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Best .357 mag load for woods carry?

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Cole125, Jan 20, 2010.

  1. Cole125

    Cole125 Silver Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Far West, USA
    The title says it all. I carry my S&W 686 with me hiking and backpacking, and need some suggestions on a good cartridge to carry.

    My main concern is two legged tweakers, but I want the best chance of stopping any animals that present a danger. Around here the black bears are pretty small, there are also wild boars and mountain lions. Before its suggested, I know a .44 mag would be a better option.

    So lets hear your opinions... :supergrin: :wavey:

    MURRAY Millennium Member

    I would have no issues with 158 Speer Gold Dot
    180 or 200 grain hardcast or a nice heavy XTP load

    I use 158 GD or 180 Hardcast in my model 28 my dad has same loads in his 686 and 681

  3. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    The compromise for me is a 158 grain XTP going about 1,250 fps out of my 4" 686.

    I think 125's would be better for 2-legged goblins, and a 180 grainer from a longer barrel would be best for Colorado critters. With a 4" barrel though, the velocity of the 180's is low enough that I don't see a benefit over the 158's, so again, it's a compromise.
  4. Berto

    Berto woo woo

    Sep 15, 2003
    Another vote for a good middleweight load like the 158gr Gold Dot or other modern jhp.
  5. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
  6. mitchshrader

    mitchshrader Deceased

    Jun 14, 2005
    If you're talking commercial, something 180 grain full power, and if you're reloading, a hard cast flat nose gas check 200 grain that's barely subsonic, 1050ish. Being able to stay on target one handed matters, and so does substantial penetration. Any load sufficient to stop a medium sized black bear is going to be a handful. Some practice is recommended.
  7. Brucev


    Jul 19, 2009
    If your concern focuses on dealing with some sort of potential criminal assault, load your .357 with 125 gr. JHP and zero at 25 yds. If such a sad situation should develop, do your best to avoid a confrontation. Try to walk away. But if all else fails, the 125 gr. JHP in .357 has a well established record of being highly effective (+94% one shot stops) in SD.

    If your concern is dealing with a violent encounter with a animal, consider what is the worst case possibility you might face, i.e., what is the largest most dangerous potential animal you might have to confront. Then select a load that will best handle that potential concern. A 158 gr. JHP will offer excellent penetration on muscle and bone allowing effective hits fired from less than optimum angles.

    Since 1980 either a 4" or 6" S&W .357 Magnum revolver has been my preferred revolver for carrying when roaming the woods, fields, etc. I have generally kept it loaded with 158 gr. JHP ammo. It has always been extremely effective on dealing with feral dogs and small and medium sized game. I would not hesitate to rely upon it for hog and deer hunting. HTH. Sincerely. Brucev.
  8. Captain Caveman

    Captain Caveman a.k.a. DaReaper

    Apr 12, 2003
    My 4" 686 is my constant companion in the field. I use American Eagle (Federal generic brand) 158gr. JSP. They offer better penetration than a JHP, but with the SP, it flattens with less of a chance of overpenetration like you get with FMJ.

    I'm more concerned about a 4 legged attack where I go. I've seen some pretty big black bears and of course the cats are always a concern in Colorado.
  9. dougader


    Apr 17, 2004
    Yeah, for black bear I'd rather have a 158 jsp than a jhp bullet. If I thought the bear was more of a likelihood, then I'd go for a hardcast slug.
  10. Ak.Hiker


    Feb 8, 2005
    Homer Alaska
    When I carry my 357 Magnum in the woods in the winter I load it with a good 158 grain JSP. The Federal American Eagle is a good choice. I use the Speer 158 grain Unicore myself. If the bears are out it would be a hot 180 grain cast load. Your needs are a little more complicated than mine. Not to many criminals out in the woods in the winter time around here. I think the suggestion of the 158 grain JSP with a lot of exposed lead is a good compromise. So is the 158 grain Gold Dot or XTP. You could load up with a mix of 158 grain JHP's and JSP loads. Go for some expansion and good penetration with the JHP with a mix of deeper penetration JSP loads. I would not waste my money on fancy speciality loads unless you were in an area that did not allow lead. Then it would be the 125 grain X bullet loads like the CorBon 125 grain DPX.
  11. carbofan21


    Jul 16, 2006
    that federal (american eagle) 158 grain soft point is stout! that load recoils like no other in my 3" 686+. a good, accurate load, but a real handful

    if you want something a bit more mild, see if you can find some 158 grain fiocchi with the XTP. they cost about $27 per 50 round box, very accurate and pretty easy to shoot.