View Full Version : What is the best .357 mag for woman CC?

February 16, 2010, 12:35 AM
I am looking at getting my wife a CC/HD pistol. She has very small hands. Which .357 mag do you think is best? Also, will all .357 mag wheel guns shoot .38 special too?

Lets pretend that the gun will never shoot .357 mag(she wont) and that she has picked out herself. (she will)

February 16, 2010, 12:50 AM
Which one do you think is best?

The one she picks out.............after handling several and hopefully shooting them (range rental).

Also, will all .357 mag wheel guns shoot .38 special too?


Try this website www.corneredcat.com

Paging Dr. Pax.........Dr. Pax, please call your office!.......

February 16, 2010, 12:51 AM
Yes they'll shoot .38 special. And quite frankly, I'd suggest that's what she uses in it for her daily carry. I can recommend a Smith & Wesson 360 PD with no reservations.

Most men I know don't like shooting full house .357 in lightweight carry guns like the J frames *at all*. I've seen big guys end up with bruised hands after only once cylinder full (5 rounds).

I have small hands for a guy and while I carry full house .357 mag. in my 360, I'd seriously recommend using some .38 Special in it for your wife, particularly if she doesn't shoot much. The recoil of the .357 stuff could make her not want to shoot it much, if at all.

February 16, 2010, 08:09 AM
Unless your wife has shot a .357 before I would opt for something else. A CC .357 revolver is considerably lighter than a full size. There is alot more recoil, and it is harder to get a follow up shot. Just throwing numbers around im picking up a s&w model 60 in .357 which is 24 ounces. A full size 686 in .357 is 40 ounces. Unless your wife plans on doing alot of training with her carry piece than I would consider something else.

Nowhere Man
February 16, 2010, 08:14 AM
The one on the bottom is my wife's S&W 60LS Lady Smith. Small grips for small hands. It shoots both 357 and 38's.


February 16, 2010, 08:21 AM
I'd have to vote for the LadySmith as well. But ultimately whatever she is willing to keep on her person is the best choice. A lot of women will decide a gun is too much trouble to lug around after awhile and start leaving it at home or in their car. Unless and until they face a threatening situation, then they'll decide it is worth the trouble. At least this is how it worked with my wife.

February 16, 2010, 08:50 AM
"Most men I know don't like shooting full house .357 in lightweight carry guns like the J frames *at all*. I've seen big guys end up with bruised hands after only once cylinder full (5 rounds)."

I am a big guy and I don't really like shooting 357 mags in a small gun. They are a handful but I probably wouldn't notice much during a high stress self defense situation.

Now having said that I still recommend a 357 mag even in a small snub nose gun. The reason is because it can shoot both 357's and 38's. The chances of finding ammo double for you and with the current ammo situation that is more important than ever.

If it were my wife I would get her a little 357 and load it up with 38's and let her shoot until she was confident in herself and the gun, there are many good 38 SD ammos out there. Spice it up on occasion with some 357 mags after she is confident with the 38's in case she ever had to use them and let her make up her own mind.

February 16, 2010, 08:57 AM
Most men I know don't like shooting full house .357 in lightweight carry guns like the J frames *at all*. I've seen big guys end up with bruised hands after only once cylinder full (5 rounds).

I agree. My full size 686 is a handfull with hot loads. My fathers snubby is absolute mayhem shooting them. Painful.

February 16, 2010, 09:05 AM
What gun has your wife picked out? This isn't YOUR gun, it's HER gun. Get her something that she likes and can handle well under recoil. I definitely wouldn't get a .357 for a novice shooter. If you get something that has significant recoil she's not going to want to shoot as much/at all and then you've defeated your original goal of having a carry gun for your wife. You might even lose your shooting partner.

warrior poet
February 16, 2010, 09:23 AM
If she's not a shooter, .357 is PROBABLY too much gun for her. A concealed hammer .38 Special is great. It is enough to get the job done, without being physically difficult to shoot. Plus, there's no hammer to catch up on things in the purse (most likely holster, right?) Just my humble opinion, YMMV.

February 16, 2010, 11:36 AM
My wife's favorite revolver is my 2.75" Ruger Security Six. It is not a light revolver by anyone's standards (~32oz). That fact makes it very enjoyable to shoot with the remington LSWCHP +P 158gr .38 load. The added weight also allows her to shoot a few .357's every range trip.

Her biggest problem is that she prefers to carry the Six in her purse...which does NOT make me happy in the least. I recently picked up a new AKJ concealco IWB holster for the Six and I'm hoping that gets her to carry the gun on her person.

February 16, 2010, 11:46 AM
I agree that she and you would enjoy reviewing Kathy’s ‘Cornered Cat’ website. As for the dozens of recommendations, I also agree with the S&W j-frame revolver. I have both alloy and steel and overall, I feel the stainless steel Model 640 is my personal favorite. Granted, the alloy variants average 15-ounces vs. all steel at 23-ounces. The heavier model provides improved controllability when fired. Conversely, the gun isn’t worth anything if not carried.

BTW: Start out with 110-grain .38 or equivalent, and forego the hot stuff unless you guys really get serious with practice. Often times, folks get a j-frame and seldom shoot with it, much like a fire extinguisher.

Dan Ortego

February 16, 2010, 11:58 AM
Definitely let her be the one to pick her gun, but do get her to look at a Ruger SP101 .357. She can shoot light .38s all the way up to hot .357s with it. IMHO, it is more fun to shoot than some of the lightweight guns that have more kick to them.

February 16, 2010, 12:10 PM
Nowhere Man

The one on the bottom is my wife's S&W 60LS Lady Smith. Small grips for small hands. It shoots both 357 and 38's.

I agree, or an Ruger SP101 2", but those are heavy.

Other than that a much better carry gun would be a light .38spl (S&W Air weight, or Ruger LCR)

I personally carry a S&W .38spl Airweight. And although I have some other big hand cannon's at home my go to is my little .38spl.

February 16, 2010, 12:15 PM
My wife has a Charter Lavender Lady with exposed hammer. Only 38 +p, but she is very good with it. Charter makes decent stuff these days.

I just picked up two SP101's (327 Federal and .357 Mag) and a Ruger LCR. I am curious what she thinks of these too. I am thinking she will like the 327 Federal, and you get six shots.

I would not rule out 38 +P ... enough stopping power for most situations, and less recoil.

Good Luck ...


Nowhere Man
February 16, 2010, 12:22 PM
Elvishead says,

I agree, or an Ruger SP101 2", but those are heavy.

Heavy for pocket carry but, when tossed into a 10 pound purse, she won't know the difference.


February 16, 2010, 12:24 PM
when tossed into a 10 pound purse

LOL you must have a spy. She deff has at least a 10 lb purse

February 16, 2010, 12:31 PM
I'm a huge proponent these days of the Smith & Wesson model 60 with the snubbie barrel. I really like the mag-na-porting that mine has as well, which really makes it a pleasure to shoot. She could probably handle a normal .357 load with the porting job done to it.

February 16, 2010, 01:26 PM
A lot depends on your wife, her hand strength, an how she plans to carry the gun. Most people are reccomending very small, light guns. While these do carry nicely, they also have more recoil both due to their lighter weight and typically smaller grips. Also, very small guns such as S&W J-Frames and Ruger SP101's often have somewhat heavy triggers on them. Whatever you buy, make sure your wife can manage the DA trigger. If your wifer intends to carry in a purse, you might want to consider a larger gun like a 2-3" barrel S&W K-Frame (Models 10, 15, 64, 67, 13, 19, 65, or 66), Colt Detective Special, Ruger GP100 with 3" barrel, or Ruger Security/Service/Speed Six with 2 3/4" barrel. These models will offer a slightly larger grip, less recoil, and typically a better trigger. Also, consider aftermarket grips if your wife doesn't find the ones on your chosen gun comfortable.

February 16, 2010, 02:20 PM
Go gun shopping and take her along. It's her gun and if you can rent a few and test fire some, even better.

Personally, I'd suggest a Ruger SP101. The gun has some heft to it and that will help with recoil. But, again, I'd let her be the judge.

Nowhere Man
February 16, 2010, 03:38 PM
.......I'd let her be the judge.

A Taurus Judge might not be a bad choice for her either. LOTS of firepower with manageable recoil firing .410 "00". It would be a great purse gun.


February 16, 2010, 06:13 PM
What are you guys loading in your 357 snubbies????
My wife carries a 357 snubby loaded hot (same load I carry in mine), I'm not sure if there's ever been a 38 chambered in hers. She doesn't shoot as much as I do, but she's run thousands thru that little gun and she's just spot on with it.
Let her try both 38 and 357 and everything else you can get your hands on for that matter. Made the mistake of buying my wife a gun to carry once (got tired of her carrying my 357). Bought her a sweet Sphinx 380 that I just loved. She hated it and didn't take long before she traded it for a 357 snubby. I should have paid more attention to why she was stealing my snubby I guess.

February 16, 2010, 06:48 PM
First off I am not a fan of light weight or air weight small revolvers. Shooting even 38+P ammo will have a lot of recoil. And the sight radius will be poor. I have very small hands and the air weight revolvers for me are hard to shoot accurately. You need to get her to a range and try some revolvers. My suggestion of some revolvers to try are the Ruger SP101 3 1/16 barrel, the S&W model 60 3 inch revolver, the S&W 65 3 inch ladysmith and S&W 65 3 inch. I would stay with 3 inch barrel length. While heavier to conceal, they still can be carried in a purse. These are all fixed sight revolvers. I would not recommend any of the adjustable site models. As far as ammo, for SD I still would suggest staying with a 38+P round. The famous "FBI" round 158gr SWCHP +P by Remington, Winchester and Buffalo bore is still the best go to round. Shot placement is key and this round in a 3 or 4 inch S&W revolver shoots POA as long as she does her job. If she insists on a 357 round then I would suggest Remingtons 125gr Golden Saber HP. Its a medium power round and if shes practices with this round she would be effective.

Again, take her to the range and let her try as many as available. Then let here make the choice. Then she needs to practice and practice.

Good luck,

February 16, 2010, 08:34 PM
I agree with letting her pick it out, roaddog28 said it best. I let my wife pick out her 357 cause of her small hands and she went with sp101 3 1/16" and this was with the factory grips. I put Houge monogrips on it and it took out the magnum bite and surprisingly it handles the recoil great for her. I got small hands too, liked hers and traded in my glock 19, always did prefer revolvers anyway. The 3 1/16" has good balance and conceals well in a don hume 721ot holster.

February 16, 2010, 08:39 PM
I would get something that can shoot 38+p. The 357s are considerably more expensive. Rent one at a range and try it if you just want to see what it is like.

February 16, 2010, 08:49 PM
Still the new guy. What does IMHO mean?

February 16, 2010, 08:55 PM
Unless she is willing to carry some heavy metal like a SP101 and/or is a "stout" lady, I doubt that she will be shooting a .357. Any gun light enough to enjoy carrying is uncomfortable to shoot, man or woman. Even the SP101 is a handfull with .357 - I would go with LCR or J Frame with either .38 or .38 +P.

February 16, 2010, 09:13 PM
my wifes j frame with +p 38's hurts more than my 3" 1911's...BUT DON'T LET HER SHOOT YOUR 3" 1911... or it will be hers

Ask me how I know....either works for her. She doesn't care for the 357's in the safe though...I did feel that a 357 shooting 38's would appeal to her...NOT ....that is one of the extras I now get to enjoy

Nowhere Man
February 16, 2010, 09:18 PM
IMHO = In My Humble Opinion

Bill DeShivs
February 16, 2010, 09:23 PM
She doesn't have to have a .357. A small .38 loaded with 158 grain target wadcutters will do just fine. Magnums, +Ps, and cannon are not necessary.

February 17, 2010, 11:21 AM
My mom is a petite woman and she likes my 640. With Hornady Critical Defense or CorBonn 110gr loads in .357, it's not too bad. But lots of people complain about .40 autos being too "snappy" and she loves them too.

February 17, 2010, 08:53 PM
I would go with a quality .357, this doesn't mean you have to shoot .357 out of it. She can shoot .38 until she gets used to shooting, then step up to the .357

That is what my wife and I did. She now shoots .357 with no problems at all.

February 17, 2010, 08:53 PM

Blue Steel
February 18, 2010, 01:13 PM
IMHO the airweight J-frame .357 magnum (like the 340PD) is as close to an experts gun as a pistol can get.

If you wife wants a magnum, I would suggest she consider the Smith Model 640 (similar to the previously pictured model 60LS, but hammerless DAO).

Another good choice, but slightly larger, would be a 3-inch model 13 (blue) or 65 (stainless). The model 13 was an FBI standard issue firearm for years and is an excellent piece.

February 18, 2010, 02:17 PM
S&W M&P 360 13 ounce scandium .357 with "Heavy" Buffalo Bore - probably the 180 grain.

February 18, 2010, 05:12 PM
I don't think she would care for the 357 snubbie at all. Taurus makes a very nifty little 41mag snubbie that would be perfect.

February 18, 2010, 07:43 PM
Bill DeShivs

She doesn't have to have a .357. A small .38 loaded with 158 grain target wadcutters will do just fine. Magnums, +Ps, and cannon are not necessary.

She doesn't need a Hemi either.

MY land lady at 80yo own's a .357mag:eek:, but I keep 5 light 147g 38spl WC's and one .357 Magsafe for the last round for that Hail Marry shot.

February 19, 2010, 01:40 AM
If you know she will never shoot 357, I would just stick with a 38. Why not? S&W model 36 is a nice small J frame 38+p with significant weight to balance during shooting but still very concealable. If you opt for airweight, you can't go wrong with the S&W 442 or the Ruger LCR, again in 38+p. 38+p or 38 standard pressure in hollow point packs plenty of punch at close range if the shooter does his/her part.

February 19, 2010, 10:38 AM
For a house/car gun I would go with a 3" to 4" barrel K or L frame S&W. Get a set of grips she is comfortable with. Hogue Rubber would be high on my list. My wifes house gun is a 686-1 4" with mid level 125 gr 357 Magnums in it.

For personal carry most women are not going to carry a brick in their purse unless they are very worried about their safety. I mean seriously scared!

I have owned 49's and 649's and and SP101's, and all were to heavy for carry except in a belt holster. I now have a 638-3 BodyGuard Air Weight and love it. I have a couple Nemisis pocket holsters mounted in pockets on the left side of a couple custom made inside jacket pockets. It is light enough to carry.
Accuracy??? I shoot it almost monthly in CCW Division at our Sportsman's Club Defensive Pistol Match. I shoot it just fine within normal handgun engagement range (15 Yards). I shoot light lead reloads in it for practice. I put a set of Crimson Trace Laser Griups on it. I normally keep the laser turned off, except in lo light. In day light, shooting matches, I find the laser a distraction aiming. This may be due to using multiple guns in the matches, and I am looking at my sights on all the others.
For carry I have the Remington Golden Sabers in the gun and in 2ea 5 round speed strips.
I would get her an Air Weight 38 Special S&W revolver. Shoot light lead reloads for practice in it. Work out a good method for carry. If she is going to carry it in a purse, look at a purse designed for carry, that way it will be in an excessable location, and not burried at the bottom. If she is going to carry it in a normal purse keep it clean. It may pick up trash in a standard purse.
Just my 2 Cents

February 19, 2010, 10:51 AM
Her biggest problem is that she prefers to carry the Six in her purse...which does NOT make me happy in the least. I recently picked up a new AKJ concealco IWB holster for the Six and I'm hoping that gets her to carry the gun on her person.

There's a few companies making purses for CCW that have a special place for the gun so it doesn't get "lost" in the main section; they also have a steel wire running through the shoulder strap to prevent a thief from running up from behind with a knife and slicing the strap and running away.

So, if she doesn't want to carry on her person, one of those would be ideal, and allow her to carry a slightly heavier gun for recoil management a lot easier

February 19, 2010, 11:33 AM
She just got a Ruger SP101 with a 3" barrel.

I have to applaud her for what I believe was a wise decision making process.

First, she asked to shoot almost every gun her friends owned,,,
She shot snubbies, cowboy guns, .22's, .44 mags, & everything in between.

J frames, K frames, N frames, xyz frames,,,
Semi's, revolvers, derringers.

She even shot a modern .22 pepperbox someone had.

She liked the simplicity of a DA revolver,,,
Not simplicity because she was simple minded,,, (her words-not mine)
But because she didn't want to need to mess with a safety.

She decided she liked the 3" barrel for accuracy over a 2" snubby,,,
and for it's easier handling over a 4" barrel.

She eventually selected and chose the Ruger because of it's weight,,,
She felt that .38's were very easy to shoot for range practice,,,
And that the Ruger's weight "tamed" .357 rounds a lot.

Her mode of carry will be a purse designed with integral holster,,,
She a fashionista so she will buy several.

I'm not touting her choice (even though I think she chose well),,,
as much as I applaud her decision making process.

She tried a lot of different firearms,,,
Asked a lot of questions,,,
Learned a lot of things.

I feel she made her choice based on personal research,,,
Rather than hearsay and opinions of others.

February 19, 2010, 04:15 PM
I'm female, and have small hands. I grew up with a father who shot, and learned to shoot various things as a kid and teenager. (Even won a few marksmanship awards.) However, I didn't keep it up after I left for college, and had never owned a gun of any type til I picked out my first gun a little under a year ago.

After reading Pax's "Cornered Cat" web site, and trying out several guns in several contexts, I chose to get a Ruger SP-101 .357 magnum revolver with a 3.25" barrel. Unfortunately none were to be had last spring for love or money, so I ended up getting a close cousin, the Smith & Wesson Model 60 .357 magnum with the 3" barrel. Either one fits my hand like it was made for it, and I find either one controllable and manageable even when shooting .357 ammuntion. (Not comfortable, not fun, but controllable.)

I mostly practice with .38 special, however, and when in town also carry .38 special +P for self defense. When you're shooting a smaller gun like these models, that's easier to recover from than .357 and follow-up shots are generally better placed. I shoot five or ten rounds of full-bore .357 ammunition every time I practice, though, and carry it for self defense when I'm out hiking or off-roading, especially in areas where there are bears. I like having the option to carry either one depending on the situation.

Best of all, a .357 revolver is *always* by definition able to handle a fairly steady diet of modern .38 special +P ammunition. Some older or lower quality .38 special revolvers cannot.

Let your wife (or girlfriend) pick her own gun. But if she wants ideas of guns to try before she buys, please put the Ruger SP-101 and S&W Model 60 on the list. They're both fairly common, which means she should be able to find a range in most urban areas that would have one or both available to rent and try out.

February 19, 2010, 05:46 PM
The Ruger DAO (spurless) SP101...start with 38 Special standard loads, then 38 Special +P, then 357 Magnum and end where pain and loss of controlability sets in.

February 26, 2010, 11:22 PM
I shoot five or ten rounds of full-bore .357 ammunition every time I practice, though, and carry it for self defense when I'm out hiking or off-roading, especially in areas where there are bears. I like having the option to carry either one depending on the situation.

Or Moose, although I consider the .357 Mag to be inadequate for all but Black Bears, we got my wife a SP101 2 1/4" because she can practice with light 38 spcl. loads and carry heavy .357 Mag. Our neighborhood tends to be home to lots of Moose.

We'll find an adequate .357 load (maybe Buffalo Bore) and I'l build a 38 Special cartridge that hits the same spot as the heavy load does for practice.

February 27, 2010, 03:40 AM
RE: Recoil

She won't feel the recoil when the adrenaline hits.

Remember that guy who killed that bear in Alaska while walking his dogs? He had a Ruger Alaskan in 454 Casul. He stated that at the range, he could not get through a cylinder of 454...it hurt too much. When the bear charged him, he stated that he didn't feel the recoil at all. Many other people report similar experiences during fights.

Practice with soft 38 Special and shoot a few 125 grain 357 Magnums just to make sure the gun functions properly. Carry 357 Magnum in the gun for defense. Find ammo at ammoengine.com.

ALWAYS carry a reload or two. I recommend a speedloader and two spare speed strips (especially since she'll be carrying in a purse).

She should practice loading and unloading the gun with Snap Caps. Use the speedloader and strips. She should be able to reload the gun on the move, but this will take some time. One trick is to practice reloading just two rounds off a speed strip just to get something into the gun. Remember to put the rounds in the correct charge holes so the hammer falls on the Snap Caps/rounds.