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Monday, 21 December 2015

.357 MAXIMUM Blackhawk & "Panty Shields":

Ruger seem to have a habit of 'inventing' new oddball cartridges that don't hit the spot and fail to become popular - or at least - Ruger do develop and market some novel cartridges that seem to be destined to history as rarities. Shooters seem to be a conservative lot - look at the popularity of the '1911'  "boat-anchors" in .45ACP.

.357 Maximum with .357 Magnum.
Maximum Case is .300" longer.

The "Maximum" started life as an Elgin Gates "wildcat cartridge" called .357 Supermag before being adopted in 1983 by Remington together with Ruger - who developed a 'Blackhawk' single-action revolver with an extended cylinder and stretched frame built to fit.

Ruger .357 Maximum Blackhawk came with Either 7.5" or 10.5" Barrel.
158 grain Bullet @ 1,825 ft.per.sec. (1,158ft-lbs energy)

- Brilliant idea that should have been a winner for metallic silhouette shooters and serious handgun hunters. The concept was that the .357 Maximum would have much the same power levels and 'knockdown' as a .44 Magnum while being gentler on the shooter - having considerably less perceived recoil, while maintaining strong impact on target with a flatter trajectory (100 yard mid-range trajectory only 1.7 inches with 158gn)

A versatile six gun that would be OK with .357 Magnum and even  .38 Special.. But.

Trouble was that - despite thorough and extensive development shooting of the new revolver before release - when the guns got customer shot with lots of high velocity light-weight bullets - they flame cut the top straps and eroded the barrel forcing cones. One website even states that one example got returned to the factory with its top strap so badly flame-cut that it had eroded a hole completely through and was dangerously spitting back into the shooters face.

Problem seems to be that when this cartridge was loaded with bullets weighing anything less than 158 grains - the peak internal pressure occurred just as the light pill leaves the brass case mouth and opens the path for high pressure explosive gasses to flame cut and erode all metal in its path.
Flame cut by light weight High Velocity.

Remington were selling factory .357 Maximum jacketed hollow point ammunition with a 125 grain bullet.. Problem.

Ruger ended-up stopping production after only two years and replaced any customer returned guns with a different calibre model. Story goes that they may have destroyed thousands of these guns.

Maybe what is needed for a comeback is a line of 200 grain loads with the best speed powder charge to eliminate the flame cutting. - Could be that even S&W might be persuaded to chamber their big 5-shot X-Frame Revolver for the 'Maximum'. - X-frame cylinder length has room to spare and it takes higher internal pressure (60,000psi -( SAAMI 48,000psi for "Max") than would be needed for the .357 Max.

Mind you - I'd make a point of marketing or making my own "panty-shields" out of spring steel and fitting them into the gap between barrel and top strap on any hot loaded revolver I had!
- Nothing like knowing you're protected eh.

Seasons Greetings all,
Marty K.