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Old February 18, 2006, 03:35 PM   #1
SevenRoundMags
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357MAG - 125 or 158 grain JHP for home defense?

Which would be better for home defense in your opinion?

125gr@1450fps, or 158gr@1250FPS?

Personally I'm leaning towards the 158 because the 125's might expand too early and not reach vitals. The 125's also have more muzzle flip and blast. What say you?
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Old February 18, 2006, 03:39 PM   #2
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At 1250 fps you should still get good expansion and the heavier bullet may mean better penetration... If you think the 125 grainers have more flash and flip then I'd say that seals the deal... IMO, 158 grn.
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Old February 18, 2006, 05:31 PM   #3
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125

Well I think you would actually get a bit more penetration than you bargained for, in the 158, in an indoors incident. The police had long preferred the hot 125 in their revolvers as almost a "magic bullet" until depts. went to autos. The very hot loaded 125 that you mentioned is a case of flip and flash, however. An alternative might be the slightly downloaded Remington 125 that is about 180 fps slower, but less severe to fire. Or the 140 grain silvertip, that is made with low flash powder and is usually accurate in my revolver. You have alot more choices than the two you stated. Maybe save the 158 for shooting thru car doors? I prefer the 158 in lever guns, but that is outdoor long range shooting. Might put a lighter bullet in for use in the home, and still gain a large MV increase from the 20" barrel.
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Old February 18, 2006, 05:54 PM   #4
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Iam not a expert but I would choose the heavier bullet, it will have less muzzle flip and the follow-up shot (if needed) is faster.

But I think both will overpenetrate.
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Old February 18, 2006, 06:57 PM   #5
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There was still some disagreement about this question even back when revolvers were common in L/E work, believe it or not. Reading much of the "ballistics & performance" material printed nowadays, you'd almost think that the 125gr Magnum was the undisputed and widely acknowledged .357 Magnum defensive load in the world ... except it wasn't quite that way back in the early 80's.

This subject came up when I was discussing calibers with a factory rep who used to be in L/E work (like that's unusual ), comparing those calibers presently popular in L/E in pistols, with those used in revolvers a couple of decades ago. His said his agency used to use .357 Magnum revolvers and 158gr JHP ammunition, and with very satisfactory results. He said that when his admin once asked if they should change over to the 'newly popular' 125gr JHP loading, he pointed out the string of successes they'd had using the regular 158gr JHP loads, and the subject was dropped. Of course, they were a rural agency, if that matters.

I remember when a local agency had a 1-shot 'instant stop' when a cop fired a .357 Magnum 158gr JSP, which mushroomed and stopped in the attacker's heart, causing him to instantly stop his deadly actions and drop right to the ground. A Jacketed Soft Point, no less. Must've been something about the placement, I suppose.

I can remember one well known and respected trainer & author expressing the opinion that 125gr JHP Magnum rounds had more potential for over penetration that other folks realized, and seemed to prefer the heavier bullets.

Like I said, there were opposing views even back when revolvers were in wide spread use in L/E. Not everyone seemed to subscribe to the lightweight bullet, velocity-is-everything philosophy when it came to .357 Magnum loads ... although it certainly started to attract a number of proponents.

Muzzle blast, muzzle flash, felt recoil and controllability was an issue for a lot of folks using these Magnum revolvers and various loads, too. The 125gr JHP loads were known for some rather impressive muzzle blast.

Personally, while this isn't any sort of an implied endorsement or recommendation, I used to carry a couple of different brands of 125gr JHP in my issued and personally owned .357 Magnum 2 3/4-4" revolvers, and also used the W-W 145gr STHP. The 145gr STHP load is sort of a slightly reduced power load, but it's received good feedback in various areas as a service round. It's accurate and used to use a good flash suppressant. Maybe it still does.

I remember attending a couple of Wound Ballistics Seminars a few years ago, taught by a former fed agent, and after seeing some X-rays and gel test results I started leaning toward the Remington 140gr SJHP load. He explained that in his experience he'd observed that the Rem 140gr SJHP .357 bullet seemed to offer the same terminal ballistics inside a target medium as the 125gr SJHP load, but extended the 'performance envelope' a couple or more inches deeper into the target medium. Naturally, this load isn't easy to find, as it doesn't seem to be in a lot of demand. Doesn't it just figure?

I used to use the Federal 125gr JHP load, too, and would again if need be. I even carried the Federal 125gr .357 Magnum Nyclad as a service load for a while, back when it was being produced for commercial sales.

The ball powder used in the W-W 125gr .357 loads bothered me in the respect that it often 'spit' a lot of ball powder residue toward my face when using it at the range. Not exactly what I'd desire in an actual service load if I found myself using my revolver outside the range without eye protection.

Nowadays I usually try to keep a small supply available of Rem .357 125gr SJHP & 140gr SJHP, as well as some W-W 145gr STHP on hand. I'd use any of these in my present 2.25-4" .357 Magnum revolvers.

Over-penetration can probably occur with any round, especially when you consider the potential for hits against smaller and thinner areas of the body ... and then complete misses, for that matter.

That said, many years ago my agency imposed a restriction against any service & off-duty ammunition which wasn't a hollow point. The reason given was concerns about potential over-penetration of non-expanding, non-hollowpoint ammunition. That makes it a simple matter for me ... I have to use hollowpoint ammunition from a major manufacturer.

Also, both of my present .357 Magnum revolvers have been MagNaPorted, which reduces the muzzle whip/rise quite a bit with the lighter weight loads, but which introduces other factors which must be carefully considered when it comes to defensive revolvers. The redirection of hot gasses, burning powder and potential jacket fragments upward through the EDM-cut gas ports can be a definite issue for some folks.

Which loads offer you the best accuracy and controllability, anyway?

Don't have the answer for you, and don't pretend to, either.
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Last edited by fastbolt; February 19, 2006 at 03:21 AM.
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Old February 18, 2006, 06:58 PM   #6
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.357 bullet weight

If you put any value in Masaad Ayoob, then it's the 125 grain. For some reason he's dead against the 158 grain.
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Old February 18, 2006, 07:09 PM   #7
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Did you see this other timely thread?

http://thefiringline.com/forums/show...50#post1878750
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Old February 18, 2006, 07:29 PM   #8
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Or 158 gr. LSWC or LSWCHP?
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Old February 18, 2006, 07:57 PM   #9
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Quote:
Iam not a expert but I would choose the heavier bullet, it will have less muzzle flip and the follow-up shot (if needed) is faster.
I don't know which 158gr loads you have been firing but the ones that I've messed with have much more recoil than the 125gr loads. Its simple physics, the 158gr. has significantly much more momentum than the 125gr loads. The 125gr may be perceived as being hotter due to the flash and noise. Shooting a 125gr. 357Mag indoors is very bad on your hearing and is one of the loudest loads out there. I like the 145gr. Silvertip load as it has less flash and noise. It typically does well over 1200fps from a 4" revolver and is a very reliable expander. The benefit of the 125gr. load is that expansion is guaranteed. Any bullet with any type of hollow cavity going 1300+fps is guaranteed to expand. In my experience, the faster you push a bullet out of a handgun the louder it is. I've had good luck with Federal's 130gr. HS load. It typically does about 1325fps from a 4" revolver. The flash and noise isn't quite as bad as the standard power 125gr. loads but offers the same benefits with slightly increased penetration. It expanded to .51 after the dreaded denim test, which is pretty good for a HS. Like I said, expansion is pretty much guaranteed when bullets are moving so fast. All 357Mag loads up to 158gr. in weight have the velocity to expand consistently.
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Old February 18, 2006, 08:24 PM   #10
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Not .357, but a .38+P 158-gr LWSCHP might be a "kinder and gentler" indoors round, while still getting the job done.
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Old February 18, 2006, 09:02 PM   #11
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Quote:
357MAG - 125 or 158 grain JHP for home defense?
125 grain
It will kill faster and it won't go through as many walls after it hits the BG.

Both of these principles have been tested scientifically by the FBI labs...
And in the field by the Illinois State Troopers and many other LEO's who followed their lead...
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Old February 19, 2006, 08:48 AM   #12
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Heavier is better in my opinion. A 158gr. .357 bullet moving at 1200fps will do most things asked of it.
The 125gr. JHP .357 has a reputation for good stopping power because that was what was used by most police in the country for many years.
It is a good round.
For home defense, I'd prefer a shotgun with maybe #6 or #7 1/2 shot.
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Old February 19, 2006, 11:48 AM   #13
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andagainandagainandagain...

The most effective 357 rd is a quality-brand 125g JHP.
Perhaps the single most effective ("Effective" = one HIT stops the action of those hit) handgun chambering (apparently being rivaled by the 125g 357 SIG loads, and certain 135g/150g/155g/165g JHP 40 S&W loads).
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Old February 19, 2006, 11:55 AM   #14
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125gr.JHP
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Old February 19, 2006, 12:50 PM   #15
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I would regard what Leopard1 said unless you want to penetrate some walls and knock off a neighbor or two
Bob
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Old February 19, 2006, 05:19 PM   #16
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Don't forget the shooting of trooper Mark Coates - Underpenetration is MORE deadly than overpenetration in most cases, IMHO.

With over 60% of Americans being overweight, 125 grains doesn't sound like much.
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Old February 19, 2006, 05:54 PM   #17
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I'll take a 158 grain JHP over a 125 any day. I am more interested in penetration, and the heavier bullet gives you that.
I load my own .357 for HD. My favorite load is a 146 grain Speer over a lot of 2400 powder.
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Old February 19, 2006, 07:31 PM   #18
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I dont know where the idea that 125's have more muzzle flip than 158's came from. That has not been my experience at all with full house loads, and if you consider the ole action vs reaction theory, the heavier slug almost ALWAYS generates more felt and real recoil. When I did my research back in the 70's and 80's, the 125's always seemed to be the top round for the 357, and I stuck with it.
-Bruce
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Old February 19, 2006, 08:03 PM   #19
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recomend the...

Hornady 140 gr XTP in .357mag.
Little heavier bullet for good penetration and not bad in a 4" Security-Six.
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Old February 20, 2006, 01:05 PM   #20
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jroth:

I hope you are right. I just bought a bunch of Remington 140 gr SJHPs.

I tested some loads and they operate nicely anywhere from 1200 to over 1500 fps in a S&W 686 with a six inch barrel. I was torn between 125 and 158 so i split the difference.
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Old February 20, 2006, 06:08 PM   #21
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Why are there so many... clowns

They fly in the face of the facts!

The 158 gr wastes it's energy on the other side of the target...

The REASON the Illinois Toopers were using the 125 originally (When every other LEO in the country was using 158 gr) is because they thought that it was more humane. They were influenced by the squeaking "bleeding hearts" who thought the MAGNUM was overkill.

They found out from experience that they were getting a very high percentage of one-shot-stops.

That, and the FBI lab PROVED this to be consistent...

THEN the rest of the LEO's in the country switched to 125 grains.

The rest is history...
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Old February 20, 2006, 08:22 PM   #22
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Rural

I suppose the rumored over penetrative 158 JHP would be more useful in a rural area-if it goes thru the bad guy and sticks in a hay bail, so what? And you will have a multi purpose round useful for armed criminals, smallish black bear, wild hogs, angry bucks, runaway pickups/horses, and any other real or perceived threat you might meet, unless you live in grizzly territory!
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Old February 20, 2006, 10:09 PM   #23
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Quote:
Hornady 140 gr XTP in .357mag.
The Hornady XTP bullet is known for serious penetration and is cherished by handgun hunters. I've seen tests where the 140gr. and 158gr. XTPs failed to expand and over-penetrated. The 140gr. Corbon JHP is an excellent choice and would probably make more sense for carry or home defense. The Sierra JHPs they use are very agressive expanders, which rarely fail to expand. The proven choice is probably the 145gr. Win ST. It typically penetrates 14-16" and pretty much always expands. With the 145gr. ST you always get good penetration and expansion. One thing is for sure. A 125gr. bullet going near 1400fps is never going to fail to expand. Especially those of the SJHP variety. They will penetrate 10-12" and are extremely deadly as they typically fragment violently. Just hope that the BG doesn't weigh 300lbs.
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Old February 21, 2006, 04:28 PM   #24
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It's all a matter of personal preference. Both the 125 and 158grn (or 110, 145, 180, and 200) loads for the .357 Magnum are very good. I'm inclined to agree with Clint Smith who once said not to worry too much about what you put in a .357 because it's all good. Personally, I prefer 158's for several reasons. First of all, I'm willing to trade the increased recoil and muzzle filp for the reduction in muzzle blast. I'm not too worried about overpenetration because anything much more than a .32ACP is going to penetrate the walls of most modern (i.e. thin walled) homes. Finally, the sights on my revolver are regulated for 158's and I guess I'm just too lazy to adjust them.
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Old February 21, 2006, 11:52 PM   #25
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I've used both the 125 and 158. I have killed Texas whitetail deer and jackrabbits with both in a 6" S&W 686 using factory ammo and reloads. I prefer the 125's because the felt recoil to my hand is less. The 125's do have a reputation for muzzle blast. I have a couple of handload recipes for 125's that will get your attention with the muzzle flash! On the other hand, I can evaporate a jackrabbit with 'em.
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