.40 S&W vs. .357 Mag

Discussion in 'The Powder Keg' started by Metronome, Dec 20, 2008.

  1. Metronome

    Metronome G&G Newbie

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    So at least on paper, these two cartridges are awful close to one another when considering launching similar weighted bullets at similar velocities.

    Fundamentals of auto vs. revolver non-withstanding (capacity, perceived reliability issues, flexibility etc.): is this stubby .40 as good as our first magnum?

    This question comes up as I have been trying to provide information to a friend who is going to buy a first handgun. Initially he was looking at a .357 revolver (a 3" S&W 60) and he said it just felt very natural and comfortable to point. He is shorter and stocky and his mitts fit the smaller grip better than the larger framed guns, and prefers the lighter carry weight. Unfortunately after he had a discussion with a guy at ther gunshop, he is feeling that a 5 shot .357 is woefully inadequate for self defense and trail use; now he is undecided. I don't really have much of an argument as I have only a 3/4 of a box of experience with the auto round, and in my perception the .357 is far more powerful and flexible - it's just that paper seems to diminish that claim.

    Given the hypothetical bear attack situation (I find it irrelevant but it always seems to come down to that) will 5 shots of magnums suffice?
  2. jerry

    jerry G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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    I would not feel comfortable with either for bear of any kind. The .357 with propper heavy hunting style bullet would get the grap off the picinic table if yogi was being stupid though. A few shots might do it, but will probably be too busy poopin pants to count rounds fired. Have him pick which one you like and get him to leave it to you in his will.
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2008
  3. nathangdad

    nathangdad G&G Newbie

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    In a bear attack it is a bit of a jump of hope

    to say you are going to shoot five times much less have five good hits.

    In handguns what really matters is what "fits" you best in terms of pointability, controllability, trigger pull, sight picture, etc. especially when it comes to cartridges of somewhat similar power.

    If a revolver fits you best then that is the handgun for you.
  4. DWFan

    DWFan G&G Enthusiast

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    A short-barrel, lighter frame revolver takes away from the .357 Magnum simply because full power loads become difficult to control and the minimal barrel subtracts ballistics. Some .357 loads, in fact are highly recommended not to be used in such weapons.
    Given those restrictions, I wouldn't carry such a .357 as a defense weapon against bear attack; but it would be better than nothing.
  5. bltefft

    bltefft G&G Newbie

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    In my Lyman 49th Ed'n manual, I compared a 180 JHP in a .357 Mag to a 180 gr JHP in a .40 SW.

    In .357 Mag, considering the optimum powder, a min charge (13.9 gr) of H-110 powder produces 947 fps, a max powder charge (14.5 gr) gives 1101 fps. So, we have a range of 947-1101 fps for this .357 round.

    In .40 SW, , considering the optimum powder, a min charge (6.4 gr) of True Blue powder produces 955 fps, a max powder charge (7.2 gr) gives 1049 fps. So, we have a range of 955-1049 fps for this .40SW round.

    To me, both rounds are about the same in power / energy, but a semi-auto chambered in .40SW has a whole lot more bullets to use, before you have to throw the gun at the bruin and run.

    But if I was going to maybe run into a bear, I'd like to have my Ruger SBH .44 mag. And besides, being a bigger pistol, it'd probably put a bigger dent in the bear's noggin when I threw it.

    PS. a semi-auto chambered in 10mm, would be better than a 357 or a 40. I read that 8.1 gr of HS-6 drives a 180gr JHP 1057 fps, max at 9.6 gr delivers a whopping 1225 fps. So, we have a range of 1057-1225 fps for this 10mm round.

    And in my .44 mag - 29.0 gr of H-110 cab drive a 180g JHP at a speed of 1541 fps and a max of 30.0 gr produces 1587 fps! - don't think it would be too fun to shoot, though. So, we have a range of 1541-1587 fps for this 44 mag round.

    Actually, I do reload for my .44 mag SBH (for deer hunting) and I use IMR-4227. 24.2 gr gives a 180g JHP a speed of 1136 fps and 27.0 gr gives it 1317 fps. Actually, I drop in about 25.6 gr, I'm probably getting around 1225-1230 fps.

    Now, I really like my big ole 44, but iI wonder if the 10mm is maybe a better tote in bear country - mainly due to its higher bullet capacity.

    Hack
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2008
  6. Metronome

    Metronome G&G Newbie

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    That is my opinion exactly! He has little experience in handguns and isn't really that comfortable with pistols yet. The little S&W seemed to be a favorite, but he is more patient than me (God bless Visa!) and wants to pay cash. He's on my Christmas list so I figure a gift certificate to the local indoor range would be a good opportunity for him to try out different guns.
  7. DWFan

    DWFan G&G Enthusiast

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    Quote bltefft:
    "In my Lyman 49th Ed'n manual, I compared a 180 JHP in a .357 Mag to a 180 gr JHP in a .40 SW.
    In .357 Mag, considering the optimum powder, a min charge (13.9 gr) of H-110 powder produces 947 fps, a max powder charge (14.5 gr) gives 1101 fps. So, we have a range of 947-1101 fps for this .357 round."

    Try these figures in a 4" barrel GP100 from handloads.com....

    173gr Keith SWC with 15.5gr 2400 for 1386 fps @ 1.62" oal
    173gr Keith SWC with 16.5gr H110 for 1376 fps @ 1.62" oal

    That's 275+ fps over your loads with a far more effective bullet against heavily muscled animals than a 180gr JHP, blowing away the .40 S&W and outpacing your 180gr 10mm by 150 fps. The 15.5gr 2400 load is the original Elmer Keith .357 Magnum load circa 1935.
    The same bullet loaded in a .38 Special case over 13.5gr of 2400 @ 1.48" oal is a copy of Elmer Keith's .38-44 load and gives 1281 fps in a 4" barrel GP100. It too is time proven effective against larger animals.
    BTW, there are even more powerful loads for the .357 Mag available. On that same website is a recipe that pushes that same 173gr SWC to nearly 1600 fps in a 5.5" Redhawk.

    Metronome, if I were buying my first handgun and was looking for an all-purpose .357 Magnum to serve at home and in the field using any .357 Magnum loads I could think of, a 4" Ruger GP100 would be a serious contender....and I'm not a particular fan of Rugers.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  8. bassoneer

    bassoneer G&G Newbie

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    OK, here is the correct answer. I used to have a S&W 686 SS revolver w/ 4" barrel - I loved that gun but sold it when I had small kids in the house. After several years, I got back into guns and purchased a .40 S&W SA XDm Semi-Auto. I thoroughly love both guns and think they are both equally good. However, I no longer have the revolver and once I save some $$ I plan to purchase another one. So, that's my answer based on experience and how I think most people are...buy both. They are both extremely fun to shoot, will offer a lifetime of enjoyment, and are both extrmely lethel when needed. Hope that helps, B. PS, If I had all of my life to do over, I would probably have kept the revolver. Buy the revolver first, then the semi. B
  9. bluealtered

    bluealtered G&G Newbie

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    As stated above, the .357 is hard to control with full power loads. I predator hunt, and as such do end up face to face with black bears 2-3 times a year. The round that works best for me is the .40, 180gr. jhp in a s/w m&p. This pistol will fit just about any hand size, is very accurate out of the box, and as reliable as any firearm out there, not to mention you have 15+1 rounds. I have 4 .40's at the moment and will be getting another one soon, however the m&p is the one i trust my life to.

    I have taken two black bears with a .38, but it wasn't my idea, and i sure would have rather had something more powerfull. blue
  10. billy

    billy G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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  11. KW Gary M

    KW Gary M Suspended

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    Somehow I see this thread going on and on like all the .45 or 9MM, .40 or 9MM. .357 or .45 and so on. I own both a .40 and a .357 and both are great rounds and both will protect him from any man or beast IF PLACED RIGHT.

    As for the guy at the gun shop telling him 5 rounds of .357 aren't enough point out to him that that is someone who wants to sell him something talking. Perhaps this salesman's distributor of .40 autos pays him more incentives than the .357 distributor. Also, many gun shop workers have never shot off a range before. Tell him to listen to people like the group here on the forum who stand nothing to gain or loose if he buys either gun or buys nothing at all.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2008
  12. Jim Rau

    Jim Rau G&G Newbie

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    The 'guy in the gun shop' is wrong.
    The 5 shot revolver is a VERY good choice for self defense, especially in the 357 Mag. If your friend is new to shooting and guns the learning curve for becoming safe, and proficient with a revolver is much easier/shorter than what is required for an auto pistol.
    Balistically, you have the info above. I think the 357 is much more versatile in that you can use 38 sp ammo as well.
    Bears: Black bears are much smaller than the brown bears. But black bears are more predatory than the browns. Either round is ok for BLACK bear protection. I would prefer the revolver for this myself though!!
  13. jaeger

    jaeger G&G Regular

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    There are a few revolvers out there that hold 7 rds of .357. Better than 5. If you have a charging bear you never have enough gun, however I would rather put 3 .357's in the honey pot then miss with a .500 5 times. Your call. A .357 has plenty of take down power, as always shot placement is key.. Plus I think it is a "man law" that every man owns at least one .357 MAG.
  14. dodge310

    dodge310 G&G Newbie

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    I think he would be much better off with the 357. If he isn't good with guns, he needs to start off with a revolver. If he can get good at shooting the 357 then he will be fine with whatever he runs accross. If a bear comes about, the main key is to stay calm till you shoot all rounds then panic. But, panic usually sets in and most people can't hit the broad side of a barn at point blank range.

    He will love the S&W 357. Excellant guns.
  15. sea_chicken1

    sea_chicken1 G&G Enthusiast

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    357 and 40s&w are both great rounds it really come down what feels good in your hand and what you shoot better. I prefer the 40 s&w and decide if I cant drop a black bear after a few rounds instead panicing and running I'll panic and dump a few mags in a hurry. The more rounds down range the better right?:AR15firing:
  16. Constantine1911

    Constantine1911 G&G Newbie

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  17. sunwheel29

    sunwheel29 G&G Newbie

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    Anybody who thinks the .40 caliber compares with the .357 mag has been hitting a crackpipe and beleiving manufacturers boasts.
    Its got similar muzzle blast and recoil, and that's about it.
    Out on the street, it performs closer to maybe the .32 S&W or the .38 S&W than the .357 or the .38-40, which is ironic, as I recall when it came out it was touted as being ballistically identical to the .38-40.
    In my area, there have been quite a few shootings with the .38, the 9mm, the .40 and the .45 acp.
    Without fail none of the .40 cal shootings have been one shot stops. In fact, the last one, some moron shot himself with his teutonic tupperware and drove HIMSELF to the Hospital and patiently filled out the forms in the waiting room.
    That ranks right up there with the guy who got shot in the head with a .38 S&W by a bartender and drove himself to the hospital.
    On the other hand, one fool over in Inez, Ky shot himself with a .357 and had to take an ambulance to the hospital. And the last 9mm shooting I know of, was a one shot stop.
    There have been numerous police shootings where suspects soaked up almost a dozen .40 rounds and STILL put up a fight while being cuffed. Local newspaper editors who don't understand real world ballistics howled "police brutality" over that.
    The .40 cal is ballistic masturbation. All you get out of it is higher muzzle blast, higher recoil, fiercer wear and tear on the gun and less stopping power than the 9mm and less firepower to boot. It takes a fool to arm himself with one to go after dangerous predators and a bigger fool to think it will work on game animals.
    If you want a self defense gun, pick a .357 or a .45 auto if you are concerned about stopping power. If you are concerned about not hitting what you aim at, get a 9.
    Let the gullible people waste their money on worthless .40s.
    That gunshop clerk is a sleazebag trying to sell a more expensive gun to a novice.
    In the real world, (where this guy is obviously unfamlliar) most gunfights take place at 10 feet or less in the dark and are over when about three rounds have been fired COMBINED. As one wag noted in "The Law Enforcement Bible" you can get into two gunfights a week with a revolver before you have to reload.
    As a self defense weapon that five shot .357 willl be more apt to be in his pocket or on his belt when he needs it than that wide slide chunky .40, which will be left at home in his closet when he needs a gun most.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2008
  18. jerry

    jerry G&G Evangelist Forum Contributor

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    Tell us how you really feel about the fourty man ;) j/k
  19. neophyte

    neophyte Wonderment :) Forum Contributor

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    jerry: Sir; you beat me to it:)
  20. bluealtered

    bluealtered G&G Newbie

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    The bottom line here is simple, your first shot is the one that will count the most, the only way to make it count is to practice with whatever caliber you have, it's that simple.

    Not everyone is built to handle a .357 snubbie, while you may not notice recoil in a fight, you da*n sure notice it at the range, and if you won't practice with it because it hurts your hand, you probably won't have it when you need it. The bottom line is that you must practice to win, even if you only have a .22. blue