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

Lever gun ballistics: .357 vs .30-30

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.


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


  1. avatar Ryan 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.

    1. avatar Bill 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. avatar The 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


  3. avatar Jason 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. avatar Roy 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?

    1. avatar Gunnutmegger says:

      The cartridge rims make that a tricky proposition.

      1. avatar calvin Grimalkin says:

        Back about 30 years ago or more, there was some conversions of .30 m1 carbines to .357 mag. I can’t remember exactly how they worked the rimmed rounds, but i think it was in the manner of the .22 lr high cap mags. with the rims propperly staggered.

    2. avatar Frank says:

      The ULTIMATE Zombie killer

    3. avatar Atypical Philadelphian says:

      Is a few years later too late to comment?

      It may not be lever action, but the Sig Sauer MPX in .357 SIG seems pretty interesting, if it pops up for commercial sale in semi-auto form. I bet that round would be cooking out of a 16″ barrel. Ballistics by the Inch estimates a 125gr Cor-Bon round going 1723 ft/sec and carrying about 830 ft/lbs out of a 16″ barrel. Falls short of .357 mag by about 300 ft/sec and 250 ft/lbs from the above testing, but out of a semi-auto with a 20 or 30 round mag, well, that seems to make up for it quite a bit…

      This is all hypothetical, of course, because who can afford to dump a mag of .357 SIG anymore?

    4. avatar 191145 says:

      Maybe, say like M-1 carbine ?

    5. avatar Hubie Martello says:

      Have you checked out the Henry in 357/38 Cal? The wt. may be a bit much but 0 kickback.

    6. avatar kenneth willis says:

      Check out the m1 carbine, the ballistics are very close to the 357 and has the mag capacity you’re looking for

  5. avatar me 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.

    1. avatar Lew 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.

      1. avatar Nobody 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.

      2. avatar glockstr 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.

    2. avatar David says:

      in states like Kali–the lever action has the advantage of being harder for big city prosecutors to demonize

  6. avatar TTACer says:

    Great writeup. Can you do one for .44?

    1. avatar Travis 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.

      1. avatar Chris 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.

        1. the .44 is a proven deer and bear stopper,,,of course it is exelant as a police or home defense weopon expecualy in a carbine; a henry big boy or marline or winchester ,,,handle realy well ,,quick with snapp shot accuracy that is amazinig,,these babys fire well off horse back ,,by the xperts,,,the 9+1 ammo cappaccity combined with the ability to top off the tubular magazine without emptying it is an extra plus;
          particapating in cowboy competitions is great fun and maintains formidable ability to use these weopons;

  7. avatar TSgt 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.

    1. I do not believe TSgt B,,ever did any hunting ,,heavy loads of .44 special and heavy loads of Colt .45 hit about the same as far as energy,,,the .44 special has the edge with accuracy,,,,the .44 mag most definetely hits much harder,,,shooting tin cans or targets one may not realise the difference ,,,longer shots it would be easy to tell the .44 mag is a better hitter and more accurate; the .44 mag is a proven much better hunting round,,,with all due respect ,,,I must dissagree;

  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.

    1. avatar Mike 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.



    2. I live in the UK most of the time ,,Derbyshire county,,,my wife is from there ,,the little deer there can be killed all day long with .22 cci minni mag. ,,,or a 410 bore slug,,they allso have a husky little deer that looks like a minature elk ,,this would be hard to kill with a .22,,,but easy for any hunter in America to kill at 100 yards with iether a .357 mag-.44 mag,,or a 30/30,,..
      I find that British have very little practical experience at hunting deer ,,they hunt rabits with bb guns,,
      in Scottland is where most of the hunting is done ,,,the shots are longer from what I hear,,,I will do a hunt in Scottland soon;

      1. avatar RSFDIVER says:

        Good poachers in Louisiana USA kill everything with a CB Short… Just saying
        I am looking at a lever action 357mag. because I also shoot a revolver in that caliber.

  9. avatar jk 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. avatar George 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. avatar Chris 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. avatar Chris 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. avatar Carey 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. avatar Stan 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. avatar Jim 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. avatar Robert 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. avatar Jim 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. avatar Danny K says:

    write one about 45 colt.in+p

  19. avatar Robert 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. avatar Kenneth 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. avatar David 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. avatar Phil 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

    1. avatar Bruce #2 says:

      No duh!!! You pretty much figured everything out 😉

  23. avatar Robert 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. avatar Bruce 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. avatar Willy 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. avatar Mike 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.

    1. avatar Chuck 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. avatar meeesterpaul says:

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

  28. avatar Mark 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…

  29. avatar Bill 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. avatar Anthony 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. avatar Colonel 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.

    1. avatar humanoid says:

      There’s no way Buffalo bores 180 grain 357 magnum load is traveling 2300fps from your rifle. That’s where there 125’s top out at. I would of believed you if you said 1800fps. though which is still really good.

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  34. avatar Matt S says:

    I have killed several white tail deer with my Henry Lever action .357. Just a word of advise to anyone planning to hunt deer with a .357. You have to make your shoots count. In a vital area the deer drop where the stand, but they barely bleed so tracking a wounded deer is pretty much impossible. I have to let iffy shoots keep walking because I know I can’t track them.

  35. avatar Glenn S says:

    Fantastic article. I’m from NQ Australia and hunt Chital (Axis) deer regularly but am also starting to get into the local ‘classic’ lever action and possibly cowboy action shooting comps at my local range. This article perked my interest as being from ‘Down Under’ our gun laws are pretentious at best and any additional firearm to my collection is a costly and time consuming exercise. I’ve been on the fence for a long time debating on a 30-30 or a .357 being my ‘go to’ rifle, but with my growing interest in competition shooting a pistol caliber is far more cost effective in my book (.38 specials are cheaper again). I understand that the .357 may be lacking in long range duties, but considering most of the deer I take (and the occasional pig or ‘hog’ as you folk call them) is under 50 yards in dense scrub I think the itty bitty mag wins out for me. Now, just to save up for one of those gorgeous 1873 Uberti case hardened numbers.

  36. I’m into my third Rossi Model 92 in .357 Magnum and really have enjoyed these guns. I’ve had the handy little 16-incher — that’s a great carbine for folks who like to camp. I currently have a 24-inch octagonal barrel version designed for target shooting. With Hornady 125 XTPs and the right charges, I’ve shot groups at 100 yards in the 2 to 3-inch range over the open sights. You can get an aftermarket peep sight to replace the rear sight that will help with accurate shooting. Missouri Bullet Company makes a hard-cast 158-grain round nose flat point designed for carbine velocities. I think it is called the “Ranger.” After reading the article I wondered how the ballistics would have compared if the carbine was a .44 Magnum (available from Marlin and Rossi) or Rossi’s 454 Casull. I may get a .454 because I can’t think of anything in Alabama that a handy carbine in that caliber couldn’t handle. I enjoyed your article!

  37. avatar Charles Montana says:

    if the ’92’ can handle the “Ruger only” handloads for the. 45 Colt, then they will definately be able to do anything the .44 Magnum can. Personally I would rather have the .454 Casull if power is the goal, it will have about twice as much as either, albeit with about twice the shoulder pain as well if you are sensitive to that.

  38. avatar Chuck Benelli says:

    Here in Northwoods Michigan, where brush-hunting white-tail is the only way you Can Hunt, my Chiappa 357 Alaskan Take-Down 16″ properly drops anything because 125 yards is a long shot. My Marlin 20″ 1894 44 mag should not even be in this game. I don’t know the precise ballistics because, sorry, I’m just not that Anal. My Wilson Combat Long slide 6″ hunting g pistol using Underwood or Double Tap 10mm JHP LOADS gets about 1775 fps and 1000 ft/lbs and drops the large White tail here Immediately If Shot Placement is Right!!! Is that not the real difference everyone is discussing here? A multi-caliber 16″ M4 (I’ve got one in 10MM ) using those same loads displays as much overkill inside 125 meters as Any 44 Mag. Why do you all care about generalized statistics more than rea-life experience? Go out and get the experience. In pistol caliber carbines, a good 10mm load equals 44 Mag. I love them both, don’t let the statisticians tell you what you should think.

  39. avatar Scottie says:

    I have a Ruger 77/357. This gun likes hot and heavy loads. It’s favourite is the federal 158gr JHP which chronos at 2100 fps. That’s around 1600fps at the muzzle and loads of energy. On medium sized game it is excellent.

    My best loads and on the bench only give me 1.5″ at 100 at best or 2-3″ reliably.

  40. avatar Ron W says:

    A Taurus .357 mag revolver is my truck gun. I’ve thought that a .357 lever action rifle would be a nice compliment. And it’s conventional appearance wouldn’t illicit as much of a reactionary response from LEO types, even though vehicle carry of such is perfectly legal here in Tennessee.

  41. avatar William A. Wessels says:

    Your comment about not being able to spray and pray. Have you ever been to a cowboy action shoot where the fellows fire 10 rounds at different targets and have all 10 brass cases in the air upon completion and hitting all 10 different targets? I must admit that these are not off the shelf rifles as most are very well used (interpret as well loosened up) and or highly tuned as by Cowboy Conagher on an 1873, where it is short stroked and slicked up a bit. Or a Marlin which already has a shorter stroke than a short stroked 1873,, I use an older Marlin (lighter and shorter than the 1873) and I also have an 1873 tuned by Conagher (there are others out there like him). I am not as fast as the best are but I am 70 years old and sure had fun trying. My Rugers were tuned by Longhunter. Light loaded lead 38 specials are the norm. Less recoil to take you off target and cheap to reload and the brass lasts a long time. With practice and a well worn lever gun or a tuned one you would be surprised at the speed you can attain.. The Marlin does have a speed limit, but I can assure you I never bumped up against it. The 1873 has no speed limit. If you want to see some of the fastest revolver shooting that I have ever seen, look up Bob Munden on YouTube. He passed a couple of years ago, but his legend lives on.

    1. avatar william wessels says:

      I have and you are absolutely correct. I have a Conagher 1873. He is one of the best in the business and stands 100% behind his work.

  42. avatar JOhn says:

    Got a Rossi r92 .357 20″ blue and love it, to go with my Smith 586 4″. It was decent out of the box, I tore it down and did the refinements now its buttery smooth. I have gone hog hunting with it, which is great. Haven’t gone deer hunting, for that I use a late model Rem 700 .308 w/Nikon p308 scope. I could see it taking down a deer a 100 to 150 yards.

    Very accurate under 100 yards, I love it. Always feels good to shoot. If SHTF and I had to survive and keep on the move. My Revolver/Lever is a top choice, very little to gun wrong. I can’t carry a lot of .357 ammo. Its easy to top both off with lose ammo. Especially you include a 12ga pump.

  43. avatar Larry says:

    I’m not sure if anything this author says can be believed. This statement “The .30-30’s biggest drawback: it’s a shorter-range, due to the flat-point bullets that must be used in a tubular magazine.”, is false. Not even close to the truth. The Winchester Silvertip 150 grain is probably the most used 30-30 round ever. It’s a round nose. My grandfather regularly took deer out to 200 yards with this round.

    Not sure the author understands anything about the 30-30.

    1. avatar william wessels says:

      The author speaks from knowledge hard earned. You are correct about being able to use round nose or flat tipped bullets but they both suffer from the same affliction. The spitzer pointed bullets are more effective at longer ranges and this is addressed by the Hornady leverevolutin.

    2. avatar James Clayton says:


      Needless to say, I’m sure, that wheel weight alloy is brittle and my suspicion is that the author is talking about expansion with real lead cast bullets.

  44. avatar James Clayton says:

    With a tip of the hat to Jason, above, want to understand both banking and gun control including the latest legislation, spinning the Las Vegas shooting in perspective, say, compared with the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend shooting death stats in Chicago, whatever? Start here and then search within this site:

  45. avatar Jason Sparkman says:

    I am sorry, to say a 357 buffalo bore, double tap, underwood, gizzly would only be useful on small deer is not only an “opinion” but it is also proven very wrong. 357 requires the correct bullet for the job since it performs many functions. Even out of a 4-6″ revolver is it adequate for any mule, whitetail that walks NA. Again, use the right ammo!!!! Some of you, including the writer blow my mind. Neither the 3030 nor the 357 or 44 or 454 or 460 produce what is called hydrostatic shock damage, they all rely on mechanical damage, meaning a bullet that causes crush damage and penetrates for quick bleed out or a bullet that expands but still penetrates to create a bigger wound channel. You stick the right bullet in the right area of a deer, its a dead deer, you don’t use 125 grain on deer, you use 158s (or 140 barnes) to 180s, loaded to what the 357 can do. No federal, remington, winchester round is loaded to the max SAAMI spec, they download them, its a difference of 200-250 fps, and they do that because of the smaller revolvers that began showing up in the market place, you gonna hunt with a snubbie? don’t think so. Only the premium brands load to max SAAMI spec and it shows. Know your range, know your limitation, all these calibers have them. Pistol, I don’t like shooting past 50-60 yards, its a pistol, not a rifle. My 6″ GP100 slings 158 grain xtp’s at 1500 fps (what is was designed to do) within the SAAMI limits of 35K psi, no deer inside 100 yards is going to survive or go far after being hit through the heart and lungs with that gun. Side note, that same bullet at that speed, is just a few ft/lb from the all mighty 44 mag………think about that for a little while and get back to me.

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