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.