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Old August 6, 2002, 05:29 PM   #1
CZ_
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158 Grain .357 magnum

The 125 grainers are generally considered the best for defense.

The 180 grainers are generally considered the best for hunting.

So, where do the 158 grain .357 magnums fit in? Is it considered a "compromise" round that can do both decently (but neither well)?

I'm asking, because I personally prefer the 158 grain Hydra-Shoks for (outdoor) defense. I think they will penetrate better than the 125 grain bullets, and from what I understand they seem to cause less stress on the forcing cone than the full powered 125 grain bullets. Yet, it doesn't penetrate to the same extent as a full powered hunting load in 180 grain.

In your opinions, what "niche" does the 158 grain loadings occupy, and do any of you use them a lot? When I bring my .357 magnums out to the range, that is usually the (magnum) bullet weight I practice with.
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Old August 6, 2002, 06:09 PM   #2
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I've done a lot of research on this, including talking to ammo manufacturers.

I feel that the 158 grain should be viewed as the normal .357 weight, unless a speciality need indicates that a different weight would be better in a certain application.

I doubt if the 180 grain bullet is really needed for any game that one should really be shooting with a .357. The Federal PR man told me that their 158 grain Hydra-Shok is an excellent deer round. Remington's version also has a good reputation. I carry the Hydra-Shok because of the possible need to shoot at felons in cars when I'm on duty as a security professional. I nearly had to do that one night, and was glad that I had the heavier weight over the much vaunted 125 grain.

That said, Texas Dept. of Public Safety troopers had an incident where they had to shoot a truck driver inside, I believe, an 18-wheeler. A .45 Sig failed to penetrate with enough punch. A new trooper had the .357 Sig and killed the target with no problem. I guess that a .357 Magnum would have done at least as well, but I like that heavier weight. The Hydra-Shok design is such that I think it'll open okay in a human foe or a large dog. If one believes the goat tests, the 158 grain Hydra-Shok dropped the test goats very nearly as fast as the 125 grainers. That impressed me.

A game warden in Wyoming or Montana used an unstated type of 158 grain bullet in .357 to kill a grizzly bear that was mauling him.

Overall, I think the 158 shoots more accurately in most guns than do lighter bullets and your comment about "ejecta" eroding the forcing cone of the bbl. are confirmed by ammo makers whom I've asked. S&W factory reps also told me that their M19/66 guns will definitely last better if one avoids the lighter bullets, esp. that 125 grainer! They said very candidly that 125 grain loads were a primary factor in the firm needing to bring out the larger L-frame guns.
I think you've made a wise choice.

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Old August 6, 2002, 06:14 PM   #3
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Actually, the 158 grain loading is the original load for the 357. The 125 and 180 grain loads are fairly recent developments and I think are more specialized in their applications.
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Old August 6, 2002, 06:51 PM   #4
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Quote:
So, where do the 158 grain .357 magnums fit in? Is it considered a "compromise" round that can do both decently (but neither well)?
Depending on whose bullet and what design, no compromise involved. 150-160gr bullets seem to work great in that bore. .38 Special or .357 Magnum. They seem to be accurate and happy at speeds from under 1,000fps to 1,600fps. So easy to tailor the load to the job.

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Old August 6, 2002, 07:20 PM   #5
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^Are there any "hot" FACTORY loads in 158 grain that can top 1,600 FPS? That would be a nice load to have.

Most of the 158 grain ballistics I've seen in tables indicate an average of 1,200 FPS. 1,600 FPS would be great, if I can find a factory load (I don't currently reload in .357 magnum caliber).
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Old August 6, 2002, 07:30 PM   #6
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158-gr. is the original bullet weight for BOTH the .38 Spl. and the .357 Magnum.

For many years it was about the only bullet weight commonly available.

These days, 158s are probably the true "general purpose" bullets for either caliber.
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Old August 6, 2002, 07:40 PM   #7
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CZ,
Put the 158 gr JSP in a Marlin 1894 and you get about 1800 FPS. I use softpoints in the Marlin 'cause IMO the velocity is a tad high for JHP's. 100 yards down range and they're back in the velocity window.

Any feel for how much velocity to expect with a 158 gr HS from an 8 3/8" barrel?
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Old August 6, 2002, 08:19 PM   #8
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I am a 357 accuracy nut!

Lone Star - Very interesting post. I use the 158 for the majority of my 357 shooting. The accuracy is always there in both my revolver and single shot Contender. Last weekend I actually shot my best ever 50 yard 357 group. I was using 158 XTP's in the Contender. Would like to chrono the speed of a full load 158 out of the 10" barrel!

I rarely shoot 125's - more muzzle blast and usually do not shoot as accurate - at least im my range tests. The 170-180's seem to shoot pretty well. Have had good results with 140 XTP's also. But the 158's are my favorites.
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Old August 6, 2002, 09:11 PM   #9
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I always liked the 158 grain hydra shok bullet in .357
I used to load it in my Rossi 971 with 6" bbl for outdoor defence.
I also carried the 158 grain jacketed flat point in a marlin lever gun for deer one year although didn't get to use it on any that year

For me, that load just seemed the best in that rifle.
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Old August 6, 2002, 11:20 PM   #10
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The Remington 158gr. SJHP is the load for my M-28 duty gun, and my 686 snubby off duty piece. I'm happy with the performance in both weapons.
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Old August 6, 2002, 11:56 PM   #11
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Somebody recently gell-tested the Proload 155grain 10mm based on a Gold Dot projectile, and measured 1.2" diameter expansion.

Dang thing looked exactly like a fan blade. Amazing, and almost horrifying .

The ballistics on their 357 158grain Gold Dot load are VERY close. Possibly the sleeper of the decade in this caliber.
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Old August 7, 2002, 05:48 AM   #12
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I am a fast/light to slow/heavy convert. I now carry 158 grains in my 357 (HydraShok) and 38 Specials (SWC-HP).

For two legged predators I want enough penetration to take shots at a variety of angles and through obstacles.

I recall 158 grain Federal HydraShok 357 did great on all of the FBI barrier/gelatin tests.

I now carry:

45 = 230 grain Federal HydraShok
40 = 180 grain Federal "Tactical"- bonded jacket
9x19 = 147 grain (rarely carry 9mm) HydraShok


As a side note...

Today I saw a 9x19 human head wound. A full metal jacket (Speer case, 115 grain factory ammo?) fired from a Browning HP. Interesting point I would like to make was that the bullet was largely spent upon exit. It barley had enough energy to go through a thin piece of wood paneling. It stopped at the second piece.

It makes me think that gelatin tests are not very accurate. The bullet did not penetrate a "barrier" and only traveled about 6 inches in flesh/bone + thin piece of wood. Something to think about.
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Old August 7, 2002, 07:13 AM   #13
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Another fan of the 158 gr. Hydra-shok checking in. This bullet did well in my expansion test with a velocity of over 1200 fps. in a short barrel. Another feller I know took his deer with this load. One shot did the trick.
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Old August 7, 2002, 07:34 AM   #14
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The only hunter I know who killed deer recently with a .357 took a six point buck and a doe one season with 158 grain Mag Tech hollowpoint rounds. The doe took one shot. The buck was running on empty from a shot to the chest, but running, when the guy put another into its hip area. He felt that the second shot was probably not needed afterward, but at the time it seemed a good idea.
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Old August 7, 2002, 08:01 AM   #15
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I usually use 125JHP's for defense loads, 158gr RN/SWC for target and IDPA loads, 148gr WC for straight target.

I think the 180gr bullet would be a good choice for bowling pin or silhouettes.
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Old August 7, 2002, 08:29 AM   #16
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I use 158 grn. JSP in my 6" barrelled Ruger Security Six. This sound is extremely accurate for my gun. I've tried 110, 125, 130, 180 grn bullets from diff. mfg. and the 158 grn bullets always seem to deliver the best overall accuracy. Like the others, I think these guns were originally designed for this weight bullet. That's all I buy anymore.
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Old August 7, 2002, 09:12 AM   #17
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CZ_ asked - - -

Quote:
Are there any "hot" FACTORY loads in 158 grain that can top 1,600 FPS? That would be a nice load to have.
The short answer is, NO! The original advertised velocities for the hottest .357 ammo were 1510 fps with a 158 LSWC or 150 metal point, from an 8-3/8 inch barrel. Ammo companies have been loading it down ever since.

Believe me, a 158 which actually chronographs 1400 from a four-inch is a bear to shoot in a revolver, of whatever weight. And, good luck in finding such ammo. Some custom handloaders won't do it without a written waiver.

Supposedly the premier .357 anti-personnel load is the 125 JHP at, what? about 1450, and they seldom register this from a four-inch. The .357 SiG made its reputation with a 125 at 1370.

CZ_, no flame intended, honest, but one might as well ask about a 200 mph Jeep. It is a great little vehicle, but there's no practical way - - - -

Best,
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Old August 7, 2002, 10:46 AM   #18
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Johnny,

Actual ballistics were quite a bit hotter than that, too.

Some years ago I tied into a couple of boxes of circa 1940 Winchester .357 Magnum.

Out of a 6" Model 28, velocities were running just under 1,700 fps.
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Old August 7, 2002, 01:11 PM   #19
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Mike - - -

WOW! Was this the old stuff with the large primers? How did the primers look? I'll bet it was brutal, even in the N-frame. What kind of bullet? The old Winchester ammo used to show velocity on the back of the box. Did this? I had always thought the 1510 published vel was pretty warm. Do you think your readings were as they should have been, or might this have been a result of the powder breaking down from vibration or something?

Interesting - - -


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Old August 7, 2002, 05:44 PM   #20
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CZ_, no flame intended, honest, but one might as well ask about a 200 mph Jeep. It is a great little vehicle, but there's no practical way - - - -
The revolvers I would shoot it out of is a Blackhawk and GP 100, so they should be strong enough to take hot loads. Perhaps the gentleman that mentioned 1,600 FPS meant from a rifle length barrel? A lever action rifle is on my soon to get list, so that might be a way to get that velocity?
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Old August 7, 2002, 05:52 PM   #21
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158gr at 1,600 from 4" N frame. Chrno'd. Yes, tis indeed stout.

Sam
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Old August 7, 2002, 06:36 PM   #22
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^Thats very impressive. That kind of load (I assume its homemade) puts the .357 magnum up in energy closer to more powerful cartridges.
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Old August 7, 2002, 09:07 PM   #23
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Johnny,

The rounds were Winchester metal piercing rounds (or Western Super-X, whomever made it at that time).

I got them about 20 years ago from a friend's father, where he got them I don't know. The boxes were water damaged and in pretty bad shape, but the ammo wasn't corroded at all. Like an idiot, I didn't grab a couple of rounds for my collection. They're the only Winchester metal piercing rounds for .357 I've ever seen.

We used my friend's father's 28 and his chronograph.

To put it mildly, these rounds were vicious from the 28, and it still had the wood grips on it, which made it even worse. The muzzle flash was pretty impressive, too.

I don't remember what the primers looked like, but I do recall that extraction wasn't bad at all. A little hitchy, but not at all difficult.

All of the rounds chrono'ed right in the same ballpark, so I doubt that it was powder decay.

Velocities in those days were often underreported.

I just spent about 45 minutes going through some of my old reloading manuals.

Several show velocities in the 1500-1600 fps range with powders that are no longer available for 158-160 gr. jacketed AND cast lead bullets.

Starting in the late 1950s/early 1960s, though, velocities and maximum charge weights start to drop off quite a bit.

However, my Hornady 4th edition still shows several loads for 158-160 gr. jacketed bullets at 1,450 fps, but that's out of an 8 3/8" tube.
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Old August 7, 2002, 09:42 PM   #24
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Mike, How much velocity is gained going from 4" to 8 3/8" barrels? I'll be picking up a 27-2 with the longer barrel very soon. Just curious.
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Old August 7, 2002, 09:58 PM   #25
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4" to 83/8" difference.......
A LOT will depend on the individual guns being compared.
Difference might be 200 fps.....or could be less than 100.

That's why factory chrono data should be used for comparison between loads from that manufacturer. They would have been tested from the same rig.

Relativity my dear Watson, relativity.

I have found 100 fps difference between identical guns from the same order with same lot of ammo. Each gun is an individual.

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