Top 5 357 Magnum Self Defense Ammo

If you carry a 357 Magnum, you likely know how great of a self-defense round it is. It's been around for nearly 100 years and is one of the most powerful rounds for a handgun. When selecting a defense cartridge and the ammo that comes with it, knowing the details and characteristics of the cartridge and types of ammo can go a long way.

Uses for the 357 Magnum

Home Defense

Protecting your family is important, and the 357 Magnum is a reliable option for that. In close-quarters situations, you’ll likely want to try a hollow point or polymer-tipped style of bullet designed for maximum expansion and energy transfer. These styles of bullet prevent over-penetration and are far less likely to strike innocent bystanders.

Woods Defense

Whether it’s bears, hogs, or other dangerous game, the 357 Magnum Revolver is a trusted woods defense option. Look for deep penetrating bullet styles like flat nose to give you peace of mind in the outdoors. Flat nose cartridges crush through bone and hide for maximum penetration on large targets.

Bullet Weight

 Most 357 Magnum ammo will be between 125 to 180 grains with a velocity between 1,400 to 1,700 FPS. Your selection of bullet weight will depend on your intended use and shooting preference. Heavier bullets generally produce more energy and more recoil. Lighter bullets often produce less recoil, allowing for easier follow-up shots.

Bullet Styles

Jacketed Hollow Point – Jacketed Hollow Point ammunition is one of the most common bullet styles for self-defense. These bullets offer maximum expansion and stopping power.

Polymer Tipped – Polymer Tipped bullets are incredibly reliable but still provide maximum expansion and unmatched consistency. You can trust polymer-tipped bullets like Hornady Critical Defense and Critical Duty to perform every single shot.

Flat Nose – Flat Nose bullets are a great choice for bear defense and other woods defense applications. They offer tremendous stopping power and penetration. You can trust brands like HSM, Underwood, and Buffalo Bore for your flat-nose ammo needs.

Fluted – Fluted bullets have become increasingly popular in defense situations thanks to their easy feeding, reduced weight, impressive velocity, and unmatched performance and reliability.

 We've put together our list of top 5 self defense 357 Magnum ammo below!

1

Hornady Critical Defense 357 Magnum Ammo 125 Grain Hornady FTX Polymer Tip Box of 25

Hornady Critical Defense 357 Magnum Ammunition was purpose built for concealed carry guns and designed to deliver reliable and controlled expansion regardless of target every time. Critical Defense Ammunition is loaded with Hornady's  bullet which has a soft polymer insert that delivers superior controlled expansion and large, deep wound cavities over a wide range of velocities. Each round is loaded into a nickel case for increased visibility in low-light situations and premium low flash propellants that deliver proven performance, even in very short-barreled handguns that will not disrupt your vision. This ammunition was designed by Hornady to expand every single time. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable brass cases.

Features

  • Unaffected by thick and heavy clothing, including denim and leather
  • Bullet delivers superior controlled expansion and large, deep wound cavities over a wide range of velocities
  • Clean burning and efficient propellants reduce recoil in lightweight handguns, and perform consistently at all temperatures
  • Minimal muzzle flash protect night vision
  • Feeds reliably in pistols
  • Bullets are custom designed for individual loads
  • Effective, consistent, reliable self-defense ammunition


Notice From Hornady: Temporary suspension of nickel plated cartridge cases for Critical Defense® Handgun Ammunition 5/25/21

Unfortunately, everyone is faced with production bottlenecks and supply chains are stressed. In particular, the freight system is delayed longer than normal. Our current turnaround time on nickel plating cartridge cases is 4+ weeks. This delay has created a significant bottleneck in the production of ammunition.

Due to these issues, we will suspend nickel plating on all Critical Defense handgun ammunition to help reduce production time. We will resume nickel plating when things return to normal.

 

 

What Customers Are Saying

Ruger LCR 357/38 comparison

I own a Ruger LCR 357. Conducted a penetration test with eight pieces of 1/2" OSB (oriented strand board) clamped tightly together, with three different types of ammo: 38 special Hornady Critical Defense with 110 gr flex tip bullet: Fully penetrated 2 sheets and lodged in the third, with excellent expansion at about twice original diameter. 38 special Independence target load with 130 gr round nose bullet: Fully penetrated 3 sheets and lodged in the fourth, with zero expansion. 357 Hornady Critical Defense with 125 gr flex tip bullet: Fully penetrated 4 sheets and lodged in the fifth with excellent expansion at about twice original diameter. Obvious takeaways: 1. The 357 Critical Defense round provided twice the penetration as the same brand 38 special round. 2. Recoil on the 357 was stout, but not overwhelming. Shooting five rounds was not problem, but I would not want to shoot a whole box in one go. I do have some concern on what it would do to my hearing if fired without protecti...
- Denver, 8/15/2016

About Hornady

“Ten bullets through one hole” is the philosophy that brought Hornady® Manufacturing from a two-man operation in 1949, to a world-leading innovator of bullet, ammunition, reloading tool and accessory design and manufacture today. Change is their constant and daily challenge. They outperform their competitors by ensuring the products they make are the ones their customers need right now, and accurately predict what they’ll want in the future. They recognize trends, and respect when to leave well enough alone. Their workforce includes an ample number of hunters and competitive shooters, as well as veterans and former law enforcement officers. At Hornady® Manufacturing, ammunition is more than their livelihood. It’s a major part of their daily life.

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2

Underwood Ammunition 357 Magnum Ammo 125 Grain Hornady XTP Jacketed Hollow Point Box of 20

While taking advantage of state of the art testing equipment, this high performance ammunition by Underwood is field tested using popular, real firearms that customers are most likely to own out in the real world with all the elements you would experience. If for some reason Underwood Ammunition fails to meet performance expectations, Underwood stands by their product 100% and will make sure the customer is satisfied with every purchase. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable nickel plated brass cases.

 

Hornady XTP bullets were designed for hunting, self-defense, and law enforcement. One of the great things about the XTP bullet is reliable performance, it features controlled expansion where six serrations divide the bullet into six symmetrical sections. These sections weaken the jacket to allow controlled expansion at low velocities and ensures fragmentation does not occur at high velocities. The XTP bullet is really known for its stopping power. They were designed from the beginning to expand reliably at a variety of handgun velocities and deliver deep, terminal penetration with every shot. Most handgun bullets are designed to perform at a single factory-specified velocity where the XTP bullet is designed to offer controlled expansion over a range of velocities. Each XTP Bullet has a swaged core and drawn copper jacket to ensure uniform expansion and in-flight stability. Adding a cannelure to this bullet keeps the core and the jacket locked together while also allowing the cartridge case to tightly crimp, adding security at high velocities. All of Underwood Ammo rounds utilize flash suppressed powder so that your vision will not be compromised if it becomes necessary to use your firearm in low light.

 

The Underwood nickel plating process provides several key benefits including; improved feeding in all actions of firearms, enhanced corrosion resistance over traditional brass, improved cosmetics, and ease of cleanup during reloading. Nickel plated casings will not tarnish like brass during storage or when in contact with foreign materials such as leather, moisture, and other metals. Until the development of the Ducta-Bright 7a process, nickel plating casings often limited the number of reloads as compared to raw brass. It was claimed that nickel plated brass casings embrittled the brass therefore making it less desirable for reloaders despite the ease of cleanup that nickel plating offers. In addition, ammunition engineers raising concerns of using nickel plating in very hot +P or magnum loads found that traditional nickel plating often cracked deep-drawn cases, or worse, lead to a total failure. This new process eliminates any concern, to the shooter or reloader, of hazard or ability to re-use the brass.

 

What Customers Are Saying

Full power and accurate.

Good stuff! This ammunition is the real deal and a true full power Magnum load in an era where most supposedly "Magnum" loadings are actually quite anemic. This is the exception. This is 357 Magnum loaded the way it should be loaded. Out of a 2.25" Ruger SP101 velocity was 1,425 ft per second five shot average at 29° F. There's no doubt that the advertised 1,700 ft per second would be easily obtainable with more barrel length. No crimp failure/bullet jump was experienced, no issues with extraction or ejection due to pressure, and all shots were easily able to be kept within 4 in or less at 25 yards off hand. Recoil was stout as would be expected but manageable for a moderate to experienced shooter and double taps were easily accomplished. I would definitely recommend this as a carry load but only in and all steel framed revolver as a lightweight might not be so manageable.
- Duane, 1/15/2023

About Underwood Ammunition

Kevin Underwood started Underwood Ammo in 2013 after seeing a need in the market for better ammunition at a reasonable price. Some of you may be reading this while on-duty, on-reserve, or while off-duty from protecting our neighborhoods. Where-ever you are - We Salute You. Thank you for your service.

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3

Buffalo Bore Ammunition 357 Magnum Ammo 180 Grain Hornady XTP Jacketed Hollow Point Box of 20

Buffalo Bore loads their ammunition with the highest quality components available to maximize the performance of the ammunition. This ammunition is safe to use in all 357 Magnum chambered firearms with steel frames that are in proper working condition. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable brass cases.

Owner of Buffalo Bore Tim Sundles on Buffalo Bore 357 Magnum Ammunition:

Our 357 mag. ammo adds more power than ever before to the 357 mag. This ammo is safe to shoot in ANY all steel 357 revolver - this includes J frames. This ammo is no harder on your gun than any other normal 357 ammo. Please don't phone us and ask if this ammo is safe in your gun. It is, providing your gun is in safe condition for use with any normal 357 ammo.

 

This load is the result of popular demand. Many folks who hunt deer and medium sized hogs/black bear want an expanding bullet that is heavier than our 158 gr. JHP load. We are utilizing the excellent Hornady XTP bullet and we very much like its accuracy and controlled expansion design. This bullet does expand, so do not expect several feet of straight line penetration like you’ll get with our non-expanding hard cast 180 gr. load. (Item 19A)  When impacting flesh and bone at normal 6-inch revolver speeds, (1500 fps) this bullet will expand readily to about 60 caliber and penetrate about 18-25 inches depending on which bones are struck and the exact impact speed.

We don't recommend this ammo to be fired in super light alloy revolvers as bullets may jump crimp under recoil, but the ammo itself wont hurt these super light weight revolvers. These revolvers are simply so light that the recoil is severe enough to cause crimp jump.

What Customers Are Saying

Wow

This is hot! 180 grains at 1820 feet per second out of my 16.5 inch lever gun is crazy. Perfect, deep expansion from the XTP. I will alternate the 180 hard cast with this, and will not worry a bit against Oklahoma hog.
- vindicator, 8/27/2019 Shop Now
4

Barnes VOR-TX 357 Magnum Ammo 140 Grain Barnes XPB Solid Hollow Point Lead Free Box of 20

Barnes bullets have historically had the reputation of offering quick, clean and humane kills. Now they are taking their highly regarded bullets to the next level loading them in ammunition.

Borrowing technology from the highly successful X Bullet, Barnes offers an all-copper pistol bullet. This new bullet is sure to change the face of pistol hunting forever. The Barnes XPB pistol bullet will deliver more energy than any other bullet available for handguns. In testing, penetration has been increased up to 25% over lead-core bullets, while remaining intact to expand like no other bullet in the world.

VOR-TX ammunition is manufactured to precise tolerances to ensure excellent accuracy and consistent velocities. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer-primed, reloadable brass cases.

What Customers Are Saying

awesome accuracy in my 686!

I've tried a few rounds in my Smith and Wesson 686, and as far as accuracy goes, these have been great! With a laser sight I was seeing 1-1/4" groups at 68 yards. That's the limit for my naked eye, so I put a scope on it and can consistently get 1.5" groups at 100 yards. near 150 yards the bullets begin to tumble, but these have easily given me a 100 yard handgun.
- Jesse Lawrence, 6/19/2017

About Barnes

Barnes Bullets was founded in 1932 by Fred Barnes in Bayfield, CO. After 42 years in business, Fred sold Barnes Bullets to passionate hunters Randy and Coni Brooks who moved the business to American Fork, Utah. Randy and Coni were hunting brown bears in Alaska during the fall of 1985 when Randy conceived the idea of an expanding copper bullet. This prototype became the X Bullet, and its lineage continues today through five generations of improvement to the TSX, Tipped TSX, and LRX bullets you see today. Barnes Bullets produces a wide variety of components for the handloader, including lead-free and traditional lead-core bullets. Barnes also makes lead-free bullets specifically for muzzleloader hunting, in both hollow point and polymer-tipped versions. MidwayUSA also offers a comprehensive line of Barnes-manufactured ammunition including the popular VOR-TX product line.

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5

Barnes TAC-XPD 357 Magnum Ammo 125 Grain Barnes TAC-XPD Solid Hollow Point Lead Free Box of 20

Barnes TAC-XPD ammunition is optimized for carry and home defense use. Loaded with the popular Barnes TAC-XP bullet it is designed to deliver top performance when it matters the most. The TAC-XP's all-copper construction and very large, deep hollow-point cavity expand, penetrate and perform more consistently than any personal defense product on the market. Performance through bare gel, light and heavy clothing, car doors, plywood and automotive windshield glass is unmatched by the competition. TAC-XP bullets are 100% copper, making them safe for the environment. These lighter all copper bullets also result in less felt recoil in comparison to lead core bullets allowing the shooter to recover quickly without sacrificing terminal performance. Barnes specially engineered each load using low flash powders to produce almost no muzzle flash, ideal for low-light situations. Nickel plated cases feed smoothly from the magazine for reliability shooters can depend on every time. This ammunition is new production, non-corrosive, in boxer primed, reloadable brass cases.

What Customers Are Saying

Tested velocity and accuravy

Tested in a Ruger SP101 2 1/4' barrel. 1250 FPS. Very accurate also, phenomenal velocity out of a snub nose revolver. Other short barrel ammo in 357 magnum is only 1000 FPS.
- Pete B, 7/14/2016

About Barnes

Barnes Bullets was founded in 1932 by Fred Barnes in Bayfield, CO. After 42 years in business, Fred sold Barnes Bullets to passionate hunters Randy and Coni Brooks who moved the business to American Fork, Utah. Randy and Coni were hunting brown bears in Alaska during the fall of 1985 when Randy conceived the idea of an expanding copper bullet. This prototype became the X Bullet, and its lineage continues today through five generations of improvement to the TSX, Tipped TSX, and LRX bullets you see today. Barnes Bullets produces a wide variety of components for the handloader, including lead-free and traditional lead-core bullets. Barnes also makes lead-free bullets specifically for muzzleloader hunting, in both hollow point and polymer-tipped versions. MidwayUSA also offers a comprehensive line of Barnes-manufactured ammunition including the popular VOR-TX product line.

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