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The 360 Dan Wesson Cartridge In Rifles

360 DW edit
Photo by Tycer Lewis

The 360 Dan Wesson is an easy conversion to step up the power of some 357 Magnum rifles.

In 1999, the Dan Wesson Firearms Company created a cartridge to give handgun silhouette shooters an edge in knocking down metal rams. The 357 Magnum was popular for this sport, but if the rams were not set properly, there was no power in the cartridge to spare and the rams would not fall down.

At the time, the 357 Maximum (aka 357 Super Magnum) was available. With a .31 inch difference in length, few revolvers were available in 357 Maximum. Also, the 357 Maximum was picky to reload for, preferred hot charges and was somewhat temperature sensitive.

The 360 Dan Wesson split the difference between the 357 Magnum and 357 Maximum, with a length that is .12 longer than the former and .19 shorter than the latter.

The 360 Dan Wesson offered less recoil and lower pressure than the 357 Maximum, with a gain of over 150 feet per second compared to the same weight projectile in the 357 Magnum. The mild recoil allows people to shoot it with more confidence than harder kicking cartridges. What Dan Wesson did not intend to do was create a great rifle cartridge—but that is just what they did.

A few years ago I was looking for a first big game rifle for my two sons who were 5 and 6 years old, respectively, at the time. After trying several different rifles, we knew it had to be a carbine with several safety features and little recoil.

We originally looked seriously at a 357 Magnum rifle like the Handi-Rifle or one of the lever action rifles available in that caliber. The 357 Magnum can be used on deer and hogs as long as you choose a good bullet and stick to realistic parameters for shot range. Then my friend Tycer told me about the 360 Dan Wesson cartridge in rifles.

The Winchester 94, H&R Handi-Rifle, T/C Single Shot rifle and a few others can be readily converted to use the 360 Dan Wesson cartridge. Many of the single shot rifles have long throats and will readily chamber the 360 Dan Wesson cartridge with no modifications.

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If modifications are necessary, a chamber reamer can be used to lengthen the chamber just enough to accept the 360 Dan Wesson. With the Winchester Model 94, the chamber has to be lengthened slightly and the cartridge guides must have the stops filed back enough to allow the 360 Dan Wesson to fit. These modifications literally take 15 minutes to complete, and that’s if you are a layperson, not a gunsmith.

The advantage of the 360 Dan Wesson compared to the 357 cartridge in a rifle is significant. We chose a Winchester 94 Trapper with a 16.5 inch barrel. With 158 grain bullets in 357 Magnum ammunition, the velocities were 1,755 feet per second. Using the 360 Dan Wesson, we used 180 grain bullets and got 1,925 feet per second. That’s a huge increase in bullet weight and velocity.

With the right bullet and shot placement the 360 DW is a viable big game cartridge
With the right bullet and shot placement the 360 DW is a viable big game cartridge. Photo by Joe Riekers

Another bonus is the flatter trajectory of the cartridge. The 360 Dan Wesson is not offered in factory loaded ammunition at this time, so it is a hand loading proposition. New 360 Dan Wesson brass is available from Starline.

If you do not reload yourself, you can obtain brass and send it to Grizzly Cartridge Company and they will load it for you. The cartridge is very versatile and can be loaded with bullets ranging from 95 grains to 250 grains. Reloading dies marked 38/357 Mag/357 Max will work just fine. The 360 Dan Wesson favors powders such as H110, W296 and Lil’ Gun.

In a rifle like the Winchester 94 that weighs 7 pounds plus, the recoil is virtually non-existent. My boys have been shooting it since they were 5 and 6 years old and have taken plenty of game including whitetail deer, elk and bison.

The energy of the 360 DW cartridge is similar to a 35 Remington cartridge with the same bullet weights. There was a time when the 35 Remington was considered all the power needed for moose and bears!

A spike elk taken by Justin Riekers with his 360 DW Rifle
A spike elk taken by Justin Riekers with his 360 DW Rifle. Photo by Joe Riekers

If you want to try something different or you are looking for an excellent option for a recoil sensitive shooter, you should consider the 360 Dan Wesson cartridge in a rifle.

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Have you ever tried using the 360 Dan Wesson in your rifle? Did this convince you? Let us know in the comments.

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The 360 Dan Wesson Cartridge In Rifles