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The .41 Magnum is a good compromise

January 16, 2010
By Kenneth Cobb

The .41 Magnum was introduced in 1964 by the Remington Arms Company as a center fire revolver cartridge that could be used for hunting and law enforcement. At that time, most of the gun critics were quick to say that the .44 Magnum was just "too much gun" for police use.

The .357 Magnum was effective at close range, but in the middle 60s, this cartridge had some shortcomings. Jacketed hollow-point and soft-point bullets were not commonly available, and most manufacturers' standard loading for this round was just simple lead bullets. The high velocities needed for law enforcement often ended up leading the barrels in just a few rounds.

Revolvers chambered for the big .44 were considered too bulky and heavy for a police officer to carry around in a day's work. The noise from a .44 magnum is deafening, and I have fired enough of them to know.

There were two different initial factory loadings introduced by Remington. The first was a jacketed 210-grain soft-point bullet. The velocity was an advertised 1,500 feet per second from a revolver with an 8 3/8-inch barrel. This round would be good for deer or black bear hunting at close range. The second loading was a 210-grain lead bullet at 1,050 feet-per-second with the same barrel length. This was intended for law enforcement use.

The .41 Magnum filled the gap in ballistic performance between the .357 and .44 Magnums. While I have never fired a .41 Magnum revolver, I have talked to a few people who have. One person who had been a West Virginia State Policeman was quick to say the .41 is a more pleasant round to shoot than the .44. The recoil was easier to control, and the low velocity loading did not hurt your ears.

The .41 magnum never achieved the popularity of the .357 or the .44 Magnums, but it is well liked by the hand gunners who have had experience with it. Unlike the .357 revolver that can also fire .38 Special ammunition or the .44 Magnum that can fire .44 Special ammunition, the .41 Magnum can only fire .41 Magnum ammo. It will not interchange with the old or obsolete .41 Long Colt.

In 1964, Smith & Wesson introduced its heavy Model 57 Target revolver and a lighter Model 58 in .41 Magnum. The Model 58, manufactured for the law enforcement market, came only with a four-inch barrel and weighed 41 ounces. This was a quality revolver; it just did not appeal to the vast majority of law enforcement officers. One reason for this may have been the sights on this model. The rear sight was a square notch in the frame. The front sight was just a rise in the barrel steel. I think if Smith & Wesson had put adjustable sights on this model similar to the Model 19 combat Magnum, the sales would have been better.

Over the years, the .41 Magnum has been chambered in other revolvers like the Ruger single-action Blackhawk, the Dan Wesson Model 15, and the single-shot Thompson Center Contender. Marlin has also chambered one or two short-barreled carbines for this cartridge. I do not think any of the guns chambered for this fine cartridge have been good sellers. This is most unfortunate, because this could possibly have been the ideal handgun cartridge ever manufactured for both hunting and law enforcement use.

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Below are two hand loads for the .41 Remington Magnum:

1. Case Any make

Primer CCI-350 (Large Pistol Magnum)

Bullet 210-grain Sierra Flat Nose

Powder & Weight Hodgdon 110; 19.5 grains

Note: Good hunting load in a revolver with a 6-inch barrel or longer

2. Case Any make

Primer Remington 2 1/2 (Large Pistol)

Bullet 210 Lead Remington Flat Point

Powder & Weight Unique; 9.5 grains

Note: Good for home defense and law enforcement



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