Lever-Action Ballistics: .30-30 vs. .357 Magnum

Elmer Keith, Phillip B. Sharpe, Colonel D. B. Wesson developed the .357 Magnum cartridge in 1934. The first of the ‘Magnum’ pistol cartridges, it was a big hit. Literally. While there’s still some debate over the cartridge’s ability to create hydrostatic shock, if you’re looking for a highly effective, commonly available handgun caliber for self-protection, .357 is a perfectly defensible choice. Handgun hunters use the cartridge to take game up to the size of small deer. The .357′s handgun ballistics are impressive indeed, but how much more impressive does it get from an extra fourteen inches of barrel? Now what should we compare it to . . .

The .30-30 was once the standard North American big-game hunting cartridge. Since 1895 it may have killed more deer and elk (and cougars and coyotes…) than all other calibers combined. Hell, in Utah they use it to execute two-legged predators. It may be pretty weak sauce compared to more modern, high-velocity rounds, but it still gets the job done for most game at reasonable ranges.

In modern military terms it would be considered an ‘intermediate-caliber’ round, packing about the same punch as the 7.62×39. The .30-30′s biggest drawback: it’s a shorter-range cartridge, due to the flat-point bullets that must be used in a tubular magazine.

The Guns:

Our .357 Magnum carbine: a new-production Marlin 1894C. It has an 18″ round barrel, weighs a little over six pounds, and holds 9+1 rounds.

Our .357 Magnum pistol: a 1980s Smith & Wesson Model 686 with a 4″ barrel. If you don’t own one, you should. Ask RF if you have any reservations.

Our .30-30: an early-1990s Winchester Model 1894 ‘Trapper’ with a 16.5″ barrel. It weighs six pounds and holds 5+1 rounds.

The Ammunition:

Through our .357s we fired the following loads:

  • 125-grain SJHP handloads filled with 17.0 grains of Vitavhouri N-110, a slow-burning magnum pistol powder.
  • 125-grain Remington SJHPs.
  • 158-grain lead SWC handloads, filled with 5.7 grains of Unique.  This load is equivalent to a .38 Special +P.
  • 158-grain Sellier & Bellot SJFPs.
  • 158-grain Magtech RNL .38 Specials.

The .30-30 was fed the following:

  • 150-grain Sellier & Bellot JSPs.
  • 160-grain Hornady Leverevolution polymer-tipped spitzers.
  • 170-grain Remington JSPs.

The Data:

It won’t be a surprise that an 18″ carbine delivers substantially higher velocities than a 4″ revolver firing the same cartridge. How substantial?

  • With 125-grain handloads, the revolver averaged an even 1300 feet per second and 469 pound-feet of energy, while the carbine delivered 1937 fps and 1041 lb-ft. That’s a 49 percent velocity increase and a 122 percent increase in energy from the same cartridge. Yowza.
  • With Remington 125-grain JHPs, the revolver got 1442 fps and 537 lb-ft. The carbine got 2038 fps (!) and 1153 lb-ft, for a 41 percent velocity gain and 98 percent boost in energy.
  • Shooting the 158-grain .38 Specials, the revolver clocked a leisurely 676 fps and 160 lb-ft. The carbine achieved 944 fps and 313 lb-ft, a 40 percent increase in velocity and a 96 percent increase in energy.
  • The S&B 158-grain JSPs gave carbine numbers of 1451 fps and 739 lb-ft, but the chrono battery died before we could measure them from the revolver.
  • My mild 158-grain lead SWC handloads produced 1176 fps and 485 lb-ft from the carbine, which was better than I’d expected since they only burn a small charge of Unique, a fast-burning pistol powder. I couldn’t measure their velocity from the revolver, because they’re so smoky and sooty that the flying particles gave false readings from the chronograph.  An old Speer reloading handbook interpolates them at about 980 fps from a pistol, which would give the carbine about a 20 percent velocity gain and a 44 percent energy gain.

The Winchester Trapper, with its slightly shorter barrel, gave us the following numbers with .30-30 ammo:

  • 150-grain S&B JSP: 2284 fps, 1737 lb-ft.
  • 160-grain Hornady Leverevolution: 2132 fps, 1615 lb-ft.
  • 170-grain Remington JSP: 1986 fps, 1489 lb-ft.

.357 Carbines Rock

With the loads we tested, the extra barrel length of the .357 carbine paid handsome dividends. With light loads, it boosted a truly anemic .38 Special cowboy load up to +P velocities, and it gave the .38 Special +P equivalent load a 20 percent velocity increase. Unique is a fast-burning powder; this light load was nearly consumed in the 4″ revolver barrel so there was only a modest gain from the carbine.

With higher-performance loads, the .357 carbine almost delivers real rifle ballistics. The 125-grain loads have not quite as much muzzle energy as NATO’s standard infantry rifle round, the 5.56x45mm. The 158-grain .357 JSP produces less energy, but it might be a better cartridge for medium-sized game at modest ranges because the bullet itself is less prone to fragmenting at these velocities.

One caveat: my .357 carbine is nicely accurate, but the point of impact varies greatly depending on the ammunition being fired.  At 15 yards, hot .357 loads printed nearly 3″ higher than mild .357 and .38 loads, and also slightly to the right. If you’ll be doing your shooting at anything but short ranges, you should find a good load and stick with it.

The .30-30 Rules.

Looking at published velocity numbers from much longer test barrels, we see that cutting a .30-30 barrel down to the legal-minimum 16.5″ doesn’t inflict a debilitating penalty to velocity or energy. The Remington website lists their 170-grain .30-30 at 2200 fps and 1827 lb-ft, and the shorty Trapper averaged a real-life 1986 fps and 1489 lb-ft: that’s less than a 10 percent velocity penalty and an 18 percent energy penalty. Within the practical range of the .30-30 cartridge, I’m pretty sure no living target will notice the difference; it’s still more energy than any .223 Remington.

Even the weakest .30-30 load we tested produced almost 30 percent more energy than the most impressive .357 Magnum, and even that so-called ‘weak’ 170-grain .30-30 bullet will retain much more of its energy much farther downrange than any flat-nosed .357 slug will. And that’s with standard ammo.

The 160-grain Leverevolution will deliver the goods at ranges out to 300 yards, although it’ll cost you a buck a shot. Hornady claims that they make 2400 fps  from a 24″ test barrel, and I was pleasantly surprised that the Trapper’s 16″ barrel (literally one-third shorter) only paid a small 11.25 percent velocity penalty.

The short-barreled .30-30 did not produce obnoxious muzzle blast or excessive recoil; in fact it exhibited no particular vices at all other than its sighting apparatus. The Williams rear aperture sight was clear and precise, but the tiny front post was a challenge to pick up and the redundant rear semi-buckhorn sight blocked another 50 percent of the target.  It should have been drifted out and set aside when the Williams was installed, but it wasn’t.

Or Does It?

Hornady makes a .357 Magnum 140-grain Leverevolution that claims to get 1850 fps and 1064 lb-ft from an 18″ carbine. Buffalo Bore also claims that their “Heavy” .357 Magnum hard cast 158-grain loads will produce 2153 fps and 1626 lb-ft from an 18″ carbine. This would place it in the middle of the pack for .30-30 ballistics, at least within 100 yards, at a cost about equal to premium .30-30 ammo.

When and if I get some of these to test I’ll post the results, but for big game I’d still rather have a .30-30. For uses other than big-game hunting, .357 Magnum carbines have other benefits which have nothing to do with ballistics.

An 18″ .357 will hold 9+1 rounds, compared to the 6+1 of a .30-30 of the same length. Recoil is extremely mild even with the stoutest loads, so that the XS ghost ring sights never even leave the target; you just keep working the lever and blazing away until you run out of ammo (not likely) or until your tin can bounces away out of sight. You can’t ‘spray and pray’ like you might with a semi-auto, but these little guns are very quick.

Conclusions:

The .357 Magnum basically doubles its kinetic energy when it’s fired from a carbine, and it almost earns a promotion to the Big Leagues of rifle ballistics. But not quite. The result is substantially more powerful than a .30 Carbine, but even on paper it takes the most exotic .357 loads to equal the most pedestrian .30-30 loadings. And the .30-30 still dramatically outperforms these exotic .357s at longer ranges.

If you plan to use your gun on bigger game or at ranges past 100 or 150 yards, the .30-30 is your clear choice. While the 16″ Trapper is very handy, consider an 18″ barrel which will give you an extra round of magazine capacity and a small ballistic increase.

If your gun is likely to be used primarily for recreational shooting, hunting medium game within 100 yards, or defensive use, the .357 is superior. Its higher capacity and lower recoil are more suited to such applications where the extra power and penetration of the .30-30 would be wasted.

Useful links:

Chart of .357 ballistics
Chuck Hawks rifle ballistics table
Hornady Leverevolution web page

43 Responses to Lever-Action Ballistics: .30-30 vs. .357 Magnum

  1. avatarRyan Finn says:

    Very interesting Chris. It’s nice to see people reminded that the 30-30 can still get the job done and those numbers on the .357 out of a carbine barrel are pretty impressive.

    Were you getting any variations in accuracy from the different 30-30 loads? I know that 170 gr Core Lokt rounds through my Marlin 336 that I reviewed put up much wider groups than the 150 gr.

    • avatarBill Burney says:

      Im a nostalga old school coyboy and have shot everything with a 30 30 and everything with a 44 mag, and yes shot placement does matter .

  2. avatarThe Cabinet Man says:

    Good write-up, Chris. I have an 1894C in 357 Mag, too, and I was floored when I saw the data from my chrono the first time.

    On the flip-side, I’ve considered getting a T/C Contender in 30-30 for handgun silhouette shooting. Just haven’t gotten there yet.

    BTW, the Ballistics by the Inch guys have some interesting 357 Mag data: http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

    TCM

  3. avatarJason says:

    Every home in America should have a .357 lever gun behind the kitchen door, if only to run off the man from the bank.

  4. avatarRoy Hill says:

    I’ve got a .357 mag rifle, only mine is one of those freaky Taurus Thunderbolt pump thingies.

    If only somebody could find a way to make a light, semi-auto .357 mag carbine with 15 or 20 round mags?

  5. avatarme says:

    Didn’t the late Colonel Cooper speak highly of lever-action pistol-caliber carbines as home defense weapons? I believe he coined the term “Brooklyn Special” for them, but I do not think it caught on.

    Yes, the .357 with stout handloads (*cough* 125gr Hornady JHP-XTP and 22.0gr H110 *cough*) comes surprisingly close to the .30/30 and the platform has killed many whitetail deer. The additional frontal area of the .357 appears to compensate and then some for any small lack of velocity or kinetic energy compared to the .30/30, at least for whitetail deer at brush-hunting distances. It is highly destructive of soft tissue and tears a wide hole, verging on destroying too much meat.

    I seem to recall that IMI back in the 1990s manufactured a slide-action .357 carbine they called the “Timberwolf,” which had the controls set up to mimic a Remington 870. I believe they intended to market them to law enforcement in the US, but their timing was poor for this. If they had not waited until US law enforcement was abandoning the .357 revolver and 12 gauge shotgun in favor of Glocks and M4s, they might have sold many. As it was, though, they were about twenty years too late and they ended up getting remaindered through various middlemen at steep discounts. This is unfortunate. The design had merit, though I might have preferred it in .44 Magnum.

    I think the revolver caliber carbine concept is one that may have some merit in the present day for certain applications. As a first choice for a fighting rifle the day of the lever action and slide action is a century past and more, but in skilled hands it can certainly put metal on target quickly and, as you note, with a level of power that is likely to be decisive on thin-skinned pest animals of the bipedal variety. They also have hunting applications that more modern designs may not, in jurisdictions that ban modern firearms for hunting. And if it matters to you, the wooden stock lever action carbine may possibly look less sinister to a jury composed of soccer moms and retirees who’ve never seen a gun before except on TV than an M4 might.

    For my part, I think that any carbine that can be built to accept the .357 Mag cartridge can be built for the .44 Mag, which can take game (and penetrate hard cover) that the .357 can’t, though with somewhat more recoil. And from a perspective of self-defense, if I am going to be picking up a long gun, and subjecting myself to the disadvantages of length, bulk, and weight in a narrow hallway, it’s going to be something with the power to justify that–a .308 battle rifle or a 12 gauge loaded with buckshot.

    • avatarLew Fisk says:

      I wish they made a lever action in the .357 MAXIMUM. Try to compare that with a 30-30. I hunt in Indiana with a .357 MAXIMUM rifle. However, I had to settle with a single shot. I bought a 357 MAGINUM single shot rifle made by New England Arms and had it reemed out just a little longer to accept a .357 MAXIMUM. I move a Hornady 180 grn at 2100 fps. It is truly a wallup down range! Again, with VERY little recoil.

      • avatarNobody says:

        Odd that I ran into your post from today while looking at an old article. Fortunate coincidence perhaps.
        Check out the Henry Big Boy carbines. Mine is a .38/357mag and it’s great. 10 + 1 shots, and it’s just a blast to shoot.

      • avatarglockstr says:

        I had a contender in .357 Max and it did a fantastic job on deer! I still have some brass laying around to bring back old memories.

  6. avatarTTACer says:

    Great writeup. Can you do one for .44?

    • avatarTravis Leibold says:

      Yeah Ditto! . I’ve got a Stainless Marlin 1894 as my go to rifle. Would love to see some numbers and comparison to .357 and 30-30 and .5.56. Inside 100 yards I believe its pretty tough to beat.

      • avatarChris Dumm says:

        I think we’ll be writing up the ballistics of the Henry Big Boy .44 Magnum later this summer. RF has the Big Boy now, so either he’ll ship the rifle to me or I’ll ship him the chronograph.

        Other sources state that a Big Boy launches the 240-gr .44 magnum at a little over 1600 fps and 1400 lb-ft of energy. The big .44 bullet does terrible execution when it hits, but it sheds velocity very quickly due to its huge frontal area and flat nose. Pricey Leverevolution rounds flatten out the football-like trajectory a little, and even a little helps a lot.

  7. avatarTSgt B says:

    Just bought a Marlin 1984 Cowboy in .45 Colt to go with my Ruger revolvers. I’d like to see an article like this on .45 Colt. With modern, strong actions (such as the Ruger & Marlin) the .45 Colt can do everything a .44 mag can do, and sometimes better. I’ve grown to admire the .45 Colt so much that I’ve sold my .44s. Great article.

  8. Crazy as it may sound, both the 30-30 & 357 Mag are deemed underpowered for shooting deer in the UK (except the tiny Muntjac & Chinese Water Deer).
    The PTB deem 2,000fps & 1,700ft/lbs ME as a minimum.
    Both would be excellent for use on Roe & deer, as they rarely reach 100lbs. Even Fallow deer are within the scope of both cartridges.

    • avatarMike also a limey says:

      Yeah, in Scotland the .357 mag will fall foul of the minimum muzzle velocity requirement and in England & Wales, you need more energy for Roe deer. I wonder if in the review of the ’81 Wildlife and countryside act we might not get the same requirements for Muntjac, CWD and Roe.

      ATB,

      Mike

  9. avatarjk says:

    Someone mentioned a semi-auto in pistol caliber. There have been a couple I believe. The only one I have handled and shot was a Ruger .44 Magnum carbine. Basically looked and felt just like a slightly larger 10-22 but with a 5 or 6 round tube magazine. Very, very impressive at short range. Would be a truly devastating defensive weapon against wolves, mountain lions or the bipedal form of predator.

  10. avatarGeorge Daley says:

    Very interesting and good research. I have a marlin lever .357, a 1894 Winchester (1957 make like new) and a 336 marlin both in .30/30.From your article, I would probably be quite pleased with the .357 for home defense, plinking, and hunting if I hunted. Like some have said; the .357 will shoot a lot higher then the .38s at distance with a little loss in accuracy and no kick. The store bought .357s are less then half the price of the 3o/30s ands there is a lot of variation in bullets. My old Winchester has so/so accuracy despite being like new and has an annoying kick; the Marlin is much more preferable and its kick is manageable for awhile. So, apples to oranges…..the .357 is a good choice for home defense, pleasure, saving $$ and shooting at the range.If the .357s expand at their higher velocity then the handgun, they should make a good sized hole. For the city guy and non hunter I think the .357 is a nice choice as you can also carry it in a revolver…..although my 6″ magnums are not any fun to shoot.I mean in self defense…..a larger calibre will not make anything “more dead”.

  11. avatarChris Dumm says:

    Thanks for all of your comments and requests! It sounds like I’ve got some more work to do this summer, since the Armed Intelligentsia want us to do the carbine ballistics for the .44 Magnum and the .45 Long Colt.

    Fortunately, we’ve got access to both of those…and what the Armed Intelligentsia want, the Armed Intelligentsia get.

  12. avatarChris Grome says:

    My Marlin 44mag hits consistently out to 200-250 yds easily, I have punished targets at 350-400 yds with my 30-30 Marlin. you cannot go wrong with Marlins. Next one will be a 41 mag and 45 colt. When I go to the range the Tacticons look at me like what are you going to do with that, let er rip! and watch their mouth drop. Hee Hee.

  13. avatarCarey Spencer says:

    Nice article. I.M.I. did in fact make the Timberwolf in .44, only thing is, only 1000 were imported by Springfeild Armory into the U.S.. (1992 I think. Check the Blue Book.) I also own the Marlin 1894 in .44. The Timberwolf is lighter and more compact, but is much less robust. If I had to voice a complaint about it, the ONLY drawback to the Timberwolf design is the single, thin transfer bar as opposed to the heavy double bar design on the 870 that it was compared to. Not neccessarily a drawback, it bears mentioning that the slide must be pulled rearward in order to load the I.M.I.. I had to part with my beloved Colt Diamondback 6″ .22 to acquire my .44 Timberwolf, and will pass it down to my oldest son. I am in agrement with the other individuals in my request that you please do another fine writeup using the .44 as a comparison round. I would very much enjoy the info! It is my favorite caliber, and I own six guns chambered for it. The old model Ruger carbine in .44 is good stuff too. I appreciate the nostalgia of their newer model, the Deerfeild though. With the exeption of some of the internals, and lack of a stick mag, an M1 Carbine in .44, and mine prints cloverleafs at 50yds with standard Winchester white box 240′s from Wall Mart. Also I wold like to see a slim semi auto .357 if they can get around the cartridge rim issue. Think Marlin model 60 scaled up. THAT would be an awesome machine!! Again, good job!

  14. avatarStan Riley says:

    Marlin 1894C .357. & UMC 158gr LSW. I have found this combo to be a real tack driver. Dropped a 9pt buck where it stood with 1 shot to the neck 10″ below the base of the skull at about 50 yrds
    Hit the deer like a hammer, and broke its neck.
    I’ve put two 170 gr slugs into the chest of a doe and still had to track her for more than 100 yrds. lung and heart were mush. Stay in the rifles range and bullet placement. I’ve been a neck [or head] shooter ever since. No meat damaged.

  15. avatarJim says:

    I have a marlin 1894cp, the short 16″ 357. I absolutely love this little thing that packs a nice whallop. Damn accurate and so light and handy, can’t go wrong. I do think you probably get a bit more out of the 357 with the 18″ barrel on the standard 1894s but am happy with this rifle. I sure hope Marlins being made in the new plant are up to the same quality as my year 2000 1894….

  16. avatarRobert Van Elsberg says:

    All I can say is I have a Rossi Model 92 in .357 Magnum and love it! I wanted a short-barrel carbine, but the only version available at the time had a 24-inch octagonal barrel. The moment I saw it, I fell it love with it. There is a classic American western beauty to rifles based on the Winchester 1892 action. And did I say this puppy is accurate? How about sub-2 inch groups at 100 yards with the best loads? That was with, mind you, open sights and 59-year-old eyes. When my piggy bank gets fat enough, I am going to order one of those classic old western-style tang-mounted peep sights. Shades of “Quigly”. I work for the Army at Fort Rucker, Ala., and use the post’s privately owned weapons range. Most of my fellow shooters are young soldiers who’ve invested considerable sums into making their personally owned M4 as high tech as possible. I get a kick out of “shootin’ and shuckin’” with the lever action. They’ve seen enough movies to know what John Wayne carried. They get a real “kick” (no pun intended) out of shooting the Rossi. After all, what is more “American” than the old west and a Winchester-type rifle?

  17. avatarJim Kenyon says:

    I have a Winchester chambered for .357. Two years ago, using Buffalo Bore ammo 180 grain, I shot a deer at 75 yards. The deer dropped immediately and didn’t even take a step. The bullet smashed through the ribs, lungs and heart and exited out the other side. When I got the gun, I had my doubts about using it for deer hunting. Those doubts are gone.

  18. avatarDanny K says:

    write one about 45 colt.in+p

  19. avatarRobert Van Elsberg says:

    I recently bought one of the 16-inch barrel Rossi Model 92s. Talk about handy! It sits loaded in my bedroom closet, ready for any close-quarters-battle should a criminal threaten my family. I was pleasantly surprised when I removed the rear sight to replace it with a peep sight I have. As I removed the factory rear sight, I saw the barrel had been drilled to accept a scope mount. I find that appealing as one could mount a scout scope or a red dot. Next up in my collection will be a 20-incher in .44 Magnum. We have problem with feral pigs here in Alabama and a fast-handling .44 carbine would be just the ticket to for putting the pork in the pot. Unfortunately. my 16-incher is going back to BrazTech for problems with feeding and ejection. It handles .38s beautifully, but the longer magnums can be a problem depending on bullet shape/design. If need be, I’ll send it to Steve Young in Port Arthur, Texas, for his custom action job. He makes a living tuning these Model 92s to really sing. By the way, the beauty of a .357 Magnum carbine is you can load it with .38 Special Plus-P ammo and get .357 Magnum ballistics at close range. This makes it a nice match for my Smith and Wesson .38 Combat Masterpiece foir home defense. Minimal recoil, minimal blast and good ballistics — what’s not to like?

  20. avatarKenneth Shee says:

    My only rifle for 25 years was a Marlin 30-30.I used Remington 170 grain core-lokts.I took 16 deer with it,one of them was at 200 plus yds.

  21. avatarDavid Cox says:

    Very interesting article on the two hard hitters; I own both calibers. I’ve killed 58 deer over the years with my Ruger Security-Six, SS, .357, 4″ revolver open sights, and must add to this article that my being impressed on stopping the deer is a number 10 rating out of 10. Using 158gr JHP, no deer ever took more than two steps after being hit. The furtherest kill was an easy 66 paces.

  22. avatarPhil Hoey says:

    For most use, East of the Mississippi, I have gone with the .357 as a single round solution. At this stage I am following the KISS solution and keeping it simple. Any .357 or .38 special can be fired in either my Henry or .357 pistol.
    Also cuts back on reloading equipment.
    My 2 cents.
    Happy New Year

  23. avatarRobert Van Elsberg says:

    I finally got my little 16-inch barrel Rossi 92 working correctly but wound up trading it for a mint condition Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Magnum revolver with a 6-inch barrel and a red insert on the front sight. Talk about a sweetheart to shoot with either .38 Specials or .357 Magnums. The gun is vintage 1978 and has recessed chambers in the cylinders, which I think is a nice touch.
    That said, I missed having a Rossi Model 92 somewhere in my gun cabinet and ordered another one with the 24-inch octagonal barrel. When it arrived, it had the more traditional buckhorn sights, which I happen to like. I haven’t had a chance to take it to the range yet. but I will post a report after I do. That said, I find few rifles that appeal more to my eye than a Winchester lever action. The Rossi shares my gun cabinet with a 1980s-vintage Winchester .30-30 Model 94 XTR, a Henry .22, and a Daisy BB gun that mimics the Winchester 94. I bought the Daisy in November 1981 when I was in the Army stationed in Germany. It still shoots as good as the day I bought it. When circumstances prevent my getting to the range, I sometimes enjoy a little backyard tin can shooting (what the heck, I may be 60 but there still is a bit of the kid in me).

  24. avatarBruce Evans says:

    Great article. I wonder how my scoped Thompson Condender with 14″ Bull Barrel in
    .357 Maximum would stand up to the 30-30? There is not alot of ballistic information about the .357 Maximum, I think it would be a good deer pistol out to 100 Yards.

  25. avatarWilly McCoy says:

    I’ve owned 30-30s, 44 Mag and 357 Mag lever actions. I’ve let the 30-30s and 44 Mags go, but my wife and I both have 357s and use them around on the farm and deer hunting. I’ve killed several deer with a 357 rifle and I’ve never had to shoot one twice. The 44-40 was once a favored deer hunting round and the 357 has it beat (I have both). Contrary to a lot of opinion, deer aren’t armor plated and are rather easily killed. A 357 rifle does the job with them quite well.

  26. avatarMike says:

    I took my stainless Rossi .357 with a 20″ barrel to the range today and clocked some of my 158 grain cast gas checked hand loads with a max charge of Blue Dot (old Speer manual). I averaged 2175 fps-the cases and primers looked great. We also tested a .44 mag that also has a 20″ barrel and with 240 grain factory Fiocchi loads the fastest was 1650 fps and many of the cases cracked around the circumference about half way down. The primers were showing very high pressure signs. Shooting CCI Blazer ammo did not show any high pressure signs, but they clocked around 1400 fps. This was a very small scale test, but is shows the .357 mag rifle is a potent rifle and very capable of medium sized game. I would imagine tinkering around with various bullets and powder may improve the performance even more. I have gotten 2400 fps from 140 grain bullets, but I believe the 158 hard cast would be ideal for deer.

    • avatarChuck says:

      This is a great article, and has some good comments. I’ve also got a SS .357 16-inch barrel Rossi Model 92 that I’ve had since the fall of 2012, and I absolutely love the gun. The model 1894 Winchester Ranger .30/30 that I’ve had for 20 years doesn’t get used a lot anymore, since I rarely seem to actually get out and deer hunt these days, but the overall length of both guns is very nearly the same – which was handy for hunting in the brushy Missouri areas I would hunt in. I happened to have a large supply of PMC .38 special flat-nosed 132 grain bullets, and the Rossi turned out to like these very much – I’m able to get really good groupings at around 70 yards. The Rossi makes a good companion to my much-used S&W 686, and even during the current ammo shortage, I’ve had no problems keeping them both fed during frequent shooting sessions. I’ve purchased some of the Hornady LeverRevolution .357 bullets in case I do decide to try the Rossi out as a hunting carbine, but so far I’ve been too miserly to see where they will impact as compared to the .38′s. I’ve also got a Henry .22 magnum that has turned out to be great on varmints – which accounts for most of my hunting these days.

  27. avatarmeeesterpaul says:

    I sure would like to see the 41 mag version of this.

  28. avatarMark Timon says:

    I just had a thought about the Ruger 44 Carbine that is like a 10/22. A Ruger .44Mag Charger or a 357 Charger would be interesting…
    http://www.gunblast.com/images/Ruger-22Charger/DSC02488.jpg

  29. avatarBill says:

    Nice article. Is nice to see a following on these calibers. A Timberwolf .357 is a hoot to use. Ex GI’s that experienced this have mentioned that it would have been a great trench gun once cycling was smoothed out. The only catch is to smoothly cycle the action, can not use like an 870 in that event, it will jam. Hold it down at 45 degrees and cycle medium rate. It is very accurate and repeatable with a heavy bull barrel. Have not utilized opportunity to take a deer in the brush with this, but the Dan Wesson has taken a white tail fawn thru the forehead with handloaded 150 Gr SP running 1550fps at 80 yds. One shot. Same load in Timberwolf runs 1680 fps, no doubt, would do 100 yds easy. Backed off the loads since then… a bit stout for handgun life.

  30. avatarAnthony Joe Haynes says:

    I own a Ruger 77/357 with n 18″ barrel. stainless steel. I am getting excellent accuracy using a 1800 RCBS cast bullet and 13.1 grains of IMR 4227. I also shoot 148 wadcutters and 158 grain cast bullets. I also have a Ruger that has been rebarreled with a Mcgowen 1:7 micro groove barrel 38 special that is 16 inches long and is threaded for a suppressor. Although the one in seven will send a 180 or a 205 with a fair bit of accuracy I think the lighter bullets are being overspun or are not biting into the rifling enough. The best accuracy and most results I had were with the HR SSBA 357 mag that I traded away. I killed 12 white tail in one season. I had three doubles where I shot one then broke the action down and reloaded and shot the deer standing next to the deer I shot. Very quiet and very effective. The load I was using was a 158 grain lee precision cast lead bullet and 2.7 grains of clays.(not clays international) I use a Remington 6 1/5 rifle primer so I get a more constant ignition. With such a small amount of powder I was getting a lot of unburned powder in the barrel. The hotter rifle primer took care of that. The HR uses a 22 inch barrel and the report is very slight. on the order of a 22LRr shooting sub sonics. The load is cheap enough that you can take it squirrel hunting. Using wadcutters is also a cheap and very effective squirrel round.

  31. avatarColonel Abner says:

    I have used Buffalo Bore 180gr cast core .357mag in my Winchester trapper and got 2315 fps at 1720 lb-ft at 20 yards. Their 124 gr hi val gave me 2371 fps at 1708 lb-ft at 20 yards. But at 200 yards both dropped about 4 inches with a 100 yard zero. Still I am very impressed with the performance of the .357mag but would not recommend targets past 150 yards.

  32. Pingback: Classic Cocktail Adventures » Blog Archive » What is the Best Gun for Home Defense – Part III

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