In the age of magnum cartridges, is the .357 still king?
This long-standing titan has faced threats to its supremacy throughout history. But we have to ask ourselves, can the .357 Magnum still get it done?
Elmer Keith, Phillip Sharpe and D.B. Wesson wanted more steam than the .38 Special cartridge achieved. The .357 Magnum was introduced way back in 1935.
Touted as a bear skull and engine block penetrator, it was king until the .44 Magnum came along to the public in 1955.
It wasn't the end of the road for the .357 Magnum cartridge, though. It became a law man's favorite when loaded in the popular revolvers of the time. It was known to be a real man-stopper for law enforcement before semi-auto pistols became so popular.
As an outdoorsman's sidearm, it kicked less than the heavier .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum, yet could down deer-sized game. The key was always to aim small and miss small with this cartridge.
What is the official place for the old revolver cartridge in this modern day? Well, the .357 Magnum might be more popular than it ever has been in history. New loads push the envelope on velocities and pressures. Better projectiles have given better penetration and hot jacketed hollow-points open up quickly for maximum stopping power.
Modern revolvers like the stainless steel with rubber grips Ruger SP101 (my personal favorite) loaded up with hot loads makes a handy trail carry for areas that lack the mighty bears of Alaska. Yes, people have dropped big bears with the .357 Magnum cartridge. This is something I would never care to try for the bear's sake and myself included. A double-action revolver in .357 magnum would make a great defensive weapon otherwise out in the woods.
For hunting, a Ruger GP100 Revolver with a 6-inch barrel makes a dandy, up-close deer handgun. I owned one for years with a trigger job that shot like a champ. You don't necessarily need a Ruger Redhawk in .44 Magnum to drop a deer, though it's also a great shooter. The .357 Magnum loaded with a Hornady bullet driven fast will drop any whitetail buck you come across at handgun range.
Smith & Wesson Model 360 is also a classic case of a concealed carry revolver. Shoot .38 Specials at the range and pack .357 Magnums for defense.
Chiappa has somewhat modernized the .357 Magnum into a different form with the Rhino Revolver, which you either love or hate. It certainly isn't traditional like a vintage S&W Model 27 Revolver.
Henry Arms and other gun manufacturers make rifles for the .357 Magnum. Out of a rifle-length barrel, the velocities are really up there in comparison. At close and moderate ranges, they make dandy deer hunting rifles where legal.
With all major ammunition makers like Remington, Winchester, Fiocchi and PMC, there are many versions of this great cartridge.
It's safe to say the .357 Magnum won't go obsolete in our lifetimes.
If you're in the market for another revolver or even a rifle, take a close look at what the .357 Magnum offers. One in that caliber might follow you home in the near future.
Do you like articles about the outdoors? Click here to view more articles by Eric Nestor. You can follow him @ericthewoodsman on Twitter, The Classic Woodsman on Facebook, and @theclassicwoodsman on Instagram. You can view more Nestor Photography photos at Nestor Photography.