We sit in the year of our lord 2020 with futuristic and fantastic firearms unbeatable in reliability, accuracy, ballistics, and beyond. Yet, we still cling to our revolvers.
America loves revolvers.
Maybe it’s our cowboy inclinations, and our frontier history coupled with spaghetti westerns, P.I. novels, and Danny Glover in Lethal Weapon that forces us to love the ole’ six-gun. Revolvers range in power from the anemic 22 short to the 500 S&W magnum and everything in between.
Today, we are going to be talking about the famed 357 magnum and the best 357 magnum revolvers.
Why Use a .357 Revolver?
Well, the 357 magnum is the premier combat revolver cartridge. It strikes a balance between power and controllability. That compromise makes it more potent than a 38 Special or 9mm, but easier to control than other magnum cartridges. The 357 Magnum is a powerhouse of a cartridge that delivers power beyond most automatic cartridges.
The 357 Magnum
I can run my mouth about how powerful and easy to control the 357 Magnum is, but let’s look at the numbers.
|Parent Casing||.38 Special|
|Bullet Diameter||.357 inches|
|Neck Diameter||.379 inches|
|Base Diameter||.379 inches|
|Case Length||1.29 inches|
|Overall Length||1.59 inches|
|Case Capacity||26.2 gr H2O|
|SAAMI Max Pressure||35,000 PSI|
A Hornady XTP 158 grain 357 magnum flies at 1,250 feet per second from a four-inch barrel. This round generates 548-foot pounds of energy on target. The heaviest 9mm, a 147-grain cartridge, moves at 940 feet per second and hits with 310 foot-pounds of energy. The 357 Magnum is a potent performer.
The 357 Magnum also offers a longer effective range than most combat pistol cartridges. From 50 to 75 yards, the 357 has roughly half the drop of a 9mm. This more prolonged range effectiveness makes it easy to use a 357 magnum revolver for tasks like hunting.
The 357 magnum is derived from the 38 Special. The 357 Magnum is longer and more potent than the 38 Special, but the projectiles are the same, as are the case diameters. For this reason, 357 magnum revolvers can safely shoot 38 Special cartridges.
38 Special rounds are cheaper and softer shooting and offer shooters a cheap training round or a reduced recoil load. 357 Magnum revolvers provide you a variety of different loads for a variety of other purposes. Unlike automatics, revolvers do not use the gas or recoil of their cartridge to ensure they run.
Revolvers can run the gamut of superbly powerful cartridges to cartridges loaded with nothing more than a wax bullet and a primer to propel it. The popularity of the 357 Magnum has ensured you have cartridges of every type of use of every kind of shooter. From the soft recoiling and fast-flying 90 grain loads to the almighty, hand punishing 180 grain loads from Buffalo Bore.
357 Magnum Revolver Types
357 Magnum revolvers are varied in their designs and sizes to serve a variety of different roles. The different sizes often point to their various roles. When choosing a 357 magnum revolver, size matters.
Concealed Carry: Concealed carry revolvers have a few different flavors. Barrels can be as short as 1.87 inches to 3 inches in length. Capacities range from 5 to 6 rounds, and they can weigh anywhere from 12 ounces to 30 ounces. These guns often come in double action only and double action with an exposed hammer for single-action shots.
Full Size: Full size, or duty size, 357 Magnums are what the 357 magnum is designed for. Barrel length runs from 4 to 6 inches, and capacity is 6 to 8 rounds. These big fellas may even have rails for optics and lights. This size revolver is popular for defensive purposes but tends to be a little bigger than most. Most full-size revolvers come in double-action designs with an exposed hammer for single-action shots.
Beyond Full Size: Beyond full-size revolvers can have barrels as long as 8 inches, and capacities also range between 6 to 8 rounds. These hand cannons are massive, heavy, and superbly accurate. In particular, optics mounts are widespread on these guns, and they are popular for handgun hunting. They come in both double-action varieties and single-action designs.
Cowboy Guns: The 357 Magnum was created in 1935, well after the west was won. However, the round and its little 38 Special brothers’ popularity has spurred into replica cowboy guns. Cowboy guns are typically plinkers, competitive, and even hunting options. Cowboy guns are devoid of modern features and have a distinctive style and feel to them. Most cowboy guns are single action only, with a few rare double-action designs with an exposed hammer for single-action shots.
Editor’s Choice of the Best 357 Magnum Revolvers
We’ve singled out 8 of the best 357 revolvers out of a seemingly unending list available on the market today. And let’s just say, it’s really tough to declare one alone as the Supreme Leader of every other revolver. However, we’ve been able to break them down into specific categories.
If you’d like to jump straight to the category that suits you best, use our handy jump links below. They’ll take you right where you want to be. Or just reading through and catch the rest of the good info we’ve got to offer. Your choice.
Best 357 Magnum Revolvers By Category
|357 Revolver||Details||Check Price||Mobile Bottom Line|
Best Cowboy Gun
Old School Cool
Best for Hunting
Spec Comparison Table of the Best 357 Revolvers
|Revolver||Capacity||Action||Overall Length||Barrel Length||Weight|
|Korth Ranger||6||SA/DA||8.86"||4"||2.42 oz|
|S&W 327 TRR8||8||SA/DA||10.5||5||34.7 oz|
|Chiappa Rhino 40DS||6||SA/DA||8.5"||4"||1.87 lbs|
|Ruger LCRx||5||Double||6.5"||1.87"||17.1 oz|
|Cimarron Thunderer||6||Single||6.3"||3.5"||2.76 lbs|
|Colt Python||6||Double||9.75"||4.25"||42 oz|
|Dan Wesson 715||6||SA/DA||9.5"||6"||47 oz|
|Ruger Blackhawk||6||Single||12.38"||6.5||45 oz|
Reviews of the Best 357 Magnum Revolvers
Now that we’ve covered the whys and the specs, let’s dive into individual reviews of each wheelgun. These reviews will give you some indication regarding what these guns are all about and whether each one is right for you.
This is one heck of a revolver. Great all-around. We just wish that it was more affordable.
Final Grade : A
Korth Ranger Review
Korth is a legendary company that makes exquisite, premium-grade revolvers. The Korth Ranger is one of their latest models that is part of their partnership with Nighthawk. The Ranger is a duty sized 357 magnum revolver designed for the most discerning shooter. It could be a defensive firearm, competition-grade weapon, and hunting revolver.
The Ranger is a tack driver with adjustable sights, a prominent, winged front sight, and a Lother Walther barrel. The windowed barrel shroud trims weight and gives the gun a distinctive design. The polished trigger system delivers a wonderful double-action pull and a short and light single-action option.
Korth Ranger Specs
The Ranger comes with top and bottom rails to accommodate a red dot and flashlight. The big wood grips are designed by Jim Wilson and add a classic and practical touch to this fantastic revolver. The Korth Ranger is even available with a convertible cylinder to allow the gun to shoot 9mm cartridges.
Korth Ranger Pros and Cons
- Fantastic trigger
- Modern Rail implementation
- Convertible cylinder
- Easily changed sights
- 5k+ price tag
This wheelgun is without a doubt the most tactical revolver around and provides more than the standard six-shooter.
Final Grade : B
S&W TRR8 Review
If you said to me, “Travis, you are just adding this to the list because it’s the gun the Punisher uses in Daredevil season 2.”
You wouldn’t be wrong, but you also wouldn’t be entirely right. The S&W 327 TRR8 is one of the few revolvers that is truly a tactical design.
The TRR8 features an eight-shot cylinder design that’s rare for revolvers. The 327 TRR8 is a performance center revolver complete with the performance center trigger and tuned action.
The 327 TRR8 features optional and easily removable rials for both lights and optics.
S&W TRR8 Specs
The frame is made from the ultra-light scandium, and the cylinder is cut for moon clips. Moon clips allow for a reload only a hair beyond an automatic and a spare magazine. The TRR8 is a full-sized duty revolver with a 5-inch barrel and Hogue wraparound rubber grips.
The size, barrel length, and grips make the gun extremely easy to shoot and very comfortable for rapid-fire with full powered 357 magnum rounds. If one lived in a state with a ten-round magazine ban, the TRR8 would be an outstanding home defense choice with a weapon light and even a red dot.
S&W TRR8 327 Pros and Cons
- 8 round capacity
- Rails for modern equipment
- Easy shooting design
- Moon clips can be fragile
Chiappa Rhino 40DS
It might look a little strange, but the Rhino is super comfortable to shoot and is even great for smaller shooters.
Final Grade : B
Chiappa Rhino 40DS Review
If you want to play space cowboy, the Chiappa Rhino might be the 357 magnum revolver for you. This oddly designed and weird-looking revolver is way more than a novelty. The 40DS is the mid-sized 357 magnum model that could work for home defense and even concealed carry. The key to the Chiappa Rhino’s design is the barrel placement.
Instead of the barrel being aligned with the revolver’s top cylinder, it’s aligned with the bottom cylinder. The result is an extremely low bore axis. A low bore axis results in less muzzle rise with recoil pushed rearward into the wrist instead of upwards. In practice, the barrel barely moves between shots, with the sights almost staying entirely on target.
Chiappa Rhino Specs
The Rhino is extremely comfortable to shoot. Even smaller shooters can handle full powered 357 magnums from a Rhino. It is a unique design that results in a very comfortable shooting revolver.
Chiappa Rhino 40DS Pros and Cons
- Extremely comfortable design
- Light/laser rail
- Excellent ergonomics
- Hard to cock hammer
- Long and heavy DA trigger
This little wheelgun brings the concealment of any semi-auto on the market, but with the force of a 357 magnum.
Final Grade : B
Ruger LCRx Review
When it comes to concealed carry revolvers, the Ruger LCR series is tough to beat. The LCRx adds an exposed hammer for shooters to make single-action shots on request. The LCRx 357 Magnum model sports an ultra-short 1.87-inch barrel and a lightweight polymer infused frame. Instead of using an expensive metal like scandium to reduce weight, Ruger uses polymer.
The LCRx is a five-round 357 magnum that weighs only 17.1 ounces. The LCRx packs one of the best stock double-action triggers out there, and it’s superbly smooth and easy to shoot accurately. This pocket pistol uses Hogue rubber grips to help tame recoil and increase your grip on the gun.
Ruger LCRx Specs
The LCRx is one of the most modern carry revolvers on the market. This small little bulldog packs a punch. You’ll need all the help you can get from such a small 357 magnum, and the Ruger provides it.
Ruger LCRx Pros and Cons
- Excellent trigger
- Lightweight design
- Lightweight design means heavy recoil
If you’re really looking for a fun gun to play cowboy with, this is an excellent choice. It looks great and runs just as nice.
Final Grade : A
Cimarron Thunderer Review
Cowboy revolvers are all sorts of cool, and the Cimarron Thunderer is an awesome example of a very cool cowboy gun 357 magnum. The Thunderer is my choice because it is not just a Colt SAA clone. It’s a shortened variant of the SAA with a 3.5-inch barrel length and reduced sized grips. The little Thunderer is a classic design with a side loading gate, a single-action trigger, and a fixed ramp front sight.
The Thunderer’s single-action trigger is lightweight and very crisp. It breaks easily and makes shooting the Thunderer accurately a breeze. The gun is a hefty design that makes controlling 357 magnum recoil a breeze. The Thunderer is a ton of fun to shoot and is an excellent option for a day at the range or cowboy shooting.
Cimarron Thunderer Specs
This affordable cowboy revolver does feature modern safety features not present on original Colts, but other than that, this thin is pure old west fun.
Cimarron Thunderer Pros and Cons
- Short and handy
- Easy to shoot
- A literal and figurative beast
- Limited Use
The Colt Python is a classic–no doubt about it. And although the design seems dated, it still can keep up with the young guns.
Final Grade : A
Colt Python Review
The Colt Python was a legendary revolver that made a big comeback in 2020. The Python had some teething issues, but luckily Colt figured it out quite quickly and fixed it. Colt Python revolvers are big blasters with 6 round cylinders.
The Colt Python is an extremely smooth revolver with all the flair and style the Colt Python is known for. The Python’s trigger double-action trigger is to die for, and the single is clean and crisp.
The Colt Python comes in 4.25 and 6-inch barrel variants. Personally, the 4.25-inch option is my preference, and I found it extremely well balanced and easy to shoot.
Colt Python Specs
These nickel-plated stainless steel revolvers weigh 42 ounces, and that makes even the harshest 357 magnum loads easy to handle. These guns are very accurate, and I fell in love immediately when I got my hands on one.
The Python is back, and it’s still as big and mean as it always was.
Colt Python Pros and Cons
- Easy shooting
- Classic style
- Highly accurate
- Great trigger
Dan Wesson 715
Looking for a multi-purpose revolver? The Dan Wesson 715 can do it all with its modular barrel system.
Final Grade : A
Dan Wesson 715 Review
The name Wesson and revolvers go together like peanut butter and jelly, or jalapenos and cream cheese, or fried chicken and heart disease. They are just meant for each other. Dan Wesson is a descendant of the famed Wesson from Smith and Wesson, and he created the 715 revolvers. The modularity of the 715 comes from the ability to swap barrels at the user level.
The 715 allows the owner to swap barrels between 4, 6, and 8-inch options. The 715 can be used for self-defense, duty use, hunting, competition, and other tasks a 357 magnum is called to do. The Dan Wesson 715 is the only revolver I know of that offers this degree of modularity. Beyond the interchangeable barrels, the 715 is a damn fine revolver.
Dan Wesson 715 Specs
The trigger is smooth and is a competition-grade option. The sights are adjustable, the stainless steel finish is beautiful, and the gun is very easy to control and shoot. The Dan Wesson 715 is not typical but is both modular and well designed.
Dan Wesson 715 Pros and Cons
- Modular Barrel System
- Excellent trigger
- Extremely accurate
- Extra barrels can be tough to find
Revolver hunting is a heck of a sport. Be sure you’re equipped with only the best like the Ruger Blackhawk.
Final Grade : A
Ruger Blackhawk Review
Hunting with a revolver is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. The extra challenge of a handgun, the hair of danger involved, and the excitement of taking a buck or bore in unbeatable. The Ruger Blackhawk is one of the best choices for hunting. It’s a single action only revolver available in various calibers, including the star of our show 357 Magnum.
357 Magnum is a powerful enough cartridge for medium-sized game, and out of a 6.5-inch barrel, the round is screaming fast. The Ruger Blackhawk has an outstanding trigger and adjustable sights that add up to excellent accuracy overall. The Blackhawk is built to last and to last a long, long time.
Ruger Blackhawk Specs
It can take a ton of abuse and keep on kicking. The Blackhawk is easy to enhance optically, and adding red dots or even magnified optics is possible.
The Blackhawk is perfect for long-range shooting, at least long-range for handguns. The Blackhawk is a straight shooter with high accuracy, low recoil, and unbeatable durability.
Ruger Blackhawk Pros and Cons
- Highly Accurate
- Easy to add optics to
- Extremely durable
- Single Action design limits use
Best 357 Magnum Revolver Buyer’s Guide
Before you run off and start grabbing up any six-shooter you see, you need to take a step back and think about what kind of wheelgun is best for you. Let’s go over some of the big ticket items you need to think about.
Considerations When Choosing a Revolver
As with anything, the first thing you need to consider is the purpose of the gun. How do you plan to use the gun, and should you choose a 357 Magnum for that role? Let’s look at the most common handgun uses and see where a 357 Magnum fits.
Snub rose revolvers are a classic option for concealed carry, and J frame snub nose revolvers are still popular for concealed carry. These small guns are easy to carry, and unlike other pocket-sized handguns, they can squeeze a full-powered 357 Magnum in a very small package.
There is some challenge with small 357 Magnums, and if that’s the route you want to take, get training. Shoot a lot, practice a ton, and be ready to ride the recoil.
Can a full-sized revolver be used for home defense? Most certainly so. A modern revolver with 6 to 8 rounds of 357 Magnum is a potent gun. The downside is the lower capacity offers you minimal room for mistakes. A full-sized 9mm offers substantially more ammo, often nearly three times as much as a six shooter. It can work, but it’s hardly the best choice.
Hunting and Field Use
A full-sized or beyond full-sized 357 Magnum are excellent weapons for hunting or field use. The potent and powerful round will take animals like hogs or deer with little effort. The 357 magnum round is well reputed and potent enough to be a defensive weapon against four-legged animals that you might stumble across.
Revolver competition typically falls into two categories. There are the defensive and tactical style competitions like IDPA, USPSA, and ICORE that focus on modern revolvers and defensive shooting techniques. These revolvers can range from stock Smith and Wesson 686s to tricked out optically enhanced options.
The other kind of competition is SASS, aka the single action shooting society. SASS is a competition focused on historical cowboy guns and acceptable replicas. Think less tactical and more spaghetti western.
Plinking is just shooting for fun. It’s the purest form of shooting, in my opinion. It’s barely practice and certainly not training. In this role, the bigger guns are more comfortable and easier to shoot, but overall any weapon will work for fun. I’m partial to cowboy guns for my plinking, but that’s just me.
Size Matters (In More Ways Than One)
The different dimensions of your revolver are extremely important. Be sure to keep them in mind when shopping for your next wheelgun.
The power of a 357 magnum all comes from the speed the projectile is moving at. This is what distinguishes the 357 magnum from the 38 Special. When you start trimming barrel length, you start decreasing speed. From a 1.87 inch barrel to a 4-inch barrel, there can be as much as a 200 fps difference.
Maximizing speed is important, but shorter barrels also mean more recoil. A magnum cartridge leaving a short barrel is a rough endeavor: the gun kicks and jumps and bucks. You’ll get substantial muzzle blast and muzzle flash from a short-barreled 357 magnum.
Weight goes along with short barrels. Short barrel revolvers are typically lightweight revolvers. Lightweight 357 magnums can be painful to fire. The hard recoiling design can cause some pain with every shot. It’s almost like a hard high five with every shot. Weight absorbs recoil, and that’s why the 30 ounce Ruger SP101 is a much more comfortable shooting revolver than a 12 ounce S&W Scandium frame option, even though they are both snub nose revolvers.
Grip size makes a bigger difference when it comes to how the weapon handles and controls. The bigger the grip, the easier the weapon is to fire. Bigger grips help displace recoil and spread it outwards into the hand. Think of grip size like backpack strap size. Thinner straps cause more pain when carrying heavier loads than wide and thick straps.
Smaller is typically more painful but easier to conceal. Larger is more comfortable, but people with smaller hands can have issues with larger target style grips. Swapping revolver grips is relatively easy, and you can certainly find an option that works for you.
Revolvers have varying action types that change how the weapon handles. It’s important to know the action type prior to purchasing the revolver.
Double Action Only
Double action only, or DAO, is exactly what it sounds like. The trigger only allows for double action use. Double action triggers both cock and fires the gun, and on a revolver, they rotate the cylinder. The result is a heavy and long trigger pull for every shot fired. The DAO is often a ‘hammerless’ model that has an enclosed hammer or a bobbed hammer that cannot be cocked into single action. These are popular systems for concealed carry revolvers.
Single action triggers are popular for both cowboy guns and hunting revolvers. A single-action trigger does the single action of firing the weapon. After each shot, the user has to manually pull the hammer to the rear. This gives the trigger a very short and light trigger pull and maximizes accuracy, especially for long-range shots.
Double Action – Single Action
DA/SA revolvers are much different than DA/SA pistols. DA/SA revolvers are double-action revolvers with an exposed hammer. The hammer can be manually cocked if the shooter chooses to allow for a single action shot. These types of revolvers are common in duty, defensive, competition, and hunting use.
The Six-Gun Solution
Revolvers are a classic American option, and the 357 magnum rounds are a potent but controllable choice for any six gun aficionado. 357 magnum rounds are capable of accomplishing most tasks and outperform the most common automatic pistol cartridges like 9mm, 40 S&W, and 45 ACP.
Choosing a 357 magnum revolver can be a tricky proposition with the various sizes, action types, and purposes. Hopefully, we’ve cleared up some of the confusion surrounding the beastly 357 magnum revolver. If we’ve missed anything, let us know below.
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