The .357 magnum is around that has seen action for many years. It is a powerful little bullet with enormous stopping power. The sound of the discharge alone is so loud, intruders who hear it would sooner run than risk getting shot. Here’s everything you need to know about the .357 magnum and its role in modern self-defense.
Modern Self-Defense: .357 Magnum
The Root: How The .357 Magnum Came To Be
As we get ready to share our gun review of the Coonan Classic .357 Magnum 1911, I want to share some ballistics and history on this powerhouse self-defense cartridge and why many gun carriers trust their lives with it each day of the year. The .357 mag is a rimmed, center-fired magnum cartridge that propels a .35 caliber projectile at astonishing speeds.
In fact, all of the powder sitting inside the magnum cartridge helps push some of the hotter loads upwards of 1,800 feet per second as it leaves the muzzle. That’s faster than just about any other *reasonable* self-defense cartridge on the planet, with the exception of just a couple of others (like the .357 Sig, which I covered in a previous article).
The history of this classic round started back in the 1930s when Smith & Wesson set out to improve upon the .38 Special. The first revolver chambered in this venerable magnum cartridge was sold to none other than J. Edgar Hoover, in 1935. And the rest, as they say, is history.
How Far We’ve Come
Today, the tradition lives on—only this cartridge isn’t limited to the revolver anymore. You can find it in lever action rifles and carbines, like these ones from Henry Repeating Arms, as well as a very small number of semi-auto pistols, like those offered by Coonan Inc. Applications for this cartridge range from self-defense and law enforcement, to competition shooting and hunting.
Heck, even companies who’ve never before entered into the revolver market, have begun selling them chambered in .357 magnum, much like this Kimber:
Versatility and Power
There is almost no other cartridge more versatile than the .357 Magnum, and when you just need for an attacker or medium-sized animal to hit the ground, there is almost nothing better to turn to. In fact, ammo makers have developed a wide range of grain-sized bullets. The most popular is the original 158 grains, with sizes generally starting in the 125-grain area. The bullets shown in the picture above are, from left to right: 9mm, .45 ACP, .38 Special, .357 Magnum, 5.56 Nato, and .308 Winchester.
The .357’s Role In Survivalism
Most preppers and survivalists would gravitate towards the .45 ACP as their go-to ammo. This comes as no surprise, as it is a highly reliable and readily available round. It’s easy to find guns that chamber the .45, and a lot of people stockpile it. It’s got a great history as a combat round and has always proven to be a sound choice.
However, it’s not the round you’d want when you’re out there hunting game or doing some serious home defense. That’s where the .357 Magnum shines. Its ability to be powerful, impressive, and intimidating is uncanny. A gun chambered for this round is powerful. And it’s not overcompensating either. If you want something dead, you go for the .357.
Best Guns Chambered With .357 Magnum
The versatility of the .357 Magnum is a testament to its longevity. As such, scores of firearms have chambered the .357 Magnum, and some stand out more than others. Here is a quick list of the best guns you can chamber with the .357 Magnum round:
Smith & Wesson Model 27
One of the very first guns that held the .357 Magnum is the Model 27. It made is debut in 1935 and is still in use today.
Winchester 1873 Sporter
If you’ve seen your share of Wild West movies, you know that this gun “won the West.” This lever-action rifle has seen action for… well, over a century now.
.357 Desert Eagle
Goodbye, unwieldy .50 Action Express. The Desert Eagle also comes in a .357 Magnum configuration. Taking advantage of the Desert Eagle’s novel recoil reduction system, firing a .357 Magnum from this gun makes it feel like you’re shooting a 9mm… but with more boom.
Check out LifeSizePotato’s video on the best .357 Magnum revolvers in the world:
There’s a reason why so many guns chamber the .357 Magnum. This versatile and powerful round has served generations of gun carriers so well that it’s still in production. The best thing about the .357 Magnum is that it serves a variety of functions. From home defense to hunting, this round will serve you very well.
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Up Next: EAA Windicator .357 Magnum
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 12, 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and relevancy.