Friday, November 25, 2016

The Most Versatile Firearm

The most versatile firearm may well be one chambered in .357 Magnum. Why ‘most versatile’? The cartridges. Any firearm chambered for .357 Magnum can also fire .38 Special*. Which means factory ammo ranging from light, accurate .38 target loads to roaring magnums can be had, and if you handload, you can put all kinds of loads together.

The light .38s can be used for practice, target, and small-game hunting. With the right magnum load, you can take game up to deer size with no problem (just place the shot properly). Both are easy cartridges to handload, and neither use large amounts of powder.

For handgun you’re pretty much stuck with revolvers; the only semi-autos I know of are some target pistols chambered in .38 Special (and set up to fire wadcutter bullet for that purpose), and the Coonan 1911 variant which is .357 Magnum (spendy, but a wonderful pistol). And there’s nothing wrong with a good revolver, which you can have in double-action or single-action. With rifles, you can choose between lever-action, single-shot, and bolt-action.
One more thing: if you take a hot .357 or .38 load and put it in a rifle with a 16” barrel, you get a serious gain in power. That longer barrel (compared to a handgun) allows the full energy of the propellant to be used. It’s not unusual to see a gain of around 400 feet per second from a rifle as compared to a handgun with a 4” barrel. That much higher velocity means a serious increase in power, and yet with a rifle it’s easy to manage.

So, yes, the .357 may be the most versatile cartridge.

*Semi-autos can be an exception.

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