1. G.Gordon Liddy, a person who for me holds the enigmatic and contrary position of someone whom I admire greatly while disagreeing with much of the time, speaks very highly of the Smith and Wesson .357 Magnum which he carried as an FBI Special Agent in the 50s/60s.

  2. From somewhere I recall that the FBI was one of the early adaptors of the .357 – N-frame with target sights and a 3 1/2″ barrel. Your basic concealable cantaloupe!

    Ditto on Liddy – my all-time favorite of the right-wing radio loons. And one of the best Playboy interviews ever! If you ever run across a copy of his novel “The Monkey Handlers” it is a fun and well-written read that makes the case that the problem with animal-rights activists is that they aren’t well armed enough, and need occasional backup from SEALs to do their good work. (Yup, Liddy wrote a novel where animal-testing opponents are the good guys. However, I have never found any backup to his contention in the novel that the Ballister-Mollina receivers were milled from salvaged armor plate from the Graf Spee. Neat story, but I think Liddy made it up.)

  3. In his autobiography he recalled that as a youngster he had an uncle who was in the FBI who was armed with a 38 super Colt. Then years later as an agent he himself had a 357–S&W’s quest to take over the 38 super worked. G. Gordon Liddy always pointed out that one should use a grip filler if using the original factory grips.

    Gen Geo S Patton owned one of the “registered” magnums. It was in 3 1/2 or 4″. It was one if his two ivory handled revolvers–the other being a 45 Colt Peacemaker. In photographs he often wore one or the other, but probably wore the Peacemaker more often. It was bigger, and was what he carried into Mexico. In the movie Patton, if I remember right, in the opening speech George C Scott had a two-gun rig, with the Peacemaker on one side and the S&W on the other.

    In Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting by McGivern he devoted a section to long range (i.e., hundreds of yards) with the 357.

    A contrast in the development of the 357 to the 44 was that civilian enthusiasts (esp. Kieth) hounded S&W to bring out a magnum 44, whereas the 357 was internal to S&W. Anymore, the 357 seems like a solution in search of a problem. For hunting the 44 mag doesn’t have much, if any, more felt recoil. For defense most have gone to semi-autos and revolves are either belly guns or are house guns for non-gun enthusiasts, both of whom are probably better off with good 38 semi wadcutter hollow points–which is what the FBI ended up issuing for their magnum revolvers prior to switching to autoloaders to accommodate the post-Hoover era when it was no longer required to be a 6′ tall male.

  4. Absolutely nothing to do with the subject, just wanted to plug one of the advertisers. Clicked on the Collectors Firearms ad since I haven’t been out to Gessner in a while (while it is not what many consider a vacation destination, there are two reasons to come to Houston – the best assortment of cheap, authentic ethnic food in the US, and Collectors) and this just jumped out at me:


    A 1920s (?) German semiauto sporting carbine in .32 ACP… it just screamed “Show me to Ian!”

  5. That’s quite a beautiful rifle, Jim!

    I may need to check this book out. I love the 357 and carry one frequently, not a cantaloupe(thanks again, Jim) but a rather more trim Ruger. If it wasn’t so very loud, it would be my favourite handgun round, but if it was quieter, it would not be so amazing.

    I’m going to go look up this registered magnum thing…

    • I suspect that the loud is the sonic boom, as the bullet of .357 Magnum travel faster than sound.
      Note: silenced gun always shoot bullets slower than sound (the sonic boom can’t be silenced as it is generated by bullets outside the firearm).

      • There is plenty sonic boom for sure, but out of my 2 inch barrel there is also a ton of muzzle blast. Still, wonderful gun. My mother has a pair of 7 inch Blackhawks and even those make quite a boom. I have a .357 rifle on the way with an 18.5 inch barrel and it will be interesting to see what that does.

  6. I’ve owned both .357 and .44 Magnums but easily 95% of my use of both was Specials, not Magnums. Ditto milspec ball versus +P in .45. I can shoot subsonic all day with no ill effect, but I had a high-pressure air reducing station (3400 psi to 2800) blow a gasket about five feet from the side of my head when I was in the Navy 30-some years ago. All it takes is one supersonic pistol round without heavy muffs and my ears will ring in a very annoying manner for three days. Besides, rapid-fire double action 148-grain wadcutters from a 6″ Highway Patrolman is just flat fun.

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