What happened to the .357max?


January 12, 2003, 07:26 PM
My favorite handgun cartridge, even tho I've never actually been able to own one, has always been the .357 max. There's something about that stretched out case pushing 158 gr at around 1800fps that just draws me in. Seems like it would have made a really good hunting/SD round. So what happened?
I know there were some problems with the high pressure, and if I remember correctly, some cutting of topstraps, but why would it happen with the 357 max and not the ultra mags you see today? I found a Blackhawk several years ago at a pawn shop, but the place burned down before I made up my mind. I see a few Contender barrels for it from time to time, maybe thats why I want a Contender so bad now. If they can make a 454, why can't they make a .357max? And how about a lever carbine? Now that would make me do a happy dance.

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January 12, 2003, 08:44 PM
Has been something I've been bugging Winchester for via email and snail mail for a couple years.

Weren't there some Dan Wesson revolvers chambered for it, too?

Magnum Research could start them up using their BFR chassis, I doubt the topstrap gas-cutting would be any worse than the .454 Cassull, .444 Marlin, or .45-70 revolvers they already make.

Swamp Yankee
January 12, 2003, 08:59 PM
Well, if you want one your lucky, Dan Wesson still chambers for the .357 Maximum in their SuperMag and Silhouette series.

The decline in popularity of IHMSA really reduced demand for the .357 Maximum. Not a lot of nuts out there anymore trying to hit targets at 200 yards with a handgun. And those of us that loved to try are now old enough that the hand and mind are willing, but the eyes just don't seem to have it anymore.

Even when it had a small following very few factory loads were offered for it. AFAIK no one is commercially loading the .357 Maximum. Remington is still selling brass but who knows for how long. I picked up 500 cases earlier this year when Midway had it on sale.

Forcing cone erosion and cracking was a big part of the demise as well. At the time revolvers just couldn't take the pounding of hot ammo. Dan Wesson got around this issue by supplying 2 barrels with each gun. Beauty of the Dan Wesson design, wear out a barrel, unscrew the shroud and install a new one. Ruger didn't have that option.

The .357 Max is a great handgun cartridge. IMO the recoil is milder than the .44 Mag. As a lever gun cartridge I agree, the .357 Max would be a winner if the field wasn't already crowded.

Take Care

Standing Wolf
January 12, 2003, 11:13 PM
Sounds like a Thompson-Center Contender caliber.

January 13, 2003, 12:15 AM
DW is still making revolver's in the "MAX" series (.357, .414, .454) Remington at one time loaded ammo in .357 Max (158 SJHP). I still have a 10" TC Contender barrel in .357 Max...Here's a pic of my son touching off a 210 gr gas-checked lead bullet a few years back, (sorry for the dirty, wrinkled picture)


January 14, 2003, 12:37 AM
Knew a guy that shot silhouette with a Dan Wesson in 357 Maximum. Had those great big silhouette sights on it. Never did shoot that thing but it looked like it would kick quite a bit more than a Mag in a normal length barrel.

January 14, 2003, 11:52 AM
Has been something I've been bugging Winchester for via email and snail mail for a couple years.

Make one yourself. I've been told by more than one person that converting a 357mag levergun to 357max is not a hard thing to do. Dunno about the Marlins, but the Win94's look pretty easy. All you gotta do is rechamber the barrel and modify the loading rails (lengthen the two "cutouts" so the longer cartridge will pass through). One guy told me he rechambed without removing the barrel. He just removed the guts of the action and put the reamer on an extension so he could turn it from behind the action. I've been tempted to modify my Win94 Trapper, but haven't gotten around to it yet.

Regarding topstrap cutting: Supposedly it only goes so far then stops.

Forcing Cone erosion wassupposedly caused by people trying to run lighter bullets at 357max velocities instead of the heavier bullets it was designed for.

I need a 357max so I can see for myself :D


January 14, 2003, 01:18 PM
Regarding topstrap cutting: Supposedly it only goes so far then stops.Well, it really can only go so far -- like clear through the top strap ;) But I'm guessing that wasn't what you meant...

January 14, 2003, 01:27 PM
Well, it really can only go so far -- like clear through the top strap But I'm guessing that wasn't what you meant...

lol. Umm, yeah. :p

BTW, has anyone ever seen topstrap cutting that went more than a millimeter or so? To be honest, I can't even remember seeing a revolver with significant TS cutting.


Jim March
January 14, 2003, 05:45 PM
Exactly, it was great with 158/180/200grain slugs, but too many idiots went "ooooh neat, we can get a 125 moving at 2,000fps!" and just ate the guns alive :rolleyes:.

January 15, 2003, 03:07 PM
great deer round. I seem to have a few hundred rounds of ammo and brass around as well.ostly 180 grain bullets. Nice load to play with. really doesnt doo anything you can't do with other calibers out there. (how about a 35 remington in a contender - factory ammo still avaoable anf heaver weight bullets as well. )

January 15, 2003, 04:22 PM
They are still around, and can often be had for a bargain.

Ammo is tough to find, but there are some commercial reloaders still making it. (start with old western scrounger)

RE Top Strap cutting: It starts then it stops. Meaning there is a limit to which the escaping gasses and grit have enough energy to cause erosion.

I like the Dan Wessons better than the SBH, mainly because it's neat to have a DA trigger. The Recoil is not as bad as a full house 44 mag, and MAN does it get down range in a hurry. Great hunting pistol with open sights, but still heavy compared to my 44 mag. The only SBR I have shot has a 10 inch barrel, and its rather ungainly to handle in the field or on the bench. Both guns extract flawlessly and I've never had a stuck case.

Problem is you NEED an 8 inch bore to burn all that powder. You need a custom holster, as leather for a DW isn't an off the shelf purchase.

I prefer shooting the 180 sp loads over the 158's. they recoil a bit less, and for hunting, heavier is better.

And I agree it would make a dandy carbine round. Looks like you CAN get an Encore barrel in 357 max.

Ron L
January 17, 2003, 08:52 PM
I have a Marlin in 357 right now and wouldn't mind being able to shoot 357 Max thru it as long as I can still shoot the regular magnums. I looked into it before and the action could be adapted to the slightly longer cartridge. Heck, there are other lever actions that shoot even longer cartridges, so I'm sure something could be worked out. The one issue I'm not sure of is that the Max normally put out around 47K CUP. The magnum runs up to around 42K CUP while the (ahem) lowly 30-30 only produces up to around 36K CUP. I'm not sure exactly how much fudge factor is designed into the actions, but I'd like to believe it would be sufficient.

Gregory J. Mayfield
January 7, 2005, 02:45 AM
Try to put that puppy in New England Arms with the chamber bored out just a bit and you have a real fun lightweight and very versitile single shot.

January 7, 2005, 05:17 AM
In my mind .357 MAX has always kind of blurred the distinction between rounds fired out of a rifle and rounds fired out of a handgun. I like that...in a sick, twisted sort of way.

January 7, 2005, 02:35 PM
Odd. I was just thinking about this round. The new "hand-rifle" rounds developed for the X frame Smith made me wonder if it wasn't time to take another look at the old .357 Maximum. Put it in an X-Frame or SRH Casull frame and you won't have an more pressure issues. If enough space is available, spitzer rounds become a possibility. That would rock.

Jim K
January 7, 2005, 10:54 PM
"I found a Blackhawk several years ago at a pawn shop, but the place burned down before I made up my mind."

I tried to tell you it was too hot a round!


January 8, 2005, 04:24 AM
The new "hand-rifle" rounds developed for the X frame Smith made me wonder if it wasn't time to take another look at the old .357 Maximum.

I wonder if they could stuff 8 of em in there there? What the heck would they call that, the S&W-X-frame-maxi-++? I would briefly consider buying one before I walked out with something that was less than grand.

January 8, 2005, 03:15 PM
"What happened to the .357max? "

The same thing that is gonna happen to the 45 GAP.

January 8, 2005, 03:45 PM
I just bought 200 rounds of brand new 357 max Remington brass in the Cabela's bargain cave for $24. I think I have close to 300 rounds loaded plus the 200 that now needs to be loaded. I have a TC 14 inch with a 2X Leupold. at 50 yards everything is right at an inch. it is a really good round

January 8, 2005, 09:29 PM
Member of our Club got wind on possibly silhouette shooting to immediately buy a Dan Wesson of 357 Max & was peeved that we went no farther then that one minor discussion with a chap that would like to see it introduced.

Seems no one took into consideration 4.1 acres with north/south being the narrowest yet safest to shoot was not even 200 yrds.

January 8, 2005, 11:07 PM
Supposedly you can shoot .38spl in a .357mag lever gun and .44spl in a .44mag levergun, so I don't see why you couldn't shoot .357max in a .357mag.

January 8, 2005, 11:27 PM
You can't shoot .357 Max in a gun chambered for .357 Mag since the brass is much longer.

January 9, 2005, 01:46 AM
Correction. I meant to say a .357mag in a chamber reamed for .357max, following the logic of what I said previously. Thanks.

January 9, 2005, 10:20 AM
Yup. You can shoot .38 special, .357 mag and .357 Max outta the same gun.

Which is why I just bought one :D

January 9, 2005, 12:06 PM
It's still an interesting caliber. Never saw a need for one, but.... :)

Some number of the Rugers have gone outa print. Linebaugh did a conversion for a while to make the Ruger Maximums into a five shot gun in either .500 or .475 Linebaugh Long calibers, possible when you have the longer cylinders. Hopefully folks saved the barrels and cylinders, for later restoration, after their carpal tunnel heals. :rolleyes:

January 15, 2005, 02:24 AM
Never seen a thread resurrected after 2 years.
Well, I have everything now to go, the contender, the brass, tons of loads to try, just need that barrel. Gonna have a custom done in a 14" length octagon. Rumor has it that Remington has this brass heading for the chopping block, so I got 500. figure that will last me.

January 15, 2005, 02:31 AM
Please post pictures of it when you're done.

Swamp Yankee
January 15, 2005, 08:59 AM

When you decide to start filling those 500 soldiers;
I've had very good sucess with Hornady's 180 gr XTP, JHP (35771). Start with 17.0 grains H110 and work up. Use small rifle primers. COL 1. 890
Now go knock down a ram.

Take Care

January 15, 2005, 05:03 PM
Here it is, a year later, and I've yet to see Winchester get off their duffs and chamber a Model 94 levergun for me. :D

That S&W X-frame .357 Max idea, hmmm... ;)

January 16, 2005, 01:58 AM
Yeah, I got another Ruger Blackhawk Maximum a while back. It's about to become a really nice Bisley Blackhawk in .414 Super Mag. It'll be alot easier to pack in a holster than the larger DWs in the same caliber I've got. ;)

Ruger Redhawk
January 16, 2005, 10:17 AM
I screwed up when the Ruger 357 max first came out. One of the gunshops had them under retail price.I looked at them and decided I could to get one later.Right after that Ruger discontinued them.Needless to say I never got one. I see them used once in awhile but they are trying to get enough for a plush retirement selling them.If I had only known.

Ruger Redhawk

October 28, 2007, 12:55 AM
Growing up my father had a Centender chambered in 357 max. He used Hornady 158 xtp if I remember right. I remember shooting the gun and watching people get up and move down 2 tables on either side due to the concision. My father used it for hunting Deer and a few hunts for Snowshoe hares for fun. A bit over kill. That is the only gun I have ever seen it chambered in and until 2 years ago I never talked to anyone that ever had seen one. It was the first pistol I had ever shoot and would love to get my hands on anything chambered 357 max.

October 28, 2007, 01:39 AM
Wonder if someone will resurrect this thread again in 2009? Kinda funny that it came up again since I got my 357max barrel a couple of weeks ago. Decided to go with a simple 10 inch bull, then put a red dot on top. I've only been able to shoot 158gr jhp and cast SWCers thru it since I don't have a heavier mold, but WOW. At 50 yrds it'll throw as many shots as I care to shoot into a 2 inch group, with a nice piece of glass I'm betting it would do better. recoil isn't near what the same rig in 44 mag runs. Almost my favorite barrel, almost.:D

October 28, 2007, 02:06 AM
Don't know how available ammo is, but there is no problems when
used in the Contenders. Ruger stopped making them when they
could not figure out how to control a kind of gas cutting erosion
on the front part of the upper frame. Manage to shoot a friend's
and he pointed out the start of frame cutting action. Never heard
of a failure, but did see that ugly black mark that grew with use:confused:

P. Plainsman
October 28, 2007, 02:16 AM
Wonder if someone will resurrect this thread again in 2009?
Heh. :D It's like the Olympics.

There was a fine article on the ol' .357 Max in the most recent Handloader magazine. (Is it me, or is Handloader consistently more sophisticated and informative than the average gunzine?)

Author implied that two problems sank the round commercially: (1) measured velocities of factory ammo were way below published claims, particularly with lighter bullet weights; (2) the "flame cutting" problem, which the author said was real, but was somewhat exaggerated - i.e., no, it wasn't going to cut right through your top strap!

Fair enough, but even a little visible flame-cutting would freak me out.

He also had an interesting technical explanation of why the Max was so rough on forcing cones -- again, light-bullet loads were the biggest offenders. The powder charge would fail to combust fully by the time the bullet cleared the barrel-cylinder gap, so you'd have some unburned powder grains being sprayed against the forcing cone, creating a "sandblasting" effect.

Still, it's an interesting critter. With heavy (170 gr +) bullets, and in a rifle (or a closed-breech handgun like a Contender), it could be neat.

October 28, 2007, 06:25 AM
I fully intend to use mine with big heavy (180+) bullets, may even load some rifle type pointy bullets:evil:. But I have a box or 2 of 125gr jhp, I think I may even have some 110gr bullets around here some where. Might be interesting to see just how fast I can push one. From what I've heard, light bullet accuracy out of the contender barrels was pretty poor, but this is no normal barrel.

October 28, 2007, 03:11 PM
I have T/C G2 14"- and Dan Wesson 8" barrels. Because I am reloader, can make "cowboy loads" with VihtaVuori N-32C and copperpladet cast bullets.Strong ones with N-110- or N-120 powder. 123gr bullet goes with T / C easy over 2600 fts. I use only 158- and 180 gr bullets..K.W.

October 28, 2007, 07:37 PM
It died...Sadly. The cartridge had a lot of potential. If it had only been chambered in a short, Trapper-length lever rifle...

Guess they couldn't see the forest for the trees.

October 28, 2007, 09:34 PM
I still say that if Marlin or Winchester would have gotten behind this with a slick little lever they would have flown off the shelves. The numbers out of a 10 inch barrel are damned impressive, out of a 16 they should be something indeed. I do know a few folks who have reemed handi rifles to max length, apparently it takes about 3 1/2 turns, and they seem quite happy with them. Another round you don't hear anything about is the 360 dan wesson. I used those out of my 357mag contender for a while since the chamber was cut so long. Alot of potiential there too.

Big Boomer
October 29, 2007, 01:05 AM
I still want one...but then again I'm a power junkie so be it.

October 29, 2007, 07:33 AM
I still say that if Marlin or Winchester would have gotten behind this with a slick little lever they would have flown off the shelves.

We're on the same wavelength, Okie. Yessir. That would have been a nice combination with 180-grain slugs.

Brian Williams
October 29, 2007, 10:03 AM
Heck, a 357 mag out of an 18.5 inch Marlin is a great 100 + yard gun, what would a 360 wesson or 357 max do. I would go for that in a heart beat.
I have seen (online) a conversion to 360 wesson and the reports about that are quite impressive.

October 29, 2007, 10:28 AM
Yup. You can shoot .38 special, .357 mag and .357 Max outta the same gun.
Which is why I just bought one

You can shoot 38spl and 357mag ammo, but you well get a build up of lead in the machined step of the cylinder, if bad enough it well keep a the max brass from fully seating. DW does not recommend using 38/357 ammo in the max, in fact they say not to.
As far as flame cutting the top strap, on mine it went about .025 deep and stopped. I no longer load 125gr bullets to 2000fps. A very enjoyable gun to shoot.

October 29, 2007, 10:32 AM
I just sold a Wichita 357 Super Mag which shoots the 357 max ammo... hello of a whitetail handgun...

October 29, 2007, 12:42 PM
Heck, a 357 mag out of an 18.5 inch Marlin is a great 100 + yard gun, what would a 360 wesson or 357 max do. I would go for that in a heart beat.

Brian...Think of what a neat, handy package that'd be in a 16-inch Trapper at about 5 pounds. In that barrel length, it would probably be as good as the .30-30 round out to a hundred yards. I've clocked factory 170s in my old .30-30 Trapper at a tick over 1900 fps. A .36/180 at 1700 wouldn't give up much to it...

October 30, 2007, 06:37 AM
You know, when you mentioned the use of the MAX in the X-frame I felt a warm tingle...you could make an 8 rounder in the X-frame...Smith if you're reading this, build it, I think you'd see some sales. Talk about a whitetail slayer...

October 30, 2007, 11:11 AM
I'm still trying to figure out how a gun you have never owned can be one of your favorites.

October 30, 2007, 02:53 PM
Easy, I look at the ballistics and the potiential ballistics. Like right now I'm quite fond of the 460, even tho I'll never own that one.

October 30, 2007, 06:29 PM
One my favour load T/C G2 is; Lapua E 367 SJF 158gr, VihtaVuori N-110 20,8gr, 2115 fps. It makes 3/4" groups / 109,36 yds with carbine stock and 4x rifle scoup . I shall never to shoot .38 spl or .357 mag cartridges. I use always own cases. I have silencer too and make loads with VihtaVuori N-32C powder.

October 31, 2007, 12:08 AM
my memory is foggy ....on dan wesson. didn't he produce a suppressed revolver?

Brian Williams
October 31, 2007, 08:01 AM
Nope not a suppressed revolver but a very workable change barrel system for revolvers

October 31, 2007, 03:19 PM
Not so cheap IMO...


My dad's been bidding on these, but they are turning out to be pricey.

October 31, 2007, 11:26 PM
It became the .351 winchester slr with a little trimming. Thanks remington.

Peter M. Eick
November 3, 2007, 09:07 AM
What happened? Not much other then I bought one and then all of a sudden I saw a lot more of them being sold and used.

Seems like it is making a comeback here lately.

I am taking mine deer hunting in a few weeks out in west texas. I figure between it and the 25-06 I have both ends of the ranges covered and it will be a reasonable fight for the deer when shooting from a blind.

November 3, 2007, 01:38 PM
You can usually get a Dan Wesson cheaper than a Ruger.

May 4, 2008, 11:39 AM
LOL, it's been over six months, so time for this thread to get another jump start.
Loaded .357 Maximum ammo is available at www.reedsammo.com The Maximum is making a comeback thanks to folks like Mike Bellm who chamber Contender barrels the right way for it. www.bellmtcs.com
S&W making the X-frame in Maximum? Don't count on it. Some of us remember how S&W made fun of both Ruger and Dan Wesson for making extended cylinder revolvers plus they were one of the first to point to the Maximum's "destructiveness" as a reason not to consider enlarging their N-Frame. According to them (at the time) the .44 Magnum was the most powerful cartridge any reasonable handgun shooter could need.

May 4, 2008, 12:19 PM
Kinda funny, everytime I do something with my max this thread pops up again. Right now it's away from home getting a brake. I'll post a pic when she gets back home.

May 4, 2008, 04:44 PM
I've got a 10" T/C Contender in 357 Max and 12 boxes of factory Remington 158 jhp. Great caliber in a great shooting gun.

May 4, 2008, 07:55 PM
My two favs
10 inch Contender
7.5 inch Ruger Blackhawk
both love Nosler 180gr FPJ at 1600fps

May 4, 2008, 08:05 PM
ammobank.com has factory new 357max from PCI , I just shot some the other day with my supermag. Good ammo but a little pricey at 42.00 per box of 50.

May 5, 2008, 04:50 PM
As promised, here she is all dressed up....


The brass brake is just for show, I've got a stainless for real work. She'll throw as many rounds as I care to shoot thru a ragged hole at 50yrds, so she'll be my walking deer pistol this year.

May 5, 2008, 05:12 PM
How about the .40super? Triton designed the auto pistol load and to me, it looked like a real winner, :D. The .40super had the power of a 10mm but worked like a .357sig, ;).

But, has many good ideas/concepts the .40super never had enough support in the US firearms/ammo market and went down the same path as the .400Corbon, 9x23mm, .41AE, etc. :mad:


May 5, 2008, 06:37 PM
The .357 MAX is a pretty close cousin to the .30 carbine, isn't it? I think if most people want to move up to a more powerful cartridge, they go with .41 or .44 mag. And if they want a flatter shooting .357 Mag they would move up to .30 carbine in a pistol or an actual carbine.

I rarely hear about the .357 MAX.

May 5, 2008, 06:46 PM
30 Carbine in a rifle length barrel might hit 2000fps with a 110 gr bullet, and I'm pretty sure you's have to be loading pretty hot to hit that. My max runs a 158gr bullet at the same velocity and I have the ability to load much heavier. My current favorite load is a 170gr Sierra HP at about 1750fps. That's a respectable load. And it shoots flatter than the 41 and 44. If I want flatter shooting than that I go with my 6tcu.

May 6, 2008, 12:59 AM
You know, I almost bought a 41AE once for $200. But the guy let slip that you couldn't even find brass for it. Later I found out you could, but it was dear. Still wish I would have picked that one up.

May 6, 2008, 02:23 PM
Ah memories, :D. About 6yrs ago I saw a FFL dealer at a gun show that was selling a matched set of NIB(new in box) unfired Bren 10 10mm pistols from D&D with collector case for only; $800.00USD! If I had the bread I'd snag those 10mm pistols up. :D


May 9, 2008, 08:41 AM
The .357 Maximum is in no way related to the .30 Carbine. The Max shares all dimensions with the .38 Special/.357 Mag/.360 Dan Wesson except it's case length (1.605"). The .30 Carbine is a smaller diameter rimless semi-auto round with a 1.29" case length.
I don't recommend shooting shorter .38 Specials and .357 Magnums in the SuperMag because chamber fouling and erosion can cause the Maximum cases to stick and be difficult to extract. The distance from the case mouth to the chamber throat is far enough that bullet shaving can result from the bullet not entering the throat "square". The .360 Dan Wesson would be better, but there is no point since the .360 case is not just a Maximum case trimmed to 1.415". A Maximum case cut to 1.415" requires inside reaming to avoid bulging the brass when seating the bullet.

May 9, 2008, 02:45 PM
Before I got this max I was using 360 DW in my 357mag Contender barrel. About the only thing good about how deep T/C cuts their chambers. Respectable cartridge that 360.

May 11, 2008, 03:18 PM
I've seen no mention in this thread of the fact that we are really talking about two different cartridges. Elgin Gates first developed the 357 SuperMag as a wildcat. Ruger and remington decided to go commercial with it and as all too often happens when the biggies take a wildcat commercial they have to fix what ain't broke. Thus the 357 Maximum fiasco was born.

The 357 SuperMag was intended to take heavy for caliber bullets for the steel ram. Ruger did not want to make the frame window long enough to take the 35 SuperMag, instead opting for a shorter cartridge with a light bullet at hyper velocities. Gates told them it wouldn't work. Remington loaded it with a massive charge of slow ball powder and it ate forcing cones and top straps. Meanwhile, Dan Wesson chambered for the 357 SuperMag, (Not withstanding the barrel shroud being marked 357 Maximum.) the ram shooters loaded heavy bullets and were fat dumb and happy. I've never heard of a proper 357 SuperMag load eating up barrels in a revolver.

The 357 Maximum case length is 1.605, the 357 SuperMag case length is 1.610, not much difference. The main difference is in the OAL with the SuperMag allowing heavy bullets without seating them deep in the case. A proper 357 SuperMag load will NOT chamber in a Ruger.

May 11, 2008, 05:38 PM
I chambered a 10" T/C Contender barrel for .357 Max when it first came out. GREAT deer round.
In my mind .357 MAX has always kind of blurred the distinction between rounds fired out of a rifle and rounds fired out of a handgun. I like that...in a sick, twisted sort of way.
Very blurry . . .

I also have a.357 Herrett barrel, and a .35 Remington, and it's VERY hard to exceed the .357 Maximum's performance with either of these cartridges in a pistol-length barrel.

May 13, 2008, 12:58 AM
I think Mike Bellm still sells rechambered 12in factory contender barrels for under $300.

May 13, 2008, 02:15 AM
Contender barrels are pretty easy to come by, thousands of mags have been rechambered. The chambers are cut so deep in most of the 10" bull barrels that it doesn't take much to max them. All of the custom makers still offer the max, as well as the TC custom shop. Finally gonna get mine out tomorrow to check out that new brake if the weather holds.

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