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Seems like a new ploy crept into the self defense ammunition offerings a few years back; the marketing of various watered down .357 Magnum loadings. These are shamelessly advertised as lowered velocity, less recoil, mid-range, or "short barrel" loadings. It's the "kinder gentler" .357 Magnum. What are ammunition makers doing? Trying to regress to .38 Special with a sort of "-P .357" load? Or is -P .357 Magnum ammunition and +P .38 Special really the same breed of cat? It seems that the lines are becoming blurred.

Two loadings that come to mind are the Speer Short Barrel 135 grain load and the Remington Golden Sabre 125 grain load. Besides these two there are more but I can't call them to mind. For one of these loads, the maker enthuses that it is a whole 130 FPS faster than its own similar +P .38 Special using bullets of the same weight. Well, yippee.

I suppose that the advent of the light, small frame .357 mighty mite revolvers is the cause for these loadings. A fellow purchases one of the stunted .357 Magnums, fires some he-man full bore .357 Magnum ammo through it, and determines that he doesn't want any more of that kind of whipping. He can't just retreat to .38 Special in any form because that would admit to a certain unmanliness, so the ammo makers cater to his needs with "special" .357 Magnum ammunition. He can't be seen with a cylinder full of lowly +P .38 Special so the 1/10-inch longer case effectively saves his macho ego.

The Ruger SP 101 was the first such revolver as I recall but it isn't quite so small and recoil is more manageable. Smith & Wesson must have created an instant market for the J-frame sized .357 Magnum upon introduction of the type. The buyers of the small .357 Magnum revolvers would have been well served with existing models of .38 Special J-Frame revolvers and their derivatives but desire that "Magnum" designation. And it is all put up in a revolver that may be more difficult to shoot well ... but sure is easy to carry.

Give 'em what they want! The watch fob .357 Magnum revolver may be an instance where the buyer got exactly what he wanted but not what he really needed. Hence, the .357 Magnum is reduced to the duplication of .38 Special capabilities. So we have two cartridges and superfluity of available types of ammunition that all deliver the same basic performance.
 

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Federal came out with a "Low Recoil" 357.
Total lie. It's a full power load.
Shame on Federal.
The Speer GDSB 357 is only 110 fps faster than their 38 +P.
My 340 PD is loaded with Buffalo Bore 125 38 +P's.
At the distance this gun would be used in a defense situation (8 feet or closer),
I am very comfortable with my choice.
Fast repeat shots are much more important to me than a little more power.
 

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Being as I only shoot one .357 load, "fullhouse" 125 grain JHP's, the smallest and lightest .357 Magnum I will own, use, carry, shoot, fondle, or consider is the Ruger SP101.

I know my limits.

Biker
 

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Hey but the Marketing Hype is Great! My 340 is loaded with 158 Gr. LSWCHP-GC 38's; Old Skool. Maybe there is a new market for the 38/44 after all?
It seems that the main complaint of the 38 Special is that it is too slow from a snub and the 357 has too much recoil and muzzel blast. Hmmmm, which round falls between the 38 and the 357 on the power scale..................could it be the 9mmP?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Being as I only shoot one .357 load, "fullhouse" 125 grain JHP's, the smallest and lightest .357 Magnum I will own, use, carry, shoot, fondle, or consider is the Ruger SP101.

I know my limits.

Biker
Hah, I must be a real wuss as I'm only able to field .357s of the size of N-Frame Smith & Wessons or 6-inch Colt Pythons.

Seriously, I'm eyeballing a 2 1/2-inch S&W Model 66 just now. But that's it. That's my limit. That's as small as I want to go.
 

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10 full .357 rounds in the 340PD is painful... it ends the day at the range cause of hand shakes and target fires.
 

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You can blame ammo manufactures all you want. The blame belongs on the back of us reloaders. And it's not a bad idea. There are advantages to useing 357 MAG rounds rather than shooting 38 SPL loads in your 357 MAG. There are advantages to having loaded down ammo. Plenty of rounds, chambering, calibers were started by individuals and picked up by ammo/firearms manufatures.
 

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by the way S&W MOD 60 is chambered for 357 MAG. I know they use to be 38 SPL and don't know when they changed over to 357. There isn't much differnce between the SP and MOD 60. As far as I can tell the SP has a little more beef in the top strap and might be a little more robust. The MOD 60 seems to have a little better trigger. The SP cost a little less. The weight of the SP and MOD 60 is about the same and I can't tell any difference in recoil.
And of course it actually happened the other way around. With better powder we started making rounds hotter than the 38 SPL could handle so we added 1/10 of an inch and could safely shoot high power 38 SPL loads. Just because you can doesn't mean you have to. You don't need 1400 fps to take out your average bunny wabbit. You can always load a 357 down or shoot 38 spl rounds in a 357 Mag. Just not the other way around. I do not know the last time I saw a new 38 spl that wasn't a snubby. I am sure there are new 38 spl 4 and 6 inch barrels out there, I'm not seeing any in my local fun shops. Invention of the 357 MAG did not make the power of 38 spl obsolete.
 

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I've shot the Speer 135 grain short barrel .357 mag from my Model 649 and it didn't seem that kind and gentle to me. Recoil was manageable but I knew I was shooting magnum ammo. The Remington Golden Sabre 125 grain .357 is a bit more forgiving out of my J-frame and comfortable out of my Model 28. About equal in recoil to shooting .38 special +P out of the N frame.
 

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Times like these I'm glad I have nerve damage so bad in my hands I can't feel them. 357 our of a J frame snubbie sounds painful, still trying shooting a Grendel .380, now that pain! It is akin to holding your hand out like you are gripping the weapon and your buddy smashing your hand with a 2X4.
 

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There isn't much differnce between the SP and MOD 60.
This just proves to me how subjective recoil is.

I have thrown a J-Frame down in the dirt after being disgusted with the amount of recoil I perceived when firing the old 357B load. I've not had that urge with the SP101.

Biker
 

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Times like these I'm glad I have nerve damage so bad in my hands I can't feel them. 357 our of a J frame snubbie sounds painful, still trying shooting a Grendel .380, now that pain! It is akin to holding your hand out like you are gripping the weapon and your buddy smashing your hand with a 2X4.
It is, even with a shooting glove. I'm one of those who sees a J-frame .357 as a solution in search of a problem.

I love shooting max performance loads in my 4" Python, but that's not a light gun. I really miss my 6" M28 someone talked me into selling back in the 70s. That was a dream with 160 gr FMJ over WW296 for silhouette shooting at 200m.
 

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I suppose that the advent of the light, small frame .357 mighty mite revolvers is the cause for these loadings. A fellow purchases one of the stunted .357 Magnums, fires some he-man full bore .357 Magnum ammo through it, and determines that he doesn't want any more of that kind of whipping. He can't just retreat to .38 Special in any form because that would admit to a certain unmanliness, so the ammo makers cater to his needs with "special" .357 Magnum ammunition. He can't be seen with a cylinder full of lowly +P .38 Special so the 1/10-inch longer case effectively saves his macho ego.

Give 'em what they want! The watch fob .357 Magnum revolver may be an instance where the buyer got exactly what he wanted but not what he really needed. Hence, the .357 Magnum is reduced to the duplication of .38 Special capabilities. So we have two cartridges and superfluity of available types of ammunition that all deliver the same basic performance.
I used to be the stern "Only carry 357Mag loads in a 357Mag snubbie" kinda guy. That was until a buddy of my bought a chronograph and we played with some 357M & .38 snubbies. After that I started looking into short barreled ballistics and made a interesting discovery. When you shoot a full power 357Mag round out of a short barrled gun, you reduce it's velocity (and therefore energy) nearly down to .38Special levels, definatley close to .38+P levels. :frown:

The 357Mag was designed based on a long barreled gun, when we put it in the short barrel we lose the true "Magnum" characteristics due to the energy lost by the bullet exiting the short barrel before it can reach the velocities that give it such desirable performance. That is why the 357 snubbies have that huge ball of fire and smoke-it is all that lost magnum energy.

I saw this myself in the field doing our own testing, but you can look at Speer's own ballistic tables:
Full power 357Mag 125gr load, 4 inch barrel-1450fps, 584ft-lbs
Full power 38+P 125gr load, 4 inch barrel-945fps, 248ft-lbs
The 357 has more than double the energy:image035:

But now the ugly
Short Barrel 357Mag 135gr load, 2 inch barrel-990fps, 294ft-lbs
Short Barrel 38+P 135gr load, 2 inch barrel-860fps, 222ft-lbs
The 357Mag has dropped down to with in 72ft-lbs of the 38+P

The above numbers are with comparision to ammo developed specific for short barrels, regular 357Mag ammunition velocity (and therefore energy) can have even a greater drop off. But the 38 don't drop off as much because it 'more' efficiently burns off the powder in the short barrels, because it isn't a magnum with that extra charge. The 357Mag simply isn't efficient in the 1&7/8, 2&1/8, and even 2&1/2 inch barrles. If you look at any ammunition companies ballistic tables the test barrels for a 357Mag are always 4,6 or even 8 (Hornady) inches to achieve the quoted ballistics.


Now, I admit there is a marginal gain in a same length snubble 357Mag over a 38Special snubbie, but not the gain most think they are getting. And to get this minor gain we pay for it with a fairly strong (some might say severe :wink:) increase in recoil, larger muzzle blast/flash, which all makes a follow up shot a little harder/slower, not to mention shooting them uncomfortable.

Now here is the real kicker we found, the same grain 38+P out of 3 inch barrel was able to match the velocity out of a 1&7/8 357 barrel shooting full power Magnum loads, which basically means the same type/weight bullets in a 3 inch 38Special shooting +P's is just as powerful as a 357Magnum full power load in a 1&7/8 inch barrel.

So in short, now I'm not the -"Only carry 357Mag loads in a 357Mag snubbie" kinda guy.- I'm the why buy a 357Mag snubbie kinda guy, a 38+Psnubbie is better. The only gain you get from a Magnum snubbie might be the intimidating muzzle flash :image035:. The 38 snubbie however is easier on the wallet (gun and ammo), easier on the hands, easier on the eyes and ears (muzzle blast/bang:gah:), and the guy you shoot with it won't know it isn't a magnum because the are ballistically pretty close to the same.

On topic-
Hence, the .357 Magnum is reduced to the duplication of .38 Special capabilities.
This really isn't an ammunition issue, the barrel length of the
.357 mighty mite
revolvers alone pretty much takes care of reducing the 357Mag to .38Special capabilities. The ammo companies know this, and make 357Mag power reduction ammo, but in truth by them doing so we really are not losing the magnum loads because we wasn't getting it in the first place from these guns anyway.

Ballistically speaking, you are just as well off to just by a 38+P snubbie, or shoot 38+P's or sub-Magnum 357 rounds in your 357Mag snubbie than full power loads.

Now, please don't flame me or throw rocks :redface:, I think everyone should buy the gun they want (including 357 mighty mites) and shoot the ammo they want in it (including full power ammo).

I just don't want anyone fooled (as I was) into thinking they are getting 357Mag capabilities from these short barreled guns, especially for the price we pay (money and physically) to own and shoot them.
 

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That's a lot of data to sort through, but it makes sense to me. Seems logical that in a snub, the difference in a 38+ and a 357- would be marginal at best.

Carrying a snub is a balance of multiple trade-offs. Size, weight, concealability, capacity, recoil managability, and caliber. I have a Ruger Police Six 357 Mag that gets carried very little...and a S&W 442 38 that gets carried a lot. The balance of trade-offs is worth it based on my needs.
 

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I agree with the marketing issue, it just gives the ammo makers another way of selling a product.
In a short barrel ammo just doesn't make the full ballistic specs that it does in a longer barrel.
For me I try a few different loads and see what I feel most comfortable with for each firearm, after I research the advertised stats for the ones I'm comparing.
For my Model 36(not rated for +P) I found I like the Federal Nyclad std. pressure rounds. In my 686+ with a 3 inch barrel, I carry the Federal HST.357 rounds.
This weekend, the new-to-me Model 65, 3 inch barrel, got some range testing. There is a definate difference between firing std . pressure .38 rounds, compared to full house .357 Magnum rounds, but not enough to give me any problems. For now I'm carrying it with the Nyclads, until I have some time to run some defense ammo through it. With the 1.125 inch longer barrel the Nyclad rounds should achieve a bit better velocity and be tame to shoot. I have some Remington 110 grain +p ammo on hand that I will try as well.
With 3 inch and shorter barrels I will be more interested in expansion than velocity that is advertised for each round, and try to find the best combination of the two, along with how it feels when I shoot it.
 

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My model 60 is a standard pressure rate .38 spcl, so like Rugergirl its is loded with Fed. Nyclads. My model 66 is loaded with Corbon DPX 110 ge. .38 spcl +P ammo for the firsat cylinder, and a speedloader with DPX 125gr. .357 magnum as a follow up; the reason for this is follow up shots in the dead of night and also to protect my old k-frame, when I CC this gun it is loaded with the magnum loads. My smith 686 gets either the DPX 125 .357 magnums or some of the old Federal 357B rounds.
 

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With 3 inch and shorter barrels I will be more interested in expansion than velocity that is advertised for each round, and try to find the best combination of the two, along with how it feels when I shoot it.
That is directly related to my earlier post, as velocity directly effects expansion. Hence, due to any given ammunition's design you may not get proper expansion if a bullet does not reach a set velocity, and a full power load in a 3 inch or shorter barrel 357Mag cannot even come close to the manufatured qouted ballistics. For example you will see a drop from "quoted" 1450fps to an actual 900fps in an 1&7/8 inch barrel. Which puts us back down to 38+P specs. So if the bullet's design to expands properly at 1300fps and above, but doesn't reach it, the bullet designed for 800fps expansion would be better.

That is why the Gold Dot Short Barrels are great, the #'s might not be stellar, but it is designed to work properly, i.e. expand, at lower velocities true to the short barrled guns.

IMO,you nailed with "the best combination of the two", but some people miss that, they buy the hottest (as in fastest) rounds out there-Corbon, Buffalo Bore, etc, thinking they are getting the quoted specs for thier short barreled 357Mag, but in reality these rounds are reduced to 38+P ballistics (or worse as they are designed to work properly at higher velocities).
 

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I liked to shoot Remington 125 gr 357 out of my 686 (about 1450 fps). I preferred 357M1 load (about 1200 FPS) out of my mdl 65/66s.

Isn't the Golden Saber a replacement for the M1 version of 125gr load? Look's like a yes. Agree on differences with a 2" barrel.

From Remington Web Site:

Model Golden Saber HPJ Golden Saber HPJ
Order No. 29400 29432
Avg Wt Case 17 15
Barrel Length 4" 4"
Caliber 357 Magnum* 38 Special (+P)*
Energy 100 283 218
Energy 50 333 238
Energy Muzz 413 264
Index GS357MA GS38SB
Mid 100 3.5" 5.2"
Mid 50 0.8" 1.0"
Model Golden Saber HPJ Golden Saber HPJ
Primer Number 5.5 1.5
Vel 100 1009 885
Vel 50 1095 929
Vel Muzzle 1220 975
Wt 125 125
 

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I go back and forth between two schools of thought...

1: Since missing is such a big factor in so many shootings, shouldn't you try to shoot the most powerful thing you can?

2: Since missing is such a big factor in so many shootings, shouldn't you shoot something very controllable?

I think the deciding factor would be, how comfortable are you that the first shot will hit, versus the need for a follow up?

In a snubbie 357, counting on a fast follow up, with powerful loads seems rediculous. In a lower "recoil class", to coin a phrase, I'd want the upper power range, within SAAMI specs, I think.

But yes, I think that cost and potential liability has bought and paid for lots of "reserved" loadings from most manufacturers.
 

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I have to say, I use a 4" 686 as my home defense gun, and I brought it to the range with a box of full-power SLP 125 .357 loads and a few Remington GS loads just to see the difference. The SLP rounds were noticeably louder, kicked much harder, and worst of all, in broad daylight at an outdoor range there was at least 3 inches of visible muzzle flash. I thought to myself how it makes perfect sense to me now why the .357 is considered such a good hunting load, and how badass that gun was. However, it also occurred to me that trying to use something like that in a home defense scenario in the middle of the night would blind and deafen you, not to mention reduce chances for a good follow up significantly. I can't imagine how unpleasant firing the full-power loads would be out of a snubby, especially considering what another poster said about all the performance you lose with the shorter barrel. All in all, I am still very happy with my weaker Remington GS rounds.
 
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