Smith & Wesson is perhaps the biggest name in revolvers for as long as any of us can remember, perhaps only eclipsed by names like Colt. Today’s subject is one of S&W’s classic pistols and one I was excited to hold, the model 57 chambered in .41 Remington Magnum.
The Smith & Wesson Model 57-1 .41 Remington Magnum is a six-shot revolving double-action pistol, it uses a steel frame and an 8 &3/8’s inch barrel. The grip is made from traditional walnut. The whole unit is finished in a classical glossy blued finish.
My father has always had a similar pistol he was given by my grandfather; a model 28 Highway Patrolman. As a youth I was always enamored with what I thought was a handsome gun. His S&W was a .357 Magnum, but very similar proportions as this one. And for some reason the .41 Mag always seemed like an interesting niche cartridge. So as you can imagine the opportunity to play with this handsome old pistol was something enticing.
Like something from an old 70’s movie, the Model 57 came to me in a classy wooden box lined with a velvet. I opened it up to see the deep blue shine from old world traditions.
Picking up the pistol from the box seemed like a little walk down memory lane for me. The large size of the pistol was probably proportional in my hand as my father’s old Smith that I held with much smaller hands years ago.
Curiously, I cracked open the cylinder to see how it looked inside. Clean chambers and a smooth roll of the cylinder followed by a snap of the ejector plunger was all I needed. I was quickly becoming enamored with this pistol, but the crystal clean break of the trigger was what really got me excited. Something told me I was going to like this pistol with all these classic features and quality that’s harder to come by these days.
The .41 Remington Magnum
It’s not a .44 magnum, but it’s a whole lot more than a .357 magnum for sure. The 41 has been around since the early 1960’s, a pet project you might call it with a specialist purpose to fulfill a law enforcement needs. The mighty 41 pushes 210 bullets as fast as 1500 fps when loaded to full power, though there are some lighter bullets, and softer loads.
Little did I know the hard part was going to be getting hands on some of these cartridges, as they sure don’t seem to show up at the local mercantile.
Part of me was beginning to think the .41 was going to be the .40S&W of the wheel-gun world. But luckily I found a box of HSM cowboy 210 grain loads at a store a couple counties over. The 210 grain wadcutters were loaded in Starline .41 Mag brass. I wish I knew what powder they had inside that produced some authentic smoke seemingly from a time long past.
With my ammo and the Smith & Wesson Model 57-1 .41 Remington Magnum in my pocket, I headed to the range. I’d brought a sheet of cardboard to see how the pistol shot on a target, which I set up at about ten yards.
With the cylinder loaded full, I snapped it shut. I’d never shot a .41 Magnum before, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. But as it turns out the pistol felt like a kitten. Perhaps a little unsure of what to expect, my first few shots I was more focused on my grip and function than shooting well.
But after a few more rounds I became quite accustomed to the recoil and feel of the model 57, and got right back to aiming a little tighter. I was very happy with the performance of the pistol, it seemed like it would have been quite the potent pistol if you were in a spot that required one.
Pretending I was one of the lawmen at the famous corral, came pretty easy. And the smooth action and aiming of the model 57 was a great tool in the hands. The long barrel was a little longer to bring on target. But the wide sight radius sure made it easy to point and hit what you wanted to.
The incredibly clean trigger sure made it easy to break right where you wanted it to. The 210 grain bullets grouped around 2 inches at ten yards. I’m curious if that is the best the pistol will shoot or if it would have liked a different load better.
One would get the feeling that they weren’t particularly hot loads, they were very easy to pop out using the ejector. And that’s how I spent the afternoon, stuffing chubby cartridges into the cylinder and turning them into spent brass.
Pros and Cons
I’ll be honest about this, I can’t imagine someone buying a pistol like this without wanting something just like it. So I’m not sure I can really come up with a downside to this pistol. If you twisted my arm real hard, I guess I could say the ammo sourcing is an issue. But if I was going to be a serious .41 Remington Mag guy, I would for sure load my own.
The good news is far more interesting, the excellent trigger and smooth operation are outstanding. Everything about the finish is classic and handsome, the old wood looks beautiful and feels great in the hand. Both the single and double action of the pistol allow you to shoot the gun well. The accuracy is just what I would expect from a pistol like this.
Let’s imagine this pistol would be a perfect companion for a mountain houndsman chasing cougars and black bears. It’s certainly big enough for the job, but it’s also much smaller than most any rifle. You could tuck the pistol into a holster under your shoulder while hiking and chasing the bay of hyper hounds.
Shooting a big cat or bear from a tree with the model 57 would be an easy chore. The accuracy would be handy, and those big bullets would make short work of most predators.