The Best .357 Magnum Ammo for Range Training

.357 magnum revolver

Using .357 Magnum ammo for range training gives the shooter options regarding the type of weapon. The ammunition switches easily from a handgun to a rifle for a well-rounded test of one’s skills. The .357 cartridge remains popular with trainers, hobbyists, and professionals because of its versatility. Additionally, a .357 Magnum handgun can fire a .38 Special ammo. The cases of the two rounds match each other except for the length. Manufacturers made that deliberate design choice to prevent shooters from firing the .357 from a .38 Special revolver. The .357’s pressure rates higher than a .38 Special and could cause harm to the shooter or damage to the handgun.

History

The .357 Magnum cartridge was designed and developed in the mid-1930s by a team of firearms enthusiasts. The project goal included creating ammunition that could compete with Colt’s .38 Super. Elmer Keith, Phil Sharpe and D.B. Wesson of Smith & Wesson and Winchester joined forces to top Colt’s breadwinner. Criminals began to outsmart police and the police needed to fight back. Colt’s .38 Super was the only ammo on the market that fired at over 1,000 FPS. High velocity gave the ammo the ability to penetrate auto glass and ballistics vests. The gangster era had begun, and the cops couldn’t take down targets when they hid behind their automobiles or wore bulletproof vests. The .357 Magnum ammo allowed law enforcement to retake the streets while providing a versatile round for military, law enforcement, and civilians.

Current specs

The design team modified the original .357 Magnum slightly to incorporate Sharpe’s bullet. Currently, it’s known as the .357 S&W Magnum or 9x33mmR. The rimmed centerfire cartridge houses a .357-inch (9.1mm) diameter bullet housed in a case measuring 1.29-inches in length. The total length of the cartridge is 1.59-inches. According to SAAMI, the ammo’s maximum pressure is 35,000 PSI with an average muzzle velocity of 1,090 FPS.

The 1924 design loaded the .357 load with a bullet weight of 158 grains. The muzzle velocity clocked at an impressive 1,510 FPS. Today’s loads offer less muzzle velocity but enough to make the round effective and deadly when needed.

Shooters chamber light carbines in .357 Mag ammo, often for use in guns similar to the American Old West lever-action rifles. Specs differ in a rifle. The ammo exits a rifle barrel at around 1,800 FPS. The high velocity makes the round more versatile popular guns like the .32-20 Winchester.

Popularity and Use

The .357 Magnum ammunition received notoriety for kicking off the “Magnum Era.” The .357 Magnum revolver sparked the attention of law enforcement and military personnel. Soldiers used the gun and ammo throughout WWII and the Vietnam War. General George S. Patton chose the gun as one of his favorite sidearms. He carried an ivory-handled S&W .357 Magnum revolver on one hip and a single action .45 Long Colt on the other.

Law enforcement, military personnel and members of the U.S. Special Forces still use .357 Magnum handguns, mostly as back up pieces to semi-auto pistols.

Shooters continue to choose the dual-purpose cartridge because it is powerful, inexpensive, and can be used in both .357 Magnum handguns and rifles. Most common uses include range training, plinking, home defense, hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. It offers excellent stopping power with manageable recoil.

Range Training

Seasoned shooters recommend regular range training regardless of the person’s experience. Range training keeps a person sharp and improves skills. It also allows shooters to test drive different guns and ammo to see which works best for their needs.

Shooting ranges operate in rural and urban areas. Rural areas host more outdoor ranges since there isn’t a concern about shooting into a building or street. Urban areas have more indoor shooting galleries due to limited space. The containment dampens noise, prevents collateral damage, and other concerns. Indoor ranges operate despite weather conditions. They often restrict caliber and weapon use where outdoor ranges are more accommodating to unusual requests.

Hunters prefer outdoor ranges because the terrain and atmosphere are similar to what they might encounter in the field. Shooting competitions occur most often at outside ranges.

Using Your Ammo

Shooting .357 ammo deters some users from taking it to the range due to a few downsides. First, firing a .357 indoors causes damage to the shooter’s ears, perhaps even if the shooter is wearing hearing protection. The loud report throws off a person’s accuracy and causes one to hesitate when making a second shot. Some shooters chose a .38+P to make follow up shots to avoid the noise. Second, some find the recoil to be too strong. This is especially true when the ammo is used in a short barrel, or snubnose, revolver. Third, a bright muzzle flash causes temporary blindness in the dark. The latter proves to be a problem in a self-defense situation at night.

The real problem lies in the fact that many shooters practice with one ammunition and intend to use another. That makes no sense. Shooters must experience a certain comfort level with the gun and the ammo. If the combination causes problems, then the user should switch to another gun, ammunition, or both. Inexperience or discomfort leads to poor aim and inability to pull the trigger. The shooter freezes at the crucial moment, whether it’s in the field, or during a competition when faced with a large animal or intruder.

Performance

People train for many purposes, including hunting. The .357 ammo performs well against medium-size game like whitetail deer, hogs, and coyotes. Heavier loads face-off with large game like elk, caribou, and bear. Some hunters prefer big bore cartridges like .41 Mag, .44 Mag, .454 Casull, 460 S&W Mag or .50 Action Express. While the .357 gives off less energy, its small diameter and high velocity serve up deep penetration. The round is similar to a .45 Colt but with a flatter trajectory. Those specs make it highly versatile ammunition desirable to many hobbyists and professionals.

Bullet Types

Manufacturers develop new ammunition every day for popular calibers like the .357 Magnum. The most common styles include Full Metal Jacket, Jacketed Soft Point, Jacketed Hollow Point. The list below shows three common types of bullets and their uses.

Full Metal Jacket (FMJ)

FMJ bullets cost less than other rounds which makes them ideal for high volume shooting at the range. The bullet houses a soft center metal (often lead), surrounded by a harder metal, usually copper. The ammo cuts small channels upon impact and as they travel into, or through, the target. FMJs work best in short-range shooting, target practice, range training, plinking, and competition shooting.

Hollow Points (HP)

Most people associate hollow points to self-defense and home protection. HPs cost more than FMJ, but the round performs better in face-to-face confrontations. The ballistics of HPs are comparable to the FMJ.

HPs work best as concealed carry for home protection use. The design allows the bullet to expand, creating a larger wound channel than the FMJ. The expansion offers excellent stopping power, halts attackers quickly and therefore, the shooter is protected.

Soft Points (SP)

Hunters choose soft points more than any other ammunition. The SP expands over and above an FMJ, which makes it ideal for stopping the target in its tracks. The round is comparable to an HP, except for the expansion. An SP allows the shooter to have more control. SP ballistics outshine other bullets, especially when they are made with a boat-tail design. Jacketed Soft Points (JSP) are another option.

Best .357 Mag Training Ammo

Sellier & Bellot 158 Grain FMJ-FN

  • 889 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 158 Grain
  • Full Metal Jacket Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 278 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Tula Ammo 158 Grain FMJ

  • 1,280 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 158 Grain
  • Full Metal Jacket Bullet
  • Steel Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 464 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Fiocchi 142 Grain FMJ-TC

  • 1,420 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 142 Grain
  • Full Metal Jacket Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 636 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Hornady Critical Defense 125 Grain FTX

  • 1,500 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 125 Grain
  • FlexTip Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 824 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Magtech Ammunition 158 Grain .357 Magnum SJSP

  • 1,235 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 125 Grain
  • Full Metal Jacket Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 535 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Tula Ammunition 158 Grain FMJ

  • 1,280 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 158 Grain
  • Full Metal Jacket Bullet
  • Polymer coated steel Casing
  • Boxer Primer

CCI Ammunition Blazer 158 Grain JHP

  • 1,150 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 158 Grain
  • Jacketed Hollow Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • CCI Primer
  • 464 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Sig Sauer Elite Performance Ammunition 125 Grain FMJ

  • 1,450 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 125 Grain
  • Full Metal Jacket Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 584 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Magtech Sport Ammunition 125 Grain FMJ

  • 1,405 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 125 Grain
  • Full Metal Jacket Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 548 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel Ammunition 135 Grain JHP

  • 990 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 135 Grain
  • Jacketed Hollow Point Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 294 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Hornady LEVERevolution 140 gr FTX

  • 1,440 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 140 Grain
  • Hornady FTX Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 644 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Ruger ARX 86 Grain

  • 1,650 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 86 Grain
  • Injection Molded Copper Polymer ARX Projectile
  • Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 552 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Barnes VOR-TX, XPB HP, 140 Grain

  • 1,170 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 140 Grain
  • Solid Hollow Point Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 429 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Federal American Eagle Cartridge 158 Grain JSP

  • 1,240 FPS Muzzle Velocity
  • 158 Grain
  • Jacketed Soft Point Bullet
  • Nickel-plated Brass Casing
  • Boxer Primer
  • 530 ft-lbs. Muzzle Energy

Conclusion

.357 Magnum ammunition continues to be a popular round with many uses. Experts recommend extensive range training with any new ammunition or weapon. Situations happen quickly, often leaving the shooter without time to think. Preparing yourself can mean the difference between life or death. Consider trying several types of ammunition in different bullet weights before deciding which works best for your skillset, experience, and end use.

Law Enforcement Chooses .45 GAP Ammo

Florida Highway Patrol Chooses .45 GAP

Glock introduced .45 Glock Automatic Pistol (GAP) ammunition in 2003. It was the first cartridge manufactured by the Austrian firearms manufacturer. The ammo is a rimless, straight-walled round that shares the same bullet diameter of the .45 Automatic Colt Pistol (ACP). The diameter is .451 inch. The .45 GAP is housed in a .755-inch casing, the same length as a 9mm shell). The cartridge’s overall length is 1.070 inches.

The ammo is made with a big bore bullet and uses a small pistol primer. Its maximum pressure is 23,000 pounds psi. It is ideal for self-defense and concealed carry. The round is suitable for use by civilians, military and law enforcement. It is efficient, accurate, and reliable. Glock has supplied United States law enforcement with more handguns in the last twenty years than any other weapons manufacturer.

Development of the .45 GAP

Glock aimed to design a .45 cartridge for a compact handgun that didn’t have an oversized grip. The design would allow the weapon to be used for concealed carry. In 2003, Glock introduced the Glock 37. They collaborated with ammunition designer Ernest Durham, an engineer with CCI/Speer.

Glock told Speer what it needed in new ammunition. They wanted a .45 caliber bullet housed in a case no longer than the one used for a 9mm Parabellum or .40 S&W. They also requested a cartridge that could easily fit inside a grip similar to their Model 17 or 22 pistols. The size would ensure that the gun could be used by most shooters, regardless of the size of the user’s hand.

Speer delivered the cartridges. The finished product was created using bullets ranging from 165-grain to 230-grain. The .45 GAP ammo’s muzzle energy averages 400 to 500 foot-pounds (ft-lbs).

The Popularity of the .45 GAP

The public quickly embraced the .45 GAP. As a result, several firearms manufacturers made pistols to house the new ammo. The trend died down and eventually Glock and Bond Arms became the only companies to continue production.

Currently, Glock offers several pistols chambered in .45 GAP: Model 37 (full-size), 38 (compact), and 39 (sub-compact).

Some shooters falsely claim that the .45 ACP and .45 GAP are interchangeable. The extractor grooves are cut differently which makes the main difference. Additionally, the .45 GAP uses a small pistol primer whereas the .45 ACP uses a large pistol primer.

Law Enforcement

Glock’s biggest success with the .45 GAP has been with the law enforcement community. Several state law enforcement agencies use the Glock 37 with .45 GAP ammo as standard issue. The ammo has similar fire power and performance compared to the .45 ACP yet is more compact.

Many law enforcement agencies have switched from .45-caliber weapons in favor of guns chambered in 9x19mm and .40 S&W. Despite the trend, three state law enforcement agencies have chosen the .45 GAP as a replacement for their standard issue 9mm Parabellum (New York) or .40 S&W service weapons (Florida and South Carolina). Smaller law enforcement agencies have also chosen to use the Glock 37 and .45 GAP. They include the Burden, Kansas Police Department, Greenville, North Carolina Police Department, and the Berkeley, Missouri Police Department.

The Georgia State Patrol previously carried the Glock Model 37. It has replaced it with the fourth generation 9mm Glock 17. The South Carolina Highway Patrol also abandoned the Glock 37 in favor of the Glock 17 “M” also chambered in 9mm.

The Pennsylvania State Police used the Glock 37 from 2007-2013. Lack of ammunition caused the agency to adopt the fourth generation Glock 21 chambered in .45 ACP. The police experienced recall issues and switched to the SIG-Sauer P227 in .45 ACP.

Types of .45 GAP Ammo

Several ammunition manufacturers produce .45 GAP ammunition, but it’s not a popular round. Most shooters looking for bulk ammunition choose from full metal jacket (FMJ), total metal jacket (TMJ), or jacketed hollow point (JHP) rounds.

  • Full Metal Jacket (FMJ) ammo is a lead bullet enclosed in a metal, typically copper, casing. The casing helps the projectile maintain its shape from firing to impact at the target site. FMJ rounds are typically used for plinking and target shooting. They can also be used for self-defense purposes.
  • Total Metal Jacket (TMJ) ammo is like FMJ in that it uses a lead bullet sheathed in a harder metal. The lead bullet is exposed within the round’s casing, unlike the FMJ. TMJ bullets feature a projectile is encased in copper. The shooter’s exposure to lead is limited due to the cooper casing. Some indoor shooting ranges in the U.S. require this configuration.
  • Jacketed Hollow Point (JHP) ammo also uses a lead bullet encased in copper, but this bullet has a hollow point in its center. The hollow point allows for greater expansion upon impact. The expansion creates a larger entrance wound while reducing the risk of over-penetration.