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.357 Mag vs .40 Cal

Discussion in 'Handguns' started by MerdachPKP, May 23, 2012.

    MerdachPKP Empty Pockets

    I know the standard progression of ammo in order of "power" is .380, 9mm, .40 cal, and then .45. And for revolvers it goes .22, 38 special, .357 mag, and then 44 Mag. I know I'm missing a few loads but these are the most common.

    My question is how do some of the common rounds for revolvers compare to ammo for semi autos?

    How would the best in class self defense load in .357 mag compare to the best in class self defense load in 40 cal or .45?

    38 special compared to .380 or 9mm?

    I was looking at my Glock 23 and my Smith and Wesson 686 and didn't know which one had more "knock down power". Same thing for my smith and wesson 642 and a 9mm.

    paaiyan Loaded Pockets

    I'm going to call .357 and .40S&W pretty close probably. .357 edges .40 out in pure energy numbers because it's a very high velocity cartridge, but in inertia it's closer because velocity isn't squared in that formula, so as far as actual penetration they're probably very, very similar.

    As for your second comparison, 9mm para/luger destroys .38 special and .380.

    saniterra Loaded Pockets

    You are entering murky waters here pilgrim. There are many "experts" that come to many different conclusions. Fast and light bullets, heavy and slow, "one-shot" stops, wound cavity - in ballistic jell, after action reports on various shooting incidents, wound/killing tests on sheep and so forth. There are a few generalizations such as .22, .25, .32 and .380 are, in order, generally the weakest rounds in automatics, though there is some though that the .22 is better than the .25. Generally the 9mm +p and the .38 +p and pretty much a wash. The .357Sig in 125 gr is supposed to match the ballistic characteristics of the .357 magnum in 125 gr.. Of course you can get a more powered up round for the .357 mag. The .44 mag, insofar as a self-defense round, is obviously the most powerful round you have listed, yet is generally rated lower than the .357Sig, .357mag,.40 S&W and .45acp due to over-penetration of the .44. Sheer ballistics data on the .45acp shows that the round has less kinetic energy than the .40S&W, .357Sig and mag, but it rates very high in ballistic jell wound cavity and after action reports. Bottom line, there are many ways to evaluate these rounds and many different conclusions that can be developed. Personally I would recommend that you find a round and a firearm that you shoot well, including accuracy and speed of follow up shots, and stick with it .Don't forget that there are some good rounds that you don't have listed: .38 Super, 10mm, .41 mag, .45 GAP. And if you're looking for self-defense for a grizzly bear, do consider the .454 Casull. Sorry that I cannot provide a more definitive answer. I would be surprised if anyone else can either.
    Last edited by saniterra, May 23, 2012

    gdwtvb Loaded Pockets

    To add another variable, barrel length. A .357 out of a two inch snub is not the same thing out of a six inch tube. The single most important factor is shot placement. And that means practice, practice, practice. James Bond notwithstanding, there is a pretty good general concensus that the .380 is only marginally effective and is the smallest serious self defense round. 9MM and up are all reasonable self defense rounds. I would worry more about which one you personally shoot well and will always have with you rather than what one performs best in theory. .44 magnum is a little much for self defense, not many people are capable of a .44 double tap...Also dangerous to people on the other side of the walls if in a house.

    Now I will freely admit to being somewhat of a hypocrite because my main carry gun is a NAA .22 magnum. Better the gun you carry than the one left home in the safe.


    dmattaponi Loaded Pockets

    I think you've already been well informed, and I agree that in general you'd be equally well served by any of the major self-defense calibers. IMO it really comes down to what platform you prefer. For instance, I like Glock, but I don't like the 40 caliber in Glock. I think that the Glock was designed around the 9mm, and is at its best in 9mm. Potential bullet setback, lack of case support, etc., combine to make the 40 Glock less desirable to me. I'd much rather have a 357 revolver than a 40 caliber Glock. Stopping power in a 4in barrel 357 is going to be comparable to the 40. The 40 may make a bigger hole, and there are those that would argue that the bigger hole is better, but the 357 revolver is going to give you a lot of versatility in ammo selection. You can select from light shooting 38 to heavy hitting 357 hunting rounds, so again it depends on what you may want to use the gun for. To take this a little further, I don't think the 38 is equal to the 9mm if we are talking about the 2in snubs (like your 642) that most people carry. Now in a 4in barrel I think they are comparable. Again it would come down to platform...a 5 shot 2in snub, or a 10 shot Glock 26 with a quick 17 round reload. Now in this comparison, I think the Glock is superior in every way, except the ease of carry that the 642 allows, specifically pocket carry.
    Last edited by dmattaponi, May 23, 2012
    • In Omnia Paratus

    amacman Loaded Pockets

    So far the conversation has only centered around factory loaded rounds, if you look at the potential when reloading, then .357 mag can absolutely eclipse the auto rounds mentioned. Out of my 6.5" barrel Taurus 607 (7 shot large frame) I can get a 125gr JHP through the crony right at 2000fps. If I drop down to 110 gr JHP I can get just over 2100fps. If I'm hunting bigger game (wild boar, whitetails...etc) then I can use a 180gr Nosler partition and move it downrange at almost 1500fps. The only thing that comes close in mainstream autos is 10mm from specialty ammo companies like Double Tap and Cor-bon.

    In a single shot pistol or rifle, .357 can give you velocities right up to 2400 fps. Just 200-300 fps behind the 30.30 rifle.

    Kilted1 Loaded Pockets

    Have a look at this PDF chart. Looks like the winner (of the cartridges mentioned by the OP) is the .357. Since the question was about "knock down power" I take this to mean muzzle energy (mass of bullet times square of velocity) since defensive ranges are short, 50+ yard energies don't apply.

    There's lots of data out there, the linked chart was just the first one that looked relevant but not over the top. There's nothing wrong with having the opinions here but there is so much data available and it's too easy to look it up. Now when it comes to choosing a load or platform, that's a whole different thing. For me, in the city, anything .380 or bigger is probably sufficient. In the sticks, I like a .357 in case of cougar, bear, wolf, etc. Of course there was that cougar in the middle of town a couple of days ago...

    After that, it's more a matter of what you like than what is sufficient.

    Firepoint Loaded Pockets

    I don't look forward to being shot by any of them. Particularly if the cartridge is larger than a 9mm and the shooter is a motivated, angry wife. I'll probably live, but with her aim, it won't be worth it.
    Bama Joe likes this.
    • In Omnia Paratus

    evolutionglitch Loaded Pockets

    There are so many factors that this thread could get stupid really quick but for the purposes of shooting humans, defensively of course, .357 sig slighlty edges out .40 s&w for damage done to human. .357 mag edges out .357 sig. .45 believe it or not is between .40 and .357 sig. They are all surprisingly close in real world situations. If you want a basic breakdown from least effective to most effective on human tissue like targets I'll list it but keep in mind there are a lot of other factores come in to play. .25, .22lr, .32acp, .22wmr, .380acp, .38spl, 9mm, 38spl +p, 9mm +p, .40s&w, 9mm +p+, .45acp, .357 sig, .357 mag. Feel free to dispute, disregard, or use this info as you see fit.
    Kilted1 likes this.

    MattW Loaded Pockets

    I usued to shoot [empty] propane bottles as targets. A .40 or .45 puts a significant dent in one, and lobs the mushroomed bullet back toward you (I have a great sample here somewhere). A 357 pops right through both sides with energy to spare. So, if you ever need to shoot THROUGH something other than mushy meat, 357 wins hands down. You'll probably have much better follow up shot times with the .40 though. Gotta add the normal disclaimers, about the best gun being the one you have with you, the one with which you can hit your target, the one you can use as a club after you run out of ammo... blah, blah, blah.
    Kilted1 likes this.

    Kilted1 Loaded Pockets

    MattW, your post and the accompanying pic remind me that the worlds record (for a while) Kodiak brown bear (Grizzly) was taken with a .22 pistol at point blank range through the roof of the bears mouth while the shooter was being attacked. It really is all about shot placement but sometimes it's nice to have something bigger.

    Sriracha Loaded Pockets

    Don't worry about the caliber. Worry about shot placement.
    Bama Joe likes this.

    IMightBeWrong Loaded Pockets

    These may not be an apples to apples comparison since the rounds aren't from the same manufacturer plus we don't know what differences in rifling, barrel length, etc are playing, but they still might prove useful to some of you guys to help you form your own opinions so I figured they might be worth sharing.

    Overall, I don't think it's debatable that the .357 Magnum is at least a little bit more powerful overall. It's more often compared to .45 and other magnum cartridges than .40. But to what extent? I dunno!

    Bama Joe Empty Pockets

    Like the others mentioned, shot placement is the key. There actually is no such thing as literal "knock down power" other than in the movies. Most likely when shot the person will simply crumple to the ground regardless of what they're hit with. (May not apply to any round under 9mm) ;) Personally I prefer the standard size ammo such as 9mm, .38sp or .45ACP and I own a couple of each. This is what works for me.

    Even shot placement is no guarantee as there have been numerous documented cases of shots to the head and even heart that are not fatal.

    In a perfect situation one would place 2 shots say between the nipples, (Iupper body) and 1 in the groin area as this gives you the best chance at heart and lungs while the groin is rich in blood vessels/artery along with the gunshot wound to the pelvic girdle that will put the bad guy on the ground most every time.

    The MOST important thing is to be mentally prepared to pull the trigger regardless of your weapon. :)
    Last edited by Bama Joe, Jun 29, 2012
    • GITD Manix 2XL Owner

    Mumbojumboo EDC Junkie!!!!!

    • In Omnia Paratus

    jmac30 Loaded Pockets

    Mumbo love that zipper used to run an n frame in 41 mag they are great!
    To the OP as in previous replies shot placement rules and the best caliber is the one you can practice with good luck

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