357 Magnum Archives -
June 19th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

Battle of the two powerhouse handguns.
Yeh, I think most gun enthusiasts understand how powerful both these handguns are.
For the non-gun educated, the term .357 magnum itself is enough to bring fear into their minds.
Both the Glock 10mm and the .357 magnum are serious personal defense calibers.
Which caliber is best against real muscles or something that simulates it?
YouTuber mark3smle tests this out by demonstrating which caliber is capable of against a ballistic gel.
Ballistic gelatin is a testing medium scientifically correlated to swine muscle tissue (which in turn is comparable to human muscle tissue), in which the effects of bullet wounds can be simulated.
This is probably what you need to understand, is that the ballistic gel gives you an idea of the path of the bullet when it penetrates a target tissue that is similar to real muscle.

You can observe the length of the penetration and the thickness of the canal. Normally, the beginning entrance is usually where its thick.
This thickness is the density of where muscle tissues are being damaged.

These two powerful cartridges penetration are quite impressive. Traditionally, the .357 magnum has a long track record of a mini-hand cannon for personal defense.
In mark3smle test you can see the .357 penetration at 22 inches.
The 10mm is a newcomer in the hunting world, but has become a big player in the market for bear hunters or anyone needing extra power. The 10mm penetration was around 16 inches.

Without talking about the numbers, both calibers are very impressive for power. If you’re an auto frame person, go with a Glock 10mm.
If you’re into Dirty Harry mini hand cannon, go with a .357 mag.
But keep in mind it is also about shot placement, if you get your shot onto a vital target then it doesn’t matter if you have a 10mm or a 357 magnum. Both will do the job.

Which would you carry?, Let us know below.

Posted in Handguns Tagged with: ,

June 14th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

Any time we talk about handgun cartridge comparisons, the .357 magnum vs 9mm comes up and is a good talk.
These two cartridges are very popular for personal defense. However, when debates are in motion within the two school of thoughts, objectivity isn’t always clear.
In this segment we’ll compare the ballistics and performance of these two cartridges next to each other with an unbiased approach not on implying on one cartridge is better than the other.
When it comes time for you to choose which is the better, it’s all about picking the cartridge that is going to work for your and prepare for potential shooting scenarios.
We’ll try to objectively present various scenarios both the .357 Magnum or the 9mm can serve you better. Lets start off with some numbers.
For the number geeks here you go:

  .357 Mag 9mm
Parent Casing .38 Special 7.62x21mm Parabellum
Bullet Diameter .357” .355”
Neck Diameter .379” .380”
Base Diameter .379” .391”
Case Length 1.29” .745”
Overall Length 1.59” 1.169”
Case Capacity 26.2gr 13.3gr
Max Pressure (SAAMI) 35,000psi 34,000psi
Velocity 1,450 fps 1,180 fps

.357 Mag vs 9mm Average Bullet Velocity (ft.s)

Yards 0 25 50 100
.357 Mag 1415.6 1360 1242.6 1144.5
9mm 1108 1052.2 1010.4 950.1

There’s the numbers but theres more to it than just numbers. Its like saying my gun is bigger than yours. Between the .357 magnum and 9mm, unfortunately its more like comparing apples and oranges.
The cartridge information gives us a general look at stopping power and the ability to get a bullet on target, but it is missing an essential component which is terminal performance. Also known as “terminal ballistics” which means seeing how a projectile behaves when it hit its target and transfer its kinetic energy to the target. This type of test is usually done on a ballistic gel.

When you look at the paper figures, it would seem the shorter 9mm is far more efficient. This is true when bullets of 100 to 124 grains are considered.
The 9mm gets plenty of velocity worked up in its short case. However, the short case does not allow the use of heavier bullets at high velocity. As such, 147 grains is the practical limit for 9mm defensive bullets.
The maximum velocity with these bullets is generally regarded as about 1180 fps.
Economically, 9mm’s are more readily available and affordable.
.357 Magnum
The 357 Magnum offers superior energy and velocity with heavy bullets at the expense of greater recoil. Muzzle blast is also a drawback.
With a proper formulation and good powder technology, the 125- to 145-grain loads may be very efficient.
There is also more leeway in the revolver cartridge to use bullets with an open nose.

Yes there are more information on ballistics that we haven’t cover in this article. But when we talk about these cartridges for personal or home defense. At within 20 yards, there is no difference ballistically between these two rounds that would make us lean more one way or the other.
In the hands of someone proficient with either type of handguns (.357 Mag or 9mm) making an accurate shot is easy.
If an in-experienced user is shooting multiple shots with a .357 Mag, dealing with a bigger recoil can make it harder to shoot accurately.
Shot placement is not part of ballistics but it can be the X factor in defending oneself.
In the End
If life is as easy as doing ballistics comparisons, then it would be a no-brainer to state that the .357 Magnum trumps the 9mm.
The .357 Mag itself can send a same-size, same-weight bullet flying at much faster velocities which results to better terminal ballistics.
Choosing a heavier cartridge isn’t going to be easier, and superior ballistics doesn’t necessarily mean a particular cartridge/caliber is better than another.
The decision pretty much depends on how comfortable and experienced a shooter is willing to spend on the ammo and how much usage of the handgun.
So for the power dominate focused and you don’t care how much to spend on ammo – go with the .357 Magnum.
For the folks that want a more affordable ammo and have plenty to practice and shoot with. Plus the readily availability of this ammo is huge – go with the 9mm.
Whatever you choose, one or the other or both, with some practice, you are going to have a cartridge that is going to serve you well for years to come.

Here’s a list of price for the .357 Mag and 9mm: These prices are in the ball park, you’ll have to shop around within your local stores or on the internet.

Ammunition Price
.357 Mag Federal Personal Defense Jacketed Hollow Point 125gr $19.29 (20 Rounds)
.357 Mag Winchester Super-X 158gr $25.00 (20 Rounds)
.357 Mag Hornady FTX Critical Defense 125gr $32.60 (20 Rounds)
.357 Mag Federal Hydra-Shok Low Recoil 130gr $22.49 (20 Rounds)
.357 Mag Hornady American Gunner XTP JHP 125gr $16.49 (25 Rounds)
9mm Federal Personal Defense HST 147gr $25.99 (20 Rounds)
9mm+p Speer Gold Dot Personal Protection 124gr $23.99 (20 Rounds)
9mm Winchester FMJ 124gr $13.99 (20 Rounds)
9mm Hornady Critical Duty FlexLock 135gr $22.99 (20 Rounds)
9mm Federal Hydra-Shok Low Recoil 135gr $24.99 (20 Rounds)

Which cartridge would you go with?

Posted in Ammo Tagged with: ,

April 2nd, 2018 by jhines

[su_heading size=”30″]Which Caliber would you Use in a SHTF Scenario?[/su_heading]

There are always debates on which is the better carry handgun and we get down to the ballistics, which is better?, a .357 Magnum or a 45ACP?
357vs45acpMost of us gun enthusiasts understand the differences between the two ammo and how powerful it is. But sometimes its good to see the visual effects of the ballistics. The following is a penetration comparison of the two ammo and it is the un-scientific approach. Basically shoot at different type of objects and observe the effects.
The other consideration that we’ll talk about is which one fits the SHTF scenario.

Ok lets watch Youtuber TheFireArmGuy unleashes mayhems on some objects with his .357 and .45 ACP.

It’s always a great match up that clearly defines the legendary stopping power of .45 ACP at shorter ranges, with .357 performing better for penetration at longer distances.

Historically, the .45 ACP was specifically designed for the US Army to be a knock down round at short distances; intended to put a man down with just a couple of shots and the impact on the masonry that you see in the video clearly shows this.

The .357 is more rifle-like and longer casing keeps a higher velocity at farther distances so this round out performed on the hardwood at longer ranges. Currently, it is a popular caliber, even hunters use it in carbines for that very good performance over longer ranges when compared to other pistol calibers.
Is it good enough for SHTF?
This question has come up many times, but when trying to figure out the logic of using one of these two calibers. (this isn’t a scientific answer)
One factor will be your location and preferences.
For example someone that lives in Alaska will probably go with a .44 Magnum, but someone in Michigan would use a Ruger GP100 .357. Also, this caliber is better for longer range than a .45ACP.
.45 ACP users are mostly EDC personal defense carriers and those that love the big bores.
For the availability of these rounds unfortunately, not as likely as a 9mm.

How about you all, which do you prefer or maybe you’re packing one of these, let us know in the comment below.

Source: TheFireArmGuy Youtube, Andy Van Loan

Posted in Handguns Tagged with: , ,

February 19th, 2018 by AmSJ Staff

There is a lot of love for semi-auto pistols nowadays, but it is hard to beat the reliability, power and clean manufacturing of a revolver. In this TFB Review, we take a look at the stout Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum with a 2 3/4″ barrel.

model 66 Specifications

The Smith & Wesson Model 66 comes in two different configurations of barrel lengths from the factory. Consumers can either choose a 4.25″ or a 2.75″ barrel option. The specific variation of the Model 66 that we took to the range is the 2.75″ option.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

The rundown of specifications for both Model 66 revolvers follows as such with only the barrel and overall length differentiating the two options:

  • Caliber: .357 Magnum / .38 Special + P
  • Capacity: 6-Round Cylinder
  • Barrel Length: 2.75″
  • Overall Length: 7.8″
  • Front Sight: Red Ramp
  • Rear Sight: Adjustable Black Blade
  • Action: Single-Action / Double-Action
  • Grip: Synthetic
  • Weight: 33.5 Ounces
  • Cylinder, Barrel & Frame Material: Stainless Steel
  • Purpose: Competitive Shooting, Home Protection & Recreational Shooting

The MSRP of the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum is $849.

The Model 66 is a K-frame revolver by Smith & Wesson. The K-frame was originally introduced in 1899 specifically for the .38 S&W Special cartridge. So to see the Model 66 in a K-frame size as a .357 Magnum is pretty unique even if the outward appearance is pretty unassuming. It also boasts a 2-piece barrel, a full-length extractor rod, and a ball-detent lock-up mechanism.

Model 66

[Left to Right] S&W Model 686 barrel compared to S&W Model 66 2-piece barrel

Overall, the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum is very close in size to a Smith & Wesson Model 686. Most people should appreciate the leaner K-frame of the Model 66 versus the beefier L-frame of the Model 686 if you are contemplating purchasing a shorter barrel length like this revolver we reviewed.

Trigger time

Unboxing the revolver at the range, it comes with your standard issue of contents. You receive an owner’s manual, cable lock, red chamber flag (plastic disc to set on the cylinder facing when closed) and a key set for the internal lock. From the factory it comes clean and dry; not excessively oiled or lubed.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

To get a good feel for this revolver, both .38 Special and .357 Magnum target rounds were fired. The .38 Special rounds were very enjoyable, controllable and light to shoot. The .357 Magnum rounds were still controllable but had a lot more snap. The snap was not surprising, but the fact that it was easily controllable with the moderate-sized handle was a pleasant surprise. The power of the .357 Magnum cartridge hit your hand hard, but the dexterity from the rubber grip and its length helped control it.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

The single-action trigger pull of the Model 66 was very light and crisp. The break of the trigger was definitive and clean. Even with the shorter 2.75″ barrel, essentially anywhere I aimed I was hitting that mark perfectly.

The double-action trigger pull was consistently heavy from the initial pull up until the break of the trigger. So while it was heavy, there was no feeling of stacking or a compounding resistance that would make you squirm wondering when the double-action trigger may finally fire. The break of the double-action trigger pull, just like the single-action, was definitive and smooth.

After methodically firing 100 rounds (50 rounds of .38 SPL and 50 rounds of .357 Mag), I gained a few other impressions and thoughts about the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum.

post-range thoughts

After all of the firing stopped and the earmuffs came off I had a few more thoughts about the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum revolver. For one, I would have liked to have seen the rear sight have a white outline of some kind.

Model 66

[Left to Right] S&W Model 686 rear sight compared to S&W Model 66 rear sight

I hail from MN so this range day was conducted indoors and most indoor ranges (ironically enough) have really poor lighting in the shooter’s bay, but phenomenal lighting out by your target. As a result, even with young eyes, you have to work to drop that red ramp front sight exactly where you need it to be.

Model 66

Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum

The Smith & Wesson Model 686, by comparison, comes with a white outline rear sight standard. I would believe these sights should transfer over easily enough and I would like to see those on the Model 66 as well.

I view the Smith & Wesson Model 686 as a benchmark of features and quality for revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum. So a lot of the comparisons I make will treat that as the yardstick.

A 2nd item that differs from the Model 66 in comparison to a lot of the other revolvers Smith & Wesson puts out is the black accents. On most Smith & Wesson revolvers the trigger, hammer, cylinder release and potentially other small pieces will be case-colored; that swirled look of almost running water on metal. It can be very beautiful when done well, but I thought the black accented features on the Model 66 was a refreshing change from what has become standard protocol for Smith & Wesson.

Model 66

[Bottom Left to Top Right] S&W Model 66 (note black accents) versus S&W Model 686 (note case-colored accents)

As you can see above, on the Model 66 the extractor rod, cylinder release, trigger, and hammer are all accented black. They appear more pronounced in a profile image like this and better match the black grips. In comparison to the Model 686, the case-colored pieces get almost washed-out when paired with a brushed stainless finish and are not as easily noticed or appreciated.

Another attribute of the Model 66 I liked was the satin stainless finish. You might be thinking that is not a big deal, but let me explain. Once again, a standard Model 686 provides a brushed stainless finish. Often times, you can see actual brush marks on a brushed stainless finish leading the user to almost believe a new revolver is… used. The satin stainless finish appears cleaner, exhibits no finishing marks and its matte appearance looks clean even after shooting a lot of rounds.

Model 66

[Left to Right] S&W Model 686 (note brushed stainless finish) versus S&W Model 66 (note satin stainless finish)

A final thought I have on the Model 66 is the black rubber grip. The rubber material is very tacky and gives you great dexterity when shooting .357 Magnum rounds. So all-in-all, the large grip accomplishes what it sets out to do which is give the user a sturdy purchase to control and accurately fire the revolver.

Since this is only a 2.75″ barrel, I would have liked to potentially see a little smaller grip even with all of those positive, previous comments. I would not put this specific variation of the Model 66 into the category of a range pistol even though it shot really well. Its outward appearance and likely intended purpose would be for carrying; whether that is concealed or open. So to have a shorter handle would benefit anyone trying to carry it.

In summary, I believe the Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum® .357 Magnum revolver is a well thought out pistol. The MSRP of $849 is still within a tolerable range for most people’s checkbooks and my few complaints about a possibly shorter handle and improved rear sight are more personal opinions than engineering flaws.

If you are contemplating purchasing the Model 66, I can confidently say after spending significant time with one that you would not be disappointed.

Posted in Product Reviews Tagged with: , , , , , ,

January 9th, 2017 by jhines

[su_heading size=”30″]The Walk Back Challenge[/su_heading]

Anyone that follows Rob Leatham, who is known for his pistol shooting prowess knows about his “the Walk Back Challenge” drill.
Basically the drill starts at the 50 yard take a shot with your pistol, if you hit the full size steel target. Proceed to the 100 yard, you keep repeating this drill until you’ve reached a distance where you miss the target. Normally this is around the 200 to 250 yard range.

In this demonstration Larry Vicker using a Glock 20 which shoots a 10mm, the power is between a .357 and 41 Magnum. This pistol is ideal not only for home and self defense. But, it may be a perfect fit for hunters and back packers as well. Consider having 2 magazines which houses 15 rounds each, thats a total of 30 magnum power at your disposal. With the flatter trajectory of the 10mm rounds theres a good chance you can reach out and touch something if needed.

Check out the footage below and whats the farthest that you’ve shot with a pistol?

Source: Vickers Tactical, TacTV

Posted in Handguns Tagged with: , , , , ,