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Why isn't the .357 Mag a .38 Mag?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by country85, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. country85

    country85

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    Jan 14, 2012
    Greentown, IN
    This may be in the wrong place but figured I'd try it here, Mods feel free to move:

    So I'm sitting here at the bench while ago decapping some 44 mag cases and came across a 44 special case that slipped in to the mag pile. I don't load 44 special so haven't really thought about them much, except that my plinking load is probably low enough pressure to be a 44 special load. But this got me thinking about all the normal or "special" loads compared to the "magnum'' loads. And all but one I can think of are designed and designated the same. The normal or "special" case is the same diameter and has the same name designation as the magnum load. Examples I can think of off the top of my head: 22 magnum is a longer 22 long rifle(even though 22 mag is slightly bigger diameter), 22 long rifle is a longer 22 short. 44 magnum is a longer 44 special, 32 magnum is a longer version of like 3 or 4 32 caliber loads. But what about the 357 magnum.

    If you look at the 357 magnum compared to the other cartridges that have a "normal" or magnum load, then in my opinion it would look like this:

    .38 special would be a ".38 short"
    .357 magnum would be a ".38 special"
    .357 max would be the a ".38 magnum"

    I just wondered why when they "invented" the .357 magnum they actually decided to get technical? Shouldn't they have called it a .357 to start with?

    Just wanted to see what the general opinion was on this, forgive my rambling :faint:
     
  2. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    18,083
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    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    No real sense to it other than to say the folks that invented it wanted to call it that.


    ...and you should load up some .429 specials. :supergrin:
     


  3. Three-Five-Seven

    Three-Five-Seven Señor Mombo Millennium Member

    2,727
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    Aug 8, 1999
    Great Southwest
    The .357 Magnum was the first "Magnum" cartridge and the first to use that name. It was developed back in the 1930s and marketed by Smith & Wesson. Marketing has always trumped practical issues in cartridge development.

    For example, the .357 Sig is really a 9mm, but designers wanted you to know -- by the name -- that it duplicated the FBI load in a pistol. The .38 Winchester Center Fire is actually a .40 caliber round (.401), or 10mm, but Winchester wanted you to feel more familiar with the cartridge by naming it that way. One of the dumbest is the .444 Marlin, but I'm sure others will have their own candidate (like the equally stoooopid 450 Marlin name).

    Probably, Smith & Wesson named the cartridge the way they did out of strong concern that people might try to purchase the cartridge for use in .38 special firearms. The biggest concern at that time was safety, after all. After people understood the relationship of the .357 magnum and the .38 special, manufacturers were more willing to more closely associate the "magnum" length cases with their parents.

    So, because it was the first "magnum", the .357 was marketed cautiously.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  4. country85

    country85

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    Jan 14, 2012
    Greentown, IN
    I may just have to do that lol, recommend any good loads? Something gentle since I was shooting H110 loads with 310 grainers yesterday lol

    On a side note(guess I hijacked my own thread) ever want to make a 44 rifle kick like hell push a 245 LSWC with 22 grains of H110, very hot load with no signs of pressure but you couldn't pay me to put that in a pistol
     
  5. country85

    country85

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    Jan 14, 2012
    Greentown, IN
    Very interesting, thanks for that, for some reason I was thinking the 357mag was developed alot later, I must have been thinking of the 44. And I gotta ask since I don't have any experience with the 444 or .450, but I"m guessing the .444 is really a .429 and the .450 is the same also?
     
  6. Havasu

    Havasu

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    Dec 19, 2009
    LHC, Arizona
    The current method of designating calibers is the diameter of the bullet. When the .38 Special was designated the method of the day was the diameter of the case.
    I personally like the distinction because it makes it so easy to know which cartridge you are talking about.
     
  7. Hoser

    Hoser Ninja

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    May 22, 2002
    So what would the 38 Short and 38 Long be called?
     
  8. Three-Five-Seven

    Three-Five-Seven Señor Mombo Millennium Member

    2,727
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    Aug 8, 1999
    Great Southwest
    Ulysses S. Grant ?

    No, wait, that's who's buried in Grant's Tomb...
     
  9. dkf

    dkf

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    Aug 6, 2010
    Yeah the .444 marlin is basically a lengthened .44 mag. It is good cartridge for shorter range (under 300yds) hunting larger furry animals. I used to have a Marlin lever in .444. Wish I still had it.

    The .450 marlin has a belted case but looks like a shortened version of the .458mag big game cartridge. The bullets are larger than standard .45cal at .458".
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  10. Colorado4Wheel

    Colorado4Wheel

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    CO
    I think the better question is "Why isn't the .38 Special and .357 Special"? Or even. "Whats so Special about the .38 Special"?
     
  11. sig357fan

    sig357fan

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    Apr 8, 2008
    SW OH
    I believe the “38” designation came about after the Civil War when converting 36 cal. ball and cap revolvers to use a loaded cartridge. The round developed at the time used a heel type bullet like used in a 22 rimfire and was, as previously noted, the same diameter as the brass at 38 cal., the first cartrage developed like this, I believe, was the 38 Colt or 38 Short Colt. The 38 designation followed dispite the change in the bullet dia. until the 357 Mag came along.

    sig357fan
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  12. fredj338

    fredj338

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    so.cal.
    Naming cratridges is not a science. Why was it call a 38sp instead of 36special? Why a 44mag when it's really a 43mag? IS what it is, not getting better anytime soon either.
     
  13. countrygun

    countrygun

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    Mar 9, 2012

    I think this is close to it. In the revolvers you bought actually a .38 caliber ball, but it was squeezed down in loading to .36. Hence "It takes a .44 caliber ball" As cartridges came along the gun manufacturers wanted to use the same barrel making equipment and it was easier for the public and sales advertising to continue with .38 and .44

    The .45 colt was really the first handgun cartridge name to actually reflect the bullets approximate diameter.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  14. janice6

    janice6 Silver Member

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  15. smokeross

    smokeross GTDS Member #49

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    Uhm....not really. The case is completely different. Only the bullet diameter is the same. The shell holders do not interchange. It is not a lengthened 44 mag.
     
  16. dkf

    dkf

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    Aug 6, 2010
    I was dumbing it down for him because I did not have time to go into much detail. The two cartridges are far closer than you realize. You put one of each round next to each other (and don't have a caliper to measure) it will look like the .444 is just a longer .44mag. I am however aware of the difference as I have both rounds in my possession and actually measured each round.

    The rim dimensions are identical the only difference being a tiny 1/64" x 45 degree chamfer at the top of the rim groove on the .444. The SAAMI drawings for the .44mag do not show the relief groove above the rim however the brass manufacturers added one anyway to help in the machining process. The .444 has an external tapered case walls where as the .44mag is a straight wall case.

    FYI Lee #11 shellholder fits both .44mag and .444marlin.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  17. country85

    country85

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    Jan 14, 2012
    Greentown, IN
    Very interesting, Seems I created a bit of a stir, I don't have a problem with why they are called what they were called, just wondered why, the outside case diameter makes alot of sense, Just to think if we stilled named cartridges like the 45-70 were named, we'd never need a load book again, tells you bullet diameter and load to use in the name lol
     
  18. country85

    country85

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    Jan 14, 2012
    Greentown, IN
    well considered the 38 short is actually the 38 short colt(or the 38 smith and wesson depending which one you're speaking of), and the 38 long is a colt, average the case length and give it to savage to name it, they were always good for coming up with off the wall different cartridges lol
     
  19. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson

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    Jul 10, 2001
    Alabama
    "The .357 Magnum was the first "Magnum" handgun cartridge"

    Little correction there, there were all manner of magnum rifle rounds predating the .357.


    There are several schools of thought on the .38 Special name.
    Some say it was just "special" in relation to the .38 Long Colt.
    A whole 158 grains of lead and 21.5 grains of powder versus 150 and 18 doesn't sound all that special, but it was what they had to sell.
    One source says it was the same convention as the .32 Winchester Special, a cartridge to be sold loaded with smokeless, reloaded with black.
     
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2012
  20. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

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    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    Lots of magnums before the .357.

    [​IMG]

    I'm going to work on my new cartridge called the 7mm (it will be thirty caliber) Balthazar.

    :tbo: