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Thread: .357 Magnum. Does it deserve its reputation?

  1. #1
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    .357 Magnum. Does it deserve its reputation?

    I've known several older cops who say how great .357 magnum was from a service revolver. Some say it was the 125 gr SJHP load, others because of earlier 158 gr loads.

    My contention is its SJHP performance at the time was usually being compared with .38 special SWC, LRN, and SWCHP but also 9mm ball and .45 ball.

    I also think that the sound and blast had a slight psychological effect on the person shot or shot at.

    And compared to those others I mentioned it probably be would slightly more effective in some scenarios.

    But does it deserve the reputation it has among many who witnessed its performance in the past?

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    Yes and no.

    The velocity was high enough to fairly reliably expand with the HP and SP designs of the time. Testing in water, as it was then, will show the bullet to open at lower velocity, like .38, but in tissue it doesn't. Observed performance at the time was better, and deserved, again at that time.

    This is also where many took what was observed, came to the wrong conclusion and became velocity and "shock" junkies.

    Modern testing makes bullets that perform more reliably, at a wide range of velocities, and also don't clog up the HP through clothing. Currently there are only small differences in service caliber handgun terminal ballistics.

    Psychological effects do occur. The problem is that you cannot predict when it will or will not. So I would choose lower recoil, higher capacity, and keeping more night vision over a fire breathing magnum.
    Last edited by Todd.K; 02-13-20 at 11:30.

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    My recollection was; the .357 125 gr JHP had THE highest "one shot stop" rating with COM hit, of any handgun cartridge (like 96% from memory), taken from actual/documented shootings by Marshall & Sanow,
    Rather or not their reported data was factual, I have no clue- but it was taken as gospel in the day.

    I always found THAT cartridge from a 4" or less barrel to be a MAJOR PITA to shoot; muzzle blast and recoil were substantial for something I was trying to shoot "accurately and RAPIDLY'.

    Since I intended to fire at least twice, if the need arose, I figured that 2 controllable 9mm or .45 ACP- rated at a mere 92%, had a combined stopping percentage of 184%.
    Comfortable with that.
    A true "Gun Guy" (or gal) should have familiarity and a modicum of proficiency with most all firearms platforms, as well as the major Food Groups.

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    Personally, I'm not one to place much faith in one-shot stop indexes. They tend to have their share of flaws.

    .357 magnum has some legitimate claim to increased terminal performance; DocGKR has noted that wounding effects from temporary cavitation with an expanding projectile of such size tends to start around 1600 FPS. At 1900 FPS it is fairly severe-think M1 carbine.

    1600+ FPS is doable with a hot .357 magnum loading, though temp cavity wounding is also dependent on expansion, which in turn reduces penetration. I also imagine that such rounds are not generally pleasant to shoot.

    In addition, most any service caliber hollowpoint is capable of causing temporary cavitation damage in inflexible structures (e.g. liver, pancreas), though these organs tend to be less immediately vital. A larger temporary cavity is furthermore more readily capable of temporarily disabling nerves through stretch/blunt trauma...not something to be relied upon, obviously.

    All that said, most .357 magnum likely either doesn't or barely meets the threshold needed to cause temp cavity damage to flexible tissue. In my mind the modest enhancement from temporary cavity effects does not outweigh the reduced recoil of a 9mm nor the significantly larger crush cavity seen with .45.

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    IMHO the "secret" to the .357's legendary status is the semi-jacketed HP, not so much any temporary stretch cavity. That exposed lead, especially at 1400fps velocities, will spin off fragments that create their own wound paths, while the core continues to penetrate deeper. Now those fragments aren't large per se, and don't penetrate deeply on their own, but they can create a rather significant secondary wounding mechanism.
    11C2P '83-'87
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    40 years ago the answer was 100% yes.

    Today the answer is no.

    Today it has been down loaded, but even more important with FBI setting test criteria for handgun ammo. all ammo now functions within less than 10% of all other ammo.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gaijin View Post
    My recollection was; the .357 125 gr JHP had THE highest "one shot stop" rating with COM hit, of any handgun cartridge (like 96% from memory), taken from actual/documented shootings by Marshall & Sanow,
    Rather or not their reported data was factual, I have no clue- but it was taken as gospel in the day.
    They have been long discredited both on their methodology and the credibility of their data.

    The biggest problem with Marshall and Sanow's Stopping Power and one-shot stop statistics is that by their own admission they exclude EVERY situation where one or more rounds were fired and a person was not stopped so more rounds had to be fired.

    Their formula claims to calculate one-shot stops but is grossly flawed because it deliberately excludes the most common one-shot failures--all situations where one shot is fired and it fails to stop someone so additional shots need to be fired.

    Their one shot stop numbers are meaningless because they do not factor situations when one shot was not enough to stop someone and more shots had to be fired.

    Successes are meaningless unless you factor in failures. And Marshall & Sanow's numbers do not factor in a major number of failures, therefore they have no meaning.

    Further, many agencies who Marshall and Sanow claim to have gotten their shootings from have come forward and said that not only did they not provide any information to Marshall & Sanow, and that the shootings that Marshall and Sanow have attributed to them do not match any of the shootings that they have on record.

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    Nah.

    A .357 Magnum makes the same hole in a major vessel that a .38 spl or a 9mm makes. Same damage, same result.

    Handgun calibers, all of them, including .357 mag, show iffy expansion. Most don't deform significantly, and most go right on through and exit. None go fast enough to do the kind of damage that a rifle bullet will do, e.g. turn bone fragments into secondary projectiles.



    ToddK has it right. All the major calibers do the same thing.
    Last edited by Uni-Vibe; 02-17-20 at 20:12.

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    Edit...
    Last edited by Arik; 02-17-20 at 20:17.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Uni-Vibe View Post
    Nah.

    A .357 Magnum makes the same hole in a major vessel that a .38 spl or a 9mm makes. Same damage, same result.

    Handgun calibers, all of them, including .357 mag, show iffy expansion. Most don't deform significantly, and most go right on through and exit. None go fast enough to do the kind of damage that a rifle bullet will do, e.g. turn bone fragments into secondary projectiles.



    ToddK has it right. All the major calibers do the same thing.
    So in your mind the 38 special 158g loading most police used at the time was equally effective to the 357 performance loadings?

    You guys are getting a far different conclusion from the FBI reports than I am.

    What I am reading is that with modern bullets the small difference between 9 mm for performance and hotter stuff is not worth the trade-off for reduced capacity and more recoil. Its a good tradeoff, makes sense, NOW.

    That was not true in the 70s and even early 80s.

    Nor do they say that full power 10 millimeter or 357 has the same cavity / damage as smaller cartridges. They clearly have larger and or more penetration.

    I ran 357 much hotter than the fbi tests. Most of us 10mm shooter run significantly hotter than what the FBI and industry considers the standard 10 mm reloading now.

    I'm not advocating to run those cartridges now, just to not over interpret the data to say that they're the same performance.
    Last edited by pinzgauer; 02-18-20 at 16:47.

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