.357 “Ring Of Fire”

BY Herschel Smith
2 weeks, 2 days ago

Shooting Illustrated:

NRA member and Marine Corps veteran Dave Elliot was a fan of the 1911 chambered in .45 ACP, but dreamed of .357 Mag. performance and greater capacity from a semi-automatic handgun. In the early 1980s, John Ricco developed the 9×23 mm, which came close to the .357 Mag., but it could not accommodate heavier bullets. It also operated at high pressures.

Elliot decided to cut some 9 mm Win. Mag. cases to the length of the 10 mm Auto and load them with .357—not .355 (9 mm)—diameter, 140-, 158- and 170-grain bullets. He then designed a chamber around these cartridges. To test the concept, he cut some .357 Mag. cases to the same length, and starting with 60-percent .357 Mag. loads and the QuickLoad program, slowly worked his way up. Elliot figured his new cartridge (the .357 Ring of Fire) would be excellent for police, combat and hunting—especially with its potential for added capacity. You can actually cram 18 rounds of .357 Ring of Fire into a Glock G20, 10 mm magazine.

Based on the real-world performance of the .357 Mag., I was intrigued. Regardless of which so-called stopping-power theory you subscribe to, the effectiveness of the .357 Mag. on the street cannot be denied. Elliot had created a semi-auto-pistol cartridge nearing that level of performance. So, I asked him to send me a gun and some ammunition for further investigation.

I received a Glock G20 with a ported 5.5-inch barrel and 100 rounds of ammo. The ammunition was comprised of five different loads, using bullets between 125 and 200 grains in weight. I found I could indeed get 18 rounds into a Glock G20 magazine, which, when fully loaded, weighed almost 1 pound. This brought the gun’s total weight to 2 pounds, 12 ounces, with a round in the chamber.

I started with the 200-grain, lead-round-nose loads. At 920 fps, theBut y replicate 200-grain .45 ACP external ballistics and were very comfortable to shoot. Up next was the 170-grain Sierra FMJ loads at 1,060 fps. These were just as comfortable and quite similar to common.40 S&W 180-grain loads. Yet, the first round of the 125-grain Nosler load really got my attention. It was not the recoil that surprised me; it was the ring of fire that appeared in front of my face when the pistol went off. (Now I know where Elliot got the name.) At 1,335 fps this load duplicates the best .357 SIG offerings.

That same fireball was present with the 140-grain Hornady XTP and 158-grain hollow-point loads. At 1,430 fps the lighter load is indeed the equivalent of a .357 Mag. As for the 158-grain hollow point, the hottest .357 Mag. loads will exceed 1,400 fps, but 1,200 to 1,300 fps is much more common. Surprisingly, recoil with both was still extremely manageable. I’m sure this was due, in no small part, to the ported barrel.

So this is a wildcat round that probably exceeds SAAMI pressures for the 10mm chamber/barrel, but it being shot from a 10mm gun nonetheless.

I can see the desire for something like this, although I’m just fine and happy with shooting my 230 grain ammunition at greater than 1100 FPS from 450 SMC cartridges.  I may also investigate the 460 Rowland with a ported extension.

But in order for these cartridges to be very successful on the market, engineers are going to have to do the calculations and testing to ensure safety and endurance over protracted chamber and barrel lifetimes.  I like the fact that engineers at CMMG have done this for the 450 SMC.


Comments

  1. On October 8, 2018 at 4:28 pm, Pat Hines said:

    While I haven’t purchased the hardware, my SIG pistols in .40 S&W can be converted to .357 SIG with only a barrel change. The magazines can be used for either caliber. Only the model P239 requires a specific magazine.

    I think the .357 SIG is close enough to .357 Magnum to satisfy most. I own a pistol in .38 Super can be loaded to within .357 Magnum power, too.

  2. On October 9, 2018 at 7:38 am, Frank Clarke said:

    I got thrown out of college when I was a Physics major, but I can still do thought-experiments.

    Is that “ring of fire” caused by powder still burning when the slug leaves the muzzle? It would seem so since as the slug weight gets lighter (and the velocity increases) the slug will spend less and less time inside the barrel, leaving less and less time for total combustion.

    If the answer is ‘yes’, this confirms my bias for the heaviest slug I can throw.

  3. On October 9, 2018 at 12:24 pm, Fred said:

    Interesting.

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You are currently reading ".357 “Ring Of Fire”", entry #20088 on The Captain's Journal.

This article is filed under the category(s) Ammunition and was published October 7th, 2018 by Herschel Smith.

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