Doubletappin with a Trio of Sig Sauer .357 SIG Pistols

By Tom McHale

Sig Sauer .357 SIG Pistols
A trio of Sig .357 Sigs
Tom McHale headshot low-res square
Tom McHale

USA –-(Ammoland.com)- A couple of months ago, I wrote about the .357 SIG caliber. That got me all worked up to dig into the topic a bit more.

You can read that article here at AmmoLand for more detail about the caliber, but in case you have a short attention span like I do, here’s the short version.

The basic intent of the .357 Sig caliber is to have a cartridge suitable for semi-automatic pistols that approximates the terminal performance of the famous .357 Magnum using a 125 grain projectile.

As we know from the stories and internet anecdotes, .357 Magnum is so powerful that it’s capable of stopping a charging pachyderm even if one simply throws the cartridge at it. But seriously, over the past 80 years or so, the .357 Magnum has developed quite the reputation for stopping power, as far as pistols go anyway. That’s because a normal .357 Magnum 125 grain load leaves a 4-inch barrel at about 1,450 feet per second and delivers 584 foot-pounds of energy.

A .357 Sig range outing
A .357 Sig range outing…

With all that said, I decided to take a closer look at some .357 Sig handgun options. What better place to look than the company with their name on the caliber?

That would be Sig Sauer. I whined, threatened (that didn’t work) and begged the Sig folks to loan me some .357 Sig guns and they did. The three guns I borrowed for a bit included the P226, P229, and the brand new P320 – all chambered in .357 Sig.

As a side note, I am continuing to grovel for a brand new .357 Sig option – the Nightmare. That one is a Sig 1911 chambered in, you guessed it, .357 Sig. I had the opportunity to shoot a prototype model at SHOT Show and I’m already hooked – it's a sweet shooter.

As far as ammo, I needed ballistic aggressiveness and wisdom, so I went straight to the Godfather of Boom! That would be Mike McNett of Doubletap Ammunition. I suspect Mike is a .357 Sig fanatic like me because Doubletap is one of the only companies that loads it to the cartridge's potential. As you’ll see in a minute, the numbers from various Doubletap Ammunition loads do, in fact, duplicate the performance numbers of the .357 Magnum 125 grain loading.

The Pistols

Considering the three models I tested, there are two basic action types.

The P226 and P229 are classic double-action / single-action designs. Both hammer-fired designs, the first trigger pull cocks the hammer and releases it. Subsequent shots simply release the pre-cocked hammer and have a lighter trigger press weight. For both the P226 and P229, I measured the initial double-action pull weight at 9 pounds and the subsequent single-action pull weights at 4 pounds. Both the P229 and P226 exhibited about ½-inch of travel for the double-action shot. The single-action movement was just about 1/16-inches followed by a clean and crisp break.

The P320 is a double-action striker-fired design. It’s hammerless and offers the same trigger pull weight for every shot. I measured the pull weight at 6.5 pounds on average. This one had about ⅛-inch of take-up, followed by ⅛-inch of pressure, followed by a clean and crisp break with no over travel. It’s an exceptionally smooth and crisp trigger for a striker-fired gun.

Sig Pistol specs

While the P226 and P226 have similar actions, the P229 is not simply a chopped-down version of the P226. Capacity between the two is the same, even though they have different dimensions. You’ll also notice that the P227 has a wider and heavier slide. I don’t have official word from Sig on the reason why, but I suspect it has something to do with overall slide mass to balance out recoil function. The cartridge dumps the same energy in a smaller gun, so something has to compensate. Just my theory though. You'll also notice that the magazines are different and not interchangeable.

.357 SIG
A few of the most accurate combinations.

The P320 is an entirely new animal. A ground up design, one of its major claims to fame is that the serialized component is a removable action that drops into the polymer grip assembly. This means that the entire “frame” is replaceable and not subject to firearm regulation. Want a subcompact version of the gun? No problem, mail order a new grip assembly. Same with slide and barrel – they are just parts and require no federal background check or paperwork.

The serialized action pops right out by removing the takedown lever, no tools required.

The Ammunition

The Doubletap 147 grain FMJ load was particularly accurate when fired from the Sig P320
The Doubletap 147 grain FMJ load was particularly accurate when fired from the Sig P320

While the “classic” .357 Sig cartridge features a 125 grain projectile moving at close to 1,500 feet per second, ammunition companies like Doubletap have gotten all mad-scientist-like and developed variants that take advantage of the latest in bullet technology. For example, Barnes has developed the truly outstanding Barnes TAC-XP ( goo.gl/QqhCZF )  line of projectiles. Containing no lead, they are generally light for caliber. As a result, they move a lot faster and demonstrate predictable expansion performance with no weight loss during expansion. They’re excellent at penetrating things and expanding perfectly. As a result, they make a fine component for .357 Sig pistols. On the other end of the extreme, you’ll find heavier .355-inch projectiles like 147 grain loads in hollow-point, full metal jacket, and even hard cast configurations. And the gurus at Doubletap have even devised an 180 grain hard cast load that still moves at over 1,000 feet per second. That sounds like a great option for outdoors protection against critters of the four-legged type.

I tested eight different .357 Sig loads from Doubletap in the three different pistols. At the light and fast projectile side of the spectrum was the Barnes 80 grain load. At the opposite end was the lumbering 180 grain hard cast load, and even that was no slouch.

The Results

I tested all combinations of ammo and pistols for velocity. For accuracy, I only tested the P226 and P320 as I expected the P229 to yield similar results to the P226.

357 Sig velocity results

Bottom Line? .357 Sig ammo from the right manufacturer does, in fact, live up to the specs of 125 grain 357 Magnum. You’ll hear lots of folks say how .357 Sig is the same as 9mm +P+ ammo, but when you look at the actual numbers, it’s not a valid comparison. Most of the 9mm +P+ loads I’ve seen launch an 115 grain bullet at 1,300 feet per second. I’ve seen one or two that move an 115 grain projectile at 1,400 feet per second, but so far, I have yet to see one that will move a 125 grain projectile at nearly 1,500 feet per second as does the .357 Sig. The average velocity of all 125 grain Doubletap loads fired from the Sig P320 worked out to 1,474 feet per second.

357 Sig accuracy tests

While felt recoil is subjective, I don’t find the .357 Sig to have any more than a .40 S&W. Perhaps it’s a bit snappier, but that’s it. The ergonomic grip profiles of all three Sig pistols tested really helped mitigate recoil. Comparing the feel of the exact same ammo fired from a Glock 31, I found all three Sigs to be much more controllable. I believe the increased hand/grip surface area contact offered by the more rounded Sig one-piece grips dissipate recoil better than the square-shaped Glock grips, but that’s just my opinion.

With all the shooting I did, none of the three pistols exhibited any type of malfunction with any of the ammo varieties. I’ve found this to be the case with .357 Sig in general, likely because the bottleneck cartridge shape eases movement from the magazine to the chamber.

I dig the .357 Sig.

About

Tom McHale is the author of the Insanely Practical Guides book series that guides new and experienced shooters alike in a fun, approachable, and practical way. His books are available in print and eBook format on Amazon ( tiny.cc/4f5utx ) . You can also find him on Google+, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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    DocRon HPhantom PhlyerRick CombsPatrick Bryan Recent comment authors
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    Doc
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    Doc

    357 Sig … Great load…. Bad price !! I’ll shoot the 9 til then

    Ron H
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    Ron H

    I was assigned to the Firearms Training Unit for a state agency that already issued SIG Sauer P220 in .45ACP, and P226 in 9MM. In the late 90’s we were tasked in evaluating the .40S&W and .357SIG rounds and the new SIG Sauer pistols in those calibers. This requires thousands of rounds fired to evaluate various duty and practice ammunition, and to determine reliability and accuracy of the firearms themselves. During all this repetitive shooting, our team discovered that the SIG P239 in .357SIG actually had less felt recoil than the larger SIG P226 in .367SIG. I have since retired,… Read more »

    Phantom Phlyer
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    Phantom Phlyer

    A very good article. If I were starting over I might consider this round. For regular carry and good concealment I carry a Keltec .380 in a universal holster which does not print at all and is virtually undetectable. Before the hew and cry starts – no it is not the most powerful round but it is there. Again the round you have and can carry is better than the good one at home for sure. 7+1 with 2×9 round backup mags. I recently ‘discovered’ Underwood as well. A tad pricey but I hope worth the extra. I use the… Read more »

    Rick Combs
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    Rick Combs

    Try Georgia-Arms.com they have .357 sig reloads 125 grain full metal jacket 50 rounds for $17.00. I’ve used there ammo and have had no issues with it. It has performed perfectly. They shipping is quick and they are user friendly.
    Hope you and others find this useful.

    Sincerely,

    Rick

    Patrick Bryan
    Guest
    Patrick Bryan

    I have a Glock compact .357sig, & absolutely love it! I just bought the p 320 yesterday, but haven’t shot it yet. I am mainly a 10mm shooter (I have the Glock 29 and the Sig P220 Elite), & have killed a 600lb.wild boar and an antelope at 75 yards with Sig 10mm. I feel like I have the very best of both worlds now. The 357sig for conceal carry and my vehicle gun, & my 10mm’s for hunting and target shooting! I truly believe that these 2 calibers are the best combination for shooting anything! And I’m seriously considering… Read more »

    Patrick Bryan
    Guest
    Patrick Bryan

    I just bought the p320 tonight in 357 Sig, to go with my Glock 357 Sig, but will have to wait until tomorrow morning to shoot it. It’s killing me! I love the caliber, and plan to keep both. My favorite caliber is the 10mm by far, as I hunt 4 legged creatures with both the Glock and the Sig & Will save the 10mm Sig Sauer Elite for anything it wants to shoot! ( which was an antelope in Wyoming at 74 yards).

    Rick Combs
    Guest
    Rick Combs

    Try looking at acquiring your ammo at Georgia Arms. I’ve been purchasing my range ammo from them for my Sig P239 357 for $17.00 for 50 rounds. I’ve never had a problem with there ammo and it has performed very well. Good luck, hope this is helpful.

    Chris
    Guest
    Chris

    I have a m&P 40 and have a .357 sig barrel also with it I love the versatility have both barrels no other swap outs just the barrel the 357sig definitely has more boom the say least than the 40 and alot more kick with the 40 I can shoot fast and very accurate with 40 but with the sig round if I try the same fast shooting the bullets r all over I’d say with more practice I can change this but 357sig rounds are expensive I found two boxes at a local surplus store for 22$ a piece… Read more »

    glockensig
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    glockensig

    I have a P229 with 110 different factory or factory reman loadings thru it…. still have 72 loadings more to try…if you have enough internet savvy to post a comment, and a credit card, the world is your 357Sig buffet!! I also crave the Nigtmare! I see they are also making the XO (1911 style) in 357Sig!

    Steve
    Guest
    Steve

    I have 2 P229’s, one regular and one silver and heavy, each in .357. Love the feeding dynamics and ballistics of this cartridge. I don’t care how much they cost.

    ennui
    Guest
    ennui

    The Sig Sauer in 357 Sig must be a good weapon and caliber, it is the handgun of the U.S. Secret Service…

    2ndAmender
    Guest
    2ndAmender

    I’ve been carrying an M&P compact in .357 for about 8 years. Never had to use it, thankfully.
    The gun has had some problems which S&W took care of, as they claimed they would, but I had full confidence in it while out and about. The .357 sig round is a 9mm on steroids…….adequate for anyone’s EDC requirements.
    I am planning to “retire” that pistol in favor of a 3″ Kimber UltraTLE. With a light load, that .45 should handle the requirements of EDC.

    Doug
    Guest
    Doug

    OK you have several typos in your model numbers right after you state which firearms you are using.

    “While the P226 and P226 have similar actions, the P229 is not simply a chopped-down version of the P226. Capacity between the two is the same, even though they have different dimensions. You’ll also notice that the P227 has a wider and heavier slide.”

    You type 226 twice and then mention the 227 which is their double stack 45. Please proof read before you publish.

    jaret carter
    Guest
    jaret carter

    Love the .357 Sig in a 229 for 15 years. Great load with awesome performance but……..Who can afford to shoot this load??!! The price is simply ridiculous. Got a 320 in 9mm that I truly love!! I would gladly by it in .357 Sig IF the price was reasonable. Sig fan

    Mi6lethaltool
    Guest
    Mi6lethaltool

    The best .357 ammo is Underwood give it a try!

    renee armbruster
    Guest
    renee armbruster

    Thanks! But 4 me it’s and will alway be ,357 mag.
    i enjoyed read your take. renee

    chet
    Guest
    chet

    Sure am glad to hear that someone else knows a good cal. when they feel one. I have both .357 mag. & .357 semi auto , in a springfield XD. Is that doubletap 125 grain a good and safe ammo to be doing alot of shooting with my springfield XD.I like the double safety ( trigger & hand grip). And for me it was a more affordable weapon. I also love the power and accuracy went firing the .357sig.rd. And I fried the 1911 cal 45 in the Marine Corps, it’s not to my liking, just me.

    Jasper
    Guest
    Jasper

    While I am sure these are nice firearms, the .357 Sig is kind of a weak sister when compared straight up to the .357 Magnum. Yes, you can find loads that are slowed down in .357 Magnum that match the .357 Sig loads listed here, but when you do a straight up comparison, you give up around 200 ft. lbs. of energy and a couple hundred feet per second velocity. A much closer semi-automatic round is the 10 mm. It truly matches the .357 Magnum in ballistics, both foot pounds of energy and velocity. That being said, nothing wrong with… Read more »

    Chuck
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    Chuck

    For years I was a .45ACP guy, and still am. BUT I have to appreciate the .357SIG. The cartridge has an advantage over the .45, and that is pure penetrating power through layers of denim. I have 2 Glocks chambered in .357 SIG, and a SIG P239. So, even though I still really like .45 ACP, one never feels undergunned with the .357. And, you can carry a higher round count.

    MyGunCulture
    Guest

    That’s exactly why I’m so anxious to get my hands on the new Sig Nightmare 1911 in .357 Sig. I shot a few magazines through it and it’s a sweet shooter. Best of both worlds between the 1911 and the .357 Sig 🙂

    Doug Yanak
    Guest
    Doug Yanak

    Great Read. Had the ideal similar to yours but had only the 1 gun to test…they followed your data. Thanks..Appreciate your writing..

    Jim Wegman
    Guest
    Jim Wegman

    That’s a good round, but I think I’ll stay with my Colt Gov. Model in .38 super.