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All You Need to Know About the .357 Remington Maximum

Updated on October 26, 2015
.357 Rem. Max. (left) vs. .357 Magnum (Right)
.357 Rem. Max. (left) vs. .357 Magnum (Right) | Source

History of the .357 Remington Maximum

In 1983, the .357 Remington Maximum was released as a joint project between Ruger and Remington. Remington manufactured this impressive cartridge, and still produces new brass for handloaders on occasion. Ruger developed a Blackhawk specifically for the cartridge, but word of barrel erosion and "flame cutting" came to light quickly and production of the revolver was ceased with only about 400 produced. Since that time, many believe that the issues stem from using light-loads consisting of 110 and 125 grain (gr.) bullets that allow for velocities Ruger never intended. The revolvers that were built in this caliber are rare, and consistently go for a premium over other Ruger Blackhawks.

Despite the fact there is little commercial production for the .357 Remington maximum, the cartridge is well liked by hunters who understand the velocities, energy, and recoil it produces makes for a very efficient and manageable cartridge. The .357 Rem. Max. has the energy and accuracy needed for 200 meter silhouette shooting. Because of this, many hunters are realizing the potential of the cartridge for hunting medium to large game.

You can find handguns in the .357 Remington Maximum, but prices vary. The most common include:

  • Ruger Blackhawk
  • Dan Wesson Model 40
  • Thompson Center Contender

There are other firearms chambered in the maximum, but their availability is limited and prices can be high. One example would be the Savage Model 24 combination rifle/shotgun. There were some factory chambered in .357 Remington Maximum over 20 guage.

Comparative Muzzle Velocities and Energies

Cartridge
Bullet Weight (gr)
Muzzle Velocity (ft/s)
Muzzle Energy (lb/ft)
9mm Luger
124
1100
339
.357 Magnum
158
1250
548
.44 Magnum
200
1500
999
.357 Maximum
180
1700
1155

Hunting with the .357 Remington Maximum

The .357 Remington Maximum is a very efficient cartridge for hunters of medium game animals like deer and hogs. While the cartridge produces around 1200 ft/lbs of energy, which is more than a .44 Magnum, it also has less recoil. This means that hunters are able to control the firearm much better, making more accurate and effective shots. Also, at higher velocities, the bullet is able to realize a flatter trajectory meaning longer shots are possible.

.357 caliber bullets (from left to right) 158 gr XTP, 180 gr XTP, 200 gr FTX, New 357 Rem Max casing. Bullets manufactured by Hornady.
.357 caliber bullets (from left to right) 158 gr XTP, 180 gr XTP, 200 gr FTX, New 357 Rem Max casing. Bullets manufactured by Hornady. | Source

Firearms in the .357 Remington Maximum caliber

Thompson Center manufactures the Contender in .357 Remington Maximum still. Since this is a single-shot firearm, there is no potential for flame cutting, and the true potential of this cartridge is realized. This is because revolvers allow a certain amount of gas to escape as the bullet jumps from the cylinder to the forcing cone, meaning lost pressure. Also, the Contender comes in longer barrel lengths than the 7.5 and 10.5 inch barrels that Ruger made the Blackhawk with for the .357 Rem. Max. This allows, again, for higher velocities and energies than the revolvers made by Ruger and Smith & Wesson.

Savage made a small number of their model 24 Over/Under combination rifles with a .357 Rem. Max chambering. Some hunters have decided to have single-shot rifles rechambered for the cartridge because it's very easy to handle when fired from a rifle. It is also more effective when used with a long gun, where it is legal to hunt with rifles.

Have you ever hunted with a .357 Remington maximum firearm?

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Handloading the .357 Remington Maximum

Since there is very little commercial availability for the .357 Rem. Max., Those who own firearms in this chambering load their own custom ammunition. Remington is the only manufacturer of brass for this caliber, but Hornady, Speer, Sierra, Remington, Winchester, and several other manufacturers make bullets that work well for the cartridge. Regardless of the manufacturer, most reloading books recommend you do not load bullets lighter than 158 grains. This is especially true if you plan to hunt or compete in silhouette competitions as lighter bullets don't maintain enough energy at longer ranges.

While many manufacturers produce copper jacketed or semi-jacketed bullets, as well as spire point for better accuracy at longer ranges, you can cast your own bullets to load this caliber. It's important to note that when using cast bullets, you will need to use gas checks since the velocities reached with .357 Remington Maximum may cause problems.

If you didn't know much about this caliber before, hopefully this hub has given you some insight into why it is such a great cartridge. It's failure as a commercial load does not reflect poorly on it's performance, as it has become increasingly popular for handgun hunters and silhouette shooters alike.

Helpful Links

The Most Versatile Pistol Ever Made: Why You Need a Thompson Contender

  • The Thompson Contender is still being chambered in the .357 Remington Maximum, find out why this handgun is so popular among hunters and competitive shooters

Why You Should Consider Reloading Ammunition

  • If you plan to harness the advantages the .357 Remington Maximum offers, you'll probably need to handload your own ammunition. Find out a little more about it, here!


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    • marcJ profile image
      Author

      marcJ 2 years ago from Mid-MO

      After becoming accustomed to the cartridge and it's range of uses, I too couldn't believe it never caught on commercially. It's my personal opinion that the flame cutting on the revolvers chambered in this cartridge gave it a bad rep. Even though it was flawed engineering, it was the cartridge that suffered. I agree, a lever gun in the .357 Max would be quite the setup. Thanks for reading!

    • Edward J. Palumbo profile image

      Ed Palumbo 2 years ago from Tualatin, OR

      I had the opportunity to fire a colleague's .357 Max "Contender" and he worked with my .41 Magnum. I was favorably impressed with the .357 Max and the spectrum of .357 bullets that would optimize its versatility. I'd hoped the cartridge would be well received by the market, that Marlin would act on chambering their Model 1894 lever action for the .357 Max, but few seemed to appreciate what the cartridge had to offer. I enjoyed your article.