The Best .357 Magnum Revolvers You Can Own Today

The Best 357 Magnum Revolvers You Can Own Today

Josh Wayner for TTAG

When it comes to revolvers, there is probably no more practical cartridge than the .357 Magnum. The .357 Mag offers a number of benefits and today we are going to be looking at a few of the best revolvers that chamber it and what makes them special.

To cover some quick ground for newcomers, the .357 Magnum (it used to be knowns as the .357 Remington Magnum) is essentially just a longer .38 Special. You can fire .38 Special rounds in a .357 Magnum gun, but not the other way around. How is that possible since one is .35 caliber and the other is a .38? Well, they are actually both .35 caliber.

The .38 Special name comes from back in the days when we were transitioning away from muzzleloading black powder revolvers like the Colt 1860 Army. The bored-through cylinder that we are all familiar with today was brand new in the years coming out of the Civil War. As a result of changing technology, the original ammunition was measured differently and was classified as a .38 on converted .36 cal Navy revolvers.

There’s a little more to it, but the ‘.38’ designation stuck and eventually the .38 Special was born.

Famous names like Elmer Keith eventually began to push the .38 Special harder and harder and it was necessary to come up with a new cartridge that was dimensionally different and capable of handling the greater pressures generated by these powerful new loads.

The .357 Magnum cartridge was the result and its name is correct in that it typically uses .357” diameter bullets. While some of the experienced wheelgunners in the audience will know that there is more to be said here, you can get the general idea.

The .357 Magnum is one of the most powerful conventional guns that most people carry and use on a regular basis. It’s available in a full spectrum of sizes and features from very small to huge. I will divide this list into three categories: carry, midsize, and field, plus a commentary on ammunition.

The Best 357 Magnum Revolvers You Can Own Today

courtesy Ruger

The carry gun that I recommend is the Ruger LCR. This is a very lightweight, compact, and easy-to-maintain five-shot revolver. The gun is available as a both a double action only model and as a double/single action (the LCRx) with an exposed hammer. Various other calibers and barrel lengths in the LCR are also available.

The small frame LCR has become something of a modern classic. When it was first introduced, it was greeted with some odd glances and skepticism. The LCR featured radical thinking in terms of how it was constructed and what it’s made of. But once skeptics tried the gun, its good ergonomics and excellent trigger pull won them over.

The original models were made primarily of aluminum and polymer, which was pretty much unheard of in terms of carry revolvers. The 1.87-inch barrel .357 version has a stainless steel frame, which adds a bit of heft over the lighter .38 Special-only models.

The next revolver on my list, and my choice in midsize revolvers, is the Smith & Wesson Model 19. This revolver is something of a revised classic. S&W released the 19 in the late 1950’s and recently resumed production of a near-clone model and a fully modernized carry version.

The Best 357 Magnum Revolvers You Can Own Today

Josh Wayner for TTAG

The Model 19 features a slim build and a six shot cylinder. These guns are on the heavy end for everyday carry, but are excellent for home defense and are still small enough to be easily concealed.

The version I have the most familiarity with had a ported barrel, an adjustable rear sight, a tritium front sight, and two sets of grips – one a wood boot grip style and the other overmolded rubber grips. This is a great revolver that truly had everything you could hope to have in a carry/utility gun. The Model 686 and the Ruger SP101 are also a good choices in this category.

When it comes to field use, there are a few options for the .357 Magnum aficionado. The first that always comes to mind for me is the Ruger Redhawk (top of page). This a large, heavy gun that holds eight .357 rounds and is virtually indestructible.

The huge mass of the Redhawk allows it to handle nearly any load made, including high-pressured ammunition that would destroy most other guns. In fact, there are types of ammunition out there that warn against use in any guns except the Redhawk and similarly overbuilt guns.

The Best 357 Magnum Revolvers You Can Own Today

Josh Wayner for TTAG

The nice part about the Redhawk, with its attractive wood grips, is that it gives you a self-defense gun for the outdoors loaded with the heaviest, most powerful loads. You have the same capacity as a standard 1911, but with potent .357 Magnum rounds instead of .45 ACP. I have lots of trigger time on the Redhawk and can say that it’s built like a tank and is meant for use in the field.

When it comes to ammunition, there are a lot of options with the .357 Mag. When it comes to small guns, like the Ruger LCR and Smith and Wesson J-Frame, I would recommend sticking to the 125gr bullet class as the recoil of heavier loads in these guns is savage and you’ll never want to touch the gun again after firing one.

Shooting .38 Specials in these small guns is recommended for training, but with some .357 Mag mixed in. A 1:10 ratio favoring .38 Special is what I believe will get you good practice without causing too much pain.

As far as the mid-sized gun is concerned, be it a Ruger GP100 or a Model 19, you have your pick of the litter. These mid-sized guns can shoot 125-135gr loads all day at full horsepower and you won’t break a sweat.

When it comes to the heavy 158gr JHP and the like, you’ll be feeling it more. The .357 Mag with a 3-4” barrel is best served with lighter bullets to take advantage of the excellent velocities the cartridge is capable of generating.

The field-type gun is best with the heaviest, most powerful loads your gun can safely shoot. An added benefit to these heavy guns is that they are downright pleasant with .38 Specials and lighter loads. You can also train new shooters on a gun like the Redhawk using light .38 loads, which feel like shooting a .22LR, and then work up to more powerful loads as the new shooter matures.

You have a world of options with the .357 Magnum. The guns that chamber it have a huge amount of flexibility when it come to ammunition. You’ll be able to find .357 Magnum revolvers that weigh less than a pound and can fit in your pocket and guns that are so large you’ll carry them in a chest rig and strain to hold them steady.

There’s a .357 Magnum for everyone out there and I would encourage you to go take a look at one today.

comments

  1. avatar Nathan Axel says:

    Needs more 686+

    1. avatar Spencer says:

      The 686+ should not exist.

      1. avatar Nathan Axel says:

        “The 686+ should not exist.”

        A well reasoned argument you have there. Rather than simply state a model (or submodel) of gun shouldn’t exist, carr to back up any logical reasoning for that? Or at least state why you feel that way?

        A 7 rounds of .357 in a smith…what’s not to love?

      2. avatar PWinKY says:

        Lol stop liking things I don’t like!

        My 686+ is absolutely my favorite gun I own. I love going to the outdoor range and plinking steel 100 yards out with it. I can’t do that well with any of my other pistols but I can hit reliably with my 686+. It’s a fantastic gun and your opinion is butt.

  2. avatar Spencer says:

    The people that think a .357 Mag snubbie is a good idea should be forced to only shoot them with full power loads for the rest of their lives as punishment for sucking anyone else into buying one.
    The only .357 Mag anyone needs, and the best you can get for the money are the S&W 66 and S&W 627. S&W 686 is a close runner up.

    Rugers are awful. Save up the extra cash and get a Smith.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Smiths actually cost the same as Rugers (GP100 vs. 686) but the Rugers are still a better deal.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        My five. S&W 27 in 3 1/2″ or 5″. Python 4 or 6.” S&W L frame 4 or 6.” S&W 3″ round butt 65. Ruger 4″ heavy barrel Security Six. Round butt Speed Six as an alternate. You choose your finish. Partial to stainless except for the 27. Blue.

        1. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          I carried my dads model 27 my first year on the job.
          I still have it.

        2. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

          Good for you Tom! What barrel length?

        3. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

          6”. It’s a heavy thing. But the weight sure tames recoil.

        4. avatar Mararty says:

          Love my 27-2 (5″) because it’s a “tack driver”! I carry in a vertical shoulder rig so weight is never a problem. A finer revolver was never made. Well, maybe the 29-2 ???????

    2. avatar George from Alaska says:

      Your Smith’s, in my opinion and yes I own some, are as painful to shoot as ever. Smith never really has changed their style, grip angle, skinny back of frame digging into your hand.
      Short Ruger’s are not painful to shoot, they do kick and hammer but in a much different way. I think the Rugers are not only stronger but better built and money is not a factor for me when I buy guns.

      1. avatar RickC says:

        Plus Rugers don’t have a Hillary Hole. Lol

        1. avatar Erik says:

          Do Springfields still have them on the mainspring? I think Steyr got rid of theirs, did H&K stop putting Hillary holes on USP’s?

    3. avatar BCE56 says:

      “The people that think a .357 Mag snubbie is a good idea should be forced to only shoot them with full power loads for the rest of their lives as punishment for sucking anyone else into buying one.”

      Pshaw.
      The advantage of a .357 over a .38 SPL revolver is the wider range of ammunition it can accommodate.
      I will concede full-power Magnums in a light snubbie, and even in a steel K-frame can be snappy. Recoil can be alleviated by installing aftermarket grips.
      The L-Frame Smiths seem to be a good average size for a .357; K-frames like the M19 and M65/66 a reasonable compromise between the J- and K-frames.

    4. avatar Michael in AK says:

      I do so regularly. What is your point?

    5. avatar Grant. says:

      Agreed. Rugers suck. I’m caressing my Model 29-5 as we speak.. Well, at least a photo. I lost it in a tragic boating accident.

    6. avatar kahlil says:

      I have a 2″ Rhino snubby in .357. It is a joy to shoot with .39 spl but almost too easy, my groups are decent for self defense and while primarily a range toy I do frequent take it out concealed (with .357 Sig V-crown) because of the size. In .357 it is still fun to shoot and while the blast and recoil is much more noticeable than the .38 loads (duh!) I can shoot boxes and boxes of ammo without tiring. I typically shoot 125-142 grain loads, usually Fiocchi or Sig but I have shot 158 grain loads without issue as well. Ammo choice certainly has an impact but the gun itself has to be considered. The very low bore axis of the Rhino and hand position make it easy to point, shoot, and remain on target. The gun came with rubber grips but I swapped them out for olive wood that looks sharp against the black frame. The Rhino may not be everyone’s go-to but it shouldn’t be discounted. People need to find the gun and ammo that best works for them.

      1. avatar Cloudbuster says:

        It is a joy to shoot with .39 spl

        Where do you find ammo for that? 😉

      2. avatar BBHH says:

        30DS is my daily carry. .357 feels like a 9mm out of my P938. .38 specials are almost insignificant. I’ve shot a variety of loads from a handful of manufacturers and I couldn’t be more pleased. I have a number of semi autos that I was trying out as my carry gun and the Rhino was never meant to be the one, but I fell in love with it when I was waiting for a new holster for my PPS M2. I shoot it well, It’s comfortable to carry, and the brutalist aesthetic appeals to me.

    7. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I only shoot 357 ammo in my 357 LCR. What’s the problem.

    8. avatar Vinny says:

      The 627 is a keeper,,, just put in a lock delete this morning.

    9. avatar Kyle says:

      oh come on. I own a 340 pd. I shoot it all the dang time. Ya kinda have too for a while if your ever going to get accurate with the thing.

      Yes, it takes some time to get use to the kick. You can get used to it. Start with .38s, ramp up to .38+p, then if you can find them 38+p+. Then work up the weight on the .357. I do 125 gr unless I’m hiking. Then I go 180gr hardcast and snake loads.

      Its light, fits nicely in anything and, with practice, is more than a match for anything short of a grizzly.

      Just remember, you got 5 shots. So practice reloading. You can get fast, people who say ya dont reload a revolver haven’t practiced enough. I can reload a revolver as fast as a pistol now. It can be done.

      Revolvers a devotion, as much as a BUG or a CCW.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Hell no!

        A 340 PD with 125s is like catching a baseball with bare hand for me.

        With the LCR, I can loose about 25 rounds before getting the yips.

    10. avatar Tim says:

      Definitely not for everyone, but if you can handle it you get unparalleled ballistics out of a pocket gun.

      That plus the fact that there’s a wide variety of “full power” 357 loadings- you don’t have to shoot Buffalo Bore to get an advantage from 357.

    11. avatar merlin says:

      yep … get the smith … and confine yourself to wimpy loads.
      get a ruger … you’ll have a better gun.

    12. avatar Mr. BoomStick says:

      Chiapas Rhino all day long. No snappiness ultra thin, 6 rounds.

    13. avatar Rad Man says:

      I love my model 60 stainless J frame 5 shot.

    14. avatar Dr. D says:

      A friend of mine and I bought .357 mag pistols at the same time some 30+ years ago. He bought the Ruger and I opted for the S&W 686. He couldn’t justify paying the extra $30 for the 686, lol.

    15. avatar Ben says:

      if you cant shoot a 357 out of a snubby, you should have thought about that before you bought it. I can shoot mine all day (S&W 627 with the short grip) if you cant shoot it as much as you want, blame the shooter, not the gun. get a .22, hopefully that isnt too much for you to shoot all day…

    16. avatar Ben says:

      if you cant shoot a 357 out of a snubby, you should have thought about that before you bought it. I can shoot mine all day (S&W 627 with the short grip) if you cant shoot it as much as you want, blame the shooter, not the gun. get a .22, hopefully that isnt too much for you to shoot all day…

  3. avatar Ironhead says:

    What about the s&w 686 and the colt python?

    1. avatar LarryinTX says:

      The Colt Python is the final answer to everything .357, except for the fact it is not produced anymore, resulting in used examples selling for several thousand more than they would otherwise.

      1. avatar Gerald says:

        I have one and will never sell it.

  4. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    .44

    1. avatar Deliverance says:

      .45

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        .46

        1. avatar Ing says:

          Dang it!

          48!!

        2. avatar Patrulje68 says:

          88 magnum, it shoots thru schools.

        3. avatar Geoff "A cranky 'Mad Mommie' makes me happy" PR says:

          “88 magnum, it shoots thru schools.”

    2. “Sticks and Stones….Because there still Legal and Over-The -Counter in my Eastern Bloc Socialist Utopian Authoritarian Police-State…”

  5. avatar sdog says:

    The S&W R8 is far more pleasant to shoot compared to that Ruger. It also has an 8 round capacity.

  6. avatar Pg2 says:

    Agree with the above post….shooting 357 out of a pocket snubby might sound good on paper, but it’s hard to believe an experienced shooter would recommend it.

  7. avatar GapharmD says:

    I love my vaquero

  8. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    Personally I don’t get that .357 Redhawk. It weighs as much as a 6″ GP100 so only the heartiest leather belts will bear it’s weight comfortably, and with a 2-3/4″ barrel it’s not much more powerful than an SP101. For $280 less you can get a 3″ GP100 that’s a full half pound lighter or you could go with a 4.2″ 7 round GP that’s 4 ounces less.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Ruger does have 4.2″ and a 5.5″ Redhawks in .357 (8 shot) but at 49 and 52 ounces respectively I don’t know who would carry them. If you’re willing to carry a 52 ounce revolver it’s probably because you’re in Grizzly territory.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        Governor,

        I carry my 54 ounce Taurus Model 44 revolver with 6-inch barrel (chambered in .44 Magnum) when I am hunting, camping, hiking, working, etc. in the woods. I carry it in a shoulder holster and the weight is totally not a problem.

        Maybe you were referring to revolvers in the 50+ ounce weight class as being too heavy for a belt holster?

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Yes a shoulder holster would do. A chest rig is probably actually the best way to go. But why would anyone carry a 52 ounce .357 as a woods gun, or 2-3/4″ .357? Seems like these .357 Redhawks are mostly range toys. A six inch .44 makes a lot more sense.

        2. avatar Geoff "A cranky 'Mad Mommie' makes me happy" PR says:

          “Seems like these .357 Redhawks are mostly range toys.”

          Folks with arthritis might find a softer-shooting heavy .357 a blessing…

      2. avatar Craig in IA says:

        Grizzly territory, as far as I’m concerned, requires a minimum of my 7 1/2″ FA .454 Casull. nNot trusting my .44 mags let alone a darm .357.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Exactly, why would anyone carry a 52 ounce .357?

        2. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          CraigInIA,

          I agree that a .44 Magnum revolver with a 2-inch or 4-inch barrel shooting 240 grain jacketed soft points is significantly underpowered for Kodiak brown bears.

          I also agree that a revolver in .454 Casull with a 6-inch or longer barrel is probably the optimum handgun for Kodiak brown bears.

          Having said all that, I think a revolver in .44 Magnum with 6-inch barrel, shooting full-power 305 grain hardcast lead bullets, will take care of any large grizzly in short order, although it might require two shots. For reference each bullet exits the muzzle around 1,330 fps with a muzzle energy of 1,200 foot-pounds. That will penetrate a LONG ways (at least 36 inches) and make a BIG hole (about 1-inch in diameter).

    2. avatar DrewR says:

      Hey, Gov, I’ve got one of the newer black Wiley Clapp GP100s on layaway and I’m looking for some holster suggestions, since I know that’s your weapon of choice. Thanks.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Not much of a holster snob, personally. I carry in a Bianchi 6D ATB – https://www.midwayusa.com/product/993546/bianchi-6d-atb-holster

        Works for me and if it doesn’t work for you you’re not out a lot of money.

        1. avatar DrewR says:

          Cool, thanks.

        2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Also I’d highly recommend investing $10 in a Wilson Combat or Wolff spring kit. I went with a 10# (vs stock 14#) hammer spring and 8# (vs 12#) trigger return spring. You can go with a 9# hammer spring but I’ve heard those will occasionally fail to light a primer. There’s a few You Tube videos that will help you DIY. Well worth the time and money.

          Mine shoots a touch low for my tastes (hits right about at the top of the bead) but groups really well.

      2. avatar Joe-eyeball says:

        Check out Falco holsters online! They make a holster just like that Bianchi 6D only it’s is thicker and better built overall. I used to carry my 3” GP100 in the bianchi but since I found out about falco it has been the holster for my revolver for the last year. It’s an awesome bare bones holster for medium framed revolvers that will not let you down at all!

      3. avatar BeoBear says:

        I’ve got the stainless Wiley Clapp and it’s a fantastic gun. You’re going to love yours I suspect.

        1. avatar Roger Lawrence says:

          I own one also. Love it, wouldnt trade it for any other revolver.

      4. avatar YuGo HuGo says:

        I carry a S&W 65-7 in a Gary C’s holster and it works for me. http://www.garycsleather.com/

        Well I did until I lost the 65 in a boating wreck off the coast of India!

  9. avatar Mike says:

    And then you go get a .357 lever gun, the fun factor goes up again.

    1. avatar Geoff "A cranky 'Mad Mommie' makes me happy" PR says:

      “And then you go get a .357 lever gun, the fun factor goes up again.”

      In .44 mag a lever gun makes even more sense…

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        Why…..the 357 is really hyped-up with a 16 to 20 inch barrel.

        I like the 145 silvertip for accuracy in my marlin.

        It is hell on deer. I can only imagine what it would do to a goblin.

    2. avatar Vinny says:

      A Cor-bon 125gr in a 16″ lever @ 2100+fps,,, is impressive indeed.

  10. avatar George from Alaska says:

    I have a .357 Ruger GP something, the full-sized one and bought it as a Davidson’s special edition with a 5 or 5 1/2″ barrel. I don’t carry it but I love shooting it. For hunting in Alaska as a back-up I carry a Ruger Toklat Casull or a .475 Linebaugh built on the Super Redhawk 44 mag frame without the heavier top strap for scope rings.
    I bought a Ruger LCRX and shot the hell out of it with some 38 rounds and hundreds of 357 rounds to test it. I bought a Crimson Trace laser with the button activated by your middle finger and an expensive DeSantis IWB holster (absolutely the most comfortable, but you have to pay for the top model) and gave it to my daughter. She has been shooting since she was small and does well and took a caribou in a hunt two years ago but for a 4 AM in the morning, I just woke up and there is something going on gun I wanted her to have something where she did not have to do a press check, pull back a slide, take a safety off, accidentally hit the mag release button, etc…
    She likes it and shoots well with it. I kept the battery out of the laser until the lat two days of practice.

  11. avatar DaveDetroit says:

    I love my 686+ with its 3 inch barrel. It’s a dream to shoot! The non fluted cylinder lends a little extra weight. My regular cc is a model 642. I use the 686 for day-hikes in the woods. I’d love to get the pro-model with a 6 inch barrel. ‘Not sure if I’d be better off with a longer barreled .44 mag for the woods but that’s a lot of weight to be lugging around unless hunting.

    1. avatar PWinKY says:

      If you’re really in Michigan then .357 is totally fine for the woods. The only North American animals where a .357 with proper loads would possibly not be enough gun would be a Moose and a Grizzly, in my opinion. I figure you don’t have a lot of those in your area.

      My 686+ 6″ is my woods carry and I’m 100% comfortable with it.

      1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

        PWinKY,

        A .357 Magnum revolver with 6-inch barrel is plenty of gun for black bears in the 150 to 200 pound range. However, hunters in northern states (Michigan included) have taken black bears that weighed near 400 pounds. And I even found one example where someone took a 600 pound black bear. That is why I carry a .44 Magnum in the woods.

        My Taurus Model 44 .44 Magnum revolver with a 6-inch barrel weighs 9 ounces more than a Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum revolver with a 6-inch barrel. For the extra 9 ounces, I will definitely take the .44 Magnum.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          If you want the power of a longish barreled .44 but the weight of the GP I’d recommend one of the Super Blackhawks. Of course you’ll have to thumb cock the hammer but that sort of just happens without thinking about it when you get a SAA in your hands.

        2. avatar DaveDetroit says:

          THX all for the advice- I’m not a hunter atm, although I would like to do a bear hunt someday with what was my fathers .44 mag with 6 inch barrel. For black bear- hardcast?

          Rarely I go back out west for day hikes anywhere from Denver to Salt Lake. I startled a moose once in the mountains east of Salt Lake. I had had no idea that Utah had moose. Sucker was HUGE. We were both content walking the other way.

        3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

          DaveDetroit,

          If you are hunting for black bears and choose to use a .44 Magnum revolver rather than a long gun, I would either use 240 grain jacketed softpoints if you are confident that you will only encounter smaller bears (under 250 pounds or so) or 300+ grain hardcast if you are concerned about running into BIG black bears (weighing 350+ pounds). Note that those 300+ grain hardcast would be far superior over 240 grain jacketed softpoints if you encounter a raging mad moose.

          Of course, you cannot go wrong with 305 grain hardcast bullets. They will certainly take out a smaller black bear. Keep in mind that those 305 grain hardcast bullets will definitely generate more recoil that 240 grain bullets. Then again, I hardly doubt that you will notice (or care about) the recoil if you are hunting or firing in self-defense.

  12. avatar Rv6driver says:

    GP100 3”.

    1. avatar BCE56 says:

      M65 3″ HB round-butt.

      1. avatar Rv6driver says:

        M65 3” has a much smoother trigger. I’ll give you that… There’s just something about the tank like construction of Ruger Wheel Guns… Love em!

  13. avatar Kendahl says:

    I have a 6″ model 19. It’s great with .38 specials but no fun to shoot with .357s. I’m thinking about replacing it with something heavier such as a model 27, a GP100 or even a Redhawk. If I’m going to shoot .357 instead of .38, I might as well have a barrel long enough to make good use of the extra power. Frame size isn’t an issue since I already shoot the 19 single action cocking it with my support thumb. Yes, double action would be faster but only if I don’t miss. I can easily beat the other duffers who forget that.

    1. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Kendahl,

      I heartily recommend the Ruger GP100 with 6-inch barrel in .357 Magnum. That is supposed to stand up to thousands of rounds of full-power .357 Magnum cartridges. Add on Hogue Recoil Tamer grips and you have a really nice, really fun, and really effective platform.

      And if you are at all mechanically inclined, you can purchase and install a spring kit (as Governor LePetomane mentioned above) for a few dollars and lighten the trigger a bit. (There are videos galore in the Internet that will show you how to do it.) You won’t regret it.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Altamonts are the way to go with the GP. https://www.altamontco.com/pistol-grips/ruger/gp100/

  14. avatar 22winmag says:

    Today?

    Go on GunBroker and overpay for a Speed Six.

    It’s actually worth it.

    The 8-shot Redhawk is pretty nice though.

    1. avatar John C says:

      Beat me to it on the Speed Six. My first gun back in 1988 was a blued 2 3/4 Speed Six. Finally picked up a stainless one a couple years back. A little dremel polishing on the hammer strut and its pull is smooth as a baby’s butt.

      1. avatar 22winmag says:

        Can you believe I picked up a 2.75 inch stainless at my LGS for $450 last year?

        I almost wet my pants when I spotted it.

        I had to use a magnifying glass to see the turn line.

        I just know someone put 12 rounds through it and put it away back in the 80s.

        Now it wears an XS tritium big dot.

        It goes without saying my LGS is a treasure and an occasional treasure trove.

  15. avatar Richard Hurtz says:

    The Dan Wesson 715 rules them all! Expensive, but worth every penny.

    1. avatar LKB says:

      How do the current production DW wheelguns compare with the Monson-made DW’s of old? (Those prime old DW’s gave the Colt snake guns a run for their money.)

      1. avatar Richard Hurtz says:

        I never shot the older DWs, but the newer production revolver is superb. I don’t own one(yet), but have put many rounds thru a friend’s gun. Fit and finish is better than Ruger and S&W. Trigger is nicer, too. Plus, barrel swaps are easy.

        1. avatar Azhusker says:

          I love my old Dan Wesson 715. Beats the hell out of my newer S&W and my wife’s titanium Taurus 38sp for comfort and accuracy.

  16. avatar Anymouse says:

    Lousy, lazy list. Including the 19 but saying it’s so heavy that it’s for around the house disqualifies it. There are lots of better guns – it just has the nostalgia. Besides all those mentioned above, Korth or Kimber make quality revolvers. Also no mention of any of the semiauto .357s, like the Desert Eagle or Coonan.

  17. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    As an old school guy my .357s date back to the days when six rounds was all anybody needed and nobody had heard of a “safety” lock. (If you were dumb enough to shoot yourself you probably deserved it) If six shots didn’t work you got the Model 95 lever action out of the Model A and did the bad guy in with a couple of rounds of .30-40 Krag.

    My first duty pistol was a late 80s vintage 4″ 686 Smith. I replaced the grips as the factory wooden models were a bit too big for my hands. I still own the pistol and shoot it quite often. It has a great trigger and good sights and the gun is heavy enough that it is not uncomfortable to shoot with any load I can buy or build for it. If I had to go back to a wheel gun for some reason this old man wouldn’t feel poorly armed with it on his hip. I know the gun and can still hit hard with it.

    I bought a 5 shot Smith 640 .357 as soon as they were introduced in the early 90s. I liked the idea of a powerful off duty/backup pistol. It has a steel frame and like the 686 its heavy enough to handle hot loads without beating me up. I prefer to load it with +P .38s as I think that most .357 loads don’t have a lot of advantage out of the short barrel. In the old days my boss required us to shoot the same 50 round and 50 yard qualification with our snubbies as we did with our full size duty pistols. I managed to do that for five or six years although my scores weren’t as good as I was able to shoot with the 686. Then we elected a new sheriff who allowed us to carry automatics and changed the off duty qualification to a 25 round “familiarization” course (since there was no state mandated off duty course of fire at the time). As long as we didn’t shoot ourselves or anybody else on the line we were good. The 640 is still in my safe. While I don’t shoot it very often, its still a good little pistol and once again I’d be fine with carrying it.

    My third choice on this list would be one I don’t currently own – a 6″ Ruger Blackhawk. Everybody needs a modern single action pistol just because. I’ve heard people say that you can’t put enough powder in a shell casing to blow a Ruger up. I’m not about to try but they sure give me the impression of great strength and high quality.

    1. avatar BCE56 says:

      +1 on the 640. Pachmayr Compac #03255 grips on mine lessen the sting.

  18. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    My 1st gun is still my favorite gun. A Model 66 2.5 inch with a magna ported barrel.
    I carried that gun for maybe 10 years in NY. As I wore a sports coat back then belt carry was the way to go.
    A bit big and heavy for Floridas t-shirt weather unfortunately.
    It still gets shot once in a blue moon but I will never sell it.

  19. avatar Craig in IA says:

    Many years back I scored a new, pre-27 Smith w/8 3/8 bbl in nickel. Wanted it as a “companion” to the old 29 and 57 in same configuration. Very soft to shoot, typical old 5 screw action. I actually traded an 8″ Python for it plus was given $120 to boot. Also have and shoot an old 4″ Model 19 from the Bill Jordan era, another beautiful example of a great carry gun and man-stopper from years gone by. The old S & Ws were remarkable in fit, finish and duty. Wish everyone could return to that but it’s primarily a “time” thing.

  20. avatar Ralph3 says:

    What the Taurus 605 357mag gets no respect?

    1. avatar TickTalk says:

      You beat me to it. Love my little 605, I replaced the palm friendly rubber grips with some slightly oversized wood grips. Makes it a Man’s gun to shoot.
      Along with a Taurus 65 4″, GP100 6″, and a few SAA clones, then there is my repro 1873 cattleman revolving carbine in .357 for when things get a bit further away…

    2. avatar Aven says:

      I really like my polished stainless 605 with ATI grips. It gets your attention when you shoot it but is works well for me (my son-in-law disagrees). I mostly shoot 38 Special +P but only because of the cost of ammo. It is not that much different regarding recoil.

      1. avatar Tom Worthington says:

        I’ve shot a 605 and I want one. However, I have recently read somewhere that the newest 605s cannot accommodate the ATI grips. Bummer.

        1. avatar tickTalk says:

          Yeah they went from a screw to the damn roll pin. I had to do some work on it to get aftermarket grips to fit…

  21. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    No love for the Korth?

    Is it the rails?

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      I think they have a model without the rails now….but maybe that’s the sky marshall.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        Or maybe certain whiners just don’t want to spent $4800 on a goddamn .357 magnum revolver! Damn cheapskates.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          I bought one as a backup for my BRNO Field Gun…..or was it my Cabot 1911?

  22. avatar Specialist38 says:

    No single action love?

    The Ruger Blackhawk is a dandy vehicle for full power and weight 357 loads.

    The Flattop would be my pick and can be had with a 9mm cylinder for cheaper plinking for those who don’t reload.

  23. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    These articles always gloss over guns in the used market that are worth a look. So I’ll mention a few here:

    1. The S&W .357 Registered Magnum. A true collector’s item, on par or above par with the Python in terms of price.

    2. The S&W Model 27 and Model 19. The original Model 27’s were the Registered Magnums, made to a more affordable price.

    3. The S&W Performance Center Model 60. 3″ barrel length, slimmed down to under 25 oz, it could make a good CCW gun.

    4. Money burning a hole in your pocket? What about the Korth and Nighthawk revolvers?

    5. The Python – of course.

    6. The Freedom Arms model 83 – made in .357 as well as .44 Mag.

    There’s lots of .357 options out there.

    1. avatar MyName says:

      This is why I love you DG. There is not a revolver on your list that I don’t want.

      I would trade a substantial portion of my handgun collection for a Registered Magnum.

    2. avatar LazrBeam says:

      And I really really like my Colt’s, a Lawman Mk III snubbie and Mk V with 4 in barrel. Good, solid revolvers.

    3. avatar LKB says:

      DG: why not a Monson-made Dan Wesson .357?

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        No reason whatsoever. I’ve just not personally handled one. I’ve plenty of respect for the Dan Wesson 1911 products I’ve seen. On paper, I love most everything I see in the current 715 – especially the clockwise (ie, into the window) rotation of the cylinder on the 715, as well as the improved fore/aft lockup.

        I’d love to have my mitts on a DW .357. Alas, life is short, time is limited, money is limited, spousal patience is limited, etc. As Clint once said:

        “A man’s got to know his limitations…”

        1. avatar LKB says:

          DG: try shooting one of the old (Monson-made) DW pistol pack revolvers (.357, .44, or ideally .41). Severely underrated; they match up well with any of the Colt snake guns in their heyday. Unique tensioned barrel system designed by the guy who did the Colt Trooper.

    4. avatar A. Daniels says:

      All excellent choices, D.G.. If we’re looking at used revolvers, the S&W Model 28 “Highway Patrolman” was the “economy” version of the Model 27 (e.g. no checkered top rib) but it is a nice revolver. I’d also list the Ruger Security-Six, the Colt Magnum Carry, the Colt .357 (that’s what it was called, it was an I-frame and predated the Python, discontinued in 1961 after only about 15,000 were made), and the Manurhin MR 73.

  24. avatar Taurus Model 65 is the Best!!! says:

    …that is all.

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Best anchor……?

  25. avatar Stev says:

    Any thoughts on the SP101 in 3” configuration?

    1. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Great gun if a little heavy compared to modern options.

      Really increases ballistics and gives a full ejection stroke.

      You can also replace them front sight easily.

      Ruger cheaped-out on the LCRx with a 3 inch barrel and used the same short-assed rod as the snub. Fail!

  26. avatar Minuteman says:

    Wow! Model 19 S&W and a 8 shot Redhawk. The 2 best .357’s out there. I’m still dumbfounded.

  27. avatar RidgeRunner says:

    First is still my favorite: S&W 686 purchased in 1988.

  28. avatar MyName says:

    My first handgun was a S&W 19-3. Still have it, still shoot it, still love it. It is, as far as I’m concerned, what a revolver is supposed to be.

  29. avatar Ralph says:

    My S&W M586 with a 6″ barrel is a ton of fun. And I do mean a ton. It is not a gun I’d carry every day, or any day for that matter, but it’s great fun to shoot.

  30. avatar Charlie says:

    The first handgun I ever purchased new was an S&W M-27. It’s 8 3/8 Nickel, 3 Ts, and oak presentation box (because Dirty Harry, ‘ya know ;-). I still have it.

    I also have an S&W M-66 4″ that I bought in the mid ’80s for CC, and carried for many years (before CC was a licensed thing). And in 2012 I bought my son an S&W 66 6″ for his 18th birthday.

    The thing I like about the old Smith revolvers is that they just work. We don’t take them to the range as often as we used to, but when we do they perform up to (and beyond) our expectations.

    Charlie

  31. avatar Swarf says:

    What, no love for Taurus?

    1. avatar Ralph3 says:

      Swarf, its mentioned.
      Great gun!

    2. avatar Specialist38 says:

      Cause it’s a Taurus

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        That… was supposed to be the joke.

        Thanks for ruining it, Taurus loving weirdos.

  32. avatar Ralph3 says:

    Tic Talk & Aven
    Taurus 65 4″ would be a good one
    Or that carbine in .357.
    I like keeping my 605 loaded with 38+P and practice with 357mag. But i load a Few of the Rat shot rounds here in Florida during summer. So if the 1st rat shot dont tell the rattling snake off or kill it, the 38 or 357 next round might.

    1. avatar tickTalk says:

      The carbine is at https://www.taylorsfirearms.com/cattleman-revolving-carbine.html
      Price has gone way up since I got one years ago… It is made by Uberti.

    2. avatar tickTalk says:

      Oh, forgot.. best rat gun I use is a smooth bore .36 cal muzzleloading pistol, loaded with #8 bird shot.. at 5 yards it will nicely mulch a rat..

  33. avatar Sam in Ohio says:

    I’ve had L frame Smiths and Ruger GP-100s. Both great .357 revolvers, but the 686 had a better trigger and was a whole bunch less “clunky”. (Forged/milled frame vs. Investment case/milled frame).

    The L frame beats the K frame models if you want to shoot a steady load or they did when S&W made more revolvers than pistols. Back then, K frames .357 models (13/19 and their stainless counterparts) were made to be carried with .357 loads, but you used .38 Special loads to practice with. Too many .357 loads and the K frame models got a little loose. The L frame was designed both to compete with the Colt Python and solve the .357 K frame issue by making an N frame with a K frame grip.

    I don’t know whether the current production K frame .357s use better steel now than they did 30 years ago, but I’d want to be sure before I shot a steady diet of .357s in a new one. No such issue with the L frame or GP100.

    Can’t speak to the Korth, Kimber or the Taurus other than to say the Korth seems to be a near custom pistol and both Kimber and Taurus have had quality control issues over the years. If you have a Kimber or Taurus that works, great. If you’ve had one that didn’t, you know what I’m talking about.

  34. avatar tickTalk says:

    I don’t like shoving .38 spc though anything chambered for .357M.. it makes cleaning a PITA, as you get a nasty carbon ring around the end of each chamber…

  35. avatar raptor jesus says:

    Someone recommending the Ruger LCR in .357 most likely hasn’t shot a Ruger LCR in .357.

    And those that have usually only shoot it in .357 once before switching back to 38s.

    And yes, I own an LCR.

  36. avatar jimmy james says:

    LCR? You gotta be kidding. GP100 yes. SP101 yes. I dont know that Smith ever made a bad 357.

    1. avatar raptor jesus says:

      every single Smith with an internal lock is a bad .357.

  37. avatar Keith Dorset says:

    6″ Blackhawk in .357. Not a super, actually an older 2 screw edition.

  38. avatar Andy T. says:

    I love my Ruger stainless Police service Six, made in 1981. I’ll never get rid of it and I’d take on any of the newer models any time for accuracy, function and good looks!!

  39. avatar raptor jesus says:

    Where’s the Kimber K6S? That gun is a GEM.

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