Effectiveness of .357 With 125 Grain Bullets

This is a discussion on Effectiveness of .357 With 125 Grain Bullets within the Defensive Ammunition & Ballistics forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; Has too much been made of the "stopping" capability of 125 grain JHP bullets in the .357 Magnum cartridge? Seems that for many years now ...

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Thread: Effectiveness of .357 With 125 Grain Bullets

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    Effectiveness of .357 With 125 Grain Bullets

    Has too much been made of the "stopping" capability of 125 grain JHP bullets in the .357 Magnum cartridge?

    Seems that for many years now the "three-fifty-seven-Magnum-with-125-grain-bullets" reflexively rolls off the tongue when the .357 Magnum cartridge or indeed when relative "stopping power" of handgun cartridges is discussed. I have to ask, why not 124 grain bullets or 126 grain bullets? What's so magical about this bullet weight? There's many different brands of 125 grain .357 Magnum ammunition and many more of 125 grain component bullets for hand loaders. All these bullets certainly will not perform to the same level. It's reasonable to expect that some certain other bullets that fall elsewhere within the range of bullet weights generally offered for the .357 magnum would out perform some of the 125 grain bullet offerings. Yet so many tout the "125 grain bullet" as the only "learned" response to any discussion of handgun effectiveness.

    I don't tote the .357 Magnum but if I did I'd carry it stoked with somewhat heavier bullets. Also I suppose that I actually have rather low expectations of handgun effectiveness generally and little belief in a magic pill.

    Has the .357 Magnum with 125 grain bullets taken on a life of its own in print and on Internet forums? It appears that it's reputation is made by "conventional wisdom" as much as anything else.
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    Senior Member Array Ragin Cajun's Avatar
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    I would say it is pretty dorn effective.
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    What if one considers that all this percentage business connected with one shot "stops" isn't necessarily predictive of the outcome of a gunfight?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ragin Cajun View Post
    I would say it is pretty dorn effective.
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    Nice link

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    What if one considers that all this percentage business connected with one shot "stops" isn't necessarily predictive of the outcome of a gunfight?
    Well, even if you choose to disagree with M&S's conclusions, it does show that there was a serious study done into the effectiveness of the 125grn JHP round from a .357.

    Which disproves that it's a myth, and has taken on a life of it's own.

    Personally, I like the 125grn. I've seen how it works on 4-legged problems, and it puts the target down with authority. I have no doubt that it would work just as well on something with 2 less legs.
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    Any 125 grain bullet? Which 125 grain bullet?

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Has too much been made of the "stopping" capability of 125 grain JHP bullets in the .357 Magnum cartridge?

    IMHO, no. If something works, it works.

    Seems that for many years now the "three-fifty-seven-Magnum-with-125-grain-bullets" reflexively rolls off the tongue when the .357 Magnum cartridge or indeed when relative "stopping power" of handgun cartridges is discussed. I have to ask, why not 124 grain bullets or 126 grain bullets? What's so magical about this bullet weight? There's many different brands of 125 grain .357 Magnum ammunition and many more of 125 grain component bullets for hand loaders. All these bullets certainly will not perform to the same level. It's reasonable to expect that some certain other bullets that fall elsewhere within the range of bullet weights generally offered for the .357 magnum would out perform some of the 125 grain bullet offerings. Yet so many tout the "125 grain bullet" as the only "learned" response to any discussion of handgun effectiveness.

    I don't know what is so magical about this bullet, just that it seems to work very well. The bullet can't replace accuracy, trigger control or the skills needed to but the bullet on target. I just think that the 125 Grain bullet, if you do your part, does it's part very well. There's things that we can't measure in a gunfight, so we may never know why it works so well, but the shooter still has to do their part.


    I don't tote the .357 Magnum but if I did I'd carry it stoked with somewhat heavier bullets. Also I suppose that I actually have rather low expectations of handgun effectiveness generally and little belief in a magic pill.

    I too have low expectations of any bullet, be it longarm or handgun, and don't depend on one shot to stop all hostilities. I just know that I want to carry and use the best bullet possible, no mater what caliber I'm carrying. From what I've seen, read and heard the heavier bullets won't give me what I'm looking for in a handgun bullet. The 158 Grain pill seems to be a little "over-penetrative", which I definately don't want in an urban environment.

    Has the .357 Magnum with 125 grain bullets taken on a life of its own in print and on Internet forums? It appears that it's reputation is made by "conventional wisdom" as much as anything else.

    I do think a bit of "myth" has developed around the 125 Grain bullet, but only because it works so well. I dealt with a man last year that I wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley with anything other than a longarm and a lot of distance, he was that scary to me, and I deal with badguys daily that scare the bejesus out of most people on a daily basis.

    I went back to packing the 125 Grain .357 Magnum, in two guns off duty, to make up for the lack of capacity. I've found it to be a very accurate caliber/load that I enjoy shooting that will do the job if I do my part. Sometimes we can't explain why something works, we just know it does. I'm OK with that as I want results and I'm from the school of the Jesuits, "The end justifies the means."

    There are other loads/calibers that work too. The advantage of the .357 Magnum with the 125 Grain load is that it was the one that attained the rank of "King of the Street" first, and has yet to be surpassed.

    If one can shoot this load, and is willing to deal with the lack of capacity and slow reloading, I think it's a good load to carry. I do think however too many people are carrying it that should be carrying a softer shooting load. I'm not trying to brag or anything, but I have shot and learned how to shoot this load for years, but it has taken me a lot of practice to get to where I'm at.


    Very good question sir, and one that makes a person think. I find nothing wrong with other loads/calibers, like the 158 Grain 38 Special, as it's all up to the shooter to put the bullets where they need to be. I just want the hardest hitting "hammer" I can effectively control if I am given a choice.

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    As good as it is or may be, I won't trade 2 rounds of 124+p 9mm for one 125gr .357 round. If I went back to packing a .357, I'd carry the Rem or Fed versions. I'd also feel comfortable with the 140-145 grain weights. I don't care for the nuetered versions loaded with wonder bullets that don't give you anything more than a warm 9mm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bmcgilvray View Post
    Any 125 grain bullet? Which 125 grain bullet?

    I've used both Remington 125 SJHPs and 125 Golden Sabers with good effect.

    I would expect similar results from a like round from Federal or Winchester...it's just that my local place used to mainly carry Remington ammo.
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    I have a S&W model 60 with 2 inch barrel in 357. I have shot 125, 158, and 180 grain out of it and the 125 is much easier to shoot and get off a follow up shot...maybe that's why it's the best??? Works for me :)
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    Jeff Cooper and Wiley Clapp wrote at length about the research that went into the development and evolution of ammo for the .357 Magnum. The FBI did exhaustive testing of various shapes and weights of bullets, and chamber pressures. Most gun designs have a "sweet spot" where powder, bullet weight and shape, come together in an ideal combination for optimal performance from that platform. It seems that the "FBI Load" is one such sweet spot for the .357 Magnum. Another is the 158gr LHP.

    Has myth developed about the 125gr load? Probably so, just as myth has evolved around the .45acp. I think one reason it is considered to be such a good round is because it was used for so many years with a high degree of success. Success breeds myth.

    But no, it isn't any 125 gr bullet. 125 gr ball isn't as effective. Why not 124gr or 126gr? Because 125gr is what was available for that caliber, at the time?
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    Myth or no have you shot a few?

    If I shoot them on an indoor range it usually stops. Forget the hitting power of the bullet downrange, the flash and noise out of a 4 inch barrel is awesome!!! At the indoor and outdoor range I usually have an audience by the third shot. Everyone wants to know what the heck I'm shooting. My firing is on soundtracks as well. A pro-audio guy was on the range recording gunfire for movie use etc. so I treated him to a cylinder of it.

    So ballistics and all that aside. If I can bring a range to a halt just firing it, if you are on the receiving end of all that would you want to keep fighting with whoever is shooting that at you? I set the target at 7 yds for grins and the blast caused it to wave around. My buddy watched it and was surprised I didn't set the target on fire.

    Hyped or not, effective or not i don't care. They are wicked fun to shoot and I'll take the "shock & awe" value everyday. I have shot 125gr out of other barrel lengths and while still impressive the 4 inch is the best bang for your buck as they say.
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    I know Bmcgilvray, don't say it, this is a zombie post. I don't pass time by lurking the "old post grave yards" looking for "resurrection material". I was actually researching .357 data about a week or so ago and came across this post as a hit on the ole' internet. When I saw who started this I started diggin' through my files to see if I could find the answer. I have almost 30 years of data that I have collected on the .357 (and .38 Special), and in all of that I could not find the answer to your 125 grain question. So.....I called the first company that came out with this load, Federal.

    I spoke with their technical department and presented this question. I even asked why not a 126 grain like you originally stated in this post. The gentleman (named John) stated that in all likelihood it was the grain weight that the developers from Federal felt was the most consistent performer at the time. Federal, according to him, did not start using ballistics gel on all testings until the 1990's after the FBI established in infamous protocols. However, they DID use it on certain testings before it became common practice. According to "John" the 125 grain weight would have been selected based upon performance results in velocity, accuracy, terminal performance, and other areas identified by Federals guidelines based upon the bullet type. He noted that as of today, Federal does not load the 125 grain semi-jacketed HP any longer. Instead they only offer the 130 grain Hydra Shok and the 158 grain Hydra Shok.

    So from what I can tell this is how the 125 grain legend began.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by GhostMaker View Post
    I know Bmcgilvray, don't say it, this is a zombie post. I don't pass time by lurking the "old post grave yards" looking for "resurrection material". I was actually researching .357 data about a week or so ago and came across this post as a hit on the ole' internet. When I saw who started this I started diggin' through my files to see if I could find the answer. I have almost 30 years of data that I have collected on the .357 (and .38 Special), and in all of that I could not find the answer to your 125 grain question. So.....I called the first company that came out with this load, Federal.

    I spoke with their technical department and presented this question. I even asked why not a 126 grain like you originally stated in this post. The gentleman (named John) stated that in all likelihood it was the grain weight that the developers from Federal felt was the most consistent performer at the time. Federal, according to him, did not start using ballistics gel on all testings until the 1990's after the FBI established in infamous protocols. However, they DID use it on certain testings before it became common practice. According to "John" the 125 grain weight would have been selected based upon performance results in velocity, accuracy, terminal performance, and other areas identified by Federals guidelines based upon the bullet type. He noted that as of today, Federal does not load the 125 grain semi-jacketed HP any longer. Instead they only offer the 130 grain Hydra Shok and the 158 grain Hydra Shok.

    So from what I can tell this is how the 125 grain legend began.....
    Oh....sorry, in case you are interested I called 1-800-322-2342 and I believe it was option #4 to get in touch with Federals "Ballistic Voo-Doo Department".
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    The 125 grain .357 has worked in the past we have no reason to believe it wont work in the future if it works don't fix it.

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