These are our top choices for .357 SIG self-defense ammo.
Developed in the 1990s in a partnership between SIG SAUER and Federal Ammunition, the .357 SIG was originally designed to duplicate the performance of the .357 Magnum cartridge with a 125 grain bullet in a semi-auto handgun. They did so by using a .40 S&W cartridge necked down to shoot a .355 caliber bullet.
Though it's nowhere near as popular as cartridges like the .38 Special, 9mm Luger, .40 S&W, or .45 ACP, the .357 SIG remains a very capable self-defense choice. Indeed, several law enforcement agencies continue to use the cartridge to this day in SIG P229 or Glock 31 handguns with a great deal of success.
While there aren't nearly as many good .357 SIG self-defense ammo choices as there are for the more popular handgun cartridges, there are several really good loads to choose from. Fortunately, Lucky Gunner recently conducted an extensive test of a number of popular self-defense ammo loads using FBI standards in ballistic gelatin and most of the .357 SIG loads performed very well.
In this post, I'm going to discuss why you should be using these specific .357 SIG ammo choices for self-defense loads in your Glock 33, SIG P230 or whatever .357 SIG carry gun you like to use.
Here are, in no particular order, our picks for the best .357 SIG self-defense ammo based on their performance in ballistic gel under controlled conditions.
Federal 125-Grain HST
Considering that the company was involved in the development of the .357 SIG for law enforcement use from the start, it shouldn't be surprising at all that Federal produces a very highly regarded load for the cartridge. The Federal HST is an extremely popular self-defense bullet in general and is in widespread use in cartridges ranging from .380 Auto all the way up to the .45 ACP.
This jacketed hollow-point bullet is specifically designed not to get plugged up while shooting through heavy clothing or other barriers and the result is a well-constructed bullet known for optimal expansion, reliable deep penetration and high weight retention. In short, it's an excellent choice for .357 SIG self-defense ammo.
SIG Sauer 125-Grain V-Crown
Though they've been in the handgun business for a long time, SIG is relative newcomer to producing ammunition. That being said, their new JHP V-Crown ammunition has performed very well in controlled tests and has been well received in the shooting community.
Though it does not use a bonded bullet like the Speer Gold Dot, the V-Crown instead has a cannelured shank to accomplish the same goal of maximum weight retention, good expansion, and reliable penetration.
Similar to the deal with the Federal HST ammunition, it's not at all shocking that the ammo manufactured by SIG SAUER displayed the consistent high-level performance within the FBI standards that makes it worthy of consideration as a good choice as .357 SIG self-defense ammo.
Winchester 125-Grain PDX-1 Defender
Unlike the Federal HST or SIG V-Crown, the Winchester PDX1 Defender utilizes a bonded bullet to minimize the chances of core-jacket separation and ensure high weight retention. As a result, the bullet is very well regarded in police and general self-defense circles.
In fact, the PDX-1 Defender had the most expansion of all .357 SIG rounds tested by Lucky Gunner and still exhibited optimal penetration depth within the FBI standards. All in all, the PDX1 Defender is another really good choice for .357 SIG self defense ammo.
These are far from the only good choices for .357 SIG self-defense ammo. For instance, the Speer Gold Dot also performed very well and had results within the FBI standards, but penetration was a little on the low side compared to the loads discussed above.
On the other hand, the Remington 125 grain UMC JHP, Remington 125 grain Golden Saber Bonded, and Hornady 135 grain Critical Duty also performed well, but average penetration was on the high side (18.2-19.7 inches) and they did not exhibit quite as much penetration as the loads discussed above in the Lucky gunner Test.
This test wasn't meant to be the final word in choosing self-defense ammo, and is merely intended to provide a good comparison of a lot of popular ammo choices. So, if you're okay with those results, then by all means, use the Remington or Hornady loads for personal protection or home defense.
While it's alright to use full metal jacket (FMJ) ammo for target shooting and general practice, you should still plan on testing out your chosen defense ammo at the range as well. Pick a couple of different loads and test their accuracy and reliability in your chosen carry gun.
Different firearms often prefer different loads and bullet weights. The only way to know how they'll perform in the real world is to spend some time at the range.