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CHP 357 Mag. Myth

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by PghJim, Oct 27, 2012.

  1. PghJim


    Apr 21, 2005
    Everytime I start talking about the 357 sig and how everyone liked the stopping power of the 357 magnum, A guy posts that the CA CHP likes their 40 S&W over their old 357 magnum.

    Well I did some research. The S&W Revolver was the side are for CHP loaded with 38 Specials. However, a few carried 357 magnum ammo. After a terrible incident in 1970, CHP mandated only 38 special 110gr +p+ ammo be used. The thought was that the officers did not know how to handle the 357 mag and made that incident worse than it might have been.

    In 1990, CHP switched to S&W pistols and the 40 S&W cartridge. If CHP thought that 40 S&W was more effective than a 38 Special 110gr +p+ I totally believe that. However, they could not be comparing the 357 mag, which had not been used from 1970 to 1990. In an effort for full disclosure, a few CHP officers in northern CA where alowed to carry 357 mag ammo if they qualified with it in the late 1980's. But I understand that was very few officers.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  2. dpadams6


    Jan 5, 2010
    Agreed. And why I carry and believe the 357sig is the best all around self defense handgun caliber on the planet. I think the hkp2000 and sig 229 in that caliber are particularly sexy. What say you?
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012

  3. CanyonMan

    CanyonMan In The Saddle

    Jul 26, 2002

    Just dropping by amigo... I have no idea about all the stuff in your post. I just know from shooting both, and owning both, and reloading for both, and using both, I would and do, prefer the 357 mag round over the 357sig. As I said, This is not some revelational post. I just see no need in the sig. I have had over 4 decades of experience with the 357mag, in 'various media'. I will continue to reload for it in both the 4" Smith and the SP101. I truly think this is one of the best rds, for SD other than the 45acp and 44mag.... IMO.

    I am offically gone....:wavey:


    B safe all.

  4. cowboy1964


    Sep 4, 2009
    I'll take a 30 ounce Glock 32 with 13+1 of 1350 fps Gold Dots over a 38 ounce 6 shooter any day. I have no problem believing the average officer prefers the .40 over a .357 Magnum revolver.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2012
  5. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    The Texas DPS is so impressed with their 357Sigs that their SWAT team went with 45ACP.
  6. unit1069


    Oct 10, 2007
    So. Central US
    I'm not a crack shot so my opinion is the same as yours. I believe .357sig is ascendent not because it's as (more or less) effective than .357 Magnum but because the advance in handgun technology has provided approximate power equivalence while doubling the number of rounds in a platform that still weighs less than the revolver.

    If I had considerable experience with .357 Magnum and was expert enough to put all rounds where intended under duress maybe I'd opt for that caliber. But I've never been comfortable with a long DA trigger whether in semi-automatic or revolver and I am moving all my pistols to short recess striker-fired DAO.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  7. dkf


    Aug 6, 2010
    I like the .357mag and revolvers but I will not carry one daily for SD. I can get a lot more rounds in a lighter, thinner and more compact platform with a .357sig, 9mm or .40. For hunting or in the woods revolvers are fine for me, preferably .44mag.
  8. unit1069


    Oct 10, 2007
    So. Central US
    Yes, but that's only part of the story. The rest of it is ...

  9. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast
    I had a close friend who worked out of different CHP offices from the late 70's into the 2000's. One of his duties was being a weapons (training) officer at some of those field offices.

    At various times he carried some different revolvers, chambered in both .38 Spl and .357 Magnum. He carried both calibers, depending on the field office. If the field office stocked Magnum ammunition in their inventory, and a traffic officer could qualify with it, he/she was issued it for duty use.

    At the end of his career, when we were comparing some notes as firearms instructors, he did mention that the .40 S&W had been observed within the the agency to have been a better duty cartridge for them ... "better" meaning more effective in shootings ... than both the 110gr +P+ load and the 125gr Magnum load. He was quite specific that he considered the 180gr .40 S&W to be a superior caliber when considered against earlier revolver caliber choices, and that his opinion wasn't an isolated one within the agency. ;)

    Now, one of the statements often used to typify the satisfaction of that agency with the .40 over the Magnum revolver load (probably because it was their most "powerful" issued duty load), was made by a lieutenant from their training division, as I recall, although his name escapes me that the moment.

    I knew STO's (state traffic officers) starting back in the 9000 badge number range who carried either .38 Spl or .357 Magnum.

    FWIW, my friend also mentioned how one field office where he worked used to stock 10mm ammunition (175gr W-W STHP) for some officers that wanted to carry 10mm's as off-duty weapons (and had to use authorized/issued ammunition in their off-duty weapons). First I'd heard of that, and I found it interesting, although when you think about it, the 10mm did enjoy a brief bit of popularity when S&W was making the 1006/1076's (and variants).

    Now, I won't use that ONE agency's example, and 22 year history of satisfactory use, of the .40 S&W to imply the .40 is "better" than the .357SIG. That would be fruitless and silly. Waste of time. They're happy with it, and that's all that matters.

    As far as the other state agencies using the Sig load and who are pleased with it? Cool. Fine for them. It really only matters that they're happy with it.

    Not everything is so black and white, though.

    A couple years ago I was attending a class taught by a retired cop (now a PhD who teaches). When one of the questions he fielded led to a discussion of different duty calibers, he happened to relate a conversation he'd had with some state cops working for a large agency in the midwest. They'd been carrying .357SIG for several years, and they apparently told him that while they were generally satisfied with the cartridge, they'd still had some failures-to-stop when armed suspects had been shot by officers upon occasion. Just like sometimes happens with other duty calibers.

    Discussions of duty calibers ... and bonded v. non-bonded duty ammunition ... still seems to have the ability to distract people from focusing on things like mindset, training & proper practice (including effectively using their duty holsters while wearing the seasonal uniforms, jackets, car coats, etc).

    If you like .357SIG, go for it.

    If you like .40 S&W, go for it.

    Ditto 9mm or .45 ACP (or 45GAP, for those who feel left out ;) ).

    Training, tactics, repeated proper practice, weapon maintenance & mindset. Pick whatever caliber you like ... or use whatever is issued to you.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  10. I was in L.A. as a police officer at the time the CHP went with the 40 Auto. I think the Chippies went with the auto because virtually ALL the other law enforcement agencies in SoCal had already gone to a semi auto handgun. LAPD and LASD were both using the Beretta in 9mm and the results of the FBI Miami shooting had come out. The CA Highway Patrol felt they had to keep up with the other agencies at least in Southern California.

    The CHP were frequently called to back up agencies throughout the County and perhaps they felt under gunned. That was the impression I got from many Highway Patrol Officers. Many were trained by the division I was in at the time on how to deal with street gangs!

    S&W provided a quality handgun with a great price and a new round said by the FBI at the time to be better than a 9mm and provided more rounds then a revolver. And the CHP carried 357 mag revolvers but could only carry 38 Special +P at the time and the penalty in SoCal for them carrying 357s were extreme, from what I have heard!

    And the California Highway Patrol did not want a repeat of the Sagus Newhal Shooting.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  11. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    Not really, it's the whole story. 357Sig-aid drinkers all mention (ad nauseam) about how the 357Sig is the charged particle beam of handguns. In fact, it wasn't originally developed as an anti-personnel weapon, but was part of the Star Wars missile defense system. The 357Sig is responsible for the fall of the Iron Curtain as the Soviets had nothing that could touch it and they new it could be fired in rapid succession and be capable of taking down multiple warhead threats as they re-entered the atmosphere. As further proof of this, we are constantly reminded that the Texas Rangers use it above all else, this because they know it to be the one stop shot wonder-gun. After all, Chuck Norris is a Texas Ranger, so their endorsement simply can't be ignored.

    The funny thing is, when their ESU troops picked a gun, and they could have had any caliber they wanted, they didn't get a 357Sig did they? They didn't pick a light and fast ANYTHING did they? They picked the bane of all light/fast one-stop-shotters, the slow heavy 45. They picked a bullet going 600fps slower than the one that is supposed to be the "best".

    That's all I'm pointing out, that if the Texas Rangers are going to be brought up as an argument for the 357Sig, then the whole story needs to be told now that they chose something else.
  12. WiskyT

    WiskyT Malcontent

    Jun 12, 2002
    North Carolina
    I wonder if the CHP troops had any info on the effectiveness of the 1970's semi-jacketed bullets at 1450fps against auto body barriers like glass and quarter panels?

    I wonder if the 1990's bullets of stouter construction, heavier weight, and lower velocity might not have been better at punching through a door skin or a windshield?

    I used to handload those old school bullets and the seater stem would mush them at one foot per second. I can't imagine them holding up well at 1450fps out of a 6" Roscoe.
  13. Snowman92D


    Oct 6, 2001
    The rank-and-file Texas DPS troopers were, in fact, using the .45 ACP in their issued Sig P-220 service handguns...and had been doing so for a long time...before the agency transitioned to the .357 Sig. The reason for the transition was that the .45 ACP was a very effective cartridge as far as lethality goes...but it was judged by DPS personnel to not be as good a fight-stopper as their .357 magnum revolvers had been. Stopping the fight is the object of the exercise, of course, not just "killing" everyone you shoot.

    I know that the range scores of Texas DPS academy recruits went up, across the board, when the agency switched from .45 ACP to .357 Sig caliber pistols. Not sure about the "why" of that, but that's what their range staff told me. My understanding is that a few road-dog troopers opted to keep their Sig 220's, but most elected to switch to the .357 Sig. I know they claim to get better performance on penetrating auto-glass and metal with the .357 Sig over the .45 ACP. (Texas has a highway patrol, you know.)

    As far as the DPS SWAT personnel opting to use .45 ACP handguns, I think that you'll find that it's a bit of a joke throughout law enforcement that SWAT teams always think they have to have a different caliber handgun from what the rest of their agency carries. If the rank-and-file carries 9mm's, then the SWAT guys want .40's. If the rank-and-file carries .40's, the SWAT guys want .45's ACP's.

    Some administrators go along with it...some don't. I don't care one way or the other, personally. I'm all for allowing guys to carry what they're comfortable with, provided they shoot it well. But I can understand the position of some departments who see no reason for SWAT personnel to need a "different" kind of handgun. When you call SWAT, it usually isn't because you need to have somebody shot with a handgun, nor do the SWAT guys typically opt to use a handgun when they show up.
  14. Our SWAT team carries a different caliber (.45 ACP) as well.

    Me? I would like to carry Corbon 135 grain @ 1450 in 10mm, if given the choice. :cool:
  15. ChiefWPD


    Dec 25, 2004
    The desire for specialized units to equip themselves with a non-standard sidearm is an ongoing problem. The dilemma comes from the fact that when journeyman level officers see that special unit officers carry different handguns/calibers then they are authorized the line officers believe that the other unit’s personnel are equipped with “better” firearms.

    It is imperative for police management to resist the pressure from members of these special units to allow them to carry non-standard firearms as to do so is very destructive to department morale.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  16. fastbolt


    Jun 9, 2002
    CA Central Coast

    I can't remember offhand when the CHP started doing their own testing for ammunition, but they were well aware of the performance and results of shooting handgun bullets at motor vehicles.

    I haven't seen the results of the latest ammunition bid spec for the state ammunition contract, but at least up until now they've apparently never felt the need to include the requirement for some type of "bonded" handgun ammunition. As the largest of the state agencies who chase motor vehicles for a living, you'd think that if they were that all that concerned about performance & "effectiveness" against windshield glass & sheet metal, they'd have been stating it in their bid specs st some point.

    I remember discussing this issue with a guy retired from a southwest agency. He said they never went with the trend of changing from their heavy .357 Magnum loads to the lighter weight 125's when it seemed a lot of agencies were doing so. Why? because they'd received satisfactory service from their chosen load (including when motor veh's were involved) and didn't really see a reason to change.

    I jumped on the 125gr bandwagon for a while back then. I was buying lots of the Federal 125gr Magnum load, and then the Remington SJHP load. (The Winchester load, with its ball powder, produced too much sand-blasting effect with its muzzle blast, for my taste.)

    I finally went back to my previous favorite bullet weight in the Magnum revolvers, which was 140/145gr ... and few years later was told to start carrying the W-W 147gr OSM when we switched to hi-cap 9's. :rofl:
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2012
  17. xcrewman

    xcrewman Desk Jockey

    Jul 18, 2001
    Death Valley, CA

    I had a retired CHP officer Worley mention that incident back in my criminal justice class back 20 years. I f can recall it was their tactics....they were collecting brass and their speed loaders....reffering back to traing....
  18. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    That is one powerful testimony. :cool:
  19. Frank V

    Frank V

    Jan 20, 2011
    S.W. Montana
    We went to the G22 or G23 & carried RP 180gr JHP. It was accurate & easy to shoot. I chronographed it at 900 & a little change from the G22. I felt comfortable with it. Just as I retired in '06 we Switched to WW Ranger .40 S&W 180gr.
    I became confident with the .40 S&W & can now carry what I choose, guess what the G22 still gets a lot of duty.:cool:
  20. clarkstoncz


    Sep 28, 2006
    Now Texas troopers can switch to .357 SIG 1911s if they want to.

    Really, most SWAT teams operate in houses, and not in rural areas or highways.

    The lower penetration .45 ACP is probably better for them IF the MP5s or M4s
    don't get used first.

    The CHP might have went .357 SIG IF it was around back then like it is now.

    They were pretty set on caliber before they even went to handgun makers to submit

    I've shot a S&W 40 cal like they have, and hated it.

    Why they have not went GLOCK or M&P is a mystery to me.