Some Thoughts on the .41 Remington Magnum

The .41 Remington Magnum has been with us for nearly 60 years now. When it was introduced, several people in the industry felt they deserved credit for the idea of the new cartridge. It’s generally accepted that Elmer Keith was the driving force in making the concept a reality.

Keith wrote in his Guns and Ammo column in the early sixties that he had been approached by many in the law enforcement community about the need for a better police cartridge. Bill Jordan was one of them, suggesting a forty-caliber revolver round launching a 200-grain lead semi-wadcutter (SWC) at around 1,200 fps. In Jordan’s opinion, that would be the end-all of police cartridges, superior even to the .357 Magnum he had championed for the Combat Magnum in the 1950’s.

Keith was in complete agreement. Although he thought the .44 Magnum was the ultimate fight stopper, he acknowledged that the .44’s recoil could be problematic for lots of officers. Keith and Jordan decided to act on their thoughts at the 1963 NRA Members meeting in Washington DC.


They spoke with leadership from S&W, Colt, Ruger, and Remington about the concept. By that time, Keith thought that the cartridge should be offered in two levels: A cast or swaged (plain lead or copper coated) SWC moving at 1,100 FPS for urban law enforcement use, and; A jacketed soft point (JSP) loaded to 1,400-1,500 FPS for rural and anti-vehicle applications.

It’s an indication of the status that Keith held in the industry that he could secure verbal commitments from these companies to make the project a reality. S&W agreed to chamber the new round in its large (N) frame and look at the possibility of a five-shot, medium (K) frame variant. Ruger was on board with their Blackhawk single action, Colt thought the proposed round would be a natural fit for its .41-framed Python. Remington promised to develop ammo if the gun companies made the revolvers. Keith predicted that S&W would release the heavy frame gun with a full contour bull barrel in 4- and 5-inch lengths for police use, and a lightweight tapered barrel version (like the 1950 Target Model) for sporting use. He thought the .41’s sales would eclipse those of the .357 and .44 Magnums.


The .41 Magnum was introduced shortly thereafter. It had grown from the .400 diameter that Jordan had envisioned to .410. Keith had suggested increasing bullet diameter to prevent the round from chambering in old .41 Colt revolvers, and Remington agreed. The .41 Magnum’s operating pressure had a top end of 43,500 CUP, and firing one in a Colt Thunderer would likely convert it into a fragmentation grenade.

The pressure and dimensions of the new cartridge drove the size of the guns that would fire it.  The size of the cartridge and the pressure it generated likely convinced Colt to pass on chambering their Python for the new round.  Smith & Wesson declined to pursue the five-shot K frame, introducing the .41 Magnum as the bull-barreled, N frame Model 57 in February of 1964. The N frame Model 58 followed soon after.

The Model 57 was a deluxe revolver, shipped in a velvet lined, wooden box.

The Model 57 was a dead ringer for a Model 29, except for the smaller bore and charge holes. It was offered with 8 3/8”, 6” (as opposed to the 6 ½” barrel of the Model 29), or 4” barrels.  The Model 57 was a deluxe revolver, it came in a velvet lined wooden presentation case. It shipped with Goncalo Alves target stocks and had a wide target trigger and hammer. It was equipped with a red ramp front sight and white outline adjustable rear sight.  The N frame was serrated with 10 grooves front and rear, and the sideplate was affixed with three screws.  The barrel had a raised serrated rib, and the gun could be had with a blue or nickel finish.

The first two guns made were blue 4” versions and were shipped directly to Elmer Keith (a good indication of whom S&W felt was primarily responsible for the new round). The guns arrived an hour before Keith was departing for a polar bear hunt in the Arctic. He took the 57’s with him along with a partial box of the new Remington 210 grain soft points that S&W had sent. Keith shot five Caribou with the Model 57’s from ranges of 60-400 yards. A respectable maiden voyage for the heavy load, especially considering the subzero temperatures. The terminal performance impressed Keith and he found that it shot flatter than his trusted .44 Magnum.


The Model 58 debuted at the NRA Convention in Los Angeles, in July of 1964. Its no-frills design stood in stark contrast to the fancy Model 57 that preceded it.  The .41 Military & Police was purpose built as a sidearm for police use. A square butt, three screw, N frame, it came with a fixed rear sight cut into the top of the frame and a 1/8-inch serrated ramp front sight.  Like the Model 57’s, the cylinder was fluted and had counter sunk chambers. It could also be had in either a blue or a nickel finish. The fore and backstraps lacked serrations and it shipped with service-style, “Magna” grips. The extractor rod was non-shrouded, the 4” bull barrel had a matte finished flat top rib.  It featured a thin service hammer and a thin serrated trigger. It was a unique departure from the N frames that S&W was producing at that time, with its spartan features and fixed sight bull barrel.

The Model 58 was a no-frills, stripped down, fixed-sight version of the Model 57. It was all business.

The .41 Magnum created a stir in the law enforcement market and was adopted by several police departments. Amarillo and San Antonio, Texas issued Model 58’s soon after their introduction. The Nevada State Patrol issued Model 58’s from 1965- 1969. Although it’s hard to fathom now, San Francisco PD issued Model 58’s for a while, too.

The Amarillo, Texas Police Department was one of the first agencies to issue the Model 58. It was well received by the officers that were shooters. Note: The holster is a faithful copy of a 1955 Baird, by Jerry Haugen.

It’s rumored that Louisville, Kentucky issued .41 Magnums, as well as the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office in Alabama. An online forum reported that Blackhawk County, Iowa issued Model 57’s with the full-house 210 grain JSP. I read about at least twelve other agencies from Illinois, Virginia, North Carolina, Oklahoma, California, New Jersey, Ohio, and Maryland that likely issued .41 Magnums. If you are aware of others, please let us know in the comments.


The cartridge earned a solid reputation as a fight stopper. Keith heard from several agencies having good results with .41’s in gunfights. He even received a few reports from U.S. troops in Vietnam carrying .41 Magnums acquired from “unofficial” supply chains. Their experiences with the .41 versus “man targets” were completely satisfactory.  The ballistics were impressive, even if they were a little shy of what Elmer wanted. The Police load ran 1,050 fps from an 8 3/8” barrel, around 985 fps from a 6” tube, and over 900 fps from 4” guns. In contrast, the 210 gr. JSP was close to 1,500 fps from the long barrel, 1,340 from a 6” Model 57, and 1,250-1,275 fps from a 4” duty barrel.

The .41 Magnum unofficially found its way to the conflict in Vietnam and served those who carried one, well.

Smith & Wesson referred to the Model 58 as the “.41 M&P” in the advertising campaign that launched the gun, and called the Remington swaged load the “city” loading. They referenced the 210 JSP as the “Magnum” round to be used when penetration was desirable, and ranges were longer, useful for highway and open country patrols. It’s interesting that S&W avoided the magnum terminology with the Remington load–likely to avoid making nervous urban department heads and big city governments uncomfortable.

Vintage advertisement from Smith & Wesson, obtained from Smith & Wesson Forum.

The .41 Magnum’s performance came at a price. The .41 Police load was a big step up for officers in the mid-sixties who were used to the recoil produced by standard velocity, 158 grain lead .38 Specials. The soft, swaged lead SWC used by Remington leaded barrels to varying degrees, and some agencies switched to the JSP load because of leading issues. The JSP load produced a whole new level of recoil though, even for seasoned pistol shooters. Shooting that round through the Model 58 with Magna grips made achieving proficiency quite difficult for most cops.

Another strike against the Model 58 was its weight. It was a big, heavy bruiser with its bull barrel. The smaller diameter charge holes and bore made it even heavier than a .44 or a .45 of the same size.  Large officers and dedicated shooters likely didn’t mind the weight of the hefty N frame, but it was a challenge for smaller statured officers to carry it and learn to shoot it well.

Vintage advertisement from Smith & Wesson, obtained from Smith & Wesson Forum.

When the novelty wore off, things gradually went back to “business as usual” in American law enforcement. Medium frame S&W’s and Colts in .38 Special and .357 Magnum found their way back into most cops’holsters.

There were exceptions though, with Evan Marshall being one of them. Marshall was a cop in Detroit in the 1970’s and he described The Model 58 as a dream come true. The Remington Police load earned a stellar record of one shot stops in the Motor City. Marshall greatly preferred the Model 58 over the issue 5” Model 10 and .38 Special ammo of the day.

The Model 58 was a dream come true to gun guys, like Detroit PD Officer Evan Marshall, who were issued a Model 10 with the unimpressive .38 Special ammo of the 1970s.

The .41 Magnum had made believers out of many officers, but it didn’t take over the LE market like Keith predicted.  Sales of the .41 M&P tapered off and Smith and Wesson discontinued the Model 58 in 1977.


The first rounds Keith fired from those original Model 57’s showed the way for the next chapter of the .41.

It earned respect as a handgun hunting cartridge. When loaded to its potential, it was closer to the .44 Magnum than the .357 Magnum, in performance. It shot a bit flatter and had a little less recoil than the .44 Magnum, but delivered similar terminal performance on all but the largest critters.

The .41 Magnum became known for accuracy and gained favor with long range metallic silhouette shooters. It had the energy to reliably topple 200-meter rams and other companies (Dan Wesson, Freedom Arms) began building guns for the cartridge.

As the focus on the .41 shifted towards hunting, so did the ammunition. The Gold Dot (now DeepCurl), the 240 gr. Winchester Platinum Tip, and other heavy JHP’s were great on game, but weren’t cheap or particularly pleasant to shoot.

Advocates of the .41 Magnum claimed their choice was more accurate than other straight-walled revolver cartridges. The .41 Magnum’s bore and throat specifications were set from its inception, and varied little–chamber throat diameters ran .410” to .411”, and bore groove diameters were consistently cut to .410” on modern machinery. Jacketed bullets measuring .410” and cast bullets sized to .411” to .412” suffered minimal tilting or deformation when fired. The eight S&W .41 Magnums I had access to for this article were manufactured from the early 1970’s to around 2010. Bore and throat measurements fluctuated little from the oldest to the newest gun–all were exactly where they should be, at .410” to .411”. Compared to .45 Colt guns that have dimensions all over the map, and .44’s with large throats and small bores, the .41 was more mechanically accurate than its’ contemporaries.

The swaged Remington Police Load was dropped from production as the demand for more powerful hunting and silhouette loads increased, and LE interest subsided. There were no choices at the low-to-middle end of the power spectrum until Winchester introduced its Silvertip in that caliber. Early on, Keith designed one of his proven bullets for the cartridge that weighed between 205-220 grains, depending on the alloy content. It gave exceptional performance across the cartridge’s velocity envelope, and was adopted by legions of the faithful.

Handloading cast bullets in the .41 Magnum allows you to tailor the ammo to the mission. (From L to R): The 210 grain SWC and coated 220 grain RNFP are great for easy-shooting practice loads. The original Keith is a great general service bullet. The heavy-for-caliber flat noses on the far right make good Sasquatch loads, even at moderate velocities. 250 grain WFN, 265 grain WLN-GC, and 275 grain Keith loads are shown.

More so than any other cartridge, the .41 Magnum benefited from handloading because of the lack of diversity in factory ammo. The Police Load could be duplicated with commercially cast 210-215 grain SWC’s for shooters who didn’t cast their own bullets. Doing so provided an easy shooting and accurate practice round that allowed these guns to be shot for enjoyment.


S&W ceased production on 4” and 8 3/8” barreled Model 57’s in 1992. The 6” Model 57 was retired in 1993. The 657 came along in 1986 and remained in production into the new millennium, with a focus on longer barrels for handgun hunters. The 4” 657 was only made for two years.

Smith & Wesson finally made the thin-barrel .41 that Elmer Keith predicted, in 1998. The blued version pictured here followed in 2005.

After that, S&W only sporadically made carry-friendly .41’s. It took 34 years longer than Keith predicted, but they finally released a “pencil”-barreled gun with the stainless Mountain Gun in 1998. A blue version followed in 2005. S&W built a .41 Mag version of the ultralight 329 .44 with a scandium frame and titanium cylinder (357PD) for a few years, too.  It was a joy to carry, but physics dictated that most owners seldom shot them.

Smith & Wesson made a few variants of the N frame .41 with Scandium frames, including the 27.5-ounce 357PD that also had a Titanium cylinder.

Smith & Wesson offered a 2.5” barreled .41 Magnum in their Night Guard series as well. Like all Night Guards, it was only available briefly. There has been a snub nose Performance Center 657 with a flat-sided 2 5/8” barrel and unfluted cylinder, and a run of Classic Model 58’s in blue and nickel. The only .41 Magnum S&W currently produces is the Classic Series Model 57 in blue steel with a 6” barrel.

This custom 657 Mountain Gun is keeping up with the times with the help of the excellent D&L Sports optic plate with backup iron sights, and Holosun EPS enclosed emitter optic. The .41 caliber Safariland Comp speed loaders are a rarity, now.


I used to believe that if the .41 had been offered in a cartridge just powerful enough to achieve the ballistics Bill Jordan originally hoped for, it would’ve been much more successful.

Picture a rimmed version of the 10mm Auto with a slightly longer case. Colt would have likely chambered Pythons and Troopers for it. Smith & Wesson might have come out with the L frame earlier than they did, likewise Ruger and the GP-100. The size and weight of the L frame / GP-100 class of guns seemed like the perfect vehicle for the round Jordan wanted!

When Ruger introduced their 10mm GP-100 Match Champion in 2018, I had to have one. It’s hard to get there with factory loadings, but you can handload 200 grain cast bullets to Jordan’s 1,200 fps. The recoil that load generates in a 37-ounce gun is noteworthy and becomes unpleasant after very few cylinders’ worth. If you shot as much heavy artillery as Jordan or Keith did, it wouldn’t be unmanageable, but it’s more recoil than the average police officer or sportsman is willing to tolerate.

Maybe they had it right by chambering the .41 Magnum in the N frame, to begin with.


Every few years, someone writes about cartridges that need to be eliminated or have outlived their usefulness. The .41 Magnum is always on those lists, but somehow refuses to go away.

I was tickled when I read that Chuck Haggard and Mark Fricke shot the .41 Mag Silvertip through a Model 58 during their ballistic gel tests at the 2022 Pat Rogers Memorial Revolver Round up. It penetrated 22.25” and expanded to .520” to .547” after traversing four layers of denim. It’s a formidable defense load, as are 170 gr. JHP’s or 180 grain Barnes XP solid copper HP’s.

Winchester’s Silvertip, light JHPs from outfits like CorBon, and factory loadings of the 180 grain Barnes copper bullet, are excellent defensive loadings.

If you find yourself sleeping outdoors far from streetlights, the .41 Magnum is a comforting choice. Factory loads with hard cast, flat nose bullets, weighing 230-300 grains, from outfits like Buffalo Bore, shine in this capacity. These heavyweights can also be handloaded to lower velocities than factory offerings (900-1,000 FPS) and still penetrate deep and straight, without battering the shooter.

Heavy, hard cast, .41 bullets, loaded towards the top end, give up very little to the .44 Magnum.
Seldom seen in a cop’s holster these days, a four-inch .41 Magnum, like this nickel plated Model 57, is still relevant for urban and woods use

The .41 Remington Magnum tackles the role of two- and four-legged predator defense as good as–or better than–any handgun round. You aren’t likely to see one in a police officer’s holster these days, but the .41 Magnum has certainly earned the right to stick around.


All images courtesy of the author, Kevin McPherson.

Author: Kevin McPherson

Kevin McPherson began his career as a police officer in New Mexico in 1987. He served for 23 ½ years, the last 19 ½ with the New Mexico State Police. There he worked in the uniform bureau and narcotics enforcement section and did two tours in the NMSP Training Bureau, retiring as a Sergeant in 2011. Kevin ran the firearms program and was the chief armorer for NMSP for 13 years. He served as a member of the NMSP Tactical Team (SWAT) for 10 years, eventually becoming the counter sniper team leader. He was commander of the NMSP Pistol Team and competed with a revolver throughout his career. He is a master firearms instructor through NMDPS and continues to instruct in retirement. He has had several articles published in American Cop Magazine, SWAT Magazine, and the NRA Law Enforcement Quarterly. He started his career carrying a revolver and has always been partial to them.

93 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on the .41 Remington Magnum”

  1. It’s odd that the .41 Magnum-chambered revolvers never became popular because the round performs so well in a variety of circumstances, in some ways even better than the .357 and .44 Magnums. Perhaps it was bad timing, that is, the big push for semi-auto pistols several decades ago helped strangle interest in .41 Magnum.

    1. Agreed, Spencer- I think timing was definitely a factor. You rightly point out that the round performs admirably doing many handgun chores. I’m glad enough savvy folks realized that and kept it soldiering on- may it continue to do so!

    2. It might have been different if the .41 Magnum had been introduced before the .44. It’s possible that most shooters would have thought that the bump-up from .410 to .429 wasn’t worth the increased recoil and expense.

      1. You make a good point, Stephanie. A lot of folks that adopted the .44 for it’s abilities probably would have been completely content with the .41 Magnum had it been there first.

  2. Thank you Kevin. Best article I have ever read about the .41 Magnums.
    Always had a strong desire to own a 58 but at times I had the means I had begun my downward sprial away from heavy recoil.

    The older I get the further down I go. Now its.32s of all stripes, if I live long enough I may wind up with. 22cb caps.

    Still hold the fascination for the model 58s.
    Nice grips on your mod 57. The department patch inlay looks great.

    1. Thank you for that Tony- very much. I have the .41 Magnum to thank for getting me started in handloading; a quest to find ammunition that was tolerable to shoot. I think recoil trauma is cumulative, it stacks up on you as the years go by. I shot 160 .38 specials (including 75 +P’s) a week ago through a lightweight snubby, mostly over a bench. About 130 rounds in, I started practicing off hand only stuff because my hand hurt! It’s still really stiff as I write this now. There is wisdom in your .32 logic!
      The Model 58 is one of the coolest guns S&W ever made, no argument…
      An old friend of mine who’s a former NMSP Officer and USMC veteran (basically a self-taught gunsmith) carved one of our patch pins into that wooden Hogue monogrip himself. His name is Tom Zajicek, hats off to him. I’m proud to own them.

  3. Kevin, this is perhaps the most in depth discussion of the .41 Magnum that I can recall. Kudos and thank you.

    So many folks think of the .41 Mag as the red-headed step child of the .44 Mag, but contrary to that notion, it can stand very well on its own attributes. I confess to having been seriously tempted to jump onto the .41 Magnum wagon, but I was already eye deep into .38/.357 and knee deep into .44 Magnum reloading.

    My gut take that the bugaboo with the .41 which hampered its widespread adoption with police departments was in the ammunition selection that was and either-or proposition. It was either loaded full power for bear (moose, elk, Chevrolets) with a step down load that was supposed to be for law enforcement. However that LE load seemed to be developed as an after thought. A 210 grain genuine Keith SWC designed bullet with a nice deep hollow point, loaded to around 1000 fps would have likely been a nearly perfect street load. It could have given great street results, and with the weight of the gun, it would likely have been more managable. Who knows, the .41 might have become THE go-to round.

    The S&W Model 58 also made its way into law enforcement in Florida as late as the 1970’s. In those years, many of the smaller counties had their deputies purchase their own sidearm and leather. I saw more than one very rural sheriff’s deputy with the M57/58 in their holster. I wonder what would have been if my old department had gone to the S&W M57/58 platform.

    1. Thank you, S. Bond! You would’ve definitely been buying .41 Magnum dies in short order- I have found them to be mandatory in .41 Mag ownership. It was the only way to access affordable and calm practice ammo with the cartridge. The “FBI load on steroids” that you described would have been just the ticket. A gas check would’ve prevented the leading issue, and I bet it would’ve performed as well as you suspect. It would still be a good load to produce today… Underwood? Buffalo Bore? Anyone?

      It makes me smile to think of those rural Florida deputies wearing 57’s and 58’s. Those pesky invasive pythons would slither and hide when those guys showed up!

  4. The police load in a 4” revolver is about equivalent to a 40 S&W. Fascinating. And the 40 is on the way out for LE also.

    I concur with Tony, 32’s of all stripes are becoming a thing in my recoil sensitive old age. I still put a M-69 S&W with hot .44 Specials in my chest holster out in the sticks but I shoot my .22’s, .32’s, and .38’s for fun. I also recommend .44 Russian 200 grs @ 600 fps for fun in the big guns

    1. Yes sir, there isn’t much new, huh? They circled back to the .38, we circle back to the 9mm. Not saying it’s wrong, but LE has got to go with what works for the average man/woman. I think it’s safe to say there are less police recruits today that grew up immersed in the gun culture than in the 1960’s.

      I agree completely with your thought process on shooting what’s fun in them. Save the heavy stuff for “as needed” only. There is nothing in my woods that a smartly loaded .44 Special won’t settle. Or a .41 Magnum loaded like a .44 Special!

      1. A few years back I was reloading 44mag for a guy who had gotten a Desert Eagle in a trade. Also included was a 41 mag conversion barrel.
        Because the DE is a gas operated handgun, FMJ’s are a must….hot lead bullets will eventually clog the gas port & coat the piston. Anyway, he soon tired of the 44 as the DE needs full power loads to generate enough gas to operate slide. He offered the DE 44 & 41 conversion to me at a very fair price.
        Unfortunately I declined, mostly because setting up my Dillon RL550 to load for it, acquiring sufficient 41 mag brass & buying 41 mag bullets all became an additional burden I really didn’t want to spend.
        Now I wish I had, plus I always wanted a 4” model 58. Ahhhhhhh…….

        1. Ah, Hatman. I think we’ve all been there, so your pain is shared. The ones that got away! Remind me to tell you about the 3rd Model Hand Ejector that I had (Notice, HAD- past tense). Somebody did a really good job of converting it to a belly gun. The frame had been reduced to a K frame round butt and it wore those cool old Pachmayr “compac” grips. The barrel had been cut to about 2 1/2″ and it had been fitted with a modern day micrometer adjustable rear sight. It had an action to die for, and I traded it for some electric gun when I was a young feller. In this case, young feller is synonymous with “idiot.” I wished I had that one back…

  5. Great article! I’ve been attracted to the .41 Magnum for decades, but have never taken the jump, mostly due to ammo availability and cost.

    Both the .357 and .44 magnums are based on (and backwards compatible with) earlier widely available rounds, and I think that is what made them so much more commercially successful. If there had been a popular .41 Special first, the .41 Magnum might be the reigning king today.

    Of course, maybe not – it’s not like .327 Federal Mag has taken the world by storm, and it’s backwards compatible with 3 or 4 popular cartridges. But the .327 solves one interesting problem – how can we squeeze one more round that’s still reasonably effective into a snubbie? The .41 Mag solves a bunch of problems – more power and wider meplat than .357, significantly less recoil than .44.

    I still occasionally daydream about a .41 Mag Blackhawk (and as long as we’re daydreaming, let’s have Hamilton Bowen do some magic on it). But I’m not that interested in getting serious about reloading at this time, so most of the appeal of this cartridge would be lost on me.

    If S&W ever brought back a no-lock 57, maybe I’d have to re-think all this again…

    1. Thank you, Tyson. To make your point-I was in Cabela’s the other day and they had ONE ammo offering in .41 Magnum. It was actually a “Cowboy Load” that basically duplicated the original Remington Police SWC spec. I was overjoyed to see that someone was finally offering a practice load like that again… but it was 53 bucks a box. A .41 Special certainly would have helped. Who knows if it would have been enough? Since we’re dreaming big, maybe a no-lock 657 Mountain Gun and an L frame 6 shot .41 Special!!! 🙂

  6. This article inspired me to look into whether any long guns are, or used to be, chambered in .41 Magnum. So, lo and behold I discovered that Marlin used to manufacture a lever gun in that caliber, and Henry currently makes a couple versions of it in their Big Boy line.

    A carbine or rifle in .41 Magnum, coupled with a revolver in that caliber, might offer some stiff competition for hunting medium-size game and self-defense.

    1. Yes sir! I have been eyeballing that Henry pretty hard. They make a great lever gun, and its nigh on impossible to find a Marlin in .41 Mag these days. The .41 Magnum is a potent beast from a 16–20-inch barrel. Combined with a 4″ revolver, you’d be really well heeled in dark country.

  7. I don’t know if your research for these articles is a lot of work or a lot of fun. I’d guess both.
    The .41 Magnum’s career in LE kinda parallels the later career of the 10mm Auto in LE; both failed to catch on for essentially the same reasons. Seems like there’s a recoil threshold that can be borne by the average LEO; .38 Special/.357 Magnum and 9mm/.40 S&W are in the sweet spot, and heavier rounds like the .41 and the 10mm exceed it. (Plus, there may be overpenetration issues, or at least bosses’ and politicians’ fear of them, which amounts to the same thing.)
    If you want to see San Francisco PD officers carrying Model 58s, watch the movie “Bullitt.” Quite a few SFPD guys are extras in that movie and they’re carrying their Model 58s in their uniform holsters. (And if you’ve never seen “Bullitt,” why am I wasting my time on you? It’s the greatest movie that was ever put on celluloid; in fact, it’s what celluloid was invented for.)

    1. I’m enough of a .41 fan that it was 90% fun. I think your theory on the recoil threshold is spot on. Even in heavy guns like a Model 58 or an S&W 1076 10mm, the rounds are a bit too much for the average patrol person or FBI Agent to control and shoot well. The bosses fear of overpenetration certainly contributed- I have witnessed that firsthand, sounds like you have, too! Viva La Bullitt!!!

  8. Greetings to fellow commenters who belong to the cult of .41 Magnum. My late grandfather left behind an Intercontinental Arms Super Dakota with a 7 1/2 inch barrel chambered in .41 Magnum, I have been hoping that I will be allowed to inherit it someday soon. When someone says “hand cannon” the .41 Magnum is what I picture, to me conjures up images of a brooding anti-hero cloaked in leather and darkness thrust into a fatalist situation in the mean streets of inner-city USA. A nickel Model 57 or 58 with a four inch barrel has been a long time fantasy purchase for me. Ah well, a man can dream..

    1. Jeb, I hope you do inherit that Dakota, and I hope you are someday in the right time/at the right place to find that nickel 57 or 58. Good luck!!!

    1. You’re welcome, Doug- glad you found some value in it. I got my first one about 20 years ago and have been a believer ever since. The .41 Magnum mandated my start in reloading, I didn’t know what I was missing!

  9. I’ve always had a fascination with the M58 and was thinking of doing an article on it, but there was an important catch—I’ve never shot one! My sole .41 Mag experience is with the 6” M57, and even that is fairly limited. Since I’m not a reloader, it’s one of those calibers that I’ve only dabbled in.

    When Kevin volunteered to write a piece on the .41 Magnum, I jumped at the chance, because I knew he was experienced with the cartridge and would do a great job of it. He’s been patient, as I’ve been holding onto this one for a while, trying to balance the editorial calendar. Thanks for another great article, pal! I always appreciate you sharing your expertise with us, and filling in the gaps in my own background.

    1811: I’ve been reading lots of articles and books about the .41 Mag in LE service from the 60s-70s, and there was DEFINITELY a concern about overpenetration with the cartridge, but the coppers of the day made a pretty good argument that they needed the power to get into the heavy cars of the era.

    Anyone who knows the culture in SFPD today would be amused to think of the same agency authorizing .41 Mags back in the day. You can use a lot of yardsticks to measure the rate of change in SF, but that’s perhaps one of the most poignant to demonstrate just how different things are in the city by the bay, now.

    I remember Evan Marshall (Detroit PD) being an advocate for the .41 Mag, alongside San Antonio policeman Tom Ferguson. Both were passionate writers about their experience with the .41 Mag, and are probably responsible for planting the M58 seed in my brain. Evan changes out his carry guns pretty frequently, but a few years ago, he’d returned to his roots with a M58 that he obtained from Rob Leahy. He was carrying it in one of Rob’s holsters, and I can only imagine how shocked the miscreant would be, who caused him to present that gun in defense!

    1. Thanks for putting it on the site, Mike. It was really more like 95% fun to write about this cartridge, the S&W Model 57 and 58, and the men that brought them to us. The .41 has that unique connection to American Cops, and it stays with us because it’s such a useful cartridge. I often carry one as my self-defense gun when hunting Western NM with a muzzleloader, I know it will serve well against predators with two or four legs. When the winter comes and I can dress a little bulkier, I occasionally strap a Model 58 or 57 Mountain Gun on if I have business in town. Yes, it’s a heavy gun, but it’s a comforting kind of heavy. I’m looking forward to this heat turning and having some N Frame days!

      1. 95% fun to write, 100% fun to read.

        BTW, a friend advises he carried both 4” and 6” revolvers in .41 Mag on the San Jose, CA Police Department in the late 70s and early 80s, prior to transitioning to autos. They weren’t issued, but were authorized for duty use, and there was a pocket of coppers there who liked them.

        1. Much respect to your friend in San Jose, Mike. That reminds me of a training course I attended in the mountain town of Ruidoso, NM in late 1989 or early 1990. We were greeted at the start of the class by a statuesque RPD female officer in uniform; she was wearing an N-frame 4″ revolver with a double speedloader case and a six-shot loop bracketing her belt buckle. Another officer walked in wearing a Government Model, I could see the “Delta” emblem on the grips identifying it as a 10mm Delta Elite. As the Ruidoso officers filed in, it was either with an N frame S&W or a Government Model. I asked one of them what the deal was with all the big guns. He replied that they had to supply their own duty guns and the department had a .41 Caliber MINIMUM requirement. The Chief had recently relented and allowed auto toting officers to carry the 10mm even though it was only a puny .40 caliber. How cool is that? The female officer that came in first was carrying a Model 25-5 in .45 Colt. There were Model 29’s and 57’s displayed, as well as several Govt. Model .45’s. The village took black bear encounters seriously and the Chief wanted his officers to have heavy enough projectiles to turn away the bruins. It always makes me smile when I think about that…

  10. Another factor against the .41: The other two main Magnum revolver calibers have a lower-pressure, lower-recoil “Special” version that can be substituted for the full-house Magnums. Does your .357 Magnum recoil too heavily for you to shoot well? Put .38 Specials in it. Does your .44 Magnum do the same? Use .44 Specials. As far as I know, the .41 Magnum never developed a “Special” equivalent similar to the other Magnums, and the “light” .41 Magnum load was still pretty stout. Maybe if an ammo manufacturer had developed a lighter .41 load (maybe even with a shorter case), the .41 would have become more popular. (Even the .500 Magnum has a lighter .500 Special” load, so maybe I’m not the only one who’s thought of this shortcoming of the .41.)

    1. 1811, I know some clever handloaders have developed “.41 Special” wildcats over the years (John Taffin has written about them, on occasion), but you’re absolutely right—the lack of a SAAMI-approved “Special” has hurt the caliber’s acceptance. Maybe someday a progressive ammo company will fix that (looking at you guys, DoubleTap and Buffalo Bore!)

    2. Starline will even sell you .41 Special brass now, Old 1811, but I am unaware of any factory produced .41 Special ammunition. There would certainly be benefit in someone stepping up and producing a load or two using these cases. If this round would have came first in 1964, who knows? Thanks to Taffin and all those who have been pushing it. I may buy some .41 Special cases just because light loads in them would be more efficient and use less powder in the shorter cases than the magnum cases. That will also put me ahead of the curve for when S&W sees fit to build that L frame .41 Special…

      1. Kevin,
        Great article as always!!
        Thanks for treatise on the 41, much appreciated.
        Quick question- what grips are pictured on the mountain gun?
        Once again- thank you, especially as I reside in Amarillo!

        1. Thanks, Jordan! The blue Mountain Gun has checkered round to square conversion grips by Craig Spegel. The stainless Mountain Gun is sporting Trausch grips from France. You live in a good place!

      2. Thanks for a great article appreciating the .41 Mag. Loved it!
        I’ve been loading the .41 Special for quite a while now – the brass available from Starline is really well built, and lasts almost forever, like the .44 Specials. The advantage is the same as the .44 Mag/.44 Special. Practice, practice, practice. What a great revolver caliber!

        1. You’re welcome, Jeff- I’m glad you liked it! A good man sent me some Starline .41 Special brass a while ago, I plan on loading it up pretty soon. I’m excited to join you as a .41 Special consumer!

  11. Fantastic article Kevin!

    I recent took the .41 plunge and got a late 1970’s Model 57. It is a dream it shoot, I absolutely love it! Mine has been parkerized, and looks remarkably similar to the one in your Vietnam-era photo. I do not know the history of my revolver specifically; did S&W factory-finish a run of Model 57’s like this?


    1. Thank you, Jesse! To the best of my knowledge, S&W has never done a run of factory parkerized Model 57’s. It’s a practical finish, I wish they would do some revolvers with it now and again. The 57 so finished in my article had been owned by a couple of NM State Policemen with military backgrounds who would appreciate the virtue of the finish, I’m not sure which had it applied. I shot that gun in a IDPA-like match at one of the last ASLET conferences held in Albuquerque in around 2007. The rangemaster was a retired Amarillo PD Officer and he got a huge kick out of seeing that .41 Magnum as the lone revolver in a sea of electric guns. He had an immense respect for the round and the Model 58’s they issued. I wasn’t the fastest shooter, but the 57 shot the match clean. Very cool that you picked one up!

  12. Another advantage of the .41–it presents less durability issues in an N frame S&W than the .44 mag if you are going to shoot a lot of full power loads. The somewhat lesser recoil of the .41 and the extra metal in the forcing cone and chamber walls both help. The full power .44 mag especially with 300+ grain bullets is pushing the limit on the N frame. Writers like Jan Libourel, Frank James and others have noted this.

    1. That’s a great point, Paul B. .410-.411 to .429-.430 doesn’t sound like much, but it’s huge when you’re talking magnum pressures in an N frame. Thank you for mentioning it. I have a vision in my head of Jan Libourel producing a 4″ Model 57 with Herrett Stocks from under a sport coat in Guns & Ammo magazine, circa 1981. He was a good ambassador for winning converts to the tribe of .41 Magnum zealots, myself included.

  13. Remington also make a lower velocity police load for the .44 Magnum. It featured a soft flat point swaged lead bullet and the box rated it for 1000 fps (as I recall).

    I carried it in a 4 inch 29 in Houston. I always wished that Smith & Wesson had made a version of the 58 in .44 Magnum or .45 Colt because the 4 inch barrel and fixed M&P sights would have made a really good police gun.

    1. That’s neat, Scott, I didn’t know about the .44 Mag “Police Load.” Agreed on the guns that S&W should have made! I still think they’re missing the boat by not filling some of these niches with true Classics that eliminate the darned lock. They would sell like crazy.

    2. Hey Scott, I have a partial box of those Remington .44 Mags stashed somewhere. If my memory serves, you’re right on the money with the velocity. I think Remington learned from the leading complaints on the .41 load and put a gas check on that .44 bullet. I wish they still made it! I know more than a few Model 58’s went to gunsmiths for conversions to .44 and .45 for just that purpose. What a great idea, Sir, and what a superlative police duty gun it would make.

  14. A college instructor had been a San Antonio officer and would often speak of his fondness for the caliber. A lucky few of us he took to the range and gave instruction. As it was my first handgun experience I had nothing to judge it by but was a decent hand with it. When I got to my first PD (we furnished our own weapon) I stated my intention to carry a 57 or 58. The range master just looked at me, shook his head and said you can carry anything you want as long as a .38 SWHP fits in it. Another dream of youth dashed.

    1. What a cool way to get your first handgun shooting experience, Jim! I had the exact same experience starting as a very young officer at a small PD. I was issued one box of Winchester .38 Special +P SWC HP- my duty gun choices were unlimited, as long as that round would chamber!

  15. I bought a .41 Magnum Ruger single-action Blackhawk a while back, then sold it to raise cash. .41 Magnum would be a great cartridge in a modern double-action. It would be too heavy for many — but it shows Keith’s desire for the best cartridge for LE and self-defense.

    1. DC, you make a good point about Elmer’s motivation. He envisioned the .41 Magnum to be exactly that- the best cartridge for officers of that time. I don’t think he was wrong…

  16. I wouldn’t mind trying a .41 Magnum, although there’s no one I could fit one in my budget. I’m a working-class guy, and I’m already priced out of new S&W revolvers in today’s market. Buying a pre-lock would be even more difficult.

    If I’m being honest, I find myself at a point now with my revolver shooting where magnums don’t really appeal to me anymore. I briefly owned a S&W 69 in .44 Magnum, and that wasn’t very fun to shoot; and since I don’t handload, the ammo was expensive. 158gr-180gr .357 Magnum out of a full-size revolver is about as high as I’m willing to go.

    However…I did recently try a friend of mine’s Glock in 10mm. Although the first shot took me by surprise, and I was shooting factory ammo, it wasn’t bad. I’d be interested in trying 10mm in a revolver, if I had the money or opportunity to do so.

    1. Axel, S&W isn’t making it easy on you if you want to buy a new .41 Magnum. The .357 is probably a better choice for a non-reloader, the .41 just doesn’t give many low recoil factory ammo options. I would keep my eyes peeled for a GP100 Match Champion 10mm, it’s a great all-around revolver.

      1. Thanks. I wasn’t aware Ruger made the Match Champion in 10mm; that’s definitely a revolver worth looking into. Although I don’t normally buy Ruger revolvers, I am a fan of the GP100.

        1. Yes sir. It’s the only large Ruger double action I currently own, but Ruger did everything right with it. You won’t be disappointed with it.

  17. Decades ago some gun writer suggested that if the 41 Magnum had come out before the 44 (ahem, 43) magnum the larger cartridge might never have caught on. The heavy barreled N-frame was (and is) too large for many shooters’ hands and too heavy for many cops’ duty belts. A five-shot K-frame in 41 Special (200 grain lead SWC @ 800-900) might have been easier to use than the classic 357 125 @ 1450. All things considered, as others here have noted, a simpler choice for 1970s law enforcement might have been the 45 ACP Model 22 loaded with moon clips…

    1. Hey Michael, I am sure a fan of N frames with thin 4″ barrels like the Model 22. Regardless of the chambering, they are imminently usable with bullets in the velocity range you mentioned. .44 Special, .45 Colt, .45 ACP or Auto Rim, or sensibly loaded .41 or .44 Magnum- they just work. A practical combination of gun and cartridge that I sure wish S&W would get back to…

  18. The 41 is my favorite revolver round. I got into it purely on an impulse buy of a 657 PC on gunbroker and ended up loving the gun. It is the most accurate gun I own, outpacing a glock 17L and a sig 229 Legion.

    It has climbed a half dozen mountains with me, been to a Greg Elifritz snubby class, and even done an IDPA match. I have been tempted to just take the plunge and dedicate an entire IDPA season to using only that gun.

    Someday I hope to own a model 58, I believe they are the best looking N-Frame that S&W has ever made. But I know deep down that it won’t offer me much than my 657 PC, other than better looks.

    1. Hey Ben, Thank you for sharing that about your 657 PC! I say “do it!” on the entire IDPA season with it. After a few matches, people will start referring to you as “The Revolver Guy” like they did Justin when he was shooting matches at his local indoor club. A good title to be sporting!!!

  19. Great article Kevin. Starting in 1972 I was one of those Amarillo police officers who carried the 41. In the late 70’s we got a new chief who was not crazy about the 41 so they started issuing 357’s to the new guys but allowed the 41. I carried it 10 years all the time I was in uniform. We had one guy that carried it even after moving into plain clothes and still does as an old retired guy. Another one of our guys moved to Alaska and carries it with confidence for bear protection while fishing. I am still very fond of the 41 and have several both out of respect for it and good memories. I spend a lot of time in the outdoors and my go to backwoods gun is a 657 mountain gun. I just wish we could talk CCI into producing snake shot for the 41 and it would be an even more perfect outdoor gun (I email them every few years with that suggestion but no luck). Thanks again for the article.

    1. You are surely welcome, Mr Hugg. I’m pleased that you found it worth reading. It’s good to hear from someone who carried a .41 Magnum as a duty gun during the “first wave”, as it were. It speaks for the cartridge that you still carry a .41 Mountain Gun in the woods, I’m proud to do likewise thusly armed! Thanks for commenting, Sir.

  20. Great article! I remember when I was a law enforcement explorer in the late 70s, a number of the road deputies carried Model 57s with six inch barrels. As several of them also had six and a half inch 29s and Model 66s, and alternated carry, I now wonder if at least one of them got to work with the wrong speed loaders for the gun at his hip. One deputy’s grail gun was a Model 58. I heard that when he’d become sheriff long after the department had gone Glock 17 across the board, had amended the policy regarding personal firearms, that not surprisingly included said Model 58. I don’t remember what rounds they carried or if anyone was even involved in a UOF with the .41. I never really had a lot of interest in carrying or shooting one, but it’s good to look back on the history. The N-Frame size and weight as well as the fact that even back then, there were enough in uniform who were hard pressed to be able to handle a six shot S&W or Colt stoked with leisurely traveling .38 Special RNL let alone anything with a “magnum” suffix. Then again, a Scandium-framed S&W six shot revolver in .41 Magnum and a Dillion progressive loader in the basement would make for a carry package that few could argue with.

    1. Thank you, Rob! I bet that happened more than once where a guy went to work with M-29 HKS Speedloaders and a Model 57 in his holster (or vice versa) if they were going back and forth with what they were carrying. Your comment reminds me that someone got the .41 Magnum Winchester Silvertip on the NM state ammo contract for many years. I don’t know if any agency ever purchased that particular item from the price agreement, but I was disappointed when I retired and it was soon dropped from the contract. There might be a correlation there… 🙂

  21. Thanks for the great article. I’ve had a Ruger Blackhawk in .41 Mag since 1982 and still love to shoot it. Until recently I had only fired factory ammo through it to get enough brass to reload. My favorite load with a 210 gr. JHP was 13.5 grains of Blue Dot. It was accurate and pleasant to shoot. Then Alliant come out with a bulletin about not using Blue Dot in the .41 mag. So I did. Well, after I used up my supply. I read Taffin’s article on the .41 special and thought that would be the way to go for defensive loads but sadly, Starline was the only company making .41 special brass and it is now discontinued. I know I could trim down cases but I haven’t done that. But I still like that load of 6.1 grains of Unique pushing a 215 gr cast swc. My local gun store has a very limited supply of factory ammo and it isn’t cheap. Again, thans for the great article. I always learn something new here

    1. You’re welcome, Carl, I’m glad you got something out of it. You taught me something too, I didn’t realize Starline had discontinued the .41 Special brass. I have been checking their sight recently and it keeps showing out of stock, but I was prepared to wait for the next production run. That’s a bummer that there will be no next production run! Well, I guess we keep light loading magnum cases. I’m with you on not trimming a bunch of cases- quite a chore on my old Lyman manual trimmer!

      1. Kevin,
        Let me qualify that statement. Whenever I go to Starline’s website and click on .41 special brass I get a 404 error which I am assuming is because they are discontinuing it. I actually hope I’m wrong about that.
        Sorry for the confusion.

        1. So, you’re saying there’s a chance… Not to worry, Carl. I will be an optimist on this until Starline tells us differently.

  22. Great article on some great sixguns! I’ve been a .41 fan for years with various Smiths, DW, and Rugers in the safe. Like the other Magnums I find I’m burning many times the Special loads as I do full house these days. Medium Special loads from a N-Frame feel about like an average .22. Roll your own snake shot gets tedious but a batch lasts a long time. Now we need to kindle a bit of flame in the following generations so steel frame weapons delivering fight stopping power without requiring a mag dump don’t vanish from the earth!

    1. Thank you, Mr. Wright. I couldn’t agree more with you on your thoughts about keeping the flame tindered when it comes to steel framed major caliber revolvers. Square flat bottom feeders that hold lots of BB’s are the rage, but forty something revolvers speak with authority when things get ugly. Always have, always will.

  23. Kevin and Mike,
    Obviously I’m super late to this party! I wanted to thank both of you for an outstanding article! The .41 is one of my favorites both for its performance and the link it has to law enforcement. My agencies didn’t authorize it but I would have carried one in a heartbeat if I could have. Now that I’m retired my 57’s and 58 are regular companions.
    Best regards,

    1. Hey Morgan, you’re welcome- glad you enjoyed it! It makes me smile to know that you have a Model 57 or 58 riding shotgun with you in retirement- you’re well-heeled for whatever comes along with ill intent!

      1. Kevin,
        I definitely enjoy carrying them and loading for them! I do wish Winchester would make a run of 175gr. Silvertips, they would be nice for carrying when going to town. Speaking of loading for the .41, I have 100 new .41 Special Starline cases that I was given. I am not going to use them as I already have good loads worked up in magnum cases of which I have a good supply. I would be happy to send them to you to work with if you would like them. I don’t want anything for them other than to see them get put to use. If your interested send me an email and I’ll drop them in the mail to you.

        1. Hey Morgan, agreed the Silvertip is hard to beat for a “go to town” load in the .41 Magnum. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for some. I like that 180 grain Barnes monolithic bullet for that purpose also: Federal loaded it to a more manageable velocity than Barnes for defense use. The Underwood Ammo loading of the Lehigh 150 grain solid copper bullet would merit consideration, too. Underwood has it in stock, but it isn’t cheap. I suspect it would shoot significantly low in your Model 58, but I have a Model 57 zeroed with it. Thank you for your kind offer on the Special brass!

  24. Great article Kevin. I’m glad I stumbled upon it. You were wondering about other PD’s that used the .41. I was with the Soldotna, Alaska Police Department from 1984-89. It was just a 10 man department at the time. When I was first hired, we carried the 4” S&W 57. The Remington 210gr full magnum round was what was issued my first couple years there before we changed to Winchesters 210gr lead SWC. But by about 1987, the department transitioned to the Sig 220. Luckily I was able to purchase my 57 from the city, and still have it. Since then I’ve acquired a 6” 57 as well as a 58. And I have enough reloading components to keep them fed for awhile. I don’t know how long the department had been using the 57. It was only formed in 1969, so maybe since it’s beginning. I wish I would have asked someone. Anyway, thanks for the great read.

    1. Thank you very much, Doug. Thank you for the info on your old outfit carrying Model 57’s, too. That combination of gun and load would’ve been a rough intro into LE for rookies starting out with SPD! That said, I bet it was comforting to have that big Model 57 so loaded on your hip while patrolling up there. I’m glad you were able to secure your old duty gun and find some good company for it with that 6″ 57 and 58. It would be interesting to know if that was indeed Soldotna PD’s first issue gun… I’m glad you enjoyed the article and thanks for your comment.

      1. When I was hired I weighed around 160lbs. I almost needed to put sand in my pockets to help keep me anchored on recoil. I usually didn’t have trouble qualifying but if the shooting sessions went past 100 rounds or so I got pretty beat up. But I still really enjoyed shooting the 57. About my second year on the department, another officer and I went to training by the late Chuck Taylor. He had come up to put on a 3-day class. I think he was kinda stunned with what we were carrying. Anyway, on the third day he saw I was having a hard time. It was on his recommendation that we switched ammo to the 210 SWC, the old police round, which Winchester was still offering at the time. What a welcome change. That ammo really allowed the .41 to do what it was intended for. Even a skinny cop like me could shoot well with it. Thanks again Kevin

        1. Shoot, Doug- I got tickled picturing you with your pockets full of sand and Chuck Taylor shaking his head while you hammered away with those heavy duty 210 gr jacketed rounds! How cool is it that he went up there and trained you guys? That’s a good recommendation he made on your duty ammo, even in Alaska that round would probably suffice for 90% of handgun chores, i’d think. Take care!

  25. Look for the book “More of the Deadliest Men Who Ever Lived” by Paul Kirchner. There’s a factual story about Joe Harrison AKA”The Fat Man”. He was a taxi driver in San Francisco in the 1960s snd 1970s.
    He carried a Model 58 and used it a few times to prevent from being robbed or killed.
    I have a couple of 57s and 58s. Been reloading for them since 1980!

    1. Hey RJ,
      Thanks for the tip, I was unfamiliar with Joe Harrison’s story. I have Kirchner’s first book on the subject, I didn’t realize there was a second one out there. I’ll be looking for it! I followed in your footsteps a while later handloading for mine. Reloading for it sure makes the .41 more useful…

  26. I just inherited a slew of firearms from my deceased Father In Law. He was a police Sergent for 27 years and a vlounteer for an aditional 15. One of the guns I got was a Model 57 Magnum 41 in a 6″ barrel. Display case and all the tools. A big part of me wants to shoot it a few times, but the sentimental part of me just wants to keep it safe and bring it out to look at every so often. God Bless those that service our communities

    1. Indeed, Wade. God bless them all! I think your father in law would be happy to see you shooting that revolver. I wouldn’t hesitate to do it. You’ll build even more sentimental memories by shooting the gun in his honor.

    2. Hey Wade, what an honor to inherit those guns! I suspect you plan on holding onto that Model 57, so shooting it occasionally with sane ammo is certainly an option. Those owning guns like yours strictly as collectors would argue against it, but I would (and have) shot them. The 6″ Model 57 pictured in this article was acquired from a man worthy of respect who had gone on to his reward; it shoots fabulously…

  27. I carried a Model 58. As a cop in Alaska long ago. It will always be my favorite. This article is by far the best I’ve seen on the M58. S&W has no vision.

    1. Hey Larry, Thats very cool that you carried a Model 58 on the job in Alaska! Was it agency issue or a personal gun? Thank you for the great compliment, I sure wish that S&W would listen to us, too…

  28. The Louisville, KY police department (i.e. Louisville Division of Police) never issued or approved the Model 58 (or 57). They did issue a number of Model 29s, in addition to 38 Special revolvers, and mandated the use of the 44 Special ammunition. The department, at that time, had an authorized strength of about 650 officers but only about 100 or so Model 29s were issued. Individual officers were allowed to carry privately owned 44, 38, and 357 revolvers but only with 38 Special +P or 44 Special ammunition. I know one officer that carried a privately owned Model 58 he had rechambered to 44.

    1. Thank you, Jim, for the interesting info on Louisville PD. There is more than one way to skin a Model 58! Hats off to that officer for the clever way of getting a M58 in his holster- that actually sounds like a really cool conversion.

  29. I sure am glad I found this article, very well written. I purchased my M57 in the early 80s. I was trying to decide between a .357 and .44 mag. The gun store owner suggested. .41 magnum as a good compromise. I’m no longer in my “20s” and am so glad my dad taught me to reload. I loved the power and accuracy (it’s still sighted in for 100 yds). I never needed a second shot on mule deer. But as has been mentioned in other posts, the recoil is getting to be a little much. So a 210 gr semi-wadcutter I cast, loaded to 900 fps takes care of the problem. It’s still a handful but I wouldn’t think of getting rid of it. It’s nice to hear that I’m in good company with my beloved 41.

    1. Thank you very much, Alan. That was good advice from a gun store owner! That’s how I got my start in reloading, too- I share your gratitude for outdoorsmen dads. That’s really neat that you’ve used your .41 Magnum as a primary gun on mule deer hunts, and that the cartridge performed so well. That hunt is on my bucket list. A 210 gr SWC at 900 fps is good medicine; a tame load that will still take care of most business if needed. Nice to hear from good company!

  30. Thanks for this article! 23 grains of H110 and a 210 Hornady xtp = 1500+ fps verified by labradar chronograph. That’s over 1,000 ft lbs energy out of my 7.5″ Redhawk. Anything the .44 mag can do the .41 does better. Winchester makes a 240 gr .41 load S41PTHP with a muzzle velocity listed at 1250 fps. Their .44 mag load Q4240 load is a 240 gr load listed at 1180 fps. Black Hills .44 Mag 240 gr load is listed at 1260 fps… Hmmm… Thanks again Kevin. Most people these days never heard of the .41 Magnum. Keep up the good work

    1. You’re welcome, Daniel! You are spot on, Sir. A heavy loaded .41 Magnum can go toe to toe with the .44 Magnum with all but the heaviest .44 bullets. I would wager that your Redhawk can keep those 210 XTP’s in a tighter group at 100 yards than most .44’s, too. I’ll do my best, Daniel, it sure helps when you really like what you’re writing about!

  31. Also a .41 Magnum lover. I have both a Ruger and a Smith. I’ve taken several deer with the scoped Ruger. I also scoped the Smith but it was just too easy so I use the factory iron sights. Reloading is the easiest of any cartridge I have ever reloaded. Thanks for great article.

    1. Hey Blair, good of you to return to the challenge of iron sights! I’m going to have to consider that one really carefully if I do trudge the woods with no long gun after mule deer. I hope my vision will allow me to prevail with iron sights, but I may end up with at least a red dot. Middle-aged eyes are cause for consternation with handgun sights! Agreed on the ease of reloading, the .41 Magnum is straight forward and drama free to load. You’re welcome, thanks for appreciating it.

  32. Excellent Article on the 41 Sir. The thought of adding a 41 magnum to my stable pops up from time to time, but I have just not “pulled the trigger” yet. I love versatility, and I’m not entirely sure the 41 mag gives a meaningful increase in what top end the 357 mag can do. I do believe I would settle for the lightest model I could find, and that makes recoil and follow up shots a factor. If I can’t tolerate shooting a 41 magnum load that produces anything over 10mm, I feel I’ve made a mistake. If I also loose 2 rounds of capacity from choosing 357 magnum with only a hundred or so pounds of increased foot pounds of energy, that may also be a mistake. I know there are tradeoffs no matter what you choose. In any scenario from Urban to Deep woods, your one and only handgun, would you rather 7 rounds of any flavor 357 magnum, or 5 rounds of any flavor 41 magnum? Will 7 hard cast 357 carry you through a close encounter with a grizzly, or be enough to shoot through an Elk at 100 yards if you absolutely needed the meat?….Will 5 shots of 41 be enough when you visit the Big City, or will the heavy recoil cause you to miss, or get shot between transitioning from one bad guy to the next? Is the 41 mag guaranteed to stop the bad guy with one shot any better than that hot loaded 357 mag will? Some things can be overcome with practice, and some things just are what they are. If your looking at two platforms that are the same size and weight, which are you choosing and why?

    1. Thanks, Twogunz. The .41 Magnum does give a meaningful increase over a top end .357, but disagreeably so under the parameters you set with a really light handgun. I think, based on your pros and cons discussion, you are likely better served with a .357. Like it always has, the .41 shines in a six shot, steel, N frame gun.

  33. Many blamed those who backed out of their commitment to Elmer Keith. Timing that was poken of by others is probalby the main factor. I love the 41 mag. It is a bit easier on the ears than the 357 mag and its sharp, loud, crack. It has a bit less precussion in the face than the 44 mag and shoots flatter. You give up very little from the 44 mag. I still have my 6 inch S&W, but fire it very little. I may hand load for it. I would hope it would make a comeback with the modern era ammo.

    1. That’s a good point you bring up on the commitments, JackRyan. S&W and Ruger and Remington showed up for the party, but no one else for quite a while. Who knows what might have been?

  34. the Summer I was 17, a family friend had bought a brand new S&W revolver, in .41 magnum. He brought it to the deer field, as we were sighting in our rifles and making improvements to our deer stands and trimming back the underbrush for the upcoming deer season in the fall. He was shooting it and asked me if I’d like a go at it. Of course I jumped at the chance. I was mowing down 2″ thick saplings with it. That was the summer of 1990. I’m 52, this November, and I’ve only ever seen 2 S&W .41 Magnums in my life. I’ve wanted one, ever since that summer when I fell in love with them. They’re as rare as hen’s teeth. The last one I saw was in 2012 and someone bought it before I could get back, the next week, and put some money down on it at the gun shop I frequented. If/When I see another one, I will sell a damn kidney to get my hands on it, if that’s what it takes. Lol. Great article. I, thoroughly enjoyed the read. Thank you.

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