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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As the title says, what is the consensus on the best performing 357 mag defensive ammo for a 2.5 inch barrel? Recoil is not an issue. I am looking for reliable expansion, self defense accuracy, and good ballistics.
 

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You can't go wrong with a full power 125 grain load like the old Federal semi jacketed hollow point (C357B). A very proven round. That said the only other point is if your gun has fixed sights then I would find a weight that matches POA with POI.
Any of the full power 125's or 158's will do the job.
 

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357 out of a short barrel pistol is mostly a waste of gunpowder. It reaches its full potential and velocity out of a barrel 4 in or longer. 357 hurts as much on the giving end almost as much as it does on the receiving end, especially if it's a lightweight revolver.

I've got a stainless 2.25" Smith & Wesson 357 snub that I just shoot 38 out of. That's just my 2¢.

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I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
You can't go wrong with a full power 125 grain load like the old Federal semi jacketed hollow point (C357B). A very proven round. That said the only other point is if your gun has fixed sights then I would find a weight that matches POA with POI.
Any of the full power 125's or 158's will do the job.
I am not an ammo aficionado. Does one weight "generally" match the factory POA/POI out of a 2.5 S&W revolver the best? I have a 686 with adjustable sights, so it's not a big deal either way, but I am just curious.
 

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357 out of a short barrel pistol is mostly a waste of gunpowder. It reaches its full potential and velocity out of a barrel 4 in or longer. 357 hurts as much on the giving end almost as much as it does on the receiving end, especially if it's a lightweight revolver.

I've got a stainless 2.25 Smith & Wesson 357 snub that I just shoot 38 out of. That's just my 2¢.

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I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
Even though 357 loses a lot in a short barrel its still miles more potent than a 38+P but, that said, I gave up on carrying 357 in my speed sixes because I had enough of the recoil, fireball and loud report of 357 magnum. I know it would be even worse fired indoors.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
357 out of a short barrel pistol is mostly a waste of gunpowder. It reaches its full potential and velocity out of a barrel 4 in or longer. 357 hurts as much on the giving end almost as much as it does on the receiving end, especially if it's a lightweight revolver.

I've got a stainless 2.25" Smith & Wesson 357 snub that I just shoot 38 out of. That's just my 2¢.

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I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
I am not really recoil sensitive. Even though I know 357 out of a 2.5" barrel is wasting a lot of energy, from what I seen, it's still generally putting out more vs a 38 special out of a 2.5".
 

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357 out of a short barrel pistol is mostly a waste of gunpowder. It reaches its full potential and velocity out of a barrel 4 in or longer. 357 hurts as much on the giving end almost as much as it does on the receiving end, especially if it's a lightweight revolver.

I've got a stainless 2.25" Smith & Wesson 357 snub that I just shoot 38 out of. That's just my 2¢.

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I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
357 magnum is still 200-400 fps faster than a 38 spl from the same barrel, given the same bullet weight.
That is significant.
 

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I am not an ammo aficionado. Does one weight "generally" match the factory POA/POI out of a 2.5 S&W revolver the best? I have a 686 with adjustable sights, so it's not a big deal either way, but I am just curious.
Of the 6 fixed sight snubs I have owned the bullet weight makes a huge difference in POI. In my SP101 the difference between 125 and 158 was the 125 shot 4 inches below the sights at 10 yards. My older guns were all sighted in for 158 and my newer 642 likes 125 or thereabouts. I have never owned the 686 so I don't know about that one. It may or may not matter to some folks but, it bothered me so I stick with rounds that hit POA or very close.
 

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My short barrel load is a plain ol 158 grain lswc @ 650-700fps. Even at that low velocity you can count on good penetration with the benefit of faster follow up shots, and you can afford to practice with the same load you carry.
 

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Speer makes a Gold Dot load specifically for short barrel revolvers. A 135 grain JHP available in .357 magnum and .38 special +P. Some say just a gimmick. I dont know but it seems to perform well in the chronograph and jell tests I've seen on Youtube. The round still has a pretty good 'pop' coming out of my S&W 649. Recoil is manageable, more so with the .38 +P. I carry 5 magnums in the cylinder and .38+P in the speed loaders/speed strips.
 

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My short barrel load is the same as my 4". I use Remington 125 gr SJHP (now labeled 'HTP'). Or, as I mentioned in another thread, 125 gr XTP sitting on top of 17.5 grs 2400. Yes, they're loud, yes, they emit a fireball. But they get the job done.
 

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I purchased a new Smith & Wesson Model 19 2.5" .357 magnum revolver in 1976 or 1977. Carried that as my duty revolver as a detective and supervisory investigator for about 12 years. My ammunition was Federal .38 Special +P 158SWC-HP (the old FBI load).

With magnum ammo in the snub revolvers there is a marginal increase in muzzle velocity and energy, but that comes with massive increases in muzzle blast, muzzle flash, and recoil. Another factor that comes into play with the snub revolvers is the shortened ejector rod, which can make it much more difficult to eject fired magnum cases while reloading.

Actual terminal performance of the magnum ammo (expansion, penetration) is not all that much greater than can be achieved with +P ammo, and (in my opinion) the trade-offs are not worth the punishment.

OP says: "As the title says, what is the consensus on the best performing 357 mag defensive ammo for a 2.5 inch barrel? Recoil is not an issue. I am looking for reliable expansion, self defense accuracy, and good ballistics." My response is to carry a 4" revolver as minimum for use with .357 magnum ammunition. Anything less is a compromise not worth considering.
 

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Follow up shots with full-power .357 loads requires a lot of practice. Try this: 5 yds, 5 seconds, 5 rounds in a 5 inch circle from the draw, consistently. If you can't draw from a holster at your range, do it in 3 seconds from low ready.

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I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous
 

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They do make a number of 357 mag loads made and loaded for short barrel guns .. Buffole bore , Gold dot and others ( I think HST has a load as well ) that are made low flash for short 2inch or less barrels

What I would use with that short
 
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I personally can't take 357 recoil out of a light weight gun. But if you can the .357 velocity increase is enough to make Hollow point ammo reliably expand.
The 110 gr ammo at .357 pressure would be very effective, as would be the 125 gr loads. Both are certainly moving fast enough to expect good reliable expansion.
As I sad before Magnum recoil from a light weight gun makes my arthritic hands ache just thinking about it!
By the time I get ammo I can shoot well without punishing my hands, I'm well into std pressure 38 spl territory. And that does not reliably expand in any load I have found. So I moved the other way, And shoot slower 148 gr wad cutter ammo.
But if your hands can take that beating, Choose a load based on your guns sights. If you have adjustable sights it opens you to so many more loads. Pick something that moves fast to take best advantage of the velocity increase! Good Luck DR
 

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