THE VERSATILE .357
For my money, probably the most versatile revolver caliber is the .357 Magnum, a caliber that literally does it all, and this is from a guy who is widely known as an advocate of the .41 Magnum. It is a proven fight stopper, a game killer (big and small), a marvelous round for shooting steel plates and metallic silhouettes, and round guns of all sizes are chambered for it. I own, shall we say, more than one .357 Magnum wheelgun, but I also occasionally carry a .38 Special. I strongly recommend either the 125- or a 158-grain JHP or soft nose for most applications. I know there is a much wider choice of bullet weights and types, but as noted earlier about selecting ammunition, these choices seem to work well with any single- or double-action revolver. Commercial loads are available from Federal that will launch a 158-grain JSP at 1,240 fps from the muzzle, or a 125-grain JHP advertised at 1,440 fps muzzle velocity. Remington offers a 125-grain JSP that warps out at 1,450 fps and a 125-grain hollowpoint with a brass jacket in its Ultimate Defense series that runs at a reported 1,220 fps. Winchester’s 125-grain Defender launches a JHP at more than 1,300 fps and Hornady’s 125-grain FTX Critical Defense load is a sizzler with a patented “Flex Tip” bullet that is designed to expand even when fired through heavy clothing. There’s a Sig Sauer target load that pushes a 125-grain FMJ projectile at 1,245 fps, and Sig’s V-Crown 125-grain JHP for street use that ran over my chronograph screens from a Ruger LCR at 1,244 fps. The typical velocity range of the .357 Magnum roughly stretches from 1,175 fps to 1,250 fps, but leave room for rounds that clock much faster, depending upon barrel length and how tight the gap is between the cylinder and forcing cone. One loses perhaps 100 fps or more when shooting the .357 out of a short barrel, but at close range, that may be inconsequential. Even out of my Model 19 snubnose, the .357 Magnum packs a wallop. In addition to the full array of magnum loads available, the .357 Magnum chambers .38 Special ammunition, which is good for practice, different social occasions and will stop a coyote, bobcat or similar-sized predators in their tracks. Against twolegged predators, it can be devastating.