Elmer Keith, Bill Jordan and Skeeter Skelton – three icons of the firearms industry – designed the .41 Remington Magnum, and introduced it to the shooting public in 1964. The motivation for developing this cartridge was to address issues that law enforcement agencies commonly had with the .357 Magnum, thought to have lackluster performance at the time. It is worth noting that the development of the .41 Magnum happened before hollow point bullets were widely available, and most police agencies loaded their revolvers to shoot semiwadcutter or wadcutter bullets.
The .41 Magnum was originally loaded with semiwadcutter bullets, weighing 200 grains with a velocity of about 900 feet per second at the muzzle. Elmer Keith wanted to present a cartridge with these characteristics to the law enforcement community as his solution to better the .357 Magnum. Remington, however, due to the fondness for high-powered cartridges by handgun shooters of all stripes, elected to boost the muzzle velocity of the 200 grain bullet to 1,150 feet per second. Recoil increased significantly, something that Keith actively tried to avoid for his law enforcement load. Smith & Wesson then decided to chamber their large N-frame Model 57 revolver for the .41 Magnum, but law enforcement officers did not like the larger size and heavier weight of the big handgun. Shot from an unwieldy gun with a hot load and harsh recoil, the .41 Magnum never was very well received by the police.
In other circles, however, the .41 Magnum was appreciated and popular – especially among hunters. Compared to the .44 Magnum, the .41 Magnum offers flatter shots and less recoil. In many different load configurations, the .41 Mag. has equal or better muzzle velocity and muzzle energy than its bigger cousin. The .41 Magnum today is used by those in North America hunting deer and even small bear. The more advanced designs of hollow point bullets make the cartridge effective for this use.
The .41 Magnum will likely not be as popular as the .44 Magnum among hunters, but it has many great characteristics that ensure it will remain an excellent hunting choice in the coming years.