Not really a difficult choice. The venerable .357 Magnum can be loaded down for 800fps plinking or all the way up that will give the shooter a true one shot stopper as a defensive round with plenty of punch for use on game up to the size of whitetail deer inside 100 yds. The brass is basically free, lead target bullets are inexpensive (more so if make your own) and a powder such as Unique can be used for all but the most potent loads and will give the shooter hundreds of rounds per pound. Now all they need is few darn primers!!
The 41 or even the 44 magnum are very versatile as well, but at a higher cost for ammunition, but not by great deal. I've shot a ton of 240 gr. #2 alloy bullets with 8 or 9 grs. of Unique and even though the velocities approached 1000 fps, they were very pleasant and economical to shoot.
But the big frame revolvers are a bit difficult to carry and if we're talkin' versatility that could be a big negative to many. Again, talking versatility, the semi-autos have to be loaded to a level that will produce reliable operation and that could be a big negative to those wanting to shoot reduced loads. So.....
HANDS DOWN, the 357 MAGNUM is the CLEAR CUT WINNER when one considers all applications. Probably one of the top 3 cartridges produced in the last 100 years.
Last edited by fprefect; 08-28-2009 at 08:47 PM.