The Top Rated Concealed Carry .357 Revolvers
Your legally carried gun should make you feel safe and confident. At this point, you’ve clearly made up your mind that semi-automatics are not your thing. So how can you make a final decision among the wide selection of CCWs?
As you look for the right concealed carry revolver, you’d need to consider a few points. Think of them as a checklist to land the best deal.
Always carry the most powerful gun that you can control. Carrying a gun that’s capable of firing a ton of high-strength bullets might sound like a wise choice. But this extra power often comes with a bunch of conditions.
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First, a more powerful gun is often harder on the hands, elbows, and shoulders. If your arm isn’t primed for these high-octane bad boys, then your gun would be a liability, rather than an asset.
Powerful guns are often times some of the most popular handguns.
Second, a macho gun is a lot like a hard-headed stallion; it’s hard to control. If you’re out in the range, you’d want to fire a round to win. But that can only happen if the gun doesn’t swerve and bounce as your fire each shot. This matter is more serious if you’re using the gun for self-defense.
For people with smaller hands you might prefer something like a 9mm pistol.
Finally, powerful revolvers are often heavier, thicker, and longer. An overall large gun might fit your expectations on what concealed carry means if you’re a well-built person, who wears extra layers of clothing. For the rest of us; size matters, and a smaller gun is more practical.
The flip side of the coin is going for a weak gun just because it’s smaller or lighter. If you can handle the firepower, and the gun fits your person, then that’s a smart selection.
Size and Weight
“So, how big is it?”
Length, thickness, and weight. These are probably the first parameters that come into the conversation as you mention concealed carry revolvers. And that’s for a very good reason. It’s hard to carry or conceal massive large objects.
Then again, if you go puny, the gun might turn up to be too weak, or terrible at aiming. You might recall a famous scene in Men In Black. The one where Will Smith holds a tiny gun called a noisy cricket, but it turns out to have mammoth power! Well, things don’t quite play out that way in reality.
Weight translates to balance. Lightweight is a plus, but only to a certain degree. If the gun isn’t ‘pulling its weight’, it might feel too loose in your hands. If you play tennis or any racquetball you can see some parallels.
Revolvers’ ammo calibers range from the 9 and 10 mm, all the way to the 44, which are Dirty Harry’s rounds of choice. In addition to the 45, which served in the military for a long time. The 22 are also a thing, but this is a caliber that’s more of a recreational toy. It’s not the best option for self-defense.
Each one of the different calibers has a unique performance, power, precision, and price. This wide array of cartridges also have interesting historic backgrounds dating back to the last century. The labels are mostly related to diameters, but they contain references to brands and power as well.
Among the large-caliber cartridges, the 357 Magnum stands out as the best-case scenario. These are high-octane shots that can fit into compact 5-shot revolvers, and as you fire them, they’ll come out straight ahead at the target.
Among the perks you get with the 357 is access to the 38 specials. Revolvers designed for the former are also equipped to handle the latter. The 38 cartridges are popular among a lot of folks, so that’s a plus.
Speed and Precision
Revolvers were traditionally single action, which means, you had to pull back the hammer then fire the trigger. With a double-action weapon, you could just pull the trigger right away. And this is also the case with the buried hammer revolvers.
Is one mode better than the other? It’s actually a matter of tradeoffs. And that’s why you’d find several guns with both modes of operation. The single-action has a shorter trigger pull, so it provides an easier and more precise shot. Conversely, the double action is a fast loading mode, but, it’s not quite as steady and precise.
Tradeoffs continue in every aspect of gun design. Barrel length controls the ease and precision of taking aim.
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A longer barrel maintains the shot in a perfectly straight line, so it has a much higher probability of reaching its destination. It also provides a visual continuum you can use to take aim and align your shot. This setup is also heavier and makes the gun harder to conceal.
Contrary to that; shorter barrels are far lighter and much more compact. They’re a bit crude though when it comes to their hitting the correct spot. Most of the guns with tiny appendages are used in short-range situations, rather than in long-shots requiring precision.
The comparison between semi-automatic guns and revolvers could go on forever. But most people agree on one fundamental fact: revolvers are more reliable.
The magazines of semi-automatics are loaded with far more rounds than revolvers. But, they get jammed occasionally. This hitch is rarely encountered with revolvers. You do need to feed these guns more often, and that of course, takes a bit of a time out.
Reliability extends further to the type of gun. Some brands focus on making glamorous frames, while others make revolvers that you can truly count on.
Most people conceal their guns within their clothes. With the most popular styles being the waistband carry or the appendix carry. So if you live in the Southern warm areas, you’d mostly be wearing light clothes, which might not conceal much. A small compact gun would be a better fit with that wardrobe.
On the other hand, the folks who live up North; normally have multiple layers of heavy clothes on them. They can easily conceal a baby elephant underneath those wraps. And so, a larger gun might not be a far-fetched option.
Every person carries a gun, loads it, aims, and shoots differently. There are some basic rules and fundamentals, of course, but there’s also a wide area where personal preferences rule. For example, there are several holster positions, and each person would choose the setup most comfortable for them.
There are tons of revolvers that would fit the bill to the nines when it comes to their size, weight, power, and even aesthetics. Yet, only a handful of them would fit your grip perfectly. And probably one or two would feel like they’re the natural extension of your hands. If you’re lucky, one of them will catch your heart.
Guns are like cars, pets, and jeans. Picking the right one for you has some rational and some emotional aspects. And that’s perfectly fine. But how can you tell which revolver is that best fit? Watching a photograph wouldn’t cut it, and even getting a feel of it at the store might not be enough.
The best approach is to go to the shooting range and try your hand with a few types. Eventually, you’ll develop a sense for what you like and what you only tolerate. That’s a good point to start from.
Also, bear in mind that our affinities change as we experience life, or get older. At some point, you might want to upgrade or add a new gun to your collection. So as you browse through the different revolvers, visit the range, and try some different models.
Regulatory Matters and Usage
Depending on where you live on this wide earth, you’d have some rules and regulations related to carrying guns. The type, size, caliber, and manner of carrying are all matters to be determined by the official authorities in your geographic area.
Before making a purchase, make sure that you are eligible for carrying a gun, and that particular gun complied with the laws and regulations.
In addition, your intended usage and skill level would also be major determinants of the type of revolver that actually works for you.
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Ruger’s new 3-inch barrel LCRx in .357 Magnum strikes the right balance between concealability and performance.
How The 3-Inch Barrel LCRx Enhances The .357 Magnum:
- Longer 3-inch barrel improves the .357 Magnum's ballistics, while keeping the revolver concealable.
- Built with a stainless-steel frame, the LCRx still only tops out at 21 ounces.
- Hogue Tamer grip goes a long way in reducing the light revolver's recoil.
- Friction-reducing cam does much to mitigate the revolver's heavy pull in double-action.
Going on a century ago, Elmer Keith and Phil Sharpe were really onto something by hot-rodding the .38 Special. Arguably, their tinkering in the all-American pursuit of “more muscle” produced perhaps the greatest revolver cartridge of all time. At the very least, the .357 Magnum is the king of the 20th century. What other hand-cannon caliber is, in the same breath, both manageable and devastatingly powerful?
Certainly not the bucky .41 Magnum and the downright cranky .44 Mag. And while the newish .327 Fed. Mag. has the virtue of eminent shootability, it’s ballistically a small fry compared to the granddaddy Magnum.
It’s thanks to the .357 Magnum’s nearly perfect middle ground that the defensive revolver continues to soldier on. Despite the platform being dated in this era of semi-automatic pistols, a man or woman wielding a gun chambered for this cartridge is well armed—perhaps even more so, given the recent advancement in revolver design; and even more with Ruger’s latest addition to its easy-to-carry, ultra-lightweight line of revolvers.
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Like the .357 Magnum, the 3-inch-barreled LCRx released at the 2019 SHOT Show strikes a perfect balance. Setting the fulcrum almost exactly between concealability and performance, Ruger has created a dandy wheelgun that flirts with being a nearly faultless carry revolver; one that’s certain to keep the age-old Magnum as relevant as ever in the 21st century.
That Extra 1.13 Inch
For some time now, Ruger has offered a .357 Magnum in both its hammerless LCR and exposed hammer LCRx lines. However, up to this point, these have featured the popular 1.87-inch barrel configuration: snubbies. It makes sense, given that when most folks go in search of a concealed-carry revolver, they generally poke around for the tersest model they can find. However, you can make the argument that they do themselves a disservice by going so small.
I can hear you now: Lord, he’s going to talk about recoil. Physics dictates nothing less in a lightweight gun. But for me, it’s not so much the knuckle-buster reputation that causes pause … it’s the muzzle blast and, more importantly, what that represents that raises flags.
The snubby .357 spits fire akin to a dragon for the simple reason that it doesn’t burn all its powder in the bore. This adds up to a gun that keeps the magnum’s bark and does away with some of its bite. By many accounts, a 1.87-inch-barreled revolver will neuter the .357 Magnum considerably—perhaps not to .38 Special+P velocities, as some gun-counter guys are apt to tell you, but well below what you expect or want out of a magnum.
Thankfully, a little goes a long way. While not topping out the .357 Magnum’s ballistic potential, extending the barrel to 3 inches revives a good deal of the cartridge’s magnum characteristics. It certainly did so in my time with the LCRx.
For example, the hottest round I shot was Sig Sauer’s 125-grain Elite Performance V-Crown, which clocked in at an average 1,281 fps, as measured by my chronograph 6 feet from the muzzle. Twice, the round topped out at 1,307 fps. Definitely, this is off the company’s numbers of 1,450 fps of muzzle velocity. Nonetheless, it was well within the bounds of .357 Magnum performance, which is what you want when you purchase a revolver with that roll mark.
The LCRx Package
The LCRx, for the most part, is meant to live a clandestine life. It was designed specifically for concealed carry, so Ruger did not spend time on shiny aesthetics that many have come to expect in modern revolvers. This isn’t to say the matte-black gun isn’t beautiful in its own right; it is, just in a different way. It’s attractive along the lines of a well-worn Carhart jacket, because it’s meant for work—hard work.
To that end, the most notable departure from its LCR and LCRx cousins is its monolithic frame’s upgrade to 400-series stainless steel. Aluminum has been the go-to material for a majority of the guns, but it just wouldn’t fit the bill for the abuse a .357 Magnum doles out.
While this pushes the five-round revolver’s weight up to around 21 ounces, the heft is welcome. First, because it’s far from prohibitive for carry. The .357 LCRx comes in lighter than most double-stack polymer pistols, even subcompact models. Yet, it’s enough weight to absorb the magnum’s recoil better than ultra-lightweight revolvers—snubbies or otherwise.
With a 3-inch barrel, the revolver has a decent sight radius. And Ruger gives shooters the tools to take advantage of it. The rear sight is an adjustable black blade. You can tune both drift and elevation with a small screwdriver. I packed my small set of drivers when I tested the LCRx, but the Ruger smiths were on their game and had it dialed in. While some might wring their hands about a potential snag, the sight is low enough so that it would take some doing to catch a shirttail or other garb.
In addition to this, the revolver boasts a pinned front ramp sight, meaning it’s replaceable—perhaps with a tritium night sight if you foresee trouble at dusk. However, if you stay stock, the inset white stripe proves highly visible, even in the gray and hazy conditions I used it in.
Famously, it’s extremely easy to change the grips on the LCR and LCRx: There’s only one retention screw to remove. However, I found the Hogue Tamer that came installed quite comfortable. The rubber grip’s pebble texture was akin to a coat of stick’um on the palm and kept the gun where I wanted it. Furthermore, it made the LCRx less punishing and more accurate, at least shot to shot, allowing me to maintain greater control on follow-ups.
The gun’s controls are also very intuitive. The hammer spur is laid back flatter than you will find on many revolvers. I’m certain that the reason is to streamline its draw. Even so, it’s easy to find when you want to cock it for a single-action shot. The cylinder release is push-button and situated for thumb operation, which I found second nature and fast on reloads—although the ejection rod was another matter.
Despite a full-length barrel lug, the ejector is short and only pushes spent cartridges halfway from the cylinder. Therefore, you must keep in mind to tilt the revolver back to clear it completely (a review of Massad Ayoob’s “stressfire” technique to clear the gun might be in order).
Finally, the LCRx has an ample trigger guard, which was a godsend for my testing. With the last throws of winter blustering across the prairie, I wore gloves for my range time and was completely unimpeded.
Dropping The Hammer
For my range test of the 3-inch-barrelled LCRx, I shot three different defensive rounds—including one in .38 Spl +P—and a full metal jacket round. These included Sig Sauer 125-grain Elite Performance V-Crown, Federal 130-grain HST .38 Spl. +P, Sig Sauer 125-grain FMJ and Speer 158-grain Gold Dot JHP.
In all cases, the ammunition/gun combinations proved highly accurate, perhaps more so than my numbers reflect. The elements might have squeezed in a fraction of an inch here or there; nevertheless, from 15 yards off a rest and in single-action mode, I was capable of groups 2.25 inches or under across the board with .357 ammo.
The best performance, however, came from Gold Dot. The heaviest round punched a tidy, five-round group just off center mass that measured 1.06 inches—more than accurate, given the conditions and for self-defense.
The revolver’s single-action trigger is solid, breaking at about 6 pounds. It’s certainly not a polish job by any stretch of the imagination, but for an out-of-the-box carry gun, it is very nice.
The 10-pound double-action, however, is what caught my attention. Much has been written about Ruger’s friction-reducing cam in the LCR and LCRx revolvers; that is, how smooth it is and how there’s never a second thought about the trigger stacking. I’m here to say that it’s all true.
Yes, it’s a heavy pull (what did you expect in double-action?), but—my goodness—it’s like silk! And, I saw the results in the accuracy I achieved on rapid-fire strings from 7 yards. Consistent and smooth go a long way in overcoming heavy.
A barbecue gun it is not. The 3-inch-barreled LCRx in .357 Magnum is all business and meant to excel in a cutthroat world.
Because it maintains the dimensions of a neat, little (it still qualifies as this) carry gun while bringing out the best in the powerful cartridge, the LCRx is just about everything you’d want out of a defensive .357 Mag. If you go this route, as did nearly a century of Americans before you, you won’t be under-gunned.
The article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of Gun Digest the Magazine.
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Elwood Shelton is an online content developer for Gun Digest. He is a gun owner and avid reloader from Colorado. When not at his press or the range he can be found chasing mule deer around the Rocky Mountains.
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The Colt King Cobra Revolver is reincarnated for 2019 as the 6-Shot .357 Magnum big brother of the Colt Cobra Double Action revolver. Sporting a heavy-duty frame, 3-inch barrel, and brushed stainless steel construction, the King Cobra secures a new place in the legendary heritage that makes Colt double-action revolvers some of the hottest collectible firearms today.
- Model: KCOBRA-SB3BB
- Caliber: 357 Magnum
- Capacity: 6 Rounds
- Barrel Length: 3″
- Finish: Brushed Stainless
- Frame Material: Stainless Steel
- Grips: Hogue Overmolded
- Sights: Brass Bead Front
- Action: Double-Action
- Weight: 28 oz
- Weight:1 lb
- Caliber:357 Magnum
- CP Category:043
- Requires FFL:Y
Revolver 3 357
I grew up in a home where watching The Lone Ranger was a very common form of entertainment. I watched episode after episode of the series with my grandfather during weekends, and I remember when I was six years old, he bought me a toy revolver. I wept when it broke years later.
When I was 10 years old I would sneak into my parents’ room whenever they’re away just to fondle the Smith & Wesson 686 hidden in my father’s nightstand, and I had my fair share of scolding from getting caught a few times but it didn’t matter. All that mattered was I get to hold the damn thing.
Fast forward to today, I’ve owned and sold a few revolvers but I still have two in my collection: one is a parkerized Rock Island M206 chambered for the .38 Special, and the other is a stainless Taurus 689 with a 6-inch barrel chambered for the venerable .357 Magnum.
I know, I know. You’d think I’m cheap because of my El Cheapo RIA and Taurus revolvers — and yes, you’re absolutely right. I never shy away from the fact that I like the cheaper and more affordable options on just about anything, from food and wine to computer hardware to firearms.
In This Article
In this article, we are going to give you a complete guide to .357 magnum revolvers. We will outline what they are, the specific features of these guns, the history of these guns, and more. We will even examine proper usage techniques.
Next, we will examine our picks for the best 357 magnum revolvers. There are many choices when it comes to this magnum handgun, and we intend to ensure that you make the right one. Therefore, we will give you our top picks, and even help you make your decision.
Read through this article with an idea of what you want from a 357. There are many options on the market, and you have to be sure that what you pick matches your needs. So first sit down, and take time to think about what it is you want, and then dive into our list and guide.
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Table of Contents
My Very Own “colt Python”
So why did I get a Taurus 689?
Well, I’ve always been a sucker for revolvers with a vented rib and full underlug, all thanks to the first Resident Evil video game that came out in 1996. It caused many nightmares and countless sleepless nights in my adolescent years, but it introduced to me the legendary Colt Python — which could easily make it to the first or second spot of our Top 10 list, if Colt didn’t stop manufacturing them some decades ago.
I have no intention of spending upwards of $2,000 on the few NIB or mint condition units still available online.
And I don’t think I can legally purchase any Colt Python copies like the Italian 1955 Model P (a Python copy supposedly going to be produced by Italian company Fap Pietta for the US market but was canceled for some reason) or the Turkish Gumusay (a Python copy produced by Turkish companies Küssan A.Ş. and MKEK but the factory was reportedly shut down).
So I had to make do with the Taurus 689, which looks similar to the Python because of its vented rib and full underlug. It’s a shameless copy of Colt’s most respected “snake gun” as far as aesthetics.
And unlike a lot of Taurus owners I know, I consider myself very lucky as I’ve never had a single issue with it. I’ve lost count of how many rounds I shot in it but then I stopped counting after emptying around 30 boxes of factory .357 Magnum rounds within the first six months of my purchase.
My Taurus 689 is a fine nightstand gun that’s as aesthetically pleasing as it’s reliable. It will get the job done. And with proper care and maintenance it should outlast me, heck my grandsons would still probably be able to shoot it someday.
But it’s no Colt Python.
So on to the subject of this article. Recently I’ve been looking up the newest .357 Magnum revolvers on the market as I’ve yet again started feeling that all too familiar “itch” to buy another one. For what purpose?
I’m not really sure yet — I could use a new revolver for backup carry or maybe for hunting whitetail or maybe just so I have another piece to brag about. Maybe I’m just like any other gun nut — I want a new piece for no particular reason other than to add to my collection.
Or maybe I’m just getting tired of staring at my Taurus 689, beautiful as it still is, and I just want a new .357 Magnum revolver for a change.
So I decided to create a list of what I think are some of the best .357 Magnum revolvers in 2018 for any budget. If you’re new to revolvers or you’re more like myself and you’re looking to make a purchase for whatever purpose, stick around. Maybe you’ll find info to help you make a good decision.
Before we kick things off, just a few words of caution for our newbie friends (feel free to skip this section of the article and jump straight to the recommendations part if you don’t consider yourself a newbie):
Flicking the Cylinder
You might see people flicking their revolver’s cylinder after loading ammo in the chambers (this is very common in movies). This might look “cool” but constantly doing this will break your gun.
The weight of the cylinder (empty or loaded) can bend the yoke, i.e. that part of the crane that holds the cylinder in place and aligns it to the frame.
If the yoke is bent, the cylinder might not align with the frame, causing timing problems. Worse, the cylinder might not completely lock up when shooting. How is that, you might ask.
A revolver’s cylinder typically locks up from within these three places:
- One is via the notch in the frame where a spring-loaded tiny piece of metal (usually called the ball detent lock) locks the crane to the frame;
- The other is via the notches (or leedes) on the cylinder where another spring-loaded tiny piece of metal (often called the cylinder stop) latches on to each leede every time the cylinder rotates;
- And the last one is via the notches on the extractor where again, another tiny piece of metal (often referred to as the bolt) locks the cylinder in place.
If you noticed, all these locking mechanisms utilize tiny pieces of metal (which are commonly MIM or metal injection molding parts, i.e. not as strong as forged metal). These pieces can break with repeated flicking of the cylinder. Breaking any of these pieces will render a revolver unusable.
So whatever you do, don’t flick the cylinder when loading your revolver. It only looks cool to the ignorant and undiscerning.
My Taurus 689 manual specifies not to dry fire as it can break the transfer bar safety inside the gun. But I’ve seen a friend’s Ruger GP100 manual and it says it’s okay to dry fire the gun.
Dry firing has its benefits (whether you want to develop muscle memory for proper grip and trigger pull without spending too much on ammo or it’s just raining outside or your neighbor’s just a crybaby). But consult your gun’s manual first if you’re going to dry fire.
If it’s not on the manual and you really want to be on the safe side, consider buying or making DIY snap caps.
Shooting .38 Special in A .357 Magnum Revolver
You may have heard or read somewhere that it’s safe to shoot .38 Special in a .357 Magnum revolver, and yes it is.
One great thing about .357 Magnum revolvers is you can load it with the cheapest.38 Special rounds you can find for plinking and target practice, and you can load it with full-power .357 Magnum rounds when you’re carrying it. It makes the platformcost-effective as far as ammo consumption.
But there’s a caveat to this dual-caliber feature. Since the .38 Special’s case is shorter than the .357 Magnum’s, shooting a lot of .38 Special rounds will result to lead fouling a little further back inside the chambers. If all that lead buildup isn’t thoroughly cleaned, loading the same gun with .357 Magnum ammo and firing them might result in their empty cases getting stuck in the chambers’ walls.
So if you’re looking to shoot .38 Specials in your .357 Magnum revolver, just make sure you clean it thoroughly after each shooting session. If you don’t know how to use a bore snake, our detailed guide might help you.
Flame Cutting Worries
Because of the revolver’s inherent design, they’re all susceptible to flame cutting (except the old Nagant M1895 which uses a unique gas-seal system, but it fires weaker rounds and is an entirely different topic) — and there’s a never-ending debate among revolver enthusiasts as to how big or small the issue really is. But what is flame cutting?
Unlike a semi-auto handgun where the chamber (the part that holds the cartridge) is integral to the barrel (being a single piece of steel with the chamber recess machined to it), a revolver has six chambers in its rotating cylinder.
Because the cylinder has to rotate, it is an entirely separate part from the fixed barrel. As such there’s a gap between the cylinder and the rear of the barrel where the forcing cone is. This gap is aptly and commonly referred to as the cylinder gap.
The measurement of the cylinder gap varies depending on different revolver manufacturers’ specifications, but all revolvers have this gap.
Whenever a loaded revolver’s trigger is pulled, the expanding hot gases that push the bullet out of the cylinder with velocity and into the revolver’s forcing cone escapes through the cylinder gap. This results in a cosmetic damage on the bottom part of a revolver’s top strap that gets more and more visible with continued shots.
Skeptics are of the argument that flame cutting can result in a revolver’s top strap breaking, that it is usually caused by repeatedly shooting lighter (but faster) 110 gr. to 125 gr. bullets in full-power loads.
Since lighter bullet weights are shorter, it supposedly leaves the cylinder gap and pushes itself into the forcing cone earlier, leaving more room for the still-expanding hot gases to escape. Shooting anything heavier than the 125 gr. (e.g. 140 gr., 158 gr.) supposedly alleviates this issue.
Optimists on the other hand claim that it’s a self-limiting problem — that, regardless of the bullet weights, as more and more of the top strap’s metal is cut by the hot gasses, eventually there will be no more metal to cut through and more space for the gases to dissipate, hence stopping the flame cutting.
In my years of owning and shooting a .357 Magnum revolver, I’ve never had to deal with flame cutting. But I only purchase 158 gr. factory ammo.
Since I’ve never shot a single 125 gr. round in my Taurus 689, I wouldn’t personally know how many rounds it would take to break its top strap via flame cutting (nor would I want to find out). And since there have been no scientific studies and tests concerning this subject, I cannot say with 100% certainty that either of the above parties is correct.
What I would recommend is, contact your manufacturer about the revolver you purchased and how susceptible it is to flame cutting, then ask them if their warranty covers replacement in case you need one. If you can’t do any of the above or you just can’t get an answer, then don’t shoot bullets lighter than 140 gr. just to be safe.
Of course, the bullet weight warning doesn’t apply to pure copper bullets — a 125-gr. copper bullet will be taller than a 125-gr. lead bullet because of the simple fact that lead has more density than copper. If you’re inclined to shoot only 125 gr. loads, then stick to pure copper bullets (they’re more expensive though — you’ve been warned).
Revolvers More Reliable than Semi-Autos
What’s great about revolvers is if a shot fails, the user only needs to cock the hammer and/or just pull the trigger (for SA/DA revolvers the trigger only needs to be pulled). Since the cylinder will rotate and cycle the next chamber, assuming the previous round happens to be a dud, it should fire the next round.
Some revolver purists, often to their detriment, make the claim (especially when they talk to newbies seeking advice) that revolvers are more reliable than semi-auto handguns citing just the scenario described above.
While this common claim can be true to a certain extent, it isn’t 100% accurate. Granted, a revolver doesn’t have too many moving parts (on the surface at least) compared to semi-autos, which means it doesn’t jam nearly as often.
But when a revolver does jam, it can be a real nightmare to fix — unlike with semi-autos where most FTFs and FTEs can usually be remedied by just racking the slide.
And then there’s the fact that a semi-auto’s slide and recoil springs absorb recoil, which in general, all things between the two platforms considered, makes modern semi-autos more newbie-friendly compared to revolvers.
So as you can see, it is more the fact that these types of gun have different issues typical of them. Of course, the extent of the problems will also depend on the quality of your purchase. Be sure to look up reviews before you make a purchase to look out for any common problems.
Reloading a semi-auto is fairly simple and intuitive. You push the mag release, the mag comes out, you push a fresh mag in, rack the slide (or actuate the slide release) and you’re ready to go. Things aren’t as straightforward with revolvers.
Most people, regardless of whether they’re new or long-time revolver shooters, for some reason don’t seem to know how to properly load a revolver. It’s not uncommon to see someone who uses their weak support hand to load rounds into the chambers.
The proper way is Massad Ayoob’s “Stressfire” reload. Upon opening the cylinder and ejecting the empty cases, with the revolver’s barrel pointed downward, the weak hand’s middle and ring finger tightly holds the cylinder at an angle (avoiding the hot forcing cone) and the strong hand loads fresh rounds into the chambers. The weak hand then gently locks the cylinder back in place and aligns a loaded chamber to the barrel.
Speed strips, speed loaders and moon clips (for revolvers with a cylinder recessed to accept such) still allow for faster reload but with enough practice, the method described above allows for fast reloads without using any kind of tool because with your strong hand you can load two (even three) chambers at once.
If you are still struggling, look up some video tutorials. It is often more helpful to learn by watching some professionals do it. Practice makes perfect after all, but you have to learn the right way.
Semi-autos don’t have that cylinder gap that revolvers have which makes them easier to grab on to. With semi-autos, the shooter can use practically any grip method they prefer (straight-thumb, cross-thumb, etc.).
With revolvers though, using the straight-thumb grip method (which allows for more stability and better recoil control in semi-autos) will result in the shooter losing a piece of skin, even flesh, on their support hand’s thumb because of the hot gases that escape from the cylinder gap. And no gloves will help.
Another thing about proper grip, when shooting .357 Magnum loads, you have to grasp the revolver grip as high up as possible for better recoil control. This will mitigate a common issue with revolvers wherein the barrel’s axis is sitting just too high up from the user’s arm (the only exception being the Chiappa Rhino, more on that below).
I mean not to disrespect the revolver platform by talking about these caveats — God knows I’ve always been in love with revolvers. I’ve had one for over a decade before I owned my first semi-auto (a custom 1911 which is itself more than a decade old). Revolvers will always have that special place in my heart. But I’m not blinded by my love for revolvers. I’m just keeping it real.
So now that we have all of the caveats out of the way, let’s get to the meat of this article.
The Best 357 Revolvers
Now on to the main part of our article, the best 357 magnum revolvers. Of course, this list is our personal preferences based on extensive research and trials. However, your preferences may differ. That is why we recommend reading this list with an idea to your own preferences and choices. This way, you can find something in our list that is perfect for you.
1. Korth Arms (Germany)
Founded in the early 1950s by Willi Korth, a railway engineer, Korth-Waffen is a luxury firearms manufacturer based in Lollar, Germany. They make some of the finest pistols and revolvers for competition, but what really got me interested in their firearms is their Korth Combat, an ultra-expensive luxury revolver chambered in .357 Magnum that is supposedly more durable than the Colt Python and sold for $4,700 in the early 2000s.
Nicknamed the Rolls Royce of revolvers, each Korth takes about four months to build, and unlike most of the other revolver brands and models on this list which use MIM parts, Korth’s parts are hand ground out of forged deep hardened proprietary steel.
All Korth revolvers are custom made for each customer, and all parts are hand fitted with care, giving them unrivaled durability and accuracy even after 50,000 rounds. The luxurious deep blueing on these revolvers is so strong that it reportedly doesn’t need solvent to clean lead and powder residue from continuous firing of up to 300 rounds.
This makes Korth’s some of the rarest and most expensive revolvers on this list. If you’d like to know more, here’s a somewhat dated but still relevant write-up which has all the info you’ll need just to give a bit of a background.
Nighthawk Custom, a specialty 1911 manufacturer, teamed up with Korth-Waffen to produce three new Korth revolvers intended for the US market — two of which are chambered for the .357 Magnum: the Mongoose and the Super Sport. Both are medium-frame, 6-shot revolvers that feature a polished trigger assembly, combat trigger, skeletonized hammer, Hogue rubber grips and a matte blued finish Nighthawk refers to as “DLC”.
The Mongoose has an optional cylinder that allows it to shoot 9x19mm Parabellum rounds with no moon clips required. It’s available in 3.5-inch-, 4-inch-, 5.25-inch- and 6-inch- barrel configurations.
Both models’ barrel and cylinder are machined from ASIS 4340 billet steel while the frame is milled from ASIS 4140 billet steel.
It might not be as expensive as the Korth Combat revolver but for $3,499, the Mongoose screams unprecedented craftsmanship, durability and accuracy through and through, not to mention Korth’s reputation and the bragging rights that come with owning one of their guns.
I wouldn’t recommend the Super Sport as I feel like for $4,799, it’s just way too expensive for any purpose outside of revolver shooting competitions. The accessory rails on both sides of the barrel and the top strap allow for mounting several attachments (laser, flashlight and scope) all at once, but I really don’t see the point.
I could easily buy a 7-shot S&W 686 and have Glenn Custom convert it to a PPC revolver for $800 if I wanted something similar at around 1/3 of the Super Sport’s price.
As for the Mongoose, it can be considered a hard sell but if money isn’t an issue, don’t bother taking a look at the other revolvers on this list and just buy it. The Mongoose is the crème de la crème — literally the best wheelgun your money can buy.
2. Chapuis Armes (France)
Like Korth Combat revolvers, Manurhin revolvers are the stuff of legends, specifically the MR73. The Manurhin factory museum has an MR73 used by the GIGN (the elite police tactical unit of the French National Gendarmerie) on exhibit that has a round count of 96,000 full-power .357 Magnum. This round count is only rivaled by Korth revolvers (and properly built pre-1972 Colt Pythons).
Manurhins aren’t as expensive as Korths though, which is why among the really passionate (and rich) revolver enthusiasts, Korths might be considered the best revolvers in the world but Manurhins are considered the best practical revolvers in the world.
Designed and developed by Chapuis Armes of France, these revolvers are robustly built and guaranteed to be pinpoint accurate out to 25 meters. The specific model we recommend, the stainless MR88, is a 6-shot revolver with a frame and cylinder release that resemble those of Ruger GP100 revolvers (because they purchased the rights to use Ruger’s proprietary investment casting process).
The MR88 is available in 3-inch, 4-inch, 5.25-inch and 6-inch barrel configurations. There is no pricing data available from the manufacturer’s website but I recently emailed them and got a reply from a gentleman named Pierre Laurent. He informed me that the only US importer of these revolvers is Kebco LLC of Hanover, Pennsylvania.
I forwarded the inquiry to Kebco LLC and got a reply from another gentleman by the name of Ken Buch. He told me they will have some 6-inch MR88s available this coming summer and it costs $1,600. It will be delivered straight to my FFL and they’ll require a 50% deposit to reserve one for me.
Given the reputation of these Manurhins for strength and accuracy, I wouldn’t hesitate to shell out $1,600 if money wasn’t a concern (my wife would kill me if I did though, so sadly, no Manurhin for me).
3. Dan Wesson Firearms
Can it be just a coincidence that this firearms manufacturer’s name sounds very much like their competitor, Smith Wesson? If you think it can’t be, that there might be a story behind its name, then you’re right.
Daniel B. Wesson, one of Smith & Wesson’s founders, had a great-grandson named in his honor, Daniel B. Wesson II. Daniel II worked for Smith & Wesson from 1938 onward and left when the company was purchased by a corporation many Taurus fans are familiar with: Bangor-Punta (more on this later).
Upon leaving the family-owned company, Daniel II founded a new company called Dan Wesson Arms which has a long history. To make it short, they had developed numerous revolvers well known for their extreme levels of accuracy, but at some point in the 90s they stopped production of these revolvers as they went bankrupt. After some more financial trouble, in 2005 they were purchased by CZ-USA.
CZ semi-auto pistols have gained quite a reputation over the years that in late 2014, CZ-USA decided to try their luck in the revolvers market. They started producing a new version of the model 15-2 — the best selling production revolver Dan Wesson Arms had built.
The new production was christened the Dan Wesson 715. Retailing for $1,558, the 715 is one of the more expensive revolvers on this list. It only comes in a single configuration: its frame and 6-inch barrel are cast from stainless steel, it has Hogue rubber grips and unique to its design is its proprietary forward crane latch.
All other revolvers on this list have the cylinder release mounted on the rear of the frame but the 715’s is located is on the crane, which CZ-USA claims contributes greatly to its accuracy (the same crane latch design can be found as an additional cylinder locking feature on Taurus’ heavier Raging Bull series revolvers though).
But what’s so awesome about the 715 is with a single revolver, you can have multiple different barrel lengths. Other revolvers have fixed barrels, but the 715’s barrel can be detached from the frame (after using the included barrel wrench tool to loosen its barrel shroud), allowing for a shorter or longer barrel and shroud assembly to be installed.
The 715 Pistol Pack will set you back $1,999 but aside from the pre-installed 6-inch barrel, it also comes in a hard case that has the barrel wrench tool and additional 4-inch and 8-inch barrel and shroud assemblies.
4. Armi Sport De Chiappa (Italy)
If you thought the EAA Windicator on this list is ugly, next to the Chiappa Rhino it’s not at all bad looking. At least that’s what a lot of people I know would say.
Designed and developed by six-decades-old Italian firearms manufacturer Armi Sport de Chiappa, the Chiappa Rhino is a unique take on revolvers, so much so that it’s the only revolver on this list that has the barrel in the 6 o’clock position.
Conventional designs typically have the revolver barrel in the 12 o’clock position, which naturally leads to muzzle flip upon firing (more so with .357 Magnum rounds) because the barrel is positioned high above the top of the shooter’s hand. More muzzle flip means slower recovery time which leads to slower follow-up shots.
The Rhino isn’t the first revolver with its barrel in the 6 o’clock position, but it was designed by the same Italian guy who designed all the others that came before it — Emilio Ghisoni. The Mateba revolver, his penultimate brainchild, was the first to really popularize this concept.
With the Rhino barrel’s positioning and its high grip greatly lowering the bore axis, recoil can be easily controlled and there will be less muzzle flip, allowing for faster follow-up shots.
Unfortunately, because of all the mechanical alterations to the design, it has this weird rhino-ish look that a lot of revolver enthusiasts don’t like (though most non-enthusiasts see it as futuristic — it even already made its way into a few Hollywood films like this one).
Also, the Rhio’s hammer doesn’t work the same as the conventional revolver’s hammer does (again because the barrel is sitting really low). And for all of its design’s ingenuity, it still won’t beat the Medusa.
But whichever way you look at it, one thing’s for certain. It has the best handling of all the revolvers ever made, bar none. If you’re a first-time .357 Magnum revolver shooter, you’ll find taming the .357 Magnum’s recoil easy with this piece.
These 6-shot, hexagonal-cylinder Rhino revolvers are available in 2-inch, 3-inch, 4-inch, 5-inch and 6-inch barrel lengths and in black anodized, nickel-plated, and “gold” finish, with prices ranging from $1,089 to $1,652 depending on the particular configuration. Considering that these guns are designed to shoot fast, I’d highly recommend the snub-nose model as a CCW.
5. Kimber Manufacturing
Everyone knows Kimber. They make some of the more expensive production 1911s and while a lot of people love them, I personally know a few who hate them to their core. They’re nothing like Taurus though — in general, their products are of relatively high quality and they don’t compete in any budget segment of firearms.
In the January 2016 SHOT Show, Kimber announced that for the first time, they are stepping into the .357 Magnum revolvers market with the launch of their K6s series DAO revolvers developed solely for concealed carry.
All K6s revolvers come completely dehorned (i.e. there are no sharp edges anywhere so it doesn’t snag clothing). Most notably, these revolvers are only slightly larger than its more established small-frame concealed-carry counterparts on this list (i.e. the S&W 360 and the Ruger SP101) but it holds 6 rounds instead of just 5.
Also, these K6s revolvers were initially only available in 2-inch barrel lengths, but just this year Kimber announced that they are producing 3-inch barrel variants. Depending on the finish, the type of grips installed and the barrel length, the K6s revolvers can cost anywhere from $850 to $1,100.
6. Smith & Wesson
I wouldn’t bother discussing Smith & Wesson’s background as a company as theirs is a household name in the world of firearms — everyone has heard about them at some point. Of the three big revolver manufacturers in the US (the other two being Ruger and Taurus — sorry, Colt, you’re not included), Smith & Wesson sells some of the more expensive mid-priced revolvers on our list.
We have three specific models to recommend from Smith & Wesson, the first of which is the Model 360 which is a 5-shot small-frame snub nose. Its unfluted cylinder is machined from stainless steel coated with PVD finish making it highly corrosion resistant.
The Model 360 uses a scandium alloy frame that makes it lightweight but strong enough to handle the most powerful .357 Magnum loads, and it has round-butt synthetic grips for comfort. If you want a lightweight CCW piece that is light enough to carry with your person all day, for $770 this is arguably the best option on this list.
Our second Smith & Wesson recommendation is the Model 686, which comes in a 6-shot and a 7-shot version (the one with the PLUS suffix). The Model 686 is one of the most common S&W revolvers out there and enthusiasts swear by them.
Size wise it’s technically not a medium frame revolver — it’s larger than conventional medium frame (S&W K-Frame) revolvers but a tad smaller than true large (S&W N-Frame) frame revolvers. But its weight and solid construction help in soaking up recoil. And it shouldn’t have too much of a problem with flame cutting because of its thick top strap (though again it’ll be safer to only sparingly shoot 125 gr. bullets).
Both the Model 686 and Model 686 PLUS are in stainless steel and both are available in 2.5-inch-, 3-inch-, 4.125-inch- and 6-inch-barrel length configurations, with the PLUS variant being the better buy simply because it only costs $20 more (the 6-shot retails for $829 while the 7-shot PLUS variant retails for $849).
My last Smith & Wesson recommendation is their Model 627 revolvers in their Performance Center line of pistols. These are all built on Smith & Wesson’s N-Frame (which is usually within the .44 Magnum revolver weight class). Having a large frame means these revolvers can accommodate a bigger cylinder which holds 8 rounds of .357 Magnum.
These 8-shot wheelguns represent some of Smith and Wesson’s top-end models, the lowest-priced being the 4-inch-barrel Performance Center PRO Series at $999, followed by the snub-nosed 2.625-inch-barrel version at $1,079, then there’s the 5-inch-barrel version with classy wood grips at $1,289, and the M327 TRR8 (Tactical Rail Revolver 8-shot) that retails for $1,329 which I personally think is too big and cumbersome for its intended “tacticool” purpose.
7. Sturm, Ruger & Co.
Every revolver guy I know loves Ruger. They have a reputation for building the thickest-framed, heaviest, sturdiest revolvers that can withstand even the hottest .357 Magnum loads, whether we’re talking factory ammo or the original Keith load (173 gr. at 1,400 fps).
The common expression “Rugers are built like a tank” is no exaggeration, as Ruger revolvers have significantly thicker frames compared to their competitors which makes them unique. Another Ruger-only feature that contributes to these revolvers’ strength is the fact that they don’t have a removable side plate.
All single-piece solid frames are formed via Ruger’s patented investment casting process. Granted, they’re cast and not forged (forged metal is always stronger than cast), but Ruger has perfected the process over decades that at one point, French firearms manufacturing company Chapuis Armes bought Ruger’s patent to build their own revolvers.
We wholeheartedly recommend three revolvers from Ruger: their small-frame 5-shot SP101; their medium-frame GP100; and their large-frame Redhawk which was originally designed and built for the .44 Magnum but since last year was also released for the .357 Magnum.
The SP101 revolver has been a popular choice among hikers and campers as a trail gun with the original models only available in two barrel length options: the 2-1/4 inch Model 5718, and the 3-1/16 inches Model 5719. Both are priced at $719.
These early small-frame models have fixed rear sights, but a few years ago Ruger added another model to their SP101 line which has adjustable sights, fiber optic front sight and a longer 4-1/5-inch barrel: the Model 5771, which retails for $769.
The GP100 is well-known among revolver enthusiasts as the successor to the Ruger Security Six, itself a robustly-built 6-shot SA/DA revolver priced just right. It’s been around for decades but just in the third quarter of last year, Ruger introduced 7-shot GP100 models.
The GP100 is available in several different barrel length configurations (2.5-inch, 3-inch, 4.2-inch, 5-inch and 6-inch) but we find that the longer 4-inch-, 5-inch- and 6-inch-barrel options have better balance compared to the shorter barrel ones. In general, a stainless GP100 6-shot costs $829 while a stainless GP100 7-shot costs $899 ($50 more expensive than its Smith & Wesson counterpart, the 686 PLUS).
If seven shots of from the newest GP100 isn’t enough or if you simply want the biggest Ruger revolver in .357 Magnum, then you might find their Redhawk line of revolvers in .357 Magnum more appealing.
Also released later last year, the Ruger Redhawk chambered for .357 Magnum are available in three different barrel lengths: 2.75 inches, 4.2 inches and 5.5 inches, all variants are priced the same at $1,079.
Like the competing 8-shot Smith & Wesson, I personally think Redhawk revolvers are too big for the .357 Magnum but if you need more recoil control for some reason, the extra weight will help.
8. Forjas Taurus (Brazil)
Talking further about the conglomerate Bangor-Punta purchasing Smith & Wesson in 1965, in 1970 the same conglomerate purchased 54% of Forjas Taurus, a firearms manufacturer then based in São Leopoldo, a city within the state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil.
Both having the same parent company, Smith & Wesson and Taurus would freely share technology and manufacturing methodologies in the next seven years. A new Brazilian ownership took over full control in 1977 when Forjas Taurus was purchased back from Bangor-Punta, and from then until recently, Taurus has been manufacturing revolvers that are similar to Smith & Wesson in form and function.
Today, Taurus is shaping up to be one of the most innovative firearms manufacturers company in the world as they come up with new weapon designs almost every year. But their reputation as a company isn’t like any of the others’ on this list. They’re the type that people either like so much or hate so much (I personally lean a tad bit toward the former — I can’t say I like them 100%).
Depending on how lucky you are, you can get a fully functional, no-frills, aesthetically pleasing piece of Brazilian craftsmanship at significantly less than its expensive brand-name (i.e. Smith & Wesson and Beretta) counterpart — or you can get a very expensive paperweight not too different from those your local Saturday Night Special dealer sells that even with Taurus’ no-questions-asked Lifetime Repair policy, you’d wish you never purchased.
Yes, there’s always that risk of getting a lemon no matter which company you buy from but that risk is somewhat higher when buying a Taurus, at least as far as I’m aware. Then again, the higher the risk, the higher the reward. If you’re a risk taker, we can recommend three Taurus .357 Magnum revolver models.
The Taurus 617 is a medium-frame stainless steel snub nose revolver with a 2-inch barrel and a 7-shot cylinder. It has fixed rear and front sights and black rubber grips and for $589 it’s around 18% cheaper than the Ruger SP101 but it offers 40% more ammo capacity.
The Taurus 692 is the newest revolver on this list, just recently making its debut in the 2018 SHOT Show. I was going to recommend the medium-frame 7-shot Taurus Tracker 627 (which I’ve known forever — I used to own one) but upon seeing how the 692 is a little different (in that it’s still a 7-shot revolver but it comes with an additional cylinder chambered for the 9x19mm Parabellum), I decided to recommend the latter instead.
At the time of this article’s writing, the 692 is reportedly not yet in stock everywhere so if you’re itching to get a 7-shot Taurus with a 4-inch or a 6-inch barrel, you might want to look into the Tracker 627. It retails for $709. But if you’re willing to wait it out (maybe give it a year tops), the Taurus 692 in the 3-inch or the 6-inch barrel configuration (matte black or stainless steel) should sell for only $659.
Taurus also has an 8-shot .357 Magnum revolver, it’s their Model 608 available in 4-inch and 6.5-inch barrel lengths, either configuration is selling for $729.
But as with its direct Smith & Wesson and Ruger competitors (S&W 627 and Ruger Redhawk in .357 Magnum), I think it’s too big for the cartridge and for whatever its intended purpose is. And seeing how no one really likes this model, I wouldn’t really bother with it.
9. Sarsilmaz Firearms Industry (Turkey)
The first time I heard of Sarsilmaz was in January of 2012. I was scouring the web for the newest revolver brands on the market and got a bit of info on their SR-38 (which back then didn’t have that model number).
Based in Düzce, Turkey, Sarsilmaz is reportedly the only private institution in the country that produces small arms in large quantities for military and law enforcement use. Founded in 1880 when Turkey was still a part of the Ottoman Empire, they’re one of the oldest and largest firearms manufacturers in the country. Their guns are of such good quality that they export to 66 countries worldwide.
It took around five years for the SR38 to make it to the US — maybe the ATF really took their time approving the importation and sale of these revolvers (because let’s face it, some Americans don’t like Turks). As far as I’m aware, the SR-38 only started becoming widely available last year via TR Imports from Texas.
If you’re not bothered by the fact that it’s made in Turkey (I know some aren’t), the SR-38 looks and feels and shoots like a 6-shot Smith & Wesson 686. It’s got all the bells and whistles: the fully adjustable rear sights, the Hogue-like rubber grips, the barrel rib and underlug design, the cylinder release button, even the leaf spring used as its mainspring. It also has an all-steel construction and its weight really helps soak up recoil.
So far, all the reviews on this newcomer are positive. Check out this review by sootch00 for more info. All in all, I think this is a beautiful, solidly built revolver that will get the job done for significantly less than the cost of a 6-shot 686.
The SR-38 is available in blued and stainless finish with 4-inch and 6-inch barrel configurations. Blued models regardless of barrel length (SKUs SR38-357-4 and SR38-357-6) cost $481, while stainless models, again regardless of barrel length (SKU: SR38-357-4-SS and SR38-357-6-SS) cost $558.
10. Eaa Corp.
Unlike the other brands on this list, EAA Corp. (European-American Armory Corporation) is not a firearms manufacturer. Rather, they’re an importer of firearms manufactured from different European countries. They are well known in the semi-auto handguns market for importing the Italian-made Tanfoglio 9mm pistols (in the US these are sold under the EAA Witness brand).
The revolver they import and market under their EAA Windicator brand is manufactured by Hermann Weihrauch, a firearms manufacturing company based in Mellrichstadt, Bavaria, Germany. Founded in 1899, Hermann Weihrauch is well known for their solidly-built target/sporting air rifles, air pistols and all sorts of firearms.
With its 6-shot cylinder and heavy construction, the EAA Windicator (known locally in Germany as the HW 357) is one ugly revolver in my opinion. The manufacturer attempted a vented-rib look but the vents look wrong (they aren’t even real vents — they don’t allow for air to flow through the top of the barrel because they don’t have holes), the rubber grips look God-awful and the cylinder release looks like a piece of serrated metal hastily screwed onto the frame.
But as EAA Corp. claims, “It not the sleekest, or the lightest, or even the prettiest, but the Windicator is ready when you need it!” This revolver is a beater, built to shoot every time the trigger is pulled. Just read through the comments on this blog post — people who own the EAA Windicator have a lot of nice things to say about it.
The EAA Windicator is available in 2-inch or 4-inch barrel configurations with a choice of blued and stainless steel finish. The 2-inch barrel blued model (SKU 770130) sells for $373 and the 4-inch barrel blued model (SKU 770133) sells for $392, while the 2-inch barrel stainless steel model (SKU 770127) sells for $442 and the 4-inch barrel stainless steel model (SKU 770128) sells for $458.
If you’re looking for the best bargain-basement type deals on .357 Magnum revolvers and you don’t mind buying things not made in America, these are some of the best you’ll ever find.
11. Amadeo Rossi Sa (Brazil)
I couldn’t get much info online about Rossi, the only thing I know is they were founded in the Brazilian city of São Leopoldo (the same city where Taurus originated) in 1889 which means they’ve been around longer than Taurus, and they manufacture shotguns, youth rifles, revolver rifles (like the Circuit Judge) and revolvers chambered for .38 Special and .357 Magnum.
Their production line of revolvers and handguns were acquired by Taurus sometime in 2008, and Taurus manufactures Rossi’s .357 Magnum revolvers under contract with them. This explains why, like Taurus, people either like Rossi so much or hate them so much.
Rossi only has three .357 Magnum revolver models available, all of which have a 6-shot cylinder. Unlike all the other brands’ revolver models on this list, Rossi revolvers aren’t available in different barrel length configurations and finish.
The stainless R92706 has a 6-inch barrel with adjustable rear sight, retailing for $429; the blued R97104 has a 4-inch barrel with adjustable rear sight, retailing for $399; while the R46202 is a 2-inch snub nose model with fixed rear sight, also in stainless finish, retailing for $359.
I personally wouldn’t bother with any of these revolvers as there are cheaper and more reliable options available (like the Sarsilmaz and EAA Corp. offerings on this list). But if these are the only revolvers available in your LGS and you really need one, or if you already happen to have one, it might be a relief to know that they have a pretty good warranty policy.
As long as your revolver has the “Braztech Int’l L.C. Miami, FL USA” stamp, then Rossi has you covered with their Revolver Lifetime Repair Policy (being related to Taurus, it’s no surprise they offer the same type of warranty policy). Hopefully, whatever problem your Rossi revolver has is fixable. If not, then unfortunately you have an expensive paperweight.
12. CzechpoiNt Alfa Proj (Czech Republic)
I’ve been reading about these revolvers since 2010. They’re manufactured by Alfa Proj based in Brno, the second largest city in Czech Republic which is a country well known for producing some of the best firearms in the world. I recently did a write-up on a handgun being touted as the most powerful double-stack semi-auto in the world — it originates from the same city and is even named after it.
Sadly, if you were looking to get info on any of these Alfa Proj .357 Magnum revolvers and you end up reading this article, I regretfully have to tell you that I can’t recommend them.
For one thing, they’re not in stock on the importer’s website (CzechPoint). Another reason is I’ve read this review by GunTests. It’s a very detailed review comparing a Smith & Wesson 686 to an Alfa Proj revolver.
After reading it, I’ve never been so disappointed. These revolvers are supposed to work great because they’re from the Czech Republic. But apparently, some of the parts can break and there are tool marks that can be seen all over the recoil shield.
Granted, the review I referenced is old, and there’s this other review by a guy on YouTube who seems pretty happy with his purchase. But still, I think an SR-38 or an EAA Windicator would be a better deal for around the same price. I can only hope that these Alfa Proj revolvers are better 11 years after that horrible review came out — I just love the way they look.
13. Charter Arms
An American firearms manufacturer based in Shelton, Connecticut, Charter Arms has been around since 1964. The company was founded by a gun designer, Doug McClenahan, who reportedly worked for Colt, High Standard and Ruger before starting his own business.
As just another firearms manufacturer with a long history, I will not go too deep with Charter Arms’ background as a company. They state on their website that their company is 100% American-owned — and all their products are American-designed, American-made using American parts. I’ll take their word for it.
If you’re looking for a budget wheelgun but find it difficult to buy anything made outside of the US, then Charter Arms might be an option. Their Mag Pug line of revolvers chambered for the .357 Magnum all have a 5-shot cylinder and a stainless steel finish.
Prices are within the $400 range but they have a particular model 73524 selling for $609 fitted with Crimson Trace laser grips. There’s a Mag Pug with 4.2-inch barrel (model 73542) that sells for $470 but for some reason, there’s no picture of it on their website (I believe it’s the Target model).
Beware though. Like some of the other brands on this list that are geared toward budget-minded folks, the Mag Pug (and Charter Arms products in general) suffers from a bad reputation. The gun is highly inaccurate, often shooting way too low — up to 5 inches lower — from point of aim.
Some people like the Mag Pug, others hate them. The general consensus is the quality of Charter Arms’ revolvers is so-so. If you want to buy an All-American revolver but you don’t want to risk spending $400 on a piece that won’t work as intended, just save up another $300 and get yourself a Ruger SP101 (if you’re lucky maybe you can find one for around the same price, like the one on this ad).
So now that you know about the top firearms companies and manufacturers, why don’t we narrow it down a bit for you. It can be helpful to narrow it down based on usage. The perfect gun for us is often decided by how we plan to use it.
So in this section, we have divided our picks into three categories – hunting, concealed carry, and other things (a broad range including self-defense and other general uses). We have also included a list of our top 10 picks for firearms.
All in all, we looked at 23 revolver models from 13 different manufacturers.
Here Are Our Top 10 Picks for 2021:
- Nighthawk/Korth Mongoose (the Rolls Royce of revolvers, also shoots 9mm)
- Manurhin MR88 (the Korth’s and Colt Python’s rival in durability from France)
- Dan Wesson 715 (offers the option to change barrels)
- Chiappa Rhino (most innovative design, easiest to handle)
- S&W 686 PLUS (still the top American brand with 7 shots to boot)
- S&W 627 (when 7 shots are not enough)
- Ruger GP100 (the stronger and beefier S&W 686 PLUS’ counterpart)
- Ruger Redhawk (the stronger and beefier S&W 627 counterpart)
- Taurus 692 (can shoot .357 Magnum, .38 Special and 9mm, also has 7 shots)
- Sarsilmaz SR38 (new kid on the block that wows everyone, including me)
Coincidentally, the above-listed revolvers all have barrel length configurations longer than 4 inches, which means for hunting, you can’t go wrong with any of our Top 10 picks.
Some of these revolvers already have a vent rib or come out of the factory drilled and tapped for attaching a scope mount, others don’t. But I doubt mounting a scope would be a problem. The cheapest SR38, being a S&W 686 clone, should be able to use a S&W 686 scope mount without too many problems.
The .357 Magnum can easily take deer, even up to 133 yards as demonstrated by Fred Eichler, a renowned handgun hunter. What’s important when shopping for a hunting revolver is the barrel length. I’d want a barrel length minimum of at least five inches for accuracy but generally I’d just go with a six-inch barrel.
For Concealed Carry
If you want a revolver for concealed carry, we can only recommend these models:
- Chiappa Rhino with 2” barrel
- Kimber K6s with 2” barrel
- S&W 360
- Ruger SP101 with 2.25” barrel
- Taurus 617 7-shot
- EAA Windicator with 2” barrel
I would say for a CCW piece, carrying a ultra-compact or a sub-compact semi-auto makes more sense because it is smaller, lighter and have more ammo capacity. By its design, .357 Magnum revolvers just aren’t as easy to carry concealed. If you’re carrying one concealed, you’ll want a revolver with a 2-inch short barrel so you can easily conceal it.
That isn’t to say 4-inch barrel revolvers can’t be concealed. It can be done. It’s just not going to be easy.
Of the six CCW recommendations, the most affordable option is the EAA Windicator, the one with the highest ammo capacity is the Taurus 617 and the lightest is the S&W 360 (which allows you to carry it all day without getting sore, but it will have the worst recoil).
For All Other Things
If you’re looking for a general purpose beater gun that you can put in the car’s glove compartment, in a backpack while hiking or in a tackle box while fishing, we would recommend any of the revolvers we looked at that has a 3-inch or a 4-inch barrel.
I’m particularly biased toward these three because they’re the most affordable (I wouldn’t weep over any of these if they were stolen or something):
- Taurus 692 with 3” barrel
- Sarsilmaz SR38 with 4” barrel
- EAA Windicator with 4” barrel
If you want a high-end revolver for range shooting and competitions that can double up as a night stand gun for home defense, just get the most expensive revolver you can buy. I would personally pick between the MR88 and the Dan Wesson 715 for those purposes but it really depends on your budget.
Which Is Best for You?
So, as you can see, there a whole lot of options at your disposal. Therefore, the choice for you requires a comprehensive outline of your needs and preferences. You need to know what you are looking for first. Otherwise, the choices will be overwhelming.
We recommend that your number one consideration should be what you are going to be using the revolver for. We have divided our list above into different categories. Therefore, when you know what kind of usage you need a gun for, you can match it to one of our choices above.
From there, you can dive deeper into our guide to see more details about manufacturers, as well as a comprehensive guide to the different features and techniques of proper usage of these revolvers. Overall, you want to make the best choice for yourself, and deciding your needs is the first step in this decision.
There are hundreds (maybe even more than a thousand) of good .357 Magnum revolvers out there. It’s just impossible to cover them all in a single write-up.
If there’s a particular revolver brand or model that you’re interested in but wasn’t covered in this article, feel free to comment down below. We’ll help you decide if it’s a good fit.
As for me, it took me a few weeks to gather all the info on this article and complete the whole write-up. It was exhausting. But with all the wonderful .357 Magnum revolver options on the market today, I knew that making recommendations was going to be really tough.
Then again, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Having more than a few options to choose from is always good for us consumers because we get to choose. And with choice, there is power.
Smith & Wesson Model 27
The Smith & WessonModel 27 is the original .357 Magnumrevolver. It was first produced in 1935, and many versions of it are still in production today. The Model 27 was built on Smith & Wesson's carbon steel, large N-frame, and was available at various times with 31⁄2", 4", 5", 6" or 83⁄8" barrel lengths and had adjustable sights.
When first introduced by Smith & Wesson in 1935, it was known as the Registered Magnum. The model was essentially a custom-order revolver. Barrel lengths could be had in one-quarter-inch (6.4 mm) increments from 3+1⁄2 to 8+3⁄8 inches (8.9 to 21.3 cm) inches in length. In addition to the different lengths of barrels available, there were different grips, front sights, triggers, hammers, and finishes available. Each Registered Magnum came with a certificate of authenticity.
Even though it was introduced in the middle of the Great Depression and was extremely expensive, Smith & Wesson found itself backlogged with orders for the four years that it produced the Registered Magnum. The Kansas City Police Department issued the Registered Magnum to its officers, and many other law enforcement officers across the United States carried the Registered Magnum. In 1939, Smith & Wesson stopped producing the Registered Magnum. It was replaced with the Model 27, which was available with barrel lengths of 3+1⁄2, 5, 6+1⁄2, and 8+3⁄4 inches (8.9, 12.7, 16.5, and 22.2 cm). It has been reported that these were the most popular barrel lengths for the Registered Magnum. Essentially, the Model 27 was still the Registered Magnum, but standardized for ease of production and economy. The Smith & Wesson Model 28 "Highway Patrolman" was introduced as a lower-cost version of the Model 27 in 1954, stripped of some of the features of the Model 27, such as polishing.
It was noted for its durability and reliability. The 31⁄2-inch barrel length was extremely popular with FBI agents from the 1940s through the 1960s. Skeeter Skelton considered the Model 27 with a 5-inch barrel as the best all-around handgun. General George Patton carried an ivory-handled Registered Magnum with a 31⁄2-inch barrel (along with his ivory-handled Colt Peacemaker); Patton called the Model 27 his "killing gun."
The stainless steel Model 627 was introduced in 1989 as the "Model of 1989". It featured a 5+1⁄2-inch barrel, a 6-shot unfluted cylinder, and had a round butt with S&W Combat stocks.
In 1996, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center began production of an 8-shot 627. The 627 has a 2+5⁄8-inch (6.7 cm) barrel with no muzzle brake or ports. The cylinder is unfluted. The revolver is made of stainless steel, with a matte finish and wood grips.
In 2008, the eight-shot, scandium-framed Smith & Wesson Model 327 was introduced. A variant of the 327, the 327NG, is part of the NightGuard line.
The Smith & Wesson Model 327PD is an 8-shot double-action revolver that has a 4-inch stainless steel barrel with no muzzle brake or ports. It has a scandium alloy frame and a titanium cylinder. It comes with rosewoodHogue grips. It uses a light-gathering HI-VIZ front sight and an adjustable V-notch rear sight. The revolver finish is a glare-reducing matte black, with a matte gray cylinder.
The S&W TRR8 and M&P R8 (both including accessory rails for mounting lights and lasers) are recent advances of the 327 line.
Smith and Wesson now include the Model 27 in two variations in their current "Classics" Line of Revolvers. Both feature original style Wooden Combat Grips per the Post WW2 versions of the 27 and later 586 and 686 revolvers. Barrels are currently available in 4" and 6+1⁄2", they both feature adjustable sights. The 4" version has a Pinned Serrated Ramp Style Front sight, the 6+1⁄2" version has a Traditional Target Patridge Style front sight that is also pinned to the barrel.
- Taffin, John (1997). "Chapter 4 The .357 Magnum - The First Magnum". Big Bore Sixguns. Krause Publications. ISBN .
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Smith & Wesson Model 13
The Smith & Wesson Model 13 (Military & Police Magnum) is a .357 Magnumrevolver designed for military and police use. It is based on Smith & Wesson's K-frame—specifically, it is a .357 Magnum version of the heavy-barrel variant of the .38 SpecialModel 10 (originally called the Military & Police).
This is a double-action revolver with a capacity of six rounds. Barrel lengths are 3-inch and 4-inch with fixed sights. Both round-butt and square-butt versions were produced. The Model 19 is essentially the same gun with adjustable sights and a partial underlug. The Model 13 has a blued finish; the Model 65 is a variant in matte finishstainless steel.
The Model 13 was manufactured from 1974 to 1998. The Model 65 was manufactured from 1972 to 2004. The Model 13 should not be confused with the M13, which was a lightweight alloy revolver produced from 1954-56 for the U.S. Air Force, known as the Aircrewman. Generations of the model 13 are as follows: 1st Generation (1974) introduced, 2nd Generation (1977) changed back to gas ring on cylinder, 3rd Generation (1982) eliminated cylinder counterbore.
Both models were issued by police agencies and federal law enforcement agencies in the United States.
The Model 13 was requested by the New York State Police in order to have a .357 Magnum revolver to replace their Model 10 .38 Special. The Model 65 in stainless steel came about at the request of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol.
The FBI issued the Model 13 with round butt and 3" heavy barrel shortly before switching to semi-automatic pistols.
Apart from the USA, the ICAC of Hong Kong issued the revolver for replacement of the Smith & Wesson Model 10 revolver and the Colt Detective Special to the Arms Issued Officers, which they replaced in late 2005 with Glock and SIG Sauer semi-auto pistols.
The Model 65 is used by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.