 158 the results would not be much different. Either one striking in the same location, would do about the same amount of damage.

If you are anyone still wants to put creedence in the 'One shot stop' data. Just consider a few simple facts, it is all derived from a single shot to the torso. No thought is given to what vital organs, structures or blood bearing vessels might have been hit.

Also where are the statistics of those shot twice or more?

Lastly, consider that the .357 was the predominate LE cartridge at one time. That fact means that most of the .357 shootings recorded were done by trained LE personnel in the line of duty. Most of those shootings occurred at night and at a distance of less than two yards.

Hum, lets see. A trained LE officer shoots someone COM @ 2 yards or less with a loud, large muzzle flash producing revolver. A revolver that also shoots a projectile that penetrates 12 plus inches and expands to .50+ caliber. That person then stops, gee I wonder why?

So the .357 is a good defense pistol, I like them. In fact I own four of them. However they are not magic, or somehow super superior to a .45 ACP, .40 S&W, 9 mm, etc, etc. As long as any of them penetrate from 12-18 inches and expand at least one and one half times their diameter, they will perform just as well.

PS: I did not write this to sell a book. Only to help turn back the tides of ignorance.
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Old August 13, 2010, 05:11 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Water-Man
I find it negligent to be dismissive of the over-penetration qualities of the 158gr. bullet. Research will prove this out.
Well, since you are so adamant in your beliefs. Then you could support your argument by posting links to evidence of over penetration.

While you are at it you might want to do a search on 'the over penetration myth' before you do.
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Old August 13, 2010, 07:22 PM   #8
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Quote:
I find it negligent to be dismissive of the over-penetration qualities of the 158gr. bullet. Research will prove this out. None of the major defensive calibers penetrate as much. It is usually recommended for large game because of this. Better to use 125gr. or even 140-146gr. for self defense.
The vast majority of premium JHP ammo made these days is engineered to meet the FBI's penetration standards of 12-16". 12" would be completely through the upper torso of all but the largest of individuals assuming a straight-on frontal shot, much less a shot to an extremity. Because of this, nearly any loading suitable for self-defense has the ability to overpenetrate under the right conditions. For this reason, I simply assume that any bullet I fire will overpenetrate and adjust my tactics accordingly. Remember, be sure of your target and what is beyond it. Personally, I find it irresponsible to assume that you're immune from overpenetration through your choice of ammunition.
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Old August 13, 2010, 07:52 PM   #9
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People are HUGE nowadays. A 125 grain bullet may not reach a vital area, or penetrate a car or other barrier.
When I was growing up, 300 pound people were only seen at freak shows, now it's not that uncommon. A while back (last year, I think,) we had a 300 pound druggy go ape-stuff in Charleston; he smashed through a glass door, charged the cops, was tazered, but nothing worked. It was all caught on video, and it was scary. I think the LEs finally just shot him.
For self-defense, I'm sticking with 158 grain, or even heavier in the winter, when people are wearing heavy clothes. Sorry - I'm not going to risk getting killed from the guy in front of me over fears of the person who may be behind him.
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Old August 13, 2010, 08:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WVfishguy
A 125 grain bullet may not reach a vital area, or penetrate a car or other barrier.
Changing the subject a little bit, but I see comments like the one above often and I have some trouble with it. I have trouble imagining the need to penetrate cars or other barriers in a self defense situation. I understand WVFG may have been talking about law enforcement needs for handgun ammo, but are there any instances where the ability to penetrate a barrier is needed for self defense?
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Old August 13, 2010, 08:49 PM   #11
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I like 158 grain 357s... I use them out of my Carbine for Deer all the time.

I think for self defense the smaller grains are better. I know when I tried to shoot 158 grain rounds from my S&W 640 it really hurt. That said when people ask me what they should shoot I tell them what they feel confident with. Id rather trust my life to a guy with a 22 that knew how to use it than a guy with a 44mag that has never fired a gun.
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Old August 13, 2010, 09:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Water-Man
I find it negligent to be dismissive of the over-penetration qualities of the 158gr. bullet. Research will prove this out. None of the major defensive calibers penetrate as much. It is usually recommended for large game because of this. Better to use 125gr. or even 140-146gr. for self defense.
Just because a bullet exits through the body doesn't necessarily mean it's overpenetration for one's preference of a SD load. The "research" that you seem to take to gospel that defines overpenetration doesn't mean it's the same parameters for others.
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Old August 13, 2010, 10:17 PM   #13
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Originally posted by Sport45
Quote:
Quote:
Originally Posted by WVfishguy
A 125 grain bullet may not reach a vital area, or penetrate a car or other barrier.
Changing the subject a little bit, but I see comments like the one above often and I have some trouble with it. I have trouble imagining the need to penetrate cars or other barriers in a self defense situation. I understand WVFG may have been talking about law enforcement needs for handgun ammo, but are there any instances where the ability to penetrate a barrier is needed for self defense?
The most realistic scenario in which I can see an average person needing barrier-penetration capability would be a carjacking and/or road rage incident. I could see the need to shoot through a car door if you were attacked in heavy traffic and were thusly unable to escape.

Somewhat less likely, but still possible, would be the need to shoot through a door. While such a tactic isn't generally wise, it does have merit in certain circumstances. If, for instance, you have barricaded yourself and/or your loved ones into a room of your home and an intruder is actively attempting to break down the door, shooting through the door could be a viable option.
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Old August 13, 2010, 10:35 PM   #14
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Nate45...Since you're the one refuting what I'm saying then you should be doing the research to learn what you obviously don't know.
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Old August 13, 2010, 10:39 PM   #15
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Webleymkv...Keep coming up with your fantasy scenarios and you might even convince yourself.
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Old August 13, 2010, 10:46 PM   #16
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I'm not real worried about 158's over penetrating..... I put 4 158 XTP's into a 1 1/2 y.o. buck at 5 yards. Even at 1250 f/sec, none went out the far side.
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Old August 13, 2010, 11:14 PM   #17
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I used to carry 125 grain, buying into the silly notion that a 158 grain would "over-penetrate" I'm more worried about a missed shot hitting a bystander than I am about a fully expanded round that just exited the bad guy causing damage. Statistically speaking, a missed shot (with ALL it's energy) is more likely to hit/injure an innocent.

After treating patients at one of commifornia's finest prisons, I upgraded to the 158 grain. I want to be able to have a good chance at hitting something vital even if I have to shoot him through the butt to hit something vital.
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Old August 13, 2010, 11:22 PM   #18
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I would not want to have to eh-splain to da jury why I had to do a texas heart shot to defend myself...

...that said, I would want all the penetration possible if I ran up against a Fat Bastard (from the Austin Powers movies) look alike.....
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Old August 14, 2010, 02:56 AM   #19
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penetrate??????

Just to muddy the water.

Isn't the .357 pretty much accepted as being created to increase penetration on auto bodies and steel vests, as utilized by the auto bandits of the late 20's and 30's??

Now, that was with SWC or RN I guess, maybe even some type of FMJ or AP bullet.
Seems like they gave a special Reg. Mag to old Hoover himself.

Counting on a hollow point, from a handgun of any cal or bullet weight to expand in a gunfight and human torso is a roll of the dice, whether you need that expansion v. penetration, is THE question.
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Old August 14, 2010, 07:47 AM   #20
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Originally posted by Water-Man
Quote:
Nate45...Since you're the one refuting what I'm saying then you should be doing the research to learn what you obviously don't know.
Quote:
Webleymkv...Keep coming up with your fantasy scenarios and you might even convince yourself.
Well Water-Man, since you made the claim that 158grn bullets are overly penetrative, why don't you provide us with some documented cases of innocent bystanders being injured or killed by overpenetrating 158grn .357 JHP's. After all, you made the original claim so the burden of proof is on you.
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Old August 14, 2010, 11:01 PM   #21
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"A 125 grain bullet may not reach a vital area, or penetrate a car or other barrier. "

Thinking in terms of home defense, I like the idea of a 125 gr with about 3.4 gr of Bullseye powder. I dont really want to shoot thru the wall. I dont even want to shoot thru the BG. I want it to go inside and bounce around.

I agree about the lack of penetration. But I'm hoping he doesn't drive into my house with his car.

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Old August 15, 2010, 01:05 AM   #22
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Webleymkv

Quote:
burden of proof is on you.

I know Water-Man is correct, because I read it on the Internet.

I use Remington SJHP 125g because that's what Walmart has.
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Old August 15, 2010, 04:05 AM   #23
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I'm lazy this morning and did not read all the previous post...

my opinion.. I HATE shooting 125gr 357... just not a fun round to use... 158gr is much easier on me.

As for the 5% difference and the chance of over penetration with one or the other... It don't mean diddle in most cases.
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Old August 15, 2010, 09:50 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Water-Man
Nate45...Since you're the one refuting what I'm saying then you should be doing the research to learn what you obviously don't know.
Nate45 apparantly did to some research along with a link to support his claim/refute. You, on the other hand, have done nothing but state what you think is fact without any souce to your claim. Here's a news flash. This board is what you call a discussion board. Stating what your earnest opinion is fine and dandy. Posting what you think is absolute fact without citing sources of your claim only welcomes fellow members to attack your statement like a pack of dogs on a three legged cat. And challenge they should.

Oh, and one other thing. Your insults don't help your argument........AT ALL.

So, as others have already asked, I pose the same. How 'bout them sources?
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Old August 15, 2010, 10:49 AM   #25
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I have a feeling that Water-Man is done with this thread, but I'll explain my reasoning a bit more anyway. The FBI's standard of 12-16" is actually a bit excessive if you assume a straight-on shot to an average adult male. I am a fairly large person (6'4" and 280lbs) and the distance from the front of my chest to by back is roughly 10". The reason that the FBI's standards are as deep as they are is to compensate for a shot at an extremely large individual, one at an oblique angle or one that must pass through an extremity such as an arm before reaching the vital areas of the body.

Being that I am a pretty big guy, one of the most likely people to attack me would be someone of equal or larger size. On such a large individual, enhanced penetration is an asset and that is one of the reasons that I prefer the heavier 158grn bullets as well as the .357 Magnum cartridge.

Also, as far as overpenetration is concerned, I feel that that is an issue that is better addressed by tactics rather than equipment. Even if it passed completely through the target, my chosen loading (Remington 158grn SJHP) will still likely display good expansion and cause a good amount of damage to whatever anatomical structure that it hits. The best way, in my opinion, to minimize the risk to innocent bystanders is to adjust the angle of your shot. Taking a few steps to one side or taking a knee to adjust the path of your bullet is much easier to do in the heat of the moment that to reload your gun with more situtation-appropriate ammunition. As I said earlier, I simply assume that every shot I take will pass completely through the target and adjust my tactics accordingly.

To me, that is preferable to carrying something that might underpenetrate in one circumstance but might also overpenetrate in another. Also, the heavier bullet is less likely to be deflected or fragment and change its path through the body. This makes predicting its path once it leaves the target more reliable. What it basically boils down to is that the penetration characteristics of heavier bullets are usually more predictable than those of lighter ones.
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