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Original specs of .357 Magnum

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Mr. Mosin, Nov 16, 2019.

  1. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    This might belong in the Handloading forum.... I don't know.

    Anyways, I've read that the original .357 Magnum was an entirely different beast from what it is today. That it would shoot clean through an engine block. Three things

    1. Is this true ?
    2. Can a handloader replicate this performance today ?
    3. If No. 2 is possible, will a GP100 tolerate an extended usage of it ?
     
  2. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    You could probably crack an aluminum lawn mower engine block, but NEVER a cast iron car engine block. Maybe bust a small piece of off it. I know of no handgun cartridge that could actually pass through a car engine cleanly outside of Hollyweird.
     
  3. buck460XVR

    buck460XVR Member

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    1.)no

    2.)no, since it couldn't be done.

    3.)refer to the answers to #1 and #2.
     
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  4. Obturation
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    Obturation Contributing Member

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    Gp100 should handle just about anything but i agree with others 357 mag isn't punching through engine blocks.
     
  5. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Elmer Keith wrote an article in 1935 (the year it was introduced) on the new Smith & Wesson 357 Magnum revolver published in the November issue of the American Rifleman. He cites the velocity of the 158 grain bullet as 1518 fps from a 8 3/4" barrel.
     
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  6. Overkill870

    Overkill870 Member

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    1) 357 magnum cannot punch through an engine block. That is ridiculous.

    2) Handloaders can achieve very high power levels in 357 magnum, and there are some boutique ammo manufacturers like buffalo bore bore that produce extremely powerful loads.

    3) The GP100 can take the abuse of these loads.
     
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  7. mcb

    mcb Member

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    I think this idea that 357 Magnum was toned down some time in the past is due to SAAMI changing (adding) a new measurement system. I don't believe SAAMI has ever changes a spec for a cartridge after its been fully accepted. A change either way would put ammunition or firearms manufactures in a very bad position depending on which way the spec moved.

    357 Magnum's max pressure when measured using the older Copper Crusher measurement system has a limit of 45,000 CUP. With the newer piezo transducer method that same peak pressure comes out at 35,000 PSI. There is no exact conversion between CUP and PSI and when the new transducer method came online in the 70's they would take known CUP standard ammo and test it with the new method and use that to set the transducer PSI limits.

    To add further confusion CIP (the European equivalent to SAAMI) put the pressure limits for 357 Magnum at 300 Mpa (~43,500psi) using a transducer method that is very different than SAAMI's and though more correlative to SAAMI transducer than the older CUP is it is still not exactly the same measurement.
     
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  8. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    Forget how the temperature of the oven has been measured. Compare the performance of the cartridge.

    The ballistics of today's factory rounds are less impressive (same barrel, same bullet) than the original.

    Same for .38 Special, by the way.

    One other thing: In Sixguns by Keith, Elmer described the shooting of the original loads in the Registered Magnum revolvers as very unnerving, even for seasoned shooters. That was in what we call N-Frame guns today.

    Engine block? Of course not.
     
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  9. 357 Terms

    357 Terms Member

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    I have no clue of the metallurgy of a common propane tank, but a hot (and heavy) 357 will penetrate one side easily.
    Modern ammo is clearly "dilluted" in most cases.
    Handloads and "boutique" ammo makers can replicate the power of the original, with better bullets.
    My hunting load is a 180grn XTP that is near 1400fps from a 6.5in Blackhawk.
    Thats alot hotter than Hornady loads the same bullet.
    As for the engine block...any handgun bullet would just splatter when hitting and old block.
     
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  10. mcb

    mcb Member

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    Was he claiming they met SAAMI spec? I wildcat 38 Short Colt to 38 Special +P performance but I don't claim I am loading to SAAMI spec for the cartridge.
     
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  11. Jackrabbit1957

    Jackrabbit1957 Member

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    I had always heard the .357 was designed to crack an engine block. I came across an old Chevy 6 banger laying out in the desert a few miles from where I used to live. Decided to see if a .357 would actually crack the block. I hit it about halfway up the side between the # 3 ad 4 cylinders, yes it did crack the water jacket, did it go all the way through the engine, no.
     
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  12. wanderinwalker

    wanderinwalker Member

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    I'm still not convinced that our modern, "diluted" loadings and performance aren't just a more accurate representation of what was actually happening the whole time. Though I suppose it is possible the .357 Magnum has been throttled back slightly to ease use (and extraction) as the size of the revolvers it was housed in shrank.

    Part of the unnerving part could just be the sound and blast levels being quite a bit higher than the other common cartridges in use in 1935. Today we really are kind of inured to that, due to the other, more powerful options that have come along. A lot of people today still perceive the idea of the .45 ACP in a 1911 as being a big, hard-kicking, hard-to-control gun, but don't blink an eye at the idea of firing +P+ 9mm in a Glock 19-size pistol. Yet in my hands and opinion, the big 1911 is an easier-shooting option than the hot 9mm loads in the compact, polymer-frame service pistols. Can you imagine what those 1935 shooters would've thought if they're been handed an original .44 Magnum?

    As for the .357 shooting through an engine block? Not happening. It might crack a modern aluminum block, such as on my Subaru, but a good old fashioned cast-iron or steel block from Detroit? Naw, not a chance.
     
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  13. Mr. Mosin

    Mr. Mosin Member

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    The exact same reason some older .32 Auto's and .380's won't run with modern American FMJ ammo. It ain't the magazine, it ain't the recoil spring(s), it's nothing to do with the gun itself. It's the ammo. Pastor has an FN 1900 .32 Auto. It *will not* run reliably with American ammo. You load up some S&B or Fiocchi ? It's running like a Swiss watch
     
  14. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    I believe the "original" 357 mag used a LARGE primer but as to all the other stuff who knows?
     
  15. Hooda Thunkit

    Hooda Thunkit Member

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    Shoot through an engine block ?

    Well, load up a spire point lead bullet, heat treated to about 25 bnh, and load it hot.
    Now, let's shoot at some 1920s and 30s cast iron, which is a completely different type of metal than todays material.

    I think there is a very good possibility the engine may get a hole in it. Shoot completely through ? I don't know..
     
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  16. tbob38

    tbob38 Member

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    I have a few Super-X metal piercing rounds that would probably poke a hole in many engine blocks if hit in the right place.
     
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  17. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    Correct. I still have a few of the first ones we bought in the fifties. As well as the 357446 mould that was close to the first swc used.
     
  18. Olon

    Olon Member

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    On YouTube demo ranch couldn’t get a 50 bmg to go through an engine block. It went into it but not through...
     
  19. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    I think an awful lot of the "good old days" factory ammo performance was from a time when very few people had a chronograph and so marketing departments could make some tall claims on the box. Heck, they still do in many cases.

    And I think a lot of the "good old days" handloading performance was from loads tested without equipment adequately sensitive/fast to register brief pressure spikes (or just loaders "reading pressure signs").

    Something many people space out on is that engineers are trained and expected to build a safety margin into their products. For instance, if a bridge is intended to support a 10,000 weight, the engineer isn't going to design it so that it collapses at 10,001 pounds. He's going to build in a substantial safety margin, because things happen. Metal degrades, ice can build up and add weight, wind can add dynamic loads, stupid people rent Ryder trucks and have no idea how much they weigh, etc. That does not mean that the traffic planning people should then start intentionally routing 15,000lb vehicles over that bridge. The safety margin should stay that - a margin. You don't want to live inside the margin.

    Similarly, some of the super-hot "good old days" ammo was actually stuff that was spiking above the safe operating range of the firearms... and was just existing in the margin. Even if that can be done "safely," you've just removed all the slack from the system. If you get one round that is .2 grains heavy on powder, maybe that puts it into the kaboom. If you get enough leading to raise pressures, maybe that puts it into kaboom. Leave the ammo on the bench on a hot sunny day, maybe that's a kaboom.
     
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  20. LaneP

    LaneP Member

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    I like the .357 and I've owned one or more (have 3 now) since the early 80's. As with any cartridge reliant on slow burning propellant to realize high velocity, barrel length matters. For years ammo makers published velocites of the .357 in the 1500 fps range with a 158 grain bullet, only you had to look at the fine print to see that was with the original full length 8-3/8" barrel. Most shooters and nearly all police of the era packed either 4 or 6" barrels, putting velocity considerably below that 1500 fps mark.

    Even after Dirty Harry made the model 29 wildly popular in the early 70's (and unobtanium for the most part), the legend of the .357 was well entrenched, including nonsense such as its ability to "bust an engine block". Even its name was well conceived and rings as a powerful handgun cartridge, though Jeff Cooper was never fond of calling it a "magnum" because as he put it, "there's no .357 that's not a magnum". Marketing then was just as important as it ever has been.
     
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  21. Pat Riot

    Pat Riot Member

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    It seems urban legends abound in many aspects of life.

    The “Dum-Dum” bullet in a .357 Magnum revolver splitting engine blocks is definitely one of them.
     
  22. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    An ancient officer/shooter told me when I was in high school in early ‘70’s that he carried an S&W “Registered Magnum” in late ‘30’s. Normal ops were to carry the “metal piercing” ammo and on fleeing motorists, to shoot the radiator. This had the effect of “busting” the engine block often referred to. Not piercing the block, but drained the radiator causing over heating and engine seizure.

    That was back when it was acceptable to shoot at fleeing bad guys. There was a LOT less civil culpability back then, too. Now days, you have to account for every shot. But, it HAS gotten a little better in last 10-15yrs.

    In Georgia, it formally was required to demonstrate “preclusion” in a justifiable use of force, meaning that you had receded to maximum possible extent before using deadly force. We now have “stand your ground” statutes in place.

    It has reduced the rural residential burglary/home invasions in my area! Good way to get shot, in my neighborhood.
    I’m told that the scariest thing a perp can see when canvassing a location, is a LARGE pair of muddy boots by the front door...
    I also have a 4x4 p/u parked in the driveway. Even scares off the Jehovah witnesses!
     
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  23. AK103K

    AK103K Member

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    I think Goose hit on the reality of things with the engine block. Truth is, it doesnt have to "go through" to disable. Simply compromise the radiator and/or the water jacket, is all it takes.

    As far as loads of lore and what we have now, seems like every new loading manual is less and less in comparison to what the older manuals list. Im guessing lawyers and insurance are to blame there. Thats who runs the world these days with everything else.

    Im sure with today's steels and methods, the guns of an appropriate build, would stand up fine to the old "hot" loads.
     
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  24. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    It has--considerably.
     
  25. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    Not according to a person who has worked on 4 load manuals. They load right up to the SAAMI pressure limit.

    See Guy Neill's post (about the 6th post) in this forum thread:

    https://forums.brianenos.com/topic/280204-never-reloaded-have-some-questions/page/2/#comments

    Also, see Western Powder's load manual. They have data right up to the SAAMI limit as well.
     
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