The first revolvers are now over 180 years old when Colonel Colt was granted his first patent in 1836. Since revolvers became popular a long time ago, they have been manufactured in an incredible variety of calibers, sizes and shapes.

Today, they can be small enough to fit unobtrusively in an ankle holster or large enough to fire rounds as powerful as a hunting rifle.

From the end of the nineteenth century, there was little to be done to improve the reliability of such a simple design. Still, there were potential economies to be achieved in the production process, which means lower prices for the end-user.

By the 1950s, it was widely accepted that the semiautomatic pistol, with its ease of operation and much greater capacity, become a tool for an attack, offensive act. At the same time, due to its reliability and much more powerful ammunition, the revolver stayed as a weapon of choice for defense purposes.

Revolvers range in power for the caliber from the tiny .22 rimfire to the mighty .500 S&W Magnum. A famed .357 Magnum is somewhere in between since it carries a balance between power and controllability.

 

.357 Cartridge

The .357 S&W Magnum, or for short .357 Magnum, was created in 1934 by Elmer Keith, Phillip B. Sharpe, and Colonel D. B. Wesson. While its name denotes the bullet diameter of the cartridge, .357 Mag was based on a .38 Special case. The .38 case was strengthened and lengthened for a 1/10”, making the .357 cartridge too long to fit in the cylinder of its parent .38-caliber revolvers.

On the other hand, shooting .38 Special cartridges in the revolvers chambered in .357 Magnum is entirely safe and makes it a cost-effective platform as far as ammo consumption.

The .357 Magnum is a more potent performer than the .38 Special, especially when fired from barrels longer than 6 inches.  So, at 100 yards, the .357 Magnum 158 grain bullet out of an 8-inch barrel flies at a higher velocity than .38 Special has at the muzzle. With the same 158-grain lead bullet, this powerhouse of a cartridge generates 548-foot pounds of energy on target, which is almost 70% more energy than 9mm Luger would deliver.

Similar to .30-06 in a rifle niche, the .357 Magnum is the most popular all-around revolver cartridge because of the variety of loads weights. The .357 ammunition ranges from the soft recoiling 90-grain loads popular for target shooting to the heavy, hand punishing 180-grain loads usually used for hunting.

But unlike large-caliber handgun ammunition, the .357 Magnum offers a longer effective range of up to 75 yards, with roughly half the drop of the most combat pistol cartridges.

Although some sources claim that Magnum ammunition was first developed for hunting animals, the .357 Magnum was designed in response to early body armor and a cartridge that could shoot through the vehicle and disable the driver. Actually, the engine block was one of the few parts of a car that offered any protection from the full-powered .357 Magnum cartridge.

The .357 Magnum stands out as a highly potent cartridge that could penetrate more effectively than any before it. When it appeared, the .357 could defeat car doors compared to some anemic calibers of that time that couldn’t do that reliably.

From its early days, the .357 Magnum promoted the “Magnum” era of handgun ammunition, becoming an icon of civilian gun aficionados and law enforcement professionals.

The .357 Magnum is a versatile cartridge and one of the few calibers used in revolvers, semi-auto pistols, and rifles.

The .357 Magnum revolver may be the ultimate handgun intended to serve a variety of different roles.

ACTION TYPE

Like all revolvers, the .357 Magnums have varying action types, and before purchasing the revolver, you should know what type of action suits the best to your shooting activities.

 

SINGLE ACTION

If you belong to Wild West enthusiasts, you will probably want a cowboy gun or acceptable replica, which is single action only. It means you have to pull the hammer to the rear after each shot manually.

 

DOUBLE ACTION

The rest of the modern six guns come in both double-action varieties and double action only, or DAO designs.

While the double-action revolvers came with an exposed hammer for single-action shots, your favored .357 model intended for personal defense and concealed carry usually employs the DAO mode, which has an enclosed hammer that cannot be cocked into a single action.

 

.357 PURPOSE CATEGORY

Loaded with the gamut of superbly powerful cartridges, the .357 Magnum revolvers can be used with success for self-defense, plinking, hunting, or target shooting.

You have to choose a .357 revolver of proper size, weight, and capacity for any of these purposes.

CONCEALED CARRY

For concealed carry, you should look for the snub-nose revolvers with barrels as short as 1.87 inches to 3 inches and a capacity of 5 to 6 rounds. Depending on used material such as steel, titanium, or scandium, the CCW revolver can weigh anywhere from 12 ounces to 30 ounces.

 

HOME DEFENSE

Although some people carry the .357 six guns with short barrels for protection, you should be aware that even four-inch .357s are very loud and kick-like mules with full-tilt loads.

In the case of home defense, you probably want the best full-powered .357 personal defense ammo with a barrel length minimum of at least five inches for recoil control and accuracy.

 

HUNTING AND FIELD USE

When shopping for a revolver for hunting and field use, the primary consideration is the barrel length. For most hunters, a low limit is five inches and optimum a six-inch barrel because the .357 Mag cartridges can’t get full performance from tubes shorter than 6 inches. Some use eight inches or longer barrels, but for the .357 Magnum, 6 to 7 inches is the longest practical barrel for carrying. Hunters usually prefer sixguns with vented ribs or rails for optics and lights.

 

COMPETITION

While the four-inch barrel length is representative of .357 revolvers, for competitive shooting, you will need a wheelgun with a match barrel and adjustable sights.

These high-end revolvers for range shooting and competition may be very expensive, especially if they come factory drilled and tapped for attaching a pistol scope mount.

However, a competition revolver doesn’t necessarily mean a 10-inch monster .357 shooter. The new shooting discipline called the “Back Up Gun,” or BUG, the division is growing in popularity since competitors can use small-frame revolvers actually built for pocket carry.

 

PLINKING

A lot of people carry the .357 Mag for various purposes. Besides its obvious self-defense/hunting niche, many would consider a .357 perfect for plinking and target practice, mainly when loading it with the cheapest .38 Special rounds.

For the plinking as a recreative and the purest form of shooting, the best candidates would be larger frame sixguns as they are more comfortable and easier to shoot.

The legend and hype of the .357 Magnum started with a Smith & Wesson who were pioneers in the 1930s with the introduction of the first revolver chambered in .357 Magnum.

1. Smith & Wesson Model 27 .357 Magnum

Smith Wesson Model 27, the original 357 Mag revolver, was first produced in 1935. Several versions of the model are still in production through the company’s Classics line. It is also known by the Registered Magnum.

The Model 27 is strong, durable and sturdy. It has an N-frame made of large carbon steel. There are adjustable rear sights. You can also choose from different barrel lengths. Smith & Wesson had a four-year backlog after the Model 27 was introduced during the Great Depression.

For those looking for target shooting, home defense or protection outside on streets or wilderness, the S&W 27 is a solid choice that would serve very well in any of those scenarios.

Specs:

  • Price $1,109.99
  • Manufactured by: Smith & Wesson
  • Action: Double Action
  • Barrel Length: 6.5 in.
  • Overall Length: 12 in.
  • Weight: 3 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum/.38 SW Special
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

2. Ruger .357 Magnum Blackhawk

The single-action versus double action question had been a topic of heated debate for a long time, but one thing is for sure, that Ruger has made most of the running with single actions in recent years.

Introduced in 1955, the Ruger .357 Magnum Blackhawk is a descendant of the legendary US military service revolver, Colt Peacemaker. The combination of a single action “cowboy gun” and a .357 Magnum cartridge with modern steel and manufacturing techniques birth the safest and most rugged sidearms ever designed.

At first glance, this immensely sturdy outdoorsman’s handgun is seemingly made for rugged outdoor adventures. The Ruger Blackhawk is recognizable by traditional western-style grip known for its natural pointing of any grip style. The Sturm, Ruger & Co. offered this six-shooter with barrel lengths of 4.6, 6.5 and 10 inches, with the 61⁄2 inch being the better choice.

The Blackhawk Single-Action is the biggest Ruger revolver in .357 Magnum designed for big game hunting, self-defense, and revolver shooting competitions.

The Ruger Blackhawk comes without a removable side plate and has a significantly thicker frame than its competitors. Although many pistoleros think these revolvers are too big for the .357 Magnum, you might like an excellent recoil control due to the extra weight and hand-filling grip.

Made to withstand modern magnum cartridges, this single action-only revolver is loaded one cartridge at a time through an open loading gate. While it didn’t design for fast reloading, the Ruger Blackhawk offers a target-grade accuracy with ramp front and adjustable rear sights.

About 1973, all Ruger single-action revolvers were replaced by equivalent models using a new mechanism featuring transfer bar ignition so that all chambers could safely be carried loaded. The New Model Blackhawk series utilizes a transfer bar that allowed each model to have a fully loaded cylinder.

One of the popular Blackhawk variants is the Convertible series offered with multiple cylinders allowing gun owners to use a wide variety of ammunition in one sidearm.

Specs:

  • Price: Used $699.99
  • Manufactured by: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
  • Action: Revolver
  • Barrel Length: 6.5 inches
  • Weight: 40 ounces
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

3. Colt .357 Magnum Python

Since you are on these pages, you already know the Colt is an American icon and among the US most respected makers. Also, you have probably heard for Colt’s Snake Gun series consisting of seven deadly serpents dubbed Python, Cobra, Diamondback, King Cobra, Anaconda, Boa and Viper.

Introduced in 1955, the legendary Colt’s double-action revolver .357 Python was based on Colt’s large I-Frame. Nose heavy 6″Python, was easily recognizable by its traditional three cut-outs in the rib. Those cut-out sections, called “vents” by Colt, reduce weight or dissipate heat. Except for the ventilated barrel rib, the Python’s signature look and stout elegance are responsible for the full underlug and a grip shape.

In 2020, the Colt released a new Python constructed from the stronger stainless-steel alloys, re-designed rear sight and available in 4.25″ or 6″ barrels compared to the 4″ and 6″ at older models.

The new Python is an extremely smooth .357 revolver that combines the ergonomics and reliability of a combat weapon with the custom-made target wheelgun. For a target, accuracy is also responsible for Python’s double-action trigger, one of the few most delicate production triggers on the market.

In addition, the 2020 Python features user-interchangeable front sight and the rear adjustable target sight.

Weighing at 42 ounces, the 6-inch barrel variant makes even the harshest .357 Magnum loads easy to handle. The shooting of .38 SPL target loads is very comfortable and suitable for the most recoil adverse shooters.

Unlike the original Python flat-leaf style mainspring, this new stainless snake gun utilizes a mainspring of V-type like the King Cobra.

Unlike Smith and Wessons and Rugers, the cylinder release catch has to be pulled backward to release and the cylinder on a Colt Python revolves clockwise.

The Python has never been an inexpensive firearm and therefore, Colt introduced a budget version without rib vents, the King Cobra.

Specs:

  • Price: $1,636.99
  • Manufactured by: Colt
  • Action: Double
  • Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
  • Weight: 2.63 pounds
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

4. Chiappa Rhino 40DS .357 Magnum

In this list of the best .357 Mag revolvers, we have included one of the unconventional geometry that goes decades ahead of conventional sixguns. The .357 Magnum revolver Chiappa Rhino comes from the Italian firearms manufacturer Armi Sport de Chiappa.

Behind its futuristic design is a single/double-action revolver chambered for powerful .357 Mag round and available in 2-inch, 3-inch, 4-inch, 5-inch and 6-inch barrel lengths.

The Rhino works perfectly for concealed carry since it conceals nearly as well as a snubnose .38 Special. For that performance, the Italian constructor developed the revolver’s unique, almost flat design and a hexagonal cylinder that keeps the gun’s width to a minimum.

Another unique design features an uncommon barrel’s positioning in the 6 o’clock position.

With innovative barrel placement and alignment of the barrel with the bottom chamber of the cylinder, Rhino offers less muzzle rise and reduces the amount of recoil felt by the shooter.

This weird-looking revolver is exceptionally comfortable to shoot, while its high grip greatly lowers the bore axis, giving the shooter a more natural point of aim.

While the Rhino is easily taming the .357 Magnum’s recoil, its concept leaves more place at the top of the gun for sight radius with an adjustable rear sight and fiber optic front sight. In practice, the sights are almost staying entirely on target, making it more accurate than the standard full-size revolvers with a more oversized grip and a 4″ barrel.

Since the recoil can be easily controlled, allowing for faster follow-up shots, the Chiappa Rhino will be an excellent entry-level choice for a first-time .357 Magnum revolver shooter.

Specs:

  • Price: $1,525.99
  • Manufactured by: Chiappa Firearms
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Overall Length: 8.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

5. Taurus 605 Protector Polymer

Our guide to the best-selling .357 revolvers offers not only stainless steel wheelguns, but it includes modern guns with polymer frame construction like Taurus 605 Poly Protector.

While the Python, S&W 627 and Ruger Blackhawk are meant for being the sporting revolvers, the Taurus 605 Protector .357 Magnum Polymer revolver is made for the very serious business of self-preservation.

As its name on the polymer top strap says, Protector Poly is a .357 Magnum revolver with a 2”-barrel length that is ideal for self-defense and concealed carry.

This diminutive, 20-ounce Taurus is a polymer coated, steel-framed, 5-shot revolver that can fire full-house .357 Magnum rounds. While the recoil is unavoidable with this very lightweight Taurus revolver, the trick to making the Poly Protector manageable to shoot is energy-absorbing rubber grips. The aesthetically pleasing ribbed grips contribute to more comfortable shooting and enhanced control.

Along with the DT’s Taurus-designed rubber grips, a bit of practice will enable you to fire off all five .357 shots with satisfying accuracy without sacrificing speed.

Designed as a “small-frame” model, the quick-draw Protector is easy to conceal and carry. It will not snag on the garment during drawing from concealment due to the sleek polymer frame, which shrouds the barrel and hammer and the rear sight molded into the top strap. In addition, the barrel shroud.

As a standard safety, Protector Poly features a transfer bar. But for added safety, all guns from the Polymer Protector series are equipped with the Taurus Security System (TSS), which makes the revolver inoperable with the turn of a key.

Specs:

  • Price: $427.99
  • Manufactured by: Taurus
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel Length: 2 inches
  • Overall Length: 6.7 inches
  • Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum/38 Special
  • Capacity: 5 Rounds

6. Charter Arms Mag Pug

Magnum Pug .357 Magum 2.2 Inch Stainless Steel Ported Barrel Finish 5 Round Features ported barrel with traditional spurred hammer, and one-piece frame. Eight grooved broached, one piece barrels cover the ejector rod. 3-point cylinder lock-up.

Keyed trigger lock and lockable storage box included. Charter’s.357 Magnum Pug is a top-quality home protection revolver. Compact and yet powerful, the 5-shot Mag Pug has a ported 2.2-inch barrel and fixed sights.

The Mag Pug weighs just 23 oz. It features a traditional spurred-hammer and full size grips. Arm yourself with confidence. This .357 can stop all threats to your home or family.

Specs:

  • Price: $381.39
  • Manufactured by: Charter Arms
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel Length: 2.2 inches
  • Weight: 23 Ounces
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum/38 Special
  • Capacity: 5 Rounds

7. Kimber K6s DASA 2″ .357 Magnum

Kimber has long been known for making 1911 style handguns. However, that all changed in 2017 when the company released the first Kimber K6s revolver. Their goal was to produce a Colt Detective Special that would be suitable for the 21st Century. They succeeded without doubt.

All Kimber K6s revolvers have a chamber for.357 Magnum. They will also accept.38 Special and/or.38 Special +P cartridges. However, what sets the Kimber K6s apart among its contemporaries such as the Ruger SP101 and the many.357 S&W J Frames is the 6 round cylindrical.

The K6s’s cylinder is smaller than those of its competitors, but it has one more cartridge. This gives you more capacity in smaller packages.

The Kimber K6s’ newest model features a double or single action configuration. This enhances the Kimber K6s’ famously smooth trigger pull. The double-action trigger pull weighs in at 9.5-10 pounds. However, the K6s are now equipped with an exposed hammer to allow single action shooting.

The single trigger pull is crisp at 3.25-4.25 lbs. This allows for precise shooting. Kimber K6s DA/SA2″ revolver combines 21st century firearm technology with timeless pistol design.

Specs:

  • Price: Used $919.99
  • Manufactured by: Kimber
  • Action: Single/Double
  • Barrel Length: 2 in.
  • Weight: 1.4 lbs.
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

8. Smith & Wesson 19-5 .357 Combat Magnum

 The Smith & Wesson Model 19, Combat Magnum was created with the help of a legend in the gun community. It has been a favorite among wheel gun enthusiasts for many generations.

Bill Jordon applied his experience as a Marine in WWII and Korea and along the Southern Border with Mexico to help produce the concept that later became the S&W Model 19.

The Combat Magnum was equipped with a shrouded barrel, enclosed ejector rod, and an adjustable rear sight. It was constructed on a 4-screw frame that had a square butt. Frame featured a wider yoke, and a fluted counter-bored cylinder. The original Combat Magnum was only available in a 4-inch format, unlike the Model 27, which came in many barrel lengths. Although nickel was an option, most of Smith’s bright-blue finishes were used.

The Model 19’s later versions were produced with longer barrel lengths (2.2 and 6-inches) while round butt designs were added. This popular revolver was used by countless law enforcement officers of all ages and was issued to the FBI and Border Patrol before they switched to semi-autos in 1990s.

The medium-framed magnum was a popular choice for small-town law enforcement and period bowling matches. It can also be used as a personal and home defense gun.

Sadly, after a more than 40-year run, the Model 19 went out of production in 1999, a deficit that Smith & Wesson corrected in 2018 by bringing the 19-9 “Classic” back to their lineup.

 

Specs:

  • Price: Used $729.99
  • Manufactured by: Smith & Wesson
  • Action: Revolver
  • Barrel Length: 4 inches
  • Weight: Not Specified
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

9. Uberti 1873 Cattleman El Patron Competition

In July 1873, the U.S. Army adopted the Colt Single Action Army as a replacement for its Model 1860 percussion cap revolvers. The Single Action Army quickly became a favorite among soldiers who used it. They loved their powerful stopping power, high precision, and easy maintenance.

These revolvers found their way into civilian hands, as well as lawmen and outlaws who recognized the Single Action Army’s superior design. The Single Action Army’s legacy was not lost even though the Wild West was controlled. They were carried by Theodore Roosevelt’s Rough Riders during their ascent up San Juan Hill. General George S. Patton, despite semiautomatic guns being very popular, carried one during World War II.

Uberti and their Model 1873 El Patron Competition Revolvers continue to preserve the spirit of Colt Single Action Army. These reproduction pistols feature a stunning color case-hardened frame, wide EasyView rear and front sights, and a low angle hammer for quick shooting.

Specs:

  • Price: $710.50
  • Manufactured by: Uberti
  • Action: Single
  • Barrel Length: 5.5 inches
  • Weight: Not Specified
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 6 Rounds

10. Bond Arms Cowboy Defender

Bond Arms Cowboy Defender.357 Magum Derringer Pistol has a 3-inch barrel and single-action firing. It can fire up to 2 shots. This gun comes with fixed rear and front sights as well rosewood grips. Crossbolt safety.

Cowboy Defender was made for Cowboy Action. The overall look is very similar the Remington Double Derringer, circa 1860. The Cowboy Defender can accept any additional interchangeable barrels.

Specs:

  • Price: $466.19
  • Manufactured by: Bond Arms
  • Action: Break Open
  • Barrel Length: 3 inches
  • Weight: 19 ounces
  • Caliber gauge: .357 Magnum
  • Capacity: 2 Rounds

Final thought

Unlike some gun authors’ considerations about revolvers as weapons of the bygone era, modern revolvers come with the design and construction to endure well into the 21st century.

In this guide, we presented five of the best .357 revolvers currently on the market. While some are thoroughbred .357 shooters designed for hunting and targeting, others are pure self-defense weapons that can fire full-house .357 Magnum ammo.