Difficult Choices

Old Hickock45 lays out his collection of .357 Mag revolvers, and asks the question:  “Which is the very last .357 I’d sell?”  (As always, he rambles on and on, but he’s a man who loves guns and loves shooting them — like me — so just sit back, relax and enjoy his dilemma.)

Now it may come as a surprise to you all, but VERY Longtime Readers may recall that the .357 Remington Magnum is not one of my favorite handgun cartridges to shoot, simply because the recoil gets a little tough on my wrists after a while and I develop a profound flinch in consequence.  In fact, I’ve always though that the .357 is best fired out of a revolver with at least a 6″ barrel — certainly no less — and preferably, one with a bull barrel or at least a barrel underlug (NRA definition:  “A term that relates most commonly to DA/SA revolvers, underlug refers to an integral extension of metal that runs along the bottom side of the barrel.”)

Now where Hitch and I part company are his criteria for his final choice:  something that is fun to shoot at the range, and can also be pressed into service as a self-defense gun.  (His eventual choice leans heavily towards the “self-defense” part.)  I am certainly not going to argue with his final choice, and especially not with his top three, because mine would be pretty much the same.

My criteria for “the last .357 I’d ever sell” would be (in no specific order):  fun at the range, Governor’s BBQ, and in-home (not carry) self-defense.

I don’t have fun shooting a .357 Mag revolver with anything less than a 6″ barrel, and preferably one with a 6″ barrel AND an underlug.  It has to be beautiful, and of course it could see duty on my nightstand.  (For carry, I’m going to stick with a semi-auto, most probably a 1911.)

Here are my Top 3 (in no specific order):

Ruger Redhawk:
I had one of these (before the Great Poverty Catastrophe of 2012), and it was good right out of the box.  A little work on the trigger, and it was fantastic.  I know, this Ruger’s barrel is 7.5″, but it also doesn’t have an underlug;  and anyway, I happen to like Rugers with 7″ barrels.

Colt Python:

No trigger work required on this baby, of course.  In Colt’s Royal Blue, the Python is arguably one of the most beautiful guns ever made.  That it has inarguably the best revolver trigger action ever made, and its hairsplitting accuracy all just add to its desirability.

S&W 686:

Nothing wrong with the 686;  I’ve owned two before, but this one is lovely.

I won’t spoil the ending of the video and reveal Hitchcock’s choice, but I think you all know which one you’d have to pry from my cold dead fingers…

Afterthought:  a couple of pics of some from my onetime collection of .357 Mag revolvers:

(sigh)  And there’s not a single one I wouldn’t take back in a heartbeat.

At least I’ve now got a replacement Model 65, so there’s that.


  1. Ahhh, great minds think alike. The old Python is truly a magnificent example of gunmakers art. A great collectable to be marveled over and coveted. But too valuable for regular blasting away. No, for that the S&W 686 fills the bill. An hour or so of work and a few springs yields a smooth light trigger for regular enjoyment. But there is a fly in the ointment. Advancing years and that cursed Arthur. Itis that is.
    My regular practice has moved from .45 autos and .357s to 9mm and .38 speshuls. So my regular go to revolver now is my S&W M 15, God’s answer to muzzle blast & recoil. The K frame at its best, a gift to the world from my two friends, Mr. Smith & Mr. Wesson. (apologies to Harry)

  2. Off to the range this morning for a play date with other boys. It turns out that I still have an untouched range gift certificate from Christmas … 2019. That’s how bad it’s become around my house. There may be as many range-virgin guns around here as there are old favorites. I think it’s going to be a .44 magnum day. It turns out that Hickok has a “last gun I would ever sell” video about those, too. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PV3rUOEGHk

    1. Range report … there I was making the biggest noise with a .44 magnum and a guy shows up in the next lane with a .475 Linebaugh. Ridiculous.

  3. Am I the only person on the planet that, when I go to a professional outdoor range (usually Camp Atterbury), I take a wide variety of guns and accompaniments and spend several hours there? No, I don’t use one of those carts they have available for carrying all my shit, but I usually make 2 trips back and forth to the vehicle.

    1. That’s one difficulty with public ranges, the pack muling. Another one is the real or perceived time pressure when it’s crowded. I find it difficult to relax and get good practice amid the hubbub. It would be nice to setup a little oasis of calm and precision on the range, but I find it difficult. Oh, for a private “backyard” space outside the shop door where you can just step out and make a shot or two and then go in an tinker some more. Sartre said “hell is other people”, or was it Dorothy Parker?

  4. I have a Coonan 1911 in .357 mag. I used to own a Ruger GP100, but sold it because the recoil hurt after awhile. But I have to tell you, that Coonan is the lightest-shooting .357 I’ve ever shot. I can shoot that thing forever and not feel it.

  5. I love, loVE, LOVE, wheelguns. And my favorite caliber to shoot is .357. My goto gun is my first real gun I ever bought, s&w Mod 19. I’ve had mine for 35 years, and while the Python is sexy, and the Gp100 is durable, and I would welcome them both. Nothing will replace the old girl.

  6. Mr Kim,

    I like your choice of the Redhawk above, nice gun, I always wanted on.

    You mentioned you prefer full underlugs. I do as well.

    I am sure you have seen, but must ask, have you seen the RUGER GP100 standard model (which has a FULL underlug)? It comes in either BLUED or Stainless? ALSO have you seen the Smith & Wesson 686 COMPETITOR, which has a WEIGHTED barrel underlug. Has removable weights so you can weight it to your liking.

    1. I have, and I like the GP100 very much. However, I prefer the feel of the Security-Six (pictured last) and if I wanted to CARRY a .357 revolver (however unlikely that may be), the Sec-Six would be my first choice.

  7. I have a S&W Model 27 I’d NEVER part with. Tames the recoil well since it’s an N-frame gun with an 8-3/8″ barrel, actually heavier than its big brother Model 29 .44 Magnum due to more mass (smaller holes) in the cylinder. Hardly a carry gun, but fun to shoot and extremely accurate out to can’t-see with a beee-yooo-teee-ful trigger.

    1. You should be able to carry it in a Bianchi X15 shoulder rig. Vertical carry, and it should work with a safari/BDU type jacket or similar length cover garment. It will extend below the belt (there is a strap that snaps around your waist belt for partial support/control), so a short jacket won’t work. I have this rig for my 7.5″ Redhawk.

  8. Last gun I would ever part with is a .357. It’s a 6″ S&W 27-2 that was my grandpap’s hunting sidearm for decades.
    When it does part from me, it will go to my son who bears my grandfather’s name.

  9. I once had the privilege of being allowed to fondle a man’s Performance Center 686, back when S&W made such things. Although the finish didn’t have the nearly the tactile appeal of the Python’s blueing, the trigger was like pulling your finger through soft silk butter. It was enough to bring a tear to the eye.

  10. I compared my friend’s Python trigger with my S&W #27 and another’s #28, way back when…
    The Python was much smoother and lighter in double action, but the #27 was lighter in single action, the #28 just wasn’t finished as nice.
    The Python has appreciated greatly in value, the S&Ws not as much. My friend made a wise choice.

    1. I would have made a great choice with my Python too, except that I enjoyed shooting it so much that I shot it to pieces.

  11. I learned to shoot a pistol with a Speed 6 that had a 4″ barrel as a teenager. I have been through lots of other calibers in pistols and about 10 years back I picked up a S&W K frame stainless with a 4″ barrel. The 4″ provides enough stability for accurate shots for me. The Model 65 is a keeper.

  12. I have a S&W 28-2 (Highway Patrolman) with a 6in barrel. It’s an amazing gun to shoot, .357 is manageable, but .38 special out of it is like shooting .22. And it’s bloody accurate. I also have a Ruger Blackhawk which I like to shoot, but it’s a piece of shite, it’s fallen apart twice on me (losing screws, getting jammed up) just shooting it.

  13. Can’t go wrong with a .357magnum. It’s got a lot of versatility from light .38 special loads all the way up to heavy .357 magnum loads for hunting. Generally prefer a 4″ barrel but other barrel lengths are very handy.


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