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Posted on 11/23/2018 by FFL Dealer Network

Get More Bang with Multi-caliber Handguns

Get More Bang with Multi-caliber Handguns

Imagine shooting multiple calibers of ammunition from the same handgun without making any changes to the gun. You can easily do it with multi-caliber handguns. The very common example of the multi-caliber, one-gun approach is the .357 Magnum. Shooting .38 Special out of a .357 revolver is a way shoot with cheaper ammo and less recoil. 


Beyond the expense and recoil issue, having a handgun that shoots more than one caliber make sense practically. Here is why: 

1) Ammo availability. We all remember the ammo shortages of a few years ago. Being able to shoot more than one caliber from a handgun increases your chances of finding ammo. In a SHTF scenario, finding ammo is a critical matter. The broader your ammo choices, the better off you will be. 

2) Versatile. Sometimes you need the ability to stop a grizzly bear with one shot. Sometimes you just want to pop a rabbit for supper. For home defense, some magnum calibers can shoot through walls while their parent cartridges do not penetrate that much. Multi-caliber handguns adapt to your specific need at the time. Lucky Gunner penetration testing. Home materials penetration testing


With one exception, these multi-caliber handguns are revolvers. Why? Revolvers headspace on the rim. The cylinder bore is the same diameter end to end. Too much gap in the headspace area can lead to malfunctions, ruptured cases and even barrel and cylinder blowouts. A good example to show why you do not do this is in rifles. 

A .30-06 will chamber a .308 round, but not the reverse. A .308 in a .30-06 does not line up in the bore correctly. The misaligned bullet is dangerous. These are caliber choices, not a recommendation for a specific brand of gun. When shooting shorter rounds from longer cylinders, you may experience some lead buildup. A little work with a with bore brush takes care of the problem. 


Taurus 992 Tracker, Revolver, .22LR/.22 Magnum, Rimfire, 4" Barrel, 9 Rounds - 647282, Revolver at Sportsman's Guide

Shoot .22 shorts, .22 long and .22 long rifle from the same cylinder. Inexpensive .22 revolvers often come with a .22 mag cylinder as well so you get 4 ammo choices with one gun. A .22 rimfire should be in everyone's gun collection anyway. 


Starting off the multi-caliber handguns in centerfire rounds is the .32. The original in this group is the .32 S&W. Ammo is still made for the original .32. Smith & Wesson quickly stretched the .32 to the .32 S&W Long

Nearly 100 years later, Harrington and Richardson amped the power again with the .32 H&R Magnum. Sturm, Ruger and Federal teamed up in 2007 to take this even further with the .327 Federal Mag. A .32 Federal Mag lets you shoot four different calibers. Ammo for the .327 Federal Mag is sufficient to take smaller deer, yokes and varmints. 



Word of warning here. The .38 Smith & Wesson and the .38 Long Colt are the parent cartridges in this family. However, these two rounds have a slightly large bullet diameter than the .38 special and the two magnum versions, .361 v. .357. You can shoot the .38 S&W and Colt from .38 Special and magnum revolvers, but not the other way around. 

Joe Saxon calls the .357 Mag in a six-inch barrel "The Hammer of Thor." To take things to the pinnacle in the .38 family, get a .357 Maximum. Then you can shoot all the above ammo. 


A lot of people call the .380 a "9mm short." It is not. Enough differences exist to make shooting a .380 from a 9mm a bad idea. In a revolver, where the round headspaces on the moon clip, shooting both from the same handgun is safer. Use moon clips for the .380 when using that ammo. 

.40 FAMILY The 10mm and the .40 S&W are like the .38 and .357 Mag. The .40 S&W is just a shorter version. Reloaders use the same set of dies for both rounds. A 10mm will shoot .40 S&W safely, but not the other way around. Some autoloaders do need a lighter recoil spring to handle the reduced .40. 

.44 FAMILY No movie handgun is more icon than the .44 Mag Clint Eastwood carried as legendary detective Harry Callahan. It is a longer version of the original .44 Special

Taurus 513 Raging Judge, Revolver, .454 Casull./.410 Bore/.45 Colt, 3" Barrel, 6 Rounds - 647250, Revolver at Sportsman's Guide

.45 FAMILY The .45 family, in rimmed cartridges, can include the .410 shotgun round. The Taurus Judge launched the group of long-cylinder revolvers. 

WARNING: DO NOT attempt to shoot magnum .45 loads from a .410-chambered revolver. The cylinder is not made to stand up to the much higher pressures. Stick to .410 and .45 LC only

While The Judge and its relatives are multi-caliber handguns, they are also specific to just a few calibers. Stepping up from the.45 LC is the .454 Casull, a stretched version of the LC. Taking this family into big game and some dangerous game categories is the .460 S&W Magnum. Get a .460 and you can shoot .45 LC and up.

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