Weapons Comparison: Colt 1911 versus .357 Magnum Revolver

There is an age old argument about which is the better weapon when considering a .357 Magnum revolver or a Colt 1911 .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol.

Traditional wisdom says the .45 is more powerful, but the .357 is easier to shoot. Such an argument is relatively true, but there is more to it than that. It depends on how you plan to use the weapon.

Before switching to the 9mm Beretta or Glock, military personnel often preferred the .45 for its size and power, but you have to remember soldiers practice several times per week if not daily, and are prepared to use the weapon in a combat situation. For home defense, ideally you want to visit the range at least once per month if not more to stay in practice, but unfortunately people get busy or don’t have easy access and go longer without practice.

Effective Power

Einstein defined how effective power is mass times velocity, as opposed to potential power which is mass times how effectively it can be launched, and the physics concepts hold true with bullets just like everything else in this universe.

The .45 has more mass, and more effective mass because it has a larger diameter, but it fires at a much slower speed — typically about 830 ft/sec depending on the specific ammunition used. The .357 Magnum is technically a .38 caliber round, but in a longer format with more charge than a typical .38 Special bullet.

So, even though the .45 does mathematically have more power, in practical application either is going to have enough power to anything you want it to, whether for home defense, hunting, or providing mercy to a wounded animal.

Ease of Use

Ease of use is, like everything else concerning guns, a matter of perspective and what you feel comfortable with.

With the .45, you load a round in the chamber and put the safety on, which is fine and proven to be an effectively safe way to store or carry the weapon, but some people aren’t comfortable with it. With a revolver, you load one round, skip a chamber, then load four more in order. Cock and release the hammer onto the empty chamber, and there is no possible way for the gun to shoot until you physically load a round by cocking it again.


The fact is both guns are great weapons whether you own it specifically as a weapon or for target shooting. It really comes down to a matter of personal preference.

If you clean and care for them regularly, either will perform when you need them to. Maybe if you store each in a toolbox for twenty years, neither is going to shoot well, but perhaps the revolver will be more likely to function properly.

If you can afford it, get one of each — especially in a rural area where the local hardware and fishing store may only have ammo for one or the other at any given time, so you can keep shooting.

~ Firearm Daily

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