Ammunition for Small .357 Magnum Revolvers

Ammunition for Small .357 Revolvers

There are two sides of the debate over shooting and carrying .357 Magnum ammunition in a small revolver. Both sides seem to be a bit dogmatic in their position, and I’ve been confronted with this a couple of times recently. I carry a J-Frame revolver as my primary defensive arm, and I carry it loaded with ammunition headstamped “.357 MAG”. I am a man who can appreciate a little nuance and I generally shy away from generalizations, so here are my thoughts.

WARNING: I’m about to take a hard right into revolver-geek territory. Proceed with caution.

Side A: “You can’t Control a Magnum…”

The first side of this debate says you cannot carry magnum ammunition in a revolver. No ifs, ands, or buts. This side seems to have the most acceptance, and I don’t mean to suggest that this bit of conventional wisdom didn’t come from somewhere. In most cases magnum ammunition in a small revolver is uncontrollable and unnecessarily loud. I tend to come down on this side…mostly. But obviously not completely because I carry magnums, so let’s look at the other side of this coin.

Side B: “In a gunfight, You won’t Notice…”

There are also those that completely ignore convention and go the other direction, saying, “in a gunfight, you won’t notice the recoil.”  I find this idea curious. It seems to suggest that the biggest concern is noticing the physical pain imparted by recoil, or the psychological effect produced by the blast and muzzle flash.

On a popular firearms podcast I recently heard one of the hosts idiotically state that he carries full-power, 125-grain .357 Gold Dots in his LCR. These cartridges are on the higher end of the recoil spectrum. In an LCR this recoil is exaggerated, and this round isn’t known for wonderful performance in short barrels, anyway. It’s literally the worst of both worlds. There is also a person in my family who bought his wife an ultra-lightweight revolver. Along with it he bought two boxes of ammunition: one box of light-recoiling .38s, and a box of rip-roarin’ .357. You already know why, right?

I agree that in a life and death struggle, the discomfort imparted through recoil is not the biggest concern. I concede that you might even be able to ignore it. But, I am deeply concerned about ability to deliver rapid, accurate fire beyond that first round. I further believe this ability is impeded to an unacceptable extent by excessive recoil. Does the name on the box of ammo mean that that particular cartridge will produce unacceptable recoil, though?

Finding the Recoil Threshold

A few weeks ago I ran the Hardwired Tactical “Super Snubby Test” at the request of Chris Baker. This was his idea, and he had already run through the test with multiple guns and loads. I ran the test once each, with four different loads, then ran them all again with a different gun. Though the test dictates starting from the low-ready at all stages, I shot from concealment at the 10 and 5 yard lines, and from the low ready only at the 3. I am happy to report a passing score with all rounds up to and including my carry load (135 is considered “passing” out of a possible 150). My results are as follows:

S&W 640 S&W 686**
Fed 130 FMJ .38 Spl 139 146
Rem UMC SJHP .38 Spl +P 138 146
Speer GDHP SB 135 .357* 136 143
Rem UMC JSP 125 .357 102 135

*This load is my daily carry load.
**I shot with the 686 only as a comparison.

Now, I don’t think this is the “end all, be all” of shooting tests, but I did glean a couple of things from it. With an all-steel gun there was very little difference with the .38 and .38 +P loads. There was some increase in blast and recoil with the .357 Short Barrel, but not to an unmanageable extent – my times were similar to those recorded for the .38s, and accuracy suffered only slightly.

The 125-grain Remington was a different experience entirely. This load was far more powerful than the others, and is what I imagine most people conjure of when they think of .357 Magnum ammo. The main problem was that the gun physically moved in my hands. After about every other shot I had to adjust my grasp. The recoil had caused the gun to jump “up” in my hand, breaking my firm, two-handed grip. This lack of purchase forced me to reacquire a firing grip before continuing the drill, and slowed my rate of fire. This is NOT the type of thing that you can just ignore, and ignoring the blast and recoil won’t change physics.

The massive movement of the little gun also made it hard to keep the gun on target. Reacquiring the sights (and for this drill sights are a necessity) took time and effort, and even with effort my strings suffered. This round is definitely well above my recoil management threshold. I definitely wouldn’t carry it in my 640. Though I eked out a passing score with the 686, the recoil and blast still made these JSPs less pleasant than the 640 with the Short Barrel Gold Dot.

Firing three strings of this ammunition through my 640 was a chore. My thumb ended up bruised and remained sore for a few days. I don’t rule out the possibility that this is the type of thing one could ignore in a gunfight – it may be possible. Where I could not ignore it is on the practice range. This would necessitate practicing with a round that produces much lighter recoil. I don’t think accustoming oneself to a soft shooting round, the carrying a harder-hitting one is a great idea.

Considerations

Before answering this question satisfactorily, we have to acknowledge a couple of things. First, there is great deal of disparity in what constitutes “magnum” ammunition. Magnum itself is nothing more than nomenclature – an marketing name from S&W and Winchester. There is no agreed upon definition of what comprises a magnum load or cartridge. Secondly, the guns that fire these cartridges come in a wide array of shapes, sizes, and weights. The third component of this triad is the shooter him- or herself.

Ammunition for Small .357 Revolvers

The Ammunition: There are two variables in ammunition that contribute to recoil. First is bullet weight. Conventional, non-exotic bullets for the .357 Magnum are available in a wide range of weighs, from 110- to 200-grains. With all things being equal, a heavier bullet means heavier recoil. Velocity is the next factor to consider. Velocity in factory-produced ammunition may be below 1,100 feet per second (FPS) to over 1,600 FPS, or anywhere in between. Velocity will also be greatly influenced by barrel length.

The Gun: The next factor up for consideration is the gun itself. There is no shortage of sub-factors to consider in this one either, but the chief factors are weight and grip. The heavier the gun is, the more it helps to mitigate recoil. Larger grips also generally help in recoil management by allowing your hands to achieve more surface area and a firmer grasp on the gun. For many “larger” equates to “longer” but I also firmly believe the width of the grips is important. Thicker grips, especially on a J-Frame or equivalent, help to get more of your palms onto the panels.

The Shooter: Finally, there is some consideration for the shooter. I hesitate to point this one out because at one point or another we have all probably held the belief that we are impervious to the effects of recoil. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that I stoked my first J-Frame (a 3″ Model 60) with hot-rod .357 ammo because…well, because I was gifted with the naivete of youth. In any case, a more seasoned, trained shooter may be able to control more recoil effectively than a less experienced shooter.

The combination: Finding the right combination of ammunition, gun, and shooter is imperative. There are many revolvers that I would not wish to charge with the .357 Short Barrel load, and others that I would be comfortable with something a little stiffer. On the other hand, there are those who would be best served with milder .38s, even in a big gun like my 686. Finding a workable combination requires some due diligence, and some honestly with oneself.

Ammunition for Small .357 Revolvers

The Bottom Line

Bottom line: bullet performance will probably have little effect in a fight, relative to your performance behind the gun. Telling the casual shooter to go with .38s is sound advice, as he or she probably has a lot of other things to worry about first. However, if you’re reading this blog, I assume you are a little more serious about revolvers than most. This is a nuanced question and I think it deserves a nuanced answer for those of us with the interest to pursue it.

If a couple of practical factors were different I might go with even lighter-recoiling ammo. My personal bottom line is: I can control this to an acceptable degree of speed and accuracy, I already own a ton of .357 Short Barrel Gold Dots, and it seems to perform well from both 2″ and 4″ barrels, covering all the revolvers I own. By extension it should also do well in a 3″ gun, should the day come when I can afford one.

There are several .357 Magnum loads, including the Winchester PDX1 and the Remington Golden Saber that expand and penetrate well while falling on the lighter side of the recoil curve. Don’t judge a cartridge by its headstamp. Shoot it and find out where your recoil threshold is – the point where speed and accuracy start to suffer to a point that any benefits of using the hotter round are negated.

Ultimately, it’s not the words stamped on the case that make a cartridge hard to handle. Likewise, it’s also not the “MAG” headstamp that ends fights, either. It is some combination of the stuff inside the case, the gun the case is shoved into, and the person firing it. It’s a complicated cocktail and it’s up to you to mix your own.

Liked it? Support RevolverGuy on Patreon!

Become a Patron!

Author: Justin

Justin Carroll is a former MARSOC Marine and veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan. Leaving service after eight years in the U.S. Marines, Justin continues his involvement with a variety of government agencies to this day. Justin began RevolverGuy.com in late 2016 with an simple idea: provide an source of high-quality information for revolver enthusiasts.

47 thoughts on “Ammunition for Small .357 Magnum Revolvers”

  1. Good article and I agree that the decision will be very specific to the capabilities of the user. However, even the best shooters are always going to perform better with the lighter load as physics are simply what they are: you can get back on target for faster followup shots with less recoil. You allude to the sound and blast and to be honest I think this is a huge concern. Imagine cracking off a 357 magnum out of a snub within the confines of a car or the like without hearing protection. Not pleasant in the least, significantly worse than 38 +P.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I think we can both agree that lower recoil is always desired, but only feasible to a point. In a perfect world zero recoil would be desired. However, we all have some theoretical threshold of “power” (however you define that) below which we are unwilling to drop. In the semi-auto world that seems to be .380 or 9mm, even though both exhibit more recoil than .32 ACP. Since we can’t have zero recoil in a defensive cartridge, we climb the “power ladder” until hitting the recoil wall – the point where recoil causes accuracy and speed to suffer. Back to revolvers – it’s not a binary choice. There is a broad range of power and velocity options in .357 – they aren’t all created equal.

      As far as noise – most 9mms run at pressures and velocities closer to .357s than .38 Specials, but no one seems overly concerned about the blast of a 9mm. Subjectively it feels like a .357 should be louder, but is it, and by how much? I’m not asking rhetorically, I’d actually like to know.

      Thanks again for writing in!
      Justin

  2. I am surprised that you did not discuss the 110 grain rounds. Short on raw power perhaps but they were the go to round in snubbies for years.

    1. This article was less about recommending specific rounds and more about finding a way to choose one that works inside of the recoil the shooter can manage. You’re right, though – 110s are usually a little bit lighter-recoiling but hard-hitting rounds.

      Thanks for writing in!
      Justin

  3. I’m revisiting this post because I just recommended it to a friend. I think you did a great job of covering this issue, buddy.

    I’ve been firmly in the .38+P camp for snubbies for decades, but agree with you that the question is more nuanced than we normally admit. What’s a “snubby,” for example? I immediately think of a 5-shot J-frame with a 1 7/8″ barrel (like a 642) but I have friends that own K and L-frame guns with 2″ tubes that call them snubbies too. All of these are very different from each other!

    You pointed out the differences in ammo too, and those are not inconsequential. Back in the 80s and early 90s, Remington loaded a reduced recoil, medium-velocity load in .357 that was designed for guns like this, but it’s no longer in the catalog since the release of the Golden Saber. I think the Saber ballistics are close to it though.

    I shot Justin’s 640 Pro with the .357 Gold Dot, and even with some 158 grain, full house loads. The 158s were no fun, but the Gold Dot was a lot easier to control than I thought it would be. I think the thicker and rougher VZ grips were a huge part of that, and the 3″ tube helped as well. That gun is quite different from my regular 2″ snubby, with its thin Boot Grips.

    I still think I would prefer the .38+P, even in Justin’s gun, but with the right combination of equipment and shooter, I have to concede that the idea of shooting .357 in a snub is more viable than I’ve traditionally thought it to be.

    1. I think you’re at the wrong blog. If you want to post a thoughtful comment, I welcome it even if it disagrees with me. If you want to throw out a thoughtless one-liner with no justification, go post on literally any other gun blog on the internet.
      Justin

  4. Thank you for the informative article, just purchased a S&W 60 3″, found the article quite useful, going to pick up a few boxes of the Golden Saber , sounds like it may fit my needs as a home defense round, for the wife.

    1. Andy, the Golden Sabre is about as close as it gets to Remington’s now-discontinued medium-velocity load, but have no doubt: it’s still very much a .357 load! It will be plenty of horsepower in your 3″ Model 60. Thanks for writing!

  5. Justin, recently purchased the 640 Pro series. Based on your recommendation I bought the Speer GD short barrel 357 ammo to try. During my first range session I shot Winchester 38s (FMJ), Remington 38+P (JHP) and the Gold Dot short barrel. Both 38s shot POA/POI. The Gold Dots for short barrel shot consistently low by 3-4 inches. I am interested in your thoughts on this. Will continue to carry Federal HST 38 +P until I find a 357 short barrel round I am happy with. Thanks

    1. Hi Craig, I’m not Justin, but let me give it a go until he arrives . . .

      The Pro has a tall front sight, so the barrel is at a significant downward angle when the gun fires. Because the .357 ammo leaves the barrel so quickly, the barrel has not had enough time to rise in recoil to land your shot where you would like it (POI is below POA). The slower .38 Special rounds take a little more time to leave the tube, so the barrel gets more time to rise in recoil, and the point of impact is closer to your point of aim.

      There’s two ways you can fix this. You can fix it with ammo selection, as you have done, or you can alter the sights.

      Justin had a similar problem with his Pro, and had to file down the front sight to improve things. See his blog here for details: https://revolverguy.com/filing-revolvers-front-sight/

      Hope that helps!

    2. Craig,
      First, I hope you enjoy your 640 Pro! It’s a gun that has taught me a heck of a lot about daily carry, and revolvers!
      Echoing what Mike said, I’d go with what shoots point-of-aim over almost all else. If the .38 HST hits point-of-aim, it sounds like a winner to me, and with the HST’s formidable reputation (admittedly in calibers other than .38) I’d be comfortable carrying it. Being able to place shots with precision is my first and foremost criteria in a carry gun/load combo.
      Again, hope you like your new wheelgun!
      JC

  6. I hope as a wheel gun fan I can talk about my new Ruger Redhawk 8 shot with a 2.75 barrel. It’s a dream to shoot. I have had great success with Federal Premium low recoil 130 grain Hydra Shok JHP. This was an upgrade from my beloved Ruger Security Six with the same size barrel. I carry her everyday. Granted the printing is a bit rediculos but it’s a choice in comfortable with. I am interested in trying out a lower grain to see how she sucks them up. I found an 85 grain. Just curious on anyones thoughts? Keep in mind Rosie comes in at 44 oz unloaded.

    1. Chris, welcome to RevolverGuy! Glad to have you here!

      I presume that Rosie is being carried for defense against two-legged predators, and if I’m right, I wouldn’t be real enthusiastic about recommending the 85 grain bullets. Those will probably fragment explosively and underpenetrate. Historically speaking, the 110s were prone to underpenetration, and you needed to use 125s for best results. The 158s tended to overpenetrate in bipeds. This is with traditional cup and core bullet designs.

      Personally, I’d be more comfortable with the Gold Dot 135 grain load these days than the Hydra Shok, but even the Hydra Shok would be a much better choice than an 85 grain load travelling at Mach Snot. I’d strongly urge you to stay in that mid-range bullet weight of 125-135 grains. Rosie is heavy enough that you should be able to shoot these without too much drama.

  7. I am about to purchase a Taurus 605 Protector .357 Magnum Polymer Revolver. Enjoyed your article. Very informative for a 1st time .357 Magnum owner. I shot .45 in the military. Don’t know if the recoil on a 45 is similar to a .357. Learned a lot about ammo from your article. What are your thoughts on the before mentioned revolver ? Any informative info from a experienced owner of the before mentioned revolver would be appreciated. Thank you

    1. Hello Gary, welcome to RevolverGuy. We’re glad you found us.

      The recoil from a .45 is different than it is from a .357 Magnum. The best way I can describe it is that the .45 spreads the recoil out over a longer time, so it’s more like a long shove. The .357 ramps up to maximum recoil more quickly, and can be more like an abrupt smack. I don’t know if these words do a very good job of explaining it–the best thing is to try them yourself and compare how they feel. Any range that rents guns will have samples in each caliber for you to try.

      Regarding your choice, I would not purchase that gun prior to shooting one (or something like it) first. It sounds like you don’t have experience with a .357, and I would definitely want you to shoot a small-frame .357 before you purchased one. They can be rather uncomfortable and difficult to control for many people, so doing some homework first may save you from a purchase you will regret. I find that most of the small .357s are better served with .38 Special ammunition than they are with .357 Magnums. Even though Justin prefers .357 Magnum ammo in his guns, I think he will readily admit that it takes more work to be proficient with this powerful fodder. I’m not saying it can’t be done, only that it usually takes a dedicated effort to honestly control a small-frame gun loaded with .357 ammo.

      I don’t know what feature(s) attracted you to the Taurus 605 Poly over other guns. If it was just cost, I would urge you to reconsider some other options. Taurus QC can be spotty, and it would be worth your time, money and effort to consider some offerings from Ruger or S&W. They may cost a bit more, but you will get a more durable and refined product. A used Ruger or S&W would save you some money and put you very close to the same range as a new Taurus, and would be a safer purchase in my experience.

      If there is a particular feature about the 605 Poly that you like outside of cost, then that might be enough to change things for you. The 605 Poly has a unique appearance, but aside from that, the important features of the gun can be found in the other makes. I honestly think they would give you a better value for your money.

      1. Thank you Mike for replying. I had a .380 but wasn’t satisfied with it. I was pretty accurate with it but i didn’t feel it had enough stopping power. Sold it and bought a 12 gauge shot gun for home defense. I’m look for another concealed carry weapon. Cost was a consideration along with discouraging a prolonged gun engagement with a possible wack jog nut. Only want to use it for self defense. Your right, i am not familiar with a .357. However, a .357 is going to be my weapon of choice and i will become efficient with it. I may change my mind on which one to purchase after reading your recommendations. I would like to pick your mind on ammo. I am leaning toward “Remington Golden Sabre” and “Hornady American Gunner XTP, 125gr. What are your thoughts on these two. I’m looking for a low recoil round with very good stopping power. I appreciate all the wisdom you have provided me.I NEED IT. For all of you’s who carry a .380. I either saw this on tv or read about this incident. A mask man approached a man getting out of his car to rob him or whatever. The man getting out of his car just happen to have his .380 in his hand. He turned around and shot the mask man four (4) times. The mask man then ask the man, please don’t shoot me anymore. I couldn’t help but chuckle and wondered what am i doing with a .380. Have a great day

        1. Hello Gary, I’m glad you found the info helpful. My strongest recommendation at this point would be to go to a facility where you can rent a bunch of different guns and find the combination that works best for you, which may or may not be a .357 revolver. Honestly, and with no disrespect intended, declaring that your defense gun will be a .357 without having the chance to fire one first is not a good plan. Approach this with an open mind and see where it takes you.

          The most important part of the equation is not caliber or ammunition, but putting your shots where they will do the best work. Handguns are all rather impotent, and even the .357 can be an unreliable stopper–especially if the shooter can’t land the bullets where they should go. As much as I like the .357 and the performance it offers, I have to be honest with myself and admit that I cannot control it in rapid fire as well as I control the .38 Special. I’m simply able to do better work with .38+P in the small frame guns I carry, so that’s what I use for defense. I’ll accept the diminished power for a gun that I can shoot fast and accurately.

          We all have to figure out where that line of diminishing returns is drawn for us, but the knowledge comes from shooting real guns and ammo in realistic conditions. What looks good on paper doesn’t always work out to be the best in real life, so I’d encourage you to get some practical experience with the .357 before you start picking guns and loads and spending your money.

          If you give it a go and decide it’s the best choice for you after shooting it, we’ll be here to answer your questions about ammo selection, but for now I think it’s probably putting the cart before the horse. Best of luck and let us know how it goes. You can reach us via email on the contact form if you have questions. Take care!

        2. Gary,
          I agree with everything Mike said here. I will offer a bit of food for thought, however.
          If you look at videos of a lot of police shootings you may be surprised at how people react to being shot with handguns. Regardless of caliber, many people continue doing what they were doing when they got shot. I’d recommend you take a look at Greg Ellifritz’s work on the matter of “stopping power”.

          It turns out that handgun calibers – ALL handgun calibers – are pretty marginal “stoppers”. Much more important than caliber are: 1. reliability, 2. the ability to get the gun into action quickly, and 3. the ability to place shots (sometimes multiple shots) quickly and accurately. When selecting a carry firearm, I would place far more weight on those criteria than on caliber.

          Finally, in the anecdote you provided, I’m not sure you could hope for a better outcome than the one you described. The attacker stopped doing whatever he was doing that posed a threat to the armed citizen. Making an attacker cease the violent action that justifies the use of deadly force IS the goal of self defense shooting, and it sounds like it worked in that scenario.

          1. Thank you Mike and Justin for all the info you’s have provided. I have lots of material to consider. Won’t get in a hurry to purchase a conceal weapon as both of you’s have suggested. Appreciate all your expertise in weaponry and ammo. I have one question; I’m reading everyone wants to use .38 +p in their 357 ,So why purchase a 38 when you can fire both rounds in one gun ? Thank you both again.
            Have a great day and God Bless

          2. A revolver in .357 Mag gives you the option to shoot either .38 or .357 ammo, which makes it versatile. However, guns built for .357 Magnum typically have larger and heavier frames than .38s, to handle the more powerful round. They can also be slightly longer, to accommodate the longer cylinder that’s required for .357 Mag. Sometimes a buyer might prefer the smaller/lighter .38 Special gun if all he plans on doing is shooting .38s.

      2. I would recommend a Smith and Wesson Model 66 with a 2.75″ Barrel. I carry one everyday, loaded with Remington 125 grain Golden Sabres. The 66 is a K Frame, which is a medium frame which performs similar to a longer barrel, but is concealable.

      3. Revolvers weren’t made to be poly but steel. Due to its lightweight properties and something bad going to really happen that won’t be so pleasant. Stick to S&W or Ruger.

  8. The only reason I believe a person should carry .357 is if plan to shoot through window or shoot something larger than a person.(hog) I carry 3″ .38 and 2.5″ .357 mostly. I do carry 13 rd .40 and .45 5 shot Judge at times also. But mostly for animals not people.

  9. I use the Speer short barrel 135 gr in my ported S&W 640. Just found out that Speer has discontinued the ammo. I liked it because it was loaded to 1000 FPS or so and was only slightly hotter than a 38 special plus P. Have you found a similarly loaded cartridge in 357 magnum? Every thing I see is at least several hundred fps more.

        1. Honestly it all works pretty well if you can shoot. My chief criteria (concurrent with reliability) is how well I can shoot, i.e. make accurate hits and make them quickly enough to make a difference. I’d start there, then select something that meets the criteria above.

  10. Excellent article – one of the best I’ve read on the subject. Thanks for taking the time to write it. As you can tell from my name here, I am a fan of the .45 ACP, specifically in a 1911. It’s the gun I am most accurate and fastest with, and my everyday carry pistol (a 4″ Kimber Pro Carry with Crimson Trace LaserGrips). That said, I am planning on buying a S&W M&P 340 CT as soon as I can afford it, because there are times when pocket carry is required and while I have a pistol for that (Kahr PM9) the shape of the back of it causes it to hang up in my pocket. I also like the idea of being able to shoot repeatedly through a pocket if the need comes about. And I miss being able to have LaserGrips on my Kahr.
    When I get the revolver, I will be taking your advice and will audition various power level rounds to see what I can handle without compromising accuracy and speed.

    1. Welcome aboard, .45! Glad to have you here, and we’re happy you enjoyed the article. I don’t think there’s a better choice for pocket carry than the Centennial-style J-Frames, and I know that 340 will draw much smoother than your PM9. I tend to favor the heavier J-Frames and don’t care for the Sc-frame flyweights as much because they’re harder to shoot. I think that M&P 340 CT weighs about half as much as the steel-frame 640, and that makes a huge difference when it’s time to burn powder. They’re a dream to carry, but I just don’t enjoy shooting them like the steel guns. If I had a M&P 340 CT, I’d probably load it with 148 grain wadcutters or some of my reserve stash of the discontinued, standard pressure, 125 grain Federal Nyclad. I can guarantee that I’d stick to .38 Special, and wouldn’t bother with testing .357s. Ouch.

      Please let us know how it works out and what you finally decide on!

  11. I have two maladies that are terribly “wrong” for someone who loves guns and shooting: I have a Genetic sensitivity to loud, sharp noises. A jet engine makes me want to run and hide!
    Second; I have a severe flinch! I can flinch even when I’m shooting my .22 rifles, and I know they don’t kick!
    That said, I love my 357 Magnum revolver! A couple of weeks ago, I saw the Speer 135 gr. 357 Magnum Short Barrel ammo on sale, so I bought two boxes, “Just to see”. I LIKE it! mild recoil…I was surprised! I alternated rounds of the Speer 135 gr. 38 Spl. +P short barrel loads with the 357 rounds, and found the recoil to be not a lot different. My electronic hearing muffs were turned up to 10. My ancient IPSC loads were tried next, alternating the rounds, and the recoil wasn’t much different, either. I may raise the load 1/2 grain, to see if they will be “more equal”. Of course, my gun is the Ruger GP 100 Match Champion, which is 4 ozs. lighter than my old 586, but, I like the gun and loads a lot!

  12. Justin , good info on the here , I also carry a 640 , I like to practice a lot , do you think .357 could be to hard on this gun?i also found a few rounds that I like Winchester PDX1 ect.. but am worried about beating the gun to death with a lot of practice . Thanks

    1. Jim,
      I’d say the 640 Pro could probably take more .357 Maggie than I can (and I can put up with quite a bit). I’ve run mine hard and it’s still going strong.
      Justin

  13. Most folks are thinking airlights like the 340 when talking about uncontrollable. And full house 357 (which is rare to find and basically cannot be purchased anymore) is a bit insane and abusive to such a fragile little j-frame. But that said a mid range load using a 125 grain bullet is not too bad, particularly if you use a well fitting rubber grip. I’ve tried a 340 with Hogue monogrips and it was surprising but not “uncontrollable” with my midrange handloads. But what’s the point? The Federal HST 38+P 130 grain load and some of the best new Winchester loads expand to .6″ to .7″ inches and go foot deep after 4 layers of denim. That perfomance is found in the Magnum too, but at far greater recoil and cost. My 442 PC cost me $350 +$25 Apex + $25 Uncle Mikes Boot Grip + $10 COMP1 +$13 DeSantis nemesis. All that is half what a new 640 or 340 from the Performance Center costs.

  14. Love this.
    I just bought a Ruger SP101 and Full House 357 Magnum loads are no problem in The Recoil Department. But the muzzle blast is intense.
    I am actually downloading my 357 to above + p + 38 specials. I switched from 158 down to 125 grain bullets to help with recoil and muzzle blast. But surprisingly, the opposite happened. More muzzle blast. I can handle any recoil this cartridge to put out in this 101. But that back blast is hard to ignore.
    I believe I’m going to have to go with the heavier bullets and move them a little slower in order to get it more controllable recoil, less muzzle blast, and the proper penetration.
    Thanks for this article. It really helps me think !

  15. I have a 642 J Frame Smith that I carry during the summer and in the winter I carry a Walther PPS 9mm because of heaver clothing and such. I stoke the J Frame with 38 Special +P loads because it’s not a 357, the 38 Special is easier to hit with and nothing is gained by carrying 357 magnum ammo in a revolver with a 2″ barrel.
    I did some testing with a friends SP101 357 with a 2″ barrel because he didn’t believe me either. I used 125gr. SIG V Crown 38 Special +P and 125gr. 357 Magnum. Long story short the 357 recoiled more because of the extra powder burned, was louder and had a huge muzzle flash but only gained 41fps of velocity on average. Same ammo fired out of my 4″ GP100 saw 250+fps difference, it’s clear the 38 Special+P was superior as a fighting round in this 2″ barrel application. The difference was even less with Speer Short Barrel 38 Special and Buffalo Bore makes some heavy bullet cast loads for the 38 that are just spectacular but to each his own.

    1. Ken, I totally agree with carrying .38s. I would recommend you check out Lucky Gunner’s .38/.357 test. The .357 does offer substantial velocity over .38 Special, even from a 2″ barrel. While only two .38 loads broke 1000 FPS (and those with a 4″ barrel) the slowest .357 load was over 1,000, and only four (of twenty) were under 1,100 FPS. Whether or not that velocity is desirable or not is another conversation (I’d usually say “no) but .357 from a 2” barrel is not just a loud .38 Special.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *