You can’t talk about revolvers without mentioning the legendary .357 mag. This thick, powerful gun has stood the test of time ever since the gangster era of the 1930s.
A good .357 is a versatile and usually compact gun that will fill you with confidence and security. If you’re looking for a firearm that you can pack in a bag and also take down a boar with, you’ve come to the right place.
In this article, we’ll help you find the best .357 revolver around.
- Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum
- Smith & Wesson J-Frame Centerfire Revolvers
- Taurus Model 66 Magnum
- Korth Mongoose .357
- Chiappa Firearms Rhino 40DS Handgun
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About the .357
The .357 magnum revolver arrived in 1934 for a good reason. During that period, there was only one handgun (Colt’s .38) that had enough power to penetrate the early ballistic vest and car cover.
It was the rise of the “Gangster Era” that propelled the manufacture of this gun. Both law enforcement and gang members needed a handgun capable of high ballistic potential.
All tests from that period proved that ballistic vests could stop any bullet traveling at less than 1,000 feet per second. Therefore, it was the right time to increase the handgun’s potency.
Smith & Wesson designed the .357 magnum cartridge that had a higher chamber pressure than .38. The design of the .357 chamber is much like that of .38. In fact, they have the same diameter size – which leads to another problem.
If a person would mistakenly load a round of .357 into a .38 gun (that supports only lower pressure) it could lead to a disaster. Thus, S&W extended the case of the round by 1/8” for safety reasons.
This move announced the start of the magnum era.
Today, the .357 magnum is widely considered as one of the most lethal cartridges on the market.
Who Is It For?
If you’re a big game hunter, you’re going to love the mag. On the herald of the magnum era, most handgun hunters switched to .357 six-shooters.
Its high ballistic potency makes it a perfect cartridge for big game. They can penetrate the thick hide as easily as a ballistic vest, ensuring a clean and quick takedown.
Of course, it’s not only big game hunting that’s on the agenda. The .357 is amazing for medium-sized game or any other type of hunting.
Furthermore, it’s a highly popular gun in shooting ranges. Every recreational shooter I’ve talked with placed the .357 as one of the top guns for target practice. And it’s all thanks to the power and velocity.
On the other hand, you can use the .357 mag as a conceal-and-carry handgun, too. However, I’d recommend looking for smaller models. Don’t worry − all reliable manufacturers such as S&W, Ruger, or Taurus have plenty of compact guns on the market.
You just need to know what to look for.
You’ll find a wide range of different grips on the .357 magnum. I’ve come across rubber, wood, plastic, ivory, to name but a few. And they all have their ups and downs, too.
When you’re buying a gun, my recommendation is to test the grip first. Don’t accept a grip that doesn’t “sit” well in your hand because you’ll never fully enjoy your shootout.
In my experience, wood is the oldest and probably the best type of grip. It’s relatively durable and adapts to your hand well, but it can turn slippery in wet (or bloody) conditions. Rubber offers a softer feel and can tame the drawback a bit, while plastic (polymer) offers waterproof capabilities.
A good sighting is imperative for a good shooting session. Most .357 mags come with a fixed sighting, but you can find those with the adjustable sighting too.
So, what’s the difference?
If you want to use your gun for a single purpose, it’s better to opt for a fixed sighting. The main reason is stability and reliability in “lively” situations where you wouldn’t want the recoil to knock it off.
However, if you’re switching between lighter and heavier rounds with varying velocity, you may prefer the adjustable sighting. Otherwise, you may reduce your accuracy.
With a .357 there are different models in abundance, so size mostly depends on your preferences.
If you want more velocity, better range, and power, you should go with the longer barrel. The bigger pistol is usually the choice of hunters and people who choose a gun for home defense.
On the flip side, you can get a shorter barrel for close-quarter defense so you can conceal and carry it around with you.
Double or Single Action?
Finally, we need to address the difference between the DA (double action) and SA (single action) performance.
Those who want a rapid-fire frenzy always opt for a DA shooter. Just keep squeezing that trigger until the last bullet fires off. You can cock the hammer after every shot for better precision and quick-reload with ease.
However, I’m always a bit worried when it comes to the durability of DA .357s. Unless you go for a high-quality (and high-priced) option, there’s a big chance that you’ll damage it after prolonged use.
On the other hand, the SA mag is durable and offers similar bullet speed, same barrel length, and mostly the same precision. However, you miss out on rapid-fire. But that’s not the worst-case scenario – if you ever need to reload in a hurry, you’ll be at a significant disadvantage!
Best .357 Revolvers
I’m a simple man. I see a shiny Redhawk 44, and I’m in heaven. It’s one of the best looking revolvers out there.
There’s a reason why many brand the 44 the strongest .357 magnum of its class. It’s a classic revolver, the one you see in shoot ‘em up video games and motion pictures.
It’s made out of high-quality stainless steel with a wooden grip. Overall, it provides a sophisticated, retro aesthetic of a true American six-shooter.
Don’t let the 5.5″ barrel fool you. It’s a bit shorter than some other revolvers, but it’s still heavy with a substantial drawback and penetration.
Not to mention that it’s practically indestructible. If you run out of bullets in a dire situation, you can still use it as a melee weapon in self-defense.
I found the customizability of this gun to be top-notch. You can adjust the rear sights, add a ring, or mount a scope on this. Therefore, it’s a pretty good choice for a hunter.
Due to its size and weight, I’ve found it pretty accurate with mild and special rounds. It’s double action but the pressure on the trigger is pretty light and free of hiccups.
Finally, I’ll give you a piece of advice. I wouldn’t use this Ruger with light ammo because it would defeat the purpose. Honestly, it’s not the best gun to conceal and carry, and it may work better as a hunting sidearm.
The Smith and Wesson’s J-Frame consists of several models with one distinctive trait: They’re all as compact as it gets.
For instance, you’ll love these handguns if you’re looking for a piece to conceal and carry. Why? Because they’re easy to draw and holster and always keep you at the ready. I reckon you’d be prepared for any surprise with this one around your belt.
You can count on S&W to make a quality piece. This six-shooter contains an aluminum frame and coating with a carbon steel cylinder. This makes it particularly lightweight and easy to carry around.
Another interesting thing here is that the J-Frame comes in various models. All 12 are of equal quality but with some additional features depending on your preferences. For instance, Model 624 can have a Crimson Trace Lasergrip that makes it easier for you to acquire a target.
There’s not much to say when it comes to performance. The J-Frame does well in close range with minimum recoil and maximum precision. Combined with its compactness, it’s the go-to gun for self-defense or home defense.
On the other hand, I wouldn’t recommend it for hunting. The velocity and ballistic potential are a tad weaker than with larger guns. Therefore, if you’re clashing with a vicious beast, you may quickly become the game.
All things considered, it’s a great “niche” gun which is ideal for novice shooters who want a better sense of security.
- Extremely compact and lightweight
- No recoil
- Good price
- Wide range of models with different features
- Less powerful than most .357s
I’m a big fan of Taurus. The Brazilian manufacturer is always keeping up with trends and puts up high-quality revolvers. The Model 66 follows its predecessors and makes for a complete compact shooter.
I couldn’t find any flaw in the external design and construction of the piece. It has a beautiful stainless steel frame with a subtle matte finish and an excellent rubber grip.
Although it’s a bit less comfortable than wood, I liked the roughness of the grip. It anchors well in hand and doesn’t seem like it will ever slip. The fixed sighting makes it stable and more durable as well.
I particularly enjoyed the Taurus’ trademark security system transfer bar. Any newcomer can carry it around with a locked hammer without worrying about potential accidents.
For a barrel length of only 4″ I’ve found the Taurus 66 relatively powerful. It may not have the ballistic power of some larger .357s, but it’s definitely enough to defend yourself from trouble.
Of course, there’s no place for such a small gun in the hunting world. For that reason, I can’t put it in the best .357 revolver category. Unless you want to test your luck, that is. But for the price of it’s a great portable guardian.
- Rubber grip aids stability
- Security transfer bar
- Solid power
- Double and single action performance
- Not for hunters
Are you unfazed by the classics? It’s time to move on to the opulent environment. The Korth Mongoose is a modern, high-end revolver that falls into a category on its own.
With the combined effort of German’s Korth Waffen and US’ Nighthawk Custom we probably got the best-performing revolver up to this date.
I can say right away that the Mongoose is probably the best wheeler that I’ve ever seen. It’s truly a Rolex of guns, to put it that way. You can feel the effort that went into the frame and shrouding of the pistol.
The front sight contains a gold dot that adds to the luxury. On the rear end, you’ll find two adjustable sights that allow you to set up proper windage and elevation.
The first time I lined up, I realized that the grip could prove problematic for a beginner. Therefore, make sure you have a firm, not-too-tight grip when you start shooting.
I thought the power would be the equivalent of a standard compact gun. However, the 3″ barrel only tells half of the story. The Mongoose packs a fairly decent punch even at a more extended range. There are both single lever and double lever action that average a light trigger pull.
Of course, it’s all champagne and roses until we get to the price. Yes, you can find a decent used car for the same price. However, if you can afford it and you want to, it’s a hell of an investment.
- Outstanding design
- Impeccable performance
- Compact but powerful
- Not for novice shooters
- Will cost you an arm and a leg
The Rhino is for the lovers of the unconventional. As soon as I saw the design, I was tempted to try it out. It looks like a normal six-shooter but with a modern touch.
I immediately noticed something odd about the proportions of the gun. I’m mostly used to a regular barrel position in a revolver you know, in a straight line with the top chamber of the cylinder? However, Rhino places the barrel low. And it’s not only due to aesthetics.
All this means that your barrel is in line with your hand. So? Well, there’s no muzzle rise, and the drawback is small as your entire arm will absorb the punch. This tame recoil allows you to maneuver the gun in a much better way.
Although it doesn’t offer much customization, it still has a bunch of things to tweak and change. There’s a variety of different grips to try, for instance. Also, the pistol has a rail for attaching accessories. That’s extremely rare for a revolver. You want to attach a light? A laser? It’s all possible.
All in all, this is a pretty good revolver for both beginners and seasoned shooters. It’s accurate, stable, and powerful. It also has one of the cooler, modern designs.
- Powerful and accurate
- Light to no drawback
- Great design
- A bit pricey
With some great .357 manufacturers out there, this one was tough to decide on. If you want to splash the cash, the Korth Mongoose is probably the best revolver that you can get. However, if we want to be realistic, I’d recommend Ruger’s Redhawk.
There’s nothing better than a classic. It’s durable, customizable, and mighty powerful. But above everything, I prefer its versatility and the price it goes for. If you want a .357 six-shooter for every possible occasion, this is the best .357 revolver you can get for the money.