The .357 Revolver, since its inception in 1934 has been the go-to handgun for law enforcement stopping power. It has also been a stalwart choice in consumer’s minds since shortly after the adoption of the .357 Magnum in the early years by law enforcement. There are myriad reasons for this love of the .357 Magnum and the revolver format. The best .357 Revolver will be a versatile, easy to understand firearm that can be used for everything from personal protection to hunting to target shooting and be a legacy tool that can be passed from generation to generation.
There are many choices in the field of best revolver candidates; this list contains 10 choices that make excellent sense for different uses. Most are versatile enough to crossover to different use cases and will be able to be justified as leaders in the field for those various tasks. There are different options in this list that allow for you to choose from among the best revolvers in the world based on size, mechanical functionality and design innovation.
The ballistics of the venerable .357 Magnum will allow it to be put side by side against any personal protection or hunting revolver in the world. The ability to use .38 Special cartridges in the revolver, makes target practice and plinking a more affordable and easier to carry out operation. Because of the massive energy and velocities that are at play with the .357 Magnum Revolver, the firearms that use the cartridge will be built to a level of standard that is beyond regular firearms.
It is this versatility and durability and power, that makes the .357 one of the longest standing duty and personal defense cartridges in the world. This list will offer choices to you for .357 revolvers that will bring your personal collection to another level.
Best .357 Magnum Revolvers Comparison
The Use Cases of the .357 Magnum
As discussed briefly already, the best .357 revolver will be a gun capable of many uses and will provide excellent performance in all of them. There are few cartridges as versatile as the .357 Magnum; furthermore, there are few firearms more easily used and reliable than the revolver, a design that has been around since the dawn of hand carried firearms.
Personal protection and Concealed carry
The .357 Magnum has incredible static ballistic performance numbers and the innovations in materials and ammunition has made it possible for the consumer market to tap into even more powerful cartridges for personal defense and to use some revolvers even for concealed carry. This is a notion that was unconceivable only a few short years ago.
These innovations, not the least of which are powerful materials capable of offering protection against the massive cartridge pressures created by the .357 Mag, have revolutionized the revolver as a concealed carry option and made it a first choice.
Revolver reliability is legendary. The idea of reliability and consistency is the core fundamental in a carry weapon. Whether your choice be for home defense in a firearm that stays mostly in a safe, or whether it be a full time holstered gun that never leaves your side, having a revolver to count on makes the notion of failure a minimal concern. When you pull a .357 Magnum revolver out, it is going to work.
There are few exceptions to this rule, whether you use the mechanical standard of reliability as the consideration or the immense stopping power as a measure of the capacity of the firearm.
Hunting uses of the .357 Magnum
The ballistics of the modern .357 Magnum allow for a versatile hunting cartridge. From intermediate to large game or as a dangerous game sidearm, the .357 Magnum is a substantial cartridge. Furthermore, when you need reliability and functionality, the revolver platform cannot be beaten.
The ability for the user to know that when the trigger is pulled it will go bang, and yet to know, that the gun is completely safe until such a catalyst, makes the revolver a powerful addition to your hunting arsenal.
You can expect the kind of penetration, knock down power and terminal ballistics that will dispatch the toughest intermediate game and many large game species. Such static numbers might include a standard range of velocity from about 1200 to 1750 or so feet per second, with about 500-650 ft. lbs. of energy delivery. There will even be more extreme performing cartridges that can be used for hunting, which will improve the penetration and projectile weight retention. For lighter game, there are also cartridges that will be well suited to the task.
For the most part, there is no real reason to use a .357 Magnum as a target round, except to have training and understanding in that cartridge to serve you well for use in other endeavors. That said, the option to shoot .38 Special of all types in a .357 Magnum revolver allows for cheap target shooting that suffers no short-range degradation to accuracy or reliability and offers some respite to the punishing recoil of the .357. As a target gun, there are several on this list that make sense, with the longer barrels and the extreme tolerances built into the firearms.
The different styles of revolvers
Single action revolvers require actuation of a hammer before the cartridge can be fired each time. That means that effectively, a single action revolver is a single shot gun without multiple actions by the shooter. Effectively the shooter must be the actuating presence rather than the firearm itself. That is: the gun makes a single action per trigger pull. It simply releases the trigger. If the trigger is not perched on the sear of the hammer, the hammer cannot be dropped onto the cartridge/primer. The shooter must cock the hammer each time they wish to fire the weapon.
Single action revolvers especially for .357 are specific use case firearms and are generally used for only a few things in the modern shooting world despite still retaining excellent overall versatility. A SAA (single action army) firearm is a popular option in the .357 Revolver world. It’s based on the old Colt Style/Western Style of handgun. These are used for hunting or general use, target and Cowboy Action shooting generally.
A double action revolver is perhaps the most reliable firearm in the world. It allows you to load rounds into the cylinder and leave it safely in a holster or in a different position to use at your moment of need. The only requirement to take it from a safe condition to one of lethality for a threat, is to aim and fire the gun by pulling the trigger. The double action refers to the internal mechanisms of the gun 1. Cocking the hammer/sear and 2. Releasing the hammer onto a firing pin or cartridge/primer to fire the round. This action also pre-loads the gun to use instantly for the next round, by revolving the cylinder.
Double action revolvers are used for everything any modern handgun can be used for. They thrive in hunting scenarios and personal defense, specifically home defense, and they can easily be used for target practice and other general use cases. They can be used alternatively in the exact same way as a single action revolver, if the user wishes to save some trigger pull weight.
Double Action Only
A DAO (double action only) revolver is a great platform for concealed carry and personal defense. The straightforward nature of the platform takes out an unnecessary step in the process of defending yourself. Instead of remembering to do anything but pull the trigger, the DAO allows you to think about whether you will pull the trigger and then only pull the trigger as needed. Your focus can turn to your instincts instead of thinking about the process of defending yourself.
DAO revolvers in the .357 Magnum cartridge are incredible concealed carry or duty firearms. They can also be used for other things, but the heavier trigger pull makes accuracy a little worse. The primary use will be for close quarters defensive scenarios.
Slim Concealed Carry designs
There has been advancement in design, thanks mostly to the profound ballistic performance of the .357 Magnum cartridge. The best .357 revolver for concealed carry will be a slimmer, more specific design that caters to the needs of the modern shooter. Most of the innovation is just simpler, more focused thinking.
The removal of a single cartridge (or two from larger hunting specific frame/cylinder sizes) allows for a thinner profile of the revolver. The immense cartridge power potential allows this to be a minor concession.
A 5-shot revolver for use against a single threat can easily be more than enough to mitigate that threat, given the proper training and the accurate placement of a round.
Metal Finishes and other aspects
Many of these revolvers are presented in high grade stainless steel. Stainless steel is heavy, durable and resistant to rust and other concerns that carbon steel can pose in extreme environments. Stainless steel, being highly corrosion resistant, is a perfect concealed carry or holster specific firearm, as it will look good after exposure to a variety of conditions including sweaty or dirty environments.
One of the options on this list is an ultra-lightweight titanium framed revolver. Titanium is light, strong and corrosion resistant. This revolver represents a small handful of lightweight guns that are actually capable of shooting the .357 Magnum.
One of the options on this list is an alloy framed revolver. This allows for an anodized finish that offers corrosion resistance and an even-colored finish to otherwise bare aluminum.
The remainder of the revolvers on the list that aren’t from the already listed finishes, are blued steel/color case hardened, or some form of PVD or improved oxide finish. The blued and color case hardened finishes allow for a cheaper option, and though it looks great, it is less durable and less resistant to oxidation.
PVD and other metal treatments give a deep blue/black finish while also allowing for durability and corrosion resistance. This is a newer finish and offers significant advantages in durability and rustproofing. More and more revolvers are starting to use this type of finish, though not many on this list include it, as it is fairly new to the market segment of revolvers and is a bit more expensive of a finish process.
The following items represent the best .357 revolver selections we have vetted:
Best .357 Magnum Revolver Reviews
1. Ruger SP101 Double-Action Revolver
The SP101 is a proven design that for years was in the shadow of the more widely marketed and higher volume production Smith & Wesson revolvers. The time has come for the Ruger revolver to become a mainstream option for the shooters who can benefit from it the most. The design is spectacular, and the aftermarket options are generous. This is a 5 shot revolver.
- Good looking design
- Proven reliability and well-made platform
Best Use: Hunting and target shooting are the strong suits for this firearm, but the personal defense capabilities of this revolver are not up for debate. This is a great choice for any duty need or for home protection.
2. Smith & Wesson - 360 PD AirLite
Yes, it’s expensive, but it represents the highest level of innovation in the .357 Magnum concealed carry market. It is slim, lightweight and capable, and the construction allows for full powered loads, which most small framed, lightweight revolvers cannot do. Good carry gun sights and a durable, spartan finish make this a well-rounded revolver.
- Very concealable
- A proven design that has serious credentials
- Recoil is hard to manage with heavier loads
Best Use: Concealed carry is the obvious choice here, but it could easily be used for plinking or target practice with lighter .38 Special loads.
3. Smith & Wesson Performance Center Revolver
This revolver is probably the best 4-inch .357 Magnum revolver available anywhere. The performance center guns not only look great, they offer custom features and accuracy that is enhanced. For a concealed carry weapon (particularly well suited to larger individuals), this is the ultimate revolver.
- Serious good looks
- Tight tolerances and premium build quality
- 8 shot cylinder
- Smith & Wesson precision tuned action
- Not a slim gun
- Has a price premium attached to it
Best Use: Hunting, duty use; home defense, or personal carry, this is a powerhouse .357 revolver.
4. Taylor's & Co. Uberti Smoke Wagon Deluxe Revolver
Immaculate quality and fit and finish that is rarely found on guns of this price point. For those who are into cowboy action shooting, this is an obvious choice. The single action army style is comfortable and reliable, and the action is slick and easy to use. The finish quality is gorgeous; if somewhat less durable and not resistant to corrosion.
- Great for Cowboy Action Shooting
- Excellent trigger/hammer mating/action
- Single Action style makes it less versatile
Best Use: Cowboy action shooting or hunting; or for use of occasional pest control/ranch use
5. Kimber MFG - K6S DC
Kimber has a choice offering on their hands. This is easily the nicest concealed carry revolver with a purely tactical take at the price point. The fit and finish is top tier and the tactical looks makes it an easy choice for those who want practical, stealthy features in their concealed carry revolver. This is a serious choice for personal protection.
- Top candidate for the best 357 snub nose revolver
- Gorgeous fit and finish work
- Nice features for concealed carry
- Tactical features make this a highly usable personal protection gun
Best Use: Concealed carry and personal protection.
6. EAA Weihrauch Windicator Revolver
The EAA group is good at offering well vetted designs by cheaper producers and can bring volume to the market at a good price point. This is a heavy, well made gun, but the fit and finish is not perfect. The price point, however, can easily justify the need to clean and oil the gun when you receive it; and the accuracy and reliability are well above average.
- One of the best budget .357 revolver choices
- Fit and finish is not as nice as the other options on the list
Best Use: Budget target and home defense use. Plinking is also a good fit for this gun, with an affordable .38 Special load.
7. Taurus Model 605 Revolver
A budget revolver for those who need a concealed carry weapon that can be used for other things too. Yes, it’s true, the Taurus fit and finish is not as good as some of the other options on the list, but at half or a third of the price, this is a serious contender for anyone needing a real concealed carry firearm that has reliable action and a strong frame.
- This may be one of the top choices as best .357 revolver under 500 dollars
- Well-known brand
- Fit and finish is not as fine as most other firearms on this list
Best Use: Concealed carry or general shooting use. This is a heavy gun for concealed carry with such a small frame, but this is also a nice choice for a budget CCW gun.
8. Ruger LCR Revolver
Perhaps the best .357 revolver for the money, this is a great choice in a sea of mostly “just OK” firearms. The LCR is relatively inexpensive, well made, backed by one of the best manufacturers in the industry and it is accurate, lightweight and reliable. The concealable profile and the proven design makes this a clear winner.
- Good design with a bit lower recoil, though it is still substantial
- Relatively good price point for the feature set offered
- Nice sights for a dedicated concealed carry gun generally though practice will be necessary to get draws correct
- Some of the finishes can look cheap
Best Use: Concealed carry; target use and home defense. This is a great revolver for those who need to have versatility.
9. Smith & Wesson - Model 686 Deluxe
A strong choice, as it may be the best .357 revolver for home defense. This is the quintessential USA made full sized .357 revolver and the quality is excellent. The size and capacity make this a good choice for any use case. The classic looks and high end fit and finish make this a top revolver. Spectacular build quality, 7 shots and heavy enough weight to make recoil manageable.
- Extremely well made
- Comfortable to shoot
- Great action that has plenty of aftermarket customization
- Big, heavy and expensive
Best Use: Home defense is a no brainer with this gun. The nice versatility allows for excellent hunting capacity and target use thanks to great sights and the smooth action.
10. Chiappa Firearms - Rhino 40DS Handgun
Chiappa made an innovative charge into the market with this design and it has enjoyed great success on the market. The design allows for a lighter weight frame without the increased recoil, thanks to the barrel placement and cylinder design that fires from below instead of on the top side of the cylinder.
- Lower recoil, comfortable shooting
- Innovative design and unique features
Best Use: Concealed carry and home defense. Target work and hunting are also options but may be slightly limited due to the shorter barrel.
Choosing the best .357 revolver is not a difficult thing to do. The only hard part is figuring out which of these amazing firearms makes the most sense for you. The entire list is of premium quality, with the exception of the few budget options, which in their own right offer a substantial value to the buyer. The budget options serve a purpose, and in no way affect capability of the .357 Magnum cartridge, though there will be some differences in fit, finish and performance. Reliability is generally very high in all of these firearms.
When you need a gun that can do it all, from target shooting to hunting to personal defense, the .357 Magnum is a clear choice. With the innovations in materials and cartridges, the .357 Magnum is now a viable concealed carry option too. Some of these choices in this list offer some of the most potent stopping power in any concealed carry firearm, and the reliability of the revolver platform and the ease of use makes any of these guns a great option for purchase.