Handgun Caliber Showdown Round 1: 9mm vs .357 SIG

357 Sig vs 9MM

There have been many times I asked myself this question: If I survived a holocaust of some sort — like say a zombie apocalypse or a nuclear fallout — and there was only one semi-auto handgun caliber left in the world, what would that be for me? The 357 SIG? Or the 9MM?

  • Would I pick the 9mm because there might be stockpiles of ammo left everywhere?
  • Would I settle for the .380 acp which, with its really low SAAMI pressure limit, shouldn’t be to difficult to build a gun for as I could just use junk metal pipes?
  • Would I pick the 10mm for its .41 magnum ballistics, and for the possibility of setting up a great dual-caliber system in the Glock 20 (because I could use .40 S&W in the same gun) even if it would be next to impossible to find ammo or brass for it?
  • Would I pick the .45 acp because I’ve always been in love with it, and that most 1911s chambered for it can be converted to the mighty .460 Rowland with just a swap of barrels and recoil springs?

  • Or would I pick the .357 SIG because… I don’t know, maybe the holocaust would leave me a little messed up in the brain and I wouldn’t mind picking it because… aargh! I probably wouldn’t because I like the .38 Super and the 9×23 Winchester better… then again maybe I would?

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Maybe if I compare the most common handgun calibers two at a time and record all my thoughts, I’d be able to figure out what the answer to the above question is.

Disclaimer: I do not intend to start another argument over which caliber is better — a lot of “gun experts” have been debating on these topics since Internet gun forums and message boards started becoming popular in the early 2000s, and I will not add to anyone’s pain or pleasure. This will be a very subjective comparison based on my own logic and experience, and my opinions do not reflect those of the other contributing authors of Gun News Daily.

So please do not take this article too seriously.

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The 9mm vs. The .357 SIG

a picture of bullet terminal ballistics

In this article I will be comparing two kinds of similar but very different handgun calibers: the 9×19 Parabellum and the .357 SIG.

Both were designed for semi-automatic handguns, both use a projectile that has a diameter of 355/1000 of an inch, and with modern bullet designs, i.e. jacketed hollow points (JHPs) and jacketed soft points (JSPs) both can be great man-stoppers.

Where the two differ greatly are their bullet velocities, their case dimensions and some would argue, what they can be used for.

The 9mm’s Story

a picture of georg lugerGeorg Luger, an Austrian sharpeye, patented a design for a pistol he so aptly named after himself in 1898, the Luger P08.

Not long after, he designed the 9×19 Parabellum cartridge that would use a .355-inch bullet — it would later supersede the then dominant but relatively smaller .309-inch bullet in the 7.65x21mm Parabellum.

Looking at the 7.65x21mm’s and the 9x19mm’s ballistics performance, it’s obvious that the former is superior. I can only assume Georg was tasked to redesign the 7.65x21mm and come up with the 9x19mm because of a few possible reasons:

  • Back in those days, hollow points for use in handguns would have been very difficult to mass-produce for war;
  • Even if hollow points for handguns were easier to mass-produce, the Hague Convention of 1899 wouldn’t have allowed for such bullets to be used for war;


a picture of three 9mm cartridges with different bullet typesSince its introduction in 1902, the 9x19mm Parabellum, now more commonly referred to everywhere as the 9mm, has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation.

Its tapered brass that can withstand a SAAMI pressure limit of 35,000 psi (241 MPa) is quite tiny and allows for typical single-stack magazines designed for its arguably biggest rival, the .45 acp, to hold up to 22% more ammo.

The high-pressure rating of the brass can also push the typical 115-grain .355 caliber projectile out of a 4.65-inch barrel with muzzle velocities of up to 1,180 feet per second. The relatively small cross-sectional surface area of the bullet (diameter) allows it to penetrate solid objects quite well.

And since it’s only been popular for, well, close to a hundred years (if we consider that it only really became widely accepted after World War I), guns and ammo availability for this caliber will never be an issue.

Seeing how it’s still in use today in several countries’ military and law enforcement, the 9mm would probably continue to be a popular choice for handgunners for a hundred years more, notwithstanding threats from new contenders like the wildcat  .22 Tuason Craig Micromagnum (.22 TCM) and the still unnamed 7.5mm cartridge for what is arguably the most powerful semi-automatic production handgun yet, the 7.5 FK BRNO.

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The .357 SIG’s Story

 a picture of four 357 sig hollow points

As Sylvester Stallone so eloquently put it in Rocky VI, “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows!” This is the sad truth, and doubly more so in the case of the .357 SIG.

Elmer Keith, an Idahoan gun nut among other things, got it right when he decided to hot-load the .38 Special for use in some of Smith & Wesson’s .38-caliber revolvers built originally for the .44 S&W Special.

His experiments led to Smith & Wesson developing a powerful new cartridge in 1935, capable of pushing a .357-inch 125-grain bullet out of a 4-inch barrel at speeds of at least 1,450 feet per second and producing more than double the .38 Special’s muzzle energy.

The brass was made 1/8-inch longer so it wouldn’t fit inside the weaker .38 Special revolvers’ chambers to avoid catastrophic results, and in 1935 it was christened the .357 S&W Magnum. In that same year the Smith & Wesson Registered Magnum (M27) was born.

The .357 magnum was so awesome that SIG Sauer, a Swiss-German firearms manufacturer, attempted to duplicate its ballistics when fired from a 4-inch barrel revolver by cutting the 10mm Auto’s case and necking it down to accept a .355-inch bullet (the same projectile for the 9mm).

The new cartridge was designed to be used for semi-auto pistols because of the platform’s inherent advantages over revolvers:

  • More ammo capacity in the semi-auto magazine vs. 6 to 8 rounds in the revolver chamber (this is true for wide-body semi-autos that use double-stack mags);
  • No forcing cone as barrel and chamber are on the same piece of metal and work as one (velocity loss in revolvers are not present in semi-autos);
  • Faster reloading time (because revolver speedloaders are no match for double-stack mags);
  • Easier concealment by nature of semi-autos not having the “bulging” profile of the revolver’s cylinder.

In 1994, it was introduced as the .357 SIG.

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a picture of a .357 sig, a 10mm and a .40 swSince its release some 23 years ago, the .357 SIG has had a small but loyal (even die-hard) fan base — “small” being the operative word.

Because it didn’t really catch on as far as popularity, partly due to it being released just a few years after the .40 S&W and partly due to it not really having any practical advantages over other more established handgun calibers, ammo availability tends to be an issue in some states.



Here are some other reasons why I think the round has yet to win the popularity contest:

  • The .357 SIG pushes a 125-grain bullet out of a 4.5 inch barrel at velocities reaching up to 1,450 feet per second. This effectively duplicates factory .357 magnum loads fired from a 4-inch revolver barrel. While SIG Sauer certainly accomplished this amazing feat in a semi-auto, the .357 magnum with its longer brass can be hot-loaded to unreachable levels, e.g. Buffalo Bore’s Heavy hunting loads that can push a heavier 180-grain bullet out of a 4-inch revolver barrel at velocities of up to 1,400 feet per second. This means the .357 SIG will never be as good as the .357 magnum for hunting.
  • Further on ballistics, the .357 SIG’s isn’t the only hard-hitting .355-inch bullet in the market. The 9mm loaded to the extremes can produce similar (albeit a little lower) bullet velocities, case in point Underwood’s 9mm LUGER +P+ which can push a 124-grain bullet out of a 5-inch barrel with velocity at the muzzle of 1,300 feet per second.
  • The slight drawback of the 9mm +P+ having a bit of a lower velocity is mitigated by the fact that durable all-steel guns (e.g. 1911s in 9mm, and even the super-strong Norinco CZ 75 copies) are more readily available and cheaper compared to handguns chambered for the .357 SIG.
  • Since durable steel handguns that can use 9mm +P+ loads are cheaper and more readily available, 9mm ammo are even cheaper and more readily available. Imagine being able to buy and use three different pressure loads (standard, +P and +P+) for your 9mm handgun vs. just one for your .357 SIG — would you still choose the SIG?
  • Two other strong contenders in the .355-caliber 125-bullet weight division are the .38 Super and the 9×23 Winchester. Both use a straight brass design (the latter being a little tapered). The ancient .38 Super performs about the same as the 9mm +P+, while the newer 9×23 Winchester directly contests the .357 SIG’s ballistics performance, able to push a 125-grain bullet at 1,450 feet per second out of a 4.5-inch barrel.
  • BUT the straight case design of these two calibers makes the cartridges ~6.2% thinner, allowing for one to two additional rounds in the mag. For comparison, a typical .40 S&W/.357 SIG 1911’s magazine can hold only 8 to 9 rounds, while a similar size 1911 mag for 9mm/.38 Super/9×23 Winchester can hold 9 to 10 rounds. Heck don’t even get me started on the newly-revived Coonan 1911-style pistol in .357 magnum.
  • The 10mm Auto, itself the magnum-level mother cartridge of both the .40 S&W and the .357 SIG, can push a slightly heavier 135-grain bullet at a whopping 1,600 feet per second out of a 4.5-inch barrel, but its case diameter measurements are about the same as the other two’s, so as far as ammo capacity, typical 10mm 1911 single-stack mags can also hold 8 to 9 rounds. If anything, the 10mm defeats the very purpose of the .357 SIG’s existence.
  • Since the ammo availability issue has plagued the .357 SIG’s for so long because its popularity didn’t catch on, handgunners would naturally resort to handloading. The problem is the .357 SIG also has a reputation for being hard to reload, so while a few are able to successfully reload, inexperienced reloaders end up getting frustrated and spreading even more bad news about the poor caliber.
  • These issues have formed a vicious cycle:  ammo availability/reloading issues cause frustration which causes bad rep, which in turn diminishes demand, which then pushes suppliers to sell their stock ammo at a loss, which then results to some manufacturers limiting/stopping ammo manufacture.

357 SIG vs 9MM - Conclusion

If life is as easy as doing ballistics comparisons, then it would be a no-brainer to state that the .357 SIG trumps the 9mm. It can send a same-size, same-weight bullet flying at much faster velocities which results to better terminal ballistics. Even the extremely hot 9mm +P+ with the same bullet weight runs about 150 feet per second slower than just the standard .357 SIG load.

Life isn’t ever going to be that easy though, and superior ballistics doesn’t necessarily mean a particular cartridge/caliber is better than another. Why, if that were the case, then I say we get rid of all types of ammo save the almighty .50 BMG, gather them and burn them all. Let’s all just get ourselves a .50 BMG rifle, gather around the bonfire with all the burning lead flying everywhere and sing Kum-ba-yah to high heavens.

I’m not dismissing the .357 SIG. I think as a concept, it works great. In a perfect world where money is never going to be an issue, I’d tell anyone who asks for a recommendation to buy any handgun chambered for this round if only to give it the chance it deserves.

I think the fine folks at SIG Sauer nailed it when they designed this cartridge. I love my Taurus 689 in .357 magnum. I’d love to have a subcompact semi-auto in .357 SIG. I’d love to have a Coonan in .357 magnum too. Ahhh so many guns, so little time.

But I digress.

So, for this handgun caliber showdown, it is with much sorrow and misery that I have to say that for all intents and purposes, the time-tested, relatively weaker but more readily available and more affordable 9mm wins over the .357 SIG.


Mike Ramientas

A firearms and ballistics enthusiast and an outdoorsman, Mike is one of Gun News Daily's best contributing authors. He's a researcher, data analyst and writer by trade and strongly adheres to conservatism—a stalwart of the right to keep and bear arms.

53 thoughts on “Handgun Caliber Showdown Round 1: 9mm vs .357 SIG

  1. 357 Sig is a great cartridge, but even with higher velocities and muzzle energy, it’s still a handgun and it doesn’t stop bad guys any better than the .40, 9mm or 45 ACP. If it did law enforcement agencies all over the country would’ve switched to it. Don’t get me wrong, I have a Glock 33 in 357 Sig and I love it! 357 Sig is one of my favorite cartridges, but my go to gun for EDC is my Glock 26 in 9mm. I’m pretty sure the 124 grain Federal HST’s stuffed in it will give a bad guy a real bad case of heartburn and indigestion. Not that I ever want to be in a gunfight. ?

    1. I’m cracking up on the heartburn/indigestion bit, lol.

      Thanks for the comment Michael, can’t agree more on everything you said. I think handguns being just handguns, they’ll only be great for when you need to defend yourself against a baddie in a pinch but will never be remotely as effective as rifles or shotguns.

      I guess this has to be the only exception (only downside is it costs an arm and a leg):

      1. I totally agree my friend. Handguns have always been for the immediate threat to end a confrontation with a bad guy. I read an article from a trauma surgeon and he’s seen people killed with a single .22 caliber bullet and he’s also seen guys shot with a 10mm that ran away. They also have no idea what someone has been shot with just by looking at them. Once the bullets have been removed that’s when they know. So the argument my .45 is so much bigger and better than your 9mm is not only silly, but the actual difference in diameter is 9.6 caliber, less than 1/2 the diameter of a .22 bullet. Doesn’t seem that much bigger to me. Anyway, long story short, it’s right back to “WHERE” someone is shot, not the caliber. I’m not suggesting that everyone just carry a .22, but, if it’s all you have, it beats throwing rocks. Anyway, thank you for the reply and a great article. You know as well as I do that the handgun caliber wars will continue until the Star Trek phasers come out, then it’ll start all over as to which phaser works best. ? LMAO!
        Stay safe and best wishes to you and my apologies for not responding sooner.

        1. “…beats throwing rocks” lol brilliant!

          Thanks, glad you liked the article. Them phasers won’t be coming out for prolly a couple hundred years more — we’ll never see the end of the caliber wars in our lifetime 😀

      2. I came across your article a little late, since we’re now at the end of April. But, nonetheless it was a brilliant piece of work. Thank you sir, for (what I think is) an honest and non biasedlook at gun calibers and their performance Vs availability. Although we all have our “comfort” caliber, I could not agree more with your assessment. You just earned your self a NEW fan. ?

  2. No question, the caliber wars will continue as long as firearms are being used. As for the phasers, you’re right where that’s concerned too. We’ll never see them, but that’s ok, my G26 will do just fine, I just pray I never have to use it. I have no interest whatsoever in being in a gunfight. I’d rather watch actors get into gunfights on tv. LOL! And before I forget, I downloaded that link you sent and I’ll read it later today.
    Thank you again for your messages and I’m happy I could bring a little laughter your way.

  3. Not sure why the .357 Sig is being evaluated as a hunting cartridge? It was never designed for this purpose. The .357 Sig was developed to offer the best of all worlds;
    1. stopping power equal to the .357 Magnum, the cartridge Evan Marshall and Ed Sanow deemed, in their book “Handgun Stooping Power”, best manstopper in actual shootings,
    2. A cartridge that had less recoil than .357 Magnum
    3. A cartridge that could be shot out of a gun the size of 9mm, smaller and lighter than the .45acp.357 Mag and 10mms of that period.
    4. A cartridge equal to .357 Mag ballistics in guns that provide double the capacity
    5. Not creating issues like early 10mm that shot guns apart becUse they used modified 9mm and .45acp guns and also did not overpenetrate like early 10mm cartridges were dling in actual shootings.
    The idea of having a gun the size, recoil and capacity close to 9mm with the stopping power of .357 Magnum was a very good idea.
    But, just as rifle cartridges that come out and are superior, sometimes far superior to 5.56mm and .308, they can rarely break into mainstream because the world is flooded with 5.56, .308 and 9mm.
    To say the .357 was trying to fix a non-existant problem is innacurate. It was addressing issues during that time of trying to create the best manstopper afyer yhe FBI claimed the 9mm failed in 1986. The 10mm was their second hope followed by the .40.
    To use the logic that 9mm is as good as the .357 Sig is the same as saying the .38 Special is as good as the .357 Magnum.
    The .357 Sig was desigend to address a very real problem, the problem of a non-ezistant handgun cartridge that is a very effective manstopper in all cases, conditions and situations.

    1. @ThePersonalProtectionSpecialist
      Thanks for taking the time to read the article.

      I’m not sure where you got your info, but when you said “The 10mm was their second hope followed by the .40.” I took it you implied that the .357 SIG came before the 10mm? If that’s the case, that is inaccurate, as the 10mm was the mother cartridge of the .40 S&W, which came before the .357 SIG. The .357 SIG was a little late in the party because when it came out, the FBI and a lot of other law enforcement agencies had already adopted the .40 S&W.

      “To use the logic that 9mm is as good as the .357 Sig is the same as saying the .38 Special is as good as the .357 Magnum.”
      I didn’t say the 9mm is as good as the .357 SIG, in fact if you’d only take a second look at my article and really try to see where I was coming from, you would likely get the impression that I was rooting for the .357 SIG in this article. It is ballistically superior to the 9mm. Unfortunately that’s the only thing it has going for it.

      As I also put on the list of reasons why I think it didn’t catch on, a lot of other more common calibers with similar or better ballistics are more prevalent due to better availability/ease of handloading: the .38 Super and 9×23 Winchester, some super hot 9mm +P+ loads, not to mention the 960 Rowland which, at the time of the article’s writing I haven’t heard of — is a newer wildcat more powerful than the .357 SIG as it was supposedly designed to mimic true .357 magnum performance. All these calibers rival and some even exceed the .357 SIG as far as ballistics, but these having thinner casing means there’s room for more rounds in the mag.

      Then there’s its sister and mother cartridges the .40 S&W and 10mm respectively, the magazines for which will fit the same number of rounds — the .40 being one of the three most common handgun calibers in the world (which the .357 SIG really should have rendered obsolete were it destined for greatness), there’s just no hope for the .357 SIG as far as popularity in the foreseeable future.

      To reiterate what I wrote in the Conclusion part of the article, I wish the .357 SIG gained the popularity that I think it deserves, I really do. And I have nothing against people who like the cartridge. But its biggest Achilles’ heel being it can be expensive/difficult to come by/hard to handload in my opinion makes it inferior than the readily available but ballistically weaker 9mm. Only time will tell if it would gain the kind of resurgence in popularity the 10mm is enjoying now — both of us can only hope.

    2. The 9mm is for people who squat when the pee! Like the one person said,if good enough for the secret service it’s good enough for me

  4. Thank you for the entertaining article. It is very coincidental that I own both guns you have pictured (sig p239 in both calibers) and enjoy firing the sig 357 much more (and find myself carrying that more) but your conclusion hits the nail on the head when it comes to availability and affordability.

  5. Me personally I have thinned out my heard of 9mm pistols in favor of a few 357sig pistols. Love the caliber. I also noticed that you mentioned Underwood 9mm. They make some good 9mm loads, but they make even better 357 Sig. They advertise 1475fps, for 357sig but it chronos at 1500+ untill you put it in a Glock 33 then it comes in at advertised or slightly under. Ill keep both 9mm and 357sig cuz I like them both. The article was a nice read and had some good points. Nice work.

  6. I’d also point out that the 9 has less recoil and far less muzzle blast, two factors which positively lend to the most important factor, accuracy.

  7. I own a S&W shield in .40. I purchased a 9mm conversion barrel for it for ammo prices sake. The company I purchased from also had a .357sig barrel. I was just wandering if the .357sig load would be of much use in the short barrel of the Shield pistol?

    1. Rick,

      What’s the barrel length on your S&W Shield? I’ve been looking a lot at Smith & Wesson’s website lately and I believe they have subcompact (~3-inch), compact and full-size Shield models.

      Whether or not it’ll be worth getting the conversion barrel depends on the barrel length of your particular Shield model.

      If you look at this link http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357sig.html you’ll see that there’s around ~200 fps difference in muzzle velocities when firing any of the specified .357 SIG loads from a 3-inch and a 5-inch.

      If your Shield is a 3-inch I would say just get a different pistol that has a 4-inch or a 5-inch barrel if you want to maximize your gains (because unless it’s just for novelty’s sake I simply don’t see any practical reason to get a .357 SIG conversion for a 3-inch barrel when you already have the gun chambered for .40 S&W). I would recommend getting a Glock 23 and getting a .357 SIG conversion or better yet, get a Glock 32 and don’t bother converting it to .40 S&W.

      But if your Shield is a 4-inch then it might be worth trying. IIRC the .357 SIG was designed to be fired from barrels around 4 inches in length or longer — though it’s still faster than any 9mm load I know when fired from a 3-inch, I really don’t see the point.

      And shorter barrel = bigger muzzle blast, even worse than what Jason above has touched on in his comment. I imagine it’ll have more felt recoil too. But it’s really up to you.

  8. I came across your article a little late, since we’re now at the end of April. But, nonetheless it was a brilliant piece of work. Thank you sir, for (what I think is) an honest and non biasedlook at gun calibers and their performance Vs availability. Although we all have our “comfort” caliber, I could not agree more with your assessment. You just earned your self a NEW fan. ?

    1. @Amado Garcia, thank you for the kind words. Your comment made my day. Please do check out my other articles here at GND. 🙂

  9. Nice article. I like that u attempt to prevent the continuation of the never ending caliber wars. To each their own. I have one problem though and I see it in almost every pro/con evaluation of the .357 sig. Lack of ammo availability? Maybe at some local gunstores. I’ve had zero issues locating HSTs, Gold Dots, various brands of FMJ, reloads, etc. either online or at gunshows here in gun friendliest state in the nation – California! Anyhow, I love the 357 sig and hope to see it climb in popularity. Thanks for your input.

    1. Damian, thanks for reading the article. If availability weren’t as much of a problem in a lot of other states, this comparison would really be a no-brainer, the .357 SIG would win hands down.

      Unfortunately, it is. And the main issue with buying stuff online is, well, cost. Anyone would be hard-pressed to find .357 SIG ammo as cheap as 9mm online. There are folks who have no issues forking out a couple more bucks and us cheapskates can only envy them. Yep, to each their own.

  10. I’d like to point out that the 357sig’s case shape also adds to reliability since it is a bottle necked case. I don’t see this point in most discrediting articles for the cartridge.
    As for ammo availability, I’ve got about 1800 to 2000 rounds of it and never had an issue finding it here in Texas.
    If bullet diameter, ammo availability and mag capacity were the main deciding points, then why not 9×18 or .380? I’d argue that these lack power, which is what 357sig does best. 38 super is also a great round, but I’ve only shot it and never owned one. My first 357 sig purchase was a LEO trade in Glock 31 that I still own. Since then, I’ve acquired a P239(for carry) and a P229(for my wife.) I’ve had a few others that I didn’t keep, because I didn’t care for the gun itself.
    My point is that I trust the cartridge, it does what 9mm does, but better, minus a little recoil and mag capacity. To me, if the shoe fits, wear it.

    1. G Norm,

      It’s people like you that make me think the .357 SIG will never die. I can only hope its popularity catches on in the not so distant future — it deserves more.

      Thanks for reading.

    2. I have been shooting .357 Sig pistols (Glock and Sig) extensively since 1995, with no reliability issues whatsoever.

  11. I’ve been a few shootouts over 30 years as a cop. The first was the 10mm Glock 20 and it did the job. The bean counters had a hissy over the cost of 10mm and convinced command to go to .45 Glock 21SF with Golden Sabres and a +P. We discussed the .357 Sig but yet again, too costly on the Ammo. Budget always controls preferences in the field. Most agencies in our areas had the Glock 22 / .40 so we were told to accept the .45+p
    .357 Sig was out of the running.

    Thumbnail: shootout with a Meth Head blasting us, he was hit 9 times within 12-15 feet, both lungs punched out, one hit through the neck severing his carotid artery and he ran like a zombie in WW 3 MOVIE. Final shot was into his spine , severing it by one of my detectives as he collapsed and rolled due to his momentum. Point being…no matter what you carry, today’s druggies are jacked up and don’t drop like in the movies. Our practice of head shots became a training focus afterwards whereas before we were trained center mass.

  12. I’m one of the odd ones out. I’ve been a Armed Security patrol officer for over a decade, carried everything from Sig p220s, 226s, 229s, Hk USPs, M9s, old steel 3rd gen Smith’s and every caliber from 9mm to .45ACP including the failed .45GAP.

    I currently carry a p229 chambered in .357 sig. I have. 40s&w and 9mm barrels for the weapon, but one small fact keeps me on the 357. Barrier penetration.

    The odds of myself having to fire on, more so through a car door or windshield , vs the average person is pretty large. Trajectories change a lot on glass, and with the supports inside a car door, 9mm and .40 can be stopped dead in its tracks.

    Now we all know an extra 200-300fps can flatten the trajectory of a round through glass, it can also give the extra umph needed to punch through a pesky folded steel door support.

    Also working outdoors in the woods of Maine, it has its merits against…larger wildlife that a 9mm, .40 or .45 would just piss off due to less penetration.

    Is it more expensive? Heck yes. $30-40 for 50 rounds of FMJ and astronomical prices for HPJ. Is ammo readily available?. Well not so much at the LGS, but the internet and places like SGammo make it easily purchased via the mail guy.

    Where I work I am not allowed to carry a 686-2 so….the hardest hitting “duty caliber” round I can have is the .357SiG…..and honestly. Thays just fine with me.

    Plus the fireballs it makes at twilight hours is a bonus :p

    1. Jay,

      Thanks for reading through the article. I wish there could be more odd ones like yourself — then maybe the .357 SIG would get the popularity it deserves.

      If you’re working outdoors and you feel at one point that you need a more powerful weapon for big two-legged critters, there’s a good chance you can convert your .45 ACP handgun to a 10mm, a .45 Super or even a .460 Rowland (depending on brand/model) — handgun calibers that are much more powerful.

      I think carrying typical 125-grain .357 SIG loads is pushing it — I can be wrong as I’ve never had to shoot a bear before, but in such scenarios it’s better to err on the safe side.

      As far as the barrier/glass penetration bit and all other things you mentioned, I can’t agree more.

      All the best,

  13. Hi, I am just an average guy with a CHL. After research I determined that if I ever had to defend myself I would want the upper hand. Where as my Glock 19 was the equalizer, the Glock 32 that I have made my EDC gives me more comfort. As to ammo availability, it is readily available at $15-16 a box of 50 on line. The 19 being the same size and feel as the 32 is still used for high volume range time.

    1. Ed, thanks for reading the article. It’s a good thing you purchased both and found a purpose for each of them.

  14. Hi, I am just an average guy with a CHL. After research I determined that if I ever had to defend myself I would want the upper hand. Whereas my Glock 19 was the equalizer, the Glock 32 that I have made my EDC gives me more comfort. As to ammo availability, it is readily available at $15-16 a box of 50 on line. The 19 being the same size and feel as the 32 is still used for high volume range time.

  15. Nice article, nice effort.
    I’m another one that sides with the .357Sig.
    I have both….carry both at times because for me I interpreted the creation of the .357Sig for a specialized reason.
    While the .357Sig is by far my most enjoyed round to shoot I only carry it when I travel in the car, meaning road trips.
    I don’t EDC everyday but when I do it’s a 9mm.
    For me the .357Sig advantage was always vehicle penetration. This is what I understood it’s purpose was to overcome and that’s what it excels at. If I were in need of shooting thru my door while inside my vehicle I trust it would be more effective than a 9mm.
    For all other purposes the 9mm wins due to comfort and ease of carry. It’s simply easier.

  16. Not sure if you’re still monitoring this discussion any longer but regardless, I think this is a good comparison article except for one point. I believe the 9mm is the best carry caliber for most folk because, just as the FBI report stated, most are too recoil sensitive for anything more powerful (from 10mm to 40 Cal to 9mm). I purchased a G31 to replace the 357 Mag I used as a truck/woods gun and would point out that my 357 Sig plinking loaf is 1350 FPS while my self defense loads hits 1380 FPS. If I want a “+P” 357 Sig I can purchase Underwood’s loading of Gold Dot which hits 1510 FPS. If it were true that 9mm +P rounds achieved the velocity reached by the 357 Sig, I wouldn’t have considered purchasing the G31. So, yeah, the 9mm +P velocity is comparable to 357 Sig or Mag but only when comparing it to the most anemic 357 loading you can find. If we follow this type of reasoning to its logical conclusion, that the extra 100 to 400 FPS really doesn’t matter, then I could make the argument that 9mm isn’t needed because we have the 380. And the G42 is smaller and lighter than the G19 so why bother; right? It is nonsensical to say that 9mm is “much better” than 380 and then make the argument that 9mm is “just as good” as 357 Sig or Mag. They are all 35 caliber but the difference is muzzle velocity and only muzzle velocity. So, is more muzzle velocity better or is it not?
    Anyway, I will be purchasing a 40 cal and a Lone Wolf 9mm conversion barrel for my G31. It’s just too easy.

  17. I think the phrase “second hope” with regards to the FBI was their move away from .45 ACP. They took the 9mm cookie to replace the .45 ACP to be in step with everyone else going 9mm for compatibility conformance. After they got their asses beat in a gunfight in 1986, due mostly to poor operator performance, they dropped the 9mm like a hot potato and restarted their search for a better operational bullet. They looked at the 10mm and accepted a bullet redesigned as the .40 S&W. Hence, the 9mm was their “first hope” for a superior man-stopper bullet, and the 10mm became the “second hope”.

  18. I’ve spoken with many Ex LEO and a few Ex FBI agents at gun shows and every one of them said the same thing the only reason the 9mm was chosen by the FBI and LEO was not because the 9mm was a better because they even said it wasn’t, it was because there agents and officers were only hitting their targets less than 30 percent or less of the time (look up the report) which they the LEO and agents blamed on recoil of 40SW and 357Sig and with the 9mm you got less recoil for faster follow up shots and 2+ extra rounds yet know the standard FBI and LEO 9mm round is now a +p or a +p+ round which know that so called recoil that they blamed on the 40sw and 357sig is worse with the 9MM then it was with the 40SW and 357SIG.

    So rather than offering better training for their officers and agents (which they do need) with the 40SW and 357 sig both which they all said was a much better and more powerful round at taking down people especially the 357 sig when loaded to where it originally was supposed to be (which originally was 1,450 + feet per second) for a 125 GR bullet and it still out performs any 9mm +p or +P+ round) and even after being watered down by ammo companies to 1350-1375 the 357 sig still out performed any 9mm +p and +P+ round that they the FBI and LEO had and they still opted to go with the less powerful 9mm which is under gunning there officers to a less lethal round.

    And for all the people who keep saying with today’s new bullet technology and new powders the 9MM is now better and faster, well guess what that same bullet technology and new powders also went into making the 40 SW, 357SIG and the 45ACP also a better round. Just look at how now there a making 45acp + p rounds and 40SW rounds going 50-75 FPS faster and that’s something that was never heard of ten years ago.

    Please watch the following 2 videos below in their entirety and just maybe if you can put politics aside you will understand how the 9mm though a good round and can get the job done in most cases is not the perfect defense round that people want it to be.



  19. I never once said the 9mm is perfect. Lol. If you read the entirety of my article (I’m assuming you didn’t — otherwise you wouldn’t have taken too much time typing your long anti-9mm rhetoric), you’ll know that I don’t like the 9mm. It just so happened that of the two, the 9mm is more accessible and more available because of better pricing and worldwide popularity, not to mention I’d personally choose the 9×23 Winchester (or even the .38 Super) over the .357 SIG — same power, more ammo in the mag.

  20. Show me a mid sized gun that can chamber a 38 super or 9×23, the 20111’s STI style guns are HUGE. You need a oal of 1.2 in for those to be at there peak power. this leaves guns like the 10mm glock 20’s, they are bigger, breach face is still 40/357/10mm brass sized, too large for extraction 100% of the time, mag lips are an issue.

  21. @JD Donham
    It shouldn’t be too difficult to find a 4-inch barrel 1911 chambered in .38 Super. It’ll only be a matter of whether the owner would be okay with reaming the barrel’s chamber to accept 9×23 Winchester or just sticking with .38 Super.
    Here’s a quick link I found from Google:

    And don’t even get me started on the 960 Rowland. I haven’t updated this article in a while but maybe I will soon.

  22. My background is a swat police officer in a major US city for clarification. We recently went back to 9mm from .40 and everyone prefers the 9mm. Why? Control and accuracy. Follow up shots are so easy and their are plenty of times we have to shot one handed due to carrying shields or entry tools. Our handguns are our secondary weapons not our primary. That’s why we used .40 cal before. That said I carry 9mm and .357 sig off duty. A lot has to do with where I’m going and doing. Colder weather or woods carry it’s always a .357 sig. It is a no joke round with not only great terminal ballistics but incredible feeding reliability due to the bottleneck design. Everyone says the .357 sig is a 9mm on steroids. I always looked at it as a slightly watered down .357 mag. Again, for 3 seasons in urban areas I carry one of my 9mm but the .357 sig absolutely has a place in the gun world especially where power, accuracy and penetration come into play. 6 rounds of .357 mag or 16 of .357 sig? Why is that even a question?

  23. I’m another latecomer to the article/party. I’m an old fart retired physician who spent a lot of time working with trauma services during my residency days. That was back in the old days way before 10mm, 40S&W and 357SIG were developed and I was involved in taking care of shootout victims usually in “drug deals gone bad” – AKA victims of LEO including State Patrol, DEA, etc. It wasn’t uncommon to dig out bullets varying in power including 357 Mag, 45ACP 44 Mag and a few 9mm. It was incredible that many of these folks survived 4 bullets to the chest but they did. To be honest, there wasn’t any significant observable differences in the damage done. That being said, I personally choose 357 Sig over 40S&W because it shoots flatter which means more accuracy for me. Nearly all my carry guns have fixed sights and at 15-20 yard targets, the 40 cal bullets drop up to an inch lower than the 357 Sig rounds. That’s what matters most for me.

  24. ThePersonalProtectionSpecialist is correct in all he said. As a retired Federal Agent who worked in three different agencies, all of them as a collateral FI, and retiring as a Division FI, the .357 did all it was intended to do and outclassed the 9, 40 and 45. I attended an industry shoot in Las Vegas about 10 years ago and was the only carrier of a 357 SIG (my agency, and many more, despite what you’ve heard DID adopt the 357 SIG because it is a bad a$$ round). We chronied our guns (mine was SIG P229, 3.9″ Bbl 125gr at 1365 FPS) then took turns at shooting a ballistic dummy wearing body armor. Before the first round of testing everyone wanted to see the 45 go first, then the 40 then the 9 then me. After the first round of tests everybody wanted me to go first because the force and cavitation shown by the dummy when shot by the 357 SIG was noticeably greater then all the other calibers. I’m one of those guys that carriers a different gun and caliber every week just for fun, but if I’m going to a bad part of town or on a trip, it’s the 357 SIG for all the reasons ThePersonalProtectionSpecialist mentioned. Also you assumed some thing he didn’t infer, nothing in his remark indicates he thought the 357 SIG came before the 40.

    1. You should always prepare for the worst situation. To do otherwise is like trying to outguess the stock market. It can’t be done.

  25. Tardy to the party but I’ll toss in my 2 cents. There are pros and cons to both cartridges, as well as the .40 S&W, the .45 ACP, the 10mm, the .38 super, etc. However, as I sit here In the twilight of the COVID-19 threat. I’m sure all of you (and maybe a few of you participated too) had noticed that 9mm rounds were being gobbled up like tiny white marbles in a frantic game of hungry hungry hippos. This meant that most popular and cheapest of rounds was unavailable not only at your local gun shops and big box stores, but even online. 😮 So what was still available? Scant amounts of .40S&W, .45 ACP, and a relatively available amount of the obscure and much maligned .357 SIG. Which, in turn, led to an increase in sales of guns and barrels chambered for that round. COVID-19 showed us that a sudden spike in demand for even the most mainstream and mass-produced types of cartridges, is still all it takes to create a shortage of said cartridge. If you ask me, the sad, unfortunate, story leading to the inevitable demise of the .357 SIG came just a little too prematurely.

  26. 357 sig is and will still be obsolete, the 10mm is way better than 357 sig and mag, but my 9mm shuts up neighbors barkin dogs, hell one shot took a pit bulls head off, so 9mm works for me, quiet neighborhood now and i feel safe carrying it, because i know it will do the same thing to a person if need be n i got plenty of ammo.

    1. The “Bad Part of Town” Syndrome:
      Anywhere can be the “bad part of town” in today’s world. Today’s thugs (in my area at least) like to operate in the nicer parts of the city for obvious reasons. Trying to guess what caliber you will need on any given day is akin to trying to outguess the stock market. It can’t be done, not on a regular basis at least. I was involved in an attempted armed robbery a couple of years ago (I was the intended victim), and it occurred in the nicer part of the city I live in. BTW, the perps’ (there were three of them) robbery attempt was unsuccessful.

    2. The 10mm is definitely not “way better” for shooters that are sensitive to heavy recoil. I am a certified pistol instructor, and there are a lot of shooters that are negatively affected by strong recoil.

  27. Besides handgun calibers are weak compared to the ol AR. That or the 12 gauge pump with slugs is what ya get when ya wanna send em runnin off ya property. Plus chicks dig em.

  28. Late to the game however the 357Sig was in fact a question that was asked, by law enforcement, to fix the 9mm problem that still plagues law enforcement and civilians, except the 9mm cultists, who wanted stopping power, yes it’s a real thing, equivalent to the old 357 mag, that by 1994 most police officers with 10 years on the job were issued 357 mags when they were hired. So Sig decided to attempt to make a semi auto caliber that was equal to the 357 mag. Here’s where it’s important to point out that no handgun caliber will ever achieve the one shot stop percentage of the 357 magnum because of one overlooked feature of the 357 magnum….the semi jacketed hollow point projectile. The FBI unrealistic gel test and their easily led cultists, “gun experts” and even Dr Gary J Roberts overlooked IMO purposely to prove their precious 9mm superior, it isn’t, no 9mm cultist wants to remember just a few short years ago a perp in NYC, where I served l, was shot 4 to 5 with Speer Gold Dot 124gr +P ammo,times from about 15 feet and the perps Carhartt jacket stopped 3 of the 4 rounds, the last killing him. In the forensics unit Speer was on the hot seat and made a deal with the politicians to keep the results under wrap and so it goes in NYC dirty politics . However the SJHP projectile will “explosively” fragment inside the human target and create an extremely traumatic and violent wound path, usually 2 to 4 plus inches wide while the remaining half of the projectile continues to go 13 to 15 inches into the target, dumping all of its energy and not over penetrating! That round was so effective that politicians and doctors hated it, it almost suffered the same fate from political pressure as did the Winchester Black Talons, however as fate would have it the semi auto 9mm’s were rapidly replacing the revolver and that stopped the political machine in it’s tracks. Now back to the 357 Sig , when Dr Gary K Roberts released his results of the 357 sig and ultimately shit on this round he, being another 9mm cultist, did something so disingenuous, that most people didn’t realize, and the majority of people that attempt to compare 9mm to 357 Sig still do. When they compare the 9mm to the 357 sig they almost always compare a 124gr +p or +p+ to a mass produced reduced velocity 125gr 357Sig! The proper and honest comparison would be a reduced velocity or standard velocity 9mm to the reduced velocity 357 sig however that would force the 9mm cult to face reality and the truth…9mm still sucks. Underwood, Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, Cor-Bon all make in spec 357 sig(1450fps) which is the standard for 357 Sig so why not compare that to standard 9mm, well we already know why. However when testing any of those in spec 357 Sig rounds even to a +p+ 9mm the Sig still dominates even to the cries of the low Testosterone 9mm cult who seems to be, by all their internet posts, severely recoil sensitive…unless they want to shit on the 357sig even more and regurgitate how much better a 10mm is, it’s recoil isn’t that bad either….consistently would be appreciated! Back again to the 357 Sig as if this post one month ago a North Carolina state trooper dropped ,with one shot …ya know the thing the cultists say doesn’t exist in the gel head/block cults world, a perp dead…not center mass but a shot to the upper left chest ….the same thing police officers reported happened when they carried 357 magnums! The beauty of this horrible situation was all caught on the troopers dash cam for the world to see on YouTube which is now age restricted to viewers. I’ve personally interviewed LEO’s from various agencies who used the 357 magnum in their unfortunate officer involved shootings who all, unknown to each other, said the same thing it only took one shot from the 357mag, using either the Federal 125gr 357b or Remington 125gr SJHP 357mag, to drop their perps dead…sadly one LEO had repeated this a second time. I’ve also had the opportunity to interview a smaller number of Leo’s who used the 357sig,all used Speer gold dot 125gr 357sig, who relayed to me the exact same results. My own experience with the NYPD revealed what I already had known, the 9mm sucks for self defense unless that most important shot placement is made, I’ve asked the people who scream shot placement all the time and so far not one was ever involved in a self defense situation where shot placement isn’t as easy as their fantasy and ignorant no name tacti-fool instructor told them… perps don’t just stand still and let you get a center mass shot off on them fantasy land gun experts! The 357 Sig not only suffers from outright lies an anti 357sig/pro 9mm propaganda but also from the budget minded , lowest bidder penil pushing admins that want the cheapest product they can find, remember what I said above about the Speer NYC relationship after that embarrassing situation. The wonder nines need the 15 plus capacity to stop a perp, I’ve seen more people survive being shot with 9mm that were killed, which brings me to another point. The 9mm cultists will tell you how much 357 Sig sucks because “reduced capacity” because a G31 can “only” hold 15 rounds and not the two more the G17 can, these are the cultists that regurgitate shot placement at the same time, why the need for 15, 17, 18, 21, 24 rounds when just one well placed shot is all that’s easily needed?, and if 15 rounds sucks because 17 rounds, than 17 rounds suck because 18, 21,24 rounds…no ? Again the cognitive dissonance shines bright here. At this point I must reveal I EDC a 7 shot 357mag, however a 357 sig may be in my future, and 7 shots are plenty as I’m not part of the 9mm cult that’s petrified living in their fantasy world and why they attempt to justify their uber capacity , cheap +p+ rounds(remember they cry 357 sig to too expensive…it isn’t) and shot placement perfection (I’ve seen these cultists bounce 9mm off of everything but the targets on static ranges) fantasy world. I’ve patrolled on single man foot posts some of the worst NYC housing projects where getting “air mail” was a daily occurrence and getting shot at from God knows what building, from God knows what apartment from 12 stories high plus, where getting a shot off in return would lead to a lengthy jail sentence , just doesn’t exist in the 9mm cultists fantasy land that they are, ignorantly, training for for when the shit hits their fantasy! Finally Evan and Marshall’s work was trashed because they relayed true , real world shootings that are not allowed to exist in the gel block fantasy land so as for 9mm….we now have something we didn’t have before, police body cameras that we can watch anytime as many times as we want of officer involved shootings that show the ridiculous amount of rounds needed from a 9mm to drop a perp because today’s acceptable practice is for POs to just mag dump every perp on the street while the 9mm cultists tout the perfection of the 9mm round while simultaneously crying and demanding the police be defunded and disbanded for such overkill! You just can’t make this stuff up in a clown world anymore.

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