Why is .357 Sig the redheaded stepchild of handgun ammunition?

Toast

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It appears to be seriously unloved. Does it need a hug? ;)

It is a real question, though.
 

PappyM3

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Instead of a hug, it needs LeHigh and Underwood to make more fluid transfer cartridges:

Before, it was really just spicy 9mm. But with these modern bullets, the extra velocity gets you much better permanent cavitation. Check out the numbers vs 9mm below.


The only thing that beats it all around is the 10mm 115gr, but even that may penetrate a little too much for self defense use:
42407903-0B17-4EA3-B627-F84460B49F63.jpeg
2E0CD27B-1DFF-4F00-9F6F-69DF157AD304.jpeg
 

PappyM3

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SparkyP

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See my post below yours. Lucky Gunner did not take into account modern bullet designs that take advantage of the extra velocity.

The lucky gunner article is a good description of why it never took off as spicy 9mm. But it misses why it could become great.
It's like anything ammo-related. Opinions vary, test data aren't real world results, and everyone's got an opinion. I never understood the point personally, but with the ammo situation, it might be wise to add one to the collection. 357Sig has been more available than 9 or 40 for months. It's still expensive, and firearms that take it are too.

The highlighted lines ignore all the other test data that show some 9mm rounds outperforming some 357Sig. Hell, even comparing Underwood to Underwood, the results are much closer. I'll stick with 9mm, but that's just my opinion.
 

jkelly1229

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9mm +p+ is the same thing for the most part.

It's not a bad round it's loud flat shooting...

Its just too expensive in non crazy times.

I could buy 2 boxes of 9mm and a coffee from a non dunkin placefor 1 box of 357 sig this summer...

For how much improvement? And again 124 grain under wood +p+ is the same ballistic achievement as the 124 grain sig

It was made to replicate 125 grain 357 magnum rounds ballistics
 
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My first handgun was a Gen 3 G31. Shooting .357 SIG is fun. But, .357 SIG is underappreciated for one simple reason: it isn't 9x19.

The longer explanation is basically a combination of economies of scale, path dependency, and the fact that the differences between 9x19, .40S&W, .45ACP, and .357 SIG are marginal.

Economies of scale is basically the idea that if there's a large infrastructure making a large amount of a product, that product is cheaper to make. This is why, in normal markets, not today, cartridges like 9x19, 5.56x45, 12-gauge, 7.62x51, and 7.62x39 are cheap to shoot. Those cartridges have a high amount of demand from the militaries of the world, police forces, and private consumers - and the big factor in economies of scale is military and police sales. What this means in the context of 9x19 versus .357 SIG is that 9x19 is almost always going to be cheaper to shoot over .357 SIG, and I'm willing to bet that its possible to handload 9x19 cheaper than .357 SIG because of 9x19 being cheaper brass and probably less powder being used. Economies of scale work in favor of 9x19 to keep it cheap to shoot, both for the guy who shoots one box a year and a police force or military who orders millions of rounds (think NYPD, US military).

Path dependency is essentially the idea of being used to something and wanting to stick with it. Historical example: the US Army wanting to adopt the M14 because of the idea of being able to use the same machines that were used for M1 production and also similar manual of arms except for the detachable mag. This can also be tied with the desire to keep adoption costs low. Think about it this way: if someone or an organization is already invested in 9x19 or .40S&W or .45ACP, why would they switch to a marginally similar caliber? Its a largely unnecessary investment for a marginal increase in performance.

The final reason is the marginal performance. 9x19 gets around 350 to 450 ft. lbs. of energy. The .357 SIG gets around 500 to 600 ft. lbs. of energy. A difference of between 50 and 250 ft. lbs. of energy clearly hasn't been enough to motivate militaries and police to adopt .357 SIG; the private consumer market generally follows the military and police market because of economies of scale and also the bias of "well, if its good enough for the Army, its good enough for me."

I'll also add the extra point that 9x19 is quieter and sound impacts the perception of recoil. Subsonic 9x19 is easier to get through factory or handloaded ammo. Subsonic .357 SIG is a thing, but by no means common.
 
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SparkyP

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From the test data regarding 357sig:
357 SIG hollow points tend to have excellent deep penetration but suffer from thel lowest reliability and consistency numbers. Sometimes the deep penetration is causedy the fails. The small size and extremely high velocity of this hollow point caused the most fail to functions in the test. This was exasperated by barriers. 357 SIG hollow points recorded an average of a 35% degradation due to barriers. The higher velocity caused more cases of accidental fragmentation as evidenced in both Phase3 and Phase 5 barrier data. Permanent wound cavity size of the best 357 SIG hollowpoints was bigger than the 9mm and a little smaller than the .40. Our resultsa are also recorded and verified in the other 6 tests mentioned earlier.
 

Robin Proctor

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allen-1

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.357Sig is one of the handgun calibers I reload.

It's an interesting round. My G31 (.357Sig) is very close in size to my G17 (9mm). The G31 is louder, has more recoil and is generally "less pleasant" to shoot than the G17. The rounds are more difficult to reload, because of the bottleneck.

On the other hand - it makes major power factor for USPSA, it's a very flat shooting round, and I'm still looking at using it as a bowling pin gun, (instead of my .45).
 

PappyM3

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It's like anything ammo-related. Opinions vary, test data aren't real world results, and everyone's got an opinion. I never understood the point personally, but with the ammo situation, it might be wise to add one to the collection. 357Sig has been more available than 9 or 40 for months. It's still expensive, and firearms that take it are too.

The highlighted lines ignore all the other test data that show some 9mm rounds outperforming some 357Sig. Hell, even comparing Underwood to Underwood, the results are much closer. I'll stick with 9mm, but that's just my opinion.
It’s not ignoring the other test data. It’s showing the capability of the monolithic fluid transfer bullets with the high velocity 357 Sig. you’re right that I forgot to highlight the 9mm LeHigh/underwood xtreme defender loads. Those are much closer. But I don’t like shooting +P+ all the time. Especially with Underwood who load their cartridges on the high side already.

And as far as real world applications, the subsequent tests through barriers were much better with the monolithic rounds too. They don’t need to worry about expanding early or getting gummed up and not expanding at all.

You get no debate from me that with traditional JHP, there was little point to 357 Sig. But this new bullet design is very effective.
 

Tinkermatic

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If we’re referencing Lucky Gunner than we must of course drop the obligatory “Why caliber arguments are dumb” video. Handguns are handguns and below 2200 fps all you’re doing is punching different diameter holes. We are gooey beasts and as a by product, very elastic. 2200 fps, through rigorous testing, would appear to be the minimum velocity for permanent cavitation. Speed is great for expansion and penetration, but the energy transfer (the whole ft/lbs. of energy thing) is seemingly only temporary with handguns.
View: https://youtu.be/T6kUvi72s0Y
 

jkelly1229

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My first handgun was a Gen 3 G31. Shooting .357 SIG is fun. But, .357 SIG is underappreciated for one simple reason: it isn't 9x19.

The longer explanation is basically a combination of economies of scale, path dependency, and the fact that the differences between 9x19, .40S&W, .45ACP, and .357 SIG are marginal.

Economies of scale is basically the idea that if there's a large infrastructure making a large amount of a product, that product is cheaper to make. This is why, in normal markets, not today, cartridges like 9x19, 5.56x45, 12-gauge, 7.62x51, and 7.62x39 are cheap to shoot. Those cartridges have a high amount of demand from the militaries of the world, police forces, and private consumers - and the big factor in economies of scale is military and police sales. What this means in the context of 9x19 versus .357 SIG is that 9x19 is almost always going to be cheaper to shoot over .357 SIG, and I'm willing to bet that its possible to handload 9x19 cheaper than .357 SIG because of 9x19 being cheaper brass and probably less powder being used. Economies of scale work in favor of 9x19 to keep it cheap to shoot, both for the guy who shoots one box a year and a police force or military who orders millions of rounds (think NYPD, US military).

Path dependency is essentially the idea of being used to something and wanting to stick with it. Historical example: the US Army wanting to adopt the M14 because of the idea of being able to use the same machines that were used for M1 production and also similar manual of arms except for the detachable mag. This can also be tied with the desire to keep adoption costs low. Think about it this way: if someone or an organization is already invested in 9x19 or .40S&W or .45ACP, why would they switch to a marginally similar caliber? Its a largely unnecessary investment for a marginal increase in performance.

The final reason is the marginal performance. 9x19 gets around 350 to 450 ft. lbs. of energy. The .357 SIG gets around 500 to 600 ft. lbs. of energy. A difference of between 50 and 250 ft. lbs. of energy clearly hasn't been enough to motivate militaries and police to adopt .357 SIG; the private consumer market generally follows the military and police market because of economies of scale and also the bias of "well, if its good enough for the Army, its good enough for me."

I'll also add the extra point that 9x19 is quieter and sound impacts the perception of recoil. Subsonic 9x19 is easier to get through factory or handloaded ammo. Subsonic .357 SIG is a thing, but by no means common.
357 sig was created to mimic the "manstopper" 125 grain 357 magnum round. 125 grain at 1500 fps

Which one company is able to do in 357 sig and several get around 1450

However they released the cartridge around the same time the 40 got hot when everyone was thinking bigger is better so that's a Strike against it...poor timing not that 40 is any better or worse

Then you are trying to take away wheel guns from fudds.... also a strike against it

Then underwood has 115 grains 9mm at 1410
And 124 at 1350

It's a neat round that'll get more popular as a wildcat
 
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357 sig was created to mimic the "manstopper" 125 grain 357 magnum round. 125 grain at 1500 fps

Which one company is able to do in 357 sig and several get around 1450

However they released the cartridge around the same time the 40 got hot when everyone was thinking bigger is better so that's a Strike against it...poor timing not that 40 is any better or worse

Then you are trying to take away wheel guns from fudds.... also a strike against it

Then underwood has 115 grains 9mm at 1410
And 124 at 1350

It's a neat round that'll get more popular as a wildcat

I think its important to point out that discussions about bullet performance, velocity, and "stopping power" as a euphemism for energy, are largely pointless when discussing why a cartridge is or isn't popular across a broad spectrum of markets.

Let's say its 1995 and a large police force like a state police force is trialing new handguns to replace their revolvers. At the end of the day, what matters more? The benefit of a little more muzzle energy offered by .357 SIG or the the cost savings in both guns and ammo over the course of potentially decades by 9x19? I believe .40 has less expensive factory ammo than .357 but the cartridge wears on guns designed for 9x19 faster, but that's hindsight. I'm willing to bet that to the people calling the shots in large organizations' procurement departments, cost savings is king. Those people don't care about bullet performance. These economies of scale add up and impact the consumer market.
 

PappyM3

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While we’re talking about 357 Sig, I built this up this summer as a camp gun.... if only I could get cartridges for it. LeHigh had focused on production in popular calibers, understandably. But that means I have nothing to buy at the moment, and I’m not paying $1/round for FMJ to use at the range.
1616737C-EF01-45FE-AD87-543AFDB5A9E1.jpeg
 

Win

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I had a sig 239 in 9 and traded it for a 239 in 357 because it shoots flatter, hits harder, and feeds better than 9. It's just more expensive to shoot but I'm comfortable with the expenditure.
 

Bmcl322

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I own a Glock 23 - .40 Cal and bought both a 9mm barrel and .357Sig barrel. With the ammo shortage, I look like a rocket scientist having plenty of ammo in each of the 3 rounds. Personally, I like to shoot the .357Sig best. I often carry with the .357Sig barrel. I want to get the bad guy and the bad buy behind him. .357Sig makes that possible!! ;)
 
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ReluctantDecoy

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Instead of a hug, it needs LeHigh and Underwood to make more fluid transfer cartridges:

Before, it was really just spicy 9mm. But with these modern bullets, the extra velocity gets you much better permanent cavitation. Check out the numbers vs 9mm below.


The only thing that beats it all around is the 10mm 115gr, but even that may penetrate a little too much for self defense use:
View attachment 438935
View attachment 438936

Good data. But why isn't the 9mm Underwood XD +P+ 90gr the comparison, as that's the closest 9mm to the Underwood sig375, and the 9mm's numbers aren't that far off? Granted, it's +P+, but if we're talking the highest figures on the chart, then you'd have to consider that round for the best "apples to apples", and there, the difference is negligible.
 

Robin Proctor

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I think the point is you have to find the absolute hottest 9mm to start reaching standard .357sig. loads. I shoot and enjoy them both and most often carry the 9 but there really is no comparison .357 sig is the better round if you can handle it.
 

kalash

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I think the point is you have to find the absolute hottest 9mm to start reaching standard .357sig. loads. I shoot and enjoy them both and most often carry the 9 but there really is no comparison .357 sig is the better round if you can handle it.
Better for what?

All you're doing with defensive handgun rounds is punching holes. Even the .357sig doesn't come close to the velocities needed to create meaningful temporary cavities or cause hydrostatic shock. I realize that people love trying to quantify performance by measuring velocity, energy, etc but it's all largely meaningless with handguns. Bullet design is a lot more important imho.

I don't see the point if .357sig at all. I don't see the point of .40s&w or .380acp either, to be honest. Just stick with 9mm or .45acp for defensive semi-autos, maybe 10mm for a woods gun. $0.02
 

PappyM3

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Good data. But why isn't the 9mm Underwood XD +P+ 90gr the comparison, as that's the closest 9mm to the Underwood sig375, and the 9mm's numbers aren't that far off? Granted, it's +P+, but if we're talking the highest figures on the chart, then you'd have to consider that round for the best "apples to apples", and there, the difference is negligible.
Fair. I forgot to highlight the 9mm monolithics. But the non-(+) 9mm Xtreme defender has half the volume of permanent cavitation compared to the 357 Sig.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve carried and continue to stock 9mm 90gr Xtreme defender in regular and +P. They’re great, but even the extra spicy +P+ is short of the 357 Sig, and will wear 9mm parts quicker. Anybody wanting to carry +P+ 90gr XD is certainly going to have a potent cartridge. It’s just not for me though.
 
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MaroonedinMA

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The purpose of .357 is to get you to hold onto your .40 for a bit longer by convincing you that maybe there is another use for it besides beer money. So, you think, I'll just buy another upper and start using this gun again....

...but you don't. And that is why you sell the .40, 6 months later, with the .357 upper, for a silly price and join the ranks of those who "learn by doing."

That's what .357 sig is for. YMMV.
 

PappyM3

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Better for what?

All you're doing with defensive handgun rounds is punching holes. Even the .357sig doesn't come close to the velocities needed to create meaningful temporary cavities or cause hydrostatic shock. I realize that people love trying to quantify performance by measuring velocity, energy, etc but it's all largely meaningless with handguns. Bullet design is a lot more important imho.

I don't see the point if .357sig at all. I don't see the point of .40s&w or .380acp either, to be honest. Just stick with 9mm or .45acp for defensive semi-autos, maybe 10mm for a woods gun. $0.02
Hydrostatic shock isn’t actually a thing in tissue damage.

And the report I linked very specifically shows magnitudes better permanent wound cavities with fast fluid transfer monolithic bullets compared to JHP. Still not rifle territory, but much better than normal pistol bullet designs.

The redirected fluids at 1500+ FPS cause tissue damage beyond the diameter of the bullet. Figure that about a 3000psi pressure washer will cut through all your tissue except for bone, with a normal narrow nozzle. That is approximately 667 FPS of focused water. The fluted in the Lehigh bullets redirect focused fluid at 1700 FPS (for 357 Sig) along abrupt angles in relation to the direction of travel. I realize there is a whole lot more math to do regarding the actual jet size, but this is a bit of the math and reasoning behind the larger PWC of fluid transfer pistol bullets.

Basically new technology is letting pistol calibers get away from the old “just making bullet sized holes” philosophy.
 
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