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STORY: John Barsness This inbetween powerhouse endures. he .41 Remington Magnum is in many ways the handgun equivalent of the .280 Remington and 16 gauge, a cartridge regarded by a relatively few True Believers as a perfect combination of ballistics and recoil. Like the .280 and 16, the .41 refuses to die, but all three rounds lag far behind the popularity of the dominant cartridges in their categories, the .44 Remington Magnum, .270 Winchester and 12 gauge. While most 21st-century shooters remember Elmer Keith as the father of the .41 Magnum, other notable handgunners also had a part in its 1964 introduction, including Bill Jordan and Skeeter Skelton. The .41 was originally conceived as the perfect law enforcement round, more effective than the .38 Special and .357 Magnum then used by most American police departments, but more controllable than the .44 Magnum, considered the world’s most powerful handgun cartridge even nine years after its introduction in 1955. The public’s fascination with the power of the .44 affected the success of the .41. Even the so-called “police” load produced by Remington, a 210-grain cast bullet at 1,050 feet per second, produced about twice the recoil of the typical .38 Special service load. The “hunting” load was a 210-grain bullet at 1,500 fps, developing over 1,000 foot-pounds of muzzle energy, and nearly the same recoil as the 240-grain “Hi-Speed” load of the .44 Magnum. advantage as a carry revolver. One of the oldest rules of breechloading firearms is there’s only so much space in any given cartridge category, and sales of the .41 lagged far behind the .44. Like devotees of the .280 and 16, the .41’s True Believers keep pointing out why this shouldn’t be so, citing small advantages in ballistics, including saying it shot the .41 reMiNGtoN MaGNuM T flatter than the .44, a claim that originated with Elmer Keith. Keith took a Model 57 along on a polar bear hunt, and he and his guide used the .41 to collect meat caribou. His published story pointed out the flatter trajectory of the .41. But if we run the numbers of 1964’s fullpower 210-grain .41 and 240-grain .44 factory loads through Sierra’s Infinity ballistics program, using a zero range of 50 yards, we find the .41 only .3" flatter at 150 yards—a long distance to be shooting at any big game animal with an iron-sighted revolver. With today’s factory loads the .44 shoots flatter, given equal bullet weights, even beyond 150 yards. Please don’t take this wrong. My first handgun larger than a .357 Mag was a S&W Model 657, the stainless version of the 57, with a 6-1/2" barrel. It was purchased new in 1989 as an all-around handgun for hunting big game, plus carrying as an emergency sidearm in Montana’s backcountry. The 657 shot very accurately, with a couple of loads grouping five rounds into around 2" at 50 yards, not 25, The two test revolvers were both Smith & Wesson Model 57s, one a blued model with a 4" barrel (above), the other nickel-plated with an 8-3/8" barrel. too Big and heavy Also, Smith & Wesson chambered the .41 in the same large N-frame as the .44 Mag, calling it the Model 57. Instead of being somewhere between S&W’s smaller K-frame revolvers chambered for the .38 Special and .357 Mag and the .44 Model 29, the Model 57 weighed slightly more than the Model 29, due to the smaller hole in the barrel, so didn’t have any 16 W W W. G U N S M A G A Z I N E . C O M • O C T O B E R 2 0 1 2