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I got my new Ruger SP101 (.357) this past weekend. I have been doing some target practice at the range behind the barn. I have been mostly shooting .38 Specials although I did buy a box of .357 Mag and have shot a few of them also.

My question is what would be the best/most practical load for personal defense? I have been looking at the ballistics for the Remington 125 gr Golden Sabre in .357. They are close ballistically to the .45 ACPs I shoot in my Glock 21 and Kimber 1911. I realize there are more powerful .357 load available but are they more practical??

Thanks, Norm,
 

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Any of the 125 gr hollow points should make for a good load as they are the loads all others are compared to. Heavier bullets tend to over penetrate and exit with enough force to potentially injure others beyond. Lighter bullets may not penetrate enough as they are moving at a very high velocity and often expand very rapidly rather than in a more controlled fashion giving deeper penetration. I personally do not care for 357 mag ammunition for most of my self defense usage as the recoil can be fairly stout and more importantly, most of the loads have quite a bit of muzzle flash which can cause some blindness in less than bright lighting. One will need to experiment some to find a load with minimal flash; I found that the same load in a different gun can have varying flash characteristics. I would try the Remington min-range 357 mag and Hornady TAP (if it comes in a 357 version) first as they are specifically mad for this use. After that I would try any of the other brands of self defense loads from Winchester, Federal, Speer, etc. I got to the point I loaded up with 125 gr 38 Spl +P Federal Nyclad hollow points all year round and kept a speed loader or two of 357s for "emergencies". Unfortunately, the Nyclads are no longer in production so that option is no longer available.
 

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Simple --

125 or 158 gr. JHP in a "reputable brand." I tend to stick with "The Big Five" -- Winchester, Remington, Peters, Federal, CCI. Not in any particular order.

.357 mag is designed as a defense round. 125 and 158 gr. JHP are designed as defense bullets. 125 gr. sometimes recoils slightly less than 158 gr.

But sometimes the 125 gr. are loaded for higher velocity than the 158 gr. and the joule rating, ft/lbs -- "energy" -- of the two loads can be very similar.

I'm a big believer in the heavier bullet in ANY defense load. Other shooters swear by the 125 gr. JHP.

.357 magnum is seriously lethal in any defense load, any defense/JHP bullet weight. You're not tweakin' trajectory at distance like in a rifle.
 

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A .357 125 grain full house load is one of the most effective combat loads available. However it may not be your best choice.The recoil is on the heavy side especially in a smaller frame revolver not to mention the flash and the sound level in a small room will probably blow out your ear drums. If you live in an apartment complex and miss you could wind up shooting your next door neighbor. For these reasons you may want to consider a 125 gr 38+P or a less than full power personal defense load that some manufacturers offer.
 

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Yet another option . . .
The 110-gr loads have less recoil for follow up shots, and are just darn easier to shoot. A lot has to do with the gun you're shooting. Small framed guns like your SP101 can be a handful with the 125 and 158-gr. loads. My wife shot them for years in hers (3"), but really likes the 110-gr. now. I've even started using them in my 2.5" K-frame Model 19.

Of course, joelusmc had a good idea with the .38+Ps. After all, it's gonna be shot placement as the primary factor. Which ever one you can shoot the best.
 
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