The .357 SIG In Perspective

Rising In Popularity, This Round Has Proven Itself For More Than 17 Years

About 20 years ago, SIG executive Ted Rowe noticed police departments switching from .357 Magnum revolvers to SIG’s 9mm and .45 ACP pistols. The one thing said about trading in their old sixguns was they missed the devastating stopping power of the 125-grain Magnum round. Texas Department of Public Safety personnel said they’d found the SIG P220 .45 ACP to be a decent manstopper, but it lacked the “lightning bolt effect” some of their personnel had reported when they shot armed felons with the 125-grain .357 Magnum.

Rowe brought SIG together with Federal Cartridge, and the result was the .357 SIG round of 1993. Its bottlenecked case allowed enough power to drive a 125-grain .355″ 9mm bullet 1,350 to 1,450 fps out of a service pistol. Led by Delaware State Police, LE agencies started buying it. Today, there are more state police/highway patrols issuing the .357 SIG than issuing .45 ACP, and the .357 round is second only to .40 S&W in popularity among the state trooper agencies. Texas DPS adopted it, for one, and has been delighted with its performance since. Apparently, so have the others.

Felt recoil is a subjective thing, and shooters debate whether the .40 S&W or the .357 SIG kicks more—proof positive they’re in the same ballpark in that regard. The .357 SIG can be tougher on the gun, though. Glock suggests armorers replace recoil springs on the .357s every 2,000 rounds or so. By simply purchasing a new barrel, you can swap from .40 S&W to .357 SIG or vice versa. Magazines will usually interchange between the two calibers, though the little SIG P239 is a notable exception.

The .357 SIG is a remarkably accurate cartridge. SIG’s own P226 in that chambering has put five 125-grain Speer Gold Dots into 1″ at 25 yards for me (slightly better than I’ve ever gotten from the same model in 9mm, and distinctly better than I’ve ever achieved with any SIG in .40). In service-size Glocks, my G31 in .357 SIG clearly outshoots my G22 in .40 S&W.

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31 thoughts on “The .357 SIG In Perspective

  1. Vhyrus

    IMO it is a solution searching for a problem. It does not do anything significantly better (e.g. recoil, capacity, stopping power) than .40, and it leaves a smaller hole, which usually means reduced terminal performance. Is it terrible? Hell no, but it’s a lot harder to find and way more expensive than .40, and you get no real benefit from it. I’m certainly not putting any stock in it anytime soon.

    1. SuddenImpact

      Actually you are incorrect, police departments in Virginia and Texas notice a distinct difference in stopping power and the “lightening bolt” effect when using the .357 sig. The average violent felon drops to the ground 2-3 seconds after being hit, even with a shot to a non vital area. For some reason the round has an effect that is no quantifiable on “paper” and goes beyond the logic of the “small hole theory” that you have. It always amazes me how people can be experts on things that they have absolutely no personal experience with. The round does everything better than the .40, just because you are not aware of this data doesn’t mean it does not exist.

        1. SuddenImpact

          My apologizes, my post was meant towards Greg not you. I am aware of hydrostatic shock , I am just quoting the word the deputies being interviewed by massad ayoob used.

    2. Gregg

      Did you think of that catchy phrase yourself or just repeat what you read on the Internet. Why not only one style shirt, pants, house, etc. Is the .45 significantly better than the .40? If so. Then why are you and many others not using it?

      Bet you never even held a .357 Sig and yet you k ow it all. The Sig .357 can put a 1inxh group at 25 yards. It penetrates better than a .40. You do not need a problem to solve. You just need a desire to fill.

      1. SuddenImpact

        I am quoting directly from Massad Ayoob who is quoting from sheriff deputies who used the round in action. I would take Massad Ayoob’s word over some internet loser anyday, however please feel free to keep talking sh*t behind your keyboard, internet commando tough guy.

  2. JWales

    Having a Sig .357 and a .40 I have to agree with Vhyrus; My preference when carrying is my .40 as I feel it packs that extra UMPH! and to me more terminal damage. It’s just a minor + and dont get me wrong as I Love my Sig .357 and know it will get the job done just the same.

  3. Cassino

    The 357 SIG is with out a doubt the most tactically sound cartridge on the market today. Given it’s ballistic performance, low recoil for fast follow up shots, incredible accuracy and capacity capability, not to mention it’s incredible real world performance, it near impossible to top in all categories.
    It’s the only round I carry anymore. Plus being able to swap out barrels to the abundant and cheaper 40 S&W for plinking and practice and still being able to use the same magazines is a huge bonus!

  4. Rick OSheay

    I’ll take my 10mm 1911 with Double Tap or Buffalo Bore ammo over any of those aforementioned rounds. Like Vhyrus mentions 357 Sig is not readily available, at least in my area anyway and is more expensive than 9, 40 and 45.

    1. sgt ed

      You talk about 357 sig not being available.Where do you find 10 mm? As a rule that is the hardest to find unless you direct deal with specility manufactures like B B

  5. Jeff

    With modern +p or +p+ hollow point ammunition, don’t count out the 9mm luger as a service pistol caliber. The higher pressure 9mm ammo has stopping power rivaling many of the .40 s&w cartridges.

    1. Mike

      No one I know wants to get shot with ANY caliber. let alone a 9mm or .40 or .357 SIG or not.
      For over 80 yrs the .38 special served LE more than well in the field. Nothing wrong with a revolver either. They NEVER jam.

  6. mr butterworth

    The 10mm puts the 357 sig and magnum to shame, its the ultimate badass. Heck with buffalo bore, get underwood. Cheaper & better.

  7. 45 is king

    The 357 sig and 40 may be good, but when it comes to droppin a hommie, the 45 acp rules with its mass and weight, simple physics. Do this… take a 357 sig and a 45 bullet and sit em next to each other, then after seeing the big fat 45 and the dinky 9mm sized 357 sig ask ya self… Which would you rather not have comin at ya, i mean be real. But 10mm now thats an asskicker, 357 sig is for sissys and whiggers.

    1. Mike

      we do not “drop Homies” we used deadly force to stop the other’s use oif unlawful physical force.

      Simply dropping “Homies” will get you 25 to Life in the local State Pen..if not worse.

      Be responsible, train, KNOW the law, be leagal always.


    I have done some research on the 357 sig 40 S&W and the 45 ACP rounds. the 40 S&W only puts out 410 foot pounds of energy vs 600-foot pounds of energy on the 357 sig and 610 foot pounds of energy on the 45 ACP.because of the fast muzzle velocity of the 357 sig round,that’s why it has great stopping power.

    1. Mike

      Stopping power is only relkevant to proper bullet placement. Yu can shoot alot of rounds but if they are not place properly they will not do you much good.

      Like Clint says…”ya can’t miss fast enough”
      Being a former LE Firearms Instructor I can tell you that switching from the revolver to the semi auto only encouraged lack of marksmanship. Today many..not all but many..especially the youngsters..beleive that what the heck..”I’ve got 15 rds here” But when it was “six for sure” everyone shot alot more carefully and better. I carry a .40/357 SIG but never feel undergunned with a .38 Spl.

  9. Bullet Energy Guy

    Energy = .5 * weight * velocity^2 / 7000 / 32.175

    357SIG –> 125g bullet @ 1350 fps = 505.74 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    45ACP –> 220g bullet @ 850 fps = 352.86 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    9mm –> 115g bullet @ 1050 fps = 281.46 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    9mm+P –> 115g bullet @ 1200 fps = 367.63 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    9mm –> 147g bullet @ 990 fps = 319.84 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    40S&W –> 155g bullet @ 1175 fps = 475.07 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    40S&W –> 165g bullet @ 1100 fps = 443.22 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    40S&W –> 180g bullet @ 985 fps = 387.70 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    10mm –> 135g bullet @ 1600 fps = 767.23 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    10mm –> 200g bullet @ 1250 fps = 693.75 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    Energy is a combination of speed and bullet weight. As a rule, speed is easier to add than bullet mass (in grains).

    The 357 SIG was designed to produce the maximum energy possible out of a standard semi-automatic framed pistol frame. The 10mm requires a larger, specialized frame to work.

    1. Gowhitten

      I see no mention of a 45 cal rifle round in a BFR. While it is an revolver round, if you want stopping power in a pistol, this is it.

  10. Bullet Energy Guy

    Forgot to throw the King in there:

    357 Magnum –> 125g bullet @ 1650 fps = 755.49 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle. (This is the high end of custom defensive ammo)

    357 Magnum –> 125g bullet @ 1400 fps = 543.90 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle. (Federal factory SD ammo)

    357 Magnum –> 180g bullet @ 1350 fps = 728.27 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle.

    And in fairness to the 45 ACP, I found a hot load offered by Cor-Bon that’s rated 45ACP+P

    45ACP+P –> 165g bullet @ 1250 fps = 572.34 foot pounds of energy @ muzzle

    +P rounds are called ‘PLUS P’ because they exceed the initial pressure design of the round. Putting +P rounds through an action designed for the standard SAAMI spec will result in faster wear on the slide, frame & springs. The majority of 45 ACP semi-automatics out there are tuned to the standard SAAMI spec.

    45ACP SAAMI spec is 21,000 psi
    45ACP+P SAAMI spec is 23,000 psi

    40S&W SAAMI spec is 35,000 psi
    There is no SAAMI approved spec for 40S&W+P ammo at this time. (2014)

    9mm SAAMI spec is 35,000 psi
    9mm+P 38,500 SAAMI spec is 38,500 psi

    357SIG SAAMI spec is 40,000 psi.


    The 357SIG was designed from the beginning to shoot at higher pressures. Greater pressures equal higher speeds.

    The 357 Magnum is still King because it can still throw a heavier bullet faster than any semi-automatic. The 357SIG comes real close to producing similar velocities on 125g bullets. (The 125g bullet is the one everyone refers to as the ‘man-stopper’, the 357 Magnum could push it at 1400 to 1600 fps)

    Remember: Energy is a combination of speed and bullet weight. As a rule, speed is easier to add than bullet mass (in grains).

    1. PeteDub


      Your basic science is right on, of course, but you gotta be careful with those numbers.

      Unless the rounds compared are being fired out of the same barrel length as the one the shooter uses, the numbers can be so misleading as to be almost meaningless. Plus, we now have the complicating factor of having rounds specifically designed with fast-burning powder suitable for shorter barrels.

      So, it is not really very helpful to make any comparison of a “.357 Mag” vs. a “.45 ACP” for example. It is best to compare a specific manufacturers’ rounds shot out of identical-length barrels.

      Sig put a lot of good science into the .357 Sig, to get terminal ballistics close to the .357 Mag in a semi-auto pistols, and I think they got ti right.

      To get reliable CNS incapacitation from hydrostatic shock (as opposed to a direct CNS hit), for example, you need the 600 ft-lbf a typical .357 Sig will deliver out of a 3″ barrel. But it takes a 4″ barrel to get that same muzzle energy out of a typical .357 mag using old powder technology.

  11. jfk4shots

    So basically no one really knows what they are talking about? From reading this the 9mm, 357 SIG, 10mm, 45, 40 S&W and the 357 magnum are all the same? The only valid opinion is from one who has had the misfortune of having to shoot another human being. Those are who I will listen to.

  12. waynesigmeister

    When I first started in LE in 1974, I carried a S&W model 19 in 125 grain, .357mag. I never felt out gunned carrying that round. As was standard practice, I carried 12 spare rounds of ammo on my duty belt. Later on, I switched to carrying 3 speed loaders with a total of 24 rounds. Since retiring, I carry a Glock 23 in 40 but its recoil is causing pain from the trigger guard to my knuckles because of the arthritis. I am looking at switching over to .357 or maybe the 9mm.

    I switched departments and carried the same gun but in .38+p, In mid 1980’s, we switched to 9mm and later to 40 cal. I spent 16 years as a rangemaster and saw the level of scores drop as the officer’s carried the semi auto. The officer today lacks the mentality to select a target and hit it with as few rounds as possible. Today, the officer many times will shoot “spray and pray.”

  13. billy

    Ok none of you guys know what your talking about i own a g32 357 sig no 40s&w all bullet will kill or injured someone and fyi a 357 sig has and have the same punching and knock down power like a 357 magnum if you like to brag about your 40s&w go ahead it does have knock down power but lack of speed come on 40 s&w go 800-990 fps vs a 357 sig that goes twice that speed and have knock down power and for the 40 muzzle energy is less that too 357 sig has the same power it can travel like a 9mm and stop power ok it travel 1300-1400 fps and at the muzzle energy at 525 flb idk where your info comes from but the 357 sig is way better than the 40s&w but who cares if you like that round then go for it. It dont matter but the truth is i hate 40 s&w and hate 357 sig haters if you dont have it than dont speak.

    1. Kellz

      357 sig 125 gr bullet is traveling at 1350 fps. 40 sw 165 gr bullet is traveling at 1150 fps. Very similar in the fact ITS THE SAME CASE!

      U don’t know what ur talking about 800 to 900 fps look it up before u get on the Internet saying a bunch of bs

  14. dee dee mao

    Between the 357 and the .40 it’s a trade-off, velocity for mass. the difference in terminal effect between a 125 grain bullet at 1400 fps and a larger diameter heavier 165 grain bullet at 1100 fps is most likely negligible.

    What would effect my choice would be the difference in accuracy, controllability and muzzle flash and blast which are likely worse with the higher velocity, higher pressure round. There is rarely enough time to put on ear protection prior to a gunfight.

  15. 1cmGunner

    .357 Magnum is potent indeed.
    However even the vaunted .357 magnum high-end loads are shattered with 10mm auto high-end rounds.

    eg. Underwood 155gr @ 1500 fps = 775 foot pounds energy @ muzzle

    In addition, I have the added benefit of 15 more of these in a Glock 20 before I have to reload.
    Frame size means little to me, I have big hands and am comfortable with .45 framed handguns.

    I suspect a lot of the data regarding the .357 magnum stopping power is simply out-of-date when compared to the new rounds available.

    10mm auto is ‘the Finger of God’ and will turn off predators of the two or four legged kind like little else.

  16. Ronin1981

    Interesting comments. The 45 is a good stopper; it has a legendary history and a variety of bulletin velocities snd weights. Low flash and not too bad recoil either. However, it generally is a slow round that does not perform as well as the 9, 49, and 357 rounds against sheet metal and glass. Also, the 45 also lacks these callers in capacity. I have heard it said that @you plan in missing a lot” if you carry a high capacity pistol, but that is misunderstanding the tactical considerations of carrying such a weapon. Also, I have personally seen revolvers jam. Once a colt Python with a bent ejector rid, and the venerable ruger security six that had a metal burr lodged in the cylinder mechanism.


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