I Carry Spotlight: Six Great 357 Magnum Revolvers

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posted on July 3, 2020

For this special segment, we wanted to bring one current-production revolver and one classic from each of the “big three” companies that still produce wheelguns: Colt, Ruger and Smith & Wesson. For Colt, we’ve opted for a Trooper for the Classic and, of course, the Python for the modern. For Ruger, we have a Security-Six and an LCR. For the Smith & Wesson, we’ve opted for a Model 19 for the “old school” and a 360PD for the new. Let’s take a closer look at these revolvers.

Colt Trooper: Evolving into what some deem the “poor man’s Python,” the Trooper began life as a workhorse pistol chambered in .22 LR, .38 Special and .357 Magnum. Over a span of three decades and three different model changes (the original Trooper, the Mk III and lastly the short-lived Mk V), the Trooper lived its life in the Python’s shadow. That’s a shame, because the Trooper was an excellent revolver in its own right, offering accuracy and reliability in an affordable gun.

Colt Python: It’s hard to imagine a re-introduction that brought about as much fanfare, raised expectations and excitement as much as the Colt Python. A staple of the latter part of the 20th century, Colt’s distinct revolver showed up in more movies and TV shows than Clint Eastwood. 1970s staples CHIPS and Starsky and Hutch featured Pythons as did the ‘80s’ Hill Street Blues and Miami Vice. When Colt revived the Cobra in 2017, all the buzz was about the mighty snake, and when we might see a new Python – which would be just three years later.

Ruger Security-Six: Ruger’s first attempt at a double-action/single-action revolver, the Security-Six made inroads in the law enforcement market in the times of the six-shot revolver. It offered a transfer-bar firing system, one of the first DA/SA revolvers to employ that particular safety feature. This revolver here also has a special place in my armory – it’s the first firearm I ever bought.

Ruger LCR: We’ve featured the LCR on “I Carry” numerous times previous, and for good reason. It’s a lightweight, powerful, modern revolver that’s great for concealed carry. Numerous chamberings, from rimfire to the powerful 357 Magnum, are available, and a variety of options like laser grips and custom sights are available for upgrades if desired. In my opinion, Ruger’s pushbutton cylinder release is the most intuitive of all three types, although not as distinctive as the pull-to-open latch of the Colts.

Smith & Wesson Model 19: The Model 19 started life as the Combat Magnum, the first of which was presented to Bill Jordan, who was instrumental in its design. Two years after its launch in 1955, Smith & Wesson changed nomenclature to the familiar number system and the 19 was born. Originally envisioned as a heavy-barrel, six-shot revolver with a 4-inch barrel and either blued or nickel finish, the model 19 set the standard for the fighting .357 Magnum revolver for, well, history.

Smith & Wesson Model 360PD: About as different from the historic model 19 as possible, the 360PD launched in the mid-2000s as a scandium-frame, titanium cylinder super-lightweight revolver for concealed carry. Tipping the scales at a ridiculously light 11.4 ounces, this J-Frame can be somewhat of a handful when firing .357 Magnum. Affectionately nicknamed the Snubbie from Hell, the 360PD is really best fed a diet of .38 Special. Not because the magnum rounds will adversely affect operation, but because your hand can only take so much tenderizing.

We overwhelmingly feature semi-automatic handguns on “I Carry,” so forgive this trip down memory lane. The revolver was conceived in America and remains an enduring icon in the firearm industry, so we thought it fitting to bring this spotlight to you as we approach America’s birthday.

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Colonel Rex Applegate

For me, one of the many bonuses of this gunwriter business has been the opportunity to meet and become friends with a number of the firearm enthusiasts of an earlier generation; legendary figures such as Frank Hamer Jr., Bill Jordan, Bill Toney, Col Walter Walsh and the subject of this column: COL Rex Applegate.

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