Many people come to this site looking for information on the stopping power of the .357 magnum handgun. So I thought I should oblige by providing some info and a link to where you can find more.
I selected the Remington ammunition ballistics table (it is a PDF – You are warned!) because I shoot a lot of Remington ammo. (I also shoot Winchester and Federal and others, but Remington’s info was easy to find, and organized nicely.) Also, all of the manufacturers sell several variations of each of the popular handgun cartridges. Different primers, different bullets and bullet weights, different powder loads all combine to influence stopping power, which is recorded as foot pounds of energy delivered down-range.
Just for a comparison, lets look at one typical load for a .357 magnum and compare to a similar load for 9mm Luger and one for .45 ACP. (All of this ballistic data is for specific Remington cartridges, and is just meant to be representative of the differences between these cartridges.)
A 125 grain Semi-jacketed hollow-point bullet loaded for .357 magnum can deliver 427 foot pounds of energy at 50 yards, while a 124 grain jacketed hollow-point bullet loaded in 9mm Luger can deliver 291 foot pounds at 50 yards. A 185 grain jacketed hollow-point bullet loaded in .45 ACP can deliver 372 foot pounds at 50 yards. (Though people tell me that many 1911s won’t feed hollow-points, I use this bullet for comparison to keep everything equal. I also don’t know if that is true, but I am sure some 1911 expert will set the record straight in the comments.)
Note: A grain is a unit of measure for weight (mass actually) used for measuring bullets and gunpowder. There are exactly 7000 grains in one pound. (thanks to Boomershoot for the definition)
Update – Sept. 5, 2005: Like everything else in life, your mileage may vary. I am told that the .45 hollow-point issue is a function of which gun and which ammo. “Try it and see” is the message, and you can probably find a hollow-point that will work.