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

Lever gun ballistics: .357 vs .30-30

Chris Dumm for TTAG

By Chris Dumm

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.

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.

Chris Dumm for TTAG

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.

lever gun ballistics

Or does it? (Chris Dumm for TTAG)

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

 

This post was originally published in 2011.

comments

  1. avatar Texheim says:

    I prefer my BLR over tube fed lever guns.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Do they make one in 357? No…they do not.

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      try shooting a 30-30 out of a pistol….and you’ll see quite a difference!….

  2. avatar William Howard says:

    Would like to compare the 1894C to the Ruger 7/357 – I sure wish Ruger would develop some larger capacity magazines – the ones with the 7/357 only hold 5.

    1. avatar Hasaf says:

      That is also one of my, very few, complaints about the Ruger 77/44. I would love to have some bigger magazines.

      1. avatar Me says:

        Had the Marlin 1894C and replaced it with the Ruger 77/357. The Ruger is much more accurate and way less ammo picky. Plus it does not jam. The Ruger will consistently hit a golf ball from 50 yards with 5 different 357 loads without scope adjustments. Ya I know it doesn’t seem normal. Plus the buttsocktock is hollow to store emergency stuff. Changed one buttstock screw to make an easy slide open access. Love this gun.

      2. avatar Slow Joe Crow says:

        That’s the trade-off for rotary magazines. You get reliable feeding of rimmed cartridges at the expense of capacity unless you are willing to accept a fat mid section like a Johnson rifle. Since the centerfire 77s use a sized up 10/22 magazine it should be possible to make a scaled up BX-25 style box magazine but I doubt there’s enough demand to justify the tooling cost

  3. avatar John Bryan says:

    Biggest takeaway – for me since I live in a state where you can use pistol caliber cartridges or straight walled rifle cartridges to hunt deer and I don’t hand load – is a .357 carbine would be a much more flexible rifle to own than a .30-30. Good for any game legal to use a rifle to hunt plus a good choice for home defense all in one weapon, one caliber. Plus an excuse (like I need one) to buy a lever action rifle…

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      “A” lever action rifle…….”the first” lever action rifle.

    2. avatar Art out West says:

      The trouble with .357 mag rifles seems to be .44 mag rifles (or .45 Colt). They will do what the .357 will, but can also do quite a bit more.

      My problem is that while I do have a .357 revolver to pair with a .357 rifle, I don’t have a .44 revolver to pair with a .44 rifle. I could opt for a .44 rilfe, with my .357 revolver, but that isn’t a pair. Or, I could buy a .44 rifle and a .44 revolver, but that gets kind of spendy. I’m kind of a cheap guy, and already have quite enough firearms to slightly irritate my dear wife.

      I already have rifle/handgun pairs in .22lr and 9mm, but those lack some of the utility of the .357,.44, or .45 Colt pairings.

      The .357 carbine does make a truly excellent defensive firearm, if for some reason you couldn’t have a semiautomatic rifle.

      1. avatar TruthTellers says:

        I don’t dislike .357 Mag in a rifle, I just think it can be better and is a reason I wish someone (Henry???) would make a lever action in .357 Maximum. .357 Max is not a revolver cartridge, it’s too long and idiots get the bad idea to put 110 grain bullets in them and flame cut the top strap of revolvers.

        A rifle wouldn’t have that problem, plus if you wanted to shoot the .357 Mag you still could, you’d just have to single load it into a lever action.

        This would clearly be for the reloader as .357 Max factory ammo is available only thru the boutique ammo companies and isn’t cheap.

        1. avatar Ken says:

          357 Max started off as a cartridge for special long cylinder Ruger single action revolvers.
          I believe top strap cutting was a problem or at least thought to be a problem.
          A 35 Rem uses 357 bullets and has been around for a long time. It sort of hurts interest in a 357 max. rifle.

  4. avatar William Howard says:

    OPPS – I meant Ruger 77/357 – a great bolt-action scout gun…

    1. avatar Todd in the sticks says:

      That rifle has caused a lot of stress in my life by walking out of the LGS and leaving it on the shelf. I really want to buy it, but $800 is a moderate amount of money for a plastic stock. I’m just glad he didn’t have the 44 with the wood stock…then I would have also had to buy the matching model 29!

  5. avatar jwm says:

    I just got a new .357 revolver before this madness started. I like lever guns and I’m still toying with the idea of a .357 carbine once the lockdown ends. We shall see.

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      What revolver did you recently acquire? We all know you are a bit of a revolver man. We are all curious.

      Since you live in California, the .357 makes quite a bit of sense as a defensive rifle. I’d still likely prefer a Saiga, SKS, Mini-14, or Garand, but a higher capacity lever action also makes sense.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        Ruger gp 100 7. As for defensive use I have 2 dedicated shotguns for the house. 3 if you count my wife’s. I’m in the bay area. Very built up and very liberal. Using a rifle in the area would likely cause more problems than it would solve.

        For me the .357 lever gun would just be a cool range toy. I already have hunting rifles.

        1. avatar Art out West says:

          Congrats on the new GP100. Those are great revolvers. I also think a .357 lever gun would be a ton of fun. Like you, I don’t need one. I already have plenty of rifles and shotguns for hunting, plinking, and defense. I just want one.

        2. avatar D Dunbar says:

          I got a wild hair up my rear end and decided I needed a 357 lever gun and was looking at the Henry’s. Ended up getting a Winchester 1892 large loop carbine with the 18” barrel. It’s such a peach. I love all my modern guns but this thing is probably one of my top 3 range toys I own. It’s my wife’s favorite for sure.

          The Winchester’s are very smooth but I do still think about the octagonal 16” barrel henry case hardened big loop I was thinking about.

          Case hardened Henry’s look like artwork.

  6. avatar Specialist38 says:

    Love me some 357 carbine!

    The older Marlins would not shoot well with cast bullets due to the microgroove rifling.

    The newer ones with traditional rifling are more flexible.

    I bought my current 1894 in 1998. My load of choice is Winchester 145 Silvertips for accuracy and energy. I do find better accuracy with 140-158 grain loads in 357. The 38 special is less affected by bullet weight for accuracy.

    Sighted for 75 yards, it’s pretty much dead hold out to 100. And sighted thus, 125 grain 38+Ps are minute of saucer out to 50 yards.

    The 30-30 is a great round but there is way more utility in a 357 for the average Joe.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      the microgroove spins lead, but the twist rates were slow for heavy cast.
      old .444 can go up to 260 before keyholing.
      same problem with the early ’94’s above 240gr. the last of the jap made had a faster twist.
      don’t know what the new rates are- i need a henry.
      and they make a x39…

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I could drive jacketed 140s up to near 2000,fps with no problem. 1.5 inch at 100 yards.

        Cast 150-170 wouldn’t hold 6 inches at 50 yards.

        Swaged 158s (poor college student) wouldn’t hold the paper after the 3rd shot.

        Microgroove works – just not for pure lead. Gas checks helped but they are moving too fast.

        I fire-lapped my current 1894 with the Ballard rifling. Most any load will hold 1.5 inch at 100 yards. The best under an inch. Fun stuff.

    2. avatar Joseph Quixote says:

      Not if you’re hunting.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I hunt with mine successfully.

  7. avatar Specialist38 says:

    And that 30-30 is a Wrangler, unless you put the big loop on yourself.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      exact.

    2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      if he put it on himself then… n’ermine.

  8. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    I’ve owned pistol caliber carbines. Though, .44 magnum. They’re gone. A 30-30 is still in the safe.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      the 30-30 is a proven deer getter…with a .357?….well,..you better be a damn good tracker!…

      1. avatar John Smith says:

        Is that from experience? Ive killed numerous large western Pa deer, one almost 300lbs and lots of hogs with .357 pistols and rifles. Everyone dropped where they got shot.

        They dont usually run when a hornady 140ftx takes out both shoulders, and the heart. Amazingly i e had to track every deer i have ever shot with my 30-30, except one I shot the neck.

        1. avatar Darkman says:

          Sounds more like a bad shot than a bad gun. Spent many years in the 70’s kill-in deer with a 30-30.

        2. avatar John Smith says:

          Darkman, read what I wrote, I didn’t write a 30-30 didn’t kill them, but had to track them, some 100 yards, some a little more. The comparison is that pretty much all that were shot with a .357 rifle all dropped where they were hit. Your comment has no logic, if I can hit them properly with a .357, why couldn’t I do the same with a 30-30. I attribute the difference to the frontal area of a .357 vs. 30cal of moderate velocity.

      2. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I never had a problem with deer using 357 in a handgun.

        Of course, all shots were within 100 yards and several were within 25 yards.

        357 – It’s not a deer sniper, but it will do it easily on whitetail.

        Nothing wrong with a 30-30 either. Little bit of overkill on armadillos, though.

  9. avatar Charles Peabody says:

    I would like to see a similar comparison with the 44 Magnum.

    1. avatar frank speak says:

      .44 mag?…better in a rifle….a bit much in a pistol…both in weight and controlability…..

    2. avatar Dave G. says:

      Charles:
      “I would like to see a similar comparison with the 44 Magnum.”

      Plus one.

      I just recently acquired a .44 magnum (Henry) carbine. I think that it is a dandy Michigan deer rifle, in a state where the 30-30 was always the traditional choice. But, I have no proof and would like to see if the science bears me out.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Dave G.,

        I have a break-action rifle chambered in .44 Magnum. It absolutely ROCKS for taking white-tailed deer. I have taken three deer, including a nice 10-point buck that weighed 172 pounds after field dressing. My child also took a nice big doe that weighed 150 pounds field dressed. (Our family total is four deer with .44 Magnum rifle.)

        The beauty of .44 Magnum is that your shot will ALWAYS be a passthrough shot on white-tailed deer when you shoot 240 grain softpoints. And those bullets make BIG holes. I was surprised that my big buck ran 120 yards even though my shot placement and bullet performance was excellent. One doe went about 70 yards before falling over dead, one doe went about 50 yards before falling over dead, and the other doe went about 35 yards before falling over dead. (And my shot placement wasn’t great on the doe that went 70 yards.)

        Your biggest challenge is determining which loads shoot accurately out of your rifle.

        Have fun and happy hunting!

    3. avatar Kevinator says:

      Paul Harrell did a 30-30 vs 44 mag video.

  10. avatar Mark N. says:

    Interesting. So what would be a better powder for pistol caliber rifles? Mine is a .45 colt with a 24″ barrel, and I’d like to utilize that length in a hand load.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I’m old school.

      I’ve had great success with 2400 and W296. A little slower powder for heavy loads in longer barrels.

      I also use these powders in my Ruger single actions.

      IMR4227 and H110 are proven performers as well.

      I’m sure there are newer, sexier powders to be had. I just don’t see a need for them in 45 Long Colt.

    2. avatar hawkeye says:

      Depends on what kind of performance you are looking for. Trail Boss for mild loads, 4227 or Longshot for medium loads, or Li’l Gun for hotter loads. May be able to use H110 for hotter loads, but that powder doesn’t give you much wiggle room–they will be hot. Also depends on the strength of your gun, and the bullets you want to shoot. Best to check some reference manuals using your specific gun/bullet data.

      1. avatar Mark N. says:

        I have a variety available, the heaviest are a 250 gr. soft tip hollow point and a 255 grain lead RNFP. I have a variety of .451 and .452 jacketed bullets, but those are mostly .451s. The rifle is a Miroku built Winchester. I have hand loaded black powder or Unique so far, mostly for a 4.75″ 1873 Pietta reproduction, but 7 grains of Unique shoot accurately to 25 yards (indoors). According to the charts, those should be running pretty close to 1000 fps out of the revolver. I haven’t noticed any excessive smoke or fouling. Recoil is pretty mild out of the pistol, but a noticeable thump out of the rifle. I haven’t taken to an outdoor range because a cataract until recently made it a useless exercise.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          That Winchester 92 will handle way higher pressure than the Pietta.

          If the Miroku is a 73 model, stick with slower loadings as you would in the revolver.

          The toggle link on a 73 is not very strong.

          Stick with slower stuff for the revolver. It will be less slow in the rifle.

          The 92 will handle anything that is listed for the Ruger Blackhawk.

          Just keep them separate.

        2. avatar Mark N. says:

          Thanks. It is a 92. And yes, there was a reason St. John (Browning) abandoned the toggle link!

          My limited experience are with the extremely lame cowboy loads (650-750 fps), 35 grains of Pyrodex (which still leaves room in the case that needs to be filled), or 9 grains of Unique, which is listed as a max loading in Lyman’s for lead 250 gr RNFP, and a little less than max for 200 gr JHPs. I haven’t blown up anyting yet, and I have no plans on testing the limits of the pistol. It was slick out of the box and is one of my favorite shooters.

  11. avatar Otherwise... says:

    I won’t address all the other mistakes; I’m going to pick the easy one, but you have to wonder where the author learned math. 125-grain JHPs: “…the revolver got … 537 lb-ft. The carbine got…1153 lb-ft, for a…98 percent boost in energy.”

    A 98% improvement? Really?? More than double the energy output, and that equates to a 98% boost to the author. Really?

    It getting to where reading TTAG is like watching a Hickok45 video.

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      article is from 9yrs ago.

    2. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

      “It getting to where reading TTAG is like watching a Hickok45 video.”

      Sounds like you valuable time can better utilized elsewhere, then.

      You won’t be missed. Bye… 🙂

  12. avatar GomeznSA says:

    How about the same side by side comparison with the thirty thirty against .41mag or .44 mag (using both .44 special and .44 mag ammo). Can’t speak for the .44 but my .41s (S&W and Henry) are fun shooters and likely highly effective – for any type of critters.

    1. avatar GunnyGene says:

      I have a Henry BBSC in .41 mag, and have taken large whitetail DRT at 100yds give or take, with 210grn Underwood XTP. I also chrono’ed it out of the 16.5″ barrel>

      At the muzzle:
      avg. 1738fps, 1408Ft-lbs.

      At 100 yds (calculated):
      1392 fps, 904ft.lbs, bullet drop of -6.7″ . With a 50yd zero, drop is -1.86″

      If .357mag ain’t good enough for you step up to .41 or .44 mag

    2. avatar Todd in the sticks says:

      Strengths and weaknesses in both. I don’t have a 44 right now, but I sure wouldn’t walk away if the price was right. Here’s one comparison. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNiDwprzoo4

  13. avatar former water walker says:

    I’d love a lever gun in 357…pretty sure I’ve typed that before on TTAG!

    1. avatar Geoff "Guns. LOTS of guns..." PR says:

      I’d love an affordable stainless lever action in .44 magnum.

      Hunting distances in Florida tend to be quite short…

  14. avatar GS650G says:

    How about ammo? cost ? Options? Brass availabilty?
    a .357 that also shoots .38 is a good option

  15. avatar Duane says:

    I own all of 357 revolvers 30-30 and 357 carbines.

    I shot game with them all the 30-30 is a superior round.

    I shot or seen shot around , a dozen deer with the 357 carbine the bullet 158jsp at 1850fps.

    They do not run any further then any other properly hit deer.

    As with any marginally adequate caliber one needs wait for the perfect shot.

    Where with a lot rifle calibers and better bullets one can drive them through more of the deer from different angles and still get quick kills.

    I have no trouble taking my 357 carbine deer hunting but prefer my 300sav 308win ect over that or my 30-30

  16. avatar hawkeye says:

    My wish is for a lever carbine in .357 Max. That there would be a deer slayer.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Too long for the Marlin 1894 and Winchester 1892. Have to be in a Winchester 94 or Marlin 336.

      Kinda spoils the handiness a bit. But would still be a fairly light carbine.

      1. avatar hawkeye says:

        I know, and I’m not holding my breath. If one of the rifle manufacturers would have taken a chance on it when the cartridge first came out, then it may have had a better run. I’m kinda watching to see how this 350 legend business pans out. May get myself an upper assembly in that caliber if it appears to make the cut. Thinking about it though, popularity wasn’t on my list of criteria when I bought the Contender…

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          A friend of mine converted a Winchester Trapper and an H&R Handy Rifle to 357 max.

          The H&R was stunningly accurate and he ended up using it for hunting.

          He kept the Trapper in his truck “for bears”. But i dont think he’s ever seen a bear.

          You could certainly tell they were not 357 magnums when they went off, but recoil was pretty mild.

        2. avatar Dustin says:

          The 350 is a descent round for the “straight-wall” states. I bought just a barrel for my AR as it was the cheapest way for me to be centerfiring deer. My son and I shot a couple deer with it, very impressive results on the carcasses. There was a lot of hype that its not .358, but who cares they still make .355 bullets. Off the shelf Hornadays have been very accurate and cheap comparably, so I will not be reloading for the 20 or so shots I take a year with it anyway.

        3. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          stright wall descents are the fastest.

        4. avatar Dustin says:

          Hey tsbhoa.p.jr fail much? This time its epic!

        5. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

          decent effort, butthurt. stick to quilting bees.

  17. avatar RidgeRunner says:

    “a 1980s Smith & Wesson Model 686 with a 4″ barrel. If you don’t own one, you should.”
    I do, over 30 years now, and still a favorite. + that .30-30, it’s a deer slayer and for years all I hunted with, iron sights. My eyes ain’t what they were, but man I’ve taken a lot of deer with that rifle, accurate and effective. LEverevolution ups the game, no question, I shoot ’em in all my levers, .30 up to .45-70.

  18. avatar tdiinva says:

    The 125 grain projectile has slightly more energy than 5.56 NATO fired from an M4’s 14.5″ barrel. The M4 had about 5% more muzzle energy than .30 Carbine but it has a longer effective range because of its higher initial velocity. However, the 30 caliber round has higher retained energy due to its higher mass.

  19. avatar Billb says:

    This article really caught my interest because I’ve been wanting a 357 lever action for a while. Still do, maybe even more.

  20. avatar TP says:

    30-30 still kicks ass

  21. avatar Kendahl says:

    The point of a rifle in a handgun caliber is sharing ammunition between both guns. That worked well with old school ammunition. Now, we have jacketed hollow points which are sensitive to velocity. Too slow and they won’t open up as intended. Too fast and they break up. With the huge difference in .357 velocity between handgun and rifle, ammunition that works well in one won’t in the other. Pretty much defeats the goal of shared ammunition. It may work better in .44 and .45 since the velocity differences aren’t as great.

    A rifle in .44 or .45 will outperform one in .357. If you are looking for a cartridge to share with a handgun and want to get as close as possible to .30-30 performance, look at these bigger calibers instead of .357. You should also be shooting heavier bullets out of longer handgun barrels to further reduce the difference in velocity. (I can feel a flinch coming on just thinking about that.)

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I beg to differ.

      The point of a handgun calibered rifle is to have a light, slick carbine for my purposes.

      A 44 mag or 45 Long Colt rifle may produce more energy but do not shoot as flat as the 357 out to 100 yards. I own one of each.

      And how much power do I need? If the 357 145g JHP will kill deer-sized game out to 100 yards, what more do I need. The 357 is much cheaper to reload.

      As I stated in another post, I sight it in for 75 yards with 145 Silvertip 357s and am also able to use 125 38+P for varmint control or home defense.

      If I was going into brown bear country, I would certainly use the 44 or 45. Our little 300lb black bears would be no match for any of the three.

      If we only bought guns that “made sense”, it would be a boring world. You can doubt a 357 rifle, but it does most things I need doing.

      1. avatar wally moyer says:

        .357 will kill deer out to 100yds? is that with a pistol or out of a rifle?

  22. avatar Green Mtn. Boy says:

    YuP a 158 gr. bullet over H-110 or Lilgun turns the .357 Magalem into a totally different cartridge when loaded in a 16″ or better barrel.

  23. avatar Ralph says:

    Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat, this article is almost ten years old!

    But man, I do miss Chris Dumm.

  24. avatar miforest says:

    i have take 2 black bears with my old 336 30/30. lt was short range , but it worked flawlessly,the largest was 300 lbs.

  25. avatar DesertDude says:

    Remington’s 125 gr SJSP in a Henry Big Boy Steel .357 is a potent combination. Use the same round in a GP-100 6″.

    1. avatar Todd in the sticks says:

      Hello west coast brother. I have the same two! No complaints here…

      1. avatar DesertDude says:

        Try Fiocchi’s 125 grain SJSP .357 round. 1500 fps, 755 ft pounds out of a four inch barrel. Double that for a Henry with a 20″ barrel. Big bang. Very satisfying to shoot.

  26. avatar Jerry Ryals says:

    I note you didn’t test the leverevolution, FTX 140grain? Is there a reason?

  27. avatar James W Crawford says:

    I prefer my stainless steel, Marlin lever action chambered in 45-70.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Great guns…but they are tooth shakers with full loads.

  28. avatar Sld says:

    I have the Marlin in .44 magnum, have used it for many deer hunts along with my Redhawk, my only two “deer guns”. Taken many deer with it. Now that arthritis had forced me to give up my .44 Redhawk for a .357 mag. I have been seriously thinking of a Marlin in .357.

  29. avatar John Smith says:

    Barrel by the inch ran ballistics on many calibers, one being the .357 magnum. I have always been a fan of the cartridge as the first wheelgun i bought was a 8 3/8 barrel to be used for hunting. It never disappointed, whether hogs or deer. The Buffalo Bore loads have impressive ballistics, but accuracy and consistency lack for a hunting round especially when taking shots out to 150 yards with pistol or a rifle. For hunting pistol or rifle i settled on the hornady FTX 140 they are plenty fast, accurate and consistent. For hogs I use180g cast core. I have special 200g cast core loads from a guy in
    Alaska for Bear country. They are 1150fps out of a 4″ a pretty stout load. I have .357 levers, bolt actions and single shots, all with threaded barrels that when accompanied with a can shoot heavy .38 special loads that are “hollywood quiet”. My two favorite rifles are the Ruger 77/357, most of my deer and hogs shots are under 100yards with a leupold 2-7x it never fails. My new favorite is the marlin big loop lever in .357, SST with threaded barrel and ghost ring sights. Next best thing to an AR-15, if you cant have one, it shoots fast and quick target acquisition. On my property ( Farmette) I mate it up with a Ruger GP100 3″ SST Talo edition wheelgun and feel pretty confident about my armed status. I get bear, hogs, panther, coyotes and wild dogs on a regular basis as well as water moccasins, so I always keep a bird shot load in one or two chambers.

    .357 magnum is a very versatile cartridge for four or two legged creatures, with 99% one shot stops according to studies from police shootings.

    Thanks for doing this piece and hopefully exposing many shooters to the flexibility and capability of the .357 magnum.

  30. avatar Scott says:

    A couple of comments for the mix:

    The web site “Ballistics by the inch“ found that the optimal barrel length for the 357 is 16” for a number of cartridges. Any longer and velocity decreases, although not much for two additional inches. Ballistics by the inch is an interesting web site where they gradually destroy new barrels for science you might find interesting.

    Pricey and hard to find, but the Taylor’s Chiappa Alaskan is a takedown lever action with a 16” barrel It is a very well made, accurate rifle available in 357 Magnum. Taken down it can fit into a case only a little longer than the barrel. It is also available in 44 Magnum.

    1. avatar John Smith says:

      Scott, the results of BBTI are interesting, yes that is correct, past 16″ there are diminishing if not negative returns, which is why I had my single shot cut and threaded as it was 24″ and all my others are 18″ threaded, after reading those tests. Interestingly, if you look at the different cartridges that BBTI tests, the .357 is one of top cartridges that shows the most increase in velocity with longer barrels, I think the .41 as well. Conversely, 9mm, .45acp, .380 are the worst and have diminishing returns in velocity sometimes before 16″. I think it speaks to the cartridges versatility and efficiency. Good stuff.

  31. avatar strych9 says:

    This is the sort of article that originally brought me to TTAG.

    Personally, for my uses I like .30-30 but I also like lever rifles… adding one in .357 and one in .44 and one in .45-70 is gonna be rough but it’s just a cross I’ll have to bear.

    1. avatar jwm says:

      I need to move to big bear country so I’ll have a reason to buy a .45-70.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Just think of yourself as a hunting guide for bear country and it becomes a necessity.

        Even if you never book a hunt, you need to be prepared.

  32. avatar wally moyer says:

    agreed! I’d love to see this article again only comparing the .44 to the.357,m-1 carbine and 30-30,plus other big bore pistol cartridges that are also available for a rifle
    please!!!!

  33. avatar mark s. says:

    I very much think pairing of a hand gun and a rifle is the reason the .357 will rule the day here.
    I like my new Python revolver paired with my Henry 18” Big Boy and my .357 Marlin 1894 paired with my Ruger Blackhawk. These pairings make my life simple and death just as simple.
    I also like pairing my Rimfires as in 22 magnum Ruger Single six and my favorite XT Marlins or my PMR 30 with my CMR carbine . It is also nice to be able to include a fun reliable 9mm carbine as in the new 191 series Rugers with one of my P or SR series Ruger pistols.

  34. avatar Mike Carbine says:

    https://oi416.photobucket.com/albums/pp244/wleoff/M1Carbine.jpg

    M-1 & Black hawk in .30 carbine man/deer killing effective range 300y

  35. avatar Stillwaters says:

    The idea of a pistol/rifle combo in the same caliber got to me. If the scenario turned hot and heavy, reaching for the same cartridge for either gun to reload would be a no-brainer. My new toys are a Winchester Trapper and a S&W Mountain Gun, both in 45 l.c. Now you have me starting to shop for something similar in the trimmer caliber. And no, my Savage 99 30-30 with the Weaver 4x isn’t going anywhere except with me to the woods.

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