These .357 Magnum rifles will put deer on the ground this season.
While one may traditionally think of handguns for self-defense when they think of .357 Magnum, this round has proven itself over the years as a quality hunting round for deer and similar-sized big game animals. Using .38 Special as a parent case, .357 offers faster muzzle velocities of 1,200 to 1,700 feet per second.
For states that have traditionally been "shotgun only" for deer, the .357 Magnum allows hunters to reach out to longer distances that slug guns traditionally cannot. The round also lends itself well to lever action rifle designs for hunters who need to make quick follow-up shots in dense brush.
Here are some of our top picks for long guns chambered in this heavy and effective hunting round to add to your wish list for this hunting season. They are sure to put lots of venison in your freezer.
Henry Big Boy Steel
As we have already mentioned, .357, like the .44 Magnum, lends itself well to lever guns. Anything from Henry Big Boy carbine line is going to be a solid choice of brush gun. The Henry offers a generous 10+1 round capacity. The blued steel and American walnut stock give off a classic cowboy vibe. This rifle is a compact 37.5-inch package. The barrel length is 20 inches and it has a 1:16 rate of twist for excellent accuracy. The receiver is drilled and tapped for optics, but purists can use the brass bead front and adjustable semi-buckhorn rear sight for more of a challenge. Most user reviews praise the buttery smooth action and the fact that these rifles are not picky about ammo choices.
Marlin 1894 C
The Marlin name is also synonymous with magnum lever action rifles and this gun would make for a great brush tool. The Marlin 1894c features an 18.5-inch barrel wit ha 1:16 rate of twist. This is a relatively short rifle with an overall length is 38.5 inches and it only weighs 6.5 pounds. That puts it right in the sweet spot for long hikes into the backcountry without being overbearing. This rifle has a black walnut stock and forend and holds nine rounds in the tubular magazine. It has a brass bead front sight and an adjustable buckhorn rear. However, it is also drilled and tapped to mount a scope. Combine the great look and features and you have a solid gun for deer, hogs or smaller predators like coyotes.
Most companies producing rifles in .357 have gone the lever carbine rifle action route and Ruger is one of the few to try producing a bolt action. The Ruger is a solid choice if you are in a state with straight wall cartridge rules mostly because the 5-round capacity in the rotary magazines fits most state regulations for deer hunting straight out of the box. Ruger offers two versions of this rifle and the only difference is a threaded vs a non-threaded barrel. The rifle features an 18.5-inch barrel with a 1:16 right hand rate of twist. The stainless steel parts and synthetic stock help it stand up to the weather and cut the weight significantly. This rifle weighs just 5.5 pounds and is 38.5 inches long overall. That makes it a solid option for newer hunters or even younger hunters with smaller frames to harvest their first deer.
Winchester 1873 Sporter
For those looking for a special lever-action rifle with a lot of historical significance, look no further than the Winchester Model 1873, aka: "The Gun that Won the West." It was also a favorite of many a trapper and frontiersman. While .357 was not developed until the 1930s, the round works incredibly well with this classic rifle design. This rifle features a beautiful color case and polished blued steel finish. The stock and forend are satin black walnut. This rifle has a 13+1 capacity thanks to the full-length tube magazine. It has a classic 24-inch octagon barrel like you are used to seeing in old west movies. For sights it has a beaded Marble arms front sight and a semi-buckhorn rear. This is one of the more expensive options on the list, but it is also one of the most authentic cowboy-style guns you will find on the market.
Taylor's and Company 1892 Alaskan Takedown
How do you take a classic design like the Winchester 1892 and make it better? How about making it into a deluxe takedown model? The Taylors and Company is manufactured by Chiappa and would make for a great brush gun thanks to the compact 34-inch overall length and 16-inch barrel. The receiver and barrel are finished with matte chrome to help stand up to the elements and the stock and forend are synthetic black. That also helps make the rifle light at 5.9 pounds. The large loop makes it easy to cycle rounds. The capacity of this firearm is 7+1 rounds, which should be more than enough for most backcountry hunting. It comes fitted with skinner express-style sights, but it is also drilled and tapped for Weaver 61 bases and "Scout Mount" optics. It is great when companies give you options. This would be a great rifle to store behind a truck seat or in a boat or float plane as a backup.
Henry Big Boy Model X
While most .357 Mag rifles on the market are classic cowboy style-guns, Henry garnered a lot of buzz with the release of the X Series of guns. These are not your granddaddy's lever actions. The Model X in .357 magnum is super compact with an overall length of just 36.3 inches. The round barrel is just 17.4 inches, threaded for a suppressor and features a 1:16 rate of twist. This rifle has a ton of modern flair that you may be used to seeing on semi-automatic sporting rifles. Features like a synthetic stock and forend, fiber optic front and rear sights, a short picatinny rail and M-Lok accessory slots. It holds 7+1 rounds in the tubular magazine, but also features a classic side gate for easy reloading. The loop lever is easy to operate thanks to being oversized. The rifle is completely ambidextrous straight out of the box and features a rubber recoil pad to help keep you on target longer. As if all that was not enough, it also fires 38 Spl. You are getting a lot for the $789 price tag. Not only will this gun put venison in the freezer season after season, it is sure to be a hit at the gun range when you show it to your buddies.