Sunday, February 15, 2009

The 357 SIG

Don Williams said...
I would note that the Secret Service and US Air Marshalls (guard airliners --most highly trained shooters in federal government) agree with FerFal -- they use 357 Sig.

I wondered why -- probably because 357 Sig will go through Class II body armor and if someone is wearing Class III armor, it is bulky enough for you to see so you know to shoot for head anyway.

Whereas with 9mm and 45 ACP you may lose a lot of valuable time by firing several shots at center of mass --to no avail --before realizing guy has thin class II body armor and you need to aim for head. By which time, bad guy has you.

Plus 357 Sig turns cover like car doors and thin walls into mere concealment.(Surprise!)

Finally, it shoots flat enough to make life interesting for a rifleman if the rifleman is shooting at you at urban ranges (100 yards or less.)

Doesn't quite have the magazine capacity of the 9mm, however. And greater recoil would make head shots harder with 357 Sig unless you are a pretty good markman who's shot the round enough to handle it. Plus 9mm is available around the world --even Russians and Chinese are using it.

Factory 357 Sig comes with FMJ in flat-nosed semiwad cutter shape.
Interesting enough, semiwad cutter rounds sometimes penetrate deeper than pointed FMJ because they don't tumble/roll. (Army doctor who does studies with ballistic Gelatin.) Handgun hunters like flatnosed semiwad cutter bullets for same reason.

What do you think, FerFal? Any other advantages to add or corrections?

Before I say anything, I think that with today's ammo ( good stuff made by Gold Dot, Corbon and Federal)there's little difference. Getting into this kind of detail is for those of us that want the extra edge certain caliber may provide.

As Joseph said, almost all big bore calibers will go right through car doors and thin sheets of metal, and enough energy is left to kill the poor guy on the other side.

I’ll give a bit of an edge when going thorough thick glass or other surfaces to the SIG given its speed.

But it’s not just about penetration.

I think they all use 357 SIG because so far police departments that have been using it are very pleased with it.

There’s always going to be that SOB that gets shot 50 times in the chest and a couple RPGs to the head and is still alive, but in average the 357 SIG has been performing very well.

With a barrel like the one in my Glock 31, ballistics are very similar (sometimes even better) than most 124gr 357 loads.
Also keep in mind that any .40 can be turned to 357 SIG and vise versa, just swap barrels. Everything else, including the mags, stays the same.
This makes practice with your 357 SIG much cheaper since all you have to do is get a .40 barrel and shoot all the .40 ammo you want.

If you get “Double Tap” ammo, firing out of a gun like my Glock 31 with a 4.5” barrel ( which is still smaller than a 1911 ), you are sending a 125gr. JHP Gold Dot projectile at 1525 fps.

That’s a nice handgun round to fire at someone that wants to hurt you.

Keep in mind that the self defense load that made the 357 magnum legendary, fires a 124 gr. JHP at 1400 fps.

Why the slight speed difference? The revolver looses a bit of gas through the cylinder/barrel gap.

Same happens with high speed 22 LR. Ammo in autos and revolvers.

CCI Stingers will fly out of my little Bersa 22 ( 3,5 “ barrel) at 1231 fps, while the same round fired out of a 4” barrel S&W revolver flies at 1120 fps.

Compared to hot loads offer also by doubletap, the best a 9mm+P (124 gr JHP) can do out of a Glock17 is 1310fps.

Now this is a nice +P 9mm load, but its still 215 fps behind the 357 SIG.

What can I say, I like it a lot.
Not only because of the numbers, but also because I find it easy to shoot fast (much easier than a 357 magnum revolver) and it’s also one of the most accurate calibers I’ve fired.

Magazine capacity isn’t 9mm, but you still have 15+1 in the 357 SIG/40S&W vs. 17+1 in the Glock 17 9mm.

I’ll happily give up those two rounds for the extra power per round the SIG provides, and it’s unparalleled feeding reliability compared to straight wall cases.

I like it a lot.



Johnny Abacus said...

"I wondered why -- probably because 357 Sig will go through Class II body armor and if someone is wearing Class III armor, it is bulky enough for you to see so you know to shoot for head anyway."

See the following Body Armor Chart - .357 SIG does not penetrate level II body armor.

Additionally, level IIIA body armor is definitely concealable and will stop almost all handgun rounds - i.e. it will stop a 12 gage slug - except those rounds specifically designed to defeat body armor - generally Teflon coated, steel cored or jacketed or small and fast like the 5.7mm.

More generally, it sounds like you have done quite a bit of research and have come to your own conclusions. If you think the IWBA (Fackler, et. al.) are out to lunch, I won't try to push them on you, but if you haven't heard of them, here is a good place to get started with:

Self Defense Ammo FAQ

theotherryan said...

My one concern with a .357sig is that it is far from common. Broadly speaking common rounds (and guns) are common for a reason. If you found yourself at a prepared friends house he could realistically have spare rounds for your 9mm/ .38/ .45 but would almost surely would not have .357sig/ 10mm/ .45 auto mag.

I know you have plenty of common guns so that isn't a huge issue. Do be sure to stock plenty of .357sig ammo because it's not like you can find it at the corner store.

FerFAL said...

That's a real concern, 357 SIG is nowhere near as popular as 9mm, 40S&W or 45 ACP.
But an extra .40 barrel costs about 100 bucks last time I checked. These work just as if you bought a .40 pistol there's no chance problem or reliability concerns going between these two calibers.

There's even a barrel that would allow you to fire 9mm (using 9mm mags) and Gabe Suarez tesed one extensively recently with good results.

For carry all you need is a few boxes of teh god stuff.

If there's some huge disaster and ammo becomes hard to find, you can always swap barrels in a mattter of seconds. Use the same mags.


Don Williams said...

Re Johnny Abacus's comment "See the following Body Armor Chart - .357 SIG does not penetrate level II body armor."
The pinnacle chart is for 357 Sig in JHP -- NOT FMJ. If you look down, IIIA is required to defeat a 9mm 125 gr FMJ round going around 1400 fps. 357 Sig hits around 1450 in that weight of bullet.

The standards body for US body armor is the US Dept of Justice's National Institute of Justice (NIJ).

This NIJ document lays out the detailed testing procedure for body armor -- if you look you will see that 357 Sig is the testing standard for Class IIIA armor -- the Class II armor only has to stop the less powerful 9mm.

Note also that body armor loses some of its effectiveness when subjected to wear and tear, heat, humidity,etc. NIJ measures that -- and the standard for "prepared" Class II armor is well below the 357 Sig level.

Will a 357 Sig FMJ have enough residue power to penetrate the heart after going through a Class II vest? Don't know -- who wants to be the test subject?

The 357 Sig has also been adopted by the Tennessee, North Carolina, Virginia and Delaware State Police. The word I've heard is because State Troopers want a round that will penetrate car windows and doors better than the 40 S&W.

I've read of one incident in which a Texas cop shot through a truck door with a 357 Sig and killed a perp --after his partner's 45 ACP failed to penetrate.

The measure I use to estimate penetration (for a FMJ round) is (mass(grains) X velocity) divided by (bullet diameter squared).

With that formula, a 45 ACP has a penetration factor of 97 -- a 357 SIg has a penetration factor of 135. Best to actually test with material , however. Unfortunately, most info on penetration tests is for JHPs in ballistic gelatin. I don't like JHPs.

Don Williams said...

Sorry -- forgot to include link to US NIJ document on body armor standards. Here it is: