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Old October 11, 2018, 11:20 PM   #1
Elliottsdad
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Why so little love for .41 Mag??

I've been wasting a silly amount of time at ballisticsbytheinch, comparing cartridges, ft lb of energy at different barrel lengths, etc. I've printed out some of their charts that interest me, and highlighted specific barrel lengths and their corresponding muzzle energies in a search for the perfect wheelgun setup for me (if such a thing exists).
I've never paid .41 Mag any mind. I know there are a couple still being made, and ammo is harder to find. But looking at these numbers, I really do not understand why it didn't take off, or why it isn't more popular today. It seems it is a goldilocks cartridge: more power/reach/lead downrange than the .357, but less of the violent recoil of the .44. Why is this cartridge so obscure? On paper at least, it seems to fill quite a useful niche.
I've read there's no "41 special" for practice (like the magnums have the .38, and .44 special, respectively), and that may be one reason. Others have written it was a solution to a non-existent problem, but.. unless I'm missing something, it kind of sounds perfect to me?
If there are any .41 experts out there, please fill me in as to what is going on with this cartridge!
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Old October 12, 2018, 12:02 AM   #2
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.357- smaller, very effective for self defense against people

.44- not much larger, better for hunting, better in revolver for large, dangerous animals

I've never had an interest in .41 Mag, it doesn't fill any need I would require it for. If I wanted a .40 caliber revolver, I'd rather it be in 10mm Auto or the 10mm Magnum that way I have good power, but also can shoot .40 S&W for fun or lower recoil.

A 200 grain JHP going 1400 fps is plenty of power, more than .357, less than .44 (which I also have no interest in) and has some compatibility with ammo I use in semi auto pistols makes more sense to me.
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Old October 12, 2018, 12:13 AM   #3
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Originally there were two loads available .There were the full or magnum loads and the lighter ' police loads !! The full were fine for hunting things like deer some what like a 44mag light. Most police agencies never seemed to know about the police load and the full load was too much recoil for the typical officer.
A good cartridge but never got the attention it deserved . People would rather have a rimless cartridge for a revolver and for an automatic where for factory loads you were not quite sure the gun was made for the hotter loads and were they were to much for carry / defense loads.
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Old October 12, 2018, 12:42 AM   #4
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You can credit Dirty Harry for most of the 41 issues.

After he came out, everyone had to have "the most powerful handgun in the world and it can blow your head clean off".

It is just as versatile as the 44 Mag in regards to how you can load it, light or full on.

If you like it, go for it. I don't think you would ever regret it.
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Old October 12, 2018, 01:29 AM   #5
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I'm far from a .41 expert, have owned one (Ruger Blackhawk), but I do know a little about the history, so here goes...

Several influential gun writers (who had also been LEOs) argued for the "ideal" police cartridge, saying a .40/.41 shooting a 200gr (ish) bullet at about 900-950fps would deliver good stopping power without too much recoil for controlled rapid fire.

Remington gave us the .41 Mag in 1964. Remington (displaying yet another mis-reading of the market) thought of it as a magnum and promoted it as such. There was also to be a "police load" a 210gr LSWC at about 950fps, but even though cataloged, it was not "pushed" and so was seldom on dealers shelves. Several police agencies were interested, and did test the new .41Mag, but either weren't aware or could not get the police load for testing, and used the magnum load (all there was) and the magnum load was not suitable for police work.

Another "strike" against the .41 Mag was that it only came in S&W N-frame (models 57 & 58), and many police depts., having gone from N-frame .357s to K frame .357s were not interested in going back to a heavier gun.

So the .41 never became a police gun, no popularity boost there. It came in the same gun as the .44 Mag, so no saving in size or weight there. It is slightly (15%??) less powerful than the .44Mag so has less recoil, but many people are not able to really tell the difference with the magnum loads. (plus the S&W with factory grips is very good at transferring painful recoil with heavy loads. Ruger SA's are more pleasant in that regard)

And then, there's Dirty Harry.....(1971)….

After that, only a few die hard .41 fans would touch one. .44 was THE gun to have, to the point that S&W was backordered a couple years by the mid 70s, and people were paying $450 (and more) to get a model 29 NOW, rather than wait a couple years and pay the MSRP of $287.50..

You couldn't hardly give a .41 away.

SO, less power than the .44, and "nearly" the same blast and recoil, no police or movie star prestige, sales always lagged.

People say the .41 shoots flatter than the .44, and it does, a bit, but not a lot, and the few people who do shoot long range preferred the greater energy of the .44, mostly.

The .41 has fans, and diehard fanatics, but most of us just look at it and say why bother?

Had Remington (or someone else) come out with a ".41 Special" cartridge at the same time, I think it would have been very popular. But, that ship has sailed. Today its autos for police & defense, and ironically, the .40S&W delivers dead on the performance the old gunwriters were asking for when they got the .41 Magnum.
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Old October 12, 2018, 05:50 AM   #6
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The 41 has always been a niche caliber. Very popular with the few users. The S&W Model 58 was the first 41 and it was intended for cops. It never sold well. I have one with a 1964 serial (first year of production) but letters as not shipped until 1968. Slow mover from the start. The 58 had the shortest production run of any S&W revolver.

Nothing wrong with the 41. But it's too much for some shooters and others want the added bang of the 44.
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Old October 12, 2018, 09:44 AM   #7
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The .41 is overshadowed by the slightly lesser .357 (but in a smaller revolver, typically) or the slightly greater .44 (ahem... .429") in the same-size package. The .41 is truly a redundant cartridge... or, as I like to say, is a compromise cartridge of both the .357 and .44. Either way, it's a good cartridge, but is certainly a niche cartridge.

Personally, I've been out of the .357/.38SPC business for a few years, and as soon as I ditch the only .44 I've ever owned (a .44SPC, not a Magnum) I'll be setting with the .41 as my only wheelgun cartridge... and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Actually, rather opposite of the OP's thread title... I would say there is a whole lotta love for the .41MAG... from those that have one, and that's what keeps it alive.
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Old October 12, 2018, 11:17 AM   #8
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In the original S&W revolvers the 41 made some sense. Same size outside and a bit less bore in the chambers and barrel so it weights a few oz more and was a bit less powerful, so it kicked less and was easier to shoot well then the bigger 44.

However S&W revolvers were a bit hard to get and fairly expensive in the M57. The M58 M&P revolver was very well done and not very highly priced, but it didn't catch on well. Personally I loved them, and I was issued 2 of them at 2 different times when I worked as an adviser/Instructor for DOD in central and south America.

Then Ruger came out with their Blackhawk in the 41, and it was the "common 41" when you talked to shooters. I bet I would hear about 5-6 Rugers for every S&W owned by shooters in the 60s and 70s.

But the problem was that the Blackhawk weighed less then the Super Blackhawk so when firing full power loads from the lighter gun, they kicked as hard as the 44s did. That proved to be a nail in the coffin of the 41. The idea was "If I have to put up with the level of nose and recoil of a 44 mag, I may as well buy a 44 mag.

The 41 has a lot of merit, but was sadly not promoted correctly.

I saw the same thing happen with the 32 H&R Mag and the 327 Federal mag. Good shells put into guns that didn't have a good market. The 32 cal magnums should have been brought out not as CCW and protection guns, but in Outdoorsmens guns. A wonderful fun gun with small game capabilities. Like the older 32s and the K-32 that S&W used to offer in 32-20. A hot 32 cal lightweight revolver (no stupid full under-lugs and bull barrels) offered in 4" 5" and 6" barrels, with super flat trajectory and excellent accuracy, that you can re-load very cheap ammo for...... is a great marketing plan, but the factories tried to tell people it was for concealed carry and home defense which made people ask if it was any better (or even as good) as a 38 special or a 357 mag. And the answer was No, it's not.

Wrong purpose for those 2 shells, and Ruger, S&W, H&R and everyone else ignored the real market place, hunters hikers and fishermen. All of which outnumber cops by a very wide margin. The "off duty" ploy of marketing is a small piece of the pie.

I believe the 41 mag should have been pushed more to the police market and the 58 should have been the "common 41" instead of the 57. The 57 was always in the shadow of the 29, and that's fine, but the 58 had nothing out there to compare it to.

Ruger should have offered it in both the Super Blackhawk and the Blackhawk BOTH.

Merit in firearms or cartridge is good, but if the market is not ready for it or doesn't really exist, such merit is waited.

Last edited by Wyosmith; October 12, 2018 at 11:23 AM.
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Old October 12, 2018, 11:45 AM   #9
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It's primarily because it doesn't do anything other cartridges won't. Plus ammo and firearms aren't available everywhere.
The original S&W revolvers were marketed to police, who didn't want it. Just putting the word 'magnum' in a cartridge's name could scare the politicians who made the decisions.
The .32 H&R Mag and the .327 Federal Mag are both answers to unasked questions. So was the .41 Mag. Only people asking for it were the gun rag writers.
Ruger's single actions had nothing to do with the demise of the .41 Mag. There was a .44 Mag Blackhawk long before there was a .41. People bought .44's because the ammo was easier to get.
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Old October 12, 2018, 12:16 PM   #10
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We have revolvers in 9mm, 38, 357, 10mm, 41 mag, 44 mag, and larger (and smaller). The 41 is still a keeper. In a large frame revolver, like our SRH Ruger, it is both accurate and comfortable to shoot. For example: our light load (Police load sort of) is a 210 cast bullet that averages 1079 fps (543 ft/lbs) and will group around 2" @ 25 yards. It is so soft shooting that you can comfortably shoot it as long as you wish. If you need more power, our other favored load is a 240 SWCGC that averages 1310 fps (SD 0.204, 915 ft/lbs) that groups around 4" @ 50 yards. There are more powerful loads but none we found that offers this balance of accuracy and power. The premier ammo makers sell loads over 1000 ft/lbs if you want more power. On the negative, the 41 mag is much more attractive to hand loaders as factory ammo is harder to find and more costly than say 44 magnum. YMMV
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Old October 12, 2018, 12:18 PM   #11
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My first wheelgun was a cheap Taurus 65 in .357 Magnum. Then I got some .44s, .45s, more .357s and a .41. Once I got my first .41 Magnum, all others but that first .357 and the S&W 610 have since been sold in deference to the .41 Mag. It is versatile and I can load .41 Mag shot shells. My .414 Supermag can shoot the .41 Mag, shotshells and the .41 Special as well. I really don't care if others like it or not, I do, and that is what matters to me. Marketed well, it could have been the dominant magnum. But then I would likely have found something else less mainstream.

https://www.starlinebrass.com/brass-cases/41-Special/
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Old October 12, 2018, 01:34 PM   #12
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As noted, a "niche" cartridge, meant to fill that so called "caliber gap" that is often talked about but never defined. I recall Jeff Cooper writing that one PD adopted it but the M-58 was a little too big for their lady cops, and they chose the full power round, too much muzzle blast and recoil. I note the large frame/large bore revolver went out of fashion for police use by 1920 or so, and as Bill Jordan noted the 38 Special is the most powerful round the average man can expect to master.
The 41 Magnum is too widely manufactured to be a proprietary round like the 41AE and 45GAP, and like the 10MM Auto its sales are just enough to keep makers interested.
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Old October 12, 2018, 02:51 PM   #13
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The 41mag just does not how that ring to it !!
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Old October 12, 2018, 03:11 PM   #14
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Having owned several .41 magnums and being old enough to remember and shoot the two commercial loads, the jacketed bullet load was very good for hunting, but the problem with the "police" load was that it was still way to hot (read, muzzle blast and recoil), for self-defense and police use. If they had toned down the police load (a soft lead, gas checked bullet), a little more, it may have generated more interest by police.

As for not "filling a niche", the only niche it needed to fill was the .41 Magnum niche. It was my favorite revolver cartridge.
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Old October 12, 2018, 03:17 PM   #15
TruthTellers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. O'Heir
It's primarily because it doesn't do anything other cartridges won't. Plus ammo and firearms aren't available everywhere.
The original S&W revolvers were marketed to police, who didn't want it. Just putting the word 'magnum' in a cartridge's name could scare the politicians who made the decisions.
The .32 H&R Mag and the .327 Federal Mag are both answers to unasked questions. So was the .41 Mag. Only people asking for it were the gun rag writers.
Ruger's single actions had nothing to do with the demise of the .41 Mag. There was a .44 Mag Blackhawk long before there was a .41. People bought .44's because the ammo was easier to get.
Congrats, you've triggered me.

The .32 H&R and .327 have their place, they are an evolution of a caliber that even at the turn of the 20th Century was underpowered. The whole point of a .32 caliber revolver is to squeeze as many rounds into a small frame revolver.

The issue with the H&R Magnum was the factory ammo manufacturers were hesitant to load it to max or near max specs because H&R's revolvers chambered for .32 H&R were cheaply made guns that couldn't handle it. It's only now that companies like Buffalo Bore are making .32 H&R ammo loaded to the potential the cartridge has.

.327 is the replacement for .32 H&R. With .327 revolvers, there's no question of their durability with max loads like there was with H&R revolvers. Federal loads the .327 to its potential, but unfortunately Federal is the only major manufacturer of .327 ammo.

I understand that .32 is meant to be lower recoil and less blast than .357 and that .327 really doesn't do that to the extent .32 H&R does, but having the option of the super magnum .327 is the draw of owning a .327.

About the only drawback of .327 based solely on performance, not ammo scarcity or lack or revolvers, is the throats are sized for jacketed bullet use, not lead. A low power lead load is not going to shoot as well in a .327.

The .41 Magnum is a much larger, more powerful cartridge, it was never going to find use in small J and K frame revolvers. .357's were established in the easy to carry K frames, and the L to N frames in .357 and .44 did everything that a cop could have asked for during the era of the service revolver.

Maybe there could have been a use for the .41 loaded to 950 fps with that 220 grain bullet for detectives or plain clothes cops so they'd have a bit more firepower, but in 2018 the .41 Mag or .41 Special has no place. No one is going to make a revolver specifically based around .41, ammo makers will not mass produce ammo for it (like they're not doing with .327), and people will do the 3rd grade math and conclude that .44 and .45 is bigger and better.
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Old October 12, 2018, 03:18 PM   #16
Bob Wright
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The 41mag just does not how that ring to it
!!

Gene Autry never sang about ".....totin' my old forty one..........."


As in: "Ridin' the range once more, totin' my old forty four..." (From Back inThe Saddle Again.)





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Old October 12, 2018, 04:28 PM   #17
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My 1st center fire handgun was a Ruger Blackhawk in 41 magnum. It was a lot cheaper to buy the gun used than any other magnum revolver at the time. But this was back in the 1970's and I quickly found that ammo was scarce and expensive.

I actually like the round better than the 44 or 357mag. No animal will ever know the difference between 41 and 44 mag. But economics are the reason I sold mine and never got back to the 41. Ammo today is much more available and while a bit more expensive it isn't that much more.
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Old October 12, 2018, 04:34 PM   #18
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...but in 2018 the .41 Mag or .41 Special has no place. No one is going to make a revolver specifically based around .41
I've always thought that if S&W made a 5-shot .41MAG on the L-frame, they would have a winner on their hands. I don't know if the L-frame is sturdy enough for a steady diet of full-house .41MAG loads, even with today's metallurgy. There is always the nebulous '.41SPC' make-believe cartridge, but I don't think it would do anything more or less than the already extant .44SPC.

The .41 is alive and well... Henry just kicked out their lever-action rifle in .41, Marlin has made them (I have one,) and there are umpteen different .41 pistols out there, both new and used. As much as I don't care for Ruger's wheel guns (I've had very bad luck with them...) they put out a pretty fair variety of .41 revolvers, all things considered. Is it going to be adopted soon by the Smalltown, USA police department? ...probably not, but it has it's place in Gundom, so the .429MAG better keep it's distance.
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Old October 12, 2018, 05:03 PM   #19
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I've always thought that if S&W made a 5-shot .41MAG on the L-frame, they would have a winner on their hands.
Charter certainly does with their .44 Special that costs half as much as what that theoretical Smith revolver would sell for.

The Model 69 is a five shot .44 Mag on the L frame already. Why anyone would want a .41 in the same gun is alien to me.

Quote:
The .41 is alive and well... Henry just kicked out their lever-action rifle in .41, Marlin has made them (I have one,) and there are umpteen different .41 pistols out there, both new and used.
Henry and Anthony Imperato focus on bringing to market long guns (that don't have loading gates) that the shooting community wants. Henry also brought the .327/.32 H&R Big Boy out last year, but the .32 has a lot longer of a history and, IMO, a larger following than .41 Mag does.

I'm not sure what, if any .41 revolver could be made that would make me buy one. A 10mm Magnum revolver OTOH, that immediately has my attention and the ballistics are essentially the same between the two.
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Old October 12, 2018, 05:15 PM   #20
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I was just thinking that I have to keep my .41 Magnum no matter what...it is the only caliber I still have a lot of Silvertips left for. Should work on Zombies, and certainly on Werewolves.
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Old October 12, 2018, 06:20 PM   #21
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I'm a big member of the 41 Magnum Club . A model 58 S&W opened my eyes to what they can do.
Usually the people who question the validity of the 41 magnum don't own them and don't cast bullets and handload for them . Those of us who do...We Know.

Besides someone has to love the red headed step children of the shooting world.
I pull for the underdog,
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Old October 12, 2018, 07:03 PM   #22
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The Model 69 is a five shot .44 Mag on the L frame already. Why anyone would want a .41 in the same gun is alien to me.
I think .41 would be the better choice for that gun, but the availability of ammo is probably the controlling factor.
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Old October 12, 2018, 07:13 PM   #23
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.41 Magnum has its place, because there are frequent mentions of people getting 44 and then loading it down or shooting only 44 Special. The 41 is inherently a bit tamer.

The real sleeper though is 41 Special, because at its pressure level can be adapted to a 357 magnum platform. My Clement Custom is built from a 38 Special GP100 and holds 6 rounds. Starline has brass for 41 Special.
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Old October 13, 2018, 12:15 AM   #24
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.410 Supermag
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Old October 13, 2018, 01:27 AM   #25
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I wonder if a 41 Special ([email protected]) on a K frame platform would have been more popular with cops in 1964? Lighter, much less recoil but good power.
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