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Old November 20, 2012, 09:22 AM   #1
Biff Tannen
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.357 self-defense: light vs heavy and safety of bystanders

Having already done hours of research on the subject, I'm now asking for advice from experienced shooters.

- One popular theory of .357 self-defense is that one should use a light hollow-point (125 grain)... The logic is that the light bullet will expand easily and the energy will transfer into the target, and prevent an exit, which may hurt an innocent bystander.

- a second popular theory of .357 self-defense is that one should use a heavy hollow-point (158 grain)... The logic is that the heavy bullet will have less energy therefore less potential to exit the target, this preventing an exit which may hurt an innocent bystander.

In your opinion, which self-defense theory is more valid?
If you can shed any insight on these theories, please do so...
And if I'm missing the point all together, please set me straight.
Thanks in advance!
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Old November 20, 2012, 10:12 AM   #2
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With the percentages of misses in gunfights being so high, I am not so concerned about over penetration. The concept of energy dump and getting 12" to 18" in ballistic gelatin etc. as a standard makes sense, but I always consider shooting, plinking, self-defense, whatever as a line of fire issue becasue if you miss by and inch ......
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Old November 20, 2012, 11:06 AM   #3
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jmortimer:
THAT is a good answer!
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Old November 20, 2012, 12:18 PM   #4
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I have a 7 shot 2¼" barrel 357 Magnum snubnose as my EDCG. I load it with Fiocchi® 357 Magnum 158gr XTP™HP's It is a fixed sight revolver. It is way more accurate, with far less recoil; than any 125gr loading. My advice to you would be: CARRY THE JHP THAT IS MOST ACCURATE IN YOUR GUN.
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Old November 20, 2012, 12:33 PM   #5
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I am of the opinion that we should ALWAYS condiser what is behind the intended target, even in a SD situation.

Most all SD ammunition is designed to penetrate to a certain depth, compare a 125 grain SD load to a 158 grain SD load, they are both designed to meet the same penetration standards.

That being said I carry 158 grain JHP in my snubbie .357 because it's the most accurate.
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Old November 20, 2012, 12:53 PM   #6
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Quote:
With the percentages of misses in gunfights being so high, I am not so concerned about over penetration.
This.

I would worry more about how well you shoot than what bullet you use. The bullet is such a small percentage of the total package. It is difficult to find a bad hollow point with a 357 Magnum.
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Old November 20, 2012, 02:23 PM   #7
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Even though they penetrate less than the heavier 158's, the 125's still typically penetrate 11-13" in bare gelatin which is still enough to pass completely through an average adult male's upper torso under the right circumstances. Likewise, most modern premium JHP bullets in major calibers (.38 Special/9mm and up) are designed to penetrate at least 12" so they all have the potential for overpenetration under the right circumstances.

Because of this, I've come to the conclusion that the best way to address overpenetration is through tactics rather than ammunition. We're never truly exempt from the rule of knowing our target and what is behind it even in a self-defense situation. If at all possible, one should attempt to take their shot from an angle which will minimize the risk to bystanders. Something as simple as taking a knee or stepping to one side before taking a shot can substantially change the trajectory of a bullet and, under the right circumstances, greatly reduce the risk to bystanders.

Also, bear in mind that while certainly an issue that should be considered, overpenetration is not nearly the bogeyman it has been hyped up to be. Many police departments beat the drum long and hard about overpenetration in order to justify the use of then-politically-incorrect hollowpoint ammunition. The NYPD is a prime example of this as they finally got to carry JHP bullets in 1998 by tabulating the number of officers shot with overpenetrating FMJ bullets fired by their partners. Most of the documented cases of peopole being injured or killed by overpenetrating bullets that I've come across either involved non-expanding bullets like FMJ or LRN or very dated JHP bullets which failed to expand and thus acted like FMJ. Finally, as has already been mentioned, the bullets sailing through the air unimpeded because they missed their intended target all together are far more dangerous than one which penetrates through and through.
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Old November 20, 2012, 02:36 PM   #8
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Another point

The 125 grain loads tend to have better terminal performance in self defense shootings.
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Old November 20, 2012, 05:51 PM   #9
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I would use a 125 grain hollow point loaded to full potential and work on hitting the target. If a bystander is hit by one of the good guys bullets it will be much more likely be due to a miss than a shot fully penetrating the aggressor and then hitting a bystander.
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Old November 20, 2012, 06:05 PM   #10
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I prefer hard cast LSWC. They will make a large enough wound channel and can penetrate barriers and bones very well.

Ammo choice is very personal. There is no right answer.
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Old November 20, 2012, 07:56 PM   #11
Nanuk
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Quote:
Ammo choice is very personal. There is no right answer.
Actually there is a right answer. Use the best bullet for the intended purpose. This is especially true of Magnum revolvers. A hardcast LSWC will penetrate several people, but would be my choice for deer hunting.
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Old November 20, 2012, 07:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
With the percentages of misses in gunfights being so high, I am not so concerned about over penetration. The concept of energy dump and getting 12" to 18" in ballistic gelatin etc. as a standard makes sense, but I always consider shooting, plinking, self-defense, whatever as a line of fire issue becasue if you miss by and inch ......
Very good statement. But my take is this, it does not really matter which "wonder bullet" or weight of a round. Its shot placement, tactics and being able to handle a high stress situation like saving your life. Hits will get the job done in most cases. If a person does not do this then it does not really matter. The person will be dead.
Howard
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Old November 20, 2012, 09:10 PM   #13
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The only thing I'll add to this debate goes to the accuracy issue. Some fixed sight .357 magnums are regulated for 158 gr. loads and some for 125 gr. loads. The heavier bullets shoot higher at typical self-defense ranges. Check yours and see what bullet weight it is regulated for.
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Old November 21, 2012, 10:19 AM   #14
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Both can easily overpenetrate a human torso but 158's will easily penetrate more than the 125's will. Imo, 125 for social work and 158+ in the woods.
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Old November 21, 2012, 11:50 AM   #15
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The thing you can do to best protect bystanders is to end the fight as quickly as possible.
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Old November 21, 2012, 07:18 PM   #16
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I loaded some Gold Dot Short Barrel 135 gr bullets to 1420 fps for hog hunting.

They worked very well. I didn’t expect complete penetration, but that’s what I got. Big holes all the way through. When I butchered the hog, I was amazed at the amount of damage.
The critter only weighted about 100 lbs, so I might not get full penetration on a big human.
If I was going to use a .357 for SD, that’s the kind of load I’d use.


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Old November 23, 2012, 12:25 AM   #17
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One shot stops do happen, but amazingly many dirt bags hit with projectiles live long enough to sire a couple more unfortunate offspring. Well designed bullets used appropriately are reportedly better man stoppers. Speer Gold Dot are reputedly outstanding so those are a good choice. Remington Golden Sabers are another good choice.
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Old November 23, 2012, 09:48 AM   #18
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Respectfully Biff,
I think you're missing the point all together.

Most gun fights are over in 3 shots. But all situations are different, you may have to reload.

If you fire a full house 357mag inside your home you WILL experience hearing loss.

I have a 357 for home defense loaded with 38spl+P. I have speed loaders scattered through out the house filled with full house 125gr 357mag loads. If I do have to reload I figure I'm going to use my 357 to it's full potential - that's what I have it for - hearing loss be (darned!) Better deaf than dead - IMHO

As to your original question, my answer is - Shot Placement. Shot placement is more important than penetration. As to 125gr vs. 158gr? What's better, hitting the perp in the chest with a 22 or missing him with a bazooka?

Every shot is different. Will the projectile penetrate the sternum before it enters the chest cavity? Or maybe a rib first? Or maybe slide between the ribs? What if it's a head shot? What if the perp twists and that bullet goes through his arm first?

What if...what if...what if...
Many people suffer from "Analyzation Paralyzation"

Like my father says, "Don't pick knits."

Pick a load, select an action to defend your home and family and PRACTICE it.

Regards,
SP
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Old November 23, 2012, 07:20 PM   #19
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I don't remember ever seeing a documented case of an SD shoot in which the bullet went through the bad guy and hit a bystander. Anyone know of any?
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Old November 23, 2012, 07:35 PM   #20
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Have read plenty of stories of police and gang shootings hitting non-combatants
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Old November 23, 2012, 08:01 PM   #21
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That's not really the same thing at all, though, is it?
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Old November 24, 2012, 11:33 PM   #22
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It is to the bystander who gets hit.
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Old November 25, 2012, 06:04 AM   #23
gwalchmai
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That's my point - there is no bystander who gets hit. He's an internet myth and not a valid consideration for making your CCW choices.
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Old November 25, 2012, 06:18 AM   #24
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Quote:
Also, bear in mind that while certainly an issue that should be considered, overpenetration is not nearly the bogeyman it has been hyped up to be. Many police departments beat the drum long and hard about overpenetration in order to justify the use of then-politically-incorrect hollowpoint ammunition. The NYPD is a prime example of this as they finally got to carry JHP bullets in 1998 by tabulating the number of officers shot with overpenetrating FMJ bullets fired by their partners. Most of the documented cases of peopole being injured or killed by overpenetrating bullets that I've come across either involved non-expanding bullets like FMJ or LRN or very dated JHP bullets which failed to expand and thus acted like FMJ. Finally, as has already been mentioned, the bullets sailing through the air unimpeded because they missed their intended target all together are far more dangerous than one which penetrates through and through. ]
Incorrect. The NYPD went to the hollow points in 1998 because of the shooting of Amadou Diallo by Street Crime officers in 1997. At the time, the NYPD carried 115 grain fmj rounds, but officers assigned to Transit or Housing got hollow points because they worked in a " concrete rich environment" and hollow points riccochet less. Diallo was fired at 41 times (4 cops shooting) while standing in a brick vestibule. he was hit 19 times, but only two rounds were fatal, and neither one was instantly fatal. Several of the rounds passed through Diallo, hitting the brick and coming BACK at the cops, who believed they were under fire (Diallo reached for his wallet in a dark vestibule and one of the cops yelled GUN)
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Old November 25, 2012, 06:33 AM   #25
Redhawk5.5+P+
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Yes, the missing thing. I carry Rem 125g SJHP all day long in my Ruger SP101.
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