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Old August 28, 2010, 10:52 AM   #1
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First large(er) caliber-.357 magnum or .45lc?

Me and my dad recently took up shooting and have been getting very into it over the past few months.

We rent guns (and buy ammo) from a range, and so far we have been sticking to 9mm and .38 special.

However, we want to try something bigger, and being more interested in revolvers, i've decided it's gotta be .357 magnum or .45lc for first powerful caliber. We're not doing both, because we're going to be spending a lot on 9mm ammo.

Any tips on which one to choose between the two? What is the felt recoil on say, a 36-40oz gun in each caliber? Any tips on how to shoot in order to manage the kick and effectively handle the gun? In general, what is it like shooting each one?

Anything will help, i like to be prepared

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Old August 28, 2010, 11:43 AM   #2
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having a 357 magnum in your arsenal is always a good choice . You can shoot 38 special and 357 magnum ammunition in it which is pretty cool. Another thing to keep in mind is the 357 round is much more powerful than the 45lc round. If you are really interested in something as big as a 45lc then you could buy a 44 magnum and at least having the option of shooting 44 specials out of it. I just purchased a ruger gp101 357 magnum and for the money its a great buy and it is built like a tank.
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Old August 28, 2010, 12:06 PM   #3
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I love the 45 Colt, accurate and can be loaded up or down to handle any situation from man eating paper targets to the neighbors pet Russian Boar tearing up your petunias.

That being said if you are going to purchase new and shoot a lot the 357 with at least a 4" barrel and a huge quantity of 38 spcl ammo will be more economical. Buy your magnum ammo in the same bullet weight and when you need to shoot the magnums you won't have as much correction to make if any.

I prefer 158 gr LSWC but LRN will work as well for practice and probably be cheaper at your toy store. However bullet choice will be your particular guns best round to shoot not my personal preference. Part of the fun is buying a variety and see what you and the gun like the most. It's a great excuse to shoot.
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Old August 28, 2010, 01:09 PM   #4
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I would recommend .45 Colt. You can load "cowboy" level or up to .44 mag level if you get a Ruger Blackhawk or Redhawk. The .45 Colt is "way more gun" than the .357 mag. Either way, .357/.38 or .45 Colt you cannot go wrong. They are both winners.
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Old August 28, 2010, 02:57 PM   #5
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45LC has to be the most difficult ammo to find. It's gotten much better but most of my usual stores are still always out of it. Also you can plan on paying much more for the 45 ammo. It's a great round, but these two issues has really limited my shooting of my 45. The 357/38 on the other hand is reasonable priced and is easy to find. IMHO
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:16 PM   #6
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I have both.

Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt/45ACP, 357(38 Special)/9mm

S&W 4" & 6" .357 (38 Special) and 4" & 6 1/2" 45 Colt.

I was shooting them yesterday.

I shot 100 moderate 45 Colt reloads and 200+ very light 38 Special reloads.

For shooting a lot, the 38s are more economical, like 9mm. For real power loads, despite the .357 mystique, the 45 Colt loaded hot with heavy bullets is more gun. That means nothing if all you will encounter in life is paper and range debris.

For a one gun solution the Ruger convertibles are hard to beat.
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:21 PM   #7
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I shoot both and like them both the same, that being said it matters alot if you reload or not about the cost. 45 Colt ammo can cost you half again as much if you buy it off the shelf. I have 5 Colt SAA's and a two 45 ACP cylinders that I swap around in them when shooting at places that require you to shoot boughten ammo. In my neck of the woods 357 Mag. and 45 ACP run about the same prices in range quality type ammo. I also shoot alot of 38 Spl. in my 357 Mag guns. I do know one thing, get the one that interest you the most and then work with the ammo thing. It's the only way you will ever really be satisfied.
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:24 PM   #8
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Get the .357mag. for the first one. You can shoot the cheaper and plentiful .38spec. in it as well as the mag. when you feel inclined or the pocketbook allows. The .45 Colt is a fine calibre but you won't do as much shooting with it as you will the .357mag.
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:28 PM   #9
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I would have to say 357 magnum. You just cant go wrong with it. I am a semi-auto fan but have a growing respect for a good 357 magnum.
1. A 125gr. HP screaming at 1600fps putting out 710ft/lbs. The 357 is regarded as an excellent stopper.
2. It can fire 38 special as well giving you a variety of options. 38 +p along with 357, different bullet weights and speeds, it offers alot of versatility.
I would get a really nice 357 magnum(a S&W 686 with a 4inch barrel is something to look into.) IMHO, go with the 357 magnum, I think you will be happy.
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:35 PM   #10
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Another thing to keep in mind is the 357 round is much more powerful than the 45lc round.
This statement is only true if you stick to cowboy or standard SAAMI spec loads. Buffalo Bore, Cor-Bon and others load ammo that mimics or exceeds .44 magnum performance.

If you are really interested in something as big as a 45lc then you could buy a 44 magnum and at least having the option of shooting 44 specials out of it. I just purchased a ruger gp101 357 magnum and for the money its a great buy and it is built like a tank.
While this is true, I've never quite understood the point of this arguement. Yes, you can shoot .44 special for lower power level shooting, and yes, you can switch to .44 magnum for more power.

In the right gun, you can essentially do the same thing with a .45 Colt. Factory loads and loading data are available from mild to wild, so you get the same thing from correct length cartridges that you'd get from using both special and magnum loads in a .44.

All this said...
I would agree with the .357 mag as a first "more powerful" cartridge, even though I don't own one any more. It's plenty powerful enough to get your attention, and any revolver that was factory chambered for .357 magnum will handle any .357 magnum load.

When you move into the realm of the .45 Colt, you really need to understand the cartridge's varied performance in different loadings, and the weaknesses of many firearms chambered for it. You can't just buy any ol' box of .45 Colt ammo from any manufacturer and assume it's safe in all firearms. The "mid" sized revolvers have their limitations, while some manufacturers and handloaders have realized the full potential of the cartridge in a stronger, larger framed revolver.

It can be a bad mix for the uneducated on this subject.

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Old August 28, 2010, 03:44 PM   #11
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I suggest a 4" .357 double action revolver. Smith and Wesson, Ruger.
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:51 PM   #12
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Another vote for a 357. I'd get an L frame Smith. Make your second revolver a 22LR and between the two you can shoot a lot at reasonable prices if you stick with the 38spl and the 22. With a good 357 you can have the full power loads, the +P 38s or the standard 38spls. Ammo is always available too.
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:51 PM   #13
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I suggest a 4" .357 double action revolver. Smith and Wesson, Ruger.
+1. Hard to beat a well made 4" or 6" .357 revolver. S&W and Ruger are both excellent choices. The .357 chambering gives you a powerful gun with an option of shooting abundant, less powerful, and cheaper ammo.
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Old August 28, 2010, 03:58 PM   #14
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Yep. Very good point Daryl with the 45LC varied loadings. I would wait and get into the 45LC when you know your 357 very well. For a start you cant do much better than the S&W 686 4". That is an excellent 357, IMO.
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Old August 28, 2010, 05:03 PM   #15
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Two guns +


Welcome to the forum and thanks for asking our advice.

Advice will be more accurate if we knew something more of your situation. I have assumed that your purpose is informal target shooting with maybe a little home protection in mind.

I observe that your two choices are typically chambered in revolvers. Is that because you are considering reloading (revolvers are kinder to the brass) or some other reason?

I suggest two guns and a reloading setup. 22 rimfire and .357 magnum (or 38 special, but the .357 will chamber and fire both cartridges). If your range does not allow you to shoot your own handloads in your own gun, find another range. (Make sure they understand you will be using the handloads only in your own gun, not in theirs. Talk to the owner or the chief range officer and ask nicely for their reasoning and ask for a waiver before you give up on your chosen range. Don't burn any bridges.)

So you know my perspective, I will describe my shooting habits: Like you, I shoot more on the target range for fun than in the field.

I own and shoot a number of handguns:
22 Rimfire (semi-automatic, double action revolver and single action revolvers).
9mm Semi-automatics and .45ACP semiautomatics and one seldom shot .357 semiauto (A Coonan).
Single action .357 revolver, double action revolver in 2.5", 2.75", 4", 6" and 8" barrels.
.44 Magnum double action revolvers. 5.5" and 7.5"
Double action and single action 454 Casull (which also shoot 45 Colt)

Ammunition for the 22 rimfire is 1/10 the price of centerfire ammunition (per shot). I think everyone should have a 22 rimfire.

I reload for everything except the 22 rimfire.

When I bought my first gun (357 Magnum Dan Wesson), I also bought a reloading setup because I knew I could not afford to shoot if I had to buy factory-made ammunition. Best decision I ever made.

Since you shoot 9mm and 38 Special, I suggest you consider the Ruger Blackhawk Single Action revolver, which is available with two cylinders, one chambered for 38/357 and the other for 9mm. Single actions are (my opinion) slightly easier to care for than double action revolvers and the Blackhawk is strong enough to load screaming hot 357 Magnum loads if you want.

Echoing what several others have posted, the 45 Colt is a fine cartridge, but can be expensive. In Ruger Redhawks and other strong guns, the 45 Colt can be loaded to 44 Magnum power levels. 38 Special is much cheaper and .357 magnum is plenty powerful for most functions.

On barrel length. the .357 magnum cartridge is a 6-inch cartridge (opinion). It was developed in the '50s and typically chambered behind an 8 3/8" barrel for hunting purposes and a 6" barrel for holster carry for law enforcement. 6" seems to me to be a compromise for convenient carry. 4" is an even bigger compromise. I will grant that with modern gunpowders and careful design of the cartridge and the bullet, 4" is not a bad barrel length, but 6" will give better ballistics, a longer sighting radius and a trifle more comfort behind the trigger.

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Old August 28, 2010, 06:18 PM   #16
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my understanding from your post is that you are asking which caliber you should rent a gun in, you are not looking to buy a revolver at this time, that being said the range will make sure you don't use the wrong ammo in a .45LC and reloading isn't gonna be an issue.
if you are looking for a bigger gun experience i would go with the .357mag, at a rental range the mag will likely be a hotter load, the 45LC ammo they have will likely be a lighter, CA style load.
Someone once told me, if you know how many guns you don't have enough.
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Old August 28, 2010, 06:32 PM   #17
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Hi, and welcome to the forum. Good answers from all of us so far. One that I would consider is a Ruger New Blackhawk 4 5/8 inch barrel chambered in 357/9mm convertable. You then would have three revolvers in one. I would have to agree that the 357 would be a good starting revolver. But nothing wrong with a 45LC.

Good luck,
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Old August 28, 2010, 06:39 PM   #18
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Don't own a 45lc but do own a .357 Magnum.

Shooting the 357 is way too much fun to care about the recoil. Once you fire your first 3 rounds, you're going to be hooked for the rest of your life. Although I must say that the revolver I own has a ported barrel and its MUCH more comfortable to shoot with that. However, I did fire my friend's Colt King Cobra and as awesome as it was, it completely destroyed my hearing and after a while my hand started hurting.

Practice makes perfect.
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Old August 28, 2010, 07:16 PM   #19
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Thank you for all of your answers. They were really helpful for sure.

I really respect the enthusiasm that firearm enthusiasts have for range shooting, hunting and other sport. Coming from the suburbs in a blue state, added the liberal background, i pretty much introduced myself to guns through my own interest.

I ended up going with the .357 magnum, ruger gp100. I loved it. I shoot it well, and surprisingly i didnt mind the recoil at all.

.357-new fav caliber.

Ill be trying a new caliber everytime i go
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Old August 28, 2010, 07:37 PM   #20
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The GP100 is a fine revolver and a very strong piece of equipment. I have several Rugers; in fact, almost all my revolvers are Rugers now. What barrel length did you get? I already introduced my prejudice toward longer barrels, but do have (and like) barrels as short as 2.5".

I have another plug for reloading. Buying in small quantities (like 1 lb of powder, 250, 500 or 1000 bullets and 100 to 1000 primers at a time) powder, bullets and primers add up to about $8 for a box of 50. Loaded to 38 special power levels, my .357 magnum brass lasts practically forever. The cost of purchasing the reloading setup can easily be recouped in a thousand (20 boxes) of over-the-counter ammo. That's probably 'way less than a year's shooting for the two of you.

Good luck, good shooting.

Lost Sheep
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Old August 28, 2010, 08:54 PM   #21
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Congrats. You'll enjoy the .357. Yes, the little .357Mag is easy to control the recoil (as you found out) and you'll have more ammo choices (if you don't reload) than the good o' .45 Colt .
A clinger. When guns are outlawed, only outlaws will have guns. Single Action .45 Colt (Sometimes improperly referred to by its alias as the .45 'Long' Colt or .45LC). Don't leave home without it. Ok.... the .44Spec is growing on me ... but the .45 Colt is still king.
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Old August 28, 2010, 09:33 PM   #22
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A 4" .357 magnum is like a Glock 19,everybody should have one.
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Old August 29, 2010, 06:53 AM   #23
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Since your renting go with the 357. I love both and prefer the 45 colt but its unlikely that your range has a traditional load for the 45.
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Old August 29, 2010, 10:14 AM   #24
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A 4" .357 magnum is like a Glock 19,everybody should have one.
You'll get an amen from this choir about that! However, I remember my first revolver was a M28 Highway Patrolman in .357 and loved shooting it. I was persuaded by reading too many articles from Elmer Keith and decided to trade it for a 45 Colt(hate that term LC-that ain't what's on the barrel or on the brass). Of course he probably would hunt squirrels with a 375 H&H. I like both calibers but there's just something about that humongous 45 Colt I've always liked...perhaps it's the history and nostalgia.
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Old August 29, 2010, 10:36 AM   #25
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Thats most likely it. I want a S.A.A. in 45 Colt in my life sometime. But, then again, I want every firearm ever made .
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.357 magnum , .45lc , range shooting , recoil , shooting tips

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