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Old August 13, 2007, 08:39 PM   #1
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9mm vs. 357 magnum for Personal Defense

This has probably been discussed, and I'm planning on getting both eventually, but I was just wondering if there are any of you out there who have made this decision before, and what were your reasons for choosing one way or the other.

I'm probably about to get a Walther P99 in the 9mm that I've been looking at for awhile. I've never really been a fan of the revolver over semi-auto (I just never felt comfortable with them), but I would like to own one and thought a 357mag would be a good choice. Also any favorite 357mag's out there, and what barrel length would you suggest (I always liked the cowboy style 5 1/2", but probably not for SD)
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Old August 13, 2007, 08:48 PM   #2
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I prefer to see folks use a revolver for SD. I've seen too many folks pull their auto to defend themselves only to hear the pistol go click, click, click as they have forgotten about the safety. And when you are in that situation, the last thing you need to think about is how the gun works. Revolvers don't have safetys, just pick it up and pull the trigger. The 357 Mag with 125 HPs is about as good as it gets for SD.
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Old August 13, 2007, 09:36 PM   #3
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I started buying both revolvers and semi autos. I was in the learning mode
and I can afford to buy. At first I thought REvolvers are best for newbies.
Later, I discover that I can shoot faster with semi auto, and I have more
rounds. I had this dillemma which went for months. Finally, I decided to
sell or trade most of my revolvers. There is nothing wrong with them.
I felt 357 is too strong for indoor defensive use, which is probably my only
legal use for a firearm. I don't carry. 9mm is sufficient and 45 is good
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Old August 13, 2007, 09:41 PM   #4
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There are tons of great revolvers chambered for .357 magnum. Might I suggest a Smith and Wesson model 586/686 with a 4" barrel? Or even a Ruger GP100 with a 4" barrel?

Also, is this for home defense or for carry? That may push you down the path of a K-frame for a .357, depending on your build and the way you dress.
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Old August 13, 2007, 09:42 PM   #5
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glocks wont have that safety problem
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Old August 13, 2007, 09:50 PM   #6
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If you want the cowboy style get a ruger blackhawk convertible to 9mm; accurate with both rnds, you just have to remember the sight change in elevation when changing cylinders. For me it is a half turn up going from .357 to 9mm.
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Old August 13, 2007, 09:51 PM   #7
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The great thing about a revolver for home defense is that if there is a round in the chamber and you pull the trigger the round will fire. No having to keep it cleaned and lubed. Just simple aim and pull (before anyone jumps on me I'm being somewhat simplistic here I know.)

The 357 mag has a great reputation for one shot stops.

All of that being said if you want a semi-auto in 9mm and you're going to practice and maintain it well, go for it. I bought a Sig 229 in 40/357sig for my home.

Best of luck. Try to find somewhere you can shoot lots of different guns before you buy.

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Old August 13, 2007, 10:09 PM   #8
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I carry my 90-Two 9mm with the saftey off. The only semi you would need to carry with the saftey on is a 1911 or HighPower.
“The key is to hit them hard, hit them fast, and hit them repeatedly. The one shot stop is a unit of measurement not a tactical philosophy.” Evan Marshall
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Old August 13, 2007, 10:12 PM   #9
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colt king cobra
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Old August 13, 2007, 10:13 PM   #10
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Glock 19 w/Winchester Ranger 9mm+P+ or S&W 4" with Remington Golden Saber .357s. Can't go wrong.
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Old August 13, 2007, 10:32 PM   #11
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I'm fine with both the .357 Magnum & 9mm for self-defense as well as the .45 ACP. For .357s I like the Ruger GP-100 & Security Six and the Taurus Tracker & the Model 66.
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Old August 13, 2007, 11:40 PM   #12
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Auto! We have left the 19th century folks.

Glock 36 with Lasermax and extra mag in Cobra Gunskin IWB. Magsafe super swat ammo for MAX carnage! Glock 27 with clipdraw and Saf-T-Blok also with Magsafe and a few Hydra-shok. Revolvers, while simple are best for putting in ones ear when all other methods have failed. Oh, they drive tent stakes relatively well too! Of course this is just an opinion and personal preference.
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Old August 14, 2007, 08:28 AM   #13
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I had a similar dilemma, I also chose to get a walther P99AS.

This is now my primary HG for all purposes however I am also looking to get another smaller 9MM. I prefer semi's over revolvers and the walther is a great polymer semi (if that is something you prefer). It has no actual safety but the AS model is great since the first round is DAO and every round thereafter is SAO. Combine that with the decocker and IMHO you have a great sidearm.

My next semi will probably be a R9s then an MK9, as you can see I prefer the 9mm cartridge and find that round adequate for my purposes. Be sure to research exactly which model P99 you want since there are several, info can be found at :
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Old August 14, 2007, 09:00 AM   #14
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YounGun24: Sir; I've read your query a couple of times.
So I'll guess?
Choosing between bottom feeders; 9mm vs .357 either or will get the job done.
Choosing a Revolver over a Bottom Feeder: plenty of excellent Feedback here.

First I identified what my purpose for any unit. Summer/winter/fall/spring
For CC each season presents different issues. CALLED CLOTHING
Big old fat gun for the winter? should be OKAY
Big old Fat gun for the summer. hide it in a speedo
See my point?

Personally my system is covered with several different units.
What do I choose daily. SW 638. Will shoot single or double action.
Not any type of classic looks; but isn't ignorant when I jerk it from a pocket.
Traveling? sometimes G22 or if I'm going to do a little hunt/shoot/kickaround.
maybe GP 100
Best investment? your choices are there.
My bet: you get a GP 100 .357 and when your grand-kids come along; they will be thankful.

Hope this was helpful: Craig
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Old August 14, 2007, 09:25 AM   #15
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How about the one that you shoot best and is most reliable for you?

THAT should be the major arbiter, not some "less filling, tastes great" choice amongst calibers.
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Old August 14, 2007, 09:38 AM   #16
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For the home front I keep a S&W 66-2 4" SS with 125gr. TAP ammo. I also keep a 9mm, .40, .45, 12ga, & a Mini14. As far as carry goes I usually have my KT P3AT in my pocket. It just depends on what I want to keep on the nightstand as to what gun I use for HD.
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Old August 14, 2007, 09:48 AM   #17
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My all time favorite .357s are the S&W 686 4", and the Ruger GP100 4" FS.

The 686 probably has the edge in accuracy, and the action tends to be smooth as glass. The GP100 is built like a tank - more comfortable to shoot with "hot" loads than any other wheelgun I've ever shot.

Bottom line: for infrequent use with target ammunition through standard defensive ammunition, I'd get the 686. For heavy range use or frequent shooting of hunting loads, I'd opt for the GP100.

Either will work, just depends on what you want them for...


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Old August 14, 2007, 12:04 PM   #18
Shawn Dodson
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I carried an S&W M28 Highway Patrolman (large, N frame) 4" barrel revolver on police patrol for three years. It was a heavy son of a gun and when I fired .357 Magnum cartridges the muzzle blast was a distinctive cannon-like KABOOM! At night there was substantial muzzle flash. Recoil was noticeable and I developed a flinch.

For a private citizen I suggest a medium frame revolver with a 3" barrel, especially if you might consider carrying it concealed. A 3" barrel seems to provide the right balance between terminal performance, concealability, and weight (for recoil management).

Choosing between a revolver and an automatic pistol for defense requires some soul seaching and being honest with yourself. As mentioned by an earlier poster, with a revolver pretty much all you have to do is point the gun and press the trigger. There are few things that can go wrong. However several things can go wrong with an automatic and you must train extensively to keep the gun running in the event of a stoppage. The question comes down to: How much time and effort are you willing to invest to develop and maintain proficiency with an automatic?

Why not consider an automatic chambered for .357 SIG? It provides similar performance as .357 Magnum. However ammunition costs more than 9mm.

FWIW, I carry a 9mm Glock 19 loaded with Speer 124gr +P Gold Dot JHP.

Good luck!
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Old August 14, 2007, 02:31 PM   #19
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its the platform, not the caliber.

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Old August 14, 2007, 02:51 PM   #20
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I have a 4" S&W 586. This works best for me because it is absolutely simple to use and in a stressful situation unless you practice, practice and practice you could possibly forget the safety or if kept that way, chamber a round. I also like it because while the .357 magnum loads are a little strong for my wife she shoots it just fine with .38 +p+. I have carried a revolver in a CCW role and a tactical role and I have never felt "outgunned." Get whatever works best for you and forget what myself or anyone else has to say about it. Just to show what my opinion is worth on revolvers versus semi-autos, after what I just said above, my CCW right now is a Kimber .45.
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Old August 14, 2007, 03:04 PM   #21
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Both are good, with ballistic similarities

The .357 magnum and the 9mm are two of the most commonly used calibers for defense, and either can do a good job at stopping an attack. The ballistic similarities are interesting, I think. For self defense use with hollowpoints, both calibers tend to use bullets of about 125 grains with muzzle velocities in the 1200 to 1300 fps range (assuming +P or +P+ 9mm). Both calibers have virtually the same bullet diameter.

Two of my personal favorite guns for discreet concealed carry are in these two calibers, and each has a 6 or 6+1 capacity. They are a S&W model 66 revolver in .357 magnum with a 2.5 inch barrel, and a Kahr MK9 9mm semiauto with 3 inch barrel. Each has a simple operation - no safeties to manipulate - just pull trigger.

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Old August 14, 2007, 03:48 PM   #22
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I'll agree with Pogo2, Mike Irwin and Neophyte1 and several others. To wit;
  • Ballistically, the 9mm and .357 are pretty close.
  • For less trained shooters, the wheelgun is easier to use.
  • Hits count. Use the gun you shoot the best regardless of platform.
  • If you use a self-shucker, train with it, especially failure drills.

My personal preference is the wheelgun, especially for home defense. Bottom-feeders require a firm grip and hold which may be difficult to manage for some (older) folks immediately after waking up. In mine, I have found the Speer 135gr .357 Magnum is stout but controllable even in a 23oz snubby.

When I used a semi-auto pistol, I avoided using a Glock. Why? Because under stress when waking up, I worried that the impulse to put finger-on-the-trigger would result in an unintended discharge. Flicking off the safety provides that extra "logic" that engages the combat-mode portion of the thinking brain. With a wheelgun, it's the feel of it in my hand (I've trained longer on wheelguns).

Some posts, however, deserve some follow-up comments;

Originally Posted by Trapper L
I've seen too many folks pull their auto to defend themselves only to hear the pistol go click, click, click as they have forgotten about the safety.
I certainly hope you have only seen this on the range. Otherwise I'd be interested in where and how many cases you've seen in actual engagements.

Originally Posted by enikkor
I discover that I can shoot faster with semi auto, and I have more rounds.
Some folks have a misconception about "firepower".
High-Capacity & Rapid fire do not equal effectiveness. You can't miss fast enough to win a gunfight.

Only hits count. Shot placement and penetration are king.

Magsafe super swat ammo for MAX carnage!
<Shudder> Can you imagine the field day a prosecutor would have with that statement? Please think about how such posts look to neophytes, casual browsers and media people who might see it. I might add that my intention is to defend myself or another against a violent attack. I have no desire to specifically kill, maim or mutilate another human being. If a perpetrator dies as a result of his attack it will be because his actions dictated the use of lethal force and my training focuses on making COM hits to stop his violence.
BillCA in CA (Unfortunately)
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Old August 14, 2007, 05:55 PM   #23
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My choice:357 Magnum

When i was on the job, i carried a S&W mod. 28, loaded with 357 ammo. alot of other P.O.'s at that time carried revolvers either 38's, 357, 44 mags. 45 long colts, but some other's started to carry semi-auto's, either 9mm or 45acp. We had a guy who worked at a meat packing plant here in Chicago who snapped and was slashing other workers and when we arrived this guy comes out of the plant as soon as we pull up and comes out with this butcher knife towards the Police, we yelled at him to stop and drop the knife, of course he didn't, one officer shot him twice with a 9mm in the chest, didn't even phase this nut, kept coming when an old timer with a 357 shot him in the side, this guy was knocked over dead, case closed!
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Old August 14, 2007, 06:59 PM   #24
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I was about to submit a post but BillCA said everything I was going to and better. Bill, well done, I agree 100% (including the 'MAX carnage' reprimand).

In my experience, a wheel gun is easier to understand, and operate safely and consistently under less than ideal circumstances. I keep a 4" 686+ under the bed with Hydraskock .38+p ammunition. Why .38 and not .357? To reduce noise and muzzle flash which, in the middle of the night, can significantly reduce the effective deployment of follow-up shots, if needed.

I have owned and used many other firearms in many calibers. I have rarely run up against a bad one. However, for the requirements outlined in the original post, I would recommend the .357.
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Old August 14, 2007, 07:15 PM   #25
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I've seen too many folks pull their auto to defend themselves only to hear the pistol go click, click, click as they have forgotten to buy a Glock.
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