8 Best .357 Magnum Revolvers [Proven Stopping Power] By: Fred Tyrell

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Each of the six rounds you place in a .357 Magnum revolver delivers some of the best performance from a handgun.

.357 mag ammo is pretty
Lots of .357 Magnum

Its bare-bones design and easy-to-use mechanism make it perfect for beginners.

The utility of the .357 Magnum round makes it just as pleasing for experienced shooters.

Considering the diverse ammunition loads available, it is easy to find one that works for you.

Summary of Our Top Picks

  1. Best Woods-Carry .357

    Ruger SP101 3″

    The reliability and durability of the SP101 in conjunction with its smaller size make this a great choice for backpackers, hikers, and other outdoors enthusiasts.

    $681 at Kygunco
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  2. Editor’s Pick

    Ruger GP-100

    This revolver is ultra-durable and is a relatively soft shooter while maintaining a reasonable level of affordability.

    $776 at Kygunco
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  3. Best High-End .357

    Manurhin MR73

    The MR73 is the most exacting and high-end production revolver ever made. If money isn’t an object, this is the best.

    $3960 at EuroOptic
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  4. Best High-Capacity .357

    Smith & Wesson Model 627 Pro Series

    Featuring an 8-shot cylinder and a factory-tuned action, this revolver is hard to beat.

    $1149 at Gunprime
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  5. Best Medium-Frame .357

    Colt King Cobra

    The King Cobra has a perfect balance of size, weight, and barrel length that results in a great shooter that isn’t cumbersome to carry.

    $899 at Gunprime
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  6. Best Concealed Carry .357

    Kimber K6s

    Although this is the lightest revolver on the list, the high build quality and excellent shootability are apparent in the K6s.

    $833 at Kygunco
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Table of Contents

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What is the .357 Magnum Cartridge?

The .357 Magnum cartridge is a revolver round with a .357-inch bullet diameter. It was first introduced in 1934 and serves as the foundation of the “Magnum Era.”

.357 Magnum Round
.357 Magnum Round

Then, as now, everyone wanted more powerful ammo. This ammo has diverse use ranging from target shooting to self-defense and hunting.

The round is based on the earlier Smith & Wesson .38 Special cartridge and was first designed with a 158-grain semi-jacketed soft point (flat) bullet.

.38 Special vs .357 Magnum
.38 Special (Left) vs .357 Magnum (Right)

Since more of the bullet’s mass is outside the cartridge, there is more room for powder in the cartridge. 

The 158-grain semi-jacketed soft point bullet permits the quicker transfer of energy, which enables the bullet to do more damage.

Aside from being much more powerful, the .357 Magnum round also needed a 1/8-inch longer case to hold more gunpowder.

More .357 mag ammo
More .357 Ammo

This longer case makes it impossible to load a .357 Magnum round in .38 Special revolvers. The extra length prevents the revolver’s cylinder from closing and locking into place.

Check out our picks for the best .38 Special & .357 Magnum ammo for home defense, target shooting, and hunting.

History of .357 Magnum Revolver

The development of the .357 Magnum cartridge was shepherded by some of the most brilliant minds of the era.

While there are plenty of .357 models and companies that produce them, a few gun makers immediately stand out…

Smith & Wesson

The Smith & Wesson company first started in Norwich, Connecticut, in 1852. But the company’s first .357 Magnum revolvers wouldn’t show up until 1934.

Smith & Wesson (Photo: Dan Z. via TTAG)

In 1957, Smith & Wesson began using its famous model numbering system.

The .357 Magnum revolver was then known as the Model 27, built on an “N” frame. The “N” frame is the largest frame used for the S&W .357 Magnum revolvers.

N Frame Chart

Smith & Wesson’s lighter “K” frame Model 19 was released in 1957 — developed to meet the special needs of law enforcement.

K Frame Chart

Some private citizens still use K Frames for self-defense, target shooting, and hunting, but they’re pretty obsolete.

You can also find some “L Frame” revolvers that are somewhere between the “K” and the “N” in frame size.

L Frame Chart

Finally, there’s the J Frame…probably one of the most popular styles of revolvers.

There are three revolvers types in this series — Chief’s Special, original Bodyguard, and the Centennial.

Sturm, Ruger, & Co. Inc.

This company is well known for .22 caliber pistols and rifles that shoot centerfire and rimfire ammo.

But they are also famous for shotguns and the .357 Magnum DA/SA, DA only, and SA Revolvers.

Ruger Logo

In 1972, Ruger introduced the Ruger Security-Six, Service-Six, and Speed-Six Revolvers for law enforcement, civilian self-defense, and military markets. The GP-100, Redhawk, and SP-101 would later follow.

Ruger also manufactures .357 Magnum revolvers, including the Blackhawk and the Vaquero. 

Ruger Vaqueros
Ruger Vaqueros

The Vaquero is a retro-style revolver that was made for cowboy action shooting fans and looks like the old Colt Single Action Army Revolver of 1873.

Colt Manufacturing Company

One of Colt’s most famous revolvers is the 1873 Colt Single Action Army in the Colt .45 caliber. 

It was popular with the public and used in the U.S. military from 1873 to 1892. You probably also know it as the gun that won the West.

Colt Single Action Army
Colt Single Action Army

Best .357 Magnum Revolvers

1. Smith & Wesson Model 60 .357 Magnum

The Model 60 is a 5-shot DA/SA stainless steel “J” frame revolver.

It has a 2.125-inch underlug barrel and exposed hammer with black synthetic grips that wear well. 

S&W Model 60 (Photo: Smith & Wesson via Facebook)

This gun opts for a front blade sight and fixed rear sight. All in all, it’s an excellent concealed-carry revolver if you want a lot of firepower in a small package.

Best Small Frame Revolver
779

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing


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779
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2. Ruger Model SP-101

The SP-101 is a 5-shot DA/SA .357 Magnum available in stainless steel or blued finishes.

The 2.25-inch and 3-inch models offer synthetic black grips, front ramp sight, and fixed rear sight. Ruger also offers a 4.2-inch model that sports a fiber optic front sight and adjustable rear sight.

Ruger SP101, 3-inch barrel. (Photo: Smith & Wesson Forums)

Personally, I like the stainless steel version since it handles moisture better than blued steel.

Best Woods-Carry .357
681

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing


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681
at Kygunco

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3. Ruger GP-100

The Ruger GP-100 is a 6 or 7-shot .357 Magnum revolver with a DA/SA medium frame revolver.

It is available in blued and stainless steel finishes and a variety of barrel lengths — with the 4.2-inch and 6-inch offerings being the most popular.

Ruger GP-100, stainless steel, 6-inch barrel. (Photo: Adelbrige)

I prefer the 4-inch underlug barrel, adjustable rear sight, and ramp front sight. Additional features include black Hogue grips and an exposed hammer. 

The GP-100 is heavier and larger than the SP101, but it helps to stabilize the gun and control recoil.

Best Medium Frame Revolver
776

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing


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776
at Kygunco

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What do you think of the Ruger GP-100? Rate it below!

Readers’ Ratings

4.95/5
(1133)

Your Rating?

4. Manurhin MR73 Sport

The Manurhin MR73 is a 6-shot .357 Magnum revolver that is available in barrel lengths between 4 and 8 inches with a deep blue finish.

Developed for use by French police and Special Weapons and Tactics units and fielded by the French GIGN, the accuracy and durability of this revolver are legendary.

Manurhin MR73, 6-inch barrel. (Photo: Tactical Life)

The gun features a fully adjustable rear sight, match trigger, and is completely hand-fitted to exacting tolerances.

Although extremely expensive, the MR73 is regarded by many as the finest .357 magnum revolver ever made.

Best High-End .357
3960

at EuroOptic

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

3960
at EuroOptic

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5. Smith & Wesson Model 627 Pro Series

The S&W 627 Pro is an 8-shot .357 Magnum DA/SA.

It is a stainless steel “N” large-frame revolver with a 4-inch custom underlug barrel. This gun is also quite stylish with an 8-round fluted cylinder and choice of black synthetic or wood grips.

The Model 627 also brings a large trigger and hammer and adjustable rear sight with a gold bead front sight.

It handles .357 Magnum ammunition very well, and you will feel little recoil when firing. Another advantage…you can choose to load this gun using an 8-round moon clip.

Best High-Capacity .357
1149

at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

1149
at Gunprime

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6. Colt King Cobra

The King Cobra is a medium-frame 6-shot revolver with a 3-inch barrel, sporting a brushed stainless steel finish.

It features a fixed rear sight, brass bead front sight, and Hogue Overmolded rubber grips.

Colt King Cobra and the box
Colt King Cobra, 3-inch barrel.

While heavier than the standard Colt Cobra, the extra weight helps tame the recoil of the .357 Magnum cartridge and increases service life.

The grips, barrel length, weight, and good DA/SA trigger make this revolver very balanced and pleasant to shoot without being unwieldy.

Best Medium-Frame .357
899

at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing


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899
at Gunprime

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Check out our review of the King Cobra!

7. Colt .357 Magnum Python

Rereleased in 2020, the Colt Python made its return as a 6-shot DA/SA revolver with a high-polish stainless steel finish.

Currently, the 2020 Python is available in either 3-, 4.25-, or 6-inch configurations.

Colt Python, 6-inch barrel. (Photo: Shooting Illustrated)

The Python also has a ventilated top rib and a full underlug to protect the ejection rod. You also get match-grade wood grips and adjustable sights. 

I have found the weight of the Python ideal for stabilizing the recoil of the .357 Magnum. Not to mention, the gun is devilishly handsome.

1695

at Guns.com

Prices accurate at time of writing


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1695
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8. Kimber K6s

A relative newcomer in comparison to some of these models, the Kimber K6s comes in a few different models — with the main two being the standard K6s (Double-action only), and the DASA (exposed hammer).

Kimber K6s DASA

Barrel lengths differ based on which model but most float between 2 and 4 inches.

Billed as the lightest 6-shot revolver, the K6s weighs in at around 23 ounces. If you’re looking for a high-quality concealed-carry revolver…this is it.

Best Concealed Carry .357
833

at Kygunco

Prices accurate at time of writing


View Details

833
at Kygunco

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Be sure to read all about the K6s in our review!

Small, Medium, Large Frame: Which One is Right for Me?

Let’s talk a little about the various frame sizes you can expect to see when shopping…

Small Frame Revolvers

These revolvers are easy to conceal in a holster, purse, or fanny pack.

Their size also makes them easy to draw and bring to bear quickly. Small frame revolvers usually weigh between 12 ounces and 2 pounds when empty. 

What you got in there, buddy?

For small frame revolvers, I don’t recommend always shooting heavy-loaded .357 Magnum ammo.

It’s possible to wear out or break important parts of the revolver under these loads. For general target practice, shoot .38 Special ammo.

.38 Special Round
.38 Special Round

To simulate the carry .357 Magnum ammo, use .38 Special +P or low velocity .357 Magnum ammo.

Medium Framed Revolvers

These revolvers usually weigh between 20 and 40 ounces unloaded.

You can carry them concealed easily with a 4-inch barrel if you wear loose clothes, and they also conceal well in a fanny pack.

As with the small frame revolvers, I prefer DA/SA trigger action and stainless steel.

(Photo: Gordon Gartrell)

Steel is a little heavier, and better controls .357 Magnum’s recoil. You will get better accuracy in rapid-fire on the second and third shots.

For these guns, I still recommend using .38 Special ammunition for practice — lead round nose or FMJ. 

Practice with light .357 Magnum ammunition to simulate heavier loads. Before you quit shooting for the day, shoot at least two cylinders of your defensive ammo. 

Large Frame Revolvers

These revolvers weigh between 25 to 60 ounces empty.

While these guns are powerful, their large size and heavy weight make them harder to conceal. Printing is a challenge.

Python, double
These are heftier.

On the plus side, these guns can handle large amounts of heavily loaded .357 Magnum ammunition.

You can also shoot for extended time periods without feeling recoil discomfort.

For target practice, I still recommend using .38 Special ammo to save money. Use some practice time to shoot mid-range .357 Magnum ammo and finish with a few “hot” defensive rounds.

Final Thoughts

When selecting a .357 Magnum revolver, keep in mind frame size and capacity so you can be sure to pick the one that’s perfect for you.

Python carried

There are a ton of revolver models floating around the market, and most are solid. These happen to be some of our favorites.

What are your favorite models? Let us know in the comments below. To see what we recommend feeding your revolver, check out the Best .357 Magnum Ammo.