1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

What is the true definition of a "magnum"

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by H&Hhunter, Aug 28, 2003.

  1. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    I was reading Pondoro Taylors book "African Rifles & Cartridges" the other day and he makes the statement that "A magnum is a rifle capable of pushing it's projectile at 2500FPS or faster." It got me to thinking what is the modern day definition of a magnum. At which point do we draw the line between a standard cartridge and a magnum?
  2. Hutch

    Hutch Well-Known Member

    Well, that definition DQ's the .458 Win Mag!! I'll prob'ly still think of it as a magnum, tho'. It's purely a marketing term, and as such, means whatever the vendor wants it to. A .32H&R "Magnum" ain't a patch on a non-magnum .45 Colt, as far as power is concerned. Littlest centerfile rifle cartridge that comes to mind immediately is the .222 Rem Magnum. Less horsepower than the .223 Remington. To repeat, it's a marketing term, not a term of art. It has no precise definition.
  3. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    The Pondoro Taylor definition is c. 1948. The common ctgs he was using were 2,100 - 2,200 fps. So the 2,500 fps was a big jump at the time. In addition the 350 Rigby Magnum reduced the bullet weight down a lot to attain the jump in velocity so it was not much more effective than the old 350 Rigby that shot a heavier (better SD) bullet.

    The 458 Win Mag was created in 1956, IIRC, to duplicate the bullistics of the fabled 450 - 476 NE calibers, which it does quite well.
  4. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Well-Known Member

    The true definition of a "Magnum" is that where firearms are concerned it's a marketing hype term, sort of like Express was.

    Magnum was first applied to rifle cartridges in Britain around the 1880s/1890s, and the differences in performance really weren't that great. Normally just a bigger case (as the magnum wine bottle, from which the term was taken, is a bigger bottle) with more powder.

    Magnum performance kicked up a notch when smokeless powder was introduced, but the dividing line still isn't as clear as Taylor's definition would make it seem, as some Magnum cartridges are hard pressed to hit the 2,500 fps. mark, while other cartridges not named Magnums will do it easily.

    A lot of people (at least in the United States) tend to think of the Magnum as being cartridge based on an existing round, but with a longer case, more poweder space, and more power -- the .357 Magnum as an outgrowth of the .38 Spl., for example.

    But even that's not definitive, as the .256 Magnum and the .41 Magnum didn't have clear predecessors, nor did the .300 H&H/.375 H&H Magnums -- they simply sprang up out of design studios.

    One final note of interest... S&W owned the trademark on the term Magnum as it was applied to handgun cartridges. I think it's slipped into the public domain now.
  5. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    One thing I think we all can agree on: a magnum bottle of wine is better than a non-magnum. :p
  6. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    Nope :D
    A Magnum of Mad Dog does not a split of fine wine beat.

    Magnum, as applied to firearms and ammo; as others have said, a promotional term.

  7. BigG

    BigG Well-Known Member

    CRSam: Given a given quality of wine, the magnum beats the non-magnum in my book. :neener:
  8. Dr.Rob

    Dr.Rob Moderator Staff Member

    Well nowadays when guys are shooting .50 bmg bullets out of man portable rifles...


    Magnum=bigger, faster than "normal". Hell even Hornady is marketing 'light magnum' loads for 30-06 and 308, so what is thet, a 308 +p? +p+?

    Magnum power in a rifle? If anything over 2500fps counted a .223 is a "magnum". Shouldn't we be talking ft/lbs of energy vs. velocity?

    < confused?

    Me too.

    Why is a 470 nitro extress not called a magnum, oh wait EXPRESS was used to market those big boys the same way magnum is used now. EXPRESS was BIGGER than magnum, right?

    So how about nitro express magnum long range...

    you get the picture.
  9. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    Or (I think) McMillan's 20mm necked down to .50, man portable.
    Tis all relative.
    Is a 9mm rimfire BBcap a magnum compared to a .22 BBcap ?

    Hmmm...magy Aguila can market Magnum BBcaps.

  10. CWL

    CWL Well-Known Member

    THIS is the definitive Magnum.

    ...apologies to all, I got this off a German website, so you can blame them!

    Attached Files:

  11. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Well-Known Member

    That's what I'm saying, Dr. Robb.

    Magnum is a marketing term. It has no clearly defined value.

    Some cartridges, such as the .416 Rigby, or the .425 Westley Richards, certainly can claim Magnum performance, but neither Rigby or Westley Richards adopted either Magnum or Express for those cartridges.
  12. uglygun

    uglygun Well-Known Member

    Hard to ignore the marketing behind the "magnum" name.

    But it does make a bit of sense when you get to certain levels of performance. Even if it's as small as a 22lr. and comparing it to the 22Rimfire Mag, there's a fairly noticable jump in performance there.

    Typically with performance there is a marked increase in pressure needed to achieve such performance. For handguns, this level is what? Around 30k PSI and above? For rifles don't most "magnum" labeled rounds produce around 60k PSI and above?

    I'm sure that back in the day 2500fps was smokin hot and depending on the weight of the bullet being fired it may or may not have met with a more modern classification of what is or is not a magnum.

    To me, "magnum" doesn't denote fast or necessarily "powerful" it just tells me that something is running at higher pressures.
  13. MagKnightX

    MagKnightX Well-Known Member

    I believe the term "Magnum" originally referred to an amount of wine equivelant to 4 bottles. In the firearms world, it is an adjective added to the name of a cartridge that means, "fun to shoot."
  14. H&Hhunter

    H&Hhunter Moderator

    I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one who has no clear definition of the term magnum as when applied to firearms.

    I was wondering then can anyone give a clear diagnosis of a case of magnumitis.;)

    H&Hhunter who sometimes hunts with a magnum that is less powerfull than other non-magnums.:confused:

Share This Page