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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)


No doubt more than enough was written about the first magnum revolver cartridge--the mighty little .357--in the years following its introduction in 1934. The (now) wee beast kicked off a new arms race in handgun cartridges, but it ruled the roost for long enough to cement its place among the finer modern defensive rounds. And when rifles were finally chambered for it, the sturdy little fella persuaded many that he could be quite useful in hunting, too.

While the .357 is in no danger of fading into obscurity today, it could certainly be said that he's been elbowed to the back of a room rather crowded with surly, broad-shouldered handgun cartridges. But he is still a Bruce Lee, and Bruce Lees should not be underestimated. They may be humble, soft-spoken, even diminutive, but they are also sneaky, efficient, and highly lethal.

In an odd twist, the .357's once leading role as a self defense and law enforcement cartridge has been eclipsed not by its broad shouldered cousins like the .44 mag and .454 Casull, but by cartridges that once would have been considered inadequate. The two most widely used law enforcement cartridges today, the .9mm and .40 S&W, have inferior ballistics to the .357. But the advent of reliable, high capacity semi-automatic handguns brought with it (rather gradually) the new, inescapable doctrine of "more is better."

On Mr. Lee's other flank, the big brutish cousins moved in to oust him from his hunting role. While back in the day, intrepid hunters went after everything on up to bear with the .357, once the breakneck race to magnum superiority picked up steam (in both rifles and handguns) it became more and more difficult to persuade younger hunters of the .357's usefulness in the woods. Not that many were trying to make that argument anymore.

Best Survival Cartridge
And I'm not here to argue that the .357 can or should, reclaim its old titles. But I will argue that it still deserves a place in the ring...maybe just a different ring. I believe the .357 has a better than average shot at claiming the title of "Best Survival Cartridge."

The term "survival" or "survivalist" has been applied to a broad range of scenarios, from civil war to simple marooning. For the sake of simplicity, I'll define my scenario as one in which an individual or small group might be forced to live off the land, and in which contact with "civilization" or other persons might be impossible or undesirable. Resources would be limited to what could be pre-arranged (in a remote cabin for instance), carried on one's back, or rummaged afield.

Flexibility, Portability, Sustainability
In survival scenarios outside a combat theater, a Marlin 1894 or Henry Big Boy Steel chambered in .357 Magnum /.38 Special offers a combination of flexibility, portability, and sustainability that is tough to beat. Its 10-round standard capacity offers adequate defense against most North American animals, including pack predators, and enough reloads can be carried in one pocket to last for days, if not weeks. Load flexibility is superb: .38spl loads can be quite discreet on small game, shot capsules can take birds and snakes at close range, and heavy hitters can take nearly all North American game with a well placed shot or two.

Affordable Re-loads
Another fine trait I am always reminded of at the reloading bench is just how easy and affordable it is to reload .357/.38. No case lube, very little powder (one pound will get you 400 hard chargers) and a wide variety of bullets, or boolits, give you a lot of bang for every pull of the press handle.

Great for Suppressors
Lastly, their is an interesting niche for the .357/.38 carbine in the modern gunner's stable. Suppressors are very popular these days, and with them the .300 Blackout cartridge. We thread a lot of lever action muzzles for our customers, many of whom have come to realize that their quiet, fast actions make perfect platforms for cans.

A .357 that Emulates the .300 Blackout Cartridge?
The Marlin 1894 or Henry Big Boy Steel carbine, firing .38 special subsonic loads, fills this role beautifully without any further modification. But of course, there is always a modification. My next will be to re-chamber a Marlin .35 Rem barrel in .357 so that it can stabilize big 220gr+ bullets at subsonic velocities. That would make it the practical equivalent of the .300 Blackout cartridge.

Bruce Lee is not dead. He's only lurking in the shadows.

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El Kabong
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Ive been telling folks for years the revolver/lever combo cant be beat for being simple and versatile.
A shoulder bag full of fixins, and off to the rodeo you go.
Happen to have the Blackhawk 3 screw out to rotate the rounds in it.
I sleep well at night
 

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Even though I am a fan of bigger bores, I still enjoy the .357. Its great for those times when you want to play with a magnum handgun but don't need or want to get beat up while doing it. And there is a lot of nostalgia that comes with the .357. They killed some mighty big critters with them in the 30's, especially up in the arctic I have heard. Walrus I believe. And the Registered Magnums were some of the finest revolvers ever produced...Period.
 

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Another article which advocates the same concept, cross-posted here through the kind permission of the author:

Not Just for Cowboys Anymore

The frontier concept of rifle and revolver using the same common ammunition still makes sense...and it “won’t scare the natives.”

By Ed Harris

Executive Summary:

The Revolver: A fixed sight, double-action .357 revolver such as the Ruger SP101 is an affordable compromise. It is simple for anyone in the family to use. It is accurate enough within 25 yards, “hell for strong,” rugged, highly portable and has impressive ballistics for close-in personal defense. It can use either .357 Magnums or lower powered .38 Special ammo. Dependable personal protection which goes everywhere, discreetly if necessary.

The Rifle: Round out the package with a Marlin 1894C carbine in .357 Magnum. It offers adequate combat accuracy for “short range” (less than 200 yards in the infantry sense) and ten rounds magazine capacity. The magazine tube can be topped off without taking the gun out of action. Rapidity of fire is good. It is a natural pointer. The carbine is light in the hand, quick to the shoulder and fast to the first shot and follow-ups come easily. Add a sturdy revolver, this combo is hard to beat.

Back East it is getting much more difficult to find someplace to practice with a military caliber rifle. Sure you can get a .22 LR upper for your AR, but it isn't the same. Indoor ranges will let you use a rifle which fires handgun ammo, so my most-used center-fire rifle these days is a Marlin 1894C carbine in .357 Magnum.

A .357 lever action is manageable by females and youngsters. It has low recoil and is fairly quiet when used with standard velocity lead .38 Special ammo. It is a fun camp gun which works great for small game, feral dogs and groundhogs. When firing .38 Special standard velocity (non +P) lead bullet ammo from a rifle, velocity remains subsonic, producing a mild report little louder than a .22, which has advantages for discreet garden varminting.

Its potential for home defense with .357 ammunition, is nothing to sneeze at. A .357 levergun with proper ammunition is fully adequate for deer within 100 yards and with peep sights is more accurate on silhouette targets out to 200 yards than your average AK. But leverguns are familiar and nonthreatening in appearance, so they "don't scare the natives" as a "black rifle" often does.

The Marlin lever-gun requires better sights, but you can install these yourself. The most rugged, durable iron sights are the XS ghost ring peep. If cost-conscious you can stop right there and will have a good outfit. But if you have trouble seeing iron sights well, or want to improve your longer range and low light performance, add a XS Lever-Scout rail. This accepts a variety of quick detachable optics, such as a hunting scope or military reflex sight, leaving the peep sights for backup.

New leverguns also cost less than so-called "black rifles." So use the money you save to buy a Dillon RL500B to load your own ammo! Used .357 lever-guns sell for about 60% in stores of what a similar rifle costs new. Around here Marlin .357 Micrgroove rifles sell for about $100 less than a similar model with Ballard rifling, because people think that "Microgrooves won't shoot lead." In my experience of some 25 years, the 1894C with Microgroove rifling shoots lead bullets just fine, as long as you stick to standard pressure or +P .38 Specials at subsonic velocities.

Microgroove barrels handle jacketed bullet .357 Magnum loads best. The 158-gr. soft-point is what you want to use for deer from the rifle. The 125-grain JHPs are best for personal defense from the revolver, or for varmint use in the rifle. Jacketed bullet .357 magnum rounds are expensive. You will actually need and use very few of them, so just buy a several boxes of factory loads for TEOTWAWKI.

Standard velocity .38 Special, 158-grain lead semi-wadcutters are the basic utility load for both rifle and revolver. This is what you want to set up your RL500B to assemble in quantity. Bulk Remington .358 diameter 158-grain semi-wadcutters assembled in .38 Special brass with 3.5 grains of Bullseye approximate the velocity, accuracy and energy of factory standard velocity loads. Velocity is about 750 f.p.s. from a 3 inch revolver, and 950 f.p.s. from an 18 inch carbine. Ordinary lead plinking loads shoot into 4 inches at 100 yards from the Marlin. Jacketed soft-point .357 magnums shave an inch off of that. If you buy powder and primers in bulk, component cost to reload brass that you have saved with the plinking load is about 8 cents per pop. If you cast your own bullets you will save a nickel. Jacketed bullets cost more than a dime each. Buy a few boxes of factory loads and conserve.

Cowboy assault rifle.” My Marlin has a Trijicon Reflex II sight Model RX09 with A.R.M.S. #15 Throw Lever Mount fitted into an XS Systems Lever Scout rail. XS mounts are dimensioned to accept Weaver bases. Fitting the military M1915 rail base requires you to determine which cross-slot you will locate your optic onto. You want the optical sight at the balance point of the rifle. After you have located the proper cross slot to position your sight, adjust the slot width and depth with a square Swiss needle file to enable the mounting clamp crossbar to press-fit snugly into it. Retract the thumb clamps and slide the A.R.M.S. mount over the front of the rail. The rear mount clamp tightens against the angled sides of the rail only. You want no “slop” after you have fitted the crossbar slot depth and corners. After fitting, the A.R.M.S. #15 thumb-lever mount offers quick-disconnect with perfect return to zero. I can use the tritium illuminated, no batteries required ever, combat optic or backup ghost ring peeps at will. I zero 158-grain .357 magnum loads to coincide with the pointed top of the illuminated chevron at 100 yards. Standard velocity .38s hit "on" at 50 yards. Holding the legs of the chevron tangent to the top of a 12-inch gong at 200 yards I can hit with magnums every time. Placing the chevron across the shoulders of an Army E silhouette I make repeat hits out to at 300 if I do my part.

If I had to “bug out,” riding my Montague Paratrooper tactical bike around the EMP-killed vehicles, carrying only what I could in my survival ruck and pockets to get beyond the moderate damage radius before the fallout starting coming down, a lever-gun and revolver combo isn’t the world’s worst choice. I don’t plan to stand and fight off the whole world. If you try to do that alone, in the words of the late Harry Archer, “you’ll never live to shoot-‘em all.” I just want to protect myself and my gear, put time, distance and shielding between me and the threat, “shoot and scoot” if needed, put meat in the pot and get the job done.
 

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Survival stuff ins't my bag, but I sold an 1894C that I should not have before going a'contractin'; with that rifle I killed boatloads of jackrabbits, many coyotes, skunks, snakes, a dog with distemper, and two SW MO whitetails. It was also my bedside weapon for many, many years.

When you get one, don't let it go. I recently bought a Ruger 77/357 to replace my old friend; we'll see if I can bond with it as well.
 

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I've got two Marlin 1894's. One is a C and the other is a CBL. My 1894C is a first year production .357 carbine and the 1894CBL is a 1999 24" rifle.
Being a bullet caster my shooting is 99 % lead bullets in weights ranging from 150 grains all the way up to 215 grains. Bullets from 150 grains to 184 grains are shot the most. My 1894C with microgroove rifling shoots cast as well as my 1894CBL with it's Ballard rifling. The 1894C wears a Bushnell Banner 2.5 x 20 from the same time frame as the carbine. The 1894CBL wears a Lyman 66A receiver site and shoots superbly also. I honestly don't shoot the CBL all that much due it's superb fancy wood but the C has had uncounted rounds through it. I also replaced the original buttstock on 1894C with a crescent buttstock that suits me just fine. I have taken the C deer hunting with my cast loads, but have not connected on a deer just yet. Having shot several with my Ruger Security Six I know the carbine/rifle are up to the task. If I was a younger man I know the Marlin 1894C and a knapsack with ammo contained within would provide meat and defensive shots aplenty!

358 Win
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I will bookmark this post as I just got the 1894c last week. A wealth of info here.
Congrats on the new rifle. You won't be disappointed. 1894s in general have a tendency to be finicky feeders--at least more often than their larger rifle siblings--but when properly sorted they are the most fun to shoot and carry. My pre-safety 1894c was the first 1894 I bought many years ago, and the first I did action work on. Since then it has been one of my most reached for rifles, absolutely slick, fun, and reliable, a pleasure to plink with. Reloading is the key to getting the most out 'em, as magnum revolver ammo is not cheap at the store. But they're plenty cheap to reload, and they're far too much fun not to shoot often. Mine goes with me just about every time I head for the tree line, no matter what else I'm bringing. Hope you enjoy yours as much.

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Bruce Lee was Sneaky :questionmark: :party:

I agree that the 357/38 Spcl rifle is a highly versatile and effective weapon. My 1894C is very accurate and handy as Hell with a Williams peep!!!!

Bill, you never should have sold yours. But then,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you never should've sold your S&W 544 "Texan" either but I'm glad you did. She is being well cared for. :biggrin:

I too, have let some collectibles go over the years due to moving/divorces.

Oh well, Asi es la vida. :smokin:

T.S.
 

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Bruce Lee was Sneaky :questionmark: :party:

I agree that the 357/38 Spcl rifle is a highly versatile and effective weapon. My 1894C is very accurate and handy as Hell with a Williams peep!!!!

Bill, you never should have sold yours. But then,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,you never should've sold your S&W 544 "Texan" either but I'm glad you did. She is being well cared for. :biggrin:

I too, have let some collectibles go over the years due to moving/divorces.

Oh well, Asi es la vida. :smokin:

T.S.
The gent here who got my 1894c seemed as happy with it as you are with the 544. I drowned my sorrow with a cherry M58 and even better 1894 in 44; now all I need is to get home at shoot them!
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
The 357 magnum, fired from a carbine, is a 30-30 class cartridge. The original 30WCF load was a 160 grain metal patched bullet at 1,970 FPS from a 26" barrel. My Marlin 1894C will push a Federal factory 158 grain JSP at 1830 FPS from an 18" barrel. That is a 600 F.P.S. gain over a revolver. The 200 yard ballistics of factory 357 ammo from the carbine are about equal to the ballistics of the same ammo at the muzzle of a revolver. At 300 yards, the 158gr projectile is traveling 980 FPS and has 337 FPE. From the same catalog, 9mm 147gr pistol ammo leaves the muzzle of a pistol at 990 FPS and 320 FPE.

At 400 yards, the 357 magnum is traveling at 883 FPS and 274 FPE. Roughly equal to 38 Special +P 158gr ammo at the muzzle of a 4” barrel. At 500 yards, the 357 mag is still beating a 38 Special 158gr MP standard velocity load, measuring 800 FPS and 225 FPE.

The rainbow trajectory of the 357 carbine looks a lot like the 45-70. But even after going sub sonic, the 357 magnum is still deadly. All that from a little but efficient cartridge.



I'm thinking of using my 1894C in 357 for home defense out to 100 yards with iron sights. Beyond that, I may switch to a scoped 336 in 30-30. But even with iron sights, I can lob 357 onto a paper plate at 200 yards with my carbine.
Yes, the stunning velocity gains in carbines are one of the things that have always appealed to me about the .357 (same goes for the .44). My handloaded 158gr XTPs run at 2000fps (not recommended for all guns), and as you say, that's most of a .30-30.

The only semi-auto pairing that bears any similarity to the .357/.38 combo would be the 10mm/.40 S&W. Through a carbine, the .40 essentially becomes a .357 revolver, and while the 10mm doesn't quite keep up with the .357 in a carbine, it ain't too shabby either. And you get a lot more in the tube, so there's that. The trick would be to get both the 10 and .40 to run through the same carbine...hmm. Maybe.
 

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I'm not a ballistics expert but I'm familiar with guns of many calibers and gauges. I wanted a pistol/rifle combo for the deer woods and didn't want a heavy caliber and the pounding that came with it for the Eastern Whitetails I hunt. I've had a few .357 revolvers for years and I set out to determine if a lever gun in the same caliber would be sufficient for deer hunting and I did a lot of research on the subject. I specifically joined this forum as part of the research. Naturally, I read a lot of info diminishing the .357 for this project but as I weeded thru the chaff I found the info to support the purchase of a 1984C earlier this year. The first articles linked in this thread sums up my thoughts and research nicely.
The rifle feels good, shoulders nicely and is a pleasure to shoot. I plan to do most if not all of my woods hunting this upcoming season from the ground with the rifle/revolver combo with the hope of killing a deer with each gun.
A picture is worth a thousand words and the cool factor is awesome.

rifle pistol combo.jpg
 

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For the last couple months I've been thinking about how nice a .357 levergun would be, and now I gotta stumble across this thread! :mad:
.357 Marlins are now generally overpriced, and Henry's don't have a loading gate.
I'll keep telling myself that until I have the money for one, or the other. :)

Vooch
Rossi model 92 is a cheaper alternative in 357
 
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