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Liberty Ammunition Civil Defense .357 Magnum

If you can take the recoil of firing big boy bullets from your wheel gun, Liberty Ammunition has just announced a new addition to their Civil Defense line of personal defense ammo. They say their .357 lead-free (copper) hollow-point loads will give you twice the velocity and three times the terminal effect with 16% less recoil than standard plumbum pellets. Press release after the jump . . .

Bradenton, Fla. (September 2014) – Liberty Ammunition, the global leader in high performance, lead-free ammunition for military, law enforcement and civilian markets, is pleased to announce the .357 Magnum as the newest addition to its Civil Defense line of high performance personal defense ammunition. Known for its effective stopping power amongst handgun cartridges, the .357 Magnum makes an excellent round for self-defense, target shooting or small to medium-game hunting. Liberty’s high-performance ammunition delivers approximately twice the velocity, three times the terminal effect, 16% less recoil and considerably reduces the weight of loaded weapons.

In testing at Liberty’s production facility, the Civil Defense .357 Magnum achieved velocities greater than 2,100 fps. This velocity is nearly double that of standard .357 Magnum ammo. The Civil Defense line of lead-free ammunition features nickel-plated, solid copper projectiles and nickel-plated brass cases. Every round exceeds match-grade quality in performance.

Liberty’s deep cavity, hollow-point projectile, fragments in soft tissue, providing three times the terminal effects of traditional, lead-based ammo in comparable calibers. Due to the patented, proprietary design of the Civil Defense projectile and the lead-free component, Civil Defense ammo is approximately 1/3 to 1/2 the weight, depending on caliber, of traditional ammunition, thus significantly reducing the carry weight of all weapon systems.

Civil Defense Ammunition Specifications: 

Caliber:                                .357 Magnum
Description:              Copper, Monolithic, Hollow-Point, Fragmenting, Lead-Free, Personal Defense Round
Weight:                                      50 gr.
Velocity:                             >2,100 fps
Kinetic Energy:                   >490 FPE
Accuracy:                           <2″ @ 50 yds
Terminal Effect:                 >3.5″ W x 12″ D
Rounds:                              20 per box
MSRP (20 rd box):               $34.99

For more information on Liberty Ammunition visit

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    • My past experience with extremely lightweight HP pistol bullets in magnum cartridges point to two major problems: penetration and point-of-impact.

      Penetration will usually be very shallow. If the bullet reaches the vitals, it will be highly destructive, but it may never get there in very fat/squishy targets, or if it must pass through an intermediate barrier (hand/arm/heavy clothing/object).

      The bullet moves so fast, it gets out of the barrel before the barrel rises very far in its recoil arc, so the bullets strike very low compared to conventional-weight slugs. At bad-breath distances, this is not a problem, but at as little as 7-10 yards, most extremely light and high-speed bullets will begin to display a tendency to shoot low, and it will get worse as the distance increases (angular displacement, in relation to the sights/POA).

      It will be interesting to see if the newest offerings in this area suffer from the same shortcomings as the earlier attempts.

        • The recoil impulse technically starts as soon as the bullet starts accelerating down the bore. It has to – conservation of momentum has to be obeyed.

          That said, if you watch enough slo-mo videos, you see that the shooter’s point of reference for the sights isn’t changed that much until the projectile or shot load leaves the barrel. The real change in the firearm’s position starts when the bullet is a foot or more downrange from the muzzle, typically.

        • The clearest way to show this is by using a short-barreled (4″ or less) Magnum revolver. Turn it upside down, and stand it up on its sights. The flat surface it is standing on can be considered the sighting plane.

          Find something round, smaller than the barrel diameter, preferably made of wood or some other material that won’t scratch the inside of the barrel, about 3-4 times as long as the barrel, and as straight as possible (if it isn’t straight, you’ll get a false reading). Slide it into the barrel, along with something soft like a foam earplug or wadded-up piece of paper, so the rod will be firmly pressed against the top or bottom of the barrel. This shows where the bore (barrel) itself is pointing.

          Move off to one side and look at the rod in relation to the flat surface. The rod will be pointing slightly away from the surface, with the closest point to the surface being where it comes out of the barrel, and a slightly larger distance between the rod and the surface at the far end. This means that the bore line (barrel rod) and the sight line (flat surface) NEVER CROSS at any distance.

          The only way for a bullet to cross the sight line is for the handgun to rotate slightly under initial recoil forces, just before the bullet leaves the barrel, raising the barrel enough that the bore line and sight line will cross at some farther distance. If the bullet leaves the barrel much more quickly than what the sights are regulated for, it shoots very low. Heavy bullets, which spend more time in the barrel because they cannot be safely launched nearly as fast, usually print higher on target with the same sight setting. This is usually accentuated by the heavy recoil than heavy-bullet magnum loads generate, rotating the weapon more quickly than a normal load, forcing the barrel even higher at the point the bullet leaves.

          It can also be proved easily but roughly by clamping a revolver in a vise and firing it; if the gun can’t move, it will NEVER “shoot to the sights”.

          This effect is far less noticeable with standard automatic pistol calibers, as the bullet weight range and velocities are not so far apart as some magnum revolver cartridges. It is also complicated by the barrel movement in autoloading pistols, which often tilt to lock and unlock, and therefore are not fixed in relation to the sights.

          Anyone who is a good shot, and has fired magnum revolvers with light- and heavy-bullet full-power loads, has probably seen this effect. Especially if the bullets are EXTREMELY light for the caliber, such as the old Glaser Safety Slug ammo; even in 9mm and .45 ACP, they printed significantly lower on target than more common bullet weights in those calibers.

        • I remember learning about this many years ago, I got hold of a Mauser 98 in 8X57 and started handloading. After shooting lighter weight bullets for a while, I tried some heavier ones, and was very surprised that the impact was a little higher.
          I latter found out that this was because the mass of the heavier bullet acted more on the recoil while still inside the barrel. This more than compensated for the drop of the heavier bullet being more severe.

  1. What I’d be real interested in, is what the muzzle velocity is out of a 16″ lever carbine. Their 9mm loading gets more than usual velocity gain in longer barrels (a guy clocked it doing 2500 FPS !!! out of his 16″ Sterling).

    On the other hand, a bullet this light, and with a cavity this big, is going to have a very crappy BC, and it’s notable that they don’t publish any number for that.

    • “What I’d be real interested in, is what the muzzle velocity is out of a 16″ lever carbine.”


      In a lever/bolt rifle, this could basically come close to 5.56 ballistics

        • Yeah, I’m certainly not expecting 5.56 ballistics here at a distance. But still, it would be interesting to see what the muzzle velocity is, and how fast it decreases.

          At the very least, it would be interesting ammo to have alongside the more traditional heavy bullets, and would potentially make the carbine that much more versatile.

        • Sure, you can, but then you’re missing on all the other relative advantages of a lever-action in a revolver caliber, such as interchangeability of ammo with your revolver, versatility of loads (50gr to 200gr is a very wide spectrum), how light and well-balanced your guns are compared to a typical 5.56 semi-auto, and a nice balance between speed and reliability that lever gives you compared to semi-autos and bolts.

  2. For a buck seventy five apiece, they better perform as claimed. I wonder how well they will penetrate heavy layers of outerwear, such as heavy overcoats etc. and what the velocity will be after the penetration??

  3. The bullet itself is lead-free, but I’m having trouble finding information about the primers. Are the primers lead-free? Lead Styphnate is nasty stuff.

    • They’ve used CCI standard primers for most of the loadings I have witnessed. I don’t know about their current line but there were no particular moves towards lead-free primers from Liberty in the past.

  4. “… will give you twice the velocity…” I seriously doubt that.

    I get +1300’/sec from a 4″ 686. They claim ~2,100’/sec with a 50 grain bullet? How long is the barrel they’re using?

  5. In the past I have seen terrible expansion using copper bullets unless they were shot clean into the media. Put clothing, drywall, plywood, sheet metal, glass, etc, in front of the media and it was total fail to expand. Big deep pockets in the bullet made it worse.
    These may be interesting to shoot out of my carbine though. At that velocity they would even set off explosive targets.

    • There ya go! If you’re going to piss away $30 on Tannerite, you may as well use a $2 projectile!

      Splitting firewood through chemistry is fun, but it ain’t cheap.

    • Accuracy should be fine. Barrel rifling twist rate is typically for a maximum weight, slowest speed bullet. Anything lighter or faster will be even more stable.

    • Twist rates are actually more a function of the length of the bullet, not as much the weight. Weight does matter, of course, but since the advent of all-copper pills, research has shown that the old Greenhilll’s formula tends to under-twist barrels for the new VLD pills that are quite long for their weight.

  6. My past opinions of hyper weight ammo stands. I doubt it will work as advertised, and expect it will create shallow wounds. I’m looking forward to STB documenting results. There are good reasons that calibers have operating weights and velocities required to pass the FBI tests.

    Similarly, rifle rounds have relatively standard velocities whereby they can push a bullet to velocities sufficient for expansion without breaking the bullet to pieces. In varmint rounds, explosive can be desirable. That’s how I believe these will work.

    I think the most damage this ammo will do is to the checkbook.

    • It wont hurt your checkbook too much.
      For what it is its very reasonably priced.
      As to a shallow wound………….maybe.
      But my reason for carrying Liberty is to not have much of a chance of over penetration indoors. I have found it in all calibers used light recoiling and accurate too.
      Be it my home or in my store.

    • LOL! “Most of the damage will be to the check book!” I suspect all of us POTG have experienced those devastating effects.
      I think your probably right about the bullet making a large entry wound without much penetration. But think about how big of a hole you could put in your assailants overcoat in the winter!

  7. Ive been using their loading in all my carry guns for about a year now.
    In a few words.
    Jay and his guns are very happy to have it.
    I hope to never have to use it.
    Now I have yet another load to get and play with for my S&W Model 66 magna ported 2.5 inched gun.
    My 1st and favorite all time gun.
    Plus on top of it all Liberty is a Florida based company and I support them whole heartily.
    I <3 Liberty Civil Defense………………………best self defense ammo yet made for a civilians in my opinion.
    They have a dang nice T-shirt too. Which was a pleasant surprise with my last order.

  8. As I’ve started hunting in CA I’m gaining experience with non lead ammo. In my .243 the copper 80 grainers behave just exactly like their leaded counterparts. I get better patterns with the steel shot in my 12 and 20 and the patterns seem to hold better at range.

    Handguns are mre difficult, mostly because of a lack of choices. That may ease up as the finale date for all CA to go non lead approaches.

    So far in my handguns I’ve used the all copper buffalo bore .38 110 grain +p load. It’s a good load but like all BB loads it’s a tad warmish. I’ve decided to pick up a .357 to ease up on the wear on my .38 smiths.

    I also got a bronze bullet for my 9mm sigma. It’s a 90 grainer and looks like a bullet shaped turd. But it works.

  9. I have two Ruger’s, GP100, and SP101. These rounds jammed the chambers on both, specifically the SP. Had to be punched out. Bad batch? Maybe. But, won’t go through that again.


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