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Old April 26, 2015, 03:01 PM   #1
Independent George
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.357 JHPs: 125 gr or 158 for a 3" barrel?

I know most of the .357 defensive loads are tested by the manufacturer out of a 4" barrel, and that the lighter 125 grain bullet is recommended out of a 2" snub nose. What about a 3" barrel, though? Will a 158 grain bullet expand reliably from it?

I've got a 3" Ruger GP-100 that I think will be taking over nightstand duties, and I'm trying to decide what to load it with. While I'd prefer a heavier bullet for defense, I want reliable expansion above all, and don't feel the least bit undergunned with a 125 grain bullet. Should I just use a 125 gr to be conservative?

My LGS has 125 gr. Critical Defense, and 158 gr. Gold Dots in stock. I could always order online, but shipping costs don't make it worth it unless I include it with a larger order.
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Old April 26, 2015, 03:22 PM   #2
ligonierbill
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At across the room range, I doubt it will make much difference to a bad guy. The 125 is the classic man stopper in any barrel length. But yes, I think a good 158 will expand, and almost certainly keep going. Me, I'd load what the cops used to carry.
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Old April 26, 2015, 04:10 PM   #3
AKexpat
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IMO, if it is summertime and the perp is dressed in a T-shirt/light dress shirt, I would go with 125 gr. HP.

If it is winter and the perp is dressed with heavy or multiple-layer clothes, the 158 gr. would seem better for penetration.

I never shot anyone with either load so my view is pure speculation.

I would guess that most folks replying to this thread have never shot anyone and are going upon assumptions such as I am.
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Old April 26, 2015, 04:15 PM   #4
JERRYS.
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a good in the house compromise is the mid powered 158gr magnum from cci.

scratch that, I thought they were gold dots.

Last edited by JERRYS.; April 26, 2015 at 04:25 PM.
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Old April 26, 2015, 04:27 PM   #5
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Between those two specific loadings, I'd go with the Hornady Critical Defense simply because, in the gel tests I've seen, the 158 gr Gold Dot doesn't expand very aggressively even from long barrels (I suspect it's designed to be more of a hunting bullet). Now, if you broaden your options to other 158 gr .357 Magnum loadings then it's a different matter. I personally load all my .357 Magnum revolvers (I have four with barrels from 2 1/2" to 5") with Remington HTP 158 gr SJHP though I would be equally happy with the comparable loadings offered by Federal or Winchester.

I have chronographed both Remington and Federal 158 gr .357 Magnums from both 2 1/2" and 3" barrels and consistently got velocities in the 1150-1200 fps range from both guns. I believe that is more that sufficient velocity to get reliable expansion from a semi-jacketed HP, particularly the Remington with its very thin scalloped jacket.
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Old April 26, 2015, 04:29 PM   #6
Slimjim9
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Inside the house you might want to consider 38+P options instead of .357 which is going to be a louder and give more muzzle blast. Buffalo Bore 158g+P or Speer Gold Dot 135gr+P would be good choices for the GP.
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Old April 26, 2015, 05:55 PM   #7
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Speer Short barrel is 135 gr...something to consider. That's what I use (but not in the house). I use Glock 22 in 40 S&W for a bedroom gun so I can have a light and laser on the rail (Gen 3). Of course, that places lots of ammo at hand too.

Might want to just go with 38 Special for your gun and application.
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Old April 26, 2015, 05:58 PM   #8
Independent George
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Good point about the muzzle blast; I hadn't thought of that.
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Old April 26, 2015, 06:06 PM   #9
amd6547
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My GP100 3" is loaded with Hornady 125 CD or 158gn XTP. I go back and forth, both shoot great.
I choose 357.
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Old April 26, 2015, 06:15 PM   #10
skizzums
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sub 2" snubbie? stay light 110-125. 2-3" 125-140. 3"+ heavy is good.

that's just my personal feelings, I don't like sacrificing sooo much velocity that expansion becomes unreliable, even if the 158 still get beter enetration even from a snub.
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Old April 26, 2015, 08:48 PM   #11
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I have a Smith 686 w/ 3" bbl. In fact, I put 175 rounds through it today - all 158's. I also carry this gun. I load my own ammo and chronograph test rounds as well as factory rounds extensively with this gun.

There's going to be a lot of opinions in this thread. There's pros n cons to heavy bullets and light bullets. The debate goes on, without regard to barrel length. Even if expansion is the issue, a fat lumbering 158 that doesn't expand is still a day-ruiner for the bad guy.

Historically, there has been a lot of real world data pointing to the effectiveness of bullets in the 125gn range for 357 Magnum. The two rounds I use for self-defense are the Speer 135gn GDHP "Short Barrel," and the Federal 130gn Hydra-Shok.

The Speer GDHP SB is designed specifically for modern small frame, 5-shot, snub nose, carry revolvers (Smith J-frames, for instance). But that doesn't mean that they can't be used for larger 357's with longer barrels. In my 3" bbl, they average 1153 f/s. They are a potent enough round, but with very modest recoil. I think Speer did a great job with this round. They also make a 38+P with the same bullet. It runs 955 f/s through my 3" and I still have no doubt that they would reliably expand, given Speer's advanced bullet design. My hat's off to Speer for designing a round specific for small frame carry revolvers that can be realistically used for civilian carry. I know of no other company making such ammunition. If I carried a J-frame, it would be my only choice.

The Federal Hydra-Shok is a much more potent round, but still manageable for the advanced and practiced shooter with a larger frame gun like the GP100. 1356 f/s through my 3". These are in my gun right now. (I'm an advanced and practiced shooter )
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Old April 26, 2015, 09:35 PM   #12
Arizona Fusilier
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I compromised between the two, and settled for 145gr Winchester Silver-tip HPs in all my .357s.

No, I haven't shot anybody with them either.
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Old April 26, 2015, 09:38 PM   #13
Andy Blozinski
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The shorter the barrel, the less velocity you will get. Everyone knows that. But if you look at the data carefully, you'll notice that shorter barrels lose relatively less when using heavier bullets rather than lighter bullets.
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Old April 26, 2015, 09:44 PM   #14
Model12Win
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Check out this playlist from YouTube's tnoutdoors9:

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?lis...8978D90283EA35

This is his ".357 SIG and .357 magnum" playlist, and as luck would have it he uses a 3" GP100 for his .357 magnum gel tests. This gentleman does fantastic work, and his ballistics testing is well known and respected. He tests about a half dozen different loads, this should give you a good idea of what to look for.
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Old April 26, 2015, 09:52 PM   #15
Nick_C_S
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Quote:
This gentleman does fantastic work
tnoutdoors9 does the best ballistic gel tests. He's a class guy.
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Old April 26, 2015, 10:14 PM   #16
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This maybe use, http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html
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Old Yesterday, 12:21 AM   #17
Water-Man
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I like Cor-Bon DPX 125gr.. Good ballistics and manageable recoil.
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Old Yesterday, 07:05 AM   #18
CajunBass
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I think we tend to overthink this stuff. Buy some ammo that shoots well out of your gun and that you can shoot well. I doubt it makes much difference one way or the other.
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Old Yesterday, 07:05 AM   #19
buck460XVR
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Quote:
I've got a 3" Ruger GP-100 that I think will be taking over nightstand duties, and I'm trying to decide what to load it with. While I'd prefer a heavier bullet for defense, I want reliable expansion above all, and don't feel the least bit undergunned with a 125 grain bullet. Should I just use a 125 gr to be conservative?

My LGS has 125 gr. Critical Defense, and 158 gr. Gold Dots in stock. I could always order online, but shipping costs don't make it worth it unless I include it with a larger order.
Since most modern SD/HD ammo from major manufacturers performs as designed, I doubt if in the real world, in true SD/HD scenarios, there would be any major difference in terminal performance between the two. I would go with whichever one shoots the most accurately outta my gun.
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Old Yesterday, 08:20 AM   #20
Real Gun
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The shorter the barrel, the less velocity you will get. Everyone knows that. But if you look at the data carefully, you'll notice that shorter barrels lose relatively less when using heavier bullets rather than lighter bullets.
The real test is whether the SD bullet will expand. Lighter and faster can make a more devastating wound.

Subsonic is nice though, considering one will likely be shooting without hearing protection. Speer Short Barrel is borderline there, depending upon altitude. I don't count on it not having that extra crack. I live at about 1000 feet.
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Old Yesterday, 10:57 AM   #21
Shadi Khalil
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I have a .357 that serves a home defense roll and I keep it loaded with 125 gr JHP's. It's not my first or even second choice for HD but it's got it's place in my emergency management plan. Regarding the low flash powders; every one that I've tried out in a 3 inch barrel and down has produced significant muzzle flash.
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Old Yesterday, 05:20 PM   #22
Deaf Smith
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Split the difference.

Buffalo Bore 140 gr DPX copper bullets at 1436 fps from a 3 inch bbl.

https://www.buffalobore.com/index.ph...t_detail&p=287

That ought to do it.

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