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Meet the 5 Best .41 Magnum Guns on Planet Earth

The .41 Magnum – official full-length name .41 Remington Magnum – is the proverbial black sheep of the Magnum handgun cartridge family.

Desert Eagle. Image: Creative Commons.
Image: Creative Commons.

The .41 Magnum – official full-length name .41 Remington Magnum – is the proverbial black sheep of the Magnum handgun cartridge family. I’m reminded of that designation at every gun rental range I’ve been to, past and present; they have rental guns in all sorts of other Magnum calibers, from .357 to .44 and even .45 Win Mag and .500 S&W. But goshdarnit, never are there the .41 calibers available!

Intended in theory as a happy middle compromise between the .44 Magnum – which many experts considered to be overpowering – and the .357 Magnum – which some experts view as not powerful enough – the .41 Mag didn’t quite work out that way in practice, as its ballistics were so much closer to the .44 that it didn’t really catch on as a mainstream law enforcement and private citizens’ self-defense round. 

That said, the caliber still remains with us today, 60 years after its inception, having garnered a cult-like following, especially amongst handgun hunters. For example, my Facebook friend and fellow gun enthusiast Dennis West says that “.41 Mag is one of the most overlooked, underrated cartridges in existence.” With that in mind, let’s take a look at what I consider to be the best .41 Magnum handguns out there. 

Smith & Wesson Model 57/58

It’s appropriate to start with the original, especially since it’s the only .41 Magnum I’ve actually ever fired. Remember what I said about never being able to find a .41 Mag for rental? Well, to put a new spin on an old saying, “If you can’t rent ‘em, buy ‘em,” so back in 2019, I did just that, and am very happy I did so, as it is an accurate, reliable, and smooth-triggered revolver. The only change I saw fit to make was to replace the factory wood grips with the less-pretty-looking but far more recoil-absorbent Pachmayr rubber grips

The S&W Model 57 double-action (DA) revolver came first, in 1964, with the fixed-sighted “economy model” version with the M58 following shortly thereafter. Currently, the manufacturer only lists the M57 in its online catalog with a carbon steel (i.e., blued) finish and an MSRP of $1,169.00. 

Ruger New Model Blackhawk

Lest anyone think this article is going to be strictly focused on DA revolvers, I’m including at least one single-action (SA) revolver here for the sake of being fair and balanced. Much like Ruger’s DA revolvers such as the GP-100 .357 Magnum and Redhawk .44 Magnum hold up  well to abuse, and the same is every bit as true of their SA “hoglegs.” 

I’ve fired the Blackhawk in .357 Magnum, and I can guaran-dang-tee y’all that the same excellent qualities in that chambering will readily carry over to the .41 Magnum iteration. Sturm, Ruger & Co. Inc’s official info page currently lists an MSRP of $849.00.

Freedom Arms Model 83 and Model 97

And now for a second set of SA revolvers for good measure. Freedom Arms is best known for its mighty .454 Casull, thanks in no small part to the 1988 sci-fi cop movie “Alien Nation” starring Mandy Patinkin and James Caan. I’ve heard and read nothing but great things about the quality of Freedom Arms products, so you can bet your sweet bippy that the company’s Model 83 (MSRP $2,750.00) and Model 97 (MSRP $2,800.00) are good-to-go. If you don’t wanna take my word for it, then heed the words of largebore guru John Taffin, in an article for Guns Magazine titled “HAIL THE .41 MAGNUM: ‘THE REDHEADED STEPCHILD’ TURNS 50”: “The most accurate combination I have ever found is the .41 Magnum in the Freedom Arms Model 83.”

‘Nuff said.

Desert Eagle (“DE”)

Hey, gotta include at least one semiauto pistol herein for the sake of equal time here, right? Though I haven’t fired the .41 Magnum version of this iconic behemoth Magnum autopistol, I have fired it in .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .50 Action Express; though the .44 version I fired last year was horribly unreliable, the .357 and .50 AE guns gave me 100 percent reliability. And many highly respected gun writers from Massad F. Ayoob to the late Rev. Hal Swiggett have praised the accuracy and reliability of the Desert Eagle platform in general. 

Range reviews of the .41 Magnum DE specifically are kinda hard to find, but I did come across one post by blogger “usssaump” on the Mississippi Gun Owners forum who posted that “It shot great, It will only feed heavy loads. But that is normal. Can you tell I’m happy with it.” Meanwhile, B. Gil Horman, writing for NRA American Rifleman back in September 2014, stated that “The short-lived .41 Magnum cartridge was an ideal fit for the Mark VII platform. The caliber conversion worked reliably but it was a frustrating product from a marketing standpoint. When the .41 barrel was out of stock, customers asked for it, but when it was in stock, no one would buy it. Since the .41 Magnum was not a commercial success, the barrel was discontinued.”

That said, GunsAmerica currently has a used .41 Mag DE listed at an asking price of $880.00, which is quite a steal. 

Taurus Model 415

Okay, so we’re gonna conclude this article by coming full circle, back to a DA revolver. The Taurus Model 415 was produced from 1999 to 2003, and though it’s no longer in production, used guns will still be covered by the company’s rock-solid Lifetime Repair Warranty; Red Bear Gun Brokers is presently selling one for $695.00. 

In a February 2020 review posted on his “Tinker Talks Guns” website, gun writer Michael Tinker Pearce sums up by saying “When you want something for a long time and finally get it, there’s always a little fear that it will not be all you had hoped. In this case it is, and I’m delighted that I was able to finally pick one up … This could be the start of a beautiful friendship.

Christian D. Orr is a Senior Defense Editor for 19FortyFive. He has 34 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  In his spare time, he enjoys (besides shooting, obviously) dining out, cigars, Irish and British pubs, travel, USC Trojans college football, and Washington DC professional sports. If you’d like to pick his brain in-person about his writings, chances are you’ll be able to find him at the Green Turtle Pasadena in Maryland on Friday nights, singing his favorite karaoke tunes.

Note: The image is of a generic Desert Eagle. 

Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).