Crosman's 357GW kit
by B.B. Pelletier
There are more great airgun deals in this world than I have time to report. One that snuck up and surprised me is Crosman's 357GW kit.
This revolver is a real trooper!
In 1983, Crosman brought out their 357 10-shot revolver. It resembles a Colt Python, yet it breaks open from a center hinge like a Webley Mark IV revolver. It uses a CO2 powerlet to push a .177 pellet up to whatever speed the barrel length dictates - and that's where the story starts to get interesting. In '83, they had models with both 4" and 6" barrels, and a year later they brought out the 8" gun. These guns are lighter than their firearms counterparts, so the 8" barreled gun is not too unwieldy for anyone to handle. The Python grips help you control the gun, too. How about that? Positive gun control depends on the grips!
Without any competition, Crosman still made this a great deal!
In 2006, you might be tempted to say, "So what?" to a CO2 revolver; but in the middle '80s, there weren't many airgun revolvers to choose from. Add the Crosman price to the mix (with no competitors!), and it gets even better. This was a deal, if you wanted a revolver, and it was all there was! It was good then..and it still is!
The 357 fires both single- and double-action and gets good power (in the 400+ f.p.s. range, depending on barrel length). It's a fast-handling revolver with lots of shots and has a fully adjustable rear sight that gets you on target. Probably several million 357s have been sold in the time it's been around. Bottom line? This is a gun with a following.
Where do they stand today?
To complete this report, I'll compare the 357 to the Gamo R-77. That revolver came along more than a decade later. They don't currently offer an 8" model, and their 6" gun is available only with walnut grips. So, the Gamo R77 is more expensive, has fewer features and lower power than the Crosman 357. It still has its devoted followers, but feature for feature, the Crosman comes out on top.
The other revolver I will compare it to is the S&W 586-4. This Umarex gun costs three times what the Crosman does, and it does have a better finish and lockwork. But, if your goal is to buy an affordable wheelgun and start shooting now, I don't think the S&W is three times better (or more fun).
What about the 357GW kit?
Okay, you know about the plain 357, but there is also a kit version that has some added features. For starters, it comes with both the 4" and 8" barrels. I would buy it for that, alone, but there's more. Also included is a Crosman red dot sight with mounts for the gun, three 10-shot rotary pellet clips and a special hard case to hold everything. At $78.95, that's a deal!
That 8" barrel would be the thing I'd like to try out. I love long-barreled revolvers, and I've never owned one with interchangeable barrels. The S&W 586 has an 8" interchangeable barrel, but it's only $10 less than the entire Crosman kit! That's not to say it isn't very nice, but the Crosman gives you so much for so little money that I don't think you can ignore it. Plus, I'm guessing the 8" barrel will give velocities in the 460+ f.p.s. range with light pellets.
I'd like to hear from 357 owners. How do you like your guns? Does anyone own the kit? If so, how easy are the barrel changes?