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.357 Mag vs. .41 Mag

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Don Lu, Dec 7, 2006.

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  1. Don Lu

    Don Lu Member

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    Im just now getting into revolvers after owning a glock. Im a little confused, Im always hearing that the .357 is the best man stopper. How can that be when the .41 Mag is bigger and more powerful or is it just cliche/PC to give that title to the .357 ?? any insight would be welcomed.

    "The .357 Magnum, in Remington or Federal JHP, 125 grains, is unquestionably the most effective handgun cartridge in existence. Its proven ability to produce one shot stops exceeds that of any other round, including more powerful cartridges such as the .41 Magnum and .44 Magnum. "
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2006
  2. Iggy

    Iggy Member

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    The only way I could agree with that statement would be that there have probably been more instances recorded of use of a .357 than the .41

    In my experience, the .41 did the job quite admirably. It will also penetrate fleeing Ford Broncos with impressive results.

    It has more recoil than the .357 but that is to be expected.

    Either one if a very effective round.
     
  3. BoneDigger

    BoneDigger Member

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    Well...

    I am no expert on this, and what I say should be taken as second hand knowledge only, but.... I gather that a problem with .41 and .44 may be OVER-penetration. In other words, it blows right through a person and does not expand as well as the .357. I might very well be wrong, just something I read once.

    Todd
     
  4. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    I do not have either, have had a .357. If I were to buy a new revolver and was picking between those two, I would get a.41 Mag.
     
  5. Jim March

    Jim March Member

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    A lot has to do with projectile design. Being more common, more development effort went into the 357. To this day, you're more likely to find a serious manstopper load in 357 than any other caliber at, say, Wally World.

    I'm not convinced the 357 is still "the king" though. I'd be willing to bet that the big-hollowpoint-design Gold Dot 250gr 45LC is going to be just hell on wheels. Not very common though, odds are nobody's been shot with it yet :). Ditto some of the Gold Dots in 10mm, 41Mag and 44Mag, or some of the big-bore Cor-Bon DPX loads.

    The police are switching en mass to the 40S&W and I think the 357 will continue to trounce that. VERY few criminals use big magnums and premium ammo together, and civilian self defense cases that involve actual shooting are scarce (the vast majority are "chase offs"). The 357 is superb even with "mediocre" ammo.

    So the odds of somebody being shot with really, REALLY good ammo in a major caliber is a very small percentage of the total people shot. Possibly less than one per year.

    That's not a reason not to carry quality ammo :cool:.
     
  6. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Member

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    There really is no good data on "stopping power." There will be those who dispute that, but every "definitive study" has been pretty thoroughly debunked.

    That being said, the .357 has a long history of use in serious situations and comes out well. The .41 Mag was designed to beat the .357, but is just too much gun for many people and never became populat with cops. The .44 Mag is more of the same, as is the .45 LC.

    None of these cartridges can be called "ineffective," however -- and your logic that if the .357 can do it, the .41 Mag can do it better is pretty solid. That assumes equivallent bullets and a shooter who does his part, of course.
     
  7. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    The .41 can be handloaded up close to the .44 mag in energy and with pretty heavy bullets, too. It's definitely a better hunting round and with a proper bullet, would be a better man stopper. However, there's not much .41 mag variety out there for factory loads. I'd handload it, though. Also, the .41 is an N frame proposition, big guns if you're thinking concealment. There was this Taurus Titanium Tracker in .41, though. I wonder how that thing was to shoot with heavy loads? It was something like 25 ounces unloaded...:what:

    For CCW self defense and especially if you don't handload, the .357 makes more sense. You can get easily concealed handguns in the caliber.
     
  8. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    As with any projectile, there are a number of factors: bullet design, velocity, and weight being the big three. Although .44/.41 magnums work well on big, beefy animals, they offer too much penetration. And after a bullet leaves a body, all the excess energy is wasted. Thus a .41 bullet might fly through a human body without much expansion. The same thing is true of a .357 158-gr. JHP. It hasn't proven to be an effective stopper on people, but does work well on deer.

    The 125-gr. JHP .357 turned out to be the "perfect storm" of sorts in that everything just came together right. According to Massad Ayoob, there's no need for any specialty ammo for the .357 because the 125-gr. JHP is so devastatingly effective. It also has a rather violent blast. It's been shown to be effective against humans, deer, automobiles and dogs.

    The .41, alas, is one of those brilliant solutions to a nonexistent problem. There was no deficiency in the .357 that makes the .41 better, per se. Nor is there any deficiency in the .44 magnum that would make the .41 a better choice. The gun hacks will tell you about the .41's "flat trajectory" and the slight recoil reduction, but remember, they're paid to sell guns. The .41 won't stop humans any better than the .357 and it won't put down bear as well as a .44 mag. In other words, there's nothing a .41 can do that a .44 magnum can't do. Want recoil reduction? Load the .44 down. Want a flatter trajectory, use a lighter bullet. There's nothing wrong with a .44's trajectory.

    That said, the .41 is a great caliber because the .357 and .44 magnums are great calibers. Loaded down, it'll stop humans about as well as a .357 and, loaded up, will go into the .44 magnum category. But the .44 mag also can be loaded down to good self defense loads, so again, there's no particular reason to think the .41 will be better. Ammo is certainly easier to find in .38/.357/.44 configurations. Bottom line: I'd rather have a .44 mag.
     
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  9. JJE

    JJE Member

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    The .357 is the uber man-stopper because it was actually issued at many law-enforcement agencies (including FBI). Was the .41 mag ever issued by a large police department or federal agency?
     
  10. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

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    I think the important point is, as Iggy and Vern point out, the .357 and .41 are both effective "anti-personnel" cartridges but you may find the .357 in a more carrier-friendly package. And it has the advantage of being able to shoot 38 Specials.
    With that said... I dote on the lonely ol' .44 Special. :) It's way accurate, reasonable on the recoil, and still has more than enough power to cancel someone's dance card with ease! :uhoh:
     
  11. Socrates

    Socrates Member

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    Bill Jordan and Elmer Keith designed the .41 magnum for police, with a 220 grain bullet, @ 950 fps, IIRC. However, S&W put the round in nothing but the big frames, and, the 'police' loads, were about 1100 fps. Cuddly for me, anyway.

    The extra weight of the revolver that S&W used killed the caliber. Police have major problems with hips and backs, thanks to belt weight, and, adding 8 oz on oneside just didn't do it for them.

    None the less, the .41 is one of the best kept secrets of all time. If handloaded right, it's real close to the .429, with an edge on penetration.

    I may have to look at the Taurus Tracker, in 41. Much as I'm just inclined to go with 45 Colt, a 25 oz .41, in a small package, sounds REALLY good to me.

    S
     
  12. DWARREN123

    DWARREN123 Member

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    Both are good rounds in a good firearm. It depends on what you like.
     
  13. benelli12

    benelli12 Member

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    Don Lu,
    I dont know where you got that quote, but it is false. A 44 or 41 magnum with the right loads would be a better manstopper than the 357. I think the overpenetration with little energy dump, comes from using heavy 44 magnum loads that arent hollow points. I think a good 240gr. HP coming out of a 41 or 44, would certainly get the job done better than the 357 ON HUMANS.
    And 2 holes are better than one. And I would expect the 44 or 41 would leave quite a messy exit wound on humans, with the right HPs.

    My .02
     
  14. MutinousDoug

    MutinousDoug Member

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    The S&W model 58 was issued to the San Antonio PD in the mid 70's. The PD had a big publicity (today would be: PC issue) issue with the issuance of a "magnum" pistol to the dept. Approximately 400 revolvers were purchased and apparently issued. Load was 210 gr SP at +/- 900 fps. Similar to a .45 ACP at 230 gr 850 fps.
    Don't know when SAPD went to 9mm but they took alot of heat at the time for issuing vicious, inhumane ordnance to their street COPs. I think that's why .44s, .45s and .41s were a failure with law enforcement. That and the extra metal carried on their hips. Hence; no effectivity data from them guys.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2006
  15. Confederate

    Confederate Member

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    The real question here is what you would like.

    The .357 will make an excellent outdoor gun, one you can take hiking and camping. It's smaller and in a 3-inch barrel it's almost ideal. If you don't mind the extra weight, there's not a thing wrong with the .41. Despite the fact that it's so close to a .44 mag might result in a very nice price.

    A good revolver is a delight to shoot. We're very lucky to live in a time and place where we have a good variety of choices. All three calibers are excellent and, as I keep hearing these stories of bear and cougar attacks, I'm convinced that people who just go out hiking with no protection are the same kind of people who leave their food in their tents.

    A 4-inch 629 would be an excellent choice, or a comparable .41 mag. And the .357 is a great choice for motorists traveling out in the middle of nowhere and for taking into rest stops at night. Of course a Glock will work in those situations quite nicely.
     
  16. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    Just my .02.... The .357 is a great round, the .41 Mag is stronger but not by much. The .44 Mag is a better hunting round than the .357 but IMO the .357 is as heavy a load I would want to carry in the streets.

    125 gr .357 Mag - 1450 fps @ 583 ft/lbs
    158 gr .357 Mag - 1235 fps @ 535 ft/lbs

    175 gr .41 Mag - 1250 fps @ 607 ft/lbs
    240 gr .41 Mag - 1250 fps @ 833 ft/lbs

    210 gr .44 Mag - 1250 fps @ 729 ft/lbs
    250 gr .44 Mag - 1250 fps @ 867 ft/lbs
    Numbers attained from the Winchester site.

    As you can see from the numbers above the .41 Mag in a lighter bullet will give you very little improvement over the .357 Mag and the heavier .41 Mag round offers no improvement over the .44 Mag rounds. IMO the .41 Mag is an nice gun with no real purpose. (unless it's left to you by a family member) It's just too close to it's 2 nearest competing rounds.
     
  17. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    .357 is the aurea mediocritas of handgun cartridges. There are many more potent rounds, and many less potent ones. But it is amazingly versatile and hits hard enough to kill anything in N. America. It also has the advantage of inheriting the .38 Special in its line, which means a revolver chambered for .357 can chamber everything from .38 Special shotshells to 200 grain magnum slugs. Personally, I've tried to ditch the .357 many times before, but it's simply too useful to get rid of and it just keeps coming back.
     
  18. Onty

    Onty Member

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    Just my .2 cents; if for self defence, I would go with 357 in no more than medium frame revolver like S&W 586/686, Ruger GP100, etc. If you are thinking about hunting or outdoor sidearm, 41 Magnum is just superior in any respect. To see what could be done with properly loaded 41, go to http://leverguns.com/articles/paco/41magnum.htm , http://leverguns.com/articles/paco/41heavy.htm , http://leverguns.com/articles/41data.htm , http://www.handloads.com/loaddata/default.asp?Caliber=41 Magnum&Source=&Type=Handgun.
     
  19. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

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    The 41 Mag is one of those mystery cartridges for me, I will always want one but not sure I will get one. Other mystery cartridges are the 6.5x55 Swede, and the 16 or 28 gauge. There is always a better cartridge, but the specs on these just seem to hang in there and nag at you, I'm BEST, I'm the BEST, you can't get any better than me .

    One of the down points for me is that a 41 mag by S&W is an N frame and they just seem huge for me, give me a 13 or 19 K frame.
    This goes along with the 6.5 in a long action gun and a 16 gauge is often built on a 12 gauge frame and a 28 often built on a 20.

    The 41 mag would be part of a mystery cartridge 3 gun setup that would just about fill the need of any good marksman or hunter, plus the requsite 22LRs to practice;
    S&W 58 in 41 mag
    Mauser in 6.5x55 Swede
    SxS in 16 gauge
     
  20. DogBonz

    DogBonz Member

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    I think...

    That after its initial failure as “police” cartridge, that it was quickly transitioned into a hunting round, and thus (I love any chance to say “thus”) bullet designs were steered towards hunting, not defensive purposes. I think that bullet design, combined with the overwhelming popularity of the 357 give the 357 a superior reputation. I also believe that the Strasberg (sp?) Tests were also instrumental in placing the 357 at the top of the “man-stopper” list.

    But that's just my $0.02
     
  21. MCgunner

    MCgunner Member

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    There's much more to life than winchester factory loads. The .44 and the .41 can both be loaded to 1000 ft lbs fairly easily out of 6 inch barrels. I never look at factory ballistics, frankly. I look at magazine articles or handloading manuals for my comparos.

    If the .41 can put out 1000 ft lbs in a hot heavy load, it can do it with a light bullet at higher velocity. That Winchester 175 grain load is quite anemic. If I ever got a .41, I wouldn't buy any ammo for it. I never bought any ammo for my .45 Colt. I just ordered brass, bullets, and a mold from midway. I'd need dies for the .41, too.
     
  22. Hutch

    Hutch Member

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    Don, if you're asking for advice on which cartridge/revolver might be most useful, then the answer must surely be the .357Mag. Many more platforms to choose from, from j-frame Smith to Ruger Redhawk in size. Much more ammo available, much more cheaply. Very effective as a self-defense cartridge, and at least useful as a hunting cartridge with the right ammo and platform.
     
  23. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    Don, you say you're just getting into revolvers. Hence, I would stick with the 357 if you want a magnum revolver for general shooting and perhaps as a defensive gun. If you want to use it to hunt with, go with a 41 mag.

    I feel sure that a 41 mag revolver will do more damage than a hit from the 357 mag. Elmer Keith designed the 41 mag for police use. He was a proponent of the big hole approach to defense and hunting. He wanted essentially a slow moving (950 fps 210-220 wadcutter) round for police use. It would be more comfortable to shoot than the full bore 357 rounds and be more of a man stopper. Someone (Remington, Winchester) should have introduced it with at least two loadings... one of reduced power and recoil, and the hotter 210 gr rounds that are commonly available in factory loadings.

    You also don't see much bullet expansion with 357's or 41 mags. That is why the wad cutter bullet was supported by Keith.

    To this day, it is difficult to find reduced power loadings of the 41mag. Mirwall loads one, but their distributers never seem to have any in stock. My guess is that most of their 41 ammo gets bought at west coast gunshows.

    The 40 S&W comes close to what Keith envisioned for the 41 mag. That is why I like the 40 S&W!! The 10mm comes closest to the hotter 41 mag loadings in preformance from an automatic.
     
  24. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Member

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    You DIDN'T see much expansion, or specifically Keith didn't. But SP and HP bullets have gotten much better since EK advocated the .41. Expansion is a lot more reliable, at least at magnum velocities.
     
  25. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

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    I seem to remember a thread on the S&W Forum about the effects of bullets on the human body from a guy in Atlanta (corner's office doing autopsys). I have reread some of that thread and the hollow points do expand or break up unless filled full of some other material like clothing or something. The most important factor seems to be velocity with something over 1,000 fps showing bullet expansion.

    Link to thread: http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/550103904/m/5471026821/p/1

    From that thread: Hollowpoints are really hard to get a handle on. From my experience, the limiting factor on the effectiveness of a hollowpoint is that the cavity can and often does get packed full of something besides tissue prior to entering the body, and this can inhibit expansion. Sheet rock is about the worst although heavy clothing can be a problem also. Once you cram the cavity full of anything but tissue, you've essentially got hardball. But then that's not necessarily bad either. With full expansion of a hollowpoint you've got to worry about the jacket separating from the core as well as weight retention. It's largely weight retention that allows the bullet to continue to blast through bone and reach those deep vital organs that will end the fight in a hurry, and hardball is well known for maintaining its weight at autopsy. Once a hollowpoint does what it's supposed to, it begins to lose weight, albeit in varying amounts depending on the construction of the bullet and what it hits along the way. Some retain weight well and others lose it rapidly as can be seen in the lead "snowstorm" often seen during x-ray. Some hollowpoints expand so rapidly and lose weight so quickly that they haul up short of reaching the vital organs.

    I'm talking mainly about the .40 and .45 here, but a few words about the 9mm and .380 are in order. Since the weight of the bullet is a major factor in reaching the vital organs, why penalize yourself with 125 grains of 9mm when you can have 230 grains of .45? In other words, why start out light and have the bullet only get lighter as it passes through the body when you can start out heavy to begin with. Again, I know of the well-deserved reputation of the .357 Magnum with the 125-grain bullet, but I think this is probably more a function of velocity overcoming the limitations of a smaller bullet weight. But I have limited experience with the .357 so I may admittedly be off base here.

    Also, and I may be going out on a limb here, I'm not altogether certain that hardball is necessarily a bad choice for the reasons given above. Look, folks, you don't have to blow the heart into a million pieces; you've just got to hit it, and you don't have to make the liver look like it just spent 10 minutes in a Cuisinart. Again, you've just got to hit it. All things being equal, yes, I'd rather have a properly expanded hollowpoint reach the same location as a hardball round since, for the most part, the hollowpoint will infict more damage than hardball. But things aren't always equal. Unlike some hollowpoints, hardball generally has no problems feeding (as always, this is more a matter of knowing your gun and what it feeds reliably) and almost without exception it just plows along its merry way busting up whatever it comes into contact with. Hollowpoints, even the best of them, can do really strange things such as shedding the jacket, losing an inordinate amount of weight, or expanding so rapidly that they don't reach the vitals. I've seen it time and time again and many times I don't have an explanation for it. It's just empirical observation and something to think about.


    At the time I was really taken by this thread.
     
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