Range Report: Springfield .357 SIG with XS Sights

Springfield XD pistol with three boxes of SIG Sauer ammunition

I have been exploring a packing handgun for a specific scenario. The bottom line criterion is that the pistol must be completely reliable, accurate enough for personal defense and taking accurate shots at an adversary behind cover, and powerful enough for defense against both biped and quadruped threats. Vehicle penetration is important, and so is penetration against heavy bones.

Springfield XD pistol with three boxes of SIG Sauer ammunition
The Springfield and SIG Elite ammunition are a good match.

A compromise of carrying more than one type of ammunition to meet these goals is acceptable. In the not too distant past, a four-inch barrel .357 Magnum revolver would have been the ideal choice. Today, we have handguns with greater ammunition capacity and the advantage of an instant second shot. Let’s face it, when everyone else has self-loaders, we wish to be on an even playing field with the bad guys.

All handguns are a compromise, and I was looking hard at a handgun that would meet my needs. Sometimes, a jack-of-all-trades is a master of none, but I felt the piece would be a master of personal defense. At present, the Springfield XD in .357 SIG is very close to my ideal packing gun. The piece is reliable; I have proven that in months of use. It fits my hands better than most polymer pistols and offers a good number of features, including a positive grip safety that locks the action when not firmly pressed. A loaded chamber indicator and a cocked striker indicator offer both tactile and visual clues that the pistol is ready to fire. A lever in the trigger prevents dropped gun or lateral discharge. The trigger offers a clean single-action press. The XD is light enough.

The .357 SIG is a powerful number that offers real performance. I find .357 SIG recoil tolerable in a pistol the size of the XD, but this isn’t a beginner’s cartridge. I have often stated that a shooter should begin with a 9mm or .38 Special caliber handgun and then decide when they are ready to handle more power.

Shot grouping after firing the Springfield XD with XS Sights
The XS front sight is an excellent addition to the Springfield pistol.

The .357 SIG/XD combination may be controlled by anyone of normal dexterity and strength. It simply requires a greater investment in time and effort than the 9mm. The rewards are in increased wound potential and light cover penetration. The caliber is also useful for defense against feral dogs and the big cats.

Load Choice

I have used the SIG Elite FMJ practice load with excellent results. When firing the pistol for extended range sessions, it is good to have on hand an affordable clean burning load with good accuracy. This has been the primary loading I have used. I find the XD .357 SIG accurate and reliable.

The SIG Elite V Crown, at over 1,350 fps, offers an excellent balance of expansion and penetration, and makes a good carry load. Recoil is greater than a 9mm handgun but reasonable for the caliber. Recoil must be discussed. You cannot quickly recover and hose the target down as you would with the 9mm. Each shot is deliberate, and you must strive for accuracy with every trigger press as if it were the only shot you are firing. That is how it should be with every handgun.

If you fire before you have brought the pistol down out of recoil your groups and marksmanship will be terrible. If you do not maintain a crush grip, the pistol will not be controllable. As I master this formidable handgun, I have tested a good number of loads. Some are hotter than others, and the hottest load isn’t always the most desirable for every scenario.

Springfield XD pistol with a box of Buffalo Bore ammunition
Buffalo Bore’s maximum effort loads functioned flawlessly.

For the worst-case scenario, a few loads fit the bill. I have been able to test fire three Buffalo Bore loads with good results. The 125-grain FMJ loading breaks 1,504 fps. Yes, 1,504 fps! The chore of defense against the largest animals comes to mind. I have not tested this load in gelatin, but 9mm NATO loads will penetrate over 30 inches of gelatin. I suspect the FMJ .357 SIG will add another 6 to 10 inches. No JHP offers that type of penetration.

Penetration against light cover is superior to the 9mm or .45 ACP. Even if the FMJ bullet didn’t expand, in a worst-case scenario, if this load strikes the body’s supporting structure, it will send bone shards on a wild ride in the body. Another load uses the proven 125-grain XTP bullet. This Buffalo Bore number breaks 1,450 fps. The balance of expansion and penetration is excellent. This may be the go-anywhere do-anything load I am looking for. I have also tested the Buffalo Bore TAC load using an all copper bullet. It isn’t easy to get top velocity with the Barnes bullet, as it is long for the weight and seats more deeply in the cartridge case. This load breaks 1,350 fps. This is plenty of velocity to exhibit superior expansion. This load would be an ideal town load or urban load. Penetration is superior to any 9mm JHP load, and it would be hell on light cover, but it isn’t a bear to control as some .357 SIG loads are.

Night Sights

A problem surfaced along the way that isn’t the fault of the XD. The Springfield factory sights are above average, but my eyes are losing some of their acuity. After many years of use, the original tritium was fading. I decided to add a modern set of high-visibility personal defense sights.

Bob Campbell shooting a pistol from the retention position
Firing from retention position and the Speed Rock, the Springfield and SIG Elite practice loads never failed.

I studied the available sights and chose the XS F8 sight. Designed for fast target acquisition in all light conditions, these sights feature a figure-eight, inline sight, with a single dot above the other. The front sight is 0.160” wide. Contrast is achieved with a front sight with a photo-luminescent orange-colored ring that surrounds a tritium dot.

The orange ring has a good portion of yellow tint for maximum visibility. Research indicates this is one of the most visible colors in low light. When you use the sights in daylight the orange ring will absorb light and present a glow of its own.

The wide rear notch has been called the Old Man’s sight. The wide notch increases the visibility of the large, bright front notch. This sight system isn’t for target shooting—it is for combat. It is fast, very fast on target no matter what the light conditions.

The front sight practically jumps into the rear notch during combat drills. The rear sight may be snagged on a belt and used to rack the slide if need be. I have tested the sights and found them good. The night time sight picture, with one dot above the other, makes for excellent accuracy. In daylight, be certain to use the dots as the aiming point. If you use the iron sight outline, in a conventional sight picture, you will find the groups are low.

With these modifications, and loaded with modern ammunition, the XD .357 SIG is a formidable combination. I think as a go-anywhere do-anything handgun, I have found a piece that suits my needs well. I carry it in a Galco Stow and Go holster.

About the Author:

Bob Campbell

Bob Campbell’s primary qualification is a lifelong love of firearms, writing, and scholarship. He holds a degree in Criminal Justice but is an autodidact in matters important to his readers. Campbell considers unarmed skills the first line of defense and the handgun the last resort. (He gets it honest- his uncle Jerry Campbell is in the Boxer’s Hall of Fame.)

Campbell has authored well over 6,000 articles columns and reviews and fourteen books for major publishers including Gun Digest, Skyhorse and Paladin Press. Campbell served as a peace officer and security professional and has made hundreds of arrests and been injured on the job more than once.

He has written curriculum on the university level, served as a lead missionary, and is desperately in love with Joyce. He is training his grandchildren not to be snowflakes. At an age when many are thinking of retirement, Bob is working a 60-hour week and awaits being taken up in a whirlwind many years in the future.

Published in
Black Belt Magazine
Combat Handguns
Rifle Magazine
Gun Digest
Gun World
Tactical World
SWAT Magazine
American Gunsmith
Gun Tests Magazine
Women and Guns
The Journal Voice of American Law Enforcement
Police Magazine
Law Enforcement Technology
The Firearms Instructor
Tactical World
Concealed Carry Magazine
Concealed Carry Handguns

Books published

Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry
The 1911 Automatic Pistol
The Handgun in Personal Defense
The Illustrated Guide to Handgun Skills
The Hunter and the Hunted
The Gun Digest Book of Personal Defense
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911
The Gun Digest Book of the 1911 second edition
Dealing with the Great Ammunition Shortage
Commando Gunsmithing
The Ultimate Book of Gunfighting
Preppers Guide to Rifles
Preppers Guide to Shotguns
The Accurate Handgun
The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (6)

  1. Loaded and fired several thousand .357 SIG from SIG229 in IPSC and IDPA matches with no misfeed or misfire. I used Dillon reloading press with Dillon carbide dies. I reloaded to just below commercial velocities since they would only give “Minor Caliber” to .357 projectiles (5” barreled .357 M with 158 grain did). Copper washed 9 mm bullets would separate and had two holes in target so had to use better quality bullets.

  2. I like SIG 357 round and IMHO it is a way under appreciated cal.
    Only fired friends a few times, (250+ or – and found it fit my hand well, was extremely accurate to 50 yards, and definitely rang hanging heavy steel plates.
    It was waiting for plate recovery that slowed follow ups not the recoil.
    While not a beginnerd round you sure as heck do not need to big nachos to master it.
    Have relatives in legal and contractor occupations that went with 357 dig after years of 9mm and 40 cal.

  3. I have an XD-9 5″ Tactical, and like you, found the XD much easier and more comfortable to fit my grip than the Glock. I had to upgrade my trigger to a Rock River Armory model, but I understand Springfield fixed the trigger issue a while back. The Glocks were too thick and unwieldy for me. The M&P is nice, especially the Shield, grip wise, but the XDS, again, was made for my hands.

  4. I have to interject my knowledge here regarding ammo and ammo power. The .357 Sig was made for semi-auto pistols, and the .357 Mag was made for revolvers. So, if you are really cornered about this aspect, then the choice between these two calibers will become easy. But if you are looking to the best handgun for the requirements stated in Bob’s article, then the .357 Mag wins hands down.

    Here is why: the .357 Sig has a power rating from about 390 ft. lbs. all the way up to 600 ft. lbs., depending on the ammo you can buy online. But the .357 Mag varies from about 400-900 ft. lbs. of ME, depending on the cartridge you buy. Of course, both calibers come in various bullet configurations, so this ammo aspect is somewhat equal. But the .357 ammo is far more readily available, and on average is about 10% cheaper as well. Of course you can get some .357 Sig ammo for more (per round) and the .357 Mag, and visa versa. But overall, there are more deals with .357 Mag ammo than with .357 Sig ammo.

    Almost all revolvers are more reliable than most semi-auto handguns. They are also safer, but quick rapid firing is more difficult with revolvers. With revolvers you can tell within 2 seconds if it has any ammo loaded. And unless the ammo itself is faulty, there is almost never a jam issue with revolvers. With revolvers it basically just takes the hammer hitting the primer, and the cartridge ‘explodes’.

    But if you wish to stick to semi-auto handguns, then the .45 ACP may come into play here and should be considered. This caliber varies in power from about 350 ft. lbs. of ME to 650 for +P .45 ACP ammo, and up to 770 ft. lbs. for 45 Super ammo (.45 ACP +P ammo on steroids!). Please note that the 45 Super ammo can only be fired in supped up 45 ACP semi-auto handguns, and should be fire able in most .45 AC revolvers. Very few .45 semi-auto handguns are supped up, and thus cannot/should not fire the .45 Super ammo.

    If you would like to know more about ammo ballistics and online prices and availability, please email me at vlavalle @ix.netcom. com. I update and release this free file almost every month.

    Vincent (12-08-2017)

  5. It’s a shame that the .357 Sig round has not gotten the traction of other rounds and recognition it deserves IMHO. . Rarely found on shelves but target ammo from boutique vendors can be reasonably priced. I find that recoil is similar to 40 but not as snappy. And definitely a louder report.
    The nice thing is ,at least in Glock not sure about
    Springfield, is direct barrel interchange with .40. In
    the Glock the 40 mags work fine for 357 but I have had some feeding issues with 40 in the 357 mags.
    During the Great Ammo Shortage a few years back I could find 40 on the shelves but nothing else. So I bought a couple of 40’s in the interim and 357 barrels to go with them. Might I suggest the Underwood .357 with the LeHigh extreme penetrator bullet. Penetration and some hollow point like action (cavitation). I carry Underwood extreme penetrator in my .380 for that reason. Thanks for the good article.

  6. Now if .40 S&W barrels and extended/threaded barrels in both .357&.40 are made available I would almost certainly add one of these to the rotation.
    I “found” .357SIG early in my pistol collecting with Beretta 8037 Cougar and have always wanted more, but SigSauer is hardly my decision for go-to in handguns. After the welcome addition of XDs to my carry selection I have (somewhat) embraced poly & striker pistols, and can see one of these in my careful and guarded future.

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