Know Your Cartridge: .357 Magnum

357_magThis chambering was introduced in 1935 by Smith & Wesson for its heavy-frame revolver. Ammunition was developed by Winchester, in cooperation with Smith & Wesson. Major Douglas B. Wesson (of S&W) and Philip B. Sharpe are credited with much of the final development work. The .357 Magnum is based on the .38 Special case lengthened about 1/10-inch, so it will not chamber in standard .38 Special revolvers. This was the most powerful handgun cartridge in the world until the .44 Magnum was introduced in 1955. Colt, Ruger, Smith & Wesson, and many others manufacture revolvers for this cartridge. This is probably the most popular high-velocity handgun cartridge in the United States for police, hunting, and target work. The .357 Magnum provides nearly double the velocity and more than three times the energy of standard .38 Special loads. It is noted for its flat trajectory, deep penetration, and great knockdown power. It is considered the best all-around handgun-hunting cartridge for small and medium game and, under proper conditions, for deer at short range. Nearly every major commercial ammunition manufacturer offers .357 Magnum ammunition.

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Editor’s Note: This brief is an excerpt from Cartridges of the World 14th Edition.


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