The .357 Magnum Carbine, Perfected

Much has been written on the usefulness of the 357 Magnum in a lever action carbine. With apologies to the authors, I read most of it and yawned. I’d ‘outgrown’ the .357 as a handgun cartridge decades ago and I considered it pointless in a rifle. 

If the ammo market hadn’t tanked and Obama’s EPA hadn’t declared war on the Lead Industry, I might never have tried it in a rifle all. The winds of misfortune blew me back to two old favorites; the 38 Special and 357 Magnum. I’ve got a Colt Lawman, an Armas de Garzantidas 38 (Spanish S&W) a new 16” Rossi 92 and Peggi just bought herself a new S&W 637. I have ample brass for them, they reload cheap (in fact cheaper than scalpers are asking for 22LR!) and they stretch the lead if you cast for them. The 357 Mag, particularly from a carbine, is powerful enough for 90% of what I’m going to do.

Primarily, this article concerns the Rossi R92 and a few comments are in order. I absolutely do NOT recommend that you buy one. These Taurus-Rossi 357’s are generating a lot of feeding complaints, often due to cartridges hanging up on their way into the chamber. Mine required chamber polishing, a total re-work of the sights, cartridge lifter and guides before it was shootable and remotely reliable. The trigger started at 7 pounds and now breaks at three. The magazine follower is plastic and must be replaced. The wood needs refinishing, right out of the box. Sight dovetail dimensions are all over the place. So are sharp edges, which require rounding off and rebluing. They are a PITA to work on, everything inside them is cast/MIM and Rossi will NOT sell you internal parts. So if you’re serious about investing in a 357 carbine- do yourself a favor and just get a Marlin 1894C.

That said, I have this Rossi working and I am happy with it. It is absurdly accurate with a 140 grain XTP, at top velocity, and it’s produced numerous 2”, three shot groups at 100 yards with the re-worked iron sights. It will hold that 2MOA to 200 yards, as good as or better than your typical 30-30. And this is as good a time as any to beat the ’30-30 vs .357 Mag Rifle’ dead horse.

In 20” barrels, the 30-30 is capable of making clean kills on deer to around 200 yards. I’ve chronographed Winchester’s Power Point and a number of other 150 grain factory loads. Most of them start around 2280 fps and at 200 yards, are down around 1600 fps. If you start a 140 grain XTP from a 16” .357 carbine at 2000 fps, your retained velocity at 200 will be around 1250- typical handgun muzzle velocity for today’s watered-down .357 factory loads. This is well within the expansion range of the slightly larger XTP. If you compare a 16” 30-30 to a 16” .357 Mag, the difference is even smaller. Careful load selection and good shot placement are far bigger factors, than any power difference between these cartridges.

 

I am a great proponent of the 30-30 Winchester, but it is nowhere near as versatile as the 357 Magnum in a rifle or pistol. The 357 round is substantially cheaper to buy, reload for and specialty loads abound. The ability to use 38 Specials adds another layer of versatility. 38/357 brass and bullets are widely available. The 357’s range of useful bullet weights is 90 to 200 grains; and loaded to about 1500 fps, that 200 penetrates like there’s no tomorrow.

The Rossi R92 .357

The 16” model was not my first choice. I hunted around for a 20” version, which my dealer’s distributor said they had, but could not deliver. The only example I found locally was retail- and then some. My preference for the longer barrel was based solely on ballistics and my opinion that the longer rifle might be a little more accurate. After some research I settled on a maximum load of 19.0 grains of Winchester 296 using CCI Magnum small primers and the menagerie of nickel .357 cases in my brass pile. So it was time to see how much I’d lost by settling for the 16” barrel. I set up the BetaMaster and checked a few loads from the Rossi and Colt Lawman. Results were better than expected.

The aforementioned XTP load generated 2000 fps, +/- 5 fps depending on the brand of case used. The Colt averaged 1240 fps with this load.

 Federal’s old 158 grain 357 jacketed softpoint averaged 1729 fps from the 16” Rossi and 1173 fps from the Colt.

My dwindling stash of Alaska Backpacker 200 grain LBT’s produced 1430 fps.

 Remington’s 125 grain JHP averaged 2101 fps from the Rossi and 1418 fps from the Colt.

My current cast bullet .38 load uses a Missouri Bullet 125 grain RNFP and 5.3 grains of HP38, with a CCI standard small pistol primer. The Rossi 92 averaged 1065 fps with this load and the old Lawman spits them out at 815 fps. They are essentially a 36 caliber version of the 22 LR. Recoil with these loads was barely noticeable end even the hottest loads were a cake-walk in the Model 92.

Sight Work

The issue sights on 16” Rossi 92’s consist of an odd semi-buckhorn rear and a large brass bead front sight. With the gun’s 12 ½” sight radius, the bead looks like a brass hubcap. At 0.650” high, it’s just waiting to get hooked on something. The rear sight’s horns interfere with your peripheral vision of the target. In short, they unnecessarily complicate precise shooting.

I’ve always liked the flat-top sights on pre-64, ‘94 Winchesters. Coupled with a fine bead, I shoot them better than any other iron sight. So I decided to modify the Rossi’s OEM rear sight with three goals in mind- 

1. Simulate the Winchester sight picture. 

2. Lower the sighting plane substantially. 

3. Field visible yet unobtrusive sights, with no sharp edges.

Armed with a belt sander, files and a Dremel tool, I was a force to be reckoned with! I lowered the rear sight enough that it was necessary to cut a new notch with a cutoff wheel. After little dehorning and baptism in cold blue, it looks like this:

I had a spare Marbles 450W with the 1/16” white bead, which fits Rossi’s odd dovetail and is  sturdier (and .200 shorter) than the factory offering. The end result looks something like this.

 

 

These sights were essentially ‘on’ where I centered them and using the 140 XTP 357 load, anything you put the bead over at 100 meters grows a 35 caliber hole through it. Low-effort, rested 3 shot groups hovered at two inches, a half inch better than I was doing with the OEM sights. Shooting unsupported at 25 paces, two of my 125 grain RNFP 38 loads made that many holes in an empty 12 gauge hull. This is a substantial improvement and I didn’t have to Send Money to anybody! 

Taking it to 200 Yards…

I ordered a couple of spare sight elevators (one of the few parts Rossi will actually sell you) and carefully adjusted the lowest step to print the 140 XTP load about 3” high at 100 meters. This made it easy to hit a plastic 3# coffee can lid at that distance and I hoped the XTP’s .169 ballistic coefficient would keep it viable to the 196.5 yards that separates my logpile backstop and the line fence where my shooting table sits. 

My old prescription glasses recently gave up the ghost and I haven’t replaced them yet. So I hung a big, red 150 oz. detergent jug in front of a reversed B27 and let fly a couple of the 140 XTP load. This thing shoots flatter than it has any right to. The first two shots were just off the edges…

I hit it with the 3rd shot, but I just clipped the bottom edge so I don’t have much of a ballistics report. You could sure hear the impact across the field and it shredded the plastic real good. Encouraged, I filled a standard window-wash jug and propped it up on the logpile. I got a peripheral hit on the first shot with visible water-works. Judging from the rips and holes above the impact, I don’t want to catch an XTP at 200 yards.

Satisfied with the XTP load, I set about developing a small game/pest load to be put up in several hundred yellow brass .357 cases at my disposal. Why not just shoot 38’s? This rifle simply feeds 357’s better and it precludes me  having to scrub the chamber so much. I settled on an HS6 powder because it has given me excellent results and is still plentiful in my area. My old copy of Metallic Cartridge Reloading lists 7.0 of this powder, with a 158 grain SWC in .357 Magnum cases, as giving around 1100 fps. I’ve used that load for years and it is a nice all-around load that shoots well, doesn’t lead in good barrels and is a pleasure to shoot. But I wanted something a little lighter for the 125 grain RNFP’s I would be using. I called Hodgdon’s about down-loading HS6 with the 125 RNFP. Hodgdon’s will tell you they don’t publish lead bullet data for HS6, which essentially means they haven’t tested the powder–with lead bullets–to the extent they test their published loads. Summarized, the response I got was ‘If you go too low, you might stick a bullet, But if you’re getting the results you want, drive on’.

I settled on 6.5 grains of HS6 with Missouri Bullet’s 125 grain RNFP, in 357 cases. It does 840 fps from my old 4″ Colt, and 1160 from the 16″ Rossi. It shoots perfectly to the Colt’s fixed sights and doesn’t leave the ’38 ring’ in my magnums. 

There’s no ammunition shortage here. I have a potent hunting load, an accurate small game load and a nice little carbine that handles them both well. The summer should provide opportunities for trying them on varmints- and I am sure looking forward to it.

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58 Responses to The .357 Magnum Carbine, Perfected

  1. 1894c says:

    Sarge– I picked up a Rossi 92 in .38/.357 with a 20″ barrel this summer too was looking for a Marlin 1894c, but the steep prices kept me away. So far the R92 has been a good shooter, reliable, accurate, and the most fun I’ve had with a center-fire rifle. Like you I went through my .357-Mag phase back in the early 80’s, and dropped the caliber when I transitioned over to Glocks in 1996, well here I am right back where I stated. I’ve been a 30-30 fanboy forever, but realized I only shot the 30-30 when I was getting ready for deer hunting–but have been shooting and re-loading for this R92 all summer. So I’ve decide to focus on this caliber/levergun combo, presently looking for a Marlin 1894c and a Ruger SP-101–thanks for the report, really enjoy your stuff…

  2. Fred Bright says:

    Glad somebody else enjoys the 357. My 1894 Marlin and Ruger SP101 get a real work out all the time. I also like the 125 grain RNFP and use 6 grains of HS6 or Unique in both guns for my plinking. My best and hottest is the Ranchdog 175 grain and Lil Gun. Can’t beat it. If I was only allowed one gun, it would be the Marlin over all my other Marlin rifles and even my 1911 Rock Island 45. Can’t beat it.

  3. Joe S. says:

    Cool website. good article. brass hubcap made me chuckle. because it’s true! 🙂

  4. Henry H says:

    This is strange but I also quit shooting my S&W Model 19 back around 15 yrs. ago and moved on to 45 lc and 44 mag. I have a bunch of both but about two weeks ago I got an itch to get back into the 357. I just ordered a Rossi 92 with a 20″ barrel and have been rooting around collecting my old 357 brass to start reloading it again. I can’t wait. What was old is new again!
    Thanks for the article

  5. darwin says:

    I had a little 92 for a short while , I was recovering form knee surgrey busted all the rocks in site of front porch. Loved it but traded it for a turkey gun for my daughter.Fanally found another one . Worked great on hogs and rocks or paper.

  6. smoke says:

    Very informative article. I very much want a 357 magnum carbine type rifle that is LIGHTWEIGHT, & FLAWLESSLY RELIABLE ( 357 mags & 38 spcls ), & EASY CLEAN, & CURRENT PRODUCTION – NEW. And fyi, I’m a Lefty.

    So far on my radar is Ruger 77/357, & the above mentioned Rossi 16″. But from what I’ve read about them both is that they fall short on meeting ALL my above criteria.

    Heck, I’d very much settle for a simple break action, single shot, ss barrel, synthetic stock model, if only it was available ( H& R Model too heavy at 7 lbs. ).

    Any ideas would be appreciated. Thanks

    • Sarge says:

      I don’t know what to tell you, Smoke. My Rossi Gunsmithing Crash Course, courtesy of this .357, has soured me on buying another or recommending them. Damn shame because it was way more accurate–even at 200 yards–than any pistol-caliber carbine has a right to be. While most people report at least decent reliability with 38’s and 357’s, I’d call getting a good R92 a crapshoot at best. You might try an older Marlin 1894C, if you can find one.

      Finally, Rossi does offer a single-shot, the R357B, that weighs a little over 5 pounds and has a MSRP of $173.00.

      Rossi R357B

      I would cut the barrel to 18″, remount a front sight and make it a little lighter. I’d like to think they can’t screw up a break-action single shot.

  7. smoke says:

    Thanks Sarge. Marlin 1894c at upper end on weight for me ( 6 lbs. ), not current new production, & I’ve read quite a few blogs & threads about some infamous lore of the “Marlin Jam”……all this has me avoiding it.

    I’ll check out the Rossi R357B though. And Ruger’s ceo has e-mailed me back that they very well may introduce a Ruger American bolt in LEFT hand as soon as they can perfect “feeding”. My assumption would be this would somewhat mimic the 77/357 with the synthetic & stainless, & LIGHTWEIGHT.

    The problem is I’m spoiled. By way of analogy: My only other rifle is the Henry H001 22lr Lever. LIGHTWEIGHT ( 5.25lbs ), compact, ultra-reliable, easy clean, a degree of capacity with the tube feed. It eats EVERYTHING: 22lr, 22l, 22shorts…..across all brands & types. No jams / feed issues. Compact.

    So, if I put my $$$ out there for a 357 mag rifle, I don’t want to settle for anything less than all the above attributes……I want it running 357mag, 38+p, 38spcl, & 357 shotshell flawlessly.

    In the end, I realize I may have to go with some break action single shot to get my high degree of reliability / versatility……or some new rifle not introduced yet with same attributes.

    Again, Thanks for helping me out !

  8. Sarge says:

    The Henrys are fine little .22 lever actions. I just got the Missus a youth/ladies size Golden Boy and aside from being heavier, has all the attributes that you mentioned. It needs a flat-top rear sight & finer front sight, for the short sight radius, but those are on the way. There will be an article up on it as soon as time & weather permit some bench shooting.

  9. smoke says:

    Sarge: just to “re-group”……Rossi single shot R357B is discontinued from what I can tell. And I’m curious about your comment on cutting the barrel to 18″……as I’ve read several times elsewhere that a 16” barrel length is all that is needed to “maximize” the 357mag capabilities from a rifle ? ( fyi: I’m strictly a factory ammo guy, no re-loads….dumb, & lazy, yes :).

    I’m just looking for a LIGHTWEIGHT ultra-reliable, preferably synthetic stock, ss barrel ( all weather ) 357 magnum rifle, bolt, or lever, or break-action single shot, that is flawless in feeding 357mag, 38+p, 38spcl, 357 shotshell. A perfect match for my 4.2″ Ruger Sp101 357 mag Revolver.

    The rifle would max me out at to 100 yards or so, small & medium game. All I need for my desire of “open sights” hunting……& commonality of revolver ammo. I’m just a basic “ham & egger” trying to keep things simple ( for ME that is ).

    I guess there are not enough of “me’s” out there for rifle manufacturers to justify producing the type of rifle I’d really like.

    Heck, I’d a think survivalists would drool over this as well.

    • smoke says:

      SARGE: Think I stumbled on something we both might be interested in. Go to youtube.com & search “Taylor’s Chiappa Alaskan Takedown Scout Rifle – 357 mag review and Range Demo”. 5.5lbs…..comes in 16″ & 20″ barrel. Pricey, yes, at about $1100. But so what ? It’s seemingly perfected……& is a few hundred $ more than a Ruger 357mag bolt > which has consistency feeding issues across 357mag / 38+p / 38spcl.

  10. Sarge says:

    You go ahead Smoke, please let us know it works out. The 357 in a carbine was an interesting diversion for me, but that’s about it. 100-125 yards is about where I’d stop calling it a deer rifle.

    I live in flat country and if it’s not a 200 yard rig, it will never have a serious place in my serious rifle battery.

  11. bama woodsman says:

    I have an older Rossi m92 w/ 16″ BBL imported by Interarms and it seems to be a little better made than the current production.No safety which is nice.Metal mag tube follower.Its been 100% reliable with both .357 and .38 loads.I live in Alabama where it’s not flat and it sees lots of time in a deer blind where shots dont exceed 100yds.

    • Sarge says:

      Your comment rings true, ‘Bama. I’ve known several folks with early versions of this rifle, including the those with the Puma logo on the side of the receiver. They were good, reliable and accurate little rifles. You rarely heard complaints before Taurus acquired Rossi.

  12. smoke says:

    SARGE: Aok, got it. Like I said in a previous post – I’m looking at 100 yards out or so, max. And I happen to be in some hilly, & mountainous, & lots of times, dense stuff. If I purchase the Taylor I’ll let you know. The youtube video I mentioned above on the Taylor Chiappa Alaskan Takedown 357 magnum is pretty good, & thorough.

  13. Dogngun says:

    I had owned 2 of the older Pumas in .357, and sold one because it was pretty worn out and the second because I could not get used to the John Wayne big loop lever. Got a new Rossi last year, 20″, standard lever…light, handy, cheap, works and in my area of South East PA with the woods and hills lots of deer hunting is in 10s of yards rather than hundreds or even in feet…I also own a new Rossi ’57 6″ revolver, and have had several others earlier, and never had any problems with any of them and IMO they have a better lock up design than Smiths…FWIW, Taurus owns the company but Rossi still does their own manufacturing. Well worth the price.

  14. Doc Holmes says:

    Thanks for your report. I was a late bloomer into shooting. Shot a little when younger, and always had a shotgun around, but we didn’t hang out much. In my late fifties I got the bug to start shooting, as we have a nice rod and gun club close. I’d seen a couple cowboy action videos on you tube and that looked like fun. And as I had parked John Waynes car once when I was in high school, I thought I’d be a natural. I’d never really shot many pistols, and had a hard time deciding between 45lc and 357. I’d seen a couple dirty harry movies, and it seemed like those guns kicked quite a bit. So the fact that you could shoot 38s in the 357, and the fact that I didn’t reload, and ammo would be cheaper, my Scotch side maid me go with 357. My first purchase was a ruger blackhawk 5.5″ barrel revolver. I bought some 38 and 357 and took it to the range. I figured I’d shoot the 38 first, so I wouldn’t be embarassed getting thrown on my butt. Ruger makes a pretty heavy gun (how was I ever going to be able to twirl these things). After my first shot, thinking that someone at the factory forgot to put any powder in the cartridge, I saw that recoil wasn’t going to be a problem. I was in love, and looked damn good too, I was sure school marms would be all over me. So next was the rifle. I thought I have to have a winchester (I’m sure that’s what John would have wanted) but Mr Wayne was no longer with us, so I couldn’t call him to ask his opinion (I’m sure he’d have remembered me). Then I saw a rossi 92 24″ octogon barrel, stainless steel, it was a beaut. I read up on them, and priced them. The price was pretty good, and it was pre taurus, so the reviews were mixed. Well I thought if I’m going to sleep with it leaned up against my head board, which I’d seen plenty of cowboys do, it should be pretty, and it is. So then came the rossi loading problems, not so emabarassing at the range, but at a cowboy action meet it is. Luckily one of the guys at my first shoot told me he had done action and trigger jobs on a few rossies. I gave it to him and he gave me back a different gun. I spent the next several nights up just working the action, sooooo sweet. If I’d known what I was doing, I wouldn’t have gotten such a long gun, I look like I’m shooting a muzzle loader next to most everyone else. But I like it, so until I get my speed down where that makes a difference I’ll use it, and it looks so damn good leaning against my bed. I kind of got away from shooting cowboy action for awhile. That’s another thing that no one told me. That once you buy your first guns, you have to buy one or two a month for the next few years. But now that I only buy a new gun if I really, really need it anymore I find myself shooting my 357 cowboy guns more and more. And I’ve been reloading for a few years now too. Shooting is so confusing. I can’t tell if I shoot now so I can reload, or if I reload so I can shoot.
    So to make a long story even longer, I am convinced I made the right decicion to go with the 357. The end.

  15. I am new to firearms as I recently moved to the south west five months ago, from the north east. I’m enamored by firearms and I am currently considering a .357 Magnum long gun and a hand gun that will chamber the same round that would make a sweet pair.

    The candidates are, Marlin 1983 c, Henry Big Boy H012M .357, and the Taurus-Rossi 92 or R357B rifle with the 18.5″ barrel, a plus for me, as I permanently injured my left shoulder last winter. There are several gun dealers near me thought they do not have a choice of .357 long guns. I’m considering a S&W 606 as a handgun. I found this page very useful to my interest in this caliber.

  16. Mike Redden ( Arthur Itis ) says:

    I bought my Rossi 357 mag ,blued with a 24 inch barrel recently to shoot cowboy matches. The price was the reason I chose the Rossi and right out of the box the action was smoother than I expected. I ordered a spring kit from Brownells and that made it even better. I have not had the first problem with the rifle and shoot the cheapest ammo that I can find,no ejection or feeding problems. I liked it so much I bought two more,one 20 inch stainless and a 24 stainless. When I shoot I start to see the Uberti 1873 rifles start to jam and become unuseable but my Rossi continues to perform flawlessly. You can get junk with any gun now adays due to the high production rate,as they are making them faster than they make them good. I bought a new TALO edition Ruger commander Night Watchman and had to send it back to Ruger to install a new barrle because a round woud not even go into the barrel. Does this mean Ruger is no good,I dont think so. I bought another one in Stainless and the fit and finish is perfect. A lot of peopls put the Taurus guns down but you can even get a bad Kimber and if you dont think so go to the Kimber sites. Yes I did have to refinish the wood right out of the box but for the price and function you cant beat them. Right now I cant out perform my equipment at the matches and until I can I love mu Rossi’s and smile when the Uberti’s around me jam.

  17. I live in Rio Rancho /Albuquerque area in New Mexico and I’m interested in a Rossi .357 lever action rifle with the 16″ barrel. They are not easy to find considering how many gun shops there are in a 30 mile radius. Can you shed any light on which firearms retailers you regularly supply? I’m interested in pairing up a rifle and a hand gun using the same (.357 or 38 special) round’s.

    I look forward to your suggestion’s\

    Thank you;

    Franklin Albanese

    • Sarge says:

      Frank I would have my local gun shop check the internet for distributors with the best price. I know KY Gun Company occasionally has ‘blem’ Rossi carbines at decent prices. Buds Guns and Impact might also produce a deal. Take care-

  18. I bought a 357 Rossi 92 and it was the biggest POS I have ever had. I was sick! The stock was bad out of the box and I called Rossi. They said “No problem, we will send you a new one”. That was nothing but BS. I have called them on the second week of every month (Like I was first instructed to do, and set on hold for 1 hour every time) and 12 mounts later they are still saying “It is on back order, you will get it next month”. I now know they are never going to send it. So I made a new stock, and worked and worked on the gun to fix the ground clearance for the the misaligned cartage elevator that was binding, rework the feed ramps, replaced and cut springs, fixed the loading gate, reworked the receiver so you can load the thing, and so on. The biggest thing was to grind a relief inside the receiver so the cartridges will slide in easily when loading. Then rework the loading gate to work right. Look at a Marlin 30/30 and copy that grove in the receiver. It makes all the difference in the world, but is hard to do without destroying the gun. But it was so bad I had NOTHING to loose. Once all the problems was fixed I put a Burris Fast Fire III on it. After all my work the gun works great!! It really does (but no thanks to Rossi). It feeds 38’s or 357’s 100%. And now it is extremely east for even my wife to load the cartridges. Now it is really fun to shoot. The Burris sight had parallax in the top 2/3 of the screen and I was not happy with that at all. But, as long as I only use the lower 1/3 of the screen )like you should) the Burris works great and is easy on my old eyes. So, would I ever buy a Rossi “anything” again, oh hell no. The company is a PITA to deal with, will NOT sell you parts, and the gun was a basket case. Yes, you “can” make it work, and some “might” even work right out of the box, but most do not. And who has time to deal with this crap? Buy a better gun from the start and don’t try to save money like I did. Bad mistake.

  19. Tim Harris says:

    Outstanding article! Informative and extremely funny at times; Mr. Force to be Reckoned With! Very good read. I am a first time .357 mag owner (Ruger GP100) and I am quite satisfied with the nice revolver. I am looking into the Henry Big Boy in .357 mag at this time.

    Thanks!

  20. Tim says:

    I purchased an R92 several years ago. I too was very disappointed when I took it to the range the first time. It had a minor flaw that resulted in a return to them in Miami for the repair. I didn’t think I would ever get it back; I think they had it 4 months. After I got it back my son gave me a dvd and parts kit from Steve’s Gunz. I went through the carbine following Steve’s instructions and now it feeds and fires like a dream. I also refinished the stock with Linspeed and now I love it even more. I like what you did with the sites and will look at that next. I am still looking for a good carbine load using 2400 which I normally use with my revolvers. Thanks again for all the info.

  21. kevin wells says:

    I work as cowboy on rural ranches and have carried a s&w 19-4 revolver and matched it to a 1894c carbine as my saddle gun. I’ve killed numerous deer and antelope with both (many coyotes and cats too). Using one caliber bullet for both guns closes the door on many hassels when I’m miles from camp and need to reload quickly. I won’t pack anything else. Thanks for a good article that should bring new shooters to the his versatile cartridge.

  22. sully v says:

    Hi–I found a used Marlin 1894C, bought it from a friend so the price wasn’t too bad. The Marlin replaced a Rossi R92 that I had had issues with — I really didn’t like messing with all of those parts. I also just ordered a Henry Big By Steal Carbine with a 16 1/2″ barrel, yeah it doesn’t have a loading gate, but I’m not against loading the levergun through a magazine tube, should be easy to unload at the end of the day. https://www.henryrifles.com/rifles/henry-big-boy-steel/

  23. martianone says:

    Just stumbled upon your article. Have used the Marlin .357 carbine for 30 years, probably my favorite firearm. It has the Williams receiver sight and standard brass bead – seems radar guided on any target to a 100 yards. When I got it, shot the Sierra 170 gr hp bullet at a little over 1600 fps. They were phased out, Speer introduced a 170 gr unicor bullet, these worked great on game and were especially accurate – also just 1600+ fps. The Speer also seems to have disappeared, so am now utilizing 180 gr Cast Performance bullet, approx 1600 fps. This has been pretty effective also.
    About 15 years ago, my then youngster was ready to transition from a .22 to larger game rifle. Stumbled upon a win model 94 in a youth carbine, got it and worked up some training loads for him. It was his first deer rifle (Speer load). A few years later, his younger brother’s also. Next, older son brings home a daughter-in-law who is interested in shooting, out comes the 94/357 and some light loads. They all call it, their rifle. Some day they can squabble over who get what carbine. The 357 carbine will live on!

  24. Jim Luke says:

    Good article and I don’t know what to say about the Rossi…mine has never bobbled in any fashion…has been perfect since coming out of the box. I have Marlin rifles…but I will take the Winchester design over the Marlin, everyday…just handles better and feeds much smoother, to me. A lot of folks choose the Marlin over the Winchester…having never tried the Winchester and also, because they have grown in a time when the Marlin rifles were more readily available…in other words, they have gone with what they know, which is fine, too.

    You are so right about the versatility of the .357 carbine…everyone should make it a point to give it a try. Loads and fun and will get the job done.

    • Sarge says:

      The issue with my 357 Rossi is simple- it was a rifle made after Taurus took over and anything Taurus is a QC crap-shoot. But I’m glad yours is running great.

  25. tom suett says:

    hi sarge i live in the uk and have a rossi 92 i load 158 cast gn rnfp cant get anything else over here, mainly use trailboss but gonna work up a mag load bought the gun new but the gunsmith i had it from worked wonders on it, the guys with pedersolli 1873s cant believe how good it is ,probably f$$k up tomorrow cheers, great read.

    • Sarge says:

      LOL Tom! I see some things are consistent on either side of the pond. About the time I start bragging on one, then… BAM! Murphy shows up with his box of little monkey wrenches to throw into my happiness.

  26. Hahn says:

    I’ve owned a Rossi 92 since the mid-1980s when they were introduce to Australia. The barrel was replaced under warranty to correct headspace issues (at least 2 other contemporary rifles I know of had the same treatment) but since then it has been flawless with 1000s of rounds fired and never an issue with factory or handloads.
    I had the lever modded to replicate the “large loop” style 30 years ago and regretted it from day one. I just sourced a replacement “standard” lever and it fitted precisely – no fitting required. It is accurate, reliable, light to carry and potent with full power loads or mild with plinking rounds. Just a fun rifle all round and a great companion to my S&W model 19.

  27. vin says:

    Great article. Thought on the Henry Big Boy 357?

    • Sarge says:

      I have no experience with the Henry 357. We have their rimfires and based on that I would expect their centerfires to be top notch, albeit heavy for a lever action. I can say with certainty that Henry’s customer service will be light years ahead of Rossi/Taurus.

  28. RC says:

    I’ve always believed the 357 mag is a great all rounder caliber. Inherited a service six Ruger from my dad so picked the Puma Legacy 20″ steel to match it. Very enjoyable to shoot and mine cycles well. Only Ran a few 38s through it many years ago. 357 were never an issue. I even got the nice matching buck knife with it! Been an idle shooter for awhile about to go to the range with wifey and throw some 22lr lead but really looking forward to my Puma and Ruger again. My eyes aren’t what they were so plan to sort the iron sights. Read about peep hole sight where the silly safety is. Sounds like good idea. Thanks for article. Agree this is a smart load. I never left.

  29. Gary Thiessen says:

    Hi, and thanks for info on the Rossi / Taurus. I’ve been a huge fan of the Marlin 1894 for years, because they are easy to tune, and taking out one screw on the lever lets you clean straight through from the breach. I don’t consider them highly accurate platforms, but inside 150 yards from field conditions, they are surely adequately accurate for the critters I shoot. It is easy to Taylor the sights to my preference, and the cross bolt safety does not bother me because it is always off except for unloading the rifle. My cowboy versions have cut rifling so my cast bullets with gas checks work fine, and shoot cheap. Looks great shoots good, and what the 357 don’t handle, the 45 LC will !

  30. george sheldon jr says:

    spent many years looking for the right rifle 357 suits my needs . best one I found is a henry scores highest on all my tests reasonable price also $700-800 ,check them out also made in usa.

  31. C.McSwain says:

    Im gonna have to step in here and speak the truth about all the hype of the 357mag lever being a great deer and hog gun out to 100 yards. You did not state this in your article, so this is not directed at your opinion of a 357mag lever at all. I just want to save the average deer hunter some heartbreak, whos in search of perfect close range deer gun that shoots economical rounds. I do a lot of deer removal for farmers who get permits to harvest large amounts of deer that are doing crop damage. I truly wanted to believe all the 357mag lever hype, so 5 years ago I jumped on the bandwagon and got a marlin 1894. Yes it will kill deer and hogs, but never does it come close to comparing to a 30-30 (both shot with factory ammo) like some of the Internet garbage you read. If you shoot standard 357mag 158grn softpoints, dont think your gonna just bust both shoulders with the bullet and the deer is gonna drop like a rock. Ive tried this and the deer will run, sometimes long distances with minimal blood trail. I dont care what all the hype says. Im speaking from plenty of actual experience. Even though you gain almost twice the energy and 75% speed increase, it just doesn’t do the damage most people claim. Maybe with hardcast loads that are loaded hot, but not factory ammo. Am I telling you to forget the 357mag lever? Not at all! Just pick your shots like a bow hunter would. Put it directly in the boiler room and you will recover your deer. Ive put it in the boiler room at 145 yards on average size doe and actually only had about 45 yard tracking job. Yes ive dropped does immediately with spine, neck, head shots and low chest shots to the heart, but if your hunting a big buck I’d definitely choose best hardcast hot loaded bullet I could find. I shot a fairly heavy body 8 pointer this year at about 65 yards right behind the shoulder and didnt get a complete pass through. This was shooting American Eagle 158 grn softpoints. Didnt get good blood trail at all immediately. He finnaly started coughing about 40 yards and layed down another 30 yards in a thicket and expired. Like I said, im not knocking the 357mag lever, just dont expect great miracles. Understand its limitations, pick your shots and you will probably be ok with it…..

    • Sarge says:

      I appreciate your comment, McSwain. I quit hunting with 357 revolvers a long time ago over performance like you described- and worse. Assuming you get 1800 fps from a carbine, by 150 yards you’re 6″ low and running about about 1200 fps. As I stated in the article, the XTP will expand at that velocity; but a 30-30 it ain’t. I’ve killed deer cleanly past 200 yards with that one and it’s a far better cartridge, for those distances, than any 357 carbine.

    • rjf415 says:

      Many factory .357 Magnum loads that are manufactured today are not as “hot” as they use to be back in the 1980-90’s. Ammo Companies tend to load them down for liability concerns. So when I hunt with a .357 levergun I always use my reloads with a hardcast bullet 170gr. or better, and 2400 or H110 powder.

  32. John Carr says:

    The day before Halloween I shot my new .357 rifle with a 24″ octagon barrel (Winchester 1873) for the first time. I was amazed at the accuracy and this rifle became my most favorite rifle (out of over 40 rifles) overnight for all time for most things I’d use a rifle for. We grew up on a ranch and had to use rifles for coyotes. Wish I had this Winchester 1873 in .357 and the Rem 125gr JSPs. I used a 700 6mm Rem with a 9422 .22 Magnum!

  33. John Griffith says:

    It must be an age thing or something, but like Henry H stated in one of the earlier responses in Jan 2015, I too set my .357 down in the early 90’s and went for the lighter higher capacity Glock 23 for woods carry while backpacking in the Sierras. But after almost 2 decades I started look’n back at the old 6 inch Ruger 3 screw, and after doing some simple math, noticed that the high performance 180gr .357 loads out of a 6 inch revolver were ballistically about the same as 10mm out of a Glock 20 with respect velocity and energy. However the equivalent weight .357 has the advantage of greater sectional density. Although the Glock has the weight and and capacity advantage, the ability to use
    a more ubiquitous round and switch to .38 special when you need a quiet or less powerful round to fill the pot with small game is a distinct advantage. I’m also liking 11 plus rounds in my lever gun!

  34. Tom says:

    I have the R92 16″ 357 and love it! I also had to have the action cleaned up so it would function properly, but now it’s extremely reliable and my first pick for my woods gun. I just love lever actions, and the ability to carry one caliber for two firearms just seems logical.

  35. rjf415 says:

    I was looking to try/buy a Rossi 92 in 357MAG as a second levergun, but decided against it since there is a issue with spare parts (and partly due to Sarge’s article, ok mostly…). If you go the the Rossi Rifleman Forum you’ll discover that basic spare parts are almost impossible to get (and that Rossi customer service is lousy). And if you search the internet you will also find this to be the case.

    I already own a Marlin 1894c in 357 (JM) , as I stated, and I was looking for a second 357 levergun. Used 1894c’s are $900.00+ and new REMarlins don’t seem to exist, and if they do they can cost $750+. So I decided to buy a Henry Big Boy Steel Carbine (16″ bbl.) in .357MAG (paid $640.00), not my first choice, but at least I can get parts and have good customer service.

    The tube loading thing is not a big deal with me because I will use the Henry for hunting. A friend of mine has the same levergun in .41MAG and really likes it, he states that un-loading the Henry at the end is easy because of the tube…

    • Sarge says:

      You are spot-on RJ… I’ve had several friends with R92 parts breakage. It’s hard to find aftermarket replacements and getting them from Rossi is unpleasant. Both are expensive. I’ve been a member at the Rossi Rifleman Forum for several years. They are a solid bunch and if they report problems, you can bet your best hat they happened. Henry makes several nice lever actions but I haven’t wuite been able to warm up to the absence of a loading gate. Their little 45 Colt Steel carbine is on my radar.

      Thanks for writing RJ.

  36. M2Mike Golf says:

    For those looking for an outstanding example of a 16″ barreled .357 magnum in a lever action, look no further than the Henry Big Boy Steel Carbine (in .357 Magnum).

    Also, I noted the author stated that he wanted a 20″ for ballistics. I specifically went with a carbine for two reasons: (1) BBTI reports better performance from a 16″ barrel in .357 Magnum and (2) I love carbines.

  37. Ken Newman says:

    Let us not link anti-American and Democrat. We are all Americans.

    • Sarge says:

      I grant you Ken, that some Democrats are good Americans. Harry Truman and Ike Skelton come to mind. Unfortunately both are gone and I’m still waiting for comparable replacements.

    • Sarge says:

      “I never said all Democrats were saloonkeepers. What I said was that all saloonkeepers are Democrats.”

      Ambrose Bierce

  38. Byron Loyd says:

    My Ruger GP 100 Match Champion and Marlin 1984c in .357 mag is my favorite pistol caliber combo!

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