Remember, 1935 was long before the age of instant communication or even gun magazines, except the American Rifleman. Elmer Keith wrote up the .357 for the latter, but opined the barrel was too long and he still preferred the .44 Special. Wesson promoted the new gun and cartridge using both a 6-1/2″ and 8-3/4″ .357 Magnum-taking elk, antelope and black bear. He even went to Alaska with the hopes of taking a brown bear, but was unable to find one. After contemplation, he felt it was a good thing he had not done so. In later years both of these early .357 Magnum, revolvers were owned by Col. Rex Applegate, and it was my privilege to be able to handle them. After his death they were sold, so they now belong to a Smith & Wesson collector somewhere.

Keith’s .38/44 load used his 173-grain 358429 hardcast bullet, which proved too long for use in the .357 Magnum cartridge due to the length of the Smith & Wesson cylinder. Sharpe designed a 158-grain bullet with a shorter nose and less bearing surface for use in the new cartridge, and published extensive reloading data while warning reloaders not to take this cartridge for granted. In the early 1950s it was left to Ray Thompson to come up with the ideal bullet for the .357 Magnum with his gas-checked 358156. Leading was always a problem with both factory and reloads for the .357 Magnum until Thompson solved the issue. I have never been able to get really good accuracy using plain-based bullets in full-house .357 Magnum loads, but the Thompson gas-checked bullet works perfectly. I consider it the number one bullet for standard weight loads in the .357 Magnum.