The .357 Magnum : An All Around Survival Round

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As
an avid reader of SurvivalBlog I know that most preppers like the
.45 ACP round as their standard. That’s a great choice and an excellent
round. It has a long and solid history as a combat round. It falls
short in the arena of woods carry and most don’t consider it a hunting
round. This report is not to compare the .45 to the .357 Magnum
as it is an overdone conversation. Instead, I would like to outline
the facts about the .357 Magnum and discus some of the misconceptions
as well as the viability of this classic as an all around survival
round for everything from personal protection to hunting and woods
defense. This round is very sensitive to barrel length and has many
bullet options. I would like to show how using a longer barrel maximizes
the round and makes it very devastating. I would also like to give
a little pick-me-up to the old wheel gun guys like me who only see
in cylinders.

Incapacitating
power is where many discussions on the .357 go bad early. The power
of the .357 is grossly misunderstood and misrepresented. The .357
is commonly over- and under-reported on power. There are a few factors
that have to be considered when discussing power, they are: Bullet
weight, Velocity, and Bullet diameter. One of my favorite tools
to use when studying this subject is the Energy,
Momentum, and Taylor KO (TKO) Calculator
. This is a very cool
tool to have bookmarked on your computer. Another tool that is very
good is the charts made by four gentlemen who sat down with a couple
of chronographs, 8,500 rounds of ammo, some Thompson Center single
shot pistols. They began shooting, recording and progressively shortening
their barrels by an inch at a time, and then compiling the data.
Their data can be found at the Ballistics
By The Inch web page
. The power of the .357 is greatly affected
by barrel length. The .357 seems to hit its prime at 6”. Any
shorter and a lot of power is lost any longer and you are toting
a gun unnecessarily to big. If you look at the charts made by the
gentlemen at Ballistics by the Inch you will see that the difference
between a 2” barrel and a 6” barrel is upward of 700 ft/sec
of velocity. If you use this info and plug it into the calculator
you will see that your values skyrocket as the barrel length increases.
Using the data on a Corbon 125 grain JHP a 2” barrel yields
an energy of 226 ft/lbs, momentum of 16, and a TKO of 5. Now you
plug in the data from the same round out of a 6” barrel and
you get an energy of 816 ft/lbs, momentum of 30, and a TKO of 10.
This is huge in comparison. I have plugged in several of my favorite
.357 woods carry loads and have gotten similar results each time.

To give a rough
comparison most 240 grain .44 Magnum factory loads have an energy
of approx. 800 ft/lbs. Now I am not comparing the two rounds in
total, I am just saying that the energy reaches .44 magnum ranges
when a 6” barrel is used. Now most guys who pack a .357 for
woods carry opt for a 4” gun and most say “Ah, there isn’t
much difference between a 4” and 6” gun”, but I say
nay. Using the same info here is the 4” plugged in to the calculator.
Energy 621 ft/lbs, momentum is 26, and TKO is a 9. Now many say
this isn’t much but it really is. Another rough comparison would
be like saying a full power 10mm isn’t much different than a 40
S&W. Tell that to a car door with a bad guy on the other side.
When developing a round most ammo manufacturers use a 6"-to-8”
barrel to do their ballistics testing. There is a reason for this
and it becomes very apparent in the numbers.

The .357 Magnum
carries the honor of being #1 with one shot stops of two-legged
threats. The bullet in this statistic is the 125 grain hollowpoint.
That is a great choice for two-leggers but for those that live in
areas dominated by four-legged threats a bigger bullet is better.
In this example I am going to use the Double Tap 200 grain WFNGC
load. Out of a 6” gun the load moves at 1,305 ft/sec. When
plugged in to the calculator we get energy of 756 ft/lbs, momentum
of 37, and a TKO of 13. This makes the .357 a good choice for hunting
and woods carry in the lower 48 and some would argue Alaska as well
but we wont have that argument here. Caliber arguments are long
and never really get far, but, if you look at the data certain things
fly off the page. The .357 shines in the data when you have a heavier
bullet and a longer barrel. Other calibers do better when the barrel
length is shorter, but for a one gun option, the .357 has great
potential. As a good example the 10mm and .357 are compared quite
often, when the bullet weight is 200 grain (for instance) and a
standard Glock 20 is compared to a 6” .357 the .357 most often
wins the numbers game hands down. As the .357 barrel length is shortened,
the 10mm starts to shine. A 6” .357 blows the .45 ACP out of
the water (using a M1911 with a 5" barrel), and quickly starts
heading toward .44 Magnum numbers. (But it does not, however, get
there).

Read
the rest of the article

December
1, 2010

James
Wesley, Rawles is a former U.S. Army Intelligence officer and a
noted author and lecturer on survival and preparedness topics. He
is the author of Patriots:
A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse
and is the editor
of SurvivalBlog.com
the popular daily web journal for prepared individuals living in
uncertain times.

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