Best .357 Revolver: Reviews & Buying Guide

The following items represent the best .357 revolvers on the market. There are others that are worth a mention that did not get included in this list, such as the Ruger LCR and the Chiappa Rhino (even if it is a bit too niche for most of this article’s readership). However, the slant of this article, is that there are so many good guns on the market regarding the .357 Magnum revolver space, that impressive guns like the Ruger LCR can be left off of the list.

If you want to find out why nuance and specific capabilities trump specifications in this brave new world of .357 Magnum revolvers, please read on, we think you will be impressed with the guns we highlight and the points we feel we have adequately proven throughout this piece.

Table Of Contents

Best .357 Revolvers

Ruger SP101 Double-Action Centerfire Revolver

For years it was only Ruger and Smith & Wesson on the American market for revolvers. While they are still dominant players, the market is not the lopsided space it used to be, even as recently as a decade ago. However, what is impressive, is that this firearm is decades old, has staying power that has proven to outlast competitors for the most part, and the gun keeps getting better – it is not simply a line item in the SKU sheet for Ruger.

The way this newest model is built, hearkens back to the original durability and robust build quality that featured heavily in the first- and second-generation designs. It includes a high quality, easy to clean stainless steel frame, barrel and cylinder, with familiar curves and lines. It also has some improvements on the original designs, which make the modern user more inclined to add themselves to the ranks of hundreds of thousands and millions of Ruger revolver owners.

These feature upgrades include much better iron sights and vastly improved grips, and improvements to the cylinder release latch and trigger pull which have been improved over time.

The feel and lockup of the SP101 is impressive and it feels a lot like a monolithic build, with rock solid latching and timing that doesn’t shake and shimmy around. Generally, this gun has felt a bit front-heavy in the past, and that’s a function of some of the large dimensions included on the barrel and the fact that the grip frame is smaller and skinnier than competitors.

That said, the model 5782 variant of the SP101, which offers a 4.2 inch barrel and Altamont hardwood grips restores needed balance to the model and offers exceptional handling, perfect for carry, home defense or hunting needs. It also offers plenty of accuracy at the range without excessive weight bearing down on the shooter.

The SP101 is typically a DA/SA revolver, meaning its more suitable for target shooting than DA only guns, but there is a variant (the 5720) that offers a DAO build, which does make a lot of sense as a dedicated carry gun, with no-nonsense features and the short 2.25″ barrel.

Whatever variant you decide upon, the Ruger SP101 has been a solid performance over the years and is sure to offer a legacy quality build and provide decades of service without worries for broken parts and durability concerns. Furthermore, it is one of the easier guns to clean thanks to the finish style, the shape outline and the quality of the materials used to construct it.

Pros

  • Quality construction for a good price point – legacy build quality
  • Very modifiable
  • Proven track record
  • Better than average trigger, sights and smoothness in action from factory
  • Exceptionally durable

Cons

  • Still could be considered expensive for some buyers

Best use: home defensive purposes and a foolproof way to get a shot off for those who are focused on stopping power and ease of use, while still maintaining acceptable safety. Hunting needs for even medium and large game given the wide variety of hunting capable cartridges. This is an easy gun to use and offers very good accuracy in a simple interface.

Smith & Wesson – 360 PD

A gun that revolver carriers, regardless of their own choice of firearms are coveting everywhere. Not everyone can justify the extra expense that comes when you are working with exotic frame materials. But in the concealed carry game, the combination of a classic, proven design and a slim, lightweight, durable and corrosion resistant frame material means this is an impressive option on this list.

This is not just about exotic materials either. The size and dimensions of the gun mean you are getting a well-suited carry revolver, without the drama of a semi-auto. It is ready to go fast out of the holster, and it carries like air. The AIRLITE moniker is an obvious brand marketing win. It delivers on the promise of the marketing hype.

At under 12 ounces, the gun isn’t going to burden you with drooping beltlines or an unwieldy purse weight. The component parts are matte finished, and the gun is stealthy in looks and dimensions. It carries 5 rounds of any type of .357 Magnum ammunition, including +P loads. The Scandium frame pairs with a titanium cylinder for huge weight savings and corrosion resistance.

It is a gun that is not meant for a ton more than concealed carry, but that doesn’t mean you cannot use it on the range. It’s easy to shoot all day long, and the recoil is not significantly higher than other guns, despite this model shaving significant weight from the original material model.

The sights do leave a bit to be desired at the range though, at least past 25 yards or so. That said, they are impressive for fast sight acquisition and feature a high visibility fiber optic front sight with a shallow groove style rear channel sight machined into the frame.

Despite the lacking in adjustable high profile sights, the gun is plenty accurate once you learn to shoot it, and the fast firing capabilities of a revolver paired with a lightweight rendering means you can be assured that you will have a fast first shot in any scenario.

Pros

  • Almost unbelievably lightweight for an all metal firearm
  • Highly concealable for a revolver thanks to a 5 shot slimline cylinder
  • Not the new kid on the block, despite leading edge technology incorporated into the design

Cons

  • Very expensive relative to “competitors”
  • Recoil is slightly heavier than other models in the range of this sized pistol

Best use: this is mostly a dedicated carry gun, especially for those who need high firepower with a small footprint and an even smaller overall carry weight. The 5 shot cylinder, made from ultra-lightweight titanium, and the scandium frame means that you get solid construction with simple light weight specifications.

Smith & Wesson Performance Center Revolver

You’re paying more for this gun than just about any other “factory” release, but you are getting unmatched looks, unmatched tuning and unmatched performance out of factory compared to the whole of the market. That said, this is not a truly mainstream offering.

The relatively small number of firearms coming out of the custom shop and the much higher price point makes this a safe queen for many readers, and probably defeats the mass market slant that most of the articles we write, employ. That said: this is a list of “Best of” .357 revolvers. And for the money even, this is likely to be considered by a majority of the market as the best .357 revolver on the market out of the factory, without being a true custom gun (you might be shocked by our choice at the end of this article though).

To clarify, it’s about as close as you can get to a custom gun without the one-off designation. And it is definitely expensive. This is also a behemoth made for two real purposes: as a full-sized defensive firearm with maximum firepower and as a hunting companion for those who need to have a legitimate sidearm for game that could be dangerous up close. This is a particularly good sidearm for hog hunting where the targets might reasonably come within 25 feet during a hunt.

It is also well suited as a full-time firearm for game in that range, including hog and deer, as well as other sub-100-yard targets that are under the 350 lbs. range.

The tuned trigger is sublime. However, one of the best specification bullet point line items, is that this is an 8 round .357 Magnum revolver. You read that right. It holds 8 rounds of .357 Magnum. That, in and of itself, is almost unheard of, but it doesn’t look like the monstrosity that one might imagine when trying to wrap their heads around that kind of a specification.

The looks are interesting and offer simple, redefining shapes, including the slab-sided barrel and the matte finish which differs from standard factory polish levels.

This overview is specifically referring to the 4″ barrel length and design of the Model 627 revolver.

The only real drawback for most who would be entertaining the purchase of this gun is that the revolver, even though it is from the Performance Center of S&W, it utilizes basic, standard iron sights and the standard grip style.

That said, the grip is among the best in the industry and does help with control and recoil; and the sights have been proven over decades of implementation. But admittedly, the fact that they aren’t addressed at the same level as the cylinder, trigger and barrel and overall tuning, leaves a bit to be desired for such an expensive firearm.

Pros

  • Eight shots of .357 Magnum is impressive firepower
  • Tuned action and excellent cylinder dimensions despite high capacity
  • Great trigger
  • Incredible looks that prove it’s not the run of the mill factory firearm – it will draw questions

Cons

  • Premium price point; low volume of production relative to market offerings
  • Still a bit bulky for daily carry for a vast majority of users

Best use: large user carry on a daily basis; home defense; medium and large game hunting. Perhaps the most specific use case we can see though, is as a hunting sidearm, if not as a hunting primary handgun. It is a very capable, fast, safe and high firepower sidearm for a charging animal, putting a wounded animal down in close quarters or even as a bear gun in bad situations.

Kimber – K6S DC

Kimber stunned the 1911 world by introducing perhaps, the world’s first semi-custom, custom factory models in the 1990’s. it has proven its prowess as an innovator again, with this gorgeous revolver meant for simple, integrated concealed carry utilizing a revolver.

This is probably the sleekest revolver you can find for daily carry. This among a sea of impressive carry guns from Ruger, like the LCR (not included in this list, but only by a tiny margin); and S&W like the Scandium/Titanium treat we covered earlier in this article. That is saying something, given the impressiveness of both of these other guns.

But one look at the DC (Deep Cover) variant of the Kimber K6S will have you coveting it for covert, daily concealed carry where you need to have that extra shot. By the way, it’s based on that same “lightest 6-shot revolver” platform that Kimber lays claim to. At 23 ounces, with the impressive finish and dimensions, this is a solidly built, but easily handled firearm that still doesn’t punish you with the ultra-lightweight builds of other guns (which only feature 5 shots).

The trigger is better from the factory than any other firearm in the space. This is a definitive statement. The grips are also among the best in the industry for any concealed specific revolver design. G-10 is durable, grippy, easy on the hands but offers great performance in any scenario including with sweaty hands or in the rain.

This is a DAO revolver, and it is meant for fast, safe deployment in a defensive realm mostly. The cylinder features a highly sculpted design that eschews classic looks for functionality that also happens to look great. It features a flat, carved out area that lightens the cylinder but also makes it feel smaller on the hip, in the purse or on the ankle.

On the ankle, this is probably in a heads-up competition for the best possible backup gun on the market, with the above reviewed Smith & Wesson Scandium/Titanium revolver (360 Air). That is: both offer world beating designs, but from different perspectives.

If you need the 6 shots the Kimber is the only choice – it is still light enough with the right holster to be a perfect ankle carry revolver. It is foolproof, situation proof and ultimately reliable, and offers 6 shots.

If you absolutely must prioritize weight (say for active lifestyles – like those who might be frequently running/moving), the scant 12 ounce weight of the S&W makes more sense, but you lose a round, and it cannot compete with the trigger or grips or sights from factory that the Kimber offers.

With the Kimber you don’t have any trade-offs, except with that single market offering (the Scandium S&W), and then even, it’s hard to not justify the Kimber over the Smith, given the similar price points, and the much more feature rich specification sheet of the Kimber K6S DC.

That spec sheet includes tritium night sights with a legitimate set of carry style iron sights. They are a market beater. They are virtually snag proof but offer real sighting options on what could be described as a perfect last-ditch gun.

Here’s a perfect place to say this however: this is not just a last-ditch gun. This is also capable as a standalone full-time carry revolver.

Pros

  • Fit and finish is unmatched
  • Trigger, sights and shot capacity are unmatched
  • Grips are hard to beat
  • Perfect for those who prefer a revolver for carry – this is made for that audience exclusively

Cons

  • Expensive

Best use: This is the best hands down in the concealed-carry-ONLY space for factory revolvers. It’s fine for the range and in the bedside table for home defense. It is even suitable in the field for hunting as a backup firearm, but it shines in every possible way as a deep cover concealed carry revolver. There is no other pistol on the market utilizing the .357 Magnum that is as feature-rich for carry as the K6S DC.

Smith & Wesson – 686 Deluxe Revolver

No gun list that covers the “Best .357 Magnum revolvers” can possibly be complete without including the 686 revolvers from Smith & Wesson.

It’s that tied to the market. It is that impressive a revolver. It is that capable of a pistol for the platform. More than that, it’s a longstanding inclusion in the most impressive wheel gun portfolio on the planet. If Smith & Wesson has kept it in their lineup for 3+ decades (in basically its current configuration), then that is more than enough to convince most buyers of its merit.

But longevity isn’t the only reason you buy this firearm.

Classic looks are a throwback mostly for the newest iteration of the 686 – an “L-Frame” revolver that features perhaps the most durable, easily modified and best covered revolver in the aftermarket. It is bigger than it needs to be. A valuable specification, even if you intend to carry it. It is balanced perfectly, even with longer barrel configurations. A valuable specification for the different use cases of the firearm.

It is proven reliable, but not just because it is a revolver. Sure, there’s that, but the trigger design and the cylinder fitment and timing execution improve upon time tested engineering from the S&W factory. The idea that a factory 686 will not function for some reason over the course of 3+ decades is virtually unheard of. That is an impressive track record. There are one-off cases of faulty guns off the line, sure, but the instance of quality or reliability concerns is disproportionately low for the 686.

The classic looks are an interesting return to the glory days for Smith too, with an appealing look and great lines. But this is a modern revolver in every sense of the word. The 6-inch barrel offers exceptional accuracy and great recoil and muzzle flip dampening. The adjustable sights are fantastic for normal day to day use, even if they haven’t been changed in decades from a design perspective. Hey: if it isn’t broken, you don’t need to fix it.

The 7-shot cylinder isn’t overtly bulky but offers a lot of value for target shooters and hunters. Solid overall performance make this a versatile offering that is at home anywhere but for concealed carry.

Pros

  • Easily modified
  • Gorgeous classic lines
  • 7-shot capacity
  • Great accuracy
  • Proven durability and reliability

Cons

  • Some might consider it to be big, heavy and somewhat expensive

Best use: This is the best all-purpose revolver on this list thanks to the larger barrel, the large shot capacity, and the unbelievable durability and staying power of the design. It is also the most easily modified firearm on this list, which makes it an interesting starting point for those who like customization and tinkering. It is perfect for target shooting, but equally adept at hunting or for home defense. The only place it is slightly lacking, thanks to the larger barrel, is in a carry scenario. It just doesn’t make a ton of sense for such a purpose. Nevertheless, this is a versatile revolver.

Conclusion

You would think with so many options available, there would be a lot of similar “best in class” .357 revolvers. But this is not the case. We have shown that there is a lot of nuance in the marketplace when trying to determine the best .357 Magnum Revolvers that are available. We feel it important to note: we normally write about mainstream options, and in this case we moved away from that decided line of thinking to favor a true mix of the “BEST” .357’s regardless of price and without a lot of thought to factoring in the lower production volume numbers of some of the choices.

Hopefully, however, you can discern the qualities that a true set of best contenders for the title should have based on the choices we highlighted in this overview article.

If we had to pick a single gun here, it would be the Kimber. Perhaps the most specific use case firearm on this entire list. But the approach and the attention to detail as well as the execution of key specifications for the intended purpose of the revolver just make so much sense. That said, it is admittedly too niche for most readers of this article and probably entirely too expensive to justify the price tag when there are so many good revolvers on the market at a little over half the price.

In closing: our pick for the best in class, doesn’t mean it is the be-all-end-all. The wide variety of firearms on this list prove that if anything, it’s not always about specifications, but rather about how well a gun can accomplish the task you assign to it as a tool in your arsenal.

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