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Range report on several .357 mag loads

Discussion in 'Caliber Corner' started by Henry's Dad, Nov 1, 2012.

  1. Henry's Dad

    Henry's Dad woof, woof

    As a follow-up to yesterday's post on .40s, here's my report on whatever .357 mag ammo I happened to have sitting around after a year of occasionally buying ammo but not doing much shooting.

    All shots from Ruger SP101 (2.25") @ 7 yards. This is a new gun for me and this was its first trip to the range with me.

    All ballistics data listed (speed/energy @ muzzle) is from the respective manufacturer's published data. I didn't chrono any of these myself. Test barrel length (TBL) listed if known.


    PS, disregard the grouping info if my accuracy at 7 yards, or lack thereof, offends you. [​IMG]



    Remington Golden Saber 125 gr JHP; very nice feel; tight grouping; 1220/413, unknown TBL

    Hornady Critical Defense 125 gr; easy recoil, all in 8 ring; 1200/400 from 2" barrel according to Hornady's site; 1500/624 from an 8" barrel

    Speer Gold Dot 135 GDHP "Short Barrel"; easy recoil, decent grouping; 990/294 from a 2" barrel (at least they're honest about the anemic numbers from a short barrel)

    Barnes VOR-TX 140 gr XPB HP (all-copper bullet); nice, manageable, but wide grouping into 6 ring; 1175/429, unknown TBL

    Didn’t like:

    Remington 125 gr JHP (Wal-Mart 100 round box); heavy kick, all shots within 7 ring; no data for this load (L357M1B) on Rem's site, but L357M12 (also a 125 gr UMC load) is 1450/583, unknown TBL

    Fiochi 148 gr JHP manageable kick, all shots within 7 ring; 1310/564 from a 10" barrel

    Buffalo Bore 158 gr JHC; decent group but painful and unpleasant to shoot, at least from a 2.25" barrel; 1398/687 from a 3" barrel

    Blazer Brass 158 gr JHP, a bit of kick and sprayback but a decent tight group; 1250/548 from a 4" barrel

    Federal Premium “Low Recoil” 130 gr Hydra-shok JHP; lots of kick and sloppy group
    ; I bought these several years ago (for a different 357 I had at the time) and the packaging advertised them specifically as "Low Recoil" or "Reduced Recoil" depending on packaging (I've seen both), yet it is not listed as such on their website. This is the only .357 in 130 gr that their site advertises, so I'm assuming its all the same stuff. Current designation, PD357HS2H, is 1410/574, unknown TBL.

  2. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    So you didn't like .357 158gr at all . . .
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2012

  3. SDGlock23

    SDGlock23 Glockoholic

    Now imagine shooting those out of a 13oz J-frame S&W M&P 340. That's offensive.
  4. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    I thought of that when I first heard about the weight of those J-frame .357s - ouch! :upeyes:
  5. Henry's Dad

    Henry's Dad woof, woof

    At least the ones I tried, I guess not. But I did like a 135, but didn't like a 130, so it really has more to do with the loads than with bullet weight.

    I'm sure there's a 158 out there waiting for me to fall in love with.
  6. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    How about the celebrated 125gr load that has such a vaunted record (93% stops)? :cool:
  7. HA! Yes, Buffalo Bore has a lot of kick from a SP101. I shoot the 125gr & 180gr loads. The 125gr load is close to the traditional full-house .357 loads of old. Hornady Critical Defense 125gr (in gel tests I've seen) performed well and were easier to manage. The red tip does look intimidating when looking at it from the business end of things. (I did it by looking in the mirror. I might be crazy, but I'm not stupid.)

    Remington & Gold Dot SB are lite loads, IMHO. They are easy to manage, but give a performance closer to a fast 9mm than a .357mag. Now, the Gold Dot .38spl +P in short barrel has a very good reputation. When inside, I will not load .357, but choose .38spls.

    PS. I don't much care for the 158gr either... 180gr hard cast for uppity critters, yup.
  8. Kentguy


    Nov 22, 2010
    Kent, OH
    Henry's Dad,

    That's quite a bit of ammo you tested... nice job.

    I haven't tested as many brands as you have but what I did test I liked the Hornady's the best for over-all performance. I'll give you my numbers and notes from the two I liked the best.

    Test gun was a S&W 357 magnum model 28-2 w/6" barrel

    Hornady "Critical Defense" Factory Ammunition
    125g FTX
    OAL - 1.550"
    Velocity - Box listed @ 1,500 fps / 1,361.7 fps my 6 shot average @ 74 degrees

    Hornady "Custom" Factory Ammunition
    158g XTP HP
    OAL - 1.545"
    Velocity - Box listed @ 1,250 fps / 1,114.2 fps my 6 shot average @ 74 degrees

    Accuracy tests were conducted at 7, 15 & 25 yards. 6 shots from a pistol rest and 6 shots standing free hand. Both of these had a noticeable kick, but nothing crazy, and reacquisition of target was fairly quick from shot to shot. I was able to keep a fairly tight group at all three distances, more-so than any other of the brands I tested.

    When it comes to store-bought 357 ammo, this is what my old S&W and I seem to like the best.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
  9. SCmasterblaster

    SCmasterblaster Millennium Member

    Sep 24, 1999
    Hartford, Vermont
    Oh, now I see. You did test them. they do have a higher velocity, and the 125gr SJHPs do indeed expand.