If you are a person who is fascinated by guns and is on the lookout for your first gun, it can quickly turn out to be a mind-boggling affair. With the latest advancements in technology, the choices of guns that are available on the market are innumerable. In such a situation, where do you even begin? The answer to that is simple – revolvers; more specifically, the 357 Magnum.

Revolvers are the best for first-timers due to the many advantages that they have over other handguns, some of which are listed later in this article. A 357 Magnum revolver is perfect for different types of encounters such as target practice, hunting, and home defense.

What Is the 357 Magnum?

Man holding 357 magnum gun

Technically, a 357 Magnum is a cartridge used in a revolver, with its bullet diameter measured at 0.357 inches. Over time, gun owners and manufacturers fondly started referring to the revolvers that use the 0.357 Magnum cartridges as 357 Magnums. A typical 357 Magnum revolver comes with a swing out type of multi-chambered cylinder that turns around a central axis. The number of chambers is dependent on the make and the model of each revolver and can range from 5 chambers to 8 chambers. The revolvers also come in various frames such as small, medium, and large.

The difference between the various frames boils down to the length of the barrel and the cartridge capacity. There are predominantly three types of 357 Magnum revolvers: single action, double action, and double action only. Single action handguns must be manually cocked before firing each shot to rotate the cylinder and chamber a live round. Double action handguns do not have to be manually cocked as they possess a sort of a dual-stage trigger, wherein when you press the trigger half-way, the hammer gets automatically cocked and the cylinder chambers a live round.

When the trigger is fully pressed, the hammer is released, and the shot is fired. In a double action only handgun, most often, there’s no hammer that is visible or accessible for the user to cock manually. These handguns are made exclusively for concealed carry as there’s no hammer that snags or pulls on the holster or clothing. Almost all of the 357s manufactured these days are of the double action and double action only variants.

Pros & Cons of the 357 Magnum

The 357 Magnum is a very handy and useful firearm. It has a lot of advantages compared to other types of handguns and firearms. Some of them are listed below:


  • 357s are very powerful and can be used in a wide variety of situations
  • The handgun is efficient and very simple to operate
  • As the revolver has only a few moving parts, the chances of failures are very low
  • The 357 is ergonomic and gives a good fit for everybody due to the lack of magazines
  • Many 357 revolvers are built on a short frame, making them easy to conceal and carry
  • The handguns are also compatible with the cheaper and less powerful .38 Special ammo, which can be used by novices for practice

Although the 357 has several advantages to offer, they’re not without their flaws, some of which are listed below.


  • Most 357 revolvers are 5 chambered and therefore have very low ammo capacity
  • Reloading the handguns takes a considerable amount of time
  • They can be very loud and may not be customizable with accessories such as sights or suppressors
  • They are heavy as they are made from metal and have only a few polymer parts

357 Magnum Basics

357 Magnum on top of white towel

Now that you know all about the pros and cons of the 357 Magnum, here are some basic user guidelines and tips on how to care for the firearm.  

Basic User Guide

It is imperative for a gun owner to know how to use his firearm safely and properly. This guide will take you through the basics of setting up your 357 Magnum revolver and using it cautiously without harming yourself or others in the process


Point the revolver away from you and in a safe direction. Push the thumb piece on the left side of the revolver (some models have two thumb pieces, one on the front of the barrel and one on the back). This releases the cylinder from its locked position and swings it open. Insert the cartridges and firmly push the cylinder back to its position until it gets locked.



Almost all the 357 magnum revolvers have two sights, one at the front (just above the barrel) and one at the rear (beside the hammer). To aim, you have to align the front and the rear sights carefully. The top of the front sight must be in level with the top of the rear sight. In addition to that, the front sight should be at the center of the rear’s notch. Your target should rest on top of both the sights.



Once you’ve aimed the revolver at your target, in the case of a single action revolver, you have to cock the exposed hammer to chamber a round. Once the round is chambered, you can fire it by squeezing the trigger with your index finger. Make sure to squeeze the trigger firmly and with consistent pressure. The pressure should be applied between the tip and the first joint of your index finger.   



Situations might arise where you might have to decock the hammer of your single action revolver. In such a situation, point your revolver in a safe direction, with your thumb pressed down on the hammer. While pressing the hammer, gently squeeze the trigger. Once the hammer is released, take your finger off the trigger and slowly return the hammer to its rest position.            

Care and Maintenance

Anyone can get a 357 Magnum revolver (or any gun for that matter), but the real responsibility lies in properly caring for it. Just like how you make a significant effort to acquire shooting skills, you need to similarly strive to acquire the skill to clean your firearm well. Cleaning and maintaining your revolver not only extends its lifespan, but it also ensures that it operates safely and smoothly. Cleaning doesn’t mean that you should only focus on keeping your revolver shiny and gleaming. It is what you do to the inside that counts. 

Always remember, not all 357 Magnum revolvers are constructed the same way. Therefore, it is important that you go through the owner’s manual for your revolver to check if there are any specific cleaning instructions. If you are unsure at any point, consult a certified or trained arms dealer. The following points will act as a guide and will give you a rough idea on how to maintain your revolver.

357 Magnum with some bullets near it


  1. Before you start cleaning, check if your gun is loaded. If it is, then unload it and store the bullets in a safe place. 
  2. Getting all your cleaning supplies together is essential, as you don’t want to interrupt your cleaning process midway to go and grab a supply that is missing. The supplies that you’ll need are a universal gun cleaning kit, some gun cleaning solvent, and some gun oil. These supplies are not limited to 357 Magnum revolvers and work for most types of guns.
  3. The cleaning kit contains bore brushes of various sizes. Choose the bore brush that corresponds to the barrel size of your 357 Magnum revolver and dip it in the gun cleaning solvent
  4. Have the rear cylinder of the revolver open and slowly push the dipped bore brush through the front of the barrel. The brush will twist automatically as it follows the grooves inside the barrel. Do not try to stop this as it can damage the barrel. Once the bore brush is pushed far enough, it will exit at the other end. Again, slowly pull the bore brush back out.  
  5. Use a cleaning patch dipped in the solvent to clean the inside of the barrel once again, following the same procedure explained above. You may have to do this more than once if the barrel is dirty.
  6. Using a brush dipped in the solvent, gently clean the muzzle of the gun, the rear cylinder opening, and the extractor rod.
  7. Using a bore brush, clean each of the cylinders of the revolver in the same process you used to clean the barrel. And follow it up with the cleaning patch.  
  8. Take a small amount of gun oil on a clean cloth and cover the entire gun thoroughly, except the handles and the insides.
  9. Wipe it off with a clean cloth.Wipe off any excess oil and polish the gun with a silicone gun cloth.


357 Magnum on a black background

Your decision to buy a gun has the potential to change your life. So, before you run in and take the plunge, check if your local firing range has a 357 Magnum for rent. Practice shooting at the range to develop your skills at handling the revolver. Also, remember to test different revolvers before purchasing one as the size and strength of the hands are not the same for everyone. Some of the best 357 Magnum revolvers you can consider buying are The Smith & Wesson Model 60, the Ruger SP-101, the Taurus 605SS2, and the Colt Trooper MK III.