Built on the company’s Bulldog frame, the Charter Arms Mag Pug is a compact .357 with a five-shot capacity, a short, full-lug, ported barrel and a ramped front sight. It’s constructed of stainless steel with a solid frame, a spur hammer, a beryllium firing pin and rubber combat-style grips. A 4-inch-barreled model with adjustable sights is also available. (203-922-1652; <a target=blank href=http://www.charterarms.com/collections/mag-pug>http://www.charterarms.com</a>)
Innovative in design, the barrel of the Rhino aligns with the lower chamber of the flat-sided cylinder to provide a low bore axis for reduced recoil and muzzle flip. The revolver features an accessory rail, a fiber-optic front sight, an adjustable rear sight and the barrel has a vent rib. An actuator allows thumb cocking of the internal hammer. The Rhino ships with three moon clips to facilitate fast reloads. (<a target=blank href=http://www.chiappafirearms.com/product/727>http://www.chiappafirearms.com</a>)
This stainless steel revolver has the famed Dan Wesson tension barrel with interchangeable shrouds, which offers consistent cylinder-to-barrel alignment. The Model 715 also has a superior cylinder locking system. Grips are easily swapped, and the HV6-shrouded, vented, heavy barrel helps tame recoil. The revolver’s DA pull is short and relatively light with a crisp SA pull. (<a target=blank href=http://cz-usa.com/product/dan-wesson-715-revolver-cal-357-magnum-stainless/>http://www.cz-usa.com</a>; 800-955-4486)
A rugged and reliable .357 Mag revolver, the Windicator has a 2-inch, full-lug barrel as well as a ramp front and a fixed rear sight. It has a solid frame and an exposed-spur hammer for easy SA thumb cocking. Finished in a polished blue, it’s equipped with round-butt, checkered, rubber grips that feature finger grooves for a sure hold. (<a target=blank href=https://eaacorp.com/portfolio-item/windicator/>http://www.eaacorp.com</a>; 321-639-4842)
The Model Rossi Model R97206 is a stainless steel revolver with a 6-inch, heavy, ribbed barrel with a full underlug. Other unique features include a red ramp front sight, an adjustable rear sight and contoured finger-groove rubber grips. Similar to Taurus handguns, the Rossi has a key-lock security system action inside its forged steel frame. (<a target=blank href=http://www.rossiusa.com/product-details.cfm?id=141&category=1&toggle=>http://www.rossiusa.com</a>; 800-948-8029)
Evolved from the Security-Six, the GP100 has a full-lug, 4.2-inch barrel. This heavy-duty revolver offers an adjustable rear sight, a ramp front sight and rubber Hogue Monogrips. It’s available in blued or stainless versions, and there is a stainless model with a 3-inch barrel and fixed sights that is a rugged choice for off-duty or concealed-carry use. (<a target=blank href=http://www.ruger.com/products/gp100/>http://www.ruger.com</a>)
First produced 26 years ago, the SP101 is a compact five-shooter built for concealed carry or backup use. The 2.25- and 3.06-inch-barreled models have fixed sights, while the 4.2-inch-barreled version has adjustable sights. All SP101 barrels have a full-length lug and rib. The cushioned rubber grips with plastic or wood side panels make shooting Magnum loads more comfortable during extended range sessions. (<a target=blank href=http://www.ruger.com/products/sp101/>http://www.ruger.com</a>)
The smallest and lightest Ruger .357 is also a five-shooter, but this one has a modular frame, a polymer fire-control housing, a stainless steel barrel and cylinder and Hogue Tamer Monogrips. This double-action-only revolver also includes a friction-reducing cam for an incredibly smooth action, and the whole gun has a Ionbond Diamondblack finish. (<a target=blank href=http://www.ruger.com/products/lcr/models.html>http://www.ruger.com</a>)
The original .357 Mag, later designated the Model 27, is in Smith & Wesson’s Classic series. It’s built on the heavy N-Frame with a four-screw side plate, a checkered topstrap and rib on its 4-inch, half-lug, tapered barrel. Additional features include an adjustable rear sight, a front ramp, a target hammer and trigger, plus checkered wood grips. (<a target=blank href=http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_764900_-1_798654_798653_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y>http://www.smith-wesson.com</a>; 800-331-0852)
Made with the heavy-duty L-Frame to take sustained use of .357 Mag cartridges, this stainless steel sixgun has a full-lug, ribbed, 4-inch barrel with a red ramp front and adjustable white-outline rear sights. Synthetic combat-style grips round out this powerful package, making this an ideal self-defense or competition handgun. (<a target=blank href=http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_764965_-1_757912_757798_757797_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y>http://www.smith-wesson.com</a>; 800-331-0852)
Recently reintroduced to the Smith & Wesson lineup, the Model 66 is a stainless version of the well-known K-Frame Combat Magnum. This classically styled revolvers offers a 4.25-inch, ribbed, half-lug barrel along with a red ramp front sight and a white-outline, adjustable rear sight. The Model 66 comes with synthetic combat grips and weighs 3.1 ounces less than the company’s more robust Model 686. (<a target=blank href=http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_827561_-1_757751_757751_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y>http://www.smith-wesson.com</a>; 800-331-0852)
One of the smallest and lightest .357 Mag revolvers made today, the 340PD has a scandium alloy frame and a titanium alloy cylinder. This is paired with a 1.875-inch, full-lug barrel and an easy-to-acquire fiber-optic front sight. Built to meet the demands of concealed carry, this compact DAO offers low-profile sights and textured synthetic grips for a fast draw. (<a target=blank href=http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_764938_-1_757768_757767_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y>http://www.smith-wesson.com</a>; 800-331-0852)
A fairly recent phenomenon is the large-frame, eight-shot .357 Mag revolver. Taurus’ entry into the field has stainless steel construction, a 4-inch, ported, full-lug barrel, a ramp front sight and an adjustable rear sight. The Model 608 has a hand-fitted action along with the key-operated Taurus Security System and rubber combat grips. (<a target=blank href=http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=250&category=Revolver>http://www.taurususa.com</a>; 800-327-3776)
Another innovative contender in the concealed-carry market is the Taurus Protector. Its lightweight construction includes a polymer frame and barrel shroud that are mated to a stainless steel barrel and cylinder. The barrel shroud features a full lug and a vent rib. Also included in this deep-cover package is the Taurus Security System, Ribber grips and a fiber-optic front sight. (<a target=blank href=http://www.taurususa.com/product-details.cfm?id=779&category=Revolver>http://www.taurususa.com</a>; 800-327-3776)
Back in the day, .357 Mag revolvers were among the most popular handguns around. Law enforcement officers wanted a more powerful cartridge than the .38 Special for service use and the .357 sixgun was better able to stand up to the new .38 +P and +P+ cartridges.
Probably the most well-known .357 Mag when I became a cop in the mid-1970s was the Smith & Wesson Model 19 Combat Magnum. Envisioned by Border Patrolman and gun writer Bill Jordan as the “peace officer’s dream,” the Model 19 was based on a strengthened (medium-sized) K-Frame, making it more convenient to carry than the large (N-Frame) Model 27 or Model 28 Highway Patrolman .357 revolvers.
Colt produced a robust .41-caliber revolver during the same era called the Trooper Mk III, which had a new action that didn’t require all the hand fitting needed in the older Trooper and Python models. At the same time, Ruger came out with its first double-action (DA) revolver, the Security-Six, which was another medium-sized .357 Mag, this one with a solid, modular frame that had no sideplate like the Colt or S&W. All three of these handguns were used extensively by law enforcement and had great followings for self-defense and field use.
Sadly, none of the aforementioned .357 Mags are still being made today, but Ruger and S&W are still turning out .357 models along with several other manufacturers. Here are some of formidable options for today’s wheelgunning fans.
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by Richard Johnson / Nov 19, 2015