> TEOTWAWKI Blog: .357 Magnum for Survival



.357 Magnum for Survival

Apologies for being a bit slower in posting recently. I've been busy working on my post apocalyptic novel, and it has been consuming my spare time and mental energies.

While researching weaponry for one of the characters in the novel, I came across my new favorite revolver. I don't own a revolver, but growing up I had long intended to get a .357 of some kind as my first firearm. Plans changed, but I still have a soft spot for a few of  the wheelguns out there.

So, my new love. The Smith and Wesson 627 with 2.65" barrel. It's the gun used in the Clint Eastwood in Bloodwork--I haven't seen it either, but I've added it to my "to see list" just because of this gun. This beast is tuned to perfection by the S&W Performance Center, is fully cut for moon clips and, my favorite parts, packs 8 rounds of .357 magnum. It even has ".357 8x" written on the side of the barrel. Apparently they call it the "Ultimate Defense Revolver." Too cool.

Of course, it costs around $1,000...so it's well beyond my current means. But, if you've got the cash-money, this is a damn fine TEOTWAWKI sidearm.

I'm a big fan of .357 magnum revolvers for survival situation. First off, you can run both .357 magnum and .38spl, both of which are capable defensive rounds. They're also a very versatile selection ammunition available, from the standard FMJ rounds, to cast lead semi-wadcutters to snakeshot in all manner of grain weights.

That versatility increases dramatically if you reload, and with .357 magnum, that's pretty easy to do. You can reload extra light and gentle.38spl plinking rounds very inexpensively using lead bullets. Like 1000 rounds for under $100, pretty easily. That's cheap plinking. If you get into casting your own bullets, then it gets even cheaper. And because it's a revolver, you don't have to chase down your spent brass--just dump it into your "empties" pouch. No lost brass means you can use it over and over again. And no crawling around the range looking for your brass.

Heck, if you're roaming the TEOTWAWKI wastelands and all you can come across is black powder, you can still reload for your revolver. .38spl was originally a black powder cartridge, you can reload with black powder in a pinch (obviously, research before trying this!).

You can, of course, also load up full power premium .357 magnum loads for defense or hunting. .357 is well known for its stopping power--basically the "gold standard" when it comes to handguns. Many use it for handgun hunting. It's a formidable round to be sure. Buffalo Bore has some very impressive loads, though I'm sure they probably have beastly recoil to boot.

Running a revolver does mean that you will give up capacity, though with the 7 and 8 round revolvers on the market, it's a bit less drastic than in the old days. You also gain a measure of reliability over semi-autos, as revolvers are typically much less prone to jamming and malfunction. Those who carry snub-nosed .38 spl revolvers for backup or CCW are fond of saying that they have "five for sure"; having seven or eight .357 "for sure" sounds even better.

There's also the possibility of going cowboy running a .357 lever action like the the Marlin 1894C. .357 does well out of longer barrels, with heavier loads running at .30-30 levels. If you live somewhere that frowns on semi auto rifles, detachable magazines, etc. this is especially something to look into. I just wish the Marlins were $200 or so cheaper--they usually cost around $600.

So, there you have it--the .357 magnum. Classic, powerful and versatile. Not the biggest craze of the moment, but a damn fine cartridge and a fine choice for the survivalist, especially the reloader.


  1. AnonymousMay 25, 2010

    I have killed elk and deer with both the .357 mag and the .44 mag. I prefer the six inch barrel on both. I have them in S&W, model 27 in .357 mag and model 29 in .44 mag. They are both excellent cartridges and as you say, one may fire the .38 spec. and the .44 special in the two revolvers. I hand load for them and use only hard cast, plain base lead bullets, flat nose Keith bullets, no hollow points. I want the bullet to go through the game and lodge in the skin on the off side, or on through.
    Good hunting. The game's afoot.
    Mountain Rifleman

  2. AnonymousMay 26, 2010

    What was that Dirty Harry movie line - THAT SOUNDS REALLY STYLISH! :^)

    The above is a good looking gun, but extremely loud, especially if it is ported - you don't want to practice with full power .357 loads in them very much. Lots of flash as well. Most .357 snub users I know use .38 specials for practice and in that case, you may as well use a standard .38 special snubbie which is lighter and much less costly.

    Purchased a used but not abused .38 Special Charter Arms Undercover (original issue, 1982 vintage) for less than $250 last year. Works great, is light and very compact in a crossdraw / SOB holster.

    Just my .02 - I do agree that the .357 is an amazing cartridge. I just don't think in a compact gun, it is practical. Good luck with your choice.

  3. I like .357s and revolvers in general. However, before you go off claiming that they are more reliable I suggest you drop one into some fine sand and see how well it works. Then try the same with something like a Glock. You may be surprised.

    Cleaning up after that test is much easier with a Ruger then a S&W, although drenching it with GunScrubber or brake cleaner and then oiling it is probably the easiest way to get it back to normal.

  4. Anonymous -

    The 627 is a big gun--weighing in at 37.6 oz, so I would imagine recoil from .357s would be much more manageable than the airweight J-frames. It does also come in 4 and 6 inch barrel lengths--a bit more practical.

    Bitmap -
    I did say "typically"; revolvers can certainly malfunction. From everything that I've read, revolvers are generally perceived as less prone to malfunction, especially when comparing the small snub nosed revolvers with small semi autos. That's under normal circumstances though - if you were wandering around the Sahara or Antarctica, your mileage would probably vary.

    And of course, that perception may be completely wrong--anyone want to volunteer to take 5 random revolvers and 5 random semi autos and run them through a torture test?

  5. AnonymousMay 26, 2010

    Hey, please take no offense on my comment above - I'm not a .357 hater by ANY means, I have a lot of respect for it. I think everyone should have a .357 lever carbine in their rack, those guns are fun to shoot and provide a lot of utility with those various loads they make.

  6. Anonymous -

    No offense taken. I completely agree that .357 is excessive for most when fired from the airweight J-frames and .38 spl is the way to go with the smaller guns. A .38spl snubbie is on my "must-get" list, though my recent search for a good budget priced revolver came up empty handed.

  7. AnonymousMay 26, 2010

    This started as a .357 magnum for survival thread and turned into a torture test for glocks and such. Don't need ten handguns for the test. Just pack the barrel of a glock with mud and fire it.
    Instant frog spear.

    Clean your weapon if you've still got the fingers.
    Mountain Rifleman

  8. AnonymousMay 28, 2010

    the ancient arguement still drives on: revolver vs. pistol. OK folks, some in your face: get both. I mena a 45 ACP and 357. i spent $ on family not cigarettes: read read Rawles "Patriots, a novel of survival in the coming collapse" and also "One Second After" about the EMP effect on USA and the afteraffects therein.
    you should have a 22, a 12 gauge pump, a 308 semi or bolt, a 45 and 357. i also have a semi ak in 762/39, for all of these 1000 rounds of manufactured ammo; surplus OK, reloading is an ART, do sloopy and your hand, face eyes become hamburger. Learn from really good shooters: remember this is for survival and beyond. so skill sets learned BEFORE event invaluable. try learning skydiving after you jump out of airplane. see how that works for you. bottom line is that you MUST be prepared to give up for long term survival and beyond: living dirt life sucks. I want a house and running water so WE all pull together and we can have it back. i have been in places in world where folks actually live a survival level life; let me posit for you it is no fun. be prepared. literally. God Bless and keep you. steve////

  9. AnonymousMay 28, 2010

    sorry about spelling in my previous post: i am a Nurse/Firefighter/Medic but a skill deficit is typing. I wish i could do so: my Dragon Speech is almost ready to use so I will look as if i can type. I also meant that cigarettes vs. needs as a representative idea: you burn them up and drink away wine/beer. So buy durable goods in lieu of those things. then spend on mad money items for fun and recreation too. steve////

  10. AnonymousMay 29, 2010

    if you need cheaper but reliable check out the puma 92 in 357/38 from legacy. had one for years now no failure to feed even when you mix 357 and 38. 24 inch thirteen rounds. only use round nose on first to be chambered for extra safety. nice blog i'll keep reading thanks delr.

  11. Crazy HareJune 03, 2010

    I have a .357 revolver and a level action rifle with a 16" barrel that fires .38s and .357s. Great guns. (But I also like my Glock!)

  12. AnonymousJune 16, 2010

    Revolver or semi auto, it is more about your skill level than the type of gun.
    ADVICE: practice.

  13. AnonymousJuly 12, 2010

    Revolver Envy Post:
    On my 24th birthday, my father plopped a Colt Python in my hand. Wow! 1980's vintage, unfired. Cadillac of revolvers, smooth. But not the most durable for mag loads and costs about $1,600.00. You can get a Colt TROOPER, for ALOT less, same gun, just with less gunsmiting at the factory.
    But if you get one free, well bless my sons! I would love to still have my first .357, the Smith and Wesson Model 66 stainless. Check that one out!!
    When selecting a revolver (S&W, Colt, or RUGER) consider that All three of those wheelguns actuate differently when opening cylinder. Colt not so fast, S&W faster, RUGER maybe the best. BTW, Colts rotate backwards.

  14. AnonymousJuly 24, 2010

    I've carried the S & W Model 586, 4", .357mag for 20 yrs. Full mag loads work just fine still. Of course I don't blast away with it every day. I also have the Marlin lever 1894c in .357. It will drop most big game in a SHTF mode just fine because I get close to my Game. I haven't shot a deer further then 30 yrds in years. 2 legged predators had better have better then level 3 armor on or they will need tagging and bagging. (of course not by Me ). Glocks are great. Just learn to shoot them and keep a stiff wrist. Mine tends to ftf (fail to Feed) if my wrist is a little weak or limp. Never happens with my Smith. I also believe in 6 good hits are better the 15 all misses. The only reason I have the Glock still, is several members of my Family own them and there are plenty of cheep rounds out there. But you can bet its the smith by my bed and when I'm out in the TEOTWAWKI world it will be the smith and the marlin in my hand and holster. My other weapons will be in my BOB. They are my 10/22, browning lever 308 take down and my 12 ga Remington 870 with slug barrel and smooth barrel.

  15. RudeBoy_UrbSurvAugust 07, 2010

    I just recently traded a Glock27 to my buddy for a Smith M&P 360 and Im happy I did! Much more concealable and lighter than a G27 and I like the .38/.357 ammo option. Yes, the Airweights ar definitely snappy with .357 and probably not for the new or recoil sensitive user but I managed to consistently shoot good groups for 100+ rnds with a Crimson Trace Bantam grip. Ive recently purchased a S&W 640 Centennial. This revolver I highly recommend! Great factory grips, stainless, much more manageble when shooting .357, and it has a totally concealed hammer. Keeps grit out of the action, no risk of it being pushed out of battery by an assailant, and it can be fired through a coat pocket. A .357 revolver is a great survial platform because it is so forgiving with ammunition. Far fewer ammunition concerns than with autos. Pull the trigger goes bang. Doesnt go bang? Pull the trigger again. Nice post!

  16. All interesting comments.

    As for me and mine, I have a S&W .45 ACP Small aluminum frame for underarm comfort. It never jams. For hipsters I have a King Cobra SS .357 and a Ruger P101 .357 in SS, both with nice grips and both work very well. I'd like to find a .357 long gun but NJ has closed the books on firearms purchasing. We have to wait 4 months to get an ammunition purchase ID card.

    I'll have to make do with my 3 22LR. semi-auto rifles, my 2 Winchester 12GA. pumps, each with both barrels and my SKS 762/39.

    I was lucky and purchased these before Y2K so when nothing happened I and a few friends were already on our way as preppers.

    I've been lax and have only recently become serious again thanks to the writers of these blogs and pages.

    Thank You all and I'll see you on the other side of SHTF as one of those able to make it.

  17. Own a 357 with interchangeable 2, 4 and 6 inch barrels, and shooting 357 out of a snub is really just wasting energy. You dont get the performance of the 4+ inch barrels and you end up shooting at 38 +p+ levels, so you might as well shoot 38 +p+ or +p and save on muzzle flash and sound.

    There is some good info out there to support the fact that the 4inch barrel is the practical minimum for effective 357 shooting (after 4 inches though, barrel length becomes less important in terms of power).

    That being said, having 8 shots with the reliability of a wheelgun would be superb. My 357 would be my go to handgun for SHTF, no questions asked.

    Ive also been looking into a 357 lever rifle for some time. IMI makes a sweet looking pump action, though Ive never seen one in person.

  18. Agree on barrel length. 4" is what you want, though the snubs look cool!