Letter Re: Handgun Caliber Selection–Advice on .357 SIG and .40 S&W?

Had any experience with .40 S&W and .357 SIG? I’m trying out a .40sw conversion and a .357 SIG conversion for my KelTec P-11. Oughta be wild with a 14 ounce frame handgun.
Just wondered if you’d shot either and what your thoughts were. I know, they are both uncommon calibers. But this is just for funsies. I am still mainly .22,.45, .223, .308 & 12 gauge. I’m just doing this on a lark. Gotta do a lark once in awhile to keep the perspective. Neat thing about the KelTec. (A cheap but well built gun) is to change from 9mm to 40 S&W, just swap slide and barrel assembly, and put in a 40 S&W magazine. Easy and effective. Then, once it is in 40 S&W configuration, just swap the barrel to .357 SIG and you’re done. (Gosh, what a high pressure round.)
Hopefully it will be fun and I can always move it on since the dual package is highly sought on eBay. One just went for $430 and so far, I’ve only got $206 in this one (not counting the $85 for tritium sights).
Probably just me but I try to have tritium on everything. (I’ve just been too timid to have my Detonics changed over since if they mess up the slide, there’s no replacement available.) (Sure wish there was a good way to put tritium on the Detonics.) Say, do you know of anybody making snake shot for calibers under 9mm/45? I haven’t found any yet. Thanks and Best Regards, – The Army Aviator

JWR Replies: I’ve never shot much of either caliber. (Just a few shots with guns belonging to friends at the range.) I agree that .357 SIG is a bit of an oddball, so I wouldn’t recommend it unless A.) You were able to switch the pistol back to 9mm (retaining all of your original parts and magazine) and B.) You stock up on .357 SIG ammo in depth. The .40 S&W is less of problem since it is becoming a popular cartridge both for law enforcement and civilians. If your local police department or sheriff’s department issues .40 S&W pistols, then it may actually be a good choice. I now list it as a “common” caliber–but that might be subject to regional vagaries. Needless say, if you select any unusual caliber then stock up on ammo.

In answer to you question on .45 ACP snake loads:. I have heard that the 45 ACP snake loads produced by CCI do not function well in semi-auto pistols. The ones that were formerly made by Remington seem to feed the best. (At least they do for me.) I have found that if you have a M1911 with a well-polished feed ramp, you will only get a jam roughly every 10th round. Unfortunately the Remington brand .45 ACP snake loads are out of production. I stocked up on these back in the mid-1990s. I think that I have about 200 rounds left. Perhaps you can find some on the “secondary market” if you post a free WTB (“Want To Buy”) ad on one of the larger gun boards, such as Buddy Hinton’s Sturmgewehr Boards. As for practicality, I’ve found that .45 ACP snake loads are useful for pest shooting at very short range, such as inside a barn or a chicken coop. Our readers in Hawaii and in the Indian subcontinent might find them useful for shooting mongooses. Because they use very small shot they are impractical past about 15 feet. They might prove useful in a survival situation for shooting very small game such as squirrels or quail at very short range. And BTW, do not consider using them for self defense against two-legged predators. They are not “stoppers.” They are more likely to make bad guys very angry. (See the recent Box O’ Truth range test article for details.) Ironically, I’ve actually used very few “snake loads” on snakes, since I’ve rarely had any loaded in my pistol when I’ve come across a rattlesnake near the house at the Rawles Ranch. (I tend to blaze away with the .45 ACP ball or HydraShok hollow points that I typically have loaded, and frankly I miss snakes more than I hit them. (Sometimes six or seven shots to get a couple of solid head or spine hits.) It is not so much the fact that a snake is a relatively small target. That is no excuse, since when I shoot at paper targets I can shoot fairly tight groups at short range in rapid fire. My lack of accuracy during rapid draw-and-fire snake deactivation has more to do with adrenaline.