Throwback Thursday: .357 Magnum — A Useful and Exciting Cartridge

.357 Magnum Revolvers

There are few go-anywhere, do-anything handgun cartridges. Some are lacking in power and accuracy for personal defense and hunting. Many handguns do not have sufficient accuracy to qualify as truly versatile.

The .357 Magnum was introduced in 1935, making it a relative newcomer in the handgun world. This cartridge gives its users many options, from the ability to load very light loads for practice and small-game hunting, to powerful loads that will take medium-size game. For those willing to master the handgun, the .357 Magnum is still the cartridge with the most versatility. In personal defense, the Magnum’s wound potential is proven beyond any question.

.357 Magnum Overview

The .357 Magnum is based on the .38 Special. The well-balanced and accurate .38 did not prove to be a good manstopper with the factory RNL loading. The advent of the automobile bandit doing his deeds and escaping in the safety of a steel and heavy wood reinforced vehicle presented a severe problem. For this reason, several European special units still deploy the .357 Magnum revolver — an automobile is the usual escape vehicle.

With new powder and bullets, the .38 Special was sharply invigorated by experimenters. Heavy loads jolted a 150 to 173-grain sharp-shouldered, flat-point semi-wadcutter bullet to 1,100 fps. When loaded with cast lead hollow-point bullets, we had a fine personal-defense load. The heavy-frame .38-44 revolver was a .38 Special on a .44 frame.

It wasn’t that the new loads would blow up a revolver, although in fact handloaders wrecked quite a few. The problem was small parts take a beating. The solution was to lengthen the .38 case by 1/10th of an inch and create the .357 Magnum. The .38 Special could be used in this revolver as a target and practice load, and the powerful Magnum load would not chamber in a .38 Special revolver. The long-range accuracy of the .357 Magnum is a great advantage of the cartridge. Many accuracy records fired by the .357 Magnum revolver at 600 yards stand today. Of course you need a heavy-frame, long-barrel revolver to equal these results.

In a strong revolver, the Magnum is a handloader’s dream. The Hornady 125-grain XTP is among my favorite bullets. The 125-grain XTP is a fine defense and varmint load, but just the same, 125-grain velocity may be equaled with the 140-grain bullet by careful handloading. If you understand powder selection and bullet pull, the 140-grain XTP may be pushed to 1,400 fps in a four-inch barrel revolver with H110 or W296 powder.

A maximum-effort loading I use sparingly, is a combination of H110 powder and the Hornady 125-grain XTP. This one will break 1,680 fps from the four-inch barrel Ruger GP100. This load demonstrates why the .357 Magnum is sometimes called a rifle on the hip. Such performance leaves the 10mm Auto, .38 Super and .357 SIG in the dirt by comparison.

The .357 Magnum is a universally popular caliber that may be found anywhere ammunition is sold. The combination of versatility, including the use of a .38 Special sub-load, makes the .357 Magnum a very desirable caliber.

Colt Python in Holster
Among the author’s favorite revolvers is this four-inch barrel Python. It is carried in a Galco Phoenix holster, and a Galco speedloader pouch is also used.

Barrel Length

If you are going to make full use of the capabilities of the .357 Magnum cartridge, you need a well-made revolver with good sights and a smooth action. There are popular .357 Magnum revolvers with two to 3.5-inch barrels. The problem is the .357 Magnum, unlike the 9mm Luger and .45 ACP, is loaded with relatively heavy charges of slow-burning powder. This powder doesn’t fully burn in a short barrel. The result is tremendous muzzle blast. Muzzle flash is simply powder burning outside the barrel. As an example, a 125-grain JHP may exhibit 1,440 fps in a four-inch barrel revolver. Velocity falls to 1,280-1,300 fps in the shorter barrel. This is with greater recoil in the lighter handgun, and also increased muzzle flash.

By comparison, it isn’t difficult to find a 9mm Luger 124-grain JHP that breaks over 1,200 fps in a Glock 19. We have reached a point of diminishing returns in a short-barrel Magnum. In a four-inch barrel revolver, the .357 Magnum far outstrips the 9mm Luger and .38 Special. Heavy .38s are useful. As an example, the .38 Special Outdoorsman loaded by Buffalo Bore jolts a 158-grain SWC to over 1,100 fps. No 9mm Luger will do this! 125 grains at 1,400 fps, 158 grains at 1,300, or the 145-grain Winchester Silvertip at 1,320 fps are good loads for different chores in the Magnum.

If you make the decision to deploy a revolver and carefully choose leather gear, a four-inch barrel Magnum is a great companion for personal defense. You don’t have to run wide open all of the time. There are powerful, but low-recoil loads designed for personal defense. As an example, the Remington 110-grain JHP breaks 1,344 fps in my Combat Magnum. Remington’s Golden Saber is intended for use in .357 Magnum revolvers with modest barrel lengths. It just averages 1,200 fps in the four-inch barrel Smith and Wesson. These are valid choices. If you are willing to master full-power loads, there are even more powerful loads. 125 grains at 1,400 fps is proven in hundreds of defense shootings. This is a useful load for protection against feral dogs and even the big cats.

.357 Magnum Revolver
You don’t have to spend a fortune on a useful revolver. The EAA Windicator is a solid piece that handles well.

For hunting, I think it is wise to choose a six-inch barrel or longer .357 Magnum. As an example, I recently tested several modern loads in a six-inch barrel Python. These are credible deer loads. The Federal 158-grain JHP breaks 1,340 fps and the proven deer-killing Federal 180-grain JHP exhibits over 1,260 fps. The hard-cast 180-grain loading from Buffalo Bore went a solid 1,449 fps. In a revolver weighing 40 ounces or more, these are excellent loads with modest recoil. It isn’t like you need to make a quick pattern on the target, what matters is the shot you are firing at the moment in hunting! While modern JHP bullets are good for many uses, a hard-cast bullet that offers excellent penetration is viable for many uses.

An important use is animal defense. Nothing short of a .375 Holland, and Holland is really useful against Grizzly, but a hard-cast, deep-penetrating bullet is a good choice for small creatures.

.357 Magnum Self-Loading

The Coonan isn’t a lightweight and it isn’t inexpensive, but it is quite a handgun. Coonan points out that their 1911 is only slightly larger than the Government Model .45. The Coonan weighs 42 ounces. Recoil isn’t as great as a revolver of comparable weight. The self-loading action soaks up some recoil.

With its 1911-like controls and features — a frame-mounted safety, a grip safety, an ergonomic slide lock and a well-shaped grip — the Coonan will run a combat course with surprising speed and accuracy. The grip is slightly smaller in cross section, but longer than the 1911 .45, which makes handling excellent. The Coonan is enjoyable to fire and, with a lightened recoil spring supplied by Coonan, it will feed and function with .38 Special ammunition. The pistol is well finished with excellent fitting. The trigger action isn’t a true 1911-type, but a pivoting trigger that allows for a clean break. The barrel is a ramped design.

Accuracy is good with a wide variety of jacketed and cast bullets. The Coonan doesn’t have a barrel-cylinder gap, so there is significant velocity increase. You may handload a relatively light load that isn’t hard on the gun, yet this load will develop full-power velocity.  A 125-grain XTP over enough Titegroup for 1,250 fps is a joy to use and fire in a four-inch barrel Python. Fire this load in the Coonan and velocity jumps to a true 1,450 fps! Recoil is modest, perhaps in the .38 Super class.

The Federal Cartridge Company 180-grain JHP, a favorite of deer hunters, breaks 1,200 fps from the Coonan. Factory 158-grain loads gain 100 to 200 fps over the revolver. What we have is a pistol about as fast into action as a Government Model .45, but with the power of a .357 Magnum — actually more power than most revolvers are able to generate. This isn’t a handgun for the casually interested, but it is quite a Magnum!

Coonan .357 Magnum 1911
The Coonan self-loader is an interesting handgun.

.357 Magnum Long Guns

With the Rossi lever-action rifle chambered in the .357 Magnum, you have an excellent companion for the Magnum revolver. Accuracy is decent, with a four-inch group at 100 yards average. I once owned a long-barrel Rossi/Puma with octagon barrel, and it was far more accurate than the norm, with groups of 1.9 to 2.5 inches at 100 yards. It isn’t difficult to jolt a 158-grain Hornady XTP well past 1,800 fps! The .357 Magnum is among our most useful cartridges. Suitable for personal defense, hunting and general recreation, this is among our most interesting and exciting cartridges.

Do you enjoy the .357 Magnum? What do you use it for? Let us know in the comments section below!

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in September of 2020. It has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and clarity.

About the Author:

Wilburn Roberts

When Wilburn Roberts was a young peace officer, he adopted his present pen name at the suggestion of his chief, as some of the brass was leery of what he might write. This was also adopted out of respect for families of both victims and criminals. The pen name is the same and the man remains an outspoken proponent of using enough gun for the job.

He has been on the hit list of a well-known hate group, traveled in a dozen countries and written on many subjects, including investigating hate crimes and adopting the patrol carbine. He graduated second in his class with a degree in Police Science. It took him 20 years to work himself from Lieutenant to Sergeant and he calls it as he sees it.
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 (37)

  1. This is a great short article on the .357 Mag cartridge, and some of the guns that shoot it. I am a very long time owner of a Ruger .357 Blackhawk (3 screw), and it has been wonderful. Mine is a 6 1/2″ version, and it is house in my western holster with about 25 rounds set in it holster. I use to quick draw with it, and I got pretty fast even thou the barrel was not the short 4″ version. I also use to reload my own ammo, but for the past 35 years I just buy already manufactured ammo.

    In the past 10 years I have built a ballistics file, and it started out with the .38 special and .357 Mag rounds. I then bought another SA Blackhawk, and upscaled to a Ruger .45 Blackhawk convertible, and this is another amazing handgun. So, I expanded the ballistic file to include .45 caliber ammo, both the .45 LC and the .45 ACP. Then I kept entering into many ammo & gun forums, and expanded my ballistics file to where it is today -35 handgun caliber and 25 rifle ones! Then wanted to venture into the DA revolver world and recently purchased a .357 GP 100 6″ revolver.

    So, much of what is described ballistics wise in the article is very accurate. The .357 Mag round has the widest range of power than any other caliber, with a 4:1 power range – the weakest manufactured round versus the most powerful one. The .45 LC is a very close ‘next’. The length of barrel has a big impact on a cartridges speed, and thus its power. For self defense, the shorter barrel (4″) may be better, but look for ammo that does not have great penetration since its use maybe inside, and bullets may ‘fly’ thru walls and hit some one unintended. For hunting and accuracy on the range, get a longer barrel, as was implied in this article.

    But the article also went into the .357 semi-auto world with the Coonan, which I find to be rather misleading. The Coonan stopped production in 2019, and from my research online, it costs around $4,000! While it is a bit lighter than the MR Desert Eagle .357, it seems to be to not be worth the extra $2,000. And, the Desert Eagle is still in production. Due to the .357 Mag’s power, it is no small feat to make a semi-auto in this caliber. The Desert Eagle comes in other calibers as well, which are more powerful than the .357 Mag: .41 Mag,, .44 Mag, .50 AE. The max power listed in my ballistics file for the .357 is 907 ft. lbs. {PPU}, the max .41 Mag is 1,150 (Grizzly), the max .44 Mag is 1,533 (Buffalo Bore), and the max AE is 1,499 (Precision One).

    If anyone is interested in getting my ballistics file, it is free and comes as a PDF file. It has over 3,500 ammo entries, and each one is a link to ammo that you can buy online. Of course, today, not all links have availability, thanks mainly to COVID. For those who are having trouble finding the .357 ammo (or others), ask for my file. I try to keep it current, and there is a fair amount of .357 ammo available today. While COVID caused immense problems with ammo in general in availability, and in ammo cost, it has been getting better for the past 3 months.

  2. At 21 years old, I went to the hardware store wanting the 44 mag dirty harry, and the old man behind the counter said Nooooo, this Ruger Security 6 357 will be FINE for you. Truer words were never spoken. I developed a 650 fps load I could shoot beer cans at 25 to 50 yards, and could watch the bullet mosey over to the target. I have loaded 357 and 38 for decades, and my 686 is my favorite gun by far. I have taken deer with it. I keep meaning to get me a Henry or a 77-357, but the price tag scares me off. So I keep shooting my revolver, happier than hell, and smirking when people at the range stop shooting their 380s and nines to gawk at the guy with the cannon in his hand.

  3. Thanks for this article. Many years ago my brother Mark gifted me a S&W .357 magnum model 19-3, blued, 6″ which he had previously enjoyed and thought it would be a perfect firearm for me. He was right and I learned to handload .38 & .357 and still experience many range days with my son with this and other firearms I own.

  4. I Trust my Trooper lll. Best revolver I ever owned. Very accurate and with a 110 jhp will stop any 2 legged vermin that seek to harm us. If the bullet doesn’t stop them, the muzzle flash will scorch them.

  5. I recently purchased a Cimarron Pistolero in .357 mag. There seems to be a shortage of ammo in any grade or brand right now.

  6. I used to use the .357 for Deer Hunting. I trained so that I could hit a standing target with a 6 inch barrel at 100 yards. Took along time to learn. Used it as a personal protection weapon in the northern states when the weather was cold enough to hide it.

  7. It’s too bad that the 357Maximum never was offered in a lever action.That way you’d get near 35Remington ballistics,plus also be able to use 357Mag and 38 Special.Being an elongated 357Mag,the Max is a breeze to load for
    Incidentally the same applies to 460Rowland in a standard[e.g.1911 or Glock]auto.

    1. 357mag is in lever action. Henry and Marlin make nice lever action rifles. I have a Marlin. I highly recommend.

    2. I’ve got a Marlin 1894C 357Mag.nice house gun and even with rear sight folded down,it shoots to point of aim[like a shotgun] at 25 yards,The”rub”from my perspective,is that the handgun calibered lever actions restrict the over all cartridge length and the maximum projectile weight.

  8. On 3 different chronographs my 6” Ruger GP 100 with Privi Partizan 158gr JHP clocks over 1600 fps. 900 + ftlbs.
    This is the hottest factory loading i have found, eclipsing even Buffalo Bore loads. The flash gap on my Ruger is very tight @ 0.003-0.004

    1. Scott, I agree completely! I have shot the Buffalo Bore 158gr round with an MV of 1475, as well as the Prvi, and the Armscor high velocity 125gr (~1800 fps MV) rounds. Nothing compares to the Prvi 158gr with a MV of 1608!

      Vincent (09-14-2020)

  9. I realize that reproducing numerical statistics can be somewhat confusing to the reader, but the same apparently holds true for the author. I also know it’s easy to trip yourself up when summarizing such statistics . That said, I noticed that the early part of the article stated velo for a 158 gr. load was 1340 fps, but later on made reference to a higher velo of 1800 fps. How can that be? I believe a similar error was made when referencing the Coonan. The early reference in the article to a 1260 velo for a 180 grain load in the 4″ revolver is actually higher than the 1200 for the same load in the Coonan. This is a direct conflict with the author’s conclusion that more velo/power is produced by the Coonan’s semi-auto action. Just some misstatements and inconsistencies I noticed that you and the readers should be aware of.

    1. MV depends on barrel length, bullet grain size, and powder load. All those can result in a wide range of results depending on your goals. Hope that helps

    2. Doug, I am a very long time owner and user of a Ruger Blackhawk .357 Mag revolver with a 6 1/2″ barrel. I have shot many types of rounds over the years, but never any Hornady, and specifically, not their 125 gr loads. But I have created a very extensive ballistics file, which shows over 1700 entries that covers 34 handgun calibers, of which the .357 mag caliber has over 150 entries. Each entry is a link to a webpage which shows ammo that you can buy online. In his list, there are quite of few ammo resellers that sell the Hornady 125 gr round. The ballistics shown are the 125 gr XTP bullet that has a MV of 1500 fps. One of the links for this round shows that this was from an 8″ barrel, which is really misleading to the viewer because nobody has an 8″ barrel handgun. The 158 gr round shows its MV to be 1250 fps. I would suspect that out of a 6″ barrel this may drop to 1400 fps or even a bit less. The bullet speed (MV) has far more impact on the power than the weight of the bullet.

      But let me pursue this a bit further, especially in regards to your note hear, which looks like to me it is about two issues: (1) the Coonan shoots more powerful rounds, and (2) the actual MV (not ‘velo’) of the Hornady 125 gr round, the 158 gr XTP round, and the 180 gr round. First, I have to say that it is impossible for a revolver to have zero tolerance between the cylinder and barrel, It it did, it would not rotate! So, perhaps the author was saying that it is minimal, and much less than almost any other revolver (which is a very big statement because he would have to know about all other revolvers). Assuming he is correct in saying that this gap is minimal, then it would add to the MV of any bullet fired. But I would contend that this increase would be small, and that barrel length would be much more important, with a greater impact as the barrel gets less and less, starting from about 6″ or so. This cylinder/barrel gap is partly why ballistics vary from handgun to handgun for any given caliber or round.

      I could not find any statement showing the barrel length Hornady uses for its 158 gr round. They do not make a 180 gr round in the .357 caliber. I even went to their website, looking for this info.But HSM bear does make a 1890 gr .357 round, and it posted MV is 1200 fps. Federal also sells a 180 gr .357 round, but its MV is only 1130 fps. Nor could I find any reference by the author about a .357 round with a MV of 1800 fps! That would be amazing. But Armscor does publish a 125 gr bullet with a MV of 1775 and one with a MV of 1875 fps, which I have shot. But this statistic was probably out of a 16″ barrel (a rifle). I have shot a lot of Armscor ammo, and none of it seems to be the power published, and this may be the reason – an over inflated number due to misleading testing.

      The author does mention a reload creation of his own with a “Hornady 125-grain XTP [bullet]. This one will break 1680 fps from the four-inch barrel Ruger GP100”. This round is unlike anything on the open market wit such a high MV out of a handgun with such a short muzzle. But I suppose it is possible to load your own so very hot. Back in the 60s, I use to reload my own, and inserted the max powder into the casing, making very hot loads too! But I had no way of testing them/ The hottest .357 load I have ever shot (max force and max kick) is the Prvi 158 gr with an MV of 1608.

      Vincent (09-14-2020)

  10. I purchased a Mdl 19c with a 5 3/4″ barrel in the late ’90s from a co-worker. I have carried it deer hunting several years, but have not had a deer in range to try a shot. I would not be afraid to take a shot out to 50 yd.s.

    I have swapped the hammer spring for a lighter spring from Brownel’s. It reduced the double action pull to about 8 lb.s, and single action to 3-3 1/4 lb.s. A fun gun to shoot with .38 or .357 ammunition. It is a 90-95% gun with only slight wear on the bluing at the end of the barrel from holster wear. It was manufactured in 1970.

    1. Robert, I am not familiar with semi-auto handguns, and when I did a search on an Mdl 19c, the Glock semi-auto gun came up, and it is a 9mm handgun. But you then mentioned a double action pull, so then I ask what is a Mdl 19c?

      Vincent (09-14-2020)

  11. My first gun was a Taurus 357 magnum, 4” barrel, satin Nickel finish, checkered oak handle. Still have it some 30+ years later, accurate and smooth. I never took out a deer with it but I can tell you it goes through both Doors of a car at once like they were butter!!!!

  12. Some people think the .357 Mag isn’t enough for deer. But at short ranges, 75 yds or less, and with the correct bullet and good placement, it is enough.
    My daughter took a 6pt buck with my Marlin 1894C, when she was 13yrs old, at a range of about 60 yds.. Ammo was Federal 158gn JSP. She put the bullet on the back edge of the buck’s right shoulder, and we recovered the bullet under the skin just in front of the left hip; it looked like a button mushroom.

  13. I have had a 4″ Smith and Wesson 686 for 27 years, I bought it used then. I had always been the most accurate shooting it vs any autuloader i owned or tried until I purchased a S&W M&P M2.0 with a 5″ barrel in .40. The 686 might beat it however at longer than 50yd range. The 686 is always loaded and ready for home defense.

    I recently purchased a Ruger LCR in .357. Shooting it with magnum loads is not for the recoil averse or faint of heart! I practice with it loaded with 38spl. Then always end the session with a few mag loads.

    .357 is one of my favorite cartridges and I have wanted more firearms chambered for it for a long time. The Coogan being one ever since I first saw it. Also a lever action, a 6″ barreled revolver (or longer) and maybe through a Desert Eagle in there as well.

    Gee, I think maybe I should go buy a lottery ticket!

  14. When I hunt large game animals there is always a .357 Mag on my left hip. It is loaded with Fiocchi 148 Gr JHP ammo. I do not own a 4 wheeler and spend 6 to 10 hr./day on foot. When hunting in the mountains you always want the lightest load possible so my revolver is a S&W Air Lite PD, which weights 15 oz. loaded. It has a 1.75 in. barrel with a laser in the grip. I have never used the laser. The revolver is carried more than it is shot, it is used to put a downed animal out of pain in the fastest way, without wasting any meat. Hunting elk with a bow or deer and antelope with a muzzle loader or rifle, the .357 is always there.

  15. Bought my first .357 (1962 serial number) in early 1963; I believe just before Colt came out with its .38 semi auto target gun. My choice was a Colt Python with a 6″ barrel over the competing Smiths. The purpose was competitive shooting, and I had the gun worked on to smooth out the trigger. Still have the gun in almost pristine condition. Over the ensuing years have probably not fired more than 2-3K mostly ,38 Special rounds, since I gave up competitive shooting many years ago. I actually think I still have the remnants of the original .357 box of ammo that I bought at the time. Have regripped it several times, but the original grip which I still occasionally try is still an excellent overall choice. The gun is now probably worth a small fortune, given its low use and cosmetic condition. One of these days before they cart me off to the “home”, I will likely sell it.

    Sometime in the mid 1970s I bought a .357 Ruger Security Six with 2″ barrel for carrying, if I ever decided to carry. Probably less than 150 rounds through it. A heavy sucker, far heavier and larger than a J-Frame which can fit in my pocket.. My plan, if ever carrying, is to alternate .357 and .38 Spl cartridges, that latter being much easier to fire. Would be interested in comments about this strategy, and if good which should be the first cartridge fired. I live in an area where there are very occasionally black bear, but there never have been any bear vs people incidents. Also, there has been evidence of cougars withing 20 miles, but there has never been a cougar vs person incident.

  16. Great article and I learned quite a bit. Always been a big fan of .357. I have model 66 S&W, 4″ revolver that was used as primary law enforcement weapons back in the 70s and 80s. I also have a Henry Big Boy .357 carbine. I use the revolver as my outdoor carry when I am in the forest with black bears and cougars using Buffalo Bore’s 180gr hard cast load which performs unbelievably. Until recently with the COVID incident, I was able to get 158gr target loads for about .32 cents a round and now the price is astronomical. These target loads coupled with my Henry are a pleasure to do fast gong/silhouette shooting up to 200m. It is just a fun gun to shoot and I hope the .357 prices come back down soon.

  17. I bought my GP100 when I turned 21 – It had literally just come out. I still have that one and it still produces. Shortly after I bought the GP, I bought a Marlin 1894C in 357 and still have that one. Amazing accuracy and very good for deer out to 150 yds with no problems.

  18. I love my Colt King Cobra 6″ barrel. I have an original purchased in 1982. It’s cool Colt brought them back. Accuracy must be seen to be believed. At the range I can put the target out at 50 yards and have consistent 4″ groupings (better than those next to me at 10 yards)and I am not a professionally trained shooter. I recommend care in selecting a load when deer hunting. I used a 158 gr JHP and blew off the 2 front legs with a clean shoulder shot at 75 yards. Ruined half the meat. When the .357 was introduced and used by police in self defense the first 10 times it was used resulted in 10 kills and 7 were extremity shots. I did not believe this until I saw what it did to my deer. Now I use 125 grain JHP. You want to be careful with this in home defense. The usual caveats of knowing what is in front of and behind your target are especially important. Do not use unless the back drop of your target is a brick wall. This round will penetrate an intruder and all interior walls killing everything in it’s path. I use a shotgun to home defense and my .357 for

  19. Nice article. Owning several 357 mags from bond arms, dan & wesson, desert eagle, and marlin lever action, it is far my caliber of choice. Many other calibers owned do not have the all around performance in my opinion in most every category. Still a long time favorite. I would like to see your review of desert eagle vs conan in 357 magnum as the conan is not in my collection.

  20. Only have one .357 MAG, but only used it for hunting as only liked Winchester Silvertips…too expensive for plinking. Mine is just a Rossi 6 inch Stainless w/ramp and full shroud plus rubber finger grips. In 70s now but in younger years took 12 shots at various yardages, but only got 11 bucks. 11th shot took out branch with no twigs stickin’ up just below sight plane about 5 feet away as hiding in shade, but 12th shot about 20 yards further away out at about 170 yards cold cocked that sucker runnin’! It wasn’t gun’s fault or ammo’s fault either, but just proof I was gettin’ old and sloppy so gave it up. Now we’re retired, but a couple times a year Hi Ho Silver and me get down to the dump making good rats. Just use his Independence .38 SPL 130 Grain FMJs as kick less, quieter, a hell of a lot cheaper, and he likes them! Only thing is, once in a while he misses…..I think he’s gettin’ old……..

  21. I’m not a fan of.snubbies in 39Spec/357Mag-excessive muzzleflash and muzzleblast.I observed this with a Ruger Security Six 2-3/4″ decades ago.With glaucoma/cataracts and existing hearing loss,this is critical for me.I stick with 4″or longer barrels.Were I to go with a snubbie,it would be in 45Colt or 44Special. That way I’m still getting the”bigger hole”.For human defense,only factory ammo to be used-why give the district attorney/perp defense lawyers any excuse??I pray that never happens but…
    Evans&Marshall’s”Handgun Stopping Power”[using morgue autopsy results-somewha dated with today’s newer ammo,did indicate the 357Mag 125gr JHP was the #1 stopper at that time]I’ll stick with 158 lead hollow points or 357Mag 158gr JHPs nonetheless. If you want light-er weight revolver for limited [only]use,go with the S&W Mountain Gun.

  22. The “rub” with lever actions in 357Mag et al are that they are limited regards projectile weight and overall cartridge length.The Ruger revolvers at least will take overall cartridge lengths of 1.800″.In 44Mag,you’re limited to 270gr in a Marlin 1894C.For a “low political profile”house gun,a 1894C 357Mag can be the way to go.

    1. Agostino, how is a .45 Colt (LC) not good ammo in a Colt SAA? Did you try it or test it? Did something bad happen?

      Vincent (09-08-2020)

  23. Wilburn, this was a very interesting write-up on the .357 Mag gun and ammo. I am a very long time owner (over 50 years) of a Ruger .357 Magnum Blackhawk with a 6.5″ barrel. Initially I started with loading my own ammo, back when this was very inexpensive. But today there are so many types of loads and bullets that reloading doesn’t make much sense. I did load some cartridges back then with very heavy loads, and the Ruger always handled anything I created!

    I can attest to its accuracy. I sue to go out deer hunting with it with my father-in-law (f-in-l) in Minnesota, in the woods, where you rarely saw anything further than 30-40 yards. Before we went out, my f-in-l would make sure his rifle was shooting accurately, and I would shoot my gun with him. At 100 yards, I could match his rifle (no scope). Then when we went out, I got tired of waiting around (sometimes for hours) in the woods, so I started just shooting. One time I was shooting at a muskrat den over 200 yards away, and I could tell how I was doing because it was surrounded by water all around it. I could see the splashed when I missed the mound. There were about 2/3 splashes, and this was free standing shooting.

    I can also attest to its flash, and it isn’t just with the shorter barrels! If it is a noteworthy load, the flash is between 3-4 feet coming out of the end of the barrel. Of course, I could only see this at dusk or at night. It was very impressive.

    Now for some very interesting facts about the .357: It was the most powerful handgun in the world until the .44 Magnum came out (Dirty Harry’s gun) in 1955. That was a little over 20 years. Next, it has almost the highest range of power than any other handgun. According to my ballistics file, its ME (Muzzle Energy measured in ft. lbs.) varies from a low of 225 (BlackHills Ammo with a 158 gr bullet, with a MV (Muzzle Velocity measured in feet per second-fps) of 800 fps, to a high ME of 899 (Buffalo Bore 906 (180 gr JHP bullet at 1500 fps) or the 906 ME (PPU or Prvi Partizan 158 JSP bullet at 1607 fps). This is a range of 4:1! As an example, the 9mm range is only 2.1:1 (218-460 ME).

    I was amazed to hear that there is a semi-auto handgun that can shoot the .357 mag cartridge. This must be a very rugged gun since the .357 does come in very powerful loads. My .357 Ruger is a revolver, and is all steel, so it has no issues. The kick when I shoot these very powerful loads is quite noticeable, and VERY load! But it is no where near to the kick with my Ruger .45 Colt Blackhawk (5.5″ barrel), with its big loads. I have to shoot these heavy .45 Colt loads with two hands, whereas with my .357 Mag Ruger I can handle all loads with shooting with just one hand (arm extended all the way out). The powerful ME on the .45 Colt rounds is around 1215 ft. lbs. There is a heavier .45 LC load than this, but I dare not shoot these.

    I also wish to add some info to the cartridges and loads you mention in detail. Remington makes a cartridge with a 110 gr bullet (SJHP) that is listed with a MV of 1295 fps, which is close to your 1344 fps. Keep in mind that most manufacturers do not mention the barrel length for the supplied MV. So, the gun you used may have had a slightly longer barrel. Buffalo Bore produces two different 180 gr cartridges: one at 1400 fps (19A), and the other at 1500 fps (19L). The first delivers 783 ft. lbs. of ME, and the second one is the 899 I mentioned above. Both are JHP bullets. Hornady makes .357 Mag cartridges of many different power ratings. The 125 gr round (Critical Defense) is rated at 1500 fps, with an ME of 624 ft. lbs. The 140 gr cartridge (Lever Revolution) is rated at an MV of 1400 fps, delivering 645 ft. lbs., which is only 3% more power. Both are Flex Tip bullets. I have shot the Buffalo Bore and Prvi rounds, but not the Hornady, so I cannot compare kick for all of these.

    On a final note, I also have never heard of the Holland! It looks nice, but I think I will probably stick to Ruger for my first double action revolver and go with the GP100, so I can shoot the same ammo I already have. if I do not do that, I may go with the Ruger 454 Casull, which also shoots .45 Colt ammo!

    Great article – Thank you!

    Vincent (09-07-2020)

  24. Sometimes use .357 in Marlin lever, SW 686. Less often in Mod 19 23/4 in. Have never used it in Bond Arms .357

  25. Even the 3″ J-Frame S&W model 60 is a great .357. It has enough weight to be used for self defense in .357, but is also ideal for the new .38 self defense loads. With the new Henry “X” in .357, would be a great match-up as a Camper/Home Defense/Small Game Combo. Rifle for most of the time, but the S&W as the back-up. Ever hear of the “New York Reload”???

  26. in black bear country[western Finger lakes of NY],I use 170 or 180-eventually 200gr] hard cast loads in 4″GP100.For anti-personnel defense:factory 38Spec +P 158gr lhp[“the old FBI load”]followed by 2 speedloads of 357Mag 158gr JHP.Noticeably less muzzleflash/muzzleblast.My other choice is Redhawk 5.5″45Colt with>= 300gr.Both Rugers can regularly digest these loads.

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