Article Image Our Top Picks of the Best 357 Magnum Ammo For All Shooters

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Our Top Picks of the Best 357 Magnum Ammo For All Shooters: From Wheelgun To Rifle

Written by Sam Jacobs Subject: Gun Rights

The 357 Magnum was one of the first handguns I fired because it was my grandpa's favorite for personal defense. As a kid, I couldn't hit the broadside of a barn with his Ruger 357 Mag revolver because of its heavy recoil.

As I've learned to handle that power, I've tested many 357 Magnum loads to determine the best ammo for all shooting scenarios. You'll discover my findings below!

Our Top 6 Picks for .357 Magnum Ammo in 2024

1.Federal Premium Barnes Expander 140 Grain XPB HP - Best Overall
2.Hornady Critical Duty 135 Grain JHP - Best Self-Defense
3.Fiocchi 142 Grain FMJTC - Best Target Shooting
4.Remington Performance WheelGun 158 Grain LSWC - Best For Snubnose
6.Hornady LeveRevolution 140 Grain FTX - Best For Lever-Action Rifles
7.Winchester Big Bore 158 Grain SJHP - Best For Hunting

Federal Premium Barnes Expander 140 Grain XPB HP - Best .357 Magnum Ammo Overall



Specs

• Bullet type: Solid copper hollow point
• Bullet weight: 140 grain
• Muzzle velocity: 1,400 fps
• Muzzle energy: 609 ft-lbs
• Casing type: Nickel-plated brass

Pros

• Trusted brand
• Reliable
• Accurate
• Works in various guns
• Several applications with excellent stopping power
• Ideal bullet weight
• Solid ballistics

Cons

• Expensive

Why We Chose It

Federal Vital-Shok 140 Grain XPB HP (Rebranded as Federal Premium Barnes Expander Lead-Free) is the best 357 Magnum ammo overall because Federal Premium is one of the leading ammo manufacturers for various shooting applications while offering 357 Mag shooters acceptable ballistics.

I've used Federal Vital-Shok for deer hunting, but it can also be used as personal defense ammo in a Smith & Wesson J-frame snubby. I wouldn't recommend it for target shooting, but if you plan to carry it for self-defense, then you should regularly train with it.

I like the 140 grain bullet weight more than heavier projectiles (e.g. 158 grain) because lighter bullets typically have less recoil, which makes my follow-up shots much more accurate. However, if a 140 grain projectile still has too much recoil, consider the Remington HTP 110 grain SJHP.

As I hinted, Federal Premium Barnes Expander Lead-Free is an expensive round, which is its biggest downside. I don't mind paying for excellent performance while hunting or for self-defense, but I won't take these rounds to a fun day at the range because they're so expensive each time you pull the trigger.

Unless you're headed to the range for a fun day of shooting (not training), it's tough to beat Federal Vital-Shok 140 Grain XPB HP in your 357 Mag firearm, whether it's a semi-auto handgun like the Desert Eagle or a snub nose revolver. It's reliable, accurate, and has enough stopping power for several shooting applications.

Hornady Critical Duty 135 Grain JHP - Best .357 Magnum Ammo For Self-Defense

Specs

• Bullet type: Jacketed hollow point
• Bullet weight: 135 grain
• Muzzle velocity: 1,275 fps
• Muzzle energy: 487 ft-lbs
• Casing type: Nickel-plated brass

Pros

• Trusted by law enforcement
• Accurate
• Reliable
• American made
• Reloadable

Cons

• Expensive
• Ballistics have room for improvement

Why We Chose It

Hornady Critical Duty 135 Grain JHP is the best 357 Magnum hollow point ammo for self-defense because it's reliable, accurate, and made by a highly trusted brand.

I love Hornady Critical Defense and Hornady Critical Duty, no matter the caliber. I've never had an issue with either whether I'm firing a semi-auto or a revolver, and they're just as accurate as I am. It also helps that my law enforcement buddies trust it as much as they do Speer Gold Dot and Underwood 158 grain JHP.

American-made ammo also fuels my American pride, as I'm happy to support companies that keep jobs stateside and create excellent products.

The nickel-plated brass and Boxer primers mean this ammo is reloadable and reliable. Nickel-plated brass is ultra smooth, so you shouldn't have any problems getting spent brass out of your wheelgun, and the boxer primers should always go bang.

If you're looking for an inexpensive option for the best 357 Magnum self-defense ammo, then I'd recommend going with Fiocchi 158 Grain JHP, as it's much easier on the old wallet than Hornady ammo.

I was surprised that these rounds don't quite hold up ballistically when compared to other 357 Mag ammo in similar bullet weights, since Hornady is often a leader in developing high-performance ammunition. I'm not saying this ammo doesn't perform, though. It's more than capable of neutralizing a threat.

Despite that shortcoming, I wouldn't hesitate to carry Hornady Critical Duty 135 Grain JHP for self-defense. It's designed for law enforcement by a leading American ammunition brand.

Fiocchi 142 Grain FMJTC - Best Range .357 Magnum Ammo

Specs

• Bullet type: Full metal jacket truncated cone
• Bullet weight: 142 grain
• Muzzle velocity: 1,420 fps
• Muzzle energy: 636 ft-lbs
• Casing type: Brass

Pros

• Inexpensive
• Trusted brand
• Comparable ballistics to personal defense rounds
• Reloadable
• Dependable
• Loaded in the USA

Cons

• It is only intended for target shooting

Why We Chose It

Fiocchi 142 Grain FMJTC is inexpensive yet reliable for target shooting, so it's my go-to ammo for a day at the range.

Fiocchi is a trusted brand, loaded here in America. It is known for producing dependable ammo because it uses high-quality materials without breaking the bank.

I'm a big proponent of training with the ammo you plan to carry. Still, when that gets too expensive, as it often does, I grab a box of ammo that is ballistically comparable to what I'm firing, whether it's Remington Golden Saber, Federal HST, Hornady Critical Defense, or Buffalo Bore Ammunition.

Reloading your spent casings will save you a lot of money in the long run. Since Fiocchi uses reloadable brass casings and is inexpensive, you can compound your savings when buying this ammo.

While these rounds are legal to use for self-defense, it's not recommended because FMJs over-penetrate more often than hollow point bullets. Spire point bullets are also not as well suited for lever-action rifles. Instead, an FMJ FN or jacketed soft point bullet like the one loaded in PMC 158 Grain JSP is a better option because it's much less likely to ignite the primer it butts up against in a tubular magazine.

If you're heading to the range with your 357 Mag for a fun day of shooting, you better grab a box or ten of Fiocchi 142 Grain FMJTC. It's inexpensive, fun to fire, and you can reload the brass to save even more money.

Remington Performance WheelGun 158 Grain LSWC - Best 357 Magnum Ammo For Snub Nose


Specs

• Bullet type: Lead semi-wadcutter
• Bullet weight: 158 grain
• Muzzle velocity: 1,235 fps
• Muzzle energy: 535 ft-lbs
• Casing type: Brass

Pros

• Designed for revolvers
• Trusted brand
• Reasonably priced
• Reliable
• Accurate

Cons

• Heavy recoil
• It is only designed for target shooting

Why We Chose It

Remington Performance WheelGun 158 Grain LSWC is the best 357 snub nose ammo because it is made for revolvers by a top ammo maker, and it is reasonably priced.

I've used Remington ammo for years, and it's been consistently reliable and accurate. I'm not a master marksman with a 2-inch barrel snub nose revolver. Even so, I have found that this ammo will hit where you're aiming, which makes for a fun day at the range and is a much-needed advantage while at a shooting competition, such as a Cowboy Action event.

Some Remington ammo, like Remington HTP 158 Grain JSP, can get a little pricey, but Remington Performance WheelGun 158 Grain LSWC is priced well for an enjoyable day at the range without emptying your bank account on ammo.

The biggest downside is the heavier recoil of the 158 grain projectile. It's not as heavy as some similarly weighted bullets, but it still has a lot of kick – especially if you're used to shooting 38 Special rounds through your 357 Mag.

If you find it to be too much recoil, I suggest stepping down in bullet weight to Remington UMC 125 Grain JSP, which is in a similar price range and offers comparable ballistics.

Another downside to this ammo is that it's only for target shooting. If you're looking for self-defense ammo for your snubby, I'd recommend getting a couple of boxes of Federal Train + Protect 125 Grain JHP.

Since Remington Performance WheelGun 158 Grain LSWC is designed for revolvers by a reputable ammunition company and is reasonably priced and reliable, it's the best short barrel 357 Magnum ammo.

Hornady LeveRevolution 140 Grain FTX - Best 357 Magnum Ammo For Lever-Action Rifles

Specs


• Bullet type: Polymer-tipped jacketed hollow point
• Bullet weight: 140 grain
• Muzzle velocity: 1,440 fps
• Muzzle energy: 644 ft-lbs
• Casing type: Brass

Pros

• Designed for lever-action rifles
• Trusted brand
• High-quality components
• Reloadable
• Incredibly accurate
• Dependable

Cons

• Expensive

Why We Chose It

Hornady LeveRevolution 140 Grain FTX is the best 357 Mag ammo for lever-action rifles because it's designed for lever guns by a leading ammunition manufacturer and is stupidly accurate.

The first time I loaded Hornady LeveRevolution ammo into a lever gun, I was a bit nervous because it looked like it would set off the round in front of it in the magazine. After loading a few rounds, I realized that it wouldn't and quickly became comfortable loading more.

Typically, lever-action rifle ammo isn't the most accurate, but that's not the case with Hornady LeveRevolution. It's the most precise ammo I've ever used in a lever gun. The FTX bullet (polymer-tipped JHP) is supple enough to refrain from setting off the round's primer in front of it in the tubular magazine of a lever-action rifle. Yet, it greatly increases the aerodynamics of the projectile compared to soft point and flat-nosed bullets traditionally used in lever guns.

I love that it's made by one of my favorite ammo brands, and I know it will go bang when I pull the trigger because it's crafted from quality components. On top of that, the brass is reloadable, so you can save a little money the next time you visit the range or head out to the woods.

The biggest problem with Hornady LeveRevolution is how costly it is. I rarely take it out to the range unless I'm sighting in my rifle for hunting season because I see dollar signs every time I hit or miss the target.

On the other hand, Sellier & Bellot Wild West 158 Grain LFN is much more economically friendly. If you're on a tight budget, Sellier & Bellot will be much gentler on your wallet.

If you want to run the best 357 Mag lever-action ammo through your rifle, look no further than Hornady LeveRevolution 140 Grain FTX. It's accurate, dependable, and reloadable.

Winchester Big Bore 158 Grain SJHP - Best 357 Magnum Ammo For Hunting

Specs

• Bullet type: Semi-jacketed hollow point
• Bullet weight: 158 grain
• Muzzle velocity: 1,460 fps
• Muzzle energy: 748 ft-lbs
• Casing type: Brass

Pros

• Designed for big game hunting
• Handgun and lever-action friendly
• Reloadable
• Solid ballistics
• Trusted brand
• Dependable

Cons

• Expensive

Why We Chose It

Winchester Big Bore 158 Grain SJHP is the best 357 Mag hunting ammo because it's dependable, offers good ballistic performance, and can be used in various firearms for big game hunting.

Suppose you want to harvest any North American big game animal with a 357 Magnum handgun or Henry lever-action carbine. In that case, Winchester Big Bore 158 grain SJHP is a round you must consider. I've hunted with Winchester ammo many times and have been pleased with the results more often than not.

Countless hunters and shooters rave about Winchester Ammunition, and for good reason. The ballistics are excellent, so you can count on these rounds to get the job done even in harsh conditions.

I appreciate that Winchester uses high-quality components so you know when you pull the trigger, the ammo will fire, and once fired, the spent brass is reloadable, giving you something to do in the off-season. As we know, handloads save you money in the long run!

Speaking of the almighty dollar, that's a significant drawback to this ammo: it's expensive. However, most hunting ammo is costly. Just look at Hornady Handgun Hunter 130 Grain MonoFlex and Federal Fusion 158 Grain SP: both excellent choices, but also on the pricey side of 357 Mag ammo.

Whether you're looking for a bear defense round or a dedicated 357 Mag hunting round, Winchester Big Bore 158 grain SJHP is a wise choice to have loaded in your firearm.

Continue reading about the top 357 Mag ammo picks here.

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