10mm vs 357: Which Ammo Is Best?

Both these cartridges have been around for several decades. They have been the choice for many a handgun owner, the 357 in particular loved by most revolver enthusiasts. If you are looking to buy one of these cartridges, or you are here because of curiosity – rest assured you have come to the right article! In this article, we will explore the history of both cartridges and compare their performance. Who will rise to the top as the better cartridge?

History Of The 10mm

The 10mm Auto was released in 1983 by FFV Norma AB and Jeff Copper on behalf of Dornaus & Dixon Enterprises for use in their Bren Ten sidearm model. This cartridge was mainly intended for law enforcement agencies. However, the company filed for bankruptcy in 1986 because of low sales numbers due to design flaws and an expensive price tag.

  • In 1987 interest in the 10mm Auto was rejuvenated, with Colt introducing the Delta Elite (a 10mm auto version of the M19111).
  • FBI’s task force adopted the 10mm in 1989.
  • Miami Vice actor started using the 10mm gave it mainstream appeal.

The 10mm’s image was restored, and in 2015 SIG Sauer introduced their P220. Followed by Ruger with their SR1911 in 2017. Several companies followed suit, and the 10mm now has mass adoption, each company boasting its own take on the 10mm in its flagship product line.

History Of The 357 Magnum

The 357 Magnum, like the .22 LR, is one of those venerable cartridges that almost any American household is familiar with. This cartridge, released in the “gangster era” of 1935, was designed as a means to penetrate vests and car doors, which gangsters often used as cover when shooting at law enforcement.

The 357 Magnum took the .38 Special’s design and elongated it to create more velocity and power. Although America’s gangster days are long over, the 357 Magnum has remained a popular cartridge for self-defense, hunting, and target shooting.

Main Differences Between 10mm vs 357 Magnum Rounds

picture of 10mm and 357 mag

1) Stopping Power Comparison

Because both these two rounds are essentially law enforcement cartridges and hence designed for self-defense purposes, their stopping power capabilities should be pertinent. And if there is one thing they excel in is stopping power. Although they are far from being Black colored tip ammo, they get the job done!

We used self-defense rounds from both cartridges and tested expansion and penetration. Both are relevant factors when shooting at hostile and dangerous targets. The 10mm Auto proved to have the upper hand, producing greater expansion with similar penetration to that of the 357 Magnum in the ballistic gel.

Although both these cartridges provide exceptional penetration and expansion compared to other cartridges in the revolver and semi-auto platform – the better cartridge in terms of stopping power is the 10mm.

2) Size Comparison

10 mm

  • Parent case – .30 Remington
  • Bullet diameter – .4005 in (10.17 mm)
  • Neck diameter – .423 in (10.7 mm)
  • Base diameter – .425 in (10.8 mm)
  • Rim diameter – .425 in (10.8 mm)
  • Case length – .992 in (25.2 mm)
  • Overall length – 1.260 in (32.00 mm)
  • Case capacity – 24.1 gr H2O (1.56 cm3)
  • Primer type – Large pistol
  • Maximum pressure (SAAMI) – 37,500 psi (259 MPa)

357 Magnum

  • Parent case – .38 Special
  • Bullet diameter – .357 in (9.1 mm)
  • Neck diameter – .379 in (9.6 mm)
  • Base diameter – .379 in (9.6 mm)
  • Rim diameter – .440 in (11.2 mm)
  • Case length – 1.29 in (33 mm)
  • Overall length – 1.59 in (40 mm)
  • Case capacity – 26.2 gr H2O (1.70 cm3)
  • Primer type – Small pistol magnum
  • Maximum pressure (SAAMI) – 35,000 psi (240 MPa)

The cartridge specs above show that the 357 Magnum has a longer overall case length. In comparison, the 10mm Auto has a larger bullet size. In our recent comparison of the 25-06 & 30-06 ammo we found size to be a major deciding factor.

3) Ammo Availability

If you are a regular reader of our articles, you will know that we greatly emphasize ammo availability. After all, it doesn’t help anybody if you can’t find ammo for your rifle, and it is left collecting dust in the safe.

Luckily with these two rounds, there is no shortage of ammo. Maybe it is because of mainstream adoption and the popularity of them both. 10mm Auto can be found in abundance, but for your 357, you can expect even more rounds and varieties thereof.

So the winner for ammo availability goes to the 357 Magnum.

4) Recoil Comparison

recoil of 357 mag

Recoil is always a tricky fundamental to a rifle, shotgun, or handgun. As I’ve said in some of my other articles, recoil largely depends on the gun’s weight. So, recoil is inversely correlated to the weight of the weapon. If the weapon’s weight increases, the recoil will naturally decrease – it’s basic physics!

A huge initial problem the 10mm faced was with its recoil production. Many tactical and law enforcement agencies struggled to use the 10mm for training purposes as its recoil was too excessive. Luckily, they sorted out the problem by creating low recoil-producing rounds, which did not affect the accuracy and rate of fire as much. When we compared the 45-70 & 308 rounds, recoil was also a deciding factor.

When comparing the recoil of both rounds, both have heavy recoil, yet there is a clear winner or, rather, loser. The .357 produces a considerably higher amount of recoil than the 10mm. Which, in rapid firing situations, can make the 10mm the more favorable round.

5) Ballistic Comparison

For this ballistic comparison, we will use ammunition from the same manufacturer, the UMC 125-grain Handgun load for the 357 Magnum and the UMC 180-grain Handgun load for the 10mm Auto. We saw in post about the 9mm grain how much of an impact ammo weight has on ballistics!

Velocity (FPS)

Bullet speed is always a major ranking factor when comparing two different rounds. Here is what we found for the 357 and 10mm.

357 Magnum

  • Muzzle velocity – 1,450 fps
  • 25 Yards – 1,339
  • 50 Yards – 1,241
  • 75 Yards – 1,158
  • 100 Yards – 1,091

10mm Auto

  • Muzzle velocity – 1,150 fps
  • 25 Yards – 1,103
  • 50 Yards – 1,063
  • 75 Yards – 1,029
  • 100 Yards – 999

Energy (ft-lbs)

357 Magnum

  • Muzzle energy – 584 ft-lbs
  • 25 Yards – 498
  • 50 Yards – 427
  • 75 Yards – 372
  • 100 Yards – 331

10mm Auto

  • Muzzle energy – 529 ft-lbs
  • 25 Yards – 486
  • 50 Yards – 452
  • 75 Yards – 423
  • 100 Yards – 399

Trajectory (inches)

357 Magnum

  • 25 Yards – 0
  • 50 Yards – -0.3
  • 75 Yards – -2
  • 100 Yards – -5.4

10mm Auto

  • 25 Yards – 0
  • 50 Yards – -0.9
  • 75 Yards – -3.7
  • 100 Yards – -8.6

First, we need to acknowledge that the bullet weights differ considerably, the 10mm’s rounds weigh 55 grains heavier. So, after analyzing the data, we can see that the 357 Magnum is a more effective round. Producing a similar kinetic energy force to the 10mm but having a 300 fps faster velocity at the muzzle with less than bullet drop, thanks to its lighter bullets.

The winner for ballistic performance goes to the 357 Magnum.

6) Cost Analysis

As already mentioned, both these cartridges have no shortage of ammo supply. Unlike the 35 Remington which is hard to find in most gun & ammo shops! So it would be safe to say that supply and demand won’t influence the price too much. Both these rounds are in the same price category, you can expect to pay between $0.80 and $3 per round for both these cartridges. However, the cheapest 10mm Auto I could find was $0.66 per round, perfect for target practice.

Which Is Best For Hunting?

Even though it is not necessarily proper hunting etiquette to use any of these two cartridges, if an animal charges me, I will be sure to use it. That being said, I will give two categories for best of hunting:

Self Defense:

If an animal charges me, I would prefer the extra magazine capacity and stopping power of the 10mm Auto. It is a bit easier to shoot with, allowing you to fire bullets faster and make better shot placements – both important aspects if a grizzly or black bear charges you.


The 357 Magnum with full-power buffalo bore rounds is a powerful round capable of not just bear defense but ethically killing small game at close ranges.

Thus, if you want a better hunting cartridge, opt for the 357 Magnum.

Which Is Best For Concealed Carry & Self Defense?

We all know the revolver has a weird shape to it, which can make it uncomfortable when used as a concealed carry gun. In comparison, the 10mm Colt Delta Elite has a more compact design and makes it excellent as your concealed semi-automatic pistol choice.

Its maneuverability is also better, allowing you to respond faster in a self-defense situation. The 10mm’s defense ammo is also cheaper.

Pros & Cons of 357 Magnum


  • Better hunting cartridge
  • Greater velocity
  • More options for ammo
  • Better trajectory
  • Versatile


  • High recoil magnum revolver round
  • Ammo is a bit more expensive

Pros & Cons of 10mm


  • Slight advantage with more power
  • Better maneuverability – ideal for personal defense
  • Cheaper ammo
  • Less recoil
  • Larger magazine capacity


  • Poor velocity and trajectory performance

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a 10mm more powerful than a 357?

Both cartridges have very similar energy performance. However, when using the same bullet weight, the 10mm Auto will have more force.

What caliber is a 10 mm equal to?

A 10mm fires a 40-caliber bullet (0.401

Which is more powerful 10mm or 44 Magnum?

The 44 Magnum is a powerful cartridge. When using magnum loads, it will outperform the 10mm in average velocity and energy when using a 240-grain bullet loaded to max pressure.

Will 10mm stop a grizzly bear?

As with any cartridge, shot placement makes a huge difference. Your shot placement must be incredibly accurate if you want deep penetration and ensure you hit vital organs. Thus using the heavier bullets of a 10mm and at close range with optimal shot placement, a 10mm will stop a grizzly bear - although I would prefer something bigger if my life depended on it!

Will a 357 stop a grizzly bear?

Yes, with the heavier bullet grain optimal performance loads, a 357 Magnum will kill a beer. But shot placement needs to be impeccable.

Does the FBI carry 10mm?

The FBI used the 10mm as its primary concealment handgun. However, as technology improved, better-performing cartridges came onto the scene, and the 10mm was replaced.

The Bottom Line

When it comes to semi-automatic pistols for home defense, the 10mm is the gold standard. However, I would rather opt for the esteemed 357 Magnum for everything beyond home protection. Whichever you choose, you are sure to make a good purchase! Have you heard about Winchester’s 350 Legend, we did an article comparing the rife platform 357 Magnum vs 350 Legend.

About the author

Patrick Howard

I have been working as a gunsmith for 20 years. Rain, fog, moisture, high temperature, or even snow are all the things a product must withstand in order to be recommended by me.

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