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Link Posted: 2/25/2010 3:14:01 PM EDT
I have read LE accounts of the 125 gr. SJHP loads having a lightning bolt effect even when the suspect is hit in a non-vital area.   I've read the same for a Texas LE unit that used the .357 Sig caliber and how they missed that effect when they had to switch to back to .45 ACP.
Link Posted: 2/25/2010 4:12:23 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/25/2010 4:25:14 PM EDT

I have read LE accounts of the 125 gr. SJHP loads having a lightning bolt effect even when the suspect is hit in a non-vital area.   I've read the same for a Texas LE unit that used the .357 Sig caliber and how they missed that effect when they had to switch to back to .45 ACP.

Hoo boy - while I don't discount that there are some good .357 loads out there, I think there's a whole lot of "nostalgia" at work here and I would be interested if that's backed up by reports from the medical examiner. It's like the guys who insist that Monster Cable is just so much better than cheaper cables.

Well, the monster cable well could have a lower OHM resistance. That is very quantifiable. "lightning bolt" effects...not so much.

Link Posted: 2/25/2010 10:08:56 PM EDT


Ask any cop who was working in the 1960's and 1970's what they think about .38 Special, why some were willing to get into trouble for using +P loads, and finally, why almost everyone switched to .357 Mag.

I totally agree with you about the old bullets not having consistent expansion, but penetration was also an issue if any sort of barrier was encountered.

All my knowledge from that time period is second hand, but my dad worked with many ex LAPD officers during that time period, and they used to tell us stories when we were kids about this stuff. Plus my FFL is an ex cop from that time period and he basically says the same thing. They loved their .357 Mags but felt undergunned with the .38's.

We're not in the 60's and 70's anymore. The .357 used velocity to make up for .38spl shortcomings. With today's loads, that's not necessary.

As I said, penetration was also a major issue. Current bullet designs limit penetration even more, if anything.

We'll probably never know if the current bullets are effective, given very few departments use .38 Special as their primary weapon (For backup, sure, but not primary.)
Link Posted: 2/26/2010 5:36:58 AM EDT
I can't recall where all i've seen the .357 Mag's lightning bolt effect discussed but I did a quick search and found this article written by Massad Ayoob.

.357 Magnum

One cartridge stands above all others in this caliber in the history of American law enforcement: the 125-grain semi-jacketed hollow point loaded to a velocity in the 1,400 fps range (from a 4-inch barrel). Some experts argue whether the wide-mouthed Federal version of this load, or the scallop-jacket Remington version that originally popularized the 125-grain .357 among cops, is the single best of the breed.

It seems to be an argument akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. The Winchester 125-grain Magnum load does not have either of those features, but worked every bit as well for such departments as the Maine State Police when they carried .357 revolvers.

This round tends to create a wound channel that is nine to 11 inches deep, but very wide, with tremendous damage around the radius of the wound track. It also has a nasty muzzle blast and pretty sharp recoil. The great combat shooting trainer and champion, Ray Chapman, used to say that the 125-grain Magnum load’s almost magical stopping power was the only reason to load .357 instead of .38 Special +P ammunition into a fighting revolver chambered for the Magnum round. I agree.

When departments such as City of Indianapolis Police Department, and the state troopers of Kentucky and Indiana issued that load, there were literally tons of bad guys shot with 125-grain Magnums, and they tended to go down “right now.” Texas Department of Public Safety personnel were known to refer to this round’s “lightning bolt effect,” and I knew Kentucky troopers who called it “the magic bullet.”

Even though velocity dropped considerably from the 2.5-inch barrels of Indiana State Police detectives’ Combat Magnums, or from the 3-inch Military & Police .357s of Indianapolis plainclothesmen, the bad guys seem to go down just as fast. The 125-grain .357 Magnum semi-jacketed hollow point earned its title, bestowed by expert Ed Sanow, as “King of the Street,” and this remains the Magnum load of choice today. I have no personal preference among the Federal, Remington, and Winchester brands.

Link Posted: 2/26/2010 6:11:21 AM EDT
Link Posted: 2/26/2010 9:57:13 AM EDT
I'd like to remind you all, this is a technical forum.  If you want to post Massad Ayoob articles that claim Ed Sanow is a "bestowed expert", there is a General Discussion forum.  I'm serious though!

Before someone posts the infamous Massad Ayoob article many have dubbed ".357sig Versus Semi", I advise you to get ALL the facts of that shooting, not the ones that where nit-picked.

As for Texas DPS, they switched from .357mag revolvers to the Sig P220.  Then they switched to the Sig P226, P229, and possibly P239 in .357sig.  When using the P220 in .45acp, they used 230gr Fed HydraShok.  When they went to .357sig, they chose the Speer GDHP.  One of the eraly reccomendations was instead of switching to .357sig altogether, they switch their .45acp carry loads.  They ended up doing both.

As for the topic at hand, if I have a 586 or 686, my choice would be the Winchester 180gr Partition Gold.  This isnt made anymore since Winchester decided to be dumb, and diss the bullet designer.  If you look around though, you can still find it.  That said, my next choice is a tie between Federal's loading of the Barnes bullet or Remington's 158gr+P LSWCHP.  Say I come across a 50rd box of the Remington 158gr+P LSWCHP and a 20rd box of the Federal 140gr XPB for the same price.  I'll take that .38spec load.
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