magnum cartridgeGun Library ArticleMagnum Cartridges

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The History of Magnum Cartridges

The first and perhaps most representative example is the .357 Magnum.

The cartridge was especially made for revolvers and was based on an earlier cartridge, the .38 Special. The people who participated in its creation and promotion were Elmer Keith, Oliver Winchester and the famous duo of Smith & Wesson. When it was introduced in 1934, the American firearm industry hadn’t reached its peak yet.

From the first time it appeared on the market, the .357 Magnum was in constant competition with the .38 Colt cartridge created for pistols. Officials from Colt were busting with pride, stating that the .38 Super Automatic was the only cartridge capable of passing through automobiles and steel body armors. Smith & Wesson knew it was high time for them to regain their number one position; thus, they came up with the .357 Magnum, using the previous .38 Special cartridge. The new cartridge had two major advantages: one of having a different power load and second an expanded case for enhanced safety. Elmer Keith worked long and hard for the development of the .357 Magnum, setting clear goals and dreaming that he would create a cartridge that could penetrate profoundly, with a straight trajectory and capable of shooting at a long range.

As for performance, the .357 Magnum is regarded with great favor, especially for self-defense. From all the handgun cartridges ever invented, this particular cartridge is seen as the standard even if it is considered unsuitable for big game hunting. Specialists consider that for hunting big game such as bears and other large mammals the .44 or .41 Magnum are much more fitted. Nevertheless, the .357 Magnum is perfect for pursuing small or medium game, being especially preferred by those who enjoy deer hunting. The cartridge is considered as versatile, being used for self-defense, hunting and even target shooting competitions.

Another excellent cartridge wearing the Magnum name was introduced by Remington Arms in 1964.

Though it was chambered for pocket-size rounds it had an incredible firepower and it surpassed by far the previous existing models. Almost one million models were made and they are even manufactured today under a different name. The modern models of the 1892 Winchester Repeating Rifle are made from innovative materials, being long-lasting and they are especially chambered for more powerful cartridges, including the famous 357 and 44 Magnums. Not many people know that the 1892 rifle had in fact replaced another firearm designed by the same John Browning, the 1873 model.

John Browning continued to be for many years an important member of the Winchester team, designing various firearms and introducing revolutionary ideas. He is the one who allowed Winchester to remain just as famous and defeat competition. Together, they formed an incredible partnership and they came up with the first rifle and cartridge for the new smokeless powder, namely the Winchester 1894 model. North America was definitely impressed with the firearms developed by Winchester Repeating Arms Company and the 1894 became one of the most popular rifles, being sold in millions of units.

In 1885, Winchester issued another innovation to the general public using a previous design of John Browning from 1878. The rifle was called the Winchester Single Shot and it was especially welcomed by those who were into sporting shooting competitions. At that time, target shooting was one of the most popular competitions and the Single Shot Rifle increased their popularity even more. Winchester was competing at that time with important names in the American firearm manufacturing industry including Remington and Ballard but somehow the company managed to win all battles and remain the undefeated champion. The gun was described as dependable, powerful and was probably one of the best single shot rifles ever made.

Specialists working for Winchester Repeating Arms Company decided to test all the newly-made ammunition with this rifle and the results were more than satisfactory. Due to the increased demands from hunting and sporting shooting enthusiasts, the Single Shot Rifle started to be mass-produced, being chambered for a wide variety of cartridges. It took another 85 years for the rifle to be produced once more, having the same 19th and 20th century cartridges. The limited editions were extremely well received among gun collectors. Today’s 1885 Single Shot rifles are far from being the firearms John Browning imagined. They are made using the latest technological innovations, use long-lasting materials such as steel and are chambered for groundbreaking cartridges.

John Wayne became famous during the 1950s with his Winchester carbines and throughout time Winchester rifles have gained a reputation on their own.

And if you are wondering what kind of weapons are used in those old country Westerns you love so much to watch, then you should know that they belong to the same famous name, Winchester. They were not only adopted by the filming industry but they were also used extensively in the Second World War. Winchester’s rifles have started to be exceeded by new bolt-action rifles; the response came in the form of the 70 Winchester rifle in 1936. It was one of the most successful bolt-action rifles ever made and discovered a whole new world of possibilities for hunting enthusiasts.

As for the 1894 Marlin rifle, history has probably just as many things to recount. The lever-action repeating rifle was designed and produced under the name of Marlin Firearms Company. The rifle had a barrel of 24 inches and was chambered for several cartridges including: 25-20, 32-20, 38-40 and 44-40. It was not the first lever-action repeating rifle produced by Marlin Firearms but it was by far the most popular. The very first model was manufactured in 1881 and it was followed by an 1889 model, completely improved. The final 1894 model was a result of many years of hard work and dedication, featuring an innovative trigger and firing pin mechanism. There are several versions of the already famous 1894 rifle but they are all lever-action rifles. As for stainless steel editions, there is one single firearm to fit that description, meaning the 1894 SS rifle, chambered for the 44 Magnum calibers.

If you want to understand the history of American firearms, then there is no better way to start than with these two prestigious manufacturers. As one can observe, both these two famous personalities have a very interesting story to tell, proving that America is indeed a country where all dreams come true. They worked extremely hard for what they believed in and their inventions stand as testimony today. And if there is one thing that could be mentioned about their prestige and incredible dedication, that would be bravo!