Well, ReadyNutrition* firearms enthusiasts, we are following up our .45 ACP article with another piece on a superb cartridge…the .357 magnum round. Invented by Phil Sharpe and Elmer Keith, the .357 magnum (hereafter referred to in this piece as the “.357”) is a very versatile and highly-dependable cartridge that has been around for almost one hundred years. Introduced in 1935, it is an “evolution,” so to speak from the .38 caliber round. It has an interesting history that should raise more than a few eyebrows.
During the Depression Days and the Bootlegging Era, the .357 magnum was developed (one of the reasons) because of the gangsters and gang wars that were rampant during the days of Prohibition. The round was needed to be able to “puncture” both bulletproof vests and automobiles during these skirmishes of cops and robbers. The vests were defeating any bullets (at the time) of under 1,000 feet per second (fps), and the only round that was overcoming them was the Colt’s .38 Super Automatic.
Smith and Wesson came along and jumped on the bandwagon. They wanted to expand the .38 cartridge that was in use by law enforcement. After many failures, the .357 finally came about. For those of you guys and gals that mentioned in e-mails and comments about the recoil (“kick”) of the .45 ACP, the .357 magnum has less recoil, and yet does not sacrifice stopping power to attain it. Your bullet weights range (generally) from 125 grains (gr) to 158 gr.
The .357 is an excellent cartridge for home defense, as well as for hunting and for target-shooting. It is the smallest size magnum cartridge that will have effect against large game, and if firing +P rounds (with a brand such as Buffalo Bore), can be used in self-defense against large predators. Mind you, in Grizzly country you prefer the .44 Magnum round, but the .357 +P round has been effective in stopping these monsters.
There are plenty of handguns and rifles to choose from for your cartridge. I highly recommend Ruger’s SP-101 series revolver, with a barrel length to your choosing. Although a five-shot revolver, that .357 is a serious round…a magnum round…and will more than serve your needs if your marksmanship fundamentals are followed. You can find lever-action rifles chambered in .357 magnum, such as the Marlin lever-action carbine. One that I am interested in is the Rossi Ranch Hand, that boasts a greatly-enlarged finger-loop for use by cattlemen and cowboys.
The Ranch Hand can be kept in a side sheath on a horse and then withdrawn to fire from a moving gallop and reloaded (re-levered) with the enlarged finger loop. My interest is to remove the loop and replace it with a more standard-sized finger loop such as is found in the Winnie ’94. The reason is because it is really a short carbine. I was thinking of doing this to stick in a sheath atop of my rucksack. I’m still deliberating, because the Ranch Hand also comes in a .44 Magnum cartridge. I like both rounds for bear and mountain lion country.
The .357 cartridge is easily acquired and simple to reload. You are getting the accuracy of a 9mm cartridge with a stopping power on a level with a .45 ACP. Your velocity of the rounds is approximately 1,300 fps. Want another “Bennie” for this equation? No, not Benzedrine…a Benefit! If you have a firearm that will fire a .357 magnum round, you are (99% of the time) also able to fire a .38 round through it, such as a standard .38 Special round! There’s a plus for you…as you’ll have a weapon that can fire multiple calibers without a barrel change.
Caution! It doesn’t work in reverse: your .38 is NOT able to handle the extra chamber pressure from the .357 magnum round!
I’m highlighting, underlining, and isolating that sentence just so that you keep it in mind for your safety. The ammo is very reasonably-priced and can be obtained in your friendly Wal-Mart quite availably and affordably. It’s a good piece for men or women and the round will serve your needs well. The .357 magnum round is quite reliable and has been dependable for a long time. Happy and safe shooting, and we’d love any questions or comments you may send us. JJ out.
Jeremiah Johnson is the Nom de plume of a retired Green Beret of the United States Army Special Forces (Airborne). Mr. Johnson was a Special Forces Medic, EMT and ACLS-certified, with comprehensive training in wilderness survival, rescue, and patient-extraction. He is a Certified Master Herbalist and a graduate of the Global College of Natural Medicine of Santa Ana, CA. A graduate of the U.S. Army’s survival course of SERE school (Survival Evasion Resistance Escape), Mr. Johnson also successfully completed the Montana Master Food Preserver Course for home-canning, smoking, and dehydrating foods.
Mr. Johnson dries and tinctures a wide variety of medicinal herbs taken by wild crafting and cultivation, in addition to preserving and canning his own food. An expert in land navigation, survival, mountaineering, and parachuting as trained by the United States Army, Mr. Johnson is an ardent advocate for preparedness, self-sufficiency, and long-term disaster sustainability for families. He and his wife survived Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Cross-trained as a Special Forces Engineer, he is an expert in supply, logistics, transport, and long-term storage of perishable materials, having incorporated many of these techniques plus some unique innovations in his own homestead.
Mr. Johnson brings practical, tested experience firmly rooted in formal education to his writings and to our team. He and his wife live in a cabin in the mountains of Western Montana with their three cats.