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Digital Subscriptions > Concealed Carry Handguns > CCH-Fall 19 > A REAL HANDFUL

A REAL HANDFUL

COMPACT .357 MAGNUM REVOLVERS ARE POWERFUL, BUT CAN BE A CHALLENGE TO SHOOT WELL
Colt offered the Python with a 2.5-inch barrel in 1964. Though still a good-sized revolver, the short barrel did allow it to conceal better under a jacket and clear the holster faster. Rock Island Auction photo

When the .357 Magnum was introduced in 1935, it was offered as the custom “S&W Registered Magnum,” and a few years later Colt New Service, Shooting Master and Single Action Army revolvers were also chambered in this caliber.

Those were all big, heavy revolvers, yet articles about the .357 Magnum at the time warned of its massive recoil and muzzle blast. To those shooters, it would have been unimaginable that today snub .357 Magnum revolvers weighing as little as 11.4 ounces (S&W 360PD) are available.

Smith & Wesson did offer a “compact” Registered Magnum with a 3.5-inch barrel. This was the shortest barrel length offered and was popular with lawmen as it concealed well under a jacket. When the N-frame S&W .357 Magnum Revolver continued in production after World War II as the Model 27, the 3.5-inch barrel was still the shortest available.

“THE .357 MAGNUM…WHEN PAIRED WITH A 3-INCH… REVOLVER…CARRIES WELL IN THE CITY OR WILDERNESS, BUT WITH THE RIGHT AMMUNITION GIVES A LOT OF STOPPING POWER.”

FIRST “COMPACT” MAGNUMS

The first “compact” S&W .357 revolver that could be readily carried in an ankle holster or a large pocket was the K-frame Model 19 with round butt and 2.5-inch barrel. This version, introduced in 1966, was popular with many federal agents. It was standard issue for the U.S. Secret Service for many years.

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