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GUNS Magazine September 2010 - Page 60
A s part of the continuing program of resurrecting older and popular models of Smith & Wesson revolvers, the Model 58 .41 Magnum has been brought back into production. Addressing and hopefully appeasing what is often considered a somewhat cultist group of shooters, the .41 Magnum, in fact, might have been singled out by a sharp group of individuals who saw and continue to see the advantages of this mid-size caliber handgun. Introduced in the mid ’60s, the .41 Magnum was considered by some to be the optimum self-defense cartridge and load for American law enforcement use. Historically, it can be traced to a wildcat cartridge called the .400 Eimer, which was on the drawing boards as early as the 1920s. In its initial introduction, the Smith & Wesson .41 Magnum was brought on the market in 1963-64 in the form of the named cartridge mated to the Smith & Wesson Model 57. The Model 57 was an adjustable sighted, 6-shot, large N-frame revolver. Shortly afterward, the factory folks at Smith & Wesson introduced a beefed up Model 10 fixedsight version numbered the Model 58 that might be one of the best examples of a true fighting handgun—if there is such a thing. Often with dismal results, the .38 special was for many years a pretty universal cartridge for the law enforcement community. Its failures are well noted and early attempts, such as the 200-grain .38-44 Super Police load, still did not bring the .38 to acceptable standards of stopping power. The .357 Magnum was the upgraded version of the .38, but it still lacked cross-sectional density, which is always helpful in a fighting handgun cartridge. The .44 Magnum was, in fact, too much gun for general police use and the closest it came to solving the problem was the Remington 240-grain mid-range load. The .41 Magnum gave better cross-section density than the .38 Special and the bullet weight at 210 grains could be an attention getter to the misbehaving. Two factory loadings were available. The barnburner was the 210-grain jacketed softpoint, which ran the gates at a smoking 1,500 feet per second declared and a probably true 1,400 fps. The second load was a 210-grain ClINT SMITh The lineage of the .41 Magnum includes (from top to bottom) the Model 57 with blue finish, Model 57 nickel finish and the original Model 58 with Spegel grips. Clint shot the test target (above) at 10 yards with the current production Model 58 using .41 Magnum ammunition made by CorBon. The current production Model 58 (below) has the 4th sideplate screw like earlier models. This is part of the program in producing newly made older-style revolvers. The grips are handsomely made and fit well. lead semiwadcutter cruising across the chronograph at a nominal 1,150 fps declared, but was in reality probably closer to 900 fps in the factory loading. It was plenty of load with plenty of projectile for the average shooter, and probably on the verge of too much. I think one of the key ingredients to the failure of the .41 Magnum to achieve general acceptance in the law enforcement communities was the unclear boundary between the two loads and knowing the difference between the two. Probably if the truth was known, had the .41 Magnum been loaded to a nominal 850 to 900 fps with a 210-grain lead wadcutter from the get go I believe it would have been force to be reckoned with. At 10 yards free hand, no rest, I shot CorBon DPX 180-grain hollowpoints for the test and the Model 58 placed them (with me attached) inside a nominal 1.5". Moving at 1,300 fps, the 180-grain DPX projects a true 676 foot-pounds of energy downrange. CorBon is one of the few who actually load what they say they are loading on the box. The rounds were stout and impacted steel had a distinct sound not often heard when 9mm or .40 S&W calibers are used on plates. As mentioned before, this revolver is part of the program to bring back into the market older revolvers and this Model 58 falls into that category. The 60 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2010